Lem Lwa
by Kate Bolin

Coment to tale to natte faut to dourmi. / As you spread your mat, so must you lie.

Cordelia Chase had spent most of her adult life alone.

She'd spent ten years in the same apartment alone, save for her resident ghost. She had seen most of her friends, and enemies, die, beginning with Doyle and continuing through the years, gouging a slow wound that never fully healed. She began to grow hard against her own death -- knowing that it would be most likely alone.

But then there was Angel. He had always been there, never left her, and, after 10 years of working together, she trusted him more than anyone else. More than a friend, more than a sibling...even more than a lover could be. Despite the pain of being the only living human she knew, she took comfort in the knowledge that Angel would never leave her -- that he would always be beside her.

But he wasn't.

He hadn't contacted her in several weeks. There had been a single phone call from New Orleans -- barely five minutes and to the point -- and then nothing.

She suspected he was dust, feared it, dreaded it -- and the regular visions weren't quelling the fears. She was alone, the only person to fight the darkness. The tormented souls she saw in her mind able to only rely on her, and that wouldn't be enough, she would never be enough...

She consulted oracle after oracle. Every possible contact in every possible world Angel inhabited had been visited and questioned thoroughly. She called everyone in Sunnydale who still remembered Angel's name -- not so many now after the death of both Slayers. She visited old lovers and bitter enemies, clients and victims, people with his name permanently etched into their memory, and people who only recalled a vague dark shape in the night.

And after several weeks of searching, she still had nothing. She couldn't give up, she couldn't let herself lose hope, but the visions came, and the clients walked in, and she spent lonely nights counting words on pieces of paper, trying to find the cheapest "help wanted" ad rate.

And, as it would happen, that was precisely when Angel chose to call.


"Don't hang up! Don't hang up!" Cordelia shouted at the phone as she streaked through her apartment, water dripping onto the carpet as she ran, clutching a small towel to her wet skin. "Cordelia Chase," she said breathlessly as she placed the receiver next to her ear.

"Cordy, It's me."

Cordelia moved the phone to her other ear, frowning slightly. "Angel?"


"Oh, thank God...where have you been? I've tried all the people I knew, and a few I didn't know you knew, and there are cases backlogged and..." She took a deep breath. "Where are you?"

"Plen Lelin."

"Huh?" Cordelia's frown deepened. "Angel, what happened? Did you find Oz? Why didn't you get in touch with me? What's going on?"

"Plen Lelin. It's in Louisiana, outside of Houma." He paused for a second. "Look, Cordelia, I need you to come out here..."

"Why?" she asked suspiciously. "Are you all right? You sound a bit weird, and I don't know if I can drop these cases..."

"I'm serious, you need to come out here. This..." He paused again. "This involves us."

"Us?" Cordelia bit her lip. "Angel, what's going on?"

"I don't really have the time to explain it all. There's some money in one of the accounts, buy yourself a plane ticket to New Orleans, get a hotel room and a rental car. I'll send a map over to the office."

"A ticket...?" Cordelia's voice trailed off. "But--"

"Hurry," Angel interrupted. "You have to come here." His voice became deeper and more serious. "Now."


Angel hung up. Cordelia frowned at the phone for a few seconds, then quickly dialed the number for an airline.


Doucement napas empece arriver. / Gently doesn't prevent arriving.

If travelers look out the window on a daytime flight to New Orleans, they see sprawling green riverland surrounding them. There are one or two small paths ("Cut out for pirogues and motorboats" the travel guide will tell them), but it's mainly lush bayou, the sunlight faintly sparkling on the water underneath.

Until the thick concrete runway appears directly underneath the airplane, it appears that there is no civilization. There's no glittering city, no congested suburbs, nothing.

Nothing but swamp.

Cordelia stared out the window but ignored the scenery, deep in thought. A print-out of a map lay on her lap, well-folded and highlighted, with details scribbled in the margins. The number of a rental car, a route to Plen Lelin, and, accounting for her driving and Angel's map, she guessed she would be there tonight.

And tonight, she'd know what had happened.

Cordelia had learned many things while working for Angel. She had learned the best way to kill demons, how to spot secret magickal conspiracies, what detergent really got ichor out of clothing...

And to pinpoint exactly when something had gone wrong.

The landing was uneventful, and Cordelia strode into the baggage claim area tacitly ignoring the turned heads, the comments, and the smiles on the fat lecherous college students behind her. Working for Angel had taught her a few more things too. Her lone bag clanked when she picked it up, and she cursed under her breath as she signed off on the security tag. "Baggage guys can't keep their hands off any weapons," she muttered. "My clothes better be in one piece."

She pulled the bag over one shoulder effortlessly and quickly made her way to the rental car place. Within ten minutes she was on the highway, destination set.


