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Dark Angel (Chapter 15)

Melusine was watching her. "You're strong. I think you can do it, daughter of Hellewise."

"I'm not strong. I'm scared."

"I think it may be possible to be both," Melusine said wryly. "But, Gillian? If you do get through it, please

come back. I want to talk to you about some things. About the Night World-and about something called

Circle Daybreak."

The way she said it alarmed Gillian. "Is it important?"

"It could be very important to you, a witch with human ancestors and surrounded by humans."

"Okay. I'll come back-if." Gillian glanced once around the shop. Maybe there was some sort of talisman

or something she should take…

But she knew she was just stalling. If there were anything helpful, Melusine would have already given it to her.

There was nothing left to do now but go.

"Good luck," Melusine said, and Gillian marched to the door. Not that she had any particular idea where she was going.

She was almost at the creaky front door of the Five and Ten when she heard Melusine calling.

"I forgot to mention one thing. Whoever your 'Angel' was, he was probably from this general area.

Earthbound spirits usually hang around the place they died. Although that's probably not much help."

Gillian stood still, blinking. "No … no, it w helpful. It's great. It's given me an idea."

She turned and went through the door without really seeing it, stepped out into the square without really

hearing the piped-in Christmas music.

At least I've got a place to go now, she thought.

She drove south, back toward Somerset, then took a winding road eastward into the hills. As she

rounded a gentle curve she saw the cemetery spread out beneath her.

It was a very old graveyard, but still popular. Steeped in tradition, but with plenty of room. Grandpa

Trevor was buried in the newer section, but there were ancient tombstones on the wooded hill.

If she had a chance of finding Angel, it might be here.

The only way to the older section was up a

wooden staircase held in place by railway ties. Gillian climbed it cautiously, holding the handrail. Then

she stood at the top and looked around, trying not to shiver.

She was among tall sycamores and oaks which seemed to stretch black bony fingers in every direction.

The sun was falling lower in the sky and long shadows tinged with lavender were reaching out from the trees.

Gillian braced herself. And then, as loudly as she could, she yelled.

"Come on, you! You know what I want!"

Silence.

Gillian refused to feel foolish. Gloved hands tucked under her arms, she shouted into the stillness.

"I know you can hear me! I know you're out there! The question is, are you in here?" She kicked a foot

toward a snow-covered sandstone marker.

Because of course there was nothing she could do here on her own. The only way to get the information

she needed, about who Angel had been in his earthly life and what he'd done or left undone, was from

Angel himself.

Nobody else could tell her.

"Is this you?" Gillian scraped snow from a granite gravestone and read the words. " 'Thomas Ewing,

1775, Who bled and Dyed for Liberty.' Were you Thomas Ewing?"

The ice-coated twigs of the tree above her

clashed together in the rising wind. It made a sound like a crystal chandelier.

"No, he sounds too brave. And you're obviously just a coward." She scraped some other stones. "Hey,

maybe you were William Case. 'Cut down in the flower of Youth by falling from the Stagecoach.' That

sounds more like you. Were you William Case?"

(Are you all finished singing?)

Gillian froze.

(Because I've got one for you.) The voice in her head began to sing raucously. Eerily. (The Pha-a-antom

of the Opera is here, inside your mind…)

"Oh, come on, Angel. You can do better than that. And why aren't you letting me see you? Too scared

to meet me face to face?"

A light shimmered over the snow-a beautiful pale golden light that rippled like silk. It grew, it took on a shape.

And then Angel was standing there. Not floating. His feet actually seemed to touch the snow.

He looked-terrific. Haunting and beautiful in the gathering twilight. But his beauty was only frightening

now. Gillian knew what was underneath it.

"Hi there," she almost whispered. "I guess you know what I'm here to talk about."

"Don't know and don't care. Should you be out here alone, anyway? Does anybody know where you are?"

Gillian positioned herself in front of him. She looked directly into eyes that were as violet and darkly

luminous as the sky.

"I know what you are," she said, holding those eyes, giving every word equal weight. "Not an angel. Not

a devil. You're just a person. Just like me."

"Wrong."

"You've got the same feelings as any other person. And you can't be happy being where you are.

Nobody could. You can't want to be stuck there. If I were dead, I'd hate it."

The last words came out with a force that surprised even Gillian. Angel looked away.

An advantage. Gillian leapt in. "Hate it," she repeated. "Just hanging around, getting stagnant, watching

other people living their lives. Being nothing, doing nothing-unless it's to make a little trouble for people

on earth. What kind of a life is tha-" She broke off, realizing her mistake.

He was grinning maliciously, recovering. "No life!"

