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Genesis III - Cast Out of the Garden

Author: Mikelesq
Concept: After Darla’s resurrection, Giles, Angel and Wesley hunt a demon created by thaumogenesis. Set between Seasons 4 and 5 of BtVS and Seasons 1 and 2 of AtS. Part Three of a trilogy.
Rating: PG-13.
Feedback: Please.
Spoilers: General foreshadowing up to Season 5 of BtVS and Season 3 of AtS.
Legal disclaimers: "Buffy the Vampire Slayer” characters and situations are owned by Joss Whedon and the producers of the show. The story is entirely fiction. Distribute if you like. Songs quoted and mentioned are the property of whoever owns the publishing rights (which certainly isn’t me).

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Therefore the Lord God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken.

Genesis, Chapter 3, verse 23

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Spike: The thing about magic? There's always consequences. Always.

'After Life,' BtVS, Season 6, episode 3

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Prologue


“Please remember to water the plants,” Cordelia said, throwing her overnight bag over her shoulder. “Like you, they need regular fluids.”

“No problem,” Angel said.

“And Wesley, please try to keep your books stacked neatly,” Cordy continued. “I do have to live here.”

“Sorry,” Wesley said wryly. “I’d hate for my research on the apocalyptic hellbeast summoned by Wolfram and Hart to clash with your decor.”

“Angel, promise me,” Cordelia said. “While I’m gone? Office. Get one.”

“I’m working on it,” Angel replied.

“Work harder. OK, I’m gone. Dennis? Keep an eye on them.”

In response, the front door of the apartment opened, revealing Giles.

“Oh,” Giles said. “I...I was going to knock. But the door just....”

“Giles!” Cordelia cried. “Hey! You look...um...like hell, actually. What’s with the sweatshirt?”

“Always a pleasure to see you, too, Cordelia,” Giles sighed. “May I come in?”

“Oh, of course you...hey, wait a minute,” Cordelia said. “You’re asking me to invite you in? Did you become a vampire?”

“No, I became well-mannered. When I was four years old,” Giles said, taking a step into the apartment. “Does that satisfy you?”

“Sure,” Cordy said. “It’s just you can’t be too careful.”

“Giles,” Wesley said, arising from his seat at the dining room table. “Good to see you. How was the trip?”

“Not bad, actually,” Giles said. “I rented a splendid motorcar. It’s a convertible. I could get used to it.”

“Giles,” Angel said.

“Angel,” Giles replied.

“Look, guys,” Cordelia said. “I hate to go, but if I miss my bus, there isn’t another one for three hours.”

“You’re leaving?” Giles asked.

“Yeah,” Cordy said. “I’m going to a three-day acting retreat. Normally I’d stay, but my teacher had to pull a lot of strings to get me a spot. There’s usually an eighteen month waiting list to get into this teacher’s workshop. It’s one of the most respected classes on spoken dialogue in LA.”

“Who’s the teacher?”

“He was one of the Darryls on ‘Newhart.’ Anyway, gotta run.”

Cordelia threw an arm around Giles’ neck and squeezed.

“You...hug now?” Giles asked.

“Yes,” Wesley replied. “It’s been an adjustment for all of us.”

“She’s had a couple of close calls,” Angel explained.

“Bad vision,” Cordelia muttered, still embracing Giles.

“Oh, yeah,” Angel added. “She lost control of her visions, and ended up in the....”

“No,” Cordelia interrupted. “Bad...vision...now...aaaaaahhhh!”

Giles gasped as Cordelia’s grip tightened, dragging them both to the floor. Giles tore himself free from Cordelia’s grasp and stood aside as Cordy writhed in pain on the carpet.

“Good Lord,” Giles exclaimed. “Does that happen every time?”

“It varies,” Wesley said, as he and Angel dropped to the floor beside Cordelia. As her vision stopped, she sat up, massaging her temples.

“Cordy,” Angel whispered. “What did you see?”

“Zombie,” Cordy responded as she tried to catch her breath. “A zombie was attacking a woman. At least, I think it was a zombie. It looked like those zombies that showed up at that party for Buffy. But....”

“But what?” Wesley asked.

“It’s weird,” Cordy said. “I think these visions are starting to get more...I could feel something. It’s like I was in its head. I could get feelings off it. The...whatever it was...it wants something. Zombies don’t want anything, do they?”

“No,” Giles chimed in. “Zombies are animated, but not sentient.”

“But it was dead,” Cordelia continued. “Definitely dead. And walking around.”

“Sounds like a vampire,” Angel said.

“No,” Cordelia said, shaking her head. “I don’t know what it is. Actually....”

After a pause, Wesley repeated:

“Actually?”

“Actually,” Cordelia said. “I don’t think IT knows what it is.”


