The Cycle of Axer Carrick
Part VI -- Cats Eyes
by Henry Wyckoff
December 1995


Chapter 31

Coleen smiled from ear to ear. The Brazilian musicians began to play some really lively Gypsy music -- a strong beat, rapid strumming, rippling arpeggios, and machine gun scales, and a horn that shook the soul. Colleen called the dance now. There really wasn't a name for it, though it resembled a rather blood-boiling dance taken to new extremes.

Odin, it could be truthfully said, was hating life right now.

He didn't know how it had happened, but all of a sudden, Coleen seemed to gain a strength of will that was blowing him away. In more ways than one.

"...And you *spin* around!" Coleen was saying, twirling Odin around against his will. He kept on spinning while she held his arm in place.

"AaaaaaHHHH!!!" He felt his shoulder dislocate, and his elbow didn't feel too good at the moment, either.

Then she yanked him up by the arm, pulling him so that he was now held against her. Her smile was devilish this time as she whispered, "And then you fall baaack!" She lowered him backwards, and 'forgot' to catch him. "AaahhH!!" He fell to the ground, thunking his head on the hard floor, the rest of his body flopping loudly.

The room was spinning, but it wasn't over yet. She yanked him up by his good arm, and just as he was nearly stood up, gave him a solid headbutt to the face that made him nice and docile. Coleen picked him up in a bear hug, twirling around laughing as he whispered something about not being able to breathe.

Easily fixed. She let him go at a full twirl, and he flopped onto the floor, thunking his head again. He was nearly knocked out, but he could breathe...

"Enough!" he panted. "Please, no more!"

Coleen smiled, kicking out his dislocated shoulder just as he popped it back in. "Why do I have a such hard time believing that you've had enough?" She stepped on the hand of his good arm, pressing in the heel. He howled in agony, trying to pull away, which only made it worse. "Go on! Answer me!"

"Because..!" he panted, yanking on his hand with every word, "You're...! An Idiot...!" He gave up trying to free his hand, and yelped some more when she ground his hand into the floor. She heard a knuckle snap.

"Wrong answer!"

"AaaahhHHH! What do you want, woman?"

"Oh... I don't know! But I think you can figure it out for me!"

* * *

Richie and Methos had trudged across the snow for a long time now, and found nothing... just tundra, snow, and two cute wolves that looked at Richie with puppy eyes, whining and holding caribou leg-bones in their mouths. One dropped it at Richie's feet, whining even louder.

Richie looked at Methos, a question in his eye.

Methos scratched his chin, "They look wild, but I'd say they've been raised by humans. I don't think any self-respecting wild wolf would beg for a bone throw."

"Think they'll lead us to him?"

"Maybe. Throw it and see what happens."

Richie threw it, and both the wolves ran off like lightning. The only place they went was where the bone flew. They fought over it and ran back, whining and dropping the bone again.

"Methos? I don't think they're interested in taking us anywhere."

Methos nodded. "I'll check on Coleen in the meantime."

One of the wolves tagged along behind Methos, rubbing his face on Methos' leg. In spite of himself, Methos laughed and ran a hand through the wolf's fur. "Has that bad boy abandoned you? Is that the problem? We'll sort everything out soon enough!"

* * *

"The question is," growled Coleen, "what do *you* want?"

"What do I want?" he whispered. "WHAT DO I WANT???" He whispered again. "I want the pain to stop. I want the nightmares to end."

"And you thought you could pull it off with your mad plan?"

"Sure. I'd be normal again because everyone would experience what I do."

Coleen shook her head. "Why does this sound like a social security plan to me?... Look -- it wouldn't work. It sounds to me like you have too much time on your hands!"

"What do you mean?"

"All this talk I've heard about alternate worlds, Schroedinger's Cat, and everything else strongly suggests that you've been watching too many Star Trek episodes and reading too many sci-fi books. Get a girlfriend and a job -- you'll be too busy dealing with the real world to think about all that other nonsense!" Her eyes narrowed, "But if you like, I can give you a much more permanent solution."

* * *

Methos opened up the door, and was shocked to find Coleen sitting up and rubbing her face.

