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Angel: Lights, Camera, Damnation! Part 2
by Pred ([email protected])

* Anthony Gabriel... 2234 Westwinds... Van Nuys... Demon-core... * Cordelia
Chase read the note Angel had handed her. She looked down at the map next to
her on the front seat, then back up to the street signs whizzing by on the
right. * I'm a struggling actress looking for work, * she repeated to
herself. * I have a mysterious past of heartbreak and remorse. I am trying
to show everyone that I can make it on my own. Someday I will be bigger than
Julia Roberts. Wow, I NEVER expected to really WIN this, * she began
rehearsing her academy awards acceptance speech for Best Actress.

WESTWINDS...

The street sign passed by on her left. She flipped on the hatchback's turn
signal and made an illegal U-turn in the middle of the road. * ...I mean who
do I thank first? WOW! (insert director's first name here) took a chance on
me when no one else believed... ,* she continued rehearsing her speech,
oblivious to the chorus of horns and curse words following her tail lights.
* Of course, there are also the people who get NO thanks. Xander Harris I
know you're watching. I hope you like your job washing dishes at Denny's.
Someday you may even be promoted to fry cook ...*

2234...

The house was a bungalow with one driveway. A black Ford Escort was parked
up the drive before an open garage. Cordelia turned into the drive and put
the map under the seat. She folded up Angel's note and slipped it into her
Gucci handbag. A quick check in the mirror... * You have a mysterious past
of heartbreak and danger... * a dash of Azure Ruby 6 across the upper and
lower lips, squish, smile... * you are bold but not bitchy, straightforward
but not blunt... door open, legs first, stand up, brush down, walk. *

The crisp click of her Vigtelli pumps against the cool concrete snapped some
confidence into Cordelia's step. It's not like was a real audition. She
wanted to bust this guy, not work for him. Still, she could use this fake
interview as practice, and who knows maybe this demon wouldn't be such a bad
guy after all. Maybe she could even pick up a name or two she could use
before Angel staked him. It WAS all about networking after all... any way
you can.

House not impressive, * she observed to herself as she approached the front
door. * Obviously can't even afford an illegal alien gardener. Orange trim?
Topaz? Turquoise? * she mused as she examined the late 70's architecture.
Definitely Boogie Nights... * She pressed the doorbell and listened to it
chime inside. She heard footsteps and fluffed her hair once more in the
door's reflection before it opened.

"Hello?" a normal-looking, overweight man peered out from behind the
turquoise door.

"Mr. Gabriel?" Cordelia asked.

"Yes?"

"I'm Cordelia Chase," she smiled. "I'm an actress. May I come in?" He
looked her over, up and down. * He doesn't look like a demon... * "I was
given your name," Cordelia added. "Someone told me you might be able to
help me. I'm kind of between jobs right now, and I'm looking for something
to tide me over until pilot season starts in the spring..."

"I have no idea what you're talking about," the man answered. "Or who the
HELL gave you my name. You're probably looking for my wife. She's the
big-time talent scout," he shook his head in disgust. "Me? I'm just excess
baggage now. Go talk to her."

"And who might she be?" Cordelia asked.

"Name's Claire... Claire Gabriel. Only I can't imagine how you ever heard
of her. She only has one client, my daughter Stephanie. And she's not
exactly filming Titanic. I think you got a bum steer, Miss..."

"Chase," Cordelia told him. "Cordelia Chase."

"Anyways, Claire took Steph out here weeks ago. They're living at the
Holiday Inn off Rodeo Drive now. You can look her up there. Or at the
agency..."

"Agency?" Cordelia asked. "Which agency?"

"Some place called H.R. Snuff'n'stuff," he answered. "Steph called me a
little bit ago, and told me Claire just got her signed with this big agent,
a guy named Scratch out there. Same guy who handled Sarah Marie Gelman, I
guess."

"Kimmy, Protector of the Universe?" Cordelia couldn't help but be impressed.
"That is like the number one show for teens between the ages of 12 and 21..."

"That's the one," he nodded. "Don't ask me how Claire inked that one. Guess
my little girl really could be a star, huh...? Just wonder how much that's
going to cost her, you know. There ain't nothing in this town that's free."

