Angel Investigations had their name on the door,
written in clean-cut, no-nonsense gold lettering, with
an amorphous shape vaguely looking like an angel above
it. Willow looked at the lettering for a few seconds
longer, straightened, then opened the door.
Cordelia sat at her desk, her head in her hands,
cursing under her breath.
Willow slowly stepped in. "Cordelia?" she said
in a quiet voice.
"Don't!" Cordelia said loudly, holding up her
hand. "Don't say a word!" She breathed a few more
curses, then was silent, the only sound in the room
her heavy, pained breathing.
Willow bit her lip, confused.
After a minute, Cordelia took a deep breath,
grabbed a sheet of paper, scribbled down something,
then looked up. "Willow?" she said in a surprised
"Are you okay?" Willow asked, looking at
Cordelia with a mixture of concern and fear, fear
often winning out.
Cordelia waved her hand. "Oh yeah, I'm
fine, just a migraine again, this whole 'vision' thing
that I got dumped with." She looked Willow up and
down. "Well, you certainly haven't changed..."
Willow bit her lip again. "Is Angel here?"
"Oh yeah, he's in the back...why? Buffy have
another big magical object she picked up and decided
she needed her big strong ex-boyfriend to take care of
"Can you get him?" Willow just said.
"Oh, sure..." Cordelia looked towards the
doorway. "Angel!" she shouted. "Willow's here to see
you!" She looked at Willow again. "And she changed
her hair, but she's still wearing those awful clothes,
so obviously, there isn't a major crisis in
"Cordelia..." Angel said, standing in the office
"What?" Cordelia said crossly. "You're not the
one who just had another blastingly painful migraine!"
She held up the notepad. "Oh, by the way, Marisol
Delgado, lives in North Long Beach, has a little demon
problem, I'm thinking it's probably just another Aztec
deity finally realizing that he's been missing out on
his daily sacrifices, but I wrote the address down for
tonight, and can you possibly see about getting paid
this time? My aspirin bill is skyrocketing, and it
should be a work expense."
Angel waved his hand weakly at Cordelia, looking
at Willow. "Willow..." he said. "What's going on?
Is something wrong?"
Willow frowned for a second, then shook her
head. "Oh! Oh, no, nothing's wrong back home. I
just..." She looked towards his office. "Can I talk
Angel frowned. "Um...Sure..." He gestured
towards his office.
Willow walked into the office, with Angel
following. "So what's going on?" he asked as he shut
Willow looked directly at him. "Oz left," she
Angel stared at her, still frowning. "Huh?"
"Oz left. He got into his van, and drove off."
She paused. "Without me."
Willow sighed. "I don't know...We, uh...there
was this other wolf, and she was bad, and he killed
her...and then he said he had to leave."
Angel thought about it for a few minutes, then
nodded. "Right. And..."
"I want you to find him. You're a detective.
Find him for me."
Angel closed his eyes for a second. "Willow,
"What? Isn't this simple enough?" Her voice
grew strained. "Oz left. Find him!"
"Willow, I can't drop everything for this." He
gestured towards the office doorway. "There are
people who actually need help. You heard what
Cordelia said, there are people who might be killed."
He paused. "I can't just...not help people so that
you can find your ex-boyfriend..."
"He's not my ex!" she said loudly. At Angel's
raised eyebrow, she marginally calmed down. "He.
Angel sighed. "Look, Willow...I..." Her eyes
were wide, pleading, begging. Angel finally gave in.
"Okay, I can't devote my full time to it, but I'll
contact a few people, trace a few sources, keep my
ears open, all right?"
Willow beamed. "Thank you!" she said, reaching
up to hug him tightly.
Angel waited for her to release him, then walked
to the front room. "Cordy?" he said. "Can you start
a folder for Willow? We're going to start looking for
Cordelia looked at him. "Sure," she said
crisply. "And I guess she isn't going to pay either,
"I can pay," Willow said, glaring at Cordelia.
"Name your price and I'll give you a monthly check."
Cordelia stared at Willow and gave her a poison-
sweet smile. "Sure thing, Willow. Now...we're
finding Oz..." She reached for a clean sheet of
paper. "I'm guessing he..." She looked up at Willow.
"Left? Decided that the Sunnydale life was a little
too..." She looked at Willow's clothing. "Tackily
Angel saw Willow take a deep breath, about to
burst into tears, then glared at Cordelia.
"Cordelia..." he said quietly. He put an arm around
Willow and led her to the door. "We'll keep you
updated..." he said.
Willow nodded, then walked out the door.
"Well, that was fun," Cordelia said. "We're not
really just supporting her stalker habit, are we?"
"I'll keep a few things open, but that's about
it..." He looked at the notepad. "So North Long
The news trickled in slowly, every few months or
so. A journalist down in New Mexico saw him chained
to a fence with half a dozen geriatric Navajo in front
of an old archaeological site about to be paved over.
