1st Anniversary Posting Party: Angel
Spotjon - July 5, 2001

The Many Lives of Angel

"Vampire living in a city known for its sun, driving a convertible... Why do you hate yourself?" - Faux T'ish Magev

"That's who you were, not who you are. You don't know who you are anymore. You can't." - Teddy, Memento

Why does Angel hate himself so much? Low self-esteem? Guilt strickenness? Broken heart? Perhaps a little of all of these make up what Angel is today. Let's take a look at Angel's life and death and undeath to try and get a comprehensive view of who he is.

"Liam, Beloved Son 1727-1753"

The vampire with a soul that we now know as Angel was born as Liam in 1727, to a fairly well-to-do family in Ireland. For whatever reasons, Liam was a rowdy, unmotivated, thrill-seeking, lazy boy. His father was never extremely abusive, though he never failed to express his disapproval towards his son's actions and attitudes.

Liam's father: "Up again all night, is it? Drinking and whoring. I smell the stink of it on you."
Liam picks himself up: "And a good morning to you, father."
Father: "You're a disgrace."
Liam: "If you say so, father."
Father: "Oh, I do. I do say so. Have you not had enough debauchery for one night? Must you corrupt the servants as well?"
Liam: "Servant, father. We have *one* servant. Anyway, - everyone gets corrupted, - but I find some forms of corruption - are more pleasant..."
His father hits Angel hard across the face, making him spin around.
Father: "I am ashamed to call you my son. You're a lay-about and a scoundrel and you'll never amount to anything more than that."
- The Prodigal

Driven by his father's disapproval, Liam fell deeper and deeper into the bottle, living a life of drunkenness and whoremongering. After so long of failing to receive any sort of love from his father, perhaps Liam simply gave up trying, and decided to go all the way.

Liam: "You'll want to move away from the door now, father."
Father: "Go through it, but don't ever expect to come back."
Liam: "As you wish, father. Always, *just* as you wish."
Father: "It's a son I wished for - a man - instead God gave me you! A terrible disappointment."
Liam: "Disappointment? A more dutiful son you couldn't have asked for. My whole life you've told me in word, in glance, what it is you required of me, and I've lived down to your every expectations, now haven't I?"
Father: "That's madness!"
Liam: "No. The madness is that I couldn't fail enough for you. But we'll fix that now, won't we?"
Father: "I fear for you, lad."
Liam: "And is that the only thing you can find in your heart for me now, father?"
Father: "Who'll take you in, huh? No one!"
Liam: "I'll not lack for a place to sleep, I can tell you that. Out of my way."
Father: "I was never in your way, boy."
Liam opens the door and storms out.
Father: "If you'll go courting trouble, you're sure to find it!"
- The Prodigal

Liam does indeed find trouble at the fangs of Darla, a seductive woman he eyes at the local tavern. Thinking perhaps that he will indeed have a place to sleep tonight, he follows the blond beauty into an alley behind the tavern. He uses the best line he can think of, given his drunken stupor.

Liam: So, I'd ask myself... What's a lady of your station doing alone in an alley with the reputation that this one has?
Darla: (still facing away) Maybe she's lonely.
Liam: In that case, I'd offer myself as escort to protect you from harm and to while away the dull hours.
Darla: You're very gracious.
Liam: Hmm. It's often been said.
Darla: (turns to face him) Are you certain you're up to the challenge?
Liam: (approaches her) Milady, you'll find that with the exception of an honest day's work, there's no challenge I'm not prepared to face.
He stops in front of her and looks into her eyes.
Liam: Oh... But you're a pretty thing. Where are you from?
Darla: (smiles) Around. Everywhere.
Liam: I never been anywhere myself. Always wanted to see the world, but...
Darla: I could show you. (smiles)
Liam: Could you, then?
Darla: Things you've never seen, never even heard of.
Liam: Sounds exciting.
Darla: It is. And frightening.
Liam: I'm not afraid. Show me. Show me your world.
Darla: (closes her eyes) Close your eyes.
- Becoming, Part 1


"There's mention some two hundred years ago in Ireland of, of Angelus, the one with the angelic face."

"She thought I returned to her - an angel."

A hand breaks through the earth in the graveyard, and a man-like figure climbs out from the ground into the starry night. A fair and frail-looking woman awaits him beside his grave. A new sensation fills the dead man, newly arisen.

