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Thread: "Angel: After the Fall" Transcripts

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    Angel: After the Fall, Issue #1

    Start of Chapter 1

    The first image after the fall is of a city street in ruins. The sky is a shapeless gray, neither light nor dark, and buildings are cast in a sickly, bronze-ish light. A wrecked car shines its headlights on a demon, with long, thin legs and a tail, hands with huge claws and a mouth opened in a snarl. It’s facing a woman, whose back is against the wall of a building. She’s wearing shorts and a tank top and looks unkempt. In the broken plate glass window next to her, two men look out in fear of the demon.

    (NARRATION) ANGEL: It all started with a girl. I joined a corporation that was, quite literally, evil incarnate. I thought I could channel their resources into something positive.

    In the next image, we see the woman facing toward us, crouching in fear. Behind her, a figure with a broadsword, wearing a black leather coat has leapt into the view, and slashed the demon across its head and neck. Blood sprays away from it as it falls backwards.

    (NARRATION) ANGEL: In an existence defined by bad choices, that was my worst. I didn’t change them. They changed me.

    We see Angel in full view now, standing over the woman, whose kneeling behind him defensively. Demons like the first we saw are closing in around him as he stares them down. His broadsword is drawn, and he has a battleaxe slung over his back as well.

    (NARRATION) ANGEL: Then they killed her. That opened my eyes.

    In close-up, we see Angel’s face, all grim determination, and another spray of blood where he has attacked another demon, out of view.

    (NARRATION) ANGEL: I took a stand.

    We see Angel pinned to the ground by three of the demons in the next image, one of them, clawing deeply into his chest with its claws, spraying blood out onto Angel’s shirt.

    (NARRATION) ANGEL: That was a while ago. And ever since then…

    The view reverses, and we look down at Angel, who appears calm, almost smiling. One of the demons turns around to look upward, surprised and afraid, while another one grunts with a *SNURT*.

    (NARRATION) ANGEL: … I’ve been trying to make up for it. But I’m only one man.

    In a wider view, we see what the demons were afraid of. A giant dragon is hovering in the air. It has three horns along its jaw-line on either side of its head, and glowing red eyes. Its talons grip a car. Its jaw is open and blasting out fire, which consumes several of the demons that had been attacking Angel, while the vampire himself is back up on his feet and attacking with his broadsword.

    (NARRATION) ANGEL: One man with a very large dragon. He was part of the same organization. Two minutes into fighting him, I realized he was as misled as I was.

    Next we see the woman Angel had rescued back on her feet, gesturing with exasperation as she walked toward the charred demon bits in the street. Angel is next to her, while the two mean inside the store window still look out.

    WOMAN: What the hell is going on?

    ANGEL: Everything’s fine. Resume your looting.

    WOMAN: We weren’t looting! We were just stealing what we need to survive! Is that *looting*?

    We see her standing next to Angel, taking a business card or something similar from him. Her two friends are out on the street with them now. We can see that the three people are dressed for the urban jungle – their normal clothes accented by bandages, small bags, headbands. In the background, the dragon hovers over the street, putting down the car it was carrying, possibly looking for stragglers.

    ANGEL: Yes, it is. Take the car and go to this address. Don’t go home to get your things, don’t pick up your friends, just go.

    WOMAN: Do you know what’s going on?


    (NARRATION) ANGEL: Yes.

    ANGEL: No.

    Face to face in the next image, Angel and the woman both have their hands on what looks to be a makeshift axe, probably one the survivors had. They don’t look each other in the eye as Angel listens to her.

    WOMAN: One minute, everything was fine, and then… (whispering) I don’t deserve this! I’m a good person! I’m a lawyer!

    (NARRATION) ANGEL: All night. Hell, for the last few months, it’s the same song and dance.

    We see Angel, climbing up onto the dragon, using its horns to climb up onto its neck. He gives his last instructions to the lawyer as she looks on.

    (NARRATION) ANGEL: Everyone wants to know what they could have possibly done wrong to be in this situation.

    ANGEL: Go. Now.

    LAWYER: Who should we say sent us?

    The next image shows the dragon climbing into the sky from the street, up between the ruined buildings. He answers her over his shoulder as they leave.

    ANGEL: You shouldn’t.

    (NARRATION) ANGEL: Each time, every time, I leave them in the dark.

    We see the dragon flying against the sky. Behind it, both a sun and a moon are shining at the same time. Wherever they are, it isn’t earth as we know it anymore.

    (NARRATION) ANGEL: I don’t tell them that they’re here because I took a stand. My friends stood with me.

    A close-up of Angel shows his face bearing the weight of what he’s thinking about.

    (NARRATION) ANGEL: Wolfram & Hart sent an army. There were losses on both sides.

    LOCATION: DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES

    And in the next image, we see the full scope of what’s happened. As Angel rides the dragon, below them spreads out what used to be recognizable as Los Angeles. Now, it’s corrupted and damaged, buildings looking ruined and half-melted. Some are wrapped in giant tentacles, as if they are growing demons. A huge set of open jaws emerges from the ground in one city block. Fires are popping up everywhere, and look to burn with no effort to stop them coming.

    (NARRATION) ANGEL: And then Wolfram & Hart sent Los Angeles to hell.

    We see a shot of Los Angeles at street level, people wandering through their ruined city, as Angel and the dragon soar by in the distance. Flame appears to appear at random around the city.

    (NARRATION) ANGEL: Oddly, it took the citizens a few hours to realize it wasn’t a temporary situation. They figured it out roughly minutes after the demons did.

    Elsewhere, as the dragon flies overhead, we see another part of the city, a large blue demon wielding a huge bone is stalking through the street, throwing an abandoned car behind it.

    (NARRATION) ANGEL: The more powerful creatures conquered and divided the town. Hunting any human that wasn’t going along with their game plan.

    Next, we see the dragon arriving at its destination. It’s the Wolfram & Hart building. A huge hole is ripped into the wall in part, but the building looks largely intact – not changed in the way many of the others appeared to be.

    (NARRATION) ANGEL: And Wolfram & Hart, always a fan of irony, in addition to torture, dropped me where it all began.

    The next image is of Angel standing inside the building, the dragon having let him climb off through the hole into the interior.

    (NARRATION) ANGEL: I abide for now.

    ANGEL: Go to the parking garage, grab a few more cars for the night rounds. Leave the Viper.

    (NARRATION) ANGEL: Go against their rules, the punishment would be worse. Not sure how, but they’re Wolfram & Hart, they not only know of places worse than hell, they have timeshares there.

    Next we see Angel in full view, walking through the corridor of Wolfram & Hart. He is still carrying his broadsword, and his shirt is stained bright red from the wound he took fighting the demons.

    (NARRATION) ANGEL: Place is kind of dead lately.

    Before he can react, Angel is shoved face first from behind into a wall, cracking it as he hits, and dropping his broadsword. He has been shoved there by a red-skinned demon, similar to the ones Angel fought earlier, but much bigger and muscled. Behind him, yet another demon, blue skinned, watches, and speaks to Angel now that he has the vampire’s attention.

    (NARRATION) ANGEL: But we do have the occasional walk-in.

    BLUE DEMON: So, vampire. How was work?

    (NARRATION) ANGEL: Burge. Lord of Downtown L.A. And his son. Moron offspring of the lord of Downtown L.A.

    In a close-up, we see the red skinned demon right in Angel’s face, growling and slobbering down at him. Burge looks on as they talk.

    BURGE: Slaughter lots of bad, bad monsters?

    ANGEL: It’s not work when you love what you do. Always a pleasure, Burge.

    SON OF BURGE: Let me flay the vampire and wear his skin as a spawning cloak.

    We see Burge’s son effortlessly hoist Angel up with one hand, nearly to the ceiling. Angel doesn’t really struggle. Burge, for his part, is looking at various office equipment with a minion that came along.

    BURGE: [i]One moment, boy. Angel, you kept your dark avenger roadshow out of my domain, yes?

    ANGEL: Mostly.

    SON OF BURGE: He murdered my men! Right in front of me –

    ANGEL: So you were hidnnnnng –

    SON OF BURGE: (squeezing Angel’s throat) *QUIET*!

    VOICE: (from out of view) Is there a problem?

    The view reverses and we see a man in a three piece suit and glasses standing in a doorway where he has just entered. It’s Wesley, astoundingly, looking like nothing so much than the studious Watcher he was in Season 3 of Buffy.

    ANGEL: (quietly) Where… were… you…?

    WESLEY: I was out. I’m back. I didn’t realize we were expecting company.

    We see from behind Wesley, Burge’s son still has Angel held in the air by his throat.

    SON OF BURGE: He took down my men.

    ANGEL: They were trying to kill people. Right under my nose can’t help but notice your grip is getting tighter –

    WESLEY: Now Angel, I’m sure they weren’t trying to *kill* the humans. They were trying to enslave them.

    From a wider view, we see Burge has stepped up to Wesley. The demon is much taller, but Wesley is staring up at him, unconcerned. Burge’s minions surround him.

    BURGE: I told you to keep your vampire on a leash, Wyndham-Pryce.

    WESLEY: As the last official representative of this branch of Wolfram & Hart, I can assure you that we do not condone Angel’s actions in the least.

    As they talk, we see Angel himself, looking angry as he’s still caught in the grip of Burge’s son.

    BURGE: Well, good, because –

    WESLEY: I can *also* assure you…

    The view changes, and we’re looking from behind Burge toward Wesley. Behind him, the demon still holds Angel in the air. Burge’s minions are lined up silently behind them.

    WESLEY: … Angel’s fate isn’t up to you. We kept him around, even after a fairly alarming indiscretion. So I’m thinking you should tell your steroid-ridden hellspawn to step down before he kills Angel and ruins things for the rest of us.

    In close-up, we see Wesley’s face. He looks hard and inscrutable. It’s Burge who caves.

    BURGE: He spends tonight inside. Let him think about what he’s done.

    WESLEY: I’m also seriously considering taking away his TV privileges, believe-you-me.

    We see Angel now is struggling against the grip he’s in, but not productively.

    SON OF BURGE: Father, you’re not *seriously* considering listening to that nebbish, are you? This vampire is a murderer of innocent demon armies –

    Next we see Burge, facing away and preparing to walk out a different hole in the building exterior. His minions are carrying out various office equipment. Burge has clearly gotten what he wants for the moment.

    BURGE: Shut it, son. Not now. Angel kills one more of my men, Wolfram & Hart be damned, I’m coming back for his head as recompense. And/or that desk in the corner. That is one fine desk. It’s metal, and it’s sturdy. Let’s go, boy.

    The next image is a wider look, and Burge’s son hasn’t gone anywhere, nor has he put down Angel. Wesley has moved around behind him, toward the hole in the building, like a host showing a guest the door. The metal desk Burge was admiring is visible in the foreground.

    SON OF BURGE: I want. To wear. His skin.

    WESLEY: Chase that rainbow another day, big boy. You heard your father. He said you’re not killing him today.

    At last, Burge’s son lets Angel go. By flinging him across the room and into a desk, shattering small bottles. The demon whirls on Wesley, standing in front of the hole. Wesley doesn’t look at all armed.

    SON OF BURGE: He did. But he didn’t say anything –

    In a view of both of him, we see Burge’s son drive his fist forward at a charge. It goes effortlessly through Wesley’s chest – the man isn’t corporeal, it appears. Wesley looks down at the arm nonchalantly.

    SON OF BURGE: *About Yo— ?!*

    WESLEY: No, I guess he didn’t.

    In the next image, we see that the demon’s momentum has carried him clean out the window, right through Wesley, and out of the building. Wesley has turned to look at Angel, who is sitting up slowly. He has pulled a wooden stake out and is holding as though he means to use it.

    WESLEY: Guests are fun. What are you going to do with that?

    ANGEL: I don’t even know why I carry one with me. Haven’t had to use one for months. Remember when vampires were our biggest problem?

    WESLEY: Only when you went *bad*.

    Back on his feet, Angel is holding his hand toward the wound on his chest, ignoring Wesley’s insult. Wesley faces him as they go over the evening’s events.

    WESLEY: How were the rounds?

    ANGEL: About a dozen. Maybe more.

    WESLEY: I trust you sent them all to the same place?

    ANGEL: I did.

    WESLEY: I hope he has the room.

    LOCATION: SANTA MONICA

    From overhead in the new scene, we see the demonically ruined remnants of the amusement park at the Santa Monica pier. The ocean looks like it’s made of fire, with tentacles or flames poking out of it. Giant bones litter the roofs of buildings and the street. A convertible has pulled up outside a boarded up hotel, and three figures are visible standing in front of the entrance.

    VOICE: I don’t care how handsome the dude was… and sure, he was kind of handsome… he rode off on a dragon.

    We see a closer view – the three figures are the lawyer and her two friends from earlier, arriving where they were sent. She is still carrying the battleaxe, while the others appear unarmed.

    LAWYER: He saved us from demons, Denny. And seriously, “kinda handsome”?

    DENNY: I’m still not convinced he wasn’t setting us up to be eaten by bigger, meaner demons. And he had a big forehead.

    When they step inside, we see what they see – a lobby full of people. Some human, some clearly demon, all looking back at them suspiciously. Several are wielding machetes or crossbows or axes.

    LAWYER: Hi.

    DENNY: (whispering) See? Our chances were better on the outside. *These* demons can assume human form.

    LAWYER: So, yeah, we were –

    Before she can finish, the people in the lobby have pulled every weapon they have and are pointing them at the group of new arrivals.

    LAWYER: Oh.

    In the next image, the overhead light above the three guests has come alive with electricity. It arcs out in bright white and encircles them, but does not shock.

    DENNY: *Hey*! This is *so* much better than being on our own and *not* dying!

    The view reverses, and we see a woman in red leather pants and what appears to be a leather bra and long red gloves standing in the middle of the electricity flowing around the group. Her dark hair falls lazily around her shoulders. There is no mistaking that this is Gwen Raiden.

    GWEN: Chill out, hotshot. Just wanna see if you’re on the up-and-up.

    The electricity vanishes, and we see the lawyer standing tensely. From the dark, behind her, we see a figure walking up to her.

    VOICE: Their hearts are racing.

    The voice belongs to a blond woman, dressed in bike shorts and a sports bra. She’s walked right up behind the female lawyer, sniffing at her shoulder. The lawyer looks dismayed at the closeness.

    LAWYER: We’re not, I’m not… Oh..?

    WOMAN: And their scents…

    In a close-up, the blond woman slowly licks the lawyer’s cheek up her jawline. It’s not sexual, but more predatory. The lawyer looks at once appalled and scared.

    In the next image, the blond woman appears to have gotten her composure back, and looks ashamed of what she did. The lawyer is holding her neck defensively.

    WOMAN: Did I…?

    LAWYER: She’s tenderizing me she’s tenderizing me she’s tenderizing me

    WOMAN: No! it’s the sun/moon situation! They’re both out at once. Do you have any idea what that does to a werewolf?

    LAWYER: Makes you hungry?!


    WOMAN: No!

    LAWYER: Makes you bi-curious?!

    The view changes, and a new figure is in the room. A man with dark hair hanging against his neck, his back to us. Over either shoulder, we can see the blond woman and Gwen looking back to him approvingly, Gwen with her hand fixed to her hip. He is facing the new arrivals. Everyone in the room has their eyes on him.

    MAN: Relax Nina, Gwen. Angel sent them.

    GWEN: Are you sure?

    When the view changes, we see from the new arrivals side of the room – the young man is standing in front of them, jeans and a jacket, very casual. Everyone has taken their place behind him, with Nina and Gwen to either side. It’s Connor, and he’s definitely in charge of this group.

    CONNOR: Pretty sure. Their car came complete with optional side airbags, a Wolfram & Hart employee parking pass, and fairly large claw marks on the roof, like the hundreds we have in the back. Don’t be scared. I’m Connor. This is my family.

    The scene changes, and we’re at the Wolfram & Hart building, looking up from its cracked marquee to the side of the damaged building.

    ANGEL: Damn it…

    Inside the building, we see Angel laying on a gurney, his shirt off, with what looks like a giant bug on his chest, clinging to where he was injured. He is pulling on it experimentally with his left hand. On the other side of the room, Wesley is facing the wall.

    ANGEL: … This thing is supposed to heal me?

    WESLEY: I think so. Do you feel it biting –

    ANGEL: Do I feel “it”? This thing is alive?

    The view reverses, and we see Wesley staring straight ahead, looking indifferent. Angel is behind him, still staring at his chest.

    WESLEY: *Something* in the room should be. It’s not capable of emotion.

    ANGEL: Oh, good. I’d hate to think, in addition to everything else, that I’m also bumming out the parasite. Don’t we have anything less…

    WESLEY: … Repulsive? I’m afraid not.

    The view moves around and we see both Angel and Wesley, Angel again picking at the parasite on his chest. Wesley is studying something on one of the shelves in front of him.

    WESLEY: Our supplies are getting low. I’ll snoop around though, maybe something will turn up. If it was used to heal, mutate, murder, conjure or destroy, it’s somewhere within these walls.

    ANGEL: Gotta hand it to them. Wolfram & Hart is prepared for anything. Most likely because they’re also the cause of it. So. You went out.

    We see Angel finally toss the parasite away, apparently healed to his satisfaction. He and Wesley talk, although Wesley still doesn’t face him.

    WESLEY: When?

    ANGEL: When Burge was here. You said you went out.

    WESLEY: I was watching you. Seeing what your next move would be.

    In close-up, we see Angel as he’s buttoning his shirt back up over the rest of his wound. Behind him, Wesley has turned to face them, but the two still aren’t facing each other.

    WESLEY: You went with “squirm,” which is an interesting choice.

    ANGEL: Yeah, well. I take Burge’s son out, Burge and his men come after me. I take them out, every demon stuck on this side of the barrier comes to take their place, using the humans as shields, weapons, and projectiles.

    The next image shows Angel and Wesley, side by side, as Angel slips his coat back on. They appear to be on the ruined lobby floor of their offices in Wolfram & Hart’s better days. They begin to walk down the hall.

    ANGEL: I wish I could have taken the lords down one-by-one as they popped up, but fighting wasn’t really an option. *Moving* wasn’t really an option. Your superiors saw to that.

    (NARRATION) ANGEL: Okay, that was low.

    WESLEY: So now you’re saving small groups of civilians…

    We see them walking in profile. The dragon appears to be sleeping off to one side of the large floor space. Wesley trails Angel by a few steps as they walk.

    WESLEY: … And tossing them to your son.

    ANGEL: Is that alright, Wesley? Is that keeping line with what Wolfram & Hart wants?

    WESLEY: I don’t know.

    ANGEL: Of course you don’t.

    We see them walking from the end of a long corridor which is mostly intact, art still hanging from the wall.

    ANGEL: I’m working on a way out of here. I just need the right firepower.

    WESLEY: We’re not leaving. Trust me, I would like more than anything to be released from my contract. I would literally give anything to be able to move on. But that isn’t an option. So maybe you should figure out what you can do, here and now. And then take the slightest of *baby steps* to returning to what you were. Because if you don’t start trying to take control…

    Wesley’s narration finishes as the scene changes, and we see a close-up of a glowing yellow orb, mounted inside the rib cage of a skeleton. The whole thing is inside some kind of blue goo.

    WESLEY: (from previous scene) … The wrong person is going to.

    MONSTER: COME ON, YOU SACKS OF MAN-BABIES!

    LOCATION: WESTWOOD

    We see the creature from a wider view. It’s a skeleton, wrapped in the blue goo, its eyes glowing red. To its left, several demons are sitting in the stands of a stadium. To its right, a large fish, a betta, is floating in mid-air, but changed to the monster’s make-shift throne. In front of and around the monster, five women, all clad in lingerie and apparently changed, lounge despondently.

    MONSTER: YOU’RE ALL BREAKING MY STRIKE! I AM KR’PH, LORD OF WESTWOOD! DARK OVERSEER OF EVERYTHING WEST OF BEVERLY HILLS! THIS IS MY DOMAIN! YOU ARE MY MONGRELS! I HAVE CONVERTED UK-CA SPORTING FIELD INTO GREAT GLADIATOR ARENA!

    A new image, from far above, confirms what Kr’ph says – the Rose Bowl has been taken over. It’s exteriors are largely demolished, and torches burn where the overhead lights used to be.

    KR’PH: AND YET YOU WARRIORS STAND THERE AND STARE AT ME WITH MONGREL COCKED HEADS AND YOUR FIFTH DIGIT HOUSED IN YOUR SIT-DOWN SPOTS!

    In a closer view, we see the “warriors” – several human men wearing almost no clothing, except for boots and the odd armor piece. They are armed with spears and short swords. They are of various ages, body types, and ethnicities.

    MAN #1: “Warriors”? I was a cop.

    MAN #2: I was a bouncer. That’s kinda like a warrior, I guess.

    The next image shows Kr’ph in close-up, looking toward the floating Betta to his right from our view. The fish, insofar as it can make expressions, looks abashed at the orders its getting.

    KR’PH: [i]SPLENDEN BEAST, BRAIN-YELL AT THE WARRIOR MONGRELS! MAKE THEM STAB!

    BETTA: (telepathically) ”Brain-yell”? Dude, I am a telepath. But if you think I have the power to force anyone to do anything, let alone, you know, stab –

    KR’PH: THE FISH WANTS POWER?

    In response, Kr’ph’s eyes glow yellow, the same yellow as the orb in his chest. Next to him, the Betta’s eyes glow the same yellow, as though power is flowing from Kr’ph into the fish.

    KR’PH: NOW YOU PLAY WITH POWER, YES?

    BETTA: (telepathically) Whoa… what is… ? Whoa… man, does everyone hate you.

    KR’PH: A GAGGLE OF MONGRELS DIE FOR EVERY SECOND YOU DON’T BRAIN-YELL.

    In the next image, the “warriors” on the field of the Rose Bowl begin to fight each other. Apparently at the command of the Betta.

    BETTA: (telepathically) Warriors… I need you… and I am so sorry… I need you to fight.

    We see Kr’ph watching the battle with pleasure. The Betta floats beside him, managing to look concerned. Kr’ph’s apparent ‘love-slaves’ look around, the nearest one staring at the fish.

    BETTA: (telepathically) Kr’ph, I’m picking up more voices. Not just your slaves, or warriors. Someone’s coming. And their minds… are screaming.

    KR’PH: HA! THEY ARE SCARED BECAUSE THEY KNOW I AM KR’PH!

    The next image shows us from across the field, a group of men moving toward the demon and his warriors. They are all wearing hooded sweatshirts and carrying weapons.

    BETTA: (telepathically) They’re not sreaming because they’re scared.

    We see Kr’ph’s face in close-up. His skeletal expression still looks slightly panicked as he hears the Betta’s thoughts.

    BETTA: (telepathically) They guys are *angry*.

    The next image shows the Betta being hit in the face with a small bag thrown toward it from out of the view. It appears to knock the fish out where it float. Kr’ph looks at the unconscious fish in alarm.

    KR’PH: FISH?

    We see Kr’ph’s demon henchmen rush onto the field in front of Kr’ph’s throne to meet the attackers. The ‘love-slaves’ look for cover.

    MINION: Protect Kr’ph!

    KR’PH: MY LIFE FOR YOURS! *MY LIFE FOR YOURS*

    We see the men and the monsters fight, with the men getting the better of it. One of the captive ‘warriors’ looks on at the fight.

    MINION: Defend Kr’ph! Defend our lord!

    VOICE: (from out of the view) Gotta admire their loyalty.

    In an extreme close-up, we see an axe chop into the neck of one of Kr’ph’s minions, it’s blood spraying out.

    VOICE: (from out of the view) Their fighting style? Not so much.

    We see Kr’ph leaning over the arm of his throne, one of his ‘love slaves’ ducking away from him. He is trying to rouse the unconscious Betta.

    KR’PH: LAZY FISH! WAKE UP AND YELL AT THEIR HEADS TO GO! FIGHT WELL, GUARDS! YOUR LOVE FOR ME IS UNBOUNDFUL!

    In the next image, despite Kr’ph’s attempts at motivation, his minions are being wiped out. Arrows take one of the minions in the eye, chest, and shoulder.

    KR’PH:

    Another image shows one of Kr’ph’s minions heads sliced clean off its head and Kr’ph pleads in voice-over.

    KR’PH: WHOEVER THIS IS, I AM ANGERED BUT NOT TURNING A BACKSIDE TO BARGAINING!

    Another image of one of the hooded figures cutting through Kr’ph’s minions.

    KR’PH: YOU ARE MIGHTY AND NOBLE MONGRELS! A HANDSHAKING CAN HAPPEN! TELL ME WHAT YOU WANT! I CAN HELP YOU GET IT!

    When the view changes, we see the men in the hoodies have run out of obstacles between them and Kr’ph. The demon holds its hand up in protest. The man in front is black, has a scar under his eye, and is holding an axe ready to attack. One of the men behind him identifies him when he speaks.

    MAN: You hear that, Gunn? Man wants to help us get what we want.

    GUNN: Oh, I know he can.

    In profile, we see Gunn punch forward, straight through the goo of Kr’ph’s “skin”, and grab the yellow orb in his chest. Kr’ph’s face snarls, but his skeleton is already falling apart and he makes no sound as he falls.

    GUNN: He’s just not going to be the biggest fan of *how*.

    From overhead, we see Gunn raise the orb triumphantly, the others with him raising their fists in victory.

    GUNN: We got it! One fight, one lord down! Chalk that up to a win for *Team Gunn*!

    A wider view shows Gunn standing along with the five men fighting beside him. They are standing over the bodies of Kr’ph’s minions. Behind them, the captive “warriors” look on, impressed.

    MAN #1: Wait, dude. Did you just say “Team Gunn”?

    GUNN: You may have been together before I joined, but I trained you. Plus I coordinated the outfits.

    MAN #2: You made us wear these.

    The view reverses, and we see that Gunn is looking at the unconscious Betta. Behind the fish, he also takes notice of the five ‘love slaves’ huddled together in a mix of confusion and relief.

    GUNN: Can we hash this out later? Wrap up the fish. Make sure he stays out until we get back. One second…

    We see Gunn, smiling, having gone up to one of the rescued ‘love slaves’, hold her chin up gently with his thumb. She smiles back with more than mere gratitude.

    GUNN: Hey, it’s okay. You’re fine now. Think of the last couple months as a bad dream. That’s all they were. I tell you what, though. You play your cards right and this dream could suddenly turn downright erotic.

    The scene changes, and we’re back at Wolfram & Hart. Angel is placing his broad sword back up in his armory.

    The next image shows him across the room, turning as he hears a voice – Burge’s son – yelling from outside.

    SON OF BURGE: Six for six! Six for six!

    We see Angel looking down from the office building through a hole in the exterior wall. He’s staring down at the street, where Burge’s son and 5 other demons have rounded up a bunch of humans and have them circled.

    SON OF BURGE: Angel killed six of my men! I kill six of his humans!

    (NARRATION) ANGEL: I was told not to leave the building. Not one step.

    Elsewhere, as Angel’s narration continues, we see Wesley in close-up, again looking hard, unreadable.

    (NARRATION) ANGEL: I was also told that everything I was doing is wrong. A friend said it, face to transparent face.

    We see Wesley, silhouetted in a bright doorway, about to step through. Angel’s narration continues.

    (NARRATION) ANGEL: Thing is…

    And we see Wesley, standing inside what appears to be the White Room, it’s superstructure barely visible in the blinding light.

    (NARRATION) ANGEL: … Everything’s different. And I don’t know who told him to say it.

    Down on the street, Burge’s son is about to strike the first of the captive humans. His henchmen look on.

    (NARRATION) ANGEL: But…

    Then we see the metal desk Burge had liked drop out of the sky near Burge’s son, alarming him with a *KLLLANG*.

    SON OF BURGE: What—?

    (NARRATION) ANGEL: … It doesn’t mean he was wrong.

    From behind, we see Burge’s son looking up to the building, seeing Angel’s outline standing a few floors up looking back down at him. The humans, forgotten, escape.

    SON OF BURGE: What the hell was *that*?

    In close-up, we see Angel staring back down. He’s smiling, only a bit.

    ANGEL: Recompense.

    The view reverses, and Burge’s son launches himself up on his wings to charge Angel, furious. His henchmen look on from the street.

    SON OF BURGE: My father told you! *My father told you*!

    And from the demon’s point of view, we see Angel getting closer as he flies at him. The vampire reaches into his coat as he answers.

    ANGEL: I know. Not allowed to leave the building.

    In close-up, Angel hurls the stake he’s been carrying straight ahead, toward the charging demon.

    From the street, we see the henchmen react in surprise to the *SQUITCH* sound the stake makes.

    In the next image, Burge’s son drops out of the air to the street.

    A close-up reveals that the stake went right into his eye, killing him. The stake is still sticking out, and Burge’s son’s tongue hangs out of his mouth. The demon henchmen look furious, shouting up at Angel in outrage.

    (NARRATION) ANGEL: Well. Can’t take that back. Good. It all begins with a stake to the eye.

    HENCHMAN: You have declared war, vampire!

    As Angel looks down, the demons begin to leave, still making threats. One of the henchmen grabs the metal desk to take back to Burge.

    HENCHMEN: You have no idea what you have done!

    ANGEL: I’ve declared war, you just said.

    (NARRATION) ANGEL: Of course, this might be exactly what Wolfram & Hart wants.

    The scene changes, but Angel’s narration continues. We see “Team Gunn” standing in the Rose Bowl. They appear to be drawing on the wall at the base of the stands, characters appearing to be drawn in blood. Their hands look almost like claws.

    (NARRATION) ANGEL: That’s fine.

    The next image shows the “warriors”. They are dead, staring at nothing in a pile on the ground. Between two of Gunn’s people, still drawing on the wall, we see a tunnel into the stadium, to one of the locker rooms, from when the stadium still had teams playing there.

    (NARRATION) ANGEL: Let them think they’re in charge.

    The next image follows the tunnel, approaching a turn at the end of the first hallway. A voice yells in surprise and fear from out of sight around the corner.

    VOICE: *AAAAAAAARH?*

    As Angel’s narration continues, we see the end of that hallway. The “love slaves” are piled up on the floor of the corridor. Four of them are clearly dead, and the floor is almost awash in their blood. The 5th one is still trapped in a man’s arms, screaming, but fading, dying. She’s being drained by a vampire.

    (NARRATION) ANGEL: Wolfram & Hart has taken away everything I had. Everyone I cared about.

    LOVE-SLAVE: (quietly) Aaaaarh—

    (NARRATION) ANGEL: Everything I was.

    The last image is of Gunn, pushing the dead love-slave’s head away from him like she’s a broken toy. Which she may be, to him – he is a vampire, and stares up with his full game face on and his mouth open in a snarl, yellow eyes ablaze.

    (NARRATION) ANGEL: But that’s how I’m going to win. They think they’ve changed me.

    TO BE CONTINUED…

    End of Chapter 1

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    Angel: After the Fall, Issue #2

    Start of Chapter 2


    The opening image is of a hand holding a set of car keys, pushing the button on the key fob to unlock a car. We see the hand in front of the background of the Wolfram & Hart motor pool, which is still very well equipped, with several luxury vehicles visible. The headlights on a black sports convertible flash as the light on the key fob lights up. From one side, we see Wesley enter the garage by walking, ghost-like, through the door from the stairwell.

    WESLEY: You usually take the dragon on rounds.

    The view changes and Wesley walks beside Angel as the vampire approaches the sports car. Angel is armed with a sword, an axe, and a crossbow.

    ANGEL: Not going on rounds. Headed to Santa Monica.

    WESLEY: Why?

    ANGEL: I killed Burge’s son last night.

    From above, we see Angel sliding into the seat of the convertible. Wesley stands next to do the driver’s side door, watching him.

    WESLEY: That’s… surprising.

    ANGEL: *They* didn’t tell you? Most of his remains are right outside if you need them for your report.

    From much closer, we see Angel in close-up from over Wesley’s shoulder.

    WESLEY: Do you want me to come with you?

    ANGEL: To be honest, Wes… I really don’t.

    An extreme close-up on Wesley shows the disappointment in his face. In his glasses, we see the reflection of Angel’s taillights as he drives away, leaving Wesley alone.

    WESLEY: Right, then. I’ll stay here and haunt the fort.

    We see a view from the backseat of Angel’s car, looking out at the road ahead of him. He’s still driving through the garage, toward the EXIT sign.

    (NARRATION) ANGEL: That was awkward. And my fault. After all Wesley’s been through, he didn’t deserve that.

    In the next image, we still watch Angel drive. Now, we see the ramp up to the street in front of him as he drives.

    (NARRATION) ANGEL: I mean, he’s “working” for them. But maybe not *working* for them. Can’t think about that now.

    The view stays in Angel’s car, now on the demon-ridden streets of L.A. Ahead of the car, several demons are carrying something across the street.

    (NARRATION) ANGEL: There are more immediate concerns. Burge is a powerful lord. I killed his son.

    The view is still the same, but we see the demons much closer now, with no sign that Angel will try to avoid them. They are looking at the car in surprise.

    (NARRATION) ANGEL: He’s going to want revenge, and he can’t take me. He obviously can’t touch Wesley.

    In the next image, we see blood spatter across Angel’s windshield as he runs through the demons. There’s never any indication he cared about hitting them one way or another.

    (NARRATION) ANGEL: If he’s at all intelligent… and admittedly that’s up in the air… I know who he’s going to go after.

    The view reverses, and we see Angel’s car driving toward us. The background show buildings with tentacles coming out of them, an eye sticking up through a crack in the pavement, and a blazing fire going up the hill from the Hollywood sign, which has been changed to see “Hellywood”.

    (NARRATION) ANGEL: At least it will be nice to see a friendly face.

    The scene changes, and we see Nina, wearing a blue tank top and blue bike shorts, like when we saw her before. Her fingers have an almost claw-like quality, but she looks otherwise human. Behind her, several surly looking members of Connor’s “family” back her up with weapons out. This is the “friendly face” Angel sees first.

    NINA: *What the hell do you want with Connor?*

    The image reverses, and we see Angel, ax and sword mounted on his back, standing in the doorway. Nina is leaning toward him, sniffing him.

    (NARRATION) ANGEL: Reunions with ex-girlfriends are always awkward.

    ANGEL: Connor needs to watch his back. So, Nina, how have you –

    NINA: (*snnnnf*) I eat bloody meat now.

    In profile, we see Angel standing still, letting Nina sniff at him. She is leaning forward with her back arched, the posture nearly predatory, a byproduct of her wolf-like state. Behind her, the weapons of the other people are all pointed at Angel.

    ANGEL: Oh. Good?

    NINA: Yeah. So if you want to, I don’t know, do that sometime –

    We see from over Angel’s shoulder as he looks down at Nina. She is running her fingers over his chest and staring up at him intently.

    ANGEL: Maybe we can, that sounds good. I know where to find you, so… hey, so Connor.

    NINA: Not here. He’s in Westwood. A lord was killed last night.

    LOCATION: SOMETIME LATER. WESTWOOD.

    In the new scene, we see a demon, standing triumphantly over what appears to be a pile of other demon bodies. He has a long, barbed tail and red skin, and he is pointing a finger upward as he makes his declaration.

    DEMON: I… am… Kozlow! New lord of Westwood, destroyer of all!

    Unfortunately for Kozlow, the next image reveals the end of his reign before it begins. He’s actually quite small, and a tyrannosaur like demon snaps him up in its mouth with a *CLOMP* while Kozlow is in mid-rant.

    KOZLOW: Kneel before Koz –

    In a wider image, we see the tyrannosaur demon, suddenly beset by zombies. Other demons are fighting in chaos, all declaring their new reign over Westwood.

    TYRANNOSAUR: I am the new lord of Westwood! Streets will run with the blood of those that stand in my way!

    RANDOM DEMON #1: I am the new lord of Westwo—!

    RANDOM DEMON #2: I am the new lord of Westwood!

    RANDOM DEMON #3: I am the new lord of Westwood!

    RANDOM DEMON #4: RRARRRRROR WEESSSSSTWOOOOD LOOORDRRRRROWR

    (NARRATION) ANGEL: So many demons want the crown.

    We see Angel, standing besides his car, watching the mob fight from the boundary. He has drawn his crossbow.

    (NARRATION) ANGEL: So many people caught in the crossfire.

    We see Angel smoothly walk into the fray. His crossbow is raised and aimed at a giant green demon with dangly fingers. In its arm, it has a few demons or humans captive.

    (NARRATION) ANGEL: Don’t see Connor anywhere.

    DEMON GIANT: RORRRRRD OF WEEEEEESTWOOD. RORRRRRD. OF WEEEEEESTWOOD.

    In close-up, we see the bolt fly from Angel’s bow and take the giant in the eye, making it below in pain.

    We see Angel pulling the string back on his crossbow, preparing to set another bolt. From his right, another giant demon, with hands like crab claws, stalks towards Angel.

    (NARRATION) ANGEL: Part of me relieved. After all I put him through…

    The next image is of Angel as the demon approaches. He has given up on the crossbow; not enough time. He reaches for the axe on his back as the demon reaches for him.

    (NARRATION) ANGEL: … I mean, this is literally the *second* time I punched his ticket to hell, not many fathers can say that. He and I are probably back to square one. It’s going to take a while before I earn his trust.

    In extreme close-up, we see the demon’s face as it goes to attack Angel. It’s threats are cut off as as red slash appears across its neck, making its voice break and its eyes widen.

    DEMON: Prepare for digestion by the eternal -- >< -- bringer of carnage…

    (NARRATION) ANGEL: Before I *deserve* it.

    The next image reveals what stopped the demon. It’s Connor. As the demon’s head flies off its shoulders, we see Connor standing with a huge, blood-streaked broadsword in his right hand. He has a large spear in his left hand, that happens to have another demon skewered on it through its back and face.

    (NARRATION) ANGEL: No matter how long it takes.

    CONNOR: Hi, Angel. What took you so long?

    We see the two facing each other in close-up. Connor is pulling his spear free, and other demons surround them. Connor still grins as he and his father greet each other.

    CONNOR: Long time, no rescue.

    ANGEL: Connor –

    CONNOR: It’s cool. Saw you flailing about, and thought I’d –

    In the next image, Connor’s words are cut-off when we see Angel suddenly put his hand on his son’s shoulder and push him backwards, while swinging his axe up to block the attack of another large demon.

    ANGEL: Look out.

    CONNOR: Oh. Right, that guy.

    (NARRATION) ANGEL: He’s trying to impress me.

    We see the two from above, back to back, as they face off with the demons around them. They continue to talk.

    (NARRATION) ANGEL: About half as much as I’m trying to impress him.

    ANGEL: I killed the son of a lord.

    CONNOR: Good for you, seriously. Wow. Just. That paints a big-ass target on my head, doesn’t it?

    From behind, we see the two fight side-by-side. The lash out with their weapons and take down the demon that swung at Connor.

    ANGEL: Yeah. Sorry about that.

    CONNOR: Apology accepted. So, seriously –

    The image reverses, and we see Connor finish off the demon, turning his head to look at his father.

    CONNOR: – Where the hell have you been?

    We see them in close-up together again, back in the fight, still talking as they attack other demons.

    ANGEL: What? I… well, there was a few weeks where I couldn’t *move*.

    CONNOR: Uh-huh. And after that…?

    From above, we see them facing each other, ignoring the demons that are closing in again.

    ANGEL: Yeah. That’s.

    Suddenly, we see the image change and Connor and Angel are watching from the distance as the demons around them are suddenly cascaded in blue, electrical energy with a *SHRRRRRAZK!*

    The next image shows us where the electrical attack is coming from – it’s Gwen. She stands amidst the demons in her customary red leather pants and top. Both of her hands are outstretched to either side, the electricity flowing unguarded from them, disabling and killing demons.

    GWEN: Yo. “Anything you can do, I can do better” going well? Awesome. You’re going to want to come with me.

    CONNOR: (from out of the image) Kinda busy here, Gwen.

    From above, we next see the three of them fighting together; Angel and Connor with their weapons, while Nina takes on several at once with her electrical powers.

    GWEN: I know. But I just found where the lord was killed, and it’s *messed up*. And I’m well aware we’re in hell and we see *messed up* things ever day and I’m talking *messed up* in comparison to that.

    The next image is of Gwen, a close-up from behind, between Angel and Connor’s shoulders, with the battle having concluded. Gwen is looking back over her shoulder at them as she invites them to follow her.

    GWEN: You gotta see this for yourselves. There’s a new player in town, boys.

    The scene changes as Gwen completes her thought. The man she doesn’t know she’s referring to is the one we see – Gunn. He is standing in a room and can be seen through some kind of webbing in front of him.

    GWEN: (continued) And he’s out for blood.

    GUNN: Comfortable?

    The view reverses, and we Gunn is talking to the betta he kidnapped from Kr’ph. It is secured to a double bed by the webbing, and around the bed there is a blood-red seal painted on the floor, like a binding ritual of some kind. Gunn has his arms crossed as he stands at the foot of the bed.

    BETTA: (telepathically) Gotta admit… not really. The accommodations in this place suck and it smells like rotting corpse.

    GUNN: That’s probably the rotting corpse.

    In a close-up, we see Gunn has bent down with his hands on the bed, face to face with the captive fish. He looks curious and reassuring, wearing his human face.

    GUNN: What’s your name?

    BETTA: George.

    GUNN: George, I’m Gunn. And I know what this is gonna sound like, but I promise you, I’m one of the good guys.

    The next image shows Gunn with his hand resting on Betta George’s side, still trying to reassure him, but with impatience already showing on his face.

    GUNN: The one-two punch of getting your where-your-ass-would-be kicked… along with the precautions we took… prevents even a powerful telepath like yourself from digging very far down in my mind, but trust me when I say *this is all gonna work out fine*.

    BETTA GEORGE: Trust the vampire who kidnapped me, done –

    GUNN: Don’t say that.

    BETTA GEORGE: Okay, the vampire who borrowed me against my will, in a kidnapesque kinda way –

    In close-up, Gunn looks more angry than impatient now.

    GUNN: No. Don’t call me a *vampire*. Don’t.

    The image reverses and we see Betta George looking as doubtful as his face can permit. Gunn clenches his fist in the foreground.

    BETTA GEORGE: Believe-you-me, I’ve hung out with vampires, I am more than fine with –

    GUNN: Yeah, well I’m *not*. I spent a good part of my life dusting them. Best part of my life, actually.

    We see Gunn in close-up again as he continues to elaborate, his face still angry but now thoughtful.

    GUNN: And then. I was fool enough to trust one.

    The next image shows Gunn turning his face away from Betta George, who listens helplessly on the bed.

    GUNN: Led me into a battle that ended with me being dragged away and turned while he played goddamn dragon-whisperer. But even now… even with this *disease*… I’m making things right.

    A close-up shows Gunn turning back to the Betta, with his indignation and anger gaining momentum.

    GUNN: See, someone fancies himself a white hat because he’s got a soul. Thinks he gets in touch with the man he was, makes him good. Funny thing, though. Maybe the man he *was* wasn’t all that good to begin with.

    From above, we see Gunn standing over George, in full rant. The fish stares helplessly.

    GUNN: But at the end of the day, he gives up. On everything. On us. But *it’s fine* –

    In close-up, Betta George stares despondently as he telepathically replies.

    BETTA GEORGE: Sounds like it…

    Unfortunately, Gunn wasn’t looking for skepticism; in the next image, he is suddenly in gameface, punching at George on the bed, each hit punctuated with another word.

    GUNN: – I’M. GOING. TO. SAVE. US. ALL!

    BETTA GEORGE: oooph!

    From outside the room, we hear Gunn rant, continuing to beat George with a *WHUP*, *WHUP*, *WHUP*, *WHUP*. In the hallway, a demon is nailed to a doorway, with it’s seven legs stretched out in each direction. An eighth arm, severed, is nailed to the wall beside it. The three vampires that work with Gunn are standing near the door, listening.

    GUNN: (inside the room) *It’s not about the soul! I’m living proof of that!*

    HENCHMAN: (whispering) *Formerly* living proof.

    We see inside the room as Gunn opens the door and heads out. His face is still vamped, but concealed in shadow, as he walks away from the now unconscious fish.

    GUNN: (whispering) Sorry.

    We see him closing the door behind him, with his face looking human again. He reaches into the pocket of his sweater as he pulls the door shut.

    GUNN: Guess now… you’re gonna have trouble seeing it my way. Can’t say I blame you.

    Next we see Gunn walking away down the hallway, two of his henchmen staring after him. Gunn has taken the glowing orb he stole from Kr’ph out of his pocket and it holding it in his hand.

    GUNN: You’ll come around.

    In close-up, we see the glowing orb as Gunn reaches out to place it in another room. Green tentacles reach up to claim it.

    GUNN: *Everyone* will come around.

    The image reverses and we see a treasure trove of gold and jewels. There are demonic figures throughout the room. It’s unclear if they are alive or dead – residents or storage. The orb is placed on the center of a table full of what seem to be Gunn’s plunder.

    GUNN: And two seconds after Angel figures it out… Angel dies.

    The scene changes, and we see Connor, Angel, and Gwen in close-up, staring unhappily at something we can’t see.

    ANGEL: Okay, well. *This* is messed up.

    From a wider view, we see that the three are in the Rose Bowl, standing over the bodies of Kr’ph and his demon minions. Angel and Connor study them as we see Gwen slip away and head into the tunnel Gunn had taken the love slaves.

    CONNOR: Kr’ph was a bottom feeder to begin with. How’d he become a lord in the first place>

    ANGEL: He had the Eye of Ramras.

    CONNOR: Aaaaah, totally. What?

    ANGEL: Not an actual eye. Talking figurative. Amplifies power. Explains how Kr’ph was able to step up.

    In close-up, we see Angel’s hand as he reaches down to pick up a weapon from on top of the demons’ bodies. Connor watches him.

    ANGEL: Also explains why there was a big, red target painted on his forehead.

    CONNOR: You knew he had it? Were you going to do something about it?

    ANGEL: I was about to. Someone’s one step ahead.

    In the next image, we see Gwen in close-up, as she emerges from the tunnel. Her posture suggests she is so sickened by what she found that she’s staggering.

    GWEN: It’s a vampire. Or many vampires.

    We see the three of them together. Gwen clearly is affected by the carnage she found, as she stumbles to her left. Connor catches her gently. Angel watches, holding the machete he picked up.

    ANGEL: How can you be sure?

    GWEN: A few ladies told me. Not so much with words, but with their necks and horrified dead expressions. You guys don’t want to go back there. Maybe you do, Angel.

    The next image shows Angel studying the bloody figures drawn on the wall around the field. Connor stands next to him as he presses for information.

    CONNOR: Any idea who did this?

    (NARRATION) ANGEL: Absolutely.

    ANGEL: No.

    In close-up, Angel has turned to face Connor, reaching his right hand across to his son’s left shoulder.

    ANGEL: I need you to go to Wolfram & Hart. Get my dragon.

    CONNOR: “Get your dragon.” You are getting weirder and weirder. Where are you going?

    The image reverses, and an event tighter shows Connor’s face, intently listening to Angel’s instructions.

    ANGEL: Just go. He’ll find me. He’s a little jumpy around anyone who isn’t me, so call him by his name to let him know you’re on the up and up.

    CONNOR: What’s his name?

    The next image shows Angel leaning in close to Connor to whisper the answer. He is looking sideways at Gwen, as if worried she’s listening. Gwen, for her part, faces away from them, leaning against the wall rolling her arms and crossing her arms in annoyance.

    ANGEL: (whispers unintelligibly)

    CONNOR: That’s what you went with? I’m serious, Angel. Weirder and weirder.

    The scene changes, and Angel is back in his car, driving across town. As usual, Los Angeles is cracked, smoking, and tentacled in many places.

    (NARRATION) ANGEL: All signs point to it. It was bound to happen. Our paths were going to cross. I should have handled this before.

    In close-up, we see Angel as he drives. His face wears a tiny smirk.

    (NARRATION) ANGEL: No time like the present.

    The scene changes again, and it’s like nothing we’ve seen since before the fall. A lush green lawn of a mansion is filled with bikini-clad women, most human-looking, some demonic, green-skinned. But all beautiful. In the center of the lawn, a fountain is working, but it flows blood instead of water.

    SPIKE: (from out of the image) With the forces of evil gathered ‘round, it looked like we were done for. Most everyone else was a blubbering mess. I was embarrassed for them. So I said, “*keep a stiff upper lip and fight like the fate of the world depends on it*”. Because, I don’t have to tell you, it very well did.

    As he speaks, we see a dark-haired woman holding a golden cup approach the blood fountain.

    The next image shows her bending over, her long black hair flowing down her back, and filling the cup from the flowing blood. Spike continues to tell his story.

    SPIKE: (from out of the image) I led them bravely. “Bravely” doesn’t begin to cover it. I was… what’s the word they used? I was *perfect*.

    We see the woman approaching Spike with the cup held in front of her. We see his feet, on a lavish purple ottoman in front of the matching chair he is sitting in on the lawn. All around, other bikini clad women stare fawningly at him.

    SPIKE: When the smoke cleared, I looked the devil square in his big, red face and over Angel’s blubbering, I yelled “*Is that all you got, mate*?”

    In close-up, we see Spike’s hand reach out to take the cup from woman, who nearly bows as she hands it out to him. The cup may not be the same one, but it looks oddly similar to the fake “Cup of Eternal Torment”.

    SPIKE: Devil did his best, I’ll give him that. Wasn’t enough.

    And, when the image changes, we see the man himself. He is sitting on his chair, cup of blood held in his hand, wearing dark pink silk pajamas. His shirt is open and one of the women behind his chair runs her fingers over his chest. Her hair is worn in a long dark braid, and her bikini appears to be fastened with chains. Other women are visible behind him, still fawning over him. One is blue, one is green, one looks like a red feline with red eyes. The rest may all just be human women.

    SPIKE: In the end, the forces of darkness didn’t stand a chance against *Spike*. All bloody hail.

    RANDOM WOMEN: (in unison) Blood hail.

    In close-up, we see Spike drink deep from the cup of blood.

    SPIKE: Amen.

    The next image is a wider view of Spike, looking back over his shoulder to the woman who is touching him, the one in the chain bikini. This is SPIDER. She stares down at him with an adoring smile.

    SPIDER: That story gets better each and every time you tell it.

    SPIKE: You know how the rest of it goes. As a reward for my selfless bravery, Los Angeles was sent to heaven.

    In close-up, Spike narrows his eyes, reacting to the new voice that calls out to him. He knows it instantly as Angel’s.

    ANGEL: (from out of the image) Yeah, only he left one vital part out.

