Title: Broken Wings
Disclaimer: All things AtS belong to Joss Whedon, et al. All things Constantine belong to DC Comics, et al.
Distribution: The normal places.
Author’s Notes: For the TtH Spring Movie Fic-a-Thon.
Summary: Just when he thought his time doing leg work for the PTB was over and done with, Doyle gets tasked with a task that he’s pretty damn sure he’s not up for.
Spoilers: Season 1 for Angel. All the way through the Constantine movie for Constantine.
“No. I won’t do it.”
Silence greeted his indignant refusal, just as he had known it would. What right did he have to deny their request, in the end? They who had pulled the bloody puppet strings of his life since the moment he was born and perhaps even before? It wasn’t so hard to believe that, even in death, they wouldn’t allow him the peace that he was pretty sure he deserved.
“You are needed,” the male of the pair of figures that stood before him offered emotionlessly in that oddly melodic voice that the two shared. It was creepy, that’s what it was. It had been down on Earth and damnit all if it wasn’t Up Here, too.
“I am not,” his voice rose, annoyance turning his temper sour. “Send someone else. Hell, for that matter, use one of the little puppets you’ve still got down there. I earned my bloody place up here and –“
“You are needed, Doyle.”
The half-demon scowled, shoving his hands into pants that looked a lot like what he had worn while he was alive. For that matter, being dead and gracing the pearly white clouds of Heaven hadn’t changed a single thing about his life. Not really.
Except for giving up drinking and smoking. No vices up here. Not a one.
What he wouldn’t do for a nice, stiff drink right about now.
“Why?” he grumbled, trying his best to ignore the Oracles. Mouth of the Powers that Be, his ass. They were glorified messengers, in his opinion.
Then again, he had learned that the Powers that Be weren’t the be all and end all of the universe, either. They were merely messengers for a much, much higher power.
A power he didn’t want casting a glance his way.
Which just made his entire argument moot. If he denied this request, the big guy would hear about it for sure. And Doyle didn’t want Him getting pissy.
“I don’t have a choice, do I?”
“Not a one,” the female Oracle smiled serenely. “It is a –simple- request, Doyle. One that you would do well to concede to quickly and… quietly.
Let it never be said that he was a fool. Then again, Doyle mused with irritation, let it not be said that he knew when to quit commiserating, either.
“But why –that- one?” Doyle bemoaned. “I have nothin’ in common with that one. How about the other one? The one who smokes and drinks. Now that’s a soul I could really get into saving, if you get my drift.”
Saving with a nice old bottle of something hard and burning to the throat, Doyle thought.
The Oracles blinked, but said not a word in agreement or disavowal – just as he had known they would. What had gone on down on Earth in the last twenty-four hours was common knowledge both up in the clouds and down in the fiery pits of Hell. Good versus evil.
And good won.
It had been enough to remind Doyle of the ‘good old days,’ playing guiding light for Angel. If there was ever a case of good versus evil and good still winning despite terrible odds… well, all one really had to do was look through the meticulous, if not poorly organized, files that his princess kept to see example after example.
But he wasn’t going to think about Angel or Cordelia. Or the pounding that she was likely to lay on him should she ever get close enough. Rule number one during his mission, as the Oracles had told him, was not to be seen by those members of his previous life. No matter what. Quite the dicey little endeavor, considering the job that had been laid out before him.
As if everything else hadn’t been pleasant enough, that little tidbit of information was enough to royally set his hackles to rising.
“Right, then,” he snarled, kicking at a bit of Heavenly fluff. “Let’s get on with it, shall we? But when all this is said and done, I want my eternal rest. Got it? No more fighting the good fight. I’m done, you hear?”
They offered him no promises because there were none they could give. Sending him back Down There wasn’t their prerogative. Like him, they were just puppets with their strings being pulled by a higher power.
God help them all.
A dark alley, an abandoned building that had seen better days --
“Reminds me of home,” Doyle muttered under his breath, kicking aside a beat up, empty beer can as he crossed the street to the building that was his destination. His mission, as it were, was inside. Broken, battered and altogether undeserving of any sort of mercy, in his opinion. Apparently He thought differently with His grand ideals of forgiveness and hope.
Even the most Fallen could still come home again if they were really, truly sorry. Wasn’t that what the teachings said? That repenting could worm even the worst of souls into the arms of their Lord?
Doyle snorted. Holy Scripture aside, there were things so damning from which one couldn’t possibly hope to be redeemed. Sins so devastating in their nature that even the Almighty couldn’t find it within His heart to forgive and forget.
Apparently his ‘mission target’ didn’t fall into those categories, for all that their crime was just about as evil as evil came.
He took the stairs in the building two at a time, careful to keep an eye out for any that had worn away too much to hold his weight. Dead or not, Doyle had no desire to find out what kind of pain he could go through if he fell crashing through a rickety wooden staircase. For this stint on earth as a guardian angel, he would make sure he looked both ways before crossing the street, checked the expiration dates on all perishables, and generally did anything and everything to ensure that he didn’t come to whatever harm could befall someone that had already died.