Cordelia got as far as the edge of Houma. Night had fallen on the swamp, and the worry and jetlag had finally gotten to her. The oil-rig lit clouds and an afternoon of driving in pouring rain hadn't helped, either. She yawned discreetly behind her hand and pulled into the motel on the left -- the only motel she'd seen for five miles.

The man behind the counter, round and red-faced, was arguing down the phone. "...I don' care how lon' it takes, Eva -- He's 'pposed to have it fixed now...Well, what am I 'pposed to do? Dere's a lady right now dat looks like she wants a room and he ain't here fixin' what he's 'pposed to be fixin'! Yeah, you better get him up and over here now...All right. I'll talk to you later, boo. Uh-huh. Bye." He hung up the phone and looked at Cordelia. "Can I help you, darlin'?"

Cordelia raised an eyebrow. "I need a room for tonight."

"We got plenty of rooms, hon, but dere's just one probl'm..." He looked up at her. "De air conditionin's broke in all de rooms. I've got a man comin' to fix it, but it'll be at least two hours." He paused slightly. "I can rent you a room, but it'll be mighty hot for awhile..."

Cordelia sighed. "All right." She handed the man her credit card, then smiled widely. "Do you happen to have a phone book here?"

"Sure thing, darlin'," he said, lifting up the large yellow book with one hand as he took her credit card with the other. "I'll just take care of dis."

While he went into the back room, she flipped through the pages of the phone book. After a few minutes, she reached for a pad of paper and wrote down an address just as he came back in. "Thanks," she said, taking the key and her card. "Can you tell me where this address is?" she asked, holding up the piece of paper.

The man looked at the paper. "Well, you make a left at de stop sign, go down past de Shell station and de diner..." He frowned. "What'cha need a gun store for anways?"

Cordelia smiled. "Private investigator," she said succinctly. "You should always be prepared."

The man took a step back, his eyes wide. "Well, I..." He looked at her. "De room'll be ready in two hours."

Cordelia's smile was wide and nonthreatening. "I'll be back by then." She walked out of the door, quickly getting back into her car. The clerk watched her as she drove away.


Louisiana calls itself the "Sportsman's Paradise." Acres of swampland just asking for the fictitious sportsman to come in and mark his territory.





The gun shop was on the last paved road out of town, lit only by a small trailer diner's neon sign blinking against the darkness of the wilderness. It sat there, a thick concrete block, with only a small plastic sign lit in a window to mark it, cheap plastic letters spelling out the name of the store.

Cordelia drove her car through the gravel and mud lot and parked underneath the sickly yellow glow of the sign. She quickly got out of the car and walked into the smoke-filled room just as an elderly man finished his story.

"...And I told that damn fool boy if he came around my house again, I'd not only shoot off his hands, I'd shoot his goddamned feet off too! You should've heard him tellin' me how sorry he was!"

The men gathered around him laughed, holding up their plastic cups of Wild Turkey, then looked up at the person who had just walked in. One of them, a wiry middle-aged man wearing a flannel shirt and a much-abused Smith & Wesson baseball cap, stood. "Can I help you, miss?" he asked.

She smiled politely. "I need a gun."

The man blinked. "I'm...I'm going to need you to fill out some paperwork, miss. I..."

"No, I need it tonight," Cordelia said professionally. "Preferably a .38, but I can easily make do with a .45 if I have to." She unzipped her purse and pulled out her wallet.

"Miss," the man in the cap said sharply. "We don't do that. We can't--"

"I know exactly what the law is in this state, and I know that, given enough...incentive, people are willing to ignore the law in certain situations." She set a small pile of cash on the shop counter. "I wouldn't be here if I didn't need it -- the flight wouldn't allow me to carry my own and I'm sort of in a rush, so..." She set down her private investigator's badge down next to the stack of twenties.

The man picked up the badge. "Miss, um...Chase?" he said. He shook his head. "I can't allow it." He set the badge back down on the counter. "You gotta fill out the paperwork and come back in two weeks."

Cordelia looked at the man, her polite smile fading. "I can't. I have..." She took a breath. "I'm on my way to Plen Lelin in the morning. I need this gun."

The men sitting in the corner murmured to themselves. The man in the cap paled, barely visible under his tanned, weather-beaten face, but he shook his head. "I can't, ma'am. I'm sorry."

She heard the sound of a chair moving across the floor. "You've got a long way to go before you'll get Gus to change his mind..." the elderly man said. "Despite what a pretty girl you are...Pretty little thing, with your long brown hair and your big brown eyes..."

Cordelia closed her eyes for a second, then turned to the old man to make a sharp comment. She stopped suddenly, taking in a breath when the man gazed directly at her--

--his cataract-clouded eyes milk-white in the cheap fluorescent light. He smiled, and tipped his head slightly. "Long way to go, darlin'. Long way to go indeed. Road paved with fire and angels..."

