“Angel,” Cordelia yelled as she ran into the hotel. Angel wasn’t there, nor was he in their bedroom.
Something was wrong, she could feel it. Cordelia thought for a moment and took the elevator to the roof. She slowly opened the door to the garden on the roof. Angel was standing against the ledge, staring at the city lights.
“Angel?’ she whispered.
The vampire remained still as he heard Cordelia enter the rooftop garden.
“Angel? I’m okay,” she said moving closer to the dark vampire placing her hands on his broad back. “What is wrong?”
“I can’t do it,” he said matter of fact. He turned and pulled Cordelia into a tight embrace. “I don’t care about your rules. I cannot stand by and watch you die.” He dropped his head on her shoulder.
“Angel just what exactly did you do? Wesley said that you didn’t interfere, Methos agreed…but I am alive… I shouldn’t be, I lost.”
Angel pulled away from the Cordelia. “I didn’t fight him…But I would have. I could not have let his sword touch your neck.”
“Oh, Angel,” she cried laughing at the same time. She leaned back brushing the tears away from her eyes. “I know that.”
“Angel, I know that you hate the ‘game’ and the rules. I also know that you will do whatever you can to respect my…the stupid game. But, if it makes you feel better, remember how I told you that if Angelus returned I would stake him, well I lied.”
“Cordy,” he said in shock.
“Sorry, I won’t kill a part of you. So, sue me.” She pulled him closer.
“We just have to make sure I am prepared to fight any immortal that comes for my head. And, well, supposedly the threat of Angelus is gone, but…Angel, Wesley told me…”
“I know how Lindsay MacDonald died. It is okay,” she kissed Angel’s chest.
“Wesley had no right.”
“Of course, he did. He thought I needed to know. And it is a relevant little tidbit to know, that Angelus can come on call. Though, I guess we don’t really have to think about it anymore, since the golden duo bound that pesky soul.” She paused as she noticed Angel expression. “Okay, what?”
Angel turned back to the city lights.
“Angel, what exactly happened when I died?”
She sighed. “I am the one with the sense of humour,” she chastised. “Now, tell me,” she demanded.
“My soul is permanent, but…I am still a vampire and maybe…even with a soul I can be Angelus.”
“Explain, please,” she smiled. It was amazing, Angel was opening up to her. The talk of Angelus did not scare her. No matter what the old dusty books said or even what she had seen, to her Angelus had just become another depth to Angel. The demon, person, undead guy she loved with all of her being.
“You were killed… tonight,” he clarified. “And then he was about to take your head…I think…” He stopped ashamed and a little fearful of Cordelia’s reaction.
“You think, but you don’t know.” She sat down on the lounge chair. “Angel, come here,” she beckoned to the brooding vampire. “Now,” she added.
Angel hesitantly came and sat on the edge of the chair.
“Angel look at me.” Cordelia placed her hands around the vampire’s face.
“Angel look at me,” she demanded again softly. Cordelia released Angel’s face as his dark eyes met hers.
“So, you left me lying on the street with a big hole in my chest to come up here and brood, because you think Angelus made an appearance tonight. Why do you think that?”
Angel shamefaced lowered his eyes.
“Angel,” she said in exasperation at the silent vampire. “Answer the question.”
“When…the immortal…stabbed you and was about to take your head…It was Angelus that warned him quite happily that if he swung, he would be tortured and killed,” Angel finally answered in a low tone.
Cordelia scrunched up and thought for a moment. “Angel, again, why do you think that it was Angelus?”
“Of course, it was Angelus…torture, kill…you know his favorite pastime.”
“So, you think that Angelus just popped out to issue an evil warning and then poof, just left?” asked the incredulous young immortal.
“Um, yes…,” said the suddenly uneasy vampire. When Cordelia said it like that, it didn’t make much sense. Angelus never just popped out and willingly popped back.
“Angel, when Angelus supposedly came out to kill Lindsay, did he kill anybody else along the way?”
Angel cautiously shook his head. He wasn’t sure he liked where Cordelia’s questions were going.
“And Angelus just let Wesley go with him, no threats of bodily harm or even snappy cruel insults.”
