: A sidhe walks into a bar...Author
: End of Caress of Twilight (book two) for the Merry Gentry series; season one of Angel (up to episode three, "In the Dark". You know, the one with Spike and the ring of Amorah).Disclaimer
: Joss Whedon and Mutant Enemy own all things Angel. Laurell K. Hamilton owns all things Merry Gentry. I am but borrowing the characters for a brief time and will gain nothing from this other than (hopefully) feedback from my readers. I could say that I don't mean to infringe on copyright, but isn't that the point of fan fiction? To take the ideas of others and add and create on top of that? I read an interesting thing a while ago (can't remember where) about how TV and books are the new mythology, now that the collective imagination no longer has stories told around the campfire and so we use what we see and read. Wow, a disclaimer longer than the story. To sum up: The characters aren't mine. The situation is. Onward.Summary
: There's more than one Doyle in L.A. When Merry Gentry's Doyle takes a night off, he overhears an interesting conversation.Author's note
: I don't know if this has ever been done. I know I've never read anything like it. It just seemed way to obvious... to me, anyway. Let's hope this doesn't evolve into a series. Maybe a Conner and Conner AtS/HL crossover, maybe Wesley and Wesley from AtS/ST:THG (ew), Fred and Fred AtS/HP... am I forgetting anyone? Oh! A Robin and Robin from BtVS/Batman? Why don't I just get on with the story. ~*~
It was the first time in over a thousand years that the Queen of the Unseelie's Darkness, the Captain of her Ravens, had a night off.
It wasn't just Doyle's first night off in a millennium. It was his first night off, ever. When Princess Meredith had suggested it, he'd had to ask Rhys what he was supposed to do. Well, after he asked Meredith if he had done something wrong.
No, Meredith had this brilliant idea and she would not be swayed from it. How could he explain that being her guard wasn't his job, it was his life? She was only thirty, had grown up in America out among the humans. Doyle had spent longer periods in complete silence than she had been alive. She didn't get it, and he could not say it.
Essentially forced out of the house, and with no desire to play among the faerie hang-outs in the city, Doyle was reduced to wandering the streets. It wasn't too bad. He had not had a chance to watch the humans, unseen, in a very long time. The humanity he saw, the inane chattering of the mortals in their short lives, held a strange appeal to him. He had been watching humans for centuries, and no matter how much the clothing or language changed, the actions and responses were the same.
After the incident with the Nameless, the mass of Sidhe power bound at the last weirding and loosed by the Seelie king Taranis, Doyle had regained his ability to walk unseen among the humans. He used that ability now, to wander through the crowds of people, to hear what they said, instead of how they reacted to the sight of him.
He whipped his head around, but he could neither sense nor smell anyone he knew.
He wondered who was calling for him. First off, the pronunciation was wrong. The caller had put the word into two syllables, while his name was correctly pronounced as one, dole. An assistant of Maeve Reed, whose hospitality they were currently enjoying, had been corrected on her pronunciation. The empty-headed girl said, "Like Dole? Like the bananas?"
It had taken a while for Rhys to stop laughing. They hadn't seen the girl at the house since.
"Doyle! Get your smarmy ass back here!"
Smarmy ass? Doyle started to suspect that the words were not meant for him. He scanned the crowd on the street. There, up ahead of him, was a man slinking away from a young woman, who had her hands on her hips. Even from this distance, he could see the angry gleam in her eye.
The young man glanced back at the woman, then stopped dead, throwing up his hands. The woman stalked toward him. Doyle couldn't help himself. He edged closer to the pair.
"Listen, Doyle, this is the absolutely last time I ever help you out with anything, get it?" the young woman snapped.
"Yes, Cordelia, and I will never be able to thank you enough. The heavens themselves should open up and bow down before--"
"Oh, shut up." The young woman, Cordelia, shook her head and started walking down the street. The young man paused for a second, and Doyle suspected that he was watching the woman's walk. Then he quickly followed her.
Doyle knew that he should really be on his way. This whole night off was a bad idea. But going home now would be saying to Meredith that she had won. No, he would stay out long enough to be able to pretend he'd had fun.
He told himself that was the only reason he followed the two strange humans down the crowded LA street.~*~
The two humans went into a pub. Doyle was reminded of a joke Rhys had told to Meredith the previous week. She had laughed. He hadn't gotten it.
Still wondering if this was a good idea, but convinced that his magic could keep him invisible to everyone and everything, Doyle found a space next to their table and leaned against the wall.
The young man slid into a chair. Cordelia sat down with more grace. There was a look of contempt on her pretty face.
Doyle shook his head. Had he just thought that the young woman was pretty?
"Now listen, Doyle, just because I got paid doesn't mean I'm going to buy you all the beer you can drink," Cordelia said primly.
"Oh beautiful saviour," the other Doyle said, "All I want is a couple of pints."
"... and a burger," he continued.
"A burger! Haven't you started harvesting the fungi from the walls of that hellhole of your apartment?" Cordelia hissed.
"Oh come on, Cordy, I haven't eaten all day," the other Doyle pleaded.