    SPIKE: Which of you can do funny voices? Because that’s not –

    Spike turns back and from behind him, we see Angel. Angel is holding his hands out dramatically as he tells the part Spike “left out”. Many of the nymph-like women are standing behind Angel, looking at him with almost as much admiration as they look at Spike.

    SPIKE: – Ah, hell.

    ANGEL: After he led us to victory, we proclaimed we’d be friends forever and did a synchronized hand-jive at the big carnival. Hey, Spike.

    In an extreme close-up, Spike notices something behind him.

    SPIKE: (quietly) Oh, for goodness sake… eyes back in your head, Spider.

    We see Spider lean down besides Spike’s ear. She looks at Angel while she talks to Spike, her eyes a little suspicious of him.

    SPIDER: He reeks of magic.

    SPIKE: Oh, and I don’t?

    In a wider image, a demon woman steps between Angel and Spike, who is still sitting. This one isn’t nymph-like at all. Instead, it’s a bald, almost faceless demon apparently over seven feet tall. Spike watches in amusement as she confronts Angel.

    ANGEL: I need to talk to you –

    DEMON WOMAN: Nobody touches Spike, lord of Beverly Hills and our savior squared.

    ANGEL: Savior. Squared. Yep. Now it’s officially hell.

    From behind Spider, we see Spike stand up indignantly to confront Angel. The tall demon woman steps aside. Spike, in mid-rant, hands his cup of blood to the waiting Spider, who is still behind him.

    SPIKE: Listen, mate. I didn’t rise from the ranks of prisoner to prisoner with benefits to protector back to prisoner with benefits to lord, just to have you come and muck it up. I did my time on Planet Big Bore. I fought your good fight. But it’s over. (quietly, to Spider) Spider, throw this angrily.

    The next image is a close-up of Spike from behind Angel’s shoulder as they face each other. Spider is behind Spike, and obligingly throws his cup of blood away.

    ANGEL: You think I want to be here? I was fine letting you go off on your own, but –

    SPIKE: Oh, you were *fine with it*? Thanks so much. Here I was, so very rude, forgetting to ask permission.

    We see Angel reaching with his left hand, like he’s going to draw his sword from his shoulder, and he looks that way, too. Spike leans in as he continues to grill Angel.

    SPIKE: Still can’t believe Wesley had to go and die, Gunn had to be a four-course buffet without asking boss-man to sign off on –

    ANGEL: Spike –

    It was a misdirect – the next image shows Angel punching Spike with a vicious right, sending him sprawling.

    ANGEL: – Quiet.

    We see Spike has landed at the feet of Spider and a green skinned demon woman, both of whom stare angrily at Angel as they reach down to Spike. Angel is angry, and pushes another green skinned demon woman out of his way as he heads toward Spike, his hand still in a fist.

    ANGEL: *We all knew what we were getting into. We knew what could happen.*

    SPIKE: Knew about the end of days, did you? Forget to leave that off the inter-office memo? You’re leaving, one of two ways.

    We see Spike back up on his feet, in game face and ready to fight. In the foreground, Angel’s fist is still ready, covered in blood from the first punch.

    SPIKE: One, in a teeny, tiny, little urn. Two –

    The next image is of Spike charging toward Angel, both shown in profile. Angel has his hands up, waiting for Spike.

    SPIKE: – You know what? I can only think of the one way.

    Before Spike can attack, we see Angel drive him back with a straight left to the face, landing with a *KRAK*.

    The next image is from above the two. Angel is standing over Spike, who’s laid out on the grass again.

    SPIKE: (quietly, to himself) It’s only because I’m drunk on demon brew, is what it is.

    ANGEL: Shut up. A lord was killed. Something was taken. People were drained.

    SPIKE: More than just you and I walking middle earth, you sod.

    ANGEL: There was an inscription on the walls. Written in blood.

    SPIKE: Was it about Kilroy? That guy makes the rounds.

    In a wider image, we see Angel talking as Spike gets to his feet. However, behind Angel, several of the demon women have caught site of something alarming, and they move aside in fear.

    ANGEL: It was written in primordial Sanskrit.

    The next image is a close-up of Angel’s back. A maroon gloved hand is reaching towards his back.

    ANGEL: So where is she?

    Next we see the hand gripping the long handle of Angel’s axe. Angel turns around to look, already too late. Spike, standing in front of him, is smirking now.

    SPIKE: Well. Speak of the she-devil. Still fancy yourself a detective, big boy? Go ahead –

    The last image reveals who has Angel, and she does have Angel. It’s Illyria, and she has Angel held by the back of his jacket, his feet off the ground, and his axe in her other hand. She looks angry in a way she’s not often seen. Spike finishes his thought as Illyria begins to threaten the now helpless Angel. Many of the demon women watch, and above, we see that the sky here is blue, yielding only to smoke and fire in the distance, away from the mansion.

    SPIKE: (continued) – Interrogate the suspect.

    ILLYRIA: Your presence is irritating my pet. Perhaps your dismemberment will soothe him.

    End of Chapter 2

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    Angel: After the Fall, Issue #3

    Start of Chapter 3

    The opening image is a luxurious mansion bedroom. There’s a bed, unmade. Clothes are strewn around the room, with bras hanging from the ceiling fan and lights. A champagne bottle and several glasses are on a table by the bed.

    (NARRATION) ANGEL: The thing about hell.

    The view shifts to the living room. It’s still a beautiful house, but messy; more bottles, more strewn clothing. The house seems to be a non-stop orgy when people are around.

    (NARRATION) ANGEL: It’s kinda what you’d expect. Yes, it’s hot. More humid than hot, really.

    In the kitchen, we see a center island table full of dishes, where people have been eating and drinking. A sliding glass door looks out unto a palm tree and patio outside.

    (NARRATION) ANGEL: But what you might not know is that the sun and the moon are out 24/7. Side by side. This means werewolves are stuck in a half-man/half-beast limbo. And vampires feel a constant mix of euphoria and that on-the-verge-of-bursting-into-flame feeling.

    The next image shows that same kitchen, but now the glass door is breaking as Angel flies backwards through it. He topples over the table where he’s been thrown.

    (NARRATION) ANGEL: Demons from the primordium age, however, even those that have had their power reduced by, let’s say, Mutari generators… they don’t seem to be affected.

    The view changes and we see Angel, covered in broken glass, on his hands and knees trying to stand up. Behind him, silhouetted in the doorway except for light reflecting from her eyes, is Illyria. She is stalking toward him.

    (NARRATION) ANGEL: She’s pissed. Moreso than usual. Don’t think she’s blaming me for being sent to hell –

    ANGEL: A lord was killed. Primordial Sanskrit was written all over the crime scene.

    (NARRATION) ANGEL: Fairly certain a primordial doesn’t waste time laying blame –

    Suddenly, rather than in the kitchen, Illyria is standing over an Angel from a different time. We see from behind her as this older Angel, dressed in a vest and dress shirt, with long hair, crawls backwards away from her. They are in a barn that may be from Angel’s life before being sired.

    (NARRATION) PAST ANGEL: What is wrong with this woman? Who *is* this woman? Where am I?

    Just as quickly, the scene is back in the kitchen, and Angel is sitting up, confused. Illyria is behind him, circling and waiting to attack again. Angel tries to talk to her about what happened in Brentwood, but loses his train of thought.

    ANGEL: There were women drained of their blood. Now either it’s you and your – sidekick, or someone… who wants… um. What was –

    In extreme close-up, we see Angel interrupted by Illyria’s fist striking him across the face. He grimaces in pain and blood flies off his lips.

    (NARRATION) Timeslip. May have to amend the earlier statement about hell not affecting primord –

    ANGEL: *OOOOOOPH*.

    Out in the garden, we see Spike standing with four of the bikini-clad women who hang out with him. He has his hands in the pockets of his robe and the women look mostly impatient and disinterested.

    SPIKE: Best hang back, loves. She’s been in a flaying mood lately. It’s not what it sounds like… learned that the hard way. Still walking with a bit of a limp.

    In the kitchen, Angel narrowly ducks out of the way of a punch from Illyria. Her fist plows through the tile of the kitchen wall. Angel is still trying to get her to talk to him, but also grabs at knives from the cutlery block on the counter.

    ANGEL: We need to talk.

    ILLYRIA: If I separate your pieces and hurl them in different directions, you will not return.

    ANGEL: Granted –

    In a close-up, we see Angel throw a hard punch at Illyria. Her face is a scowl of disdain as she casually leans her head back to dodge it.

    From a wider view, we see Illyria has caught Angel by his jacket lapel with her right hand, and is preparing a punishing punch with her left. Angel looks more frustrated than anything.

    ANGEL: (quietly) Come on…

    ILLYRIA: You’re half of what you were.

    The view reverses, and we see Angel jam one of the kitchen knives into Illyria’s hip, managing to pierce her armor.

    ANGEL: Tell me about it.

    ILLYRIA: Nnnn…

    (NARRATION) ANGEL: Through her armor. That’s impressive. The commercial does say it’ll cut right through a tin can and a thick juicy steak – I shouldn’t be surprised.

    The next image shows Illyria, standing, unharmed, pulling the knife out of her hip. She has flung Angel away casually, with him landing in the foreground.

    ILLYRIA: Annoying.

    The view changes, and we see from Angel’s angle that he is next to a dead security guard. He’s a uniformed guard, wearing a hip holster.

    (NARRATION) ANGEL: Former employee. Or someone wanting to knock off a lord. Either way, I’m seconds away from his fate.

    In close-up, we see Angel’s face as he reaches toward the guard’s body. Behind him, Illyria is at a kitchen drawer, picking up knives.

    (NARRATION) ANGEL: Oh.

    From a wide view, we see Angel roll up onto his knees. He is holding a semi-automatic pistol, having taken it off the guard’s body, and is aiming it at Illyria.

    ANGEL: I’m not leaving – until you tell me what you know about Westwood.

    In a close-up, we see Illyria staring back, unimpressed. She is holding three large knives in each hand, arranged like Chinese fans.

    ILLYRIA: It used to be a breeding ground for slur roamers before you pests planted your flag. Use that.

    On a close up of the gun, we see past it to Angel’s eyes as he pulls the trigger with an ineffectual *CLICK*. It’s unloaded, or it’s a misfire.

    ANGEL: Do you think I *want* to fight you, Illyria?

    The next image shows Illyria striking out at Angel, knocking the gun out of his hands. She looks furious that he tried to fire.

    ANGEL: I just want answers, so – wow.

    From a wide view, we see Illyria from behind as she attacks. In a blur of motion, she shoves knives into each of Angel’s hands, pinning him, arms spread, against the kitchen wall. She has two knives in each hand in almost an instant.

    ANGEL: *AAAAAARH* –

    (NARRATION) ANGEL: Fast. Always so damn fast.

    ILLYRIA: I want you away.

    In the next image, Illyria is leaning in, face to face with Angel. She stares into Angel’s eyes fiercely and runs the blade of one of the knives along his cheek. Angel is bleeding and looks a little afraid.

    (NARRATION) ANGEL: This was a mistake.

    ILLYRIA: Why do you insist on sullying my eyeline? It’s not –

    In a series of images, we see different visions of Angel in different times. The only thing that doesn’t change is our view of Illyria, from the waste down. The first image is of Angel as a puppet, each three-fingered hand pinned to the wall with knives. A man in a suit with a woman in a very small black dress watch him from across the room.

    (NARRATION) ANGEL: She’s hesitating. I don’t understand.

    (NARRATION) PUPPET ANGEL: Why is Fred dressed like that? What did Smile Time do to her?

    ILLYRIA: that

    The second image is of Angel in some possible future. He looks middle-aged, and his overcoat has a thick and rubberized collar. The wall is now metallic.

    (NARRATION) ANGEL: Is there a piece of Fred left?

    (NARRATION) FUTURE ANGEL: Didn’t think I’d see that face again.

    ILLYRIA: difficult

    The third image is of a small baby, wearing a diaper, thin hair spiked like Angel’s.

    BABY ANGEL: Guuuurg

    (NARRATION) ANGEL: Can I use that against her? Should I?

    (NARRATION) BABY ANGEL: Dark, warm gone.

    ILLYRIA: to comprehend.

    And instantly, we see the present Angel, still bleeding from the mouth, looking weak. As he exits the ‘timeslips’, he once again loses his focus.

    (NARRATION) ANGEL: Of course I should, I –

    ILLYRIA: Even for you.

    (NARRATION) ANGEL: – wait, what?

    The view changes, and we see Spike’s hand in close-up as he enters the kitchen. Illyria is still standing over Angel, knife in hand. Angel is crumpled to his knees, his hands still pinned to the wall.

    SPIKE: That’s enough, love.

    From above, Spike walks toward them, calm. Illyria is crouching in front of Angel now, holding the knife against his throat.

    SPIKE: You’ve had your fun. And seriously, that stance he’s been forced into is far too symbolic for a bottom-feeder like him.

    In extreme close-up, Illyria is staring intently at the knife at Angel’s throat. Angel’s head is tilted up, away from the blade. Spike is cautiously reaching out to Illyria.

    ILLYRIA: I an always find another pet, Spike. One who doesn’t so obviously try to steal glances at me while I soak.

    The view changes, and in a close-up, Spike looks surprised, and raises a finger in indignant protest.

    SPIKE: What? I was merely making sure you… you were free of hell-lice, is what it… missing the point here… let him go.

    The extreme close-up is on the blade of Illyria’s knife. She’s digging it into his throat firmly, and a trickle of blood appears below the blade. Illyria’s blue lips are visible as she speaks at nearly a whisper.

    ILLYRIA: If he’s gone, we move forward.

    From a wide view, Spike looks at the ceiling. Bits of debris start falling from the ceiling tiles, and a sound fills the room with an *AWUP AWUP*. Illyria is still crouching in front of Angel.

    ANGEL: I’m not – when is this?

    SPIKE: Still now.

    In close-up, Illyria is infuriated by the unidentified noise, shouting at Angel for answers.

    ILLYRIA: What is that sound? *What are you doing? Do you see why now? Do you?*

    In close-up, Angel manages a grim smile as he recognizes the sound.

    (NARRATION) ANGEL: Giant leathery wings, flapping about.

    ANGEL: Illyria, I have a feeling what I’m about to see… we could sell tickets to.

    Instantly, the image widens, and the kitchen falls apart with a *CRASH* as Angel’s dragon partner drives it’s head into the room, mouth open and teeth bared. Even Illyria looks surprised.

    The view reverses, and Illyria looks pleased to have a new challenge. In a viciously offhanded manner, she drives the knife into Angel’s side under the ribs with a *SHUK*.

    ANGEL: Nnnnnnnh –

    ILLYRIA: This will do.

    The view reverses again, and we see from behind Spike as Illyria strides away from him, toward the dragon. The giant dragon just stares at her approaching. Spike calls after her, almost managing to sound like a loyal servant.

    SPIKE: Don’t, Lady. You’re in no condition.

    In close-up, Illyria just glances over her shoulder at Spike, very dangerously.

    We see Spike in close-up, looking suitably cowed by that look, as he frees Angel’s hands.

    SPIKE: Right. Game on, then.

    The next image shows the two combatants staring at each other. Illyria is about as tall as the dragon’s head, and she is standing only a couple feet from it. They stare each other down.

    ILLYRIA: First strike, little dragon. And go.

    We see the dragon answer, opening its mouth and unleashing a giant stream of fire that engulfs Illyria. We see her turn away and shield herself from the fire.

    The next image shows Illyria on lying on her face, starting to get back up. The floor around her is scored from the flame, and the dragon stares at her. Spike is holding Angel up around the shoulder, looking on.

    In close-up, we see smoke coming off Illyria’s armor as she gets to her knees.

    In extreme close-up, Illyria looks up. Her eyes are angry, but energized.

    ILLYRIA: More.

    The next image shows Illyria diving at the dragon, grabbing it by one of the spiked horns running along its jaw. It watches her, already moving. Beneath their battle, we see Spike helping Angel get out of the house, still needing to support him.

    SPIKE: You knew where we were the entire time.

    ANGEL: I did. Would have dropped by sooner but –

    SPIKE: Who else knows?

    ANGEL: What?

    We see Spike and Angel emerge into the yard. Angel looks very rough. Three of Spike’s companions approach with concern.

    WOMAN: Should I tend to his wounds?

    SPIKE: You do and you’re out of the top twelve. Answer me, Angel.

    In close-up, we see Spike’s face as he stares at his old friend and nemesis, demanding the answer.

    SPIKE: *Who else knows we’re here*?

    Before Angel can answer, both of them are staring up. The dragon, Illyria still attached, blasts out of the roof of the Playboy Mansion, still breathing fire.

    In close-up, we see Angel and Spike staring dubiously at the fight.

    ANGEL: Right about now, I’d say anyone in a twenty-block radius who happens to be looking up.

    In the air above them, we see the dragon get it’s tongue wrapped around Illyria.

    In the next image, it has drawn her into its jaws, and she is trying to hold its mouth open. Her eyes actually appear alarmed.

    The dragon chomps its jaw shut with a *KLOMP*, apparently having swallowed her.

    The next image shows the dragon in the background, head raised victoriously. In front of it, Angel and Spike stand side by side as we see Spider facing away from us, approaching them. Her long braid sways against her back, and she is holding Angel’s axe like a prize for Spike.

    SPIKE: Bloody hell. We had a good thing going, and shock and awe, Angel came and mucked it up.

    SPIDER: Should I run him through with his own axe? Delicious irony.

    SPIKE: That’s not at all ironic, Spider.

    Suddenly, we see the dragon spit Illyria out with a *PTTTTTTTU*. She goes crashing through Spike’s blood fountain, destroying it, and dragging a trail of its contents across the lawn as she lands.

    The view changes, and we see Spike rolling his eyes in aggravation. Spider stands beside him sympathetically, while Angel watches from over his shoulder.

    SPIKE: Great. Fountain of blood is gone. When Fred Sonja is done, I want you to take that thing and get out.

    For her part, Illyria isn’t done fighting. She is back on her feet, covered in dirt and blood. Behind her, Spike and Angel have stepped away from the other women for a private conversation.

    ILLYRIA: Loud vampire! Fetch my arms! All of them!

    SPIKE: A bit busy here, Psycho.

    In close-up, we see Spike and Angel face to face, shouting at each other.

    ANGEL: I’m not leaving until you tell me what you know about –

    SPIKE: You don’t get it. You have no idea what you’re doing!

    ANGEL: But she’s acting strange, Spike. She’s showing emotion. You’re obviously, and not surprisingly, a horrible influence on her.

    The view shifts to a close-up of Angel, and his eyes widen in surprise as a voice calls out to him.

    VOICE: Spike and Illyria had nothing to do with it.

    We see Connor approach them both.

    ANGEL: Connor.

    CONNOR: They don’t go around putting innocents in danger.

    ANGEL: You don’t know that.

    CONNOR: No, I really do.

    In the background, we see the dragon and Illyria are back at it, fighting to a stand-still as she swings around its head, kicking at it. In the foreground, Connor faces both Spike and Angel, and continues to explain. All of them are ignoring the fight now, although a few of the women in the yard are watching it curiously.

    CONNOR: Spike’s on our side. Well, mine, anyway.

    In close-up, Angel’s face turns angry.

    ANGEL: He’s what?

    The scene changes, and we see Angel, followed by Spider and Spike, walking into a cellar. Connor stands in front of them, half way down a flight of stairs. A couple of the women from the yard have followed them.

    (NARRATION) ANGEL: Words fail me.

    CONNOR: if you had told me you were going to see Spike, I could have told you.

    The view reverses, and we see Connor gesturing toward a room full of humans. There are dozens of people sitting on couches or milling around. The ones that look up look happy to see Connor.

    CONNOR: Spike goes out on rounds. Half the people staying with me are sent from him. Problem is, and it’s not really a problem, he’s been saving so many lately, we don’t have room. He’s letting them stay until I find bigger digs.

    In close-up, Angel stares at Spike, asking for clarification. Spike points a finger up like a gun at Angel.

    ANGEL: So the whole “undead Hugh Hefner” routine?

    SPIKE: Give ‘til it hurts, that’s my motto. Does it hurt, Angel?

    In a wider view, we see Spike spreading his arms magnanimously toward the people below. Spider stands beside him looking like nothing so much as his queen. Angel just stares unhappily. Some of the people down the steps are raising their arms as if cheering for Spike.

    SPIKE: Been trainin’ the ladies by day. By night, however –

    ANGEL: You’re working with Connor.

    The next image is back out on the yard. Angel walks across the lawn by himself, holding his side. His wound is bleeding heavily. Spike and the others watch from the door of the house. The dragon and Illyria are still bashing at each other.

    ANGEL: Stop playing, we’re leaving.

    ILLYRIA: I’m not yet sated.

    ANGEL: Join the club.

    The next image shows Connor has caught up to Angel outside.

    CONNOR: Are you –

    ANGEL: I’m fine. Do you need a ride?

    CONNOR: I drove here. The dragon kinda indicated that it wanted me to ride on his back but I thought that would be weird. Why, you don’t… I mean… it’s cool if you do, I just –

    The conversation trails off, and we see Angel’s black sports car driving down one of the ruined streets. The dragon flies over him, protectively. Tentacles emerge from the buildings and the street, and a body is hanging from a street light.

    (NARRATION) ANGEL: So I killed the son of a lord. Put Connor in danger. While Spike is playing champion and best pal. What did I expect? I was out for months – at least Spike isn’t killing people.

    Angel drives his car toward our view, the dragon trailing him.

    (NARRATION) ANGEL: So much easier if Spike was killing people.

    The scene changes, and we see Wesley standing alone in front of a large bookshelf.

    In close-up, we see him looking at a particular title, with his fingers disappearing into the spine when he reaches for it.

    The view reverses as Wesley sees Angel enter the world. Wesley doesn’t say anything about Angel’s wounds, and gets straight to business.

    WESLEY: You need to lay low. The lords are congregating to discuss what happened to Burge’s son.

    ANGEL: Whoever killed the lord of Westwood pinned it on… pinned it on Spike.

    We see Wesley watch as Angel takes a broadsword from the weapons on the wall.

    ANGEL: So we had a talk.

    WESLEY: Did you talk with knives?

    ANGEL: These wounds weren’t from him. He’s with…

    (NARRATION) ANGEL: No. No point in Wesley feeling exactly like I do right now.

    From Wesley’s angle, we see Angel unsheathing the sword.

    ANGEL: … an elite group of scantily clad vigilante trainees. Somebody wanted me there, somebody wants me to play *his* or *her* or *its* game.

    WESLEY: So what should we do now?

    We see Angel determined face in a close-up as he faces Wes, raising the sword.

    ANGEL: Change the game.

    The scene changes, and we see a Victorian style home. A chariot is parked in front, with a giant demon driving it. There’s also a blue monster truck, with spikes sticking out of the wheel rims, and a body impaled on a spike above the cab. A giant worm like creature is also laying besides the vehicles. There’s a voice from inside the house – this is the meeting place.

    VOICE: Once again, the lord of Silverlake has declined to participate in our gathering. I would like to bring up the option of shucking him.

    The next image is inside the house, at a conference table made of bones. The speaker is a pale woman, with no hair. She is wearing a black dress with spikes sticking from the gloves and the neckline. She sits casually on two slaves posed together as a chair. She is labeled in the image as the “lord of Burbank”. Another monster, almost childlike, wearing a cabaret costume, is labeled “lord of Sherman Oaks”. At the opposite end of the table there is a tall, horned demon with red skin. He appears to be writing notes. He is labeled “lord of Weho”. Another demon looks like a loan shark, literally, and is labeled “lord of Santa Monica”. A scarecrow like demon is labeled “lord of Compton”. Another demon we can’t quite see clearly is labeled as “lord of Century City”. Our view of him is obscured by Burge, pacing around the table. He is, of course, “lord of Downtown Los Angeles”.

    BURBANK: Also, you’ll notice Beverly Hills is not represented.

    COMPTON: We should bring her down. We could. All of us. She ended Kr’ph

    BURBANK: You don’t know that. And you don’t know that all of us could bring her down.

    Their conversation is interrupted as Burge slams his clawed hand down on the table.

    BURGE: None of this is important! My son is *dead* because of Angel.

    BURBANK: If not for Angel, we wouldn’t be here.

    BURGE: I’m not here to debate whether or not we’re killing him. We are.

    In close-up, Burge’s red eyes glow furiously as he snarls in anger[/i].

    BURGE: I’m here to discuss the most brutal way to do it.

    The view reverses, and we see from behind the lord of Weho as he answers Burge’s demands.

    WEHO: Wolfram & Hart warned you not to.

    BURGE: Stop reading my mind.

    WEHO: I’m not. I can’t. They warned me, too. Immediately after the fall, I was contemplating it.

    In close-up again, Burge has heard more than he can stand.

    BURGE: *I DON’T CARE ABOUT WOLFRAM & HART, I WANT ANGEL*!

    ANGEL: (from out of the image) ‘Kay.

    The view changes, and we see Angel and Wesley walk into the room. Angel is carrying his sword. However, he appears to be leaving a trail of blood drops as he walks.

    ANGEL: Let’s go, then.

    BURBANK: You can’t be here.

    ANGEL: Yet I am. Life throws these crazy curveballs.

    In close-up, we see Angel staring down the assembled demons. Wesley has his arms crossed, standing near Angel, facing to the side.

    ANGEL: Had a talk with my friendly neighborhood Wolfram & Hart rep. He has something to say.

    WESLEY: (quietly, to Angel) Really?

    ANGEL: (answering) You wanted baby steps.

    WESLEY: (to everyone) Do what you will with Angel.

    The next image is of Angel and Burge leaning across the table, facing each other. Other demon lords look on.

    ANGEL: So. Make with the vengeance. Do your worst. But if I take you down like I did your son… *I’m* the new lord of Downtown Los Angeles.

    BURGE: You’re going to be in charge of my domain? You’re going to be in charge of thousands of enslaved humans?

    From behind Angel, we see Burge’s face as Angel answers.

    ANGEL: in charge, check. But I’ve got a different plan for the humans. Less slavery-esque. Now, should we do it here or outside? I’m guessing outside as this room was cursed with a power countermand. Just so you knuckleheads don’t rip each other apart.

    In a wider view, Burge turns away from Angel and starts to hedge.

    BURGE: Not here. Not today. I… would like to appoint a champion to fight in my place. You shall fight my best man for control of my domain.

    ANGEL: Sounds great. Thing is, Burge, you’re barely worth my time by yourself.

    In a wider view, we see from above as Angel holds his sword up. He’s surrounded by the various demons, all staring at him.

    ANGEL: So I’m challenging everyone here. For all of Los Angeles.

    BURBANK: You dare challenge the

    ANGEL: Short on time here. Had a long day, yes, I do.

    We see the demons all standing together, staring back at Angel, maybe even a little impressed. The shark demon speaks first.

    SHARK DEMON: One vamp in charge of the whole she-bang.

    BURGE: It doesn’t matter. All of our champions against Angel by his lonesome? It will be a slaughter!

    In close-up, we see Wesley leaning toward Angel to whisper to him. He is clearly concerned.

    WESLEY: It will, you know – Burge is right. It will absolutely be a slaughter.

    ANGEL: We’ll think of something. We’re the kings of the last-minute saves. Except for that one time. When I sent everyone to hell.

    From above, we see Angel and Wesley walking out of the room. Burge gives them the date of the battle as the two march out. Angel slings his broadsword around his shoulder.

    BURGE: Two days. To gather our best men. And for you to make peace with whoever passes for your loved ones.

    ANGEL: Nice. Have your people call my ghost people to arrange a time and place.

    (NARRATION) ANGEL: A rash decision? Yeah. And it wasn’t completely because of Connor and Spike being Hollywood’s newest it-couple.

    The next image shows the demons all lined up, staring ahead arrogantly.

    (NARRATION) ANGEL: Really, it wasn’t. Two days. Two days to figure out how I’m bringing down half a dozen of hell’s most brutal minions. And to heal from normally mortal wounds. Another thing about hell. Doesn’t alter a vampire’s quick healing faculties, so a vamp can still mend quickly.

    The last image is of Angel, as he walks out of the room. Wesley is behind him, with the demons, in silhouette, looking on in the background. With his back to them, Angel no longer conceals obvious pain. He is gripping his side where Illyria stabbed him, and his shirt is soaked with blood. He is grimacing, and using his free hand to grip the door for support.

    (NARRATION) ANGEL: Which, of course, would mean so much more… if I were still a vampire.

    End of Chapter 3

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    Angel: After the Fall, Issue #4

    Start of Chapter 4

    “THEN”

    The opening image is a flashback we’ve waited for anxiously. We see Angel standing in the midst of demons, some dead, some still fighting. He has one gripped around the throat with his left hand and his right fist drawn back for a punch. The rain is pouring down in the alleyway, and it’s clear as Angel’s narration comes in that this is the First Night. His narration is discordant, almost stream of consciousness, thoughts coming in fragments as he fights.

    (NARRATION) ANGEL: They keep coming. Hope Connor got far enough away. First heat down. Where’s Spike? Oh. Dragon’s helping our odds. Where’s Gunn? *Where’s Gunn*?

    The next image is a sudden transition, and we see Angel in close-up, his mouth open like he’s screaming. He is blurry, vertically blurred as if in motion.

    Then the image shifts and he’s standing alone on a rooftop. Although he doesn’t notice it, behind him, tentacles have grown out of buildings, fires are burning uncontrollably, and the sun and moon are both in the sky. A bloody skeleton is on the roof in front of him.

    (NARRATION) ANGEL: Where? Teleported? Get back to the fight.

    From ground level, we look up and see Angel looking back down at the street, above 10 stories below him, the moon and sun in the sky above him. On the street, a young couple is retreating into a pink sports car from a zombie who’s threatening them.

    (NARRATION) ANGEL: Zombie? Tacky. Have to get back to the fight.

    In close-up, we see Angel leap from the roof, pulling his legs up to brace for a landing on the street below.

    (NARRATION) ANGEL: Quick beheading. Back to the fight. Heart racing. Where was Gunn?

    In close-up, Angel’s eyes widen in a panicking realization as he falls.

    (NARRATION) ANGEL: He’ll be fine. No. He was dying. People screaming.

    In extreme close-up, Angel has realized something is wrong as he continues to fall.

    (NARRATION) ANGEL: Heart racing?

    The next image shows Angel slam bonelessly into the car with a *KRITCH*, and him bouncing off the roof as it caves in and the windshields shatter.

    Then we see Angel from above where he is lying on the ground. His legs are twisted back at unnatural angles, and blood is trailing from his mouth.

    (NARRATION) ANGEL: Legs broken? Back, too. *Heart racing*?

    In extreme close-up, Angel’s pained, bloody face widens, realizing.

    (NARRATION) ANGEL: Oh.

    In a new image, we see tentacles bursting from the street in the distance from Angel’s point of view, seen past the wheel of the sports car he landed on.

    And then we see something else. Wesley, wearing his old suit and glasses, walking toward Angel, apparently indifferent to what’s going on around him.

    We see the two of them facing each other, Angel raising his head from the ground, Wesley crouching in front of him.

    ANGEL: Gunn got pulled away in the fight. We have to –

    WESLEY: Angel.

    ANGEL: *You weren’t there*. Trust me, he needs

    WESLEY: Angel. I’m sorry.

    The view shifts to Angel and his face relaxes, and he stops arguing.

    In extreme close-up, we see him lower his head back to the ground and stare up, helplessly.

    ANGEL: So am I.

    “NOW”

    Back in the present, we see Angel, shirtless, lying on a cot in Wolfram & Hart. He is holding a book with what appears to be a monster’s face for it’s binding in his right hand, and a paraside of some kind in his left. Wesley stands beside him, helping him through whatever healing process he’s using. The stab wound Illyria gave him is visible on his right side.

    ANGEL: Ts’nad Hc-iz T’guerhr ev! Nella!

    WESLEY: *Ts’nad Hc-iz T’guerhr ev! Nella*!

    ANGEL: Okay, next… it says you’re supposed to put one hand on your hip and the other, kinda like a spout –

    The view reverses and see Angel in close-up and Wesley behind him.

    WESLEY: Wait… really?

    ANGEL: No. Tnuets-ne’zal gnav! Snem’ed!

    We see Angel from Wesley’s point of view as the former watcher holds his hand out toward Angel. As Wesley repeats the spell, a blast of red and pink energy bursts from Angel’s wound.

    WESLEY: *Snem’ed*!

    ANGEL: Nnnnn –

    We see Angel’s torso in close-up, with his left hand and the parasite visible in the foreground. The pink energy is disappearing into his wound again, healing him.

    WESLEY: Are you –

    ANGEL: … Fine. I’m… good.

    From a wider view, we see Angel starting to sit up, the last of the pink energy disappearing. He looks over his shoulder as he and Wesley talk.

    WESLEY: That was a ball. Now all we need to do is figure out how one human can possibly defeat hell’s most powerful champions.

    ANGEL: (whispering) We agreed not to say that out loud. Fine, you said the h-word, let’s… let’s vent our feelings, because we both love that.

    We see Angel in close up now almost sitting upright. His wound is barely glowing now, obviously healed.

    WESLEY: Why’d you do it?

    ANGEL: It’s what you wanted. We’re prepared. We’ve planted seeds.

    WESLEY: Didn’t answer my question.

    The view reverses, and we see Wesley watch Angel walk toward the window of the room they are in.

    ANGEL: I want out of hell.

    WESLEY: And you think picking a fight will do that? Rock the heavens, smash the barrier, let the calvary (sic) in to take you back?

    ANGEL: It’s not hell because of where we are.

    We see Angel’s human reflection in close-up in the mirror, but we can also see he’s not looking at it, but instead at the sky outside.

    ANGEL: Fire, brimstone, demons. That’s just window dressing. I’m alive. I’m breathing, I’m sweating, I’m aching from fights that occurred two months ago. I’ts what I’ve always wanted. And it’s not because of the shanshu, I signed that destiny away. I’m free of the vampire for one reason –

    In extreme close-up, we see Angel’s eyes as he turns his head to look at Wesley.

    ANGEL: – *They* know right now is when I need it the most. Only way to get out of hell. Act like nothing’s changed.

    The view reverses, and we see Wesley staring soberly back at Angel.

    WESLEY: I understand. But things have changed. We’re running on empty with the magics we need to keep up the vampire glamor. And the every-day quick fixes on your wounds aren’t mean for humans. *Which you are*. I’m the supernatural one now – you’re a human being. You have to call off the big after-school rumble.

    We see the two of them from above, Angel handing his head, Wesley folding his arms across his chest. As Wesley finishes talking, we see an orange glow appear in the air behind him.

    WESLEY: But… you won’t.

    From over Angel’s silhouetted shoulder, we see Wesley staring back at Angel unhappily. Behind him, however, the orange glow has filled the entire background. Two female faces are visible coalescing in the light.

    WESLEY: Back to work, then.

    ANGEL: Wesley –

    The view reverses, and Angel tries to shove Wesley aside protectively. Of course his arm goes right through as Wesley is non-corporeal. But, he does look back over his shoulder, at the two beautiful, nymph-like women. They are wearing loose white gowns, and one has pink hair, the other teal, both long and flowing. They are reminiscent of the Furies, but are not them.

    ANGEL: *Look out*! See, this is what happens when we vent. People overhear, it’s a whole thing.

    In a wider view, we see Angel and Wesley backed up against a wall, facing the two women who have appeared.

    WESLEY: (quietly) Oh, my. Maybe it’s my time… maybe I walk into the light… I can’t leave now! He needs me! *He needs me*! Angel, you need me, right? Because if you don’t –

    TEAL-HAIRED WOMAN: Angel –

    PINK-HAIRED WOMAN: Angel –

    The next image shows the two women wrapping their arms around Angel, and him rather awkwardly allowing it. They are trying to escort him away.

    PINK: We came for *you*.

    TEAL: For you, Angel. For you.

    WESLEY: (from out of the image, to himself) Well that was a short-lived excitement.

    The view widens and we see from outside the building through the window. Wesley stands to the side, looking a little chagrined, as the women continue to pull Angel along.

    PINK: Come with us.

    TEAL: Into the light.

    PINK: Walk into the light.

    TEAL: Light blue Acura.

    PINK: Walk into the light blue Acura.

    TEAL: It’s in the garage.

    The view widens further to show most of the ruined Wolfram & Hart building. On the sidewalk outside, the dragon is curled up, resting. From inside the building, the women continue talking.

    PINK: The parking garage.

    TEAL: With the other wonderful cars.

    From ground level, we see the headlights of the Acura appear from behind the Wolfram & Hart marquee as it leaves the garage. The dragon raises its head alertly.

    From above, we see the dragon take wing and follow the Acura out onto the street, guarding Angel.

    The scene stays at the building, though, and we see a silhouetted figure on a rooftop across from Wolfram & Hart, watching the dragon fly away.

    The view reverses, and we see Gunn standing at the edge of the roof, a bag strapped over his shoulder and a grappling hook on a rope in the other. Behind him are his two henchmen, waiting for his command.

    GUNN: Alright.

    And then we see Gunn and the other vampires leap from the rooftop, with Gunn slinging the grappling hook ahead of him.

    GUNN: Now.

    The scene shifts completely, and we see an establishing shot of the Playboy Mansion, and a voice from inside. It belongs to the Loan Shark, one of the demon lords.

    LOAN SHARK: He’s issued a challenge, one champion…

    Inside, we see the Loan Shark… in holographic projection… standing in front of Spike and Spider. Behind the projection are two henchmen of his, fishlike beings (perhaps the Sunnydale swimteam). Spike is still wearing his pink pajamas and robe, and Spider is in her matching bikini. They are standing in front of a thick, steel vault door.

    LOAN SHARK: … for each lord. So be a good little bloodsack and get your lord.

    SPIKE: I’m a lord. I’m a co-lord.

    LOAN SHARK: That’s hilarious. Get your lord.

    As Spike answers, we see him hold a hand up to the vault door, cocking his head at it, gently even. From inside, the occupant, who can only be Illyria, is bellowing.

    SPIKE: She’s busy with day-to-day lord duties and upkeep.

    ILLYRIA: *AAAAAAAAAAAR*

    SPIKE: Please, pet. Not now.

    The view reverses, and one of the henchfish is holding an open box out for Spike. Spike reaches his hand for the object inside. It’s a golden shaft of some kind. Behind the henchfish, the Loan Shark explains this ‘gift’.

    LOAN SHARK: When she’s done with her lordly screaming, give her this. We realized one vampire versus half a dozen of hell’s most brutal warriors doesn’t stand a chance. We also realize he’s a bit of a cockroach and we should plan accordingly. So, if he does win –

    The next image shows Spike and Spider in close-up. He is holding the device in his hands carefully. It’s a golden spire, maybe two feet long. At the base are 5 concentric circles arrange in a cone, like the head of a scepter. Spider is curling her fingers into Spike’s shoulder, and her eyes are widened in amazement at what Spike is holding.

    SPIKE: What is this?

    SPIDER: Hagun shaft. Only eight exist. *Give it*. Forged in the first fires, *I want it*, created by and for an immortal so he could end his existence once this world got tireseom. Extremely violent death for its intended. Turns ones’ immortal insides inside- out. World never did get tiresome. Hagun shafts seemingly lost but here one is. *You should give me that right now*.

    In a wider view, the henchfish turn to leave, and the Loan Shark cuts off his projection after signing off. Spike and Spider stand in front of the vault watching them leave.

    LOAN SHARK: All the lords have one. Just a little somethin’ in case here freezes over and Angel wins. Kind of over your cute little head. Give it to Illyria, she can handle it. Take care, little guy.

    SPIDER: He seemed sweet. So who gets to go up against Angel?

    In extreme close-up, Spike looks away thoughtfully.

    SPIKE: Doesn’t make much bloody difference either way. Angel beats the odds, the odds beat him.

    The next image shows the two of them. Spike has turned his attention back to the vault, and let Spider take the Hagun shaft from him.

    SPIDER: You don’t need this, do you? You can take Angel.

    SPIKE: Thank you for that. Get out, Spider.

    SPIDER: You should.

    As Spider continues, Spike suddenly ducks his head back as a huge dent explodes outward in the vault door, accompanied by more of Illyria’s screaming. Spider looks sidelong at the door, nervously.

    SPIDER: You do Angel, we do the other lords, and we won’t have to hole up in fear anymore!

    SPIKE: “Hole up in fear”?

    In a wider shot, Spike turns his back to the vault door, leaning against it almost protectively. Spider grips the Hagun shaft tightly as she explains her statement.

    SPIDER: What do you call it?

    SPIKE: Staying out of the way while simultaneously saving the day.

    SPIDER: Listen. When we first crossed paths, the other ladies wanted to end you. You were shockingly handsome but a tad scrawny and very much the loudmouth. And your traveling companion, the lass behind door number one, she was a tad unstable.

    The next image shows them in almost the same posture, but it appears to be another timeslip like we saw with Illyria and Angel. Spider and Spike are now both dressed in 19th century clothes, with Spike’s hair long and tied back in a ponytail. He looks very much like William, either human or shortly after being turned. Spider is still holding the Hagun shaft.

    SPIDER: I told them to spare you. I had rumblings that started in my heart and ended beyond. And I was right. You stepped up and eventually *we* began following *you*. You’re the single best thing about this or any world. We don’t have to run, sneak-save the humans and go back to our hiding spot, we have the power. Hell, behind that door is enough mojo to –

    In the next image, Spike cuts her off… perhaps literally as well as figuratively. We’re seeing another timeslip, and, again like with Angel, it’s the future. In the background, the city is brightly lit, and flying cars are visible. Spike is wearing his leather duster, but what looks like a futuristic metal belt. At his feet, a female body is crumpled, decapitated. It may or may not be Spider – the body is unidentifiable and appears to be covered in mud or scars. Most interestingly, Spike is holding a weapon that looks, although very imprecisely, like the Scythe, the ancestral weapon of the Slayer, currently wielded by Buffy Summers and destined to be the weapon of Melaka Fray.

    SPIKE: We’re not using her. Not like that. Um. Spider?

    And we see Spike and Spider from above, suddenly back in regular time. Spike is resolutely pointing a finger away from the vault, sending Spider away. Before she goes, holding the Hagun shaft at her side, she makes one more case for Spike to battle Angel.

    SPIDER: I know you have a bond with Angel. I know it’s deeper than you admit. But you’re not responsible for him. He’s going to die anyway, if it’s by the lords’ hands things go back to status quo. If it’s by yours, we can kickstart the road back and do some good, hey was I just sans head? Don’t soft-shoe, it felt like –

    SPIKE: Go. I have to think.

    From a close-up over Spike’s shoulder, we see him staring at the dent Illyria made in the vault door.

    ILLYRIA: *AAAAAAAAAAAR*

    SPIKE: Yeah. Tell me about it.

    The scene shifts, and we see the blue Acura gliding through the ruined streets, collapsed building and giant tentacles lining the roadway.

    ANGEL: Oh, someone’s stewing.

    Inside the car, we see Angel and Wesley are in the backseat. Teal is driving and Pink is in the passenger seat.

    PINK: The gods. They’re moody.

    TEAL: Demigods.

    PINK: Anti-gods.

    TEAL: The forces are rising.

    We see the car again, approaching a walled off area. The wall looks cracked and ruined, a fire burning outside of it.

    ANGEL: You know anything about it?

    WESLEY: If it’s Wolfram & Hart, they left me off that interoffice memo. You took off your white glove and slapped half a dozen of the most powerful warlords in hell last night I’d say they’re preparing their response.

    The next image shows the car after it’s come through the gate. It’s a total contradiction. On this side of the gate, little pink fairies fly the air, and cute little black puffballs like tribbles watch the car drive by. The plants are lush and green, and the streets are clean.

    TEAL: Don’t stress, vampire and ghost.

    PINK: No need. Leave the problems of your outside world behind, everything is a-okay.

    TEAL: It’s better than a-okay.

    From a wide view, we see the car has pulled up to the curb, and Pink, Teal, Angel, and Wesley are standing outside it. The dragon flies overhead. The tract houses are all pristine. An ice-cream truck turns onto the block. Various creatures are walking the streets, one is mowing his yard. They all have pleasant greetings for the visitors.

    TEAL: It’s *Silver Lake*!

    PEDESTRIAN #1: Welcome, friendly vampire!

    PEDESTRIAN #2: Looking good, vampire!

    CREATURE ON FENCE: Hey, man, great soul!

    LAWNMOWER: Smart suit there, ghost!

    In a closer view, we see Angel and Wes, with Pink and Teal behind them, staring at the house they’ve come to see.

    ANGEL: I’m surprised he wants to see us.

    WESLEY: I don’t trust it.

    ANGEL: I do. I feel… oddly content.

    We see the four arrivals at a distance. Above them, a large woman with a woman’s head flies by. In the foreground, we see Lorne’s hand as he steps into the image.

    PINK: You can thank Francis for that. He was a struggling performance artist before we all went to hell, but our lord helped her to tap into her inner harpy. Now she emits a soothing song that keeps everyone here centered.

    LORNE: Now, Gabs, I told you –

    In the next image, we see Lorne standing, arms open magnamimously. He’s wearing a yellow suit with red stripes and lining. He has a cape tied over his shoulders, and red epaulettes on his shoulders. He has a red crown seated on his head, between his horns. Behind him, a small creature dressed in a kiddie football uniform follows, as well as some sort of demonic Elvis impersonator.

    LORNE: – watch the “lord”-speak, I’m no more fabulous than anyone else in Silver Lake. (quietly) besides, once Elton John nabbed the title, it lost some of its zing.

    GABS: Of course, Lorne. My anti-non-mistake.

    In close-up, we see Angel and Lorne step into each other’s arms, doing the pure Hollywood cheek kiss greeting.

    LORNE: Angel-cakes!

    ANGEL: looking good, Lorne.

    LORNE: Like that’s new. Sorry I didn’t get you myself but I step out of the protective bubble and everyone worries. Seriously, it’s like living in a town-full of you’s. And Wesley!

    We see Lorne step toward Wes, but pull up short before trying to hug him – he realizes that Wesley isn’t corporeal.

    LORNE: Um.

    WESLEY: Rain check on the hug?

    LORNE: Roger that. (quietly) Stuck in that suit for eternity. W&H’s cruelest act yet.

    The next image shows that Angel and Lorne are walking along a street in Silver Lake, shops and traffic around them – no sign of the nightmares surrounding them. Pink fairies float about. Wesley is following them quietly.

    ANGEL: I thought you didn’t want to see me again.

    LORNE: Heh, wouldn’t be Angel if you didn’t ask the hard questions. I was more than happy to aid you in your never-ending quest. More than happy, but… fighting, killing, the evil that men do, that was never what I was about. It definitely kick-started a gray period, no doubt. Then I found a purpose. These people and other assorted creatures need me. But I’m never far.

    We see them arrive at a diner of some kind. People sit in booths, as well as various creatures. One looks like an imp, floating in mid-air and manipulating a giant ball of light that seems to be like a crystal ball, with images and animals visible inside it.

    LORNE: I always keep an eye on my friends. The ones I can find, anyway. Connor, even Spike. Can’t get a fix on you when you’re in HQ. Some kind of hoo-doo block by the Senior Partners, but you’re never far from my heart – I’m here when you need me. Case in point, right about nowish.

    In close-up, we see Lorne look at Angel with concern, and Angel looking back with surprise at how much Lorne knows.

    LORNE: Challenging the lords, Angel? Really? Not feeling dead enough?

    ANGEL: How’d you –

    LORNE: They gave me a care package, and said I could send a champion. I told them to go screw. It came out “no, thank you, sir, please leave my little safe haven alone,” but the tone was 100&#37; “go screw.”

    The view reverses, and we see Angel actually smiling. In the foreground, Lorne snaps his fingers with a *SNAP* at the imp who is using the giant crystal ball.

    ANGEL: Thanks, Lorne.

    LORNE: Don’t thank me. Sure, you don’t have to worry about any threats from my side. But, well. I don’t know how to say it. Show ‘em, Timothy.

    The view widens and we see Angel and Lorne both looking at the crystal ball that Timothy was using. The imp floats above it. Inside, we see a demon that looks like Skip, but female. Another look like a dinosaur, and another is almost totally silhouetted, but has sharp teeth.

    ANGEL: Oh. Is that a –

    LORNE: T-rex? I think so.

    ANGEL: No, I was talking about the –

    LORNE: She-Skip?

    ANGEL: Yeah.

    The next image shows Angel and Lorne leaving the diner, seen from the ground up.

    LORNE: “Yeah”? He says “yeah”? Don’t you get it? You don’t, of course you don’t, that’s why I sent for you. For the good of Silver Lake, I’ve pinky-swore to stay outta anything that involves scrapes, scraps, or maulings, so I’m officially telling you that there’s nothing I can do to help.

    From above, we see Angel and Wesley looking up into the air with surprised expressions. Lorne, though, is gesturing upwards with one hand like he’s revealing the grand prize on a game show.

    LORNE: Unofficially, however… I can point you in the direction of the smallest glimmer of hope.

    The image reverses, and we see the three standing up at a man riding a black Pegasus, his hair flying behind him, a giant broadsword held in his hand. It’s Groo, the champion from Pylea.

    GROO: I assure you, my glimmering hope is so large, it eclipses the sun and the moon! Angel! Wesley! Oh, this is the day of days!

    ANGEL: Groosalugg?

    WESLEY: Must admit. Didn’t see this coming.

    We see Groo stepping away from his flying mount, having sheathed the broadsword in its saddle. He walks toward Angel and Wesley, hands raised in greeting.

    GROO: Hell has been kind to you, old friend! And Wesley! I heard you’re without mass! Good for you, always keep your enemies guessing!

    In close-up, Groo claps a hand collegially around Angel’s shoulder. Groo is smiling brightly, and Angel seems to be close to smiling in spite of himself.

    GROO: Un-lord Lorne tells me you’re going to re-die in grand final battle against evil incarnate. Let’s see if I can scare up an arsenal that will prolong your existence for a few moments!

    As Groo leads Angel away, we see Lorne and Wesley face each other in the foreground. In the distance, the dragon does somersaults in the air.

    LORNE: Wesley, you’re looking… um, I like the retro transparent thing, it’s good.

    WESLEY: Lorne –

    The view reverses and we see them in close-up, side by side, speaking candidly to each other.

    WESLEY: You’re scared of me.

    LORNE What? NNo way, you’re Wesley, my old friend and partner in… partner in bringing down the evil corporation that must not be named… who, you know, is now resurrected by said corporation for reasons only clear to him and, and… oh, come on, Wes. How do you expect me to act?

