Calling All Angels
Title: Calling All Angels
Disclaimer: Not mine, not a one.
Synopsis: A hero’s work is never done.
A/N: I don’t know why this series won’t die. Every time I think I’m done it turns out I’m not. It’s possible I am unable to actually leave a fic alone until I give it a happy ending.
Dedications: For Tals and Cutie-Pie, who take a chance on me even when I’m not writing the normal stuff. And for all the rest who apparently know me a lot better than I do myself and *knew* I wouldn’t be able to leave it alone. Smug devils.
It’s been three hundred years. Three hundred years of fighting, first in the shadows and in secret, and now in the light and it turns out the world wasn’t ready for reality. You’re shocked, right? Yeah, me too.
I grew up in what used to be LA. Street kid through and through. Ran with a gang almost since I was tall enough to reach the pedals and wheel at the same time on a jacked car and then I joined The Army. That’s what we call ourselves. Don’t really know why, it kinda fits even though we’re not like any army I’ve ever seen in books or chasing us or anything. Those dudes all have these cool weapons and big, chunky cars and some bitchin’ threads. Most days we were lucky to lay our hands on an axe that still has a sharp blade and a place to crash that wasn’t crawling with vamps.
Some of the older ones say there used to be a place we could call our own, some big building where people could lay their heads without worrying about it getting chewed off before they woke up, but most of us just think that they’re yanking our chains. I mean, you think of LA and you just don’t think safety, y’know? Big, smokin’ hole in the ground maybe, but definitely not safe.
Obviously it wasn’t always a big smoking hole in the ground, I mean before the big cheeses decided a full fucking armed *missile* was the way to go to take out all the demons it was just a pretty crummy place to live. No better or worse than somewhere like New York or Dallas, just a place to get through the day and hope you didn’t end up as dinner to some demon. It was home. Now it’s a big pit. I am *so* voting for the Democrats next time around. If they haven’t all been eaten that is.
The place I live in now used to be okay. I ran with the last of the refugees from LA when we got the word on the human underground what was going down. The Army stayed to the last possible moment trying to get as many as we could out and then we ran for the hills, looking back over our shoulders and watching as the only place we’d ever called home went up in smoke before our eyes. If you forget about all the people still left in the city that got vaporised that night it looked kinda pretty when the sky lit up with all the colours. Sure made up for the fact that we were a group of poorly armed humans barely numbering seventy souls and with a pitiful twenty-six weapons between us.
We walked for days, dodging the bands of soldiers from the government that had orders to shoot humans without identity papers on sight and the demons and other nasties lurking in the shadows to pick us off one by one. Definitely not one of my better months. Finally we made it to a little shantytown that had sprung up where one of our wizards had found an almost defunct mystical hotspot that had been miraculously overlooked by the demons now swarming over the planet. It’s a little valley down by the sea and when we staggered down the overgrown road that led to the lip of the hill swooping down to our new home it looked like heaven. One great semi-circle of trees and open spaces that framed the blue ocean and trapped the warm, sweet air that was untainted by anything demonic or even human. Trust me, to a kid that’s only ever seen a tree from behind a barbed wire fence at an open-air museum it was a lot more impressive than it sounds.
We made our new home down by the edge of beach and for a few months we were happy. For whatever reason we were left alone by the human soldiers and demons alike, and we made out okay. It was quiet, not much to do but stand guard and scare up food to feed us all, but we made it our home and we grew to love it. Then we started to get information through from the outside world in dribs and drabs and we knew that we were under threat again.
Demons have been on this planet forever and it only took a few humans to keep them under control so the rest of humanity could get on with their lives. The governments of the world find out what’s going on and what happens? You got it. They fuck it up. Big time. Despite all warnings from the ones that had actually *been* fighting the ultimate battle between good and evil for the last few centuries and making out alright. The best I can figure it is that it took approximately two and a half years from the world finding out demons exist to humans bringing about their own apocalypse. Yep, that’s what I said. All this time we’ve been looking over our shoulders waiting for that one demon to have himself a good day and all the time it turns out we should have been looking to some fat cat in a suit with his finger on the button of some big fuckin’ rockets. Go ahead, laugh, if you don’t you’ll start crying and you might never stop.
