Part 9

Lindsey stretched his neck and removed his coat. He was pissed. Angel first jumps to the conclusion that everything he was was pure evil. He wouldn't even believe the fact that Lindsey was sincerely concerned about someone. Somehow, the paranoid vampire warped Lindsey's almost insane pleading for his niece's life into some sort of creepy demand for a sacrificial lamb. Talk about deranged.

In the end, Lindsey agreed to meet Angel over at Lorne's to discuss what exactly it was that Lindsey needed. Only when he arrived there, he was informed that Maria had already gone with the newly hired bartender. At that Lindsey had to force out information from Lorne. He had to know what kind of man he let his niece go off with. He was only a little pacified when informed that this Michael Guerin was honorable. Lindsey figured the moment he recovered his niece, he would have to have a talk with her. She might turn out to be a bit like Amy—sweet but a bit too flighty. He won't let Maria throw her entire life away out of some passionate fling with a… a… bartender, for heaven's sake! A bartender was not good enough for someone like Maria.

Lindsey was even more pissed when he heard a sobbing Cordelia tell Angel that she had a vision of Maria being abducted. He slammed out of the bar and went to Wolfram & Hart at once. He needed all his resources to track down his niece.

"Welcome back. I was beginning to wonder where you went," he heard Lilah say. He turned around to tell her that he was not in the mood to play games with her when he saw his niece gagged and tied down to a chair in his office. "Surprise! I found her for you," Lilah announced.

Lindsey cursed at his office mate and dropped down in front of Maria. He unbound her hands and feet and removed the gag from her mouth. Maria collapsed into a coughing fit and Lindsey took her in his arms.

"What do you think you're doing treating her like this?" he demanded.

"She was trying to escape and get back to that filthy boy. I had to keep her here or she'll ruin the surprise."

Running his hand over her back to stop the coughing, Lindsey sighed. "Fine. Thank you, Lilah, for finding her. Now will you leave me alone with her?"

Lilah shrugged. "Now you owe one." She left the room with a smug grin on her face.

"Are you okay?" Lindsey asked Maria. He took a handkerchief from his pocket and wiped the tears from her face.

"It's so hard to visit you," she gasped out. "Uncle Lindsey, you have to save Michael! I think that freak woman killed him!"

The room was suddenly lit with brilliant blue balls of light. Maria watched in amazement as the light formed into several human forms. Lindsey merely looked pissed, but seeing as he worked in a law firm from hell, he never got surprised at anything anymore. "This is a private office," he said.

The robed men nodded. "We're aware of this. Hand the girl over to us and we will not bother you again."

"Did I suddenly become some sort of prize here?" Maria exclaimed in disbelief. "I am a small town waitress!"

Lindsey's brows furrowed and out of the blue said, "That's something else I have to talk to Amy about. You don't need to work. But does she accept my offers? No."

"Focus, Uncle. Big white robed hocus pocus wanting to take your only niece?"

"Who are you?"

One of the robed men stepped forward. "We're whitelighters. And we've been tasked to retrieve the girl right now."

Lindsey raised his hands, as if one organic and one artificial hand would ward them off. "You're not taking her, and this is my office. Get out before I call security."

"I fight the urge to laugh," one of the whitelighters commented.

"Hilarity is unbefitting angels," another agreed.

"That's true. He should stop cracking the jokes."

~~

Michael released his hold on Paige after she orbed him to Wolfram & Hart. "Thanks."

"No problem," she replied. "All for old time's sake. But remember, you owe me a kiss later."

Michael nodded. "And tell Phoebe thanks for helping Liz figure out what the flashes meant. Without the two of them, we wouldn't have known Maria's here."

Paige smiled. "I don't know. I think you would have eventually felt where to go. You and her… you're connected. I know that now. I just wish that I could find someone I can bond with the way you and Maria seem to be bonded. There's really something to say about being destined, I guess."

"If you only knew."

"Okay. Go. Get her."

Michael quietly crept through the corridors, keeping as stealthy as possible. He crept up the stairs and entered doors. He took a turn and bumped into a black-clothed figure. Michael raised his hand to the man's throat, prepared to send a blast of energy if needed.

"Michael Guerin?" the man inquired.

"Who's asking?"

"My name is Angel. Lorne's told me about you. Don't worry about me. I'm here to save Maria too."

"So what's she to you?" Michael asked as he followed Angel. He seemed to know where he was going.

"I've been protecting her for a year now. She lives close to my place. I ran her over."

Flashes of that night clicked in his mind, and with a growl, Michael grabbed Angel by his collar and slammed him against the wall. Angel's face morphed into his vampiric appearance, and Michael released him with a yell. "What the hell are you?"