    From a wide shot, we see Angel and Groo still walking down the street, Groo’s arm around his shoulder. Wes and Lorne follow at a distance, walking at arm’s length of each other.

    LORNE: I’ve found a little oasis in the middle of the worst place possible. Inviting you in as Angel’s plus-on is like opening the gates of Eden so the serpent can get a front row seat.

    WESLEY: I understand. My reasons for being brought back are less than noble.

    In extreme close-up, we see Wesley staring ahead, his expression weary.

    WESLEY: But my intentions, all that aside… Wolfram & Hart sent us here, but they don’t control it. As much as they’d like to, and they’re trying. It’s too much evil for even them. There are forces at work that they have nothing to do with. They’re the ones we have to worry about.

    The scene changes, and we see the Wolfram & Hart building. Gunn and his henchmen are walking out of it, past the marquee, ignoring the small demons sitting there.

    HENCHMAN #1: Yeah! You keep staring, demons! Two seconds away from getting a timberland straight up what passes for your demon ass!

    GUNN: Quiet.

    HENCHMAN #1: ‘Kay.

    In a close-up, we look down at Gunn and his henchman. Gunn’s bag is gone, and he’s now holding a piece of paper in his left hand.

    HENCHMAN: Can’t believe the package was missing. Fish woulda told us, if you hadn’t knocked him silly. Just sayin’. Should we have grabbed all those potions and jewelry and stuff?

    GUNN: No.

    The view reverses, and we see Gunn from behind as he stares intently into the Wolfram & Hart building. The henchman faces him, back to the building, as he continues to ramble.

    GUNN: Nothing but witch doctor healing crap.

    HENCHMAN: Oh. So we don’t need something that could us, you know, exist longer…

    The next image is a close-up of what Gunn is holding as he lifts it to look at it. It’s a picture of the gang as they were, all happy and together – Gunn, Fred, Wesley, Cordy, and Gunn himself, along with baby Connor.

    HENCHMAN: … but we *do* need *that*?

    We see Gunn in profile. His henchman both stare at him, but he stares at the building. Beyond them, we get a good look at downtown L.A., all fire, ruined building, and giant tentacles.

    GUNN: No. But I want it.

    HENCHMAN: You’re messed up, Gunn.

    GUNN: Aware. Now shut up, and turn around.

    The next image shows the inside of the Wolfram & Hart lobby. In the distance, we see the three vampires staring back at it. Despite the ruins and the slime, we see the lobby’s other major feature – it’s wired throughout with bombs. On the one closest to us, we see the timer at 8:02.

    The next image shows the building detonating, orange fire and shockwave flying outward, the small demons blown away from the blast. Gunn stands against the inferno, holding his henchman by their lapels as they, too, are knocked backwards.

    We see the blast continue to roll upward and outward, smoke billowing away. In silhouette, Gunn keeps his grasp on the others.

    GUNN: Don’t run from it. You’ll be fine.

    When the view shows us a close-up of Gunn’s back, his sweatshirt hood blowing out behind him, the damage can be understand – the entire Wolfram & Hart building has been blown apart, down to the steel superstructure. The marquee has been upended by the blast.

    After a few moments have passed, we see the shadows of Gunn, still standing, and the others amidst the smoke and rubble.

    GUNN: That… *that*…

    In extreme close-up, we see Gunn in vampface, grinning around his fangs.

    GUNN: … almost made the whole damn thing worth it.

    The scene changes back to Silver Lake, with Lorne and Wesley walking along. Behind them, various Silver Lake inhabitants go about their business. On a lightpost, there’s a ‘missing’ flier, but with no picture. Wesley is more transparent than usual.

    WESLEY: I’m not sure he cares if he walks away. Part of me thinks he doesn’t want to. If we don’t do something soon –

    We see the two in close-up, and Lorne looks worried. Wesley continues to fade out, but doesn’t appear to notice it. A green woman with a long head walks behind them with her groceries. Another demon, something dinosaur like follows as well.

    WESLEY: (voice fading) – Angel will die…

    LORNE: Wes? Um, Wesley?

    The last image is a wider view of Lorne on the sidewalk, Wesley has disappeared completely. Lorne looks around nervously, and the other pedestrians look worried as well. The woman drops her groceries as Lorne calls out for his missing friend.

    LORNE: Wesley? I’m gonna be blamed for this, I know it.

    End of Chapter 4

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    ”Angel: After the Fall”, Issue #5

    Start of Chapter 5

    The opening image is of Wesley standing alone in a blank white space. He’s still wearing his W&H imposed suit, and he’s hearing a voice, turning his head to listen and answer.

    WESLEY: Everything is under control.

    VOICE: Is it, though, Wesley? Let’s examine.

    We see from over Wesley’s shoulder as an image appears in the white space – the burning rubble of the Wolfram & Hart building, the sign broken in the wreckage.

    WESLEY: What is –?

    VOICE: It was where we wanted Angel. It is a megaton of proof *that* everything is very far from under control.

    In a close-up, we see Wesley scowl disapprovingly at the suggestion that this is his fault, or his problem.

    WESLEY: So in addition to the other unwanted duties… I’m also in charge of caretaking your property. In my defense, I had no idea, but now that I’m aware I’ll make sure nothing further happens to the rubble.

    In an extreme close-up, Wesley rears his head back in pain and surprise – his mouth has suddenly shut, the lips have grown together.

    VOICE: *Quiet*. And re: your duties. Your duties do not include being Angel’s cheerleader. But you still insisted on rolling that pebble down the snowy mountain anyway, didn’t you? His blood will be on your hands, Wesley. Which is disappointing. *We really wanted it on ours*.

    LOCATION: SILVER LAKE

    The scene changes, and we see the peaceful streets of Silver Lake. There are people walking and jogging, on in mid-air. A giant pink butterfly hovers about, as well as a skeletal figure similar to Kr’ph. Two figures lean against the diner we saw before… looking suspiciously like Jay and Silent Bob. There are voices from inside the diner, where Lorne is talking to Pink and Teal.

    LORNE: – things were going so well. (pause) As well as they could go, considering the location, I mean.

    Inside the diner, we see Lorne sitting at a booth, fixing himself coffee, still in his magnificent yellow suit with the epaulets. Pink and Teal stand behind him, looking down and listening. Elsewhere In the diner, various demons get drinks and make food.

    LORNE: And then Wesley has to go and fill my head with “Angel’s gonna die.” He knows more than anyone, Ange’s down, *always incredibly down*, but he’s never out.

    PINK: Exactly.

    TEAL: Let it go.

    PINK: Let it all go.

    LORNE: And then Wesley disappears, leaving me like *this*. And I don’t even *know* if anyone of the mustache-twirling variety told Wesley to tell me.

    The next image is a profile of Lorne in close-up, looking, well, forlorn.

    LORNE: He’s switched sides, no? I need a scorecard is what I need, *holy wow*, I am going to be hung over tomorrow. But still, poor Wesley. Hell, poor Wesley, poor Angel, poor Spike, poor everyone.

    In a wider view, we see Lorne has stood up, but is hanging his head. Pink and Teal turn to follow him. In the background, we also see the glowing orb Lorne used to show Angel the champions he would fight.

    WESLEY: I thought Fred was the victim, but when all is said and done, she wins. She’s in heaven.

    PINK: She’s not with her loved ones.

    TEAL: Heaven without your loved ones isn’t heaven.

    In an extreme close-up, Lorne’s eyes gleam with epiphany.

    We see him turn to Pink, smiling at her gently.

    LORNE: You sing a lot of gibberish, ladies, but sometimes you stumble onto a meaningful verse. Let’s get to work.

    LOCATION: DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES

    The scene changes, and we see Angel in a ruined bathroom, a hole opened into the wall showing a retail store beyond. He is wearing only his leather pants, as he shaves himself in front of the mirror.

    (NARRATION) ANGEL: Big day. Fight to the death. Have to be ready. I should have spent the last couple of hours learning about Groo’s weapons. But I can’t face hell’s champions with *stubble*. In addition to dying, I’d have to answer to many unwanted questions.

    The next image shows Angel, now dressed again, and carrying a large duffel bag, walking away from the store, the ruins of a K-Mart.

    (NARRATION) ANGEL: I’ve gotten pretty good at shaving over the last couple of months. It’s easier than cutting my hair, anyway.

    We next see that Angel has arrived at the W&H ruins. He stands in the foreground, facing his dragon ally. Both of them contemplate the damage.

    (NARRATION) ANGEL: I don’t know who did this. Could be nothing. Buildings in hell come down all the time. Some grow mouths. It’s a thing. Coincidence or not – and it usually is not – all the methods of healing, making it through this day specifically, are crushed under tons of wreckage formerly known as the Los Angeles branch of Wolfram & Hart.

    We see Angel mounting the dragon, gripping the various horns sweeping back from its head.

    (NARRATION) ANGEL: At least the object projecting the vampire glamour is untouched. That’ll only be destroyed when I am.

    A wider view shows the dragon flying out, the burning and tentacle city beneath it.

    (NARRATION) ANGEL: It’s pretty far in me. Best not to ask. Just know it was a long, awkward night.

    LOCATION: BEVERLY HILLS

    When the scene shifts again, we see the Playboy Mansion. But now, instead of bikini clad women on the lawn, the ladies are all wearing dark blue and black armor similar to Illyria’s own. Spider is recognizable by her hair, and she stands, a machete-like sword in hand, facing the other women like she is their lieutenant. From inside, Spike is speaking to Illyria.

    SPIKE: Well, they’re ready. And more appropriately attired.

    In the mansion, we see Spike and Illyria standing together in an armory. Spike is wearing actual pants and a black t-shirt. He Is holding an axe while Illyria looks on from behind him.

    SPIKE: They’re expecting me to fight. They want me to charge in like a damned white knight and take down the big, bad Angel. And then they’re going for the other lords, assume control of the whole she bang.

    ILLYRIA: This plan is acceptable.

    SPIKE: Of course it is, to you. You’re off your nut. No offense. But as the last sane man in hell, I say –

    The view shifts to an extreme close-up of Spike as he whips his head around.

    SPIKE: – *No bloody way*.

    Spike and Illyria face each other as they continue to speak. However, before Spike finishes his suggestion, he is turning his head to a door opening behind them. In the door is a figure that can’t be made out, a black silhouette created by bright glowing light. Male, female, big small – there’s no telling who it could be.

    ILLYRIA: We’re not retreating.

    SPIKE: It’s so much easier if you just tell yourself you’re strategically heading in the opposite direction of those that wish to do you harm so that you may mock them at a later time. Look, love. You’re not well and I don’t know what to do for you. We have to get out of here, sneak out the back and try some new digs. Not sure where we’re going, but I promise, we’ll be –

    The next image shows Spike and Illyria together in close-up, looking at whoever is at the door, looking defeated.

    SPIKE: – fine.

    In extreme close-up, we see Spike’s eyes narrow in apparent bitterness.

    SPIKE: Of course. (quietly) Never that easy.

    LOCATION: SANTA MONICA

    The scene shifts again, and we see Connor, Gwen, and Nina standing on a rooftop. Nina is seated in a four-gun turret that’s been mounted to the roof of their building. Below, dozens of humans walk away from their haven, apparently planning to be spectators.

    CONNOR: Everyone’s heading out to watch the fight. Lords are even giving their slaves the day off to attend. So there’s that, I guess.

    GWEN: They’re morons. What do they think is going to happen? Once Angel gets his ass kicked, they’re next.

    Inn close-up, we see Connor staring straight ahead, with Gwen looking toward his back, as if she thinks she went too far.

    GWEN: Harsh?

    CONNOR: Yep. And correct.

    The view changes and we see Gwen in her turret, holding the controls.

    CONNOR: (from out of the view) But whatever comes next, we’ll be ready.

    NINA: Okay, I have this thin all figured out. Thought not sure I’m the one who should be behind it. Got an itchy trigger finger. Got an itchy everything.

    CONNOR: Sadly, I think that’s what we’ll need. Still –

    The view reverses, and we’re looking up from the crowd as they walk away – Connor and Gwen look small side by side on the roof top.

    CONNOR: – Angel didn’t come by last night. Last time he thought his world was coming to an end, he wanted some father-son bonding. So maybe –

    GWEN: – he thinks he’s going to win.

    Back on the roof, we see Gwen gently place one gloved hand on Connor’s arm.

    CONNOR: That’s one theory. Another is that he’s suicidal.

    GWEN: Wow, you really *are* his son, huh? We *could* go –

    The view reverses, and we see Connor crouching to examine something on the turret. Behind him, though, Nina has taken a defensive stance, Gwen behind her, facing what Connor can’t see. A blue and black shape is materializing on the roof, a humanoid, like somebody is teleporting in.

    CONNOR: (unaware) That’s the last thing he wants. For whatever reasons Angel’s doing this –

    Connor’s voice continues through the scene change. We’re in Los Angeles proper again, palm trees in a park surrounded by high-rise condos, looking cracked and damaged. Humans have gathered to watch, but are held back by a cordon of demons that look like Burge’s men. In mid-air, a piece of land is floating, acting like a dais for the demon lords high above the ground. The lord of Burbank addresses the crowd.

    CONNOR: (cont) – he wants to do it alone.

    BURBANK: Five minutes! Five minutes until the blood!

    On the ground, we see the assembled crowd staring up in anticipation, the demons holding them back like riot police.

    In close-up, we see the demon lords staring down at the ground where the fight will take place, grinning cruelly.

    LOAN-SHARK: Lots of people tonight. That’s nice. Humans always add that extra dose of “who’s gonna die out of nowhere” that you just don’t get with demons.

    On a roof-top, we see others have come to watch – Gunn is standing, four of his henchmen behind him, staring down blankly.

    HENCHMAN: Gonna be a slaughter.

    GUNN: Odds don’t matter. Never do. Learned that pretty quickly. Seeds are planted, not gonna go down typical. But if lords start taking down civilians, I’ll handle it.

    The view reverses, and we see that Gunn and his crew are stationed on a rooftop that let’s them look down on everyone, including the demon lords. As they watch, Burge leaps from the floating platform to address the crowd. As he does, Gunn’s lead henchman asks him a question for clarification.

    HENCHMAN: How many civilians that we save do we get to eat? Like, can you give me a ratio?

    BURGE: Listen, everyone!

    The view changes, and we see that as Burge addresses the crowd, he’s also flying low above them, scattering some as they run away. He reaches out with his lobster-like claws.

    BURGE: Two rules: number one, remember who your lord is. When this is all over and we round you up, the last thing we need is our A-listers changing sides. And number two, no one gets in the way of Angel’s death. You get in the way… you’ll die. Not talking about crossfire, or hungry champions, though that could and probably will happen.

    We see Burge grab a man at random by the arm, flying upward into the air as he continues giving his orders.

    BURGE: What I mean to say is

    We see Burge in mid-air, swinging the man up over his shoulder. In silhouette, Gunn and his crew watch from the rooftop. Gunn still has his grappling hook, and is gripping it loosely, as if ready to swing it.

    BURGE: … if any of you pathetic nothings spoil our kill, I’ll respond

    Next we see Burge snarl as he throws the man down toward the crowd, high enough to kill him.

    BURGE: – like so.

    On the roof, Gunn pulls back to swing his hook out, apparently to save the man. As he does, one of his henchman stops him, getting his attention.

    GUNN: That was quick –

    HENCHMAN: Wait, look –

    The next image is Angel at his most heroic – as the man falls, we see the dragon sweep into view, and Angel grab the man by the ankle as he falls. He keeps his free hand on the dragon’s horn. It looks like there’s a trail of smoke coming from Angel’s back.

    MAN: *AAAAH*…

    ANGEL: Hey.

    From a wide view, we see the dragon set down carefully, let Angel lower the man to the ground. All around, the crowd is pumping their fists, reacting, but it’s unclear whether they are seeing their hero or their villain arrive. Regardless, no it’s Angel’s turn at the mic as he addresses the demon lords and everyone else.

    ANGEL: So. To recap the terms – I die, business as usual. *But*. I win –

    We see a close-up of Angel from behind, staring up at the platform like a gladiator might. The dragon’s snout is visible next to him, clearly intending to stay at his side. We see he has a sword slung over his shoulder – the smoke is coming out of the sheath.

    ANGEL: – everybody goes free.

    In close-up, we see Burge addressing the crowd again – he is pointing at Angel accusingly. Behind him, Burbank smiles smugly.

    BURGE: There he is! Behold the delusional vampire responsible for *all* of you going straight to *hell*!

    The view reverses and we see Angel standing alone. Behind him, the demons on the ground are tying the dragon down. Angel makes no move to stop them, and the dragon appears to cooperate… mostly.

    ANGEL: Man’s got a point. No, this is good. Everyone should know. I…

    (NARRATION) ANGEL: I’ve had nightmares like this.

    ANGEL: … a while ago, I made mistakes.

    We see from Gunn’s rooftop that even he is listening, as are the demon lords, as is the assembled throng.

    ANGEL: Big ones.

    In close-up, we see Angel looking out at the crowd, owning up to his responsibility.

    ANGEL: So. I set about trying to make things right.

    We see Angel in profile as he speaks to humans and demons gathered for the event. They all look at him with reproach and quiet anger.

    (NARRATION) ANGEL: I don’t mean the demons and monsters, or the life-death battle, that’s usually the reality.

    ANGEL: And that… that made things worse. For my friends. For all of you. But…

    (NARRATION) ANGEL: … I’m talking more about the public speaking.

    In close-up, we see Angel holding his hand up to the side of his head, running it through his hair. It’s apparent that he’s no orator, and being reminded of it now.

    ANGEL: … here I am. Again. Trying to make things right. Again. Yeah, so can we get to the battle? That would be great.

    We see Angel turn around as someone calls out to him.

    VOICE: Now, those

    From above, we see what Angel is facing for the first time. Four of the demon champions are in front of him. One is a man apparently made entirely of fire. Another, the one who spoke to him, is a dark, wraith-like figure with claws that appear made of shadows. The third is the She-Skip. And the fourth is a tyrannosaur. Angel is reaching for the sword at his back as he turns.

    WRAITH: … were some awkward last words.

    (NARRATION) ANGEL: Over his booming voice, I swear I could hear the crowd cheer. Maybe it was a gasp? It sounded like a cheer. And I realize that even surrounded by hordes of onlookers on a crowded city street, I’m going to die alone.

    In close-up, we see Angel’s head whip sideways, blood spraying from his mouth as the She-Skip viciously strikes him across the face.

    (NARRATION) ANGEL: But then –

    In close-up, we see him bite back the blood flow.

    (NARRATION) ANGEL: – the blood fills my mouth –

    We see Angel grip the sword’s hilt again, the demons close around him.

    (NARRATION) ANGEL: – making me nostalgic for old times.

    From a wider view, we see Angel pull the sword and lash out with it in a wide arc. It was smoking for good reason – the sword is on fire. It strikes the wraith, knocking it backwards, and the other enemies reposition themselves carefully before attacking again.

    (NARRATION) ANGEL: Snaps me right back into the game. I have to stop thinking, start swinging.

    In a closer view, we see Angel pull the sword back up as he swings defensively to warn off the tyrannosaur.

    ANGEL: You’re not an innocent dupe tricked into working for an evil overlord, are you?

    TYRANNOSAUR: *WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU –? ARE YOU HIGH?*

    ANGEL: Making sure –

    (NARRATION) ANGEL: Stop thinking. *Must stop thinking*.

    Up on the demon lords’ platform, they are conversing like at a cocktail party. However, from their height, in the distance, a bright white and blue glow is visible, filling the entire street as it gets closer.

    LOAN-SHARK: Seriously, whose guy is the T-Rex? Who brings a T-Rex to a vamp battle?

    CENTURY CITY: And who, um, brought that?

    On the ground, the battle has gone against Angel quickly. The T-Rex has its jaw around his coat tail, the She-Skip punches him in the stomach viciously, and the man made of fire has almost disarmed him. Behind them, however, the blue and white glow gets closer. The crowd turns to react to it.

    (NARRATION) ANGEL: Always wondered who it would be – modesty prevented me from thinking it would be this many.

    Suddenly, Angel is free, sprawled on the street. The demons are distracted, pulling back as the apparently electric glow gets closer. Cars are now levitating up from the street.

    (NARRATION) ANGEL: Distracted. Use it –

    In close-up, we see Angel backing up as well, amazed when he sees the approaching energy.

    (NARRATION) ANGEL: – wait. What is – oh, this is big.

    In extreme close-up, Angel’s eyes gleam intensely.

    The scene changes, and we see Wesley, or most of him – his body is contorted, like it’s ripping apart. He is still in the white space (White Room, perhaps?), and apparently being punished.

    VOICE: [i]Had enough, Wesley? Learned your lesson? Torture is so medieval, but it does make its point[i].

    The next image shows Wesley, back to normal, holding his hands up.

    WESLEY: Nnnn. You make me wear this tie every day and you call that pittance torture?

    VOICE: You’re not the only option. A few incantations and we can have a zombie McDonald up and ready to go. Or maybe Eve

    In close-up, Wesley answers the voice, unintimidated.

    WESLEY: That wouldn’t bring about the desired reaction at all. Worst-case scenario, he’d ignore everything they have to say. Best case, he’d hand them their heads.

    In close-up, Wesley looks stern, like he has the power in the conversation.

    WESLEY: So stop wasting everyone’s time and put me back so I can do my damn job.

    VOICE: You’re already doing it, Wesley. You’re always on the clock.

    A slightly wider shot shows Wesley tightening his lips, not answering.

    VOICE: Very well. We now return you to your regularly scheduled programming.

    The scene changes, and Wesley materializes in Silver Lake, standing between Pink and teal. He is still translucent as he reappears.

    WESLEY: Silver Lake. Good. Excuse me, do you know where Lorne is?

    PINK: Wesley.

    TEAL: Noncorporeal man is back.

    In a wider view, we see the imp floating over the glowing ball in the diner. In it, we see Angel’s fact, in the middle of the fight. Wesley and the ladies are at the entrance, coming in.

    WESLEY: Yes, yhello. Don’t have much time. I need to get the word out. Lorne may not want to be involved, but it may be the only chance –

    PINK: Wesley.

    TEAL: Wesley.

    We see them in silhouette as Wesley continues to talk to the imp, and the ladies continue to try to get his attention. In the foreground, a small group of people talk at a booth, unaware of the other conversation.

    WESLEY: Lorne said he uses you to check on our friends. But it can work both ways, correct? I have to find them, tell them, no matter what we went through –

    PINK: Wesley.

    TEAL: Wesley.

    WESLEY: (ignoring them) – we have to come together *now*.

    Now Wesley turns to the women in exasperation.

    WESLEY: Why is he ignoring me? Does he only listen to Lorne? Where is Lorne?

    PINK: Lorne is coming together.

    WESLEY: Pardon?

    In close-up, Pink and teal both star at Wes alluringly, which appears to be the only way they do anything.

    PINK: One step ahead of you, Wesley.

    TEAL: The great and green non-lord has gotten off his fabulous fence…

    The scene shifts back to the battle as Teal finishes her explanation. Angel is back on his feet, reinvigorated, flaming sword swinging across the T-Rex’s jaw.

    TEAL: (cont) … and has rallied the troops.

    ANGEL: We should free the dragon, help our odds –

    The next image shows Connor land a blow on the T-Rex’s jaw that’s strong enough to turn its head. As Angel pulls back his sword for another swing, Groo is behind him, protecting his back and gripping the She-Skip around the throat.

    CONNOR: Isn’t that cheating?

    ANGEL: *Groosalugg*! Free the dragon! It’s kind of cheating, yes. Technically, though, so is your involvement.

    The view shifts, and we see Gwenn and Nina at work. Gwen lashes out with an electrical charge that stuns the dinosaur, while the wraith tries to wrap its shadow claws around her. Nina charges the dinosaurs flank, human/wolf claws ready.

    GWEN: cheating in hell! Totally not right!

    NINA: Devil’s gonna put us on a time-out.

    The next image shows a new combatant – Spike kicks viciously and knocks the wraith backwards, his leather duster flapping behind him.

    SPIKE: Hey, crazy idea. Less banter.

    GWEN: (from out of the view) More fighting?

    SPIKE: I don’t care. Just less banter.

    From a wider view, we see the scope of the battle that’s taken shape. Gwen and Nina team up on the T-Rex – the dinosaur opens its jaw like it’s bellowing in pain as Gwen shocks it and Nina, leaping through the air, claws at it’s sides. Groo sends a jumping kick across the She-Skip’s jaw. In the middle of the chaos is Lorne, looking ready to fight himself. He’s wearing an ordinary suit, now, though – yellow, with a lavender shirt and red tie. In front of him, Spike grabs the wraith by the neck and draws back a fist to punch him. And, side by side, Angel and Connor work on the man of fire in the foreground.

    (NARRATION) ANGEL: I was as surprised as you. This was my fight. I was never going to ask anyone for help. Turns out… I didn’t have to.

    The next image shows Angel slashing upward with the fire sword against the man of fire. Spike and the wraith stare each other down. Gwen and Nina continue to drive back the T-Rex. As the heroes push back their enemies, we see Burge fly down to land next to Lorne. Lorne fixes his tie nonchalantly as Burge scowls.

    BURGE: What do you think you’re doing?

    LORNE: I’m a lord. I entered a champion. *Myself*. Full disclosure, I can turn into a whole gaggle of different people. Even an angry brit and a, what’s that over there, an electric girl. I used her for the grand entrance.

    In a close-up, Burge stares menacingly at Lorne. Lorne looks unconcerned.

    BURGE: You’re lying.

    LORNE: Am I? I’m from another dimension, all sorts of rules of nature that would blow your feeble little mind. Tell you what, we’ll go into it later, after the fight.

    From above, we see Gunn crouching, watching the battle unfold.

    HENCHMAN: You want in, don’t you?

    GUNN: Fine up here. Not my thing anymore. Besides –

    In a close-up, Gunn glares, grinning thoughtfully.

    GUNN: – this is my doing. Band’s back together. The second half, that’s where thing’s cook.

    Back down in the battle, we see Groo breaking through the chains around the dragon. In the background, Gwen’s lightning continues to hold back the T-Rex, hundreds of feet away.

    GROO: Angel, look at me! I have freed the noble steed!

    ANGEL: (from out of the view) Great, Groo!

    GROO: It is! It really is!

    In a close-up, we see Groo smile fraternally as he looks the dragon in its red eye.

    GROO: Look here, dragon. I am freeing you so you may fight the dinosaur!

    In a wider shot, it appears the dragon is happy to oblige. It rears up, jaws open to roar. From the other side of the square, the T-Rex apparently noticed right away, since it is charging across, choosing the bigger target to the more difficult Gwen and Nina. As he watches, Groo plants his fists on his hips, proud of the unfolding battle.

    GROO: *That* is something I would very much like to see!

    The next iamge shows Angel, his free arm around the wraith’s neck from behind. Connor is in front of him, ready to go to work on Angel’s captive. Behind them, Spike faces the man of fire and the She-Skip.

    ANGEL: You know I don’t want you anywhere near here.

    CONNOR: At zero hour, Lorne did the supernatural shimmy over to Santa Monica and gave a rousing, drunken speech. The parts I understood were really moving.

    The view shifts, and Angel and Spike are now back to back as they fight the wraith and man of fire, respectively. In the background, the dragon appears to have its way with the T-Rex, the dinosaur’s neck in its jaw.

    ANGEL: Okay, so what about you?

    SPIKE: What about me? Lorne came to me first… he was slurring on and on about “how no matter where we are, if we’re not with those we care about, it’s not ever going to be right.”

    In a closer view, they are fighting back to back, close enough to speak conversationally.

    SPIKE: I think he broke out into song once, but since he was a bit blitzed, the rhyme scheme was way off. Anyway, he was right and I’m a champion and I – I –

    The view reverses, and we see Spike in the foreground, Angel behind him – they’ve rotated, swapping opponents.

    SPIKE: – besides, now you owe me. I mean, even more than before.

    ANGEL: So what do you want?

    In a wider view, Spike vaults on his arm to kick the wraith, knocking it backwards. Angel rips the fire sword up through the man of fire.

    SPIKE: What do I want… that’s a long list of tawdry scenarios. Half of which have been crossed off since I took up with Spider and company, by the way. But specifically right now –

    The next image shows the wraith and the man of fire either down for the count or nearly out of it. Angel and Spike turn side by side to face a giant pile of goo in the middle of the street. Spike points at it as he continues.

    SPIKE: – I need help with her.

    ANGEL: The gelatinous spore champion is a “her”?

    SPIKE: What? No –

    In a close-up, Illyria bursts through the goo with an uppercut.

    SPIKE: (from out of the view) *Her*.

    In a close-up, Spike looks over Angel’s shoulder, his face earnestly concerned. Angel just listens.

    SPIKE: She’s why I’m here. She needs help, and that’s what you do. You always do, no matter who needs it, no matter what they’ve done. It’s pathetic and it’s predictable but right now it’s just what the bloody doctor ordered. So, are you in?

    (NARRATION) ANGEL: Man knows me. And, unbelievably, I should thank him.

    In close-up, Angel looks doubtful.

    ANGEL: I suppose.

    (NARRATION) ANGEL: Close enough.

    Suddenly, Wesley materializes between Spike and Angel, to both of their surprise.

    SPIKE: Wesley?

    WESLEY: I can’t believe it.

    ANGEL: Wesley?

    The next image is of Angel and Spike in profile, facing Wesley. Spike shoves his hand forward to touch him, and of course it goes right through.

    ANGEL: Are you okay?

    SPIKE: What do you mean, “are you okay”? did you know he was up and about? Does *no one stay bloody dead in this world? And you’re intangible*. Was it an amulet? Doesn’t matter. You need to get out of here –

    WESLEY: What are you –

    In close-up, we see Wesley realize, turning his head.

    WESLEY: – oh.

    The view shifts, and Illyria is still tearing through the goo. In the background, we see the She-Skip staggering around, and the dragon still after the T-Rex.

    ILLYRIA: Spike, find this quivering blob’s head so I may impale it –

    We see from over Wesley’s shoulder as Illyria catches sight of him. The Old One loses her train of thought completely.

    ILLYRIA: – as a warning…

    In extreme close-up, Illyria’s unnaturally blue eyes widen, her features looking more delicate than they ever have.

    ILLYRIA: … you.

    The view reverses, and Spike is rushing forward past Angel, but too late. Wesley stands in front of Illyria, all the other heroes looking on. Illyria herself is changing, her skin changing color, like she’s morphing. Her hair flows out, forward towards Wesley.

    SPIKE: Wouldn’t have ever come here if I knew he was back –

    ANGEL: Spike, what the hell is going on?

    The last image is of a woman, standing where Illyria had been. Her dark hair falls in loose waves over her shoulders. She’s wearing a loose, decorative cotton blouse and blue jeans. Her eyes are wide in recognition and alarm, and she reaches forward. She does not, however, see, that the demon champions have regrouped – the She-Skip, the man of fire, the wraith, the good, and the roaring T-Rex have all rallied, and the woman, unaware, is the only thing between them and the assembled heroes. We don’t have to say it, but we will anyway, two words: Winifred Burkle.

    FRED: Wesley… you’re here!

    End of Chapter 5

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    ”Angel: After the Fall”, Issue #6

    Start of Chapter 6 – “First Night”, Part I

    The opening image shows the bedroom in Gunn’s lair. On the bed, Betta George is how we last saw him – tied to the bed with some sort of web, and a ritual circle around it on the floor. As George starts a telepathic monologue, his vampire guard listens from an easy chair, his hand thoughtfully up to his chin. As it begins, a narrative voice notes the time…

    TIME: Meanwhile…

    BETTA GEORGE: Man.

    In a close-up, we see the fish looking forlorn on the bed as he continues to reflect.

    BETTA GEORGE: I bet there’s total excitement out there and I’m missing it all. Fighting and biting and probably revelations and everything. Would love to see it. Gotta be better than what’s going on here at Castle de Gunn. How did I wind up here? How did a nice fish like me wind up in hell?

    As George describes his arrival, we see an image of him as he was before LA went to hell. He’s leaping out of the water at a theme park – Universal Studios Hollywood. While paying customers on the large boat nearby stare at a mechanical shark on the “Jaws” ride, George leaps in the air to the amusement of a small child watching him.

    BETTA GEORGE: ”Just hours earlier, I was engaging in my mid-week ritual at the theme park. Nobody gets hurt and the kids seemed to dig it.”

    The next image is also at Universal Studios, but much different. In an instant, the blue sky has turned red and hazy, and the sun and the moon are in the sky together. The passengers on the “Jaws” ride turn in confusion.

    BETTA GEORGE: ”And then all of a sudden, everything went to hell or whatever and here we are. Yeah.”

    In a lone piece of narration, George moves us to the stories of the first night…

    (NARRATION) BETTA GEORGE: ”Admittedly, other people’s stories might be a little more interesting.”

    SPIKE

    The scene shifts and we see Spike standing amid a mess of fallen demons, gore, and fire. His gameface is spattered with blood, and the driving rain pushes his duster back in the wind. He has his right fist raised defensively, and a ornate sword piercing his forearms. It’s the night of the battle in the alley.

    (NARRATION) SPIKE: This is bloody insane, is what this is. Angel promised Wolfram & Hart would deliver full-on bloody wrath, and they didn’t disappoint, gotta give ‘em that. Even with the damn dragon switching sides, they’ve got the numbers, just four of us against… wait. No, three.

    SPIKE: They got –

    In an instant, we see the same view, Spike in the same posture… but the rain is gone. So are his wounds and the blade in his arm. So is his gameface, so is the rain. And, like Angel was, he appears to have been transported to a rooftop.

    SPIKE: – Charlie?

    (NARRATION) SPIKE: What –

    The view reverses, and Spike’s face relaxes. He’s looking at something that’s explained a lot to him, but we don’t see it. Only the overcast red sky behind him.

    SPIKE: Oh.

    And then we do see; from behind Spike, we look out unto Los Angeles. The skyline is ruined, some buildings heavily damaged. Other buildings have teeth coming out of the roof, and the US Bank Tower has a large tentacle growing out of the roof. The sun and moon hang in the sky together.

    (NARRATION) So. Right then. In hell.

    We see Spike in profile, looking stoic.

    Then we see him start to smile from the same angle.

    SPIKE: Heh.

    Closing his eyes, Spike breaks into laughter that seems almost maniacal.

    SPIKE: *HAHAHAHAAA’AHAHAHA*!

    We see Spike from behind again, but now he’s raising his arms exultantly, defiantly. In the distance, we see a winged demon flying in his direction.

    SPIKE: *Two times, Los Angeles! Two times Spike survives the big bad! Not just the big bad! The biggest bads! The biggest goddamn bads since Eve bit the apple*!

    In close-up, we see Spike grinning, flipping his familiar two-fingered obscene gesture at the city as he continues to rant.

    SPIKE: And look at me! I stared evil down and I laughed in its big ugly mug! And I’m staring right at the dawn and I’m not smoking! You hear that? *Screw you, dawn*! (quietly) Hope that’s not taken outta context.

    Still in close-up, Spike shuts his eyes and brings a cigarette up to his lips.

    SPIKE: Two up, two down. I earned my rest. I’ve proven myself. (quietly) Not that I *had* to. I mean, I fought to get my soul back, what more do you want from me?

    From behind Spike, we see him light his cigarette casually, although the winged demon is now 20 feet away or less, coming straight at him.

    SPIKE: Yeah. Spike is officially –

    As the demon reaches him, Spike drives it back with a hard left that lands with a *SMAK*.

    SPIKE: – *Out*!

    We see Spike looking down from the rooftop to the street. The winged demon is falling all the way to the ruined road.

    SPIKE: Get the word out, flyboy, when you reach bottom! Nobody talks to Spike unless Spike talks to them. And Spike doesn’t talk to anyone –

    The view reverses to an extreme close-up of Spike, and his expression has changed to one of worry.

    SPIKE: – Who isn’t a fairly open-minded damsel… aw, no.

    In an instant, Spike is charging away from the edge of the roof.

    (NARRATION) SPIKE: Gotta move.

    The next image shows Spike in an elevator. The door looks like an insectile membrane of some kind, and bloody palm prints cover the walls. He has his arms crossed, anxiously, as the elevator descends. Elevator music, it seems, has survived the move to hell.

    MUSIC: The girl from Ipanema goes walking and when she passes…

    (NARRATION) SPIKE: Hm. Maybe I shoulda just jumped off the roof instead of taking the lift. Nah. This is safer. Actually, *is* the bloody elevator safer? Now that everything’s helled out, you never know. That’s the thing. Gotta stay on top of these things.

    From a wide view, we see Spike standing as he comes out of the broken glass doors to the building he was on. In the foreground, flames are licking up from the ground.

    (NARRATION) SPIKE: Can’t be her, though. Can’t be that lucky.

    The next image shows who he’s talking about. A slender brunette woman is curled in the fetal position on the ground, wearing a light skirt and a t-shirt. It’s Fred, and she is lying in the middle of a thin ring of fire.

    SPIKE: (From out of the view) Fred?

    FRED: Is it over?

    She still has her eyes shut as we see Spike’s hand reach down to gently touch her shoulder.

    SPIKE: I think so, love. But. Why are you here? Why are you near me? Also, why are you Fred?

    As she sits up, Spike has crouched down in front of her, still holding her shoulder.

    SPIKE: Makes sense, I guess. My wounds are healed, my duster is pristine. You’re back to normal. Maybe Wolfram & Hart only had a beef with Angel.

    FRED: Wesley…

    SPIKE: And Wesley, sure. And probably Gunn. Point is, not us.

    As they stand, Spike has pulled Fred into his arms and they hug tightly. Fred has tears streaming down her face. The sun and moon watch impassively. As Spike thinks about the situation, a voice cries out in fear.

    (NARRATION) SPIKE: I get it. It’s a “meant to be” kinda thing. Fine, I can handle it. Just me and Fred.

    VOICE: (from out of the view) AAAAAAAAAAH!

    (NARRATION) SPIKE: Come on.

    As Spike turns to look, Fred still leaning against his chest, he and we see two women running out of an intersection, terrified. Behind them, three large spider-demons, larger than people, are running along the street and the building walls after them.

    (NARRATION) SPIKE: No… just get away. Get Fred to safety. They don’t matter. It’s hell, this is probably happening on every block. What can a retired twice-champion do?

    We see the women in close-up as one of the spider’s closes in. It has a nearly human face set in it’s large head, surrounded, though, by large red spider eyes, and several sets of teeth.

    SPIDER-DEMON: [i]FEEEEEEEEAST[i].

    WOMAN #1: *Please, no –*

    It’s enough to drive Spike into action. We see him jump in, driving a forward kick into the monster’s head.

    (NARRATION) SPIKE: Hell. Hell. Hell.

    In close-up, we see Spike has changed back into gameface. He has the spider’s head under his arm, ready to punch it with his free hand. Behind him, two more spiders creep out of an alley.

    SPIKE: This is a one-time thing, understand, I –

    The view changes, and we see Fred walking toward the fight. Her stride is confident, though. Spike calls out to warn her off.

    SPIKE: (from out of the view) Fred, get back! I just have to do some quick championing and then we’ll be off –

    Before Spike can continue, we see Fred even closer, and a spider demon just feet from her as she approaches it. But it’s no longer Fred – a blue shimmer runs down her body, and as it does, she becomes Illyria, red battle armor, blue streaked hair.

    The next image shows Illyria calmly rip the nearest spider demon in two, holding either end of the dead monster out to her sides indifferently.

    The view switches to Spike and the two women, all looking on – Spike with an air of disappointment, and the women in complete surprise.

    SPIKE: Damn it.

    WOMAN #2: What happened? What’s going on?

    SPIKE: I seriously don’t know.

    From the same view, we see Spike shut his eyes sadly at everything that’s happened, and probably at his own answer.

    WOMAN #2: Can we… stick by you? It’s not safe –

    SPIKE: … Yeah. Yeah, I was retired, but to tell you the truth, it got boring after a while.

    WOMAN #1: What about her? Is she coming…

    As the rescued woman finishes her remark, we see the object, Illyria, in close-up. The ancient demon is pounding one of the spiders into the street, and her fist is dripping with its blood. Her face is controlled fury, as it often is.

    WOMAN #1: (from out of the view) … doesn’t look like she needs protection.

    In close-up, we see Spike staring ahead, at Illyria. Half his face is in shadow, and the half we see is almost unreadable.

    We see Illyria as Spike sees her. She’s now holding one of the spider’s heads in her hand. Her posture makes it look like she’s considering it as one would a piece of art or historical artifact.

    The next image shows Illyria in the same position, dead spider demons behind her. All we see of Spike is the bottom of his duster and his boots.

    SPIKE: Yeah, lady. She really does.

    THE END

    CONNOR

    The opening image shows Connor running full tilt away from the Wolfram & Hart building, just passing the marquee. Lightning is in the sky as the storm begins – this is him as he was when he left Angel’s side.

    (NARRATION) CONNOR: I should go back.

    In close-up, we see Connor look over his shoulder at the impressive, red-tinted lighting over the building.

    (NARRATION) CONNOR: Angel told me to go far away, but since when do kids listen to their father?

    We see Connor from behind as he continues to run. He passes by a trio of lovely women on the street, unaware of what’s about to happen.

    (NARRATION) CONNOR: He’s not the first father I remember. The first father I remember fought for my life every day in a hell dimension… *wow*, look at her.

    From a wide view, we see the entire street Connor is running down. He’s weaving through traffic and outrunning some of it, it would seem. The lightning continues to brew in the background.

    (NARRATION) CONNOR: And he’s not my current father. That guy is a little less superhero, a little more Cliff Huxtable.

    In a closer view, Connor is nimbly leaping over oncoming cars in traffic as he follows Angel’s order to get away.

    (NARRATION) CONNOR: But Angel’s my biological father. Though. To hear him tell it. Biology doesn’t really have a place in my birth.

    In a close-up, we see Connor pull up to a stop quickly. His eyes are wide with concern, and awe.

    (NARRATION) CONNOR: Either way, he said to go. And I guess that’s what I’ll do – is that a dinosaur?

    From over Connor’s shoulder, we see up in the sky. The dragon races through the sky, headed toward the alley where Angel will be waiting. Lightning blasts out of the sky more and more quickly.

    (NARRATION) CONNOR: No, that’s a dragon. He’s gotta fight a dragon?

    And suddenly Connor is running back the way he came, chasing the flying dragon. In the distance, we can already see it spewing fire from its mouth.

    (NARRATION) CONNOR: Going back. He needs my help. Besides, kinda be cool to slay a dragon.

    As Connor runs down the street, we see him stumble as part of the pavement gives way, like the ground is cracking open.

    (NARRATION) CONNOR: He’ll be mad. Better mad than –

    In an instant later, Connor is recovering his balance in a different place. No longer is he running through downtow LA. Instead, he’s along a street, next to a sign welcoming him to Compton. Octopus-like tentacles wrap around a nearby streetlight, and around an overturned car in the street.

    (NARRATION) CONNOR: – Dust. Okay. Not where I was. I think still in Los Angeles, but…

    We see Connor in close-up, looking around warily. He has pulled out a stake.

    (NARRATION) CONNOR: Maybe Universal Studios? Could be a backlot.

    In close-up, Connor suddenly snaps his eyes open in surprise.

    (NARRATION) CONNOR: …

    Next we see him doubled over, dropping his stake, and vomiting on the street.

    As he lifts his head up, he looks horrified.

    CONNOR: Holy crap.

    (NARRATION) CONNOR: I remember.

    As we see Connor standing, covering his still dripping mouth, leaning against a wall for support, we see a succession of images of what he’s remembering.

    (NARRATION) CONNOR: Everything.

    The first image is from Connor’s first person… but in the womb, small hands and feet floating in front of him.

    (NARRATION) CONNOR: *Everything*.

    The next shows Angel and Fred, crouched down in a pouring rain. Connor’s baby hands are reaching out to his father.

    (NARRATION) CONNOR: I’m going loopy. Son of a vampire, shouldn’t be born, it figures everything had to…

    We see Connor’s hands reaching out to an adult’s hand. He’s in Holtz’ arms, as his foster father is fighting off a charging demon with a sword, fighting on a pile of skulls in Quor’toth.

    (NARRATION) CONNOR: … Fall apart… sooner or later.

    As more memories go by, we see Connor’s adult face in close-up, wiping vomit from his mouth.

    The next memory is infant Connor reaching up from a playpen to Angel. His father is smiling. Cordelia is beside Angel, cooing down at the baby.

    (NARRATION) CONNOR: Well, that’s kinda nice…

    And then his memory turns to a much more adult memory. We see his hands on either side of Cordelia’s head. He is on top of her, she’s naked, they’re making love, and her eyes are closed in enjoyment.

    (NARRATION) CONNOR: … Aw, *come on*.

    As the memories cease, we see Connor step away from the wall, wiping his jacket sleeve over his mouth.

    (NARRATION) CONNOR: Fantastic. My first time was with my surrogate mother. I’m not only an immaculate vampire baby… I’m also Oedipus.

    We see Connor turn and stagger around the street corner, walking slowly.

    (NARRATION) CONNOR: Wow, dad would be impressed, I referenced Oedipus. Third dad, that is. Fake dad? Angel is my father. He loved me.

    We see Connor in close-up, looking disbelieving and afraid.

    (NARRATION) CONNOR: I gotta find –

    CONNOR: Um.

    The next image shows us what he’s worried about. He drops down behind a parked car, because an entire army of heavily armed, armored demons is marching down the street toward him. They are literally almost on top of him as he hides.

    (NARRATION) CONNOR: Not now.

    LEAD DEMON: Wolfram & Hart wanted us there twenty minutes ago! Now everything’s gone to hell and we won’t collect our shillings!

    Connor watches from over his shoulder as he sits with his back pressed against the car. The demons march past him.

    LEAD DEMON: Seriously, we have to work on our gathering skills. Our slaughtering skills are second to none, but being late, that’s always our problem.

    (NARRATION) CONNOR: Should I fight them? Angel would. Second dad would avoid the fight if he could, get them while they’re sleeping. Third dad would call the police. Angel’s my first dad. And my second dad, he was a really… what am I doing? Can’t sort this out now.

    We see Connor try to dart away from the car unnoticed, but a demon hand is already reaching out to his back.

    (NARRATION) CONNOR: I should go. There’s a hundred of them, I can’t –

    Before he can move, a demon has him by the back of his jacket, holding Connor off the ground.

    DEMON: Look what I found.

    (NARRATION) CONNOR: Yep.

    The next image shows Connor dangling like a cat from the demon’s hand. The monster calls out to the rest of the demon army.

    DEMON: Hey, everyone! Look what I found! Adorable little snooper!

    From behind Connor, we see the other demons looking on with interest.

    DEMON #2: *That’s his son*?

    CONNOR: *Huh*? No I’m not! No way, that’s crazy talk.

    DEMON #2: Yes, you are! You’re Angel’s son! I just know it!

    DEMON #3: Me, too.

    DEMON #4: Yes.

    DEMON #2: Point is…

    The last image shows Connor in close-up, looking weary and unsure of what to do next. He’s still dangling from the outstretched hand of the demon that grabbed him.

    (NARRATION) CONNOR: What the hell do I do now? First dad, would fight. Maybe die. Second dad, fight. Probably die. Third dad. Just die.

    To be continued

    LORNE

    The opening image is a very cartoonish, children’s story version of Lorne’s story. Description will be as light as the images themselves. As Lorne’s narration carries the story, we first see a man at Wolfram & Hart shaking hands with a big, pink, horned demon wearing a bib.

    (NARRATION) LORNE: Here’s a demon called Lorne, with a lovely green hue,
    but around him was evil – what was he to do?

    We see Illyria climbing out of a grave marked “FRED RIP”.

    (NARRATION) LORNE: The last year had made a bad place in his head,
    with all his friends changing, or troubled – or dead!

    We see Wes, Spike, Illyria, Gunn, and Lorne looking on as a smiling Angel holds a scroll marked “Neat Plans”.

    (NARRATION) LORNE: But Angel, the hero, he had a solution, a plan to be followed, a stand to be taken.
    And bad things who thought it was their turn to win – well, they would be finding themselves quite mistaken.

    We see a despondent Lorne standing over Lindsey’s body (complete with X’s for eyes), despondently holding his pistol.

    (NARRATION) LORNE: Yes, Angel had plans! Oh, he had quite a few! But for Lorne it was something he hated to do!
    So Lorne shot bad Lindsey, yes Lorne took a life. Which brought him much inner pain, sorrow, and strife.

    As the rhyme continues, we see Lorne walking sadly through an inferno-like vision of Hell-A – monsters eating people, chasing them, buildings falling apart.

    (NARRATION) LORNE: Then Lorne broke from his clan, he was just that depressed
    To wander alone, just a shell – but well-dressed!
    He would exit stage right – but Los Angeles fell!
    In the blink of an eye, it had gone straight to hell!
    Oh the screaming! The running! Folk eaten like snacks!
    Every street, every corner, bloodthirsty attacks!

    We see Lorne running to flag down a demonic taxi, driven by a giant ant. Behind him, a demon is eating a city bus.

    (NARRATION) LORNE: Lorne ran for a cab, “I want out of this place!”
    But the driver had feelers, the taxi a face!
    A ride is a ride, thought poor Lorne with a shrug.
    “Take me far, far away, crazy cab-driving bug!”

    We see Lorne running from the cab as a giant steps on it. He runs past a sign saying “Welcome to Silver Lake”. All around him in Silver Lake is the same horror he’d just left.

    (NARRATION) LORNE: The taxi conveyed him as far as it could
    But was tromped by a golem, right there in the hood!
    Our Lorne ran for cover, “oh, this takes the cake!”
    He’d arrived in a town they had named Silver Lake.
    This once was a happy place, all ‘bout the arts.
    But when things went to hell demons tore it apart!
    This bad night he knew could get only much worse,
    Seeing horrors with no place in this bubbly verse.

    Next we see Lorne watching a man, swing a baseball bat to defend his family in front of his suburban home.

    (NARRATION) LORNE: But…
    … Lorne witnessed something he didn’t expect.
    People are people – although they’re in heck!

    We see Lorne spread his arms and open his mouth to sing, and as he does the demon explodes, as the grateful man hugs his family. Then we see people fighting off demons with shovels and pitchforks.

    (NARRATION) LORNE: So Lorne his a high note, his highest that day,
    And people grabbed tools and jumped into the fray!
    The brawl lasted days. But the town was left clean.

    We see a beautiful woman in a white dress hold a large magical staff in front of her, a field of white light spreading, driving demons out.

    (NARRATION) LORNE: Then a sorceress’s spell booted everything mean.