A sacred cow deity, living the retired life on a large
ranch in Montana, sent word of a pale, redheaded
ranchhand who ran into the forest every full moon. A
siren-turned-DJ sent a picture of a New York club kid,
synthastatic electric eyeliner glowing around his
shaded green eyes, a fiber optic boa around his neck,
and a painting of a wolf across his chest. The lone
ghost of Monticello sent a thin piece of parchment,
words skittering across it in a pale ink, telling of a
young man whose howls rivaled his own during the full
Every two or three months, the letters,
messages, phone calls, and emails would appear, coming
in from all over the U.S., Arizona, Idaho, Minnesota,
Vermont, Kentucky, Utah, and more, with tales of a
pale young man who disappeared every full moon and
returned smelling of the woods and of something else -
- something more primal and underlying.
Angel relayed the info to Willow whenever he got
it, always making sure that by the time she got the
messages Oz was gone, hoping that the pain of their
break-up would heal and she'd move on, but with every
bit of information he sent, Willow returned a check
and a note telling him to continue. The cycle
continued for five years, Angel hoping that, each time
he mailed something, it would be the last. It never
Until, after one last report saying that he was
touring as a roadie for a small swamp-folk-goth band
in the deep South, there was nothing.
No messages, no phone calls, no sightings.
He was alive -- the spirit world knew that much.
Angel contacted them after the first three months
passed without a word. Then the next. Then the next.
Willow's checks continued to come in, the address
occasionally changing, but the same. Angel would
contact the spirit world, know that Oz was alive, and
a check would come from Willow.
Before Angel knew it, five years had passed.
Five years of waiting, five years of listening, five
years of reaching out and trying to grab a hold of
something, but failing.
And it was the tenth anniversary of Oz's
departure when they finally heard something.
Cordelia had her workday down to an exact
schedule. The standard secretarial skills of
answering phones and making coffee were only a small
part. There were ancient languages to learn.
Ingredients for spells to acquire, demons to fight.
And, of course, the mail.
She walked slowly down to the mailbox, swaying
her hips just a little in front of the mailman, and
pulled out the usual pile of bills and "return to
sender" letters. She looked in the box, frowned, then
pulled out an envelope, the sharp, crisp edges
pressing into the pads of her fingers. She studied
the envelope with a concerned look on her face,
studying the stiff, design-school lettering, the
postal bar code with "New Orleans" etched into it, the
texture of finely pressed linen and wood pulp.
She walked back into the office, forgetting the
mailman. "Angel?" she called out as soon as she shut
the door. "There's..."
"What?" Angel said, looking up from a large
ancient tome on his desk.
She held up the envelope. "From somebody in New
Orleans," she said, tossing it on his desk. "Do we
know anyone there?"
Angel frowned. "No one that would send me
anything..." he said, reaching into his desk for a
letter opener. He slid the dagger into the envelope,
slicing the paper, then pulled out the card inside.
It was plain, white, a thick sheet of paper
about the size of a postcard. On the front, painted
in blue ink with a fine, elegant brush, was a wolf --
sharp, detailed, deadly even through the flatness of
the ink. Angel stared at it for a few seconds, then
slowly turned the card over.
Rough, scratchy lettering, three short lines. A
town, a parish, a state.
"What's in Louisiana?" Cordelia said, looking
over his shoulder.
Angel turned the card back over, staring at the
Cordelia frowned. "Oz? After all these years,
Oz decides 'Oh, I think I'll send Angel a postcard'?"
Angel set the card down on the desk, slowly
pushing his chair away. "I need to go there."
Cordelia stared at him in shock. "What? Why?
You didn't go all the other times we heard about him.
It could not be him....it could be an impostor, trying
to trap you. Or it could be something totally
unrelated." As he walked away, she followed him. "It
could be a...a...a spirit demon disguised as a wolf!
It could be...one of those male encounter groups that
got you on their mailing list!" As she saw Angel pull
out a suitcase, she grabbed his arm, hinting of
desperation. "Angel, please, think about this..."
"It's him, Cordy," Angel said as he quickly
packed some clothes. "I'm sure of it."
"But what if it's a trap?" she asked. "What if
you go away and I never see you again?"
Angel paused, then looked at the woman who had
stood by him for 10 years. She still had the same
elegant beauty she had all those years ago, but so
much had hit her, seeping through the skin. She had
lost so much these past years -- her friends, her
family, Doyle, Wesley -- burning away the dross and
leaving the basic, dignified beauty behind, the true
He reached over and grasped her shoulder
tenderly. "Cordelia, I..." He paused, trying to find
the words. "I'll come back. I have to."
Cordelia looked up at him, her eyes shining.
"Thank you," she said in a quiet voice. She closed
her eyes as he pulled her close in a long hug, then,
after a few seconds, stepped back, coolly professional
again. "So you'll call?"
Angel nodded. "I'll call."
"And you'll let me know if you find anything?"
She paused for a second. "Before Willow, of course.
I need to know how much to bill her."
Angel chuckled. "Of course."