Doyle resisted the urge to sigh. Why was he watching this? The young man's accent was getting thicker with every begging sentence. It was ... pathetic.
As the waitress neared their table, Cordelia's shoulders slumped. "All right," she said. "Two beers and a burger. No more. Next time you feel like blowing all your money at the track, you're not getting anything from me."
"Thank you, thank you," other Doyle said. He gave the waitress his order, then slumped into his chair.
Once the other Doyle's eyes had closed, the look on Cordelia's face changed. Doyle frowned slightly as her eyes focused on the young human's face. She looked a little worried and concerned. Then the other Doyle sat back up and the worry was gone. If Doyle hadn't been watching closely, he would have missed the humanity in her.
"So, tell me. What does Angel plan to do now that he can, you know, accessorize?" Cordelia asked brightly.
Accessorize? Doyle thought in disgust. He cursed Rhys's suggestion that he do this, and contemplated moving on, before he heard the other man's answer.
"You see, it's like this, Cordelia. Angel thought it would be best if he were to destroy the ring."
"He what?" Cordelia looked shocked. "He destroyed the Gem of Amorah?"
Suddenly Doyle was glad he'd stayed.~*~
The Gem of Amorah. He hadn't heard of the gem in many centuries. It was not a thing of faerie, not an object of their power. But they knew of it. He, as the Queen's Darkness, had been one of the ones sent to stop a monster who wielded the gem, a creature so dark even the Unseelie court denied it entrance. He and his companions had defeated the monster, and sent the gem away with a human witch. She had told them she would destroy the gem.
Apparently she lied.
The other Doyle pulled out a pack of cigarettes and pulled one out with practiced ease. "Keep your voice down, would you?" he asked. It took him two tries to light the cigarette. "He thought that it would be easier on everyone if the gem was destroyed."
"Easier on everyone? Good god, the man's turned me into a parrot!" Cordelia sat back in her chair. She waited until the waitress had brought the other Doyle's hamburger and beer, then said, "That stupid vampire's self-righteousness makes me so mad!" She took a few of the fries off the plate in front of her companion and chewed on them. "What if a client came in during the day and needed help? There are some day-walking demons, right?"
"Maybe he didn't want the temptation," other Doyle said before gulping at his beer.
"A little temptation is good for the soul," Cordelia said. "For example, I was tempted by those gorgeous leather boots at Versachi, but you don't see me going all evil, blood-of-the-innocent, do you?"
"Not this week. Look, Cordelia, as much as I hate to admit that Angel's right, he may have a point."
Cordelia raised her eyebrows, looking extremely skeptical. She faintly reminded Doyle of someone, but he couldn't remember who.
"As long as the gem existed, there was always the risk of some other child-molesting vampire getting all hot and bothered over the ring." The other Doyle leaned forward on the table, closer to Cordelia.
Doyle knew he needed to hear the conversation, and the bar was getting very loud. He took the risk, and slid into the empty chair at the table with the other Doyle and Cordelia. Neither of them so much as noticed that a seemingly empty chair moved of its own volition.
Cordelia scowled and took a few more fries. "I suppose you're right," she admitted grudgingly.
"And he's got us to do the daytime work, right?"
Cordelia's scowl turned into a decidedly attractive pout. She nodded.
"So wham bam, thank you ma'am, no more ring."
"What about a safety deposit box?" she asked.
The other Doyle drained the last of his beer and gestured at the waitress with the now-empty glass. "What kind of self-respecting vampire with a soul uses a safety deposit box?" he asked.
If it was possible to shock Doyle into a human expression, his mouth would have been hanging open. Vampires didn't have souls. It was part of the deal.
"How about one who's on a mission from the powers that be to help the hopeless?" Cordelia asked hopefully.
The other Doyle shook his head. "Try again, princess."
"But who am I going to get to take me to all those nice LA daytime pool parties that I just know are going to be on my schedule anytime soon?" Cordelia whined.
The other Doyle straightened up and put his hands out. Cordelia noticed and snorted.
"As if. No, it just won't be the same if my boss were to burst into flames." ~*~
The conversation changed, moved from sports (Cordelia was not interested) and shopping (neither Doyle cared) to politics and art. The later half of the conversation was mercifully brief, if rather painful, even to Doyle's untutored ears.
Doyle waited while the bill arrived and the two bickered on who would pay. Cordelia again lost the fight. He stood up when they did, the movement of the empty chair lost in the shuffle. He trailed them back to an old stone office building and watched in silence as they paused by the door.
"Cordelia, I just wanted to say thank you, for dinner." The other Doyle put his hands in his pockets. "You're a good friend."
A brilliant smile lit up Cordelia's face, then she ducked her head. When she glanced back up, she was still smiling. Doyle was almost lost in her smile, for an instant. "You're welcome. But don't let it happen again," she admonished. She turned on her heel and went for the front door.
A few minutes later, Doyle saw a light go on in a third story window. The young woman came and stood in the glass, backlit against the room.
Doyle started up at her as she scanned the night. Should he go up and look at this vampire with a soul, who was apparently helping the hopeless? The tag line made even him scoff.
