Disclaimer: "Angel", along with all related characters and concepts, was created by Joss Whedon and Co., so they don't belong to me, while "Charmed" characters and concepts belong to Constance M Burge. Anyway, enjoy
Feedback: As always, I'd appreciate it
The Love of a Vampire
As he staggered into the office- he couldn't move his legs as much as he liked, and his arms hurt if he moved them too much as well, but at least he was mobile and only needed one crutch-, Doyle was briefly anxious at the sight of an empty room, but then he noticed a brief note on the desk and picked it up.
"'Checking up a lead'," he said, reading the note with a brief shrug before he sighed in frustration. "So much for that..."
He thought about calling Piper or Phoebe for information now that he was here, but quickly decided against it; with the Halliwells and Angel Investigations starting to develop their own particular 'niches' when it came to supernatural investigations, Angel and Paige didn't always 'check in' to alert Paige's sisters as to what they were up to, and as much as he was touched by Piper's decision to use his name for her son's middle names, he didn't feel like he was quite close enough to drop in on them in his current condition.
With no other options available, Doyle decided to head downstairs to wait for his friends; it might be possible for him to just wait in the office, but considering that the door had been locked before he got here, it wasn't like they had been expecting to deal with any clients for the moment- they weren't exactly big enough as an agency to take responsibility for multiple clients at the same time-, and even if he had felt comfortable doing something like that, his current state of injury didn't exactly present a positive impression to possible clients. Walking down the stairs to find a more comfortable place to wait, the half-demon walked into Angel's apartment, only to find himself looking at a slightly ruddy-faced demon with short horns and a high forehead, looking surprisingly casual as he sat in the vampire's base.
"What the-?" he said, looking in confusion at the new resident.
"Oh, you one of the other guys here?" the demon said, looking at him with a slight smile, his manner so casual that Doyle almost immediately ruled out the possibility of his presence here being malicious; he was too friendly for someone who thought they shouldn't be here, no matter what he was capable of.
"Uh... yeah," Doyle asked, looking uncertainly at the other demon. "So... you are?"
"Oh, I'm Barney," the new arrival said, smiling politely at him. "I came here for some help, and your... boss?"
"If that's Angel you're talking about, then yeah, he's my boss," Doyle nodded. "Tackling your case, I guess?"
"More like finding out what's trying to kill me, but yeah," Barney replied, looking him over with a thoughtful stare once again. "So... what happened to you?"
"Just had a bad encounter with a bunch of psychos who didn't like what we were trying to do," Doyle said, shrugging dismissively at the question; he didn't feel like sharing the specifics with someone he'd only just met. "Hazard of the job; you know how it us."
"I don't, but I'll take your word for it," Barney said, smiling briefly at Doyle as the Irish man slowly walked over to the nearest chair and sat down, leaving his crutch against the side of the chair as he settled into position.
Stuck for alternatives- even after spending the last few months with Angel, talking with other demons was always an awkward experience for him, and he wasn't in good enough shape to try and change that now-, Doyle picked up a pad of paper and began to idly sketch the object he'd seen in his vision; it might take a while to put it all together, but maybe if he could figure out what he was seeing in that vision he'd be able to help his friends find whatever they were looking for here...
"So, this is your office?" Wesley asked, looking at the room with a thoughtful expression as he took it in, evidently trying to find the right way to say what he really thought of it. "It's..."
"Basic?" Paige said, shrugging at the ex-Watcher's assessment. "We tend to keep most of the stuff related to our... speciality... downstairs; can't have our more conventional clients freaking out at the occult stuff, after all."
"Quite," Wesley said, nodding in understanding with a slight smile. "And... what inspired you to start this kind of career in the first place?"
"Vampires killed my family," Angel replied simply, going with the honest answer that didn't reveal his true nature.
"And I'm a witch," Paige said; if Wesley had once belonged to a demon-hunting organisation, they didn't want to give him any reason to realise who Angel was before he'd had a chance to see that Angel wasn't the same person as Angelus. "Angel gave me some help after my half-sisters told me about my powers, gave me a few pointers on how to use them properly and how to deal with some of things I ended up facing, and, after a few... incidents..., we decided that opening this agency was the best way for us to get a public reason for helping people."
"Oh," Wesley said, nodding in understanding. "So... it's just you two?"
