PG-13: Some profanity, violence
Summary: Angel's a wanted vampire
Disclaimers: Usual. Most of them are Mutant Enemy's property on unauthorized loan to me.
Feedback: Confirm that my microphone - er, e-mail - works, please.
Spoilers: Plenty. Particularly 'Sense & Sensitivity' and 'Bachelor Party', and 'The Best Laid Plans'
Notes: If you've read 'The Best Laid Plans', this will make sense. If you haven't, you will be helpless and hopeless. This story covers the 48 hours immediately following The Best Laid Plans.'
Doyle hadn't expected death to be quite as boring as it first appeared to be. It seemed to him that years of nothing passed between saying goodbye to Cordelia and the next thing other than complete, silent blackness. But he supposed time didn't really exist when you were dead either. Maybe it wasn't that long before he heard someone speak to him.
No one ever called him Allan, except his mother when she was angry enough to use his whole name.
"I've been waiting for you."
Doyle didn't really hear the words; they seemed to be almost inside him. He tried to see who was speaking and couldn't.
"Where are you? Who are you?"
Slowly an image became visible in front of him and gradually came into focus. Doyle saw a very large, apparently full-blooded Brachen demon. It dawned on Doyle who the demon might be.
"You...You're my father, aren't you?"
Doyle had never seen his father, and his mother had never spoken of him until Doyle had shown signs of his demonic heritage. Even then, she had only told him what his father was, never where he was or what happened to him. He'd realized it was a very sore subject with her and never brought it up again.
"I -- There's...so many things I wanted to ask you...Why haven't I ever seen you before now?"
"I died when you were two months old. You would not remember me."
"You're right, I don't."
"But I have been with you always. And with your mother."
Doyle wondered, not for the first time, what sort of relationship there had been between his parents. But he supposed he would have plenty of time to discuss that later. "So what happens to me now? I guess you're supposed to be takin' me somewhere. I'm really dead this time then."
His father paused perceptibly before he answered. "Yes."
Doyle caught that pause. "Well am I or aren't I?"
"You are dead. But you might not remain so."
"The vampire does not give up easily, as you know. He may yet convince the powers to let you go back." He paused again. "The powers will send you back again, Allan. It isn't your time yet."
"It never is." Doyle sighed. "And then what?"
"I do not know. I know that you will be with your friends and you will need them, for your life will never be simple. I know I will be with you and watching you. And one day you will know that the Brachens have magic."
"They do?" Doyle asked but his father had disappeared. Suddenly Doyle could hear a roaring sound and felt like he was in a wind tunnel. Then he felt nothing at all for a long time.
Neither Angel nor Cordelia spoke as Angel drove back to the office. Cordelia was too relieved that Doyle would live to talk and Angel had far too much on his mind. His thoughts were primarily on how to explain what happened with the Oracles to Cordelia -- and how to tell her what else had happened to Doyle. He didn't expect she would take it well. But she'll take it better than Doyle will, he thought bitterly. I'll have to tell him too.
When they arrived at the office, Angel stopped in front of the building and sized up the entrance. It was an old building, and the entrance wasn't up to code, he thought. Too many stairs. Cordelia didn't want to wait outside and dragged him in before he could finish evaluating the entrance. She was exhausted and desperately needed some sleep, but Angel hadn't wanted her to be alone tonight and had insisted she stay at his apartment. She was to tired to argue.
They still hadn't spoken to each other when the elevator dropped them off in the apartment. The elevator's good, Angel was thinking, it'll be a big help. He almost forgot to get out of it.
"Are you coming in or do you need an invite here, too?" Cordelia asked wearily.
The surprise briefly snapped Angel out of thoughts and back to reality. He stepped off the elevator. "You take my bed. I'll sleep on the couch."
"Fine. Will you still be broody boy tomorrow?"
"Oh, swell." Cordelia was already setting up shop in his bedroom. "You're going to explain all this to me tomorrow right?"
"Yes." Angel gave it some more consideration, then decided he wanted to get this over with. "Unless you want me to explain it now."
Cordelia paused for a rare moment of reflection. "Now would be good."
They both sat down in the kitchen. "You remember the Oracles from before, when Buffy was here?" Angel asked. Cordelia nodded.
"I went to see them after Doyle died -- we thought -- too. I wanted them to turn back time again and bring him back, but they refused. Gave me some excuses about his atoning. But, I found out from that Williams guy that Doyle was never even supposed to have been near the Beacon. I was the one they were after."
Cordelia looked shocked. And very angry. "This was a mistake?"
"Yes. And that made everything the Oracles had told me about Doyle a lie. So when he died again, I figured they owed him one. Several, for that matter. That's why I took him there. And I told the Oracles they'd screwed up and they had to make things right again."
"You must have convinced them. They unscrewed something."
"Not at first. They told me to leave. But then they came back, and admitted in their way some of this was their fault, and that they'd give Doyle another chance to live." Angel stopped. This was going to be the hardest part to explain. And Cordelia wasn't going to give him time to consider the best delivery.
"But how did he get back to being Doyle again? How did that happen?"
"The Oracles agreed Doyle had gotten the short end twice, once on the Quintessa and once yesterday. They said they could only take back one or the other and told me to pick which--"
"You picked the Quintessa," Cordelia said quickly.
"Yeah." Even with the brevity of his answer, Angel was unable to hide his heavy-heartedness.
"Well that's a good thing isn't it? He's not all icky-yucky anymore, and he'll be able to walk around again, and--"
"No, he won't."
Cordelia's brief glimmer of hope crashed down. "He won't?"
"No. I couldn't fix what happened yesterday too," Angel couldn't look at her. "The bullet went right through him, Cordelia. He'll never walk again."
Neither of them spoke the rest of the night.
Cordelia surprised herself by eventually getting to sleep, after sitting silently in Angel's kitchen for several hours and then in his bedroom for several more. She had just assumed if Doyle was alive, therefore he was -- or at least, in time he would be -- fine. The possibility of his being permanently injured hadn't crossed her mind.
What surprised her more was what she was thinking about while trying to get to sleep. She found herself planning how she was going to take care of Doyle. She'd already decided he would have to live in her apartment, and Dennis could help her. Angel could help too, but she was going to do this herself. Cordelia had never concerned herself with anyone else before in her life and it was more than a little disconcerting to her to realize she was making life-altering plans to care for someone else.
When she woke up the next morning, Angel wasn't in the apartment. Unconcerned, she made herself some breakfast and was still there when Angel came back.
"Where have you been? I didn't think bad guys were morning people," Cordelia had decided that if she was going to take care of Doyle, she would have to practice by babysitting Angel.
Angel failed to notice. "In the office," he said absently. "I think I can get the doors made wider up there. And the apartment's fine, but I gotta talk to the landlord about the door to the building."
The question surprised Angel. "So Doyle can stay here when he gets out of the hospital. I'm going to have to look after him from now on."
"Oh no you don't. I'm taking care of him!" Cordelia snapped.
Angel wasn't sure if she was serious -- and if she was, he felt a rare temptation to laugh. "You're going to take care of Doyle? You can't take care of Mr. Coffee."
"I can too take care of something! I had a goldfish once."
"Really. What happened to it?"
"Uhhh...that wasn't my fault."
"I left it in the sink while the maid cleaned the bowl and my mother turned on the garbage disposal. How was I to know?"
The last thing Angel had expected was Cordelia to want to take on this particular job and he was already tired of arguing with her about it. "I don't think so. I did this to him, it's my responsibility."
"Exactly! You did this, so I'm--"
Fortunately for Angel, the office doorbell rang.
"Go answer it. We'll discuss this later."
Cordelia, grumbling and fuming, stalked up the stairs.
Cordelia appeared very surprised to be met at the door by Wesley. "What, you can't open a door and walk in?" she barked at him.
Wesley was crestfallen. Cordelia must know what he'd done. He supposed he ought to be grateful she wasn't scratching his eyes out. "I'm sorry to disturb you," he said weakly. "It didn't feel proper for me to just come in where I knew I wasn't welcome."
Cordelia seemed to be calming down from whatever tiff with Angel had likely set her off and she didn't know what Wesley was talking about. "I didn't think I was that rude before," she told him. "And I know I didn't pull the welcome mat back in."
"Oh, no, I didn't mean that, I meant yesterday..." Wesley halted in mid-sentence as it dawned on him that Cordelia didn't know what his role had been in yesterday's events. "Oh my. Angel hasn't told you."
"Told me what? Like he tells me anything," Cordelia snapped.
