Disclaimorama: I own nothing. Alas. The BBC own the Doctor and his entourage, Joss Wheedon and WB or Fox or somesuch owns Angel.
random ravings: for culturally-deprived angel fans, 'doctor who' is an old british show about an alien who travels around in time and space in a ship that looks like a sort of phone box. (would I/could I make that up? no.) he fights evil and saves the weak out of sheer niceness. thanks to doris for aiding 'research for the evil'. oh yes, and I don't speak american, so I apologise in advance for the (probably) numerous mistakes.
Angel was not happy. He looked at Cordelia's scribbled note for the hundredth time and sighed irritably. It just seemed so...trivial. And yet Cordelia's paralysing-headache-vision had been remarkably specific that it was Angel himself who had to go. Some guy wants a ride across LA and it's considered a matter for supernatural intervention? There were people out there getting eaten alive by demons from another dimension and the Powers That Be thought it was worth sending him out here like was some damn chauffeur. A bored chauffeur - he'd been standing for twenty minutes and there was still no sign of his 'mission'. He leaned back against the car, gazing at sidewalk.
"I take it you're my transport?"
Angel turned to see a small, dark-haired man in light-coloured clothes. A man who hadn't been there a moment ago. He crept up on a vampire? "I guess."
"Sorry to put you to such effort, but it really is rather vital that I get back to my...transport." Sharp vowels and rolled 'r's. Angel raised an eyebrow.
"Sorry. It's just...your accent."
The man sighed. "Your guess is as good as mine."
"Look, I have other things that I need to do, so..." He opened the car door pointedly.
"No need to rush. It's a good two hours before the sunrise, Angel."
"How do you...who are you?"
"I was hoping we could have a little talk on the way."
"Did someone send you? The Powers That Be?"
"If you like."
"What are we gonna talk about?"
The man waved a hand vaguely, "Marx and Engels, gods and Angels..."
"I'm not much of a talker."
"Oh, everyone's a talker if you get them on the right subject."
Angel tried not to be irritated.
The man smiled. "Why don't we go for a drive?"
"A convertible? Death-wish?"
"I just think it's classy. Why, what do you drive?"
"A 1960s British police call box."
"Oh." Follow that, thought Angel with a wry smile. "Where are we driving to?"
The man pulled some sort of gadget from his pocket and consulted it. He pointed, "That way." He pocketed the gizmo and smiled.
"There's a sculpture on the south side of the Tyne..."
"The Angel of The North. Yeah, I've seen it. Wings like an airplane."
"That's the one."
"It's an eyesore."
"No it isn't." He spoke confidently, as though he were stating an objective fact. "It's still new, people always hate changes, don't you find? Transformations."
Angel stirred uncomfortably in the driving seat. "Yeah. But some changes are easier to deal with than others."
"Exactly. Now, that angel, up on that hillside, arrives into people's lives all of a sudden, changing everything that they thought they were familiar with and so, reacting, they hate it. They call it an eyesore. But then, after a while, when they've calmed down a bit, they start to see it for what it is."
"And what is it?"
"Protection. Standing over the city, day and night, its wings outstretched, ready to fly out and save."
The man shrugged "Whoever, whatever, needs to be saved."
"How do I...how would it know who needs saving?"
The man shrugged. "They ask. Or they don't. People without a champion, without a fighter. People who can't go on because the chains are too heavy. People who tell you that they can fight their own battle, people who tell you not to interfere."
"Why help them if they've told you not to?"
"Because the most effective jailers build the prisons in our minds. Because sometimes not acting against something is the same as condoning it. Not always, but sometimes."
"How do you know when it's 'sometimes'?"
The small man in the panama hat considered the vampire's question, frowning. Finally, he shrugged again, "Sola fide?"
"'By faith alone'. Luther." Angel considered. "Hey, you're not trying to recruit me to something are you? Because me and God...we don't
"Oh no, nothing like that. It's just a nice phrase, don't you think?"
"You still haven't told me how you know who I am. Actually, you haven't even told me who you are."
"I haven't?" The man looked surprised. "Oh, I'm sorry. I'm the Doctor."
"The definate article, huh?"
"For the moment."
Okaaaaayyy... "I'm -"
"'The Angel of LA' I like to keep up to date on these things."
"I'm not an angel."
