“In Name and Deed”
Characters property of Mutant Enemy, etc. All other characters property of their respective owners. The only thing I own as it were is my idea as to what the map of the multiverse looks like.
Summary: Angel's story during NFA has an unexpected ending. Connected to “Africa”.
*'s denote psychic dialog.
May 19, 2004
Angel couldn't believe it. Xander Harris, of all people, had shown up in the alleyway. He hadn't been sure how Xander had even known of all of this as the lad was supposed to be in Africa from what he understood. Quirking an eyebrow at Harris had gotten an entire conversation out of the way when Xander uttered one pained word.
After a brief moment of shock Angel realized that it made perfect sense. Cordy had given Angel a vision of what to do, why wouldn't she try to find help as well? Especially from someone she had never stopped caring about? Most of the surprise Angel felt was from what he was sensing from the youth. A melange of subtle power and quiet ferocity was bleeding off Xander, deep and wild in nature. Angel had always known the kid had buckets of willpower, but the reading from him now was that Harris had become a contender.
“Glad you could make it,” said Angel with a wry grin.
With that, Angel and Xander put years of minute conflict behind them. If you couldn't trust someone who would show at a time like this, who could you trust?
The rain continued to pour and the others began to arrive.
Six hours later
Everywhere he turned there was some new kind of hideous monstrosity. Slashing wildly at something that resembled a manticore if H.R. Geiger was drawing it, Angel suppressed a shudder as he dispatched the oily shifting horror.
The ensouled vampire was nearing his limit. Hours had passed and while support for the Light had come from some amazing places the battle for the realm was still raging strong with casualties on both sides heavy. Gunn....Gunn had died. While Illyria had been short on her estimate of ten minutes, she hadn't been that short. Of course none of them would have expected that the “normal” fighter would be the one to remove the dragon from the field of play.
Angel had only seen the whole thing from the corner of his eye, but he had still been proud at what he'd seen. Charles Gunn, Warrior and Protector, had grabbed a belt of grenades from that Redfield guy and armed the whole damn belt. The Dragon, sensing what it thought was “easy” prey had dived at Gunn on the rooftop he had climbed up to. Angel doubted that the dragon had ever eaten a meal so spicy. It certainly hadn't known what to do when it's entire stomach and ribcage exploded over the battlefield, raining fiery magma-like blood on it's assembled army of demons and nightmares.
Spike had been off Angel's sense of childer for at least a few hours. The last thing Angel had seen of the bleached vamp was that he and Xander, marvel at the thought, had been back to back, fighting against a group of creatures that were decidedly like the bunch from “Where the Wild Things Are” except that the beasts in the book didn't have gore dripping from their fangs and those awful rolling eyes. Spike and Xander had been amazing to watch when he'd gotten glimpses though. The two had been trading off a wicked looking sword pulled from the corpse of a Mohra that hadn't regenerated and were fighting like wild beasts. Xander had tapped into whatever it was that he had found since last Angel had seen him and the former carpenter's eye was flashing sunshine gold as he roared and gutted the cockatiel like “Wild Thing”. Spike had unleashed everything and was representing like a proper Childe of Aurelius. The two had been a merciless storm of fists and fangs before Angel had to look away to focus on his own battles.
Shortly after that more portals had begun tearing up the alleyway so when Angel lost his sense of Spike he figured that it was an even chance that the annoying blond prat had fallen into another dimension. Angel spared a thought for his annoying childe's well being.
A flare of blue energy to his right, Angel slid swiftly out of the way into some hellhounds as Illyria raged through a pack of werewolves. From what Angel could see, the GodKing had reclaimed some of her former powers as she had never given an inclination that she could fight two seconds ahead of and behind herself before. Though the current second seemed the most “real” of the five angry images of her, Angel could see the four other “ghosts” moving in an intensely beautiful and violent dance of destruction. Given the calculations that such a feat would take in a pure math sense, Angel couldn't help but wonder if Winnifred Burkle was as lost as they all thought she had been.
Breaking the remaining hellhound's back over his knee, Angel felt a wave of fatigue wash over him. Proud of his family in their darkest hour he knew that he wouldn't last much longer. Lashing out weakly at what appeared to be a demonic frog man of some kind he felt grateful as someone on his side unloaded an assault shotgun into the huge clawed beast.
Angel was so grateful for the dead frog demon that he barely felt the stake pierce through his back directly into his heart.
Angel had never been staked properly, so the sensation of having your body burn away to ashes was almost interesting, from a certain point of view. He wondered of he'd be going back to a hell dimension or not. While he'd blocked most of his last trip out of his mind, his dreams sometimes plunged him back into that particular dimensions “tender” mercies.
Most interesting was this way time seemed to be grinding to a stop as he felt his body burn away...was this normal? Watching everything come to a full stop, Angel couldn't help but be stupefied.
“Surprise Darling!” said a voice dripping with sexiness and warmth.
A voice that only one woman in Angel's long life had been able to pull off.