"About what happened yesterday, to your friend, and--"
Cordelia had forgotten that Wesley had been present for whatever had happened. She'd also forgotten she didn't know exactly what had gone on in there. "You saw what happened to Doyle? Speak. Mr. Cloud of Darkness downstairs won't."
Wesley paused to ponder the wisdom of telling her he shot her best friend. Honesty was one of his few strong traits though, and he thought it would be better from him than from, say, Angel. "There isn't that much to tell really..." Wesley trailed off when he saw Angel enter the room.
"Not much at all to tell when you're dead," Angel growled, as he changed into vamp form.
"I've really missed something, haven't I?" Cordelia remarked sarcastically.
"Actually, you seem to be on time for my violent death," gulped Wesley, who was paler than his suit. But this time, he was staying put. Wesley was at least as ashamed of himself for fleeing the scene as he was for shooting the demon who he now realized was Doyle. He should have allowed Angel to punish him, he thought almost as soon as he ran out of the building, and he had returned only to find the vampire gone. This was the third time he had come to the office looking for Angel since then, and while he wasn't looking forward to the end result, he felt he deserved whatever punishment the vampire cared to dish out.
Angel threw Wesley against the wall and pinned him there, their faces so close Wesley could confirm that vampires do indeed have bad breath. "I should have killed you yesterday. I should kill you now," the words rolled from Angel in a low snarl.
"Y--Y--Yes you most certainly should h--have," stammered Wesley. "I--I fully deserve it. You're welcome to do so, it--it's why I came back."
"Really?" Angel smiled evilly and tossed Wesley across the room as easily as he might have thrown a pillow. "Because that's not why I'm not going to kill you." Angel changed back to normal.
"You're not going to kill me?" Wesley asked incredulously.
"No, I'm not. For the same reason I didn't yesterday. Doyle didn't want me to and I will respect him on this." Angel was pacing the room in rage. "But believe me, if Doyle changes his mind, you won't know what hit you."
Wesley was stunned. Of all the people on earth who would have reason to want him dead, and Doyle had asked Angel not to kill him? No wonder Angel and Cordelia were so fond of him. He must have been a remarkable man -- or demon, whatever Doyle had been. It then dawned on Wesley what Angel had said last. Wesley had assumed he'd killed Doyle. Perhaps he hadn't?
"Doyle is still alive?" he inquired cautiously.
"As of last night, yes," said Cordelia. "I'm still waiting for a story here."
"Wesley shot Doyle," Angel stated bluntly.
Cordelia immediately punched Wesley in the nose. "You did WHAT! Forget Angel, I'm going to kill you!" Cordelia punched him again, then started scratching and kicking him. Angel pulled her off.
"Doyle wanted me to leave him alone," Angel told her wearily.
"He didn't tell ME that," Cordelia snapped back and tried to get at Wesley again. Angel didn't need much effort to hold her back.
Wesley didn't try to keep Cordelia from hurting him. He adored Cordelia, and he had hurt her in the worst way possible, he realized. "It--it was an accident, I didn't know who he was, I'm so, so sorry Cordelia," Wesley found himself crying. "I'm a horrible, horrible man, I'm so sorry."
Cordelia stopped trying to get at Wesley. "An accident? How could something that stupid be an accident?"
"Well, you did smack Doyle around with a tray that one time," Angel offered, although he couldn't imagine why he suddenly felt he needed to defend Wesley. "Doyle does look different when he's a demon."
"But I didn't exactly cripple him with it. I think Wesley built a whole new ballpark here," Cordelia groused.
"I did what?" Wesley's heart was sinking deeper.
"You shot him in the back. You figure it out," Angel told Wesley testily. "I may not kill you, but I don't ever want to see you again either or I may get hungry. Got that picture?"
"Very clearly," Wesley answered weakly, and quickly left the office. He didn't expect to ever return.
Cordelia stalked up to Angel and glared at him. "YOU never tell me ANYTHING!" And stormed back to the apartment.
Shortly after Wesley left, so did Angel. There was someone he needed to see, someone else who should know about what had happened the last few days.
He knocked on her door, hoping she still lived there and hoping that, after what happened the last time he saw her, that she would still listen to him. Angel heard steps approaching the door and a loud sigh from the other side. He knew she saw him through the peephole. Then she slowly unlocked and opened the door.
Neither of them could speak for several moments. Finally, Harry got up the nerve to ask. "Please tell me you need help with a demon. I don't think I can handle anything else."
"I'm sorry. It's something else." Angel hated having to hurt her again. He had taken the job of telling her Doyle had died the first time, and it was one of the most difficult tasks he'd ever had. Taking down a roomful of vampires was much easier than telling her then, and it would certainly be better than this.
"Oh, God." Harry was already choking back tears. She let him into the apartment and they sat in the living room. "What?"
Angel hadn't anticipated Harry fainting. Which she did, immediately. When she recovered, he told her the story, from Doyle's surprise appearance at the office through the hospital last night. He left out only the part where he decided Doyle's fate; he was bringing enough bad news for her.
"Terrific," she said. "I wasn't even used to Francis being gone yet." Harry took a few more moments to collect herself. "Do you think they'll let me see him?"
"I think they will. I'll take you if you want."
"Thanks, but no," Harry managed a small smile. "I want to do this alone."
Angel nodded in understanding and got up to leave.
"Angel?" she called him back and took his hands in hers. "It isn't your fault. And I'm sure Francis doesn't blame you."
She was a sharp one, Angel thought to himself. Even Cordelia didn't see into him that much. Doyle was crazy to have let this one go. "Thanks, Harry."
Cordelia was gone when Angel returned to the office, but the office was not empty either. Kate was waiting for him, along with her partner, Harlan, and a uniformed cop. Yikes, Angel thought.
"Hi Kate. Something up?" Angel tried to be casual but it wasn't a natural state for him.
"Plenty," Harlan interjected before Kate could finish opening her mouth. "I think you should come back to the station with us. Now."
"For what? You need a fourth hand for bridge?"
Kate cut off Harlan this time. "We found one of Wolfram and Hart's attorneys this morning. Dead. And it looks like plenty went on there--"
"And I happen to think you did that," Harlan jumped back in. Kate gave him a most withering look.
"I do think you know what happened in there. I hope the story's good." She looked at him expectantly.
"Better than 'Titanic'." Angel knew better than to lie to her, and he knew he was clear at least on this one. "Doyle and I went to meet with the attorney. He tried to take out Doyle, I took out his goons, one of the attorney's guys pulled a gun and shot Doyle, and the bullet went through Doyle and into the attorney. I swear I only knocked some heads."
"One of the knocked heads didn't get far," Kate said, glancing sideways at Harlan. "And the story he gave us pretty much matches yours."
Harlan spoke, with both chagrin and doubt. "All right, maybe you didn't kill this guy."
"You pass the hearing test," Angel glared at him.
"But if this Doyle guy got shot, then where is he?"
"In the hospital. You don't pass the smart test." Angel didn't like having cops in the office, other than Kate. "Are we done?"
"Yeah," Harlan muttered as he walked out the door with the uniform. Kate stayed back.
"Is that really what happened?" she asked. Angel nodded.
"How is Doyle?"
"He'll live," Angel said flatly.
"Good." Kate left.
Angel stayed put for a while. He didn't think Kate fully believed his story. And he knew Harlan didn't. He didn't know why he wanted to protect Wesley at all, but he didn't feel it necessary to let them know that part. It was already a long day. It would probably get longer.
Kate wasn't completely believing Angel's story. Primarily because the goon they had picked up indicated the guy who shot Doyle and Williams wasn't part of Williams' little security force. And the description of him fit well with the somewhat geeky Brit who had replaced Doyle as Angel's assistant. She knew Angel had lied on that point, although she was pretty sure the rest was true. She figured she would have to talk with Doyle at some point and see what his story was.
Kate and Harlan didn't speak until they had returned to the station.
"I don't believe a single word from your...friend," Harlan said, the last word ringing with sarcasm and jealousy. Kate caught only the first aspect.
"He isn't more than a friend and I doubt he's even that much. You have a problem?"
"As a matter of fact, yeah. He's lying."
Even though she knew that too, Kate didn't want to start with Harlan. She excused herself to the bathroom instead.
She didn't know that was exactly what he wanted her to do at that moment. The second she was out of sight, he made a phone call.
"Yeah, Angel's friend isn't dead. He's in the hospital," Harlan spoke quietly into the phone, hoping she wouldn't come back and catch him on this call. "What do you want me to do? Okay, I think I can handle that. You're only after this Angel guy, right?"
