John sat in his car, fidgeting with the strings of a small leather pouch. The bag was filled with a strong sleeping potion. Just a pinch and a person would be rendered unconsciousness almost instantaneously.
Now the question was how to administer to Cordelia. He had been waiting outside the hotel for hours, trying to figure out that particular equation. Burglary, kidnapping, he sighed. He was turning into a regular criminal type. Though thinking back to the Museum break in or rather his aborted attempted break- in, he wasn’t a very successful type.
But his father was correct; they needed to get Cordelia. They needed her knowledge, her dreams, and the necklace. And John rationalized, if she was with them, they could protect her from Bathym.
He stared again at the hotel. Now, how was he going to get her? John could wait until the morning and ask her innocently to breakfast. What’s a lie, when he was contemplating a major felony?
John started as he saw Cordelia come stumbling out of the old building. The young girl was running blindly along the street.
John turned on his ignition, slowly moving his car in her direction. He looked in concern. Cordelia was obviously upset. His first reaction was to go to her and comfort her; his second was that this could be the opportunity he was looking for. As soon as, his car came abreast of Cordelia, he stopped.
“Cordelia,” he called, getting out.
Cordelia bolted upright at the sound. “John?” she gulped.
“Are you alright?”
“Uh, yeah,” she said, puzzled at the Professors sudden appearance.
“Are you sure, you seem upset,” John asked. The concern in his voice was real, no matter what his objective of the night was. The young girl shouldn’t be alone, crying at this time of night.
“I’m…just going home,” she brushed at her eyes.
“On foot, alone, in the middle of night?” .
Cordelia looked up the dark street, back at the hotel, then back at the doctor. It did seem pretty stupid. Actually, it was really pretty stupid. She looked back at the hotel. No, she wasn’t going back. She couldn’t be near Angel right now.
“Uh, maybe, maybe you could drive me home. It’s not that far,” Cordelia smiled and shrugged.
“Of course,” he nodded. “Come on.” John smiled.
Cordelia nodded and got in. “Thanks.”
“English. That was the doc.”
“I got a real bad feeling. This just ain’t cool. What’s the doc doing hanging around?”
Wesley nodded in agreement. There was no innocent logical reason that Wesley could think of that would explain why Dr. Red Bear just happened to be driving very slowly outside the hotel at 3:00 in the morning. “Let’s go.” He said, turning quickly towards Gunn’s truck.
“Angel?” Gunn nodded back at the hotel, following Wesley.
Wesley stopped. “Um, why don’t you go tell him. I will follow them. We don’t want to loose them.”
“No, my keys, my ride.” Gunn tossed the keys up the air, jumping into the vehicle in question. “I’ll call.”
Wesley rolled his eyes and headed back to the hotel. Wesley really didn’t want to do this.
Wesley stood outside Angel’s bedroom door.
“What is it?” Angel lifted his head, his eyes emotionless.
Wesley counted to ten. He had no clue what had gone on between Cordelia and Angel or why she went tearing out of the hotel. Or why Angel was obviously also upset. And this was not going to make the vampire any happier. Wesley started on ten through twenty of his silent counting.
“Wesley,” Angel asked again, roughly. Angel wanted Wesley gone; he wanted to be alone. He didn’t need or want any of Wesley’s oh so sage advice right now about how to deal with Cordelia. Angel needed to dwell alone on his horrendous actions and his despair.
“Yes, well, it’s Cordelia.” He paused.
Angel could smell the trepidation oozing out of his friend’s pores. Wesley wasn’t there to lecture. Angel eyes narrowed, waiting for Wesley to continue.
“Yes,” Wesley repeated. “It seems that Dr. Red Bear was outside the hotel. And that he just picked up Cordelia,” Wesley paused,” as she was running, crying down the street.” His last words taking on a reproaching tone. Wesley couldn’t help it, he just knew that Angel had somehow had a part in Cordelia’s hysterical flight.
Angel’s body became even more still as he processed Wesley’s words. He shot of the bed in a sudden swift movement. The compressed tension and growing rage in his body urged him upwards. “Gunn?” Angel.
Wesley leaned forward to catch the vampire’s low snarl. “Following. He said he would call.” Wesley answered as he made out the vampire’s words and meaning.
Angel strode out of the room, shoving Wesley to the side.
“I’m not waiting.”
“Right,” Wesley nodded hurrying to catch up with Angel.
“Hey,” Cordelia looked out the window. “This isn’t the way to my apartment. I said take a left at the last light.”
