Angel 0, Lap Computer 1 [Angel & Sam] "You know, you hire a secretary to take care of these things and apparently The City sees fit to make sure she's late for work." Angel talked to himself again. Thankfully there were no large, black birds nearby to mock him endlessly and the former vampire was mostly certain that the laptop was not sentient. Mostly.
The first task was to turn it on. He opened the case very slowly as if peering into the mouth of a very hungry alligator. The screen was blank.
"What was so wrong with typewriters? You push a button it puts a letter on the page. Much more tangible..." He continued to mutter to himself and started pushing buttons at random on the keyboard to see if it would do anything. Enter. Nothing happened. The long skinny key at the bottom of the tray. Again, nothing happened. Angel started pushing combinations of buttons. Still nothing.
His eyes narrowed as he became visibly frustrated with the twenty-first century. "...You take the paper out you put it in a file. No chatty rooms or instant mails, just plain good old fashioned..." The private investigator looked up in time to see Sam before he got anywhere near angry enough to pull out a battle axe. "Oh. Hello."
"Hi. You having some trouble?" Sam asked mildly. He sat down on an office chair, rolling it nearer to the former vampire with a little bit of difficulty. Fractured ribs were braced with tape on the skin, and though he probably would have been better off with his arm in a sling to keep it from colliding with the fragile bone, he just moved gingerly instead. He might need the use of his arm. Sam squinted at the screen, which proudly displayed the pale blue of the default wallpaper.
"I, uh, don't really do computers. Veronica was supposed to take care of the payroll. Which is in there." Angel poked at the screen with his index finger, as puzzled as he was fascinated, "Somewhere." He frowned.
"Oh yeah?" Sam looked at the empty screen a bit more. "They can be confusing. You want me to have a go?" He offered an open palm toward the screen, indicating his willingness.
"Someone born after the Great Depression would probably be better suited for this." Angel held his hands up and took a step back from the device, worried that if he looked at it wrong everything would collapse.
"Yeah. They say that people born into using computers have a kind of logical intuition about how they work, so it's easier." Sam rolled up to the desk and tapped a few keys expertly. Several windows popped up; he shuffled through them, tapped a few more keys faster than some people fired bullets, and finally opened up a box that was filled with rows and rows of other boxes, each with numbers. "This is it. Even dated. Looks like Veronica's organized. So how'd you get to be running a business without any of this? I'm assuming Angel Investigations hasn't been around since before the Depression."
"Making it into a business was Cordelia's idea. I just wanted to help people." Angel squinted at the numbers on the screen. Then he realized he was squinting. "...I think I need glasses." That was strange even for him to comprehend. Then again, Angel was used to having supernatural senses and he was still standing a fair distance from the computer. Without turning to make eye contact Angel asked, "So what'd you get in a fight with? I'm guessing sparring is out of the question. Fighting a mindless zombie is one thing, but I haven't had a whole lot of practice being human. Next time, huh?"
A flicker of movement said that Sam's eyes had come toward him and then gone back, assessing the question as well as Angel's expression and behavior. "Marine. He was kind of pissed when he woke up tied to a chair. Post-exorcism they're usually not so spry." Sam's smile curled sideways instead of up. He tapped a couple keys and the printer buzzed to life.
"Maybe next time you should bring a friend. I even know how to answer a cellphone." Angel shouldn't have sounded so proud of the fact, but he was. It was the opening voice mail part that tripped him up. "Wesley may not look it, but he's pretty capable himself." The scar on Wesley's neck tipped Angel to a fairly short span of time The City's Wesley could have come from. "That's sort of the advantage of being part of a team. You have teammates."
"Not used to that," Sam admitted. A partner, yeah, but not teammates. Angel was right, of course. He should have brought back up. Especially to an exorcism. Demons were dangerous if they were nothing else. Even with his problems with the suddenly-live-and-kicking Dean made going without the absent Ruby qualify as completely idiotic, bordering on semi-suicidal.
But he wasn't going to bring any new "team members" on any exorcisms when he was present. He didn't want the meaningful looks. He was just going to be another hunter... investigator... for a little while longer. Let them think he was just using Latin and holy water. Even after the zombie thing, Sam could hope they would just chalk it up to being undead.
"You know, you could get contacts. Nobody would have to know."