Harry had spent nearly a year trying to cope with Francis' death; despite the four years without him, she had felt the grief as strongly as she thought she would have if they were still married. Seeing him again, however briefly, had reminded her of just how much he had meant to her -- and still did. And losing him again, this time permanently, had been almost too much for her. But over the last few months she had begun to pull herself back together, so this latest news was devastating.
She had worried that the hospital wouldn't allow her to see Francis, so she had told them her name was Harriet Doyle. Which was true, actually, she'd never changed it back. So they were willing to allow her in, but not particularly clear in directions to his room. She wandered several hallways hoping to find the right room without success before she decided she'd better ask someone. She decided to ask a well-dressed young man who, while he appeared to have come out second best in a cat fight, otherwise seemed pleasant.
"Excuse me," she tugged at his jacket sleeve. "I'm lost. Do you know how to get to room 314?"
The young man stared at her like she was the most amazing sight he'd ever seen. "I--I'm looking for that room too, actually, um, I, uh..."
"You know Francis?" Harry asked in surprise. Francis didn't have friends that she was aware of other than Angel and Cordelia.
"Not really," the young man said weakly. He was clearly entranced by Harry but also apparently a little embarrassed about something. "We have mutual friends."
"Well, yes. And...how do you know Doyle?"
The awkward question for her. "I'm his ex-wife. I'm Harry," she said quietly.
"Oh yes!" he perked up somewhat. "Angel and Cordelia mentioned you, they said you were a demonologist? It's a field I have some experience in myself."
Harry had wanted something to think about besides Francis and finding a fellow demonologist certainly counted. She was delighted. "Have you studied Brachens? I guess you know Francis is one."
"Yes, they are very interesting demons..." Harry found herself going to the lounge with the young man as they both prattled away about their demonic studies. She felt better than she had in a long time and briefly forgot about Francis.
The two of them had chatted for over an hour and enjoyed every minute of it when it occurred to Harry she hadn't asked the young man's name. So she did.
Wesley had deliberately skirted the issue of his name. He was legitimately worried that as Angel had told Harry what happened to Doyle, she wouldn't want anything to do with Wesley once she realized what his role had been. And since Wesley had been smitten with Harry from the moment he laid eyes on her...well, he thought, it just isn't meant to be. I'll have to tell her sometime, she'll tell me what she thinks of me and that will be the end of that. But he couldn't duck the question forever either.
"I'm Wesley...Wesley Wyndham-Price," he admitted.
Harry hesitated. Wesley knew she was trying to place the name, but he didn't know she was having difficulty matching this man with the person described by Angel. This fellow, she was thinking, couldn't squash a bug.
"Are you...the one who used to work for Angel?" she asked cautiously.
"Yes. I am so sorry about everything that's happened. You must despise me now." Wesley couldn't even look at her.
"I don't understand how this could have happened. Didn't Angel tell you Francis was a Brachen demon?"
"No. Neither did Cordelia. They didn't like to talk about him at all," Wesley answered quietly. "They never mentioned that, nor what he looked like...I saw a demon holding a gun on my employer. I had no idea..."
"Well then, it was an accident," Harry announced decisively.
"It was?" Wesley still thought Harry should be slapping him.
"Of course. You wouldn't have done it if you'd known would you?" Harry asked. Wesley nodded. "So it was an accident. Just a terrible accident."
Wesley was shocked. "You don't hate me?"
Harry smiled a little. "No."
"My." She didn't hate him. Wesley thought this was the first good thing to happen to him in years.
"We forgot about Francis. We were both here to see him, right?" Harry was getting back up, then stopped. "Why did you want to see him?"
Wesley reddened. "I believe I owe him the biggest apology of my life," he admitted.
"I'm sure Francis will accept it. Let's get back to trying to find his room," she smiled brightly at him.
Wesley tagged along behind her, now completely in love with this woman. And in total awe of Doyle. She married him, Wesley thought. He must be the most remarkable fellow to have a wife as fabulous as this. And I nearly killed him. Suddenly the mere thought of seeing Doyle turned Wesley's knees to jelly.
Harry had flagged down an orderly and gotten better directions. When they reached Doyle's room, Harry stopped and stepped behind Wesley. "You go first," she told him. "I -- I need a moment first."
She was about to cry, Wesley realized. But he wasn't really ready to go in there either. The look on Harry's face convinced him it would be best if he did and he summoned up what remained of his nerve.
Wesley entered Doyle's room as quietly as he could, which wasn't very, considering he knocked over a few things in his nervousness. Doyle was clearly in poor condition, with innumerable machines and tubes attached to him. He lay silent and motionless (a permanent state, Wesley thought to himself miserably) and he was not conscious.
Wesley was surprised to see that Doyle looked like a normal human. He had expected to see the rather hideous looking thing he had pursued at the bus station, not an ordinary looking albeit somewhat small man. In the back of his mind, he determined Angel had some explanation due and owing -- then, he thought, I'm certainly never going to hear it. He'll kill me first.
Wesley considered leaving since Doyle couldn't possibly hear any apology Wesley could make, but decided it would probably be easier to speak to someone who couldn't respond.
"D--D--Doyle?" he asked quietly. He spoke slowly and with difficulty. "I want to tell you I'm sorry for what I've done to you. I didn't mean to..."
But Wesley couldn't finish and had to leave the room, immediately. He walked smack into Harry, who was just coming in.
"Oh sorry," he stammered.
"It's all right, I -- I thought you might be -- I just have to see him now," Harry was unsure of her own words. She walked quickly to Doyle's side as Wesley slipped out.
"Francis?" she asked softly.
He looked terrible, she thought. Small and helpless. She wondered how much pain he was in, or if he even knew where he was. She stroked his arm, then his face. She started crying.
"I'm here, Francis," she said between sobs.
He moved a little, to her surprise. His eyelids fluttered a bit, then opened. They looked at each other for a moment.
"Hey, Harry," Francis croaked out.
Harry completely broke down at his shaky words. She buried her face against his shoulder and cried. She never noticed when he drifted back into unconsciousness.
Doyle had always been a heavy sleeper and by no means a morning person. But he had never had so much trouble trying to wake up before. He was vaguely aware of sounds and sensations, but they came and went and he still couldn't wake up.
The first things he remembered were hearing Cordelia and Angel speak to him, although he couldn't understand what they said. They had touched him too. Doyle liked how Cordelia's hands felt on him, warm and soft, much better than Angel's ice-cold hands. But Angel's voice was, Doyle thought, the most comforting sound he had ever heard. But those sensations faded quickly.
The sounds and feelings were stronger each time he tried to wake. He could hear the sounds of machines and distantly understood he was in a hospital. He tried to move his hands but they didn't move much and his arms wouldn't move at all. He could feel straps holding his arms down and wondered why. He tried to move his legs too but could not. He couldn't feel if anything was holding them down. The oddest thing was that there wasn't any pain, well, some in his gut and his back hurt pretty bad, but that was all. After a year of constant agony, the lack of pain actually worried him a little. What had happened to him? And then he would drift off again.
Some time later Doyle thought he heard someone say his name, but the voice wasn't familiar. He wasn't sure what was being said to him but the person sounded, well, contrite. Tell me again sometime when I understand you, he thought to himself as the sounds faded out.
It seemed to him not long after he felt Cordelia's hands again. The voice wasn't hers though, and she called him Francis. It sounds like Harry, he thought to himself, and tried to force his eyes open. After several tries, he was finally able to open them. It was Harry -- and she was crying. Doyle felt a pain inside him; he didn't want to hurt Harry any more than he already had and now he was hurting her without even doing anything. He tried to speak to her but couldn't get much more than her name out, his throat was too dry. Harry burst into tears and cried on his shoulder. Doyle thought this scene was pretty familiar to both of them as he drifted back into the vagueness.
Angel decided it was time to go visit Doyle -- and tell him what had happened the day before. Assuming Doyle was awake by now, he corrected himself. But he wanted to see Doyle regardless.
His first thought upon arriving in Doyle's room was there hadn't been any change in Doyle's condition, but then he thought he saw Doyle move his hand slightly. He picked up Doyle's hand and held it in his own. At least it was warm, Angel thought. One thing he envied about his human friends was their physical warmth.
He thought Doyle might have moved again. "Doyle? Can you hear me?"
Doyle's eyes opened slowly. He was trying to speak. "Ang...el."
"It's okay Doyle, you don't have to try to talk," Angel wasn't entirely sure if he was reassuring Doyle or himself. He wasn't deterring Doyle in any event.
