How to Treat Your
Chapter 30-A: Step 2 – Understanding (Part
Los Angeles, St. Matthews Hospital
Angel and Spike strolled into the hospital. They had spent most of the night dealing with zombie cops. The captain of one of the rougher precincts came up with an idea that the best way to defeat crime in his district was to raise other dead cops and put them back on the street.
The case had put him in a somewhat working relationship with Kate Lockley again. She still hadn’t stopped blaming him for her father’s murder. She also hadn’t dropped the case of the dozen or so dead lawyers in Holland Manners wine cellar. It was real interesting – to say the least – when Kate was face-to-face with Spike for the first time.
His ‘hello, luv’ was met with complete disdain and Angel didn’t know if she despised the entire male race or if she could sense that Spike was a vampire just by looking at him and hated him on sight. However, it was comical to see that his boy couldn’t charm just anyone with his wicked good looks. After Angel reported back to Kate that they had destroyed the zombie cops, she received word that Wesley was in the hospital with a gunshot wound.
Spike told him he would never forgive himself or find his redemption if he ignored Wesley being in the hospital. It was times like this that he wished Spike didn’t know him so well as to use his own purposes against him. Either way, they were here in the hospital.
When they got to the appropriate floor, Angel hung back from going into Wesley’s room. Through the open blinds, he watched Gunn visiting with the former watcher. They conversed about little things. But, it was enough to let Angel know he was fine. Angel and Spike turned to leave only to find Cordelia standing right behind them.
“What are you doing here?” Cordelia demanded.
“I heard about Wesley,” Angel replied.
“Well, that’s great,” she scoffed. “Too bad it takes a gunshot wound to make you give a crap.” Angel winced a little under her anger. “Wesley doesn’t need you right now. We don’t need you. You walked away. Do us a favor and just stay away.”
Angel hung his head and walked away. Spike watched him leave with a small twinge of sadness. He was pulled out thoughts by Cordelia.
“Why do you stay with him, Spike? Angel is a bastard, the way he treated us. He fired us,” Cordelia was saying.
“He’s my Sire,” Spike replied as if that answered everything. “It’s not as black and white as you’d like to think. You should know that coming from Sunnydale. But then, you’re still human. You might still be pissed that the IRS took your daddy’s T-Bird away, but there’s a whole sea of gray in Angel’s world. And, as much as you want him to, Angel can never forget what he is. It’s more complex than just what your pretty eyes see, princess. You lot only see the vampire with the soul that turned his back on his redemption. He also has a demon inside him that, on occasion, tends to win the fight for dominance. Somewhere in between is the Sire that made me. So yeah, I’m still with him. I’m mated to him for fuck’s sake. What do you expect?” Spike leaned closer and looked at her straight in the eyes. “He cares enough about you bloody humans to push you away when it got to be too dangerous. You’re a human girl. He’s spent a century killing and another century feeling guilty about it. Try dealing with what he has to before you make a snap judgment on how he’s handling things.”
With that, Spike brushed past her and left the hospital to find Angel sitting on the hood of his car. Spike sat on the hood beside him, pulled out a cigarette and lit up.
“What took you so long?” Angel asked.
Spike took a drag and breathed out as he replied, “Cordelia.”
“What did you say to her?”
Angel didn’t want them arguing over him. He knew that in Cordelia’s eyes, he fucked up and she’d want him to grovel and beg forgiveness to get his team back. He’d been around for nearly two centuries and human for twenty-six years. All this time and women still haven’t changed.
“Nothing, I just gave her some things to think about,” Spike replied.
Then, out of nowhere, Angel suggested, “Want to go do some more damage?”
Spike smirked and hopped off the engine hood. “Lead the way.”
Angel and Spike walked along a deserted corridor littered with trash. They heard strange, low screams as they got closer to the end of the hall. They entered a dark room and Angel pulled a chain on the ceiling light to reveal a room full of goats.
“Well, you did say you missed breakfast,” Spike quipped.
“Very funny, Spike,” Angel commented dryly as he worked his way through the herd to a door on the other side of the room. He opened the door and saw two men preparing to sacrifice the goats.