"Angel?" Cordelia's voice was soft, and she shook herself. "What...?"

The old man smiled again. "Gus, give her what she needs. She's got a hard, hard time ahead of her, and she'll need all the help she can get..."

The man in the cap frowned, looking at the old man. "You sure, Homer?"

The old man looked up towards the ceiling, his blind eyes wandering without focus. "You best get out some of the other things you've got locked up, too. She ain't dealin' with just men, y'know..."

"How...?" Cordelia shivered slightly, and looked towards Gus. "No, I have weapons. Crossbows, stakes, an ax...I just need a gun, okay?"

"Ma'am," Gus said, his voice low. "What Homer says you need, I'm gonna get. You can't fight a werewolf without silver bullets."

"Wait, what?" Cordelia, grabbing his arm. "How did you know? What's going on?" Gus broke away from Cordelia's grasp and went into the back room. Cordelia turned towards the group of men angrily. "What the hell is going on there?"

"Miss Chase," said another man. "We..." His hands spread out apologetically. "We don't know."

"How can you not know? You've got this blind man seeing things, you've got silver bullets and even more weapons...how can you not know what's going on there?"

"That place...it's not..." He searched for the words.

"It's a dark place, darlin'. Long way to go, little girl; you've gotta long way to go." Homer's white eyes swirled towards her again. "Y'ain't ever seen anythin' like it, not in all your life. I know you've seen an awful lot, but y'ain't ever been in love like her..."

"'Her' who?" Cordelia asked, frowning. "I don't understand!"

"You will, little darlin'..." Homer's voice grew low as Gus handed Cordelia a small heavy bag. "You're almost there, she's almost got you...if you ain't careful, you're gonna lose yourself in her..." His voice lowered to a hoarse, desperate whisper. "And when you're lost, we're all gone..."

Cordelia stared at him, then ran out the door.


Coup de langue pis mauvais piqu sepent. / A tongue-thrust is worse than a serpent's sting.

Cordelia drove for an hour, trying to calm down, forcibly ignoring the bag sitting on the passenger's seat. After getting lost three times, she finally turned around, ignoring the shadows around her as she pulled back into the parking lot of the motel. She turned off the engine and sat there, staring at the steering wheel in silence.

Homer's voice echoed through her head. "...If you ain't careful..."

She closed her eyes tightly, putting her hands on the wheel and resting her forehead against her hands. "What're you doing, Cordy?" she said softly. "What the hell are you doing?"

She took five seconds, then straightened up and grabbed the bag, refusing to look down at it. She got out of the car and walked into the reception area.

The desk clerk looked up at her, and shook his head. "I'm awfully sorry to tell you dis, darlin'..." he said apologetically. "But de air conditionin's still out...he ain't gonna fix it until mornin'..."

Cordelia frowned. "Morning?" she asked tiredly.

The man nodded. "I'm sorry. I'm gonna take half off de bill and I put a fan in dere now, but..."

Cordelia sighed. "Fine," she said tiredly. She took the key from his hand, and walked to the small room, grumbling as the sweat dripped from her forehead.

After an almost-cold shower, she pulled the blankets and the top sheet off the bed. Her hair dripped down on the pillowcase as she laid down, still naked in a final attempt to get cool. She wrapped one arm around a pillow, nestling it against her head as she closed her eyes.

The heat seeped through her body, and she turned listlessly, unable to sleep. "Angel," she muttered. "When I find you, I'm going..." She paused for a moment, thinking of what she could do. "I don't know what I'm going to do, but it's going to be bad. I've worked for you for almost eleven years, and never ever have you asked this much of me. Even with all the times I was in the hospital, even when I was impregnated with demon spawn -- I still had air conditioning."

She sighed again, spreading her arms out against the bed with an audible thump, and forced her body to relax against the bed. "I am calm..." she said in a soft voice. "I enjoy my surroundings..." She breathed deeply and slowly slid her hands over her body.

"It's not so bad..." she whispered to herself. "It's like a big blanket over my entire body..." One hand slid across her stomach, noting the slight bulge years of Angel's breakfasts had given her but ignoring it for the moment, slipping down a bit further to scratch absently at crinkling hair. "It's soothing..."

She closed her eyes, took another deep breath, and put her hand lower, slicking her fingers slowly before sliding them to that perfect spot, twisting over it as her mind began to drift.

Man with long slim fingers sliding under her skirt while the limo glides over potholes, he's oh-so-careful as the limo turns, the scratchiness of his face rubs up against her neck as he nuzzles her, whispers sweetness against her skin and twists his fingers under her panties...wetness and his fingers are thicker, larger, and he has a finger in her and she's rubbing up against him, breasts pressing against his chest and he whispers against her some more and she's moaning out his name in the breathiest of moan...barely vocal...shh shh, don't tell the driver we're fucking...oh Angel, Angel---

Her eyes opened, her hand jumping to the side of the bed. "Damnit!" she whispered.

