From Heaven and Hell:
On a peaceful farm of North Procia, the sun shone brightly. The countryside that was far removed from the bustle of the spaceport was so green that it hurt, the chaff almost ripe for the harvest. However, the tranquility of the scene was broken by the shouting coming from the farmhouse.
"Where is he?!" D'argo yelled at the quailing, yellow biped on the other side of a sturdy table.
"They had to leave about half a monen ago," the Procin farmer stuttered, his large purple eyes wide with fear. "Rai G'arin said that the Peacekeeper's were getting too close."
D'argo roared in frustration, the growl rumbling through his seven foot frame causing the poor farmer cringe even further back. He cast his eyes about the small, spartan farmhouse looking for something to break into tiny splinters. The solid wooden furniture was too weathered but the various clay pots neatly shelved looked promising. However, before D'argo could vent his rage and despair on the unsuspecting pots, John Crichton put a restraining hand on his arm.
"We'll find him, D'argo," he said gazing steadily into his friend's eyes. "We're not far behind."
"But still too far away!" D'argo jerked his arm from John's grasp and smashed his fist into the nearest pot, sending shards and yellow grains everywhere, and the poor farmer scurrying under the table. John swallowed hard, glancing nervously at the fuming Luxan. D'argo was on the verge of full-blown hyper-rage, and having experienced Luxan kill-everything-in-sight hyper-rage once before, John knew that he definitely didn't want it directed at him.
"Where did G'arin say they were going?" John asked quickly, addressing the yellow head that nervously poked itself above the table.
"He said," quaked the Procin "' Where Durin’s wrath met both triumph and defeat.'" The farmer's fear filled eyes never left the pacing D'argo. He leaned his head out a little further and whispered hopefully to the human, "Are you leaving now?"
"Yes, thank you," said John with a glance at D'argo. The warrior was muttering “Durin. . . first battle or the second?”. A semblance of calm had returned to his face and then he nodded sharply in understanding. "Got it?" asked John. D'argo merely glowered at him and left the house.
Eight solar days later, the crew of Moya stood in command staring at the image of a lifeless ship with signs of weapons fire on its red tinged hull.
"It appears to be a Luxan scout ship," Pilot, Moya’s symbiote, informed them from his clamshell image. Everyone looked at D'Argo, accepting his leadership for the situation. He licked his dry lips before answering in a hushed breath.
D'argo hadn't been on a scout vessel since his days as a young warrior. This ship reminded him of his youth, of the freedom and pride he had felt on his first military assignment. The same pride he had felt when Jothee was born. Jothee. Would he find his precious son dead on this dead ship? D'argo quickly swallowed the lump in his throat. After years of imprisonment and searching, to be so close, would he fail, have come too late?
D'argo fought off the fear as he cautiously led John and Aeryn through the corridor that connected the airlock with command. They passed closed doors in the corridor, doors, D'argo knew, that led to crew quarters and the galley. He was only interested in command.
When they reached it, the door to command was partly open and the smell of death assaulted D'argo's sensitive nose. He paused in front of the red portal, afraid of whom he might find just beyond it. Closing his eyes, D'argo whispered a prayer to Zhaan's Kahleen and his own people's forgotten gods: please let it not be Jothee.
D'argo took a firmer grip on his Qualta Blade, glancing at both Crichton and Aeryn, who had already flanked the doorway, weapons ready. Gingerly, D'argo pushed the door the rest of the way open. His companions swung in to secure the room, but no enemies awaited them. Instead they found D'Argo's old friend and comrade, Rai G'arin, lying dead in a pool of his own blood.
D'argo stared at his dead friend, protector of his son. A dozen memories of training, battle, and planet-leave flashed before his eyes as he silently said goodbye. But where was Jothee? What had happened? Grief welled up inside him; tears stinging his eyes. He had lost both G'arin and Jothee forever. The flame of hope that had flared when they had first picked up Jothee's trail died at that moment.
"D'argo." He turned to the human beside him. John's blue eyes held concern and sympathy. It still amazed him that this strange creature, who had become both his friend and brother, was there for him.
"I've lost him, John," he said softly, desperately trying to hold himself together as John placed a comforting hand on his shoulder, unsure of what else to do.
Suddenly Aeryn gasped in surprise. She was kneeling next to G'arin's body, staring at something on the floor. "D'argo, Chrichton, come look at this."
