Disclaimer: I do not own the Angel characters or the Supernatural characters. This is just for fun!
Story note: I think in 1999 Jo would actually be older than six and I think she was older than that when her dad died. So think of this as maybe a just slightly Alternate Universe if you need to. Demons at the DMV
He had died again, he decided after an hour in the room. There were people from every age, income bracket, race, and smell present and most of them seemed to have brought someone along to keep them company. It was hell again, this time with the mental torture. And some physical discomfort, the type that started small and built. Angel shifted on the hard plastic seat, inadvertently brushing against the lady next to him. She turned her head. He looked into dark brown eyes that held him steady.
“Um, sorry, I didn’t mean, um,” he said.
Those steady eyes crinkled a bit around the corners. “No problem, large-sized men have trouble fitting on these chairs, I saw that with my husband.”
Her eyes suddenly went sad.
Help the helpless, he told himself. But it was prying said another voice inside him. And the powers-that-be hadn’t sent him here.
It had just been time for him to have a new driver’s license card. He’d sniffed out the situation a few days after arriving in LA and then found Mickey in a demon bar. A demon who could pass as human and had a family and a job at the DMV. “But you got to come in, I’ll work it out with the photo man, but you got to act normal and pay the required amount. You can park underground at the garage next door and come in the side.”
“But I don’t want to sit around at the DMV.” To his shame Angel heard the whine in his voice.
“No one does, but that’s just how it works. Come next Friday.”
The lady had turned away but a tiny blonde girl child about six years old peered over at him. “He’s hot,” she announced in a clear voice.
Several heads turned to him. Someone out of his sight giggled.
“Jo, you don’t say stuff like that, you’re embarrassing him,” the mother said.
“Can say it if I wanna.”
“I’d prefer you didn’t,” said Angel and gave the imp a look. Well he tried. Her blonde hair was up in pig tails and her brown eyes started filling with tears. “Oh hell, don’t do that,” he hissed desperately. Would he and Buffy have had a little girl like that, if he'd been a normal man? Don't go there, he thought. For a second the beating hearts filling the room roared in his mind. Don't think of Buffy. If you weren't cursed, you'd be dead or evil so there's no business thinking of Buffy.
“Jo,” said the mom warningly, and turned back to Angel. “She’s a handful these days, but watch your language.”
“Yes ma’am,” said Angel. “I um -“
“I lost my daddy,” said Jo. Her voice was clear as bell, matter of fact. “He’s dead. He’s in heaven, cuz most Hunters go to Heaven and he was good. He killed a wild werewolf, and two Monza demons, a billion ghosts, and --”
“Jo, hush your mouth, dammit,” hissed the mother. She tried to make a “just joking” face at Angel. “Pay that no mind, she’s fanciful and just a child.”
“I’ve never killed a ghost,” said Angel. “Could come in handy.”
“Salt,” said Jo. “Salt bullets and then boom-o. And salt and burn the bones. My mom’s name is Ellen.”
“It’s nice to meet you Ellen and Jo,” said Angel softly.
Around them the sea of humanity shifted and breathed and talked and tapped on cell phones and listened to iPods. No one paid them any attention. Angel heard the dozens and dozens of hearts beating and tried to keep his calm center. He realized he had forgotten to breathe and when he did he smelled their blood.
Ellen must have heard his breath, maybe subconsciously, because she was looking hard at him.
“Ellen, I’ve dealt with unusual situations. That’s what I do. I help people with unusual situations. Here’s a card.”
“Angel Investigations,” she read. “H’m, Mr. Angel, you don’t want to meet an actual Angel.” And she laughed. “You any good with lawyers who might be evil?”
“Almost a specialty.” Angel’s lips twisted down, an eyebrow quirked up.
“Angels are warriors,” said Jo. “NOT dead people. Did you know that?”
“It’s just Angel. And I did know that. I’m more used to prophets myself.”
“Okay,” said Jo.
But then Angel’s number was called and he entered a different circle of DMV hell and when he got out, Ellen and Jo were gone.
Ellen got her new car registration (though it was just a new-to-her car, just an old Ford F150) and then she and Jo got some groceries at Costco, then they were back home and another day shot to hell, another day stuck in Los Angeles, another day with Jo not enrolled in school, because they were leaving. As soon as she got her money. Damn it. Because without the money owed her, there was nothing. She got Jo to reading and writing on her little white desk in her room, while she went into the kitchenette and took a shot of whiskey, tossing her purse on the counter. And she pulled out Angel's card. She didn't know enough about L.A. to know if the address on the car was nearby or not, good neighborhood or bad. She could call John.
No she wasn't calling John.
She called the number on the card.
"Angel Investigations, we help the helpless." A very perky female voice. "I'm Cordelia. What's the problem?"
"Well, I need my money that's owed to me, my husband was hired by these lawyers, and he did the job and he died on a different job before they paid him in full. But they won't pay me."
"I have to say," said Cordelia. "That sounds more like court or something."
"He just sounded as if there might be something he could do," Ellen said. "Angel. When I met him today. He said he was used to evil lawyers."
"What law firm is it?"
"Wolfram and Hart."
"Oh them! What's your name because you better come in. There must be something we can do," said Cordelia.
"But I don't have anything to pay you all -- even if you get me what's owed me, I have to put it into the Roadhouse, that's our place in Nebraska. Or I'll lose it too."