Part I.


“Are you sure it was a good idea for Cordelia to leave?” Wesley asked.

“She’s been looking forward to this workshop for a month,” Angel replied, tossing one of the books aside and reaching for another. “I’m not going to ask her to give that up.”

“If she gets a vision....”

“She’ll call,” Angel said.

“And these visions,” Giles interjected. “They come without warning from...?”

“The Powers That Be,” Angel explained. “It’s what we call them. Doyle, the one who gave her the visions, that’s what he called them. It’s a little vague, but we have to call them something.”

“Quite right,” Giles agreed. “In fact, it sounds strangely....in any event, these visions warn of future crises?”

“Or of events that have already occurred,” Wesley said. “This attack, it may have already happened. In any case, it’s a threat.”

“Any luck with the cemetery?” Angel asked.

“It took awhile,” Wesley said. “But I found the obituary internet site Cordelia uses for research. The name Cordelia saw on the crypt, D’Angelino? There is a cemetery in Los Angeles that has at least twenty-seven members of that family buried there. Apparently their patriarch died in 1937, and the family purchased a number of plots surrounding his crypt.”

“Anything strange about the family?”

“Nothing that shows up in any newspaper accounts,” Wesley answered. “No unexplained deaths. No arrests. No unusual phenomena explained away as coincidence. None of the usual reports one would expect to see regarding a family with any connection to the black arts.”

“So the visions gave us a place,” Angel said. “We can check it out tonight.”

“That may not be necessary,” Wesley said. “According to a news article from yesterday’s newspaper, there was a burglary at the cemetery. A woman was there to visit a relative. She was suspected of...disturbing...one of the bodies.”

“Suspected?”

“According to this,” Wesley continued, “one of the bodies was found on the floor of the crypt. The woman was seen leaving the cemetery in an agitated state. The police sought her for questioning, and discovered her body in an alley nearby. A homeless man was suspected of killing her and taking her purse. Later that afternoon, the homeless man assaulted a passenger at a downtown subway station. The victim was thought to be dead, but later no body was found.”

“Sounds like we have a body hopper,” Angel surmised. “When I first moved to LA, there was a demon that moved from body to body. It fits. Walking dead, sentient. Pretty much what Cordy described.”

“Apparently then we have to pick up the trail,” Wesley concluded.

“Let me see,” Angel said, walking around to look at the computer screen over Wesley’s shoulder. “It can be tough to follow these things. They usually don’t....”

Angel leaned forward to look at the screen.

“What?” Wesley asked.

“The cemetery,” Angel replied. “It’s...the same one.”

“The same as...? You mean, the same one that Wolfram and Hart...?”

“Yes,” Angel confirmed. “We may have found the demon from the box.”

“That would make sense,” Wesley said. “If the trail leads from....”

“It doesn’t make sense,” Angel interrupted. “The demon I killed was dangerous, but nothing worth summoning from another dimension.”

“Perhaps further research will give us a better understanding of this creature,” Wesley said. “I’ll bring the computer to my flat. I have a few volumes there that may help. Also, there are other sources I can check.”

“Perfect,” Angel said. “You need any of these books for research?”

“Just the Shanahan volume,” Wesley said, picking up one of the texts. “Oh, and Giles? You were bringing...?”

“Oh, yes,” Giles said, walking over to his suitcase. He opened one of the outside pockets, and pulled out a book.

“The Swensen journal,” Giles said, handing over the book to Wesley. “You said you required it for...?”

“We’re researching a prophecy,” Wesley explained. “Apparently a law firm summoned a beast from another dimension, and it somehow is involved in...well, it’s complicated. I thought Swensen’s theories on demon invocation could shed some light on what manner of an entity may have been invoked. Thank you for bringing it.”

“Oh, not at all,” Giles said. “I needed to come to Los Angeles for...a personal matter. I would like to assist you, if you feel I can help with this zombie.”

“We can always use backup,” Angel said. “Wes, get back here after sundown, and bring weapons. Whatever this thing is, we should be ready.”

“Of course,” Wesley said, tucking Giles’ book under his arm and heading for the door.

“And Wes?” Angel called out.

“Yes?” Wesley replied, turning from the door.

“Focus on finding the next victim,” Angel said. “If this has something to do with the box, great. But the first priority is stopping this demon, whatever it is.”

“As you wish,” Wesley agreed. He opened the door and left.

“Well,” Giles said. “I never imagined the two of you would be getting on so well.”

“Wes’s alright,” Angel responded, flipping through the pages of another volume. “He’s learned to relax a little.”

“Are you sure?” Giles asked. “I mean...we had problems with him when....”

“He’s alright,” Angel repeated. “He’s become his own man. He needed to get away from the Council and find himself. He has.”