“What’s next?” the first man asked.
The second man looked down at the open booklet in his hand and read, “Make sure all troths are securely fastened and sacrifices tilted as shown in diagram F-12 to ensure full drainage into sacred offering bowl.”
“Yes, yes, and . . .?” the first man prodded.
The second man continued to read, “Using a clean, diagonal motion slit throat of sacrifice with the pre-blessed ceremonial dagger provided.” The man looked up at his accomplice. “I didn’t see that in the box.”
“Look under the packing,” the first man said, agitated. “Hurry up!”
“It’s not in here,” the second man panicked as he dug through the box and then went through a second box.
“Just-just gimme this,” the first man said, snatching the booklet.
Angel twirled the missing dagger as he appeared out of the shadows. “You know . . .” His voice startled the two men and the whirled to face him. “I’ve, well, I really couldn’t help but notice the goats.” Angel chuckled. “Yeah, a lot of goats.” He drawled as he sauntered closer. “Goats . . . many. Those are goats, guys!”
Just then, the second man noticed what Angel had in his hand. “Hey! That’s our pre-blessed . . .” He watched in something akin to shock as Angel slammed the dagger into the wall and bent it in a curve. “Ceremonial dagger?”
Angel shrugged. “So sue me. Or better yet, have your bosses do it.” He looked around the room. “This building is owned by Wolfram & Hart, right?”
“What do you want?” the first man asked, trying to sound tough.
“I want to know what they’re having you worship,” Angel demanded.
“That’s none of your business. Who are you anyway?”
Angel smirked. “Me?” He shifted to his demon and rushed at them. The moonlight shining through windows created a strobe off of him. Then, he was suddenly in front of the two men, pinning them to the wall by their throats. “Well, I’m just the type of guy who hates to see good blood go to waste.”
“Look, man, we just get paid to do the slaughtering and say the prayer,” the first man stuttered.
“What are you praying to?” Angel demanded.
“We don’t know!” the second man insisted.
“How can you not know?” Spike asked.
“The ritual! It’s, it’s all in Latin. They said . . . we should just sort of, you know, sound it out!” the first man choked.
“Who are ‘they’, mate?” Spike asked.
“Like you said, Wolfram & Hart!” the first man answered.
“All we know is that the sacrifice’s got to be done by midnight or something out there will get real pissed off!” the second man stammered.
Angel looked from one stumbling fool to the other and said, “Good. Spike, destroy it.”
Spike shifted to his demon, threw his head back and laughed gleefully around a mouthful of fangs before demolishing the altar and everything else in the room with Angel’s help.
Los Angeles, Wolfram & Hart
The office corridors were bustling with people racing against the clock to save themselves from the impending seventy-five year review. Lilah stepped out of an elevator and immediately spotted Lindsey walking away from the reception desk and down the hall. She rushed to catch up with him.
“Lindsey, I’ve been looking everywhere for you,” she said as she fell into step with him. “Where are you going?”
“Lunch,” he said simply.
“Lunch?” She was surprised by his lack of concern for what was going on around them. “You really think now’s the time for lunch?”
“You mean lunch time?” he said flippantly.
“The review is in two days!” she said.
“I’m aware of that.”
“So is everyone else. Look at them,” she said as a paralegal scurried past them. “It’s like they’ve had the fear of . . . well, ‘God’ would probably be the wrong word.”
“They’re just running scared,” Lindsey said as a lawyer hurried past him.
“They should be,” she concurred as she handed over a manila envelope. “I dug up everything I could find on the last seventy-five year review. It’s all in there. Makes the Christmas purge of ’68 look like fun old times. Nearly half of mid-management was sacked. And Lindsey, they use actual sacks.”
“I’ll read it, Lilah,” Lindsey sighed.
“You better,” she threatened, “Because it’s not just your ass on the line. It’s mine, too. We’re supposed to be running this division together, remember?”
“Right,” he agreed distractedly.
“I’ve included some suggestions on how we could plump up our portfolio before Friday,” she added.
“Look, either way we pass the review, or we won’t,” Lindsey cut in. “Do you really think that a few last minute dark rites and rituals are going to make a difference now?”
