This is a work of fan fiction based on the WB television series Angel. All characters belong to Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy Productions, Warner Brothers and/or Twentieth Century Fox, including Doyle... but since you don't want him any more, may I please have him?
Loosely based on the "Angel" episode "City of," written by David Greenwalt and Joss Whedon; the "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" episode "The Wish," written by Marti Noxon; and characters from other episodes of each series.
The sign says 'Doyle Investigations,' but I know there was a time when it said something different.
I'd seen it in one of those damned visions. 'Guardian Angel' or something like that, I don't know for sure. The visions aren't always clear, for all they hurt like the very devil.
Still, I suppose it's apt enough. If this city's going to have a guardian angel, it'll just have to be me, which is nicely ironic, given what I've got hidden inside me.
But there's nobody else to do this job, at least in this city, and it needed doing, so, here I am.
I gave up on keeping a receptionist some time back. They don't care for the cigarettes, or the fact that I keep an extra bottle around at all times, just in case a vision hits. They especially don't like it when I have one of the visions in front of 'em.
One of 'em even got to see me sneeze, and ran out screaming. She never even came back for her last paycheck.
Now the voice mail picks up the calls, and there are days I don't talk to anyone.
Most days, it's just as well.
Now, tonight, that was a good example. The last vision showed me some fledgling vamps, not good enough for the Master in Sunnydale, I guess. We get all the rejects here. They were going to pick up a couple of girls at a bar I knew, with something less than honorable intentions.
So I went over there to hang out for the evening, which, when you think about it, isn't too far different from what I would have been doing if I hadn't had the vision. It would have been nice to be free to choose a better class o'pub, maybe, or a worse kind, if I happened to be in the mood.
If I weren't doing what I'm doing, I'd have gone back to Dublin years ago, when Harry died. The only thing that keeps me here is ... well, the same reason why she isn't.
I couldn't keep on teaching, and I couldn't go home again, not after finding out the reason why I was off the vampire menu.
I needed a way to take something back. It wouldn't bring Harry back. Nothing could. But getting back at what got her was the only thing that made sense to me then.
I had to put in a couple of years working for the L.A.P.D., which wasn't fun at all. Going from third-grade teacher to P.D. newbie was a bit of a jolt, especially when a few of the guys found out I'm not all human. Nothing in the rules quite fit, so they kinda took it upon themselves to make sure I left.
I'm stubborn though. Runs in the family, I think - at least the human side. I really can't say much about the rest.
Anyhow, I didn't leave till I was good and ready. Some of the guys got used to me after a while, some didn't.
So, I did it all up all legal, and got the license. Still, most of my clients aren't the paying kind. Lucky for me, I don't need much.
I managed to keep one friend from my time there. Kate always stuck up for me, and once I got past resenting it, we got along. She helps me fill in the blanks that the visions don't touch, and I help her tie up some loose ends, in return. It works pretty well most of the time.
And the drinks, well, on nights like this, they're a business expense.
I blend into the scenery pretty well in these places, if I do say so myself. So, nobody noticed me meandering outside after the three guys when they headed out with the two gals. "Let's go find some real fun." Yeah, right.
The girl was nattering on about knowing the doorman and getting into the Lido or something, whatever. I wasn't paying much attention. The conversation didn't get interesting until the "shut up and die" part.
Three of them against me was a pretty fair match. I distracted them a little - I've got a lot of practice doing the fallin' down drunk routine, and I came by it honestly, for the most part. They weren't expecting anything like those spring-loaded little babies I've been hiding in my sleeves lately, so I got the first two without even breaking a sweat.
The third one managed to get one good wallop in, enough to knock me down. It hurt.
You remember the comic book where the guy says 'It's clobberin' time'? I read it when I was a kid, and years later, when I was teaching, when Harry was still alive, the kids were still readin' the same comics. The more things change....
Well, you have to look like a monster to pull that line off. I manage well enough. But the vamps usually don't get it. Maybe if I said 'flame on'? Naahhh.
"You shouldn't have done that," I told the last vamp, getting up.
"Oh sh**, it's the half-breed. Man, they told me you weren't for real."
He was still gawping like an idiot at my other face when I staked him.
The girls were "oh-my-godding" all over the place, and one of them actually tried to thank me. I don't get much of that. I turned around, and started to smile, before I remembered what face I was wearing at the moment.
She let out a little scream, and both of them took off.
I guess this ain't the face of an angel. Oh well.
Seemed like somebody else might have been watching me, but I couldn't spot anyone. Just a feeling, y'know?
So, I went home. Home being the apartment below the mostly empty office.
I wasn't expecting company. But, when I got downstairs, I could tell pretty fast there was someone there waiting for me.
Someone who didn't want to be seen... or heard.
I whipped around and tossed a stake in the intruder's direction, and a suprisingly small, delicate-looking hand whipped out and caught it, in midair.
"Impressive," I said out loud. "You're not quite human, whatever y'are. No human is that fast."
"Only a slayer," answered the girl, moving forward where I could see her, and she smiled.
"Hi," she said. "I'm Faith."
"Just Faith. The Vampire Slayer. Hey, saw you in action tonight, lookin' good."
I looked her over, and she stood still, enjoying the attention. She was small, dark-haired, young - still in her teens, I'd guess. She was wearing all black leather, like she wanted to look really tough, but somehow it suited her.
She knew she looked good, a real stiffener, and she wasn't afraid to use it.
Everything about her was the opposite of my Harry, but that was a good thing. I don't much care for blondes any more. Don't like the reminder.
I could think of worse things to find in my apartment than Faith, the Vampire Slayer.
"Done getting an eyeful yet?" she asked coolly.