"Well, my sisters help sometimes, and we have a seer whose visions alert us to who we need to help, but..." Paige began, before she heard a knocking from the door leading to Angel's apartment, as though someone was trying to climb the stairs. For a moment the three of them shifted into a combat stance- although Paige tried not to chuckle at the sight of Wesley wincing as he did so; evidently those pants weren't exactly comfortable-, but then the source of the knocking opened the door and revealed itself, prompting Angel and Paige to relax.
"Doyle?" Angel said, looking at the Irish seer in surprise as his friend stood at the top of the stairs leading down to his flat, swaying slightly on his crutches. "What are you doing here?"
"Had a vision," Doyle said, wincing as he walked through the door, Angel hurrying over to help him into the nearest chair. "I lost my phone during the crap with the Beacon, didn't have any of your numbers available and couldn't remember 'em, and figured that coming here would be the best way to get anywhere."
"You had a vision?" Angel asked, looking curiously at his friend as Doyle settled back into his chair, assuming a relatively comfortable position. "What was it?"
"Uh... that's where it becomes a bit trickier," Doyle said, before his gaze shifted to look at Wesley, who was studying him curiously. "And who's this guy?"
"Wesley Wyndam-Pryce, rogue demon hunter," Wesley replied, nodding firmly at Doyle. "And you are?"
"Doyle, resident seer; I help these guys gather info," the other man replied- he'd obviously mentioned the visions in Wesley's presence already, so acknowledging them only made sense-, nodding briefly at the ex-Watcher in acknowledgement of his introduction. "Working with us on this one?"
"A lone wolf, such as myself, never works with anyone," Wesley replied, drawing himself up as though trying to appear more imposing. "I'm merely allowing Angel to assist me."
"Right..." Doyle said, his tone making his scepticism of that assessment obvious.
"Look," Angel said, holding up his hands and stepping between the two men before the potential argument could go any further, "I've got my research books downstairs; let's just... see what we can find about that thing and work out our next move from there, OK?"
"Oh, by the way," Paige asked, looking over at her friend, "is Barney-?"
"The guy's still down there," Doyle replied, nodding at her as he got back to his feet, grabbing his crutches. "Chatted a bit earlier, but I heard movement an' wanted to be sure you were OK."
"Are you?" Wesley asked, looking uncertainly at Doyle. "You seem to be... well, you've obviously-"
"Price you pay for turning off an anti-human weapon created by the demonic Nazi party while you're on it," Doyle said, as he began to follow Angel down the stairs, Wesley close behind him while Paige brought up the rear, allowing her to ensure that one of them was always keeping an eye on Wesley; they could only trust their new acquaintance so far, given his past and Angel's own non-human nature.
"Hey," Barney's voice said, the other demon walking up the stairs, looking curiously around the upper room. "You got any idea where the- you?!" he said, staring at Wesley in shock before he turned to look at Angel. "Hold on; you brought him here? That's the guy who's after me!"
"Actually, we've been talking with him, and there's... been a misunderstanding," Angel said, looking apologetically at their client. "Apparently, there's this thing- we're not sure what it is, but we're going to look that up- that's been hunting anything with particularly unique powers or abilities."
"Yeah," Paige added, patting Wesley casually on the shoulder. "Wesley here was tracking the thing in question, and since it was after you- and is apparently a lot better at hiding than you are, not that I'm meaning any offence-, you just thought he was after you instead."
"Oh," Barney said, looking uncertainly at them for a moment before deciding to look at Angel. "So what you're telling me is that all this time your friend wasn't hunting me, he was hunting something else that was hunting me?"
"He's... well, that's pretty much it, yeah," Angel said, deciding not to mention that Wesley was just a casual acquaintance at best; getting into that kind of fine detail wasn't really necessary right now, and would only make things more complicated.
"And that other thing wanted to steal my ability?" Barney asked, looking at the vampire curiously.
"Yeah, come to that, why would a demon steal the powers of other demons?" Paige asked. "I mean, warlocks going after witches made sense, but surely the demons can't just take powers like that; I'd think Cole would have mentioned if something like that was possible..."
"OK," Angel said, looking firmly around at his temporarily-expanded team. "Wesley and I will see what we can find out about that thing that attacked us; Doyle, you and Paige see if you can figure out what you saw in that vision."
"Vision?" Barney repeated, looking at Doyle curiously as Angel and Wesley headed downstairs to Angel's apartment.