"Mommy, I'm hungry!"
"We help the helpless," said Cordelia. "And the helpless rarely pay much, so don't worry about it."
"I'll come by in the morning?" said Ellen.
"We're not really a daylight business," said Cordelia cheerfully. "Why don't you come in now? Have some pizza with us?"
"Thank you," Ellen almost whispered. Then cleared her throat and in her best kick-you-in-the-ass hard as nails voice said, "Thank you."
"Angel!" shouted Cordelia down the stairs. "We got a customer coming! Some woman named Ellen that you talked to."
Angel grunted something and a few minutes later showed up, pulling a clean t-shirt on. Cordelia had sent Doyle out to pick up the pizza. And a about an hour later, one very tired lady showed up with a cranky little blonde daughter.
"Got lost," she muttered.
"We saw EVERYTHING," said Jo.
Cordelia grinned. "Nuke up some pizza, eat an apple or whatever from the fruit bowl. How about some coffee?"
They got Ellen and Jo settled, realizing from how Jo ate they these two were hungry. The front office smelled like pepperoni pizza. Jo had seem comfortable right away; Ellen gave Cordelia a hard testing look, seeing the long hair, white smile, toned body. And then looked Angel over. Her impression at the DVD was that he was strong. She nodded to herself. Something was off with that boy.
"How old are you?" Jo asked Angel.
"Older than I look," said Angel.
"So," said Ellen. "This is probably fooliness, though we appreciate the food. My husband was a Hunter, and his last job for these lawyers, they paid the day rate, but they didn't pay him for the artifact that showed up. Threatened to send him to hell, as if they was a bunch of demans. And Bill never rightly did feel good that a Cloak of Night ended up with a bunch of lawyers. I know this doesn't sound full of sense."
"It makes you invisible?" asked Cordelia.
"Yep," said Ellen, her voice flat.
But Angel and Cordelia just nodded. "Can see that would appeal to Wolfram and Hart," said Angel.
"We know stuff that other people don't," explained Jo, swing her sneakered feet from the chair. "We're not 'posed to tell."
"It's okay to tell us. We deal with this sort of stuff too." Angel rubbed his fingers through his hair. Ellen gave him an appreciative look but just for a minute. She was heading toward fourty after all. She finished her water and got her lipstick out of her purse, the type that the case had a little mirror on it. She put some lipstick on and angled the mirror just so. Yep, if the cute ones weren't too young, then they were undead.
"How about if I got the Cloak of Night back for you?"
"Don't want it," said Ellen promptly. "Want the money. But how come you're a vampire that does good deeds?"
"How did you know?" said Cordelia.
Ellen held up her little lipstick mirror.
"It's a long story," said Angel.
"He was cursed with a soul to spend etenity regretting all the awful things he'd done."
"Or not so long a story as I thought," said Angel.
"That's probably fair," said Ellen calmly. "How's it going?"
"I've got a ways to go," said Angel. And he heard her heart beat, steady, strong. He looked at her just for a second, just for a split second he looked at her and thought of her blood. Then he heard the faster beat of the child's heart, over by the desk with Cordelia, and Cordelia's heart, well he was getting so used to that, it was almost like his heart. "I'll atone as long as it takes."
"I guess hallowed ground and all, you don't get to church."
"No Ma'am," he said, his lips twisting slantwise.
"Remember that no one fully human, much less not, can ever fully atone. That's why we can barely imagine God's love. It's that big." Ellen's voice was calm and no nonsense.
"Hunters don't gotta go to church," explained Jo from the corner. "We just know stuff. But remember not to gank the Holy Ghost. That's different."
"I'll remember," said Cordelia. She was turning into a puddle of goo and wished that she had cookies and milk to offer.
Angel didn't know what to say to any of that, so instead he focused on the job. "I'll get it back and find a respectable buyer, give you the money."
"You should keep half."
Angel shrugged. "I won't keep more than 10%. And I want you and Jo here to get on back home. Cordelia or I will bring you the money. But we can't have Wolfram and Hart suspect any connection. Cordy, you get everything written down, I'm going to grab some books. Does the Cloak of Night block daylight or is it just an illusion?"
It was just an illusion, so not a help to vampires. It was a long and careful couple hours, getting all the info down, and Jo was sound asleep before Angel had all the details. He lifted Jo up and put her in the car for Ellen. Her bones were tiny and she barely weighed anything.
"Cordelia," he said, "This plan is going to work. They need this."
Truth was, the plan did work which they almost never did. It took several months to get everything set up, meaning finding and paying off the right people, and then keeping them paid off; a small fire in the right place made it seem as if the Cloak of Night was destroyed not stolen; one warehouse in a lonely cricket-filled compound in the 'burbs was sucessfully burgled. And one mysterious artifact was discretely sold on the black market. Cordelia took a flight out to Omaha, rented a car, and made it safely to the Roadhouse in the middle of nowhere in the middle of the day. The oxygen in the room went down dramatically as all the men sucked in their breath when she entered.
"Hey girl," said Ellen.
"Hey yourself," said Cordelia cheerfully. She handed the envelope over. "How about some food before I hit the road again?"
"You'll sleep in the spare room tonight. Not driving in the dark around here."
Cordelia grinned. "Sounds good. But is there dancing?"
There was definitely a party at the Roadhouse that night.