The Witches of Eriadne:
Something Wicked this Way Comes - Part 5: Finale

by The Space Witches

Can Angel save Gabriel?
Can Angel save Gabriel?

Chapter 1

Lucas held onto the Rage with all his strength, knowing that if the thing inside him took control, it would kill the woman who sat shivering in front of him, clinging desperately to her child. The Rage knew what Angel had planned to do as well as Lucas did, and it wanted to kill her, to reach out and take her by the throat, to squeeze the life out of her and watch her die. No quick death from a broken neck for Angel. No, the Rage wanted to watch her suffer as she died slowly.

Clenching his hands tightly into fists at his side to prevent them reaching out and throttling Angel, Lucas controlled his voice as he said quietly, "Give me the baby."

Angel shook her head violently, her face hidden by her hair as she bent over her child, shielding him from Lucas' reach and view.

"If you don't give him to me, Angel, I'll take him. If I do that, you're gonna get hurt, and he might get hurt, too. Which is it gonna be, Angel-face? It's your choice."

Angel looked up and Lucas almost flinched at the hatred he saw in her eyes. He'd seen Angel angry before, but he'd never seen her look at him like this. She almost hissed at him as she said, "Choice? That's what everything comes down to with you, isn't it, Lucas? You make people choose, but you give them impossible choices. Whichever way they choose, they find damnation, but by giving them a choice, you make them responsible for their own misery. Well, damn you, Lucas, this time I make my own choices. I choose to leave you and I choose to take my baby with me."

Lucas was taken aback by the violence of Angel's words, and the depth of her perception. When had she figured this out? When had she discovered the way he manipulated people with the illusion of free will? And why had she never challenged him about it before? He dismissed those questions as irrelevant, and focused on the real challenge he faced. Keeping Angel and his son by his side.

Part of him wondered why this was so important to him. Why did he want Angel to stay? She'd given him what he wanted, and life, in many ways, would be easier if she left. So why did it matter so much to him that Angel continued to live with him, to sleep at his side, to love him. He dismissed those thoughts too, and concentrated on the immediate task, deciding on a change of tactics. If vinegar wouldn't do it, maybe honey would trap this fly. Time to turn on the charm.

"Leave me? Now why would you want to do that, darlin'? You know how good we are together." He smiled at her fondly, and reached out to caress her cheek. "We can be a family, Angel. That's what's important now. This isn't about you or me, it's about family. You can bring the baby with you and come live with me, so we can all be together. We can even be married, if that's what you want. Would you like that, Angel? Do you want to be my wife?"

The moment the words were out, Lucas knew he had made a mistake. Through his fingers touching Angel's face, he felt the wave of emotion that swept through her. Anger, grief, remorse, guilt, but most of all, hatred: hatred for him.

Angel's eyes spat fire up at Lucas, as she still clung to her son. "I would rather die. Have you forgotten, Lucas? I know what it's like to be married. To be the wife of a good man who loved me." Her voice cracked as she raged on, "Who didn't try to own me, but who loved me, body and soul, Lucas, body and soul. I was happier then than I've ever been in my life, but that happiness was taken away from me. Stolen from me by the callous bastard who murdered the man who loved me and who I loved. I swore that if I ever found the man responsible, I'd kill him, I'd destroy him, I'd rip him limb from limb for murdering Michael, and for the pain he caused me and Michael's son."

Lucas withdrew his hand, concentrating on blocking Angel's powers. He could feel them rising inside her and he knew he couldn't allow her to access them. If she drew on her powers when she was this angry she could do some serious damage. Not just to him, but to the entire planet. Angel didn't know the scale of her own power, but Lucas did.

He was so focused on blocking Angel that her next words took him by surprise.

"It was you, Lucas, wasn't it? You had Michael killed."

A long silence fell between them as Lucas debated his options. Should he lie and deny it? Could he use his charm to convince her she was wrong? Or should he admit it and use her knowledge against her.

The Rage was struggling within him and for a moment he lost control. It was as if another voice spoke from his mouth, saying, "If I did, it was your fault, Angel. We had a deal. You belong to me, body and soul. That was the promise you made on the day we first met, and when you married that Healy," the name came out as a curse, "you reneged on that deal. His life was forfeit from that moment. That's what happens when you breach a contract, darlin'. A penalty has to be paid."