Angel pulled into the parking lot of the old,
abused hotel, a vestigial "old boys" building next to
the garish newness of a Popeye's. He had timed his
drive, stopping only one night, giving himself enough
time to rest before heading out in his heavily-tinted
car, driving during the day so that when he arrived,
night had just fallen on the city of original sin,
original greed, original lust.
He could hear the loud bass of the bar on the
first floor, the tinkling of glasses and loud
conversation. He quickly got a room, the office clerk
barely giving him a glance, then walked up the three
flights of stairs, walking down the smudged, dirty
hallway, putting the key in the greasy, fingerprint-
covered lock, opening the door to the small, dingy,
Angel locked the door behind him, and collapsed
on the bed, exhausted.
The next day was spent on the phone, reaching
old contacts, acquaintances, informants. The sun
began to slide down, and Angel went out, driving
through the streets of New Orleans, stopping
occasionally, only to hear the same thing he had been
hearing all day --
There were no stories of wolves, of thin pale
young men, aside from the occasional vampire, and
above all else, no one knew of the town on the
Angel stopped at the front desk of the hotel.
The tired-looking goth girl stared at him blankly.
"Can I help you?" she asked snidely.
"Yeah," Angel said, trying to turn on the charm.
"Do you know where..." he looked at the postcard
again. "Plen Lelin is?"
The girl stared up at him with vacant eyes,
inhaling deeply on her clove cigarette. "You got me,"
she said, blowing a large puff of smoke directly at
him. "I came from Ohio."
An old black man weaved through the hallway,
mumbling to himself. He came up to Angel, reeking of
urine and cheap gin. "Plen Lelin...dangerous
place..." he mumbled as he looked up at Angel.
"You know where it is?" Angel asked.
"S'past Houma...in the swamps..." The man's
eyes were wide, bloodshot, cloudy with cataracts, but
deadly serious. "Full Moon. They...they say the
forest became a man..."
Angel stared in awe as the old man shuffled
away, then walked out to his car.
It took Angel most of the night to reach Plen
Lelin, driving through dark swamps and deserted towns,
past old woods still filled with tree spirits
chuckling at the vampire in the car, and the butchered
screams of the ones who had been torn down so a family
could have a large lawn to match their ultra-wide
He kept the radio on, the low mumble of drunken
preachers interrupted briefly by flashes of static and
the occasional slow jazz tune, a second line for the
He pulled into the small town, barely noticing
it in time, the weather-beaten sign looking like it
had barely survived Hurricane Betsy back in the '60s,
faded paint and cracked wood spelling out the town
name, with a fat full moon rising behind it.
The town was dark, the lone streetlight casting
long shadows against a boarded-up church and a
crumbling town hall. On the edge of town was a dirt-
covered neon sign, the words "Motel" barely visible.
He parked the car, and walked to main office, well
lit despite the hour.
The middle-aged man behind the counter looked up
as Angel entered the room, his eyes narrowing as he
took in Angel's pale skin, dark jacket, and foreboding
demeanor. "What do you want?" he asked as he glared
"A room, if at all possible..." Angel said,
trying to be as non-threatening as possible.
"It's four in the morning, what makes you think
I have a room available?"
Angel pointed to the "Vacancy" sign glowing in
The man swore under his breath, and grabbed a
key from the rack. "That'll be thirty dollars, cash
up front," he said. "And only cash. No checks, no
credit cards, nothing but cash."
Angel dropped a fifty on the counter. "Keep the
change," he said, as he took the key off the counter
and walked towards the room.
It was dingy, cheap, a standard room for a small
town away from the highways. Angel sat down on the
bed, closed his eyes, and stretched out his senses,
trying to get a supernatural feel for the place.
The hotel had a trace, possibly a ghost or two,
but nothing more. The town was also empty, just the
usual residues in all small Southern towns...evidence
of lynchings long after the blood had washed away.
But there was something...something faint, in the
distance, a large, silent creature, moving through the
woods, something dangerous, barely lurking underneath
the surface. Then, suddenly, it was gone, the town
quiet, peaceful, without any possible supernatural
Angel frowned, shaking his head. Chalking it up
to exhaustion finally creeping in, he drew the drapes
closed, turned out the lights and fell asleep.
Angel awoke to the sound of a key in the lock.
He leapt from the bed, moving away from any direct
sunlight that might come through the open door.
A young woman, her skin the color of rich black
coffee, stood in the doorway, her eyes wide. "Forgive
me, sir," she said in a soft lilting voice. "I did
"It's okay," Angel said quickly.
"Just..please...shut the door?"
She quickly closed the door, keeping it open by
a crack. Angel relaxed, then looked at the girl
again. "Who're you?"
"Rosalie," she said quietly. She held up a
bundle of white. "I brought the towels..."
Angel frowned. "Oh. Yes. Um...put them on the
bed..." he said, gesturing.
The girl set the towels on the bed, then looked
at Angel. "Would you be needin' anyt'ing more?"
Angel frowned, thinking, then looked up. "Yes."
He reached into his coat pocket. "Have you seen this
person?" He showed the girl the picture.
