Hell Is For Heroes
by Nehal

"I'm tellin' you man, I saw her first."

"No, she's mine. Devil told me himself. Said 'Lenny my boy, the princess is all yours-'"

"Yeah, well I don't believe you."

"Would I lie to you?"

"We're in Hell aren't we? I wouldn't put anything past you!"


In the shadows, because that's where he belonged now, Doyle watched the two men argue. And somewhere, in the back of his mind, he was aware that his interest wasn't quite normal. Arguments happened. This was Hell, for Pete's sake, but for some reason he watched riveted as Man 1 punched Man 2 in the gut. As Man 2 fell to the ground, he revealed the cause of the argument.

As always it was a woman, a beautiful dark haired bewitching sort of woman, but a woman nonetheless. And she could see him; in fact the woman had begun to stare as soon as Man 2 fell.

"Hi," The woman said, smiling as she stepped over the two men still scrapping over her. There was something about her, something powerful that kept Doyle from fleeing- perhaps the eyes? Yes, he thought as she came closer, it was definitely the eyes. They looked so familiar. "I think there's been some kind of mistake. I shouldn't be here, I wasn't evil. Can you help me?"

Doyle almost flinched when she reached into the shadows to touch his arm. The hand against his skin was unusually warm, and left a burning handprint that blazed long after she had removed it to resume staring at him. "Please."

"Come with me." Doyle whispered, his voice scratching in the first attempt that he had made to use it in well over a decade...or was it two? Doyle could never remember. "I know a place where you'll be safe."


"This place stinks." The woman said as soon as Doyle handed her a dirty bottle of his home brew. They were in what he liked to refer to as 'his place' though it wasn't quite his yet. The Land Lord, a grubby demon with a shoe fetish, still wanted a pound of flesh before he would be willing to consider Doyle's offer on the apartment. But, for all intents and purposes, and for the fact that the place never got any business, it was Doyle's. And he liked it as much as anyone would like a dirty, rat infested, six feet by twelve foot box with a view of a molten magma ocean. "Do you ever clean?"

"Sometimes," Doyle shrugged, still not quite used to speaking. "There's no point though. It's Hell."

"Right," The woman took a long gulp from her bottle and wiped her lips. "About that, I shouldn't be here. I was a hero. Do you know how many times I helped Angel kick demon ass? And I was a Higher Power, of course that was cut short by the Powers deciding to use me as a vessel to bring forth pure evil, but you can't help how your children turn out, can you?"

"No." Doyle yawned, stretching his arms.

The woman frowned at Doyle, so he frowned back, and he was again struck by the familiarity of it all. Perhaps he had known a brunette just like her when he was alive. It was a shame that his kind became Oblivious in the afterlife, because Doyle would have liked to remember someone that looked that full of life...even when she was dead.

"You look really familiar. Have I seen you before?"

"Maybe," Doyle shrugged, taking off his coat. "It doesn't matter though. It's Hell."

"So you keep reminding me." The woman snapped, throwing her used bottle onto the ground. It didn't break. "I shouldn't be here."

"So you keep saying." Doyle coughed, picking up the used bottle and pouring himself a bit of drink. His throat really hurt from the talking. "It's late. Get some sleep. No sense talking with the Gatekeeper when you're tired."

The woman frowned. "What's the Gatekeeper?"

"You'll see." Doyle said, pulling up the covers of his small metal bed. It squeaked loudly when he got in, and shifted carefully to one side in order to let her squeeze in next to him. "Get in."

"I don't think so." The woman snorted, raising her nose. "God knows where you've been."

Doyle smirked. "Actually, he doesn't. But get in any way. The rats get quite hungry at night, and I wouldn't want you to lose a limb."


"Hell stinks." The Woman, Doyle hadn't cared enough to ask her name, said as they walked past the fiery Irish Quarter. It was brimming with demons today for some reason. Big green, horny demons with long spiked tails and black beady eyes; but that was hardly unusual in Hell. No, what was unusual was that they didn't do or say anything. They just watched them walk. It was unsettling. "You'd think with all the rich movie stars that are sent down here, that it'd be cleaner somehow."

"There're no humans here." Doyle said softly, leading her towards a paved square with a molten magma fountain. "Well, there are but they don't stay down here permanently. Heaven has this treaty you see and it- what?" Doyle asked suddenly when the Woman gasped.

