Date written: Mon 25 Jun 2001

Author: Starway Man

E-mail: theop@kew.hotkey.net.au

Fandom: Angel, the series

Main Characters: Doyle, Lindsey, Angel

Disclaimer: Angel and its characters belong to Joss Whedon, David Greenwalt, Mutant Enemy, Sandollar, 20th century Fox and WB Network, not me or UPN! By the way, no copyright infringement is intended, and not one red cent is being made from this story – may Numfar dance on my grave if I’m a liar.

Acknowledgments: Thanks as always to hgh’s transcript pages and The Buffy Shooting Script site.

Rating: PG-13 to R-ish (violence, some language and smooching)

Continuity: Set in Angel Season 2, between ‘Disharmony’ and ‘Dead End’.

Classification: Action, Adventure, Alternate Universe.

Spoilers: There are spoilers present for both seasons of Angel, and references to the episodes up to the season 2 finale plus the episodes ‘Lie To Me’, ‘Anne’, ‘The Wish’ and ‘Doppelgängland’ from Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

Summary: When Doyle and VampLindsey from the Wishworld of the past arrive in the present-day Angelverse, it means big trouble for our heroes...

Title: One Moment Of...

***

"Is that it? Am I done?" (Allen Francis Doyle, ANGEL)

"Some things are better not seen, some things are better lost than found." (Sam Weizak, THE DEAD ZONE)

"Yes, it’s the right planet, all right. Right planet, wrong universe." (Arthur Philip Dent, MOSTLY HARMLESS)

***

Sunnydale, California. December 7th, 1998.

There is an old saying that goes something like, ‘be careful what you wish for, as you might just get it’.

In the case of a certain dark-haired, buxom high school cheerleader whose boyfriend had recently been caught cheating on her, it was advice well worth remembering.

Unfortunately, the girl was too busy ranting at the time, into the sympathetic ear of an undercover vengeance demon that had visited Sunnydale High.

And thus, from her wish, the demoness created an entirely new world: an alternate timeline, a parallel universe, known as the Wishworld.

***

Wishworld Los Angeles, California. December 8th, 1998.

In a world full of human misery and chaos, LA was on fire.

Because the vampires, and other assorted demons, were happily burning said city right down to the ground.

Here and there, during the night some buildings had exploded in furious blast waves of destruction. But mainly, the fun was being had by personally torching the metropolis.

The rest of the nation simply watched, as ‘gang riots’ were blamed for the nightmare situation. It is of academic interest to note that the state of denial had become a way of life for these jaded citizens – despite the truly staggering number of corpses, that had started piling up in the morgues and cemeteries around the country.

The problem had started all the way back in 1996; in that small town about two hours north of LA originally named Boca del Infierno, and now called Sunnydale.

An ancient vampire by the name of Heinrich Nest, or the Master as he was more commonly known, had managed to free himself from an underground prison – one which he’d been stuck in, for nearly 60 years.

And ever since old Fruit-Punch Mouth’s release, things in Los Angeles had gone from bad to worse.

Because one of his favorites, a blonde female vampire called Darla whom the Master had sired in 1609, had subsequently been sent to take over the place. And once arriving in the City of Angels, she had joyfully embarked on an orgy of blood and death.

Darla and her minions killed thousands without mercy, and approximately six months later the female vamp lord was joined by one of the few humans she had turned and not just fed upon.

A lawyer, named Lindsey MacDonald. A replacement for her lost favorite – her darling boy, Angelus – Darla’s new childe was undoubtedly one of the most vicious vampires ever created.

Up until she’d found him, Lindsey had worked for an evil law firm known as Wolfram and Hart. And before the newborn vamp had finished with his ex-employers, the company had been decimated – he and Darla slaughtered nearly 200 lawyers in one night, and then firebombed their office building as a finishing touch.

Even the English playwright William Shakespeare, who had once proclaimed that the first thing to do in cleaning house was to kill off all the lawyers, would have been horrified at the carnage.

In any event, the wreckage of the law firm’s offices still stood – a decaying monument, to the evil taking over the city. And now, on this night, it was going to be the site of a long-anticipated revenge.

In a relatively quiet neighborhood, two men walked side by side, being guided to their destination by one of the most powerful gang lords in what was left of LA. The names of these two men were Allen Francis Doyle and Trevor Lockley, and their guide’s name was Charles Gunn.

This dynamic duo had only one aim in life: to kill the vampire that had once been Lindsey MacDonald.

"What the hell am I doin’ here?" the bald, brown-skinned man asked suddenly, more to himself than his two companions.

Doyle looked at the aging police officer at his side, and then replied in his broad Irish accent, "Helpin’ us find and kill a bloodsucker, buddy boy. One that’s not only white, but also used to be a lawyer."

Gunn grinned, which was not a pleasant sight. "Oh yeah, knew there was a reason."

Trevor Lockley suddenly stopped, and pointed across the street. "Is that the place?" he asked, eyeing the former building of Wolfram and Hart.

"Yeah," replied Gunn, staring at the burnt wreck for a moment.

He took the other two men to a dark area, that had once been the entrance to the firm’s underground car park. "Now, listen. You guys go down there, you’re on your own. I appreciate you savin’ my life and all this morning, but I ain’t risking my people or my neck for you on something like this revenge gig you got goin’."

"We understand," Doyle said softly. "Thanks for doin’ this much, anyway."

"It’s cool. You be smart, you’ll get outta town soon like everyone else. I hear Texas is good, this time of year." Gunn stared at Officer Lockley, who didn’t say anything. The guide shrugged, and started to move off.

"Good luck," the gang lord tossed over his shoulder as he walked off, almost as an afterthought.

"Arrogant little piece of..." Lockley started to say angrily.

"Keep it down, old man," Doyle shushed him, making sure Gunn had gone. "He got us 'ere, and that’s all that matters."

Trevor Lockley shrugged, acknowledging the truth in his companion’s words. As said, there was only one thing that mattered to the cop anymore; getting revenge on his little girl’s killer.

< Katie... > the old man’s shoulders slumped, as they did whenever he thought of his baby being brutally drained and murdered by that damned bloodsucker. < Thank God your mother never lived to see this. >

Beside him, the ex-third grade teacher now known simply as Doyle was having similar thoughts. Only instead of a daughter, he mourned a lost wife, courtesy of VampLindsey. < Harry... >

Mrs. Harriet Doyle.

A blonde woman with a laughing smile, that Allen Francis had always wanted to spend the rest of his life with. Granted, they had gone through some rough times a few years previously – when his father’s demon genes had first come out, and he and Harry had both freaked. And they'd come THAT close to splitting up.

But then the Harvest had come, the vampires had taken over LA and the couple had decided they had to stick together, if they were to have any chance to survive. Which they had done, putting the demon thing behind them, until...

It hurt now even to think of her, but the Irishman still kept doing so at every opportunity. < Oh, Harry, I miss ya so much... >

It had been a long road, coming here tonight; these days, informants on vampire whereabouts were almost impossible to come by.

But Doyle and Lockley, who had joined forces when they discovered who and what they had in common, had gotten an anonymous tip from someone referred to only as Merl. A once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, on where VampLindsey would be this evening.

Suddenly the both of them were jolted out of their thoughts, by the sound of a crash beyond the entranceway. There was one moment of hesitation, but pulling out stakes and crosses the two men then nodded once to each other, and started off in search of their prey.

***

In the wreckage of the underground car park, VampLindsey was feeding on a human vagrant – his victim’s name was Rickie T., the boyfriend of a girl currently named Lily. A woman who, in another world, would take the name of Anne Stevens, and eventually run a homeless shelter for kids in need.

But here in this dimension, SHE was the one in need. As the girl was currently tied up, and scheduled to become VampLindsey’s next snack.

Hearing a noise behind him, the American undead flung Rickie’s corpse to the ground and turned around to see Doyle and Officer Lockley, weapons out and ready.

"Well, well. If it isn’t the Odd Couple," VampLindsey jeered.

Trevor Lockley just snarled, "You’re gonna pay for what you did to my daughter, you monster!"