Rosalie stared at the photo, her eyes wide with
horror, then quickly shook her head. "I...I...I
don'...N-no." she stammered.
Angel frowned. "Are you sure?"
"Rosalie!" a sharp voice came from the doorway.
Rosalie's head lowered in shame as Angel glared
at the motel owner standing there. "I'm looking for
this man," Angel said, holding out the photo.
The man walked into the room, ignoring Angel and
looking at the young girl. "Qui ça to dit?"
"Anyen, Popa!" Rosalie said, her voice
"Li vini Nuovo Olean! Li pas connain nous!" He
raised his hand to the girl.
Angel grabbed his forearm, stopping him from
hitting her. "Don't," Angel said, his voice firm.
The man glared at him. "You should not be
here," he said angrily, pushing Angel away. "There is
nothing for you here."
"I just want to know one thing," Angel said,
holding up the photo again. "Have you seen him?"
"Popa," Rosalie whispered. "Popa,
"Trankil, Rosalie," the man said, his voice
still firm. "Anyen dit Blan Bwa." He turned back to
Angel. "We have not seen this man," he said,
straightening. "There is nothing for you here. Go
back where you came from." He walked out of the room.
Angel looked at Rosalie. "What is 'Blan Bwa'?"
Rosalie looked up at him, her eyes wide with
fear. "'White Woods'," she said shakingly. "Outside
of town..." She reached out and grasped his sleeve.
"Please, sir, go home. Go far away from this place."
Her voice grew pleading. "Don't face him."
Angel frowned. "Who?"
"Gran Bwa," she said in a whisper. "The great
Angel drove to the edge of town, towards a faint
light he saw in the woods. The light grew sharper,
more defined as he got closer, the faint scent of
woodsmoke sliding creeping its way through the thick
heady scent of the swamp.
He parked the car off the side of the road, and
walked towards the fire, walking through the woods,
animals moving away from him, avoiding the cool chill
of his dead flesh. The sound of drumming grew louder
as he walked, a deep rhythm reminding him of the
pulse, of the blood, of life.
He reached the edge of a clearing, hiding in the
shadows and watching. A large bonfire burned in the
middle of the clearing, the shadows from the fire
playing upon a faded mansion in the corner.
Surrounding the bonfire were people. Dozens of
people, silently dancing to the drums grouped around a
small side house, feet stomping into the hard, thick,
trampled earth. The drummers grinned as their hands
slapped against the shiny leather of the drums,
glinting in the firelight.
Angel moved closer, out of the darkness of the
woods and into the clearing. The dancers continued
on, not noticing him, lost in the beat, lost in the
movement, lost in the frenzy.
The crowd moved together, mumbling, shrieking,
shouting in Creole. "Maite-la, loup-a, popa-a, nous
servi..." they chanted, swaying with the sounds,
swaying with their voices raised up in perfect unison,
raised up as they looked towards the small house. The
Master. The Wolf. The Father. We serve.
Angel took a step back, frowning.
"Sove-la, loup-a, popa-a, nous laime." The
Savior. The Wolf. The Father. We love.
The small door opened on the house. The crowd
swarmed to the door, their chanting growing louder and
louder. "Seigneur nous quenne, wa nous quenne, maite
nous quenne..." Our Lord. Our King. Our Master.
The crowd reached a feverish pitch, screeching out
"Messiah nous quenne!" before being silenced by the
wave of a pale hand.
Angel stared, shaking his head slightly in
disbelief. The man, pale, from his faded reddish
blond hair, to the thin blue veins barely visible
under cream ivory skin, to the white suit, jacket,
vest, shirt, pants, shoes; the pale man moving through
swarm of darkness, a single white light in the
religiously primal night. The crowd parted,
whispering "Sove nous quenne," bowing before him,
unable to look at him. Our Savior.
The man walked to Angel, his pale green eyes
shining. "Angel," he said in a soft quiet voice.
"Ange-a," the crowd muttered. Angel. "Ange so
quenne." His angel.
Angel nodded grimly. "Oz."
Oz led Angel to the large house tucked in the
back of the woods, moving through the throngs of
pilgrims, supplicants, worshippers. He walked to the
porch, draped in mosquito net, and gestured towards a
simple wicker chair. "Please," he said, his voice
still soft, calm, eerie. "Sit."
Angel sat down, staring at the other man.
Oz matched his gaze, staring at the vampire
evenly. "I suppose you have many questions."
Angel broke the gaze, cursing under his breath
as he looked down at his feet. "Oz..." He looked up.
"What is this?"
Oz smiled faintly. "Blan Bwa."
"'White Woods', yes. I was told that. But what
are you doing? What is this place?" Angel stared at
Oz in amazement. "Why are you doing this?"
Oz continued to hold that enigmatic smile, his
green eyes barely masking amusement. "Plen Lenin was
a small town run by a powerful vampire lord...put Baby
Doc to shame when it came to controlling a crowd by
vodou." His voice was calm, educational, soothing.
