ot man...I swear it," said Hank, getting more and more agitated.
Angel let go of the Hank's shirt, and without a word, walked back out the door. He had some more bars to visit.
He didn't hear the laughter that erupted from the back table after he left.
Wade was in the bathroom as Maggie entered the room. She walked to the closed bathroom door and knocked sharply.
"Yeah?" came the muffled voice behind the door.
"Wade it's me," responded Maggie. "Can you come out of there?"
There was silence for a few seconds, and then Wade answered her. "Yeah I guess so."
The door opened slowly and Wade emerged. Maggie took a glance at her face and noticed her red ringed eyes. She had obviously been crying.
"You okay?" prompted Maggie. For once she was not irritated by Wade's weak demeanor. This time, to her own surprise, she felt sympathetic.
"It's nothing," said Wade quietly. "It's just the stress of running from those....things, and then..."
"Then?" asked Maggie.
'Men thinking with their pants,' thought Wade, but all she said was "It's nothing."
Maggie shrugged. If Wade wasn't going to confide in her, there was nothing more she could do.
The pain finally receded and Doyle walked slowly over to the office phone. 'I'd better call the boss,' he thought to himself with a sigh.
Maggie had left the room to get some food. Quinn and Rembrandt still hadn't returned. Wade was beginning to get worried about them. Despite the danger, she felt like maybe she ought to go look for them. This world gave her the creeps, and she didn't want the guys to get into any trouble. 'At least not without me' she thought with an inward half smile. Maggie, she figured, could take care of herself.
She got up from the bed where she had spent the last hour sitting and moved to open the door. "I've got to find you guys...there could be more of those creatures around here," she whispered softly to herself. "It's a strange world...scary too."
She opened the door and stepped into the darkly lit hallway. She touched the walls where she stood. She crept silently, feeling resonances of the fear that had gripped her earlier as her hands traced lightly over the cement and mortar.
It was a strong statement for Jimmy, bartender at the Howling Wolf. He was a weasely little man who lived simply because he knew the score about his rather strange clientele. He was also squirrlier than Angel's other contacts.
Angel sighed. "Will you stop worming around the issue and get to the point?" He was sick of this. It was the fifth demon/vamp hangout he'd visited today. Night was already falling.
"Hey man," said Jimmy, casually polishing a glass. "I'm not the one who plays avenging vamp all the time. You want that job... you gotta deal with the breaks."
"The point Jimmy," said Angel, his dark eyes growing more and more irritated. Jimmy smirked and shrugged.
Angel shook his head and handed over two twenties. 'Someday I'm gonna lose it in one of dives,' he thought in aggravation.
"Well," said Jimmy conspiratorially, leaning on his elbow over the bar and taking the money in a flash. "Seems Marcus is roaming around town...and he's got a taste for a pure hearted soul. Ya dig?"
"Shit," swore Angel. "Yeah...he sacrifices the soul to Mantra...and then causes a worldwide apocalypse. Damn it!" He moved and started to go.
"Oh and don't be too long at the party Angel," called out Jimmy with a cackle as he walked out the door into the newly risen night sky. "I heard me that Marcus wants some action tonight!"
Angel reached into his pocket and pulled out the cell phone that Cordy had insisted he carry a few weeks before. "I hate this stupid thing," he muttered as he made his way past throngs of people on the street, and pulled the antennae out with his teeth. He noticed it was off, and swiftly moved to turn it on. The display lit up saying he had messages. He knew only two people had this number and swiftly dialed his office.
For once the phone connected with out a hitch. "Hello?"
"Cordy it's me."
"Finally! We've been trying to call you for over an hour. Doyle found the girl's location." She grinned. "He's sure got a headache now though..."
Angel pulled a crumpled piece of paper from his pocket. It was a drawing of a petite short-haired red head. He studied it for a moment.
"Where?" he said.
"Some run down place called the Chandler hotel. It's downtown."
"Got it. I'm on my way."
"Alright Angel," replied Cordy. "Be careful."
Angel grunted a response and clicked off the phone. He had to get to the Chandler.
Wade glanced around, suddenly feeling like she was on display. A multitude of eyes were feasting on her, and as she watched a dashing looking man begin to approach her.