“That’s good to hear,” Giles said. “I...I never thought he was...well, I can certainly understand. I did...well, questionable things at the Council’s behest as well.”

“Hmm.”

“What?”

“It’s nothing,” Angel said, looking up from his book. “It’s just...you’re asking...you’re asking...ME...if someone can be trusted.”

Giles smiled. “I suppose there is an element of irony in that.”

“Speaking of old friends,” Angel said. “Is...?”

“She’s fine,” Giles answered. “Quite well, actually. We’re all quite well.”

“Good,” Angel muttered. “That’s...really...good. So...everyone’s OK? The whole gang? Willow...and Xander...and...?”

“She’s still seeing him.”

“Oh. Well, that’s good. Great, actually. It’s...what I wanted.”

“You, know, Angel,” Giles said. “I don’t know if I’ve ever said this, but I think it took a great deal of maturity for you to make the choice you made.”

“I was just being practical,” Angel said. “And after two hundred plus years, I should be mature.”

“I think it was best for all concerned.”

“I suppose so. I’ve found a mission here. I needed that. It couldn’t all be about her. Anyway, it was best for her. I was standing in her way.”

“I suppose that’s one way of putting it.”

“Look, I’m sure you have better things to do than fill me in on Buffy’s social life,” Angel said. “That’s not why you came to LA. If you’ve got something else....”

“No. I mean, yes, I do, but it’s nothing terribly important. I have a brief meeting this afternoon. I had planned on returning to Sunnydale this evening, but I can stay as long as you require assistance.”

“You sure Buffy will be OK without you?”

“I...that is...I’m running late for my appointment,” Giles said, reaching for his suitcase. “I’ll return before sundown.”


Part II.

“Rupert! Come in!”

“Sir Henry,” Giles said, extending his hand to the elderly gentleman across the desk. “You look well.”

“It’s the sun,” Sir Henry said. “I may teach summer semesters in California every year. Have a seat.”

Giles sat in a chair in front of the desk as Sir Henry reached down into a drawer and grabbed a dull metal disk.

“There you go,” Sir Henry, as he tossed the disk across the desk. “The seal dates back to the Incas. It’s rumored to have binding properties. It may help you with that slime demon you mentioned.”

“Hopefully so,” Giles said, taking the disk and placing it in his jacket pocket. “Thank you. We’ve had a devil of a time trying to draw it out of the sewers. How is Lydia?”

“She’s just had a son,” Sir Henry answered. “I’m actually a great-grandfather. It seems strange. Gives one a feeling of immortality, really. Speaking of the future, have you given any thought to the other matter?”

“Some,” Giles replied. “I’m really not in a position to accept. As a courtesy, I’d be willing to....”

“Rupert,” Sir Henry said, leaning across the desk. “I could have mailed the seal, and as much as a man of my age enjoys visits from former students, I doubt you made the journey simply to see me. You’ve come here as more than a courtesy.”

“I’m afraid it can’t be much more than that,” Giles sighed. “We’ve been over this. I have responsibilities in this country.”

“Oh, Rupert, you are far too talented to be responsible for only one person, or one country for that matter. You were my most gifted student. You possess a unique combination of intelligence, resourcefulness and character. You showed that when you threw off your ties to that insipid Council, albeit ten years after I told you to. You could do great things, Rupert. I wish you’d give my offer more consideration.”

“I may no longer be connected to the Council, but I’m still quite connected to the Slayer. Her work is....”

“Her work is world renown,” Sir Henry interjected. “She has quite the reputation. She’s accomplished more than three typical Slayers, and everyone knows it. And she’s done so largely without the Council’s assistance. Poor Quentin. He’s positively beside himself.”

“Then you understand. I cannot possibly abandon her now.”

“I don’t believe you would be abandoning her. If there is one element of this Slayer’s reputation that shines above all, it is her independence. It is well known that she doesn’t take orders. It’s a new world, Rupert. She’s not a girl. She’s a woman, and an American woman at that. Meanwhile, it has been at least four years since you’ve published anything of note, and you’re sitting in my office in athletic wear.”

Giles’ jaw tensed. “I may not have the usual trappings of scholarly discipline, but I have chosen to measure myself by different standards. We get results.”

“Rupert, perhaps you can fool yourself, but you cannot fool me. I can see it in your face. I can read it in the letters you send. You are not satisfied with your current situation. I can help change that. I’m offering a tenured position. You’ll be a full professor within two years. By the time you’re fifty, you’ll be knighted. And along the way, I am convinced that your research, if done within an academic setting, will do more good through the ages than you can possibly do in one lifetime with this Slayer.”

“I believe you underestimate the importance of our work in Sunnydale,” Giles argued. “And you underestimate my role in that work.”