"He kept alligators, and quite enjoyed feeding the
townspeople to them, until, as I've been told, 'a
brown-haired loud girl stuck a piece of wood into him
and he turned to dust.'" Oz paused, his smile
widening. "I'm suspecting that was Faith," he said
Angel frowned. "What does this--"
Oz held up his hand for silence. "After the
death of the vampire, Plen Lenin was a lost town.
They had gotten so used to having a leader, civilly,
spiritually, right down to their very essence." He
paused, looking out at the small groups of people
congregating the yard, laughing, talking, dancing to
the drums lightly booming in the background. "I was
in a nearby town, with Ancient Spirits, a group I was
traveling with. I came into the town when I
was...transformed." Oz looked back at Angel. "Gran
Bwa filled me, changed me, took me as his own." He
smiled. "Maite mo quenne..." he said in a soft
whisper, opening his palms in beatitude, looking
heavenwards with worship, with grace, with rapture.
Angel stared at him in shock. "Oz...I...I
don't..." He tried to find the words. "I don't
Oz continued to smile, that soft, amused,
rapturous smile. "Of course not," he said softly.
"You haven't seen him..." He looked away, waving his
hand at a lone man standing by the doorway, who came
to stand beside Oz. "Will you stay until tomorrow
night?" he asked Angel. "It's a particularly special
night...the feast of Gran Bwa." His green eyes caught
Angel's. "You will want to stay for that..."
Angel tried to look away, trapped by the power
within the pale eyes. He willed his legs to run, to
escape, but lassitude and surrender took him, relaxing
him back into the chair. He heard himself say "Of
course," before he could protest, before he could
Oz smiled matter-of-factly. "Excellent." He
turned towards the man standing next to him.
"Theophile, take Angel to one of the northern guest
rooms, away from the sun. Make sure the drapes are
drawn tightly, just in case." He turned back to Angel.
"Have you eaten recently?"
Angel shook his head without thinking, reacting
purely to the sound of Oz's voice.
Oz turned back to Theophile. "And have Jean-
Baptiste slaughter one of the pigs for tomorrow night.
Make certain he collects all the blood, and carry it
up to Angel for dinner." He stood up, and looked at
Angel. "I'm afraid I have many things to do tonight
to prepare for tomorrow's festivities. Theophile here
will take care of you, and I will see you tomorrow at
the feast." He straightened. "Until then..." He
began to walk away.
Angel sat there for a second, staring off into
oblivion, then suddenly bolted out of his chair. "Oz!"
Oz stopped and turned to face Angel. "Yes?"
Angel's mouth opened. "I...." He tried to
speak, tried to shout out his pleas for help, for
rescue, for action.
Oz raised a single white-blonde eyebrow up,
staring at him. "Yes, Angel?"
Angel closed his mouth and straightened.
"Nothing," he said quietly. "Nothing at all..."
Angel paced the carpet of the room, winding
around the various objects in his way -- the large
bed, the chair, the dresser, the chaise, the dressing
table, all Louis XIV, stifling in their opulence.
Angel paused for a moment, staring at the thick wooden
door, locked from the outside, then resumed pacing.
He should have known better, should have never
agreed to stay, should have never gulped down the
blood, so glad to have nourishment that he didn't even
notice the sedative -- Angel! who had prided himself
on his palate back during the epic highs of Angelus,
not noticing the oily taste of opium nestled within
the rank sweetness of porcine. He had fallen asleep
quickly, collapsing against the softness of the
feather bed, wrapped unconscious within the gentle
petals of a poppy.
He awoke hours later, the room gray-lit with
hidden sunlight, the door securely locked from the
outside. He could break it down, smashing his body
through the oak with the strength of the demonic, but
refrained, biding his time, waiting to see what
happened next, preparing for any possible danger,
pacing back and forth like a wild cat in a cage,
anything to keep him from going mad, pacing for hours,
the room darkening slowly to complete blackness.
A key rattled in the lock. Angel tensed, ready
to attack whoever came through the door. The door
slowly opened, revealing a thin coffee-colored girl,
her eyes wide with fear. "I told you to go away," she
said in a small sad voice. "I begged you..."
Angel relaxed. "Rosalie..." he said relievedly.
He frowned. "What are you doing here?"
"He asked me to get you," she said softly, not
needing to state who "he" was.
Angel pulled aside the drapes, looking out into
the pitch black night, illuminated only by a large
bonfire in the center of the clearing and the fat
nearly-full moon, rising up golden yellow in the
"I --" Rosalie was cut off when Angel held up
his hand. "W-What is it?" she stammered.
"Do you hear that?" Angel whispered, looking out
into the night. "Someone's screaming....Listen, there
it is again..."
Rosalie listened as a low shriek pierced the
night air. "Kochon..." she said faintly, staring out
at the moon. At Angel's confused glance, she looked
back up at him. "Pigs. They're butcherin' the pigs
Another shriek echoed before Angel could speak.
"Gran Bwa...needs it." She closed her eyes
tightly for a second, then turned towards him. "You
could run. Now. They are busy with preparations and
no one would notice." She ran to the door. "Please.
