Pain washes through him. He can't even think; the only thing he's aware of is heat, hotter than the sun, white-hot pain inside, outside, pouring off of him. There's a dull roar, screams he realizes but he can't make out any words. All he can see is gray and he can't decide whether it's the street or the sky; he can't focus. He tries to move and this time the pain is sharp, a knife cutting his body in half. The gray darkens into a black void.
He blinks rapidly, trying to make sense of the white walls, white bed, white ceiling that surrounds him but his pounding head is barely able to process anything. He tries to move but winds up groaning as his body refuses to obey. Instantly, a woman in white is by his side, smiling but he can read the shock in her eyes.
"You're awake. That's wonderful."
None of this is making any sense and once again he tries to lift his unresponsive body out of the bed. "Sir, you can't do that. You'll injure yourself." There is an edge of no nonsense about her as she speaks. "You've just had major surgery."
Surgery. He looks down and realizes his chest and arms have a variety of tubes and wires attached to them and that a small army of blinking, beeping machines stand at the head of the bed. His eyes open wide in panic and suddenly he's gasping for breath. He barely registers that the nurse has moved swiftly to his side and in a moment, he's breathing regularly again. "What's going on? How am I here?"
"I'll have the doctor come right in."
The doctor is in his fifties, graying temples, expensive suit, professional demeanor, kind face. Marcus Welby come to life. "Well young man, I'd say you were born under a lucky star. Do you remember anything?"
The take down of the Black Thorn. The rip in the sky. An army of demons. "An…explosion?"
"Something like that. You were pretty much right at the center of things. We had to remove your spleen, do a little abdominal surgery. You also had a few broken bones but all in all, your survival is a miracle. A gift" The doctor hesitates for a moment and then plunges on. "You didn't have any ID on you. Do you have any family we could contact?"
My name is Angel. I'm a 251-year-old vampire. I died when I was 26. And now I'm alive again. "I don't remember much of anything. Not even my name."
The doctor looks at him closely for a moment, a more interesting specimen than usual. "You've been through a major shock. Your memory should be returning in a couple of days."
He finds out to his dismay that he'll be hospitalized for at least two more weeks; gut wounds are hell on the body. On his third day of consciousness he turns on the TV, more out of boredom than any actual desire to watch. The reporter stands in the middle of a street that looks like a war zone. "Hundreds still missing and presumed dead due to the terrorist attack in downtown LA." The stench of vomit lingers long after the nurse baths him and changes all the bedclothes.
The first bouquet arrives on his eighth day in bed. He doesn't understand it, until the nurse informs him that he's a celebrity. The only survivor within the two-mile epicenter. Coupled with his amnesia, he's big news. He wants to vomit again but he pushes down the nausea. No survivors. Murderer is his only thought.
Three and a half weeks later, he's finally released. His room looks like a sweet sixteen party on steroids; every surface is covered with flowers, balloons, stuffed animals. He leaves all of it behind. He 's relieved and shamed in equal measure when he's told that all hospital and doctor services were donated. The billing clerk hands him an envelope as he signs a seemingly endless array of papers with his current moniker of John Doe. It seems that flowers and trinkets aren't the only things people have been sending. He tells the woman to just give the money to charity but she points out that he still doesn't know who he is and until then, he'll need cash to get by. He feels even worse, but he can't deny that he needs the money and gratefully accepts the envelope.
He's already in the taxi when he realizes that he has no place to go. He asks the driver to take him to any clean, inexpensive motel. The short walk down the corridor and out the door of the hospital has left him exhausted and by the time he finishes checking in, collapsing on the bed and falling asleep is all he can accomplish.
When he wakes he considers calling England and then, just as quickly, discards the idea. They were right not to trust him. On his best day, he had never killed more than fifty in a single night. The current death toll estimate is close to two thousand.
He finds a local grocery that's willing to deliver and orders twenty-five dollars worth of canned soup and a can opener. The food is just as tasteless as when he was a vampire, but he needs to keep his strength up and so he chokes it down, three times a day.
His body hurts all the time, the angry, raised red scars that criss-cross his abdomen ache and pull. Every time he coughs, it's a punch to the solar plexus and he moans with the pain, even as he welcomes the burn.
As soon as he's strong enough, he has a taxi take him to one of the seedier areas of the city. He pays extra for the man to wait as he walks in with feigned confidence, One thousand dollars later, he has a birth certificate, a social security card and a driver's license. More importantly, the government thinks it issued them all. The violet hued demon didn't even blink (or perhaps it didn't need to, he's not that familiar with this particular breed) at his request and the only hitch is when he's asked for his name. Angel is just as dead as Liam and Angelus are, and it takes him a moment. He gives a thin-lipped smile as he spells it out.
Another four weeks pass before he ventures out again. He buys an '82 beater, and as he drives it off the lot it's one of the few times he's ever been nostalgic for Wolfram and Hart. Two nights later he drives it to the east side of town. He parks the car and heads into the bar. It's still early, but the place is already doing a booming business. He counts six vampires, two skitwart demons, four knaj'das and something that looks like a large daisy playing pool. Nobody pays him any mind, likely assuming that a human who appears as unfazed as he is can hold his own. Besides, bartenders the world over prefer to avoid trouble in their own establishments. He goes to each patron in turn, asking if they've heard any recent news regarding Spike or Illyria. He doesn't get any positive information.
He goes out every night, always to a different place. Sometime, if the vampires present are old enough, they know who Spike is. Sometimes he describes them to the various patrons. Sometimes he makes a quick sketch on a borrowed cocktail napkin. The answer is always the same. There has been no word of either of them since that day.
On the one hundred twenty-second day, he stays in.