Soulripper 4

Part 4 – Into the Abyss

Angelus rolled out of bed a pulled on a pair of his leather pants. Grabbing a tank top and his shoes, he barely looked back to the bed.

Kelemoke’s ‘gift’ lay shivering in a small pool of her own blood. The blond child was in a state of shock from blood loss and the multiple rapes. Hannah couldn’t understand why the man with the bumpy face had kept her alive. She was surprised he hadn’t killed her. After last night, she wanted to die.

But maybe that’s why he kept her alive. He knew she wanted death. The monster wouldn’t give her what she wanted.

The monster exited the bathroom and gave the girl a disgusted look. Now fully clothed, Angelus grabbed his duster and sword. “Clean yourself up before I return,” he ordered the girl.

Hannah just stared after the monster as he left. It was nearly half an hour before she gathered enough strength to get up. The pain made it almost too much to walk. But Hannah was a strong girl, no one had ever said differently. She’d make it to the bathroom. And somehow, she knew she would survive.

******************
Tara and Willow had explained what would need to be done. The next day, Tara would go to a nearby magic shop and get the ingredients she would need. Cordelia knew about Willow’s ‘condition’, and she accepted whatever help Willow could give.

Lorne showed the Wiccas to a couple of spare rooms. Cordelia ignored all the curious looks that the gang gave her and retreated to her room.

She shut and locked the door behind her. Was this really just the second night since her return from the hospital? Already it had felt like a month.

Stripping from her sweater and blue jeans, Cordelia grabbed a towel from a drawer and went into the bathroom. Setting the towel on the rack and grabbing her bubble bath from underneath the sink, Cordelia had a sudden thought.

Returning to the bedroom she closed and locked the glass windows. While He could still get in if he wished, at least Cordelia would be alerted to His presence if He tried. Feeling reasonably safe, Cordelia went back into the bathroom.

Turning on the hot water, she added two capfuls of her favorite vanilla bubble bath. Tying her hair back into a high ponytail, Cordelia gently stepped into the water. Slowly she sat down and leaned back into the hot water. Closing her eyes, she allowed the steam and smell of vanilla to calm her.

But as much as she would like to allow the calming sensations to overtake her, Cordelia knew there was planning to be done.

Tara would be taking the lead in all magic activities that might need to be done. The Seer had listened on in sympathy as Willow had told her story of addiction to the darker magic. Cordelia completely understood Willow’s reluctance to partake in such practices; she also knew that it presented a problem.

Despite Willow’s assurances that Tara was very skilled in the arts of magic, Cordelia had seen something akin to worry in the blonde’s eyes when the words ‘soul restoration’ were spoken. Even Tara admitted that she didn’t know if she were strong enough to perform such a task, even with Willow’s assistance.

But that would have to wait anyway. They still didn’t know what the cause of the problem was. But hopefully, tomorrow they would know. Tara would use her magic to enter Cordelia’s mind, much as Willow had done to Buffy once. It had worked then, they told a worried Seer.

Even if she were slightly fearful of such a mind invasion, Cordelia knew she had to suck it up. This could be the key they needed to learn the secret of what happened to her friend.

But first, Cordelia had to climb out of this tub before she fell asleep. It wouldn’t do to drown before they could do the Vulcan Mind Meld. Cordelia extracted herself from the cooling water and grabbed the fluffy black towel. It was one of a set that Angel had given her. It was just like him, Cordelia decided. Dark, but warm and secure.

***************
“Are you ready?” Willow asked.

Cordelia nodded that she was. Carefully, she took the cup that Willow offered.

“That will help put you into a trance state,” Tara explained. “It will calm your body and make it easier for me to look inside you.”

Cordelia sat Indian style in the center of her bed. Around her, incense candles were burning. “Don’t you have any that smell like cinnamon or strawberries?” she joked lightly.

“Sorry,” Tara smiled. “We witches strictly use the stinky stuff. Adds to our power,” she whispered in a conspiratorial voice. “Now go ahead and drink.”

Cordelia obeyed the light command. It wasn’t bad, she decided before she slipped into the trance. Like flavored tea. She’d have to get the recipe.

The Seer fell backwards onto the bed, the empty cup spilling from her hand. Willow took it before Tara joined the Seer on the bed.

Saying a few archaic words in Latin, Tara placed her hands on Cordelia’s temples. Rubbing softly, Tara continued to softly mutter in Latin. Her lovely face knitted in concentration as she searched the recesses of Cordelia’s mind, trying to find the answers that the brunette desperately wanted.

After a few moments, Tara’s eyes began to make REM-like movements behind her eyelids. Her head twitched from side to side in an almost rhythmic time. Her breaths began coming in shallower pants, until suddenly her eyes snapped open.