"Yeah, I get visions; so what?" Doyle said, glaring briefly at the demon as he rubbed at his head. "Right now, all it gets me is more pain on top of the agony in the rest of my body, and that's before you take the fact that I don't know what I'm lookin' at right now into account..."
"If this is anything close to accurate, I'm not surprised," Paige said, picking up the paper that Doyle had been using to make a sketch and studying it. "I mean, I've heard of abstract art, but what is this even meant to be?"
"If I knew that-" Doyle began, before Wesley let out a sudden exclamation, the Watcher hurrying back up the stairs with a smile.
"Got it!" he said, looking at the others as he held open a book that he'd been studying. "It's a Kungai."
"A what?" Paige asked, looking at the Englishman in confusion. "How'd you find that so quickly?"
"I tracked it through an Asiantown district earlier; checking something native to that region seemed like a logical place to start my search," Wesley clarified, before he placed the book on the desk so that he could show the picture to the rest of them. "In any case, according to this, the Kungai are a powerful race of demons, possessing a Tak horn, capable of consuming its opponents' life force-"
"Hold on; a horn?" Paige said, looking at Wesley in surprise. "I don't recall that thing having a horn..."
"Maybe it retracts the horn when it's not ready to use it or something; can you just find it before it gets me?" Barney asked, looking at the three 'detectives' and the demon hunter in anxious desperation. "I've heard about these guys, and they really don't mess around..."
"We'll get it," Angel said, nodding at Barney before he looked at Wesley. "You said that you tracked it through Asiantown; could you use that to work out where it might go if it needed to recover?"
"You don't know the locations yourself?" Wesley said, looking at Angel in surprise. "I thought you were-"
"We generally tackle more... mystical demons," Angel clarified, looking briefly awkward at having to admit this particular shortcoming. "We've been branching out, but since our more usual enemies don't tend to spend much time on Earth- Paige was hunting demons with her family before we started dating, and I was mostly under the radar before then-, we're not as used to tracking them down yet; any insight you've got to offer in searching for this thing would be appreciated."
He might not know much about the circumstances that had led Wesley to leave the Council after his Slayer's death, but the fact that Wesley had managed to track this thing as far as Barney had implied was definitely a point in his favour.
Besides, as much as he wanted to help their client, they did have a vision to consult on as well, and if they wanted to establish themselves as a business without relying exclusively on Piper and Phoebe for additional back-up, they were going to have to make a start.
"Paige, Doyle, stay here to keep an eye on Barney and see what you can work out about the vision," he said, nodding briefly at his girlfriend and his friend. "Wes, you're with me; we're going to find that thing and stop it."
"Understood," Wesley said, turning around to follow Angel, only to pause with a slight wince that Angel definitely didn't want to consider the cause of...
The guy might be a useful potential source of demon-related information, but he really needed to change his wardrobe if he was going to get anywhere stealthily.
"Damnit!" Paige said, throwing her pencil down as she stared at the latest scrawled attempt to duplicate what Doyle had seen in his vision. "Why can't these Powers that Be just send us the message?"
"That's kinda what they did-" Doyle began, the Irish demon currently lying on the sofa in Angel's flat so that he could be reasonably comfortable without putting too much strain on his still-damaged limbs.
"I mean a relevant message!" Paige said, glaring over at Doyle as she angrily tore her latest drawing off the pad and hurled it into the nearest bin. "OK, I get that your visions come from a 'higher source' that may just have trouble relating things on a level we'd understand, but would it be asking too much for them to give us a goddamn address?"
"Higher source?" Barney repeated, looking at Doyle in confusion. "What does that mean?"
"If you're asking for a list of the differences between the different types of seers out there, you're askin' the wrong guy; all I know is that I get blindin' headaches whenever I see anythin' this way, which as I said doesn't help the rest," Doyle said, wincing as he indicated the rest of his body.
"And you see... what?" Barney asked.
"People in trouble, places where trouble will be, things that will cause trouble if we don't destroy them or contain them... you get the drill," Doyle said as he lay back on the chair. "Sucks, but someone's gotta have 'em for Angel, I guess."
"Yeah..." Barney said, nodding as he looked at Doyle, a slightly thoughtful gleam in his eye that vanished before Paige could really think about it.