“Cordelia, it was Angelus!” Angel was sure he didn’t like where Cordelia was going.
“How? Your soul may not have been bound when Lindsay died, but the ‘happy clause’ was still in effect. Or are you saying that my ‘death’ caused you a moment of true joy?”
Angel’s eyes widen in shock and disbelief at her question. “Cordelia, how…?
“Jeez, relax,” she interrupted,” just joking, but the point is valid. And what about tonight, your soul is bound. Unless…did the oracles tell you about some sort of fine print to their gift?”
Angel shook his head.
Cordelia nodded. “So, how could Angelus appear?” she asked again.
“I…” Angel tried again. “When I thought you were dead the first time, I felt my soul breaking, that’s how Angelus emerged. And I do know that if you are…killed my soul will shatter…” Angel said roughly, moving off the chair to the edge of the rooftop.
Cordelia sat stunned at the force of his emotions. She had merely been trying to show Angel that there was not fear of Angelus. She hadn’t expected this. If someone had told her to write down what she was feeling at that very moment, she wouldn’t have been able to.
Mere words couldn’t describe the intense feeling of love that was flowing through her body, it was almost frightening. Tears formed in her eyes as she went to Angel. Cordelia grasped the vampire in a tight embrace leaning her body against his back.
“No, Angel, your soul won’t shatter, it may suffer but it will never be destroyed, you are too strong, too good for that to happen.”
“Not when it comes to you,” he said quietly. “I know what I felt,” he added harshly.
Cordelia forced Angel to face her. “Angel.” She stopped. She had to be careful and choose the right words. “Angel, you can’t loose or break your soul, unless you choose to.” Cordelia felt the vampire’s body tense under her hands.
“Angel, there is no more soulless demon residing in here,” she said forcibly placing her hands over his chest. “It wasn’t Angelus that tortured and killed Lindsay, just like it wasn’t Angelus that threatened that immortal, it was you, Angel.”
“NO, I have a soul, I couldn’t, can’t…,” he growled trying to deny that he, Angel was capable of torturing someone.
“Yes,” Cordelia whispered. “Angel, you said it, you are a vampire. You may have a soul, but you are still a demon. Sometimes, I imagine your vamp instincts override your guilt about, well…,”
“Torturing people,” he said with disgust.
“No, your need to protect me,” she said softly. Cordelia couldn’t help but feel happy about the obvious evidence of his love. She wondered if that made her a sick person. Oh well, she thought, she didn’t really care. All she cared about was that she loved Angel and he loved her. “Angel, stop brooding about this and accept who you are, I do.”
“How can you?”
Cordelia shrugged. “It’s not hard, really. The past that you are so ashamed of has shaped you into the person you are now. I couldn’t love you with out accepting Angelus. Just like I accept that we can’t walk on a sunlit beach or have children or grow old together. Stop it, Angel,” she said as she saw the guilt descend over him. “This is my life, a life that I want. I have never been happier. In fact, the way I see it, you being an ‘undead’ guy is a good thing.”
“Sure, ‘undead’ as in immortal. I want to be with you for a very long, long time and then, well, there is the sex.”
Angel looked at the smiling girl, confused.
“Sex with a vampire is a definite plus. Granted you are the only ‘grr’ guy I have ever had sex with, but it is pretty damn spectacular.” She laughed and pulled Angel back to the lounge chair. Cordelia leaned back into the chair and beckoned him to sit in front of her. Once the vampire was settled, she wrapped her legs and arms around him enfolding him in her embrace.
Angel leaned back in amazement at Cordelia’s unique ability to accept every part of him. For the thousandth time he thanked the Powers for giving her to him. “Cordelia, about the game and rules…”
“Sh, I don’t want to talk about it. Let’s just say, I have asked you to respect the rules and you have agreed. We will deal with any other scenario, if and when it comes up, okay?” She kissed the top of his head.
“Okay…But we are going to increase your practice sessions.”
“Yuck, we already practice once a day,” she complained out of habit.