"And my wife," Doyle growled menacingly.

"Your..." VampLindsey was confused. But suddenly, something clicked in the soulless demon’s memory. "Oh, right! I remember now – Kate Lockley and Harry Doyle, wasn’t it?"

The dark-haired vamp chuckled, pointing a finger at them. "I had this thing for lots of blondes back then, granted, but those two? Something to remember! Extra-special tasty."

Lockley almost lost it and charged the vampire, but a restraining arm by Doyle quickly brought him back to his senses. They then started to move around the evil creature, who immediately understood their plan to divide his attention and subsequently stake him.

Knowing that Doyle was half-demon/half-human from his smell, and to distract them and hopefully give himself an opening, VampLindsey decided to go on the offensive. "Your wife’s better off dead, you know," he said to the Irishman, keeping one eye on the veteran cop, "than being married to an ugly half-breed like you."

Trevor Lockley looked at his partner in confusion, as Doyle had never told him about his half-Brachen demon ancestry. Which was just as well, as the police officer would almost certainly have killed him or been killed by him.

Unfortunately for the human, though, VampLindsey used that confusion to jump the cop and start sucking on his neck.

"NO!!!" yelled Doyle, and rushed them.

Pulling VampLindsey off before he’d drained the man, the half-breed and the vampire started trying to kill each other. But during the course of the battle, Doyle had to revert to his green spiky demon face to keep up with the ex-lawyer, as the two fighters went at it.

Lockley just lay watching in shock, as he saw his erstwhile friend and companion suddenly revealed as one of the monsters. Not knowing what else to do Trevor dragged himself over to Lily, who had been watching all of this in silence through her gag, and managed to release her.

Barely giving him a quick nod of thanks, the blonde girl instantly got up and vanished into the shadows.

Turning his attention back to the fight, Lockley saw that somehow, Doyle had gotten the upper hand, pinning VampLindsey against the wall. Reverting back to his human features, Doyle shouted to Officer Lockley, "Stake!!"

Without thinking, the old man instantly complied; catching the weapon, Doyle turned and plunged it straight into the vampire’s heart.

And with only an impotent glare of hatred at his executioner, VampLindsey exploded into ashes.

Less than a second after he was dusted though, far away in Sunnydale, a man named Rupert Giles smashed the power center of the vengeance demon known as Anyanka. And with that action, the Wishworld vanished in a burst of white light, as if it had never been.

***

Angelverse Los Angeles, California. April 20th, 2001.

The woman now known as Anne Stevens was walking quickly down the street, her arms full of supplies. On account of it was past sunset, and if there was one thing she had learnt in her short life, it was that no place is safe on the streets in LA after dark.

Heading for her teen shelter over on Crenshaw, the blonde woman stopped and cursed when one of her bags slipped and fell to the pavement. One can rolled away into an alley, and Anne went off to get it.

She should have let it go however, because as she entered the alley, the human stumbled upon a vampire beating up a demon.

Drusilla.

A 141-year-old dark-haired female vampire, originally from London – who was very beautiful, and had genuine psychic powers. Plus, fading burn marks on her skin.

And in addition, was now completely and utterly insane.

Her victim’s name was Merl, the demon who’d helped Doyle and Trevor Lockley in the Wishworld. In this dimension though, he was no longer a professional informant, on account of Drusilla’s sire – the souled vampire Angel, formerly known as Angelus.

He who had been the Scourge of Europe, the demon with the face of an angel – the one who had driven Dru mad, before he’d turned her into a creature of the night.

"Fire has such pretty colors," Drusilla said suddenly in her English-accented voice, as her fist plunged into Merl’s stomach. "So bright 'n pretty. Just like my Daddy."

"Please..."

"No, no, no! Miss Edith says you’ve been a very bad boy, 'elping the Angel-beast. Now, you’ve got to take your medicine," Drusilla replied in a singsong voice, as she hit Merl once again.

"I’m sorry..." the demon wheezed, when the vampiress interrupted him once more.

"Shush! Now, you owe for the flesh. The flesh and the spirit, y’see, which is one 'n the same thing. That’s the why the chin-choppers and golly-woppers, they’ve been discussin’ the amputation of your head."

Despite the Drusilla-speak, Merl understood what she meant perfectly well. Looking around desperately, he spotted Anne near the mouth of the alley. "Help!!" he screamed.

The dark-haired vampiress, who had been too absorbed in her work to notice the woman before this, quickly came up to her – before Anne could even blink. "Run and catch, run and catch, the lamb is caught in the blackberry patch," she sang, as the human girl dropped her stuff and tried to move away.

As far as the director of the teen shelter was concerned, this was one of her worst nightmares come true. Alone with a vampire, and nowhere to run.

Anne’s memory travelled back four years, to an underground room in the town of Sunnydale. The first time she had ever seen a vampire. And as soon as she did so, Drusilla gasped.

"The stars say you’re special, pet. Remember me? Chantarelle, Sister Sunshine, Lily – Anne! Psst! Psst! Psst! Billy Fordham says the Lonely Ones are comin’ to save us. O’ course, he never liked worms in his baguette, so his opinion don’t count."

Her words triggered a deep sense of shock in the young woman, hearing the name of a dead acquaintance and the different names she had used in her life. Then Anne gasped just like the crazed vampiress had, as her memory sharpened.

"I-I’ve met you before..." she stammered, remembering what had happened with Dru and her then-paramour Spike on that night, so long ago. < This is not happening... >

Drusilla clapped her hands, smiling. "Yes! Yes! Yes! Well done, kitten!" Then suddenly, the undead creature put on her game face, and growled through her fangs. "I’m hungry."

But just as she was getting ready to jump Anne, a cross came out of nowhere and forced the insane English undead to back off, snarling all the while.

Anne looked up to her savior, and stared at the determined blonde features of Kate Lockley.

An ex-policewoman, the demon hunter gave the vampire a long look. "Don’t try anything, Drusilla," she warned the vamp, getting a stake out of her pocket.

"Now that’s rude," Drusilla said, with a haughty tone. "I could be your mummy."

Although there was no external sign of it, on the inside Kate shivered. "My mother died a long time ago."

"So did your Daddy," Drusilla mused, starting to sway on her feet. "I lost my Daddy too, y’know, so long ago." Then she looked back and forth, at Kate and Anne. "Oh, look! Pretty maids, lined up in a row. My Daddy would want to save you."

Suddenly, she shivered. "But he won’t. Naughty naughty, on the other side of the rainbow. Trying to save a cow, from her beloved brave white knight! The stars will be all upset."

The vampire’s words meant nothing to all the others present, who’d had more than enough of her lunacy. "Go away, Drusilla," Kate hissed, holding up the crucifix and bringing Anne around so that the exit to the alley was clear. "Go find Darla, go stake yourself, I don’t care. Just leave!"

Looking oddly hurt, the vampiress did so without a backward glance and the two humans sighed in relief. "Are you okay?" Kate asked the other woman.

Anne nodded, trying to get her heart to stop racing. "Thanks for saving my life, uh...?"

"Kate Lockley. Formerly of the LAPD," the ex-detective explained.

"Anne Stevens. Of the East Hills Teen Shelter," the other blonde introduced herself. "Um, do you want to come back to my place for a cup of coffee? I know it’s not much for saving my life, but..."

"That’ll be fine," Kate smiled, taking a liking to her new acquaintance.

"Hello!! Any chance of helping a demon in need here!?"

Both women turned around, at the sound of Merl’s voice. Having been temporarily forgotten by everybody, the ex-snitch was lying on the ground, in terrible shape from Drusilla’s beating.

Kate turned up her lip. "I’m not in the demon-saving business," she said simply, starting to turn away.

"Wait! I heard about you, lady. You and Angel, my former boss, you’re plenty tight. And, uh, Anne Stevens, right? I helped Angel uncover that scam, that Wolfram and Hart was springing on you. So pretty please, as a favor to him and somebody in big trouble?"

Kate looked at Anne, who simply shrugged. "I’ve met Angel," the woman confessed. "Maybe this guy...has a point. I don’t think it’d hurt, anyway, if we just patched him up at my place down the street."

