Disclaimer: "ANGEL" is a trademark of Twentieth Television © 1999.

by TJ

Doyle was tired, but he lay on his back, arm flung over his eyes, listening to the muted sounds of the street. The scrap of paper with the name of a girl, a time, and a place of business sat on the worn nightstand like an accusation, waiting for action. Instead, he lay there with his 5:00 shadow at 3:00 p.m., unmoving, knowing that if and when he chose to act, it would have to be after sundown.

He groped blindly past the scrap of paper to the Colt 45 and raised up just enough to take a warm mouthful. It was flat as well. Cringing, he swallowed anyway, and dropped back on the thin, sweat-moist pillow. The vision was under his eyelids. He couldn't get rid of it, it haunted him even after drinking enough to plaster his Aunt Judy. The girl, the vampire, the other vampire, the other girl, etc..., they danced behind his eyelids in a strange dance that moved into his stomach. Suddenly, he roller over the edge of the bed and threw up. It was no use lying there, so he got up, and cleaned up the mess, moving very slowly so his head wouldn't break off his neck and roll like an eight ball into a corner pocket.

After cleaning up, he took a quick shower, shaved, and changed into a red shirt, dark slacks, and his brown leather jacket. To keep his head attached he put on his favorite hat as well. Glancing at the mirror stared at his pale face. There was no easy fix.

A brisk walk down to the street took him past junkies in doorways, and hookers with track tattoos. His financial status was well known by the locals, so he walked the street unmolested until he got to Korea town.

Fists in pockets, collar up, he strode past a Korean restaurant where a short woman with a piercing voice was giving a punk an earful. The kid didn't speak the lingo, but he gamely yelled obscenities back in English while backing out of the restaurant with a package in his hands. He backed right into Doyle, who was a surprised as the kid. The kid dropped whatever he had, and Doyle in the confusion picked it up. But the woman emerged from the restaurant with a very large Chinese cleaver at that moment, and the kid took off, leaving Doyle in a heap on the sidewalk.

The Korean lady yelled something sounding very three stoogish, which probably made dogs on the next block howl. She punctuated her comments about the kid, and then waved the cleaver in Doyle's direction. Trying unsuccessfully to scramble away, he tossed the package to the woman. The scream of sirens could be heard in the distance. She stopped her commentary abruptly when she heard the siren. She deserted him right there on her front doorstep. Stunned, Doyle sat there, but as the siren got nearer, an old man came to the front window and shooed Doyle away. Doyle scrambled up and brushed himself off. As he turned toward his destination, he noticed the Korean woman opening the package behind the counter. It was filled with white powder, and she gingerly licked the end of her smallest finger and sampled the powder. On the side of the package in large letters was written MSG.

He headed to the liquor store and spent his last bit of change on a bottle of aspirin and another Billy D. He popped a few and washed them down with a cold clear swallow. It was like sunshine breaking through a bank of dark clouds—fleeting, illusive. The pain eased slightly. The cold bottle felt like heaven against his forehead, and he was able to speed up his pace.

Soon he was in the older commercial district. The sun was setting quicker than he anticipated, so he rushed up the stairs to the roof of an old brownstone. The rock and trash crunched underfoot, as he moved to the edge of the roof. The waist-high wall was crusty, but he leaned over as far as he dared, waiting for a glimpse of a hero.

Like his vision, the vampire emerged, dressed in unrelieved black. Trying to be unimpressed, Doyle watched as the vampire with a soul turned and strode toward the seedier part of downtown LA. Doyle watched until he disappeared into the crowd of tourists, businessmen, starlets and wannabes, muttering "All he needs is a fuckin' pair of tights."

Slamming the last of the Billy D, Doyle thought, you gotta' be kidding...

Before he could finish his thought, the blinding pain hit hard. It knocked him to one knee. Jamming a palm into his eyes, he crouched and whimpered as the vision intensified. "No," he moaned, trying to deny what he was seeing again. But the vision wasn't just a flash this time— this time it rolled over his sight like a movie. He was the main character, helping the vampire that just left the building. There were faces of those he would help save. The sound of bootsteps and the smell of a malotav cocktail filled his ears and nose. A young demon hiding and he hid with him. He was running. The vampire dragged him before the Nazi-clad demon. The vampire's quick snap- the kid-the boat-the other girl's face twisted with fear-a large metal beacon, its light gleaming like something out of a description of a near-death experience. And then searing pain that ebbed into the throb of blood at his temples, echoing the street's sounds.

When Doyle opened his eyes finally, it was full dark. His watch said 11:38. Hours had passed and still he perched undecided. He could throw away the scrap of paper he took from the nightstand, and disappear into the faceless crowd. Or he could take the stairs down into the basement, and wait for the vampire cursed with a soul to return from his hunt.

The light buzzed and hummed. The roar of the freeway was soft in the distance. The headache slid further back into his head and he took the stairs to the ground floor. A junkie flopped in the doorway, twitching to a sound heard only in his head. Doyle took the final staircase, and in the dark waited for Angel. It took less than an hour for Angel to return.

After dead-bolting the door, and stripping out of his equipment, he lost himself in thought. Suddenly he sensed that he was no longer alone. He turned slowly, well aware that he had an arsenal at his disposal.

In the doorway stood a young dark-haired man with angular features and dark eyes. He had the composure of someone who assumed he'd been expected.

He said, "Well I like the place. Not much with the view, but it's got a nice Batcave sort of air to it."