“Everybody else seems to think so,” Lilah said as she looked at the other employees running around the building like chickens with their heads cut off. “I heard Henderson actually pulled her firstborn out of company daycare to offer it up to . . . brown noser. My mother was right. I should have had children.”
“We’ll stand on our records. It’s the only thing we’ve got,” Lindsey said.
“Then, we’re dead!” Lilah shrieked. She caught herself and lowered her voice. “Do I have to remind you of our collective screw-ups?! Two of which are still out there somewhere. You haven’t heard anything, have you? You would tell me if they contacted you.”
“He has them under lock and key somewhere and probably waiting for the right moment to use them against us,” Lindsey said through teeth clenched in frustration at the topic.
“You don’t think he’d pick now to do that, would he?” Lilah asked her voice filled with worry. “We don’t have a second shot at this, Lindsey. Nothing can happen between now and Friday to screw this up.”
Los Angeles, Hyperion Hotel
Angel and Spike had split up again when Angel realized that destroying every altar in LA was more than they could handle. They needed help. Spike came back to the hotel when Angel said he was going to see Kate. Since the police woman wasn’t responsive to his teasing, Spike didn’t have much use for her.
Spike went upstairs and fixed himself a glass of blood. Then, he went to the room Darla and Drusilla shared. Darla was sitting up in bed with Drusilla behind her brushing her hair and humming to herself.
“Darla, shouldn’t you be lying down?” Spike asked as he took a drink.
“Just because I’m sick, doesn’t mean I’m allowed to slack off on grooming,” Darla said.
“Vain ’til the end, eh?” Spike commented with a raised brow.
“Live fast, die young and leave a very good looking corpse, Spike,” Darla said casually.
“Well, no one could ever accuse you of dying old and feeble then,” Spike observed. “For nearly 400 years old, you look . . . thirty-one.”
“I was twenty when I was turned,” Darla corrected.
“Pardon me for guessing, your highness,” Spike did a mock bow that made Drusilla giggle.
“No need to be rude, Spike,” Darla said condescendingly.
“Always the ice queen,” Spike growled.
He lay down along the other side of the bed with the TV remote and flipped through the channels. Drusilla finished brushing Darla’s hair and set the brush on the nightstand. Then she lay down beside Spike facing the right way. Darla lay back down and closed her eyes to the drone of the television.
Los Angeles, Caritas
Angel walked purposefully into Caritas and spotted the Host talking to the bartender. He stalked over to the bar.
“Substitute it with something. I don’t care. Be creative. I know you can,” the Host was saying. When Angel sidled up to him, the Host ranted, “Can you believe this? Not even ten o’clock and we’ve already run out of yak’s bile.”
“We need to talk,” Angel stated.
“And you should have booked in advance. I don’t think we can get you on stage tonight,” the Host said casually.
“I’m not here to sing,” Angel said.
“Oh, is that what we’re calling it now?” the Host said sardonically.
“Something’s coming,” Angel said, ignoring the jibe.
“Really?” the Host was still being sarcastic. “I thought it was just the complimentary nachos bringing in the morally ambiguous crowd.”
The Host nodded towards the stage and Angel turned to see that the place is packed with humans in business suits.
“Lawyers,” Angel spat the word out as if it were a curse.
The Host held up his hand. “Easy, big fella. I know what you’re thinking and throwing yourself across six tables and twisting their necks off part? Not a good idea.”
Angel glared at the Host. “You’ve read them. You’ve seen it. You know what’s coming.”
“Now, Angel cakes, you wouldn’t appreciate it if I were to blab your personal stuff to every Tom, Dick and vampire that walked in the door? Would you?” the Host said haughtily.
“Is it that bad?” Angel asked.
“Oi! But I really can’t divulge to you what I read in another being,” the Host said casually. “However, I can tell you what I overheard in the men’s restroom. It’s coming Friday and it’s got all their legal briefs in a twist about it.”
“Well? What is it?” Angel asked.
The Host moved closer as if he had a big secret. “Well, every seventy-five years your friends over at Wolfram & Hart have this review. I think the general angst isn’t so much about the review, but more about the reviewer. Let’s just say, it ain’t Rex Reed.”