Cordelia rolled onto her side, curling up into a ball and closing her eyes tightly. "Get some sleep..." she mumbled. "Gotta get some sleep..."

She mumbled that a few more times, then softly drifted off to sleep.


Cordelia walked through the Hyperion, bare feet padding softly on the marble floor, her nightgown swishing around her legs as she walked, her eyes wide The hotel was as empty as the day they had first moved in, as empty as the day it was destroyed. She continued walking, looking through doorways, her near-silent footsteps still managing to echo through the halls.

"Angel?" she finally called out, trying to whisper, but shouting instead. The name bounced back to her from the walls.

She turned, and a peacock stood in the doorway behind her, its eyes staring at her quizzically. She moved towards it, but it cocked its head, shrieked, and disappeared before her eyes.

The scream of the peacock echoed through the hotel, and she put her hands to her ears, the familiar throbbing headache starting again. "No...not again..." she mumbled before crashing into sharp-fog images.

Bonfires and laughing women and a chicken with a knife against its throat. Pale skin with blood splatters, hands clenching in orgasmic fury, tree bark against her skin and oh oh oh, it's so good...souple met andedan mo...

She landed on the floor, her knees slamming against marble and it felt too real, too close, not the dream she thought it was. "Oh god..." she whispered. "Please stop..."

A hand touched her back. "Cordelia?" he said behind her.

Cordelia wiped her eyes quickly, glittering tears dripping onto the floor, and she slowly stood up. "Angel?" she said quietly. "Angel, is it you?"

"Don't turn around," he said quickly, yet calmly. "Not yet."

"Angel, I--" She stood there, facing away from him. "I don't know what's going on. Everything's gone strange and...and..." She took a deep breath.

"It's all right, Cordelia..." he said softly. "Shh..." he whispered, his arms wrapping around her waist, pulling her close to him.

She closed her eyes, feeling his cool skin against the thin silk nightgown she was wearing. The headache suddenly disappeared, and she melted against him, relaxing as the pain faded. "Angel, I was looking for you..."

A peacock shrieked from the hallway and she startled slightly, but relaxed again as he kissed the side of her neck, his cock hardening against her back. "Cordelia, m'cheri, m'bel...how I've missed you..."

She heard the faint scrabblings of bird feet on marble. There was the faintest sensation of feathers against her thighs and she gasped, looking down.

A woman knelt before her, chocolate-colored skin gleaming with gold dust, her face concealed by an old Carnival mask with peacock feathers iridescent in the half-light. "Angel... What..." Cordelia mumbled thickly. "Oh..." She moaned as the woman knelt closer, lifting up her silk nightgown before running her tongue over her inner thighs.

Angel's low chuckle rumbled against her back. "Do you like that, m'lem?"

She gasped as the woman's soft hands opened her legs a little wider and leaned in to properly taste her. "Angel...Oh...I..."

He chuckled again. "Yes, that's it..." He reached up with one hand and began to play with her breast through her nightgown, sliding his fingers against her nipple.

Cordelia thought she heard drums. Or her heartbeat. Each twist of the woman's tongue was matched by Angel's hands. She pressed against both of them hungrily, needy, each new movement bringing forth a new moan to her lips.

"Do you feel it?" Angel whispered into her ear. "Nous santi?" He ran his tongue over her earlobe just as the woman changed the direction of her strokes. "Are you close? Raproche? Do you want it? The sudden rush, the fire all over, being konsome?"

She groaned. "Yes... Yes... YES..." she said, wrapping one hand around Angel's neck and the other tangling itself in the woman's long hair.

"It's already in you, m'cheri..."

Cordelia's fingers were against her clitoris instead of the woman's tongue. She gasped, amazed, and turned to face Angel.

His face was painted like a skull, his brown eyes glittering in deep sockets of black makeup.

She faltered, taking a step back.

"Nan nous!" he shouted, pulling her close, his fingers reaching down to mash against her clit.

She screamed, coming violently, her body twisting in pleasure even as she was trying to pull away...

...The scream echoed in the motel room, her hand drenched with sweat and juices. "Fuck!" She pulled her hand away angrily. "Fuck fuck fuck fuck FUCK!" she shouted, tears welling in her eyes.

She slammed her fist down on the bed a few times, her eyes closed tight as tears leaked onto her cheeks.


Gus Delphine had a routine. Everyone in town could set their watches by it. Out the front door of his modest house, stopping only to give his wife a quick kiss, at 8:32. On the road at 8:37. Turn left at 8:49. Stop at McDonald's for hash browns and coffee at 8:52. Pull up to his store at 8:59 precisely, for an hour of bookkeeping and maintenance before opening the store at 10.