"Nothing," the woman said far too quickly, her eyes focussing everywhere except at him. "I just remembered something; something very important." She smiled tightly, her eyes focussing everywhere except at him, "About my life."

"Oh," Doyle sighed, absently touching his throat. It felt too dry all of a sudden, too heavy, as if one more word would make him cough up blood for eternity. "It must be nice to remember, you know, the past."

"Don't you?"

"No. My kind becomes Oblivious in the afterlife." At the woman's puzzled frown, Doyle sighed. "It means we forget almost everything that happened, before. And," Doyle added bitterly. "Everyone we loved forgets about us too, when they get up here."

The woman studied him closely for a long moment as they trudged across the Square toward a pristine marble archway that led towards a massive brownstone castle flanked, on either side, by two limestone gargoyles. Doyle paid no attention to the gargoyles as he led the woman to the castle's wrought iron door.

"What is this place?"

"The Gatehouse," Doyle said softly. "It serves as a sort of in- between house between Heaven and Hell. If you want to get out of here, this is your best bet. A word of warning though, they only consider humans-"

"Well, that's not a problem." The woman said, not sounding confident.

Doyle smirked. "I could stay if you want, until you get an appointment."

"This Gatekeeper person has a secretary?" The woman asked, raising an eyebrow.

"It's Hell." Doyle's smirk grew, ever so slightly, into a half- smile. "Everyone who is anyone here has a secretary. It's how they enforce the torment."


"Sorry, can't help you this decade." A plump black haired woman with thick designer glasses said as she flipped through a diary. "Or the next, or the next, or the next-we get quite a few applications you see, and the Gatekeeper needs to personally evaluate each one before the git upstairs," She pointed upward and rolled her eyes dramatically, "Makes his final decision."

"But I was a Higher Power!" The woman screeched making Doyle's ears hurt.

"I know," The secretary smiled fondly, taking her glasses off to wipe them. "And usually that would fast track your application, but at the moment we have a backlog the size of the Nile."

"That's your problem not mine." The Woman scowled. "All I know is that I shouldn't be here. I was one of the good guys, or have you forgotten all of those times I saved Angel's ass? There's no way that I'm paying for your screw up. So do what you secretary types do and get me an appointment now, or I'll...I'll do something we both regret!"

"I doubt that there's anything you could do to me that hasn't been done before." The Secretary rolled her eyes. "But if you insist, go on. It'll give me something interesting to tell the others at lunch."

"You bitch!" The Woman yelled, reaching over the desk to throttle the secretary. However, before she could even touch the black-haired woman, Doyle pulled her back. "Hey, I almost got her!"

"When's the soonest the Gatekeeper can see her?" Doyle asked calmly, as the Woman thrashed in his arms. She was surprisingly strong for a human woman, and Doyle had to hold her tight to prevent her from ruining any chance she may still have for a transfer.

"Sixty three years from now, Monday at 10am." The Secretary said primly, straightening her back.

"Good. Pencil her in." Doyle said, hoisting The Woman onto his shoulder. Within moments they had left the glass and marble atrium of the Gatehouse, and were back under the Archway.


"You shouldn't have stopped me." The Woman said as soon as her feet were firmly against the ground. "I could so have taken her."

"I don't doubt that." Doyle smirked, fully aware of the fact that this woman had made him nearly-smile more times in one day, than he could remember doing during all of his time in Hell. "You were a Higher Power?"

"For an entire summer," She beamed at him, obviously proud of herself. "It was the most boring time of my life, and lost me Angel, but damn did I look good in white."

"You and Angel were-"

"Friends," The Woman sighed, suddenly looking exhausted. "That's all we ever were, all we ever got to be."

Not wanting an explanation, Doyle briefly took her hand into his and squeezed gently.

"You'll see him again." Doyle said flatly as they walked out into the Square. Hell had no true night or day, just a humid kind of twilight that lightened and darkened according to the mood of whoever ran the place. Today, or night, the mood was muted silver. "It might take years, but you will. And then, who knows? Maybe you will finally have a chance at something."

"Maybe," The Woman whispered, visibly trying to control the emotions fluttering across her expressive face. "My name's Cordelia by the way." She said, straightening her back and squaring her shoulders. "Not that you asked, but I thought you should know. I don't sleep with anonymous and Oblivious men twice in a row without introducing myself."

Doyle smiled. "Francis Doyle. I'm Irish, but I suppose you already guessed that."


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