"Wha...happ..nd...me," Doyle whispered.
This was the part Angel was afraid of. "Do you remember being shot?" he asked. Doyle mouthed a yes. "You -- died. I was angry you were taken away again, and I went to the Oracles and told them they had to bring you back."
Angel stopped to swallow hard. "They admitted they were wrong -- they agreed to let you live -- they agreed to fix one of their mistakes. They told me to choose which one." Angel turned away from Doyle; he didn't want to see his face. "I picked the Beacon."
Doyle was quiet. When the silence had continued for several seconds, Angel looked back at Doyle. He didn't look upset. He looked -- curious. And he was trying to get an arm free from the straps that held him still. The doctors were afraid Doyle would hurt himself if he tried to move, but Angel didn't think this counted. He freed Doyle's arm.
Doyle held his own hand where he could see it and stared in wonder. Then he touched his face. "I...look...human?" He looked at Angel hopefully.
"Yes. Just like you did before all this."
"Won'erd...why it...din' hurt." Doyle, realizing Angel wasn't as thrilled with this development as he was, looked him in the eyes. "Wha's wrong?"
Angel couldn't speak for what seemed a long time. And he definitely couldn't stand to look at Doyle. "They didn't fix your being shot. The doctor says you won't walk anymore."
Doyle took a moment to consider this. "I won't...so...tha's why I don't feel 'em." He was quiet for a while. Then he reached out and grasped Angel's arm. "S'better. It don' hurt."
Angel hadn't expected Doyle to be all right with this. He turned back towards him. "You're sure? This won't be easy."
Doyle smiled slightly. "S'better 'n before. An' I got you...t' watch out for me. S'all I can ask for."
To the extent it was possible, Angel hugged Doyle.
"Ow...hey...OW!" What had started as an embarrassed protest from Doyle changed without warning into a yelp of pain. Angel, startled, backed up thinking he'd done something to hurt Doyle.
Doyle, meanwhile, had grabbed his face with his free hand and was jerking and twitching between additional cries of pain. Another vision, Angel realized. Nothing either of them could do until it passed. After a minute or so Doyle lay still and quiet. Angel had hoped Doyle might be able to tell what he'd seen, but he appeared to have lost consciousness again. Angel got up to leave.
"Wait." Doyle said wearily.
"I thought you were out for a while," Angel responded.
"In a minute I'll be..." Doyle gave Angel a wry smile. "Can' get a break, can I?"
"No." Angel hesitated. "What did you see?"
Doyle sighed. "You. All chain' up somewhere."
Angel thought of the last time that happened. "Spike?"
"Don' think so. One fella, I seen him before. Don' remember where. An' most of em look human, but I don' think they're plannin' a party for ya. Some other stuff..." Doyle was completely exhausted now. "You be careful, right?" he whispered.
"I will. I'll come back to see you later." Doyle was already out though. Angel watched him sleep for a minute before leaving. As if worrying about Doyle wasn't enough, Angel thought. Now I have to worry about me too.
Cordelia finally went home after Angel went to tell Harry what had transpired. She was worn out physically and mentally and was very receptive to Dennis' fussing over her. Dennis had missed her over the last few days and had a hot shower and clean clothes waiting for her when she arrived home. 'If nothing else, I sure know how to pick a roommate', Cordelia thought.
She had barely gotten dressed when Angel called her. Doyle was awake, at least for a while, he told her, and he appeared to be okay with his new circumstances. This Cordelia found hard to believe, and she resolved to visit Doyle as soon as she could.
Doyle was sound asleep when she made it to the hospital. He looked very worn, she thought to herself, even old. But much better than he had when he first returned. She supposed she would have gotten used to his scarred appearance, but she was much happier to see him the way she had remembered him. She ran her fingers slowly across his fingers, up his arm and neck, and gently stroked his cheek and hair. She pulled her hand away when Doyle stirred slightly.
"Don' stop now Princess. Tha's wonderful." Doyle gazed at her adoringly.
Cordelia suddenly felt uncomfortable. If Doyle was never going to walk or -- she cut off the next thought before it could start -- then she probably shouldn't allow herself to keep feeling the emotions for him that she'd had the last few days. But he needed her, she reminded herself.
"Okay Doyle. If you like it..." she had some trouble with the words, and now that Doyle was awake and watching her it was hard to reach back out and touch his face again. "How are y -- are you -- I -- um--"
"I'm tired," he told her softly. "I had a vision. It hurt...I want to sleep...stay with me while... please."
Cordelia settled for nodding. She couldn't think of anything to say to him anyway.
Doyle slowly closed his eyes as Cordelia petted him softly. When she thought he was asleep, she started to get up.
"He's in trouble Cordy." Suddenly Doyle was awake again.
She had to think for a moment before she remembered Doyle had said he had another vision. "Who's in trouble?"
"Angel," Doyle whispered. "You have to help him." And then he slept again.
"Great," Cordelia announced to no one in particular. And to herself, "What on earth could I do to help Angel?"
Wolfram and Hart was such a longstanding pain in the ass of the Los Angeles Police Department that had someone told Harlan he would someday be working for that law firm he probably would have died laughing. Yet here he was, driving to the hospital to set up a trap on behalf of one of those creepy attorneys. Strange what love will make you do sometimes, thought Harlan.
When he had first been assigned to partner with Kate Lockley several years ago, he had initially refused to be partnered with a woman. They shouldn't be cops, he had thought, at least not outside of the stationhouse. His supervisors ordered him to work with her or find another job though, and with the police force the only job he'd ever known or wanted, well, he decided he'd better get used to her. And he had.
Kate was the best cop he'd ever worked with. The most driven, the most intelligent and oh my god the most beautiful. Once he realized these things, he'd fallen totally, hopelessly in love with her. And she never noticed. Not once, not for an instant. Even after he'd told his feelings to her after that ridiculous spiked punch incident, she'd totally forgotten everything he'd told her -- that or she was doing a fine job of pretending. And it ate at him.
What ate at him even more though, was this Angel fellow. It seemed to Harlan that from the moment Angel showed up, Harlan had ceased to exist in Kate's world. He'd never been jealous in his life, not that he could remember anyway, until the handsome mystery man showed up and swept Kate away. Harlan figured the only way he would ever get another chance at Kate would be if he could get Angel out of the picture -- permanently. So when one of Wolfram and Hart's attorneys had made him an offer -- yes, he was taking money too, but he didn't need that. He simply wanted Angel gone.
Now he was working with his sworn enemies and taking advantage of some guy in a hospital. How far have I fallen, he wondered to himself. And in the back of his mind, how much farther will I go?
Lee Mercer had taken the news of Alexander Williams' death with a subtle amusement. Beyond the fact he didn't have any particular need or fondness for his fellow junior partners at Wolfram and Hart, he'd always thought Williams an idiot and, sure enough, he'd proved that. No contingency plans in case the first plot didn't work, and he underestimated the vampire to boot.
But Mercer did take interest in Williams' death as it inspired some of his own ideas for catching the vampire. And when the police assigned Kate Lockley and her partner to investigate the case, he was positively gleeful. He saw an opportunity to eliminate the pesky Lockley as well as Angel. And he had a feeling, correct as it turned out, that Lockley's partner could be convinced to participate. Williams was right about the idea of using the demon for bait, Mercer had deduced He just put way too much stock in actually having the demon in hand for that task. With police assistance, he figured, the demon need only be alive. And when Harlan confirmed that information, Mercer was ready to make a move.
Doyle wasn't particularly surprised by much of what Angel had told him. He had already figured the Oracles and the Powers That Be were responsible for his being alive -- who else could be? And he thought he recalled someone who told him the Powers were going to send him back, but that memory felt as vague as his body did.
Doyle had also suspected something was wrong with his legs before Angel told him. Mostly because they didn't hurt. His back hurt a lot, and he felt like there was a hole running through the center of his body, but he hadn't felt anything below that yet and it had dawned on him he probably wasn't going to. 'Damn', he thought. But the rest of him was feeling a lot better than it had before, so he'd already started considering this as an even trade before he knew for certain he was paralyzed. When Angel told him he looked normal, Doyle decided he had traded up. 'At least now Cordelia can stand to look at me', he figured.
Doyle caught on to Angel's distress early on too, although it was beyond him why the vampire would be upset. Sure, this wasn't what they'd had in mind for an end result, but it could be worse, Doyle reasoned. I'm not dead. But he was going to have his work cut out for him to convince Angel of that. The vision hadn't helped at all; something was going to happen. And there wasn't anything Doyle could do about it.