As he pulled up, he noticed the other car there, then saw the woman sitting on the stoop of his store, clutching a styrofoam cup of coffee.

He got out of the car and walked up to her. She kept looking down at the cup until he stood directly in front of her.

When she finally looked up, the dark circles under her eyes only emphasized the deadness of them. "I'll do it," she said, her voice exhausted but firm. "Whatever it is, I'll do it."

He nodded. "Come on in, then."


Complot plis fort passe ouanga. / Conspiracy is stronger than witchcraft.

After a few phone calls, the same group of men from the night before gathered around the small table in the back, watching her. She sat there, staring down at her hands, refusing to look up at the men, until, finally, Gus walked back in, shutting the backroom door behind him. "So what do you know?" she asked, looking at him.

Gus shared a look with the other men, then sat down across from her. "Miss Chase, we..."

"You already told me you didn't know what was happening there," she said, her voice taut. She looked at the other men suspiciously -- all white, all middle-aged, and all wearing flannel shirts and worn jeans. "So tell me what you know."

He opened his mouth, about to speak, when Homer began to chuckle. "You've got a lot before you, cher," Homer said. "Plen Lelin ain't somethin' they talk about at school." He leaned in closer to her, stinking of cigarettes and sweat. "It's been here since before the War, since the time a plantation owner come over from St. Domingue -- Haiti to you -- with a few hundred slaves along to carve out a sugar plantation here in the bayou."

"The slaves revolted around 1815," one of the other men said. "Killed that man and his family, and took the plantation as their own...built a town around it."

"Plen Lelin," Cordelia said.

Homer nodded. "This was so far back that by the way the US got around to checking the place out, it was already so established as a town, there wasn't anythin' anyone could do - - another group of free Negroes livin' out in the swamp and speakin' Creole -- it was best to keep them where they were."

"But then the vampire came," the other man said. "From Haiti after the slave revolt, taking over the town and ruling it."

"But how did Oz...?"

The man frowned, then turned to the other men. When they nodded, he turned back to her. "How do you know about vampires?" he asked.

Cordelia blinked. "Huh?"

"We're talking about vampires, and you haven't even blinked."

Cordelia frowned. "I grew up in Sunnydale." At their blank expressions, she sighed. "Sunnydale? California? The Hellmouth? Hung out with the Slayer, fought the Mayor, now working for the lone vampire with a soul?" She looked at their amazed faces. "You mean you went and told me all that, gave me a gun with silver bullets, told me there was going to be trouble, and you weren't even sure if I knew about vampires?"

The man looked sheepish. "We...that is..."

"We listened to Homer," Gus piped up.

Cordelia looked at them, and rolled her eyes. "Whatever." She paused. "So how did the vampire leave the town and how did Oz -- the werewolf -- come to the town? And where exactly does Angel fit into all this and why am I going there?"

Gus looked at the other man. "Dale thinks someone killed the vampire..."


Dale shrugged. "I don't know. Someone did. All we know is that the vampire was dead, the werewolf showed up, and the rituals started again."

"Rituals?" Cordelia frowned. "What rituals?"

"Blood and death, darlin'." Homer's voice was deeply serious. "Gettin' everythin' ready for somethin'. Something real big, someone real deadly."

"But Angel..." Cordelia bit her lip. "Angel wouldn't just go in there if something bad was going down. He'd stop it. It's what he does. He...goes in and stops things. It's his mission!"

Dale looked away. Homer rested both palms on the table. "Darlin'," Homer said. "If he's there, then he ain't stoppin' it. All the signs are there -- somethin's gonna happen, and it's gonna happen soon."

Cordelia looked down at the table, at Homer's cracked wrinkled hands and the faint scratches in the table's paint job.

After a few minutes, she spoke. "All right," she said, her voice weary. "Worst case scenario: Oz is trying to end the world and Angel's joined him." She looked up at Homer. "What do I have to do to stop them?"

Homer nodded. "You have to be blessed, child." He smiled. "Shinin' white with the glory of God, savin' the world with your holy ways..."


The water stank of metal. The current flowed around her, turning her white dress a faint shade of beige. She ignored the stains, her body straight and proud, even as she felt catfish glide around her legs.

The small group around her, men also dressed entirely in white and standing hip deep in the river, bowed their heads. Cordelia followed suit, closing her eyes and bowing her head slowly.

"Heavenly Father," Homer said, his voice strong. "Please take to your bosom this woman. Guide her in your mission and give her the strength, the wisdom, and the power to carry out your will. Amen."