So, anyway, the threat. Turns out we were pretty much the last pocket of humanity left in North America left by the time the government boys got done proving what great demon hunters they *weren’t* and the demons that now ran the good old US of A were pretty fucking sure that they weren’t gonna be sharing it with any humans that weren’t locked up in one of their feeding camps and came complete with a nifty collar and tap in their veins for easy access to the blood. Cue demonic hoards massing on the horizon and some pretty hysterical people watching from down by the shore. They came, they saw, they ate everything that didn’t move like lightening and when they drew back there were one hundred and nine people left out of six hundred and fifty-two. And out of those one hundred and nine, fifty-two were little kids that we’d hidden in the caves down by the ocean. Obviously we were in pretty deep shit.
We were hunted for the next few nights through our valley and we lost another fifteen adult fighters before we finally came together and realised if any of us were going to make it out of there alive we needed a plan. Not a great plan, nothing ambitious, just something that would get us more than three hours sleep a night and not lead to us being eaten or tortured. And that was when a guy called Josh came forward with a little leather book and told us a story that had been passed down through the ages of a group of people that had lived centuries before and had the whole slaying gig *down*.
Seriously, these guys were the *shit* and they kicked some major demonic ass back in the day. Plus, turns out, the stories of those slayer chicks that I learned at the knee of my mom weren’t made up at all; those gals actually *lived*, man! Here we all were thinking it’s a nice story to tell scared kids to help fight the monsters they think they see in the dark and the slayers actually existed. Way cool.
So, anyway, back to the point. According to Josh it’s been three hundred years since this book was first found, nearly another two hundred since these people died, and he tells us the history that had been hidden even from the senior guys in our own organisation. And it’s a pretty cool history. The people in that book were *people*, you know? Sure they fought demons, but, gods, they lived while they did it and maybe that’s what made them so fucking good. Us? Well, we fight demons to live and that’s not the same thing at all. Josh says there’s only ever been one or two people per generation that have ever known the story in the book, and he was the first one ever to dig it up from its resting place in a long abandoned LA graveyard since it was put there three centuries ago. Then he hits us with the big one. He doesn’t just have the journal in his safekeeping, he has something else, something *huge* and things may never be the same again.
A century ago a keeper of the story found a spell and passed it down along with the tale of the Chosen One because he knew there might come a time when it was needed. And, boy, is it needed now. Now, admittedly, this spell is leaning towards the darker side of things, but we’re getting pretty desperate here and that line between black and white is a lot greyer than it used to be, y’know? Hey, you try being all noble and self-sacrificing when you’re watching the last free members of your species get eaten one by one and then we’ll talk, okay?
So we’re gathered here in the centre of what used to be our safe haven, watching the wizard that first picked this place for us to settle chant his exhausted ass off as he uses the last dregs of mystical power left in the ground to bring us our salvation. Hopefully. The chant seems to have taken on a pretty desperate quality as the alarm goes up from the guards we have on our perimeter that the demons have made our position and they’re closing fast.
Oh gods, this is it, we’re going to die. I can hear the first screams go up from the guards as the demons close in and our magic man is sobbing aloud with our need as he pleads for help and permission to bring them back. I can feel the hairs on the back of my neck rising as a breeze flows through the trees surrounding us and brings the stench of evil and death towards us and then I’m turning to meet the first rush and…
For a few precious seconds everything is silent and then a roar like I’ve never heard before in my life sends us all -- humans and demons alike -- crashing to our knees and scrabbling desperately at our ears to stop the terrible noise that is surely the sound of our world ending. The air is sharp with the tastes of ozone and magic and then as quickly as the noise starts it stops and the wind dies and all that it leaves behind are two bodies lying on the ground by a burnt out husk that I think used to be our wizard. Shit, this can’t be good.
Oh gods. You know what else isn’t good? All the demons recovering along with the humans and looking really, *really* pissed about whatever just happened. The small clearing is suddenly filled with snarls and growls and we’re all scrambling to our feet and preparing ourselves again for death and…
Holy fucking *shit *, what the HELL is that?