Giles was interrupted by a gentle knock on the office door. A young woman entered.

“Cynthia,” Sir Henry said. “Rupert Giles, this is Cynthia Smalls. She’s my teaching assistant. She’s currently working on her Master’s degree in occult history.”

“A pleasure,” Giles said.

“The pleasure’s mine,” Cynthia replied. “I read your treatise on Mayan fertility rituals. It was fascinating.”

“Thank you.”

“I have a message,” Cynthia said, holding up a pink memo slip.

“From whom?” Sir Henry asked.

“Actually,” Cynthia explained. “It’s for Mr. Giles. It’s from someone named ‘Buffy.’ I swear, that’s what she said her name was.”

“This could be important,” Giles said, rising from his chair. “I should....”

“No,” Cynthia interrupted. “She said it wasn’t serious. She said to tell you: ‘Got the sewer thing. We slimed him.’ She then insisted that I draw a smiley face.”

“Oh, yes. Thank you.”

“Sounds like the girl managed quite well on her own,” Sir Henry said, and then added, “without the seal, I mean.”

“Yes,” Giles said. “Well, I should be going. I’ve taken up quite enough of your time. It’s always a pleasure to....”

“Rupert,” Sir Henry said as Giles moved toward the door. “I need an answer before the Fall semester begins. Please consider it.”

“It’s always a pleasure to see you,” Giles finished. “And it was a pleasure meeting you, Miss Smalls. Good day.”

Giles maneuvered past Cynthia and out the door.


Part III


"I got nothing on a body hopper," the purple demon at the bar whispered, as a Hytroik demon onstage belted out the lai-la-lais from 'The Boxer.' "Mostly I just run with the scavengers down near the docks. But I know someone who might."

"Who?" Wesley asked, taking a sip of his club soda.

"Toothy guy in the corner," the demon replied. "Goes by the name Merle. It'll cost you."

"Perhaps you could arrange for an introduction?"

"No time," the demon said. "My song's next. Anyway, he's not picky about who he talks to, if you're willing to pay. Hey, if you were trying to figure out how to avoid your next larval cycle, would you sing 'My Funny Valentine' or 'Yellow Brick Road'?"

"Er...well, I suppose...."

"Ah, skip it. I can't do a falsetto anyway. Good luck."

The demon arose from his barstool and walked toward the stage. Wesley took his drink and approached the corner table.

"I believe it's ‘Merle’?" Wesley asked.

"Who wants to know?" Merle shot back, his razor teeth clenched as his eyes darted around the bar.

"I am Wesley Wyndham-Price," Wes responded, throwing one of his business cards on the table and taking a seat. "I was told you could...."

"Yeah, well, someone told you wrong, man," Merle interrupted, throwing the card back at Wesley. "Tell your boss I ain't interested."

"You know Angel?"

"Not up close, and that's the way I plan on keeping it. Everybody's heard of the vampire who thinks he's Dudley Do-Right. Word is he even had The Scourge running out of town scared. I want no part of what you're selling, pal."

"I'm not selling," Wesley said, pulling an envelope out of his jacket pocket. "I'm buying."

Wesley through the envelope on the table. Merle picked up the envelope, and flipped through the twenty dollar bills.

"You got five minutes," Merle said, shoving the envelope into his pocket.

"We seek a demon that can possess the bodies of living creatures," Wesley explained. "It moves from host to host, leaving its victim dead after it passes."

"From what I hear you, got it backwards," Merle said. "The way I heard it, this thing kills first, then hops in the corpse. It's not too picky about what it jumps into, either. Word on the street says it jumped into a R'norto demon for a couple of hours this afternoon."

"Where can we find it?"

"Most of the demons 'round town are looking to not find it. It moves quick."

"Is there any information indicating what kind of a demon it is?"

"Whatever it is, it's new in town. I've heard of hoppers, but nothing like this one."

"Anything else?"

"Keep your eyes open for smoke. I hear this thing turns into blue cloud as it moves from body to body. Gives off a creepy glow. That's all I got."

"Thank you," Wesley said, arising from the table. "If I need to contact you again...?"

"I'll be here," Merle said. "Just bring cash, and keep my name out of anything, especially anything to do with your boss."

Wesley got up, took a few steps toward the exit, and was about to leave when he felt a tap on his shoulder. He turned, and found himself facing a green, horned demon wearing an electric blue blazer.

"You're new," the demon said. "And human. I guess my clientele is getting broader."

"I was just leaving," Wesley said.

"Find what you were looking for?"

"Not as much as I hoped."

"That's where I come in, lambchop. That's my gig. You got a path, I set you on it."

"You're The Host," Wesley surmised. "You're anagogic."