"A vampire. With a soul." The man frowned. "Now, what exactly is a 'soul'?"
"It's what makes us different from demons...some of us. OK, I'm not actually sure what a soul is, but I know what happens when you take it away. Not pretty."
"So, 'soul' is the ability to make moral judgements? To know what you're doing and take resposibility for it?"
Angel shook his head. "Demons know what they're doing."
"But did you have a choice?"
"Nothing. Just pondering the mysteries of the Universe." He smiled again. The smile seemed several centuries older than the man who wore it.
"So what do you do?"
"This and that."
"You're not a human. At least you don't smell like one."
The Doctor looked impressed rather than insulted. "Oh, well done."
Smile. "There are more things in Heaven and Earth, Angel..."
"That means you're not gonna tell me? Great. Just one question, though."
"What's so important that I had to get dragged out here to drive you across town?"
"Helping other people, Angel, is the most important thing in the Universe." The man looked at him quietly. It was surprisingly unsettling.
"Yes, but what..." He sighed. "Sure, whatever."
"It's not all prophesies and apocalypses, you know. Sometimes people just need help getting around. Small things."
"And the small things all add up? Karma?"
"No. At least I don't think so. This isn't about redemption. You don't cancel out the bad by doing more good."
"Sola gratia, 'by grace alone'..." Angel tailed off. "Look, no offence, but you don't really know..."
"I once had the opportunity to prevent the deaths of billions. And I didn't take it..." He looked out of the window sadly. "Tell me, hypothetically speaking, if you were told that you could save millions of lives-"
"-by killing an innocent man. Yeah, I know that one too, Doc."
"Doctor. Two syllables." Angel rolled his eyes. The man continued. "Well? What do think?"
"There might be other options -"
"No options, no small print, no get-out clauses. One man or millions. What would you do?"
"I don't know," he said honestly. "I mean, I could save all those people, but do I have right to take an innocent life to do it? It's difficult."
The Doctor sighed. "That's the trouble with ethics. There's no black and white, just several trillion shades of grey. If you killed that one man, you would have taken an innocent life. You'd hate yourself. In some belief systems you'd been damned to eternal lingering torment. But you'd have saved millions. So maybe the real question, the real problem we have to resolve is, 'do you have the right not to?'"
Despite himself, Angel shuddered. "That's..."
"A horrible thought? Yes." The Doctor sounded miserable. "But that's the way these things often work. Sometimes the right thing to do is a terrible thing to do."
They drove in silence for several minutes.
Finally, Angel spoke; "So how are you supposed to know what's the right thing to do?"
The Doctor looked confused, as if his mind had been elsewhere. "What? Oh. Well, sometimes you don't. That's why they call them 'dilemmas'. Sometimes you just have to hope."
"And you said the good doesn't cancel out the bad."
"The bad remains bad, nothing you can do about that. But you have to learn from it, to try and make sure you make the right decision the next time."
Angel considered this. "So that's redemption? Learning from your mistakes?"
"Redemption isn't the point, Angel. That's your problem. You spend all that time torturing yourself over the past, and then you go out and fight the monsters in the present so you feel you're making up for it somehow by selfless acts." The Doctor looked at him sadly. "But if you only do them to redeem yourself then it isn't selfless, is it? You have no moral high ground if you help people for your own ends. You have to help people because they need help. You have to do it because you can."
They drove on in silence once more.
"This is it."
Angel pulled into an alley. A dead end with a large blue box crammed up against a pile of garbage bags.
"What the hell is that thing?"
"It's a Type 40 time-space caspule from the planet Gallifrey."
"Oh. One of those." More things in Heaven and Earth...
The Doctor got out the car and patted the box affectionately. "Thanks for the lift!" he called to Angel.
"All in a night's work."
The Doctor produced a key from his pocket and unlocked the door to the box. "Glad I could help." He raised his hat and stepped into the box.
Angel looked at the box. Am I supposed to wait for him? Was the guy picking something up? Was he leaving something?
The box made a sound distressingly like an asthmatic trumpet player. You live a couple of centuries, you see a lot of dreadful orchestras...
It was gone.
Glad I could help...what was that supposed to...
Angel groaned and dropped his head against the steering wheel. "Jeez, you could just have sent me a self-help book, you know. Would have saved a tank of gasoline," he said, to no one in particular.