Kate shrugged herself, giving in and with Anne’s assistance, helped Merl get up as they headed for safety.

***

East Hills Teen Shelter, Los Angeles, California. Fifteen minutes later.

In a secluded area of the shelter, Kate and Anne worked on Merl’s injuries. The demon, because of his supernatural healing factor, soon felt a lot better.

"So," the ex-informant said, "thanks a lot. And I mean that."

"No problem," Anne shrugged, putting away her stuff.

Merl felt strangely indebted to these mortals, and he didn’t like it. It was a demon thing. So to get rid of the feeling of owing something to them, he asked simply, "Anything I can do for you guys? Remember, I’m a demon. We’re not talking human limitations here."

Both women shrugged, looking at each other. "No."

But Merl persisted. "Come on! There’s gotta be something. Your true heart’s desire, maybe? 'Cause this opportunity ain’t gonna be coming again, you know."

Suddenly, Kate withdrew her wallet from the back pocket of her jeans and got out a picture of her father. Trevor Lockley looked handsome and dignified in it, unlike the last image she’d had of him – lying dead in his home, an empty corpse after the vampires were done feeding.

"I wish...I just wish I could have had the chance to say goodbye," she murmured, fighting to hold back tears.

Seeing this, Anne quietly took out a photo of her old dead boyfriend. In this world, she had lost Rickie when he had been kidnapped, and spent the rest of his life as a slave in another dimension.

They looked so young in the photograph; their faces, while not innocent, still had a definite air of naivete about them in the stilled image. "Me too."

Merl just stared. "No problem," the demon said casually. "One temporal fold coming right up."

Snapping their heads up, the women both said, "Huh?"

Sighing, the ex-information broker explained that he knew a spell to do the job. "A couple of decades back, I was in this demon dimension – what was it called, Arash Ma’har? Whatever. Anyways, this guy D’hoffryn, he gives me the royal tour. And I learned a lot."

The two women looked unconvinced, and Merl sighed. "I just need some ingredients for the spell, and your assistance to get you a glimpse into the past. I mean, what have you guys got to lose?"

Kate and Anne could not help agreeing with his logic, and so a few minutes later they were all set up for the magic ritual. "This is gonna be perfectly safe, right?" Kate asked nervously. She couldn’t help the feeling, though, that this was gonna blow up in their faces somehow.

Anne was also having second thoughts. "There’s no danger at all?"

Merl looked exasperated. "Yeah, for cryin’ out loud! Now look, I just pour the sand on the photos, we offer the supplication to Eryishon the Endless One, and hey presto! Candid Camera in action, and you guys get to say the Big Goodbye. Okay?"

Kate and Anne looked at each other again. "Okay," Anne said. "You ready?"

Kate nodded. "I guess."

Merl got ready inside the sacred circle he had drawn, and took a deep breath. "Eryishon. K’shala. Meh-uhn."

Anne reached out with her hand palm up, keeping it tip-to-tip with Merl’s. "Diprecht. Doh-tehenlo nu-Eryishon."

Merl then picked up the bottle of sand, held it over the photos and intoned, "The child to the mother."

Kate replied, "The river to the sea."

Closing her eyes, Anne completed the ritual saying, "Eryishon, hear our prayer."

Merl then poured the sand, and a low rumble of magical power issued forth. Surprised by the intensity of the spell, Merl leaned back, when a pillar of light appeared over the photographs.

"What’s happening!?" Kate yelled.

The rumbling sound increased, as the spell’s power grew stronger and the building began to shake. "I don’t know!" Merl shouted back. "It shouldn’t be goin’ down like this!"

Suddenly, all three of them were assaulted by visions of the Wishworld: of buildings burning, and demons singing while roasting human beings on a spit.

Gunn and his gang fighting the undead, vampires dusting and humans dying on the streets.

Gunn, Doyle and Trevor Lockley walking to the ruins of the Wolfram and Hart building.

VampLindsey feasting on Rickie.

Lily escaping from the carpark, as Trevor lay near Rickie’s corpse.

Doyle having VampLindsey in a stranglehold, and about to call for a stake...

When suddenly, both the vampire and the half-demon disappeared.

With a sudden surge of light, the pillar of energy disappeared, and all three participants in the ritual moved back, stunned.

"What the hell was that?" Anne demanded. "I saw...myself? And Rickie – but he didn’t die like that! I mean, Lindsey MacDonald’s a lawyer, not a bloodsucker!"

"Same difference," Merl muttered under his breath.

Kate agreed with her new friend. "I should have known better than to trust a demon! Look, this was a mistake. Just get out. And take your magic tricks with you!"

Looking hurt, Merl nevertheless did as she commanded. "Unbelievable. Nobody has any gratitude these days..." he grumbled, to hide the fact he was as shaken as they were.

The women watched, as the demon left the room. Then Kate got up, and said her good-byes to Anne. "Thanks for the coffee, but I gotta go. I’ll, uh, see ya around, I guess."

"Of course," Anne smiled, as the other blonde began to leave. "And thanks again for saving my life."

***

Wolfram and Hart carpark, Los Angeles, California. A few minutes earlier.

Almost ready to stake the vampire that had killed his wife, Allen Francis Doyle went through one moment of disorientation and confusion, after the space-time transport whisked him and his enemy away into an alien universe.

That moment was all VampLindsey needed to belt Doyle aside, head for a sewer entrance and disappear.

The half-demon got up, morphed into human appearance and stared around in complete amazement. Just a moment before, he had been standing in a dark hole about to kill a vampire.

Now, he was in the middle of an obviously-used carpark, complete with lights, cars and signs of an intact human civilization.

< What the hell...? >

A security guard came up to him, withdrawing his nightstick. "Excuse me sir, but what are you doing here?"

Doyle looked around and could only stammer in amazement, "What happened?"

The guard was confused. "What do you mean?"

"Where did all this come from?" Doyle asked, gesturing around himself. "Where am I?" Then he looked closely at the man. "And where did ya get the uniform and weaponry? The demons’ll kill ya on sight, you fool, if they see ya walkin’ around like that!"

The guard had heard enough. "If you don’t move along, I’m taking you inside for questioning. In fact..." he reached for his radio.

But Doyle wasn’t out of it enough not to get the situation, and after knocking out the other man he quickly disappeared into the night.

***

Hyperion Hotel, Los Angeles, California. A few hours later.

Cordelia Chase sat back in her chair behind her desk, at Angel Investigations headquarters. And thought that maybe, just maybe, the worst was over and things were finally getting back to normal.

< Well, as normal as my life gets these days, anyway. > As recently, Cordy had encountered the vampire that used to be her best friend Harmony Kendall, and she had barely escaped getting killed after its inevitable betrayal of her.

The young woman had come a long way from the spoilt cheerleader though, who had inadvertently created the Wishworld. She was stronger now, smarter and definitely tougher.

Plus, Cordelia had become a seer, and received visions from those entities known as the Powers-That-Be.

It had happened over a year ago, when the Doyle native to this dimension had died to save her, some half-demons, and his best friend Angel. Doyle had kissed her goodbye, and leapt to his death, giving her the only worthwhile thing he had to give; the bone-wrenching, mind-numbing, hellishly painful visions of people in trouble.

Sometimes, Cordy wasn’t sure if Doyle shouldn’t have kissed Angel instead...

< Speak of the devil... > The vampire cursed with a human soul entered the room, and gave her a nervous smile. One which after a moment, she similarly returned.

Well, the being currently calling himself Angel certainly had a great deal to be nervous about, to be sure. Originally sired by Darla in 1753 in the village of Galway, Ireland, the soulless Angelus had cut an unrivalled swath of destruction and evil across Europe for over 140 years.

Until he’d fed on a Romany gypsy girl, and the elders of the clan punished him by restoring his soul in 1898.

Guilt and brooding, thy true name be ‘Angel’.

For over 90 years, he had become a recluse; until the Powers-That-Be had chosen him as their warrior, and given him the chance for redemption. One that he had nearly squandered, on account of the one who had originally damned him in the first place.

