The small office was quiet that night. Summer had brought a strange lull to the city. Angel claimed that it was a result of mystical forces combined with lunar tides. Cordelia decided that it was just because everyone was so dulled from watching endless summer re-runs. How could anyone be expected to go on a killing spree when evening TV was nothing but a wasteland of episodes that everyone had seen dozens of times before? It was like watching Classic TV, only worse. At least with MASH or Gilligan's Island you knew better than to expect any surprises.
Cordelia and Wesley would've enjoyed their brief respite quite a bit had it not been for their boss. Angel was not a spare-time kinda guy. Brooding as a hobby is fine when most of your waking hours are spent battling the forces of evil. Brooding during a summer vacation is just a stupid idea. He had once gotten so bored that he had walked into the Wolfram & Hart buildings, yelling that all lawyers were assholes and threatening grievous bodily harm to anyone who threatened the innocent citizens of LA.
Sadly, the building was as empty as Tuesday Mass. After ten minutes, one of the janitors had informed Angel that all the lawyers were on paid vacation. Seeing how disappointed Angel was, the kindly janitor had allowed the vampire to yell righteously at him for half an hour. The effect was slightly ruined, though, when the elderly man had given Angel a dollar to 'go buy some candy'. Angel had had flashbacks of his own grandfather for days. Long flashbacks, with musical accompaniment.
Refusing to accept the inevitable, Angel insisted that Cordelia and Wesley continue coming to work. While their boss sat at his desk and brooded, Cordelia and Wesley had been bored enough to clean the entire office and completely reorganize the filing system. That had filled the first week. After that they had started buying jigsaw puzzles.
One afternoon in mid-July, Cordelia finally threw up her hands and declared that she had had enough with Angel. Both she and Wesley had been hoping to take summer jobs to pad their bank accounts for the coming year, and Angel's stubborn insistence that they remain in the office had effectively killed that hope. In fact, as a result of the slacking business and the amount of jigsaw puzzles they had been buying, they were actually losing money.
Something had to be done to distract Angel for the summer. Something had to be found that would fulfill his need to both protect the innocent and attempt to reform the predators of the night.
Soon, a solution was found.
Angel looked up in surprise as Wesley walked into the office, carrying a large box.
"Angel, thank God you're here!" the young Brit said, relief dripping from every syllable. "I need your help."
The vampire fairly leapt from his chair with excitement at the thought of aiding someone. "What is it? What can I do?"
Wesley drew a deep breath. "I need you to take care of my neighbor's hamsters."
Angel blinked a few times, completely unable to form words. Taking shameless advantage of his friend's speechless state, Wesley lifted a small plastic cage from the box. The inside was filled with cedar chips and a little wheel, plus four furry inhabitants. Beside the cage was food, spare chips, and a little hamster exercise ball.
"Um.... Wes... I'm really not sure..."
"Oh, but you must!" Wesley said, embracing his inner drama queen. "You need to care for these INNOCENT and DEFENSELESS little creatures. Can't you see how HELPLESS they are?"
Wesley had hit all the key words with Angel. Nodding his head noblely, Angel accepted the cage and the list of hamster-care instructions.
Thanking the black-clad savior of rodents profusely, Wesley left.
Exactly one minute after the door closed, Cordelia walked in, holding a pet carrying case in one hand.
"Angel, I found this DANGEROUS but MISUNDERSTOOD cat on the street. I'm sure she wants ANOTHER CHANCE on life, and an OPPORTUNITY to REFORM herself."
Angel's eyes shone with joy. The only thing better than protecting the innocent was trying to reform the dangerous but misunderstood.
"Of course," he said, accepting the pet-carrier case. Inside, a fluffy black cat was staring at him with wide green eyes.
Thanking him, Cordelia quickly exited. In the hallway outside, she and Wesley bid each other good-bye for the summer, then headed off for their temporary jobs.
Inside the office, Angel set the hamster cage on the chair, and quickly read through the instructions. Feeding and changing the chips seemed fairly easy, but the subject of exercise gave him pause for a moment. The instructions clearly stated that during his waking hours, he had to keep all four hamsters on constant rotation in their little exercise ball. He didn't think that those little bundles of fur really needed *that* much exercise. But he shrugged and obediently popped one of the furballs into the ball. Setting the ball on the floor, he watched with interest as it immediately began careening around the room.
Next, Angel opened the pet carrying case, releasing the cat. Sitting down, he looked into that furry face, and carefully began to reform the cat, to remove her from the dark path she had been following.
"Now, I understand what you're going through. It's hard to change, but together-- hey! Stop that! Leave that little hamster alone! Bad cat! Agh!"
Suddenly the summer was promising to be much busier for Angel.
Happy Summer 2000 Reruns!