The Strength of the Righteous

An Angel fanfic by Sisiutil

This fanfic takes place early in the first season of Angel and features Angel, Cordelia, and Doyle.

This story is fictional and does not contain any references to any actual persons living or dead. All characters contained in this story who appeared in Angel are the property of Mutant Enemy, etc.

Chapter 2

"I can't believe you have a problem with this!"

Cordelia was standing in front of Angel's desk in his office at Angel Investigations. She was dressed in a burgundy silk shirt and black track pants that were obviously several sizes too large for her. Doyle was standing in the doorway, listening to the exchange sheepishly, obviously wondering what he could possibly do to make up for his earlier faux pas. Angel was, as usual, brooding; but there were degrees to his broodiness, and since he'd returned from the vampire nest, he'd been shifting from "Grande" to "Venti" Brood, as Cordilia had put it. Speaking of Cordy, she wasn't helping Angel's mood. The fact that Cordelia had helped herself to Angel's wardrobe--especially his favorite shirt--did nothing to improve Angel's disposition. Still, as long as Doyle didn't bring any iced coffee drinks near her while she wore those clothes, Angel decided he really shouldn't worry. Not when he had other things on his mind.

"I mean, a bunch of vamps want to play vigilante and take out some disgusting pervert?" Cordelia went on. "I'm tempted to back up a truck to the blood bank and load it up with tasty snack packs for them!"

"That's not the issue, Cordelia," Angel explained patiently as his secretary eyed him dubiously. "Yes, the man they killed was...despicable. But his crime was a human crime, and should have been dealt with by human courts."

"Oh yeah," Cordelia responded, with double the usual layer of sarcasm in her voice. "Because we know the court system always works, since it's run by honest lawyers like our good friends at Wolfram and Hart--who Uncle Pervy, former, probably had on retainer. And it would have worked out great in this case, because we all know what fine, upstanding citizens and excellent witnesses vampires make." Angel looked at her, his dark brows raised in mild offence. "Present company excepted, of course," she added, with unusual sensitivity on her part.

"If you don't mind my saying so..." Doyle began to say.

"I do," Cordelia interjected without turning around to even favor him with an angry glare. "Intensely."

Doyle coughed abashedly and proceeded. "Well, I think you're lookin' at this from the high point of the slippery slope. I mean, murderers and rapists is one thing, but supposin' these do-gooder vamps decide that, say, some hypothetical person who's only committed--allegedly, I might add--a few petty crimes, of a purely victimless nature, would make a worthwhile meal?"

Cordelia finally turned to look at Doyle, her disdain evident in her lovely features. "If your hypothetical felon's wardrobe was terminally stuck in the seventies, then I'd say their fashion crimes might just tip the scales of justice against them."

"Oh, please," Doyle said. "Okay, look at it another way. What if Angel was to start goin' around, munchin' on the wicked? How'd you feel about that, then?"

"That's different," Cordelia responded, shaking her head and looking at Doyle as if he was an idiot--which is how she usually looked at him, but even more so at the moment. "Angel has a soul. He doesn't kill people, and he certainly doesn't eat them. Any more."

"HA!" Doyle exclaimed. He turned to Angel, looking for support. "You see? She has a double standard!"

"I have many standards, you sad little Irish spaz, none of which you share or meet," Cordelia responded with an insincerely sweet smile.

"Neither of you are helping," Angel muttered impatiently as he pushed himself out of his chair and began to pace around his office. "I'm not sure what to do with these vampires. I'm not even sure if I believe them."

"I hear ya," Doyle remarked. "Soulless vampires, wanting to do good? Is that even possible? Did they explain how this sudden change of their unbeatin' hearts came about?"

Angel shrugged. "Their leader, John, said he ate a priest a few months ago, and claims some of the man's...essence...flowed into him. He turned his back on evil, and found some other vampires and convinced them to do the same."

"What, by chowing down on a holy man?" Cordelia asked. "Maybe you should have tried that."

"It's not supposed to work that way!" Angel protested. "I mean, I killed scores of priests and nuns, and I never..." He glanced at Cordelia and Doyle, both of whom were looking at him with distaste and no small amount of shock. "Okay...too much information, huh?" he said quietly.

"Thanks for the reminder that I work for an evil undead psychopath," Cordelia answered sharply. "Between that and the mochacinno body rub, I'm having a great day."

"So what are gonna do about 'em?" Doyle asked Angel, anxious to change the subject, but Cordelia had already turned on her heel and returned to the front office, walking by him without so much as a glance to acknowledge his existence.

"I suppose I'll take them at their word for now," Angel said quietly. "They did ask me to guide them, seeing as how I have a soul and all. Maybe..." he said, pausing as he frowned, "maybe that's why you had the vision, why the Powers sent me to find them. Maybe they can be allies."

