The End of The Beginning

Disclaimer : BTVS and Angel belong to the Great, Munificent Joss Whedon! I'm not doing this for money, fame, or fortune (more's the pity) but I am doing this for the recognition of my peers, peons, and loyal subjects. Side note: I started this story quite some time ago with my, now, ex-wife. I like this story so I am re-writing it, re-naming it, and re-posting it. Okay, this is why I need to be more patient with my posts. My Muse didn't like this posting so, to appease my muse I have slightly re-written it. I've added to it as well, both the first and second chapter. Please let me know what you think so I can get my Muse off my back and continue on with the story!

The city goes by many names. Los Angeles. L.A.. Or if one prefers, The City of Angels. The second largest city in the United States, behind only New York, has it all. New modern skyscrapers surrounded by older decadent buildings. L.A. is a City-that-never-sleeps as the Entertainment Industry is one of its main atractions. Someone is always filming something in and around Los Angeles' picturesque landscapes. From Vendome street where Stan and Ollie tried to move a piano up a staircase on the side of a hill, out to the Fox Plaza in Century City where John McClain waged a one-man war with Terrorist-slash-Thieves. People from far and wide travel daily to L.A. to become movie stars. Not everyone makes it though.

This particular evening storm clouds gather threatening to deluge the area with the onset of night. In an alley behind a hotel that has seen better days a group of beings begin to gather despite the weather. Or because of it. These beings also come from far and wide. They are not here, however; to become movie stars or to make a movie. In this city where someone could be found on just about every block this one in particular was curiously empty of passerby's.

The air was rife with a sense of foreboding. Rat's and squirrels scurried about close to buildings and their nests as if too frightened to go to far afield. In one apartment building doors slammed as a family of came bursting out to their mini-van. Yelling could be heard punctuated by curses and a baby screaming fit to burst eardrums. Then, a squeal of well-used tires, and the mini-van lit out of there as if the hounds of hell were on it's tail. Actually, a couple of hell-hounds did try to run it down but their masters called them back.

Yes, an army gathered. Ready and most willing to commit acts of mayhem and aggression. The demons, vampires, and monsters readied themselves and their weapons. Every so often one or another would look up to the horizon noting just how much closer the sun had sunk to the horizon as dusk fell on the City of Angels. They grinned, growled, and some even purred as the sky deepened to black. The Army of the Blackthorn was about to be unleashed.
Heaven help anyone who stood in their way.

Later, in that same alley.

"Tell me again how we're supposed to fight these demons off?" Spike's complained loudly amidst the clang and thunk of the demon army around him. Swishing through the air his sword slice through the neck of the demon nearest him, the severed head flying off in the opposite direction. Tirelessly he snatched the one that resembled a monkey crawling up his back. After snapping its neck, he implored, "Got any more brilliant ideas, oh great one?"

Angel fought against the horde with his back to Spike doing his best to ignore his GrandChilde. But finally couldn't resist. In between punches and sword strokes he called out, "Oh come on, aren't you supposed to be 'All Champion of the People' …where's the champion now?"

"Well maybe I was, but not anymore." Spike yelled in return, "I'm just trying to survive like any other normal bloke." He took the head off a slimy green demon in one quick slice. The severed head thudded to the ground like a ripe watermelon. His blade flashed and sparked in the dim light as he mowed down his enemies.

"Now, that's some thing we have in common…neither of us will ever be normal." Angel remarked.

Fighting side by side with the members of his team in the Hyperion Alley, Angel studied the mess in front of them. He knew they could not take on all these demons one by one. Especially with Wesley gone and Gunn near death but still managing to do what he could. Angel, Illyria and Spike were the only ones left strong enough to endure this driving force raining down upon them.

The dragon screeched impotently above trying to get into the alleyway. Angel kept a close eye on it while struggling to survive the melee and assist Gunn. Occasionally he would throw a weapon from a downed demon to keep the dragon at bay. Illyria simply crushed the monsters; an unstoppable juggernaut. Demons all around her were de-spined and pulped. Spike seemed to be the only one having a "grand ol' time". Gleefully welcoming the onslaught he invited, "You want some more of me? Well come and get it you sops!"