Written in blood was a final message from G'arin. D'argo read the Luxan script aloud. "Sebacean bounty hunter, fuel leak."
The three looked at each other in surprise. A crooked grin started to stretch across John's face that D'argo couldn't help but mirror as hope surged through him again. He would see his son again and kill the
frelling bastard who had stolen him.
"Let's go campers, we have a trail to follow," John quipped, jumping to his feet and heading for the airlock.
Several arns later, loud, crashing noises from the Center chamber attracted Chiana’s notice. Curious, the white-skinned young woman glided to the door, wondering if Rygel had discovered the little surprise she had left in his jar of slimy bugs. As she poked her head around the door, the grin on her face instantly disappeared at the sight before her.
The room looked like it had been hit by a windstorm, and Chiana supposed upon seeing D’argo leaning his head against the storage unit, it had been. Empty food containers and plates were scattered all over the floor and table. The indestructible chairs were dented and over turned, and two of the overhead shelf's supports were broken on the far side causing it to slope.
Chiana's first reaction was to run away from the scene, but the odd sight of D'argo so defeated made her pause.
"He must be fifteen now," he said suddenly, startling the young Nebari. Lifting his head to look at her, Chiana could see the pain in his face, the resignation, and it scared her. "He was just a baby when I was arrested. He probably won't remember me at all."
"Sure, he'll remember," Chiana said, trying to reassure him.
"Will he?" D'argo demanded softly. "I've been gone for nine cycles. I've missed him grow up!" he shouted, eyes blazing with fury and unshed tears. "All because I loved a woman of the wrong race!"
Chiana didn't know what to say. What could she say that would help the warrior before her? D'argo turned away, shaking in an effort to contain his roiling emotions.
"How will I be able to protect him when I couldn't even protect Lolann?" he asked in despair.
"We'll be here to help," Chiana said quietly. At her words, D'argo turned and almost managed a smile.
D'argo was pacing in command the next day when Moya found the wormhole. "Pilot, what is that?" he asked pushing back bitter memories from the last time he had seen one of these anomalies.
"It's a wormhole," confirmed Pilot, "and the fuel trail leads into it. I am comm-ing the others now." D'argo silently swore every oath he knew as the others arrived. If Jothee was on Earth . . . He dared not finish the thought.
John just stared at the wormhole in shock, unable to think straight. Is it real, or is it fake? he asked himself, suddenly and whimsically wishing for a daisy. He glanced over at Aeryn's rigid form. She probably needs a daisy too, he thought. Aeryn, sensing eyes on her looked back at him, her face a mask. John took a deep breath to steady himself and turned his eyes back to the sight before him. "OK, Pilot, what's the deal?"
Pilot hesitated before answering. "The trail leads into the wormhole."
"What?" screeched Rygel. The two foot dominar moved his floating throne-sled closer to the screen. "No, we are not going into that thing. Remember what happened the last time. We are-" he was suddenly cut off by Chiana's all too familiar hand clamped firmly over his mouth.
"Shut up froggie," she told him absently, still focused on the wormhole. Silence gripped the room, the crew lost in painful memories. The blue vortex before them just waited. "Your son's on the other side, right?" said Chiana shattering the silence.
D'argo nodded. "Yes," he breathed.
"Right, let's go then." The others looked at her in surprise, but didn't argue. The steel glint in Chiana's eyes bore into Rygel's, just daring him to disagree.
“Prepare to enter the wormhole.”
Earth. Again. Aeryn was not pleased. They had just entered orbit hiding behind the single moon while Pilot and Moya searched for the fuel trail that was somewhere down there. Of all the rotten planets in the galaxy, why did Jothee have to get stuck on that one? It did have a few redeeming qualities, she conceded, but not many. And what if John wanted to stay? No, don't even think like that, she told herself sharply.
As if her thought had called him, John walked into command at that moment. "Hey, Aeryn, has Pilot found out where the bounty hunter landed yet?" he asked coming to stand beside her.
"Yes, here." She pointed to a spot on the map in front of her.
John snorted. "Great, Los Angeles." He sighed heavily. "It could be worse I suppose," he said.
"It could be Australia," Aeryn told him, her mind once more going to their prior disastrous, if false visit. He looked over at her sharply, scanning her face with his captivating blue eyes. "Another thing," she said breaking eye contact, "D'argo can't come with us. We can sneak in, but it's too dangerous for him."