Seeing Cordelia was a treat after that, even though Doyle was too tired to appreciate it as much as he might. And it had occurred to him he didn't know what Cordelia would want with him, now that he wouldn't be much of a man anymore. But her hands felt so good running across his face he didn't want to think about much else. And he was nearly asleep again when the thought struck him -- maybe Cordelia could help Angel. Well, maybe not much, but maybe she could. She should at least know. And then Doyle slept.
He was unaware of the men who came into his room later that night, much less what they might have in mind.
Harlan was increasingly apprehensive as he approached the floor nurse responsible for Doyle. If he'd been there with his own men, he wouldn't have had a second thought. But he was flanked by Mercer's people and frankly, he didn't trust them much. Mercer was insistent that only Angel was in danger from his men though, and repeatedly assured Harlan no one else would be harmed.
The nurse was a little startled. "Sir? Can I help you?"
Here goes nothing, thought Harlan. "LAPD," he told her. "I understand you have a patient on this floor, an Allan Doyle?"
"Yes, yes he was brought in yesterday. Is something wrong?"
"Did he have any visitors, say, a very tall, dark-haired man?" Harlan had a sketch of Angel on hand to show her.
"He was in earlier today. Said he'd be back later tonight. Why?"
"We have reason to believe he was involved in a murder yesterday. And we need to pick him up for questioning, the sooner the better. We thought he might be coming back here."
"We'd like to stake out the room, if you don't mind I'd like to have some men posted here tonight. And if you could alert us as soon as you see this man..."
"Of course," the nurse agreed. She showed them to Doyle's room, where Harlan thanked her for her help. As soon as she was out of sight, the rest of Mercer's men showed up. Harlan left two fake uniforms in the hallway and the rest of them quietly went into Doyle's room.
Harlan noted that Doyle was soundly asleep and clearly not in a position to interfere with them -- well, unless he tried to warn off Angel. Harlan instructed one of his men to make sure Doyle stayed quiet when Angel showed up. And then they waited.
Not as long as Harlan thought they might have to though, less than two hours. The nurse was as good as her word, buzzing the room as soon as Angel appeared. The buzzer was loud enough to wake Doyle, but the assigned goon quickly put a hand over Doyle's mouth before he could register what was going on, much less yell. Harlan pulled the other two men back in the room and they waited for their ambush.
Doyle had been having an odd dream in which several men were standing around him without saying anything. When the buzzer went off it sufficiently startled him to wake him, at which point he discovered rather rudely that he hadn't been dreaming. One of the men promptly clamped a hand over Doyle's mouth before he could even consider speaking. The guy stank too.
One of the men in the room, the one who seemed to be in charge, was vaguely familiar to Doyle and it occurred to him he'd seen him in his vision. He knew him from somewhere else too, but still couldn't think of where. Doyle realized they must be here in hopes of capturing Angel. And there was only one thing he could think of to try to stop them.
When Angel opened the door, Doyle summoned up every bit of strength he could find and switched into demon form. The goon was not at all happy to find a half dozen spikes driven through his hand and yanked his hand back quickly, squawking loudly. "Angel, run!" Doyle cried hoarsely as he changed back into a human. The bleeding goon, not at all amused, punched Doyle in the face the moment the spikes vanished. Doyle passed out again. But before he did, he noticed something -- one of feet was tingling.
Despite Doyle's warnings earlier, Angel was feeling fairly light-hearted, certainly by his standards. Things weren't as bad as he was afraid they were going to be. Doyle was alive and Angel was looking forward to visiting him again.
Angel didn't notice the nurse looking at him oddly when he came into the hospital and didn't see her pressing the buzzer either. But his senses did start sending signals when he got close to Doyle's room. He could smell a lot of people he hadn't smelled earlier -- and he doubted they were friendly.
He opened the door to Doyle's room more cautiously than he might have ordinarily and immediately saw the man who was holding down Doyle. Angel froze momentarily but Doyle's change into demon form and warning brought him back to reality and he ran. The men who had been hiding in Doyle's room charged out of the room after him and chased him down the hallway. Angel decided on the stairwell as his best option and ran through the doorway -- and right into the net another handful of goons had waiting for him.
Angel tried to get himself free from the net but one of the goons pressed a cross against his hand. Angel screamed at the burning and wasn't able to fight back when another of the goons chloroformed him.
Mercer was also waiting in the stairwell. Harlan approached him, a little embarrassed that he hadn't trapped Angel in Doyle's room and more than a little shocked at Doyle's performance -- he had no idea the guy wasn't human. Mercer grinned at him evilly. "This is why you should always have a contingency plan," he chuckled. And then he kicked the already unconscious Angel, hard.
After leaving Doyle, Wesley and Harry had gone together for coffee. They talked about demons, and they talked about Angel. Eventually, they talked about Doyle too.
Wesley, of course, was smitten with Harry from the first, but it was not much longer before Harry found herself attracted to the polite and, she thought, very charming Briton. It had always been part of her nature to believe in the better aspects of each person she encountered and she found no reason to believe Wesley had meant any harm to Francis. And while she didn't say so, she thought his attempts to apologize to both Francis and Angel confirmed he was, at heart, a good man.
When Wesley asked about Francis, she told him the truth. They had been madly in love, but they had also been far too young for marriage under any circumstance, much less in the peculiar situation Francis' heritage had suddenly presented. She decided not to sugarcoat any of it. Wesley seemed surprised that Francis had willingly, intentionally driven her away. He told her she was far too fine a woman to be lost so easily, and she blushed.
After several hours had passed in pleasant conversation, Harry found herself wanting to see Francis again. Wesley also wanted to see him again, and take another try at his apology.
Upon their arrival at the hospital, they found the nurse in a tizzy and police just arriving.
"Francis? Francis, honey?"
Doyle's recollection of earlier events was a little vague, but otherwise he was able to bring himself to a waking state better than before. In fact, he felt much better than he had before, and he still had that odd feeling in his foot. His cheek hurt where he'd been struck, Harry had already found the bruise.
"What happened here? There's police everywhere -- and you're hurt!" she exclaimed, although she was clearly delighted he was awake too.
There was also someone else with her, someone he faintly recalled having seen before. Then he remembered -- it was the man who had shot him the day before. Doyle momentarily forgot about Harry.
"What, you here to finish screwin' up? I'd a thought Angel would've killed you by now," Doyle remarked casually, but with a less forgiving look in his face. Doyle saw no need for patience with this idiot, but was having trouble finding it in himself to hate the guy either.
Wesley was uncomfortable, not least because Doyle was unable to work up anything stronger than annoyance. "Um, should I understand you don't quite, uh, hate me? You're quite fully entitled to," he stuttered.
Doyle thought about it a bit. "Nah, I guess I don't. That piece o' legal garbage, he told you I was the bad guy? I spose I should be mad at somebody, I should be mad at him then right?"
Harry was smiling to herself. Holding grudges was not something Francis had ever been good at, and this time she was particularly pleased by this trait. Doyle noticed her pleasure and returned his attention to Wesley.
"You been hittin' on my wife here?"
"Still gotta look out for ya though girl. Don't want you hooking up with any more demon types, they're all trouble. specially me."
"I assure you, my intentions are honorable," Wesley stammered. "She's...very lovely you know."
"Yeah," Doyle said, his voice suddenly tinged with sadness. "I know."
"Oh, Francis..." Harry started to say, taking Doyle's hand as she did.
Doyle gripped her hand tightly. Angel had once trusted this Wesley fellow. It occurred to Doyle he was as good a chance as any. "They took Angel," Doyle said suddenly.
"Come again?" asked Wesley.
"You were sayin' about the cops...there were some here, in my room, and they nicked Angel. The one bastard popped me too."
"Good Lord." Wesley promptly started pacing about. "Do you have any idea who they were?"
"Human. I think I saw the one guy before..." Doyle stopped as Kate suddenly appeared in the room. Seeing her stirred his memory. "Yeah, yeah I did. Your partner," Doyle stared at Kate.
"My partner what?" asked Kate. "I got a call there was a disturbance up here, when they told me you were involved I came straight over." Kate noticed Harry. "Who are you?"
"She's my ex. Harry, Kate," Doyle introduced them quickly.
Kate noticed Wesley. "We should talk," she told him quietly. Wesley realized she suspected him.
"Yes indeed. But, I believe Doyle has more important business for you at the moment," Wesley said quickly.
Kate turned back to Doyle. "What was that about my partner again?"
"He was here, a bit ago. With a bunch of muscle guys. They took Angel."