He didn’t bother knocking when he came to what used to be an office overlooking the main floor of the warehouse; he just turned the knob and strolled in without seemingly a care in the world. Nothing could have been further from the truth, but he didn’t want the person waiting on the other side of the door to know that. No reason for that oh-so-precious bit of flesh to know that he was practically quaking in his boots just thinking about having a sit down with her.
What did he really know about helping a fallen angel, anyhow?
She was sitting in what was left of an old chair, her back facing him. A coat covered her, the oddly distorted plane of her back a reminder that once upon a time ago there had been wings – beautiful, fluffy pieces of downy softness – gracing her skin. Now there were ragged stumps. Or so his mind told him. She had Fallen.
She turned, the sharp angles of her face that much harsher in the dusty, dirty light filtering in through the cracked skylight overhead. Blonde hair hung limp and dirty around her cheeks, splattered with blood and bits of things that Doyle didn’t want to think to hard on, to be honest. Her eyes narrowed, then softened, her breath leaving her in a hard rush.
“’Fraid I can’t do that.”
Though, oh how he wished he could. She was a frickin’ Fallen Angel, for goodness’ sake! One didn’t fall from the good graces of God without a bloody good reason.
And hers had been a doozy.
So who did the Powers task to talk her down from the proverbial ledge? Who did they send to get her head back in a good place and then push her in the so-called right direction?
Him, of course.
Was it too much to ask that they just give Cordy a vision and leave it at that?
She sighed. “There is nothing you have to say to me that I want to hear. You know nothing about what I have been through.”
Well, she had him there. “True, sweetheart. I don’t know a single thing ‘bout being His right hand man or ‘bout going touched in the head and trying to bring about Hell on Earth. Those last months of my life were spent fighting the good fight, though. Side by side with one of the worst killers this world has ever seen.”
“Angelus. Scourge of Europe,” she uttered in monotone, not once turning back to face him. “Yes, I know of him and of you. Tell me – why is it that they sent a half-demon? Did no one else want to speak with me? Hear my rambling nonsense?”
“I can’t say for sure, darlin’ – but you know as well as I do that you are not number one on His list right now. What were you thinking?!? Hell on Earth? Bringing Satan’s only son to life? Call me crazy, but there had to be a better way.”
She turned in profile, staring straight ahead. Her eyes were dull, glossy. “They don’t deserve His love.”
“Some of them don’t. Most of them do.” Doyle argued with a shake of his head. “And you would have damned them all?” He snorted. “Seein’ as how you’re now the one that’s working her way back into His grace, I would think you’d understand things a little better now. The world ain’t black and white. It’s grey and not that pretty. Don’t know how you missed that, sitting up there and watching over everyone. But it’s the truth. Being good ain’t easy, let me tell you. It’s an uphill battle every step of the way in this day and age when it’s just easier to be bad.”
He took a breath, regarding her… waiting for a response of some kind. Was this what the Powers had wanted from him? He hoped so, because it was all he could give. Sitting there, dirty and bedraggled, she annoyed him now more than the way she had terrified him before. This great angel, Gabriel, had tried to undo every good deed that he, Angel, and Cordy had done. Not to mention those of the others around the world who were working in the name of the light.
It was tempting to take her by the shoulders and shake her good and hard. Try to wring some sense into her pretty little neck.
But somehow he knew without a doubt that was not what she needed.
No, he –knew- what she needed. The one thing that she detested humans for getting so freely. She’d spoken of it so easily – the words pouring from honeyed lips that had long since gone sour from the poison of her mind. She wanted… no, she needed…
“He does love you, you know. Why else would He send me down here? Not to preserve the balance, darlin’, I’ll tell you that right now. Not to keep from losing another of you to the darkness. You stood by His side and now He’s standing by yours.”
“You know nothing about Him or His ways.”
“I know that I was torn out of my eternal reward to come down here and talk some sense into ya. If that ain’t love, then I don’t know what is. He never stopped caring about you. Never loved you any less before… and doesn’t love you any less now.”
Her face turned and dull eyes met his. “Do you truly believe that?”
“He wouldn’t tap me for anyone but you.” Even as he said the words, Doyle knew they were true. In a way, it was fitting, too, that he be the one to guide her to her next stop in life. Because it was a stop that he knew all too well. “And I don’t want to find out what happens if I fail him in this… so do me a favor and get up out of that chair. You know where you need to go. You know who can help you get back on the right path. I can lead you to their door – but you’re going to have to go in. I can’t do it for you.”
A soft, breathy sigh escaped her parted lips. She stood slowly, as if every muscle in her body was crying out in protest. A humorless smile graced her thin, pale lips as she turned to face him. “Redemption is not a road I ever thought to travel.”
Doyle chuckled. “I know what you mean. Too many nights of my life I lay awake in bed, drunk off my arse, cursing the Powers for giving me those visions that tore me up, inside and out. I hated it.” He paused and then shrugged. “And I’d do it all over again if I could.”
He turned his back to her, not waiting to see if she would follow.
He knew she would because, in her heart, Gabriel had only ever wanted His love.
Doyle had no doubt that she would do her best to earn it again, too.
And he knew just the vampire with a soul to be her guide.