Something pale and blurry just shot past me snarling a lot louder than the demons it’s just slammed into and now the demons aren’t growling anymore they’re *screaming* and amazingly – wonderfully – I’m thinking that maybe we’re not dying here today after all. Everything is loud and confused and there’s blood flying and enough guts being spilled on the grass that make it kind of treacherous to move after a few minutes, but even as I’m ducking a clawed hand and swinging my mostly blunt axe as hard as I can at the thing trying to kill me I can’t get the grin off my face. Wanna know why? ‘Cos we’re *winning* and I’ve nearly forgotten how motherfucking good that feels.
I’m still searching wildly for something to hit with my axe when I realise that the screaming has stopped and there are no more demons left to kill. There are a shit load of bodies all around me and blood fucking covering *everything* as far as the eye can see, but there’s no more demons to kill. All around me I can hear people gasping for air, moans from a few slumped humans one the floor but there’s no more fucking demons and I want to laugh just because I’ve still got the breath left in my body to do it. I’m *dripping* blood, mine and others, but I want to laugh because I’m fucking *alive* and if I’m honest that’s a lot more than I expected five minutes ago.
I catch a movement from the corner of my eye and my head whips around even as my exhausted arm is rising to face the new threat…which is a naked man. We stare at each other with wide eyes for a moment and then he draws himself up until he is all muscle and gore streaked threat looming over my usually adequate five foot ten frame. “Who the hell are you?”
His voice is rusty with disuse but he seems pretty together for a guy that was -- until tonight – dead for centuries. And the whole naked thing doesn’t stop him looking pretty fucking scary, although that might be the heavy mask of blood covering the lower half of his face and streaking his teeth. I take a step back and try to look like he’s not making me want to find a change of pants. “I’m Ren.” If anything the dark eyes glaring at me get darker and I tilt my chin up defiantly. “Who the hell are you?”
He frowns slightly as though the question confuses him and then his face clears. “Angel. I’m Angel.” He looks around. “Where am I? Where’s…” The confusion is flooding back and his whole body starts to shake. “Gunn…Spike…” His fists clench against those huge thighs and he looks down, startled. “Where the hell are my *pants*?”
“Took the words right out of my mouth.” We both turn at the sound of a new voice and a second naked man appears out of the trees. This one is much nearer my size and slender, almost delicate, in his features and just as covered in demon remains. He doesn’t spare me a second glance, but keeps his eyes on Angel as his mouth stretches in a sly grin. “Hi, Dad.”
“Connor…” The name is whispered in disbelief and sounds almost – God, I don’t know the word – reverent, I guess. Angel stumbles forward and grabs for the man called Connor and stares at him like he’s starving and this guy is just one big juicy steak. Fuck, considering the state of his face I am *so* not going there. “Connor.”
“Yeah, it’s me.” Connor looks like he doesn’t quite believe what he’s saying himself, but Angel is gone. He wraps his arms around the smaller man and just hangs on; sniffing at his hair and making this weird kind of moaning noise that if I didn’t know they were father and son would have me kind of worried. Connor looks a little worried as well, but then his arms come up and wrap around Angel’s waist and he’s hanging on as hard as he can and from what I can see he’s trying to blink away tears.
Finally Angel gets control of himself and pulls back to look around the clearing before his eyes come back to me. He looks me up and down and then kind of squints sideways at Connor with a little smirk. “Guess a guy’s redemption doesn’t last as long as it used to.”
Connor takes his own look around and then rolls his eyes. “Right.” He shifts so his arms aren’t wrapped around his dad anymore, but still stays close enough that their arms touch. “We still helping the helpless?”
Angel puffs up so much I think he’s in danger of floating straight up into the night sky, his whole face is lit up with pride at his son’s words. “Every minute.”
Connor nods as though he wouldn’t expect anything else. “Well, okay. Demon killing, world saving and pants.” He looks up at his dad, down at his naked body and then all around at the silent clearing and smirks, “Not necessarily in that order.”
Angel sighs heavily but at a muffled snigger from Connor breaks out in a reluctant grin and steps forward with one blood-soaked hand outstretched. “Hi. We help the helpless.” He looks back over his shoulder for a moment and one eyebrow twitches in question at his son.
Connor rolls his eyes but steps forward to offer me his hand alongside his father. “How can we help you?”