The man came near came enough for Wade to smell his breath. It was a spicy peppermint smell, and it hurt her nostrils. She shrank back a bit, afraid and uneasy, and not sure why.
He was tall, with pale skin, gleaming blue eyes and blond hair, and a full red mouth. A scar ran across his cheek, but the aberration didn't take away from his sheer beauty. He looked...familiar to her somehow. He bowed graciously, but his eyes were hypnotic. "Care for a...drink my dear?"
Wade looked around. It was obvious Quinn and Remmy were no longer in the bar. A flare of jealousy filled her as she remembered the girl blatantly hitting on Quinn. If she got a drink with this guy, maybe she could even the score. Besides there was something about this man...that seemed to almost draw her in. Yet at the same time, she felt a little frightened.
She attempted to move past him when she felt the man's icy cold grip catch hold of her arm. "You don't want to go anywhere," he said suavely. There was deathly hypnotic feeling about his gaze as he caught her eyes.
Wade blinked. "I don't want to go anywhere..." she said slowly, her look turning from worried to strangely calm. The man smiled, but somehow his mouth looked like it was all teeth. He took her hand and led her out of the bar. She followed him without protest.
After their narrow escape from the girls at the bar, Quinn and Remmy had decided to grab a quick meal at the Lamplighter. They were sitting there eating when Maggie found them.
"Hey Maggie," greeted Quinn.
"Hey guys," responded Maggie.
"Where's Wade?" asked Remmy.
Maggie paused for a moment and looked at Quinn. "She was kinda upset...I tried to talk to her but she seemed to want to be alone."
"Upset?" questioned Remmy, putting down his half eaten hamburger.
"Yeah...she wouldn't tell me why. She's upstairs in the room if you want to talk to her." said Maggie, taking a seat at their table and reaching for the menu.
"I'll go," volunteered Remmy.
"No," responded Quinn. "I should go."
Remmy shrugged in aquiesance and Quinn got up from the table. "Be back later," he called out as he left the restaurant.
"I am Marcus," said the man as they paused, his blue eyes flashing with a hungry intensity. "You are she. The one."
"I'm Wade," she said in a small voice. It echoed in her ears.
She thought she could see his red lips snarl as he took in the name. But she felt totally detached from everything and everyone around her. "Wade," he said sardonically. "Such a lovely name for such a pure soul." He paused for a moment and stroked her skin. She felt shivers cascading through her. "Mangus will be pleased my dear," he said with a smile.
She didn't respond, and merely watched blankly as he looked over at the small room they had entered. Suddenly a poem she had once read came rushing into her mind.
Trickle drops! my blue veins leaving!
O drops of me! trickle, slow drops,
Candid from me falling, drip, bleeding drops,
From wounds made to free you whence you were prison'd
From my face, from my forehead and lips,
From my breast, from within where I was conceal'd, press forth red drops, confession drops,
Stain every page, stain every song I sing, every word I say, bloody drops,
Let them know your scarlet heat, let them glisten,
Saturate them with yourself all ashamed and wet,
Glow upon all I have written or shall write, bleeding drops,
Let it all be seen in your light, blushing drops.
On the floor was a black pentacle and above it a cage that hung from a metal chain. Wade knew she was in danger but something prevented her from struggling. She felt as though she was locked in the blond man's grip. She was frozen in place.
Quinn took the steps up to their room two at a time. He hated it when Wade was upset, and he knew that this had been a particularly stressful world for them. He shuddered as his mind replayed the earlier race from those...creatures...whatever they were. 'Must have been some kind of evolutionary aberration,' he thought quickly to himself and then his mind shifted back to the task at hand. 'Wade...got to concentrate on Wade.'
When he reached the door to the room he was surprised to see the tall pale skinned man that had spoken to him earlier at the bar...'about those girls,' he thought with a flush of embarrassment. The man looked like he was about to knock on their door.
Quinn spoke up first. "Can I help you with something?" he asked cautiously. This was a strange world and he didn't much feel like mixing with the natives.
The man looked at him, and Quinn felt his brown eyed stare sizing him up. The man pulled out a crumpled piece of paper. "I'm looking for this girl. The guy downstairs said she had checked into this room." He inclined his head to the door and handed the ratty piece of paper to Quinn.