This was impossible. Well not so impossible seeing as he was dead now, but Angel really didn't think that this was what happened to vampires when they died. Realizing that while the ashes lay at his feet, a body remained in this frozen bubble of time, he turned around to see the mother of his son.
He had to admit, Darla looked as amazing as she ever did in her un-life. Clothed in white pants that flowed around her legs and a white sleeveless top, her hair flowed in golden waves and seemed to glow with an inner light. White ribbons coiled around her smooth arms and tied into bows on her fingers. The real stunner, next to knowing smile and the laughing eyes that had burned in his heart for his whole life it seemed, were the wings of course.
Darla, the Queen of the Scourge of Europe, had found herself a pair of glorious wings that shone gold. Standing amid the frozen battlefield she owned the whole world somehow.
“I know what you're thinking,” she said, ”How is it that DARLA of all the people you know, ended up with this gig?”
“The thought had crossed my mind.”
She laughed. God, Angelus had never tired of her laugh- unless it was at his expense, but her laugh was warm and throaty, full of honey secrets and it tempted you. But Angel noticed that her laugh had changed....it was more free than he had ever known. Pure, if you will. Darla leapt nimbly onto a fire escape above the carnage.
“Oh my sweet boy...Apparently a mother's love is a dangerous thing.”
Angel gaped. He hadn't gaped since he was human, damn it! “You mean to tell me...”
“Oh yes, dear. Darla sacrificed herself for her baby and the Powers took notice. Apparently even with his soul steering my decision, that kind of sacrifice is unknown through the spheres- at least for an evil creature such as moi. You wouldn't believe how shocked I was when instead of the deepest pits of perdition I found myself talking to an Irish man and a lovely blond witch.”
“About as shocked as I am sitting here amid this chaos talking to you?”
Angel's (non)breath caught in his mysteriously persistent throat as Darla was suddenly *very* close to him. She ran her fingers down his chest and smirked.
“Definitely in the ball park.”
Angel blinked and Darla was instantly across the alley, regarding Illyria with a curious look.
“You know that the soul still burns in this one right?”
Angel shook his head, amused. She was being evasive.
“Oh fine. You know, I hope you develop a sense of fun eventually or working together again is going to be a real bore!”
Angel felt his eyebrows try to leap of his face at that, but before questioning her, his ex got back to the point.
“In any case, *Liam*, As the witch and former seer explained to me after I was...dusted....my act of sacrifice for my baby some how eked out my four hundred years of pure wickedness and put me squarely in the plus column. Very low in the plus column, more of a stylish gray than anything, but there nonetheless.” Darla moved a Minotaur's club three feet to the left, moving the terminus of the swing from a member of S.T.A.R.S. onto an armored imp. She nodded, satisfied.
“I found myself in front of the Powers-some of them at least- and was informed that my soul had been dredged up from its hiding place and reinstated at the moment of my third demise. Of course the catch was that I was to work for them now, strictly an agent of hope and goodness. Tacky sounding, but rewarding in ways that I had never known in life. Plus my benefits ...but never mind that.
Transformed into this fabulous form, they sent me out to try and tip the scales in the white hats favor. Which I find hilarious by the way, as I know for a fact that that scuzzy little balance demon Whistler was dispatched by the same “office” if you will, to keep things at an even keel.”
This genuinely shocked Angel as he had always heard about the paramount importance of balance. All Whistler ever talked about was getting Angel ready for the big show, but Angel always noticed that the stuff his guide had not said had been for neither good nor evil. That the Powers actually were tipping the scales around was a revelation. But after a quick moment Angel saw that it was still part of a power play, just one designed to keep everything off balance so as to keep in motion.
“So what are you saying? I don't remember making any kind of sacrifices like the one you're talking about Darla.”
“Oh Liam,” the blond cupped her former lover's cheek. “What would you call signing away a prophecy that would have you reborn as a human someday?”
Angel scoffed. “I did that because it was the only way into the inner circle. I knew what I'd done. I don't need a reward for that.”
“You're right,” Darla said tartly. “You don't need a reward for that. You did it though. You tossed away the stick and the carrot, handsome. The Powers were impressed enough that all the bad you've done since moving to L.A. Has been struck from the record. Guess what?”
“I'm not done, am I?”
Darla smiled sadly, “Right in one.”
Angel realized that the whole conversation, the alley had steadily been getting brighter. Looking about he couldn't see a source of light but could feel that something was happening. Looking at Darla he could see her calmly inspect Xander and his current state.
“Go on, Handsome. I'll see you soon enough.”
Then Angel realized where the light was coming from.
It was coming from him.
Angel was full of light. It poured through him, filling up the dark corners of his soul and burnt the cobwebs away joyously. As he floated in the sea of light Angel realized that he was surrounded by people.
Faith. Cordy. Kate. Buffy. Nina. Darla.
They surrounded him in this void full of golden light. Appraising him. Seeing through him.
Somehow, he felt no fear.
*We are your judge.*
*And you have taken these women's faces because?*
*We searched for those within you that you would accept judgment from. These forms came to instantly.*
Angel realized that this was a trial of some kind, but he also somehow know that verdict had been reached before he returned to consciousness.
