“Where’s Cordelia,” Angel growled. His temper was being held together by a fragile thread. Every instinct, every desire in his undead body cried out for violence.
It was only the knowledge that the professor was Angel’s only link to finding Cordelia that kept the man alive.
“I don’t know,” John said truthfully and sorrowfully.
Angel advanced towards the Indian. Forgotten was the host’s proclamation of the ‘goodness’ of the Indian. If the doctor could not help then he would die, but not before Angel made sure, painfully sure that the Indian knew nothing of value.
“Um, Professor, you must have an idea,” Wesley jumped in, standing between Angel and the doctor.
“Yea, and talk quick like, Angel is impatient.” Chimed in Gunn.
John watched in apprehension and awe as Angel’s brown eye’s glowed gold. Angel was really the beast, he thought in wonder. “You are a vampire,” he said. John needed confirmation of what he already knew to be true.
“I’m your death, if you don’t start talking,” growled Angel.
“A bit high on the melodrama scale, but effective I’d say,” Gunn whispered to Wesley as John’s face paled.
“Be quiet,” shushed Wesley. “Doctor, it would be advisable if you start explaining,” cautioned Wesley, turning from Gunn to the Indian.
Dragging his eyes away from the enraged vampire, John faced Wesley. “I don’t know where Cordelia is. But, I’m sure that it was Bathym that killed my father and took her.”
“Bathym?” questioned Wesley, urgently. “That’s the demon?”
“You know of him?”
“No, but…” Wesley headed quickly out of the small shack. “I’ve got to get my books,” he called.
A smidgen of hope arose in Wesley’s chest as he ran to the car. He just might have brought the right book. Wesley hadn’t found any texts on specific Hopi legends or demons, but he did bring the ancient encyclopedia of all things demon.
The ancient manuscript listed thousands of different demons. This Baythm had to be included, he hoped.
A tense silence descended over the room at the former watcher’s departure. Angel waited his impatience and rage threatening to overflow. His cold stare never left the Indian. Angel waited for Wesley to come back or for the doctor to give him an excuse, any excuse to rip his throat out or to at least break all the bones in the doctor’s legs.
Wesley hurried back. “Tell us, what do you know about the demon,” he demanded, flipping through the heavy leather bound book.
“Bathym is an ancient evil. He has existed since the beginning of the Hopi, he takes his pleasure taunting and destroying our people. The necklace was first conceived to be a charm against his evil.”
Wesley nodded, listening as he quickly scanned the pages of his text. “Aha, here it is…Bathym, a rare demon, one of the masters of the infernal regions of hell. He is pure evil, practically invincible. With the appearance of a robust man but his body ends in a serpent’s tail. He is well versed in the virtues of herbs and precious stones. He is able to transport men from one place to another.” Wesley paraphrased.
John nodded. “He also has the ability to enter one’s spirit planes. That’s the most common way he uses to corrupt our people. He touches and invades their spirits, tainting and engulfing their souls with evil. Unchecked, he will damn my people for eternity.”
“What’s Cordy got to do with your pet evil swayer.” Interrupted Gunn.
“That’s is unclear. It’s all so unclear. I’ll I know is that the Necklace was devised by the ‘Wise One’ to counteract the poison of Bathym. While, the Hopi and their Shaman had the necklace, his evil influence was stalled.”
“How did your people lose possession? Don’t tell me you all sent it out to be exhibited in the museum.” Wesley asked in disbelief.
“No, of course not. The necklace along with the Shaman that held it disappeared centuries ago. The reason was unknown. Their whereabouts unknown. But it was known that the necklace still existed. If it had been destroyed, then Bathym would rule supreme.” John explained. “When the necklace reappeared, my father, the Shaman of the tribe, ordered the necklace liberated.”
“Heist it, you mean,” Gunn translated.
John nodded. “But the night we were to attempt the taking, you,” he pointed to Wesley. “Were in the Museum.” John paused. “Cordelia was there too, wasn’t she? You all were. Why? Why did she take the necklace? How can she utilize its power? Angel’s Investigations, what type of detective agency are you?”
“What we are and what we do is irrelevant. What’s relevant is why did you take Cordelia,” Angel growled. “And why would Bathym take her from you and most relevant where is she now.”