According to official records, Darla and Angelus had been together for nearly 150 years, until the curse. And then 98 years later, he’d staked her with a soul in his heart.

But her death then hadn’t been the end, by any means – she had been reborn as a human by the actions of Wolfram and Hart, and then revamped by Drusilla, her ‘granddaughter’.

Something that had driven Angel over the edge, and practically made Cordelia hate him. Until he’d had an epiphany, and come to his senses – just in time to save her life.

Cordelia wasn’t sure if she had entirely forgiven him, even when he had bought her clothes to make up for the ones he had given away to Anne Stevens. But at least now, the disgust and near-loathing was gone.

"Cordy?" he asked.

"Yeah?" she replied, getting up and moving away from the desk.

"I was thinking on going out later for something to eat. You want anything?"

< Ewww, > the girl with blond-streaked hair thought. < If I’d had an appetite before, the idea of Angel feeding on blood has like TOTALLY killed it. > "No thanks," she said quickly. "In fact, I might go home."

"Wait," Angel said at once. "I mean, the others will want to talk to you."

Right on cue, a group of people came out of the inner office; the one that had once been Angel’s, before he had decided to work for his human friends in atonement for his sins, and not the other way around.

Kate Lockley, Charles Gunn and Wesley Wyndham-Pryce.

In this universe, Gunn was not all that different from what he’d been in the Wishworld of the past. Still a hunter of the evil creatures in his city, the black man was a danger to every demon and vampire in LA – but now had other responsibilities, and watched out for his new family.

In contrast, the dark-haired Englishman that was Wesley couldn’t have been any more different from his otherworldly counterpart. Now in command of the group comprising the Angel Investigations detective agency, he had matured and was no longer the wimp-like Watcher for the vampire Slayer that he had once been in this world, and the other.

Kate said somberly, "And that’s what happened. After I saved, uh, Anne from that bloodsucker, this evil thing we helped did the...magic thing, which was majorly weird. So I thought you guys should know."

"Evil thing? Magic thing?" Cordelia asked in confusion.

"Merl’s back in town, and up to something," Wesley said instantly, wondering if he should get in touch with the demon for information.

"So’s Drusilla," continued Angel, looking down. Then he looked at Wesley. "Uh, Wes? What do we do?"

Wesley looked at Kate, who stared back at him. "Thank you for the information, Det- er, Miss Lockley," the Englishman stumbled over her ex-title. "We’ll get on this right away. If we learn anything, we’ll, um, let you know at once, of course."

Kate looked around and getting the feeling she wasn’t wanted, simply nodded and left the hotel. As soon as she was gone, Cordelia asked, "Okay. Now what was it you didn’t want to discuss in front of her?"

"It’s rather complicated," Wesley started to say. "But it appears that we have two problems. Apart from Drusilla, our old acquaintance Merl has apparently performed some sort of arcane ritual, which...upset the two ladies. We need to investigate that as well as Drusilla’s activities, to make sure nothing untoward has happened – or if it has, to take care of the situation."

He stared at the group, his expression hardening. "By whatever means necessary."

"Right. So, English, what’s the plan?" Gunn asked his friend.

Wesley looked at him. "We’ll split up into two teams – one will go after Drusilla, the other will look for Merl." Hesitating, he adjusted his glasses and then continued, "Cordelia and I will look for the vampire, you and Angel try to find the demon."

Gunn immediately objected, as he hadn’t yet reached the point of being comfortable alone with Angel. "Maybe it’d be better if..."

At the same time, Angel – aware of what Gunn was feeling – started to say, "I don’t think..."

Wesley slammed a 1200-year-old book down on the table, and the other two men shut up. "Now listen to me," the Englishman said sternly. "It’s obvious that you two aren’t the best of friends, and probably won’t be for quite a while longer. BUT...we all work together. You two need to get over what’s happened, and be able to TRUST each other. Your lives may depend on it. So get going!"

Astonished, Angel and Gunn just looked at one another, and then left the hotel in silence.

Cordelia looked at Wesley. "That was weird," she said, with her usual lack of tact. "This leadership thing? Wes, I kinda think maybe it’s going to your head."

Wesley ignored that, and getting the weapons just told her to hurry up and help him so that they could go find Drusilla.

***

Wolfram and Hart carpark, a few hours later.

Extremely confused, VampLindsey had gone back to where it had all started. Or rather, where everything had all stopped making sense.

After he had escaped death at Doyle’s hands, the ex-lawyer had wandered around the city at night. And to this soulless vampire, everything had been very strange, as human beings were the rulers of this world.

VampLindsey had watched them running around everywhere on the streets, and...the city was no longer in flames. < What’s going on? > he’d mostly thought in confusion.

Eventually the vamp had come to an all-night newsstand, and after making a quick brutal snack out of the vendor, glanced at a newspaper.

The shock would have made his heart stop beating, if he’d still been the human being he once was.

< Three years into the future? > VampLindsey didn’t want to believe it. < How could this have happened? >

Thus, the demon found himself back at the carpark. Waiting for what, he didn’t know.

But when he saw his alter ego, the Lindsey MacDonald of this dimension walking to his car – alive and human, and currently the co-vice president of the Special Projects division – VampLindsey was sure he was trapped in a nightmare.

Shrugging off the feeling, the undead Lindsey intercepted his counterpart. The human looked around, and his eyes bulged at the sight of the soulless vamp. "What the-"

VampLindsey grabbed him by the throat. "Take us someplace safe, or I’ll kill you right now. We need to talk."

They got into the car and drove off. Later at Lindsey’s apartment building, the human and the vampire walked down the corridor, heading for the lawyer’s home.

VampLindsey looked around distastefully. "You actually live here? What a dump."

The Lindsey native to this world made no reply. Because he knew, without a doubt, that he was in deep trouble.

Lindsey MacDonald, in this dimension, was a man of mixed feelings. On the one hand, he still had all the anger, which had attracted Darla to him in the Wishworld. But on the other, he’d also had moments of compassion that couldn’t be explained, to his colleagues and enemies alike.

He’d felt dirty, working for Wolfram and Hart. Defending evil and helping demons, in return for health, prosperity and stock options. And now, apparently, it was time to pay the piper.

Lindsey unlocked his front door and tried to go in, but VampLindsey grabbed him the shoulder, grinned and snarled, "Invite me to come in, first."

Lindsey didn’t know why he was surprised. Shrugging, he said, "I invite you in already."

They entered, and Lindsey went to fix himself a drink. "Who are you?" he tossed out the question.

"I’m Lindsey MacDonald," the vampire grinned. "And you know what? I can’t believe I used to be a pathetic little something just like you."

The human held up his right arm, showing the fake plastic hand attached. "Not exactly like me, I’d say."

VampLindsey looked curious. "How did that happen?"

Lindsey grimaced. "This vampire, Angel? He got overly familiar with an axe."

VampLindsey looked astonished. "You mean Angelus? The puppy got loose?"

The human was now confused. "What are you talking about?"

The vampire made a quick decision, and told Lindsey about Angel and Darla in his world, and how Darla was his sire. "So. Why didn’t she make you, like she did me?"

Lindsey didn’t know what to make of his story, so he decided to go with the truth. "Because Darla was human, when I first met her."

VampLindsey looked confused, and the lawyer told him about his world, what had happened with Angel, Darla and Drusilla here. The vampire couldn’t believe any of it – Darla’s rebirth by the ritual of the Raising, the massacre in Holland Manners’ wine cellar, Angel setting Darla and Drusilla on fire, nothing.

And the vamped ex-lawyer especially couldn’t believe it, when he later heard that Kate Lockley was still alive here, and Allen Francis Doyle was the one who was dead.

It took a while, but both of them eventually reached the same conclusion – that they came from two different worlds. Literally.

"I have a proposal for you," the vampire said thoughtfully to his counterpart. "I’ll help you get Angel, if you help me get Kate Lockley. And Harry Doyle, if she’s still alive."

VampLindsey didn’t mention that in addition, once his usefulness as a human was over, he would turn his other self into a vampire. < Humanity is overrated, anyway. And he’s got to know who to kill around here... >

Lindsey hesitated, but he knew that he couldn’t afford to appear weak. Vampires were predators, and could smell fear. "Fine."