Quinn took one glance at it and sucked in his breath. He recognized the drawing. It was a rough sketch, but the features were unmistakable. It was Wade. "What do you want with Wade?" he asked protectively.
Angel sighed. He hoped the young man wasn't going to give him any trouble. "Are you her friend?" he asked.
Quinn nodded in response.
Angel's face grew even more serious. "Then you should know...her life is in danger."
"What!" Quinn exclaimed, his features distorting into a worried frown. He quickly brushed past the other man and opened the door. "Wade!" he called into the silent room. "Wade are you in here?"
There was no response.
"I don't understand..." Quinn said. "Maggie said she was here."
Angel frowned. "He may already have her." he said.
"I don't understand," queried Quinn. "He? And who are you anyway?"
Angel took a deep breath. "My name is Angel. I guess you could call me a kind of P.I." He grimaced slightly at the explanation.
"I'm Quinn." replied Quinn. "The girl who's picture you are holding is my best friend. Wade. Wade Welles." He studied Angel for a moment. "Now who is he? And why did you say Wade's in danger?"
Angel looked at the door and studied the cracks that the wood exposed. "Ok...I guess I owe you an explanation of sorts," he said softly. "My friend and employee Doyle...he's sort of....I don't know...special I guess. Well...he Sees things. Visions."
Angel paused and studied his reaction.
Quinn looked at Angel incredulously. He didn't really believe in psychic powers -- that was Wade's forte. But there had been a few worlds...he remembered the tarot card reader back on Sorcerer world. "Sees things?" he repeated.
Angel sighed and took a deep breath. "Anyway...the other day, he had a vision. A vision of a girl. One that he said was in grave danger from...someone I've dealt with before." He looked at Quinn intensely, but gently. "Quinn, that vision was of Wade."
"If someone's got Wade, I've got to go after her." replied Quinn.
"It's too dangerous," protested Angel.
"I don't care," said Quinn. "Believe me, I've gotten her out of plenty of scrapes before. I'm going."
Angel sighed and nodded his head in acquiescence.
"We have to get my other friends," said Quinn. "They're downstairs at the Lamplighter."
Angel was about to protest, but something in Quinn's face told him not to.
He pulled the small cell phone out of his pocket. He dialed swiftly as he followed Quinn down the hallway to the stairs.
"I need Marcus's location."
"Already got it. You really need to learn to keep your cell phone on."
"Whatever...where is it?"
"4th Street and Main, back alley."
"Thanks. I knew I could count on you."
"Does this mean I get a raise?"
Angel grunted and clicked off the phone without answering.
Marcus led Wade to the center of the pentacle. The floor was slightly raised in the circle, creating an indention that disrupted the otherwise smooth surface.
Wade's mind felt numb. 'What am I doing here?' she thought to herself. 'Got to get away...' But somehow she couldn't seem to get her body to obey her mind's wishes. She felt fuzzy.
Marcus let go of Wade's hand, grinned and lightly stroked the pentacle on the floor. "Almost time my dear," he said, licking his lips. "Almost time." He lifted one hand straight in the air, fingers outstretched towards the cage.
Wade felt herself being gently lifted into the air. She looked down and through her insistently fuzzy brain, noticed that she was no longer on the ground. She was in fact, in the air.
Marcus laughed, but the look in his eyes was cold as ice. He motioned with his fingers, and Wade's body moved up into the air and into the metal cage. With a snap of his fingers, the door to the cage closed behind her and locked.
Wade stood in the cage and tried to scream, tried to do anything. But it was useless. She was under some kind of spell, she belatedly realized.
Marcus traced the pentacle again and glanced at his watch. "Only a half hour to midnight my dear," he said, cackling wildly. "Then it will be time...and all of the pieces of my puzzle will fall into place."
'Quinn,' she thought wildly. 'Where are you Quinn?'
Maggie glared at Remmy. "Nice going loose lips," she said.
"The portal...that was you?" Angel said, turning to Quinn.
"How do you know about the vortex?" asked Quinn.
"Doyle," replied Angel.
"Oh," responded Quinn. Maybe Angel's friend did have some sort of gift after all. He cleared his throat and began to explain. "Each reality has it's own version of history, and it's own version of the same people. I was a scientist, and I came up with a device that allows us to slide between dimensions.
Angel nodded. He knew there were other dimensions...he'd met up with people from other realities before.