Strong arms wrapped around Cordelia's waist and she was gently nudged backwards. She let the hands guide her as her head dipped back into the river. Flashes of light sparkled across her eyelids and she felt the throb of a vision come on her again.

Shimmering gold light and rustling water and a woman's laughter. The water's suddenly warm, like a bath like the womb, and she can taste salt and blood...

The hands held her firm, even as they were lifting her up from the water. She struggled slightly, the vision still causing her to spasm. Homer's voice was harsh after the laughter. "In the name of the Father..."

Cordelia was put back down into the water.

Gold gold gold and there's a man's voice as well, both of them moaning in delight and joy. The water around her is the sweat of lovers' backs. The light is afternoon sunlight through a curtain...

Another uplift. She gasped for air, her eyes closed tightly against the pain.

"And the Son..."

She took a deep breath before going back down.

Green-gold light and three voices -- or is it just one? She isn't sure and it smells like woods and fresh water. The river's polluted but it's turning clean clean clean around her, clean like she is, and there's a wolf howling in the distance. Clean in the golden light...

"And the Holy Ghost." Their hands supported her back up to standing and the vision disappeared. Cordelia wiped the water from her face and, slowly, opened her eyes.

"Are you ready, Miss Chase?" Homer asked, his blind eyes looking into her. "Are you ready for what you've seen?"

She shook her head. "I..." She paused, thinking. "I don't know what I've seen. I don't understand." She straightened, pulling her wet hair behind her, and lifting her head proudly. "But I'm ready."


Cououi pas laide, temps lafoce pas la. / It isn't ugly to run, when one isn't strong enough to stay.

The road was a single lane, thin and winding through swampland, resting asphalt wherever there was a foot of dry land. The cypress and spanish moss hung over the road, blocking out starlight, only allowing the faint silver touches of full moonlight to seep through.

Cordelia turned on the bright headlights and kept her eye on the road, ignoring everything around her. Every few minutes, she bit her lip, thinking of the visions, of the dream.

The shriek of a peacock, the gentle feeling of a woman's mouth on her, the skull makeup on Angel...

She shuddered again, and focused on the road, nearly missing the turnoff for Plen Lelin. She turned off the main road, and drove into the town.

She had heard that small towns were quiet in darkness, but Plen Lelin was a ghost town -- only the lone streetlight in front of the gas station and the flickering neon sign of the motel giving any sign of inhabitants. And even the neon sign said "closed."

Cordelia looked down at the map Dale gave her, and drove past the town without a second glance. Once she passed the last building and its dim lighting, she saw a faint glow between the trees, and a single dirt road winding through them.

She turned onto it and went down, keeping her eyes on the glow as it brightened, took shape, and became a bonfire flickering between trees.

She parked the car on the side, before reaching the end of the road. She sat in the car for a few seconds, biting her lips and staring at nothing, then grabbed the bag of weapons, checking their readiness professionally, and then, her face cold, loading the gun with the silver bullets.

Cordelia silently got out of the car, and walked towards the fire.


The road opened onto a large clearing filled with people. Cordelia moved into the forest surrounding it, hiding in the shadows, watching them intently. Many of them were darker than the shadows, red-black in the firelight. Others were caramel, coffee, shades of brown that Cordelia had only really seen in a box of crayons. They were loosely congregated around the fire, chanting and drumming, dancing and laughing, moving to the beat of the drums and the melody of the song.

As Cordelia's eyes adjusted to the firelight, she saw the big plantation house behind the fire. As she watched, the front door opened, and she gasped.

Angel stood there, wearing only a pair of black trousers. His bare feet stepped onto the dirt, and he proudly made his way to the fire. Behind him, still standing in the doorway, was Oz, wearing an all white suit and looking paler than he ever had been. When Angel reached a certain spot, he turned, and faced Oz.

"M'Gran Bwa," he shouted over the drumming. "Vini rankontre nous lem!"

Oz tipped his head back and laughed, his voice sending shivers up Cordelia's spine. He walked towards Angel, the crowd parting to let him pass, sliding their hands over him as he walked.

A few feet before he reached Angel, someone handed him a chicken, wings flapping angrily as Oz held it by its neck. He stepped closer, and another person handed him a knife, glinting angrily in the light. Angel smirked as Oz walked closer, and then, as Oz stopped directly in front of him, picked the chicken from Oz's hands and held it above his head. "Gran Bwa..." Angel yelled. "Popa Gede... Guid ou cheval!"

The chicken continued flapping as it was rubbed over Oz's body, the occasional feather sticking to his suit. Oz took the chicken from Angel, then rubbed it over Angel as well. The chicken was handed to someone nearby and Angel stooped down, wrapping his arms around Oz and pulling him close for a rough kiss. Oz's body molded against his, and as one arm reached around Angel's waist, the other lifted above their heads, towards the chicken stretched out above them.