"All right, what kind of existence, then," Gillian said coldly. "You know what I mean. It stinks. Angel. It's

putrid. It's disgusting."

A spasm crossed Angel's face. He whirled away from her. And for the first time since Gillian had seen

him, she saw agitation in him. He was actually pacing, moving like a caged animal. And his hair-it seemed

to be ruffled by some unseen wind.

Gillian pressed her advantage. "It's about as good as being under there." She kicked at the dead weeds over a grave.

He whirled back, and his eyes were unnaturally bright. "But I am under there, Gillian."

For a moment, her skin prickled so that she couldn't speak. She had to force herself to say steadily,

"Under that one?"

"No. But I'll show you where. Would you like that?" He made a grand gesture, inviting her down the

stairs. Gillian hesitated, then went, knowing he was behind her.

Her heart was pumping wildly. This was almost like a physical contest between them-a contest to see

who could upset the other more.

But she had to do it. She had to make a connection with him. To reach into his anger and frustration and

despair and somehow drag answers out of it.

And it was a contest. A contest of wills. Who could shout louder, who could be more merciless. Who

could hold on.

The prize was Angel's soul.

She nearly tripped at the bottom of the stairs. It was too dark to see her footing. She noticed, almost

absently, that it was getting very cold.

Something like an icy wind went past her-and there was light in front of her. Angel was walking there,

not leaving any footprints in the snow. Gillian staggered after him.

They were heading for the newer section of the cemetery. Past it. Into the very new section.

"Here." Angel said. He turned. His eyes were glittering. He was standing behind a gravestone and his

own light illuminated it.

Chills washed over Gillian.

This was what she had asked for, it was exactly what she had asked for. But it still made the hair on her

neck stand on end.

He was under here. Right here. Beneath the ground. The body of the person she'd loved and trusted…

whose voice had been the last thing she'd heard at night and the first thing each morning.

He was under here in some kind of box, unless maybe that had rotted. And he wasn't smiling and

golden-haired and handsome. And she was going to find out his name from a stone.

"I'm here, Gillian," Angel said ghoulishly, leaning over the granite marker, resting his elbows on it. "Come

up and say hello." He was smiling, but his eyes looked as if he hated her. Wild and reckless and bitter.

Capable of anything.

And somehow, the sick horror that had been sweeping through Gillian disappeared.

Her eyes were full, spilling over. The tears froze on her cheeks. She brushed at them absently and knelt

beside the grave, not on it. She didn't look at Angel.

She put her hands together for just a moment and bent her head. It was a wordless prayer to whatever

Power might be out there.

Then she took off her glove and gently scraped snow away from the marker with her bare hand.

It was a simple granite headstone with a scrolled top. It read "In loving memory. Our son. Gary Fargeon."

"Gary Fargeon," Gillian said softly. She looked up at the figure leaning over the stone. "Gary."

He gave a mocking laugh, but it sounded forced. "Nice to meet you. I was from Sterback; we were

practically neighbors."

Gillian looked back down. The date of birth was eighteen years ago. And the date of death was the previous year.

"You died last year. And you were only seventeen."

"I had a little car crash," he said. "I was extremely drunk." He laughed again, wildly.

Gillian sat back on her heels. "Oh, really. Well, that was brilliant," she whispered.

"What's life?" He bared his teeth. " 'Out, out, brief candle'-or something like that."

Gillian refused to be distracted. "Is that what you did?" she asked quietly. "Got yourself killed? Is that

unfinished business somehow?"

"Wouldn't you like to know?" he said.

Okay, retreat. He wasn't ready yet. Maybe try some feminine wiles. "I just thought you trusted

me-Angel. I thought we were supposed to be soulmates …"

"But by now you know we aren't, don't you? Because you found your real love-that jerk."

Gary turned up the brilliance of his smile. "But even if we're not soulmates, we are connected, you know.

We're cousins. Distant, but the bond is there."

Gillian's hands fell to her sides. She stared up at him. Lights were going on in her brain, but she wasn't

quite sure what they illuminated yet.

The strangest thing was that she wasn't entirely surprised.

"Didn't you ever wonder why we both have the same color eyes?" He stared down at her. Although

everything was dark around him, his eyes were like violet flame. "I mean it isn't exactly common. Your

great-grandmother Elspeth had these eyes. So did her twin brother, Emmeth."

Twins.

Of course. The lost Harman babies, Melusine had said. Elspeth and Emmeth. "And you're…"

He smirked. "I'm Emmeth's great-grandson."

Now Gillian could see what her mind was trying to illuminate. Her thoughts were racing. "You're a witch,

too. That was why you knew how to do the spells and things. But how did you figure out what you were?"