The human knew however that the vampire was up to something, and so he just had to hold on till he could somehow figure a way out of this.

***

‘Caritas’ Karaoke bar, Los Angeles, California. April 21st, 2001.

Sometime after midnight, Doyle showed up at the establishment of the Host. Desperate for information, he quickly buzzed for entrance into the place.

He had been wandering around the city, just as confused as VampLindsey had been. And like the vampire before him, the Irishman had discovered that the year was now 2001, and not 1998 anymore.

Unlike the soulless demon though, his astonishment had been tempered with delight at what had happened.

< They’ve fixed up the city real good in three years, > Doyle had thought approvingly to himself. < But I wonder what happened to all the vamps? Huh, maybe the Slayer came and finally took out Darla, and sent all the rest of 'em packin’. >

It seemed a reasonable assumption, until a lot of holes appeared in the theory.

Doyle had gone home, and found another family living there. Not exactly strange perhaps, given all the time he had been away, but the landlord – the same one the half-breed remembered – had claimed never to have seen him before.

Then the Irishman had hit all the demon hangouts he’d frequented, and everybody Doyle had known – and quite a few people he hadn’t – had stared at the half-Brachen demon in amazement. Saying more or less the same phrase.

"I thought you were dead."

The seer didn’t entirely understand it, but people thought he had died before the advent of the year 2000. Everyone was vague on the details, but apparently that was not surprising – considering the deadly band of pure demons known as the Scourge, had been involved.

< Am I gonna die in a year or so? > It was a question Doyle couldn’t answer. And trying to access the Oracles, the channels to the Powers-that-Be, hadn’t worked either – because in this time and in this place, they were as dead as he was.

Thus, he found himself now looking up the Host.

The red-horned, green-skinned, anagogic demon known informally as the Host opened up the entrance to ‘Caritas’, and Doyle greeted him like an old friend. "Lorne! Thank heaven you’re here! 'Cause I got a real problem, man!"

The reply was more or less what he’d expected. "Hi there," the Host said in his comforting voice. "Welcome to ‘Caritas’. We’re closed right now, but..."

Doyle just barged in, not waiting for the Host to finish. "Listen, somethin’ weird is happening!"

"Obviously, my little lost lamb, but who are you?"

Now, that was NOT what Doyle had expected him to say. "What?" he choked out in his thick Irish brogue.

"Listen, it’s been a long night. Too many demons, suddenly liking Barry Manilow! So if you want to come back tomorrow..."

"Damn it, Lorne, don’t do this to me! I need yer help – something’s really wrong with the world, and I dunno what even happened!" Suddenly, the alien Doyle made a decision, and started to sing an old song he remembered. "Get your motor runnin’..."

The Host grabbed the counter to steady himself, as he suddenly read the future of the half-demon. "Whoa!"

"Hey, Krevlorneswath of the Deathwok clan – are ye alright now?"

"Please don’t call me that, ya great big hunk of hero sandwich you..."

"Right back at 'cha – the name’s Doyle!"

"Pleased to meet you." The Host finally shook his head free of the cobwebs. "Unfortunately, I’m not the one you need to find to fix your little...problem."

Doyle didn’t look happy. "Then who is it I need?"

The Host just shrugged. "Who do you call, when you want someone to help the helpless?" he said, as he started dialing the number for Angel Investigations.

***

Half an hour later, Angel and Gunn walked in through the open doorway. "Yo, Host Guy, ya know what? You really oughtta lock your doors," Gunn commented to the demon, as he and the vampire crossed the threshold into the bar.

When Angel and Doyle laid eyes on each other, there was shock and confusion on both sides. Angel because sight and smell told him that his best friend had been resurrected from the dead, and Doyle because a damned bloodsucker had entered the room.

It was another matter of academic importance that about two seconds later, Angel would have almost certainly experienced one moment of pure happiness, and let loose his evil alter ego Angelus onto the world. When his curse was broken, and his soul stripped away from him.

"DOYLE!!" Angel yelled, and took one step forward.

But the Messenger from the Powers-That-Be simply snarled, pulled out a stake and yelled, "Don’t come any closer!" Then he glared at the Host. "THIS was yer idea of helpin’ me?" Then Doyle reverted to his demon face, with green spikes and red eyes.

Gunn didn’t know what was going on. So he just reacted on instinct; lifting up his custom-made axe, he closed up ranks with Angel, and prepared himself for a fight.

Suddenly, Doyle noticed him. Changing back to human form, he glared at the black man. "And you! What are you doin’ together with the likes of 'im? You turned into a turncoat for the vamps over the years, or what?"

Unfortunately that just got Gunn mad, and he took a step forward. "I’m thinkin’ I know how to take care of wise-ass demons like you, ya little..."

"Boys, boys!" the Host interrupted. "Calm down! Violence isn’t possible here, remember?"

Doyle looked at him in confusion. Gunn then turned and asked Angel, "Who is this guy?"

Angel replied in shock, "This is Doyle. He was a friend-"

Doyle snarled, "In yer dreams, ya undead piece of filth!"

Angel ignored that and continued, "-who died before you and Wesley showed up, saving me, Cordy and a bunch of half-Listen demon refugees."

There was one moment of silence, before Doyle went, "Huh?"

Angel started to explain, but Doyle didn’t believe a word of it. In fact, if anything he was wondering why Angel hadn’t tried to drag everyone away, and kill them or something. "What’s yer game?" he asked the vampire bluntly.

"What?"

"What are ye really up to? Why are ya talkin’ to me like we’re old friends?"

Angel sighed, giving up. "This is pointless. He hates vampires."

Gunn agreed, "I hear that. Man’s never gonna believe you got a human soul in there."

Doyle was about to make a smart comment, when suddenly a flash of memory sputtered in his brain. He had heard rumors...bar rumors for the most part, about a vampire that had been tortured like a human in Sunnydale, by the Master’s minions.

Because he’d had a soul, and had tried to help humanity. < Is it possible...? >

"Angelus?" Doyle said slowly.

All three of the others quickly turned around, and stared at him. "I heard the stories," Doyle said quietly, losing a lot of his anger. "How you were tortured by them favorite vamps of the Master, what were their names...Willow? Xander?"

Angel would have gone deathly white if he’d been human, as with one moment of insight he finally understood. "Oh, God."

"What?" asked Gunn, not getting any of this at all.

"I know who you are now," Angel said, to the visitor from another world. "And where you came from."

"You do?" asked Doyle, Gunn and the Host all at the same time.

"Yeah," Angel replied, quickly averting his eyes. "Things are very...different, where you come from, right?"

"Well, yeah...and then there’s the fact that it’s not 1998 anymore..."

"Now why’d you think that we was livin’ back then?" asked Gunn.

"You come from that long ago?" asked Angel in amazement, ignoring Gunn’s comment. "Listen...I need you to trust me. You see basically, Doyle, this is...well, this isn’t your world. You’re in another dimension, as well as in the future."

"What?" exclaimed Doyle and Gunn at the same time. The Host just stared at Angel.

"I can prove it," the souled vampire said quickly. "There are bound to be people dead in your universe, that are still alive here. What about-" Angel hesitated, then continued on. "What about your wife? Is Harriet still alive, where you come from?"

Doyle couldn’t help the murderous fury in his eyes – mentioning his lost Harry might have been the worst thing Angel could have done. But it had been necessary.

"She’s alive here. And I’ll prove it," Angel quickly said. Getting out his Nokia cell phone, he quickly dialled Wesley and Cordelia. "Hello? Yeah, it’s me Angel. Listen, you need to come to ‘Caritas’. But first, I need you to find Harriet Doyle, and bring her here with you."

Angel listened to the angry tirade for a few moments, before interrupting. "I know it’s insane, and it’ll take a while. But it has to be done. Now please, just do it!"

Angel pushed the end call button, and looked at his companions. "They’re on their way."