"I'll look all I want. You're in my home, uninvited. The way I look at it, that gives me a free pass on starin'."
"Yeah, well, I'm not a vampire, so invitations are not a problem."
"Go for breakin' and enterin' much?"
She shrugged. "Whatever. So you're Doyle. Word on the street is you're pretty damn good at dusting vampires. From what I saw before, sounds like word on the street was right."
"I'm no slayer, but I get by. So, what would the Chosen One be doing here?"
And, I wondered silently, why hadn't the Powers warned me ahead of time?
"Oh, you've heard the story. Good. I don't tell it well. I always found it pretty boring, myself. Okay if I sit down?"
"Hey, I'm impressed again. The girl knows how to ask permission. Fine. Go right ahead."
"Got any beer?"
"You old enough to drink?"
She laughed. "I'm a slayer. Have you ever heard of a slayer old enough to drink? Come off your high horse, man, and throw me a beer."
I shrugged. "I'm not in favor of corruptin' minors, but in your case, maybe I'll make an exception."
She nabbed the beer I tossed her way, and settled herself down. I took a seat as well.
"So, Faith, what brings you to my humble abode, eh?"
She took a long drink, and smiled. "Ever heard of a little town called Sunnydale?"
"As a matter of fact, yeah. I had a cousin there, till she became vampire food, like most of the rest of the town. You headin' in that direction? Because, if you're lookin' to take on the Master, sorry, thanks but no thanks. I've been around long enough to know what battles to fight and which ones not to fight. I can't do a thing for ya."
"Hey, slow down. If taking on the Master was what I wanted, I'd be there with bells on, and my pansy-assed Watcher applauding from a safe distance. Till I get killed, of course, which, judging by the last two slayers, gives me maybe a week, if I'm lucky. Do you notice my enthusiasm yet?"
"It's quite... infectious," I answered drily. "So, the last two slayers went to Sunnydale? I'd heard rumors."
"Yeah, first there was this girl named something like Muffy - some way stupid name for a slayer - and then Kendra. The Master chewed both of them up and spit them out, so I got called. One Wesley Wyndham-Pryce," and her voice dripped contempt over the name, "wants me to be number three. There's just one little problem."
"While my so-called Watcher may think I'm just one more little dart that he can throw at the Master, I happen to like living. I wouldn't mind getting to see eighteen, y'know?"
"So, you ran away?"
"Let's just say I'm pursuing other options. I figure, there's more than one way to do this gig. Maybe even a way that doesn't involve running straight into a trap with my eyes closed and my hands tied behind my back."
"And I fit in where?"
"I hear you've been doing this for a couple of years now, and you're still here. I hear you've got more vampire kills than anyone who's not a slayer. So, I'm thinking, maybe this guy knows a thing or two about this business that the Watcher's Council can't get their heads out of their butts long enough to notice. And, since I'm kinda into survival, that works for me. Get what I mean?"
"What else have you heard about me, then?"
"That you're not quite human yourself," she tossed back promptly, and then, with a touch of hesitation, "That you got in this game in the first place because they got your wife."
I was silent for a moment, then nodded slowly. "True enough."
"Of course, they forgot to tell me that you're damn cute, too. Can I have another beer?"
"Not yet. How much did you hear about the not-human part?"
She stood up and sauntered over to me, sitting down practically in my lap. "I'm not worried about it."
"Maybe you should be."
She shook her head, laughing, and threw a leg around my waist. Agile girl. Good moves.
"Man, I'm a slayer. I can take any man, demon, or vampire, and if I don't like you, I can twist you into a knot so fast that you'll be seeing daylight from the rear. So, why should I worry?"
"You're also just a kid."
"I haven't been in a kid in a long time," she answered softly. "So, what's the what? Big bad demon just waitin' to come out and play?"
"You askin' to see?"
"You think you can scare me? No way. I dare you."
"Dare me, do you? Now, isn't that mature."
"I'll show you mature." She pressed herself against me, twining a hand in my hair. "Get a clue, man. I always get what I want. I'm not patient, and I'm not real good at taking no for an answer. So, we play it my way, or I show you what happens when I get mad."
"Or I show you what happens when I get mad, except that you're too young to remember what the hell I'm talking about. Which kind of proves my point, don't you think?"
She wriggled on my lap. "Whatever. Shut up and show me."
Ah, well, it was fun while it lasted, wasn't it? With a resigned sigh, I changed, waiting for her to yelp and jump off my lap.
Surprise. Her eyes widened, and for a moment she did look like a little girl, but like one who'd just received a birthday present. "Wow!" she breathed. "Way cool."
She giggled for a moment, like a child, but her next move wasn't the least bit childish, as she made me gasp.
"You have some need to talk, here? 'Cause I don't."
"You always come on to demons like this?"
"Naw, only the cute ones like you." Her hands were all over me, even though I still had my demon face on. Gotta say, she was getting to me.
Maybe it had been too long. Or, maybe that wasn't it at all.
Breathless, I got out, "Can't say as anyone's ever called this face cute before."
She shrugged. "Change back if you want, or stay the way you are, doesn't matter to me. I like a little variety, y'know."
"You tryin' to tell me that you're OK with this?" I managed.
"Five by five," she answered. "How about shutting up now?"
She put her hand roughly over my mouth, pushing a spine or two aside in the process, like she didn't even notice. When she took her fingers away, it was only to replace them with her lips, and they weren't any gentler than her hand.
Some things I can smell, and taste, better like this.
She tasted of beer, and impatient youth, and something a long way past innocence.
She tasted of need.
That was it.
Damn it. I was lost, and I knew that I'd probably regret it.
And right then, I didn't care.