    We see Lorne in close-up as he smiles, watching people celebrate in the now-pristine suburban streets of Silver Lake.

    (NARRATION) LORNE: The casualties had been many, the violence so thick,
    But they made a slice of heaven, in H-E-Double-Hockey-Sticks!

    The next image shows Lorne relaxing with a drink, watching people in his red ball.

    (NARRATION) LORNE: Evil was banished, all thoughts verboten,
    And Lorne kept an eye on his friends not forgotten.

    We see Lorne walking around Silver Lake as a crowd of grateful people pointing to him.

    (NARRATION) LORNE: About a week in people wanted a leader.

    CITIZEN: That green guy who saved us! What could be neater?

    A pretty woman places a golden crown on Lorne’s head. He smiles gratefully.

    (NARRATION) LORNE: They say that it’s heavy, the head with the crown.
    But Lorne loved his new gig – no need for a frown!

    We see Lorne, with crown, walking around town, waving to people and, apparently, demons willing to live peacefully.

    (NARRATION) LORNE: For what seemed so long, there’d been no joy at all.
    But slowly…
    But surely…
    In ways large and small…

    We see Silver Lake – a dome of clear blue sky alone amidst the ruined, fiery sky of the city around Lorne’s new town.

    (NARRATION) LORNE: … Lorne got his groove back, right after the fall.

    The scene changes, and once again, we see Betta George in close-up, his fish face looking depressed.

    BETTA GEORGE: Yep. Lots of good stories, I bet. City this big, everyone’s got a tale to tell.

    Across the room, we see the vampire guard begin to stand from his chair. He looks annoyed.

    VAMP: Man, seriously. Do you ever stop talking?

    BETTA GEORGE: (from out of the view) Actually, genius, I never *start*. It’s called telepathy, which, I’m gathering, they don’t teach in douche lackey 101.

    We see the guard standing up, glowering at the trapped fish.

    VAMP: Keep it up, fish. Gunn’s not here to stop me from doing whatever I want. Ain’t nobody here but you and I.

    BETTA GEORGE: Yessir, Gunn took everyone else and left you. Even after you went and shaved your head to kiss a little rump. Doesn’t it get confusing? “Hey, which dude is that sucking on those fine ladies’ necks? Is it Gunn or that big copycat? I can’t even tell.”

    In close-up, George narrows his eye at his guard.

    BETTA GEORGE: But seriously, why’d you get left behind? Your parents forget to sign your permission slip?

    VAMP: (from out of the view) Nah. Gunn said it would be best to stay behind. Too much of a wild card –

    The last image is of the vampire guard, changing to vamp face, having had enough of the telepathic fish. George watches passively, with little he can do about it.

    VAMP: – Just no telling what I’d do. You know what? Let just tell Gun that you tried to make a break for it, and then things got, you know… *messy*.

    To be continued

    End of Chapter 6 – “First Night” Part I

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    ”Angel: After the Fall”, Issue #7

    Start of Chapter 7 – “First Night”, Part II

    The opening image is of Betta George in the room where he has been captive. Now, though, he’s floating free through the air, unbound. The henchvamp that’s been guarding him stands still in the middle of the room as George hovers past him. The fish appears to be almost smiling.

    BETTA GEORGE: Wow, you really wanna bite me. But you *can’t*, huh? There’s a reason I’m hell’s most sought-after fish. I’m a *powerful telepath*, little man. I mean look at us, you’re a vamp

    We see the vampire in close-up as George continues thinking at him. The guard is furious, gamefaced and snarling.

    In a new image, we see the vampire again, but apparently frozen in place, in a sort of see-through shield. Behind him, Spike appears to be prepared to attack him. The whole moment is set on what appears to be the Santa Monica Pier. Not in hell, either – just a normal night.

    BETTA GEORGE: (from out of the view) – And I can still make you think *this* is going on. Virtually impossible, yet here we are.

    Back in the bedroom, we see a close-up of George, smirking as he nears the door.

    BETTA GEORGE: When your boss gets back, tell ‘im I’m sorry I couldn’t stick around

    Before the fish can get away, though, we see the vampire suddenly grab him by the tail, cutting off his escape.

    BETTA GEORGE: – But I have to see a British guy about kicking his *ulp*!

    (NARRATION) BETTA GEORGE: Help?

    WESLEY

    The scene changes, and we see only a blinding white space.

    Next, the space resolves into a shape – a person. It’s Wesley, sitting in leather wingback chair. He is dressed in blue jeans, t-shirt, and tan jacket. His face shows several days growth of stubble, and he is looking around cautiously from the chair. The outline of clouds are now visible behind him.

    The view shifts, and we see another wingback chair, facing us as if we were Wes. Fred is sitting in the chair, beautiful, hair blown out breezily behind her in the chair.

    The next image shows Fred and her chair even closer. Here, she begins to speak. She’s clearly staring Wesley right in the eyes.

    FRED: Sweetie…

    In a closer view still, we see half of Fred’s mouth curve up in a sly smile.

    FRED: … We did it.

    From behind Fred, we see Wes grinning broadly, almost alarmingly so.

    WES: You *were* in there.

    FRED: Maybe a smidge. You always knew.

    We both of them in profile as their chairs have come along side each other, facing each other, but still touching arm to arm. Fred reaches over to cover Wes’ hand with her own.

    WES: What now?

    FRED: What now…

    In a closer view, Wes is smiling, cupping Fred’s cheek and running his fingers into her hair as she speaks words he longs for.

    FRED: ... Is us. Is this. Forever.

    The next imagine takes them out of the white, cloudy space, the chairs are gone. Wes I holding Fred again him, his hand supporting her hip as she arches against him. They’re face to face, set against an incredible landscape – a mountain view, a valley, a lake. They overlook it all from the top of a hill. The sun is rising or setting, and a butterfly flies in the foreground.

    FRED: We’ve earned it.

    The scene shifts again as Fred continues to give Wes happy words. Now they are riding together in a horse-drawn carriage, Fred leaning into Wesley’s shoulder.

    FRED: We’ve earned whatever we want.

    In closer view, we see her grinning as he runs his fingers along her shoulder.

    FRED: And for old time’s sake…

    The next image shows them suddenly elsewhere, in mid-fight. A red skinned, winged, bearded, horned demon is snarling, and Wes charges him, with spring-stakes out. Behind Wes, Fred is holding a small hatchet, ready to throw it. A young boy runs for cover past Wesley.

    FRED: … We can do this sometimes.

    We see the demon punch out at Fred with its giant arm. It glances a blow by her, but she just turns, smiling, still talking.

    FRED: But each and every time… we’ll be just fine.

    The scene shifts again, and now Fred and Wesley are in bed. She is on her back in a flimsy camisole, Wes laying beside her, looking down to her. They are covered with red sheets.

    FRED: And we’ll always come back here.

    The view shifts and we see Wes is now lying on his back, his shoulders up on a pillow. Fred curls up against him, holding his hand.

    FRED: How does it sound?

    WES: This is heaven.

    FRED: It wasn’t for a few months. It is now.

    The next image shows things heating up quickly between them. Wes has rolled Fred on to her back, and she is reaching for his shirt. He cups her cheek again, about to kiss her.

    WES: It sounds wonderful.

    FRED: It’s getting there.

    Before things go any farther, though, we see them sitting up. Fred is caressing Wesley’s cheek, but his expression is stern.

    WES: It only… this wasn’t a lie.

    Fred, who isn’t Fred at all, looks away in a close-up, caught.

    Next, we see her face as she turns back to Wesley, wearing a wry smile.

    “FRED”: Too much?

    The view shifts back to Wes. They are still sitting intimately close in bed, but his stubbly face just looks tired.

    WES: All of it. It’s not this cliché.

    From behind Wesley we see “Fred” sitting up, patiently taking his critique, even as she pushes her Fred imitation a little harder, a little mockingly.

    WES: Plus, you’d care. You’d ask what happened to them.

    “FRED”: Maybe I’m just so excited to see my one true that I plum forgot about them for a second.

    In a close-up, we see Wesley’s face, now haggard with the illusion broken. He doesn’t look hostile, but he still makes a firm warning.

    WES: Do yourself a favor and stop pretending you’re her. It won’t get us anywhere except you dead.

    As Wesley sits back against the head board, we see “Fred” lean coquettishly to one side, still wearing just her camisole and matching panties.

    “FRED”: Well, then we’d have something in common. See, I knew you’d be smarter than this.

    Next we see “Fred” sitting at the headboard, the sheet over her lower legs, apparently just fooling around with the messy bed. Wes is sitting on the edge of the mattress, watching her.

    “FRED”: They thought you’d be so *desperate* to believe that we’d have to just drop the curtain and tell you when it would hurt the most.

    “Fred” leans secretively over to Wesley as she explains.

    “FRED”: They wanted you in the throes of passion for the big reveal. How sick is that?

    WES: So let’s get to it.

    Misunderstanding him, “Fred” rises gamely to her knees. Wes, however, just sits on the bed, resting his arms on his knees and running his hand through his hair in annoyance.

    “FRED”: Get to what? Throes of passion? Nice.

    WES: What is it they want?

    “FRED”: You signed a contract. They’re not done with you.

    As he realizes, we see Wes sitting up straight on the bed, his face alarmed at what she’s saying. “Fred” momentarily appears to have made the loose blouse she was wearing when she first appeared return. She flings her arms around his neck in a loose hug, and Wes wraps a hand around her back as if she were the real thing.

    WES: I’m dead.

    “FRED”: Like that matters. Dead, sure. And also, his closest friend.

    The next image shows “Fred” still manipulating her appearance. Dramatically, this time – she is standing by a window in this bedroom, completely nude except for hair draping over her breasts and a fig leaf suspended over her more delicate areas. She is hanging on to the curtains on either side of her. We see Wes from behind as he faces “Fred”. He is dressed, but a red snake is now climbing up the back of his legs, over his bottom, and up his back.

    “FRED”: You’re going back. You do what they want… your happily ever after can kick off in style.

    We see “Fred” from behind as she, still naked, steps towards Wes. She rests a hand on her hip as she comments on his restraint. The snake now has wrapped around Wesley’s torso twice, its head near his face. He doesn’t resist or panic.

    “FRED”: I can’t believe you didn’t want to live in the lie for a while. I would have done whatever you wa –

    WES: Shut up. You think I’ll be a company man? Really?

    In close-up, eyeglass lenses float toward Wesley’s eyes as the snake continues to wrap around him. We see “Fred”’s hand reach out towards Wesley’s face, directing the glasses into place.

    “FRED”: If you want to see Fred again.

    Still pointing him, “Fred” continues to explain Wesley’s situation. Wesley is now wearing glasses. For the first time, he looks worried. The snake coils around his neck.

    “FRED”: Look at it this way, you get to go back to his side. That’ll be fun, right? You’ll report to us, you’ll tell us everything, you’ll do exactly what we say… or we’ll drop you in the furthest place from her.

    We see from over “Fred”’s shoulder as Wesley turns to stare at her.

    WES: You will anyway.

    “FRED”: You believe that. But you’ll still do it…

    In extreme close-up, we see “Fred” place her hand over Wesley’s again. As she does, his bare forearm covers over with cloth. It seems to weave itself as it moves up his arm – the sleeve of a dress shirt and suit jacket.

    “FRED”: … Because there’s the ever-so-slightest glimmer of pathetic hope you’ll be reunited after the smoke clears.

    The next image shows us Wesley as we’ve seen him – fully dressed in suit, vest, tie, and glasses, the spitting image of the eager young Watcher from Season 3 of “Buffy”. “Fred” is pressed against his side, hand on his waist, eyeing him approvingly.

    “FRED”: Beautiful.

    WES: Glad you approve.

    From behind, we see them facing a wall of the illusory bedroom. “Fred” reached out one index finger and begins pulling down. Her finger cuts through the wall, parting it like a curtain.

    “FRED”: Now then, time’s a-wastin’. Memo for him, from the higher-up. Re: Los Angeles. It’s his fault. Behave from here on out. And tell him he best stay in the offices, so we can keep an eye on him.

    In a close-up, we see them facing the wall that’s been parted, and the scene of Hell-A that’s revealed behind it. Wesley asks for explanation before catching sight of the outside. It’s what we expect – burning buildings, lightning in the sky, the dragon flying in the distance.

    WES: What’s his fau – oh.

    “FRED”: Yeah. Heaven isn’t this clichéd…

    The view reverses to a close-up of Wes and “Fred”. She is kissing him on the cheek like June wishing Ward Cleaver a good day at work. Wes looks at what’s left of Los Angeles despondently.

    “FRED”: … But hell… sterotype is pretty dead-on.

    Both of them stare ahead into Hell-A again.

    “FRED”: Have a good day at work, honey. We’ll be in touch when we have more for you.

    WES: Right.

    As Wes steps toward the opening, we see him in close-up as he turns to face “Fred”.

    WES: He’ll find a way to destroy you. We’ll find a way to destroy you. Personally, I’m already thinking of the most effective way of finding you when the smoke clears, and ringing (sic) your neck.

    “FRED”: Wesley, honey. Currently the only thing Angel is concerned about is finding a way to stand up with a shattered spine. As for you ringing (sic) my neck, that’ll be a neat trick, considering.

    We see Wesley’s feet in the foreground as he steps out of the portal into the burning ruins of Los Angeles. Behind him, “Fred” watches with a hand on her hip.

    WES: Non-corporeal it is, then.

    “FRED”: So smart, the brain on this one!

    In a close-up, we see “Fred” staring after Wes. Instead of a bedroom, she’s in front of what appears to be a castle or mansion entrance, stone steps and masonry. Her eyes are blank and calculating now. When she speaks, a disembodied voice answers, much like the voice that threatened Wesley in Chapter 5.

    “FRED”: We have him. But he’s a noble sort, he’ll do the right thing, eyes on the prize or not.

    VOICE: We can only hope.

    The next image shows Wesley standing amidst the ruins. Buildings burn and crumble, fires burn. Tentacles grow out of the ground. The dragon is soaring over the city. We see him from behind, and he seems overwhelmed, his hands hanging at his side. The disembodied voice summarizes its hopes for Wesley as this short tale concludes.

    VOICE: Besides… h had no idea why he’s there. He can’t. But he’s the key to all of this. Wesley is the reason we’ll win.

    The scene shifts to a new story, and we see Connor as we saw him in Chapter 6, dangling from a demon’s arm by the scruff of the neck.

    DEMON: Who wants a piece of Angel Jr.?

    (NARRATION) CONNOR: I want all my pieces. Gotta spring into action. And sereiously, seconds ago *no one* knew I was Angel Jr. I barely knew. Now these guys do?

    We see the demon and Connor from behind. In the foreground, though, the twin steel barrels of a shotgun come into view. The demon turns to look as the owner of the weapon calls out.

    (NARRATION) CONNOR: Mind can’t wander, now now. Okay, first dad, he’d punch, second dad, backstab, third dad, cry –

    VOICE: Yo, fugly.

    In profile we see the shotgun speak, blasting the demon in the face and knocking its helmet free with a *BOOOM*.

    As Connor drops to his knee on the street (avoiding a ground-grown tentacle), we see the spent shells fall into view. Connor looks up to his rescuer as she addresses him.

    VOICE: Kid…

    KATE

    The shooter is revealed as the view reverses. It’s Kate Lockley, former LAPD homicide detective. She wears slacks and a long wool coat. However, she’s heavily armed – she has a semiautomatic pistol strapped to on thigh, and a backpack that sheaths two broadswords on her back. And in her hands, of course, the double-barrel shotgun. As she finishes her order to Connor, the shotgun speaks again, and we see green blood from one of the demons reaching to them from the foreground splatter. Connor is still on one knee, staring at her sidearm in disbelief.

    KATE: … Get up and get moving.

    From a wide view, we see Connor and Kate running side by said. Behind them, parts of the demon army are chasing after them.

    KATE: What’s your name?

    CONNOR: C-C-Connor.

    KATE: Connor, I’m Kate. Breathe in, breathe out.

    We see the two arrive at a car. Kate turns behind her as she runs, semi-automatics in either hand, firing at their pursuers.

    CONNOR: It’s cool, I’ve done this kind of thing before.

    KATE: I can tell.

    CONNOR: Hey, I grew up in a hell dimension…

    The view shifts around and we see Kate’s car. It’s a black sports car, a convertible. They both open doors, Connor the passenger side. As he climbs in, Kate provides fires past him to cover their escape. We see she shoved the shotgun into her backpack opposite from the broadswords.

    KATE: Well, then, this oughta be like old home week.

    (NARRATION) CONNOR: I’m keeping her.

    From behind, we see the car pour on speed to escape, leaving the chasing demons in its dust.

    KATE: Connor, we’re going to get out of here just fine.

    CONNOR: I’m telling you, I can fight! I can!

    KATE: I’ll drop you off at the nearest city block that doesn’t look like a Vegas fever dream.

    Kate drives quickly along a curved road, maybe Mulholland, despite the volcano visible in the distance. She reaches up with her left hand to place a removable police light on the top of the windshield.

    KATE: Haven’t been on the force for a while, but boy-oh-boy, if this doesn’t come in handy on the job every now and then.

    CONNOR: What’s “the job?” Amateur Terminator?

    KATE: I… help people that fall through the cracks.

    From overhead, we see the ruins of a commercial district. Smoking buildings, a warehouse with a giant tentacle wrapped around it.

    In a closer view, we see Kate’s car still ripping along.

    KATE: And occasionally ‘splode something that oozes up from the cracks.

    CONNOR: Surprised you haven’t encountered one of my fathers.

    In close-up, we see Kate smile to herself through the windshield.

    KATE: “One of”…? Heh. LA.

    Kate pulls the care into a garage, apparently demon-free for the time being.

    (NARRATION) CONNOR: So she doesn’t know who my dad is. But they did. Is it because they know who Angel is and she doesn’t? Why are only certain people getting my full stats? And is she flirting with me? She’s flirting with me.

    CONNOR: Maybe we should keep moving.

    KATE: I’m going to.

    From a wide view, we see them get out of the car. Connor is slouching as he walks; Kate is moving with purpose.

    CONNOR: We could hole up for a while –

    KATE: Flattered. But I like ‘em older.

    Suddenly, the two are face to face with a huge spider demon, like the ones that Spike fought in Chapter 6.

    CONNOR: (quietly) Uh… Kate…? Ma’am…?

    In close-up, Kate calmly fires three shots into the spider demons face with her pistol, killing it. Connor raises his hands, startled.

    In a wider view, Kate stops, unsettled. Behind her, Connor composes himself next to the demon’s body.

    KATE: Something’s up.

    CONNOR: You think?

    The next image shows Kate opening a door. It’s a closet or utility space rebuilt as an apartment, it seems. But more of an armory. There are bookshelves, and various jars and bottles, but more than anything else there are weapons. Japanese swords, broadswords, and pole arms on one wall, and a huge variety of firearms on another – shotguns and automatic rifles and submachine gus.

    KATE: Already gone.

    We see the room from the same angle, but Kate has stepped over to a bookshelf, taking something from the top of it. Connor follows her into the room.

    CONNOR: Who?

    KATE: My dealer. She took some of the bigger booms. Still might be able to hobble together something.

    The view shifts as they move to a work table. There appears to be an engine on it, like a small motorcycle or lawnmower engine. Connor flexes his back as he holds his hips. Kate watches him with almost maternal concern.

    KATE: sit down, looks like you’re about to fain.

    CONNOR: I’m good. Just that… lotta voices in my head all of a sudden. All telling me different things.

    In close-up, the weariness and confusion clouds Connor’s face as he looks earnestly at Kate.

    CONNOR: I… I have no idea what to do.

    The view reverses, and as Kate reaches up to get a book off a high shelf, she smiles at Connor with genuine understanding.

    CONNOR: Even without the voices, you’re taking this all pretty well.

    KATE: Hey, I *got* voices. But I’ll tell you what makes it easier.

    In close-up, we see Kate tinkering with the engine, modifying it.

    KATE: A man wiser than both of us helped me through a crisis of conscience once. He said to me… and I’m paraphrasing here… “in the greater scheme, or the bigger picture, nothing we do matters.

    We see a close-up of Kate’s profile as she continues. Connor is watching her, listening intently.

    KATE: “There’s no grand plan, no big win.

    He’s still watching as she replaces the cover to the engine she was modifying.

    KATE: “If nothing we do matters, then all that matters is what we do. Because that’s all there is.”

    Kate lifts the engine from the table. It appears to be rigged with some kind of trigger, as though it’s been converted into a bomb.

    KATE: So everything’s gone to hell. And I’m gonna go blow up that demon army before they hurt someone.

    We see Kate carrying the weapon out of the armory, watching her from over Connor’s shoulder. She doesn’t look back as she bids him farewell.

    KATE: Stay safe, Connor.

    He watches her as she heads through the door.

    The view reverses and we see Connor sitting along in an office chair in that room.

    (NARRATION) CONNOR: *All that matters is what we do*. That guy sounds self-important. Still…

    In close-up, we see Connor look over his shoulder.

    (NARRATION) CONNOR: … Thanks, Kate.

    We see the wall of the armory, pole arms and a sword.

    And then we see Connor’s hands reaching out to take a spear and the sword from their places on that wall.

    (NARRATION) CONNOR: A new voice to listen to.

    The scene shifts away and we’re back in Gunn’s lair. The vampire guard is shoving Betta George’s face into the wall. The fish is surprised that he’s broken free of his telepathic control.

    VAMPIRE: *Who do you think you’re dealing with*?

    BETTA GEORGE: *How*? How did you

    VAMPIRE: *Lucky freak who was born with power. I had to die for it. I have to kill for it.

    We see the vampire, still scowling, shove Betta George backwards.

    VAMPIRE: *You don’t have a damn clue about what I’m capable of. You don’t have the slightest goddamn clue about what we’ve been preparing for. You’re just an annoying little blip compared to what Gunn puts us through* –

    In close-up, we see the fish open its mouth in surprise.

    BETTA GEORGE: What are you…? Oh

    As George pulls the answer from the vampire’s mind, we see what the guard is remembering. It’s an image of him fighting a blond-haired girl with a stake. She’s wearing tight pants and what appears to be a short tank-top or athletic bra. Other girls in similar dress fight elsewhere in what looks like a basement, but they have killed other vampires, who we see collapsing into dust. Only the vampire guarding George appears to be holding his own.

    BETTA GEORGE: (from out of the view) You’ve been training against young girls? I’m supposed to be *scared* because you train by facing off against a brownie troop?

    The next image shows George once again trapped on the bed, the web-like threads connecting him to the room.

    BETTA GEORGE: And what’s with that one word in your head, over and over

    The last image is Betta George in close-up. His face is pretty emotionless, but his question reveals great curiosity.

    BETTA GEORGE: …Seriously, what the hell is a *Slayer*?

    To Be Continued!

    End of Chapter 7 – “First Night”, Part II

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    ”Angel: After the Fall”, Issue #8

    Start of Chapter 8 – “First Night”, Part III

    The opening image picks up immediately from Chapter 7 – Betta George is one again trapped on the bed, while his enraged vampire guard scowls and yells at the telepathic fishes insults.

    GUARD: Quiet!

    BETTA GEORGE: [i]In the short time I poked around what passes for your mind, I saw all sorts of stuff. – Come on, what’s with all those ladies you were fighting? You can tell me, there’s no secrets between us.

    GUARD: *Quiet*!

    In a nearly silhouetted view, the guard strikes the prone fish with a *WHAP!* to cut off its mockery.

    BETTA GEORGE: And for the sake of surviving, I agree Air Suppy is totally underrat*OOFPH*!

    The image moves in and we see the vampire staring furiously at George.

    GUARD: Couple of months ago, you were allowed to mouth off like that, huh? Had other freaks watch your back? Yeah, that’s over. You’re allowed to live because Gunn needs you. Once he gets over that hump –

    The view reverses to George, who despite his blank eyes, looks a little worried for the first time.

    GUARD: (from out of the view) I can do whatever I want to you. And I want to do a lot. I’ve been killing every day, but your death, that’s going to be the one that’s really gonna stand out. And there ain’t no help coming, little fish.

    The guard’s ominous warning continues in voiceover as the image pulls out to show the outside of Gunn’s building, standing against a not-as-ruined part of Los Angeles.

    GUARD: (from out of the view) You’re on your own. We’re all on our own.

    GWEN

    The scene shifts back to the first night, and we see an attractive couple on the beach near the Santa Monica pier, kissing under the moonlight. They have a picnic basket and a bottle of champagne on ice. The woman is Gwen Raiden, wearing a small black skirt, and a red blouse that’s unbuttoned to reveal a white bra. She is sliding her hand into the unbuttoned shirt of the man she’s kissing, whose name is Nate.. Behind them, and threatening the entire placid, romantic scene, a huge whirlwind of storm clouds hangs over downtown Los Angeles in the distance.

    NATE: Oh, Gwen –

    GWEN: Oh… (quietly, making sure) gonna go with… (to him) Nate –

    In a closer view, Nate breaks their kiss to propose an idea to Gwen. For her part, Gwen seems more interested in the kissing.

    NATE: Let’s…

    GWEN: Mmmm?

    NATE: Let’s –

    GWEN: Let’s stay with this for a little longer…

    The view reverses, and Nate has taken Gwen by the arms in either hand to get her attention. Her reaction is surprised, not expecting him to be complaining.

    NATE: We’ve been kissing for three hours.

    GWEN: And touching.

    NATE: And touching, yes. Lotttttta touching.

    We see them from above as they drop back to their picnic blanket. Gwen looks angry and is turning away from Nate towards the champagne.

    GWEN: I like touching. I couldn’t for a while and now I… (muttering) crap, Nate, way to blow the damn mood.

    NATE: Wait! Touching’s good! I love touching! Touch me, it’s cool!

    We see Gwen standing over Nate, hand on her hip unhappily.

    GWEN: I should go.

    NATE: No, you shouldn’t! Because you go, and I don’t know when I’m going to see you again and then we can’t touch and that would suck because I’m all about –

    GWEN: I know where you work. I’ll come there if I want to see you.

    The view turns around, and Gwen is picking up the champagne bottle and pulling her shirt together more modestly as Nate babbles in protest.

    NATE: Okay, but, just for fun, do you think maybe if you do, you could, maybe for fun, act like we did *more* than touch? Because when you came into the griddle, my manager said you were probably a tease and to defend your honor, I said that we would –

    GWEN: I *really* should go.

    From behind Nate, we see him on one knee, reaching out to Gwen like he wants to propose. She’s facing away from him, clearly done with him.

    NATE: Wait, Gwen…

    GWEN: Nate, give it –

    Before she can finish, we see a wider view and what’s interrupted her. The night sky over Los Angeles, where the storm had gathered, exploding in a fire ball high in the air. The shockwave is forceful enough that palm trees are stripped bare and debris scatters along the beach and Gwen and Nate look up in amazement. From out of the center of the explosion, a ripple of blue energy cascades outward over the city.

    GWEN: – up?

    The next image shows Nate in close-up looking toward the land while Gwen faces the ocean. The cascade of energy is pouring out of the sky in a dome-like shape, and where it hits the water a few hundred feet off shore, the sea begins to boil. From where the barrier takes shape, the water also begins to turn a bloody red.

    GWEN: This… is Santa Monica doing some kind of fireworks show tonight, or? Though. That’s not fireworks so much as a big, glow-y wall.

    We see Nate and Gwen on the beach from out over the water, where a fish leaps desperately from the boiling blood-like ocean, already dying and coming apart.

    GWEN: And the ocean… Al Gore warned us. He warned us as I didn’t listen because he’s a nerd and now…

    In close-up, Gwen is still staring out at the sea, but Nate is looking off in another direction. Neither of them look terrified so much as completely confused.

    GWEN: Though I wasn’t aware that it was supposed to happen suddenly. Ice caps melting and so forth, that takes time. This is weird.

    NATE: Getting weirder.

    The next image shows Gwen turning to face what Nate spotted. She’s staring at the Santa Monica pier, which is now on fire. Tentacles already seem to be growing around the pier, and the Ferris wheel is spinning out of control as it catches fire – one of the cars is flung into the air as it goes around the top.

    GWEN: Oh. Yeah.

    The view shifts back to show Gwen and Nate. Nate, for his part, looks ready to leap into action, literally rolling up the sleeves of his button down shirt. Gwen looks a little more cautious behind him.

    NATE: Somebody’s gotta do something.

    GWEN: Totally. But it ain’t you. Lots of boy scouts in this town. I’ve run across a couple of guys that are probably better at handling this than you. (quietly) Also better at making out. Take the hurt and use it.

    Nate ignores that last and looks over at her, appalled. He clearly wants to help, and is starting to walk away as Gwen reaches out to stop him with a concerned look on her face.

    NATE: How could you just stand here?


    In extreme close-up, we see Gwen’s hand touch Nate’s wrist lightly as she asks him to stop. As she touches, the faintest, tiniest jolt of electricity arcs from her hand to his, and a circuit snaps closed.

    GWEN: Nate, wait a –

    The circuit is deady – from a wider view, we see a ferocious blue-white blast of electricity jump from Gwen into Nate, coursing through his body and also discharging into the sky. Gwen screams in protest, but Nate’s own pained scream is already trailing away.

    GWEN: *No*!

    NATE: *AAAAAAAaargh* –

    In a closer view, Gwen’s outstretched hand pulls back as though she touched a hot pan. Nate’s corpse is a charred cinder, locked in a pained pose as it hits the beach. Dark smoke pours off of his body. Sparks of electricity still dance around Gwen’s hand, and her white-streaked hair blows out behind her.

    The view reverses, and from the ground near Nate’s burned body, we see Gwen, staring in complete panic at her electric hands. Behind her, LA’s transformation goes on, as tentacles burst through a beachfront apartment building. The hotdog stand behind her is now decorated in skulls.

    GWEN: Oh, my God.

    In close-up, we see Gwen’s profile as she stares back out at the barrier on the water. She is trying to regain some composure, fighting against a nervous breakdown.

    GWEN: No. No no no. Short term. Gotta be. Because of – it’s whatever’s causing that thing.

    In extreme close-up, Gwen’s blue eyes look both angry and afraid.

    GWEN: I earned it.

    And suddenly, we see her lash out at the barrier, bolts of lightning more intense than we’ve ever seen her use jumping across the air from her to the barrier. Her hair stands momentarily on end as she screams at the barrier. Waves of energy ripple against it, but the barrier does not give at all.

    GWEN: *I EARNED IT*!

    When the lightning stops, we see her still holding her hands toward the ocean. Sparks dance over her hands, and the cuffs of her blouse are scorched. Her eyes are closed to fight away tears.

    We see Nate’s body, still smoldering

    From above, Gwen crouches over her former date. She’s hugging herself like a small child and the wind blows her hair around.
    We look up from Nate’s head to Gwen as she looks down at him through tear-streaked eyes.

    From above her, we see her hesitantly reach her right hand out over his chest.

    The next image shows electricity flow from her into Nate. She’s making a futile attempt to revive him, ignoring the total destruction of his body, and covers her mouth with her left hand, now crying openly, possibly surprised at herself.

    Gwen gives up, holding her hands together as she crouches over Nate’s body, still weeping as she babbles to herself.

    GWEN: Figured it could happen again. Just… it all came back in a single moment.

    She stares down at Nate, as if addressing him, reassuring him as well as herself.

    GWEN: This’ll be fixed. I was serious when I said I knew some guys that know how to handle this kinda thing, they’re probably on it already.

    In a wider view, we see her standing again, wiping her face with her palms in another child-like gesture.

    GWEN: Yep. If it is permanent, *and it’s not*, and I can’t find another one of those thingamabobs to change me back, *and I will*, kinda wish I had actually dated someone in the short time I had. Not just. Yeah. And not you, not saying you. Just woulda been nice to know what it’s like.

    The next image shows Gwen walking away from Nate, from the beach. Her eyes are no longer young and scared, instead adult and furious. As she walks, bursts of electricity from her hands ground themselves on the beach.

    GWEN: To not be alone. For a little while. Woulda been nice.

    CIVILIANS

    In a new scene, a young man with tousled hair is standing outside an LA movie theatre, the Sunset 5, wearing a hoody and a sandwich board that says “The End is Near”. He holds a bell like a Salvation Army volunteer to get the attention of passersby. It’s raining in downtown LA, and a man and his child are watching from under the father’s umbrella as he scowls at the homeless guy.

    HOMELESS GUY: *It’s coming, people! Oh, it’s coming! Are you ready?*

    (NARRATION) HOMELESS GUY: Every day and every night, I do this. A service to all the stupid people. And what do I get for it? Weird looks.

    We see him in close-up as he turns to answer a woman approaching him from the movie theater, one of the employees.

    WOMAN: You have to stop. Now.

    HOMELESS GUY: Free country. Officially, anyway. I can stand here and I can say anything I want.

    (NARRATION) HOMELESS GUY: She doesn’t get it. She never gets it.

    We see them both in close-up now as he faces her.

    WOMAN: You’re scaring people away.

    HOMELESS GUY: What am I supposed to do? Let people waste their time going to see crappy movies when they should be preparing? That would be a lie and that’s awful.

    (NARRATION) HOMELESS GUY: She thinks I’m crazy. It’s because of how we met.

    In a quick flashback, we see the Homeless Guy standing on a ladder next to the Sunset 5’s marquee. He’s plucking letters out of movie titles to spell “the end is near” on the top line, missing only the “r”. The theatre employee stands below him, hands on hips.

    (NARRATION) HOMELESS GUY: But if the powers that be didn’t want me to get the message out, they wouldn’t have that ladder in my alley.

    WOMAN: What are you doing?!

    HOMELESS GUY: Read the top line. Your stupid life could very well depend on it.

    Back on the street, the Homeless Guy smiles despite the pouring rain as she challenges him.

    WOMAN: Why are you so *negative* all the time?

    HOMELESS GUY: I’m not. I’m positive. *The end is near*. Get ready. I am. I have soup and bottled water and a sword.

    We see the woman, whose nametag says ALICE, point at him, pushing him to try something else.

    ALICE: Get out of her. Do something *nice* for a change. It’s not entirely painful.

    HOMELESS GUY: I am doing something nice. You’ll thank me later. I hope I’ll be able to hear you *over the sound of me eating soup and the world ending*.

    In close-up, we see Alice through the sheets of rain as she tries to convince him.

    ALICE: For God’s sake, you’re *crazy! The end is not* –

    An instant later, we see her in the same view, but it’s no longer raining, and the sky is glowing orange overhead.

    ALICE: – near –

    In a wide view, we see the burning sky over LA, an abstract vision of its transformation. Alice and the Homeless Guy are tiny white silhouettes watching it. She is holding her head in panic, but he is raising his arms triumphantly.

    In close-up, they both are staring out at the city, eyes wide.

    HOMELESS GUY: I… I…

    He begins to grin, and Alice looks at him in disgust.

    HOMELESS GUY: … Well, holy crap!

    In a wider view, he gives himself an approving thumb-up at “this guy’s” smarts as he brags over his predictions. Alice crosses her arms beside him, terrified of what she sees around them.

    HOMELESS GUY: *You all thought I was crazy just because I said the end of the world was coming and also I live in a box and sometimes smell like pee! Well, this guy can go back to his box and pee next to where he sleeps knowing full well that he was right – and you’re all stupid*!

    As tentacles break through Sunset Boulevard and citiens begin to notice what’s going on, Homeless Guy turns to Alice, not understanding her reaction at all.

    HOMELESS GUY: Where are you going? Let’s celebrate!

    ALICE: Oh, my lord. *Oh, my lord*.

    (NARRATION) HOMELESS GUY: What’s eating her? She looked…

    In extreme close-up, we see his eyes as he realizes but clearly doesn’t understand.

    (NARRATION) HOMELESS GUY: … scared. Well, so what? She’s stupid and she should have listened and she can’t handle the truth.

    We see from beside the Homeless Guy as Alice walks nervously into a crowd of Angelinos, looking for some kind of safety.

    (NARRATION) HOMELESS GUY: So why do I feel bad? Stupid girl, ruining my enjoyment.

    We see the Homeless Guy slouching on the sidewalk in front of the theater, unhappy. Behind him, citizens hold each other and walk around, while at least one is caught by tentacles from in the street.

    (NARRATION) HOMELESS GUY: Stupid girl, who gave me leftover hot dogs at the end of the day. And sometimes popcorn. And jackets that were in the lost and found for over two months.

    TWO WEEKS LATER

    The Homeless Guy is standing where he was, but behind him, building are burning, demons are grabbing citizens and eating them.

    (NARRATION) HOMELESS GUY: Stupid girl, who doesn’t even come back for two weeks.

    Inside the movie theatre, we see the Homeless Guy, his sandwich board removed, wearing his sword. Boxes of soup are littered throughout the empty theater’s seats.

    (NARRATION) HOMELESS GUY: But if she’s okay, and she ever *does* pass this way again…

    Back outside, we see a wide view of the Homeless Guy standing defensively in front of the theater, sword drawn. He has changed the marquee again, but now it reads “the end of the end is near”. ON the street, demons have taken notice of him, and begin to close in on him.

    (NARRATION) HOMELESS GUY: … She’ll see I used her stupid sign to lie for her. And if she’d just come back, I’d be more than happy to admit it… it wasn’t entirely painful.

    GUNN

    The scene shifts, and we’re looking in the first person at a man reaching toward the “camera”. The image is hazy, fogged, semi-conscious. The man has longish hair and strong features, but isn’t familiar. Gunn, however, whose eyes we’re looking through, recognizes him as Angel.

    (NARRATION) GUNN: Right here, please, somebody…

    MAN: Charles. *Charles*.

    (NARRATION) GUNN: Angel, I’m right here.

    The view reverses, and we look down at Gunn on a small bed. He is heavily bandaged, both arms, over his chest, around his right eye. A table beside his bed is full of first aid tools.

    MAN: (from out of the view) How are you feeling?

    (NARRATION) GUNN: Where? Captured.

    We see Gunn look at his bandaged hands in confusion.

    (NARRATION) GUNN: No, one who made it. Kidnapped and bandaged? Have to be the last one left, have to be.

    We see from beside Gunn the man who is talking to him, waving at him, trying to reassure him.

    (NARRATION) GUNN: Angel, Spike, Illyria… someone would have dusted him. Someoen would have saved me.

    MAN: Everything is going to be okay.

    (NARRATION) GUNN: Good. He’s delusional. Use that.

    In a wider view, we see the man begin to walk toward Gunn, pausing to grab a chair to bring to Gunn’s bedside.

    (NARRATION) GUNN: Catch my breath –

    MAN: Just calm down, Charles. It’s going to be all right.

    (NARRATION) GUNN: Really want to calm down, crazy person. Can’t catch my breath. Why can’t I catch my breath?

    We see a close-up of the man as he pulls up a chair. He has a wooden stake sticking out of the pocket of his hooded raincoat.

    (NARRATION) GUNN: Smells like a vamp. Has a stake. Why would a vamp carry a stake?

    MAN: We’ve been waiting to talk to you for weeks.

    (NARRATION) GUNN: “Smells like a vamp?” Angel carries a stake.

    As the man sits next to Gunn, he leans over to ask him about what happened. Gunn holds the size of his head as he tries to remember.

    MAN: What’s the last thing you remember?

    (NARRATION) GUNN: Buy some time –

    GUNN: I remember… overly friendly vampire telling me to calm down. Oh, you mean before that. I remember the alley.

    And we see the alley in flashback, Spike, Gunn, angel, and Illyria all together, staring down the approaching army in the pouring rain.

    GUNN: (voiceover) “I remember the odds.”

    The next image shows the battle joined – Illyria and Spike in the front, sending demons flying as they come. The giant ogre’s shadow fills the alley. Gunn is hit by something we can’t see, and he holds his eye as he stumbles to the ground. Angel spots him, worried.

    GUNN: (voiceover) “I remember not beating them.”

    We see Angel cradling Gunn’s head on the street. Gunn’s right eye appears to be missing, just a blood-soaked hole.

    ANGEL: It’s going to be all right, Gunn –

    GUNN: Reeall reall Really not gonna be, Angel.

    ANGEL: We’re going to get out of this.

    In close-up, we see Angel’s expression darken as he gets an idea.

    ANGEL: Oh. Just hold on for a few more minutes.

    The next image shows the dragon strafing through the alley. Illyria is on a much larger demons shoulder, pummeling it. Spike puches out another demon.

    GUNN: (voiceover) “I think. I think he saw one of Wolfram & Hart’s lackeys controlling the dragon…”

    Back in his room, we see Gunn smile a little as he remembers the scene.

    GUNN: It was an ogre. Heh. Ogres and dragons. Why not. Sure, ogres and dragons. Probably some hobbits there, too.

    Back in the flashback, we see Angel pick up his sword again, turning away from Gunn. The injured man reaches out with one bloody hand.

    ANGEL: I’ll be back, Gunn.

    GUNN: wait

    In close-up, we see Angel yell as he pulls back his sword to attack.

    GUNN: (voiceover) “He didn’t hear me. He had a plan. And once Angel has a plan, the blinders come down. Doesn’t see anything else.”

    We see Angel in silhouette as he cuts a demon’s head off with a *SHHHKKKK!* Beyond him, the dragon hovers, staring down at them.

    GUNN: (voiceover) “Only *this plan* actually worked.”

    Out of the flashback, the vampire with Gunn looks on. In close-up, we see Gunn’s eye look despondent as he remembers more.

    VAMPIRE: So the dragon was freed and Angel went back to you.

    GUNN: Yeah. Yeah. The dragon was freed.

    We see Angel’s back in the flashback, from Gunn’s point of view. The dragon has dropped its head down to face the vampire, and Angel reaches out to touch it.

    GUNN: (voiceover) “And no, Angel didn’t come back.”

    The next image shows the dragon unleash a blast of flame on the demon army, as Angel stands beneath its head.

    GUNN: (voiceover) “Just like that, his side was winning. As far as I could tell.”

    In a closer view, we see Gunn on his knees reaching out – ahead of him, we see Spike, Illyria, and Angel, walking away through the flames to continue the fight. As Gunn tries to call out to them, he is grabbed by behind and pulled backwards.

    GUNN: (voiceover) “But then –“

    VOICE: This is the guy? He’s –

    Back in the room, Gunn looks at the vampire, realizing it was him who dragged him away.

    GUNN: You.

    VAMPIRE: Had to.

    The flashback resumes with the vampire explaining. We see the vampire in the alley, pointing a couple others in the right direction as they drag Gunn along the rain-soaked ground.

    VAMPIRE: (voiceover) “You were dying, and no one else was going to do anything…”

    GUNN: Angel –! Angel –

    In close-up, we see Gunn, semi-conscious, pulled to his feet as the vampire changes to game face behind him. The vampire is leaning toward Gunn’s neck, teeth bared.

    VAMPIRE: (voiceover) “… nobody else was going to save you”.

    Coming out of the flashback, we see Gunn’s bandaged hand reach out and grab the vampire around the throat. He looks back in panic as he begins to explain.

    (NARRATION) GUNN: Fight it. Still human. Still coherent. Still no…

    VAMPIRE: We were watching the entire time, Gunn. We would have acted earlier but we knew to wait for the dragon’s fire. We have *an inside line*. I also knew you were going to react exactly like this.

    We see Gunn in close-up, angrily staring down his “rescuer”. Behind Gunn, a door opens and three other vampires begin to enter the room.

    (NARRATION) GUNN: *Still human. Stop it*.

    VAMP IN DOOR: Boss –

    VAMPIRE: It’s fine, everyone. It’s fine, we expected this. It’s supposed to happen. He’s so much more important than he knows, that’s why we had to turn him –

    GUNN: *Don’t* –

    In close-up, Gunn suddenly shifts into gameface, roaring in anger and denial.

    GUNN: – *DON’T SAY IT*!

    From above, we see Gunn’s bandages around his fall off, loosened by his change. He still holds his sire by the throat, slipping the stake from the vampire’s jacket. The other vampires look on from the entrance.

    GUNN: Who told you how damn important I was? Wolfram & Hart? *Did they tell you to do this*?

    VAMPIRE: Think we’d listen to them? Please. We work under their radar. You could too, Gunn. We’re offering you a place with us. It’s all confusing, I know. You’ve been out of it for weeks. Together you and I can –

    In extreme close-up, Gunn shuts off the recruitment speech by driving his sire’s own stake through this throat, cutting off his windpipe.

    VAMPIRE: – ukkk ukk

    GUNN: Heard the rousing speeches before.

    We see Gunn from behind as he holds the stake in his sire’s throat.

    (NARRATION) GUNN: I was there because of him. And once I wasn’t of any use, I was forgotten and now… my God, now I’m *this*.

    In close-up, we see Gunn’s expression harden as he looks around to his sire’s henchmen.

    (NARRATION) GUNN: No. I’m not. Don’t know if it’s the upgrade or what but I’m not… I’m not him. I’m not them. I can’t be.

    GUNN: Is there… is there anything else I should know?

    We see two of the henchmen together. One has a soul patch on his chin, and though he tries to answer, he quickly defers to the one behind him, clearly afraid of Gunn.

    HENCHMAN: Just that… um, see, it’s about what’s going on outside, um. Somebody else tell ‘im. Vic, tell ‘im.

    From above, we see Gunn facing the wide curtains of the bedroom, arms crossed. His sire is still on his knees off to one side, while the three henchmen stand behind at a cautious distance. All but Vic, who is walking to the window as Gunn demands.

    GUNN: Somebody talk. Vic, which one of you is Vic? Vic, you better damn well tell me.

    The next image shows Gunn in silhouette facing out the window as Vic pulls the curtain open. He’s staring into the shining sun and moon over Los Angeles. Fire, tentacles, and destruction all over the city.

    In close-up, we see Gunn’s face, still hard, but human again, staring out the window. His right eye has the scar over its eyelid. Behind him, Vic and the other henchmen look on to see how he’ll react.

    GUNN: Oh

    In a wider view, Gunn puts his foot on his sire’s chair, leaning over his knee and picking the vampire up by his hair. His sire holds his throat and tries to answer Gunn’s questions.

    GUNN: New best friend, when were you planning on sharing *that* with me? Hand in hand, we’re going to make this all okay, huh?

    VAMPIRE: Wee we caa

    We see Gunn pull his sire up to his feet almost effortlessly with his new vampire strength. He pulls his stake back with his other hand.

    GUNN: Well-said. But I think you’ll understand if I’ve (sic) having my share of trust issues. Tell you what…

    Gunn drives the stake into his sire’s chest, and the vampire doesn’t even have a chance to scream as he crumbles into dust.

    GUNN: … I’ll take it from here, Angel.

    The last image shows Gunn, still bandaged, turning to face his sire’s henchmen… his henchmen… as LA burns and writhes through the window behind him.

    GUNN: So. What’s this about an *inside line*? Because even before that curtain was pulled I was fully aware I was in hell. And I want out.

    End of Chapter 8 – “First Night”, Part III

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    ”Angel: After the Fall”, Issue #9

    Previously in “Angel: After the Fall”

    Angel stood up to Wolfram & Hart. Wesley died. Los Angeles went to hell. Gunn was turned into a vampire, and Angel is no longer a vampire. Connor has teamed up with Gwen (a mutant with the ability to channel electricity) and Angel’s former girlfriend and current werewolf, Nina. They’re working to save humans from the evil demons (“lords”) that have conquered and divided Los Angeles.

    Gunn stole a powerful trinket, killed a lord, and stole his telepathic fish.

    Angel has befriended an overprotective dragon and Wesley is back, but now he’s a ghost, bound by his contract to Wolfram & Hart. Both are still trying to help the citizens of Los Angeles. This led to Angel killing the son of a lord, which led to the lord wanted Angel’s head, which led to Angel challenging the lords to a battle of the death for control of Los Angeles.

    Lorne and Groo, who turned the Silverlake section of Los Angeles into the one safe place in hell, rallied the troops to come to Angel’s aid.

    Spike is with Illyria, and was with Spider and company, a group of ladies that encouraged Spike to kill Angel. But instead, Spike and Illyria decided to help Angel.

    Spike didn’t know Wesley was back. Neither did Illyria. Upon seeing Wesley, she turned into Fred.

    Start of Chapter 9

    The opening image reverses the view we left off in Chapter 5. From behind Angel and Spike we see the demon champions, the man of fire, the She-Skip, the wraith. Between them is Fred, who has turned to face the monsters behind her.

    (NARRATION) ANGEL: In a split second, Fred is back. A split second later, she’s a target. Reaching her, however seems to take an eternity.

    The first to reach Fred is Wesley, by virtue of his non-corporeal status. He pops into view in front of Fred, between her and the man of fire, who is poised to attack. He puts his hands on his hips paternally as he faces the champion.

    FRED: Wesley? Get out of the way, sweetie, please –

    From a side view, we see Spike and Angel have come to Wesley’s side. Wesley boldly reaches his hand out and passes it into the man of fire’s chest.

    WESLEY: Make one move and I will crush your heart.

    MAN OF FIRE: You… can’t do that.

    The next image shows that Wes’ bluff has bought them the advantage; we see the Man of Fire fall backwards as Angel punches him. Spike puts She-Skip on the ground with a wristlock. Wesley stands in the background, looking a little relieved. Above them, the wraith hovers into the air and the T-Rex growls, about to rejoin the fight.

    WESLEY: Got me there.

    The reverses, and we see Angel looking at his fist as if its in pain. Spike orders Fred to back out of the fight as she tries to figure out what’s going on.

    SPIKE: *Get back*!

    FRED: Oh, God, what’s happening?

    (NARRATION) ANGEL: Luckily, Spike and I think alike, he takes one down, I take the other. Though I think I may have broken my hand doing it.

    As Spike answers, we see his boot connect with She-Skip’s face while she’s on the ground.

    SPIKE: I have a less accurate answer to that every second of the day, love.

    The view moves back out and, before Angel or Wesley can react, we see Fred knocked backwards as the Wraith attacks.

    FRED: *Angel*! I ooph –

    ANGEL: *Fred*!

    Before the Wraith can fall on her, we see Groo jump back into the fight, broadsword in hand as he charges the Wraith.

    GROO: Pardon me –

    In a closer view, Groo raises the sword and stabs downward at the Wraith.

    GROO: Ha-*ha*! Watch this classic move! Mayhap that will be my statue’s pose!

    Momentarily out of the fight, Angel turns to Spike for answers, as Fred watches from behind them.

    ANGEL: Do you know how, or why?

    SPIKE: If I did, I wouldn’t be *here*. She’s like a schizo switchblade. Fred one moment, off her rocker demigoddess the next. I don’t think this dysfunctional family reunion is helping. If I knew Wesley was back, I would have kept her away.

