“Did you see him?” Wesley said, approaching Lorne.
“Yeah. Red, beasty looking. Well, that was after he shape-shifted from looking like Angelcakes.”
“Shape-shifted?” Fred squeaked.
“Yeah. That’s right. Shape-shifted.”
“Not shape-shifting,” Lindsey said, causing the attention to turn to him. “He’s not actually changing form. It’s the mind he’s messing with. He can manipulate it to make it see what he wants you to see.” Lorne stared at Lindsey for a moment, a strange look on his face.
“And he can make us think he’s one of us?” Gunn questioned. “How are we going to do anything if we can’t even trust our own eyes?”
“It’s okay,” Lorne said. “I could tell it wasn’t Angel. Aura was completely different. We’re just going to have to stay together. Where’s Dawn?”
“She upstairs,” Cordelia said. “Connor’s with her. We need to let them know what’s going on.”
“That’s a good idea,” Lorne said quietly, turning towards the stairs so that his back was to them. His was voice uncharacteristically darkening. “Wouldn’t want her to get into any trouble.”
Fred looked at Lorne strangely, unsure of the feeling she was getting in her stomach. Her eyes flew around to the other people in the room to gauge their reactions. Maybe it was just her. But it wasn’t her friends she saw. All of the sudden, she wasn’t in the hotel anymore. The hotel was a cave. Her friends in the room were the green demons that had haunted her nightmares for years. She stepped away slowly, horrified.
“Fred?” one of the demons said. Only his voice was the finely cultured one of her boyfriend. She longed to run to that voice, but it didn’t look like Wesley. She looked down at herself. That brown cloth. Tattered… dirty. Her hair in rats.
“No,” she whimpered.
“Fred?” she heard again, only this time the demon didn’t have her lover’s voice. “What’s wrong?” Fred took off, out of the hotel door.
“Fred!” Wesley screamed, chasing after her. Cordelia, gasped, taking off after them with Gunn. Lindsey followed almost them until he turned to Lorne, who was staring at him intently. Realizing what had happened, he backed away from the door slowly, Lorne still staring him down. He dove for the sword in the corner, only to be paralyzed in the middle of his movements. He suddenly found himself directly standing upright, chin up, unable to move his arms or legs.
“You know, the mind is an incredible thing,” ‘Lorne’ said, approaching him. “It can both make you move and keep you from moving. I’ve always though humans were so strange for this. Although, who am I to complain?”
“Dawn! Connor! R-!” Lindsey’s jaw suddenly locked, unable to finish his warning.
“Tut tut,” Lorne’s imposter said.
“What!?” Lindsey heard Dawn holler from upstairs. He could tell she was too far from the staircase to be able to see them.
“Wesley and everyone went to go find Angel,” ‘Lorne’ shouted up at her. Only it wasn’t Lorne’s voice. It was Lindsey’s. “Just stay near each other okay?”
“Okay!” Dawn answered. The dream demon suddenly shifted its form to look exactly like him. Lindsey’s eyes went wide, unable to scream. His mouth was paralyzed, no sound able to come out.
“They weren’t sure if you were stupid enough to actually trust the people you’ve antagonized for years to protect you,” the demon said, walking over to the sword he had seen hoping to grab. He picked it up, testing it in his hand, twirling it around. Seeing himself talking gave the phrase ‘out of body experience’ a whole new meaning. ‘It’s all in my head,’ Lindsey repeated to himself mentally, watching the demon closely. ‘It’s all in my head. All in my head. I can control my head. I can move my mouth. There’s nothing keeping me from moving my mouth except myself. He can only put things in your head.’ Lindsey focused everything he had only moving his mouth. The demon seemed amused by his struggle as he approached him once again, sword in hand.
“That’s not what you look like,” Lindsey finally managed to struggle out. The demon stopped, surprised.
“Oh, so the turncoat has some tricks,” he said, an eerie smile on his face. Lindsey made a note to try to learn that facial expression. It was very intimidating.
“That’s not what you look like,” Lindsey repeated. The fake Lindsey all of the sudden started to change. The slightly tan skin he appeared to have turned to rough, red, leathery skin. Blue eyes turned yellow. Light brown hair turned black.
