SURPRISES IV: REVELATIONS
DANIELLE FRANCES DUCREST
characters/concepts belong to Rysher Entertainment, Davis/Panzer Productions, and Gaumont Télèvision. Angel
characters/concepts belong to Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy, Sandollar Television, Kuzui Enterprises, the WB, Greenwolf Corp., and Twentieth Century Fox Television. Any copyright infringements were not intended. This story was written for entertainment and not for profit.
Timing: Far, far into the future and in pretty much the same place as before.
Summary: Mary's no stranger to things weird and wacky and neither is her father, Wesley, only neither of them know about the other's personal life. However, they're about to find out…
I wasn't aware of Cordelia Chase's presence until she plopped herself down on my desk, deliberately sitting on top of the book I'd been attempting to translate.
"Hello, Wes!" she said, too cheerful for five in the morning in my opinion. Ever since she and Angel got married, she'd adopted his sleep schedule as her own, which meant she slept all day and was awake all hours of the night. Angel was still a vampire but nine years ago he discovered a cure for the one moment of happiness clause, and since then, he and Cordelia had been very happy together. Unfortunately, it also meant that while I felt like falling asleep right then and there because I'd been up for twenty-one hours straight, Cordelia had been awake for only nine. I envied Gunn and Mrs. Gunn, one Fred Burkle, who had gone home to their apartment and weren't planning on coming back until that afternoon.
Maybe if I got married I'd finally have a normal sleep schedule, although that couldn't be the case since Gwen manages it fine and she was as single as I was. Of course, there is a certain advantage to being able to electrify anyone with only a touch; you can do pretty much whatever you want then.
"Hello, Cordelia," I said without looking up. I was almost grateful for her sitting on top of the book, really. The pages had started to blur.
"So, who is she?" Cordelia asked, leaning in conspiratorially.
"Who's who?" I asked, not in the mood to play mind games at the moment.
"Mary Lindsay!" Cordelia said, as if it were obvious. I suppose it would have if I had been awake.
"It would seem that you already know who she is," I said, "so there's really no point asking me, is there?"
Cordelia slapped me on the shoulder for that one. "Wesley! Are you going out with her or not?"
I think I would have choked on my drink if I'd been drinking anything. At any rate, that question woke me up quite nicely. "What?" I asked, staring at her.
"Is she or is she not your girlfriend? We've all been wondering, you know. Although, if she is your girlfriend, she does seem to be a little young for you, Wes."
"No, she is not my girlfriend!"
"Then why have you been spending so much time with her?" Cordelia asked, folding her arms across her chest.
"It's nothing," I said, trying to get her to dismiss it.
"It's not nothing, and you'd better come clean now."
She put both of her hands on her hips in a classic Cordelia Chase no-nonsense pose. "Now, you are going to spill, mister, and I mean everything!" Her expression was one that could rival Willow Rosenburg's resolve face.
I took a deep breath. "I-"
Suddenly, we heard the front door in the lobby slam open. "Cordelia? Wesley?" Angel called.
Cordelia held up a finger. "This isn't over," she warned me.
The two of us walked out into the lobby. Angel stood on the landing. His clothes were torn and it looked like a now-absent pipe had pierced clean through his right shoulder.
"Angel!" Cordelia said, rushing over to him. In an attempt to mask her worry, she slapped his shoulder and said, "Haven't I told you to stop ruining your black shirts?"
He gave her a small, pained grin. "What can I say? I'm not a good listener."
I grabbed the medkit resting behind the counter and handed it to Cordelia, who had led Angel over to the couch situated on one side of the room. "What happened?" I asked.
"Witch coven decided to attack me because they sensed that I was a vampire."
"Evil coven or good coven?" Cordelia asked.
"Cordy!" Angel said, giving her an affronted look.
She blinked innocent eyes at him. "What?"
Angel gave her a look before continuing. "I think they wanted something at the university."
"UCLA?" I asked, suddenly even more alert. Mary attended UCLA. "What exactly do you think they're after?"
"There was something about them sensing some other spell casting going on the campus, like the other caster was interfering with whatever the coven was doing."