"Coleen!" he moved her hands from her face so he could look in her eyes. "Your eyes look normal now..." He breathed a sigh of relief. "Thank God you're all right!"

"How long have we been here?"

"A few hours. You were out for even longer. We've been searching for Odin the whole time, but we haven't had any luck."

"I know," she nodded. "That's because I was dealing with him... on the branches of Yggdrasil."

"Are you all right?" he looked at her with concern.

"Quite all right, thank you." She rubbed her face again. "I almost feel sorry for him. He was just a confused immortal who took a strong Quickening... He made up a lot of dreams and nightmares to protect himself -- that's why he was a lunatic. There was nothing he could have done to harm the world. It was all in his head."

"Then where is he?"

"I don't think you'll find him anywhere. I disposed of the body in a rather permanent fashion. But you can find his belongings in a cave... that way." She pointed south. "I'm staying here. I need to rest."

He nodded warily, then shut the plane.

"Is he gone?" asked a muffled voice from underneath the blankets.

"Yes," she smiled, feeling like a kid again. "He won't suspect, since he only sensed me... or thought he did."

When Odin pulled the blankets from off his face, he looked far younger than he had before, and a lot happier. Giggling, he gave her an impulsive hug and landed a soft kiss on her lips, a kiss that Coleen responded to. When they disengaged, Odin's serious look returned. "I don't know how to thank you. The demons are gone."

She smiled softly, "Demons are angels turned upside down. All you needed was the right encouragement to flip them over." Her whisper became intense, "Now remember -- once a week you show me how to navigate Yggdrasil!" She kissed him once. "And every day you tell me a story about the way things used to be." She kissed him twice. "And every night we dance!" She kissed him thrice.

By this time, he was red-faced as a cornered teenager. "I'll remember. And *you* remember to meet me at the coffee shop in Sedona next week!"

"Next week?" she nearly screamed, then forced herself to whisper. "It'll take me that long just to get back down to Toronto!"

"Use Yggdrasil, silly!" he kissed her on the lips, hugging her once more. When he pulled back, she could still feel him against her. "I'll be waiting for you!" He smiled almost childishly, and faded away.

For a long time, Coleen sat there, holding herself tightly. Already, Nat was a memory. A pleasant and unpleasant memory. Everything she had ever thought and known was a confusing maelstrom in her mind. She didn't even know what she wanted anymore... but she knew what she needed. And she knew that what she needed was herself.

He didn't know what she'd done to save him. To her it had been so straight-forward. So simple. So easy to do. It was easy because she had suffered in an analogous way to his own. It wasn't infinity that had made him insane, but rather infinity that he couldn't share. So many worlds. So many perspectives. So many times. And they were all building up inside of him. So much knowledge that he couldn't share. So many sights that he couldn't show to anyone else. So many things...

It was so ironic, but she couldn't help but laugh when she considered that the world had been about to go to hell on account of an enigma who just needed a friend. And the world was saved by a few dances, a hand mash, a heart-to-heart talk, and some hugs and kisses to make it all better.

Coleen *did* laugh. Then she fell asleep, exhausted.

* * *

"I don't get it!" Bill swore. "All this excitement, and it's all over... because of a dream?"

"Yes," nodded Kwai Chang Caine. "Like all wars, this war exists because of imbalance. Individuals... armies... leaders... all have their own wounds, and they inflict their pain on the world. If only more wars could end this way, and be fought like this. The world might even be a better place."

Bill shook his head, wishing he could have seen at least one sword fight. He wanted to see Odin get his face mashed in. He had too many memories of Odin's brutality.

"So, what will you do?" asked Caine.

"Head back down to Toronto."

"And start watching vampires?"

Bill wasn't surprised anymore at what Caine knew. "I think so. The mundane is shaped by the extraordinary, and it has to be recorded. Too much real history might be lost if there isn't someone to watch it!"

"Just make sure that's all you do, and that when you intervene, it's for the greater good. With that, I bid you farewell."

"You're leaving me alone?!"

"No. You have Richie and Methos. Say hello to them."

"Then where are you going??"

"To attend to someone who is ill."