"No time for that, junior. Now I'm storming into that room, whether you're with me or not."

Clenching his jaw, Michael gave a curt nod, and Angel kicked the door open.

"That was it?" Michael asked, still bristling at being called junior. "The door didn't even budge."

"Lindsey probably got it kick-proof already," the vampire excused himself.

"Now look at this." Michael raised his hand and concentrated on blowing up the door. His hand glowed and the door remained fast. "The thing is metal!" He didn't look at Angel. He didn't enjoy seeing people laugh at him. He approached the door and laid his hand where the look should be. It clicked, and the door swung open easily.

Maria looked up at the new arrivals. Both men were special to her. But there hadn't been any doubt whom she would go to. She jumped up and ran towards Michael, bypassing the whitelighters.

Angel approached Lindsey. "So she really is your niece."

"The only pure thing in my life," the lawyer answered easily.

"Judging from the way the boy is holding her," he pointed to how Michael's hands were running familiarly over Maria's body, "she's not that pure anymore."

Lindsey glared at the vampire's sense of humor. The door opened again to admit the Charmed Ones, their whitelighter, Angel's team, and the pod squad, filling Lindsey's office.

Maria approached Cordelia. "Hey Cordy. Take care of our guy okay?"

Cordelia smiles and hugs her tightly. "We'll miss you." They pulled Gunn and Wesley into the embrace.

The whitelighters cleared their respective throats. The scene was rapidly turning into some sort of goodbye when they were more things left unsolved. "Leo, you know what to do."

Leo walked over to Michael, draws out his pouch of magic dust, and then shook his head. "I can't do it." He faces the group and tells them, "Michael and Maria can't be together. That's why the Elders didn't want them reunited. But I can't use my powers to make them forget each other again. I won't do that."

Michael stalked over to where Maria was, and drew her protectively in his arms. Max asked firmly, "Why? What did they ever do?"

"It's not what they did," Leo explained, "but what they would do in the future. There's a prophecy."

Wesley groaned. "Not again!" He would most likely be required to scour through the ancient texts for this prophecy.

"There would be born a child, the most powerful force the universe has ever seen. And the Elders believe that it's Michael's and Maria's."

"Whoa!" Maria glanced at her uncle, who was even now glowering. "We're not planning to have a kid anytime soon."

One of the whitelighters at the back finally spoke up again. "Doesn't matter. You will have a child. It's written. We can't let that happen."

Leo glanced at Paige and nodded. The rest could take care of themselves. The whitelighters wouldn't hurt innocents. Leo took Michael's hand and Paige grabbed Maria. Together, they orbed them to another part of California.

When they reappeared, Maria found shelter in Michael's arms again. "Your friends will be brought to you shortly," Paige said. She orbed out to try and get the others.

"What's happening?" Maria asked, trembling. "We didn't ask for any of this!"

"I'm sorry for hiding the truth from you," Leo said. "I didn't know everything. I do know that this has to do with past lives. You can't be together because of who you were."

"How can our baby be that powerful? I mean, Michael's an alien soldier. Fine! But I'm just a human girl. I'm not part of all that hoopla! Michael and Isabel were engaged back then. Isabel's a princess. Maybe that's the baby you should all be freaked out about."

Leo took Maria's cold hand in his. "Calm down. Maria, you're not just any human girl."

"What?" It was Michael who asked now. Any information that would help him protect her better was welcome.

"I don't know exactly who you were," Leo said. "But I can unlock your memories enough to help you."

Maria looked up at Michael and then back at Leo. She nodded. "I want to know everything." If she and Michael were going to be successful building a life, she might as well know what's going on.

Leo placed his hand on her temple and focused his mind on freeing boxed memories. It took a long time. Michael squeezed Maria's hand, and he felt every harrowing moment. She was hurting, but she needed this. They didn't notice how much time passed until Leo released his hold on Maria.

Memories were now slowly flooding Maria as she lay back on Michael's chest. The scenes and flashes still didn't make sense.

The windows of the abandoned house they were in shattered, and Michael held Maria tightly. A curly blonde woman in a short red dress walked over the debris and stood over the couple. She looked at the whitelighter who was still reeling from helping Maria. "Thank you for making everything so much easier," she crooned at Leo. And then she turned back at Maria.