Angelus: "I could feel them - above me - as I slept in the earth. Their heartbeats - their blood - coursing - through their veins."
Darla smiles: "Yes."
Angelus: "Was it a dream?"
Darla: "A dream for you. Soon, their nightmare."
- The Prodigal

As a hapless groundskeeper disturbs their conversation, he finds himself as the first human meal this undead man-like creature consumes. This new sensation fills the creature with a thirst and desire for more.

Darla: "You can do anything, have anyone in the village. Who will it be?"
Angelus: "Any one? (Darla nods) I thought I'd take the village."
- The Prodigal

For 143 years, Angelus and Darla cut a swath through Europe, killing not with simple hunger, but with great pleasure and skill. Angelus takes great joy in distilling despair in his victims before they die. Why does Angelus become such a sadist? Is it because, in the face of every victim, he sees somebody who hated him or whom he hated in life? Perhaps it is.

Darla: "Your victory over him took but moments."
Angel looks over at the body of his father and gets up: "Yes?"
Darla: "But his defeat of you will last life times."
Angelus: "What are you talking about? He can't defeat me now."
Darla: "Nor can he ever approve of you - in this world or any other. - What we once were informs all that we have become. (Angelus looks at his father's body) The same love will infect our hearts - even if they no longer beat. (Angelus looks at his mother's and his sister's body) Simple death won't change that."
- The Prodigal

Maybe this psychoanalysis of Angelus' motives is too simplistic, though. He was not driven only by his hatred of others, but also by his desire to seek a new thrill, and a disdain for authority. He refused to join the Order of Aurelius when given the opportunity, instead opting for a "life" of freedom to kill and have luxury. He's not quite ready to let go of all those billions of happy meals with legs.

Angelus: "This is no place for you - bound to the likes of him."
- Darla

For whatever reason, Angel was one of the most feared vampires of his era, until one night when Darla gave him a little present in the form of a gypsy girl. The family does not take kindly to the death of their daughter, so the clan finds the perfect curse for the vampire with the Angelic face - a soul.

"You got a real addiction to the brooding part of life. Anyone ever tell you that?"

Gypsy Man: It hurts, yes? Good. It will hurt more.
Angel: (confused) Where am I? (pants hard)
Gypsy Man: You don't remember... everything you've done for a hundred years. In a moment, you will. The face of everyone you killed... our daughter's face... they will haunt you, and you will know what true suffering is.
- Becoming, Part 1

Suddenly, Angelus is left with no place in the world. He is wracked with guilt over his past sins, so he cannot go back to his past life, though he tries.

Darla: "What do you want?"
Angel: "A second chance."
Darla: "What?"
Angel: "I want things to be like they were. - You and me - together - Darla. - I miss the view."
Darla shakes her head, still with her back to him: "That's impossible."
Angel: "It's not impossible."
Darla: "You still have a soul."
Angel: "I'm still a vampire."
- Darla

This desperate attempt to find a meaning in death ultimately ends in failure.

Angel looks down at the baby in the basket.
Darla: "What do you mean you can't? You won't!"
Angel: "I can't seem to be able to uhm, I'm sorry."
Darla shakes her head ever so slightly: "You disgust me."
Angel grabs the baby and runs out on Darla, crashing through some glass doors.
- Darla

Angel spends the next 96 years in the Americas, wandering without a purpose or goal. He cannot eat humans anymore, though he doesn't have much sympathy for them, either. Finally, in 1996, a friendly demon known as Whistler finds Angel living in filth, and offers him the opportunity to make something of himself. Whistler takes Angel to Sunnydale, where he witnesses Buffy's call to be a Slayer. In this mission, Angel finds a new meaning in life, and somebody other than himself to live for

Angel: I wanna help her. (Whistler looks at him) I want... I wanna become someone.
- Becoming, Part 1

Angel has always been selfish, in his mortal life as well as his afterlife. He's tired of it. He doesn't want to be a nobody that people laugh at behind their backs, anymore. He has the opportunity to grow and become. And he does. He helps Buffy, falls in love with her, and becomes a real man, if only for one brief moment.

"One moment of true happiness, of contentment, one moment where the soul that we restored no longer plagues his thoughts, and that soul is taken from him."

Rule number one: don't boink the undead. Angel loses his soul and the demon asserts itself with great intensity. Angelus lashes out at the ones who would be his friends, and the one he loved, and perhaps still does. He no longer cares about the world he once defended against the Master, and instead decides to finish what the Master started. Angelus is plagued, not with a conscience, but with a memory of love and hate, and he cannot take it anymore. Destroying the world is much easier than trying to live in it. Unfortunately, Spike takes Angelus' old position concerning the fate of the world, and manages to help Buffy stop Angelus before the whole world is doomed to do math homework forever.