"Some idiots from Circle Daybreak came," Gary said. "They were looking for lost witches. They'd

managed to track Emmeth's descendants down. They told me enough that I understood what kind of

powers I had. And then-I told them to get lost themselves."

"Why?"

"They were jerks. All they care about is getting humans and Night People together. But I knew the Night

World was the place for rne. Humans deserve what they get."

Gillian stood. Her fingers were getting red and swollen. She tried to pull her glove back on. "Gary, you

are a human. At least part. Just like I am."

"No. We're superior to them. We're special-"

"We are not special. We're no better than anyone else!"

Gary was grinning unpleasantly, breathing quickly. "You're wrong there. The Night People are supposed

to be hunters. There are even laws that say so."

A chill that had nothing to do with the wind went through Gillian. "Oh, really?" Then she had another

thought. "Is that why you made me go to that club? So they could hunt me?"

"No, you idiot!" Gary's eyes flashed. "I told you-you're one of them. I just wanted you to realize that.

You could have stayed, been part of them-"

"But why?"

"So you would be like me!" The wind was gusting wildly again. Frozen tree branches creaked like

creatures in pain.

"But why?"

"So you could come be with me. So we could be together. Forever. If you joined them, you wouldn't

have gone on to the Other Side-"

"When I died! You wanted me dead." Gary looked confused. "That was just at first-" Gillian was angry

now. Yelling. "You planned the whole thing! You lured me. Didn't you? Didn't you? That crying I heard

in the woods-that was you, wasn't it?"

"Everything you did was designed to kill me! Just so you'd have company!"

"I was lonely!" The words seemed to hang and echo. Then Gary's eyes darkened and he turned away.

"I was so lonely," he said again, and there was something so hopeless in his voice that Gillian stepped toward him.

"Anyway, I didn't do it," he said over his shoulder. "I changed my mind. I thought I could come live with

you here-"

"By killing David and taking his body. Yeah. Great plan."

He didn't move. Helplessly, Gillian reached out a hand. It passed right through his shoulder.

She looked at the hand, then said quietly, "Gary, tell me what you did. What the unfinished business is."

"So you can try to send me on."

"Yes."

"But what if I don't want to go on?"

"You have to!" Gillian clenched her teeth. "You don't belong here, Gary! This isn't your place anymore!

And there's nothing you can do here,

except… except evil." She stopped, breathing hard.

He turned, and she saw the wild look again. "Maybe that's what I like to- do."

"You don't understand. I'm not going to let you. I'm not going to stop or give up. I'll do whatever it takes

to make you move on."

"But maybe you won't have the chance."

A blast of wind. And something else. Stinging granules that struck Gillian's face like tiny needles.

"What if there's a blizzard tonight?"

"Gary, stop it!" The gale buffeted her.

"A freak storm. Something nobody expected."

"Gary…" It was very dark-the moon and stars had been blotted out. But Gillian could see a driving,

swirling whiteness. Her teeth were chattering and her face was numb.

"And what if Amy's car won't start? If something went wrong with the engine …"

"Don't do this! Gary!" She couldn't see him now. His light was gone, swallowed in the storm. Snow

slashed her face.

"Nobody knows where you are, do they? That wasn't very smart, dragonfly. Maybe you need

somebody to look after you, after all."

Gillian gasped, open-mouthed, for breath. She tried to take a step and the wind thrust her against

something hard. A tombstone.

This was what she'd been afraid of. That her angel would turn against her, try to destroy her.

But now that it was happening, she found that she knew what to do.

Gary's voice came out of the gale. "What if I just go away and leave you for a little while?"

Gillian's eyes were watering, the tears freezing on her lashes. It was hard to get a breath. But she

gathered herself, hanging on to the tombstone, and yelled.

"You won't! You know you won't-"

"How can I know?"

She answered with a question, shouting over the wind. "Why didn't you kill David?"

Her only answer was the howling gale.

Gillian's sight was dimming. The cold hurt. She tried to ding on to the tombstone, but her hands were

numb. "You couldn't do it, Gary! You couldn't kill someone! When it came right down to it, you couldn't!

And that's how I know."

She waited. At first she thought that she'd been wrong. That he'd left her alone in the storm.

Then she realized the wind was dying. The curtains of snow were thinning. Stopping. A light formed in

the empty air.

Angel-no, Gary-was standing there. She could see him clearly. She could even see what was in his eyes.

Bitterness. Anger. But something like a plea, too.

"But I did, Gillian. That's exactly what I did. I killed someone."

Gillian took a breath that started out quick and ended long. Oh. Oh … that was bad.

But there might have been some justification. A fight. Self-defense.

She said quietly, "Who?"

"Can't you guess? Paula Belizer."

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