"Ugh, I hate that word," The Host groaned. "Sounds like I have a compulsive need to arrange my sock drawer. I like to say I'm gifted. I have a gift. The gift of music. Music is about rhythm, emotion, dreams and heartbreaks. You give me the music, I give you the music back, metaphorically."

"Ah...yes. Well, best of luck with that."

“So how about a tune?”

“Me? Sing?”

“Why not? You came here looking for something.”

“I’m afraid....”

“Don’t be,” the Host said, taking a sip from his seabreeze. “Look, normally I don’t do this, but you’re new. You don’t have to go on stage. Just sing a couple of lines from your favorite song.”

Wesley considered this. He still had no idea where to find the demon. He drew a breath, and sang:

“My Funny Valentine,
Sweet, comic Valentine,
You make me smile
in my heart....”

“Well?” Wesley asked.

“Well, for starters I know that ‘My Funny Valentine’ isn’t your favorite song,” the Host replied. “Don’t be embarrassed, puddin’. We all love ‘Yellow Polka Dot Bikini.’ It’s just nobody talks about it.”

“Ahem. Perhaps I should just....”

“Your demon will be in the alley off Seacrest Street at quarter ‘til midnight,” the Host interjected. “Show up later than that, and it’ll be long gone. It’s got a hankerin’ to take a piece out of those lawyers that cooked it up, so it won’t wait around long.”

“I...how did you...?”

“Quarter til,” the Host repeated. “No later.”

“Thank you,” Wesley said, turning toward the exit.

“And Wesley?”

Wes turned to face the Host, who had spoken his name, although Wes didn’t remember saying it.

“Tell your friends they’ve never seen one of these before,” the Host continued. “But it’s nothing they haven’t seen before.”

The Host turned and walked toward the stage before Wesley could ask for an explanation.

Wesley exited the club and walked to a payphone on the street. He grabbed change out of his pocket, dropped two quarters into the slot, dialed Cordelia’s number, and waited two rings before he heard:

“Angel Investigations.”

“Angel,” Wes spoke into the receiver. “It’s me. I’ve checked a few sources.”

“Do we know what it is?”

“Not exactly,” Wesley said. “We know that it will be in an alley on Seacrest Street at exactly quarter to midnight. We have a narrow window of opportunity. I have also confirmed that the demon is connected to Wolfram and Hart. Apparently it intends to attack the firm. I couldn’t find out why.”

“Well, that fits our theory about the box,” Angel said.

“Perhaps, but if the demon is after them, why would them summon it?”

“Maybe they can’t control it. Any word on how to spot it?”

“Not when it has possessed a host body. However, as it travels between bodies, it supposedly takes the form of a luminescent blue mist.”

“Giles is here. We’ll research that angle. The sooner we know what this thing is, the sooner we’ll know how to get rid of it.”

“I’ll be back in about ten minutes,” Wesley said. “Ironic, when you think about it. We’re actually trying to protect Wolfram and Hart.”

“We’re trying to protect the people this demon kills along the way,” Angel said. “Get back here. It’s almost sundown. We don’t have a lot of time.”

Wesley thought about debating the ethics of their current mission, but then just said:

“On my way.”

Wesley hung up the receiver.

Angel hung up his own phone, and reached for one of the volumes on the table.

“Who was that?” Giles asked as he walked into the dining area.

“Wesley,” Angel responded. “He’s got a location on our demon.”

“Good,” Giles said. “Any other information?”

“Something about a blue aura,” Angel said. “I was going to start checking it out.”

“I’ll assist,” Giles said, taking a seat at the table.

“It’s strange,” Angel said. “Why would Wolfram and Hart summon a demon that would turn on them? If there’s one thing that firm’s good at, it’s maintaining control.”

“Magic can be tricky,” Giles replied. “Whenever one starts invoking dark magics, the consequences can be...did you say it was a blue aura?”

“Yeah,” Angel muttered. “It turns blue whenever it moves from....huh.”

“It appeared after a summoning spell,” Giles said, more to himself than to Angel. “It moves from body to body, almost as though it’s....”

“Unbalanced,” Angel completed. “Unfocused. And it’s energy glows....”

“Blue,” Giles gasped.

Giles and Angel turned to face each other, and exclaimed in unison:

“Thaumogenesis!”


Part IV


Wesley walked into Cordelia’s apartment and found Angel and Giles standing over an open book at the dining room table.

“A breakthrough?” Wesley asked.

“Yes,” Giles replied. “The lawyers, they didn’t summon this demon. They created it.”

“Created it?” Wesley repeated. “That’s impossible. Even Wolfram and Hart wouldn’t know how to....”

“They didn’t know,” Angel said. “It was an accident.”

“Wesley,” Giles said. “During training, do you remember Lord Albritton discussing the theory of thaumogenesis?”