“Well,” an unnaturally deep said, walking close to Lindsey. “Too bad your friends won’t have the knowledge or control to fight me,” he said. “I know Wolfram and Hart would love to have their fun with you. Unfortunately-” Lindsey was able to move his arms and legs. He tried to roll to the side, but not soon enough to stop the sword from going into his stomach. “Time is of the essence. Don’t worry. We’ll make it quick for her.” The demon shoved Lindsey off of the sword, letting him hit the ground.
Still maintaining the fake Lindsey form, the demon dropped the sword, and headed up the stairs. Lindsey McDonald laid bleeding on the floor, unable to speak, his eyes closing.
[A/N:I was going to end the last chapter here. I thought that would be cruel.]
Angel cell phone rang as turned on the street of the Hyperion. He tugged it out of his pocket to see Cordelia’s name appear on the screen. He flipped it open.
“Hey, we found them,” He answered. Elrond, Elrohir, and Elladan stared at him strangely, not sure to whom he was talking. “Cordy, Cordy, Cordy, slow down,” the vampire continued. “We’re almost there. What?” A few seconds of silence passed before he simultaneously slammed his cell phone shut and the gas. The other six occupants of the car smashed against their seats.
“What has happened?” Aragorn demanded. Angel remained focused on the road.
“Dawn’s missing.” Aragorn did not have the time to react before Angel slammed on the brakes in front of the hotel.
The vampire barely had the frame of mind to remember to remove the keys from the ignition or even turn the car off as he dashed for the entrance of the hotel, the six following him trailed closely behind. They were greeted by the site of Cordelia holding Lindsey, a dangerous looking wound on his stomach, which Gunn was taping up. Connor lay unconscious on the lobby counter, His forehead taped up.
“What the hell happened?” Angel demanded.
“Where’s Dawn!” Aragorn shouted.
“We don’t know!” Cordelia shouted, tears falling from her eyes. “Fred went crazy. She started talking crazy like she did when she was in Pylea. She’s up in her room with her. She just keeps freaking out and saying he’s going to eat her and she’s drawn all over her walls again. We all chased after her when she ran out the door and when we came back, Lindsey was like this right there, Connor was knocked out, and Lorne and Dawn were gone.” Angel went over to Lindsey to check his wound. He was breathing, but barely. He ran over to Connor. The knot on his head got his attention. His face was beat up pretty good. Angel shook him awake.
“Dawn?” Connor muttered. “Lindsey took her.”
“Connor!” the vampire said. “You gotta wake up. Wake up, son.” Connor cracked a swollen eye open, then closed it. “No,” Angel said. “Wake up.” Connor groaned as Angel lifted him up. “Connor, what happened?” Connor struggled to make sense of himself.
“Lindsey took her,” he said again.
“Lindsey’s right here,” Angel said, lifting him off the counter. They slowly limped over to the couch where Cordy held Lindsey. Connor stared at a pale, dying lawyer.
“He came up, kicked my ass, and took Dawn. I don’t… I don’t know.”
“Legolas?” Angel asked. The elf met eye with the vampire. Angel jerked his head to the side, quietly asking for his help. Legolas approached, putting Connor’s other arm around his shoulders.
“Keep him awake. He probably has a concussion,” Angel said, turning his attention to Lindsey.
“We have to get him to the hospital before we can find out what the hell is going on here.”
“Wolfram and Hart would be there before us. Then we’d never no what went down,” Gunn said.
“Let me see it,” Elrond, suddenly said, approaching them. Angel furrowed his brow, but stepped aside as the elf-lord removed the bandages.
“The wound is grave,” Elrond said after a minute of inspection, “but not beyond my healing.”
“You can help him?” Cordy said hopefully, not caring she had no idea who he was.
“Yes,” he replied. “It may difficult. I have none of my medicines with me.”
“There are many different herbs in the trunk over there,” Aragorn said.
“Bring them. They may be of use,” Elrond replied, rolling up his sleeves. Elrohir and Elladan looked on, their confusion even deeper.
“Dawn is Arien?” Elrohir questioned. Cordelia gasped quietly, while Gunn jerked his head up.
“They know,” Angel said quickly, going to bring the drawer in which Dawn kept all her magic supplies.
“How did th-” she started.