Lucas knew he'd lost the game the moment he finished speaking. He inwardly cursed his loss of control, but he knew it was too late. The damage was done. He had admitted his responsibility for Michael Healy's death, and now Angel would never forgive him. All he could hope for was to salvage one thing from this disaster. He could still keep his son, even if he had to let Angel go.

The raven haired woman stood slowly, still holding the baby tightly to her chest as she raised her head and stared defiantly into Lucas' eyes.

"I hate you, Lucas Buck. I hate you for the pain you've caused me, for the damage you've done to my family, but most of all, I hate you for killing Michael Healy. I will never forgive you for that. So I'm leaving you. If you remember, we had a deal of our own. You agreed that once I had given birth to your son, I could leave if I wanted to. Well, I want to. I'm leaving, Lucas, and I'm taking Gabriel with me."

Lucas laughed harshly. "Those were not the terms we agreed, darlin'. The deal was that after you'd given me a son, you could leave, but the baby stays. He's his father's son, Angel, born of my genes and carrying my spirit. He stays with me. Are you starting to get the picture, Angel-face? If you want to go, then go, but leave now and leave quickly, or this child will grow up mourning his dead mother."

Angel glared up at him defiantly, but Lucas could sense her strength draining from her. She was still weak from the long and painful birth, and she shouldn't even be out of bed, never mind having this kind of confrontation. A small part of Lucas wanted nothing more than to sweep Angel into his arms and carry her back to her bed, making sure she was kept safe and well until her health and beauty were restored. The Rage stamped down on that tiny part of Lucas' soul and ground it into dust. He watched its passing with a glimmer of regret as he listened to Angel's response.

"And what about my genes, Lucas? He's my son, too. There's a part of me in him."

Lucas laughed again. "Yes, there is. The part I wanted. I don't need you anymore, darlin', I've got what I needed. There's a darkness in you, Angel, do you know that? A deep dark core, from where you draw your strength and power. That's what you've given to your son. None of your sappy weakness or your sentimentality about your family; not love or compassion, or even that pathetic whining guilt your sister encouraged in you. My son has none of those weaknesses. He has only your strengths and your darkness. When he comes into his inheritance, when he gains his full potential, he will be more powerful than you can imagine; a force to be reckoned with and this universe will fear and obey him."

Angel clung to her child in complete despair. Time was running out and in her heart, in her soul, she knew Lucas was right. Gabriel was evil, and not just because of his father. As his mother, she had bequeathed him only her darkness. She remembered all too well the warning that Alwyn had given her years before.

"...You are the power in the merge. But that power is buried deep inside you, and it is driven from a dark place. You must not go there. You must not draw on that power, or the darkness that holds the power may overwhelm you. Don't go there, Angel. Leave it alone."

At the time, she hadn't been sure if she truly believed Alwyn, but now she knew he had been right. Now, she had passed on that power and that darkness to her son. Looking down, she flinched as Gabriel awoke and looked up at her, his eyes filled with anger and hatred. Touching his mind with hers, she could feel nothing good there at all, just anger, fear, loathing and hatred. At that moment, Angel knew she could never change her son. Lucas would never allow her to do the one thing that might redeem her child: to love him.

With her heart breaking inside her, Angel did the hardest thing she had ever done in her life. She held out her arms and allowed Lucas to take her child from her. For a moment, she thought she saw a flicker of regret in Lucas' eyes, but it was gone so quickly she was sure she had imagined it.

Swallowing hard, Angel licked her lips and whispered, "You win, Lucas, but you also lose. You can't have everything. I still choose to leave."

The pain in her heart was almost as strong as the pain in her belly as she turned to leave the room, catching sight of the clock on the table. It was 11:04 and she would have to rush to catch the shuttle. Angel wasn't sure if she had the strength but she knew she had to try.

"That's what it's all about, Angel. The illusion of free will. If you really loved me and this child of ours, you'd choose to stay. You'd choose to hope that you could change us. But you don't really want that, do you? Admit it to yourself, Angel, even if you won't admit it to me. You wouldn't change me even if you could. You love me just as I am."

Angel turned back in the doorway, fighting to stop herself doubling up from the pain inside her, not sure which pain was worse; her aching belly or her breaking heart.

"I could never change you, Lucas. Only you can do that, and you'll have to get rid of that thing inside you first. As long as you carry it around with you, you'll never change. But you'll never give it up, will you? It's the source of your power and you love that power more than you could ever love any human being. I do love you, Lucas, but I hate you, too. And I pity you. You've made so many people in this universe your victims, but you are your greatest victim. You've given up everything that makes you human for the sake of the power, and you'll carry on in the same way, pushing away everything that could make you happy, until it kills you."