***

Over an hour later, the trio comprised of Wesley, Cordelia and Harriet trooped into the Karaoke bar. Not knowing why they were there, and with plenty of other things to do.

"Angel, you better have a very good reason for dragging us all the way over here, otherwise I swear I’ll..." Cordelia broke off, as she took in the occupants of the musical hangout. Angel, Gunn, the Host and... < Doyle?! >

"Francis?" whispered Harry in shock. She strode over to the man, who looked like her ex-husband. "Francis...?"

Doyle was in even greater shock than she was. Because this WAS his Harry. Sight, sound, smell... "Have I died 'n gone to Heaven?" the half-demon asked, not sure he really wanted to know the answer.

Then all of a sudden, Harry slapped him across the face. Hard.

"HOW DARE YOU!?" she screamed at him. "You made me think you were dead! First you wreck our marriage, and now this? What did you think, that we were gonna get back together after you pulled this sort of lamebrain stunt? Well, if that’s the case, let me tell you..."

Doyle was utterly confused, and amazingly enough had turned to the one person who seemed to know what was going on. Angel.

The souled vampire stepped forward. "Harry." As all heads turned to face him, the former Scourge of Europe said simply, "That’s not Doyle."

As people looked ready to protest, he held up his hand. "Wait, let me rephrase that. He’s...a Doyle. But he’s not OUR Doyle."

Wesley got it at once but Angel explained for the others, briefly, what he thought had happened. "So you see, the magic spell that Merl did...it must have brought him here, from that other world."

"You mean, it’s like that thing with VampWillow all over again?" asked Cordelia, rolling her eyes.

"What? This happen before?" Gunn was stunned. Doyle looked surprised too, trying to digest everything in his head.

"Long story," Wesley quickly said. "We, er, need to focus on what’s happening here and now."

Harry and Doyle stared at each other, oblivious to the others. "So...I’m dead here, like you’re dead where I come from?" the half-man said slowly.

The blonde woman looked shocked. "I’m dead?"

Doyle nodded. "Died from a vampire attack, love, back in '97," causing Harry to shiver. The half-demon then reached out a hand in wonder and touched her cheek, causing the blonde woman to shiver for an entirely different reason.

After all, they had been married – if not exactly to each other – and the memories had remained. And suddenly, the two came together and just started kissing furiously.

Observing this, Cordelia felt a strange feeling in the pit of her stomach. < That isn’t Doyle, > she reminded herself angrily. < He didn’t even look at you. He probably doesn’t even KNOW you. >

In point of fact, that was absolutely correct, but it was still hard for her to watch the two of them go at it like that. Because Cordelia knew that she and her Doyle could have had something special, if he hadn’t died on that ship.

< Am I feeling jealous? > the seer thought to herself. < Hey, that’s insa – aghhhhhhh! >

Cordelia and Doyle both groaned out loud, putting identical hands to their heads as the vision swept through their minds. The Irishman releasing Harry, and moving away.

// A carpark somewhere. Wesley standing alone, staring off to the side. Then falling to the ground unconscious as Drusilla hit him on the back of the head, full game face on. //

Moaning in pain the two Messengers started to fall, as their companions crowded around them. But Angel caught Cordy, and Harry grabbed Doyle. The Irishman then looked at Cordelia in wonder and asked, "Did you-?"

"Yeah. Great gift you gave me there, Doyle!" she snapped out, scrabbling for some painkillers. < Please, don’t let me be bleeding from my ears again... >

Doyle just took out his hip flask and took a long sip of alcohol, oblivious to the disapproving stare of Harriet.

"What happened? What’d ya see?" asked Gunn.

"Wesley," Cordelia said, looking at the man as Doyle also nodded. "Drusilla got you from behind."

"Right," said the Englishman, who had been quiet up till now. Still trying to process everything, he said simply, "Thank you both, for the warning. Any idea where it, uh, happens? And when?"

"Carpark somewhere, that’s all I got," Doyle muttered. It had been so long since he’d had a vision, that he’d forgotten how painful they were. Caught up in the memories, the Irishman then remembered his first time – and how he’d found the slaughtered Brachen demons later, alone and nauseous.

Suddenly, they all heard a crash from outside. Leaving the bar, the group went up outside ‘Caritas’ to investigate, when Lindsey MacDonald appeared out of the shadows. The lawyer caught Harry in a stranglehold, holding her back against his chest.

"Nobody move!" he ordered, as the group turned to face him.

And then, to make a bad situation worse, VampLindsey came out, sneering at all of them.

Doyle breathed, "You..." He tried to lunge at the vamped ex-lawyer, but Wesley held him back by the arm. As the half-demon glanced at the ex-Watcher, he understood what the man was silently telling him. < Not while they’ve got Harry like that. >

"How the heck did we end up with two of 'em?" Gunn wanted to know, getting sick of all the surprises.

"Can’t believe I forgot to mention it, but the spell brought 'im along as well," Doyle spat out, glaring at the bloodsucker.

"Now, this is an interesting turn of events," the undead monster said mockingly, feet gliding along the pavement with inhuman grace. "Hmmm, riddle me this, riddle me that. How did the man move..."

And in the blink of an eye, VampLindsey had his hands around Cordelia’s throat.

"...as quick as a cat?"

"Get your hands off me, you SICKO!" Cordelia shouted, starting to struggle.

"Cordelia!" Wesley yelled, and the woman understood and stopped struggling. "Let them go," Wesley then ordered the vamp and his human accomplice, in his most authoritative voice.

"Or you’ll get a taste of this," Gunn threatened, brandishing his axe.

"YOU’LL do that? I don’t think so," the vampire sneered. "Not with the hostages I got, you human moron."

"Lindsey," Angel suddenly said, looking at the lawyer, who merely returned the souled vampire’s glance with a look of hatred. "You know what I’ll do to you, if-"

"Enough chit-chat!" VampLindsey suddenly shouted. "I have no intention of depriving myself of the pleasure of the company of these lovely ladies. So, we’re leaving. Don’t try to follow. You," he said, pointing at Wesley. "Head towards the car, we’re going for a ride."

Angel vamped out, his game face prominent. He growled, "If you two so much as harm one hair on their heads..."

VampLindsey laughed, his features melting and rearranging to also show the demon within. "Now, is that any way to talk to your brother?"

Angel almost shivered, realizing that Darla had sired him in that other world. < DAMN her... >

VampLindsey continued, "Find Kate Lockley. Bring her to the Wolfram and Hart carpark in two hours, or your friends are dead!"

There was a shocked silence as VampLindsey nodded to his human counterpart, and they plus the hostages got into the lawyer’s car as Wesley drove it away.

"What does he want with Kate?" Angel asked no one in particular.

"Uh..." Doyle stammered. "My guess is the sick bastard wants to relive the past. What he did to both Katie and Harry...oh my God, Harry..."

"You’ll get them back," the Host said quietly. Everyone turned to look at him. "Well, I hope so, anyway."

***

Wolfram and Hart carpark, two hours later.

At that time of morning the area was deserted, as not even the lawyers-cum-servants of evil came to work so early. Two cars showed up; the Lindseys and their hostages on one side, and the good guys on the other.

Angel looked at the other party, and to his relief everyone appeared to be okay. He glanced back into the car at Merl’s slumped figure, and thanked whatever powers had helped him find the demon’s temporary lair so quickly.

"Hey!" Merl had yelled, when Angel had broken in through the door. "Don’t you know how to knock?"

Angel had simply slugged him, and the demon had bent over with a groan. "Now I remember why I didn’t want to come back to this town! What was I thinking, lousy family business..."

"Shut up," Angel had growled at him. "Just come with me, and pray that my friends don’t get hurt because of what you did – or else I’ll castrate you. And that’s just for starters."

Angel had then dragged the ex-snitch away, while Doyle and Gunn had gone to find Kate.

The ex-detective’s eyes had gone wide, when she’d seen Doyle. "I thought you were dead," she’d said to the half-demon.

Doyle had just closed his eyes and groaned, truly sick of hearing that. "We need yer help, Katie-"

"Katie?"