“Whoa,” Tara breathed, a blush rising in her cheeks. “X-Rated is right,” she told her former lover. Slightly embarrassed, Tara touched Cordelia’s temples once more. She’d never done the whole man thing before, but even Tara had to admit some of that looked like fun.

Several long minutes passed before Tara once again broke the connection to the Seer.

“What did you find?” Willow asked.

Tara looked slightly confused. “Did you know that she was part demon?” she asked.

Willow was surprised. Cordelia Chase was part demon. Even after all the glowing things the people downstairs said about Cordelia, that revelation still managed to shock the hell out of her.

“Interesting,” Willow admitted, “but I meant did you find anything about these triple-x visions she’s been having.”

“Oh, that,” Tara said. “It’s strange. They feel like memories, but at the same time, they don’t feel natural.”

“What do you mean?” Willow asked. “Is some kind of spell responsible for this?”

“No,” Tara answered. “I don’t feel any magical residue coming off her. I don’t think these memories are hers, but I don’t know what it could be.”

Willow pondered it for a moment. “Tell me when she wakes up. I’m going downstairs to look into something.” She gave Tara a lingering squeeze of the shoulder before going. Tara stared at the doorway long after the woman she still loved left. But all that would have to wait. Tara had to figure out how to help Cordelia.

**************
Tara helped lead a still woozy Cordelia down the Hyperion’s stairs. Groo quickly jumped from his seat and took his Princess and helped her to a couch. The rest of AI came out of Wesley’s office from studying files that had been neglected since this whole ordeal began. From behind the desk counter, Willow powered down her laptop and joined them in the lobby.

“First, I want you to know that I told everyone about the dreams,” Willow said. “I hope you don’t get angry, but if we’re to work together, they need to know.” She was relieved when Cordelia didn’t snap at her, instead the Seer just nodded tiredly.

“So, did you find out anything from the lookie-loo inside my head?” Cordelia asked.

“I’m pretty sure the visions aren’t real,” Tara started. “They just don’t have an authentic feel to them.”

Cordelia tried to wrap her still foggy brain around this. “So, is it magical or what?”

“I don’t think so,” Tara said. “Normally when someone has been targeted by some kind of magic, there is a type of mystical residue. It’s like an aftereffect that can cling to the person for some time. If someone used magic to make you see these visions, then there should still be some of this residue.”

“Then what then?” Cordelia asked.

“I think it’s psychological,” Willow said.

Cordelia raised an eyebrow at that. “So you think I’m nuts?” she asked half joking.

“No!” Willow quickly amended. She was about to apologize when she saw the playful smile on Cordelia’s face. “What I meant was, I think it’s something called False Memories.”

“What’s that?” Gunn asked.

“False Memories are a big reason why hypnosis isn’t a widely accepted form of therapy,” Willow explained. “In hypnosis, a psychologist asks objective questions to a subject while they’re in a trance-like state. The object is to allow the patient to bring out repressed memories. But a major complaint is that psychologists can make patients remember events that never occurred.

“Instead of objective questioning to unlock repressed memories, a person can implant a desired memory into a subject’s subconscious. These memories can prove to be very traumatic and seem totally realistic.”

“So you’re suggesting that someone implanted memories into Cordelia’s head of her and Angel doing the nasty?” Gunn asked. “Why?”

“I think the bigger question right now is who,” Lorne interjected.

“And it’s a pretty short list,” Fred added.

“Short?” Cordelia said derisively. “There’s only one name on the list. Wolfram and Hart.”

***************
For several hours the gang had talked downstairs about what to do. Cordelia, Tara and Gunn would pay a visit to Lilah Morgan the next day. There was no one at Wolfram and Hart that hated Cordelia and Angel more than she, and if anyone knew what was going on, it would be her.

Cordelia was the first to decide to retire for the night. The tea was still playing hell with her brain. Only some good sleep would lift the fog rolling through her head.

When Cordelia entered her bedroom, she headed straight for the bathroom sink. Brushing her teeth and washing her face, she went back into the bedroom. It was then that she saw what she missed the first time.

Cordelia couldn’t stop herself from vomiting. She had seen dead people before, but not like this.

The nude form of a young woman lay spread-eagle across her bed. Her belly had been ripped open, exposing the internal organs. The girl’s small intestine snaked out of the body and wrapped her hands around the bedposts.

Her hazel eyes were dull and lifeless. Blood matted down the lovely young girl’s short brown hair. The rest of the girl’s blood and soaked the sheets and began to pool on the floor.

One thought rang throughout Cordelia’s mind: The girl was a dead-ringer for herself.

Cordelia dropped slowly to the floor. Tears flowed freely from her eyes. She then saw the writing on the wall above the bed. It was written in blood.

SHE WAS A SCREAMER

PART FIVE

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