“Oh, well, okay.” She knew Angel was right. She was going to need all the practice she could get if she was going to have to meet that immortal again, nevermind her having to defeat the ‘all powerful immortal’.” Cordelia tried to control the shiver of fear that shot through her.
“You can do it.” Angel brought her arms tighter against his chest.
“Yeah,” she sighed. “Well, hopefully, the guys will be back soon with the sword and I can practice with it.”
“Yeah, I saw it in my vision, it’s in LA.” Cordelia explained what the others were doing.
“Cordelia, when exactly were you going to tell me about your vision.”
“I did just tell you. Before that we had some ‘issues’ to discuss, Jeez. And speaking of ‘issues’ you have to stop with the jealous bit towards Duncan.”
“I am not jealous,” he said, failing miserably to contain his growl.
“Ummph, Angel that has got to stop. Duncan is a great swordsman, I need his help.”
“He wanted you to leave me,” Angel growled. “He still wants you.”
“Of course, he does. I am irresistible to all men,” she joked.
Angel grabbed her in game face. “You are mine.” Angry yellow eyes bore into hers.
Cordelia took a deep breath and said seriously, “Yes, he did ask me to go with him and I said a big fat NO. Duncan knows that I love you and he respects that. He is here only to help US. So, reign in the ‘grr’ instinct and be nice,” she finished forcibly.
Cordelia watched as Angel struggled with his demon.
“Angel, I need all the help and practice I can get, if I am going to defeat the ‘all powerful immortal’.”
Angel reverted back to his handsome human face and nodded. He was still not sure about the Highlander’s intentions towards Cordelia. But she was right. And he would accept help from any source to keep her safe.
“I won’t lose you.”
Cordelia hugged him; satisfied that Angel would control his stupid jealousy.
Methos and Wesley were in the library researching various possible relevant thefts of druid artifacts. Methos cleared his throat. “Cordelia is very beautiful.”
Wesley looked up from the computer. “She is much more than that, she is special,” the former answered.
“Yes, of course.” Methos paused; this was going to be harder that he thought. The hell with it, he thought. “Wesley, you need to do something about the vampire’s jealousy.”
“Angel’s jealously over Duncan, it has the potential to get in the way of the mission.”
“Then, you,” Wesley said pointedly, ” tell Duncan to stay away from Cordelia and there won’t be a problem.”
“Duncan feels responsible for the girl.”
“Well, she isn’t his responsibility. If she is anyone’s responsibility, it’s Angel’s and…mine…and Dennis’,” he added as a book came crashing to the floor.
“Damn, he is lethal,” yelled Methos as he dodged the book.
“Listen,” the immortal tried again. “Duncan is from the Highlands of Scotland. The Scots are a very passionate, honorable and loyal race. What he feels for Cordelia is loyalty and friendship, only.” He silently hoped.
“Sure, whatever. But Angel is a vampire with a soul in love and that makes him a very passionate, honorable, loyal, possessive and potentially dangerous demon to your highlander and his feelings of ‘loyalty’ towards Cordelia.”
“Look, I didn’t mean to make you angry. Whatever, Mac’s feelings for the girl are, he will not try to interfere in her relationship with Angel. Not unless, the vampire does something to harm her.”
Wesley tried to remain calm. “Dennis don’t…” Wesley raised his hand towards the floating books in the air. “Angel would never do anything to harm Cordelia. You just need to remind Macleod that he is not Cordelia’s protector.” Wesley turned angrily back to the computer.
Damn, Methos thought. He really hoped he hadn’t just made things worse.
Duncan and Gunn entered the tense atmosphere of the library a short while later carrying several swords.
“Hey, it is like a tomb in here,” Gunn said. “Where is Angel and Cordelia?”
“The sword?” Wesley inquired getting up.
“That’s just it. Cordelia never bothered to tell us what it looked like and so, we took all of them.” Both he and Duncan placed all the swords they took from the gallery on the table.
“We need Cordelia. Where is she,” asked the Highlander.
“She is upstairs with Angel…together.” Wesley emphasized. Methos grimaced at the obviousness of Wesley’s statement. The Highlander ignored the former watcher and headed towards the door.