Angel stared at her for a second, then grabbed
his coat as he walked to the door, stopping when Oz
suddenly appeared in the doorway, backed by two large
Oz smiled lightly as he looked up at Angel, then
grew menacingly wider as his eyes slid over to
Rosalie. "Ah, Rosalie," he said smoothly. "I had
been wondering if you hadn't gotten lost along the
way..." He beckoned her to him with his hand. "Come
on, it's time for you to get ready."
Rosalie grasped the drapery in her hands,
cringing against the faded wallpaper.
"Rosalie..." Oz said, his voice becoming
parental. "You don't want to repeat what happened
before, do you?"
Rosalie shut her eyes tightly, biting down on
her lips as if to hold back a scream, then relaxed,
her face smoothing blankly, as her eyes opened, never
looking directly at Oz. "No," she said softly. "I
must get ready..." She straightened, walking out of
the room, her back stiff, always looking directly
Angel watched Rosalie leave, then turned
directly to Oz. "What the hell is going on here?"
Oz smiled that faint smug smile. "She has a
very important role tonight." He looked up at Angel,
his pale green eyes crinkled at the edges with
amusement. "As will you, I'm certain."
Angel turned away, unable to match Oz's stare.
"Oz, I don't know what you have going here, but I--"
"All the more reason you should come with me
now." Oz held out his hand. "The feast is about to
Angel looked towards the window, then towards
Oz, then towards the window again. He paused, then
resigned, he walked over to Oz.
Oz's smile grew marginally wider. "I thought
you would see the way." He gestured towards the
Angel followed Oz down the spacious hallway to
the wide, elegant main stairwell. "Shouldn't you be
locked up around now?" Angel asked as they walked down
the stairs, Oz leading and the two large men following
Oz gave a soft laugh. "Not anymore," he said
Angel paused on the stairs. "What, does hopping
on the religion bus make the werewolf magically go
away?" he asked, his voice mocking Oz's every step.
Oz stopped and turned towards Angel. He held
out his forearm between Angel and himself. "Flesh is
weak," Oz said, his voice slightly strained as coarse
black hair sprouted from his milk-white skin, nails
curling into arched black claws, bones snapping as
they shifted into new forms. "Flesh does what the
soul tells it to do," he growled, canines long and
sleek shining in his mouth. "And, in the end..." The
hair fell off, shedding onto the carpet as his arm
straightened, smoothed, resumed its normal form. "The
soul prevails." He looked up at Angel, a slightly
bored smile upon his face. "Shall we continue?"
The drums had already begun as Oz and Angel
walked into the main courtyard. It was a slow, pulsating beat,
thrumming through Angel's body like the pulse that had so
long ago abandoned him. A small group had surrounded the
drummers, their conversations loud, raucous, animated with
the occasional bark of laughter, the stomp of a foot in
emphasis, shouts, curses, and prayers blending together into
a melody, weaving through the spaces between drumbeats.
It was hypnotic, alluring, slithering against Angel's
skin like humidity, like butter-soft leather, like silky flesh,
like sex, lust, desire, passion, beating through their bodies
with the pulse of the Gods keeping time. "Ange-la," the
"Ange nous quenne..."
"Mouri nous quenne..."
"Mouri so quenne..."
"Mouri Gede...Mouri Samdi..."
"Mouri..." Angel said under his breath, licking dry
"Dead..." a soft voice whispered in his ear. "Dead
dead dead dead dead...Ange mouri nous quenne..."
Angel closed his eyes, falling into the rhythm, his
head falling back on his shoulders, body growing languid,
liquid, melting against the crowd surrounding him. "M'ange
The drumming grew louder, faster, echoing through
Angel's empty body, becoming his pulse, filling his soul,
seeping through his dry, dust-ridden bones. It was like tides,
waves, rushes of feeling, of deep primal animal instinct
brought forth by fire, by darkness, by the full moon shining
"M'ange mouri," he mumbled, speaking Creole
without realizing, far beyond the point of caring, far beyond
knowledge, reason, sentience, humanity. He was Angel. The
Angel. Ange Mouri, the angel of death, the angel of life.
Corruption and fecundity, rot and growth, killing and fucking
entwined together -- glorious, elegant, poisonous.
The crowd was carrying him, a wave of dark skin
underneath his pale body, clothing ripping, tearing, sliding
off of his flesh as the crowd -- his crowd, his people --
collected relics. The wave surged, cresting, depositing him
on his naked feet in front of a pale man in a pale suit, large
pale green eyes staring at him. The drums suddenly silenced,
detaching Angel from everything as he focused directly on
Oz. "Ange," Oz said in a whisper. "Ange mo quenne?"
Angel stood before Oz, firelight casting shadows
against the muscled flesh. "Non," he said in a voice low,
harsh, not his own.
