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Angel: Lights, Camera, Damnation! Part 1
by Pred ([email protected])

He's seen them all before. A thousand since he first put up a shingle almost
60 years ago. Hollywood, the land of dreams. Anybody can be a star, with
just the right break. People willing to do anything and everything just to
get a foot in the door. Even worse than the would-be Travoltas and Streeps,
the mommy dearests. Marching into his office with the next Heather Locklear
in tow. "Smile for the gentleman, sweetie. Sit up straight. That's all
right, darling, you can go sit on the man's lap. He just wants to get a good
look at you, that's all. Don't be scared. I'm right here. Oh, I'll just be
gone a moment. Just stay here with the nice man and do whatever he says.
I'll be back soon. Just BEHAVE! Don't blow this chance for mommy now.
We've come this far. Just a little longer. Mommy will be back and we'll go
soon. Just stay here with the nice man..."

It was so easy these days, it had almost become boring. Where had the thrill
gone? Each little morsel looked exactly the same these days - a little
Brittany Spears, a little Jennifer Love Hewitt, a little Brandy, a little
Sarah Marie Gelman. These girls crawled off the covers of Seventeen and YM
and strutted into his offices, each one with a mother straight out of the
musical Gypsy. It was just too damn easy.

The girl standing before him called herself Gabrielle. Her mother's idea, no
doubt. No last name, just one first name. Gabrielle. He read the business
card. "Claire Gabriel, Manager." He smiled like he was interested and told
the woman and her "talent" to have a seat. He looked at his receptionist,
Donna, and pointed to his coffee mug. Donna nodded and slid out of the
office, closing the door behind her.

"Age?" he asked, trying to at least appear interested.

"Gabrielle is 13," Ms. Gabriel responded. "But she can play younger... or
older, too. As you can see, she is already well-developed. In make-up and
heels, she's mistaken for 16 or 17 all the time."

He arched his eyebrows and motioned with his hand for the girl to stand up.

"Stand up dear," Ms. Gabriel prodded her daughter. "Show the man what we
have."

The girl forced a smile at him and stood up. She was dressed in a short
black mini-skirt that displayed every square inch of her tanned, toned,
teenage legs. The mother certainly knew which assets drew immediate
attention. The girl's firm young breasts were accentuated in a tight pink
sweater. They were in LA, it was 88 degrees outside, and the girl was
wearing a sweater just to show off her pubescent boobs. It was hard for
him to refrain from laughing.

He motioned with his hand again.

"Turn around so he can see your ass dear," Ms. Gabriel ordered her daughter.

He folded his hand over.

"Bend over, darling," Ms. Gabriel instructed. "Let the man see it all."
She turned to him. "She has a nice bottom, doesn't she...?" He nodded.
"They chose her bottom for the close-up in that waterpark commercial," she
continued. "The director said it was perfectly proportioned."

"Yeah, it's nice," he spoke for the first time. The girl's ass was nice.
Hell, the girl was nice. She seemed unspoiled somehow, untouched, or at
least low mileage. "How long you been out here?" he asked.

"Six months," Ms. Gabriel nodded, trying to keep her composure. The lady
was obviously desperate, yet she was still trying to appear nonchalant.
"Gabrielle's been working steadily. We're just trying to get more exposure.
I feel she's becoming too limited with Dalton. They only send her on
commercial auditions. Anyone can see she's got real screen potential. But
there's such a pecking order over there. You know how it is..."

"How did you hear of us?" he asked. "We're just a small agency."

"With a first-class reputation," Ms. Gabriel answered. "Sarah Marie Gelman,
Alicia Turino, Nady Cameron, the Colson Twins... that's more than just a
small agency Mr. Scratch. H.R. Snuff'n'stuff is a heavy hitter in this town.
Gabrielle could only make your prestige grow."

"Do you know who Sarah Marie Gelman is, Gabrielle?" Mr. Scratch asked the
girl.

She nodded. "Kimmy, Protector of the Universe. That's my favorite show."
The girl's eyes lit up.

"Do you know why Sarah is such a big star, Gabrielle?"

"Hard work," the girl parroted the reply that had been drilled in her head
since she started interviewing. Just once, Mr. Scratch would like to hear
some wannabe starlet tell the truth. Sarah Marie Gelman was a star because
everybody in the world wanted to fuck her. Men, women, boys, girls, hell
even dogs. To see that face and that body was to desire carnal knowledge.

Scratch smiled. Five years ago, Mrs. Gelman had been sitting right where
Mrs. Gabriel sat now. Back then Alicia Turino was the role model every
mother and daughter aspired to. Now it was Sarah. Next year it might be...
who knows? Gabrielle?

Scratch had certainly seen worse in his day, and not very many that were
better for that matter. "Do you know how many hours a day Sarah puts in,
Gabrielle?"

"24 hours a day, sir?" she recited the mantra by rote.

"And do you know how many hours I'd expect you to put in a day?" Scratch
asked.

"25," Gabrielle answered. She'd been coached well.

Scratch nodded. "What WON'T you do to become a star, Gabrielle?" he asked.

"I don't know the meaning of the word 'won't', sir... won't, don't OR can't."

"Well," Scratch nodded and smiled at Ms. Gabriel. "She certainly knows all
the right answers. The question now is whether she has all the right moves."
Mother and daughter smiled. This is precisely what they wanted to hear, what
they all wanted to hear. "I want to arrange a test shooting with Gabriel,
just to see where she's at. She might have the looks, but I'm not about to
send her out there if she doesn't have the chops. My girls NAIL their first
auditions," he smiled. "My girls nail ALL their auditions."

"When would you like to do the test?" Ms. Gabriel asked.