* * *

"You look much... healthier." Caine said softly. He was in a Swiss lodge, overlooking a large mosquito-infested lake, which drew birds by the thousands. It was one of those lodges for the Swedish city-folk who got the occasional need to feel nature, in a comfy sort of way.

"Thank you," said Odin. Then he did a double take. "Do I know you?"

"Perhaps, or perhaps not. But I know you. Though you were wracked by your insanity, you saved me. I owe my life to you, and I wanted you to know that I have repaid that debt, though I do not keep strict notes on those sorts of things."

Odin nodded, then looked surprised, "You're *that* Caine?! ...Wait a minute! That was --"

"Ninety years ago. I know. I also know what you're thinking. I am not immortal. I went back in time to seek wisdom. If it were not for your ill-intentioned deeds, I would not have gained that wisdom. Perhaps I might not even have been born. It is very... interesting how the ripples we make affect time far away from ourselves."

A sharp nod. "Almost artistic. Would you care for some Darjeeling tea?"

"I would like that very much, thank you."

Caine found a seat, as hot water was poured for him, and a tea bag plunked in the cup. As it steeped, Odin asked, "How is it that you came here? How did you know I was here?"

"The Tree is also like a web. It leaves distinct vibrations for those who know how to sense and interpret them."

"You travel the Tree too?"

"No. I'm just in tune with it, as are more people than you know."

Silence passed. "You know, it's not like I wasn't in my right mind. I was in my right mind. I just felt a lot of pain, and wanted to make the rest of the world suffer for it. Do you think I could ever be forgiven?"

"Forgiveness is a medicine we should all take and administer. The fact that you need it says that you deserve it. Let it start with yourself. Do you forgive yourself?"

He looked down, "I don't know. I want to, and in a way I don't."

Caine nodded. "Ahh.. A Catholic at heart. Whip your back with a cat-o-nine tails and you won't feel as guilty."

Odin looked at him sharply, and began to laugh. Caine laughed with him.

* * *

Bill and Coleen sat silently in the back of the plane. Methos and Richie didn't pay them any mind -- if they had to feel miserable because they couldn't find Odin, then there was no reason why Bill or Coleen should feel any happier.

Bill's stomach was tied in knots. There were so many things that he wanted to say to her... needed to say to her... But all he ended up saying was, "Coleen... I'm sorry."

That got a look of shock out of her. "What do you mean?"

It was obvious that it was hard to find the words. "Sorry for being such a jerk... I did some things that I regret. I even regret some of the things I said. I just had to say that before I request a reassignment. I'll tell them that you know me, and they'll have no problem moving me."

"What in the world are you talking about?"

It was Bill's turn to act shocked. "You mean that you're not mad at me?"

//Yes -- but what the hell good would it do?// "No," she lied. "I'm not mad at you... I'm mad *with* you!"

A *really* bad one, that... but it got both of them laughing and smiling. Coleen realized that she really wasn't mad with him anymore. She didn't care that he was a perverted sicko who liked to screw sheep while young women combed his hair... it didn't do her any good hating him for his own pleasures. All she had to do was keep out of the way...

Coleen reached out with her heart, and felt the Tree, which was never far away, even though she was probably an hour from the Landing. The Tree was everywhere, waiting to be climbed. That touch took her to a different place, even though she was still sitting in the plane. Just as Odin could be a million places at once in his own mind, so could she. And it was then that she realized she'd been able do it for a long time now... and Caine knew. Even Axer knew, though he didn't realize it. He could even touch it himself, at will, but as far as he knew, all he did was touch some dreamscape, as he called it. He used it as a means of coming to grips with his own problems.

But Coleen, now that she knew what she did, began to tap into its full potential. Smiling, she stood a few feet away from where Caine and Odin talked over tea. It was like daydreaming, but more vivid. She still felt the vibrations of the plane, but she could also feel the mosquitoes trying to suck her blood, and feel the crisp air... and smell the tea.

She would have grabbed a cup for herself, if she didn't feel a sudden guilt come on. She climbed the tree some more, and found herself in an unfamiliar house. It was Nat, sitting by herself at a coffee table, while Nick lay asleep on a couch.

Nat looked up at Coleen in shock. "Coleen?!"

She nodded. "Nat? We have to talk."

* * * *


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