"Then you have nothing to do with the Industry?" Cordelia asked.

"I've got a Hollywood Video card," the man answered. "That's about it." He
started closing the door.

"Um... could you answer one more question?"

"Sure..." he stopped.

"You're not an evil demon that preys on struggling young actresses or
anything, are you...? Because if you are, I'm pretty desperate for work, I
have no relatives or friends out here and I'd make real easy prey."

The man just looked at her oddly and slammed the door shut.

* Okay, Mr. Brady Bunch house is definitely not our demon, * Cordelia mused
as she walked back down the drive. * And he really does need to hit the
Stairmaster... * She slid back into her car and fished her Official
Hollywood Contact Book out of the glove compartment. Skimming through the
H's, she found the listing for the H.R. Snuff'n'stuff Agency. She'd never
heard of it before, but if they were handling Sarah Marie Gelman they had to
be legit. She put the Cavalier into reverse and headed back into Hollywood.
* I'm a struggling actress looking for work. I have a mysterious past of
heartbreak and remorse. I am trying to show everyone that I can make it on
my own... *

* * *

"Hi," Cordelia beamed at the redheaded secretary. "I was given this agency's
name. My name is Cordelia Chase. I'm an actress."

"I'm sure you are," the redhead barely even looked at her. "Can I have the
name of your referral?"

"Um... Anthony Gabriel..." Cordelia attempted.

"I'm sorry, we don't know any Anthony Gabriel," the redhead suddenly seemed
a little discomfited. "You must be mistaken, Ms..."

"Chase," Cordelia repeated. "Cordelia Chase. And I'm not mistaken. It was
actually his wife that referred me. Claire Gabriel. I believe you just
signed their daughter... Stephanie... under contract."

"None of those names sound at all familiar, Ms..."

"CHASE," Cordelia fumed. * Warm breezes... Pina Coladas... Antonio
Banderas... * "Cordelia Chase. And I know you know WHO I'm talking about
because I can see a folder with 'Claire Gabriel' written right across the
front in your outbox. So, why don't we quit with the David Spade routine,
and just tell Mr. Scratch I'm here. Thank YOU." *How's that for forceful,
but not bitchy... *

"One moment," the redheaded secretary looked like she was ready to pounce
and rip Cordelia's throat out. But she picked up her phone instead and hit
the intercom button. "Mr. Scratch. There is a Ms..." she looked up at
Cordelia again.

"Chase," Cordelia sighed. "Cordelia Chase..."

"...a Ms. Cordelia Chase to see you. She was referred by Claire Gabriel it
seems... yes... certainly... I'll do that... thank you." She hung up the
phone. "You can have a seat out there," she pointed to the outer lobby. "If
Mr. Scratch has any time between appointments, he'll see you."

"Thank you," Cordelia tried to be as gracious as possible before she
retreated to the lobby and took a seat. She took up the French version of
Marie Clare and started skimming. *...I mean who do I thank first? WOW!
(insert director's first name here) took a chance on me when no one else
believed... * Through the chatter of her thoughts, Cordelia heard a door
open and voices encroach on the silence around her. She looked up and saw
the door behind the redhead secretary open and a man and woman exit. Only
this wasn't just a woman it was...

"You can just go down to the studio, Sarah," the man spoke. "We'll get
started as soon as Gabrielle arrives."

...Sarah Marie Gelman.

Okay, Cordelia. Keep calm... You're bored... this is so TOTALLY common...
BORED... Giles rambling on about some ancient curse... PBS documentary on
swallows... Negative b plus or minus the old square root of b squared minus
4 a c and you put the whole thing over 2 times a... * Cordelia stood up and
strode through the lobby into the outer office. "Pardon me..." she crossed
past the redhead's desk and extended her hand to the startled actress.
"Cordelia Chase... I'm here to see Mr. Scratch. I just wanted to tell you
how much I enjoy your work, Miss Gelman. Kimmy, Protector of the Universe
is truly a pleasure to watch. I love the whole superhero, teenage angst
angle."

"Um... thanks," Sarah Marie Gelman offered her hand politely. Her skin,
though appearing to be tanned and toned, was as cold as ice.