Too bad Willow found an inopportune time to save Angel's soul.

"Lasa orbita sa fie vasul care-I va transporta sufletul la el!"

The restored Angel is sucked into hell for 300 years of torment. And then, one day in hell, a small portal opens up, allowing the vampire with a soul passage back to earth. He is found and tended to by Buffy, but he is alienated from those who were closest to being his friends before he tortured and killed some of them. This alienation and mistrust and guilt brought back from ages past causes Angel to lose all faith and hope. He does not believe he is fit to live after all he has done.

Angel: I want to take comfort in you, and I know it'll cost me my soul, and a part of me doesn't care.... Look, I'm weak. I've never been anything else. It's not the demon in me that needs killing, Buffy. It's the man.
- Amends

He tried to make something of himself, and the one time he really tried it blew up in his face. Without hope, he tries to end it all, but cannot. Something, or someone, has better plans for him. The snow falls like hope to the ground and covers the dirt with a fresh whiteness.

Ultimately, of course, it does not work out with Buffy. They both know that their relationship is impossible, and only creates too much pressure on them both, so he leaves for the city of angels. He wanders there for a while, trying to find a solid footing, but is unable to until a fellow Irishman with a link to the powers that be finds him. Finally, Angel has a purpose, and he knows that it is not purely selfish anymore. He does pretty well for himself, fighting the cause of good, and even finding out that he has a big reward coming to him somewhere down the line. Unlife is good, and his promised reward seems closer than ever. That is, until an old lover makes a sudden reappearance in his life.

Darla is brought back as a human, not as the vampire she was. With a soul and no demon inside her, she creeps her way into Angel's life with the hope of returning to what she once was. She hated her life, and treasured every moment of the power she held as a vampire. Now she is reduced to a syphilis-ridden ex-prostitute with no chance of survival save what Angel can do for her. He tries everything except that. He tries to save her by every means he knows of, but he cannot. But just as he is about to save her soul, that is ripped from her violently.

Darla is killed and raised again as a creature of the night. Angel realizes that he has failed again. He ceases to care anymore. He allows humans to die and becomes darker in his actions. He finally decides on a kamikaze mission to kill the Senior Partners at Wolfram & Hart, but is brought to a shocking reality.

Holland: "Welcome to the home office."
Angel: "This isn't..."
Holland: "Well, you know it is. - You know *that* better than anyone. Things you've seen. Things you've, well - done. You see, if there wasn't evil in every single one of them out there (Angel watches as some people in the plaza start yelling at each other) why, they wouldn't be people. - They'd all be angels."
- Reprise

Angel loses it. He finally hits rock-bottom and decides to lose it all in a night of passion with Darla. This is worse than when he was suicidal. At that point, he was simply disappointed in himself. Now, he feels that there is no reason or purpose to anything at all. Since it doesn't matter what happens anymore, he decides to lose his soul so he doesn't have to care. It doesn't quite work the way he expects, though. Last night was perfect, but not perfect enough.

Angel: "Yeah. And it *was* perfect, Darla. - It was perfect despair."
- Epiphany
He summarizes what had been going on quite nicely.

Angel: "And you were the reason. You've always been the reason. You were the thing that made me what I am, and - I thought - if I could save you, I'd somehow - save myself, but - but I was wrong. And when I failed...."
Angel: "I fought for so long. For redemption, for a reward - finally just to beat the other guy, but... I never got it."
- Epiphany
He still believes that there is no purpose in anything, but that doesn't stop him from finding one, anyway.

Angel: "Not all of it. All I wanna do is help. I wanna help because - I don't think people should suffer, as they do. Because, if there is no bigger meaning, then the smallest act of kindness - is the greatest thing in the world."
Kate: "Yikes. It sounds like you had an epiphany."
Angel: "I keep saying that. But nobody's listening."
- Epiphany

So now we are left with a fairly chipper Angel, with no purpose in the world save those "small acts of kindness." He manages to reconnect to his friends and starts to build a real life, for perhaps the first time. He faces the demon within at Pylea, but manages to control it and accept it as a part of him, but a part that he has power over. He actually smiles how, and is a fairly happy camper. Too bad he had to come home to the bad news of Buffy's sudden demise.

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