Oz raised his face to the moon and howled, a purely
wolf howl, his flesh changing as that lone mournful note
echoed throughout the woods. He looked back at Angel, not
wolf, nor man, but an intricate combination of the two, earth
and humanity joined together in the body of a skinny 29 year
old werewolf, scarcely old enough to be called a man, but
with the hunt, the need, the chase ingrained deep into his
shifting bones. Gran Bwa. The great forest. Born again in
Oz. "Ange mo quenne?" he asked again, his throat shredded
by human syllables.
"Non," Angel replied. He stood before Oz, before
the crowd, before all, naked, barren, his hands down at his
side, an anatomical model for God, man, and demon. He
closed his eyes, his head falling back as he felt the change
come over him. Not mortal. Not vampire. Not ensouled.
Not demonic. He was other -- a higher, greater power.
His eyes, no longer Angel's, opened. "Mo Gede," he
said, his voice low, roughened by cigarettes, sin, rum, sex,
apotheosis. Popa Gede laughed. "Mo non c'est Gede!"
"Gede nous quenne!" the crowd shouted. The drums
began again, a slow sultry beat. Angel laughed, and began to
dance, slipping through the crowd with a slide of his hips, a
stamp of his foot, a laugh, a joke, flirting with the women,
with the men, with everyone, his erection parading before
him. He was sex, sin, decadence, dancing through the crowd
with a hard cock and a sly smile.
He stopped, suddenly, the crowd freezing behind
him. Angel stood there, staring directly at a single person in
the crowd, a woman dressed in red, her face heavily made up.
"Ezili?" he asked, looking directly at her. "Ezili, m'amour?"
The woman's voice was timid, shaking. "P-popa
"Ezili..." Angel said, his voice paternal. "Ezili,
m'pitit..." He switched to English suddenly. "Do you
remember when you and I were together in New Orleans?
You had the most adorable cheval, and I fucked him until he
was bleeding..." He thrust up behind her, his erection poking
into the small of her back. "I can still feel his ass around my
zouzo, Ezili, after all these years..."
At her gasp, he continued. "Or do you remember
Port-au-Prince? It was my feast day...and a baby crawled
over my veve, smearing the sand all over until you could no
longer make out my face..." He leaned in, his lips near her
ear. "Remember what I did to that baby? How I waited --
waited patiently until it had grown to be a man? How I made
him my cheval and rode him through the fire?" He bent
slightly, kissing her neck. "Or do you remember your cheval
in Blan Bwa? The one who pretended to be yours?"
The woman began sobbing. "P-please,
Angel chuckled against her throat. "Shame on you,
Rosalie..." he said in a light voice. "You know I am no
man..." He kissed her neck again. "It could have been
beautiful, m'pitit..." His fangs grew, scraping across her
throat. "Beautiful..." he whispered before biting, his fangs
slowly pushing into her velvet skin.
He drank from her, rich full blood filling his mouth,
thick heavy liquid against his tongue. He groaned, thrusting
against her as he drank, reveling in the pleasure of the kill, the
pleasure of the girl, the pleasure of immortality. He drank
until she was dry, empty, cold, and dropped her on the
Angel slowly straightened, vertebrae positioning one
by one. He shouted, a wordless cry of lust, of passion, of
eternity, slicing through the night air.
And matching his cry was a low howl, the two sounds
weaving together in point and counterpoint, the human and
the primal, the civil and the untamed. Gede and Gran Bwa,
coming together in one raw sound.
Angel looked directly at Oz, his eyes matching Oz's
eyes -- yellow sharp eyes framed in deep sockets. Oz held
out a hand, nails long and black, curving inwards, and
beckoned towards Angel. "Vini," Oz growled, his voice low
Angel tipped his head back and laughed, a deep
resonating laugh. The drums softly thrumming in the
background grew louder, faster, each beat slapping against
their bodies in a subtle sonic urge. Angel took a step back,
then moved towards Oz, dancing the entire way, his body
thrusting towards the pale creature standing in the middle of
Angel thrust his arms out as he approached Oz, arms
like Jesus, being crucified towards ecstasy, his followers
behind him, pressing him, pushing him to the inevitable
conclusion. Angel's arms were outstretched, and Oz stepped
into them, his yellow eyes looking up at the man -- not a man,
not a vampire, nothing that he was before -- in front of him.
Angel's lips curled into a smile as he cupped Oz's
face, bending down to press his lips against Oz's mouth. His
tongue pushed into the smaller man's mouth, as his arms
snaked around his back, pulling Oz against his nude body.
Oz's clothing slid from his body, pulled off by the crowd,
darkness surrounding the two pale creatures as they slowly
moved to the ground.
Angel chuckled as he slowly turned Oz onto his
stomach. "After all this time, Gran Bwa, apres tout
l'onnain...I have you..." His hand slid between Oz's lightly
furred legs, grasping onto his cock, all too human and all too
sensitive. Oz growled through his teeth, shining and sharp in
the moonlight, as Angel stroked him. "Mo gain to."
Angel's hand slipped lower, sliding against hair too
thick to be human, too thin to be animal, fingers delicately
tracing over Oz, rimming the circle of flesh devoid of hair.