* Bad circulation... diet pills... been there, done that... * "Mr. Scratch?"
Cordelia let go of Sarah's hand quickly and turned to the short, attractive
man at the actresses' side. "I'm Cordelia Chase. I was referred by Claire
Gabriel." She extended her hand to the talent agent. He studied her for a
moment, took her hand and suavely placed a kiss on the back of her hand.
* Tres debonair... lips warm, definitely not a vampire... *

"I'm sorry," Mr. Scratch looked a bit put-off. "I wasn't aware Ms. Gabriel
managed any other talent..."

"Um... she doesn't," Cordelia replied. "I mean she's not actually my
manager. I'm an acquaintance... a good acquaintance... a friend of her...
um... daughter... Stephanie..."

"You mean Gabrielle?" the agent asked, more than a little puzzled.

"Yes, that's it." * I thought her name was Stephanie! * "It was actually
her husband, Anthony Gabriel who told me to check with you..."

"I was under the impression Ms. Gabriel and her husband were separated,"
Scratch replied.

"Oh, they are..." * This is NOT going well. * "But that has nothing to do
with me. I'm just a friend. I was wondering if maybe you had a moment..."

"Ms. Gabriel and Gabrielle should be here at any moment." Scratch looked down
at his watch. "We're set to do a test shoot tonight. I'm sure we'll all
have a few moments beforehand to get together and discuss this."

"Wow, that would be great," Cordelia finally let go of the agent's hand.
"I'm kind of between jobs right now. Nothing major. Just looking for a new
direction. Maybe some pilot work..."

"You certainly do have a nice look," Scratch really seemed to be admiring
Cordelia. "A very nice look. I can already see some definite possibilities.
Can't you, Sarah?"

"With some work," Sarah kind of wrinkled her nose.

"Are you doing anything tonight?" Scratch suddenly asked. "I've already got
a crew booked for Gabrielle. Are you up for a test shoot?"

"Most definitely," Cordelia almost jumped into one of her Sunnydale
Cheerleading routines. * Calm... bored... nothing big... aller... allant...
alle'... vais... irai... * "Whatever you'd like."

"Just one question, Ms..."

"Chase, Cordelia Chase," she tried to sound as patient and nonplussed as
possible.

"What WON'T you do to become a star, Cordelia?" Scratch asked with a smirk.

"I don't know the meaning of the word 'won't', Mr. Scratch," Cordelia smiled.
* Man, that 'Making in Hollywood' book really did come in handy. *
" 'Won't,' 'don't' or 'can't'..."

Scratch nodded with a vague smile. "Very good..." he looked out into the
lobby at the door. "Well, speak of the devil..." he pushed past Cordelia and
entered the lobby. A woman draped in black wearing black sunglasses and a
floppy black Donna Karan hat entered. The collar of her black blazer was
turned up, shielding her entire face in shadow. A pretty young girl who
looked no older than 14 years old followed her into the lobby. Once the door
was closed behind them, the woman in black pulled down her collar and removed
her hat and sunglasses.

* Okay, now THAT's a vampire, * Cordelia mused to herself. * FINALLY! Love
the ensemble, though. Very attrac... *

"Claire!" Scratch gushed over the woman in black. "Hello, Gabrielle," he
chucked the pretty young girl playfully on the chin. "How's my next big
star?"

"Great!" the girl responded on cue with the appropriate bubbliness. "Ready
to work."

* Oh, that's good, kid, * Cordelia smiled to herself. * Very good. *

"You didn't tell me you were managing any more talent," Scratch commented to
Claire Gabriel as they walked into the outre office. The woman shot the
agent a confused look. "I believe you know, Ms..."

"Chase," *Rrrrrgggghhh... * "Cordelia Chase," Cordelia extended her hand to
Claire, already anticipating the cold, clammy grip of the undead. * Eww...
No disappointment there. Definitely slay-worthy... *

"I'm sorry," Claire Gabriel peered into Cordelia's eyes. "Have we met?"

Scratch looked at Cordelia curiously.

"I know your husband," Cordelia responded.

"My husband?"