*You are correct child. But mortal beings appreciate a process and who are we to deny you that. Especially in light of our findings.*
*And they are?*
*You have done much penance child....but it has been tempered by acts of despair and fear. In all but the most benevolent of spheres could we ignore your harshest deeds.*
*So what was the Shanshu then, if you'll excuse my impertinence?*
*We shall. The Shanshu was another test of course.*
The Buffy image seemed to be the most stern of the Powers and rolled her eyes.
*Consider this child, had we not sent your former paramour to relay our verdict you may have gone directly to your worst dreams.*
Angel considered this for a moment.
*I don't believe that. You knew what the plan was all along.*
The Faith and Nina images seemed to shrug.
*You may wish to assume that child. Plans we may have, but your free will has come close to destroying you multiple times. Justice in the Universes has always been tricky at best.*
*Thanks to you then. Your intervention is appreciated. Giving Darla what I could not is also appreciated.*
*Save your appreciation child. Darla has earned her wings since receiving them. Long are the seconds elsesphere, as you will soon realize.*
*I assume this means my contract is renewed?*
The Powers all exchanged bemused glances.
*It appears we removed you from that law firm in time child, we do not work with contracts.*
*Sorry, you get used to shop talk down there.*
*Indeed. But yes, we suppose that we are rewriting your Terms of Service if you'd like.*
Angel smiled. At least his new bosses had a sense of humor buried underneath the glory.
*Enough idleness. Are you prepared for your mission?*
*As much as one can be.*
*You shall be an extension of Justice in the spheres below, child. Unlike your cohort, you shall be a physical force for good in the realms under our protection. See a map of you domain now.*
Above the group light somehow separated for the glowing sky and coalesced into a swirling image. Sphere exploded within spheres all singing in harmony. Upon each surface an infinity in points of light grew outward and repeated the whole process till the light storm seemed to go on forever. Angel felt his heart swell at the beauty of it all.
*Not quite eternal child...but very close at times. This is our sigil. It is our craft. It is our domain in full. Behold the multiverse.*
*And I'm to protect it?*
*Yes. You will work with Darla and protect the Light. *
*There's so much of it.*
*Time is no longer an issue, Aegis.*
*You said I would be more of a physical force...what do you mean?*
*Darla is a guardian...she is part of the invisible universe. When your son was lost she was given charge over him. She was rather....resolute. Her job is to move behind the scenes, only rarely showing herself.*
Angel could hardly believe that his Darla had become a guardian of innocence and hope. Apparently they believed in giving out the benefits quickly because her redemption alone was almost worth the work he now faced.
*You are the Aegis now child. You shall roar where she whispers. Where she moves innocence swiftly from harm, you shall destroy those who threaten the innocent. *
*So no new job skills then?*
*Well, you'll have to learn how to drink light as opposed to blood.*
Before Angel had a chance to respond to the jest , the image of his sister moved forth. Angel had tried to make peace with her death at his hands long ago, but seeing her caused a tear to slide down his cheek.
*Weep not brother...*
*Prepare yourself Aegis, we are your arbiter. *
With a final quick smile the image of his long dead sister drew the lightstorm from the sky into her hands. Light flowed around her body and began to intensify, spreading her hands, the arbiter released the power into the newly appointed Aegis.
Angel seized as his body absorbed the energy of the Powers. Once more light filled him internally and he could feel new strength pour into him as it changed him forever.
*Go now Aegis. Finish the battle you started before you begin our work in earnest.*
And with that command Angel hurtled back towards his home in a blaze of light.
Angel could see that time had started while he had been...away. Only moments but what was evenly matched when he died had become imbalanced at the drop of an ugly hat. Xander was cornered and wounded while Illyria defended his flank, Finn and his unit were pulling out into the flooded streets, and S.T.A.R.S was currently hiding behind an enraged Hellboy as they scrambled for ammo.
The few Slayers that were field ready were working with the L.A.P.D acting as unit leaders for the cops who were way out of their element. Fires had spread and somehow the torrential downpour wasn't putting the flames out.
All in all, they needed a miracle to win, Angel decided. Good thing that was what they were getting.
With a massive thunderclap and subsequent light show Angel made his new and improved presence known to the battlefield that had spread across two large dimensional portals and fourteen city blocks. Landing in the exact spot where he had been dusted by an errant stake the newly appointed Aegis radiated the power of a sun. His clothing a shining gray that pushed back the mystical darkness and his wings were were giant and glorious silver, their light forcing lesser evil back to there hell realms of origin on sight alone. Angel found a sword of white flame came to his hand with a thought and tested its weight. All eyes on him he gave grin that caused another third of the dark army to run on sight.
Feeling Darla's arms wrapped around him and hearing her laughter in his ear Angel took even more strength in and hefted his sword.
With a breath the former vampire 's eyes flashed dangerously as he steeled himself for what was to come.
“Let's finish this.”
Thanks for reading! I know that my last two fics have been a little formulaic, but I promise they'll stop!