John gulped. The discussion of Bathym had made him forget momentarily about the demon before him. “My father’s life goal was the return of the necklace to his people. He died for it,” The pain evident in the doctor’s voice.
“Cordelia,” Angel growled, oblivious to the man’s pain.
John glared at the vampire. His own feelings of lost overrode his fear of the demon. “My father was a great man, a good man.”
“Yes, I’m sure he was and we are sorry for your lost, but please…” Wesley begged, trying to relief the tension that had sprung up again in the room.
“We needed the necklace and we needed to know why the ‘Wise One’ chose her to wear it.”
“Did you think about asking,” growled Angel. “Your limited and self-centered view of the world has put Cordelia in danger.”
Wesley and Gunn raised their eyebrows in concert. That was calling the kettle black. Angel could be the most arrogant and self-centered being when his wants were thwarted.
And in this particular instant, as it had been for awhile, his wants were wrapped up in the safety of his seer.
“Angel,” Wesley lectured. “The necklace, it called to Cordelia, she was given the gift by the Wise One and the Oracles. We were brought together with the Professor to defeat Bathym, that must be the reason.”
“I’ll defeat Bathym,” Angel’s voice was coated in violence. “But, first we must now where he is,”
“I don’t know.” John claimed again. “All I know is that my spirit animal led me to Cordelia’s spirit guides and then to you,” his hand shot in a wide gesture at the three men. “The tiger, the rabbit and the black beast.” John stalled as he glanced at the vampire, “…the black wolf,” he corrected.
“Okay, I’m lost,” cut Gunn.
“My power animal led me to your power animal’s and the Wise One directed that you are my people’s hope. Each spirit that enters their dream plane has an animal guide. The guide represents the person’s attributes and strengths. Admittedly, it is unusual for the animals to be present without their human counterparts. But Cordelia’s were there, just as those that could only belong too you three.”
Gunn studied the Indian for a moment. “Okay, who is the rabbit and who is the tiger. I’m guessing the uh black…uh, beast, no I mean wolf is sort of self explanatory.” Gunn echoed John’s hesitation about identifying the wolf.
Wesley looked at the Indian for a response.
John examined the two men. He studied Wesley’s thin body, it was still, but John could imagine it fidgeting and twitching in impatience and knowledge. He turned to the young black man. Gunn stood shifting his weight from one foot to another. The strength apparent in his being. “Gunn has the tiger, Wesley, the rabbit.”
“Bugs, man,” Gunn turned grinning to the scowling former watcher.
“The rabbit is a powerful…”John started to answer Gunn’s gibe.
“STOP,” growled Angel loudly. “Cordelia,” he demanded. “We need to find her.”
The three men jumped at the yell.
“Right, of course,” Wesley stuttered. “Now, that we know the demon, I suggest we go back to LA. I can do a more conclusive research on Bathym there.”
“Wait,” John called. He had to know. “What is Cordelia?”
The three men from Angel Investigation turned and stared at the doctor. “Cordelia is a young, innocent girl,” Wesley finally spoke.
“Innocent, yes that I know. But what is she? Her power animal’s, two, which is unheard of, were guarding and giving comfort to a wall of souls. Souls that were screaming in agony. Their suffering was unbearable. What is she?”
John watched in amazement as the anger in Angel’s being transformed into sorrow and guilt.
Wesley glanced at the vampire, then back at John. “Cordelia has the ability to see and experience the helpless in the world. It’s her destiny. She takes it very seriously.” Wesley said the last part directly at Angel.
“Let’s go,” ordered Angel.
“Reinfold,” the demon bellowed as he reappeared in the dark underground complex. Bathym’s side trip into John Red Bear’s vision quest had been interesting. The demon had been tempted to show himself and kill the young man as he had killed the young man’s father, but the information in the dream had been telling. So, Bathym had remained silent and watched.
“Master,” the weasel man came running. “Success?”
“The Wise One seems to have found some champions,” he laughed in disdain. “One being a lesser demon, a weak demon, a vampire with a soul. Come,” Bathym ordered.
“Wake her,” Bathym pointed to the unconscious body of Cordelia.