"Actually, we just met... today..." Cordelia was scrambling. "I was given
his name and address by mistake .. instead of yours. He told me where he
thought I could find you. I'm just soo glad we've finally gotten the chance
to meet."

"I'm sorry, Miss..."

"Chase," Cordelia gritted her teeth. "Cordelia Chase."

"Well, Ms. Chase, I really don't know what you're doing here or what you
could possibly want with me."

"I'm looking for work. A friend told me I should look you up and maybe you
could help me..."

"What friend?"

"It was a casting director. I was auditioning for a... um... commercial. I
got beat out by this... um, but that's not important," Cordelia suddenly cut
herself short. "I was talking to the director after the try-out, and he
mentioned your name. He said you might be able to help me. That you had
some contacts. I guess I'm looking for a manager."

"I'm not sure I understand," Claire Gabriel prodded. "Why did you go to my
husband?"

"I have NO idea," Cordelia shrugged her shoulders. "That's the information
I was given. Believe me, I am not HAPPY about it. I'm just glad I finally
found you. I could really use some help getting some work."

"I'm sorry, but I'm really not handling anyone but Gabrielle at the
moment..."

"Oh," Cordelia looked at Mr. Scratch. "I can still do the test shoot,
though, can't I...? I mean I AM here, and you did ask..."

Scratch shook his head and smiled at Claire. "Claire, Cordelia here does
seem to possess some of the charms were looking for. Perhaps, you could take
her under your wing for a short while. We should be able to see if she has
what it takes tonight during the test shoot. What do you say?"

Claire Gabriel turned to Cordelia. "Are you really sure you know what you're
getting into, Ms. Chase? This can be a rather CUTTHROAT business..."

* Oh, good one vampire lady... * "You'd be surprised how much I've already
seen in my life, Ms. Gabriel," Cordelia replied. * Back in Sunnydale, you
wouldn't have even rated a trip to the library, BITCH! * "I'm sure I have
what it takes to make it in this business."

"It's settled, then," Scratch smiled and extended his hand. "Welcome to the
family, Ms. Chase," he said as he kissed the back of Cordelia's hand again.
"Now, come on, we have work to do."

Beeeeep! Everyone in the room went for their cell phones. Beeeeep!
Cordelia felt her phone vibrate. "Mine," she announced, flipped out the
receiver and put it to her ear. "Cordelia Chase..." she answered.

"Where are you?" Angel's voice asked.

"At the offices of H.R. Snuff'n'stuff," Cordelia replied. "It's a talent
agency. I'm in the middle of something, okay...?"

"You were supposed to be getting information on the name I gave you...
Anthony Gabriel..." Angel sounded annoyed. "Not scrounging for work."

"This involves that contact I had .. you know, Claire Gabriel..." Cordelia
tried to sound nonchalant. "I found her here... with her daughter... I'm
kind of busy."

Cordelia heard muffled whispers on the other end of the line. "Cordelia,
Doyle says you need to get the hell out of there... RIGHT NOW!" Angel
emphasized. "Mr. Gabriel was found dead a short while ago. NECK INJURIES,
if you get my drift..."

"Sure do, Fonzi," Cordelia quipped. "But this is a major agency. I'm
standing here with Sarah Marie Gelman! I really can't just..."

"Cordelia, get out of there now! I am not kidding around here. NOW!"

"Listen, you are not the boss of me..." she paused. "Okay, maybe you are,
technically, BUT..."

"Cordelia!"

"All right... I'm leaving..."

"Make sure you aren't followed. Meet me at Mr. Gabriel's home in Van Nuys.
Maybe we can find some answers there...?"

"Roger, will-co, over and out," Cordelia mocked before she hung up. "That
was my VERY VERY DUMPED boyfriend," she explained to Mr. Scratch and company.
"I can't do the test shoot tonight."

"I thought we didn't know the meaning of the word 'can't'," Scratch observed.

"I guess we were wrong," Cordelia frowned. * I am going to KILL Angel. I
don't care if he is already dead. One stake to the back when he's not
looking. Poof! *

"You know there aren't many second chances in this business," Scratch
lectured her.

"That's what they tell me," Cordelia bit her lip.