“Vaguely,” Wesley replied. “Something about demons that could be created as...as a byproduct of dark magic. He really didn’t say much about it.”

“It’s rare,” Giles said. “But I’ve seen it before.”

“So have I,” Angel added. “Not for a hundred years, though. When did you see it?”

“Well...more recently than that,” Giles said. “The point is, thaumogenesis creates a new species of demon. That’s why the particular traits of this demon are incongruous with any we’ve found in our research.”

“You’ve both seen a demon created by thaumogenesis,” Wesley said. “But this demon is unlike the one’s you’ve faced previously.”

“I think that’s what I said,” Giles replied.

“No, it’s just that...anyway, how do we stop it?”

“The trick is binding it,” Angel said. “These things lack their own corporeal body. If you can trap it in one form, you can kill it.”

“This particular demon seems to need a dead body to give it a temporary host,” Giles said. “While the demons are somewhat random, they tend to follow patterns, depending on the form they take. Because they are new creations, they tend to lack an element they require for continued existence.”

“Like a prototype,” Wesley observed.

“Precisely,” Giles said. “And if you understand the flaws in the creation, it can give you an advantage when trying to defeat it.”

“Here,” Angel said, gesturing toward the open book. “There’s a case of thaumogenesis recorded in Scotland, around 1600. The demon created possessed its victims, and once it was in the body, it began consuming as much meat as it could get its hands on. It turned out it was created with a protein deficiency. The clerics lured it with slaughtered cattle. Huh. That would have been useful to know.”

“And it works both ways,” Giles said. “The demons I faced needed heat. They were attracted to a furnace. They could be repelled by cold, such as the carbon dioxide found in a fire extinguisher.”

“And this demon is attracted to the dead,” Wesley said. “What can we use as bait?”

“Me,” Angel stated.

Giles and Wesley turned toward Angel.

“Giles,” Angel continued. “Remember that demon that came after you and Ethan Rayne? It hopped into me. My inner demons gave it a good beating, and problem solved.”

“Angel, we don’t know that such a plan would work under these circumstances,” Wesley argued. “This creature’s definition of ‘the dead’ may not include vampires. You may not have a metabolism, but you are certainly animated.”

“I’ll take that as a compliment,” Angel said. “The last one, it didn’t jump to me right away either. But we forced it to jump, and I was the closest alternative.”

“We could try a binding spell,” Giles said. “See if we can trap it in the body of whatever victim we happen to find it in. Of course, that may prove problematic, at best. If the host body is already dead, binding it to that host would put us in the unusual position of trying to kill something which is dead to start with. It could wind up virtually immortal.”

“So we go with my plan,” Angel said.

“It would certainly make the demon vulnerable,” Giles said. “If it cannot be killed physically, perhaps engaging it at a spiritual level is the answer. It certainly worked before.”

“There are other options,” Wesley said. “We haven’t explored all of....”

“We don’t have a lot of time,” Angel said. “It’s a risk I’m willing to take.”

“And what if this demon is stronger than the last one?” Wesley argued. “It could destroy your soul and wind up in possession of your body!”

“Then I suggest you bring along a couple of stakes,” Angel said. “Dust is pretty harmless. I mean, don’t inhale for awhile after....”

“This isn’t funny! Giles, reason with him. This plan is foolish.”

“It seems sound to me,” Giles said. “And we are running out of time. You’re the one who said we may not get another chance. What if we cannot formulate another plan before the demon has moved to another location?”

“Then we’ll find it again,” Wesley said, a hint of anger in his voice. “Hell, I’ll sing about the bloody bikini if that’s what it takes.”

Giles and Angel exchanged confused glances.

“The point is that the risk may outweigh the benefit,” Wesley continued. “If we research further....”

“Fine,” Angel said. “We check out other possibilities. But if nothing comes up, we take it on tonight.”

“It seems reasonable, Wesley,” Giles said.

Wesley drew a long breath, then said:

“Very well. I’ll continue my research at my apartment. I’ll need some books from there, and some from here.”

“We meet back here at eleven,” Angel said, as Wesley grabbed an armload of books.

“Agreed,” Wesley replied. “I need the Reynolds book.”

“It’s here,” Giles said, grabbing the book and handing it to Wesley.

“Fine,” Wesley said. “Giles, if you wouldn’t mind, could you take the first three volumes of the Blair compendium and carry them to my motorcycle.”

Giles grabbed the three tomes and followed Wesley out of the apartment.

“There’s a storage compartment under the seat,” Wesley said as they approached his motorcycle.

“Wesley,” Giles said. “Is this form of transportation really practical? I’m only asking because I’ve been looking for....”

“Rupert,” Wesley said. “While I’m gone, I wish you’d consider asking Angel to rethink this course of action.”