The library door slammed shut.
“Great Mac, now you have pissed off the ghost,” Methos said in a low tone.
“Hey, what is with all the bad vibes?” asked Gunn. “You came to help right?” the former street kid said to Duncan. “Right, well, then you need to lay off whatever thing you have for Cordy. It’s not helping. In fact, it is making everyone tense in a big way. And that will just make the Barbie doll mad, and she can be a real bitch.”
Wesley’s eyes widen at his statement. Gunn was right, Cordelia probably would be angry if she knew that they were acting like a bunch of juvenile schoolboys. And then, there would be hell to pay.
“Um, Dennis please go get Angel and Cordelia. We do need to discuss the next move.”
The door opened, a slight breeze swept through the room.
“Yes, well…so, Duncan, did I ever thank you for bringing Methos and the text to us so quickly.”
Duncan stared at the former watcher’s attempt to ease the tension in the room.
“Mac,” whispered Methos.
“Your welcome. All..I mean…All I want is for Cordelia to be safe.”
“That’s what we all want,” Angel said from the doorway. Cordelia was standing behind him smiling.
“Hey, did you get it?” she asked Duncan and Gunn.
“Get it, we got a bunch. You didn’t tell us what it looked liked,” gripped Gunn.
“Whoops, sorry. Let’s see them.” Cordelia went over to the table. “There it is, I would recognize that ugly head on it anywhere.” She pointed to a large heavy looking sword. It had a head with symbols surrounding it carved on the handle.
Wesley examined the sword. “The head makes sense. The head had mystical significance to the Druids. It was considered the seat of the soul. Hence, I guess their belief that beheading was the best way to ensure an enemy’s death. And the other symbols represent fire and water. Also, very important in Celtic mysticism in that they are opposing forces which all life is born. In fact..”
“Wesley,” whined Cordelia, interrupting the start of what was sure to be a long lecture.
Methos took the sword. “I don’t know. It’s steel. The Celt’s were great ironworkers, ahead of most cultures. But they didn’t discover stainless steel until Arthurian times. The sword, Excaliber was one of the first swords forged in steel, but that was centuries after the sword in the prophecy was made.”
“Excaliber, was real, cool,” exclaimed Gunn.
“Whatever,” Cordelia said grabbing the sword. “This is the sword that I saw in my vision. So, the old priests must of had some ‘help’, from the Powers, no doubt.”
“Cordelia, it is too heavy for you,” Duncan said with concern.
“Duncan is right, it is too big,” agreed Angel.
Wesley looked in surprise at the vampire. Angel hadn’t growled or anything at the Highlander’s show of concern over Cordelia.
“What?” Angel asked at the former watcher’s look.
“Angel, it’s not too heavy.” She swung the sword in a perfect arch. “It’s…perfect,” she laughed in amazement as she continued to swing the blade. “It is perfect,” she repeated. “Who wants to practice,” she said excitedly.
“Cordelia, let me see the sword,” Duncan asked.
“Why? I told you it is perfect.”
“Just for a minute,please.”
Cordelia reluctantly gave the immortal the sword. Duncan swung the sword, weighing it in his hands.
“It is too heavy. You shouldn’t even be able to lift it.”
“Well, I can, Mr. Doubting-Duncan.” Cordelia grabbed the sword back and swung it again for proof.
“I think that settles the question of whether that is the sword in the prophecy. Obviously, it was made for Cordelia. Actually, that is not unusual, after all, many legends and prophecies tell of weapons designed for a specific user. For example, Excaliber was forged specifically for Arthur. The Arthurian legend said…”
“Wesley, I think everybody saw the movie. So, let’s just concentrate on the relevant prophecy, okay?” Angel interrupted.
“Right, of course. Methos and I have found a few records of thefts of Druid relics over the the past five years. I think we have to assume that St. John has all the necessary items he needs. But that doesn’t help us know where he is now and when exactly he will attempt to invoke the spell.”
“We might not be able to track St. John, but what about that immortal?”
The men looked at Cordelia questioningly.