Don't call us, Ms. Chase, we'll call you," Scratch dismissed her with a wave.

"Ciao," Cordelia tried to sound upbeat as she headed out into the lobby.
* At least he remembered my name. * She exited into the twilight and headed
towards her car.

* * *

"And what do you think that was all about?" Donna asked Scratch after
Cordelia left.

"I don't know," Sarah Marie Gelman spoke for the first time in minutes.
"But that ditz will never work in THIS town." She turned to Gabrielle and
extended her hand to the pretty teen. "Hi, Gabrielle, I've heard so much
about you. I'm..."

"I know who you are," Gabrielle cut her off with an excited whisper. The
teenager was positively shaking when she took Sarah's hand. The iciness
didn't even faze her. She held on and beamed at the famous young actress.
"I watch Kimmy EVERY week... even the reruns..."

"And there are plenty of those," Sarah quipped. "Aren't there?" Gabrielle
nodded and laughed. "Hey let's say we go down to the studio and get into
make-up," Sarah smiled. "I can show you some tricks before we do the shoot."

"You're staying for the shoot?!" Gabrielle looked like she was about to
faint.

"I'm in the shoot, silly," Sarah led her by the hand into the lobby. "You
don't think I'd miss an opportunity to work with H.R. Snuff'n'stuff's
brightest new star..." The pretty TV starlet's voice drifted down the
stairway as Gabrielle followed her.

"Any ideas who Miss Chase might have been?" Scratch asked when Gabrielle was
out of earshot.

"My husband threatened to hire a P.I. to track my movements with Gabrielle,"
Claire answered. "He was trying to get custody... at least until we LAST
SPOKE today."

"You took care of our little problem then?" Scratch asked.

"The professionals you provided were quite thorough," Claire Gabriel nodded.
"A little messy, mind you, but quite thorough."

"Did you secure Gabrielle's birth certificate and the other papers I asked
you to get?" Scratch asked.

"No," she shook her head. "He had them upstairs in a strongbox. We were
just about to get them when we heard sirens. One of the neighbors must have
heard us and called the police. We got out of there."

"I NEED those papers! No one can know who Gabrielle is or where she came
from. Our entire operation depends upon destroying her old identity and
creating a new one. I told you that!"

"I'm sorry, but I really couldn't see risking an encounter with the police.
That really could have blown your cover."

"I must have those papers!" Scratch hissed. His human form had suddenly
shifted into that of a green, lizard-like demon.

"Don't worry," Claire soothed him, her cold vampire hands stroking his spiny
temples. "The police wouldn't have any reason to take those papers out of
the house. Your men made Anthony's murder look like just another routine,
random act of violence. There's no way the police could link his death to
Gabrielle or me. The strong box with the papers will still be upstairs in
the bedroom. We just need to send someone out to the house to get it."

"I know just who to dispatch," Scratch snapped open his cell phone and
punched in seven numbers. "They'll retrieve the papers, and if anyone gets
in their way they'll take care of it."

"Are you referring to that dizzy little Nancy Drew that was just snooping
around here?" Claire asked.

"You think she was hired by your husband?" Scratch answered her with another
question.

"Well, she's certainly no ACTRESS," Claire smirked.

"I think you're judging our Miss Chase a little too harshly, my dear,"
Scratch grinned. Claire arched her eyebrows and gave the demon a curious
look. "Upon further consideration, it appears we will be giving Miss Chase
a call-back," he cackled.

"A call-back?"

"I think we have the perfect little video project for a nosy private
investigator with perfect cheekbones." The demon paused then spoke into his
cell phone. "Yes... I have a job for you..." he began.

Claire Gabriel listened as Scratch relayed all the pertinent information over
the phone. A minute later, the demon hung up and turned back to her.

"I believe it's time we get downstairs and put Gabrielle to work," he
smirked. "I see a bright future for that girl, Claire. With the proper
guidance and direction, we could have another Kimmy, Protector of the
Universe on our hands."

"She'll be bigger than that," Claire assured him. "This little girl really
has something special." She extended her hand towards the lobby stairwell.
"Age before beauty..." she smiled, following Mr. Scratch into the lobby and
down the dark stairwell.


    

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