“I don’t know why,” Giles said. “Based on what we know of this demon, it would seem....”

“The risk is too high,” Wesley interrupted.

“I’ll grant you that Angel is putting his safety at risk. However, there’s nothing new about that. We all risk our lives every time we....”

“Our lives. Not our souls. You know the delicate balance Angel must maintain, given his, well, condition.”

“I am all too familiar with that, yes.”

“Then you can certainly see that allowing a demon to possess Angel is beyond risky. It’s insane.”

“Wesley, you’re over reacting. I’ve seen Angel under similar circumstances, and there was no ill effect.”

“That time! We’re dealing with unknown forces....”

“...and with no alternative. Wesley, if we discover a better way, we can consider it. But we cannot allow this demon to go on killing people if there’s a chance we can stop it.”

Wesley considered this, then climbed on his motorcycle, and said:

“Fine, I’ll return at eleven.”

“Wesley, it’s not that I don’t recognize the....”

The roar of Wesley’s engine interrupted Giles as Wesley started his motorcycle, and sped away.


Part V


Angel applied the brakes as his car approached the alley. He and Giles got out of the car. Giles carried an axe, while Angel was armed with a broadsword.

“You see any sign of this demon?” Angel asked.

“No,” Giles replied. “Should we wait for Wesley?”

“No time,” Angel said. “He’ll show up as soon as he’s finished checking the street for bystanders. If he gets back in time, great, but we can’t wait for him. Do you have the binding spell?”

“Yes,” Giles said, as the pair walked into the alley.

“You know the drill,” Angel said. “We fight this thing until it’s ready to jump, and if all goes well, it’ll be destroyed once it gets inside me. If it takes control, do the binding spell, and....well, you know.”

“I doubt it will come to that,” Giles said.

“Always the optimist. Look, Giles, don’t hesitate to....ugh!”

Giles took a step back as he saw Angel fall to the ground in the clutches of a grey demon. Giles recognized the demon as a Gydorith. He quickly did a mental rundown of the characteristics of a Gydorith demon. Strong. Very fast. Sharp claws. When he got to the demon’s keen sense of hearing, Giles realized that he was overanalyzing the situation and brought the hilt of his axe down on the demon’s back.

The demon released Angel and sprang to its feet. Giles noticed a gaping wound at the center of its chest. Nothing about the physiology of a Gydorith made it invulnerable to a chest wound, so Giles surmised that they had found the body possessed by the thaumogenesis demon.

Giles sprang backward, narrowly avoiding a slash from the demon’s claw. Giles swung his axe at Gydorith, but the demon grabbed the handle of the axe and tore it from Giles grasp. Giles backed away from the approaching demon.

The demon crouched, ready to spring, but by this time Angel was on his feet, and sliced into the demon’s shoulder before it could attack. The demon retreated into a corner of the alley, clutching the wound on its arm.

“Keep it up,” Angel instructed. “A few more like that and....”

Angel was interrupted by a gust of air and a shimmering light that appeared behind the Gydorith. Angel and Giles took a step back as the light disappeared, leaving a large, man-shaped form behind.

The Gydorith howled as the form reached out its arms and began choking it. In the moonlight, Giles and Angel could see that the new demon had vaguely reptilian features. The two demons fell to the ground, locked in struggle.

“Well,” Giles said. “This is...unexpected.”

“Where did it come from?” Angel asked.

“It appeared to teleport,” Giles said.

“Alright,” Angel said. “I give up. Which one do we kill?”

The sound of cracking bone filled the night as the Gydorith twisted the lizard demon’s head, snapping its neck.

“Well,” Giles said. “That simplified things.”

The Gydorith rose from the ground, its body writhing in pain as a pale blue mist seeped from its skin and crept into the body of the lizard demon. The body of the Gydorith fell to the ground as the lizard demon began to climb to its feet.

“Perhaps not so simple,” Giles sighed, lifting his axe.

“Same plan,” Angel commanded. “We take this thing down and....”

The lizard demon shrieked in pain, its body twisting and trembling. An explosion of blue light sprang from its eyes, and the body of the lizard demon went limp.

Angel approached the lizard demon’s corpse. Angel prodded the body with his sword, but there was no reaction.

Giles and Angel turned as the sound of footsteps echoed through the alley. Wesley ran to the two men.

“I came as soon as I could,” Wesley panted. “There was a group of tourists walking down the street, and it took me awhile to convince them to leave the area. What happened?”

“This...thing,” Giles said, gesturing toward the corpse. “It appeared from nowhere. The thaumogenesis demon possessed it, but something happened. It just...died.”

“Perhaps the demon’s physical makeup was somehow incompatible,” Wesley theorized. “Did the blue mist appear?”