"Never mind," Doyle had said quickly. It had been so strange to see her alive and well, after the way Trevor had described her death to him so many times. "We got a vamp with hostages, and he’s askin’ for ya to come."

Kate hadn’t needed any more convincing – once a cop, always a cop. She and the others had then married up, and now it was time for the deal to go down.

VampLindsey started dictating terms, as soon as the two groups were within earshot. "A straight prisoner exchange. Angelus and Kate, for the two women I got."

Kate was curious and more than a little sickened, to see the smarmy lawyer as a demon and a human, side by side. < Weird, in a morbid kind of way. > "Why me?"

VampLindsey gave her a truly evil grin. "Let’s just say I never appreciated how much of a screamer you really were, Kate, and I’m feeling nostalgic." Ignoring the sickened looks, he turned then to Wesley. "You. Get moving, join your friends first."

Almost forgotten at this point, Wesley had been thinking things over. He knew that treachery was imminent, and so did the only thing he could think of. Which was try to save Cordelia, knowing that Lindsey was the lesser risk with Harry.

Before the ex-Watcher could even move, however, a wild card turned up in the deck: Drusilla.

Just like in Cordelia and Doyle’s visions, she knocked Wesley out from behind, as Lindsey released Harry in shock. Paying him no mind, Drusilla remained focused solely on VampLindsey.

"The moon wasn’t lyin’ to me! I got a new uncle!!" the demented vampiress said happily.

"Drusilla?" VampLindsey said in shock. He hadn’t thought about her before all of the craziness had started, but the presence of his mad ‘niece’ was not exactly a pleasant surprise.

Moving towards Harry and Lindsey, Drusilla then growled. "Miss Edith doesn’t like you," she said to the other woman, in a dangerous tone. "She says you make the stars scream in pain!"

For whatever reason, Lindsey didn’t think twice about what he did – to the surprise of everyone present, including himself, the lawyer pushed the blonde woman behind him, and raised up his cross to her.

Drusilla growled again. "What are you doing?"

Lindsey shrugged. "Honestly? I have no idea anymore."

All of a sudden Nathan Reed, Lindsey’s immediate superior at Wolfram and Hart, showed up – coming out of a nearby elevator, of all the rotten luck.

The bald white man with glasses looked around. "What’s going on here?" he demanded. Then the lawyer saw Drusilla. Starting in fear and bringing out his cell phone, Nathan immediately called for security.

Which was not the smartest thing that the human could have done. Because both Drusilla and VampLindsey, then focused all their anger and attention onto him.

VampLindsey let go of his hostage, and both human women raced away to safety. Disregarding them for the moment, the vampire attacked Nathan, fastening his fangs and starting to drain the man.

But before he was able to finish the job, Lindsey came up to them and knocked his vampire counterpart out with a tyre iron, that he’d purloined during the kidnapping.

"Ahhhh!" VampLindsey groaned, as he collapsed out cold.

Panting, Nathan got up, his neck bleeding. < That’ll leave a nasty scar, > the man thought as he touched his neck, the lawyer’s cool confidence quickly returning. Nathan then adjusted his glasses. < Hmmm, perhaps a visit to the Fairfield or Pockla demon clinic will be needed to fix it up. >

Then he glanced at Lindsey, and his fake right hand. < Possibly for him too. After all, success brings its own rewards. >

Drusilla smiled and said to Nathan Reed, "You look very tasty, 'n all."

All of a sudden, Angel stepped in front of her. Drusilla’s eyes went wide, as her sire sternly warned her off. "Dru, listen to me very carefully. You stay here, in about 30 seconds somebody’s gonna stake you. So leave. NOW."

The insane female vampire pouted. "But I’m so hungry."

The rest of Angel’s crew then gathered around. Gunn said it best; "Hit the road or bite the dust, you nutcase," as he looked worriedly around for any approaching security guards.

Drusilla shrugged. "Bye-bye Daddy," she said in her singsong voice as the vampiress turned away and left, sounding like a little girl off to pick flowers in a meadow.

Not for the first time, Angel felt the terrible guilt of what he had done to her, and all his other victims. But he quickly came back to reality, when Nathan Reed started looking around.

"Lindsey?" the lawyer asked his subordinate, straightening his clothes. "Care to explain?"

The one-handed man looked nervous. "I’ll take care of the situation, sir," He grabbed VampLindsey, and Gunn assisted in dragging him up. "And I think it’s best if the senior partners not know...this ever took place."

Nathan nodded slowly. "See me in my office at nine. I’ll be expecting a full report." Then with a final piercing look around he walked away, back into the elevator and disappeared.

Cordelia had gone to help Wesley, and the ex-Watcher was now back on his feet, if a little dazed. "What happened?"

"Drusilla," Cordelia grumbled. "Man. I can’t believe her! And that fashion sense? Make me yak!"

Most of the others merely rolled their eyes, before Lindsey asked, "What now?"

Gunn grinned, as he moved back. "One dusted vampire, coming right up," raising his axe.

"Wait!" Lindsey stalled him. "I mean – if you kill him, can you be sure it won’t kill me as well?"

"Yes, will that happen?" asked Harry, Doyle’s arm tightly around her waist.

Everybody looked at Wesley. "Don’t, don’t bloody well look at me," he complained. "I can barely think straight yet!"

"We can talk about it later," Angel said abruptly. "Let’s just get out of here, before the security guys come!"

***

‘Caritas’ Karaoke bar, 45 minutes later.

Everyone had gathered back at the domain of the Host, and were now preparing to send both Doyle and VampLindsey back to where they belonged. VampLindsey was still unconscious, and someone stood guard over him at all times just to be sure he didn’t become a threat.

Gunn scratched the side of his head. "So, lemme get this straight," he said, turning the concepts over in his mind. "These guys came here from some parallel universe, on account of this Merl guy screwed up some kinda magic mojo?"

"Uh, well, yes," Wesley said, examining some books and looking exasperated. Then he looked over at the demon in question. "For heaven’s sake, Merl, what did you think you were doing?!"

The demon ex-informant shrugged, trying to look nonchalant. "Paying back a debt. You know how it is..."

"Yes, yes," the ex-Watcher grumbled, turning back to his books, "but still, you should have known better! I mean, the dangers with the sort of thing alone – well, temporal folds are not something to indulge in, just to relieve feelings of guilt and indebtedness!"

Angel shivered, hearing those words – because he had heard the Oracles say something very similar to him, when he had wanted to change history and turn back time to prevent horrible tragedies.

Shrugging off the feeling, he turned to face Lindsey. The lawyer had come with them, to make sure they didn’t just kill off the vampire. "You don’t have to stay, you know," he said shortly to the man. "Once it’s done, we can give you a call that it’s over."

Lindsey just stared at the souled vampire. "I prefer to be here, 'til it’s over. It’s not that I don’t trust you...it’s just that I’d prefer to spit in your face, and chop off your head with this," holding up Gunn’s axe, that he’d borrowed to guard the unconscious vamp.

Angel’s mouth may or may not have contained a fleeting smile, as he turned away. The Host and Cordelia were talking near the main counter, and he joined them.

"Ugh," Cordelia was saying, " now THAT has to be the most disgusting thing I’ve heard, EVER!"

"What?" asked Angel, confused.

"I just asked our sweetycakes here, how she’d have reacted if it had been HER doppelgänger that had showed up as a vampire," the Host said calmly.

"Gross!" Cordelia cried. "Can you imagine ME as a skanky ho, like that VampWillow character was back in Sunnydale?"

Angel’s friendship with Cordelia was still too new and fragile for him to answer that question honestly, so he just mumbled his excuses and went back to check how Wesley was doing.

Over in the corner of the bar, lost in their own little world, Doyle and Harry were having a deep and meaningful conversation.

"So this is goodbye," Harry said, fighting her tears.

"Yeah, I guess so, love," Doyle replied, not much better.

"Don’t call me that!" Harry suddenly erupted, her face going red. "How am I supposed to let you go, if I hear you saying things like-"

Doyle just shrugged. Then Harry said softly, "Don’t go."

"What?"

"You heard me," the blonde woman said more firmly, "don’t go. Francis, I don’t want to lose you again!"