“I know, but it looked like you could use a cup of coffee and a shoulder to lean on.”
“I’m okay,” Cordelia protested.
“You were very upset.”
“I…Coffee would okay, I guess,” she shrugged.
Cordelia didn’t really want to be alone in her apartment. All that would do was give her time to relive the horrible scene in Angel’s bedroom. God, how had it gotten so awful. She knew that Angel didn’t want her to use her power, but…she shivered.
Angel had been more than just mad; he had be ‘grr’ enraged. It was just so unfair; all she wanted to do was help Angel. Why couldn’t he see that? No, her mind cried, she didn’t want to think about it anymore. She smiled weakly at John. “Coffee would be good.”
“Gunn, where are they?” Wesley asked into his cell phone, all the while shooting discreet looks at the vampire.
Angel hadn’t said a word, since he got in the car. He wouldn’t answer Wesley’s questions about what had gotten Cordelia so agitated. Angel just looked ahead, his hands clenched around the wheel. Wesley looked nervously at the Angel’s clenched knuckles. Wesley just hoped that they would reach Cordelia before the steering wheel splintered apart.
“Don’t let them out of your sight, we are almost there.” Wesley hung up the phone. “It may not be anything,” Wesley reassured the vampire. “They’ve stopped at the coffee shop on Main St.” He paused.
“Yes, that’s it. Dr. Red Bear just happened to be driving by, saw Cordelia and offered to take her for some coffee, that’s all. Nothing dangerous. No, I’m sure they are just sitting and talking, that’s all.” Wesley commented with forced optimism.
Angel did not respond in anyway to Wesley’s comments, except to drive faster.
“Who were you talking to?” Cordelia pointed to the phone John put in his pocket.
“My father. He’s staying with me. He expected me home awhile ago. I’m a grown man, but he still worries.”
“Parents that worry, that’s nice,” Cordelia sighed.
She shrugged. “They haven’t worried about me in…. well a long time.”
“I’m sorry.” John could see that the subject of parents was an uncomfortable one for Cordelia. It was part of the pain that he had sensed earlier in her eyes.
“Why?” she shrugged, brushing off his sympathy. “How was it that you just happened to be outside the hotel?” she asked, changing the subject.
“Coincidence, it just happened to be the quickest way home from a friend’s house. A lucky coincidence for both of us.” John lied.
“A friend, a woman?” Cordelia’s natural need to know surfacing through the mire of her own depressing thoughts.
“No, a boring old stodgy scholarly type,” he smiled, reminding Cordelia of her first description of John.
Cordelia gave a small laugh. She nodded as the waitress placed a cup of coffee in front of her. “I probably shouldn’t be indulging,” she smiled softly at John. “I haven’t been sleeping that well.”
“The dreams. Is that what upset you?”
“Em, no,” Cordelia shook her head, evading the question. Cordelia dropped her head, sipping at her coffee. “Ouch,” Cordelia’s face scrunched up. “That’s hot,” she commented waving her hand in front of her face.
“Here let me.” John smoothly passed his hands over her steaming cup. Then picking it up, he blew gently over the mug.
“Thanks,” Cordelia gave a sweet smile taking the coffee from his hands. She sipped at the liquid.
Cordelia laughed. “Nay, now it’s frigid.” She took another larger sip.
John watched as Cordelia’s eyes got heavy finally closing. His hand shot out and propped up Cordelia’s shoulders as they began to slump towards the table. He swiftly moved around to her booth, pulling her body into his arms.
“I’m…wha…..” Cordelia mumbled against his chest.
“Sh, I’ve got you,” John whispered leading her out the back door to a waiting car in the alley. John held the young woman in his arms, wishing there were another way.
But what he was doing was for the best, the best for his people and the best for the girl.
“Ang..” She gasped.
Angel jumped out of his car and rushed towards the diner, bypassing Gunn, who was just getting out of his truck.
“Hey, man, Cordy and the doc haven’t left,” Gunn called after Angel. “I’ve been watching, they went in, but never came out,” Gunn told Wesley as the former watcher joined him. “That’s the doc’s little red sport’s car.”
“Thank goodness,” Wesley sighed in relief.
Wesley and Gunn followed the vampire into the diner. Wesley glanced quickly around searching for Cordelia and the doctor. A sick feeling descended over his body as he saw Angel storm through the near empty restaurant out the back.
“So where is Cordelia?” Wesley asked.
Gunn’s eyes widened. There was no sign of the lovely brunette or the Indian. “Aw, shit,” he grunted.
“Aw, shit is right,” Wesley grumbled.