“Doesn’t matter,” he cut off, bringing the drawer to Elrond. Cordelia and Gunn rose from the couch, giving Elrond more space to work on Lindsey. Angel came back to Legolas who was holding up Connor, helping to carry him over to a nearby chair.
“Connor, buddy, come on,” he encouraged his son. “You’ve got to talk to me. Lindsey’s right there. Dawn’s not. He couldn’t have taken Dawn.” Connor struggled to look around, everything blurring together.
“D- Dawn!” Connor called, trying to get up. Angel restrained him back in the chair.
“Calm down, calm down,” Angel said firmly. “What do you remember?” Connor still looked around, trying to piece his words together. He continued to try to straighten up, moaning in pain.
“Dawn and I were upstairs getting some rooms ready for you guys,” he began as the others listened. “We heard Lindsey yell for us from downstairs. Dawn just poked her head out the door and called backed. Lindsey said everyone else went to look for you guys. A few minutes later he came up and asked how it was going. He attacked me when my back was to him and took Dawn.”
“When we got here, he was over there,” Cordelia said, pointing to the bloody pool towards the entrance. “He wasn’t conscious then either.”
“And you said Lorne was here?”
“Yeah! He came in saying the dream demon trashed his place. When Fred went all crazy, we didn’t think about it until after we tried to stop Lindsey from bleeding to death.”
“That must have been him,” Angel said.
“He can make people see things that aren’t there,” Angel explained. “He can probably make himself look like other people for others.”
“Oh, Gods,” Cordelia said. “Lindsey had been explaining that before all of this happened.”
“Explaining what?” Aragorn questioned, stepping towards the brunette.
“Lorne, or, who ever it was, came in and said the dream demon had trashed the club and that it had looked like Angel. Then Lindsey said it’s not actually shape-shifting, it can manipulate your brain to make you see what it wants you to see. Then Fred went all wiggy and ran out the door.”
“Son of a bitch,” Angel said, walking away from Cordelia, beginning to pace again.
“So Lorne wasn’t really Lorne,” Legolas said from his spot next to Connor.
“And Lindsey wasn’t really Lindsey,” Gunn finished.
“Where would they have taken her?” Aragorn asked, desperately, now joining Angel in pacing. His brothers looked on the chaotic group, not sure they would ever fully understand what was happening in this world.
“I have no idea,” Angel said, getting a wet washcloth for Connor. He walked over to hand it to his son. Connor took it, holding it to his head. “They have any number of buildings in the city. They might have her in their main building. I won’t be able to walk in again. They’ll be expecting me and don’t want me there.” Angel walked back towards the door to the hotel. “We need to find Lorne.”
“Do you think they could have him, too?” Aragorn asked, following Angel to the door. Angel looked back to survey the wreck in his hotel.
“I don’t know,” the vampire said honestly. “I don’t think they would have taken the time to kidnap him. He would have kidnapped Connor if anyone. I think he was in too much of a hurry to kill anyone, Lindsey being an exception. If anything they would have wanted him alive, but they settled to just have him killed. We need to get to Caritas.
“I will go with you,” Aragorn said.
“We can go as well,” Elladan said, his brother stepping forward with him. Angel looked at the twins.
“We’ll go,” Angel said, signaling him and Aragorn. “The more you stay off the street, the better. Wolfram and Hart doesn’t know about you or that you’re working with us. That could work to our advantage later.” The twins nodded, understanding his reasoning. “I doubt there will be much need for damage control. If he’s already hit there, he probably won’t again. Let’s go.” With that, Angel and Aragorn left. With the tension somewhat alleviated, it left the three newcomers to officially feel awkward.
This wasn’t where she thought she would be.
Waterfalls. Warm air with cool breezes. Trees as old as time dominating the valley’s sloping walls. Sheer curtains. Perfectly crafted pavilions, one of which sheltered her now.
Her jeans and tank top were no where to be found. It was a soft purple dress that she wore. She hated that color.
“Arien,” she heard whispered behind her.
Dawn turned behind her. There she was.
“Who are you?” Dawn demanded. The women smiled. It was so pleasant. So comforting. Dawn longed for her to come closer. To run to her and bury her face in her hair. Cry into her shoulder. Be held in her arms. But she dare not move.