    In a wider view, Angel’s back in the fight, using the flaming sword to push the T-Rex back, while the dragon attacks it from above. Fred, Lorne, and random humans take cover as the enormous combatants get close.

    (NARRATION) ANGEL: Is it a miracle? Seems to be. Never is.

    From above the fight, we see Gunn and his gang looking down from a rooftop. His henchman, Vic, has a less optimistic view of Angel’s chances.

    VIC: They’re gonna die.

    GUNN: They’re not.

    VIC: The one with the most hit points is malfunctioning, they’re gonna die.

    The view reverses and we see Gunn, arms crossed, calmly looking down at the battle. Vic is behind him, to Gunn’s left.

    GUNN: Vic, man. You know I don’t love this situation. No, that’s an understatement. To *say I hate it with every fiber of my being*, that would be an understatement… yet I’m willing to be the better man and overlook it because we’re working towards a common goal. But then you go and *doubt* me?

    VIC: I wasn’t, I was just –

    In an instant, Gunn whirls around with a stake and jams it upwards through Vic’s heart, cutting off his protest.

    GUNN: No, we didn’t see all of this coming. Yes, the band getting back together *like this* surprised me. *No*, they’re not going to die. Angel makes it through this.

    In successive images, we see Vic explode into dust and crumble to the ground, leaving just a stake stuck in a pile of dust.

    Then we see Gunn smiling, looking at the battle again. Beside him, a wiser henchman speaks up.

    HENCHMAN: Angel makes it through this, got it. (quietly) We gotta get you into yoga or something.

    Back on the ground, we see Angel still swinging the flaming sword in front of him, defensively. He’s guarding Fred closely. Lorne is behind them both, still surprised by Fred’s appearance.

    LORNE: Angelcakes –

    ANGEL: I don’t know, Lorne, I really don’t.

    The next image shows Burge, tired of the change in the battle’s script, flying over the crowd of human spectators, shouting in outrage.

    BURGE: Enough of this! Angel was supposed to battle alone! He wants to change the rules? Dandy. New plan. Champions. Slaughter the humans.

    We see Angel in close-up, stoic.

    His expression breaks, though, as he sees the humans begin to run for their lives.

    From above, from Gunn’s vantage point, we see Angel, flaming sword in one hand and axe in the other. He’s not fighting, though. He has gone over to face the demon lords on their floating stone dais. Gunn is now holding a crossbow, and his henchmen look as uncertain as he does at what they’re watching.

    HENCHMAN: Gunn?

    GUNN: It’s… it’s fine. I’ll handle it –

    (NARRATION) ANGEL: They tried, they really did. Lorne had a plan, and it almost worked.

    In a closer-view, we look down from behind the demon lords as Angel addresses them. He’s put away his weapons. Spike stands beside him.

    ANGEL: You know, it figures.

    (NARRATION) ANGEL: But I had a plan, too.

    The view moves down to Angel and Spike. Spike is watching Angel as he challenges the demon lords. Behind them, the champions do as they were told, and are running down humans as they come near.

    ANGEL: Bunch of all-powerful “lords” too scared to face off against one vampire. So you appoint champions to do your dirty work.

    SPIKE: *You tell ‘em*! Just, just let us get far enough away from you, and then *you tell ‘em*.

    ANGEL: *The champions can’t even do that right*, so you take It to the cattle.

    In close-up, we see Angel, looking more determined than ever, continue goading the demon lords. Spike turns and walks a distance away, getting clear of the line of fire.

    ANGEL: tell me something, do you privately thank me every day for dragging everyone to hell so you D-listers could actually pretend to be anything other than bargain bin lackeys? Can’t do anything, just one little tiny thing, for yourselves?

    SPIKE: Does anyone have a car? We coul get further away from Angel if we had a very fast car.

    The view shifts and we see Gunn taking aim with his crossbow, looking down at Angel in sudden alarm.

    GUNN: What is he…? New plan. Kill Angel before Angel’s killed.

    On the ground, we see Angel from behind as he faces the lords on their platform. All of them are holding the glowing gold Hagan shafts that the Loan Shark was distributing.

    DEMON LORD: The vampire questions our power.

    LOAN SHARK: Fine, then. Let’s squash this bug ourselves. My apologies to anyone with insect tendencies or relations.

    Back on the roof, Gunn is still taking careful aim, ready to finish Angel himself.

    HENCHMAN: What?

    GUNN: Hagan shafts. *That’s* what we were trying to swipe from Wolfram & Hart. But –

    In a close-up, Gunn smiles, lowering his crossbow, as he realizes something.

    GUNN: – oh.

    On the ground, Connor comes over to try to stop Angel. Spike meets him. Behind them, Wesley stands with Angel.

    SPIKE: Those are *obviously* Hagrid something or others, they’re used by otherwise immortals to kill ‘em by flippin’ them inside out, you might want to –

    CONNOR: *What*? Come *on* –

    We see Angel step in to push Connor away. The younger man is clearly unhappy at Angel’s apparent suicide run.

    CONNOR: You want to end it, is that it?!

    ANGEL: Stay back.

    We see Angel and Connor face each other in extreme close-up. Between them, we can see the demon lords aiming with their Hagan shafts.

    CONNOR: So, you messed up! You send the city to hell! But now you’re back and you’re doing something about it

    ANGEL: Connor –

    CONNOR: I remember everything.

    The view widens as Angel tried to understand that. Connor pokes his finger in Angel’s chest for emphasis as he lectures his father. The demon lords’ Hagan shafts begin to glow brighter as they prepare to attack.

    ANGEL: What?

    CONNOR: It showed me stuff I want to get out of my head forever for *so* many reasons.

    ANGEL: Seriously, everything?

    CONNOR: But it also showed me what you did. And not just for me, or your friends, but for anyone that needed help. Well, look around, *plenty of people need your help*. Like, okay, like me, for instance. I’m seeing an electric girl who I can’t really touch and I know you’ve been through that whole “can’t be with the one you love” thing and I kinda brought it up to Spike but his advice was more of the weird uncle variety… so I wanted to talk to you about it, because, you know… you’re my damn father.

    In a close-up, we see the Loan Shark grin slyly as he drops his glowing Hagan shaft.

    Back on the ground, Connor turns away from Angel, apparently giving up. Wesley tries to call Angel’s attention back to the lords, who are silhouetted by the blinding yellow glow of their Hagan shafts.

    ANGEL: I… um, watch your, watch your mouth.

    WESLEY: Angel –

    We see a close-up of Angel turning to point up at the demon lords, smiling a little.

    ANGEL: Right. One second, Connor. *Bippity boppity*

    In a close-up, we see Burge’s face widen through the yellow glow, as he realizes.

    BURGE: Oh.

    The next image shows the entire surface of the demon lord’s platform explode, killing all the demon lords on it. Burge’s head and one of his claws fly out from the blast. On the ground, onlookers shield their eyes, while in the foreground, Angel finishes the line.

    ANGEL: And, *boo*.

    We see Angel, Wes, Spike, and Connor from behind as they turn to face the crowd of humans on the street. A cry goes up from the crowd.

    CROWD: Angel the vampire slayer! Angel the vampire slayer! Angel the vampire slayer! Angel the vampire slayer!

    The view reverses, and the gang is actually taking in the moment. Angel spread his arms, grinning. Wesley does the same. Off to the side, Connor also cheers him on.

    WESLEY: *All hail Angel, the mighty vampire and slayer of champions*!

    CONNOR: All hail Angel, the vampire mighty vampire and slayer of evil lords! (quietly, to Angel) Game face, Angel!

    We see Connor step closer to Angel as his father faces him. The young man is confused.

    CONNOR: But Spike said those were used to kill immortals.

    ANGEL: Uncle Spike says lots of things.

    We see them in a wider view as Angel explains.

    ANGEL: An immortal isn’t going to let someone else end their existence. Gonna want to do it themselves. Their own finger on the trigger. That’s why the Hagan shaft isn’t a weapon, it’s a scepter. For the immortal to hold, and look regal while ending it. Until the exploding. Only a few exist. Even fewer know about it. Wolfram & Hart had them stored in the “h” filing cabinet. Wesley and I didn’t know you guys were coming, so we planted seeds.

    As Connor and Angel face each other, we see the Loan Shark in the background behind them, safe on the ground.

    ANGEL: We picked the lord most likely to sell everyone else out.

    CONNOR: Went with the loan shark.

    ANGEL: Man’s career path is based on a pun, can’t be too much inner pride. And we’ll talk about the girl situation once we get a moment, I promise.

    From above, we see Spike, Angel and Gwen standing together now, facing some of the demon champions who have regrouped. They are protecting humans. Spike yells, unnecessarily loud.

    SPIKE: *Yo, hate to bother you, but the rumble isn’t over*.

    GWEN: It’s fine! *Bring it, then! Do you know what happens to a champion that gets struck by lightning*?!

    As Gwen tries to finish her smack talk, she’s interrupted as the ground burst opens. Red tentacles burst from the street and capture the She-Skip while the T-Rex, Man of Fire, Angel, Spike, and Fred look on.

    GWEN: The same thing that – *Holy*.

    (NARRATION) ANGEL: And suddenly, hell reminds the champions where we are.

    We see a view of the sky, as lightning begins striking. The US Bank Tower burns near the roof, as the dragon flies over the crowd.

    (NARRATION) ANGEL: The lords could have been keeping hell’s forces at bay so I could be killed in peace. Hell could have had enough. Wolfram & Hart could be annoyed that I discussed their filing cabinets. Either way, the other humans are sitting ducks.

    In close-up, we see Spike looking towards Gwen, yelling again.

    SPIKE: *Okay, not joking! We could really use a hand here*!

    GWEN: We get it, Spike… you need help –

    SPIKE: Not talking to you, Electro.

    The next image shows who Spike was talking to. We see him, now standing, arms crossed, in front of his Formerly Scantily Clad Vigilantes. They are all wearing dark battle armor similar to Illyrias, and holding weapons, ready for battle. On a low roof behind them, Spider is crouching, looking down at her troops and at Spike. Her expression looks sad, though.

    SPIKE: *We’re clearly on the winning side here, let’s go already*!

    SPIDER: You haven’t won yet. Angel kinda won with his exploding lord powers but the city is all sorts of angry!

    We see from behind Spike as he turns to face the crouching Spider. She rests one hand on her knee as she hears him out.

    SPIKE: Fine, then. Bugger off, I’ll handle it. And if I’m dusted, always remember that you loved me.

    In a close-up, Spider smiles fondly as she makes up her mind.

    SPIDER: Let’s do this! *For Spike! All bloody hail*!

    Spike smiles warmly in return.

    Next, we see silhouettes of the FSCVs as they tumble and leap into battle.

    FSCVs: *All bloody hail! All bloody hail! All bloody hail*!

    We see Angel and Spike watching Spider from behind. Eight legs have burst out of her back, like an actual spider’s, all a little shorter than her own arms.

    ANGEL: So the name Spider –

    SPIKE: Real name’s Maria. Product of wiccan tampering. It’s a whole sordid thing. Doesn’t like to use the extra arms unless it’s an emergency, but sometimes they come out during fits of passion. It’s a whole other sordid thing.

    Spider, Angel, Spike, and other FSCVs stand ready as the red tentacles loom around them.

    ANGEL: So they laid in wait until you –

    SPIKE: Ah, she said she wasn’t coming. She says I come here, and take your side, and we’re through. But I knew the ladies wouldn’t let anything happen to me.

    In a closer view, Angel looks doubtfully at Spike.

    ANGEL: How’d you know that?

    SPIKE: Have we met? My name is Spike.

    Up on the roof, Gunn turns away from the fight.

    GUNN: We know how the rest of this goes. Heroes save the day, fang-gang’s all here, let’s get out of here.

    HENCHMAN: Shame about the Hagan shafts. How’d Angel know, he doesn’t even have a –

    GUNN: He had a lot of time to scurry about the building the last couple of months.

    In close-up, we see Gunn staring at his henchman confidently.

    GUNN: He didn’t find everything. He sure as hell doesn’t know everything.

    HENCHMAN: They all had a back-up plan.

    GUNN: What?

    We see the henchman backing away from Gunn cautiously.

    HENCHMAN: Whoa, calm down, it’s just… they all had their own thing going on. They were pretty formidable separately. And now they’re together. So –

    Gunn grabs him by the front of his sweater, sticking a finger down to the crowd below.

    GUNN: Yeah, they’re all together. And that –

    Gunn’s line concludes as we see an image of the gang down on the street.

    GUNN: – is exactly what *has to happen* for me to do what I gotta do.

    From high above, we see the humans on the streets of LA as little blurs.

    (NARRATION) ANGEL: For the first time in a long time, we are reunited. And each one of us wants to stay and beat hell back into the ground.

    The view shifts and we see Gwen blasting out with her electricity to provide cover for retreating humans.

    (NARRATION) ANGEL: But that can’t happen. Hell comes out at us and doesn’t relent.

    We see Spike, sword drawn, surrounded by tentacles.

    (NARRATION) ANGEL: And for now, we have to accept retreating…

    Next we see Angel cut through a tentacle with his axe, protecting a human.

    (NARRATION) ANGEL: … as the closest we’ll come to victory.

    The next image shows what appears to be the LA Convention Center. People walk in from the street and we hear a voice from inside speaking to people as they arrive.

    (NARRATION) ANGEL: When the smoke clears, the survivors gather and look for someone to step up and lead them. There’s really only one choice, considering.

    LORNE: (from inside) Right. So I guess I’m the closest thing you’ve got to an authority figure.

    We see Lorne inside the convention center, looking around at the milling civilians.

    LORNE: So hi, I’m Lorne. You might know me from my stint in Vegas or maybe my time as lord of Silverlake. I was able to reclaim a little piece of what *was*, and I’d really like to try and do that for you.

    We see Groo behind Lorne, a sort of bodyguard, perhaps. Lorne smiles wanly, pointing over to his left for an introduction.

    LORNE: Oh, right. And this is *Bro’os*, former lord of Santa Monica. Bro’os has kindly stepped down in exchange for a block of waterside property, and so Angel doesn’t gut him.

    We see the Loan Shark in close-up, hands out in mild protest.

    BRO’OS: Ahem. You could have worded that so much better.

    Next we see a crowd of civilians, including one green demon with pointed ears, listening to Lorne. One interrupts with a question.

    LORNE: So, I – um, yes?

    CIVILIAN: Yes. Is Angel that stoic fella with the great hair? ‘Cause what happened to him?

    We see that civilian and the demon standing together. The demon is wearing a T-shirt, stretching it out to show that it says “Burge is my master now”.

    CIVILIAN: It was supposed to be his battle. He won. Kinda. Sorta. He lost the least, so why isn’t he leading us?

    DEMON: No way around it, this was a mistake. Next time, I silkscreen shirts *after* the big battle for control of Los Angeles.

    We see Lorne in close-up, smiling.

    LORNE: Being in front of a crowd isn’t his thing. And he doesn’t fancy himself a leader, which, take it from this guy, is pretty hilarious. Angel’s back to work, and believe-you-me, kiddos, that’s the best news we’ve gotten since the town went south for the winter-spring-summer-fall.

    CIVILIAN: (from out of the view) Where is he now?

    LORNE: Home.

    As Lorne finishes his answer, we see Spike and Angel standing from behind. They are standing inside a chainlink fence, staring at a familiar building. Spike has never seen it before, so he’s more critical than he’d be if he understood. It’s the Hyperion, looking run down, but still intact.

    LORNE: (voiceover) “He’s returned home.”

    SPIKE: We can have our pick, you know. Any place in town.

    ANGEL: This is perfect.

    SPIKE: The Marmont, that’s perfect. The Hotel Bel Air, a bit stodgy, but damn near perfect. This needs to be fixed up to be considered a fixer-upper.

    The next image shows Angel, Connor, and Spike at the door to the hotel. Angel pushes on it experimentally.

    ANGEL: Connor, Gwen… you can bring everyone back here if you want. There’s room.

    CONNOR: Kinda lame to move back in with my dad, no? You’ll get all up in my business.

    (NARRATION) ANGEL: Door’s jammed. From the inside. Can’t break through.

    As Angel bluffs, Spike slides into gameface for a moment and sidekicks the door, splintering it. Connor and Gwen look on.

    ANGEL: Hm. Door is wedged tight. No problem, I can kick it open and –

    SPIKE: Got it.

    (NARRATION) ANGEL: Next I’m going to trick him into painting my fence.

    We see a wide image as they step into the double door main entrance of the Hyperion. It’s as we last saw it.

    SPIKE: Whoa. Well, with any luck there’ll be a knock-down, drag-out in here by the end of the day, and then we can redecorate.

    ANGEL: It stays as is. This is the last place Fred felt safe.

    SPIKE: Yeah. Speaking of, not the wisest move, letting her and Casper the Dapper Ghost go off gallivanting around town.

    We see the four of them continue into the hotel, Connor and Gwen in front, Angel and Spike behind them.

    CONNOR: One’s noncorporeal. The other’s Illyria. You try and stop them.

    ANGEL: They’ll be back. Besides, if we’re going to figure out what’s going on with her…

    The scene shifts as Angel completes his thought. We see Fred and Wesley standing together, looking down at something.

    ANGEL: (from previous scene) “… there’s something she should see.”

    FRED: I don’t understand.

    We see from behind them at what they are looking at – it’s Wesley’s body, still dressed as he was the night he was killed.

    WESLEY: You should. You were there, you know what happened.

    The view reverses back to how we saw Fred and Wesley before, but now she’s Illyria, blue and cold.

    WESLEY: Yes. Figured. It’s not in the best condition, we had to wait until Angel could walk to retrieve it.

    ILLYRIA: He’s not what he was. You kept your shell as a trophy.

    We see Wesley in close-up, facing away from Illyria who continues to speak to him.

    WESLEY: No. I thought, perhaps, that I needed my earthly vessel to… to break my contract with Wolfram & Hart. Rituals being what they are.

    ILLYRIA: You don’t have the power to do that.

    WESLEY: I don’t, no.

    We see him in a closer view, looking regretful.

    WESLEY: That’s why I attempted to contact the Powers-That-Be.

    We see a flashback of Wesley, floating in an area of LA, buildings and ruins on his right, a park and trees with autumn leaves on his left.

    WESLEY: (voiceover) “More specifically, someone who worked alongside them. Someone who, if at all possible, could help us. I didn’t tell Angel of my plan. He can’t bring himself to say her name, I figured the last thing he’d want is for her to be dragged into this. I also figured doing it in Los Angeles’ fashion district could help my chances. I didn’t have the incantation memorized, and I couldn’t consult books, so I didn’t know if I could pull it off.”

    In extreme close-up, we see Wesley’s focused eyes staring through his glasses.

    WESLEY: (voiceover) “And for hours, it appeared that I most definitely had not.”

    From a wider view, we see Wesley standing amidst the ruined city, looking disappointed.

    WESLEY: (voiceover) “I wasn’t surprised. Wolfram & Hart knew what I was doing, and they fact that they didn’t stop it meant they knew nothing could come of it.”

    In close-up, we see Wesley look over his shoulder all of the sudden.

    WESLEY: (voiceover) “But then. Then I felt a breeze. *I felt* it.”

    We look from below Wesley as he looks up at the tree. Leaves scatter on a breeze, the same wind he felt.

    WESLEY: (voiceover) “Only the most aesthetically pleasing leaves took to the air. She wanted me to know she was listening. That was all she could offer.”

    We see the leaves in close-up as Wesley watches them. As they float away, some catch fire in the unnatural heat of LA.

    WESLEY: (voiceover) “And like that she was gone.”

    The flashback ends and we see Wesley smiling at the ground as Illyria looks on.

    WESLEY: The greatest force of what we consider good could only manage a parlor trick. The right, the just, they have no place here. That’s when I stopped trying to leave.

    ILLYRIA: Because you failed.

    WESLEY: Because if for whatever reason I pulled it off and left, he would have been alone in the middle of it.

    The view stays the same, from behind Illyria. Wesley looks off to the side as he admits to her statement.

    ILLYRIA: But now *you’re* alone. Angel doesn’t trust you. Angel *shouldn’t* trust you. And you want to be with her.

    WESLEY: I do. Very much.

    ILLYRIA: She’s here. I try to push her down –

    The perspective stays the same, but now she’s Fred, and Wes is stubbly and dressed as he was when he was alive. The background looks like the office lobby at Wolfram & Hart.

    FRED/ILLYRIA: – But then I see the faces of those she loved… and she fights back.

    She’s Illyria again, and Wesley is in his suit. She reaches up as if to touch his cheek, but her hand passes through his face.

    WESLEY: There’s… no logical reason for any part of Fred to be inside of you –

    ILLYRIA: I have told myself that countless times. But here she is, infecting me inside…

    The view shifts, and we see the looking at Wesley’s body again.

    ILLYRIA: … And out.

    WESLEY: It’s worse when I’m around, isn’t it? Or Angel. But Spike –

    ILLYRIA: Spike doesn’t let it happen. He locks me away when I get weak. He says he lost me once, he won’t do it again. He’s as pathetic as the rest of you. He’s as pathetic as Fred.

    As Wes answers her, we see Illyria’s blue eyes in extreme close-up. She looks as afraid as we ever have seen her.

    WESLEY: (from out of the view) Maybe… maybe we do make you vulnerable. Maybe we shouldn’t be around each other.

    We see Wesley frowning as Illyria speaks up quickly in protest.

    ILLYRIA: *NO*!

    The view pulls back and we see Illyria has picked up Wesley’s body in his arms, looking up at him.

    ILLYRIA: You don’t control what happens. You don’t tell me what will be. You can’t fail at being at my side once and then force yourself in front of me *only to walk away again. You don’t leave. You’re staying with me*.

    The last image shows Illyria as we’ve never seen her. She’s on her knees, Wesley’s body still in her arms. She can’t even bear to look up at the non-corporeal Wesley in front of her.

    ILLYRIA: (quietly) You’re staying with me.

    To be continued

    End of Chapter 9
    Last edited by KingofCretins; 21-06-08 at 09:33 PM.

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    Angel: After the Fall, Issue #10

    Start of Chapter 10

    The opening image is of art in the style of old comics. Golden Age superhero books. We see a woman running down a bright city street, with thieves in ski masks chasing after her.

    WOMAN: *Help! I’m helpless!*

    THIEF #1: Another perfect score!

    THIEF #2: it ain’t perfect until we get back to the getaway car! Now stop gabbin’ and start –

    In close-up, the first thief grabs the woman around the neck with his gun hand. But both thieves look ahead in panic at what is waiting for them.

    THIEF #1: (quietly) Aw nuts, cheese it, boys!

    THIEF #2: *We’re done for*!

    The view reverses, and we see Spike standing on top of their car. The bright orange car is labeled “Getaway” on the side. A third thief in a ski mask is leaning against the car, out cold. Spike is wearing his coat, and his hair is blond, but he’s different. He’s wearing tight black pants, a black shirt, and a black domino mask. His coat is more of a navy blue and flows behind him like a cape. His arms are spread wide in triumph.

    SPIKE: Gotta agree with you there, mate. This is what happens when you try and rob a bank in *SPIKE’S town*.

    The thieves bring up their guns to try to shoot him, but the weapons start flying out of their hands as they are hit with small metal objects – Spike-arangs.

    THIEF: Oh no, we don’t stand a chance against *the last vampire with a soul on Earth*!

    We see Spike casually punch one of the thieves even as he pulls the woman in close with his other arm. Behind him, an old man is shouting at him – it’s Angel, but much older. He’s got long grey hair and a long grey beard.

    SPIKE: Relax, love. You’re safe now.

    ANGEL: *Spike*, did you hear a sanshu? I didn’t hear no sanshu! Your still on duty, keep your perpetually youthful head in the game!

    The view shifts, and Angel’s coaching is cut off by another voice. The voice belongs to the guy with the fist that punches another thief out with a *WHAP* that sends him flying into some trash cans. The fist is covered with green tights and yellow padding.

    VOICE: Holy overreaction, Dad! Don’t forget that wherever Spike goes –

    We see Connor, the man speaking, wearing a mask like Spike’s. He’s got feathered hair to match the art. His costume is the green tights, but also a red shirt and blue jeans.

    CONNOR: – his faithful sidekick *Connor* is sure to follow!

    The next image is of Angel, the old man, walking away as Spike and Connor fight the thieves.

    SPIKE: Ha-ha! We gotta make this quick, the Spike-dragon is double-parked!

    (THOUGHT BUBBLES) ANGEL: If only I still had *my* vamp powers, I’d be in there mixin’ it up. But that was *a long time ago*.

    The scene changes, and the art switches back to normal. Angel sits up in bed, waking from the dream.

    (NARRATION) ANGEL: Wow. I have got to stop eating before bedtime.

    We see Angel’s face in close-up as he looks up in response to a voice in his room.

    VOICE: Finally, the dead rise.

    The view reverses, and we see Nina. She’s crouching in a wingback chair near Angel’s bed, watching him.

    ANGEL: Nina. How long have you –

    NINA: You were mumbling. Bad dream?

    Angel pulls his shirt up as he sits up in bed, and we see the bandages around his body.

    ANGEL: I don’t remember.

    (NARRATION) ANGEL: Still sore from yesterday’s battle to the death. Have to ignore it, push on. And wincing, must not wince. Wincing is a dead giveaway.

    NINA: Connor’s downstairs. He wanted to give you your space. I figured you wouldn’t mind if I came up, I’m just so excited to be going out on rounds –

    The view moves around to the side of Angel’s bed, and we see out the window. Nina looks out the window in wonder – it’s snowing in Hell-A.

    NINA: – Especially because we’ll be doing it under the cover of the first official *Los Angeles snowfall*.

    TIME: A FEW MINUTES LATER.
    The scene changes, and we see Lorne on the street outside. He’s wearing his normal suit but has on a scarf. He’s talking into a cellphone. Behind him, Groo is talking to two of the armored women who were part of Spike’s “harem”. Spider is there, too, standing behind Lorne.

    LORNE: What, you weren’t dreaming of a white place of eternal torment, just like the ones you used to know? Sorry about this, Angel-cakes. Minor snafu on my end.

    As Lorne brings Angel up to speed, we see Groo mount his black Pegasus, ready to patrol.

    LORNE: Trying to restore the entire burg to an environment the denizens of Hollyweird would be accustomed to. Our magic men hocused when they should have pocused. It’ll be fixed in a few. On the plus side, the phones are working, and there are a thousand movie studio executives that are currently trying to sniff the ground, which is kind of hilarious.

    Back in the Hyperion, Angel and Nina walk down the hallway. Angel’s fully dressed now.

    ANGEL: I appreciate the attempt, Lorne. Might want to tell Groo and the Spikettes to watch for traffic accidents on their rounds. Also, tell Spider she’s not allowed to pick and choose, she has to save everybody.

    LORNE: (through phone) Will-do, Angel. Mayor Lorne *out*!

    We see Angel’s feet coming down the steps.

    ANGE: Lorne says this is temporary.

    In the Hyperion library, Angel and Nina join Gwen and Connor. Gwen turns to Connor for his plan.

    GWEN: So, what’s the plan? Four of us gonna go turn some buildings upside-down and see what demons fall out?

    In close-up, Connor is frowning as Angel’s hand takes a large sword from the rack on the wall. Angel is the one who answers.

    ANGEL: We’re not going to be doing *rounds* in the strictest sense of the word.

    As Angel continues, we see the wall next to him open up. Outside, Illyria is looking in at them, standing casually.

    ANGEL: And it’s not just the four of us. You ready?

    ILLYRIA: I saw the ashen remains of the fallen fluttering outside. I wanted to taste.

    ANGEL: It’s snow. And next time, use the door.

    Outside on the street, Angel is walking through the snow as citizens greet him.

    ANGEL: We’re going to be gone for a while, so pick your, um, favorite flaying tools and –

    MAN ON STREET #1: Hey, Angel.

    ANGEL: Hello…?

    MAN ON STREET #2: Morning, Angel.

    ANGEL: Hey.

    (NARRATION) ANGEL: Lot of face-time lately. Still getting used to the recognition.

    We see over Illyria’s shoulder as Angel brings her up on their plans.

    ILLYRIA: You expect me to leave Wesley’s side.

    ANGEL: It’s for the best to be among faces that don’t make you –

    ILLYRIA: Weak, I agree. Your face is a constant reminder of why we are here. But if you want me to consider leaving Wesley, you will find someone trustworthy to be his caretaker.

    ANGEL: It’s taken care of.

    TIME: AN HOUR LATER.

    In a new scene, Spike and Wesley are in the Hyperion lobby. Spike has his feet propped up and is lighting up a cigarette. Wesley stands nearby, looking at him curiously.

    WES: So. Illyria trusts you, that’s something.

    SPIKE: Uh-huh. (to himself) From lord to ghost-sitter in 24 hours. Leavin’ this chapter outta the autobiography.

    WES: Angel will figure out what’s going on with Illyria, don’t worry. You made the right choice in coming here. I’m sorry your ladyfriend didn’t see it that way. She seemed… nice?

    We see Spike from behind as he answers.

    SPIKE: Got that right. Unless it was specifically requested that she not be. But even that was kinda nice, if you know what I mean –?

    WES: Regretfully, I do. So you two were –

    In close-up, Spike turns around to look at Wes as he answers. He looks defensive on this point.

    SPIKE: No, we weren’t. I mean, she’d probably say we were, but I wasn’t carrying her books to class. I think it’s best she’s been enlisted by Groo – I need my space. A fish has to fly, Wesley. Plus a timeslip kinda indicated I might eventually behead her so I’m really doing my best to prevent that.

    Spike stands up to look around. Wesley follows him, looking nervous.

    WES: Before that, though, you kept busy with Spider, and not –

    SPIKE: Oh, I get it. Listen. For whatever reason, I was plopped next to Fred-llyria when we took the H-train and she hasn’t left my side since, but *it’s not like that*. I’m looking out for her. And speaking of…

    We see Spike from behind, looking through the hole Illyria broke in the wall of Hyperion.

    SPIKE: I feel your pain and I’m sorry you’re forced to Christmas Past it, but if whatever H&R has planned involves hurting what’s left of Fred, and you’re even the smallest part of it… I will find a way to kill you.

    WES: (from out of the view) I know you will, and off the record…

    We see Wesley in close-up, looking down angrily.

    WES: … I couldn’t be more grateful for that.

    The scene shifts again, and we see an apartment building in Hell-A. The snow is falling, but there is still fire near the building, and tentacles coming from the street near it. From inside, we hear Gunn’s voice.

    GUNN: You wanted to know, George. You pried into my boy’s head and raised all sorts of questions –

    Inside, Gunn is leaning over the unconscious fish, running his thumb along its side.

    GUNN: – Don’t sleep through all the answers. Restraints really take it out of you, I hear you. Necessary to restrain your powers but after a while, it does a number on your constitution.

    Just as quickly, Gunn stops soothing the unconscious George and instead slaps him. The fish wakes up.

    GUNN: *George*!

    GEORGE: [i]Whuzzat[i]?

    GUNN: I’m trying to educate! You! Got a glimpse of the Slayers, you wanted to know more –

    As George looks at Gunn, the vampire explains.

    GUNN: – So I thought a little face-time was in order.

    The view widens, and we see that Gunn and George are in the basement of Gunn’s building. They are surrounded by young women – the three Slayers we saw in “First Night”.

    SLAYER #1: Now’s our chance!

    SLAYER #2: Who do we hit? Fish or vamp? Fish or vamp?

    GUNN: George, meet the Slayers. Slayers, this is George.

    The view reverses, and the two Slayers charge George. The fish is panicked, calling out to them telepathically.

    GEORGE: Um. Hi, you guys seem mad but if you’d just *stop* for a second

    SLAYER #1: Fish is in our heads, hit it first –

    GEORGE: *STOP STOP STOP*

    One of the Slayers punches George across the face, and the fish winces. Behind him, Gunn taunts George, encouraging him to use his powers on the attacking Slayers.

    GEORGE: Ooooph

    GUNN: Oh, man, they do *not* like you. *Force ‘em to freeze*, George. You can do it, but you better get on it quick –

    The scene shifts as Gunn talks. We see an extreme close-up of Illyria’s face.

    GUNN: (voiceover) “– we don’t have a lot of time.”

    The next image shows the Dragon flying high about Hell-A. The US Bank tower is wrapped in tentacles downtown. Angel, Connor, Gwen, and Nina are still on the dragon’s back, but as Angel and Connor discuss tactics, we see Illyria leap from the dragon’s back and dive toward a rooftop.

    ANGEL: You’re sure, Connor?

    CONNOR: I know the city. The quickest routes *and* places to avoid. This is the latter.

    ANGEL: Illyria, wait –

    ILLYRIA: – Enough talking. Always too much talking.

    Inside the building, we see a group of men, apparently vampires, making plans.

    VAMPIRE #1: Why aren’t the human prisoners tied up yet?

    VAMPIRE #2: I’ve never tied anyone up in my lives! I grabbed a bite, I moved on! Since when do we need to horde meat?

    VAMPIRE: #1: Since LA’s gone green. They’re patrolling the streets. Free-for-all human buffet is over, we gotta go back to being careful so *smack ‘em around and tie them up* before –

    We see the vampire in close-up as it looks around.

    VAMPIRE #1: (quietly) Wait. You hear something?

    Above them, the skyroof breaks open and broken glass falls all over with a *KRESSSH*. Illyria drops through the new opening, ready to attack.

    VAMPIRE #1: *What the* – ?! Slayer?

    In an instant, Illyria is tearing through them, sidekicking one vampire as she fends off the others.

    ILLYRIA: Wishful thinking.

    The view turns and we see a window shatter in the room. The dragon’s tail swings in and Angel and Connor jump off, swords swinging. Connor cuts a vampire’s hand off.

    ANGEL: Illyria –

    Angel continues as he drives his sword through a second vampire.

    ANGEL: – be sure to leave one.

    As Angel and Connor fight the vampires, a voice calls out from behind them.

    VOICE: Oh, so nigh is the time.

    CONNOR: “Nigh”?

    As the voice continues, we see Illyria tear a vampire in half at the waist with one slash of her hand.

    VOICE: Congratulations on the win yesterday. Saved the humans and took down the lords. Began the rebirth of Los Angeles, indeed.

    The view reverses, and from Angel’s side, we see the vampire who is speaking. The vampire is dressed in classical garb, a vest and a puffy shirt. He’s a poor version of Louis. His eyes glow a bright orange, though.

    VAMPIRE LEADER: Take solace in the fact that you’re going to go out on a high note. I’ve been looking forward to this, degenerate. *Titans do clash* –

    The view reverses, and we see Angel calmly hold up his sword as the vampire charges him.

    VAMPIRE LEADER: – *and an angel shall fall*.

    Or not – Angel effortlessly drops the vampire with a single left hook. The vampire’s head whips to one side with a *SMAK*.

    We see Angel’s legs as he stands over the unconscious vampire.

    ANGEL: What with this place freezing over, today would *absolutely* have been the day that could have happened, yet here we are.

    TIME: A FEW MINUTES LATER…

    We see a close-up of the vampire leader’s face upside down.

    VAMPIRE: I… I…

    The view widens – Illyria is holding the vampire by the ankle from the roof of the building. Angel stands beside her, handling the questions.

    ANGEL: On a schedule here, so I’ll make it quick. This is not a bluff. This is a little thing we call bad cop/bad cop/bad cop/bad cop/crazy primordial seriously bad cop. The lord of Westwood was killed. Had some powerful items with him. A pile of human bodies were nearby, drained of their blood. The aura of inability you project coupled with your Drac wannabe wardrobe makes me think you didn’t do it. But I figured you might know *who* did.

    Connor joins Angel and Illyria as the vampire stalls.

    VAMPIRE: Just get it over with. Stake me, drop me, rip me apart, and make me the stuff of legend.

    CONNOR: He’s scared.

    VAMPIRE: That, little moppet, is an understatement. And the only reason you’re not petrified at the mere mention of this group is because you’re uneducated. They were beginning to make ripples before the fall of Los Angeles.

    Angel reaches down and grabs the vampire by the shirt and dragging him back up to the roof.

    ANGEL: Wow, they sound like someone I’d really like to meet.

    VAMPIRE: They know. I think they’d like to meet you, too. After everything went to hell, word got out that no one touches you. You’re in their sights, sooner or later, you will –

    ANGEL: Life’s too short. Let’s go with sooner.

    Illyria, Angel, and Connor surround the vampire as Angel talks to his son.

    ANGEL: And seriously, if this is the worst vampire you’ve encountered in hell, I’m relieved.

    CONNOR: It is, this guy, this guy is tough with his, um, hair extensions, and…

    ANGEL: Damn it, Connor, I wanted the worst vampires on your radar, not Count Flouncy, theater vampire extraordinaire.

    We see Gwen from behind as she approaches them on the roof. She jumps in to defend Connor.

    GWEN: Connor pointed you in the direction of a vamp you could take. You’ve been off lately

    CONNOR: Gwen –

    ANGEL: I wasn’t doing this for a fun day of target practice, I’m trying to find a specific vamp who’s making a power play –

    We see Gwen and Angel face to face while she calls him out. Illyria watches from the side.

    GWEN: Right, he sounds formidable. The opposite of you lately. Don’t jump down your son’s throat just because he wanted to keep you safe. Any number of people have had to jump to your defense at any given time, for whatever reason.

    ILLYRIA: It’s because he’s no longer a vampire.

    Everyone turns to Illyria in surprise. Angel looks abashed, unable to protest.

    ANGEL: It’s… um…

    CONNOR: Wait, *what*?

    Everyone turns to Angel, even the vampire leader.

    (NARRATION) ANGEL: Not now. Not this, not now.

    ILLYRIA: (from out of the view) It’s so obvious, how do you miss it? Nothing radiates off of him save for the primitive magic that he uses to hide it because he’s rightfully ashamed.

    CONNOR: When did *this* happen? Has it been since we’ve been here?

    VAMPIRE LEADER: Who else knows? Am I in the circle now?

    Angel quickly stakes the vampire with a *THUK* as he turns to answer Connor’s questions.

    CONNOR: *How* did it happen?!

    ANGEL: Wolfram & Hart. When we went to hell. Made me human.

    CONNOR: They can do that? Why didn’t they do it before now?

    Connor takes Angel by the arm, apparently taking him back to the dragon.

    CONNOR: Come on. You’re going home.

    ANGEL: No, I’m not.

    CONNOR: Nah, you are. For whatever reason you hid this from me, it’s kind of a given I’m stronger than you. Plus I have an electric girlfriend to back me up. It’s not safe here, you’re going home –

    We see the two from above as Angel faces his son.

    ANGEL: I have work to do.

    CONNOR: Not anymore! You barely scraped by as a vampire.

    ANGEL: *Connor*. It doesn’t change anything.

    Frustrated, Connor turns away from Angel.

    CONNOR: I guess it doesn’t. Picking fights with lords, challenging half a dozen champions on your own, now going hunting for alpha vamps. Tell me, Angel, what’s it going to take to make you realize that maybe you should just sit it out and be *human*? I get it. No matter what happens, you have to keep making amends until you die.

    Connor doesn’t wait to see what Angel will say – we see him in close-up as he leaps from the roof. Angel and the others are silhouettes as they watch him leave.

    CONNOR: Now *you* understand if I don’t feel the need to be anywhere near you while you do.

    On the roof, Angel turns back to the others. Gwen starts to walk away from him. Nina and Illyria just watch him.

    ANGEL: I –

    GWEN: It’s fine. It’s been a week. I’ll go get him. Nina, get the human home.

    Gwen and Illyria turn toward Angel as he stares down.

    ILLYRIA: You are inept at social interaction.

    ANGEL: Thank you. Nina, I don’t want to fight you, but I’m also not going home.

    NINA: I love Connor, but do you know why I joined up with him in the first place?

    We see Nina in close-up as she explains her reasons to him

    NINA: He’s your son. And I wanted to help you in any way I could. When the opportunity was dropped in my lap, I stood by him. (quietly) I think I was more useful before we came across Gwen, now she’s kind of his bodyguard, but that’s neither here nor there.

    Angel smiles as he listens.

    NINA: You’ve moved on, that’s fine. I’m still here. So, where should we go now?

    ANGEL: Well, Illyria knew about my situation because she can read power.

    ILLYRIA: Or in your case, lack of. So…?

    From behind, Nina watches Angel as he points toward Hell-A’s skyline.

    ANGEL: So, Illyria… seek out the vampire sitting on the power.

    The scene shifts, and we’re back in Gunn’s basement. He is fighting with one of the Slayers, a brunette we didn’t see earlier. She is forcing him back with a large knife. George is cornered by the others, the ones that attacked him earlier.

    GEORGE: Ooof

    GUNN: I really didn’t want to get my hands dirty today. Look what you’re making me do.

    Gunn viciously uppercuts the Slayer he’s fighting. George desperately tries to dodge the other two Slayers.

    GUNN: You want this to be over, George? All you have to do is tell them to stop.

    GEORGE: *I can’t. It’s not that easy*! I don’t know *who* you think I am, but these girls are

    The two Slayers have George in their sights and leap at him. Gunn stands to the side, coaching him.

    GUNN: They’re *nothing*! They’re obstacles! Come on, man. We lost a bunch of men to these ladies, but you’re different. *I know* this is where you step up and fulfill your little fish destiny before they take you –

    Before they can attack, the two Slayers freeze in mid-air. George’s eyes narrow with the effort, and maybe with a little anger. Gunn smiles at him.

    GUNN: – down.

    GEORGE: *I said STOP*.

    The view shifts, and Gunn turns back to the semi-conscious Slayer he punched. She is also being held in mid-air by George. Gunn holds her knife in his hand.

    GUNN: You see? You have so much untapped potential, George. Maybe now you have as much faith in you as I do.

    GEORGE: Not sure how long I can hold them, please

    Gunn grabs the Slayer by the throat, and she opens her eyes, but still clearly can’t move. George watches from behind her.

    GEORGE: – get me out of her.

    GUNN: You have to learn to relax.

    In an instant, Gunn thrusts the knife into the Slayer’s chest. Blood spurts out and she screams soundlessly.

    GUNN: Nobody is unstoppable. Anybody can die.

    The Slayer continues to hover in the air, bleeding as the knife sticks through her heart. Gunn is calmly standing next to George again.

    GEORGE: She… she… she wants to scream but she can’t, I have to

    GUNN: Better not let her. You unfreeze her, you unfreeze her sisters, and then it’s a whole thing.

    In a closer view, Gunn cradles George in his arms.

    GEORGE: F – F – Fine.

    The image flashes yellow, and we see Gunn and the Slayer suddenly in the same position, and a screaming image of the Slayers’ face in between them.

    GEORGE: *Scream for her*.

    GUNN: Nah. Pass, I’ve screamed enough. But nice mental link. I knew you had it in you.

    We see Gunn standing with his hands in his pockets. His eyes are closed, and he seems to still be coming out of George’s influence.

    GUNN: M – M –Mental link. Nice. (quietly) See, George, knew you had it in you.

    GEORGE: Let me go, Gunn. I know people who help us. They can get us all out of here

    The two walk together and meet some of Gunn’s gang in the hallway.

    HENCHMAN: How’d he do?

    GUNN: Amazing. Our boy was on fire in there. Even poked around in my head. Let’s go to the roof. It’s supposed to happen in the snow.

    We see Gunn, George, and three of his henchmen on the roof from above.

    GUNN: Big day, I know. But I need you to do one more thing.

    GEORGE: Can’t

    Again, Gunn reaches down to run his fingers over George’s scales again.

    GUNN: I want you to contact someone outside of Los Angeles.

    GEORGE: Pardon?

    GUNN: Anyone you want. Anyone you think can help. Gotta be on the other side, though. Tell ‘em to rush here, tell ‘em to stake me, surprise me, be creative.

    We see from behind a silhouetted Gunn as George stares at him in annoyance.

    GUNN: Now I know you don’t think you can, but –

    GEORGE: Shut up, psycho. I’m on it.

    LOCATION: MOSAIC SUPERNATURAL REHABILITATION FACILITY JUST OUTSIDE LAS VEGAS.

    The scene shifts, and we see what appears to be a rec room in an asylum. A young woman with brown hair is sitting on a couch waiting television. Behind her, another woman is playing foosball. This woman, however, has pink-ish skin and two horns. Her opponent is green, and has tentacles on his head.

    BRUNETTE: Hey, you guys, I get dibs on the next game –

    GREEN DEMON: β^ TG T563 BXC 2243$ G898 H JJB2>/=+S

    BRUNETTE: I don’t care if you called it, you’ve been hogging it for hours.

    In a close-up, the brunette winces in pain as the image turns green and George’s voice booms loudly in her mind.

    GEORGE: TRAPPED IN HELL LOS ANGELES GONE TO HELL ANGRY VAMPIRE HELD PRISONER ROTTEN ACCOMODATIONS SERIOUSLY THIS GUY’S NANNERS

    BRUNETTE: Aag

    The woman stands up, clearly dazed. The green demon watches her in concern.

    BRUNETTE: Did you guys –? I think… I think George just called.

    GREEN DEMON: 59D@3.

    BRUNETTE: I know he hasn’t been around a while, pretty sure I know why.

    From behind, we see the woman reach for the TV, and change the channel to one that says “Breaking News”.

    BRUNETTE: He said *Los Angeles has gone to hell*. All of it. Gotta change the channel –

    GREEN DEMON: (from out of the view) β^ TG T563 BXC 2243$ G898 H JJB2>/=+S

    BRUNETTE: – you’ll only miss your stories for a second, relax. There’s something I gotta see.

    In close-up, the woman’s eyes widen.

    BRUNETTE: Oh, my.

    The view reverses, and the TV is showing a car chase through Los Angeles. Four police cars chase someone through a bright and sunny LA. The TV also says “Weather: 72F Hollywood, 78F Burbank”.

    BRUNETTE: – George has lost it, LA is fine. I’m serious, I get next round!

    Back on the rooftop in Hell-A, Gunn is looking at George expectantly as the fish realizes what he’s seeing.

    GEORGE: Oh.

    GUNN: I had the same reaction.

    GEORGE: You knew about this?

    In a closer view, Gunn holds his hand out and catches some of the snow.

    GUNN: Not much I don’t know. Been a few bumps, sure. It’s all been laid out.

    As Gunn continues his speech to George, we see the shape of the dragon in the sky behind him.

    GUNN: For instance, I know that you’re trying to get the word out to anyone that may be nearby. I also know you’re too tired from your lessons to reach beyond me and the boys.

    We see Gunn from behind as he watches George. George looks back at him, unafraid.

    GUNN: Don’t doubt me. Trust me, I’ve seen this all, from beginning to end.

    GEORGE: Interesting

    In a closer view, we see Gunn from behind.

    GEORGE: (from out of the view) One question, though

    The next image shows that Gunn had turned around to see what George is talking about. The dragon rises up next to the rooftop. Angel is mounted on its neck, sword in hand.

    GEORGE: Did you see this coming?

    We see Angel, Nina, and Illyria as Illyria tells them they’ve arrived.

    ILLYRIA: There. A nest of vampires atop a structure brimming with power.

    ANGEL: Okay, hit them fast. Don’t let up, until –

    The view reverses, and from behind Angel, we see that Gunn has put on his vampire face. He draws a crossbow.

    GUNN: (quietly) No, George. This wasn’t supposed to happen yet.

    The last image is an extreme close-up of Angel’s eyes. They widen as he recognizes Gunn.

    ANGEL: Oh my God.

    To Be Continued!

    End of Chapter 10

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    Angel: After the Fall, Issue #11

    Start of Chapter 11

    The opening image is of the rooftop of Gunn’s building, just as we saw it in Issue #10. From behind Angel, Illyria, and Nina, we see Gunn, George, and Gunn’s henchmen standing and watching them land. Gunn has shifted back into human face, and while Angel recognized him, he seems not to have noticed.

    (NARRATION) ANGEL: *It’s hell*. That’s what I keep telling myself. I can’t believe anything I see at any time. Hell aside, it’s Los Angeless. People and demons alike go out of their way to be something they’re not.

    In a close view, we see Gunn staring back at Angel, looking relatively calm. His henchmen are starting to move, though, unhappy to have company.

    (NARRATION) ANGEL: But I’ve been friends with Gunn for a long time. I know that look. He’s trying to put on a brave face, but he’s worried. He’s surprised. He’s scared. That isn’t someone masquerading as Gunn.

    HENCHMAN #1: (quietly) It wasn’t supposed to be now.

    (NARRATION) ANGEL: That *is* Gunn.

    The view reverses, and Angel and Nina look to their left to see that Illyria has changed – she’s Fred now, looking surprised and happy to see Gunn.

    FRED: Charles! Oh, Angel, isn’t it wonderful? It’s beginning to feel more and more like home every day! I mean, more recent home, not “demon run/humans are cows” home. Although it’s kind of like that, too.

    ANGEL: Fred –

    The vampires react more quickly. Clearly to Gunn’s surprise, his henchmen turn to attack. One of them raises a crossbow, and another raises a handgun and fires. George turns his attention on Gunn.

    HENCHMEN #2: I’ve got it!

    GUNN: What are you doing? I didn’t say to make a move!

    GEORGE: Wait a minute, that guy’s from your head, Gunn! And he’s got Spike in his head! And why the heck is the dragon named *that*?!

    HENCHMEN #2: You didn’t say *he* was coming, either!

    Angel leaps into action, giving out orders as he moves to “rescue” Gunn.

    ANGEL: Nina, take the dragon and Fred as far away from this as possible –

    FRED: What are you going to do?

    ANGEL: He’s surrounded by vamps, I’m not going to leave him.

    We see Angel from behind as he leaps from the dragon down to the roof. Gunn just looks up at him.

    NINA: (from out of the view) And I’m not going to leave you!

    ANGEL: Nina, *please*, just get her to safety! Dragon, I need you to get back to Wesley! But first, break them in a bit for me –

    The dragon obliges as it begins to life off, turning its head and blasting fire across the rooftop. Gunn’s three henchmen all scream in pain as they burn.

    ANGEL: – That’s a good boy!

    HENCHMEN: *AAAAAAAAAGH* –

    As the fire clears, Angel is quick to strike. Gunn’s henchmen are burned, and we see one of their heads fly off his shoulders as Angel cuts it off.

    (NARRATION) ANGEL: Good, Fred’s safe.

    In a closer view, one of Gunn’s henchmen grabs Angel by the throat, and he grabs at the vampire’s forearm.

    (NARRATION) ANGEL: My safety, simultaneously not as important and more in question.