Oil, thick and sweet-smelling, dripped from above, the slick
hands of the crowd rubbing Angel and Oz, covering them,
slicking them in holy oil for a sacred fucking.
Angel slowly pushed his way into Oz, and the crowd
moaned with him in ecstasy, dancing to the groans wrangled
from Oz's throat, counterpoint to the steady rhythm of the
drums. He pressed against Oz, his cool smooth skin
caressed by fur, as he bent over to whisper in a slightly
pointed ear. "Do you feel that, Gran Bwa?" he said. "Ça
santi, m'cheri?" His lips pressed against Oz's cheek. "You're
mine...Popa Gede has conquered you...conquered the great
forest with his zouzo, mo konkeri Gran Bwa..."
"Mo...konkeri...Gede..." Oz growled low in his
throat, thrusting back against Angel. "You...are...mine, Gede.
I have you within me and you..." He groaned again, his hips
moving faster. "Gede mo quenne!" he shouted. "Gede mo!"
"Mine!" Angel shouted, slamming his hips in
response. "Mo quenne!" The pressure grew in his body, the
beat faster and faster not only in his thrusts, but also his ears
as the drummers slapped their hands against the leather,
bleeding palms smacking against rough wood. The rhythm
built and built, spiraling uncontrollably, the crowd slamming
against each other in holy rapture, fainting and falling. There
was no end in sight, only death and destruction could follow,
but then --
The two glorious creatures, holy in their sex, groaned
together, the only sound in the woods, a trail of sparkling
liquid dripping onto the ground, Angel giving one final long
push before falling against the softness of Oz's back.
Angel slowly pulled out of Oz, cradling the smaller
man in his arms as he turned him. A gentle nip along the line
of his jaw, a feather-light kiss upon the lips, and a whisper
echoed through the crowd. "Mo quenne..."
Angel sat straight up in bed, terrified. He looked
around the room frantically, trying to place himself.
Oz sat in the corner, his relaxed body seemingly
painted onto an overstuffed chair. He looked at Angel
quizzically, cocking his head to the side slightly. "Yes?" he
Angel put his hand to his chest. "I..." He looked at
Oz. "I was...I did..." He paused, looking directly at Oz.
"What did you do to me?"
Oz chuckled softly. "I? I did nothing." He smiled
slightly. "Gede took you. As Gran Bwa took me, Gede has
taken you. So quenne."
Angel looked down at his body, raked with scratches
and still glistening with oil. "I...I don't...I..."
Oz nodded. "You don't remember. Not yet." He
stood up and moved to the bed in a fluid movement, sitting
next to Angel. "You..." He opened a small flat tin. "You are
something very important, Angel. I am the forest, the life, the
animal instinct....Zannimo Gran Bwa." He took a small
brush from the tin. "You, on the other hand...." He mixed
something in the tin with the brush. "You are Gede. Male,
strength, laughter, emotion..." His smile grew slightly wider.
"Lust." He held up the brush to Angel's face. "Konvwate
The brush slowly slid over Angel's face, leaving
behind wetness, drying quickly on his skin. "Oz..."
"Shhh..." Oz whispered. "But there is more than the
lustful Gede, Angel. There is Popa Gede, and then, there is
Baron Samdi..." He continued to paint Angel's face.
"Samdi, lord of death, roi mouri..." He mixed something
else in the tin and resumed painting. "Baron Samdi te rive
men," he said softly. "Baron Samdi came here." He set
down the tin and the brush. "Li te balanse kay li." He
smiled tenderly. "He balanced our house."
Oz stopped and stared at Angel, admiring his
handiwork. Angel's face was completely covered, the
makeup outlining a skull. "Roi mouri..." he whispered, then
leaned in to delicately kiss Angel, lips pressing against lips.
Angel closed his eyes as Oz kissed him, closed his
eyes and accepted the destiny offered to him. He was no
longer Angel. He was no longer Angelus.
He was Gede. He was Samdi. He was Angel. He
was all three and he was none. He gave up his past in an
elegant gentle kiss.
Oz leaned back, that tender smile still on his face,
despite the black and white paint lightly streaking his lips.
He looked at his new creation, looked at his Angel, and
smiled widely. "Come," he said, his voice low and treading
towards conspiratorial. "Come see..." He grasped Angel's
hand and pulled him off of the bed.
Angel and Oz walked through the house, down
several hallways and staircases. "I am Nature," Oz said, his
voice trembling with enthusiasm. He pulled out a set of keys
and picked a single key. "You are Man..." He unlocked a
plain door and slowly opened it. "And she....she will be
Angel looked in the small room, dimly lit by candles.
Oz's face became rapturous. "Ezili. Woman, love,
sensuality, femininity...beauty and wonder..." He gestured
towards the small shrine sitting on one edge of the wall.
"She will be ours, m'Ange...Nous bel Ezili..."
Angel stared at the shrine, looking at the photo in the
center, the same expression of rapture slowly seeping onto
his face. "Cordelia..." he whispered, touching the polaroid of
the gorgeous woman. "Nous Cordelia..."