A flash, Oz's hand moving quickly, and, suddenly, blood splattered from the chicken and onto Angel and Oz. Their kiss deepened as the blood splashed on them, trickling down Angel's bare skin and staining Oz's suit.

As the chicken jerked its last drop out, Oz broke the kiss and turned away from Angel. The drummers and singers paused, and he smiled softly. "Cordelia," he said, his voice strong as he turned to look directly at her, despite the trees between them. "Come out and join us."


Ca ou pedi fe ou va trouve nen sann. / What you lose in the fire, you will find in the ashes.

Cordelia picked her way through the brush, her eyes never leaving the two men standing in front of her.

Oz watched her placidly, his pale eyes tracing over her. Angel, however, smiled widely, watching her as she walked over to them. "Oh Cordelia," he whispered. "M'bel, m'lem...you made it..."

She forced herself to remain calm as she walked to them, stopping a good five feet away. "Of course I did," she said smoothly. "Don't I always?"

They laughed, sharing a look between them. Cordelia straightened angrily, making Oz's eyes flick back, and he moved towards her. "Cordelia,..." he said softly, reaching out.

"Don't. Come. Near. Me." She said through gritted teeth.

"Oh Cordelia...who have you been talking to?" he asked. "Who has been turning you against us..." He took a step closer. "Who has been turning you against your kind?"

Cordelia pointed the gun at Oz, her eyes narrowing as she undid the safety. "I mean it, Oz," she said, her voice cracking slightly.

Oz chuckled again, and took a step further. "You can't," he whispered. "You can't kill me, Cordelia. You can't kill what you already know." His voice grew even softer, but Cordelia heard him perfectly. "We are the same, Cordelia. Nous menm."

Cordelia braced herself and pointed the gun directly at Oz's chest. "I'm sorry," she whispered as she pulled the trigger.

The gunshot rang through the night, instantly followed by a shout. Angel dove in front of Oz, an explosion of blood suddenly appearing on his chest, the bullet meant for Oz hitting him. He landed hard in front of them, groaning in pain as his hand covered the wound, the smallest amount of blood seeping from it.

"Angel?" Cordelia whispered. "Oh God...Angel?"

Oz chuckled, then carefully helped Angel up, wrapping his arm around Angel's waist. He placed his hand upon Angel's chest tenderly, covering the wound, then whispered. "Gede, heal your servant. Gran Bwa, assist your servant." He leaned up to nuzzle Angel's jaw, then whispered again. "Gede, sove totchen bon. Gran Bwa, ede totchen bon." He kissed Angel softly, then pulled his hand away, revealing perfect unmarred skin.

He slowly walked towards Cordelia, his palm upturned. In the center of his palm, the silver bullet sizzled, blackening the skin. He held the bullet up to her face, fingers turning black before her eyes, then dropped it on the ground. "Oh Cordelia," he said, holding up the now-unmarked hand. "I had so hoped..."

Cordelia shook her head in terror. "Oz, please..." she whispered. "Please don't..."

"Cordelia..." Angel said, walking towards her. "Cordelia, he would never hurt you!" He stopped just barely a foot away from her. "He couldn't hurt you, any more than he could hurt me!"

Cordelia took a gulp of air, her expression changing as she stared at Angel. "Oh God..." she said, her voice shaking in disgust. "Angelus...You're Angelus... He...oh God..." She fumbled in her bag, reaching for a stake.

"No! Cordy, no, please..." Angel reached forward, almost grabbing her arm. She stepped back in fright. "It's still me," Angel said, near desperation. "Can't you see that? It's always been me."

She blinked a few times, shaking her head in denial as her eyes widened. "Angel?" she said in a child-like voice, desperately wanting to believe. "Angel, but you...I..." her voice trailed off.

"I know..." he said softly. "I know it's hard..." He reached for her hand cautiously. When she didn't move away, he took it gently between his own. "It was hard for me too...but she needs you, Cordy...we need you. She's been waiting for you for so long..."

"I..." She shook her head in disbelief. "I don't....Who?"

"La bel lem...the woman who knows..." He smiled beatifically. "Oshun, Queen of the Heavens..."

"Oshun," Cordelia whispered. She nodded, dream-like, then her eyes widened in fear. "No!" she said desperately, clutching at his shoulder. "Angel, she came to me in a dream. She's...she's--"

"Shhhh..." Angel said, smiling and putting a finger to her lips. "All this time, she protected you. She took care of you. You never knew..."

"What are you talking about?" she asked, her eyes flicking between Angel and Oz as her eyebrows furrowed.

Oz's pupils were wide, hypnotic, as he gazed at Cordelia. "Bo chanje tout, li kontrole ke," he said in a near-whisper.