"Beg pardon?" Kate was thunderstruck.
"Creeps slugged me too."
"Harlan took Angel? Where, what---"
"I don't know. I'm no help, okay? I just know he was here, an' they took Angel an' I don't think they were plannin' anything legal for im." Doyle felt the momentary energy fading from him.
"That's impossible. Harlan's right out here, I'll bring him in and you'll see you're wrong." Kate wheeled and left in disbelief.
"Are you sure Francis?" Harry asked.
"Yeah." Doyle regarded Wesley briefly. "I had a vision earlier, that these fellas had Angel chained up somewhere. You gotta get him out of there."
"Well," Wesley found it odd Doyle seemed to think he could rescue Angel. "Did you see where he is?"
Doyle's face fell. He had no idea where Angel was. It was stupid of him to think there was anything he could do to help his friend. "No," he whispered. "I just saw him -- and people -- and it's totally stupid but I thought I saw a waterfall, with rocks and stuff. I don't know what any of it means." Doyle closed his eyes and hoped he wouldn't cry. He didn't want Harry to see.
Kate came back in the room, pulling Harlan behind her and dragging him beside Doyle's bed. "Hey, Doyle," she snapped. Doyle opened his eyes, saw Harlan and glared at him. Harlan, for his part, was too embarrassed to look at Doyle. "Harlan, he says you kidnapped Angel," Kate barked. "Tell him he's an idiot."
Harlan looked at his feet in silence. Kate slowly, horribly realized Doyle was telling the truth. "He's not, is he? Harlan--"
"Yeah, I helped catch him," Harlan blurted.
"Wolfram and Hart. One of theirs...he offered me money, to help them catch Angel. I did," Harlan admitted.
"Where'd they take him?" Doyle asked gruffly.
Harlan was silent.
"I said, where--" Doyle raised his voice to the extent he could.
Harlan shrank back away from Doyle. "He's a monster," Harlan told Kate fearfully.
"Oh, please," said Kate with annoyance.
"Really, Kate, don't let him near me--"
Doyle had an idea. "Kate, maybe I can convince him to tell us what he did with Angel," Doyle suggested. "Maybe if he were...real...close..."
Wesley picked up on the idea first. "Yes, indeed," Wesley said casually, grasping one of Harlan's hands. "Close enough to touch." Wesley pressed Harlan's hand against Doyle's cheek. Harlan began to panic.
"Oh, no, please no, don't--"
Doyle had already figured Kate would find out what he really was sooner or later. Might as well be now. He changed to demon form. Harlan howled as the spikes pushed through his flesh. "Where is Angel?" Doyle asked again. "Or shall I get...closer?"
"They -- them -- Wolfram and Hart, they have some place outside town where they took Angel."
"What were they going to do?" demanded Wesley.
"They didn't tell me a lot," Harlan babbled. "Just something about a maze, and some creature, blue thing, Annie or something like that--"
Harry had a thought. "An Anahi demon?"
Harlan was staring at the blood running from his hand and down Doyle's face. "Yes, I think, something like that, please get me away from him!"
"Good enough," announced Wesley, and pulled Harlan's hand off Doyle. Doyle, relieved, reverted to human. He didn't think he could have kept up the demon aspect a minute longer. Harry wiped Harlan's blood off of Doyle's face.
"Maybe he should take you to this place," Doyle commented tiredly.
"Great idea. And while we're going, maybe he'll explain just WHAT IN THE HELL WERE YOU THINKING!" Kate yelled.
"Just...help...Angel..." Doyle was now exhausted. "And tell Cordy..." he couldn't keep his eyes open.
"We'll do what we can Francis," Harry ran her fingers through Doyle's hair. "You did your best." Doyle didn't respond.
"Start moving," Kate barked at Harlan. They left.
Back in the room, Doyle wasn't completely asleep, not yet. He had new thoughts on his mind. Because now both of his feet were tingling.
Kate waited until they were all out of the building and in her car to begin interrogations. "I know you two know. What the hell is he?"
Wesley and Harry looked at each other. Harry went ahead. "Francis is half Brachen demon. He doesn't care for it much, only uses it when he has to."
"Is he...like Angel?"
"Oh no," offered Wesley. "To the best of anyone's knowledge, Brachens are rather amiable as demons go. And Doyle's humanity is most definitely dominant."
"He's on our side," affirmed Harry.
"Could have fooled me," grumbled Harlan.
Kate turned on him. "Shut up," she told him. "You don't deserve that badge."
"If I may interrupt," Wesley asked cautiously. Receiving no objections, he continued. "I think our first order of business may be finding out what an Anahi is and how to destroy it. I've heard of them, but I don't recall much other than large' and blue'."
"They're called Anahi, because they annihilate," Harry said softly. "There's no known way to stop them. And they're very strong. Much stronger than Angel."
Kate had always had full confidence in Angel's fighting abilities, but this didn't sound good. Although, she found it hard to believe she was participating in a conversation about something she thought parents invented to keep kids quiet at night. "You're sure nothing beats this thing?"
"Nothing." Harry said sadly.
"Well, shouldn't we at least look first? We should involve Cordelia. And I could take a look through Angel's library while we're there," suggested Wesley. And, perhaps, make some sense of the waterfall, he thought. Wesley was convinced there was a significance to Doyle's vision, he simply couldn't imagine what it was yet.
"All right," agreed Kate.
Angel came to slowly and dully realized he couldn't move. Well Doyle, I think we'll do just fine together,' he thought to himself wrily. As he became more aware of his situation, Angel found himself chained, hand and foot, to a stone floor, in a small room without windows but with two doors. It was damp and cold, and sounds reverberated about the room from inside -- and outside. Somewhere in here, wherever this was, there was a rather sizeable demon. He could hear it roaring in anger, and he thought, hunger. Am I dinner?' he pondered.
He snapped to attention when he was kicked.
"How kind of you to rejoin us in time for business," said a slight man in an expensive suit.
Wolfram and Hart. Swell. "Not you guys again," muttered Angel. "I guess the joke about lawyers and lab rats was true, huh?"
The lawyer ignored the remark. He didn't look familiar to Angel, but the attorney clearly knew who Angel was. "You are a fortunate...creature," commented the lawyer. "The senior partners are at a conference in New York, otherwise we would have disposed of you by now. But they have indicated a desire to view your demise," he continued, indicating towards a video camera mounted on the wall.
"Pay per view? I think I can last longer than the last guy that fought Tyson."
This comment was also ignored. "I'm sure you can hear the Anahi," he remarked coolly. "As you may know, this demon is notorious for being indestructible. And it is not picky about what it eats. As soon as Mr. Hart and Mr. Wolfram are available, presumably sometime tomorrow, we will release you into the maze. You may be able to escape the Anahi for a time. But, in time, it will find you. And you will cause us no further trouble."
The lawyer smiled thinly at Angel. "And if all goes well, Ms. Lockley will cause us no further trouble as well. Not that you can do anything about it." He turned and left.
Angel had heard of Anahis before. And he knew they couldn't be destroyed. This was going to be a very big problem.
Cordelia went to the office looking for Angel, mainly because she didn't want to go home. Angel wasn't exactly her idea of emotional support, but she didn't feel like having Dennis wait on her right now. And, she thought, Doyle thinks Angel's in trouble, I ought to at least deliver the mail.
Angel wasn't there. Not in his apartment either. He'd probably gone to see Doyle, she thought to herself. She was just leaving again when she was surprised to once again encounter Wesley at the door.
"Now what?" she demanded of him with irritation. Then Harry appeared behind him, followed by Kate, who was dragging her partner by handcuffs. Cordelia remembered what Doyle had told her about trouble for Angel. Uh oh.
"It's Angel, isn't it?
Harry nodded. Wesley had swiftly dodged Cordelia and gone straight down the stairs, while Kate hauled Harlan in.
"Where's he going? And who's this creep?"
"My partner," answered Kate. "And Wesley is looking up some sort of demon creature. Harlan here set up Angel for Wolfram and Hart. After he takes us wherever Angel is, I'm going to kill him!" she sang cheerfully.
"Sounds like the biggest party in town," Cordelia commented.
"It's going to be big," Harry told her. "They're planning to feed Angel to an Anahi demon."
"Never heard of it. Sounds like a lot of fun though."
"The most. They're indestructible."
"Oh," said Cordelia. "We have a problem then."
"Not to mention we don't have a plan," added Kate.
"Well don't look at me," exclaimed Cordelia. "I lost my planner."
"Haven't we all?" asked Kate without irony.