Tears streamed down Angel's face, and she was no longer sure who she was crying for. For herself, for her son, or for Lucas. It didn't really matter. At the end of the day, they were all victims of the Rage.

Angel turned and fled, sobbing as she ran from the house, clutching her belly where stabbing pains threatened to overwhelm her.

Lucas held onto his son as he watched Angel run from the room. He was still shocked that she'd known about the demon that inhabited his soul, and that she had never spoken of it before. He wanted to call out to her, telling her she was wrong, that there was more to him than just the Rage, but he knew it was useless. It would only be another lie, and he knew Angel wouldn't be fooled. She was right of course. He would never willingly give up the power of the Rage.

It would have to be taken from him, by the baby he was rocking gently in his arms.

Turning to place the boy in his crib, Lucas listened as the sound of Angel's running footsteps faded, and he knew that he and Gabriel were truly alone.

The baby stared up at his father, and Lucas stared back, their gazes locked onto each other, neither willing to look away and admit defeat. It was a battle of wills and Lucas knew that every day of the rest of his life would be the same, until the day he lost the war.

That would be the day he died at his son's hand.

Harry stood outside the shed that was Regula IV's substitute for a boarding facility and shifted nervously from foot to foot. Angel was late and he was becoming anxious. Looking down at the dog carrier at his feet, he smiled uncertainly and whispered to the dog inside, "It's OK, Baby. She'll be here soon."

For the hundredth time he patted the pocket in his shirt where he had put all the documents they needed to board the ship waiting in orbit above the planet, mentally running through all the papers he carried. [Identity documents, tickets, health reports, customs declarations and visas.] He went through the list like a mantra, visualizing each document, resisting the temptation to check through the papers again, just to be sure everything was in order. He knew they were OK. Really he did.

What wasn't OK was how long this was taking. Harry peered up the road he knew Angel would come down, wondering what was causing the delay. He hoped and prayed that it wasn't what he feared. To distract himself from his worries, he ran over his preparations in his mind for the thousandth time. The new clothes he had got for Angel and the baby were already on board the shuttle. His own few personal possessions were packed into the rucksack that stood next to Baby's box. All he had to do when Angel arrived was to pick up his rucksack and the box, and help her to the shuttle. Easy. Even Harry could do that.

The door to the shed swung open and the shuttle pilot strolled out, not noticing Harry where he lurked in the deep shadow cast by the bright sun overhead. That shadow had been reducing steadily with every moment that passed, every moment that brought the clock closer to noon and the departure time. Harry gently moved Baby's carrier with his foot, making sure the dog's box stayed in the shade, ignoring the little whine Baby gave. The dog hadn't liked being put into the carrier, and had barked loudly at first, but he had soon settled down and was now quiet, except when disturbed.

"Not long now, Baby. Not long." Glancing at his wrist, Harry saw that it was now 11:20. The passengers would be boarding soon. The sound of the shuttles engines starting up made Harry look up and bite his lip. Where was she? What had happened?

He nearly cried out with relief when he saw Angel's little red runabout heading down the road toward the shed. There were few private passenger vehicles on Regula; the town was small enough for most people to prefer to walk. But when Angel had become uncomfortable walking in the heat while heavily pregnant, the Boss had got her the little two-seater vehicle.

It was things like that which puzzled Harry. The Boss could be kind and considerate when he wanted, and he really seemed to love Angel at times, but then something would come over him and he'd get nasty. That was when it was best to get out of his way and hide. Harry had learned to see the signs. He could tell when that look came into the Boss' eyes. The look that said something else lurked there. Something bad and scary. When the Boss got that look, Harry ran for cover.

The runabout headed straight for the shed, and Harry's eyes widened as he wondered if Angel was going to be able to stop it before she hit the building. At the last minute, the vehicle swerved, skidding to a halt, and Angel almost fell out of the driver's door. Harry knew at once that something was terribly wrong. Angel was alone. There was no baby in the car with her.

Harry ran as fast as he could and was just in time to catch Angel as she stumbled and nearly fell again. She was clutching her belly and sobbing, her hair hanging loose over her face, her too thin body almost drowned by the large red sweater she wore.

[Stupid, Harry, stupid! Why couldn't you have got her the right clothes? You should have known it would be too big!] Harry's wayward thoughts ground on even as he held Angel up, pleading with her to tell him what had happened.