    Before the henchmen can strangle him, a stake pierces through its chest, driven in from behind. Angel drops free of its grip.

    The next image we see as Angel looks up from the floor. The henchmen has dusted, and Gunn is standing over him, stake in hand. What Angel can see clearest is Gunn’s vampire face.

    GUNN: Wow. That coulda been ugly.

    We see the two in close-up as Angel gets to his feet. His eyes are disbelieving. Gunn looks back over his shoulder at Angel, studying his face.

    ANGEL: *No*. Not possible, not Gunn.

    Gunn’s face takes on a wan expression as he realizes Angel’s slow to adjust to Gunn being a vampire.

    GUNN: Yeah. It was disconcerting the first time I saw it, too. And you know, I could be fooling myself, but I think the bald head makes it work. Not saying you should shave your head, just saying as far as soulless creatures of the night go, I’s a 10 bordering on 11.

    In a wider view, Angel rests his hands on his knees, as if he’s physically ill to see Gunn as a vampire. Gunn stands by indifferently.

    ANGEL: I, um – was it… was it Wolfram & Hart?

    GUNN: Nah. I mean, yeah, sure, in the sense that Wolfram & Hart was partially responsible for the big bang that the vamps in question used as a distraction, but no, not directly.

    ANGEL: Gunn, I’m so sorry.

    As Angel looks at him from his crouched position, Gunn turns to walk away. He wants to lead Angel into the building.

    GUNN: Figured you’d say that. Let’s table that for now – come on. Let me give you the grand tour.

    (NARRATION) ANGEL: He’s trying to remain calm. Changed into the very thing he hates the most and he’s brushing it off. I shouldn’t go in there. Certainly not in my current condition, I can’t take him if he gets angry. And if he sees past the glamour and figures out what my current condition is, “angry” won’t begin to cover it.

    Angel stands up straight and turns to follow Gunn.

    (NARRATION) ANGEL: No, I shouldn’t go.

    ANGEL: Alright.

    LOCATION: THE HYPERION HOTEL

    The scene moves to the hotel, and we see Gunn smoking again, his feet up on a desk. Around the room, others are arriving back from the patrol, including Connor and Gwen.

    SPIKE: So are you going to tell me what Poppa Bear said to make you all riled up?

    CONNOR: I can’t talk about it, Spike.

    SPIKE: Well, the door is always open. But if it’s closed and has a red handkerchief on the knob, don’t knock. Don’t even go near it. Won’t like what you hear. Might learn something, but at what price?

    We see Connor in close-up as Gwen walks over to him.

    CONNOR: I’m going back. I’m being a baby, and he needs me.

    GWEN: You’re not going anywhere. You’re not at your best when you’re pouting.

    CONNOR: I’m not pouting, I’ve never pouted.

    Connor smiles at Gwen as he walks away from the weapon cabinet. Spike stands behind him, watching him closely, still smoking.

    CONNOR: Plus, you should talk. The day we met, you were whining like there was no tomorrow.

    GWEN: I was being attacked by what looked to be sewer octopi.

    CONNOR: Yeah, if I couldn’t handle sewer octopi, I’d whine too. Thank God Nina and I were there to save you. Well, mostly me. Truth be told, I asked Nina to hang back so I could impress you.

    We see an extreme close-up of Connor and Gwen’s hands as he gently takes her gloved hand in his fingers.

    NINA: It sorta worked.

    CONNOR: Can we figure out a way to touch, please? Because –

    GWEN: I know. I made a list. It’s long and sordid.

    Outside the Hyperion in the courtyard, Nina bursts through the double doors, shouting for the others. The dragon is squatting in the courtyard, waiting for her.

    NINA: Guys, you need to come with me! Dragon leaves in two minutes!

    CONNOR: (from inside the hotel) What is it, Nina? Where’s Angel?

    In the hotel, Nina is frowning as she explains. Fred looks unhappy, as well. Connor and Gwen listen, ready to get into action.

    NINA: We found some vamps. Angel took off after them.

    CONNOR: Say no more, we’ll handle it. Does the dragon know where to –

    NINA: *Ooooh*, but I really *have* to say more, Connor.

    The view reverses, and Gunn, Gwen, Fred, and Spike watch Nina. The dragon raises its head behind her, ready to move.

    NINA: How do I put this… it was *Gunn*. Angel saw Gunn.

    GWEN: We did, too.

    Spike steps forward to face Nina. Fred looks down sadly.

    SPIKE: No, you didn’t.

    NINA: I’m telling you –

    SPIKE: We’ve encountered it before. Everywhere we go, all sorts of creatures claim to be… hell, there was a stretch in Sunnydale where all sorts of living dead were popping up, but none of them were – well, some of them were. It can’t be him, can it?

    As Spike continues to think about it, we see Wesley begin to materialize next to him in the room.

    SPIKE: (quietly) It bloody well could, I guess. Almost half the people in this room sang their swan song only to come back for an encore.

    WES: What’s the commotion?

    SPIKE: (quietly) Now exactly half. (to Wes) She-wolf says she saw Gunn.

    In extreme close-up, Wesley looks very worried and disbelieving.

    WES: What? We… we can’t be certain…

    CONNOR: (from out of the view) One thing’s for sure…

    We see from behind Wes and Spike’s boots as Connor strides off toward the dragon. Gwen follows him.

    CONNOR: – My father is out there alone. If it’s Gunn I’ll go save him. If it’s not, I’ll cut ‘em down.

    GWEN: Wait a minute –

    CONNOR: You can’t talk me out of this Gwen.

    The view reverses, and we see Gwen stepping quickly to keep up with Connor.

    GWEN: I probably could, I’m very convincing. But I won’t. Let’s go.

    We see Connor, Gwen, and Spike have mounted the dragon’s back, Connor in front.

    SPIKE: You heard the lass, let’s get this show on the road. I want to see if Charlie’s Charlie or an incredible simulation.

    CONNOR: You’re not going –

    SPIKE: That’s bleeding adorable when you act like I’m whipped, too, but we don’t have time for it now.

    As the dragon leaps into the night, we see from behind Wesley as he stands between Nina and Fred. They watch the others go.

    FRED: Isn’t it exciting? Everyone’s coming back.

    WES: It would appear so. Only problem is…

    The scene returns to Gunn’s headquarters, and he leads Angel down a hallway as Wes’ voice carries us into the scene. Two of Gunn’s other henchmen follow behind them.

    WES: (voiceover) “… nobody’s coming back right.”

    GUNN: You probably have so many questions. Head must be spinning. I mean, mine is, and I *knew* I was alive.

    As Gunn turns to face Angel, the henchmen encircle him. Angel holds his nose with his fingers as he asks Gunn to explain.

    (NARRATION) ANGEL: I’m going to be sick, and it’s not the horrifying smell wafting through the hotel hallway, it’s instant realization of how this can only end one of two ways.

    ANGEL: Gunn, who did this? When?

    Gunn turns again and walks down the hall besides Angel.

    GUNN: Man, see, that’s why you wore the captain’s stripes for so long, you ask the good questions. “When” is easy, it was whil you were trading up for the dragon.

    ANGEL: Pardon?

    Gunn stops again to face Angel.

    GUNN: Wasn’t a riddle, Angel. In the alleyway. You were otherwise engaged.

    Gunn and Angel step into a room, where several of Gunn’s other henchmen are waiting around.

    GUNN: “Who” was just another square jaw with delusions of grandeur. You know the type. This is what’s left of his gang. One minute…

    Gunn turns to one of his henchmen, giving orders.

    GUNN: Rod! Go and secure the guests in the basement. Truck! Keep an eye on the fish. Dave! Secure the perimeter.

    DAVE: “Secure the perimeter”? Are you trying to impress the white dude?

    The view shifts to the side, and Gunn grabs Dave by the collar of his jacket and gets in his face. Angel’s eyes widen at the suddenness of Gunn’s action, and probably his mood changes.

    GUNN: You wanna go out like Vic, man? Or Todd, Pat, and Derick?

    DAVE: Wait, they’re dead, too? *They were just on the roof with you*. Was it Angel?

    GUNN: More or less. Go secure the damn perimeter. Bring your best.

    We see Gunn in close-up as he again leads Angel through his hotel base.

    GUNN: I think they hate me almost as much as the old boss. And they just *can’t* be happy I haven’t dusted you. Not to make you feel bad, but *man*, do they *hate* you.

    Gunn and Angel stop in front of a photo on the wall. Angel crosses his arms and considers it – it’s a picture of Angel, Cordy, Wes, and Fred, with Wes holding baby Connor. But Angel’s head has been taped over with Gunn’s.

    ANGEL: And how are you feeling about me?

    GUNN: I have anger issues, not gonna lie.

    The two face each other in extreme close-up. Gunn’s stare is intense, but he is still keeping calm.

    GUNN: But it’s not entirely your fault. They were always planning on turning me, you just helped expedite matters. I’m the one who motivates how it all goes down.

    ANGEL: According to who?

    GUNN: Who usually drives what we do, man?

    The close-up goes to Gunn, and he smiles slightly at what he’s telling Angel.

    GUNN: *According to the visions*.

    The view widens, and we see Angel from behind as he looks at a closed door. A multi-legged demon’s body is nailed to the wall, splayed around the door.

    (NARRATION) ANGEL: So this is the source of the smell. That answers that question. And raises so many more.

    GUNN: This poor sack was the recipient of the Powers-That-Used-To-Be’s special deliveries. A demon could handle it. And seeing as this particular breed of freak could conjure images –

    The next image is a memory, a flashback of sorts, and the image is a hazy blue. We see the demon when it was alive, bound and being beaten by a group of vampires. Behind the vampires, though, the demon is projecting an image of Wolfram & Hart’s army.

    GUNN: (voiceover) “– He could project the visions for anyone to see. Unfortunately for him, the gang found him.”

    We see Angel in close-up, closing his eyes as he realizes what happened next. Gunn watches him from behind.

    ANGEL: The gang started used the visions to get ahead.

    GUNN: Yeah. Extra credit if you can guess who starred in them.

    We see another flashback image, and now it’s Gunn being projected by the demon for the gang to see. Gunn with a missing eye, his face covered in blood.

    GUNN: (voiceover) “They saw the entire fight before it happened.”

    The next flashback image is of the gang dragging Gunn away from the fight in the alley.

    GUNN: (voiceover) “They knew the exact moment to strike.”

    The next flashback image is from “First Night”, when Gunn jams a stake into the chin of the gang’s former leader.

    GUNN: (voiceover) “Of course… the visions didn’t tell them everything. There were a couple things they didn’t see coming.”

    We see Gunn’s face as he glares at Angel from behind.

    GUNN: I took down their leader. I assumed control of the gang. First order of business –

    In another flashback image, we see Gunn nailing the vision demon to the door, revealing that the explanation he’s giving Angel is completely false.

    GUNN: (voiceover) “… was to free their prisoner. Exactly like you would have done.”

    We see Angel and Gunn from behind, looking at the body of the vision demon.

    GUNN: I was too late. He was dying when I found him.

    In another flashback image, we see another of Gunn’s lies – he isn’t helping the demon, but instead he’s grinning as he feeds on it.

    GUNN: (voiceover) “I tried my best, but… he didn’t make it.”

    The next image is of Gunn standing in the corridor, the demon’s body visible behind him. However, surrounding Gunn, there are other images of memories. Betta George. The orb he took from Kr’ph. A woman screaming. Wesley. A demon holding a table full of the artifacts Gunn has been stealing.

    GUNN: (voiceover) “But before he left… he gave me a gift.”

    The view shifts, and we see Gunn in profile as Angel watches his old friend with a sad expression.

    GUNN: Many gifts, actually. Then he passed on. I keep ‘im up there for tribute.

    ANGEL: Maybe you could bury him.

    GUNN: It’s an idea. Or maybe just a drape over him.

    We see from over Gunn’s shoulder as Angel leans over again.

    GUNN: So that’s pretty much what I’ve been up to. Had to kill a few non-essentials here and there, but that won’t matter in the long run. Oh, and I got myself one of those telepathic fish. He’s a lot to handle but he’ll pay off. There are a few Slayers in the basement. Took one down earlier today but she should be fine by now.

    The view shifts and we see Gunn in close-up. He’s smiling as he looks at Angel.

    GUNN: I have a way out of this. It’s all going to be how it was.

    We see from over Angel’s shoulder as Gunn’s expression changes.

    GUNN: (quietly) Can’t believe I’m about to say this…

    The view again shifts and we see from behind Gunn. Angel’s face brightens for a moment at what Gunn asks him.

    GUNN: Angel. Help me.

    ANGEL: I will, Gunn. I –

    Before Angel can be too happy, we see Gunn grin at him in close-up.

    GUNN: Help me to carry out what the visions want. *Help me to save Los Angeles*.

    Gunn looks away from Angel, as though he’s embarrassed to be asking.

    GUNN: I mean, huh. This is *not* how I expected this to go down. I was leaning more towards you dying. And by leaning, I mean, you know, orchestrating. But who’s to say we can’t make things right together? You gotta let take this lead this time out, but you have a say –

    ANGEL: Gunn –

    GUNN: Probably going to have to duest the entire crew. No way they’re going for a change of play like this.

    ANGEL: *Gunn*.

    Angel keeps talking as we see Gunn open a door and look into a room.

    ANGEL: First thing’s first. We have to get out of here. I’ll do what I can, I promise you, but –

    GUNN: *Wait*.

    And in an instant, Gunn turns on Angel, back in vampire face. He holds Angel by the shirt and shoves him against the wall.

    GUNN: You’re not. You’re going along with it. Why can’t you just go along with it? Despite everything you’ve thrown at me, I’m still a hero! *I’m being tested but I’m winning*!

    (NARRATION) ANGEL: He’s all over the place. This rant is going to attract the attention of his gang. Like I said…

    The next image if of Gunn viciously punching Angel. Angel’s head whips back and blood flies from his mouth.

    GUNN: *I’m still the hero*!

    (NARRATION) ANGEL: … only one of two ways this can end.

    We see Gunn shove Angel away.

    GUNN: Moment of weakness, thinking you’d get it.

    Gunn doesn’t let up, and we see him drive a kick into Angel’s stomach that doubles him over in pain.

    GUNN: The Powers-That-Be know it –

    As Angel drops to the ground, we look up at Gunn standing over him, his face full of rage.

    GUNN: – what’s it gonna take for you to see?

    In close-up, Angel gets back to his knees at Gunn’s feet.

    (NARRATION) ANGEL: He wants me dead.

    ANGEL: I – I –

    (NARRATION) ANGEL: But he also wants me to pat him on the back for a job well done.

    Angel’s bleeding badly as he replies to Gunn.

    ANGEL: – I don’t think the Powers-That-Be have anything to do with this.

    Gunn frowns as he stares down at Angel.

    (NARRATION) ANGEL: So I use it.

    We see them from behind as Angel gets back to his feet and points at the vision demon nailed in front of the door.

    ANGEL: They would have cut this thing off from the visions the minute he feel into the wrong hands. This town is home to thousands of creatures who hear voices, who see things – there was a hobo outside the Hyperion who claimed that Neil Diamond was mentally sending him daily affirmations. Fairly certain that wasn’t the case.

    We see Gunn in close-up, scowling as he listens to Angel questioning his plan.

    The next image is of Angel facing Gunn like gun men at a duel. We see Angel from behind, reaching under his coat to his broadsword. Gunn stares back at him, his face angrier than it’s ever seemed before.

    ANGEL: I remember what it’s like, Gunn. You don’t think you’ve changed. You don’t even try to fight it, because you honestly think for the first time ever, your eyes are open. But the truth is, you’re not in control. You’ve got a front-row seat for a demon destroying everything that meant anything to you. And all you can do is watch.

    (NARRATION) ANGEL: Using the truth to plant seeds of doubt. Angelus would be proud, but I hate myself for it.

    We see a close-up of Angel’s other hand as he pulls a stake. Gunn’s heard enough, and charges him.

    ANGEL: You’re a big, ugly problem who’s fooled himself into thinking he’s the solution.

    GUNN: *Quiet*!

    As Gunn charges, though, Angel stabs him in the side with his sword.

    GUNN: *Nnnnn* –

    (NARRATION) ANGEL: I’ll just add it to the list.

    The sword doesn’t slow Gunn down – it sticks out of his side as he punches Angel, sending him backwards. Some of Gunn’s henchmen have arrived.

    GUNN: The demon isn’t in control, Angel! You couldn’t overcome yours because you’re weak! The demon does what I want! *This is on my terms*! You have no idea what I’ve created! The visions wanted me! *They wanted me*!

    The view shifts, and we see Angel regain his balance. He throws his stake at one of Gunn’s henchmen and it finds its target.

    ANGEL: Wow, Chuck. You really are gone.

    (NARRATION) ANGEL: Have to make this quick.

    As the vampire dust, Angel rips his sword out of Gunn’s side and attacks him again.

    (NARRATION) ANGEL: Beat him senseless. Take him home. And figure out what to do with him.

    Angel’s thoughts are interrupted as a fist shoots out and punches him.

    (NARRATION) ANGEL: Then it’s a matter of putting off the inevitable for as long as I ca –

    ANGEL: *Oooof*

    We see that Gunn’s henchman, Dave, is jumping on Angel. Angel tries to defend himself even as Gunn calls out to stop Dave. The damage is done, though. Angel has lost the advantage.

    GUNN: (from out of the view) Don’t kill him.

    A foot lashes out and kicks Angel in the face.

    GUNN: (from out of the view) Not yet.

    We see Gunn as he grabs Angel’s broadsword.

    GUNN: Relying on a lot of tools lately, Angel. Swords, Axes, Spike. Your action figure is overflowing with accessories.

    The next image is of Gunn holding Angel back with one hand and thrusting the sword into Angel’s stomach, and through him. Angel screams in pain.

    GUNN: I’ve seen you running around all sorts of bigger, faster, stronger. You’ve been pimped out. Rummaging through W&H’s finest stock. Until I blew it all to hell. But hey, I waited for you leave, so there’s that.

    Angel slumps against the wall, reaching for the sword weakly. Gunn drove it almost all the way to the hilt. In front of him, we see Gunn’s hand holding a glowing red object between his fingers.

    GUNN: So I thought this could level the playing field. I’m supposed to save it for the bigger piecture, part of something I’ve been cooking up –

    We see Gunn’s hand in extreme close-up as the objects glows brightly.

    GUNN: – But I don’t see any harm in trying it out today.

    We see Angel in close-up. His eyes are open, but he is bleeding heavily.

    GUNN: I will it to work, and it counters all sorts of magic and spells. Whatever cosmic red bull you’ve got flowing through your veins, let’s take that away.

    As the magic works on Angel, he raises his head and screams again.

    GUNN: Every wound that’s been supernaturally healed, let’s open ‘em up again.

    (NARRATION) ANGEL: I want to try and talk him out of it, but my throat fills with blood.

    We see Angel laying on the floor, still reaching for the sword. Now his legs are at an odd angle below him, though. Gunn stands over him.

    (NARRATION) ANGEL: Spine shatters. Both hands, both arms fractured. Legs snapped.

    In an extreme close-up, Gunn’s eyes almost glow red as he realizes the biggest change in Angel.

    (NARRATION) ANGEL: The glamour that masks my humanity. Gone.

    We see Gunn from behind as he looks down at Angel.

    GUNN: When?

    In close-up, Gunn shouts at him.

    GUNN: *When*?!

    One of Gunn’s henchmen is silhouetted behind him as Gunn tries to reject what he’s seeing.

    HENCHMEN: Is he –?

    GUNN: Don’t say it.

    The view shifts and we see Gunn in profile, talking to Angel calmly again.

    GUNN: One of these things is not like the other. Should I turn you? Feed on you? Bet you wish you could tell me what to do now, huh, old man? I kinda do, too.

    We see Gunn in close-up again, his henchmen watching behind him.

    GUNN: You know what?

    Gunn ****s his head as he makes up his mind.

    GUNN: Gonna let you die. But you should shuffle off knowing one thing.

    Gunn leans down and whispers to Angel.

    GUNN: (whispering) I found her first.

    The scene shifts, and we see Gwen, Spike, and Connor as they approach on the dragon. Gwen looks sad, though, not ready for a fight.

    CONNOR: Dragon’s slowing down. I think we’re here.

    From the same view, Connor checks on his team.

    CONNOR: You ready?

    SPIKE: To see a friend I thought was long dead but is instead up and at ‘em and maybe evil? No, what do you think it’ll be like?

    The view widens as the three of them leap from the dragon’s back toward Gunn’s rooftop. Gwen trails behind Connor and Spike, though.

    CONNOR: Gwen, are you okay?

    We see Connor turn around and see lightning flash across the sky.

    CONNOR: Gwen…?

    We see Spike turn and see the lightning as well.

    SPIKE: Aw, no.

    GWEN: (from out of the view) No, baby. No, I’m not.

    The last image is a close-up of Gwen. She is spreading her hands and unleashing lightning all over the roof. In the sky behind her, lightning strikes the dragon. Tears run down Gwen’s face.

    GWEN: I’m so sorry.

    To be continued.

    End of Chapter 11

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    Angel: After the Fall, Issue #12

    Start of Chapter 12

    The opening image is of the dragon in the sky, electricity coursing over its body as it writhes in pain. We hear Gwen’s voice, quiet and apologetic.

    GWEN: (from out of the view) He never said it would be like this.

    The view shifts, and we see Gwen standing with her shoulders slumped. She’s still quieting. However, her gloves are off, and lightning pours out of her and fills the air around the rooftop. Behind her, the dragon falls.

    GWEN: It was all planned out. He saw how it all went down. I just had to nudge you in the right direction. And have back if it – oh God, if it came to this. This really has to happen, huh?

    We see Connor and Spike facing Gwen. Connor looks disbelieving, Spike looks ready to fight, but doesn’t attack her.

    CONNOR: I don’t understand, Gwen.

    SPIKE: It’s called being betrayed by the one you love. Welcome brother, the club meets Tuesdays and Thursdays.

    CONNOR: No.

    We see Connor in close-up as the snow falls around him and more lightning flashes from Gwen.

    CONNOR: I saved you! I saved your life and we slowly developed a bond and you said that you *loved me* and –

    His face closes up, and he narrows his eyes.

    CONNOR: – oh. You are good. So are you actually unable to touch me or was it some elaborate cover-up so you wouldn’t have to?

    We see Gwen pulling one of her gloves back on as she pleads with Connor. Behind her, Spike tries to take advantage of her distraction. He vamps out and raises his sword to attack Gwen.

    GWEN: Connor, I can’t touch *anybody! That’s what this is about*! He said he could make it all go away, but I *can’t* let you stop what *has* to happen –

    SPIKE: See, boy, this what’s called “lying.” Best ignore it. I tried the other option, believing psychopaths for decades on end, but it doesn’t end well. What I’d do now is find your favorite sharp object and –

    Gwen silences Spike’s suggestions by casually throwing her bare left hand out to her side, blasting him clear off the roof with a bolt of lightning. She never stops looking at Connor.

    GWEN: Shut up, Spike.

    Connor scowls as he turns his back on Gwen. She continues trying to explain, though.

    GWEN: I love you, Connor. Wasn’t part of the original plan but there it is. He can make it go back to how it was. He’ll make it so I’ll be able to touch again but *I can’t let you near him*.

    CONNOR: You’ve said.

    GWEN: *Please, baby, don’t make me do this*!

    In a close-up, Connor just looks over his shoulder to warn her away.

    CONNOR: Don’t make me give Cordelia the okay to eat you.

    We see Gwen in close-up, her face wrinkling in confusion.

    GWEN: Cordelia? Who’s –

    Gwen looks up as a puff of orange smoke appears next to her.

    The view shifts, and we see she’s confronted by the dragon. It’s scales are smoking from her attack, but it hovers over her at the edge of the roof. The dragon is clearly unhappy.

    In a close-up, Gwen smiles nervously. Angel’s voice takes us into the next scene.

    GWEN: Good boy, good… Cordy?

    ANGEL: (voiceover) “I jumped off a building.”

    The scene changes, and as Angel continues, we see him standing, apparently uninjured.

    ANGEL: Not quite a skyscraper, but not a one-story. Bottom line is, even if I was a vampire, it was a rash move made in the heat of the moment. Snapped my spine, legs, a wrist. Wesley was there, but he couldn’t help. He tried, but, I don’t know if you’re aware, he’s living-impaired, so… the dragon found me. Scooped me up. He tried to be gentle, wound up discloating my shoulder but that’s not so bad, considering.

    Angel starts walking across the room toward whoever he’s talking to.

    ANGEL: Found a century’s supply of neo-primitive healing salves and some incantations in Wolfram & Hart’s medicine cabinets. Used them all at once, it still took months to heal. Every second of that time was spent awake, and the pain… I’m not a stranger to pain but this, this was mind-numbing. To get through it without snapping I learned to focus on something else. I imagined you. I talked to you the entire time. I didn’t actively choose you. When I’m conscious it still hurts to say your name. But when I needed someone, there you were. I guess it makes sense, during my time in Los Angeles, you were that kept me sane.

    In a closer view, we see Angel is leaning over to face a woman with long dark hair. He smiles at her.

    ANGEL: The dragon guarded me night and day. Heard every rant, every one-sided conversation. And he thought I was talking to him. He thinks his name… is your name. Is that weird?

    WOMAN: Completely.

    The next image reveals who Angel is talking to. It’s Cordelia Chase. She sits with her legs crossed casually on one of Gunn’s couches, resting her head against one hand. She looks at Angel with a look that suggests both amusement and sympathy.

    CORDY: But understand I’d be disappointed if I came back and you had a boring story for me. “Hey Cordelia, guess what I’ve been up to. Lots and lots of Sudoku.” “Hey, Cordelia, guess who started a movie review blog.” Angel, you’re human and you’re tortured and you have a pet dragon that you accidentally named after me and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

    The view widens and Cordy stands and comes to Angel’s side, taking his hand in hers and putting her other hand on his shoulder.

    ANGEL: Anyway, my point is, as good as it is to see you –

    CORDY: – always find the negative in record time, you haven’t lost all your power –

    ANGEL: – when I was healing, you were a hallucination. You weren’t here. You’re not *anywhere*. Unless you’re everywhere, I don’t know your current situation. Selfish of me to ask, how are you? And what are you? And are you here? You look great.

    In close-up, Cordy smiles up at him fondly.

    CORDY: You’re flustered. I’m making you flustered, it’s so cute. To answer your questions, no I’m not everywhere. I certainly can’t be here for any amount of time. A parlor trick a little while ago took it out of me until recently. And as for whether or not I’m literally standing before you, no, I’m not.

    The view shifts, and we see Cordy and Angel from behind as she directs his attention to the floor.

    CORDY: But to be fair, you’re not standing, either.

    ANGEL: Oh, right, that.

    The next image is of Angel’s own body laying on the floor. The sword is still stuck through his stomach, and his legs are turns awkwardly where they were broken. He’s in a pool of his own blood and clearly almost dead. Gunn is crouching over him, as if in mourning. The healthy Angel that’s talking is standing, looking down at himself.

    CORDY: Yes, *that*. I’m not a fan of the dramatic –

    ANGEL: Ha.

    CORDY: – shush. But your reaction to your own death could be a bit bigger. Like, maybe a gasp? A sigh? Subtle **** of an eyebrow?

    The spirit/non-corporeal Angel and Cordy turn to follow as Gunn drags the injured Angel down the hall. Angel’s body leaves a trail of blood.

    ANGEL: I want to get up, I want to fight, but even if I could – I don’t know what I’d hit. Gunn has a right to be angry, even if he’s currently not expressing it in a healthy manner. People follow my lead and it always *without fail* ends the same way.

    Cordy’s face turns very sober as we see her in close-up.

    CORDY: Angel.

    ANGEL: (from out of the view) Don’t try and change my mind, you’re the poster girl for what happens if you believe in me.

    CORDY: *Angel*.

    The view reverses, and we see a close-up of Angel as he reacts with surprise at what Cordy tells him.

    ANGEL: Please, I’m not saying I’m going to give up, I just –

    CORDY: *Angel*. I *am* saying that.

    We see from between Angel and Cordy as Gunn pulls Angel’s body up to sit against the wall.

    CORDY: I can’t usually come… here. I don’t do LA, and I certainly don’t do this sliver of L.A. I tried, believe me, the glimpses I’ve seen of you have broken my heart – but whatever Wolfram & Hart did, it’s keeping the good out. But I can come now, because you’re close.

    Angel looks down as Cordy puts her palm on his chest.

    CORDY: I’m here – and honey, I am so sorry – to make your passing easier.

    The next image is of Gunn and two of his henchmen leaning over Angel’s body. Angel slumps against the wall, bleeding.

    HENCHMAN #1: What’s happening to him?

    GUNN: I – I don’t know. He’s supposed to be up and about and fanged and undead for the big finale. He’s supposed to be there when I win *and then he dies*.

    We see the same view, but not from between Angel and Cordy as they face each other. Cordy glares at Angel changing the subject.

    GUNN: The goddamn Powers-That-Be can’t be wrong.

    ANGEL: (to Cordy) It’s not the Powers-That-Be. For one thing, you just said *good* can’t be here. And the visions would stop the moment someone tried to use them for evil.

    CORDY: Stop it.

    Cordy hugs Angel tightly and he returns it.

    ANGEL: Stop what?

    CORDY: Ignoring what I just told you. Death comes for you weekly, big guy, but this time it’s sticking.

    We see Cordy in close-up as she caresses Angel’s cheek.

    CORDY: And I know you’ve deduced I’m one of three things: another hallucination to get you through another painful experience, actual Cordy with intentions pure, or, super-scary but super-probable Wolfram & Hart manifestion that really wants to stick it in and twist it. Whatever door you pick, the song ends the same way.

    The image flashes white and a voice leads us into the next scene. It’s Fred’s voice.

    FRED: (voiceover) No. No, this won’t do.

    In the Hyperion, Wesley and Nina stand at the door of the office while Fred is tearing through a book called “Ancient Runes”, frantically researching. Nina is talking on a cellphone.

    FRED: This won’t do at all! Nothing, nothing nothing nothing.

    In a closer view, Nina turns to look at Fred while she waits on the phone. Wes continues watching Fred work.

    NINA: What is she looking for?

    WES: She’s confused by Gunn’s sudden re-appearance, so she’s doing what Fred would have done when she didn’t understand something. She has no idea what to look for but it’s making her feel better.

    In close-up, Wesley keeps staring at Fred as he hopes for Nina to have information.

    WES: Any luck getting through to Lorne –

    The next image shows Wes raising his hand in front of him, and it’s transparent – he’s vanishing, like he did back in Chapter 4. Nina stares at his hand.

    WES: The sooner we – oh my.

    NINA: Wesley?!

    Wesley vanishes, and Nina puts her hands on top of her head helplessly. Fred turns to face her.

    FRED: Where did he go?

    NINA: I don’t know.

    The view reverses, and from behind Nina we see Fred smash her hands down through an office desk. Red color is moving back up Fred’s legs, though, and it’s clear – she’s changing back.

    FRED: *You will*

    It’s Illyria that turns back to face Nina. Her face is a cold stare. We see a timeslip, and Nina and Illyria are in a futuristic room, but Nina’s hair is red.

    ILLYRIA: *Bring him*

    Another timeslip shows us the room in the recent past, when there was a crib in it. Illyria walks across the room with the same cold stare, indifferent to the timeslips.

    ILLYRIA: *Back*.

    The timeslips end and Illyria is face to face with Nina.

    We see Illyria grab Nina by the shirt in both hands and lift of her off the ground.

    ILLYRIA: *I demand it*.

    The view shifts, and Nina struggles in Illyria’s grip, but she can’t free herself.

    NINA: I – I – I can’t –

    ILLYRIA: Everyone comes back just to leave! Gunn, Angel, *Wesley again*! Stop testing me It’s annoying. *I don’t approve*!

    NINA: I understand, and I’m right there with you.

    ILLYRIA: I know you are. But I don’t care if you’re here. I want the ones I know. *Now*.

    NINA: No, I mean. You missed him, and then he comes back… and now he’s gone again.

    In a close-up, Nina lowers her head sadly.

    NINA: I’ve been there.

    The view reverses and we see Illyria looking almost disgusted that Nina is showing emotion to her.

    ILLYRIA: I understand your rejection. You are inferior.

    We see Illyria from behind as she drops Nina to the floor.

    ILLYRIA: But I am Illyria.

    We see Illyria walking away as Nina rolls over onto her stomach to get up.

    ILLYRIA: I am a pure demon who ruled Vahla Ha’Nesh and I demand a certain amount of order.

    Behind her, we see Nina get back up to her knees.

    NINA: We don’t even know where he is –

    Outside, we see the Hyperion from the outside, in the alley.

    An instant later, the brick wall flies apart as Illyria punches through it with a *BABOOM*.

    The view shifts, and we see Illyria looking out toward downtown, snow still falling around her. In the distance, she sees the dragon, and Gwen’s lightning.

    ILLYRIA: Yes. We do.

    In a new scene, we look down on Angel’s body, Gunn, and his henchmen.

    GUNN: Let’s get ‘em to the street. He’s doing his best to hold on and I want him to have a front row –

    Gunn is interrupted as Wesley materializes in front of him.

    GUNN: – seat?

    We see Gunn and Wesley face each other, surrounded by Gunn’s henchmen.

    GUNN: Wesley.

    WES: Charles.

    GUNN: Vampire.

    WES: Ghost.

    GUNN: Sucks –

    WES: – truly.

    Wes reaches out and his hand passes through Gunn as his eyes widen in fear. Behind him, Cordy watches them.

    CORDY: This is going to be ugly.

    WES: Charles –

    Wesley leans over Angel’s bruised and bleeding body.

    WES: *What did you do*?

    GUNN: (from out of the view) Always about him.

    We see Gunn looking down as Wes reaches uselessly out to Angel.

    GUNN: No “sorry you’re a vampire”, or “hey, how you *you* been since being sent to thell?” Never about me.

    WES: Angel, hold on I’ll –

    In close-up, we see Wes’ non-corporeal hand go through the hilt of the broadsword sticking out of Angel. Blood drips from Angel’s mouth.

    WES: – I won’t do anything. I *can’t* do anything –

    Cordy and Angel’s spirit selves look on as Wesley’s frustration kicks in.

    CORDY: Poor Wesley –

    ANGEL: I know. He feels useless.

    CORDY: I was talking more about the return to the Men’s Wearhouse wardrobe. But yeah, the useless thing, totally almost as or a little more than worse.

    In close-up, Wes cries out in anger. Cordy watches from behind him.

    WES: *Why did you bring me here if I’m not allowed to help*?!

    As Cordy and Angel watch, Wes’ face suddenly changes into pain.

    WES: *NAAAAAAAAAA* –

    CORDY: That happen often?

    ANGEL: No –

    The view widens, and we see Wes lifted into the air by some other force. Yellow energy races around his body. He screams in pain, while Gunn and his henchmen back away. Cordy and Angel look on from the side. A voice fills Wesley’s head, a voice from Wolfram & Hart.

    VOICE: *VERY WELL, WESLEY* receiving inter-office memo. PREVIOUSLY CONSIDERED HIGHLY CONFIDENTIAL

    The light goes away and Wes drops to the floor in a crouch. Gunn tries to touch his back, but his fingers go right through him. Wesley’s clothes are smoking now.

    GUNN: Wes –

    WES: I –

    Wesley is still bent over and smoke still coming off his clothes. Gunn stands up in surprise that Wes is still a ghost.

    GUNN: Thought maybe they’d make you whole again.

    WES: No.

    GUNN: Can you explain the light show?

    WES: I can explain a lot more than that.

    We see a close-up of Wesley’s head from behind as he looks over to Angel’s body.

    WES: They told me everything.

    The view reverses, and Wesley straightens his tie as he turns to face Gunn.

    WES: They never filed it.

    GUNN: What?

    WES: He signed it. It was as good as done.

    We see a close-up of Angel and Cordy. Angel looks completely stunned, and Cordy watches him in disbelief.

    WES: (from out of the view) But then everything went to hell.

    ANGEL: The prophecy? But I’m not a vampire anymore. God help me, God help us all, I thought it was Spike. I dreamt it was Spike.

    Wes rubs his chin, lost in thought. Gunn stands behind him, casually playing with the red object he used to strip the magic spells from Angel.

    GUNN: Don’t let ‘em fill your head, Wes. I’ve see how this goes, the visions never even suggested –

    WES: They filled *my* head, just like they filled *yours*. Any information the visions left out – was information Wolfram & Hart didn’t need you to know.

    We see Gunn in close-up as Wesley faces him. Gunn holds up the red object to Wesley’s face.

    GUNN: Since when does Wolfram & Hart have a say in the Powers-That-Be’s visions?

    WES: You’re not getting, Charles. Or maybe you are, but you’re having trouble admitting it.

    From behind, we see Gunn hold out the red object, trying to use it on Wes.

    WES: We’re out of good’s reach. We’re in Wolfram & Hart’s backyard. They’re behind your delusions.

    GUNN: *Enough*, Wesley. I’ve heard enough. I liked the old Wesley better. He had integrity – (quietly) and stubble, and mass – (to Wes) I don’t think I want you here anymore.

    WES: That won’t work on me.

    Gunn tosses the object away as Wesley keeps staring at him.

    WES: Mutes magic, yes? Visions clued you in on its whereabout, I know. It’s not going to work now because they don’t want it to. A few minutes ago, you told me it was *always about Angel*. You were absolutely right.

    The view reverses, and Gunn vamps out and drives his fist through Wesley in anger. Cordy and Angel watch curiously.

    WES: *This wasn’t about you. None of it was*.

    GUNN: Goddamn liar!

    WES: We were all pawns.

    Wes’ voice continues, and we see an image on the roof of Connor, Gwen, and the dragon fighting.

    WES: (voiceover) Moved accordingly…

    From down on the street, we see Illyria looking up at dragon beside the building.

    WES: (voiceover) … and sacrificed when needed.

    Illyria’s face shows a small bit of satisfaction as she recognizes her destination.

    We see Wes in close-up against a black background.

    WES: All so they could have Angel.

    The view shifts to Angel and Cordy. Angel looks skeptical. Cordy’s expression is focused, though, riveted by what Wesley is saying.

    ANGEL: “Have me”? Seriously, putting me under contract wasn’t enough?

    CORDY: Shhhh, I’m trying to listen.

    ANGEL: “You’re trying to listen”? You didn’t know about this?

    CORDY: White hats don’t have a plant in the black hat offices. If we were that sneaky, we’d be, you know, grey hats.

    The next image shows Angel and Cordy holding hands as they listen to Wesley, who is crouching over Angel’s body on the floor. Around them, the background is full of images of things that have happened in Hell-A – the demon holding Connor up by the shirt in “First Night”, Spike hugging Fred.

    WES: It started the second we arrived and it hasn’t let up. There were times that we all figured we were in our own persona hell, but that wasn’t the case. *We were all players in Angel’s*. The Los Angeles branch of Wolfram & Hart threw everything they could at him. Loved ones put into mortal danger simply because they knew him. Others playing hero to those Angel couldn’t save. Fallen comrades-in-arms chained to his side. Breaking him so he can’t be what he *has to be* to help.

    Gunn points his finger into Wesley’s face. He is furious at what Wesley is suggesting.

    GUNN: Why did my gang get the visions *long before* Los Angeles went to hell?!

    WES: This has long been part of the plan. Even before they sent the town to hall, the wheels were turning. It was in the works the moment you became important to him, The specifics of how it went down may have been changed, but the end result was always going to be the same… you were always going to be a vampire, and he was always going to have to –

    As Wes talks, Gunn reaches down and grabs the sword sticking out of Angel’s chest.

    From a wider view, Gunn rips the blade free, jerking Angel’s body away from the wall.

    GUNN: *Wrong*, Wesley. This is another test. They’re really getting up there in my head but it’s fine. *It’s fine*.

    From behind Angel’s head, we look up at Gunn’s face. He’s furious, raising the sword back over his head and ready to cleave Angel in half. Wes watches from behind him.

    WES: Charles, stop.

    GUNN: *I’m the vampire*. I’m going to shanshu. Vampire with a soul, vampire *with* soul, prophecy translations always get muddled over generations. Hell, you almost killed the kid because of a game of telephone gone sixty-three kinds of screwed. And now I’m not supposed to believe my visions because your visions are saying something different?

    In a close-up, Gunn’s face drops – he’s beginning to doubt.

    WES: (from out of the view) Make no mistake. *The Shanshu prophecy is about Angel*.

    Gunn drops to a crouch next to Angel, leaning on the sword like a cane. Wesley stands over them both.

    WES: He wouldn’t be worth all this trouble if it wasn’t. He’s the vampire with a soul that will play a key role in the apocalypse. He will be rewarded with humanity for his troubles.

    From behind “spirit” Angel and Cordy, we see Gunn stand up again, looking down at Angel’s body as Wes keeps talking.

    ANGEL: But I can’t do that if I’m stuck like this. Certainly can’t do that if Gunn lops my head off. Can’t *one good guy* be corporal in this room?

    WES: It’s not you, Charles. The visions helped manipulate you into doing what was needed. They were true, every single one of them, but your interpretation is what’s currently making Wolfram & Hart reconsider your part in all of this.

    The view shifts and Angel turns and takes Cordy’s shoulders in his hands.

    ANGEL: Cordy, I love you but I can’t leave now. I’m… needed. This isn’t over –

    In a close-up, we see Wesley has crouched next to Angel’s body. He places his hand on Angel’s forehead.

    WES: Speaking of visions. The Senior Partners have been kind enough to force me to deliver one last vision. For Angel’s eyes only. Your part in the apocalypse. *The Shanshu prophecy carred out, right before your eyes. It is written. It has been witnessed. It is inevitable*. (quietly) I’m sorry, my friend.

    The next image spans two pages. Angel stands triumphant amidst his enemies… but not a hero. He is a vampire again, and blood is streaming from his mouth. His left hand is covered in blood. He holds a blood-drenched sword in his right hand. His hair is a mess, his clothes are torn from fighting. He is standing on bodies of human beings. There are human heads on pikes around him, demons in the backgroung, and the city of Los Angeles burns in the distance behind him.

    And right away we see Angel’s face in close-up as he comes out of it. He’s crying. Cordy’s hands shake his shoulders.

    CORDY: Angel? *Angel*?

    Angel stands up straight again, but his eyes are wide. Cordy keeps holding him.

    ANGEL: (quietly) I… uh –

    CORDY: What did you see?

    The view widens out as Angel continues to stare off.

    ANGEL: Cordelia?

    The last image is of Angel staring away, and Cordy still facing him, trying to get him to answer. In the foreground, Wesley and Gunn crouch over Angel’s body. Gunn’s eyes are wide in disbelief.

    ANGEL: I’m ready to go.

    End of Chapter 12

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    Angel: After the Fall, Issue #13

    Start of Chapter 13

    The opening image looks down on Spike, who is laying on a pile of garbage in a dumpster. He’s relaxed, smoking a cigarette, his sword laying next to him.

    SPIKE: So. Come to this.

    Spike climbs out of the dumpster, which has “Burge” written on it in graffiti.

    SPIKE: “Spike, abandon your harem of you-worshippers to come play Punjab to good ol’ Johnny Bore. I’ll watch out for Illyria by taking her on all sorts of excursions that involve fisticuffs and even more resurrected pals. Don’t touch the dragon, though, that’s my new best mate.”

    In close-up, Spike runs his hand back through his hair as if tired while he takes a drag from his cigarette.

    SPIKE: “Weensy chance of being fried.” Brilliant, but only if you promise I’ll also get thrown off a skyscraper into crap.

    From over Spike’s shoulder, we see him look back toward Gunn’s hotel, where the dragon, “Cordelia”, still hovers to fight Gwen with Connor.

    SPIKE: And that’s still going on.

    We see Spike blow out smoke as he looks toward the rooftop.

    SPIKE: Kid could kill her in a heartbeat, with or without the dragon.

    We see Spike from behind, sword in hand again, as he walks back toward the service entrance of Gunn’s building.

    SPIKE: Connor’s the second best brawler in hell – but he’s leading with his heart.

    Spike walks down the outside steps to the door.

    SPIKE: Typical rookie mistake. We’ll work on it.

    We see the building door splinter as Spike kicks through it, vamped out. A bare-chested henchman is inside, and turns with surprise as Spike enters.

    SPIKE: What now –?

    HENCHMAN: The Brit!

    Spike flicks his cigarette at the henchman, grinning through his fangs.

    SPIKE: “The Brit.” Right. Mind pointing me in the direction of the elevator? Got business on the roof after one of us is dusted.

    We see a close-up of Spike’s hands as he raises his sword. The other vampire comes toward him with a stake in each hand, ready for a battle.

    HENCHMAN: *This is gonna be quick and painful*!

    SPIKE: Probably.

    Spike slices through the vampire’s left arm and cuts off his hand.

    HENCHMAN: *Gaaaaah* –

    The view reverses, and we see Spike catch the henchman’s detached hand, which still holds a stake, from the air. The vampire swings his good arm at Spike.

    HENCHMAN: You think this will stop me? *I survived Slayers*!

    Spike ducks under the larger vampire’s attack and stakes him from behind – using the vampire’s own forearm.

    SPIKE: I didn’t. Yet here we are.

    As the vampire dusts, Spike takes a moment to joke with himself. Behind him, we see a metal door with “BEWARE” painted on it. A *KNOK KNOK* comes from behind the door.

    SPIKE: Heh, “I didn’t.” No one’s ever around for the really pithy – hmmmm?

    Spike turns to lean against the door, listening. The door has two slide-locks. The entire painted message is “BEWARE OF THE DOGS”.

    SPIKE: Hello? Are you a prisoner or an off-your-rocker deity kept in there for the safety of yourselves and others?

    Spike doesn’t wait for an answer, and begins to pull the doors open with his hands, bending the metal.

    SPIKE: Eh, fun either way. Never fear, love and/or git –

    We see from inside the darkened room as Spike opens his arms and smiles.

    SPIKE: *Uncle Spike to the* –

    The next image is of the three captive Slayers charging forward to escape. They are led by the Slayer we saw Gunn stab to death… although she is now clearly fine.

    SLAYER #1: *Aim for the pleather*!

    SLAYER #2: Now’s our chance!

    Spike’s smile turns to confusion.

    SPIKE: – Rescue? (to himself) Pleather?

    The scene changes and we see Angel and Cordy as they were at the end of Chapter 12. He stares in horror while she grabs his shoulders.

    CORDY: Angel, *what*? What did you see?

    The view widens, but they don’t move. We see Gunn and Wes still crouching near Angel’s body.

    ANGEL: Something that will be prevented if I leave with you right now.

    CORDY: How do you know it was real?

    (NARRATION) ANGEL: Cordy has a point.

    The view doesn’t change, but Gunn and Angel’s body both blur – the building is shaking.

    (NARRATION) ANGEL: Could have been a lie. But on that note –

    ANGEL: How do I know *you’re* real? Is the room spinning or is that just pre-death/post-disastrous-news dizziness?

    GUNN: What *is that*?

    The view shifts to wear Gunn and Wesley are crouching. Gunn starts to stand up.

    WES: As I said earlier, this is all about Angel. You’ve harmed him. They want him.

    GUNN: Sending an army, huh? Been there, done that.

    WES: No, you really haven’t.

    GUNN: Oh, yeah? What do you call the army in the alley?

    In a closer view, Wes doesn’t look up as he answers, but Gunn looks alarmed by the example Wes gives.

    WES: Comparatively? The company softball team.

    The next image reveals the scope of what Wesley is saying. We see a quick series of images of fire falling from the sky as Connor reaches out and Gwen runs to him. On the street, a rain of fire hits the buildings and cars and people go running.

    The view widens and we see the entire skyline. The tentacles around the buildings are all attacking, and the sky is full of more dragons – some “normal” dragons, and others hybrids of dragons and fighter jets. These hybrid dragons are also dropping ordnance. In the sky, we see the silhouette of Groo and his Pegasus flying into action.

    On the roof, Gwen and Connor stop fighting and turn to see the force of dragons in the sky.

    CONNOR: Awesome. Hell just went to eleven.

    GWEN: *Those* dragons aren’t with you, are they?

    CONNOR: No. And I think they’re just the first heat.

    We see dragons in the sky and Connor and Gwen very small on Gunn’s roof.

    CONNOR: Everything’s coming here. *It’s all coming right for us*.

    Before the dragons can attack, though, “Cordy” the dragon flies up to protect the roof. He blasts fire at the other dragons, pushing them back.

    Unfortunately, they outnumber him too greatly, and before he can press his attack, the other dragons have him in their grip, biting into him.

    CONNOR: *Cordelia*!

    In a close-up, we see the dragon’s neck in green against a black background. And in red, we see the bleeding wounds where they other dragon’s rip him apart.

    On the roof, Connor and Gwen watch as the dragon is attacked by the others. Connor readies himself.

    CONNOR: Gwen… *run*.

    The view reverses, and we see Gwen holding a hand toward Connor gently – not touching him, though.

    GWEN: You have a sword.

    CONNOR: And they have eyes. I can make this work. Just get out of here.

    GWEN: Weren’t we just *fighting*?!

    Connor looks at Gwen as she charges electricity into her hands. In the sky, “Cordelia” the dragon is ripped into pieces.

    GWEN: I know you’re the leader, and in no mood to listen to me – so I’m gonna make this simple – find your father, find Gunn, I don’t care, just get off this roof.

    CONNOR: No.

    Gwen doesn’t give Connor a vote. Her entire body glows blue-white with electricity, enough to force Connor away from her.

    GWEN: Yes, sweetie. *Go*.

    We see Connor racing toward the door on the roof.

    From behind, we see Gwen, still glowing, raise her hands and summon the dragons to her.

    GWEN: That’s right, boys. Come towards the light!

    We see Gwen in close-up, as the dragons’ teeth come into view around her.

    GWEN: Oh, Charles. You’d better be right.

    From above, the dragons dive in and bite at Gwen.

    We see Gwen caught in the jaws of two of the dragons. She’s still glowing intensely.

    In extreme close-up, we see blood trickle from Gwen’s blue-white lips as her mouth contorts in pain.

    GWEN: Love you so much.

    From a wider view, we see all of Gwen’s energy release and rip through the dragons that have her.

    Inside the building, Connor runs down the stairs. “Cordelia” the dragon’s remains fall outside the window.

    We see Connor in close-up against a black background as he looks back toward the roof, realizing what’s happening. In voiceover, Angel is talking to Cordy again.

    ANGEL: (voiceover) “And I’m not being overdramatic. Same thing, year in, year out. I try to do good. I fail at doing good.