"I found something!" Wesley came bounding back up the stairs. "Anahis ARE indestructible!"
"We knew that," said Cordelia testily. "Next you'll tell me water's wet."
"Exactly!" Wesley crowed.
"He didn't get that, did he?" Cordelia asked Harry. Harry shrugged in confusion.
"Doyle said he'd seen a waterfall but didn't know what it meant. The books say that while Anahis can't be destroyed, they can be frightened so much they flee into another dimension. With water. They're quite terrified of it," Wesley explained breathlessly.
"So, what, we turn a hose on this thing?" asked Cordelia.
Wesley, Harry and Kate looked at each other. "Fabulous idea, Cordelia, absolutely fabulous," said Harry in awe.
Kate had some connections at the fire department. With a little charming assistance from Harry, the two convinced the fire chief to let them 'borrow' a fire engine. Once all were on board, including the still-handcuffed Harlan, Kate gave Wesley the keys.
"Please bring it back alive. You have no idea how many favors I just called in," she advised him. "I'll follow you guys in the car."
Kate didn't even make it to the car before she was grabbed by the same men who had taken Angel.
Fortunately Harlan had not only been to the building before, and (after a few mistakes) was able to find it, but it wasn't as far out of town as he'd thought. Wolfram and Hart had bought an older factory for their purposes, and there were a few fire hydrants in the vicinity. Wesley assigned Harry to water duty. Too dangerous for you to come in, he told her. Mostly he didn't want to lose her already.
Harry was disappointed. Cordelia was livid. "Why isn't this too dangerous for me? Just because monsters like chasing me doesn't mean I like it!"
Wesley tried to think quickly. "Well, you should come along because...you're very good with that crossbow. You could be handy."
"You mean like this?" Cordelia aimed the crossbow at Wesley and fired. Wesley cowered in terror before realizing she'd missed.
"Maybe you're not quite on target," he said nervously.
"No, I'd say she made a bullseye," remarked Harry, impressed.
Wesley turned around. A large man who had been sporting a knife in his hand but now had an arrow in his chest was thrashing about on the ground.
"Say thank you Wesley," demanded Cordelia.
"Thank you, Cordelia."
"Good. Think he could tell us anything?" Cordelia stood over the man and starting yelling at him. "What do you think you're doing, you piece of poop! Tell me or I'll shoot another one in a more painful place!"
"I was just supposed to let 'em in with the girl, I swear!"
"Girl?" inquired Wesley.
"The lady cop," the man moaned, "All I did was let 'em in and lock the door when they left, that was all."
Wesley bound and gagged the man and dropped him behind a bush. Cordelia, mindful of the man's words, fished through his pockets and turned up the keys.
"Well at least now we can get in there," she remarked.
"Kate! They've got Kate!" howled Harlan, who was still handcuffed in the cab of the truck.
"Like you care. You started this!" snapped Cordelia.
"But Kate wasn't supposed to get hurt! Nobody was except Angel, they promised me -- oh crap," Harlan realized. "I've been had."
"Please, you have to let me help Kate. Please."
"We really could use the help." Wesley thought the man's devotion to Kate was commendable, if misdirected. He let Harlan loose and gave Harry the cell phone. "We'll call you when we're ready for the water."
Harry kissed Wesley. "Be careful in there."
Wesley was too deliriously happy to be careful.
Angel spent most of the night trying to think of any possible way out and all he could come up with was to try to get out of the building before the demon found him. But somehow he doubted there was a door left open and even if there was, how would he find his way through the maze first? He hoped he would be able to smell the lawyer's trail. Otherwise, he was in big trouble.
The demon hadn't stopped growling all night. It sounded very hungry. Angel wasn't sure just how far away it was though with all the echoes. But there were no other sounds to be heard.
After several hours, Angel was dimly aware of hearing a door open distantly. He thought he heard a woman screaming. Kate. The lawyer wasn't kidding then; he had caught her. And she was raising hell. He heard the door close again. Then a voice came out of a loudspeaker he didn't know was in the room.
"Good morning. Are you ready to play our little game? We are."
The lights came on. At first Angel was surprised but then he remembered this party was to be on tape. They would need the lights. That was probably the only favor they were going to do for him.
"You may have heard Officer Lockley. She is also somewhere in the maze. Wouldn't you like to know where?"
The voice wasn't familiar to him. "Who the hell is this?" Angel demanded.
"My, my. Rude aren't we? I am Mr. Wolfram. My compatriot, Mr. Hart, is also present. We have so looked forward to today, we must tell you."
Angel snorted. "I'm looking forward to the day I kick your ass."
"Tut--tut now. Such language." A second voice. Presumably Hart. "I somehow doubt, however, you'll have the opportunity to make good on your promise." The chains that held Angel down suddenly fell off. "Run along now. Do make this entertaining."
Angel heard the click as the speaker shut off. Too bad, he thought, I had some more language for you. He forgot his anger at his adversaries when he heard the clang of a gate and more roars from the Anahi. Great. It was loose, too. It took him a moment or two to shake off the stiffness in his limbs, then he set off into the maze.
Angel had decided early on which door to use for his exit. He could hear far more sounds coming from one than the other and concluded he was more likely to find his way out through that one. Particularly since that was the direction of the door he had heard opening and closing. Angel wondered if Wolfram and Hart had any idea just how developed vampire senses were. Especially since he could smell the trail the attorney had taken last night just fine. He could at least get to the door. But could he find Kate?
There were actually several doors leading into the old factory, but most of them were locked tight, and, from the sounds they produced, likely reinforced from inside, Wesley thought. Meanwhile they could hear the bellows of the Anahi demon. At first the sounds came from the same area, but then they seemed to vary. The Anahi was loose, Wesley knew. The game had begun.
They could also hear Kate screaming from inside. It was unclear where exactly she was inside the building. More importantly, they could not hear Angel. All three of them wondered, one happily and two unhappily, if the demon had already caught up to the vampire.
It was some time before they found the door that the key would unlock. "Finally," Cordelia muttered. The door was sufficiently heavy that both Wesley and Harlan had to pull on it to get it open. Immediately both Kate's screams and the demon's howls became much louder.
"That thing sounds big," said Harlan.
"Hungry as well," added Wesley, straining to get some information from the sounds emanating from the building. "Either he's already finished with Angel or he's after Kate first. It sounds like he's moving towards her."
Harlan started to dash into the building. "You forgot bread crumbs," Cordelia called after him.
"It wouldn't be wise to go ahead," Wesley admonished Harlan. "I need your help with the hose."
Harlan reluctantly returned and assisted Wesley in dragging the hose into the building. "What if this doesn't work?"
"We all die," Cordelia said matter-of-factly.
"Your optimism is positively heart-warming," muttered Wesley.
Angel had estimated he was better than halfway to the door when he heard it open and heard the voices. The first voice he recognized as one of his captors and he started to back into the maze. Then he heard Wesley and Cordelia.
"What is he doing here?" Angel said to himself. And why is he with...Never mind, he decided. If Cordelia was with them, he'd best roll the dice and gamble on them. If he wanted to get Kate out of here. He could hear the demon was getting close to her, not to mention frustrated with the maze.
Angel put his nose back to work with some help from his ears and found the entrance to the building. He could get out if he wanted to. Then he noticed the fire hose. He wondered what that was for. But, presumably Cordelia and the others were on the other end of it. He followed it.
The maze turned out to be far more daunting than any of them had expected. They made repeated wrong turns and had to back-track frequently. While Kate sounded closer, so did the Anahi. Harlan began to think they weren't going to find her in time.
Then they heard Kate unleash a blood-curdling scream and the demon responded with a happy growl. He had found her. Harlan dropped the hose and dashed headlong into the maze. He had to help Kate, now.
He ran into first one dead end, then another. But, he thought, the demon sounded like it was on the other side of the wall now. He raced down the end of the wall and around it.
Kate was chained hand and foot to the wall. The Anahi demon was, as advertised, huge. And blue. And very ugly. Harlan's first estimation was that thing had at least a dozen eyes. No, he corrected himself, let's make that two dozen. And it was poking and prodding Kate, seemingly taking delight in her screams.
"Didn't anyone tell you not to play with your food!" Harlan screamed at the demon.
Harlan wasn't actually sure if he had wanted the thing's attention, but now he certainly had it. The demon turned and came lumbering after him. Uh oh, was all he could think. He froze for a moment, then broke and ran.