"What's wrong, Miss Angel? What happened? Where's the baby?"

Angel leaned into Harry's arms and wept as if her heart would break. The big man held on to her tightly, stroking her hair, trying to soothe her, and feeling--as usual--utterly useless.

He desperately wanted to help this woman who he worshipped and adored. From the moment he'd first seen Angel, he'd been awed by her beauty, then overwhelmed by her kindness to him. No one else had ever been kind to Harry. Angel had smiled at him, thanked him for his help, even given him food and drink she'd prepared with her own hands.

The result was inevitable. Harry had fallen head over heels in love with Angel, knowing that she was so far above him that all he could ever hope for was to sit at her feet and adore her. He wanted nothing more than to be allowed to help her, to do what little he could to make her happy. Her smile and her thanks were reward enough. Angel had rarely asked him for anything, but whatever she wanted, Harry would give, even if she wanted his life. If he could die helping Angel, Harry would die happy.

Now the sobbing woman he loved leaned against him, struggling to form coherent words to describe what had happened.

"He caught me, Harry. Lucas caught me, and he wouldn't let me take the baby. He said I could go, that's the deal we did, but Gabriel stays with him."

Angel collapsed into a fresh paroxysm of weeping, and Harry held her tightly in his arms, wondering what he could do. Should he go back and try to rescue the baby? The Boss would kill him, but was there a chance he could get the baby off-planet before he died? Reluctantly, Harry had to admit it was unlikely.

His slow thoughts were interrupted by Angel's hysterical sobbing as she gasped out, "I would have fought him, Harry. I would have died before I let Lucas win, but the baby...there's something not right. He's his father's son. He's...he's bad. I knew something was wrong when I was pregnant, but I tried to pretend it wasn't true. I told myself I was imagining it, but I wasn't, Harry, I wasn't. Gabriel is Lucas' heir in every way. Like father like son, and there's nothing I can do to change it. Lucas would kill me if he thought I could make his son different. He would kill me, and Gabriel would still be evil. I love my baby, Harry, even if he is evil, but I can't save him. Love just isn't enough."

Unable to speak any more, Angel collapsed again, and this time, Harry picked her up and carried her over into the shade of the departure building, settling her down next to Baby's carrier. The small dog stood up and barked as he sensed his mistress' distress, and the sound seemed to pull Angel to her senses. Harry watched, feeling stupid and useless, as she reached to unlatch the front of the carrier and lifted Baby into her arms.

Baby licked the tears from Angel's cheeks as she hugged him. Harry groped in his pockets, hoping that he might have a clean handkerchief to offer, but he had nothing. He couldn't even get that right. He'd never felt so stupid and useless in his life as he did at that moment.

Then an idea crept slowly into Harry's brain. Something he could do for Angel. A way to make himself useful to her. It would be a huge sacrifice, but nothing was too much for her. Licking his lips, Harry stammered, searching for the right words, knowing that he was getting it all wrong, wishing he could talk fast and smooth like the Boss, but doing his best.

"I'll stay. You put Baby back in the box and go, before the Boss comes after you, but I'll stay here. I'll look out for Gabriel and when he's old enough, I'll tell him about you. I'll tell him that his Mommy loved him and didn't want to leave him."

Harry ground out the words painfully, almost overwhelmed by the memories of his own childhood, drowning in the remembered pain of growing up knowing that his parents hadn't wanted him, that his mother hadn't loved him, that she had abandoned him and Bubba to the mercy of strangers. His grief for his dead brother welled up inside him and tears poured from his eyes as he reached down and gently pulled Angel to her feet. He wanted to reassure her that her son wouldn't grow up knowing the pain of abandonment, but although his heart and soul were full of the feelings, his mouth couldn't find the words.

Wiping his face with the back of his hand, Harry stammered, " have to go now, Miss Angel. It's not safe for you here. Here's your papers." He reached into his shirt pocket and pulled out the folder holding Angel's documents and went on, "All your stuff is on board. I'll carry Baby's box out for you."

Holding Angel up with one strong arm, Harry leaned to one side to pick up the dog carrier. Before he could lift it, he felt Angel tug on his sleeve and turned to her, puzzled. She was no longer hysterical. A calmness seemed to have descended over her, and the look of gratitude on her ashen face nearly broke Harry's heart.

"Harry, thank you. You're the best friend I've ever had."