"Great. Another witch war," Cordelia muttered. "Makes you wish the old Council hadn't gotten blown up."
We both gave her looks.
She amended," Okay, almost makes you wish. I just never realized that they had enough power to keep all the rival covens in check until after their influence had gone phooey."
I sighed. Cordelia was certainly right about that. Unfortunately, the new Council didn't have nearly enough power, influence, or respect to keep some of the more powerful covens from doing whatever they wanted, and it was doubtful that we would re-acquire our initial status for some time, perhaps even much longer than another twelve years.
"It's likely that the witch or warlock they detected was a student, faculty member, or groundskeeper," I speculated.
Cordelia added, "Unless there are still parties going on at five fifteen in the morning and one of the off-campuses guests is still coherent enough to cast spells."
"I'm thinking not," Angel said. He turned to me. "So, Wes, any ideas who it might be? Your girlfriend is supposed to go there, isn't she?"
I felt myself shudder. That was the second time someone had suggested that Mary was my girlfriend, and it wasn't feeling any less abnormal to hear something like that about your own daughter. "She's not my girlfriend," I said. "Mary mentioned during our first lunch meeting that she had a roommate that dabbled in magic. I've been meaning to check it out, but we've been so swamped lately that I haven't had time," I continued before Cordelia could get started again on the particular subject of who exactly Mary was to me. We had no time for my friends to go into shock over me having a child. If this did involve Mary's roommate like I feared, we likely needed to hurry.
I went behind the counter and grabbed a bag full of defensive magical charms, amulets, and spell ingredients. "Let's go. We should check out Mary's dorm building." I turned to Angel as he and Cordelia stood up. "Shouldn't we get Gunn, Fred, and Connor in on this?"
"Fred and Gunn are at the hospital visiting Gwen and her baby, and Connor went out patrolling and forgot again to take both his beeper and his vidpilot," Cordelia told him.
"Oh. Okay, then."
The three of us left the building and got into Angel's newest car before heading off toward the university. I easily went through the magical supplies, checking to see that everything was in easy reach if I needed it and that I knew how every component could be used. I felt myself tense. Cordelia and Angel kept giving me looks; they obvious sensed my worry. I only hoped that Mary wasn't involved in this, and that the whole UCLA thing was merely a coincidence. Experience, unfortunately, was telling me that Mary was in the thick of it.
"So do we get to hear who this Mary person is now?" Cordelia prodded after several moments of silence.
I sighed and pinched the bridge of my nose. It was a habit that I didn't divulge in often since I'd started wearing contacts, but every once in a while it would come back. There was no point keeping the secret now, really, and if I stopped ignoring the little voice saying 'I told you so' that sounded a lot like Cordelia, I'd admit that there probably never was any point in keeping it a secret.
So, here goes. I waited until Angel was sliding to a stop at a red light. I didn't want to get in any car accidents that day. "She's my daughter."
Angel's foot applied even more pressure on the break than what he was already doing, making the car rock forward before straightening out. Immediately, two identical disbelieving expressions turned to regard me in the backseat. "SHE'S YOUR WHAT?!" both of them shouted.
They stared at me for long minutes. When the light turned green, neither of them noticed and just continued staring at me in absolute shock. Cars horns honked as their drivers had to go around us.
I felt myself getting agitated. "Can we get to the campus now, please? I'd rather not believe that my daughter is in any way involved in this, on accident or otherwise, but I'd rather not take any chances!"
They continued to stare at me.
"Oh, for God's sake!" I said. "Angel, get this car into gear right now or I will personally pour holy water all over you if I find that my daughter was harmed because you couldn't suspend your disbelief for a few minutes! Now drive before I kick you out of this car and get behind the wheel myself!"
Angel stirred, turned around, and pressed on the petal. Cordelia, however, continued to stare at me, only now an expression that was a mix of outrage and hurt had replaced her shocked look.
She folded her arms. "She's really your daughter?"
"How come you never told us?" she demanded.
I sighed and pinched the bridge of my nose yet again. "I could have sworn I had a good reason for that. I’m not so sure anymore."