Chills ran up Cordelia's spine as she stared at him. Angel stepped closer to her. "The visions, Cordelia. Doyle loved you and gave you the visions." He was calm as he explained. "He kissed you and gave you the greatest gift he could."

Cordelia frowned. "But how--"

"Shh..." Angel said, holding up his hand and interrupting her. "It was her will," he continued. "She knew you and wanted you and loved you, and, so..." He smiled softly, holding out his hands. "He loved you."


"No, no, m'bel." Angel moved closer. "Panse osije li. The visions should have killed you." He paused, letting that sink in. "They would have killed you -- but she protected you. She knew how much you loved the world and she loved you."

Cordelia shook her head. "And this was how she showed it? Constant migraines? Pain?" She glared at Oz. "Does that sound like love?"

Oz shrugged, echoing his former life. "Until you accept it, it never does." He looked down at the ground, shadows obscuring his face. "Their love is konsome," he said, his voice gritty and strained. "Eternal." He raised his head, the flickering firelight catching on now-wolfen features. "But it will save you."

Cordelia gasped and took a step back, gasping again when she stepped against Angel. "M'bel," he said softly. "She loves you. She will take you and change you -- as Gede changed me, as Gran Bwa changed Oz. We are more now, more than human, more than vampire, more than werewolf, and you --you will be more than seer."

He leaned in close to her, his cool skin nearly touching hers. "Remember how it felt to be without pain? How her lips felt against your thighs?" His lips pressed gently against the back of her neck. Goosebumps prickled against them. "Remember how soft her tongue was against you? How she took you in her mouth and held you there?"

Cordelia paled. "That was a dream," she said. "You couldn't know..."

Angel chuckled. "M'lem, Gede was there. Gede was there and I am Gede and we were there. We know what she does to you..." His voice grew lower, dirtier. "Let her in, Cordelia. Let her love you and -- together -- we will give you all you've ever wanted." His hands slid against her body. "We will love you, she will love you, and everything will be..." He paused as he pulled her tight against him. "Perfect."

She closed her eyes, shaking her head slowly as the drums began pounding again -- soft enough to be her heartbeat. "Angel..." she said, her voice thick and muzzy. "I don't understand..." She heard rattles and soft chanting around her, and little shivers crackled through her body.

"Shhh, m'petit..." he whispered in his ear as he slowly slid a hand up under her shirt, his cool hand stroking her skin. "Just accept..."

She scrunched her eyes together tightly in concentration, willing her heartbeat to resume its normal rhythm, willing herself to not follow the lull of the drums around her, but something began to take over, something slow, smooth, and right, spiraling from between her legs and rising upwards, outwards, all over her body until she arched up into Angel's hand, now cupping her breast, pressing a nipple against his palm. Her body tensed, she bit her lip, but she couldn't stop the moan from escaping. A low sweet moan, a moan of possession, of passion, of completeness, and when she slumped against Angel's body, she was no longer alone.


The woods are black on a moonless night. Blacker than the skin of the people milling around the fire, blacker than the arts they practice, blacker and more vicious than the history of the White Woods, l'Blan Bwa.

A bonfire roared in the clearing, built of cypress and tradition, the orange flames sparking cinders heavenwards. The townsfolk celebrated their night, callused hands beating worn-shiny leather, tobacco and rum scarred voices singing the songs their grandmothers taught them. Their bare feet stamped down dirt hard-packed from centuries of rituals as they danced, their bodies echoing the movements of millennia.

Behind the fire was a tree -- alone in the clearing, ramrod straight and barren -- only a few branches at the very top to show its nature.

She leaned against the tree -- The Queen of Heavens, L'Ren d'Bel, Oshun, Ezulie, Cordelia, naked and shimmering in the golden firelight, her body bronzed and beautiful. She laughed and arched her back, beads of sweat sparkling in the light, her breasts high and taut, a single streaked handprint of blood between them, marking her as The One -- L'Fom.

Kneeling before her were The Two -- L'Nomm e L'Bwa, Gede and Gran Bwa, Angel and Oz. The firelight rippled over their pale bodies, creating shadows and sigils on their bare flesh. They turned to each other, eyes half-closed in lust and possession, mouths meeting in hunger and passion, tongues exploring, seeking, tasting.

They broke the kiss and faced their goddess, both mouths eagerly hunting for the sweetness, the curves, the glory that was her body. Her legs spread, her body posed invitingly, she had one hand gripping the tree trunk and the other jerkingly scrabbling through their hair, pulling them closer.

Her mouth was open, moaning, her entire body begging them to feast upon her, and, in the night, amid the drums and the chants of her worshippers, against the tongues of her lovers, she shouted "Mo isit!"

Di moin qui vous laimein, ma di vous qui vous ye. / Tell me whom you love, and I'll tell you who you are.


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