"And about time, too!" Doyle said. "We could use some. Collecting enemies--especially powerful and dangerous ones--is turnin' into a real unhealthy hobby o' yours."

"Thanks for the pep talk, Doyle," Angel muttered.

Later that night, Alonzo Lopez was running for his life.

Strangely, he wasn't afraid of death. He'd never expected to live long; at least half of his childhood friends were already dead. Poor, young Latino males in East L.A. often had a short life expectancy. Alonzo had managed to steer clear of drugs for the most part--well, he didn't take drugs, at least, his momma would have killed him herself if he had. But he'd always expected to go die young. He even looked forward to it. He imagined himself going down fighting, his handgun blazing gloriously at one end or another of a drive-by shootout. He'd expected to have the sort of death they rave on about in the 'hood for years afterwards.

That wasn't the sort of death he was facing now, not by a long shot. Which was why he was running. Running from the monsters. Their pursuit had tapped into some dark, primordial fear within Alonzo. So he ran.

He hadn't run at first. He'd emptied a full clip into several of them, and it had barely slowed them down. They were gaining on him now, chasing him down a dark, abandoned alley. He could hear their snarls and growls echoing off the high brick walls around him. He chanced a look back over his shoulder. The ambient light of the city hit their faces, and for a moment he could see their hideous, bulbous foreheads. He'd been close enough at one point to see their eyes, their horrible red eyes that glowed like some big huge mutant cat out of some frickin' monster movie. And the teeth. No, the fangs.

He'd never seen vampires before that night, hadn't thought they were real since he was twelve, but somewhere deep inside him, Alonzo knew that was what these creatures were. Except they didn't waltz around in a tuxedo and a cape like the guy in that old movie. No, they moved fast--too fast--and they were more like animals than human beings. They'd approached him and glowered and snarled like a pack of feral dogs. Alonzo and his brother had been chased by a pack of wild city dogs once, years ago. This was worse.

He rounded a corner, still running full-tilt, his arms pumping, sweat running down his face and back and staining his sleeveless grey t-shirt. The alley was a dead end. But he didn't stop. There was a chain-link fence at the end. Alonzo had known it was there; this was his 'hood, he knew it like the back of his hand, hell, better. Over the fence. Around a corner. Up a fire escape. Lose them on the rooftops. Then he'd be safe. He just had to get over the fence, let it slow them down...

He jumped and hit the chain-link fence at full speed, his fingers grasping desperately at the thick gauge wire. He propelled himself upwards. He could hear the monsters' footfalls getting closer. He willed himself not to look back, to focus on climbing. He reached the top of the fence. He pushed himself over the top, felt the sharp end of one of the links cut into his belly, ignored the pain.

Something grabbed his ankle. Alonzo shrieked. He shook his foot frantically, panicking. Not now, I'm almost there! But he couldn't shake the creature's grip loose. Another hand--no, a claw, these things didn't have hands--grabbed his pant leg, then another one grabbed his free leg. They pulled him down, dragged him off the top of the fence. He fell back onto the pavement, still in their grip. The other monsters descended on him, grabbing his limbs as he writhed and struggled like some prey animal in the grip of a pack of wolves, but it did him no good.

"Struggle no more, evil-doer," one of the monsters ordered him, but though Alonzo stared wild-eyed at the tall, slender vampire who had spoken to him, he did not stop fighting. He screamed angrily, tried to get one of his limbs free, but the creatures held him fast.

Their leader drew back his hand and backhanded the struggling human with tremendous force. Alonzo's head whipped to one side, blood spraying from his split lip. The vampires gasped and snarled hungrily at the sight of his blood. The force of the blow made Alonzo cease his ineffectual struggling. Dazed, he turned his head back to look at the vampire who had just struck him.

"You sell poison to your fellow humans," the lead vampire declared solemnly, his fanged mouth twisted in disgust, "including children."

"H-hey, bro'," Alonzo said, his voice shaking with fear as he attempted to reason with these creatures. "It's nothing, just a li'l blow. Hey, you want me to stop? I'll stop, scout's honor, man!"

"It is too late for that," the lead vampire declared. "You have committed evil and must be punished."

The lead vampire snarled, baring his fangs, then knelt down and bit into the captive drug dealer's throat. Alonzo screamed as he felt the vampire tear open his jugular, then whimpered as his compatriots joined in, biting at his neck, his shoulders, his wrists. He could feel his blood, his life, being sucked out of him as his body grew limp.

As his eyes rolled back into his head and his spirit left him, Alonzo Lopez realized he had but one regret: his girlfriend Theresa, he'd found out just that week, was pregnant. He'd never get to see the child. His last thought was a silent prayer to the Virgin Mary that it would be a girl. Girls had it tough in the 'hood too, but at least they usually lived longer.