'Think of a roulette wheel," continued Quinn. "You spin it, and you land on another world."
"I get it," said Angel. "Before we go in there," he said inclining his head to the wooden door that rested uncomfortably at the back of the alley. "There's something you should know."
"All I need to know is that Wade's safe," replied Quinn.
"Amen," said Remmy.
"Will you two just give the man a second so he can finish his sentence?" Maggie said brusquely.
Tears formed in his eyes, and Angel brushed a hand across his face. "As you may have guessed, I am not human."
He did not want them to be frightened, so he quickly interjected. "I will not hurt you." He didn't know quite what else to do to reassure them and so he simply sat still, watching for their reaction.
The three sliders looked at him, then at each other. "So what are you then?" asked Quinn.
"A vampire with a soul," responded Angel.
"Huh?" asked Quinn.
"Let me explain," said Angel. Angel stared at his hands. For a moment he saw blood on them, new and
glistening. Then the vision cleared. "I was not always so magnanimous. When first I became what I am, I was unspeakably evil. Angelus they called me. The devil with the face of an Angel." He paused, and his eyes filled with tears again. "I killed," he whispered hoarsely. "Killed for lust...for sport...for my own ends. And not only that. Sometimes I let my victims live...after I broke their minds and their will."
He shuddered at the thought, and the demon within him stirred at the memory. He took a deep breath and continued. "One day I killed the wrong woman. She had been a gypsy and her family swore revenge. They placed a curse on me. I was given back my soul."
Angel shut his eyes and his face contorted into an expression of agony. The pain of knowing...how horrible it had been. "With that soul came the knowledge of the monster that I was...that I still am."
"Angel," said Quinn quietly. "You helped us today at the bar. You're helping us now to save Wade. You may not be human, but you're no monster."
Angel breathed a sigh of relief and opened the small wooden door. It unlatched with a creak, revealing steps that led down into a darkly lit underground room.
The four rescuers walked uneasily down the steps , Angel leading the way.
"You guys leave Marcus to me," Angel said. "Concentrate on getting your friend away from this place."
The three sliders nodded in acquiescence.
When they reach the bottom of the steps a large room was revealed by the light of softly glowing candles. A pentagram decorated the floor and a cage held Wade up about 10 feet off the ground. She was standing in it and staring blankly ahead.
"Where are you Marcus?" called out Angel.
"Hello brother," laughed Marcus.
The two men looked at each other. Angel blinked. He grimaced and spoke. "You're no relative of mine Marcus. He gestured to where Wade stood, hanging from the iron cage. "Now let the girl go."
Marcus laughed and flew into the air. He gently caressed Wade's exposed cheek. Wade couldn't even feel it. One part of her brain registered that this man was touching her, but the other part, the one that controlled her actions, remained still.
"Wade!" cried out Quinn
"Don't touch her!" Angel yelled, and he lunged towards Marcus. Marcus smiled and blocked the blow easily. "Come now Angel," he taunted. "You can do better than that!"
"You haven't seen anything yet," said Angel, and he twisted and caught Marcus by the leg, knocking him down.
But Marcus was on the ground for mere moments. "That's right Angel," he said laughing. "Hate me...try to kill me! You are a vampire! You live for BLOOD!"
"I am not a killer!" cried Angel, reaching for Angelus again with his fists. Angelus sidestepped him and neatly flipped over his head, landing in a crouch. Then he charged, knocking Angel to the ground. He rolled and they struggled on the ground for a few moments.
Quinn motioned to Remmy and Maggie. "We've got to get her out of there somehow -- and avoid Marcus." he said.
They nodded. "Any bright ideas Q-ball?" Remmy asked hopefully.
"Not yet," he replied. "But three heads are better than one."
Marcus grinned again. "You'll kill them all Angel. They all die because of you. You ruined Drusilla...you killed Jenny. It's all because of you"
"You are the only killer in this room" said Angel, but his voice wavered. 'I did kill them...thousands of them...' Faces wavered in front of his mind. Hundreds upon hundreds of faces. "I will defeat you," he said calmly, drawing up to his full height and panting slightly from exertion.
Marcus peered at him mockingly. "Angel," he spat out. "You fool them all. They don't know the REAL you do they?