Angel, without meaning to, gave Sam a meaningful look. "Look, I don't know what you told Fred. It's none of my business. I don't know you and I don't know what your going through. What I do know is that you don't have to go through it alone and you alone shape your own destiny. Going through just former and current Angel Investigation members; Doyle, half-demon. Cordelia, became part demon. Wesley, kidnapped my son who ended up in a Hell dimension. Fred, ended up as an avatar for an ancient Hell demon. Gunn, ended up a vampire. Myself, former vampire and only part of that was with a soul. The point is, well I'm not really sure because I'm sort of just babbling right now, but I just wanted to clear the air. We don't have to talk about it again if you don't want to. And, the idea of sticking plastic on my eyes just sort of makes my stomach churn."
Sam stopped typing and blinked at his employer. "Wow. I didn't know it was so... prevalent."
Angel shrugged. "Sorta comes with the territory. Just wait till you start seeing yourself mentioned in prophecies. Talk about a head trip."
Sam put his good elbow on the back of the chair and turned his full attention on Angel. "You know," he said, without criticism, "I don't think my idea of a demon and yours is the same thing."
"Where I come from there are thousands of different demons. My idea of a demon is pretty flexible, physically and metaphorically speaking. What are they like where you're from?" Angel crossed his arms and leaned back against the edge of the desk curiously.
"Intangible," Sam said, immediately. "They come from Hell. The Hell. Well. Our only hell. Usually by scheming or breaking out. It's not really possible to be a demon and a nice person at the same time. Demons aren't anything but pissed off smoke unless they're inhabiting someone else." He paused. "Most of the time." There was a cold coffee cup on the desk. Sam eyed it, wondering what his employer did on his slow days.
"That sounds similar to vampires where I come from. Vampires are essentially human bodies possessed by a demon, incapable of existing outside a human host, having no remorse or conscience. I mean, there are some regular demons capable of goodness, but vampires are an exception. What makes them difficult is that they tend to retain some of their former host's intelligence and personality."
Sam's hazel eyes, the one feature that made him look younger, narrowed. "How is it possible to be a former vampire, then?"
"Technically it shouldn't be. Just the fact I was a vampire cursed with a soul was rare. But Wolfram & Hart had access to some very powerful, black magic. There was a prophecy that essentially said..." Angel paused, but decided to continue since they were talking shop. "...that I could eventually become human again someday. Wolfram & Hart did it as a mockery of that prophecy and to make my life harder when they cast LA into Hell. To be honest, I'm not even sure if this is going to last or how the spell works. I just know that for now I can walk in the sun and enjoy Chinese take out."
"Well." Sam paused, searching for something to say. "That's... nice?"
"I kinda like Chinese take out."
"What was the vampire thing like?" Sam tipped his head curiously.
"I guess that depends on which part. Without a soul it..." Angel frowned. He tried starting again. "When you're evil you enjoy doing evil things. When I was cursed with a soul, I had to face everything I'd done."
"Conscience is a bitch," Sam agreed.
"For about the first hundred years it was. It got easier when..." Angel paused again. "Exactly how much do you want to hear?"
Sam shrugged. Good shoulder. "As much as you can stand to tell me in case we have to deal with it again." And there it was; hunting was a worst-case scenario profession.
Angel, once more without meaning to, gave Sam a meaningful look.
Sam grimaced. "I deserve that. You want me to go first, or second?"
"I feel like I've been talking a lot."
"...Wuss." Sam smiled, then sobered. "I'm making coffee first." God, he sounded like Dean. He got up and made the coffee one-handed. Did it pretty well, too. After a few minutes he handed Angel a holy water spiked cup of black coffee. Did the sleight of hand damn well, too. Sam drank his own with sugar and a hell of a lot of fake cream.
Angel kept his black and sipped it carefully. He still wasn't used to caffeine and just the smell of it made him feel more alert. The former vampire waited patiently for Sam to continue.
"Part demon myself," Sam began, without preamble. "I don't know which part. If you're asking me what the worst-case scenario is, the worst part of the worst-case scenario is that I don't know what it is." He sipped, here. "Chasing down demons is what my family does. It's also what killed them all. Not all at once, and not in the same way, but demons got us all one way or another. So the next time you want to tell me I can shape destiny, I'd appreciate it if you didn't." The hazel eyes stopped looking young. "No offense."
It didn't feel right to try and debate him, not after what Sam said about his family. There would be another time. "I'm sorry for your loss."