Harry felt as if he would burst with pride and love as he saw the look in Angel's tear reddened eyes, and heard her words. The only person who had ever called him a best friend before was Bubba. Now someone else loved him as a friend, and he knew that he would remember this moment and this feeling for the rest of his life. But now he had to let Angel go. Harry wasn't sure which was greater: his happiness or his sorrow.

Pushing his feelings aside, he said, "Come on, Miss Angel. The other passengers are going on board. You have to go."

Out of the corner of his eye, Harry had seen the shed door open, and the other passengers had emerged to cross the landing field toward the waiting shuttle. A small family--mother, father and three children--all heavily laden with bags, meandered across the tarmac, followed by two traders. One of the children dropped his bags and dashed away to look at another smaller ship which was parked in the corner of the landing field. The father chased after him, yelling at him to come back.

Again, Harry leaned forward to pick up Baby's carrier, but again, Angel stopped him.

"No, Harry. I think Baby should stay with you." She held the small dog out toward him, and Harry shook his head vehemently.

"Uh-uh. Baby's your dog. He loves you and he should go with you." The temptation was almost overwhelming, but Harry resisted. He'd always wanted a dog when he was a boy, but he'd never had one. When the Boss had given Baby to Miss Angel, Harry had loved the little puppy almost as if it were his own. He desperately wanted to accept Angel's offer and keep the dog, but he knew that wasn't right. Baby was Miss Angel's dog. Harry would just have to get used to being on his own again.

Angel shook her head. "Baby loves you, too, Harry. I don't know where I'll end up and I don't know if I can give Baby as good a home as you can here on Regula. Please, keep him. Take good care of him. As a favor to me."

Harry's resistance crumbled and he took Baby from Angel, hugging the little dog to his chest. Baby whined a little, then turned to lick Harry's chin. Angel looked up at them both and gave a tiny sad smile. "You two can take care of each other." Tears started sliding down her cheeks again, and Harry thought his heart would break for her.

"Where will you go, Miss Angel? Is there a way I can send you a message? I can let you know how Baby is doing and how Gabriel is getting on." Harry flinched as he saw the pain in Angel's eyes at the mention of her son's name. She tried to smile bravely and Harry felt he'd never loved her so much as he did at that moment, standing in front of him with white face, swollen red eyes, her hair a mess of raven tangles, wearing a sweater that almost fell off her shoulders and concealed her fragile frame.

"I'll go to my sister on Earth, and then...then I'll see. If you can get a message out, send it to Deborah Montgomery--that's Demon's real name. Do you have a pen? I'll write down the address."

Harry found a stub of a pencil in his pocket and passed it to Angel, with the folder holding his own tickets and the papers that he no longer needed. He was all too aware that the father had now caught the wayward child and was dragging him back, kicking and screaming, toward the shuttle. They were running out of time.

Angel quickly scribbled something on the folder and passed it back to Harry. Then she looked up at him and smiled again, sadness filling her beautiful blue eyes. "I have to go. I'll never forget you, Harry. You are the kindest man in the universe. I don't know how to thank you enough, but if you ever need anything, get a message to my sister. And if you ever need a place to go...if Lucas ever threatens you, go to Eriadne. The people there will look out for you, and they can contact Demon and Matthew. You'll be safe there. Remember that, Harry. If you're ever in danger, go to Eriadne."

With those final words, Angel turned and half-stumbled, half-ran across the landing field. Harry stood in the shade and watched her go, holding Baby tightly to his chest, wondering how he would go on living without a heart, as the fleeing woman had just taken his with her.

He watched Angel stagger up the ramp and into the shuttle, then he leaned down to put Baby back into the carrier, ignoring the tears streaming down his face. Baby was silent, sensing that something was wrong, staring up at Harry with his big, brown, puppy-dog eyes. Harry wondered who would miss Angel more, him or Baby.

As he straightened and lifted the box, Harry became aware of a movement from the side of the building and he paused. What he saw made his freeze in the shadows, holding his breath. He wasn't sure if he should stay hidden or rush out into the sunshine. Should he stay or should he go?

Before his slow brain could make a decision, the Boss' long strides had taken him across the landing field to the shuttle, up the ramp and inside. Harry stayed frozen, unable to move. His legs had made his decision for him. He wouldn't go after the Boss, but he would stay here. Looking around, Harry saw some crates stacked up at the corner of the shed. Carefully moving Baby's box so it sat in the shade, Harry hid behind the boxes and waited.

If the Boss tried to drag Miss Angel off the shuttle, he would find Harry blocking his path. Harry would help Miss Angel escape, even if it cost him his life.