The heroes trudged over a battleground of blood and carnage. The stench of putrid death, floating through the air. Demon blood spilled by the gallon. Bones breaking echoed mutely through the narrow pathway. Though they did not give ground they hadn't gained any either. The demons milled by the hundreds, maybe even thousands, yet were funneled to a dozen abreast by the alley and surrounding buildings. It seemed what little they were doing just wasn't enough. Thankfully the rain held the dragon's fire from desecrating them. Angel couldn't decide if that was a good thing or not.

Suddenly, a blood-curdling scream escaped Gunn as he fell to his knees. Angel raced to the mortals side. Slamming bodily into a "ubervamp" Angel knocked it away and decapitated the monster that had been about to bite Gunn . It disintegrated; rain washing the ashes away into the darkness. Released, Gunn fell face first to the ground, blood trickling from his neck. Angel helped him to his feet noticing that the wound on Gunn's torso was again opened.

Ripping his own shirt off Angel did the best he could to stop the bleeding. It was hard to tell Gunns blood from the Demon and Vampire blood covering him. Wrapping it around the abdominal wound he chose not to worry about the blood seeping from the slight laceration on Gunn's neck. He patted his friend on the shoulder making sure Gunn was aware and not falling into shock. "That ought to hold for now." Angel thought silently. "I'll be back soon my friend." He reassured Gunn.

"Take…take your time." Gunn's whisper was forced "I just need to rest." Gunn closed his eyes only intending to rest for a moment and instead passed out.
Looking around Angel searched for a cubbyhole, something to hide Gunn in. Angel needed to get the injured man out of sight if there was even the slightest chance that he could be saved. His eyes lit up espying a nearby Dumpster. He tucked Gunn out of the way as well as he could. Pulling a dumpster in front of him, blocking Gunn from sight.

Rejoining the fray thoughts, idea's, and tactics flew through Angel's mind. They had to get out of this mess. He knew he'd have to hold the demons at bay as long as possible. There just had to be a way to stop this madness! Angel wished Wesley were here, he'd know what to do. The en-souled Vampire felt all out of ideas and was coming up empty.

Facing the horde of demons descending upon them, Angel killed the ones nearest him. In a brief lull, the quiet rage simmered within his soul. He turned his face to feel the rain pour down from the heavens upon him. He watches as the horrid demons sniff into the night air, the winds carrying the scent of Gunn's blood through the light rain. He observes the demons with disgust as they smell Gunn, a man. Not just any man, but one he'd sworn to protect with his very life.

The anger within boiled over realizing he could smell the blood as well and remembered that he was no different than these savage beasts. A soul or not, the blood still called to him and his mouth salivated with hunger. His stomach churned in disgust and the beast within him rose. The man within unleashed that beast, no longer caring for his own survival. The only thing that mattered anymore was his friends, his family, and he'd defend him until the very last whisper of his soul.

Standing bare-chested against the now increasing rain, gripping the sword in both hands, he morphed into the aspect of the vampire within. Growling deep in his throat he stated to those within earshot, "Yes I can smell his blood too. But you can not, will not, have him! I will defend him until I draw my last unneeded breath." His eyes glowed yellow with rage in the night.

A vampire spoke out, "What is this human to you? Why defend him and face destruction against the likes of us? He is just one lone human, and you could survive this if you wished."

"Because he IS human and alive and most importantly he's my friend. That is something you will never understand. It's only over my ashes that you shall even taste his blood. Now, are you going to stand there and talk me to death? If not then come over here and get a piece of ME!"

The vampires rapidly charged him, eyes bright in blood-lust. With renewed vigor bestowed upon him by one lonely soul, Angel withstood the demons with all his might!

The next moment he sagged in exhausted relief as the horde of demons and vampires burst into flaming ashes. Looking up he saw row upon row of Slayers lining the roof tops surrounding the Alleyway. They were firing a multitude of weapons backed up by Giles and Willow throwing fireballs into the demon horde. Hearing a yell of "Oh Balls!" he watched Spike flying through the air without the greatest of ease. His GrandChilde crumpled to a heap at his feet while Illyria landed next to them.

"Illyria? Wha...?" Angel asked dumbfounded.

"Is this a private war or can anyone join?" he heard behind him.