"You got that right, Wesley Wyndham-Pryce!"
I winced at her tone. I was in serious trouble now.
"Who's the mother?" Angel asked. "Anyone we know?"
I shook my head. "Not unless you know a Dr. Anne Lindsay."
"How well do you know her?" Cordelia asked with a raised eyebrow.
"Not well, actually," I admitted. "Not even back when…it happened. It was supposed to be a one-time-only event, only she got pregnant."
Angel slammed a little too hard on the accelerator for a moment when he heard that one. Thankfully, he slammed on the brakes before he rammed into the car in front of us. You know, maybe I should have waited until after we were out of the car before I told them all of this.
Cordelia collapsed against the door on her side. "Not only did Wesley have a daughter, but back when he was a stuffy Brit Watcher he still managed to not only hook up with a girl but also forgot to use protection." She turned to Angel. "Honey, please tell me I'm dreaming."
Angel shot her an apologetic look. "Sorry, Cor. I'm still hoping I'm dreaming myself."
"Oh, very funny," I said.
We entered the UCLA campus. I instructed Angel, "Go straight to Patrick O. Wood Hall. That's Mary's and her roommate's dormitory."
Angel did so. When we reached the parking lot, I jumped out of the car before Angel had taken the keys out of the ignition. Cordelia and Angel were only a few steps behind me. I entered the building and ran for the stairs.
I'd never been to the dorm before that day. Mary had only just told me her room number during our last luncheon. I only hoped we wouldn't get lost looking for room 234.
"Where to, Watcher-dad?" Cordelia asked when we reached the second floor.
"That is the question," I muttered. I chose the corridor that looked more promising. After a few turns, we finally came up to the right room.
"Angel, can you hear anything?" I asked Angel, feeling myself worry even more than before. An absence of noise could be a good thing, but not always.
"I can hear whispers," Angel answered. "It sounds like chanting."
I tried the doorknob. It was locked. Without further thought I stepped back and stormed the door. My shoulder felt like hell because of it, but it got the job done.
"I could have done that," Angel pointed it when he saw me wince.
The door slammed open and we entered. There, sitting in the space between two twin beds, was a black-haired girl. She sat in the middle of a pentagram surrounded by lit candles, and was encircled by a pulsating green light.
She stopped chanting when she saw us enter. "Who the hell are you?" she demanded.
Something shimmered at the foot of the second bed. I recognized it instantly as a magical transposition spell.
As the shimmering took the form of a woman, Angel said, "That's one of the witches from the coven."
"Look out!" Cordelia told the girl.
Meanwhile, I opened my bag and grabbed a bag of powder. I quickly forced it open, grabbed a handful of its contents, and threw it at the transpositioning-in witch. It caught her in the eyes, making her scream in surprise and pain. "E conspectu abeat monstrum!" I yelled.
Before the powder could make her disappear, she yelled a counter-spell. The powder magically dropped off of her and onto the floor.
Mary's roommate had hastily gotten to her feet. The green light continued to swirl around her and she had resumed chanting, only now she had both arms raised in the other witch's direction. The other witch also raised her arms and began to chant. This did not look good. The biggest problem was that the two women were building enough power in the air between them to wipe out the entire dorm building if they weren't careful. With any luck, they'd just kill each other, but we couldn't take that chance.
Of course, it couldn't have helped that Mary chose that precise moment to walk in the room.
Her eyes grew wider and wider as she took in the scene. I guess there's no more point in keeping her out of the supernatural world now.
"Joanne?" she addressed her black-haired roommate. Joanne didn't appear to have heard her.
"Mary!" I called, getting my daughter's attention.
Her eyes bulged when she saw me. "Dad?" she asked, incredulous.
"Get out of here!" I told her.
Cordelia grabbed hold of Mary's arm and led her out of the room before she could protest. For that, I was deeply grateful. I turned back to the battling witches. Both were firing spells and counter-spells at each other in rapid-fire succession; they paid us no heed.
"Any ideas of how to stop them?" Angel asked me.
I dug through my bag. "It appears our best hope was the transposition powder, and we saw how well that worked."
"Okay, then," Angel said. Then he charged.