John smiled slightly. "Especially with that temper of his." Aeryn smiled back at the thought of D'argo terrorizing even more humans with his hyper-rage. Maybe he should come after all…
"Aeryn," John said, suddenly serious. He stared at the floor a microt, avoiding her gaze, before looking up, understanding in his gaze. "I'm going for Jothee," he told her, his eyes locked on hers. "Only Jothee."
Aeryn nodded, fighting the urge to grin with wild relief.
Satisfied, John turned to go. "I'll talk to Zhaan about a sedative for D'argo." Aeryn nodded again as he left, his words had barely registered. All she could think was that he wasn’t going to stay.
On Earth, in the city of Los Angeles, it was sunset. Angel and Wesley were in Angel's office finishing some paper work on a recent case and ignoring Cordelia who was happily munching on pretzels in a chair talking about her latest audition.
"So anyway, he asked me to put on my best smile as I did the laundry. I mean what kind of idiot smiles when they do their nasty laundry. And you should have seen the stuff they put on those shirts! It's almost as bad as - AHHG! NO!" Cordelia screamed as a seer's migraine suddenly enveloped her.
Angel and Wesley jumped to their feet, sprang to her side, and waited for the vision to end while Cordelia writhed in pain. "Hello," snapped Cordelia when it was over. "I was in agony and you just sit there?" she demanded holding her throbbing head.
"But you're always all right and you love telling us how much pain you're in," Angel told her as he helped her up. Wesley didn't say anything, just handed her a couple of Tylenol. "What did you see?"
Cordelia glared up at Angel, debating on whether or not to tell him. Finally she grabbed a piece of paper and huffily wrote down what she saw.
"I don't know why I put up with you two," she muttered still out of sorts. "Hope you have fun!" Angel just smiled as he took the paper. ‘Charlie's’, he read the partial address, recognizing the place. ‘Man and woman, black hair, all in leather. Dump’. Dump?
"Right, I'm off," he said grabbing his coat.
"Need any help?" asked Wesley hopefully. Angel shook his head as he put on his long black coat then left the office. Cordelia hrumphed a surely goodbye through another pretzel.
At Charlie's, Angel ordered a beer and sat at a table in the back where he could watch the door. He always hated these times when he had to make contact with strangers who hadn't come to him first. He was never sure what to say or how to approach them. No matter how many times he thought it out, he usually ended up messing it up. Especially with women.
Angel's eyes roamed over the packed bar. It wasn't a huge joint but big enough for a healthy bunch of regulars. Dim light and cigarette smoke gave the place a comfortable shadowy atmosphere that had attracted Angel here when he'd first come to town. As he gazed about at the businessmen in shirtsleeves, the factory workers playing poker, the college kids, the lonely women, the depressed men, Angel smelled the alcohol in the air that was always tinged with sadness and a little fear.
A blond was leaving the bar when he saw them come in. The man had slightly spiked brown hair and the woman had her raven black hair in a ponytail. Both wore black, from their leather pants to their long concealing coats. Angel noticed they had an air of nervousness about them, as if they were expecting a fight at anytime. Two toughs on the wrong side of the law? he wondered studying the unnatural bulge on the woman's thigh. Meanwhile, the man carefully led the way to the bar, weaving between swaying customers and tables.
"Hey," the man said snagging Charlie's arm. "We're looking for a guy who stole something of ours. Know someone who could help us?" he asked. Charlie looked the two over then nodded toward Angel.
"He can help you," he told them.
"Thanks," said the man somewhat surprising Angel. He didn't look much like the thanking type. Both he and the woman turned to stare at him, their gazes locking onto his and never leaving as they walked over.
"Mind if we join you?" asked the man when they reached his table.
"No, sit down," said Angel gesturing at the seats across from him. At least he didn't have to get their attention, he thought with relief. "I'm Angel," he said extending his hand.
The man looked at it for a couple of seconds before clasping it in his own. "John," was all he said. "This is Aeryn." The woman nodded slightly, her face unreadable.
"So you're looking for someone who stole something from you?" Angel asked, seeing no point in trying to hide that he’d overhear them.
"Yeah, sort of," John said glancing at Aeryn.