“Okay, so what is it?” Angel asked impatiently.
“It’s evil. It’s dark. It’s merciless,” the Host said. Then, he thought about it. “Actually, now that I say it out loud it sounds an awful lot like Rex, doesn’t it?”
Angel rolled his eyes. Demon humor at a time like this. “Maybe you could just tell me in one word what it is?”
The Host shook his head. “Not likely. But, I can tell you in two: Senior Partner.”
Los Angeles, Hyperion Hotel
After visiting Lorne, from whom he had to practically drill information from with a jackhammer, Angel learned that the Big Bad thing that had all the people associated with Wolfram & Hart running scared was something to do with the Home Office, whatever that was.
Currently, he was tearing his office apart looking for a certain book. He scratched his head trying to remember where he’d seen it last. He walked over to the nearly empty book case in the lobby and checked the few still left there. When they weren’t what he was looking for, he dropped them on the ground.
Angel was looking around the lobby, wondering where he had put the book in question and didn’t see Spike on the bottom landing of the stairs. He heaved a sigh of frustration.
“Have you seen a book on dimensional portals?” he asked out loud. He felt Spike even if he wasn’t looking at him.
“Last time I saw any books, Wesley was carting them away,” Spike replied. “You’re not planning on doing something dangerous are you? ’Cause if so, I want in, Darla’s driving me around the soddin’ bend.”
“Damn it, I had an entire library of books and Wesley took every single one of them?” Angel glowered at the book case.
“If he took everything then what’s that?” Spike asked, indicating the books on the floor.
“Bennett’s The Book of Virtues, LeHaye’s Revelations Unveiled, Literature and the Western World and How to Make Friends and Influence People,” Angel said.
“Always helpful in an apocalypse,” Spike chuckled.
When Angel walked towards the doors again, Spike asked, “Where are you going now?”
“They took my books so I can’t research what I need here. I have to go get them,” Angel said angrily.
Spike got to his feet and went over to Angel. He looked up at his Sire’s tense face. There was a tick working in his jaw.
“Go easy on ’em, yeah? They’re just kids,” Spike said.
Angel gave a curt nod and walked out the door.
Angel yanked the door open and walked into the new Angel Investigations office, not bothering to close it behind him. The sudden entrance startled its occupants.
“Good Lord,” Wesley said apprehensively.
“Angel,” Cordelia breathed.
“May we,” Wesley swallowed the lump in his throat. “Help you?”
Angel was on a single-minded mission to get his books back. He ignored them as he made a beeline for the bookshelf behind the single desk and started to search through the books there.
“Excuse me, that . . . that area is for employees only!” Wesley stammered angrily.
“Yeah,” Angel shrugged. “You took all of my books!”
“Well, you got the waffle iron,” Cordelia said heatedly.
Angel grabbed a book off the shelf and started to leave, but Cordelia snatched it out of his hand.
“Hey! No! You can’t t-take this, I-I-I’m in the middle of it,” she stuttered as she put the book back on the shelf. In its place, she shoved a phonebook at him. “Here, take this one.”
Angel took the phonebook and threw it to the side. He leaned in close, crowding into Cordelia’s personal space and growled menacingly. She refused to move out of his way, even though he could see her shaking. That gave him a measure of satisfaction. She was smart to be afraid of him. When he felt the urge to grab her and toss her aside as he had the phone book, Angel felt Spike tease the barriers of his mind.
Easy, Sire. They’re just kids. You wouldn’t forgive me or yourself if you did what you’re intending, Spike said.
Why do I have to be the one that caves? They stole from me! I fired them to protect them and they pay me back by stealing from me and I can’t do damage? Angel growled in frustration.
They don’t know that, Angel. You never gave them a reason for firing them. I know why you did it. Hell, even Darla, Drusilla and that law firm know. But, they think you abandoned them and your mission.
Angel growled out loud at Cordelia before saying, “Don’t make me move you.”
“Give him the book, Cordelia,” Wesley said incensed at Angel’s boorish behavior.