“You know who I am,” the woman said warmly, walking closer to Dawn. As she approached, Dawn had to lift her face higher and higher to keep her eyes on the woman’s face. “Who am I?” the woman asked. She placed her hands on either side of Dawn’s face. Dawn closed her eyes, trying to memorize what it was like to feel the woman’s hands on her face. She open her eyes again. The woman was smiling at her.
“You’re my mother,” Dawn said. The smile softened on the woman’s face as she removed her hands from Dawn. She nodded. “But you’re Arwen. You’re Aragorn’s wife,” Dawn continued.
“I am both,” she said.
“Then I am Aragorn’s daughter?” Dawn said quietly, almost mechanically, simply. The woman nodded again, the smile gone from her face.
“You are nothing like either of us,” Arwen said. Dawn felt a chill up her back.
“I looked nothing like Buffy or Joyce,” Dawn said. Arwen rose from the couch they were sitting on, taking Dawn’s hand and bringing her with her.
“You are dark-haired, no doubt,” she said, leading Dawn to a mirror on the wall. “You even have your father’s eyes.” They settled in front of the mirror. Arwen had an arm around Dawn’s shoulder. “But look at yourself compared to me.” Dawn did as she was told. “You are plain. There is nothing about you that could bring pride to your father and I. He is a great king, and I, his queen. You think you are capable of being a princess?” Tears slipped from Dawn’s eyes uncontrollably. She ripped herself away from Arwen, trying to keep her chest from hurting.
“Why are you saying these things?” Dawn pleaded, staring at the woman. It was no longer bright and sunny wherever she was. It was darkening. A thunder rumbled in the distance.
“You are unwanted, Dawn,” she said. “Aragorn does not want a damaged adolescent for a daughter. He will leave you here when he discovers who you are.” The woman turned and walked towards the steps.
“Please don’t leave me,” Dawn begged, trying to run after her, but tripping and landing on her knees. She looked up at the woman who stared coldly down at her, her long dark hair drifting with the wind.
“We would be at peace if only you did not exist any longer.”
Dawn opened her eyes. It was cold. The cement floor didn’t make it any warmer.
She lay curled up as tightly as possible. A pillow would have been nice. This
royally sucked. Lindsey could have had the decency to use chloroform instead of just hitting her over the head. The waking up would have been easier. Her eyes narrowed at the thought of the lawyer. He’d been working for them the whole time. How could he have fooled Lorne? Oh well. It didn’t matter now.
Dawn didn’t know if she was delusional or completely crazy. She wasn’t sure if those were two different things. Aragorn’s daughter? Was the dream demon screwing with her with her even more then she originally thought? Not only was he making her think Aragorn and his wife were her parents, but that they didn’t want her. But how would he even know about them? Could he read her mind? How much could he see?
The teenager groaned as she lifted herself up from the ground of her cell. She had to take stock of what she knew or at least guess. Wolfram and Hart now had her. That was one thing. She had no idea where she was, but WH personnel were around. Lindsey probably wasn’t nearby. He probably wouldn’t risk coming into contact with Angel. The law firm had no real interest in Aragorn and Arien, unless Lindsey lied about that too. But Lindsey wouldn’t have struck when Aragorn was gone if he wanted him for questioning. If Wolfram and Hart had been interested in the out-of-dimension-ers, Lindsey would have waited to strike. Their main focus was her: namely, to use her for an apocalypse.
She had to keep it together. She couldn’t trust anything she saw. Willow had said he couldn’t actually alter reality like the one demon had a few years ago. He could mess with what you were seeing. Dawn knew that fear was one of the most paralyzing elements, whether it was real or not. The mind was all she had. If she thought she was saying something, it didn’t matter if it was real or not.
They couldn’t just bleed her to end the world anymore. She had a little more control over it now, but not much. Their best bet was to brainwash her or something. Enter: dream demon. It didn’t matter what they showed her. If they were going to try to convince her that Aragorn was her father and didn’t want her, she’d have to just take it. She’d never give up. Apparently their tactic was to alienate her from everyone else: either to get her on their side or just make her suicidal so that she’d want to end the world. No matter what was thrown at her, she’d have to keep it together.