Angel sat with her knees hugged to her chest, her head down, hiding as best she could from view. She didn't want the other passengers and the crew of the shuttle to see her face. She could guess how she looked at that moment, her cheeks tear stained and ashen with pain, her hair a tangled mess. Her only consolation was that looking as she did, no one would recognize her as the beautiful actress, Angelique Denier. That woman was long dead, killed in the moment Angel had agreed to give Lucas his heir.

The wave of mental anguish that swept through Angel as she thought of her son was matched by a stab of physical pain in her belly, so severe that it almost took her breath away. Angel knew enough from her medical training to know that this was very bad indeed. She shouldn't be feeling pain like this so many days after the birth. Something was very wrong inside her, but she couldn't think about that. If she allowed the crew of the shuttle to see how much pain she was in, they might not want to take her up to the ship. They might want to disembark her, making her see a doctor before she traveled, leaving her behind. Whatever the risk, Angel knew she couldn't allow that to happen. She had to get away from Regula IV, no matter what the cost.

Taking a deep, shaky breath, Angel tried to control the pain, consciously relaxing the muscles in her belly, trying to find a position in her seat that gave her some relief. She eased her safety harness away from her sore belly, trying to make her movements gradual enough to not attract attention from the others on board. She was conscious of the family sitting in the rows at the back of the shuttle, and the traders, one of whom sat just across the aisle from her, and who was giving her occasional curious glances. Angel knew she couldn't let them see how sick she really was.

[Just three days, Angel-girl. You just have to get through the next three days. Then you'll be back on Earth and Demon will take care of you. She'll make everything better, and she'll make the pain go away. That's what Demon does best. She takes care of people. She'll help me, and Matt will help me, too. I just have to get to them.]

Thoughts of her older sister and her husband helped calm and sustain Angel as she tried to breathe more evenly, the latest wave of agony gradually receding. She was so focused on her breathing and her desire to get home to Earth that she was barely aware of the door of the shuttle opening again, nor of the sound of the heels of cowboy boots hitting the deck as long legs strode down the aisle toward her. It was only when a hand descended on her shoulder that she looked up and saw the thing she dreaded and feared most looming above her.

Lucas Buck.

Lucas grabbed Angel's shoulder and shook it, harder than he meant to, but the sight of her curled up in her seat had frightened and worried him. Now the white, strained face that looked up at him scared him even more. All the color had drained from Angel's cheeks. Her eyes were red-rimmed and blood-shot from crying, her lips pressed tightly together to prevent her cries of pain. And she was in pain. Lucas could sense it emanating from her, wave after wave of stabbing, searing agony. He could only admire her restraint, wondering where she found the strength to keep from screaming aloud.

He was still trying to figure out exactly what he was doing here. What was it that had driven him to follow her to the shuttle? Why had he been unable to just let her go? And now he was here, what was he going to do? Beg her to come back with him? Hardly. Lucas Buck never begged for anything, let alone a woman's love and attention. There were plenty willing and able to give him the physical relief he enjoyed, so why did he want this woman to stay so badly? What did she have that other women couldn't give him?

The Rage inside him sneered as Lucas gazed down at Angel, drawing his attention to her pallor and the lines of pain engraved on her face. She wasn't even beautiful any more. The Rage told Lucas to find a younger, prettier woman to warm his bed. Lucas told it to shut the hell up. He didn't care how Angel looked. It didn't matter. He still wanted her.

"What do you want, Lucas? Haven't we said everything we had to say?"

Angel's words broke Lucas' reverie, making him aware that time was passing, and there was little enough of it to waste. He'd bribed the port-master to hold the shuttle on the planet for a few moments while he boarded, but Lucas knew that he only had a short time in which to speak. For the moment, he could only think of one thing.

"Don't..." The Rage tightened his throat and wouldn't let him speak the next word but it sounded loud in his mind.

[...go. Don't go, Angel. Stay with me and our son.]

But the words were locked inside him and the Rage asserted itself, taking total control of Lucas' body. It finished the sentence for him.

"...come back. Once you leave this planet, never try to come back. If you leave here today, we'll never see each other again, not in this world or the next."

A part of Lucas wanted to scream and rage at the thought of never seeing his Angel again, at never holding her in his arms, at never making love to her, seeing her beautiful face gazing up at him as he brought her to the peak of bliss, and took his own pleasure from her. How could he face a future in which he would never sleep in Angel's arms again? How could he face every new day without waking to see her lying next to him? Lucas didn't know how he was going to endure such a future, but he knew he might have no choice.