The old customer sitting on the corner stool leaned in to the counter pulling his body inwards as much as possible, trying to make himself invisible to the dark man stalking the diner.
Maggie, the waitress pressed back against the grill, her hand searching for anything that could be used as a weapon, the strange man was scaring her. The dark man stood in the middle of the restaurant his face pointed upwards, his brow rippling into a grotesque shape, his nostrils flaring and his mouth snarling.
Maggie was reminded of a National Geography documentary on wolves, she had seen months ago. . The show explored the intense, almost personal relationship of the canines.
The researchers had tracked a male wolf and his mate for over a month. It seemed that wolves mated for life, she hadn’t known that. Maggie paused in her channel surfing to watch the male and female wolf frolicking around.
She was enthralled by their play and obvious affection for each other; it was endearing, romantic even. Then the show was edited to show the female wolf alone trapped in a poacher’s deadly snare. The documentary switched to the frantic behavior of the male at the loss of his mate. Maggie had been riveted to the TV screen.
The image of the fierce male wolf snarling and sniffing in the air had been so intense, so desperate. The wild animal’s body had remained motionless, the only movement that the camera had captured was that of the beast’s ears, nose, and mouth, twitching and flaring. But Maggie could see the concentrated violence that rippled under his fur.
The wild animal’s sole attention was on the various scents floating through the air. In an instant the wolf let out a howl and bounded towards where his mate was trapped. It was the same behavior that she saw in the man before her. The same desperation and violence bundled up in human form. Maggie didn’t want any part of it. The man was dangerous.
Maggie gulped in relief as the man stormed out the front of the restaurant, her hand releasing the knife clutched in her fingers. Okay, so the man hadn’t howled, but that was definitely a growl she heard emitting from his mouth.
The waitress nodded, not listening or caring about the babbled explanation that the man in glasses was trying to give her. Her body relaxed in gratitude as that fellow and the bald headed black guy finally left.
Angel ran towards the red convertible parked along the street. He stopped at the passenger door, gripping the handle with a fierce pull. The door went flying through the air.
Wesley and Gunn split in different directions, dodging the flying metal.
“Was that right? The top was down, man,” Gunn whispered, practically whining to Wesley. Gun had admired the Professor’s antique MG ever since he started to follow it.
Wesley shot a reproving look at his friend, telling him silently to shut up. “They went in, but haven’t come out,” Wesley retorted to Gunn.
“I…” Gunn paused. Wesley shot him another look.
Gunn shut up. Damn, he hadn’t thought that the Indian was a real danger to Cordelia. Gunn hadn’t thought it necessary to properly scope out the diner. Sure, he had his suspicious that something was not right. But, the Professor seemed okay, or at least not demon-type bad.
He had forgotten, stupidly, that demons and vampire’s were not the only bad guys in LA.
Wesley hesitantly walked up to the vampire. He ducked as a small piece of debris flew over his head. Angel had torn the glove box loose from the vehicle. He was rummaging through the gaping hole in the dash. Finally, with a growl Angel stood upright with a card in his tight grip.
Wesley took notice of the small paper, suddenly realizing what it was. “You are most likely right, Angel. I’m sure that Dr. Red Bear wouldn’t take Cordelia back to his office. So, the registration, does it show his home address? We’ll go there now.”
“No,” Angel growled. “You and Gunn will go to the university just in case.”
Wesley hesitated again. He wasn’t sure if the vampire should be left alone, especially if he actually found the Indian. Angel was acting way to unsettled, for Wesley’s peace of mind.
“Wesley,” the vampire snarled.
“Right, of course. But, what’s the address? We’ll meet you there if we don’t find anything, okay.”
Angel slowly nodded, handing Wesley the card. Angel turned towards his car. He paused and then turned back. “Wesley,” Angel said lowly.
“If you find her and lose her again…” Angel’s brown expressionless eyes met Wesley’s concerned one’s. “Someone will die,” the vampire said coldly and concisely.
Wesley’s eyes blinked rapidly. “Cordelia won’t be lost. She’ll be found and she’ll be safe,” the former watcher promised.
Angel’s intense stare held Wesley’s eyes for long short moment before Angel nodded and moved away.
“Gunn,” Wesley shook his head in disbelief. “How could you lose Cordelia.”
“I…I didn’t know there was a back door. Okay, okay, I know everything as a back door, but I didn’t think…I just…”Gunn grunted, his eyes not leaving the road.