When Cordelia only continued to glare at Angel, Wesley pushed himself up out of his wheelchair to stand on his feet in a sudden show of rage.
“Just give him the damn thing! Let him get the hell out!” Wesley snapped.
Cordelia chanced a look at Wesley. Then, she pushed Angel back a step, turned, grabbed the book off the shelf and shoved it at the dark, angry vampire.
“Here, take it! I don’t even know what you are anymore!” she yelled as frustrated tears threatened to fall.
Angel took it and walked towards the door. “I’m a vampire. Look it up!”
With that, Angel slammed the door closed behind him and Wesley slowly collapsed into his wheelchair.
“What a jerk!” Cordelia fumed.
“Cordelia . . .” Wesley whispered. He felt a funny sensation in the side of his stomach and looked down at the gunshot wound that had reopened from his exertion to make a stand against Angel, literally.
“Apparently, Spike isn’t laying him enough or maybe it’s too much,” Cordelia said tearfully.
“Cordelia . . .” Wesley prompted, holding a hand against the bleeding wound.
Cordelia ranted over Angel’s behavior and Spike, Drusilla and Darla’s hand in Angel getting darker. Because, it could never be blamed on Lindsey, Lilah and the two hundred lawyers bent on driving him insane.
Wesley tried again. “Cordelia! Ambulance?”
Cordelia looked in horror at the spreading bloodstain on Wesley’s shirt. “Oh my God!”
Los Angeles, Wolfram & Hart
After he left Wesley and Cordelia, Angel went to Denver’s Occult Shop. Nearly gave the old man a heart attack when he showed up out of the blue asking about the Band of Blacknil and a glove that was used to kill a Klaynack demon, the Senior Partner’s chosen vessel to move around on Earth. Everything was going fine until one of Lindsey’s hired lackeys showed up and ran Denver through with a sword and stabbed Angel in the process before stealing the glove.
Angel felt bad for the old man. Denver had helped him before with trying to rid the hotel of the Thesulac demon back in 1952, and now he was dead because Angel was trying to kill something else. However, he couldn’t dwell on the man’s death when he had other priorities. None of which included pandering to his former team, no matter how much Cordelia thought he needed to grovel.
Across from the Wolfram & Hart building, Angel watched from a rooftop as a black limo pulled up in front of the office building and Lilah got out with two bodyguards. She issued a few orders to stay close. As they walked closer to the front doors, Angel jumped down from his perch and knocked the two bodyguards unconscious from behind.
Lilah ground her teeth as she looked at the bodies of the men she paid to guard her from Angel and kicked one of the bodies. “Crap! I knew you guys were a waste of money.”
Angel just looked at her. “I noticed you’re not parking in the underground lot anymore Lilah.”
“It’s not safe,” she replied. Narrowing her eyes she asked, “What do you want?”
Angel stepped closer to her and smirked. “I want the same thing from you that I took from Lindsey.” With that, he grabbed her wrist and held up her hand. He dragged her to the entrance elevator and pulled her inside.
When the doors closed, Lilah pressed her right thumb to a scanner in the secure elevator and an automated voice said, “Good evening Miss Morgan. What floor please?”
“Fifteen,” Lilah said clearly. As the elevator started to move, she glanced at Angel. “You know of course you’ll lead security wherever you go the moment you step inside.”
“I’m counting on it,” Angel replied. He winced in pain and Lilah noticed as he lifted a hand towards his stomach where the lackey had stabbed him earlier.
Cordelia had been on her way out the door when the phone rang a third time. First Wesley called, then a client who at first refused to pay but had changed their mind. She was on the way out the door to collect the check, personally, when the phone rang again. She rushed over and picked it up.
“Mrs. Sharp, I’m on my --,” Cordelia started to say.
“Where’s Angel?” a British cockney accent cut in.
“How should I know?” Cordelia replied annoyed.
“He went there to collect his demonology books to research something and hasn’t come back yet,” Spike said irritably.
“Oh, he got the book just fine and I don’t care to see him again,” Cordelia said, tears threatening to fall again.