    On the roof, we see Gwen laying on the ground. She isn’t glowing now, and blood runs out of her mouth. She appears to have bleeding bite marks on her torso – she’s almost certainly dead. Around her, we see dragons, though – burned and dead or dying.

    ANGEL: (voiceover) “Everyone else pays the price.

    On the street, we see the dragon’s dead body where it hit the ground.

    ANGEL: (voiceover0 “It happens too often. But two things always eased the pain, ever so slightly.

    In the basement of the building, the three Slayers have Spike surrounded, easily dodging his attacks. One of them kicks him in the back of the head.

    ANGEL: (voiceover0 “The first was the belief that it’s all building towards something.

    Two of the Slayers punch Spike at the same time.

    ANGEL: (voiceover) “I always thought it had to be. *It had to be*.

    In close-up, we see Spike look down in amazement as one of the Slayers drives a stake into his chest with a *CHUK*.

    ANGEL: (voiceover) We suffer. We hurt.

    The Slayer pulls out her stake as Spike turns to dust.

    ANGEL: (voiceover) “We die.

    Upstairs, Wes and Gunn are still crouched over Angel’s body. Gunn stares ahead, full of doubt.

    ANGEL: (voiceover0 “But at the end of the day, it was going to be worth it. *Because we were going to win*.

    The view moves back to Angel and Cordy as he turns to look at her. Cordy’s stunned as she listens.

    ANGEL: Even when we went to hell, it was going to be okay. Wesley believed it. Gunn, far gone as he is, still believes it. And I did. Deep down, I truly did.

    We see Angel in close-up as he admits what he thinks.

    ANGEL: I was wrong.

    As Angel keeps talking, his face looks rather relaxed, comfortable. Behind him, Gunn is up and moving, sending his henchmen out to investigate what’s going on outside.

    ANGEL: What they made Wesley show me. What I saw, what I felt. I am the one who is going to tip the scales in the battle between good and evil. *I’m going to help evil win*. I want to believe it’s a trick. They made me human, they can certainly implant false images and emotions into my head.

    Angel stares at Cordy intensely, needing her to agree with him Behind him, Gunn is drawing his crossbow. Wes steps backwards.

    ANGEL: But that’s why you’re here, isn’t it? I wasn’t sure if you were another lie. But you want me to die. If killing me was Wolfram & Hart’s plan, they could have done me in the alleyway. No, the Powers-That-Be send you *to make sure I go with you*. They know what I’ll become. I felt it. It’s going to happen.

    Cordelia looks pained as she reaches up again to caress Angel’s cheek. He lowers his eyes, unable to meet hers anymore.

    ANGEL: I tried so hard to help, Cordelia. But the best thing I could do for this world and everyone I love would be to leave. This is how it should be.

    The view shifts, and we see Gunn train his crossbow on Angel’s head where his body sits against the wall.

    In extreme close-up, we see Cordy taking Angel’s hand.

    ANGEL: Please. Let’s go.

    We see Wesley raise his hands and step in front of Gunn to protect Angel.

    GUNN: Wes, you can stand in front of me all you want but at the end of the day, we both know this arrow is –

    Before Gunn can finish, or fire, we see the blade of a sword come to rest on his shoulder.

    GUNN: – going right through you.

    The view reverses as Gunn looks back with his eyes. He keeps his crossbow aimed at Angel. Connor holds the sword up to Gunn’s head.

    GUNN: Hey, baby Angel. So, Gwen failed.

    CONNOR: Pretty sure Gwen’s dead.

    Before Gunn can answer, Connor punches him with a *KRAK*. “Spirit” Angel and Cordy watch.

    GUNN: That’s not how it’s supposed to*ooooph*!

    ANGEL: Connor can’t take Gunn. He can’t –

    CORDY: I don’t know, he looks pretty good. (quietly, to herself) Not like that, come on. I’m a higher being.

    In extreme close-up, Gunn vamps out as he faces Connor.

    Gunn charges Connor, still holding his crossbow.

    GUNN: Always with the swinging and the brooding. Haven’t changed –

    CONNOR: Not true.

    From above, we see Connor throw a punch with his left fist into Gunn’s stomach, driving him back and knocking the crossbow from his hands.

    CONNOR: I made some friends. I met a girl. *I fell in love*.

    Gunn counter-attacks by elbowing Connor in the head.

    GUNN: Sorry about that. Had to make sure *he* was led down the right path. Wasn’t about you.

    In close-up, we see Angel moan in pain. Wes crouches beside him on the floor.

    ANGEL: Nnnnnnn –

    WES: It’s alright, Angel… that was said somewhat convincingly, yes?

    From behind Gunn, we see Connor wipe blood from his lip.

    GUNN: Admittedly, I didn’t think of your feelings but in the grand scheme of things – who the hell are you, anyway?

    We see Connor charge in response.

    CONNOR: *Raaaaaaaaaaa* –

    From behind, we see Connor ram into Gunn full speed, driving him toward a window.

    CONNOR: I’m Angel’s son.

    The view shifts to the side, and we see Connor jump kick Gunn. The vampire breaks through the window with a *KRISH*.

    CONNOR: I’m Gwen’s boyfriend.

    GUNN: *Oooooooph*!

    The next image is a close-up of Connor as he looks down out of the broken window.

    CONNOR: I’m also the guy who just did *that*.

    We see Connor and Wesley from behind as they look out the window. In the sky, there are countless flying warriors of some kind.

    CONNOR: Not much time, Wesley. Get Angel up.

    WES: He… we just found out that he’s… he’s destined to bring about the fall of all that is good. I think the only way out… is to let Angel go.

    Connor looks back over his shoulder at his father’s bruised body.

    He turns back to Wes and scowls.

    CONNOR: What? Screw that.

    The view shifts and we see Connor kneeling in front of Angel. Wes stands behind him.

    CONNOR: I came in late so I’m unclear as to what’s going on. But a friend of a friend once said something that might help you now. I’m paraphrasing because we’re short on time and the dude was a blowhard. It doesn’t matter what you were. Doesn’t matter what people think you’re going to be.

    As Connor talks, we see “spirit” Angel smile. Cordy smiles, too, watching Angel. It’s unclear if Angel realizes how Connor learned this, but he might recognize the thoughts. They’re his.

    Connor reaches around Angel’s waist, pulling him up.

    CONNOR: It’s not all building to something. So we should stop pliving like it is. All that counts – is what you do now. So if you die, I’m gonna keep fighting. But I’d really like to have my dad onmy side.

    In close-up, Angel turns back to Cordy.

    ANGEL: Cordy –

    CORDY: You have to help Connor.

    ANGEL: – yep.

    From behind Cordy’s shoulder, we see Angel smiling the smile that first made a Slayer notice him when he showed up with “friendly” advice. Cordy is already becoming transparent as they talk.

    CORDY: Oh, yeah, you’re running away from the light. Getting harder to stay. Question… you said *one thing* that made losing loved ones easier was the hope that all this was leading to something.

    ANGEL: Yeah, well, I guess we can scratch that, considering.

    Cordy smiles warmly even as she fades.

    CORDY: But what was the other thing?

    ANGEL: The fact that the loved ones I lost – usually come back to help me when I need it most.

    CORDY: See? Are those the words of the vampire destined to bring about the fall of civilization? No way!

    Connor is still kneeling in front of his father, and Wesley crouches beside him. Cordy has almost completely faded away.

    CORDY: Be good, big guy.

    WES: He can’t stand up! He’s *dying*, Connor –

    CONNOR: He’s been through worse! I need him up and I need him fighting!

    As Wes demands a plan, Connor turns to look at the door.

    WES: Well, how do you expect *that* to happen?

    The view reverses, and we see Spike, not dusted, standing in the room. On either side of them, the three Slayers are armed and ready for a fight. One of them even rests her hand on Spike’s shoulder.

    SPIKE: Ain’t that hard. Bringing people back from the great beyond is child’s play here in Hotel de Chuck. Trust me. I’m not just the President, I’m also a bloody client.

    Out on the street, we look down at Gunn. He landed on a convertible, crushing it.

    GUNN: So. Come to this.

    Gunn climbs off the car, holding his head.

    GUNN: Visions never told me I’d be getting my ass handed to me by the kid. Probably trying to spare me an indignity for once.

    In close-up, we see Gunn holding his head in both hands, staring at the ground. Blood or saliva drips from his lip.

    GUNN: How do they expect me to win if it’s all so stacked against me? There are tests and then there are tests… please, help me. I don’t understand, I don’t –

    We see Gunn raise his head, looking between his fingers. He’s crying.

    GUNN: – get it.

    We see with Gunn’s eyes as he lowers his hands. Illyria is walking toward him.

    GUNN: (to himself) I knew it.

    The view shifts and we see Gunn and Illyria standing face to face.

    GUNN: Fred.

    ILLYRIA: No. Are we expected to fight?

    GUNN: Probably.

    In a closer view, Illyria looks at Gunn with genuine curiousity. In the background, the army of warriors in the air come closer to Gunn’s building.

    ILLYRIA: You’re not the same. Is it better?

    GUNN: Not in the least. I want it gone.

    ILLYRIA: Why? You were broken.

    Gunn drops to his knees in front of Illyria. His crossbow lays on the street beside him.

    GUNN: I’m *broken now* Ain’t no way around it. Thought I found a way to fix it.

    We see Illyria in close-up as she looks down at Gunn.

    GUNN: (from out of the view) *It was you*.

    ILLYRIA: It still is. I can find a way. I can restore order and make it right.

    GUNN: (from out of the view) No, you can’t. No offense, but you’re a mess.

    We see Gunn in close-up, tears running down his cheeks.

    GUNN: I really believed you were the eky. They told me you were. But I think I was wrong about who “they” were. I was wrong. (quietly) Goddamn it, I was wrong about a lot.

    Gunn raises his fists in frustration. He is weeping.

    GUNN: I’m not going to save anyone, am I? I can’t save myself, can’t save anyone.

    Illyria places a hand on Gunn’s shoulder.

    ILLYRIA: Don’t cry.

    The next image shows Illyria is Fred again. Gunn hugs her around the waist, kneeling in front of her. She gently rubs his shoulder.

    GUNN: Fred…

    FRED: What can I do to help?

    Still hugging her waist, Gunn smiles up at her. Fred rubs his head.

    GUNN: Just seeing that face, it’s a start.

    FRED: Oh, good.

    We see Gunn reaching out to pick up his crossbow.

    GUNN: You have no idea.

    In close-up, Gunn is standing again, aiming his crossbow directly into our view.

    GUNN: *This* is what was supposed to happen. I was right.

    The next image is of Fred in profile as the crossbow bolt sends her flying. Blood spurts from her chest as the bolt hits her with a *THUK*.

    GUNN: (from out of the view) *I was right*.

    We see Fred in close-up, blood coming from her mouth and her chest as she lays on the ground. She’s staring straight up, dying.

    FRED: Cha… Charles –

    The last image is of Gunn putting his hand on her chest, as if comforting her. He is crying as he looks at her.

    GUNN: Thank you, baby. Thank you so much. Let’s get to work.

    To be continued.

    End of Chapter 13

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    Angel: After the Fall, Issue #14

    Start of Issue #14

    The first image shows Groo on his Pegasus, with his fire sword in hand. He is flying toward one of the dragon/fighter jet hybrids in the sky over Hell-A.

    (NARRATION) ANGEL: Wolfram & Hart is powerful. We’re not talking typical Los Angeles, agent-laywer-manager “destroy your career” powerful.

    GROO: Beware, demonic jetliner! You have chosen to play chicken with the Groosalugg!

    (NARRATION) ANGEL: It’s more of the “send the entire city of Los Angeles to hell” powerful. Though, if you think about it, that could destroy your career, too.

    As the dragon and Groo reach each other, Groo rips through the monster’s gut with a *SSSSSZZZ*.

    (NARRATION) ANGEL: Wolfram & Hart is so powerful, when they determined hell wasn’t quite as sinister as they wanted –

    GROO: – you have chosen to play chicken with *oblivion itself! Metaphorically!*

    Groo sheathes his sword and turns in the air to seek a new target. Behind him, the fighter/dragon explodes.

    (NARRATION) ANGEL: – they sent something worse. Actually, many somethings. Many fanged, flying, bloodthirsty somethings.

    GROO: I do so hope the warriors formerly known as Spike’s harem are wartching. A keen mind could walk away with *two* lessons: One, a flaming sword and courage are all that is needed to win the day! And two, a word-a-day calendar *does* have its uses, even in Hades. “Metaphorically” was May 19th!

    In a wide view, we see the unfolding chaos in Hell-A as Groo flies through it.

    (NARRATION) ANGEL: And all of this. *All of it*. It’s for me.

    As Groo flies, he catches site of Gunn’s building and the activity focusing there.

    GROO: It’s converging *there! Hi-ho, Cordelia, my winged steed, away*!

    On the street, we look up at the building as we see an unidentified warrior run one of the Spike’s vigilantes through while another watches.

    GROO: (from out of the view) Something does not want us there! Oh, this could lead to my first death! Finally I see what all the hoi polloi is about! It is to wonder, though, why that building?

    In the building, Angel is still slumped against the wall and Spike stands over him. Groo’s voiceover finishes his question.

    GROO: (voiceover) “Just what is in there?”

    SPIKE: b Not too bad. Beat up. Stabbed. Bones broken. Arm kinda going the wrong way.

    The view widens and we see Connor picking Angel up in his arms. Wes watches from the side and Spike looks over Connor’s shoulder. Behind Spike, the three rescued Slayers look on curiously.

    SPIKE: I’ve bounced back from worse. Did I ever tell you about the time I was burnt to a crisp saving Sunnydale?

    CONNOR: Very often. But he’s not… he’s not going to bounce back like before, Spike.

    (NARRATION) ANGEL: Here it comes.

    We see an extreme close-up of Spike’s eyes widening in disbelief as Connor tells him Angel’s secret.

    CONNOR: (from out of the view) Angel’s human. Gunn’s a vamp.

    The view shifts, and Spike frowns as he leans over to study Angel’s face.

    Spike stands up, suddenly babbling as he points at Connor like he just realized something important.

    SPIKE: I *knew* he gained weight! Spider told me I was just being catty! Catty or bloody not, I was right and he is human and chunky! Dowdy, even –

    (NARRATION) ANGEL: Nervous. Rambling. Because he doesn’t know how to handle the news. Must be out of cigarettes, that’s usually his crutch when he’s flustered.

    Spike shoves his thumbs into his pockets as he turns to look at Wesley.

    SPIKE: Wait, that Shanshu bugaboo, it didn’t pop when we got an express ticket to hell, did it? Because *that* would be a waste of a perfectly good vampire with a soul. Does *anyone* here smoke? Any of you Slayers? No?

    WES: It’s not shanshu. But, um. We’ve been told how that will go.

    SPIKE: Don’t tell me, I hate hearing the end of a book before I get there.

    We see Wes face Spike with a surprised look. Spike lowers his head as he refuses to be told about the Shanshu prophecy, as if he’s more disappointed than he’s letting on.

    WES: But –

    SPIKE: I don’t want to hear it! We need to get that boring sod downstairs and we need to do it *now*! And seriously, if anyone sees *anything that I can light and puff* on the way, you better damn well point it out! I will begrudgingly accept cigars or incense or the super-slim lady cigarettes. Let’s go!

    The scene shifts, and we see a close-up of Gunn’s face with his eyes closes. He still has tears on his cheeks.

    GUNN: I’m sorry. Truly sorry. Not for what I did. But for how I made you feel.

    Gunn is carrying Fred-lyria in his arms, the crossbow bolt still in her chest.

    GUNN: I know it’s a mask. A good one, but it’s not real. Just like my mask, the one with the teeth and the klingon brow, that’s not real. But I still had seeing Fred’s face in any kinda pain. So if you could revert to the other one, I’d really appreciate it.

    The view reverses, and Fred-lyria opens her eyes and looks at Gunn in confusion.

    FRED-LYRIA: Why are you doing this?

    GUNN: A little of the accent is creeping in. Not gonna lie, that is alarming. Gonna say it one more time and then I get pushy. My friend is dead. You killed her. So stop pissing on her memory by going through her motions. Hey, look –

    The view widens as Gunn carries Fred-lyria past the body of Angel’s dragon.

    GUNN: – Angel lost another girlfriend. He was busy saving that thing back in the alley while I was murdered. Well, who’s laughing now? (quietly) And yes, I realize that no one is actually laughing. That would be inappropriate.

    We see Gunn from behind. Fred-lyria turns her head slightly, looking at the dragon.

    FRED-LYRIA: I enjoyed sparring with that dragon. It came close to being an equal.

    GUNN: There it is! Now *that* is un-Fred. Go with it. Channel your inner monster. Trust me, it’s not that hard.

    Gunn continues to carry Illyria forward across the orange, fiery landscape.

    GUNN: Sooner rather than later. Because as much as I’d like my friend back –

    Illyria timeslips, and we see Gunn in a suit carrying Fred through a sunny L.A. street.

    GUNN: – I need Illyria.

    The timeslip ends, and Gunn looks down at Illyria in his arms.

    GUNN: Whoa. I had…

    In extreme close-up, we see Gunn smile.

    GUNN: … I had a breath. (quietly) I want more.

    From behind Gunn, we see his building as he continues to carry Illyria.

    GUNN: Timeslips still working, then. Good. We’re so close from making it right. *If* we can get in there. Wolfram & Hart sure knows from hissy fits, huh?

    We see Gunn look over his shoulder, alarmed.

    GUNN: Oh –!

    Gunn ducks and holds Illyria to himself as another wave of dragons fly overhead.

    He puts her down and hugs her, sheltering her as the dragons fly past.

    GUNN: *It’s fine! It’s going to be okay! They don’t want us*!

    Picking Illyria back up, Gunn watches the dragons head toward his building.

    The next image is of Gunn standing, Illyria’s frail Fred-form in his arms. He looks down at her face as he speaks.

    GUNN: See? Gonna be okay. They… want… well, they want who they always want.

    Gunn’s voiceover takes us into the next scene. We see the basement of Gunn’s building, where Spike rescued the Slayers. Connor has put Angel down in the room while Spike watches. Wesley is there, looking around the room.

    GUNN: (voiceover) “The one everybody *always* wants*.

    Spike is pleased with himself, standing casually and reassuring Connor. Connor glares at him sideways. Behind them, Wesley studies the bent metal door that Spike broke through.

    SPIKE: Angel’s up and about and boring us all in a few ticks. See, I kicked the door open all chosen one-like, became all sorts of dust, and then something happened, this heebie-jeebie ripple through my body and everything jumped back a few minutes. Happened to the lasses, too, I’d gather. Gunn has ‘em in some kinda time loop.

    WES: Most likely for training purposes. He does what he wants, time resets, rinse, wash, repeat. So why do you remember the timeslips, but the Slayers don’t?

    Spike puts his hands behind his head and relaxes. Connor is still glaring at him. Wesley reaches his hands out as he continues to inspect the door.

    SPIKE: Quite frankly, I think it’s because I’m special. The thrice-savior.

    WES: Could be you created a hiccup when you broke the door. Ruined the seal, that sort of thing.

    SPIKE: Exactly, takes someone special to kick a door down. If not, every sod would be doing it, no need for knobs.

    Spike looks up as he senses the point at which time should jump back. It apparently doesn’t, since Wes and Connor look at each other with clear disappointment.

    SPIKE: Oh, here it is. Did I have a spare cigarette five minutes ago? That would be –

    WES: Damn it.

    SPIKE: – wonderful. It didn’t –?

    We see Connor and Spike from behind as they check Angel and see he is still wounded.

    CONNOR: No, it didn’t. Because –

    (NARRATION) ANGEL: I was wounded more than five minutes ago.

    In close-up, Connor turns to Spike, clearly angry.

    CONNOR: – this happened more than five minutes ago! And now we’ve wasted even more time!

    Connor crouches by his father and looks away, desperate. Spike looks at him apologetically.

    CONNOR: So now what? We watch him die? *Gotta be another way* –

    In close-up, we see Spike’s human face as he clearly comes to a decision.

    SPIKE: Yeah.

    (NARRATION) ANGEL: Once again, Spike and I have the same idea –

    Spike vamps out where he stands.

    SPIKE: There absolutely is.

    (NARRATION) ANGEL: – at the same time.

    Connor reacts instantly, whirling on Spike and warning him back with his sword. Spike isn’t intimidated, just puts his hands on his hips. Wes watches, and the Slayers look on warily, holding their weapons.

    CONNOR: No. *No*. He’ll be –

    SPIKE: Kid, I’ve fought alongside Angelus. Not a bad place to be, as long as you watch your back. Nothing’s going to happen to you, I’ll make sure of it. And then Wesley can figure out how –

    CONNOR: He’d rather die.

    SLAYER #1: (quietly) Do we slay?

    SLAYER #2: (quietly) I think we’re going to have to slay.

    Connor grabs Spike by the front of his shirt. Spike is still wearing his gameface. Wesley stands behind Spike, unable to take a side.

    CONNOR: He turns into Angelus, *that’s how they’ll win*. That’s how he brings about, the, um –

    WES: The fall of all that is good. Only it’s not Angelus. He’ll have a soul. It’s Angel’s hands that are bloodied.

    (NARRATION) ANGEL: Wesley’s right. It’s part of the prophecy.

    From where Angel sits, we see Connor turn to look at him as he holds Spike.

    (NARRATION) ANGEL: A look of uncertainty falls over Connor’s face.

    They are interrupted as a basement wall breaks. Connor shields his face, and Spike steps back.

    (NARRATION) ANGEL: He doesn’t know how to save me.

    We see an extreme close-up of Spike’s vampire face, ready for a fight. Behind him, Connor looks despondent and Wes looks surprised as they all face the same thing.

    (NARRATION) ANGEL: Doesn’t know if he *should* save me.

    The view reverses, and we see what they’re looking at. Through a whole in the basement wall, we see an army of large red demons like those that fought in the alley gathered outside. They speak in unison, with one voice.

    (NARRATION) ANGEL: But it becomes very clear, very quickly… that my fate isn’t up to him.

    DEMONS: Angel cannot die Angel Angel will not die

    We see the demons marching into the basement. Wesley watches indifferently as Spike, Connor, and the Slayers move to defend themselves and Angel.

    DEMONS: all for him kickstart the journey bring him to me

    CONNOR: “Bring him to me?” There are hundreds of them.

    WES: Thousands. Each one a conduit for the senior partners.

    The demons leap into battle, with the Slayers, Spike, and Connor fighting. Demons walk right through Wesley.

    DEMONS/SENIOR PARTNERS: wasting time. have to tend to your friend-slash-father-slash-*fall-of-all-that-is-good* he dies, depletion of resource will be for nothing. already such a crazy fiscal year.

    We see from over Wesley’s shoulders as he turns to face some of the larger demons.

    WES: Depletion of resources?

    DEMONS/SENIOR PARTNERS: the amount of money power blood spent per second is staggering.

    One of the larger demons leans down to roar the Partners’ explanation to Wesley. Behind it, we see another image – a delivery man stepping out of an elevator with a handtruck full of packages.

    DEMON/SENIOR PARTNERS: slipping between moments allowing hell entrance restoring his humanity getting rid of that gaudy tattoo

    In a closer view, two of the demon soldiers throw Angel’s body over their shoulders.

    DEMONS/SENIOR PARTNERS: we could steal him from his timeline again but there is an easier cheaper way

    In a different part of the building, we see Gunn lowering Illyria’s Fred-shaped body from his arms.

    GUNN: This is it, baby.

    We see he’s in the room with all the tools he’s been collecting. He’s built a table there, for some kind of ritual.

    ILLYRIA: Stop –

    GUNN: You say you’re Fred. If that’s true, you’re in the clear.

    Gunn turns to face one of his henchmen.

    GUNN: Get George.

    HENCHMAN: Do I have to come in here with him, or can I just toss ‘em? The room creeps me out –

    GUNN: You’re making my moment of truth all kinds of annoying, *get the damn fish*.

    We look down on Illyria laying on Gunn’s table. She still looks like Fred, and she’s being pinned to the table by tentacles that wrap around her. Gunn stands beside her, waiting.

    ILLYRIA: Please –

    GUNN: Make it better.

    In a close-up, Gunn holds his hand up to his chin as he watches her.

    GUNN: Make me right, I know you can.

    In the same view, we see Gunn turn to look behind him.

    GUNN: Oh. One second.

    The next image shows Gunn turning and seeing the demons bringing Angel into the room. He puts his hands up to refuse them.

    DEMONS/SENIOR PARTNERS: I need it.

    GUNN: It’s *not for him*!

    DEMONS/SENIOR PARTNERS: Why do you think we told you to build it?

    GUNN: You didn’t tell me to build anything! I’m not listening because *you’re liars! This is not for Angel! It was never for Angel*!

    The demons ignore him. Two of them restrain Gunn while another casually tosses Fred from the table.

    DEMONS/SENIOR PARTNERS: we have to work fast, he’s no good to us dead. you better have built this correctly, charles.

    The view reverses, and Gunn is shouting desperately and struggling to get free. Other demons have brought Connor and Spike into the room.

    GUNN: *You’re ruining it*!

    The demons work on Angel, placing him on the table.

    DEMONS/SENIOR PARTNERS: a piece out of place and angel won’t be restored to his original state. other solutions would put a serious crimp in our budget. very important real estate purchases might have to be delayed. bit of advice: Cleveland is a real hotspot, invest now.

    The view shifts, and while the demons all gather around to watch Angel, we see Illyria laying alone on the floor. She still looks like Fred.

    ILLYRIA: What’s going on? Everybody’s so angry.

    We see Wesley appear at the edge of the crowd and walk toward Illyria.

    ILLYRIA: There you are.

    WES: Fred –

    ILLYRIA: I tried, Wesley. I tried to be.

    From below Illyria’s shoulder, we look up at Wesley standing above her.

    WES: I know you did.

    ILLYRIA: I don’t think… I don’t think she’s here.

    Wes kneels next to Illyria where she’s curled on the floor. He looks kind and sympathetic, but his hand just goes through her when he tries to comfort her.

    ILLYRIA: Her memories haunt me. I see what she is to you, and I want it. But she’s not part of me. No matter what time I bring us to. No matter the reality I mold, she’s not coming back. And worse, *you’re aren’t coming back*. I’m the most powerful being in hell and I can’t have what I want. I can’t even have what Fred wants. There is no order here.

    WES: No. There’s not.

    We see Wesley’s face in close-up as Illyria tries to touch his cheek.

    ILLYRIA: Charles tried to bring out my original form. Charles thought that would make it right. His methods were insane.

    In a close-up, Illyria opens her eyes widely, having reached a decision.

    ILLYRIA: His reasoning wasn’t.

    The next image shows Illyria arching her back on the ground, naked now, changing. Spike looks back over his shoulder as he notices she’s moving.

    SPIKE: Bloody hell.

    DEMONS/SENIOR PARTNERS: what are you

    We see huge blue tentacles reach out across the room, impaling some of the demon soldiers.

    ILLYRIA: *IT NEED TO END*.

    The view shifts and we see Angel laying on the table. The demons guarding him are impaled by the blue tentacles.

    DEMONS/SENIOR PARTNERS: calm it squash it

    Tentacles rip into the demons holding Spike. Spike tries futilely to call out to Illyria.

    SPIKE: Take a breath, love. Wesley, tell her to bloody calm down, please –

    One of the tentacles swats Spike aside as Illyria’s voice roars.

    ILLYRIA: NO!

    Angel tries to lift his arms on the table as Illyria’s tentacles continue to stab the demon army.

    (NARRATION) ANGEL: Can’t pry loose. Bones mending. Wounds healing. Wolfram & Hart’s golden boy will be back on his feet in no time. And as I return to my true form –

    Illyria’s tentacles throw demon soldiers around and we see the walls of the building start to crumble.

    (NARRATION) ANGEL: – Illyria

    We see Angel break free of the table, sitting up.

    (NARRATION) ANGEL: is

    As the building shatters around them, we see Connor flying through the debris. Gunn stands with his arms raised, rejoicing.

    (NARRATION) ANGEL: returning

    GUNN: This is *it! This is what we’ve been waiting for*!

    By the table, Angel ducks one of Illyria’s tentacles, but he timeslips for a moment, and looks like Liam, dressed in his 18th century clothes.

    (NARRATION) ANGEL: to

    The next image shows Illyria fully returned to her true form. She is as big as a building, and has shattered Gunn’s hotel headquarters and several of the nearby buildings. Her tentacles fan out across the city. Several of the dragons that attacked fly around her, attacking or escaping.

    (NARRATION) ANGEL: *Hers*. Its? Returning to *its* form? Not a “her”. Not anymore. But whatever it is, she’s pissed.

    We see the wreckage on the ground, the collapses steel and concrete of Gunn’s building and several others.

    Wesley’s feet walk across the wreckage.

    We look up and see Wesley standing in front of Angel. Angel is kneeling on the ground, his coat covered in leftover red tentacles from the table.

    The view reverses and we see Angel begin to stand up.

    WES: Angel –

    ANGEL: Koff

    In close-up, Angel gathers himself, checking himself over.

    WES: (from out of the view) Are you –?

    ANGEL: Partially healed.

    WES: I meant –

    ANGEL: I have a pulse if that’s what you’re getting at.

    From a wider view, Angel rubs the back of his head as he faces Wesley.

    ANGEL: Do you see Connor?

    WES: I don’t see anybody. Illyria buried the whole block.

    Behind Angel, Gunn leaps up out of the wreckage, roaring.

    GUNN: Raaaaaaaah

    In close-up, Angel screams as Gunn stabs him through the back with a wooden stick. It goes through his left shoulder.

    ANGEL: *Nnnnng*

    As Angel bends over, grabbing at the stick through his shoulder, Gunn taunts him from behind.

    GUNN: *Do you see*?!

    ANGEL: See –

    Angel turns to ask, and timeslips as he does. We see him as a small child standing in a frontier town in the Old West.

    ANGEL: – what?

    The timeslip ends and Angel looks back at Gunn, just holding his bloody hands out. Gunn continues screaming at him as two of henchmen arrive with a very confused looking George.

    GUNN: *Watch this! You watch this and then I’ll kill you*. George, tell Illyria to send us back. Back before the fall. Before all of this.

    GEORGE: What the heck is an Illyria?

    We see a close-up of Gunn’s hand as he points into the distance. George looks where he points, and they see the gigantic silhouette of Illyria rampaging through Hell-A.

    GUNN: That’s her.

    GEORGE: Talk. To that thing. Tell it to do… anything. You are a trip, Gunn. Seriously.

    As Gunn leans over George, Angel pulls the wooden stick out of his shoulder and confers with Wesley.

    WES: She’s angry, Angel. She’s desperate, there’s nothing for her.

    GUNN: (whispering to George) I taught you to step up!

    GEORGE: Thanks?

    (NARRATION) ANGEL: Brilliant. Take a break from killing one friend to figure out how to kill another.

    We looks past Gunn to see Angel turning around, scowling. He holds the wooden stick in his hand like a stake and approaches Gunn from behind.

    (NARRATION) ANGEL: Have to do this. Have to –

    Another timeslip, and we see Angel as he was shown in the Shanshu, standing amongst the severed heads of his enemies and holding an intricate bladed weapon and snarling.

    (NARRATION) ANGEL: Kill him. Get to kill him all over.

    The timeslip ends and Angel raises his weapon to stake Gunn from behind while Gunn is distracted talking to George.

    GUNN: George, we have to get *before that night*. I tried to do it myself, but all I could conjure was a lousy five-minute loop in the basement.

    GEORGE: That’s better than I can do.

    GUNN: Thank you. But *that thing* can timeslip. It timeslips all over the place, I’ve seen it.

    Angel breaks off his attack, perhaps out of curiousity. We see he, Wesley, George, and Gunn look at Illyria in the distance as George tries to talk to her.

    GEORGE: Fine. But after this, we’re talking, you and I. We have issues we need to get on the table.

    Illyria is slightly closer as George makes a connection.

    GEORGE: I’m there. Aaaaand she knows it.

    ANGEL: Is this part of the plan? I have to kill Gunn, and maybe Illyria? And a fish, maybe a fish? That’s a fish, right?

    The view reverses, and while Angel thinks out loud, Wes stares ahead at Illyria. George shuts his eyes and struggles with Illyria’s thoughts.

    ANGEL: First thing’s first, I have to find Connor –

    WES: Angel –

    GEORGE: NuUuuUuh

    In close-up, we see Angel’s determined look as he plans.

    ANGEL: Right. Deal with Illyria first, that’s the first thing. The first very big thing.

    In the same view, the image of Angel’s face begins to turn white.

    Then the entire image turns white.

    Another entire panel is just white space.

    The next image is of George laying on the ground as Gunn reaches down to check on him. Angel and Wes stare ahead at Illyria.

    GEORGE: Whoa, Gunn. I got in there, tried to make a few suggestions, but Illyria’s made up its mind. It wants to end it all.

    GUNN: So do I!

    GEORGE: You’re not getting it

    We see Angel and Wes in close-up looking horrified as they, too, hear what George has learned.

    GEORGE: (from out of the view) She’s going to *end it all*. Underline, bold-face. She’s collapsing time. She’s had it with *existence*.

    We see Gunn alone in a close-up, taking in what George has said as he looks ahead.

    The last image is of Gunn’s face, as he begins to smile.

    GUNN: That’ll work.

    To be continued.

    End of Chapter 14

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  16. #16
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    Angel: After the Fall, Issue #15

    Start of Chapter 15

    The opening image is of Angel standing on the rubble of Hell-A’s downtown, holding a wound on his arm. Wesley watches from beside him. Around them, humans flee in terror. In the distances, Illyria stands in her true form, blocking out the sun as she tears through the city.

    (NARRATION) ANGEL: Wolfram & Hart made me human the very same moment they sent my city to hell. They punished me, they punished my friends.

    From behind, we see Angel and Wes look out at the ruins of the city that Illyria is leaving behind. Not all the people are running, many are dead or injured.

    (NARRATION) ANGEL: They punished everyone. It’s all part of turning me into the downfall of *all that is good*.

    We see Gunn and his henchmen gather around George, as if to protect him.

    (NARRATION) ANGEL: And just when I think they’ve sunk as low as they can go, they turn one friend into a vampire bent on killing me and saving the world.

    We see Illyria in full view as she roams downtown.

    (NARRATION) ANGEL: And push another into killing the world altogether.

    The next image shows more humans, and demons, fleeing from Illyria’s attack. She speaks, but she speaks through George’s thoughts.

    ILLYRIA/GEORGE: *There is nothing but hate* we can’t go back we can only move forward to when there is no pain

    From above, we see Wolfram & Hart’s dragons and dragon/fighter hybrids flying around Illyria.

    ILLYRIA/GEORGE: No one hurts

    On the ground, Gunn looks back over his head at George to complain at him. George looks overwhelmed by Illyria.

    GUNN: Shut it off, George! I don’t want to hear it!

    GEORGE: You forced communications with Illyria! Well, I got her talking and now she doesn’t wanna stop! She wants

    We see an image of only white space.

    We see Illyria use her tentacles to rip through W&H’s dragons and fighter hybrids.

    GEORGE: (from out of the view) asdfa – it gone. She wants it all gone!

    (NARRATION) ANGEL: Illyria is finding just the right moment of time. Where there is absolutely nothing left. But if need be –

    The view shifts, and we see Groo on the back of his Pegasus, his flaming sword pointed forward to rally the female warriors he leads as they climb out on wrecked buildings to attack Illyria.

    (NARRATION) ANGEL: asdfa – She’ll take it apart piece by piece.

    GROO: Ignore the whiny head revelations! ‘Tis but a distraction! Fight on! Fight hard! Slay the beast!

    (NARRATION) ANGEL: Groo and Illyria’s former grotto-mates do their best to keep peace –

    We see Spider on the ground, her extra legs fanned out behind her, carrying a citizen to safety. Groo charges toward Illyria.

    GROO: Save the masses! Win the day!

    We see Groo flying forward as Illyria’s tentacles begin to swing near him. He raises his sword and shouts.

    (NARRATION) ANGEL: – until Illyria spots them. Brutal. She’s brutal with them. She has a grudge.

    In a close-up, we see that Groo has come much too close. Illyria’s jaw is open in front of him as he tries to draw back.

    GROO: Oh. This looks insurmountable.

    In extreme close-up, Groo frowns throw the shadow as he stares into Illyria’s mouth.

    GROO: This death is hardly glorious enough.

    In close-up, Groo drops his flaming sword.

    From the ground, Angel watches Illyria as he helps one of the Slayers back to her feet. Wes faces him as he answers Angel’s question. In the distance, we see a spray of blood from Illyria’s mouth as she consumes the Groosalugg and his Pegasus. The flaming sword can be seen falling to the ground.

    ANGEL: Is Fred in there at all?

    WES: Illyria desperately wants there to be. There are fleeting moments, in timeslips, mostly, where it can force an appearance, but look around –

    In close-up, we see Groo’s flaming sword hit the ground, stabbing into a pile of debris.

    In a wide shot, Wes answers as we see humans and demons helping each other, we see Nina holding a child, either human or demon, and directing survivors, human and demon alike, toward the Hyperion as Hell-A burns behind them.

    WES: “– look at what it’s doing.”

    NINA: Come on, it’s okay, it’s alright, get in here…

    Elsewhere, we see Lorne and his two female companions from earlier staring into the sky as a vortex of some kind forms.

    WES: (voiceover) “If there was a glimmer of Fred inside, she’d stop it.”

    We see Spike in close-up, out cold, half-buried in Gunn’s collapsed building.

    WES: (voiceover) “That’s not her.”

    We see Wes in close-up, his eyes closed, sad.

    WES: Fred’s gone.

    Angel and Wes walk side by side toward Illyria. Behind them, we see the silhouette of Gunn’s henchmen with weapons drawn.

    WES: Though it… it thinks it’s doing what Fred would do. It’s trying to end the suffering by ending *everything*. Do you want to discuss our options? Maybe together we can, you know, workshop?

    ANGEL: Okay, best way to stop a ten-story godlike monster from destroying existence? I’m gonna go with hitting, you have anything?

    WES: You took mine.

    Angel is quickly surrounded by Gunn’s henchmen. They seem to be as angry with their boss as with Angel, but still look ready for a fight.

    HENCHMAN #1: Gunn *FORWHATEVERREASON* – wants you to leave her alone.

    ANGEL: Have you talked to him lately? Gunn wants some seriously whacky things.

    HENCHMAN #2: I know, right? But we went this far.

    Angel goes into action even while the henchmen talk. He punches one out and grabs the axe from another.

    HENCHMAN: Gonna see it through to the end –

    From behind, we see Angel quickly cut the vampire’s head off while the others draw back from him.

    ANGEL: Got that right.

    Behind Angel, the three Slayers leap into the fight. The vampires aren’t ready for their training subjects to come at them.

    SLAYER #1: Take ‘em!

    SLAYER #2: Got some aggression to work out!

    (NARRATION) ANGEL: Gunn’s Slayers prisoners. They were trapped in a loop, used for training.

    The Slayers join Angel and they cut through Gunn’s henchmen.

    (NARRATION) ANGEL: They must have died a thousand times in the last couple of months. For all they know, it’s only five minutes after they were kidnapped. Since then, they’ve had a building dropped on them and are face to face with Illyria, but they’re hardly fazed.

    Gunn’s minions are gone, and Angel walks toward Illyria alone, an axe in either hand.

    (NARRATION) ANGEL: *She’s* trained them well, they can handle the lackeys. Leaving me free to go kill what’s left of one friend.

    We see Angel in close-up. Behind him, Gunn and one of his other henchmen bring George forward. The Slayers finish off their old captors in silhouette behind them.

    (NARRATION) ANGEL: Before killing what’s left of another.

    Before Angel can go further, the voice of the Senior Partners calls out from around him.

    SENIOR PARTNERS: [i]you stay there! You will not die, angel. not today. quite frankly, we don’t have the resources to reach into your timeline and pull out another body.

    (NARRATION) ANGEL: Don’t see any other –

    As Angel thinks, he timeslips, and we see him at the Shanshu prophecy, standing amidst hundreds and thousands of slaughtered humans and demons.

    (NARRATION) ANGEL: – choice?

    We see Angel’s hands in close-up, covered in blood.

    (NARRATION) ANGEL: Another timeslip. Appears to be personal. Final battle between good and evil. And the only one left –

    In close-up, Angel is in vamp face. He grins through blood-streaked lips. A voice fills his mind… possibly Illyria’s.

    (NARRATION) ANGEL: – is the MVP.

    VOICE: Angel Angel

    Angel strides proudly through the bodies and ruins.

    (NARRATION) ANGEL: The stench of blood is overwhelming. It’s everywhere. Making me euphoric. This is… this is thrilling. Perfect.

    We see his view as Angel looks down. He’s walking on human bones.

    (NARRATION) ANGEL: She wants me to see. This is my future. This is what I’m fighting for.

    The view shifts and we see a red sun setting over the horizon of the ruined land.

    (NARRATION) ANGEL: I did this. Not Wolfram & Hart. Not Angelus. All me. But she can make it go away. She’s trying to make it so it never happens.

    We see Angel snarling in close-up as lightning strikes behind him.

    (NARRATION) ANGEL: All this time, I did what I did because of the Shanshu prophecy.

    Angel looks around through the haze.

    (NARRATION) ANGEL: Well.

    The next image shows the timeslip has ended. Angel is human again, holding both axes, and screaming Illyria’s name.

    ANGEL: *ILLYRIA*!

    (NARRATION) ANGEL: Time to start doing what I do despite it.

    The view widens, and Angel looks around as Wes answers his scream. Connor and Spike have emerged from the collapsed building and met up with them.

    WES: Um, yes, Illyria’s still there. Welcome back.

    ANGEL: Did everyone… see that?

    SPIKE: Hey hey, some of what’s left of the gang is hereish. Ghost Wesley, check. Fall of man, check.

    From behind Angel, we see Spike and Connor slouching, both injured. Connor’s shirt is stained with blood on his stomach.

    ANGEL: Are you okay?

    CONNOR: I’m good.

    ANGEL: You’re bleeding.

    CONNOR: Everyone’s bleeding. What’s the plan?

    Angel points behind him with one of his axes towards Illyria.

    ANGEL: Illyria wants to bring it all down. I would very much like to try and delay that for as long as possible.

    We see the four of them from above as they make a circle. Angel offers one of his axes to Spike or Connor. Spike crouches, looking completely exhausted.

    SPIKE: I’m fine, too. Thanks for asking. Alright then, let’s do this.

    ANGEL: Wait –

    SPIKE: You’re aware that I like Fred more than you and you’re afraid I’m gonna stab you instead of her.

    ANGEL: In a nutshell, yes. Kinda absolutely that.

    We see a close-up of Spike as he looks away from Angel. He looks resigned.

    SPIKE: I’ve seen it act up before. Not to this scale, mind you. But I figured, even if Fred’s gone and only the monster is left… well, we all know that just because it’s a monster doesn’t mean we should ready the pitchforks and torches… but after this, all these people…

    In extreme close-up, Spike squeezes his eyes as he lowers his head.

    The view widens, and Wes walks up behind Spike. Spike holds up a hand as Wes tries to comfort him.

    WES: It’s hard, I know –

    SPIKE: I didn’t say it was hard. I’m dealing with it. We’re all clear, that’s not Fred. Fred’s not homicidal, Fred’s shorter. Blood hell, do you have to whine about *everything* to be part of this club? Let’s make with the brawling.

    Angel and Connor join the two of them as Spike turns to face his old friend and rival.

    ANGEL: I want Wesley in plain view. Fred or not, Illyria might hesitate if it’s him, give us some time.

    SPIKE: I want to be on the front line.

    ANGEL: No. Wesley can’t be hurt, you can. We need you in this fight for as long as possible.

    In a closer-view, Angel hands Connor an axe. Angel meets his son’s eyes as he gives his orders.

    ANGEL: I take the lead. We’re going to have back-up in the form of whatever’s left of Wolfram & Hart’s army and they’re not going to let anything happen to me. Killing’s out of the question. Not a question of morals, just being realistic. Hack at what you can, tentacles, mouth, whatever the hell passes for eyes. Is the dragon anywhere nearby, because we could –

    CONNOR: He’s dead.

    Angel’s face hardens as he looks away in a close-up. Connor watches him, trying to reassure him.

    CONNOR: He, uh… he died saving me. You would have been proud.

    We see Angel turn from the others, adjusting his plan.

    ANGEL: Okay, then, we do it without the dragon, same plan let’s go –

    The next image shows the team ready for battle. Seven walking in line, the three Slayers, Wesley, Angel in the lead, and Connor and Spike to his left. All are wearing determined expressions. Above them and behind them, Wolfram & Hart’s army is rallying to them.

    ANGEL: – cue the music.

    They haven’t gotten far before Gunn is in their path. He is blocking their path to Illyria. In the foreground, we see Groo’s flaming sword sticking out of the ground.

    GUNN: No. You’re going to let her do what she’s *supposed to do*! Even after I built that, that shrine to restore her to original form and you, like always, went and made it about you, she *did it on her own*. She did what I planned all along because *it’s fate*. It’s been building to this, I made it happen, it’s the right thing –

    The view reverses, and Gunn steps over to rip Groo’s flaming sword out of the ground.

    GUNN: – *it has to be*.

    Angel steps right into Gunn’s face, leaning over him and gripping his sweater. Gunn stares back at him in vamp face.

    ANGEL: We don’t have time for this. You fancy yourself a hero, you say you haven’t changed, you help us. And then, if the smoke clears, you can air your grievances with knives, swords, lasers, your pick. But not now, Gunn. *Not now*.

    From behind, Gunn moves to quickly for Angel to react. He shoves Angel away with his left hand, knocking him into Spike and the Slayers. Connor is taken off guard, and before he can even move, Gunn runs him through with Groo’s flaming sword.

    ANGEL: *Ooph*!

    GUNN: No, Angel. Now would be good.

    CONNOR: *Ukk* –

    From above, Gunn rips the sword from Connor’s chest as he falls. Spike dives toward Connor, the others stand stunned.

    GUNN: *You* don’t tell me how it’s going to go! You’re weak! You’re nothing! And that’s for the window, kiddo.

    We see a wide view of Gunn holding the sword, ready to fight, but Angel loses interest, turning to Connor. Spike is already with him, cradling Connor’s head as he lays on the ground. Wes and the Slayers watch with sympathy. Gunn’s only remaining henchman, Tank, stands near with George.

    WES: (to Angel) You can’t do this. Not now.

    (NARRATION) ANGEL: Yes, I can. Priorities just changed, Wesley.

    GUNN: Damn right, he can’t. Thing of it is, he’s the human now. I’m the vamp.

    From over Gunn’s shoulder, we see Angel turn back to look at him with total fury.

    (NARRATION) ANGEL: World’s going to end. World *has just* ended.

    GUNN: Oh, man, things are *not* looking good for team Angel.

    Gunn’s taunting is cut off by a vicious right from Angel, spinning Gunn on his heels.

    GUNN: Let’s go then, let’s *Ooooph*

    The view reverses, and Angel picks up an axe as Gunn charges him with Groo’s sword.

    (NARRATION) ANGEL: Can’t tell if things are going hazy because of Illyria or because of what just happened. Don’t care.

    Angel dives at Gunn, tackling him, knocking the flaming sword from his hand. Tank, his henchman, charges to Gunn’s aid, with George still under his arm.

    GUNN: *Gaaaaa*

    TANK: I’m on it, Gunn –

    We see a close-up of Tank, reaching out to attack Angel.

    TANK: Been wanting to go one-on-one with this one anyway –

    The view reverses, and Tank is knocked backwards before he can reach Angel. Spike has jumped in, throwing a punch that knocks the vampire off his feet.

    SPIKE: Word of advice, “Tank,” don’t go saying that kinda thing out loud, people will twist your words all sorts of ways. Get it over with, Angel, we have work to do.

    In close-up, Angel hasn’t heard Spike – he can’t hear anything. With his axe in one hand and rage on his face, he drives his fist across Gunn’s face. Spike sees him, trying to get his attention.

    SPIKE: *Angel*.

    The next image is of Angel standing over Gunn, staring down. His shirt is ripped open, and his expression has turned empty and cold. He has the axe in his right hand.

    ANGEL: You could have beat me when you were human, Charles.

    We see a close-up of Angel’s hands, raising his axe over his head. The blade is covered in blood.

    ANGEL: *You just had to be angry enough*.

    Gunn looks up at Angel, his face human again.

    GUNN: (quietly) Do it then. Do it.

    (NARRATION) ANGEL: You heard him, do it. Not because it will save the day. Not because it’s right. Do it because he just mortally wounded your son. So help me…

    As Angel’s narration goes on, we see Wolfram & Hart’s demonic air forces attacking Illyria.

    (NARRATION) ANGEL: … they were right. I could become what they need. It’s in me. Kill Gunn, kill Illyria.

    From the ground, we see Angel still holding the axe over his head. Above him, Illyria wages war on Hell-A. Wes calls out to Angel for his attention.

    (NARRATION) ANGEL: It’s not even Gunn. *Clearly*. No matter how much he wants it to be.

    WES: (from out of the view) Illyria has found their moment.

    (NARRATION) ANGEL: Not her, Wes. Just like Gunn, it was never Fred –

    In close-up, Angel finishes his thought aloud as he realizes what he has to do.

    ANGEL: – *no matter how much Illyria wants it to be*.

    As Gunn lays on the ground looking up, Angel’s axe falls between his legs.

    The view shifts, and Angel whirls around to face Connor. George hovers nearby while Spike is back to tending Connor.

    ANGEL: Connor, I –

    CONNOR: (weakly) You have an idea. Good, go, save the world.

    We see from over Angel’s shoulder as calls out to George.

    ANGEL: Okay. You, the fish.

    GEORGE: What do you want me from me? I’m a prisoner! I stabbed no one!

    SPIKE: (from out of the view) His name is George.

    From above, we see Spike move in to the circle of Angel, George, Wes, and the Slayers.

    SPIKE: Betta George, actually. We go way back. What, just because you’re not there doesn’t mean it didn’t happen. I’m mates with a telepathic fish, you practically dated a dragon, let’s move on.

    GEORGE: What do you need?

    In a closer view, Angel turns to George with the plan.

    ANGEL: Go back into Illyria’s head.

    GEORGE: Are you kidding?! She won’t let me out.

    ANGEL: That’s good. How powerful are you? What are you capable of –

    GEORGE: More than I thought. A wise man taught me that. A wise, psychopathic, troubled, super-creepy man.