He headed for the coven witch, which left me with Mary's roommate. Muttering a few choice curse words under my breath about rash vampires, I rushed Mary's roommate, intending to knock her over. However, when I came into contact with the green shield, a force slammed into me, sending me sprawling on my back across the first bed.
Angel was having similar luck, only he went farther than me; he only stopped when he hit the inner wall and fell to the floor, slamming through a desk loaded with papers, textbooks, and fast food wrappers.
I stood up. After a moment, Angel reappeared at my side. "So. Any ideas of how to stop them?" he asked as if nothing had happened.
I grabbed my bag and dug through it again. There was wolf's bane, mandrus root, brine, a number of powdered roots, and…aha! This had to work.
I took out a candle and pulled a Zippo lighter out of my pants pocket. I hastily lit it before standing up and throwing the candle under-handed into the space between the two witches. "Finite Incatatem!" I cried.
The candle suddenly stopped spinning and froze in mid-air directly between the path of the witches' spells. Purple light spread out in two directions from it, colliding with both witches. They yelled in surprise as the force of it pushed them off their feet. Joanne's green energy shield disappeared, and the spells both of them had been casting were broken.
The good news was that the two witches stopped paying attention to each other. The bad news was that they turned their attentions to Angel and me. I didn't like the murderous looks in their eyes.
The door opened again behind us. Cordelia walked back into the room. Mary was nowhere in sight. "Cor, think you can do that shining thing for us?" Angel asked her with a pleading look.
"Thought you'd never ask," Cordelia responded.
Over the years, Cordelia had gotten better at controlling her demon powers, although there were limits to what she could do. It was also dangerous for her to use her powers in the vicinity of powerful spells. Hopefully, before the two witches decided to cast spells again, Cordelia might be able to do enough damage.
Cordelia's skin began to glow. Angel and I hastily left the room, slamming the door shut behind us. We knew from experience that we didn't want to get caught in the blast radius.
Mary was standing out in the hallway. "Dad, what's going on?" she demanded when she saw me.
I gave her a glance-over, but she looked perfectly fine. I finally allowed myself to relax. Dazzling light filtered out through the cracks around the door. I gave Mary an apologetic look. I told her, "It's a long story." I'd have to explain everything to her now. Lord knows what would happen then.
"Hopefully, it just ended," Angel said.
The light disappeared. I opened the door and the two of us entered the room. Mary followed us more slowly.
Cordelia was back to her normal coloring and was facing us. She had her arms crossed over her chest and was smirking.
Behind her, lying in two heaps on the floor, were too dazed witches. Both of them were still awake, but Cordelia's magic had given them complete loss of motor functions. It would last for days, long enough to get a Watcher team over here to take them to England for their trial.
I stood over them and made sure both of them could see me. "By the authority of the Watcher's Council, I am placing both of you under arrest for illegal practice of witchcraft and for the assault of a Watcher. You will be taken to London where you will be placed on trial by the Council of Watchers."
When that was done, I pulled out my cell phone and made a call to the new Headquarters. When I was done, I turned to Cordelia and Angel. "A team's on their way; they should be here within the hour. They're already in the area."
I bit my lip before turning to Mary. She looked like she was going into shock. Other than that, she appeared unharmed.
I walked over to her and placed a hand on each of her shoulders. "Are you all right?" I asked her, genuinely concerned. I knew she'd get over it, or at least I hoped so. When someone finds out about the existence of demons and magic, they either learn to accept it, they go deep into denial, or they think you're the one who's insane and want nothing to do with you anymore. I really hoped Mary fell into the first category; I could even learn to live with the second. The third possibility was unbearable.
She stared at me and pronounced each word very slowly, "What the hell was that?"
"Your roommate is a witch," I told her. "The other woman is a witch who belongs to a rival coven."
Mary let out a short, bark-like laugh. "Witches, huh? Well, I guess I shouldn't be so surprised. You going to tell me what Angel Investigations does now?"
"We handle paranormal investigative cases," I answered.
"We deal with this sort of thing all the time," Cordelia answered. "It's nothing big."