“Look, Cordelia, as much as you two would like to think so, the world doesn’t revolve around you or the Slayer. There are other things going on right now that take more priority than a former cheerleader’s hurt feelings. Now, if he isn’t there, then where did he go?” Spike asked.
“I don’t know where he went. I don’t care to know where he went. He can go to hell for all I care! Good night, Spike!” Cordelia said angrily and hung up the phone.
Los Angeles, Wolfram & Hart
Several robed figures paced around a pentagram that was painted on the floor. They were swinging incense burners and chanting. The room was filled with lawyers biting their nails and worrying over their fate. Lindsey checked his watch, already bored with the fanfare. His boss, Nathan Reed, stood next to him.
“I don’t see your co-vice president here, Lindsey. It doesn’t look good,” Reed whispered.
“Yes, Sir,” Lindsey readily agreed.
Just then, a security officer stepped up to Nathan Reed and whispered in his ear. Reed looked at him and said, “Well, find it. Deal with it!”
When the man left, Lindsey asked, “Is there a problem?”
“Someone just let a vampire onto this floor,” Reed answered through clenched teeth.
Lindsey scanned the crowded room and saw Lilah coming in with Angel behind her. He pointed and yelled, “There!”
Lilah used the opportunity to elbow Angel in his wounded side and ran off. Angel forced himself to ignore the shooting pain and chased after her, still hunched over. Lindsey hurried across the room, pushing people out of his way.
“Security!” Nathan Reed yelled out the order and men in black suits started to search for the vampire.
Angel reappeared in another part of the room and scanned the crowd. He pulled out a bottle of water and popped the top off as he waded into the throng of lawyers. Then, he grabbed a hold of the lackey that had stabbed him earlier. He threw the water into the person’s face as she turned and shifted to her demon face.
“Vampire!” Angel yelled out, gaining everyone’s attention.
As the crowd turned to see what the commotion was about, Angel tried to pull the glove off the female vampire’s hand. She knocked him in the head and sent him flying back. Two security guards tackled her with stakes, but she pushed them away and went after Angel again.
Lindsey watched in fascination as they fought. Nathan Reed sank to his knees behind one of the robed figures as the air above the pentagram began to quiver and a red-robed demon materialized.
Angel finally yanked the glove off the vampire’s hand and kicked her to the side. Immediately, security converged on the vampire with stakes while Angel pulled on the glove. Lindsey jumped in to save his vampire lackey.
The red-robed Klaynack turned around just in time to see Angel launch himself at it from across the room. Angel grabbed it by the throat with his gloved hand. As soon as the glove touched the demon, the Klaynack began to dissolve with a scream, while it and Angel fell backwards through the window.
Angel plummeted fifteen stories to the ground, with the robe still in his hand and landed in a shower of glass on the sidewalk below. A second later the Band of Blacknil ring landed beside him with a metallic clink.
Angel let out a pained groan and grabbed the ring. He forced himself to stand up. Behind him, a homeless man sat on a planter watching him.
“Okay. Home office,” Angel said to himself as he slid the ring on. “Let’s finish this.”
The second the ring slid on his finger, Angel heard a ding of an arriving elevator behind him. He turned to see the doors open on the outside wall of the office building behind him. He was shocked to discover Holland standing in the elevator slowly clapping his hands. Angel took a wary step closer.
“Congratulations, a great victory,” Holland said.
“You’re . . .” Angel started to say.
“Holland Manners,” the former executive introduced himself.
“. . . Not alive,” Angel finished.
“Oh, no,” Holland agreed. “I’m quite dead. Unfortunately my contract with Wolfram & Hart extends well beyond that.” He gave Angel a big smile, and then nodded his head. “Hop on in. You certainly earned it.”
Angel slowly steps in the elevator. A vague thought of it being a mirage crossed his mind. He looked skeptically at Holland who laughed.
“No. Not a ghost either. No, it’s just me, dead me,” Holland said and pulled the collar of his shirt aside to show Angel Spike’s bite mark. Then, he reached for the elevator button. “Let’s see, Home Office, wasn’t it. I should mention the trip is one way.”
Angel just stood there, looking out, not saying anything. There was a homeless person pushing a loaded shopping cart across the plaza in front of the elevator.