Angel's face hardened as she heard the Rage's words, and she straightened in defiance, sitting upright in her seat and raising her head to glare back at Lucas.

"I don't know why you bothered to come if that's all you have to say. I have no intention of coming back, Lucas, and I know it wouldn't make any difference if I did. I know you'll leave here, and you'll take Gabriel away with you, hiding him someplace where you can't be found. It's over, Lucas. The spell is finally broken. I don't love you any more. I just want to go home and be with my family. I want a future that doesn't have Lucas Buck in it, and in which I can be sure that you'll never come after me again. That was the deal, Lucas. Are you going to stick to it, or are you no longer a man of your word?"

Angel's eyes flashed fiery blue, and the man trapped inside the body wanted to cheer her on in her defiance, but the demon that was in control laughed harshly at her bold words.

"Your family. That's what it's always been about for you, hasn't it, Angel? You always did love your sisters more than you ever loved me. And at the last, you're choosing them over me. Did you ever really love me? If you did, how come you married that Healy?"

The name came out as a curse, and it didn't surprise Lucas one bit that Angel came back fighting.

"Don't sully his name by speaking it, Lucas. Michael Healy was a good man, and he loved me, which is more than you ever could." All at once, the energy and fire seemed to drain out of Angel and she leaned back in her seat, closing her eyes and saying wearily. "Just let me go. I don't want anything more from you, Lucas. Just let me go."

All too aware of the curious looks their conversation was drawing from the other passengers, Lucas knew that he had lost Angel. She would never come back to him willingly, and he found he didn't want her any other way. It was time to let go. But the Rage had one last piece of spite to spit out before it allowed him to depart.

"You can go, Angel. I'm still a man of my word, and I agreed that you could leave once you'd given me what I wanted, but remember this: if you ever try to find me, I'll kill every member of your family, then I'll kill you. Slowly. You got that, Angel-face? And just for the hell of it, I might go after that son of Healy's you mentioned a while back. Seemed like you had a soft spot for the boy. Cute kid, is he? He might not look so cute when I'm done with him."

To Lucas' surprise, Angel sat bolt upright in her seat, somehow finding the strength to defy him once more. She narrowed her eyes, and this time the way she looked at him was full of ice, not fire.

"If any harm comes to Will Healy, I will hunt you down, Lucas Buck. You will never rest and wherever you hide, I will find you. You said I was filled with a dark power that I've passed to our son. Then know this: if you ever hurt anyone I love or care for, I will use that power to destroy you, Lucas. If I die trying, then so be it. I'll see you in hell."

Angel's words had emerged in a low voiced hiss, and even the Rage was taken aback by the surge of power that accompanied them. The shuttle shuddered underfoot, and Lucas had to reach out and grab the seat back in front of Angel to prevent himself falling. He could hear the raised voices of the crew from the flight-deck, querying with the port-master whether there had been some kind of local earthquake.

While all this went on around him, Lucas' eyes remained locked on Angel's face. He was forced to use all the power he possessed, and all the power he took from the Rage, to block Angel, to prevent her accessing her source. He knew if she drew on her full power at that moment, she could kill him with a look. It was time to retreat.

The Rage took control again, and straightened Lucas' body, looking down on Angel with a sneering smile.

"Been there, and you know what? It ain't half bad."

Lucas turned on his heel and strode off the shuttle, knowing that he would never see his Angel again.

Angel lifted her knees back to her chest and hugged them tightly. She listened to Lucas' footsteps as he left the shuttle, heard the door closing, then the sound of the engines roaring as the shuttle jerked upwards into the air above Regula IV. It was over. Lucas was gone, and her son with him. Now she had to start her life again. It wasn't the first time she'd had to do that, but she hoped it would be the last. She just didn't know where she was going to find the strength.

Angel dropped her head to her knees and wept silently. She wept for the friend she had left behind, for her puppy that she would miss terribly, for the son who she would always love and never forget, but most of all for the man she would never truly stop loving. She wept for Lucas Buck.

Harry watched from his hiding place among the boxes as the Boss strode across the landing field alone. The big man was terrified by what he could see in the Boss' face. The evil that sometimes lurked behind the Boss' eyes was out in the open, and easy to see for anyone who looked. The evil was in control and Harry knew that someone was going to suffer. Hunkering down behind the boxes, Harry clutched Baby to him, and held his hand over the little dog's muzzle. Whoever was going to pay for the Boss' rage, it wouldn't be him or Baby. Harry would stay in hiding until the storm was over and it was safe to emerge.