"Have you tried the police?" Angel asked. He knew they hadn't but he wanted to see their reaction. John half smiled and Aeryn just stiffened even more if that was possible.
"Last thing we need right now is the police," John said. They stared at each other in silence for a minute. "Can we trust you?" John asked suddenly. Angel, captivated by John's eyes, eyes that spoke of fear and hope, immediately sensed that this man was a good man, even though he obviously had secrets. But then, so did Angel.
"Yes, you can trust me. Client confidentiality," he told them. Aeryn's eyes widened slightly as he said that. Angel could smell her fear, his heart twinging as he was the cause. She grabbed John's shoulder and whispered very softly in his ear, so Angel couldn't hear. He could hear John's deeper voice though.
"Aeryn, we have to trust someone. I don't know this city," he whispered back fiercely. Aeryn looked at him long and hard before saying something else. "Right. Go back there," John said pointing to the restrooms. Aeryn left the table and headed toward the back. She hesitated, quickly glancing at both signs on the matching doors before going in the ladies. John let out a tightly held breath and swung his gaze back to Angel.
"Not much of a people person is she?" asked Angel trying to ease the tension. John looked at him funny then grinned.
"No, she's not," he agreed. His eyes flickered to Angel's untouched drink before he spoke again. "Uh… this is going to sound weird, but could I have a sip of your beer?" Angel was taken aback by the request. A grin played around the corners of John's mouth as Angel passed him his Budweiser. He couldn't help but smile widely as he saw the look of ecstasy on the face of his mysterious client as he took a large gulp of the ice-cold liquid. This guy either drank too much or had been denied the pleasure for a really long time, Angel thought wryly as he continued to observe the man sitting across from him.
Suddenly Aeryn appeared back at the table, yanking John to his feet and dragging him towards the door. John pulled out of her grasp long enough for her to whisper something that elicited a "Frell!" from his lips. Then they were gone as quickly as they had come.
Angel muttered his own curse at their sudden disappearance as he dug in his pocket for money and the scrap of paper Cordelia had given him. "The dump. Right. Why are they going to the dump?" Angel shook his head as he tried to piece it all together while he headed for his car.
"So what do we do?" asked John. He and Aeryn were on a very slow city bus heading for the dump they had landed the Prowler in.
"I don't know. You're the one with all the brilliant ideas," muttered Aeryn scowling, careful to keep her voice low. She scanned the bus for possible threats for the hundredth time, a guy in a patched workcoat with no teeth blew her a kiss.
John stared out the window at the lighted cityscape of LA, barely noticing the drabby neighborhoods they drove through, each one more rundown and rat infested. But the lights - white squares dotting the skyscrapers, flashing green advertisements, street lights, stop lights, red radio towers - he had forgotten how beautiful they were lighting up the black sky. He blinked and the spell was broken.
"How did he wake up from Zhaan's potion?" he asked again softly, turning away from the window. Aeryn didn't bother to answer. "And Pilot said he was pissed?"
Aeryn nodded absently as she recognized their stop. “I think he was understating the case.”
“Yeah, well Pilot’s like that,” said John as they stood and made their way to the door. “D’argo ain’t exactly a kitten when he’s mad . . . or you know, trying to kill you.”
They got off the bus and headed toward the dump at a run, each of them racking their brains for how to stop D'argo from getting all of them killed.
"Aeryn," John gasped as they entered the shadow filled mountains of trash. She glanced over at him running beside her. "We'll have to take him by surprise and from behind."
“That’s your plan?” Aeryn threw back at him.
“You got a better one?”
And having none, Aeryn only sighed, “Right.”
Angel ran through the dark dump after his two would be clients, easily jumping over old tires and washing machines. He rounded the final corner around a messed up Chevy and froze at what he saw. John and Aeryn were crouching underneath a really big…thing. Angel didn't know what it was, but it was big and tan. Almost as soon as he saw it, stairs decended from a door in the side and a huge demon dressed in red with long tentacles, a beard, and a funny looking sword burst out. John, with a piece of pipe, and Aeryn, with some sort of gun, were on it in as soon as it hit the ground trying to bring it down. The demon roared, and turned on them and the humans jumped back and started attacking from both sides, but the demon was faster and stronger.