Walking through the demon spa, Angel tried to resist his natural urge to 'freak out' in this kind of situation; with San Francisco a veritable hub for demonic mystics, he hadn't encountered many physical demons since he'd first come here with Whistler, but now that he was in this place he was constantly resisting the vampiric urge to 'panic' and lash out before the stronger predators attacked him. Having Wesley alongside him- the man had taken a brief detour to change into a more practical and manoeuvrable white suit rather than his earlier black leather- was helping him maintain his calm by reminding him that he couldn't afford to vamp out and waste time explaining his situation to Wesley, but after so long dealing with creatures where it would be acceptable to give in to his natural urges and kill them, it wasn't easy to turn that off...
Still, at least searching this place hadn't been that difficult. A few bills slipped into the hand of the owner had soothed any initial objections he might have had to Angel and Wesley's investigation interrupting his clients, and from there they'd quickly been directed to the relevant cubicle containing the Kungai they were looking for with minimal hassle; the spa itself was relatively straightforward inside, if you ignored the fact that the clients were demons.
It was only when Angel had walked into the room, Wesley behind him, and found himself looking at the Kungai lying on a table, surrouned by various bottles, with an old woman apparently mopping its brow as it gasped for breath, that he realised just how complicated this situation was; even before the woman had told him that the Kungai was dying, it was clear that the creature was far from healthy.
"What's up with this thing?" Angel said, almost wincing as he looked at the weakened demon lying on the table; the Kungai might not be the most pleasant of demons, but even if nothing deserved to die in such obviously drawn-out pain, that still left the question of what could do something like that in the first place. As he leaned over, the creature suddenly reached up to grab his arm, but even without the creature's weakness, the pleading tone in its voice surpassed Angel's ignorance of its language as it looked at him with rapidly-fading urgency.
"I'm... I'm sorry," Angel said, barely even registering how strange it was to feel embarrassed that he couldn't understand something that had been attacking him earlier. "I don't speak your language."
"I do," Wesley said, looking solemnly at the creature as he walked around the table to stand opposite Angel. "At least, I think I recognise the dialect."
"Great," Angel said, smiling briefly at the ex-Watcher, making another brief addition to the known list of Wesley's skills. "What's he saying?"
"It's... odd," Wesley said, looking uncertainly at the Kungai. "I didn't think we'd injured him that badly..."
"It wasn't the arrow," Angel said, indicating the creature's head, where a twisted protrusion of flesh and bone was all that remained of where the thing's horn should have been; they'd been so caught up in the heat of battle earlier that they hadn't registered its absence. "Look; his Tak horn's been broken off."
As the Kungai weakly whispered, the occasional klick thrown in as it spoke, Wesley leaned over to listen to the creature's words.
"Not sick... not dying... No horn," he said, after listening to its words for a few moments. "I think he's trying to tell us that his horn was taken."
"We know that," Angel said, glaring at the Watcher, his opinion slightly lowering at the other man's ability to state the obvious. "The question is by whom?"
"The horn was taken," Wesley said, pausing to listen for a few more words before looking up at Angel. "He said his horn was taken for something, the Klu-(click)-ka... I'm not familiar with that word."
Shrugging apologetically, he turned back to the Kungai. "Yes. Fish. Fish will die. Not fish. More? He says more will die."
"Yeah, OK; how?" Angel asked, glaring between Wesley and the demon; just because something was going after demons didn't mean that it didn't have to stopped. "Who's doing this?"
"No good losing patience," Wesley said, looking reproachfully at Angel. "He's dying and I'm not exactly fluent."
With that brief warning, he turned his attention back to the conversation with the dying demon, listening in confusion to the next few words as the demon stared weakly up at him. "Bit the cherry? Slam the cherry? Oh, no, oh dear. Stop. Stop the demon? Red... heart... reader."
With that last, ominous-sounding statement, the Kungai sunk back on to the bed, now clearly dead, leaving Angel and Wesley to exchange glances as they processed what they'd just been told.
"He was trying to describe his killer," Wesley said, looking up at Angel with a solemn expression that gave the vampire additional hope; regardless of his background, at least Wesley seemed to recognise the potential severity of this situation despite the fact that the only known death so far was a demon. "Demon, heart, reader."
"Empath demon," Angel said, his eyes widening in horrified realisation. "Barney."
They were not only harbouring a sociopathic monster- an empath capable of doing this kind of damage to another being clearly had serious issues-, but he'd left the thing alone with Doyle and Paige...