Reinfold eagerly shook and slapped at the young girl.
“Stop,” Cordelia cried, pushing away from the small man.
Bathym stalked over to Cordelia, his massive form enclosing around her.
“Now what,” she struggled attempting to mask her fear.
“Answers,” he hissed in a low menacing tone.
“Or what?” Cordelia said with false bravado. “You can’t kill me.” She retorted.
“No, but I can cause pain.” His large hand encircled her delicate throat squeezing and pressing the life out of her.
Cordelia gasped as the air fled her body. The pain was so intense, but then she felt the healing energy surge through her body, fighting the oppressive, deadly action.
“You can’t kill me,” she claimed again, choking on her words.
“No, but I can do this all night or maybe I’ll switch back to the knife.” He warned.
Cordelia hated pain, she really did. Sure, she accepted it from the visions; she didn’t have a choice. But, she didn’t like it. Cordelia cringed as she remembered the sound and feel of the sharp blade slicing through her flesh. Cordelia didn’t even know what the demon wanted maybe the answers he wanted weren’t suffer worthy.
“What?” she coughed angrily.
“The vampire, the one that you seem to be so close too?”
Cordelia stared. Okay, this may be getting into suffer worthy territory. . She didn’t like to give out answers about Angel. Everybody always seemed to want to kill him.
And she would be damned if she would ever help in the accomplishment of that particular goal. She remained obstinately silent.
Bathym traced the knife across Cordelia’s cheek. “Are you sure,” he questioned. “All I want to know is how the demon got his soul, that’s all. It’s an interesting concept, a demon with a soul. How did it happen? How secure is it?” He laughed as Cordelia involuntarily tensed at this last question.
“Oh, not that secure is it?” He nodded and threw Cordelia across the room. “Thank you.” He laughed, his evil cackle vibrated off the wall of the small room.
Cordelia stayed on the floor. And for the first time since all of the weirdness started she felt her body tremble with unbridled fear. Angel, her mind cried.
Evil type beings that knew about Angel’s tentative hold on his soul were not a good thing. Not a good thing at all.
“Angel, glaring at me won’t exactly help me find the answer any quicker,” Wesley shot to the pacing vampire.
The group had returned to LA a couple hours earlier. On the ride back, Angel had remained silent in the back seat, constantly shooting glares at Wesley and Dr. Red Bear in the front seat.
They had been dissecting the vision quest and its every possible meaning. They hadn’t come up with anything of use. Just that Angel, Wesley and Gunn were some how suppose to help John. And that Cordelia as the holder of the necklace couldn’t die at the demon’s hands, or at least that is what the legends predicted.
Couldn’t die, Angel growled, so what. She could still feel terror, feel pain. All the things that Angel never wanted Cordelia to experience. The things that he had promised to protect her from, the things that he couldn’t protect her from.
Angel growled in rage, the lack of useful information or a plan frustrated the hell out of Angel. It wasn’t that he always needed a plan per se, not as long as he knew who, what or where had to fight. Then he could just barge in a fight. But in this case, he couldn’t, he didn’t even have the necessary information to do that. How would he save Cordelia?
Now, Wesley was buried over several bound texts, trying to ascertain any possible locations of the demon or any weaknesses they could use to exploit and kill it. Wesley was not having much luck. Consequently, Angel was back at glaring at everyone.
Gunn was sitting on a desk quizzing John Red Bear about each of their spirit guides. Gunn had decided that avoidance and a slight change of the subject was the best way to handle the major vibes of anger oozing off the vampire.
“So, English has a little bunny rabbit,” Gunn chuckled loud enough for the former watcher to hear. “While, I’m a tiger. Big, strong and brave sounds about right, don’t it Bugs.”
Wesley rolled his eyes, slamming a book shut. Gunn had been teasing his friend mercilessly. The tough black man thought it was hysterical that Wesley had a rabbit for spirit animal.
“Tiger, umph, nothing more than a poster cartoon for a child’s cereal.” Wesley grumbled.
Angel growled in annoyance and dropped his body onto a chair. Useless, irrelevant talk, Angel thought. What does any of it have to do with finding Cordelia?