“Maybe, it was really just weird coincidence that the doc was outside the hotel.” Gunn said, contradicting his earlier suspicion about the presence of the doc. “Maybe, Cordy went with him willingly, I mean you saw her get into the car. Maybe, she is just back at his place, you know, getting comforted.”
Wesley actually growled at Gunn’s comment. Wesley shook his head. “You don’t really believe that.”
“No,” Gunn said, worried and angry with himself for not preventing Cordelia’s disappearance. “The vamp is really mad isn’t he.”
Wesley stared at his friend. “What part of that,” he said indicating the previous scene. “Did you not experience.”
Gunn’s eyes left the road meeting Wesley’s, Gunn’s grasp tightening on the steering wheel. “We have to find Cordy.”
“That would be for the best,” Wesley said dryly.
Angel drove towards the address that he had seen on John Red Bear’s registration. His hand tensing against the wheel. Angel’s mind was frantic; his body set on one goal-to find Cordelia.
This was his fault. If Angel hadn’t struck out at Cordelia, commanding her to leave the hotel, she would still be with him, safe.
Maybe Cordelia wasn’t in danger, he tried to rationalize. Maybe for some legitimate, unlikely happenstance the doctor came upon Cordelia running outside crying…Angel’s thoughts trailed to a stop. Angel was the one who caused her to be so upset.
How could he have done that, his mind cried out. No, Angel was losing focus. Maybe, Angel tried again, maybe Cordelia went with the young professor, and after all she thought he was ‘gorgeous’. Maybe Angel would be barging on an intimate moment between the two of them.
Those thoughts abruptly stopped as Angel heard the steering wheel crack. The pressure of his hands had been too much for the solid plastic.
Angel looked at the piece of equipment, except for a large crack that ran through the wheel, it was still intact. Angel sighed in relief, he couldn’t be bothered with trying to fix or find another ride. Angel had to get to the Professor’s address, no matter what he would find. Angel had to know that Cordelia was safe.
“Find anything?” Gunn asked Wesley.
Wesley looked up from behind the desk. He and Gunn had gained entry into the Professor’s university office. Wesley had already searched through Dr. Red Bear’s books lined up against the wall. If there was a text on the necklace, he couldn’t find it. Wesley turned his attention to the large desk.
Wesley shook his head. “You?”
Gunn shrugged. “Naw, but then I’m not real clear on what I’m looking for.” The young man slammed the file cabinet drawer shut. “Cordy ain’t here.”
“Obviously, but there may be some clue or sign of where the doctor may have taken her.”
“What do you expect a big map saying ‘Cordelia’s here’”.
Wesley ignored Gunn and bent down neatly rifling through the contents of the next drawer. “Nothing.” Wesley yanked at the last drawer. He grunted and pulled at the drawer.
It was locked. Wesley picked up a silver letter opener and started to pry at the opening in the wood. He grunted again this time in satisfaction as the drawer came loose.
“Gunn,” Wesley called urgently. He pulled out a file folder.
“Okay, this is really not cool,” Gunn sorted through the pictures of the necklace and museum surveillance photos.
“No, it would definitely confirm that the good doctor did know more than he said about the necklace. But what and why does he have Cordelia? And where?”
He picked up a letter addressed to the Professor; it was from the Hopi Tribal Government. It was a letter of appreciation from the Chairman of the tribe to the doctor.
It seemed that the doctor had been a big help in lobbying the federal government for more money to support the new health center on the reservation. Then on a personal note, the Chairman had gone on to wish John and his father well and a hope that John’s father would return to the Reservation soon.
Wesley glanced at the Arizona mailing address. Disgruntled he placed the letter back in the stack. Nothing there, it just raised more questions as to why a respected Professor and obvious good citizen type would be interested in the necklace and engaged in kidnapping.
“We better go. Maybe Angel has had more success.” Wesley got up rearranging the items on the desk to their original position. His hand hovered over a framed snapshot. The young boy in the picture couldn’t have been more than ten years old. The older man standing close resembled a more mature John Red Bear. “Father and son?”
Gunn shrugged, ‘so what’ clearly etched on his expression.
Wesley studied the photo. The young boy had a fishing pole in his hands and a big smile. They were both standing on a pier along a body of water. There was a cabin and trees in the background. On an impulse, the former watcher pocketed the photo and picked up the file on the necklace.
“Yeah, let’s just hope he has found Cordelia and hasn’t left a trail of broken bodies and stuff. They’re a bitch to explain and to clean up.”
Wesley took one last look around the office satisfied that everything was in its proper place, except for those in his possession. “Come on.”