Once again he flew up and caressed Wade's exposed neck. "You're the one my dear...the one I've been waiting for."
"Get away from her you pasty freak!" yelled Remmy.
Angel looked pained and he stepped menacingly towards Marcus. "Stay away from her!"
Marcus bared his fangs and hissed like a snake.
Maggie looked at him. "Where's holy water when you need it?" she said.
Angel felt tears spring to his eyes. He charged his adversary, knocking him to the ground. Marcus reversed his ploy, moving from right to left and taking Angel completely off guard. Angel barely had time to block and roll under the downward blow and felt Angelus' fury when he turned direct into a hit across his jaw. Angel returned with a hit to the vampire's stomach but it didn't seem to phase him. Marcus laughed as he gained the upper hand, throwing Angel into the wall. He sneered as his human self staggered, barely able to push away. With a growl Marcus's face was replaced with his horrible vampire visage.
He rose in the air and leaned in towards Wade. Marcus sank his fangs into her shoulder and she dropped to her knees in pain a look of blank wonderment on her features.
"NO!" cried out Quinn in terror. "Angel do something!"
Angel rolled and shook off Marcus's toothy grip on Wade. Wade fell back against the bars of the cage a gaping hole in her shirt. Marcus advanced again, clawing Angel with razor sharp nails across his neck, and leaving four trails of blood.
Angel felt a renewed strength and anger surge through him. He jumped in the air with the speed of a jaguar and swiftly high kicked Marcus in the chest, sending them both crashing against the wall. Marcus snarled and pushed Angel back, sending him flailing. He twisted and with a killer's grip, pinned Angel by the throat.
"Angel! Here!" Quinn ran forward into the fray and tossed him a medium sized wooden stick that was laying on the side part of the room on the floor. Angel caught it with his free hand.
Marcus' eyes narrowed. 'So,' he thought. 'There is more to this boy than meets the eye.' He turned to look at Quinn with a sinister smile. "What? Not rushing to defend your girlfriend? Maybe she prefers someone new." He laughed and turned back towards Angel. "Women can be so fickle...can't they?"
Angel attempted to roll towards Quinn with a grunt. But Marcus blocked his path. Swiftly Angel turned his body and moved with the grace of a dancer. He flung a swift high kick and caught Marcus right in the face.
The force hit Marcus in the face and sent him sprawling on his backside. "I'll kill you!" he screamed in fury,.
"Sorry Marcus," replied Angel coolly. "I'm afraid you've left the killing part for me." He quickly twirled past Marcus and jabbed Marcus with the stick Quinn had given to him. The evil vampire groaned and then exploded into dust.
Wade seemed to wake up as if she had a long sleep. She shook her head. Finally, her body was her own again.
"Wade," Quinn called from below her. "We'll get you out. Don't worry"
"I think I can pick it," she replied, sounding like someone who had just gotten out of anesthesia. Wade crouched down in the cage and began slowly and carefully feeling along the locked door. She was determined. 'There's got to be a stress point along the edges. There always is,' she thought anxiously to herself. 'Where is it damn it?!'
She was about to give up when her fingers felt a slight warp in the far edge of the door. "There," she whispered. "Now all I need is something to jam in it."
She knew if she could wedge the stress point, she could slide the door open a crack, enabling her to reach the lock.
Wade thought for a moment. 'What can I jam in there?' She reached up a hand to brush her hair anxiously and accidentally hit her earlobe. And her earring. Her silly, silver hoop earrings. The ones with the pin at the end.
Wade smiled fiercely. "I always knew these would be a good investment," she said in satisfaction. She slipped the earring out of her ear, bent the metal into a straight line and shoved it deftly into the gap provided by the stress point. There was a groan, and the bars shifted slightly over. Wade struggled to pull it open a little farther with her fingers until they were raw, numb and slightly bleeding.
After pulling for a few minutes minutes, finally, she could fit her hand through. Small fingers reached through the crack as Wade stood on her toes and groaned with the effort. With a grunt, her hand slapped at the locking mechanism. It gave way with a soft sighing sound and the door opened. Slowly she lowered herself to the ground, with admonitions from the guys to be careful.
She touched her shoulder which was bleeding slightly. "Where...where are we? My shoulder."
Quinn grabbed her and took her in his arms. "You're safe Wade...that's all that matters. You're safe."