Fire and Brimstone

"You disappoint me, you really do." A strangely familiar voice came out of the darkness that surrounded Angel, "You're basically told your part in The Infallible Plan, and you go and screw it up."

"What?" The vampire blinked, "Who is that?"

"Surely you remember me? I'm hurt Angelus, I am truly hurt. To my soul, if I had one."

"Where am I?"

"In what remains of your hotel: those demons really did a number on it. You should defiantly think about suing somebody." There was a chuckle, "Don't suppose you know a good lawyer?"

"I'd think that you knew most of them."

"Oh, so you finally remember me? That is good: I'd hate to think that someone who spent so much time in my company would so easily forget me. We had such fun together, didn't we, Angelus."

"Stop calling me that…"

"Or what? Do you really think that you can hurt me? You're little friends may call you Angel, but it's not a description."

"No, you're the one it applies to, only the phrase is fallen angel…"

"Now that was uncalled for, Angelus, it really was. I come all the way up here to personally give you yet another chance, and you insult me."

"I find it hard to trust someone who likes to be called the Prince of Lies."

"We all have out little nicknames, Scourge of Europe." A tall, dark figure moved amid the shadows, "You know, vampires are much easier to understand than humans: soul or no soul, you're still basically a demon on the inside. And you can normally predict how a demon is going to behave. But humans? Oh my, humans are infinitely more interesting."

"What is this; a sociology lesson?"

"Let me tell you a little story: there was once a man named Ezekiel Stone. He was a cop. When his wife was raped, he caught the guy who did it, and killed him. Two months later, he died. And as he had killed a man in cold blood, he went to Hell."

"Sounds just like your kind of guy."

"Oh he was. But he also served a purpose: A hundred and thirteen of the vilest creatures ever to walk the face of this little mud-ball you call a planet... escaped."

"Kind of puts a dent in your record."

"Nobody beats me; certainly not a mere human."

"I seem to remember reading somewhere that your brother kicked your ass…"

"That…was different: neither of us had a choice. But Stone did: if he could send all hundred and thirteen condemned souls back to me, he'd get a second chance at life."

"What's the matter: can't clean up your own mess?"

"There are rules, Angelus; you of all people should know that. I can not interfere directly, and neither can the…other side."

"So you use the Circle of the Black Thorn and the Senior Partners?"

"Believe me, there is nothing I would like more than to spend the rest of eternity slowly dismembering every single one of them again and again, but they are smart enough to hide somewhere I cannot go."

"So send your boy Stone, if he's so good."

"I'd love to, but he completed his allotted task, and thanks to my interfering brother, got his second chance. Unless he screws up again, something I very much doubt after spending fifteen earth years in my company, I have no hold over him. You, on the other hand, are not going to get any help from above after you got innocents killed. It's a question of my way, or the proverbial highway."

"What's in it for me? Are you going to intercede on my behalf with your old man?"

"Do you really think he'd listen to me after what I did? You can still fulfil your part of the plan, Angelus; you can still have your reward at the end."

"And owe it all to you? That makes even Hell seem appealing."

"No hell for you, not if you're a good boy and do as you're told this time round."

"So why are you telling me that? Why not one of your brothers?"

"Because you are, as I said, a demon. Thus you fall under my jurisdiction. It can be hell getting into heaven, but I assure you, from personal experience, that it is worth it."

"So that's it? I go back, follow the script like a good little boy, and get my reward at the end?"

"It's a possibility: you still have to survive the End of Days, and the final outcome is still undecided. But it is infinitely better than the alternative."

"Hell."

"For all eternity, with no chance of forgiveness. You messed with the Big Man's plans, Angelus; you can't do that without paying a price."

"Like working for you?"

"I have no interest in seeing Hell on Earth, unless I'm the one who rules it."

"Sounds like Hobbs Choice."

"Even Hobbs Choice is still a choice. Time's ticking Angelus; if you don't want the gig, I can always go ask your bottle-blond friend if he'd like a get-out-of-hell-free card…"

"I'll do it, damn you."

"Oh, I damned myself a very long time ago, never forget that."

"So, if I'm working for you, what do I call you? Light Bringer? Morning Star? The Adversary? Lucifer?"

"I have an acquaintance in this city who calls me Lou. I could stand for you to do the same without incinerating you."

"Well then, Lou, when do we begin?"

"We already have my dear Angelus, we already have…"

The End