"I knew I wasn't mistaken. You were close by. I've been trying to find you, and now you're here. Welcome, sister dear. This is our new home." And then she clapped her hand, giggled, and embraced Maria. "The Slayer may have a key," she said, touching Maria's hair, "but now I have my own type of key. It's all unfolding right in front of my eyes," the woman said with excitement. "Your baby is going to unleash all the powers of all the gods in our plane! You don't remember… but we were such a great team before you had to go and fall in love with the Antarian who worshipped in your temple."

She glanced at Michael, who glared at her while holding Maria. "You're not the king! This is not the king!" she yelled at Leo. "Your Elders couldn't even get the prophecy right?" she demanded. "The golden goddess and the King of Antar, d-ickheads!" She smiled at Maria, who was still groggy and couldn't process what she was saying. "We're going to have as much fun here as we did in our plane before you went and fell for the Antarian," she giggled. "Oh you still have too vague a recollection of me, don't you? I'm your sister Glorificus. I go by Glory here. What's the earth name you're using, sweetie?"

Maria wet her lips and tried to form the words to respond to Glory. She couldn't get enough breath to speak. Glory narrowed her eyes at the orbs appearing near them. Her eyes lit up when Paige orbed in with Max. "There you are!" Glory clapped her hands. "I have to tell you, I was soooo pissed at you when you got my little sis booted out of our plane. But past is past!" Glory shrugged. "Now we need your services to open our way back to our dimension. So go and get her pregnant. I'll wait." Glory smiled sweetly.

Max sputtered, and Michael growled. Maria finally found enough indignation to blubber and stand up. "What in heaven's name are you talking about? I'm hu-man. Hu-man! And all this crap about my kid opening portals… that's insane and stupid! You wanna leave here, you open it! And I am NEVER having sex with Max. That's just… eeewww!"

Paige looked on confused. "Okay. What's this?"

"Family affair, witch," Glory snapped at her. "Git!"

The brunette searched for Michael with her eyes and saw him nod at her. She orbed out. Leo was still there. He would get the Charmed Ones if they were needed. "Look, Glory, I don't know how you take past lives and all, but Maria, whoever she was in your plane, is not that anymore."

Glory stomped her foot. "The prophecy. She," she pointed at Maria, "and he," at Max, "should just get it on. I take the baby and rule my plane and I'll let them live happily ever after."

Maria's jaw dropped open. "I am SO not your breeding horse!" Maria exclaimed. "If you're my sister, I am not spending an eternity with you."

"Chastity—" Glory began.

Although very confused and furious about the sudden turn of events, Michael had enough wits to laugh. "That's Maria."

"That was her god name," Glory said.

"Well then that's definitely not the Maria incarnation now!" Maria elbowed him in the ribs.

"Glory." Maria approached her 'sister' and slung her arm around the woman's shoulders. "Whatever this thing between me and Max a lifetime ago that caused us our place in our plane, I'm sorry. Obviously was a big mistake. But I'm not spawning a kid just to reinstate your godhood. I'm already totally happy and fulfilled with Michael. Now I now this may anger you," Maria said, "but I'm banking on the fact that I used to be this… Chastity," Maria choked out. "And you won't hurt me."

"Ahhhh! You are so frustrating!" Glory pulled at her own hair. "You've always had to have your own way!" She hmphed and glared at Michael and Max, who she has always seen as totally unsuitable and pathetic excuses for planet leaders. No wonder Antar collapsed. "Fine. You won't help me by doing me one teeeny weeeny favor and getting it on with the boy king, then so be it. I'll get the other key. I'm already hot on its trail. I think it's the witch Tara."

Glory stalked off, but before disappearing, she turned to Maria. "But remember how you refused to do this for me, Chastity. I won't even talk to you again!" Glory left them alone.

"That freaked me out," Maria said.

"Ditto."

Max held up his hands and looked at Leo. "So me and her—"

"Destiny is your own making," the whitelighter answered. "And see, even before you knew all this, you've already fallen in love with other people. Loving is prior and prerequisite to knowing."

Michael wrapped his arms around Maria, encircling her from her back. "This was one heck of a trip!"

Maria rested her head back on Michael's chest and agreed. "I do not want to see another supernatural thing ever again!" she groaned.

"So I guess you're leaving California then?" Leo inquired.

Michael nodded. "I'll go say goodbye to the Halliwells, and Maria will say goodbye to her friends."

"You're going back to the group. We still have empty seats in the van."

Michael felt Maria's head shaking. "Sorry, Max. I think we need time alone with each other first. So where to, Maria? Goddess?" he teased.

"Michael, you've called me goddess even before Leo, the prophecy and Glory appeared in our lives!" She laughed easily. "Off the top of my head, I'd say we can visit… Boston? Philly? I don't know. We'll try using darts."



end