“Actually, Gunn, the rabbit is a powerful guide. The physical strength of a particular animal is not representative of the guides’ attributes or of the person’s abilities. The wisdom of the rabbit includes guile, living by one’s wits, quick thinking and the ability to receive hidden teaching and intuitive messages.”
“Basically, I’m clever, very clever,” preened Wesley.
“And humility,” added John.
Gunn started to laugh.
“Actually, the Tiger and rabbit are very compatible. The tiger has power and strength, but acts without analysis, whereas the rabbit is intuitive, quick witted, a thinker.”
“My brawn, your brains, hey English,” Gunn slapped up his hand. Wesley high fived him back. “We be the dream team.”
Angel growled. “This is a waste of time.” He started to pace again. He had to get out of here. It would be dark soon, and then he could go out into the streets and pummel any leads out of the various demon snitches in the area.
But, until then he needed to get rid of this pent up frustration and rage. He started for the basement stairs.
“The wolf seems all growly,” Gunn chimed in lowly.
“Indeed,” commented Wesley. “John, you said Cordelia’s spirit animal was a wolf, too. Is that unusual? I mean for Angel and Cordelia to have the same animal.”
“Yeah, and what’s with Cordy having two?”
“Two is unusual. One is usually sufficient. But, then again from what I gather, Cordelia is not usual.”
“Sure enough,” agreed Gunn.
John smiled weakly. He had never meant for his actions to expose the young woman to Bathym. John had wanted to protect her from the demon. John stared up to the ceiling and let out a soft sigh.
“The humming bird represents love, joy, endurance, happiness and possesses healing attributes.”
Angel paused. He had a sudden interest to hear the rest of what the Professor would say. Love, joy and happiness, how Angel wished he could give those things to Cordelia. Angel slid back on to the sofa.
Wesley and Gunn both stared, their gaze turning inward. Each pictured the different faces of Cordelia. Angry, pouting, vain, happy, and then the face they all hated. The one that showed the suffering she had to endure, as her mind filled with the pain of the helpless. . But regardless of her pain, no matter her mood or complaints, she possessed a joy in living and a love for her family, them. She was their heart.
The three friends’ eyes met suddenly. “We have to find her,” growled Angel, jumping back up. Wesley and Gunn nodded in vigorous agreement as Angel stormed back towards the basement.
John studied the vampire as he rushed down the stairs.
“You asked if it was typical for two people to have the same power guide.” He commented still staring at the now empty doorway. “That’s not unusual. Each animal, whether it be the same brings unique wisdom to their human spirit. There are as different as each soul is different. What is truly unusual is that a demon has a guide at all.”
“Angel has a soul,” defended Wesley.
“I imagine that his why he has a guide, then.” John said somewhat doubtfully. He was still undecided about the conflicting nature of the vampire’s soul, which he had sensed with in Angel when John first met the vampire. But John couldn’t deny that Angel did have a soul or what he had seen on his vision quest. “The wolf guides his soul. And binds him to Cordelia.”
Wesley took of his glasses and rubbed his face. “Binds?”
John nodded. “All of you are bound in some nature, loyalty, true friendship.” His gesture included Wesley and Gunn. “But Cordelia’s and Angel’s guides, well,” He paused remembering the dark beast’s reverent look towards the beautiful female, his noble head gentle caressing her fur, the patience and regard he focused on the antics of the humming bird and the control and influence that Cordelia’s guides had over the beast. “They are bound by something more, than just the strong familial attributes of the wolf. They are mated.”
“Mated,” Gunn squeaked. “Hell, they don’t even have a clue that they are into each other.”
“Really?” John asked. “Well, the vampire and the woman may not know, but their spirit guides sure do. Love, gentlemen, pure and simple.”
“Unfortunately, Doctor love between Angel and Cordelia is definitely not a simple matter,” signed Wesley. “Damn’t,” he cried, slamming another book shut. “Nothing, I can’t find any references to where Bathym may be hiding.” Wesley changed the subject. “You’ve said that Bathym has the ability to enter your dream plane.”
“Yes, that is how he corrupts.”
“But, he is a corporeal demon,” Wesley pointing to the information he had discerned from his books. “Therefore, he must be somewhere in this reality. Not just present in the spirit world.”