The Irishman looked uncomfortable. "Harry, I’d love to stay, but I can’t just leave that damn bloodsucker to rampage free around LA when they send him back..."

"So why not just kill him?"

"'Cause o' the possible consequences, you know that," the half-demon replied gently. "Besides, this is the safest way accordin’ to Angel and Wesley, and since they’ve gone through this sort o' thing before..."

Harry and Doyle embraced tightly, and the Irishman whispered to her, "Don’t fret. 'Cause they’re gonna try 'n bring me back afterwards."

She who had been Mrs. Doyle stepped back, looking at him astonished. "What?"

Just then, Wesley called out, "Doyle! Uh, we’re ready to proceed..."

Doyle grabbed Harry’s hand, and they made their way to the sacred circle drawn in the middle of the bar. Angel and Gunn hoisted up VampLindsey, and brought him over too.

Harry then stopped and asked Doyle in confusion, "What did you mean by..."

But the Messenger from the Powers-That-Be quickly stopped her, shooting a glance over at Lindsey. "They’ll explain once he’s gone," he nodded towards the lawyer.

Letting go, Doyle stepped over into the circle. Angel gave him a stake, and the Irishman grabbed the vampire, holding him just as he had when they had both entered this world. The half-human then said his good-byes to everybody, and wished them all the best for the future.

Lindsey asked softly, "Is he gonna wake up when you..."

"No," Wesley assured him. "I sank enough phenobarbital into him, to put down an elephant. He’ll never feel a thing."

Reassured, the lawyer stepped away, content now to watch things from the sidelines.

Wesley and Merl then started the ritual, and soon both Doyle and VampLindsey were gone.

***

Wishworld Los Angeles, California. December 8th, 1998.

Doyle and VampLindsey reappeared in the same positions they had disappeared from in the wreckage of the underground carpark, and Trevor Lockley blinked. He could have sworn that for half a second there, neither of the fighters had been present.

Then the cop noticed Doyle looked human again, and had a stake in his hand. < What the hell-? >

Taking in the familiar surroundings, the Irishman wondered during one moment of indecision, < Did it work? Huh, was it all even real? >

Then he noticed the stake in his hand, that VampLindsey was out cold, and he wasn’t in demon form any longer. < Yeah, buddy boy, it WAS real. Now hurry up! >

Doyle raised the stake, and aimed for the heart.

Dusted.

Then the half-breed turned around, and started running for Trevor Lockley. "Grab my hand, old man!" Doyle’s plan was that, when the people in the other world tried to bring him back, if he was holding on to Kate’s father – the other man would get brought back too.

The Irishman felt it was the least he could do for the Lockleys, both father and daughter.

But before Doyle even got halfway there, there was an incredible bright white light, as their entire world again disappeared into oblivion.

***

‘Caritas’ Karaoke bar, Angelverse Los Angeles, California. April 21st, 2001.

Lindsey MacDonald had left the establishment as soon as the ritual was over, and Wesley then explained what he had in mind to do.

"I did a locator spell on Doyle before he left," the ex-Watcher said, holding up a glass orb as he began to set up for bringing the Irishman back from the Wishworld. "It was, um, fixed so that after he returns to his universe, and has done what he has to do, we’d be able to bring him back. After a reasonable amount of time has elapsed, that is."

The Host looked worried. "Uh..."

Cordelia looked at him. "Like, what’s the problem?"

He who had been born Krevlorneswath of the Deathwok clan, in that demon dimension called Pylea, didn’t know how to put it nicely. "I just wish you’d told me about that, before you sent him back!"

Gunn looked puzzled. "Why’s that?"

The Host um’ed and ah’ed a bit before saying, "Well, maybe I’m wrong. There IS a first time for everything."

Now worried, the rest looked on as Wesley and Merl did the new ritual – the original spell the demon had undertaken, but with a twist to make it safer, and more specific.

When it was over, Angel got on the phone to Kate Lockley – who had stayed behind, at the Wolfram and Hart carpark. "You see anything?" the souled vampire asked.

"Nothing. No one," the ex-detective replied, who’d been briefed on what to expect. "Maybe you better try it again."

Angel relayed the information and so, again the locator and retrieval spell was attempted.

"Still nothing," Kate reported back, when Angel told her they were done. "Listen," she continued, looking around at all the incoming cars, "the place is beginning to fill up, people are coming to work. You better leave it for now, and try again later." The ex-cop then terminated the call, and got into her car to leave.

Back at ‘Caritas’, Angel relayed her information. "We can set up again tonight, if..."

"But why didn’t it work this time?!" Harry exploded. "Damn it, I just want my Francis back!"

The Host cleared his throat. "Uh, I’m sorry, sugar plum, but I don’t think all of this is gonna do much good..."

Everyone turned to look at him. "What do you know?" asked Merl in surprise.

"Well...he, um, sang for me."

"AND??" Cordelia asked at once.

"I always hate it when someone has a future whose time can be measured in hours, and then afterward there’s this great big nothingness. Gives me a headache, y’know, one not even all the Tylenol in the whole wide world can fix."

"NO!" Harry yelled in fear and frustration. "Why didn’t you say something?!"

The Host shrugged. "Oh my little honeychild, how’d you like it if I told you that YOUR future involved getting run over by a Mack truck next week? And there was nothing you could do about it?"

The demon then tried to soften the blow, seeing Harry’s face, by adding, "You know, sometimes the journey is taken simply because – it must be taken. It’s not much of a comfort, I realize..."

"You got that right!!" Harry yelled, starting to cry and running out the door. The others merely stared out after her, watching sadly as she gave voice to her grief.

***

Hyperion Hotel, one hour later.

After everybody had left ‘Caritas’, Gunn had taken Cordelia home, Merl had hit the road once more, and the two other members of Angel Investigations had come back to the hotel to discuss what had happened. Thus Angel and Wesley were in the inner office, sharing a shot of brandy and quietly talking.

"You must be feeling rather...ambivalent, about what’s happened," Wesley said while sitting behind his desk, swirling his glass absentmindedly.

"In a way," Angel replied. He was sitting across from the Englishman on the other side of the desk, his own glass in hand. "I mean, I know he wasn’t the Doyle I was best friends with, and who saved our lives. But still..."

"The mind can play tricks on you, when you want something really badly enough?"

"Yeah. Sort of. I guess."

"Hmm. A toast to Doyle, then?" the Englishman suggested. Angel agreed, and after they clinked their glasses together the two drank to the Irishman’s memory.

There was one moment of introspection, which Wesley broke by suddenly asking, "What do you think of Mr. MacDonald’s actions? Er, the lawyer, not the vampire."

Angel looked confused. "What do you mean?"

"Cordelia told me what happened, after I was knocked out," the ex-Watcher said slowly. "Apparently, he-he tried to protect Harry Doyle from Drusilla, as well as his superior from his vampiric counterpart."

Angel shrugged. "Temporary insanity?"

Wesley shrugged back. "Perhaps," he said in his British accent. "But I’ve always thought that what we do instinctively, our actions when there’s no time for premeditated thought, often says a great deal about our character. Perhaps Lindsey still has a shot at... redemption."

The souled vampire looked shocked. "You can’t be serious!"

The Englishman looked amused. "You do realize, Angel, that those words can be applied equally well to you yourself?"

He who had been Angelus now looked very uncomfortable. "Wes..."

"Putting aside the possibility of Lindsey having his own epiphany, I also wanted to tell you that I was...impressed by how you handled yourself, during this stressful situation," Wesley continued on, ignoring Angel’s discomfort. "I was glad of the fact you were able to keep your head in the crisis. However it’s happened...you’ve come a long way, in my opinion."

Angel now looked embarrassed. "Atonement and redemption, Wesley," as they clinked their glasses together again. "As long as I have you, Gunn and Cordelia, there’s always a chance for me to get it."

Wesley Wyndham-Pryce just smiled and sipped his brandy, glad that the old Angel was well and truly back.

THE END

***** Hope you liked it! All writers love feedback, so please e-mail me with praise or flames at: theop@kew.hotkey.net.au