“Into the demon, yes,” Giles replied. “From it, no. It appears to have been destroyed.”

“Well, then,” Wesley said. “It seems that our problems are over.”

“I don’t understand where it came from,” Giles said. “It was just...there.”

“The thaumogenesis demon was created by a summoning,” Wesley said. “Perhaps its presence causes dimensional rifts to open.”

“Possible,” Giles said. “Angel, perhaps we should...Angel?”

Angel stood at the end of the alley and looked at a tall office building across the street. Giles squinted through his glasses, and read the sign at the front of the building:

Wolfram & Hart

“It got close,” Angel muttered. “You think they’ll thank us?”


Epilogue


“Angel’s pulling the car around,” Giles said. “We’ll put the bodies in the trunk and dispose of them.”

“There’s an incinerator we use,” Wesley replied. “We can stop on our way back to Cordelia’s apartment.”

“I’ve had a chance to examine the reptile demon,” Giles said. “I think I recognize it. I believe it’s a ‘Voynok’ demon.”

“Voynok,” Wesley repeated.

“Yes,” Giles said. “Fascinating creatures. They inhabit a hell dimension. Interesting thing about Voynok, they actually have nine lives.”

“How’s that?”

“Exactly as it sounds. They can be killed nine times before their restorative powers expire.”

“Hmmm...interesting.”

“That may be why the thaumogenesis demon was undone. You remember, they’re drawn to what they need, but they’re harmed by the opposite. The demon needed a corpse, it possessed the dead body of the Voynok, and then when the Voynok’s life was restored, the thaumogenesis demon found itself trapped in a living creature, and was destroyed.”

“That would explain it,” Wesley agreed.

“Astounding creatures, the Voynok,” Giles said. “I read a treatise on them a few years back. Outstanding piece of research.”

“You must lend it to me sometime,” Wesley said.

“I don’t think that would be necessary,” Giles said. “After all, you wrote it.”

Wesley drew a breath.

“One of your better studies,” Giles continued. “Especially the analysis on the summoning spells researched by Dr. Reynolds. It was the Reynolds book you took with you when you left the apartment this evening?”

“Giles,” Wesley said. “I’d appreciate it if you didn’t....”

“You summoned that thing!” Giles hissed. “Without warning or consulting us, you summoned a demon who’s powers...!”

“...made it ideal for destroying the thaumogenesis demon,” Wesley completed. “And it worked.”

“At what risk? Dammit, man, we’re supposed to destroy demons, not summon them!”

“A calculated risk. No more risk than putting the demon in Angel.”

“The risk was Angel’s to accept!”

“Oh, was it? And all the people Angelus killed? Was it their risk to accept?”

“That’s hardly any excuse to go behind our backs and summon a demon!”

“Listen! If you think I would stand idly by and watch another....”

Wesley’s voice trailed off. He turned his eyes from Giles’ piercing gaze.

“Another what?” Giles asked.

“It’s done,” Wesley said. “Angel will be here any moment to....”

“Another Faith? Is that it?”

“I’m not discussing this.”

“Is that what you’re doing? Watching Angel, making sure he doesn’t...?”

“Giles,” Wesley said grimly, “go back to Sunnydale. This is not your concern.”

“You can’t blame yourself for Faith’s choices.”

“No, I blame Faith for Faith’s choices. Trust me, after several hours of Faith’s violent attentions, I have no difficulty attributing every unsavory element of Faith’s character to Faith herself. Angel is his own man. It’s his path to choose.”

Wesley glanced down at the corpses of the two demons on the ground, and then added:

“But I’ll be damned if he’ll pick the wrong one while I’m here.”

“Wesley,” Giles said. “I understand your concerns, but you cannot take responsibility for someone else’s destiny. If you isolate yourself, and start arbitrarily deciding what’s best for everyone, you’re eventually going to make a decision that you cannot unmake.”

Before Wesley could answer, the headlights of Angel’s car illuminated the alley. The car slowly approached until it was a few feet from the corpses. Angel cut the engine and exited the car.

“I didn’t see any cops,” Angel said, walking to the rear of the car. He opened the trunk.

“Better get these things out of here,” Angel said. “That is, unless you think we should study them, see where the lizard thing came from?”

“I don’t think that will be necessary,” Wesley said, turning to Giles. “Would you agree?”

Giles drew a breath, softly kicked the corpse of the Gydorith, and said:

“Yes. Nothing to research. Perhaps we should just consider ourselves lucky that everything ended well.”

“Fine,” Angel said. “We’ll start with the scaly one. Someone grab the legs.”

Giles watched as Wesley and Angel lifted the bodies into the trunk. On the way to the incinerator, Angel and Wesley discussed their plans to research the demon summoned by Wolfram and Hart, as Giles stared out the window in silence.


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