    Angel faces George up close. Above them, Illyria continues destroying the city.

    ANGEL: I need you to inundate Illyria with memories of Fred.

    GEORGE: It’s already overflowing with them. We’re talking serious identity crisis

    ANGEL: I’m not talking about Illyria’s memories of Fred.

    We see a close-up of Angel’s arm as he points at Wesley.

    ANGEL: I want you to hit her with Wesley’s. Every single one of them. Let’s give Illyria a crash course.

    We see Wes and George turn to look at Illyria. The monster’s face is near street level, and her giant blue eye appears to have noticed them.

    WES: It’s… it’s a solid plan.

    The view shifts, and Wes turns to Spike, who looks back over his shoulder at him. George watches them both. In the background, Illyria’s tentacles come into view as the Slayers turn to fend them off.

    WES: But… you should use Spike’s memories of Fred as well. Root around, find every thought remotely related to Fred. Even the more questionable ones.

    GEORGE: Ha. Give me something difficult. Fred’s front and center within both of you. Okay, lost love care bear stare in 3

    As George counts down, his, Wesley’s, and Spike’s eyes all glow a bright yellow. The Slayers are thrown around by Illyria’s tentacles as she comes closer.

    GEORGE: 2

    Illyria looks down with her mouth open at Angel, Wes, Spike, and George. Angel stares up while the other three continue to stand in a trance with their eyes glowing.

    GEORGE: Contact

    The view shifts, and from above, Illyria reacts to the contact. She throws her head up as if in pain.

    ILLYRIA: *Stop STOP I order you to stop this*.

    (NARRATION) ANGEL: A physical battle would have only delayed the inevitable. But filling Illyria’s mind with thoughts of Fred, true memories, from those that loved her, that hurts it where it counts.

    The next image is of Illyria standing in the downtown, suddenly docile.

    (NARRATION) ANGEL: We show Illyria who Fred was.

    We see Fred and Wesley kissing.

    We see Fred and Wes sitting together, researching.

    (NARRATION) ANGEL: What she meant to us.

    The view of Illyria moves in closer. The monster is still not moving at all.

    (NARRATION) ANGEL: What was taken away.

    We see a near close-up of Illyria, still motionless.

    (NARRATION) ANGEL: And Illyria learns what it’s trying to do…

    We see Fred smiling at Spike as the two share a joke together.

    We see Fred studying her clipboard with a worried look in her lab while Spike watches.

    (NARRATION) ANGEL: … is the furthest thing from who it was trying to be.

    In close-up, Illyria’s one eye appears to be sad.

    The next image shows Wolfram & Hart taking advantage. Their dragons and the dragon/fighter jet hybrids attack it full force. It clings to nearby buildings with its tentacles, but Illyria is driven down.

    (NARRATION) ANGEL: A moment of weakness… and that’s all Wolfram & Hart needs to bring it down.

    On the ground, dust and smoke fill the air as Illyria falls. The silhouettes of Spike, Wes, and the Slayers look at it. Angel, though, has gone to Connor. He pulls his son up, holding his head.

    (NARRATION) ANGEL: I don’t see Illyria fall.

    CONNOR: (weakly) You did it. With limited bloodshed. Go team dad.

    In close-up, we see Connor as Angel cradles him. His eyes are half-closed.

    ANGEL: You’re not –

    CONNOR: (weakly) Yeah. Yes, sir, I am.

    The view reverses, looking up at Angel from behind Connor’s head. Angel’s face is already breaking.

    ANGEL: You saved me so many times, Connor. Even before everything went to hell. You have no idea what you mean to me.

    CONNOR: I have an idea.

    From above, Connor lays back a little as Angel kneels beside him. Spike is standing over Angel’s shoulder, there for both of them. Connor whispers to his father with what strength he has.

    CONNOR: I need you to promise me something.

    In extreme close-up, we see Connor staring up at Angel. Angel leans down to hear his son’s words.

    CONNOR: And you gotta do it, because it’s like, a last request. No matter what happens, Angel, don’t let them win. You’re a good man.

    From over Angel’s shoulder, we see Connor looking his father in the eye, his expression sincere and even serene. Connor’s voice is very small.

    CONNOR: Vampire or not – you’re a good man.

    The view is the same, but Connor’s eyes shut. He dies quietly in his father’s arms.

    The last image is a full page as Connor’s head drops back against the ground. Angel is gripping his shoulders in disbelief, unable to look away from his face. Spike’s face falls as he touches Angel’s shoulder. Wesley stands nearby, watching his friend with pity. The Slayers and George look on from behind, silent and respectful.

    End of Chapter 15

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    Angel: After the Fall, Issue #16

    Start of Chapter 16

    The opening image is of Angel cradling the newborn Connor in his coat, shielding the baby from the rain in the alley behind Caritas. We can see Fred’s legs where she was standing that night, covering the baby with her coat as best she could. Connor cries his way into life.

    (NARRATION) ANGEL: We spend most of our lives trying to find our one true love. I found mine. It was impossible, *it wasn’t supposed to happen*, but I found mine.

    The image stays almost the same, but we see Angel as he is now. Instead of the baby, it’s the young man that he holds in his arms. Instead of coming to life, Connor lays dead and bleeding in his father’s lap. Behind them, we see Spike’s and Wes’ legs as they look down on Angel and Connor.

    (NARRATION) ANGEL: Now he’s gone. My son is dead.

    In a wider view, we see Betta George and the three Slayers all attending Angel and Connor as well, quietly. They are all surrounded in a wide circle by the demon army of Wolfram & Hart. One of the demon/jet fighter hybrids swoops down to land in the circle near them.

    (NARRATION) ANGEL: Bullets, swords through the chest, losing my soul – I thought I knew pain. I’m so sorry, Connor.

    The view shifts and we see people standing around nearby. On the ground in front of them, Gunn is starting to get back to his feet. We see the flaming sword beside him.

    CITIZEN #1: Angel?

    CITIZEN #2: Angel – ?

    GUNN: Who the hell do you think you are?! Give him room to breathe, the man is mourning.

    Angel hugs Connor closer to him. Spike and Wes both watch, but Spike glares as he defends Angel’s privacy.

    WES: Angel, we have to –

    SPIKE: *Not now*. Let them be.

    The view reverses, and Angel is lowering Connor slightly. As he does, the snout of the fighter/jet fighter hybrid leans in to them. It speaks to Angel as the voice of the Senior Partners.

    SENIOR PARTNERS: alright. then. not what we were expecting. but it was going to happen eventully. kinda has to. no?

    (NARRATION) ANGEL: They’ve won.

    SENIOR PARTNERS: anyway, point made? point made.

    From ground level, we see Angel’s hand as it reaches out slowly to pick up his sword. He gently lets Connor down to the street. The monster looks down at him as the Partners continue to give their instructions to Angel.

    SENIOR PARTNERS: here’s what happens now. you go home.

    (NARRATION) ANGEL: I want to end them all, every single one. But it will just make things worse.

    SENIOR PARTNERS: the hotel is standing. somewhat. we’re fine with that being your base of operations.

    In a close-up, Angel looks long and hard at the blood on the blade of his sword. He holds the weapon up, almost thoughtful.

    SENIOR PARTNERS: don’t worry about the offspring. we will send the carcass over asap. do you want it spruced up? cleaned? we can find a nice suit.

    (NARRATION) ANGEL: Killing them won’t bring my son back. Won’t make Gunn whole. Won’t help Illyria. It won’t save Los Angeles.

    The next image is of Angel leaping to his feet, and with a roar he shoves his sword through the jaw of the demon/jet fighter hybrid.

    (NARRATION) ANGEL: But I want a bloodbat. I want them to suffer.

    Angel rips the sword free and slashes through the throat of one of the demon soldiers nearby. His allies argue amongst themselves as he attacks.

    WES: He has to stop.

    SPIKE: Why? Let ‘im work out some aggression. They can’t kill him. They’d get docked pay or some nonsense.

    In close-up, blood sprays past Angel’s angry face as Wes turns back to look at Spike, realizing the problem.

    WES: You’re right, they can’t –

    Angel looks back over his shoulder as Wes calls out to get his attention.

    WES: – they can’t kill you.

    The view shifts, and Wes turns and points at the demon army. They stand passively as he shouts at them. They answer with the unison voice of the Senior Partners.

    WES: *You won’t let him go. He dies, this is all for nothing*. You can kill everyone important to him, you can slaughter every living being in the city, but Angel has to stick around.

    DEMON ARMY: well, sure. angel won’t die. the minute he has so much as sniffles we’ll simply pull a better him out of the timeline. but seriously, angel, if this makes you feel better, chop away at the minions. we’ll make more.

    From behind Wes, we see Angel turn back to look at him, his eyes gleaming. The two of them realize the same thing together. Spike watches, confused, but certainly willing to fight.

    WES: Are you hearing this, Angel? They’ll reach into your timeline.

    ANGEL: Gotcha.

    SPIKE: What? What are you thinking?

    ANGEL: And if we’re wrong, then it’s over anyway, no? Going to have to be fast.

    SPIKE: That’s for sure. What… what is?

    Angel holds his sword up in front of him, turning away from Wesley. Wes reaches up with his noncorporeal hand and affects putting his hand on Angel’s shoulder.

    WES: The Slayers?

    ANGEL: I’m thinking Gunn. Either way, if it works or if it doesn’t, you’re –

    WES: Angel.

    In a close-up, Wes looks at Angel with a calmed and resolute expression.

    WES: Being your friend and fighting by your side has been an honor.

    Angel watches as Wesley turns and walks away.

    WES: Now go.

    ANGEL: Thank you, rogue demon hunter.

    We see Angel turn and march through the demon army. They break ranks to let him through. Behind him, Spike and the Slayers and Betta George follow.

    SPIKE: What’s all that about? If he wasn’t see-through, you would have kissed, wouldn’t you? I got that vibe.

    ANGEL: Spike, I need you to keep the army back.

    SPIKE: Why?

    In a closer view, Angel punches a demon soldier out of his way as he leads the others.

    ANGEL: Can’t say it out loud. You’re going to have to trust me.

    SPIKE: That’s hilarious.

    SENIOR PARTNERS: what is he doing? *angel*, that is *not* the direction of the hyperion.

    We see Spike and the Slayers turn around and form a line in front of the demon army. Betta George hovers over them.

    SPIKE: Man wants me to hold an army back, I can do that. Slayers, George, gonna need back-up! Line the sand, unstoppable army. Cross it *if you dare*.

    From ground level, we see the silhouette of Angel’s legs as he stands over Gunn. The vampire is still trying to get back to a kneeling position.

    Angel reaches down and pulls Gunn up by the front of his sweatshirt.

    ANGEL: *Get up*.

    From the ground, we see Gunn grab the flaming sword as Angel pulls him to his feet.

    ANGEL: Your plan didn’t work. The visions lied. Connor is dead.

    GUNN: Because of you. But I’ll make it right.

    We see a close-up of Angel’s sword as he finishes a vicious swing that cuts Gunn in the chest.

    ANGEL: *I know you will*.

    GUNN: Nnnn

    SENIOR PARTNERS: *stop it*

    We see Spike and the three Slayers holding back the demon army. George’s eyes glow red as he works to hold the line as well.

    SPIKE: Angel –

    SENIOR PARTNERS: *stop him*

    The view shifts and Angel punches Gunn off his feet. The flaming sword glows in front of them. Behind them, the demon army begins to break through the line. Spike turns and calls out to Angel.

    SPIKE: – *they dare! Many if not all of them are bloody well daring*! The men upstairs really don’t want you to do what you’re doing –

    Angel doesn’t pay any attention, standing over Gunn with his sword in his hand. The ground around them begins to glow with flame or magma.

    GUNN: I’m not going to do it, Angel. There’s a reason it’s all about you. You’re cause and effect all rolled into one.

    As Angel and Gunn fight, we see fire begin to rain from the sky, sending the people on the street running for cover.

    (NARRATION) ANGEL: Bringing the sky down on top of us. They know what I’m doing.

    ANGEL: *All hope is lost, is that it?! All signs point to you being a failure so you’re packing it in*?

    From behind, we see Angel lean over to taunt Gunn as the vampire tries to get back to his feet again.

    ANGEL: *You were lied to! Your world ended! You’re beaten and you’re tired and your future is hopeless*!

    SENIOR PARTNERS: stop it you know what this will cost you

    ANGEL: *That’s when you stand up*.

    We see Spike fend off demons as they surround him.

    We see Wes walk toward Illyria’s fallen body, walking right through the tentacles.

    The next image shows Angel and Gunn on top of a jutting pile of concrete from the ground. Fire burns the street around them as the rain of fire continues. Angel jams stabs his sword through Gunn’s chest.

    ANGEL: *Rise up, Charles*.

    In close-up, we see Angel viciously punch Gunn across the face, pummeling him. The demon army looks on, unable to act against him.

    ANGEL: Do what you have to do.

    We see a close-up of Spike, turning to watch.

    In extreme close-up, Gunn’s face shifts and reveals the demon. He nearly roars as he repeats his words from the first chapter.

    GUNN: *”Two seconds after Angel figures it out… Angel dies.”*

    We see a close-up of Wes staring intensely.

    (NARRATION) ANGEL: There we go.

    We see Angel raise his sword over his head as if he means to attack again.

    (NARRATION) ANGEL: It took the death of my son to get us to this point. I love Connor.

    The view widens, and Gunn is back on his feet, screaming as he pulls back the flaming sword. Angel stands still, his sword behind his head.

    (NARRATION) ANGEL: I love my friends and I love this city.

    In close-up, we see a calm look on Angel’s face as he closes his eyes and lets his sword fall to the ground.

    (NARRATION) ANGEL: I’d die a thousand deaths to save any of them.

    In close-up, we see demon soldiers snarl, standing by watching.

    The next image show Gunn from behind as he swings his sword out and cuts Angel’s head off. The trail of flame makes a full circle around him. Angel’s hands go out in front of him reflexively. His narration tails off as he dies.

    (NARRATION) ANGEL: But I think I’m only going to have to die onc…

    We see Gunn drop the flaming sword as he watches Angel’s body fall. The demons gather behind him.

    SENIOR PARTNERS: you

    GUNN: I know.

    SENIOR PARTNERS: you ruined it

    GUNN: *I did it*!

    The view shifts and Spike throws his sword aside and runs toward Angel’s body. Wes joins him, walking calmly as he explains. Behind them, the Slayer look on, confused.

    SPIKE: What the hell is *that*? What the hell is *that*?

    WES: We’re trapped between moments as part of a plan to manipulate Angel. He’s about to die, they heal him. They need to pull him out of his timeline.

    We see Spike and Wes in close-up, looking almost smug as Spike realizes what Angel did. A bright light fills the air around them.

    SPIKE: Angel ended his timeline. So if they want him for his horribly ever after –

    The view shifts to Wes as he finishes Spike’s thought. Behind him, we see Illyria’s giant body on the ground.

    WES: – they need to return to the very last moment before all of this started. Exactly how it was. Exactly as we were.

    Wes walks away again as the light continues to brighten. It’s almost like snowflakes of light, cracking the sky. Spike reaches a hand out toward Wesley to protest, realizing what it means. Wes walks back to Illyria.

    SPIKE: But you were –

    WES: Yes. But so was she.

    We see Spike in close-up, amazed and moved.

    WES: (from out of the view) I’d tell you to keep an eye on our mutual friend. Make sure she stays on the straight and narrow.

    The view moves in closer and Spike’s eyes widen, and his mouth opens in surprise.

    WES: (from out of the view) But I have a hunch you will. We both will, in a matter of speaking. Whether she likes it or not.

    In extreme close-up, Spike stares ahead through the now blinding white light.

    SPIKE: Where the hell are you –

    The scene shifts instantly, and we see Spike in vampire face standing in the pouring rain. A large knife is sticking through his arm. He’s back in the alley behind the Hyperion. It’s the night they took out the Circle of the Black Thorn.

    SPIKE: – going?

    The view widens and Spike looks down, ripping the dagger from his arm, adjusting. In the foreground, one of Wolfram & Hart’s demons turns toward him, growling.

    SPIKE: It’s like that, then.

    We see Spike get back into the fight, punching out one of the demons. Behind him, the giant from the army pulls its fist up to bash Spike from behind.

    SPIKE: It all happened in a damn moment? We were there for months. I *remember it all*.

    Before the giant can attack, Illyria leaps out and punches it in the face. She’s in Fred’s body again.

    ILLYRIA: *So do I*.

    The view reverses and we see Illyria standing over the giant, holding it’s shoulderstrap up. As Spike fights more demons, we see the dragon flying overhead.

    SPIKE: Illyria. Have you lost weight? See, because –

    In a closer view, Illyria turns to find a new enemy.

    ILLYRIA: *Because I was a massive creature. I understand. It was a marginally successful attempt at humor*.

    SPIKE: Thank you?

    We see Spike in close-up as he turns and sees a mob of demons fighting someone else.

    SPIKE: Did Illyria just get a joke? Did she *finally* appreciate a pithy comment? Whole world’s gone to hell. (quietly, to himself) Or back from hell, as the case may be. (shouting out to the fight) What about you, then? Hanging in there?

    The next image shows Angel bursting free of the mob around him. His shirt is torn, he is soaked with rain, and he is a vampire again, in game face. The bodies of demons are piled around him. Behind him, Illyria holds another demon over her head effortlessly.

    ANGEL: I’ll live.

    Angel is quickly surrounded by other demons again. Angel looks almost eager to fight again, though.

    (NARRATION) ANGEL: He was right. Wesley was right. Kill me, game over. They lose their key chess piece.

    We see Angel and Spike fighting beside each other, pushing back the demons that are attacking them.

    (NARRATION) ANGEL: I die in the hell, they can never return me to the normal timeline and fulfill what they consider my destiny. No choice but to return to the last moment I was in one piece. Wesley, as usual, helped me to win the day. And all I had to do –

    From the side, we see Illyria join in, punching her fist through the chest of one of the demons.

    (NARRATION) ANGEL: – was find a way to return to a world without him. Welsey’s gone. He’s not coming back.

    We see Illyria in close-up, her blue eyes gleaming as she turns to face Angel and Spike.

    (NARRATION) ANGEL: But despite the physical reboot, it happened. It all happened. I remember everything. *We* remember everything.

    ILLYRIA: I can’t get him out. He’s in my head, what she was to him, what she meant to him. She… she was his reason for being. She was his light.

    We see from behind as Illyria charges forward, blasting demons aside like leaves. Angel watches as she attacks.

    ILLYRIA: *And I ended it*.

    The view shifts and Angel and Spike turn to find enemies of their own as Illyria throws demons around.

    (NARRATION) ANGEL: She’s never been like this. Never this passionate. Almost –

    SPIKE: Human. She’s acting bloody human.

    ANGEL: She’s… working through some issues. I almost feel sorry for Wolfram & Hart’s army. Illyria could end this brawl all by herself.

    The view shifts, and we see two large demons turn and look back at a *SNURT* sound from behind them. Their faces looks suddenly scared. Behind them, Angel greets his new ally.

    ANGEL: That said –

    From above, we see the Dragon, Cordelia, has arrived in the alley, its jaws open and a blast of fire blowing through the alley, burning the demons. Spike, Angel, and Illyria watch from the side.

    ANGEL: – she won’t have to.

    The next image shows Angel in close-up as he turns away from the fight, where Illyria, Spike, and the Dragon are taking control. He looks back into the alley.

    (NARRATION) ANGEL: They can handle this. Gotta find the scent before it’s too late.

    SPIKE: Hey, another one of your girlfriends is resurrected.

    (NARRATION) ANGEL: Ignore the rain, sweat, and burning demon.

    From over Angel’s shoulder, we see fire filling most of the alleyway.

    (NARRATION) ANGEL: Find the only human in the alleyway.

    Angel sprints down the alley, calling out to Spike. In the flames ahead, there are several people walking in silhouette.

    ANGEL: Spike –

    SPIKE: Got these, go!

    We see Angel leaping over the flames. His spring stakes pop out of his coat sleeves and into his hands.

    (NARRATION) ANGEL: Still human. Scent is so strong –

    As Angel arrives, we see Gunn being dragged by the vampires that took him before. He calls out weakly.

    (NARRATION) ANGEL: – his blood is everywhere.

    GUNN: Angel

    The view reverses, and the leader of the vampire group, Gunn’s would-be sire, turns to charge Angel.

    VAMPIRE: Back away, brother! We’re going to do it right this time. We have another chance! I won’t make the same mistakes!

    ANGEL: What are you talking about?

    The vampire turns to dust as Angel stakes him.

    ANGEL: Actually, you know what? Never mind. Don’t care.

    As Angel turns to look down on Gunn, the Dragon appears and burns the other vampires.

    GUNN: No. Leave me be. Please, let me die.

    In close-up, we see Angel’s face shift back to human. He looks down at Gunn for a long moment.

    Then he’s reaching down and pulling Gunn up to him. Gunn’s face is bleeding, his right eye is destroyed.

    ANGEL: Sorry, Charles. It’s not that easy.

    Angel carries Gunn in his arms through the flooded alley. Illyria and the Dragon are overwhelming the demons, reducing Spike to mostly just watching.

    ANGEL: I’ve got to get him help.

    ILLYRIA: *Go*. This pathetic gaggle is almost slain. Gunn must not fall.

    The view shifts, and Illyria turns to look at Angel as she holds a demon in her grip.

    ILLYRIA: Do you need transportation? I could strong-arm the dragon into doing my bidding.

    ANGEL: I think he’ll do it on his own accord. Although –

    We see Spike in close-up, with Illyria and Angel talking behind him.

    ANGEL: – Wolfram & Hart’s building is jam-packed with all sorts of healing potions. If we’re back to pre-hell conditions, they’re still there, in the basement.

    SPIKE: Let’s go then. International house of evil is just a hop skip and a dragon ride away.

    The scene shifts, and we see the silhouettes of Angel and Gunn, Spike, and Illyria in front of a large construction site. There is a sign advertising a Doublemeat Palace that will be opening at that location. There is no sign that a skyscraper has ever been there.

    (NARRATION) ANGEL: But when we get there…

    SPIKE: So. Hmm. We *are* at the correct address, yes?

    (NARRATION) ANGEL: There is no basement. No basement, no penthouse, no shiny metal desks. *The west coast HQ of Wolfram & Hart is gone*.

    In a closer-view, Illyria turns to Spike, confused even for her. Behind them, Angel is already putting Gunn back on the Dragon’s neck.

    ILLYRIA: Buildings do not just disappear as if they have never existed.

    SPIKE: Right, because that would be the weirdest thing we’ve seen all month. Or in the last couple hours. Or at this very moment.

    Moments later, we see the Dragon flying through the sky. The city below is whole, though – it’s Los Angeles as it was. Angel holds Gunn up as they fly.

    (NARRATION) ANGEL: It’s all back to normal. Myself included. Whenever I flew on the Dragon, each and every time, I could feel my heart race. I missed that feeling the moment we took off.

    On the ground, we see the Dragon land in the parking lot near the emergency room entrance of Cedars-Sinai hospital. The rain has mostly blown through.

    (NARRATION) ANGEL: Luckily the hospital is only a few blocks away. On a normal night, at this hour, the emergency room would be quiet.

    We see a wide view of Angel carrying Gunn into the emergency room. It’s crowded with patients waiting for help, all talking about what they just went through and came back from.

    (NARRATION) ANGEL: On a normal night.

    PATIENT #1: We were in hell, right? Am I crazy?

    PATIENT #2: I was there, too.

    PATIENT #3: Just called my mom in San Diego, she said I was nuts.

    PATIENT #4: I made friends in hell, and now I have no idea where they are –

    PATIENT #5: (seeing Angel) Hey, look.

    ANGEL: *Somebody help, please* –

    The view moves in and we see Angel put Gunn on a gurney. A female doctor with glasses comes up behind him. Other patients watch.

    DOCTOR: What happened?

    ANGEL: He was attacked… by an animal. Many large animals.

    DOCTOR: Did some of them have swords?

    ANGEL: Not sure, it was dark.

    From above, we see Gunn on his gurney. His clothes are soaked with blood. Two more doctors, a man and a woman, join the first doctor in treating him.

    DOCTOR #2: We need to move him to the line front of the line, get him into surgery.

    ANGEL: (to the third doctor) Is he going to be okay?

    DOCTOR #3: We’ll do our best –

    The first two doctors take Gunn back through the doors on their way to surgery. The third doctor, a woman with a dark ponytail, stays and talks to Angel.

    DOCTOR: – is there anything we should know? Was it a demon? Vampire, what?

    ANGEL: I’m sorry?

    DOCTOR: It *seems* like all the nasties stayed wherever the hell we were, and it *seems* like everything’s back to normal, but you never know what could slip through the cracks, you know what I mean? Well, of course, *you* do –

    Angel turns, running his hand through his hair as he sees the waiting room watching him.

    ANGEL: I’m not sure I, uh… I really need some air.

    Angel steps outside. We see the bright city skyline in the distance. A bright street light shines in the distance, almost like the sun.

    In close-up, Angel places his hand on his face – everything has caught up with him now, everything he’s lost.

    Before he can truly break down, though, he turns and sees someone approaching him.

    The view reverses, and we see from behind Angel as Connor walks up to his father. He is alive.

    CONNOR: So, hey. Saw the Dragon. Not dead anymore, that rules.

    In close-up, Angel weeps helplessly as he stares at his son.

    CONNOR: (from out of the view) Speaking of… I’m also considerably less dead, and Los Angeles is saved, was that you? Look who I’m talking to, of course it was.

    Connor flinches in surprise as Angel grabs him into a tight hug.

    We see Connor smiling as he accepts the hug, patting his father’s shoulder.

    CONNOR: It’s okay, dad. It’s okay. In fact, it’s kind of a happy ending, isn’t it?

    We see Angel wrap his arms tighter around Connor, putting his hand on the back of his son’s head. He is still crying.

    ANGEL: I’m not sure… I’ve never had one before.

    We see the two in profile as Angel let’s Connor out of the hug. He still keeps his hands on Connor’s shoulders. Connor looks very young for a moment.

    ANGEL: Sorry, don’t mean to smother you, I’m just…

    CONNOR: I know.

    The view shifts, and we see a young man with spiked blond hair call out to Angel as he walks out of the waiting room.

    MAN: Angel!

    ANGEL: Uh-huh.

    MAN: Don’t mean to interrupt whatever this is… but when am I going to have this chance again, you know? Wanted to say thank you.

    The view reverses and Angel wipes his tears on the back of his jacket sleeve as he answers.

    ANGEL: Do I know you?

    MAN: I saw you in action, back… a while ago. I was a slave. For Burge, he’s the one with the lobster claws. Anyway, Burge made us go to the battle with the dinosaur and the exploding and the what-have-you. You, uh, you freed me. Heh, you freed everyone.

    We see Angel in close-up, looking very confused at being recognized.

    ANGEL: I think you have me confused with –

    MAN: (from out of the view) Aw, it’s you, I’m sure. You never forget the guy who saved your life. Wanna hear something nuts?

    ANGEL: Do I?

    We see the three of them from above. Connor listens with his hands on his hips as the man gestures to the whole city. Angel stands listening, looking dumbfounded.

    MAN: Since the day of that rumble, most everyone I met, they claim to have seen you in action, but there was no way *everyone* could have seen that fight, there were only a few thousand there. *Everyone* wants to say they know Angel, you know?

    ANGEL: “Everyone wants to say” – ?

    The view shifts, and Angel turns to see everyone in the waiting room has come out and is staring at him. Connor looks out into the parking lot, seeing something similar.

    ANGEL: Oh. This is not good.

    CONNOR: This is big.

    ANGEL: This is not good.

    CONNOR: Nah, it’s fine you just just moved on up.

    In close-up, Angel looks around to see that people are crowding him from all around now. They aren’t angry, though, more like they are seeing a movie star. Connor smiles behind him.

    CONNOR: From urban legend –

    (NARRATION) ANGEL: Remember when I said Los Angeles was back to normal?

    The last image is of Angel, his shoulders slumped, looking dazed, as the man who spoke to him puts an arm around his shoulder and poses for a picture on his cellphone. The Dragon lets children rub its snout. Connor looks around as he finishes his thought.

    CONNOR: – to just plain *legend*. (quietly, to Angel) You totally deserve it, too. Good for you, dad.

    (NARRATION) ANGEL: I was wrong. I was *very, very* wrong.

    MAN: (to Angel) Do you mind a quick picture? Nobody’s gonna believe me otherwise.

    To Be Continued.

    End of Chapter 16
    Last edited by KingofCretins; 22-01-09 at 03:54 PM.

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    Angel: After the Fall, Issue #17

    Start of Chapter 17

    TIME CARD: One month later.

    The opening image shows Angel from behind, looking out on the bright, gleaming LA skyline. In the foreground, there are cranes and construction equipment, where the Wolfram & Hart office had been.

    (NARRATION) ANGEL: Wolfram & Hart has been the bane of my existence since I moved to Los Angeles. But times change. Their Los Angeles branch has disappeared.

    The scene shifts, and we see Angel standing in what seems to be the City Planner’s office, at the front of a long line of citizens.

    (NARRATION) ANGEL: And stranger still –

    CLERK: According to records, that lot has been city-owned for decades. There was a rehab center on that location until the earthquake of ’94 decimated it. It’s been empty ever since.

    ANGEL: There was a building *on that spot* a month ago.

    The view shifts, and the clerk leans up intently.

    ANGEL: I worked there. I lived there.

    CLERK: Oh, I’m not doubting you, Angel. Do you suspect – (whispering) demon foul play?

    (NARRATION) ANGEL: Oh, good. She knows me.

    Angel turns and leaves, thanking the clerk as he walks past a long line of grateful, waving people.

    ANGEL: Alright then, thank you –

    CLERK: Do you want to team up and solve the case of the missing building? Or maybe just get something to eat? Do you eat? I can do whatever, I’m flexible.

    (NARRATION) ANGEL: Like I said, times change.

    TIME CARD: Later that night, across town.

    In a new scene, we see a black convertible parked outside an LA library. Angel is talking inside.

    ANGEL: Spill your guts and give a heartfelt speech in front of *one little* mob, and then fight a T-Rex with your dragon in front of said mob, and suddenly you’re a minor celebrity.

    Inside the library, Angel is carrying a pile of books. Beside him, Nina carries another book. She is standing upright and fully human again.

    ANGEL: Thank you for helping me with research, Nina. I know it’s not as exciting as –

    NINA: T-Rex/Dragon battles? True. But now that I can’t be she-wolf 24/7, libraries are slightly more my speed. You know what I miss? Not the super sense of smell, really, but the claws. They were cool, admit it.

    ANGEL: Enjoy your humanity.

    The view shifts, and Nina looks at Angel while indicating a crowd of people in the library just watching the two of them.

    NINA: Do they always just… stare?

    In close-up, Angel glances over at the people watching them.

    ANGEL: Nah, some say hello. Some hand me wads of cash. I’m not bragging. I’m not happy about it. The last thing I want is more attention.

    The scene shifts, and we see Angel standing outside in an isolated area. He is rubbing the snout of Cordelia, the Dragon. Behind him, Groo and Cordelia, the Pegasus look on.

    (NARRATION) ANGEL: Which, unfortunately, led to some serious lifestyle changes

    ANGEL: You’ll like Groosalugg. He fred you during the battle with the lord’s champions, remember? That was nice of him. And, um, you both recently died and got resurrected so you have that in common.

    Groo graciously steps between Angel and the dragon. Behind them, the dragon and the Pegasus inspect each other.

    ANGEL: It’s what’s best for everyone, right? I can’t be incognito on the back of a giant dragon. Besides, everyone staring at me, eventually, someone’s gotta wonder about the giant dragon standing behind me. That could only lead to, you know, government intervention or dissection or worse. But Groo, don’t… he’s not a pet. He’s a partner, okay? Don’t talk down to him, he’s smart.

    GROO: Of course. Does he have a name?

    Angel leans over to Groo to tell him. Behind them, the dragon and the pegasus fly around together.

    ANGEL: Yes, it’s – (whispers) Cordelia.

    GROO: (whispers) My. Groosalugg has two Cordys.

    Back in the library, Nina leans over Angel’s shoulder as they research together.

    ANGEL: Sorry, strayed off-topic for a moment. Let’s look at the possibilities: Wolfram & Hart could have exhausted their power *or* their cashflow. Maybe both. The trip to hell *did* tap them, they said so before we left.

    NINA: Well, if the only thing that’s different with LA is Wolfram & Hart is gone, I say it might have been worth the trip to heck.

    Nina gently begins rubbing Angel’s shoulders as he researches.

    ANGEL: I don’t think that’s the only difference in the town. People’s eyes have been opened.

    NINA: I get it, superstar, you’re a celebrity.

    ANGEL: No, not that. The entire city took up residence in hell.

    As Angel continues, we see images of people we know, both immediately after and in the time since returning from Hell-A.

    A woman opens a door and sees a diamond ring being held out.

    ANGEL: Most people want to resume the life they had, and forget what they saw…

    Gwen and her date from the night of the battle are sitting on the beach, but Gwen stares down, inconsolable.

    ANGEL: There is no going back.

    Spike’s friend Jeremy kneels down to propose to his girlfriend.

    ANGEL: … But that’s impossible. We remember everyone moment. Every decision, every action.

    We see the Loan Shark, Broos, who betrayed the demon lords, has been tortured to death and is being hanged from a fishing scale by the other demon lords.

    We see Gwen holding her hand out, keeping her date from touching her.

    GWEN: Please don’t touch me. (quietly) Nobody can touch me.

    We see Illyria and Spike standing in the alleyway, surrounded by dead demons. Spike lights up a cigarette.

    ANGEL: We’re all changed.

    Spike looks at Illyria with concern, but she just looks down.

    We see her turning and walking away from Spike, who looks like he wants to say something to her but can’t figure out what.

    ANGEL: Each and every one of us.

    In the library, Angel turns to look over his shoulder as Nina continues to massage him.

    ANGEL: No matter how much we want it.

    Neither moves or says anything for a moment.

    Nina lowers her hands from Angels’ back as he begins to stand up.

    NINA: Sooo what did that have to do with –

    ANGEL: Not a thing, it’s late and I’m rambling. Maybe we should wrap up for the night.

    Outside the library, Nina strolls away up the street. Angel watches her leave.

    NINA: Good night, Angel. Sorry I couldn’t be more help. Never was that great at research.

    ANGEL: Hey, it’s not my strong suit either.

    The next image shows Angel shutting the library door behind him. A sign on the door reveals it’s the “Burkle Wyndam-Price wing” of the LA Public Library.

    ANGEL: It’s just something I have to do now. Goonight, Fred. Goodnight, Wes.

    Angel walks toward his car, his head low.

    (NARRATION) ANGEL: My ghost is gone. It was the price we paid for returning things to normal. Wouldn’t be surprised if that was exactly what Wolfram & Hart had in mind. So even if we won, it felt like a defeat.

    The next image is of Wesley and Fred, smiling beside each other in better days.

    (NARRATION) ANGEL: I miss them. Every day, I miss them.

    He opens the door to his car, but pauses, still lost in lonely thought.

    (NARRATION) ANGEL: Every time I think of them, I hope for the same thing. *Let them be together*. Wherever they are, they’ve earned it. They deserve it. And then the doubt sets in. They can’t be together. It defies logic. It would go against what we were told.

    In a closer view, we see Angel from behind.

    (NARRATION) ANGEL: But then.

    Angel looks up as leaves from the trees nearby blow off their branches and float past him.

    (NARRATION) ANGEL: Warm breeze. Each and every time. She hates when I’m pessimistic.

    We see Angel adjust the rearview mirror.

    (NARRATION) ANGEL: Wonderful. I think the wind is talking to me. That’s amazing. Problem at hand, stick to the problem at hand. Wolfram & Hart is gone and I don’t know why. Spike said he was going to look into it, I should check in.

    As Angel continues, the scene shifts, and we see a skeletal fist wrapped in blue goo punch Spike in the face, knocking his cigarette away. The fist belongs to Kr’ph, the original demon lord that captured Betta George.

    (NARRATION) ANGEL: For all I know, he’s solved the case already and I’m wasting my time.

    SPIKE: Ooooph –

    KR’PH: Learn the situation, blood-addict mongrel!

    The view shifts and Spike crouches, turning to face Kr’ph.

    KR’PH: I was a lord in the hell moment! Lords have slaves! It’s elementary lording, consult a manual!

    SPIKE: You enslaved a mate of mine, mate.

    The view reverses and we see Betta George is with Spike, telepathically calling out a warning as other demons try to attack Spike from behind.

    GEORGE: Spike! Watch your back!

    SPIKE: Cheers, George.

    In close-up, Spike reaches into a weapon bag for a broadsword, with George next to him. Kr’ph is behind them, and recognizes George.

    SPIKE: You’re sure this is the git that chained you up –

    GEORGE: Kr’ph was the *first* whatever-you-said that chained me up, yeah.

    KR’PH: Eyeball the Splenden beast for a moment! He’s a *flying fish* what *brain-yells*! Who wouldn’t want to own one?

    From above, we see Spike dispatch Kr’ph’s servants.

    SPIKE: Jell-O’s got a point, George. The proper advertising and you could be next year’s number one Christmas boutique item.

    GEORGE: Hilarious, but maybe a little respect is in order. This handsome fish did save Los Angeles. Or does someone *not* remember when I brought down Ill

    Spike stabs Kr’ph in the chest with his sword even as he turns back to warn George.

    SPIKE: Don’t. Say. Its. Name.

    As Spike holds Kr’ph pinned with his sword, his cellphone begins to ring – playing “The Girl from Ipanema”.

    GEORGE: Sorry, man, wasn’t thinking.

    SPIKE: One second, fellas.

    In close-up, we see Spike talking into his cellphone.

    SPIKE: What? Drinking tea, listening to records, why? I suppose.

    Spike turns to leave, putting his phone away and leaving Kr’ph pinned to a wall.

    SPIKE: We have to go.

    KR’PH: Angel calls, yes?

    The view reverses, and Kr’ph grins as Spike and George look back, frowning at him.

    KR’PH: Enjoy him while he lasts. His finale, it’s coming.

    SPIKE: What are you babbling about?

    The scene changes, and Angel is standing beside his car in front of the Hyperion.

    (NARRATION) ANGEL: It’s strange. Ever since hell, Spike and I have ceased with the big brother/little brother, “I saw her first” bickering. There’s a newfound unspoken acceptance of mutual respect.

    Spike pulls up in a red sports car, with George in the passenger seat.

    (NARRATION) ANGEL: Gotta admit, it’s nice.

    SPIKE: There he is! Captain Big Bore, re-vamped! How’s the future fall of civilization doing on this fine evening?

    ANGEL: Look at your great big car, little guy. How many phone books are you sitting on?

    (NARRATION) ANGEL: It’s very well hidden but it’s nice.

    Spike leads Angel to the trunk of his car while they talk.

    ANGEL: So you got a…

    SPIKE: Free car for helping save the city, indeed. We were dragged through hell – enjoy the fruits of your beheading now and then.

    ANGEL: I was fine with the library dedication.

    In close-up, Spike frowns as he tries to open his trunk.

    SPIKE: Yeah, gotta admit, that tugged at the heartstrings. Think I could get a street named after me?

    ANGEL: (from out of the view) In a terrible part of town, maybe. Have you heard from Connor?

    Angel and George look on as Spike puts a boot on his trunk, trying to open it.

    SPIKE: Five seconds before mentioning the kid, you’re getting better. No, I haven’t seen him. Lad’s got a lot to sort out. But don’t worry, we’ve raised him well. *George, did you mess with the trunk lock*?

    GEORGE: I don’t have hands. This car is crap. You saved the town and you got free crap.

    In a closer view, Spike begins prying at the trunk with a broadsword.

    ANGEL: So, Mutt, Jeff… any leads on Wolfram & Hart?

    SPIKE: Oh, a big one. They’re not here anymore, Angel. Obvious what happened. Evil invested its resources trying to break you, evil failed. You won, crack a damned smile. Even emo albums have a few peppy songs.

    As Spike gets the trunk open, we look up at him, Angel, and George from inside it.

    SPIKE: Besides, you have other fish to fry.

    GEORGE: Racist. So racist.

    Kr’ph has been stuffed in the trunk, tied up. He looks angry.

    SPIKE: There we go.

    KR’PH: I am unable to breathe! Untrunk me!

    SPIKE: You don’t have to breathe, jelly bean. That’s the beauty of being whatever the hell you are.

    Spike pulls Kr’ph part of the way out of the trunk.

    SPIKE: But, I promise I’ll untrunk you as soon as you tell Angel what you told me.

    KR’PH: Indeed, yes, bloodsucker. Angel broke the other lords! But then ppof, hell’s over, lords gunning even steven!

    In close-up, Angel looks over to George, confused.

    ANGEL: Wow, that is… um, what?

    GEORGE: I’ll break it down. You exploded a half-dozen of the most powerful demons in Los Angeles. But since everything got a physical reboot, they’re up and about and looking to return the favor, vengeful lord style.

    From above, we see Spike shoving Kr’ph back down into the trunk.

    ANGEL: I figured, sure. Well, Kr’ph, you tell the lords my door is always open –

    KR’PH: Bah! Everyone knows, hitting you, that’s nothing. You hurt yourself more than anyone else ever could. To make Angel really ache, you strike the ones he loves and they’re starting with the easiest kill! *Now untrunk me*, a deal is literally a deal!

    Spike slams the trunk down, causing a splash of blue goo from Kr’ph.

    SPIKE: He didn’t tell me that last part.

    ANGEL: “Starting with the easiest kill.” I think we need –

    SPIKE: – we need to go, right on, I’ll drive.

    Angel ignores Spike’s insistence on driving – the three climb into Angel’s convertible, with George in the backseat.

    SPIKE: Who should we call first? Lorne? Is the electric lady still one of us, even though she sold us out? Not exactly a reason to kick someone out of this band.

    GEORGE: Put the phone away. I’ve sent a warning out to everyone. Save for a certain goddess who shall remain nameless, no way I’m stepping foot in her head again.

    ANGEL: It’s not Illyria. You heard Kr’ph –

    The scene shifts, and we see Gunn – still comatose, heavily bandaged, in a hospital.

    ANGEL: (continued) “– they’re going for the easiest target.”

    We see a wide view of their car driving through LA.

    SPIKE: Should have taken my car. It’s faster.

    GEORGE: Plus, the car dealer says if Spike gets you to take a picture in it, he’ll throw in a new sound system.

    ANGEL: Cops see this car, they let me pass. Sometimes they give me an escort.

    Inside the car, Angel concentrates on the road while Spike lights a cigarette.

    SPIKE: Good for you. You’re officially “the man”.

    ANGEL: Until I cause the downfall *of* man, yes.

    SPIKE: Yes, well, there’s that.

    Spike leans back in his seat. As he speaks, Angel glances over at him.

    SPIKE: While we’re on the subject, and you brought it up, why do *you* get the handsome reward?

    (NARRATION) ANGEL: Here it comes.

    SPIKE: Think about it. Wolfram & Hart is *certain* your destiny is to be their golden boy in the battle between good and evil. You’re gonna sell out the side of good and get Shanshued for your troubles and everyone else, probably including me, will be dust or, at the very least, hurt and annoyed.

    We see Angel in close-up as he listens. He frowns.

    ANGEL: Probably dust, sure.

    SPIKE: (from out of the view) So W&H cash their chips, send an entire city to Hades *with me in it*, they twist time and create a glamour that drops a curtain over the whole ordeal *so no one can help me*. To top it all off, they create a temporary Shanshu to make you human. You can eat and breathe and get fat while the rest of us run around and get beaten and heartbroken and have sex with spiders.

    Angel’s face looks more curious after that, but he still listens.

    SPIKE: So if its’ going to happen anyway, why put *me* through all that bloody trouble? And to a lesser extent, if it’s going to happen anyway, why put *you* through all that bloody trouble?

    Spike turns to look at Angel as he gets to his point. His afterthought question belies the fact that he’s been smoking the entire time.

    SPIKE: Maybe your destiny is slightly less than certain. Is it alright to smoke in here?

    ANGEL: Yeah.

    The view shifts and we see Spike looking out the window.

    SPIKE: Could be me, you know. I could be the Shanshu. I know I’m not technically in the history books or visions but maybe that’s because I wanted it that way. Maybe future-me doesn’t want the fame and the hassle of the paparazzi.

    ANGEL: Funny thing about going unnoticed by history books, or visions – whatever you do, whatever path you take, good, bad -- *nobody’s going to see you coming*.

    In extreme close-up, we see Spike turn back to contemplate this.

    The next image shows Angel and Spike both smiling slightly.

    From behind them, George turns and calls them out for what he just heard.

    GEORGE: You just thanked each other in your heads! Simultaneously!

    SPIKE: Heh, what? Whatever.

    ANGEL: The fish is thinking all crazy.

    Outside, we see them drive past a sign into Silver Lake – the sign announces “we even stayed pleasant in hell”.

    GEORGE: Boys boys boys. Babysteps, I guess.

    We see Angel, Spike, and George arrive at the hospital. They are greeted by Lorne’s two female companions.

    (NARRATION) ANGEL: I moved Gunn to Silverlake so Lorne’s friends could keep an eye on him. Haven’t seen him in a while. It’s not easy. I don’t know how I’ll react. When I see him, will I be able to think about anything other than –

    Angel’s narration is interrupted by the voice of Burge, saying the same thing Angel might have been thinking. In a close-up, Angel, Spike, and the women turn to face Burge.

    BURGE: (from out of the view) *There’s the man who killed my son*.

    The view reverses, and we see the former demon lord, his son beside him, striding toward Angel across the parking lot.

    BURGE: And then killed me! My son I can see, he’s weak and a dolt, but me?!

    SON OF BURGE: Father, we were supposed to bide our time until it was clear to strike down Gunn, not

    BURGE: You’ve been timid ever since you died, son. You’re back, move on.

    Angel steps forward to meet the demons, with Spike behind him.

    ANGEL: You don’t want to do this, Burge. Your son is back from the dead and he wants to hang out with you, get out of here and enjoy the moment. Play some baseball. Go fishing. Talk about girls.

    BURGE: Watch your tongue. The spell protecting Silverlake is broken. Hurting can happen.

    In close-up, Angel slips into game face – seeming almost happy to face Burge under these circumstances, unlike in Hell-A.

    ANGEL: That’s absolutely right. Leave while you can.

    From between Burge and his son, we see Angel, Spike, George, and Lorne’s friends ready for a fight.

    BURGE: *Wolfram & Hart can’t protect you now, boy*!

    SON OF BURGE: I finally get my spawning cloak!

    Before they can fight, a voice roars out from above them, causing Angel, Spike, Burge, and his son all to look.

    VOICE: *NOBODY KILLS CHARLES GUNN*!

    The view shifts, and we see Illyria. She has a bandolier of knives around her armor. She holds a long pike with one of the demon lords’ heads on it.

    ILLYRIA: He was important to her. He was important to everyone around her. Though if he ever wakes, I may challenge him to armed combat for striking me down in hell. At which point, he will surely faill. Until then, you let him rest and rebuild his strength. Heed my words. The last lord who ventured into Silverlake did not.

    In close-up, we see Illyria turn and walk back from the roof ledge. She drops the demon lord’s head. In the parking lot, Burge and his son decide to withdraw. Angel stares up at Illyria as she walks away.

    ANGEL: That’s where she’s been. Wow. She is…

    SPIKE: … confused, yeah. I’m not ready to see her. A lot of emotions that neither of us are comfortable with. Great for writing poetry, bloody horrible for my well-being.

    In the parking lot, we see from beside Spike as Angel turns to speak to him.

    ANGEL: No, thanks. But Spike –

    SPIKE: Yes, don’t worry, *if and when* the time comes that you *do* try to tip the balance between good and evil in the favor of whatever side I’m not on, I will absolutely kill you, no problem.

    With that, Spike and George leave Angel to it, walking away across the parking lot.

    ANGEL: Um. I was going to, you know, thank you. For everything, for helping me and for looking after Connor and… what the hell were you talking about?

    SPIKE: Nothing, you’re welcome, cheers mate.

    In close-up, we see Angel turn back to look at the hospital. The mini-blinds of one room are pulled apart by someone looking out.

    (NARRATION) ANGEL: Okay, Angel. Learn from the primordial demon. Stop being selfish and help your friend.

    In Gunn’s hospital room, we see Lorne looking out the window.

    (NARRATION) ANGEL: This isn’t going to be easy. I’m not, not great with verbalizing my feelings. I’m not even sure if he could hear me. He’s in a coma, has been for a month. Gunn could be lost.

    The view reverses and we see Angel standing in the doorway.

    (NARRATION) ANGEL: But if he’s even the least bit aware… he’s thinking about what happened. About what he did.

    We see Angel from behind looking down at Gunn on the bed.

    In close-up, Lorne watches, studying his face but saying nothing.

    The view shifts to a close-up of Angel as he decides what to say.

    ANGEL: It wasn’t you.

    We look down at Gunn as Angel takes his hand.

    ANGEL: I’ve been there, trust me. And I know it wasn’t you. I’m not talking about the vampire thing. I… I’ve made mistakes. Big ones. But, and it took me a trip to hell to realize this…

    The view shifts to Angel as he reaches into his jacket.

    ANGEL: … a man isn’t measured by the mistakes he’s made.

    Angel places something down on a table near Gunn. Lorne watches, saying nothing.

    ANGEL: He’s measured by what he does about them.

    We see Angel in close-up as he leaves the room. Lorne watches from Gunn’s bedside.

    ANGEL: Take care of yourself.

    Angel wanders through the hospital on his way out.

    (NARRATION) ANGEL: See? Not good with words. It was babble is what it was. I should have just brought flowers. I just… I can help him.

    In the hospital room, we see Lorne reach out to pick up what Angel left on the table.

    In extreme close-up, we see it’s an Angel Investigations business card. The phone number has been scratched out and replaced with one written by hand.

    (NARRATION) ANGEL: If he wakes up and he’s hurting, I can help him make things right.

    In the room, Lorne smiles as he looks at the card.

    We see Angel walk out the automatic doors of the hospital.

    (NARRATION) ANGEL: Like I said, I’ve been there. I know my way around atonement. It’s what I do.

    The last image is of Angel walking alone down the city sidewalk. Ahead of him are the bright lights of city traffic and the people he has saved and will keep saving.

    (NARRATION) ANGEL: My name is Angel. I’ve done very bad things. I’ve been told I’m destined to do worse. But for now… I’m here to help.

    End of Chapter 17

    End of Angel: After the Fall

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