"Really," Mary deadpanned, staring at Cordy as if she was insane. She glanced at the two witches still lying prone on the floor, then back at me. "I think I need to sit down."
I helped her over to the closest bed, which seemed to be her own. I sat down next to her. After a few minutes, she began asking questions. I took that as a good sign.
"So, what else is there besides witches? I mean, you said that you handled paranormal cases, not just witch cases or whatever you'd call them."
"Right. Well, in addition to there being witches, there are also-"
"-Demons?" Mary finished for me.
"You don't look too surprised about that," Angel commented.
Mary snorted. "Friends of mine had a confrontation with a demon several years ago. I don't remember it. I was only a baby back then, but there was no way they were making it all up."
"What was the demon's name?" I asked her, curious.
I tried to search my mind for any mentioning of a demon named Ahriman, but I came up blank. "Never heard of him," I admitted, "Although that doesn't mean anything."
"How about we continue this conversation over breakfast after the Wa-er, Wesley's friends get here?" Cordelia asked, a little too brightly.
We all looked at her.
"What? I figure everyone's hungry. Except my brooding husband over there," she said, pointing at Angel. She leaned in close to Mary and loudly whispered, "He doesn't eat much. We all feel for him."
Mary gave her the same half-confused, half-amused smile she wore the first time she came to Angel Investigations and found Gwen shoving a Grochnar head in my face. Angel frowned at his wife's back while I smiled and rolled my eyes.
"I am hungry, although I'm tired, too," Mary said. "I've been up all night studying for mid-terms. If I'd known that this was going to happen, I wouldn't have bothered."
I placed a hand over hers. "You sure you're all right with all of this?"
Mary nodded. "Hey, I'm not all that surprised, really. I mean, when you've known Immor-" Her eyes got wide. "Er, um, I mean…"
What was that she about to say? I stared at her as I made the connection. "You know Immortals?"
"You've heard of them?" Mary asked me. She looked worried and wary, which hurt, although I could understand it. Immortals were very secretive, even more secretive than supernatural community, and if she knew one or more of them, they'd want her to keep the secret.
I nodded. I grinned at her to let her know it was all right. "I guess we have a lot to talk about."
"I'm going to go," Angel said. "I need to get back to the office." He shook Mary's hand. "It was nice to meet you."
I glanced out the window. It was starting to lighten outside. Angel needed to hurry.
Cordelia kissed him before Angel left. Twenty minutes later, the Watcher team arrived and we watched as they carried the two witches out of the room. Then Cordelia, Mary, and I stood and walked to Angel's car, which he'd left behind, before getting in and driving to a deli across town.
Now all of my secrets were out, except for the bit about the Watchers. I hadn't explained what the Watchers were and my connection to them yet, but I doubted that secret would last long after that day. I only hoped Mary would be safe enough now that she knew about my world and also know that Cordelia and Angel knew about her. I'd tried so long to keep her out of it all, to keep her safe, but that had all changed. Although, from what I've learned from her, she'd never really been truly safe. Enemies of her Immortal aunt and uncles had threatened her and her mother more than once over the years, which was why they taught Mary to fight and defend herself.
Her familiarity with the Immortal way of life did not make her easily acceptable of mine, but I could tell that it wouldn't take long for her to get used to it all. From the way her eyes lit up with interest when Cordelia and I started talking about the sorts of weapons we used on the job, I could tell she would want to test them. Where she got that zest is beyond me. I did have that same interest in weapons now, but my younger, cowardly self had lacked that, and I doubt her mother Anne ever felt that way about pointy, deadly objects that weren't used to chop the vegetables.
Sigh. I didn't want Mary to get involved, but if past experience has taught me one thing, it is that once you're involved even partially, sooner or later you're in it knee deep. I only hope Mary's "aunt" and "uncles", not to mention Anne, wouldn't come to Los Angeles with their very sharp swords looking for some payback for getting Mary involved in the first place.
Unfortunately for me, past experience has also taught me that the distinct chance that they'd stay away was slim to nothing.
Maybe I should invest in some sort of protection, like a fencing outfit or something else that could be worn at all hours of the day...