But if the other Doyle was right, this vampire, this Angel, had smashed the Gem of Amorah, which would have made him invincible. Doyle could smell lies, and tonight there had been none. It didn't make any sense. Well, it made as much sense as a vampire named Angel.
Besides, it was getting late. No matter the princess's orders, he did not feel comfortable leaving her alone, unprotected. Intellectually, he knew that she was surrounded by some of his best men. Rhys and Frost would not let anything through, while Nicca and Galen, while weaker, would fight to their deaths before they let anything happen to Meredith.
But Doyle's heart would not let him believe Meredith was safe until he saw her, alive and whole, for himself. He suspected that he was beginning to have feelings for her, feelings that might endanger his mission. Who would have thought that the simple touch of her hands and the smell of her skin might prove his undoing?
Everyone thought Doyle's loyalties had lain with Queen Andais for so many years. Now, some thought he was loyal to Meredith. All were right in some regards, and yet all were wrong. Doyle's loyalties lay with faerie, with all that they were. He knew, and he suspected Andais knew, that the fate of faerie no longer lay with the Queen herself, but with Meredith and her oh-so-mortal blood.
Doyle would not allow Cel, Andais's son, to become king. He would assassinate Cel himself, even if it meant an eternity of torture, before he let the bastard set one foot upon the Unseelie throne. Cel would destroy all that remained of faerie, of magic, in his madness.
So they relied on a mortal girl for the slim hope to bring faerie back from the brink of oblivion. The irony was not lost on the Darkness.
Doyle looked down at the thin white card the young woman had left at the pub. Angel Investigations, it read. It would be wise to keep the card, just in case this dark Angel might one day prove ... useful.~*~
When Doyle let himself into Maeve Reed's guesthouse, Nicca, Rhys and Kitto were all watching an old movie on the television. Doyle seldom saw the appeal of watching shadowy copies of people on a flat screen, and never made it through one of those movies.
Galen, another of Meredith's bodyguards, was in the kitchen. The sharp whistle of the tea kettle told Doyle what he was doing.
"Enjoy your night off?" Rhys asked from the couch. Doyle's irritation at the seemingly lacklustre security was tempered by the sight of the gun in Rhys's lap.
"Where is the princess?" Doyle asked, ignoring the question.
"It's Frost's night," Nicca said in his calm voice.
Doyle cocked his head and listened. Sure enough, the sounds coming from Meredith's bedroom down the hall was enough to tell Doyle that Frost was keeping a very close eye on Meredith.
"Tea, anyone?" Galen asked. Doyle went into the kitchen and waited while the tea steeped. Galen puttered around, carefully avoiding his captain's preoccupied gaze.
Doyle had heard so much tonight, to remind him of days long past. But in spite of all he had heard, Doyle's mind kept straying back to the young human woman, Cordelia.
It had taken Doyle a while to recall who Cordelia reminded him of, but he had remembered as he walked back to the house. Over thirty years ago, when Besaba, Meredith's mother, first came to the Unseelie court, had he seen such a smile. The woman was of the Seelie court, but she looked human. Human brown hair, human brown eyes, human skin. Doyle had one day caught her smiling and laughing at something Essus, Meredith's father, had said.
The match between them had not been for love. It was a political match. If there had been no child, Besaba would have headed back to the Seelie court, a little sullied but no one would have paid much attention. In spite of that, Doyle knew Besaba had not found Essus repugnant. She had liked him, even if she never showed it.
But this girl Cordelia ... There was a joy and life in her that Besaba never had. Cordelia's smile, her sarcasm, her enjoyment of teasing the other Doyle, played out in Doyle's head. He found himself wondering if he could ever have made her smile up at him like she had that night, if things were different.
"Earth to Doyle," Galen was saying. Doyle only moved his eyes, but gave Galen his full attention. "I said, tea's ready."
Doyle stared until Galen left out of the room, carrying more popcorn for the movie. He shook his head.
Rhys came into the room and plopped himself into a chair at the table beside Doyle. "Was it horrible?" he asked.
"No." Doyle pulled the business card out of his pocket and flicked it around in his fingers.
"What did you do?"
"Aren't we laconic." Rhys took a sip of his tea. "Do you have any idea what we are going to do about Taranis and his hard-on to kill Maeve?" he asked quietly.
Doyle shook his head. "No, I do not. I only know he cannot be allowed near Meredith. He cannot be allowed to touch her."
"We won't let him hurt her in any way, you know that," Rhys said. There was a grave look in his blue eye. He nodded at Doyle before going back out to the movie.
Doyle slipped the card back into his pocket and went to stand by the window. He could see the lit waters of Maeve's pool through the kitchen window.
Some days, he wondered what it would be like to be human. To live a short life, unencumbered by the burdens of faerie. He let out a small sigh and pushed the thought away. He was what he was. A faerie half-breed, who would spend the rest of his life in service to the Queen and the Princess. That was his job, his life.
Just before he turned to head outside for a perimeter sweep, he spared one last thought to the woman he had seen tonight, Cordelia. He would never have the opportunity again to see her, he knew. But he would remember how her face lit up when she had smiled.
Even immortals need a little something to hold on to, in the Darkness.