Holland shrugged. “Well, if there are no objections, I suggest we get going. It is rather a long ride.”
Holland pushed the DOWN button. The doors closed and the elevator descended down the shaft. Angel and Holland stood side-by-side in silence as the lights from the floors pass by and typical annoying elevator music plays in the background.
“Well, this is exciting, isn’t it?” Holland asked with a false smile. “Going straight to the source. So, what’s the big plan, Angel? Destroy the Senior Partners, smash Wolfram & Hart once and for all?”
“Something like that,” Angel said expressionless.
“Hmm-mm,” Holland acknowledged. “Now, tell me just what do you think that would accomplish? In the end, I mean.”
“It’ll be . . . The. End,” Angel enunciated every word.
“Well, the end of you, certainly,” Holland shrugged and faced forward again. “But, I meant in the larger sense.”
“In the larger sense, I really don’t give a crap,” Angel said casually.
“Now I don’t think that’s true,” Holland said. “Be honest, you’ve got the tiniest bit of ‘give a crap’ left. Otherwise you wouldn’t be going on this kamikaze mission.” His expression changed to thoughtful as he continued. “Now let me see, there was something in a sacred prophecy, some oblique reference to you. Something you’re supposed to prevent. Now what was that?”
“The apocalypse,” Angel said tiredly as he turned to glare at Holland Manners.
“Yes, the apocalypse, of course,” Holland nodded as if it had just come to him. “Another one of those. Well, it’s true. We do have one scheduled. And, I imagine that if you were to prevent it, you would save a great many people. Well, you should do that then, absolutely. I wasn’t thinking.” Holland shrugged and swayed his body as if it were nice sunny day in just any elevator. “Of course all those people you save from that apocalypse would then have the next one to look forward to. But, hey! It’s always something, isn’t it?”
Just then, the elevator shaft and cable dissolved as the elevator continued to plummet into a hellish red pit.
Angel turned to face Holland and say flatly, “You’re not going to win.”
Holland did the same, facing Angel. “Well, no, of course we aren’t. We have no intention of doing anything so prosaic as winning.”
Holland laughed the very idea and Angel stared at him stonily. When the former executive had sobered up, Angel posed a question, “Then why?”
“Hmm? I’m sorry? Why what?” Holland asked.
“Why fight?” Angel clarified.
“That’s really the question you should be asking yourself, isn’t it?” Holland said with a raised brow. “See, for us, there is no fight which is why winning doesn’t enter into it. We go on no matter what. Our firm has always been here – in one form or another. There was the Inquisition, the Khmer Rouge. We were there when the very first cave man clubbed his neighbor. See, we’re in the hearts and minds of every single living being. And that, friend, is what’s making things difficult for you. See, the world doesn’t work in spite of evil, Angel. It works with us. It works because of us.”
The elevator came to a screeching halt. When the doors opened, Angel looked out prepared to see a place full of damnation. Instead, he saw the same homeless person pushing a loaded cart across the plaza in front of the Wolfram & Hart office building in L.A.
“Welcome to the Home Office,” Holland said with a bit of humor in his voice.
“This isn’t . . .” Angel started to say as he looked around.
“Well, you know it is,” Holland replied. “You know that better than anyone. The things you’ve seen. The things you’ve, well . . . done. You see, if there wasn’t evil in every single one of them out there. They wouldn’t be people. They’d be angels.”
Angel looked around at people yelling at each other and generally going about there lives as if nothing was out of the ordinary. The glove dropped from his right hand and landed on the floor of the elevator with a loud thunk. Angel, himself, slowly shuffled out of the elevator and down the street.
Behind him, he vaguely heard Holland say, “Have a nice day!”
Angel slowly walked down the streets of L.A. trying to avoid a prostitute and her potential client arguing over money, a woman yelling at her daughter, a homeless man with a brown-bagged bottle under his arm, a young man standing by a lamp post.
He felt his cell phone vibrate in his pocket, but ignored it. Everything was meaningless right now. He knew that as a vampire he was supposed to be cool, but the blood in his veins was like ice.