No more than a handful of seconds having passed, Angel plunged into the fray, surprising the demon from behind. The demon turned once again, forgetting the two people behind him, slashing with incredible strength at Angel with his odd sword. Angel dodged and kicked trying to get an advantage, but before he could attack, his adversary fell with a final roar to the ground in a heap.
Behind the demon's crumpled body, stood Aeryn and John bickering about something. He couldn't tell what because Aeryn was speaking in a language he had not heard before. And while this wasn’t terribly odd for one in his profession, it didn’t stop Angel from wondering just what the hell was going on with the two people currently oblivious to his presence.
"What do you mean you didn't remember?"
"I mean I didn't remember till I saw the blood vessel on the back of his neck. Hand to Hand with Alien Species was almost fifteen cycles ago," Aeryn explained.
John shook his head in wonderment. "We've lived together for over a cycle and you never noticed that spot before?"
"Well, it’s not as if I go around lifting up his tentacles all the time," Aeryn remarked.
"You better not," John grinned. Aeryn rolled her eyes. She gestured toward D'argo who was a heap on the ground.
"We better tie him up before he regains consciousness," she said. John nodded and turned toward the Luxan. It was then that he noticed Angel watching them.
Noticing that eh had their attention, the man said, "So you wanna fill me in?”
Angel quickly put his hands in front of him when Aeryn raised her weapon at his question. John spoke first,
"You heard her, didn't you?" he said.
Angel realized that they didn’t know what he was so he nodded cautiously, wondering just what language Aeryn had been speaking. "Look, I'm not going to hurt you."
John shook his head slightly. "That's not what I'm worried about." John obviously had faith in the gun Aeryn was pointing at his gut.
"I won't turn you in to the police, if that's what you're afraid of," Angel told them. John's quick glance at Aeryn was answer enough. Aeryn said something in her strange language. It was nice language, different from the normal harshness of demon tongues, with little clicks interspersed in the syllables.
"How can we trust you?" John asked, rousing Angel from his contemplation of various languages he knew.
Here goes, he thought, the great unveiling of his identity. "I'm sort of the 'policeman' of demons and I was sent here to help you." Angel looked at both of them intently. Aeryn and John stared at him for a long moment, then looked to each other. Aeryn was clearly confused and John didn’t seem much better. He blinked his eyes a couple times. Aeryn was about to say something, but before she could, John interrupted.
"Wait a sec, Aeryn." He looked again at Angel, a small smile twitching on his mouth. "Demons. There are demons on Earth and you're the 'policeman'? You know how that sounds, right? And what do you mean sent? Who sent you and why should we trust you?"
Angel took a deep breath, knowing that the two wouldn't listen without a good reason. They were in some kind of trouble and they obviously thought they could handle it. And didn’t they already know about demons? "I just helped you defeat that demon," Angel said pointing to the creature on the ground. "I’m not going to hurt you.”
"No," said John his voice getting tight with anger. "That only means you haven’t hurt us yet. You think that because you help us knock out the big, bad wolf you're suddenly Prince Charming? Reality check: we can't keep a gun on you forever. Our lives are in your hands and that is unacceptable.”
“Why, because she speaks a demon language?” asked Angel, confused.
“You’re telling me you’re not going to run to the closest National Enquirer or National Guard?” John was skeptical.
“I’m not going to turn you in, no matter how weird you are,” Angel said again, but they didn’t seem any closer to believing him. Angel sighed, hating what he had to do. It was ironic that in order to help these people, he had to show his bad side. What would they think of him now? he wondered darkly, not that it really mattered - he was going to help them whether they wanted his help or not. Half exasperated with them, he shifted his human face into his vampire face.
John blinked and took a step back in surprise. “Whoa! That’s one ugly face!”
Aeryn however was unfazed. She said something to which John replied "He's not human." Aeryn said something else, and John, shaking his own shock away, turned towards her answering "Aeryn, I'd thought you'd gotten past shooting everything that scares you."
Angel shifted his face back to normal and tossed a wooden stake at John's feet. "Now my life is in your hands."
John picked up the stake and Angel could practically see the thoughts adding up in his head. Finally he looked up but to Aeryn and they gazed at each other for a long moment. Angel could only guess at what was passing between them. Finally, John said "I think we can trust him."
Aeryn suddenly looked into Angel's eyes. The vampire held his breath. This was some kind of test and he had to pass it. Finally she nodded to John and lowered her gun.