“Hey, why don’t we join the spirit safari and confront him there,” asked Wesley.
“Possibly,” pondered John. “No, he is too powerful there,” concluded John. “He can manipulate the spirit world better than we.”
“The professor, is most likely right,” sighed Wesley. “No, the vision quests are merely a clue, a guide to what we have to do. But what is that.” Frustrated Wesley began to pace. “We will have to wait until Angel is able to question his contacts. If a new demon is in town they will know, I hope,” he added in a lower tone.
Angel sat on the bench staring at the punching bag he had hit across the room. It hadn’t helped not really. The anger and tension in his body threatened to consume his ever-conscious thought. He had thought he had started to come to grips with his anger.
But, no, as soon as the Doctor embarked on the description of Cordelia’s spirit guide, he had felt the rage rebuild. A humming bird, love, joy, happiness, endurance, Angel shook his head. So very appropriate, a small, fragile animal in constant motion. Irritating even, but loving, joyful and a breath of fresh air. That was what Cordelia was to him. She was life, in its most potent beautiful form. He had to save her. Without her, there was nothing but darkness. Angel leaned back on the wall, closing his eyes. He had to calm down.
Exhaustion started to creep over his body, edging out the rage with in his body. Angel fought the tiredness; he had to stay awake. He had to find Cordelia.
Angel stood on a cliff overlooking a large green meadow.
“Demon.” An ancient Indian appeared. “You don’t belong here, not in this manner.”
Angel studied the Indian. Briefly, Angel wondered why the Indian had no spirit guide. Obviously, someway Angel had entered into the dream plane. “Manner?” Angel’s hand went up to touch the prominent ridges that rippled on his face. His tongue ran over the sharpened incisors that grew in his mouth.
“You do not have your soul. It’s there,” the Indian pointed to the green basin below.
Angel looked out over the cliff. A black wolf was frolicking in the bright grass. A smaller brown wolf was barking happily at the black wolf’s display. They rushed together rolling and snapping playfully at each other. All the while a humming bird flew circles overhead, always over both animals. “That’s your so-called soul’s dream, but it’s just a dream. This is the real you.” The Indian gestured back to the vampire. “Why fight it? You know this. That is nothing more than a fantasy.”
“No,” struggled Angel, trying to rid himself of his demon visage.
“Yes and even that thing that you believe to be your soul realizes it. Watch.” The Indian pointed again to the plateau.
Transfixed Angel watched as the black wolf started to back away from the brown wolf. His hunches raised in a threatening manner. His eyes were glowing deep gold.
The beautiful wolf cocked her head questioningly, moving closer. The black beast growled. The other wolf ignored his snarl and yapped, still moving closer.
“She really does trust you. Its shame that a beast can never be trusted, isn’t it?” The Indian watched the unraveling story. A small smile formed on his wrinkled face.
Angel growled in horror as the beast below growled in rage. The black wolf lunged at the other unsuspecting wolf, his fangs bared. With a howl, he clamped his strong jaws around the weaker female, ripping at her throat. The humming bird dove down pecking frantically against the beasts skull. The great wolf leaned up from other canine’s throat and snapped at the bird. His strong teeth pierced the bird in two. The black wolf spit out the lifeless body from his mouth and ignoring the whimpers of the dying brown wolf, plunged his fangs again into her flesh; he bit and chewed until the wolf no longer breathed.
“Really, it’s a shame. She was such a lovely being, ” signed the Indian.
Angel’s howl of sorrow matched the beast’s howl of completion.
“See, that is who you are. You are a beast, a demon”
“NO,” growled Angel lunging towards the Indian.
The old man laughed, changing and transforming into a large solid human form, his serpent tail whipping wildly around his robust body. Bathym stepped quickly aside from the vampire’s charge.
“You can’t defeat me here and really, do you want to, after all we are the same. Evil, in all of it’s magnificent power. You will soon accept it.” With a burst of light the demon disappeared.
Angel struggled up from the ground. He crawled over to the edge of the cliff. The beast was still howling in satisfaction at the dead bodies of the bird and female wolf.
“NO,” Angel shouted, despair and fear vibrating through his voice.