Harlan wasn't even thinking of trying to get back to Wesley, Cordelia and the hose which was their sole weapon. He wanted to lead the creature away from Kate. He ran, twisting and dodging through any door he could find. Then he ran into a dead end. He tried to run back out but found himself face to face with the demon. He backed into the room with the Anahi still moving deliberately towards him, chortling with delight. He backed right into the wall. There was nowhere left to go.
Unbeknownst to Harlan, he had run right past Angel. Fortunately for Angel, the Anahi was too engaged in trying to catch Harlan to notice him either. Angel waited for the demon to get far enough ahead of him that he might get a fair start.
Angel had decided to assume Wesley and Cordelia had found some way in which the demon could be defeated. At least, he couldn't think of any other reason they'd be in here with a fire hose. He understood Harlan was trying to lead the demon away from Kate and that had given Angel an idea -- if Wesley and Cordelia were ready to try to destroy the demon, perhaps he could lead the demon to them. He was pretty sure he knew their location and could get back to it. He hoped.
Angel's thoughts were interrupted by a horrific scream from Harlan and a growl from the Anahi, followed by what sounded like chewing. He didn't hear any further noise from Harlan and had a pretty good idea he didn't want to know what happened in there. The Anahi emerged again minutes later, a little slower now and with blood on its face. Now, thought Angel.
"Hey, blue boy -- you forgot your lunch." Angel stepped out in front of the demon. The Anahi perked up at the sight of more food. Angel turned and ran.
He had correctly anticipated the way back, he thought. Angel let the demon keep close enough for interest as he ducked in and out of the rooms and hallways towards Wesley and Cordelia.
"Wesley!" Angel hollered. "I'm leading him to you! Get ready to do something!"
Angel made what he thought was the last turn before he would see them. But all he saw was walls. And the Anahi grunted happily behind him.
Wesley was dismayed when Harlan took off without them. Cordelia had difficulty dragging the hose, and besides, it was her duty to tell Harry when to turn on the water, something she wouldn't be able to do if she were carrying the hose. So he had to drag the rather heavy thing himself.
He heard Harlan taunt the Anahi and run away. Not an entirely unreasonable plan, Wesley thought, but unlikely to accomplish much either. He was right. Moments later he heard Harlan screaming and knew he wasn't going to be getting any more help with the hose.
Wesley did think they were getting close to Kate and was about to give the hose another pull when he heard Angel taunt the demon. His hopes rose; he had seriously believed the demon must have already eliminated the vampire. When he heard Angel shout instructions, Wesley decided it was time for the water.
"Cordelia!" Cordelia dropped the hose, not that she was helping with it anyway, and pulled out the phone.
"Harry, turn it on!" Silence. Oh no. "Harry?"
Wesley could just barely hear Harry's response. "I can't turn it! I think it's rusted...I'm not strong enough."
Wesley yanked the phone away from Cordelia. "Harry, you will turn it. No isn't an option." He shoved the phone back into Cordelia's hand and resumed pulling the hose in the direction of Angel's voice.
From the sounds of Angel running, Wesley thought Angel was about to turn the corner and run right into him, but then the footsteps turned away from him instead of towards him. As Wesley pulled the hose around the corner, he saw the Anahi deliberately walking through a doorway and he realized the demon had Angel cornered. 'Oh bugger' he thought and then realized he'd said it out loud. He gripped the hose and pulled for all he was worth until he reached the doorway. The Anahi had Angel in its hands and appeared to be attempting to determine which part to eat first.
"Why, you idiotic creature," Wesley yelled at the demon. "Haven't you ever had a bath? You stink like a, like a...oh, you smell like something bad."
One thing was quite certain -- the Anahi reacted to insults. It threw Angel against the wall and advanced on Wesley. 'Please, dear god, let Harry get the water on.' Wesley didn't often pray but now seemed like an appropriate time. The Anahi grasped Wesley around the throat and lifted him off the ground, choking him as it snarled. 'This is it, then' he thought. Then the water came on.
The initial blast of water was so hard Wesley let go of the hose even as the Anahi let go of Wesley. The Anahi let out a screech of terror as the hose whipped around the room of its own accord. Finally Wesley was able to wrestle it back under control and turn it directly on the demon. With another howl of terror, the demon quite suddenly vanished into thin air. Wesley continued hosing off the space the Anahi had occupied for a few minutes more before he finally turned it off.
Angel had remained where the demon had thrown him, stunned by the blow and further stunned by the demonstration he had just witnessed. It occurred to Wesley Angel might not be all that glad to see him and he approached him with the utmost of caution.
"Angel? Are you all right?"
"Yes. Well, I will be when there's only one of you. And don't move so much."
"You -- you're not going to hurt me are you?"
"No, Wesley, I'm not going to hurt you. I think it's considered bad form to hurt someone who just saved your life."
"Does this mean that I--"
"No! Or...let me think about it a while," Angel staggered unsteadily to his feet. "Where's Kate?"
"Still here and unharmed to the best of my knowledge," Wesley answered.
"Good. Let's get out of this place before the cavalry shows up."
Wesley wasn't sure what Angel meant. "Cavalry?"
"Smile, Wes, you're on candid camera," Angel gestured towards the camera in the room. "We're probably on audio too. I think leaving would be a really good idea."
"Indeed," was all Wesley could think to say.
Angel paused, then looked into the camera. "I'm still gonna kick your ass," he informed the camera.
They followed the hose back to Cordelia. "Oh, look what the cat dragged in," she snipped. Angel and Wesley were both drenched.
"We probably do look a sight, don't we?" Wesley remarked.
Angel was sufficiently back in command to sniff out Kate, with some help from Kate calling them. And the hose did them well for getting back out of the factory to the anxiously waiting Harry, who promptly threw her arms around Wesley, much to his delight.
"You're all safe! You're all-- " Harry realized they were missing one. "Where's..."
"He's gone," Angel said brusquely. "We better get that way too."
"That thing got Harlan, didn't it?" Kate asked. Angel nodded, then shoved Kate into the truck.
After returning the fire truck, they agreed to visit Doyle and tell him what had happened. Doyle was so clearly overjoyed that Angel was back, however, telling him the story seemed anti-climactic. Kate sat to the side, alone and thinking, while the others told Doyle various -- and occasionally conflicting -- versions of what had happened.
"How long, you think, before they make another try at us?" Doyle asked. "Seems to me they're tryin' a little too hard now to just quit."
"We'll have to start watching our backs," Angel agreed.
Then Cordelia interrupted. "What do we do with Wesley?" she asked Angel. Angel hadn't given much thought to that yet.
When no one else spoke up right away, Doyle decided to put in his two cents. "I think I could learn to put up w' him."
Angel was relieved. He had thought he probably would have to forgive Wesley sooner or later but it was easier with Doyle's agreement. "If you don't mind him being there," he acquiesced. Then giving Wesley a glare, "But you stay out of my way and do only what I tell you. You're dangerous when you try to be your own boss."
Wesley was more than willing to abide by those rules. He had to agree with Angel's assessment too. "Agreed. We'll start over then?"
"Oh, god, I'm gonna be sick," complained Cordelia.
"I think there's a lot of starting over to be done here," Doyle said pensively. "All of us."
Angel was watching Kate. "Yes, there is."
After a while, Doyle feigned sleep in the successful hope the others would go home for the night. It wasn't that he wasn't enjoying the attention; he had something more important he needed to find out, and he had to know now.
Once he was certain he was alone for the night, Doyle changed into demon form. He closed his eyes and tried to concentrate on what it felt like, but it didn't feel any different than any other time he had taken demon form. He decided to try harder, and was so absorbed in his thoughts he nearly was caught by the night nurse.
She opened the door but it took her a moment, a very precious moment for him, Doyle thought, to turn on the light. He was human again before the lights went on.
"Are you all right, Mr. Doyle?" the nurse asked. "I thought I heard something in here."
"M'okay now, I just had a bad dream," he responded. He hoped she'd believe that. She reminded him a bit of his mother, except his mother always knew when he was lying. Fortunately, the nurse wasn't that much like his mother.
"You poor thing," she clucked. "Do you want me to leave a light on for you?"
"Uh...no. No, thanks, I think I'll be all right now."
She took him at his word and left him alone. You're gonna get caught, you keep doin' that my boy', Doyle scolded himself. Ya gonna have to be more careful than that.'
It was then that he noticed the tingling in his feet was back -- and a little stronger than before. What the hell, let's find out now then," he murmured. He closed his eyes, and summoned all his energy. Then he clenched his jaw, and tried to direct it to his right foot. His jaw began to ache and he was about to quit when it happened, and he saw it.
The big toe on his right foot moved ever so slightly.