Lucas tore over to Angel's runabout and kicked it hard, then pushed against the roof of the small vehicle, heaving until it tipped over onto its side. Fuel began to spill from the back, and Lucas' stepped back, pulling a match from his pocket. Flicking it against his fingernail, he lit it and threw it into the pool of fuel, stepping back hurriedly as a sheet of flame leapt upwards, quickly surrounding the runabout, and consuming it.

Turning on his heel, Lucas strode down the road toward Angel's house, determined to raze it to the ground. He would burn every trace of Angel from his life, until the only thing of her that remained was the power she had passed onto his son. Then he would use that power, train it and twist it, bringing Gabriel up to hate his mother, encouraging the boy to dream of murdering the woman who had given him birth.

Lucas had promised that if Angel left him after giving him what he wanted he would not harm her or her family. His son had made no such promises.

Angel stumbled in the dark as she made her way along the pathway that led up to Demon and Gideon's house. The lights from the house guided her, but they weren't making her way any easier. The wind blew, whipping at her hair, driving it across her face, blinding her even more. The summer storm had blown up quickly, and Angel was fighting to stay upright in the wind, the rain lashing down, soaking her and chilling her to the bone. She gasped, as another spasm of pain wracked her abdomen. She stopped, trying to catch her breath. She was tired. So tired. A wave of dizziness hit her, threatening to drag her down into darkness. Inhaling deeply, she fought it.

[Only a little further,] she told herself.

Moving carefully, Angel continued on. The pain and exhaustion had gotten worse in the past few hours. Only sheer willpower kept her going. Her medical knowledge told her she shouldn't have left Regula IV so soon after having had such a terrible time giving birth. She should have stayed in bed. But she couldn't have stayed, not a moment longer than she had to. Another spasm tore through Angel, so intense it felt like a hot knife was being twisted into her stomach and back, threatening to drop her in her tracks. Images flashed through her mind of Lucas and her son, of Michael and Will, and she flinched, muttering to herself, telling the voices she could hear amidst the wind howling around her that she wasn't going to listen to them.

[Why does the house seem so far away?] wondered Angel. Her thoughts shifted erratically, [Why am I so hot?] She unbuttoned the coat she was wearing, unaware of the rain now, and as she walked she shrugged out of it, letting it drop forgotten to the ground. Everything seemed to sway before her as if blown by the wind. She shook her head and whispered, "Just a few more steps."

Those few steps seemed to take forever, exhausting her further. Finally, she reached the house. Leaning against the doorway, she knocked weakly. A shiver ran through her, followed by more pain. [Why aren't they answering?] Mustering what little strength she had, Angel knocked again. A few seconds later the door opened. Angel looked down to find a beautiful, blonde haired girl staring up at her.

[Mattie?] It had to be. Of course Mattie would have changed since Angel last saw her. She was now over five years old. The little girl's face began to swim in front of Angel's eyes. She closed her eyes for a moment, then opened them again. This time Mattie's face remained still. She could tell by the look of wide-eyed curiosity, that Mattie didn't recognize her Aunt. [She's grown so much].

Angel cleared her throat and tried to speak soothingly to the little girl. She knew she must look a sight and must be frightening the little girl, "Hello, Mattie. I'm your Auntie Angel. Are your Mommy and Daddy home?" To her own ears her voice sounded hoarse and weak.

The little girl's eyes widened, looking even more scared. Angel wanted to reassure her not to be afraid, but the little girl backed away, opened her mouth and screamed, "Daddy, Daddy! Someone's at the door!"

A moment later, Gideon appeared in the doorway. His eyes widened in shock when he saw Angel standing there. She tried to smile and say his name, but more waves of pain crashed over her. The last of Angel's strength and will to remain conscious fled. Her legs buckled and darkness carried her away.

{Chapter 1} {Chapter 2} {Chapter 3}

The Witches of Eriadne: Something Wicked this Way Comes

{Part 1: The Gathering} {Part 2: Persuasion} {Part 3: Divisions} {Part 4: Regrets} {Part 5: Finale}

{The Main Gate} {HomePage} {Wytches World} {We are Family} {A Little Artistic Licence} {No, we don't mean "A"riadne} {Our Home Is Our Castle} {The Witches' Diary} {Witches Familiars} {The Gateway} {Webrings]