Disclaimer: gidgetgirl owns the challenge and plot; Josh Schwartz and Joss Whedon own the characters and situations.

The O.C.: The Pilot

Act One: Busted

Chino, California was drowning in a thick, disgusting smog that crept in every corner of the dirty city. The young light of the dawn's first few rays barely penetrated the veil, making the sun a hazy ball of diffused, scorching white light. The summer was nearing its close, but it wouldn't go down without a fight. Temperatures, even this early in the morning, were often compared to those in Hell, or at least Death Valley. And it was this kind of weather Angel loathed the most.

He squinted his dark brown eyes, holding his hand out in front of them to cast a shadow as he stealthily entered the emergency room of the local hospital, a rush of bitter cold air conditioning blasting in his face. The young man was tall, and quite pale; kept that way by his aversion of daylight. He was not one to be distinguished from the crowds around the area; he donned a black leather trench coat (though portable oven would've been a bit closer to the mark), a pair of dark pants below that, a scruffy look about him, and a long, purposeful stride as he marched past the woman chattering at the desk. Another thing Angel disliked thoroughly; hospitals. The overpowering smell of ammonia and other sterilizers, and the presence of death and pain and fright… it was probably one of the most horrible experiences he could conceive of. Living here. Breathing in this whole place. But pondering what an appalling hospital this was wasn't what he was here for.

Doctors and nurses for the most part ignored him as they rushed past, a few directing dark glares at him, but nothing more. Angel appeared to know exactly where he was going, what he was doing, even though it was his first time doing this. He just followed the poignant smell coming from a vacant hallway nearby. Taking a second glance for any of the employees, he then made a mad dash down the corridor, eyeing the door at the end of it closely. He shoved his hand in one of the coat's pockets, reveling a hairpin he'd stolen from his mother's private collection at home. Sometimes, the old tricks worked best.

He thrust the pin into the lock, twisting it and fiddling with it a few times before the door yielded. Angel felt an even colder gust of air strike his face as he entered this room. It was a giant refrigerator, withholding what he wanted—needed—to survive. Packets of labeled blood surrounded him, like little pints of Hagaan Das ice cream calling his name. He forced quite a few into his jacket pockets, and beneath the leather. He salivated; taking in the sweet aroma he'd barely gotten acquainted with, when—

"Hands up!"

Three men in police uniforms stood stoic in the doorway, pointing their revolvers at him.

Angel stooped in the corner of his cell, staring at his fingers drumming the reinforced walls with a soft rhythm that seemed to block out all other sounds. He was fed up with just sitting here, waiting for his mother to show up and take him out of here. He was mistaken; there was a place worse than a hospital, and it was the Orange County jail.

It's not like he hadn't ever been in a penitentiary before; he'd just never been an inmate. He lied to the cops, claiming that he was stealing syringes. It made sense, much more sense that a drugged-up kid was pocketing needles rather than some precious Red Cross blood. What would they say if they knew the truth? Would they think he was some kind of cannibal? In a way, he was, but that was beside the point. He couldn't really help with his 'condition'… but the law enforcement wouldn't understand… or, for that matter, believe him.

One from the troupe of security workers unlocked the barred cell door, allowing Angel out. For a moment, he just stared pensively at the guard, then at his companion. A forty-something man with dark hair, icy blue eyes, and enormous eyebrows, dressed in a casual, yet work appropriate outfit. "You must be Angel Atwood," he greeted warmly as Angel forced himself off of the floor, a bit shocked. "I'm Sandy Cohen." He introduced politely, holding out a hand to shake. Angel tentatively and silently took it. "And the court's appointed me your public defender," He explained as the ambled past more cellblocks. "Since you're under eighteen—"

"I'll—Sunday'll freak," Angel whispered.

"Sunday?" Sandy repeated, raising his highly conspicuous eyebrows. "Oh, your mother, right." Angel's eyes darted to avoid Sandy's as the senior of the two continued. "Angel, look, I can plea this down to a misdemeanor. Petty fine, probation. But know this: stealing needles—I admit I don't know you too well, but I know you're much smarter than that."

"Oh," Angel shot back, his voice harsh. "Mind trying to prove that?"

"God, do I even need to talk about your SAT scores? They're amazing," he praised. "Do you have some kind of future in mind, because with this," Sandy produced a file holding the tests and his permanent record. "You've certainly got a lot of options."

"A person like me has no future," Angel insisted. "You wouldn't understand."

"I would. You, me, we're actually not that different; bad home life, no money…" Sandy trailed off, observing Angel curiously. "I know that the shit's being tossed into your fan… but if you didn't notice, I'm on your side."

He paused, as the neared the exit, making a gesture to stop. "If you need any help—" he placed a card in Angel's palm. "You've got my number."

The teen nodded. "Thanks."

"Don't hesitate to call if there's a problem."

Angel bobbed his head again. As soon as Sandy was out of sight, he sighed and sauntered down the street to his mother's car. Directing his anger at the hot sun for beating down on him with more vigor than usual, he continued on, recalling that this was just a normal thing for him. It wasn't like he was going to burst into a lick of pyre, like most of the pureblooded of his kind would, but sunshine bothered him and hurt his sensitive eyes. It also came with the broody package, so his hate of the sun was in excess.

A pale woman with skin to match her whitish-blonde hair sat behind the wheel, dressed in a veil that made her look middle eastern, hissing in an inaudible voice, "Do you know how much I had to do about this, Angel?"

When she didn't receive an answer, she continued in a loud, harsh whisper, "I was steaming! Literally! I'm surprised I didn't just explode into flames; it's, like, over a hundred degrees out there!" she paused, eyeing the teenager curiously. "Angel, are you even listening to me?"

"Yeah," he replied quietly. "Though I'd rather not."

She transmitted a glare in his direction. "I'm tired of this," she stated poisonously. "One of these days, we're going to get caught, and—we—"

"What?" Angel retorted under his breath. "They're going to capture us? Put us on a pedestal and label us 'Sunday and Angel: teenage bloodsucking extraordinaires'? Well, this is your problem. You were the one who decided to become one of the living dead while you had me!"

Sunday gave the impression of being hurt, like she'd recently taped her tongue to the wall. But even more so, she was shocked that Angel had actually spoken up, and against her. "Well," she replied icily. "I'll get you out of here, but you're not coming to crash at our place anymore."

He radiated an even more threatening glare as she drove a few blocks, then opened the door on his side, and with her vampiric strength, tossed him out like a rag doll against the pavement. The car skidded away with a throbbing squeal, leaving Angel with a scrape across his jaw, and, more importantly, nowhere to go.

"Don't hesitate to call if there's a problem."

The small lump in his pocket seemed determined to make itself known. Angel grabbed the business card out of there, and took off to the nearby pay phone at the street corner.