"Tomorrow night," Scratch answered. "We have a studio downstairs. I'll get
a crew in here after everybody leaves." He turned to Gabrielle. "You do
know how important this is, don't you, Gabrielle?"

"Yes, sir," she nodded.

"Tomorrow will be the most important day in your life... EVER," he stressed.
"Do you understand that?"

"Yes, sir, I do."

"Good," he nodded. "Now go outside in the reception area and let me talk to
your mother a moment, okay...?" Ms. Gabriel nodded to her daughter, and
Gabrielle stood up and exited the room. As the door opened, Donna appeared
with his coffee mug and a sheaf of papers. The door closed behind her,
leaving Gabrielle in the outer-office by herself.

"Standard contract?" Donna asked, setting the stack of papers down in front
of Mr. Scratch.

"Yes, we'll need the girl's signature in a moment." He turned to Ms.
Gabriel. "But first things first." He relaxed a moment and let the glamour
fade from eyes. Ms. Gabriel only saw the glowering coals within his pupils
for a split second. Her scream was barely a gurgle as Donna's fangs
punctured her voice box. "It's time to make a deal, Ms. Gabriel," he told
the dying woman. "Are you ready to do whatever it takes to make your
daughter a star?"

"Yes," she gurgled.

They always gurgled "yes." It had all become so predictable.

* * *

"I suppose this means you had another vision." Angel looked up from the
sheet of paper Doyle had just placed beneath his nose.

"You're a sharp one, mate," the demi-demon smiled as Angel took the note and
looked it over.

"What the hell does this mean?" Angel asked. "Demon-core?"

"I think I've heard of them," Cordelia Chase looked up from the carton of
Thai take-out she was inspecting. "Heavy metal is so totally 'Costner'
anymore."

Angel shot her a bemused scowl. As always, he had no idea what Cordelia
Chase was talking about. He'd learned to judge the context of what she said
by the three subtle tones of her voice - self-involvement, distaste and
mockery. This last comment definitely was mockery.

"Demon-core is not a rock-and-roll band," Doyle explained patiently.

"You're wrong," Cordy shrugged her shoulders flippantly and went back to
examining her carton of Thai noodles. Both Doyle and Angel stopped to watch
her for a moment as she stabbed at the food with her chopsticks and wrestled
a clump between her lips.

"Ah... so what is it then?" Angel tore his eyes off Cordelia. "Demon-core..."
he added.

"You heard of hardcore, mate?"

"Like the Sex Pistols?" Angel asked. "I was there, mate?" he affected a
British accent. "That was like shooting fish in a barrel." he mused aloud
before catching himself. Cordy flashed him a slightly freaked look, then
returned to her dinner.

"Not the music, mate," Doyle shook his head. "The movies, you know...?!" He
pantomimed the sexual act with a swivel of hips.

"Um, that would be like tres inappropriate," Cordy piped up, wrinkling her
nose in disgust.

"Sorry, lass," Doyle grinned. "My mate here wanted an explanation..."

"Which he's still waiting for," Angel interrupted. "Now out with it."

"Demon-core," Doyle suddenly became very serious again. "It's beneath the
underground. Sexy movies with demons and humans. Very lucrative market with
the fangs and horns set."

"Eww..." Cordelia spit out her Thai. "I repeat... Eww."

"Demons make porno videos with human co-stars?" Angel mulled the thought
over.

"Victims are more like it," Doyle answered.

"And how did this all escape me?" Angel asked, half to himself and half to
his half-demon partner.

"You were slicing and dicing, mate," Doyle replied. "You were hungry. You
weren't looking for entertainment."

Angel nodded and glanced back down at the slip of paper. "This name here...
Anthony Gabriel .. he makes this stuff?"

"I don't know, mate. The visions, they just come to me. They don't stick
around for question and answer period."

"Aren't you forgetting," Angel replied. "We're still tracking Azarelius.
The body count is up to twenty and rising. This will have to wait." Angel
put the paper down on his desk.

"When the visions come, there isn't no waiting," Doyle answered. "Besides,
we don't have anybody telling us we can't do both."

"I hunt one demon at a time," Angel answered. "Unless they're working in
pairs."

"Who said anything about you, mate?" Doyle looked over at Cordelia suddenly.
"The vision weren't for you, it was for her."

"Again?" Cordelia snapped back in her chair.

"The vision was pretty clear," Doyle explained. "They want you."

"WHO wants me?"

"I never ask, lass," Doyle responded. "They never offer."

"Umm, I quit, okay," Cordelia threw up her hands. She pointed to herself.
"Office help," she pointed to Angel and Doyle, "demon hunters. Office help,
demon hunters."

"Just chill a minute, would you Cordelia," Angel snapped.

"Chill?" Cordelia rolled her eyes. "Umm, that expression is so Bush
administration. You really need to get out more."

"Quiet!" Angel re-iterated.

Cordelia froze. * Vampire boss, what were you thinking? Note to self, get
new job without homicidal, blood-sucking boss... or at least a dental
plan...*

"This could work," Angel nodded slowly and looked over at Cordelia. "We
really could use your acting talents, Cordelia."

"That is if you have any," Doyle quipped.

"I'm listening," Cordelia ignored the smarmy demon.

"Just do some legwork, that's all," Angel explained. "Play the part of the
struggling actress. Talk to some agents and insiders. Maybe you can get a
lead on this thing. By then, I should have bagged Azerilius, and I can take
over."

"Legwork..." Cordelia mulled it over.

"We really could use your expertise here, Cordelia," Angel kept at it. "You
can get inside this thing a lot easier than I ever could."

"Okay, struggling actress... I got it. But what's my motivation?" Cordelia
asked. "Am I starstruck, am I trying to atone for past sins, am I trying to
show an ex-lover I can survive with out him? What's my motivation?"




    

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