“Duh, he is an immortal, therefore wouldn’t he have a watcher. His watcher would probably know his whereabouts. I can’t imagine, greedy-immortal guy would be that far from St. John and his ‘payment’.”
“Good idea, Cordelia.” The young immortal flashed a big smile at the compliment.
“Though, he may not have a current watcher, since he works for St. John, but it is worth looking into. I’ll call Joe.” Duncan left the room to make the phone call.
Wesley shot a nervous look at Angel. Angel ignored the former watcher.
“Who is Joe,” asked Gunn.
“He is Duncan’s watcher and friend,” explained Cordelia.
“Oh.” Gunn nodded. “Wait, immortal’s have watchers? I thought you said that watchers trained those slayer chicks?” Gunn asked Wesley.
“Totally, different type. You see when the Watcher’s council first…” Wesley stopped at the groans coming from the room. “I’ll explain later.” He promised.
“That’s okay,” Gunn answered wishing he never asked the question. He was not looking forward to being trapped by one of Wesley’s lectures.
Duncan returned to the room. “I gave the description of the immortal to Joe. He said he would try to identify him and track down his watcher. He will call back, but it may take awhile.”
“There has to be another way to find out where and when. I have a feeling that we might not have the luxury of waiting around for the watcher’s call,” worried Angel.
“What about a vision, Cordelia?” Gunn asked.
“Gee, okay.” Cordelia dramatically clutched at her head and moaned loudly. She suddenly stopped and said sarcastically, “The line was busy. They said to try back later.”
“Real funny, Barbie.”
Angel interrupted Cordelia’s retort. “Wesley are you sure that there is nothing else in the text?”
“I will check again.” He pulled the text open.
So, while research boy goes at it, who wants to practice?” Cordelia looked expectantly at the immortals and Angel.
“You kids go play. I will stay and help Wesley,” said Methos.
“Hey, don’t leave me here with the book guys,” Gunn said in alarm.
“Well, come on then.” Cordelia headed upstairs swinging her new sword.
“Angel, can I talk to for a minute,” Wesley asked. “Alone,” he added looking at Methos. The old immortal nodded and went into the kitchen.
The vampire stopped on the stairs and let the others go ahead of him.
“What is it, Wesley?” Angel asked impatiently. “I need to get up there.” Angel stared at Duncan’s hand on Cordelia’s back leading her up the stairs.
“Umm, yes, well…”Wesley stuttered.
“Get on with it.”
“Right, Angel you aren’t going to fight with Macleod, are you?”
“Wesley, we are going to practice with Cordelia. She needs to get use to the weapon.”
“So, you all will be fighting with swords, then?”
“Yes, that would be the plan. Practicing without them just doesn’t seem as effective.”
“Are you sure that is a good idea? I mean, you and Duncan with swords…”
Angel growled. “Wesley, Macleod and I are going upstairs to prepare Cordelia for the up coming fight, that’s all,” Angel said angrily.
“It’s just that sometimes, you get a little, well, jealous over Duncan’s friendship with Cordelia and well…”
“Wesley, I am not some stupid school boy, that challenges the other boys in the playground to fight because they looked at his girl.”
“No, you aren’t a school boy. You are a vampire, who could very well kill the other boys in the playground for looking at your girl,” Wesley said tersely, giving up his attempts to be subtle.
Angel tried to control his anger. Based on some of his past behavior, Angel realized that Wesley did have a right to be concerned.
“I am fine, Wesley,” he said calmly. “Macleod is here to help Cordelia. They are friends. I can accept that, satisfied?”
“Of course, I never thought there would be a problem, never,” he said unconvincingly. Wesley quickly turned back to his books.
Angel had told Wesley the truth. He had made the decision to accept and deal with Duncan’s presence and the immortal’s feeling for Cordelia. He would control his vampire instincts and would even try to be polite to the Highlander. After all, Angel promised Cordelia and they did need the other immortal’s help.
Of course, Angel had also decided, that if Duncan Macleod made any attempt to take Cordelia from him, he would rip the Highlander’s head from his shoulders. But Wesley didn’t need to know that, he reasoned as he went up the stairs.