He took a deep breath and still secretly marveled at the feel of it. "I'll give you the short version first. I was born in Ireland in 1727 and spent most of my youth on alcohol and women. Then I met Darla. She sired me and from that point forward I went by the name of Angelus. I killed a lot of people. I was very good at it. I liked to torture them first, psychologically and physically. I was good at that, too. Then I killed the wrong girl. She was a gypsy. The tribe cursed me by restoring my human soul, only to be broken by experiencing a moment of perfect happiness. That was in 1898 I think? So I spent the next hundred years or so keeping to myself. Then I met another girl. Her name was Buffy and she was a vampire slayer. I decided I wanted to help her. So I did."
Angel cleared his throat.
"We had a moment of perfect happiness. The curse was broken and I was Angelus again. By this time the gypsy spell was lost. Came close to ending the world twice. The second time she stopped me I ended up sealed up in a Hell dimension for a couple hundred years or so, but not before my soul was restored by one of her friends who rediscovered the incantation. Once I got out of Hell, since Buffy and I couldn't continue our relationship for obvious reasons, I decided to move to LA and help people there. And, well, I sorta told you how that worked out."
Angel walked back toward his office. "Luckily for you, if you want to read the long version, it's all documented in a number of diaries." Angel came back out with several dusty, heavy volumes in his arms and plopped them on the desk next to Sam with a thunderous boom. Angel paused. "They're not all about me. Those are just the main ones, anyway."
Sam waved a hand through the dust as it settled to get it out of his eyes. "...That was the short version?" It was an attempt to lighten the mood, and it sort of worked. Sam lifted the cover of the first one, running his eyes over the fine copperplate script of an eighteenth century Watcher. "Impressive." He let the cover fall, but stacked the diaries in a neater pile, clearly with the intent to read up just as Angel suggested.
He picked up his cup again afterward without drinking. "So what you're saying is that if you actually ended up Angelus again I'd be dealing with a three-hundred-year-old sadistic psychopath?"
"Who's prophesied to be a major player in the End Times," Angel added with a frown. There was a problem with his statement, besides implying his concern that his humanness wasn't to last. It wasn't actually Angelus but Angel, the vampire with a soul, who was the major player Wolfram & Hart wanted so badly on their side.
"Of course, prophecies can be faked, demons can time travel, it could all just be a hoax," Angel shrugged and resisted repeating his thoughts on destiny. "Out of the three I've seen my name in, one of them was. Well, I didn't actually see my name in it being ancient text and everything..."
Alarmingly, Sam did not look alarmed. "Where exactly are these ancient texts?" He had a funny moment in which his absent brother would say something obnoxious about tag-teaming the apocalypse. He wasn't there, so of course, he didn't. Sam blinked. "Who's doing the prophesying?"
"Prophets?" Angel was more of a battle axe kinda guy. "That's more Wesley's department. In the case of the forged prophesy, it was a demon who traveled through time and added a few choice words to a legitimate text."
Sam's eyes went vague. "I'll look into it." The similarities between Sam and Wesley were prominent in times like these. Effectively signing himself up for several hours, if not days of study, without much more than a speculative staring off into space. "Well, you're probably right. Prophecies only make sense after the fact, and it's pretty pointless to live your life by them. Guaranteed to screw you up--probably the point, if demons are involved." Again, Sam appeared to forget that his demons and Angel's were not the same. A bitter twist marred the set of his mouth.
"Talk to Wesley. He might even have..." Angel frowned. He wasn't sure exactly how Wesley organized the texts other than to pull one (or twelve) out occasionally when researching. "...notes. Or something."
"I'll do that once I read the originals," Sam said, closing his eyes and exhaling through his nose. The sound, accompanied by a hard press of thumb and forefinger into his eyelids, looked like long habit. "Hey." He thought of something and took his hand down, quickly. "Do me a favor and... when you meet Dean? Don't tell him any of this. I'll talk to him about it." A heavily edited version that hopefully would result in an informed Dean, but not a Dean that would favor putting a bullet through Angel's head before he had a chance to become the three-hundred-year-old psychopathic vampire. "You might want to leave out what I told you, too. He gets..." He stopped. "Just leave it out."
"What happens in the office, stays in the office," he agreed, there was a seriousness to his voice that indicated he wasn't trying to be witty. Angel would not get in the middle of a family situation. At least not a family situation that involved hunters. There was a brief look of confusion on his face as he remembered Sam mentioning his family was dead but Angel quickly remembered that this was The City.
Sam stood up and leaned over his good side to pick up the payroll printouts. As he moved around the desk he handed them to Angel and gave him a short nod, a wordless gesture of good will that was more than politeness and less than gratitude. Respect, possibly. He picked up the first journal on the pile and headed back to work.