The Host had seen Dr. Rajinder Dhaliwal hanging around Caritas a few times. The doctor, house physician for the law firm of Wolfram and Hart, was invariably accompanied by a Gaurog demon. The doctor was an ordinary-looking human in early middle age. The only odd thing about him was his eyes: they were a beautiful, clear blue, like the eyes of a Siamese cat. Also like a cat’s eyes, they reflected light so that they seemed to glow in the dark. The Gaurog demon was six and a half feet tall and solidly built. The demon was a cylindrical column of muscle who could barely squeeze through the night club’s doors. He hid his vestigial horn plates under a baseball cap and wore a long coat that covered his tail. Strangely, the Gaurog had the same unusual eyes as the doctor.
Dr Dhaliwal had never confided in the Host, but Lorne could see that the physician had problems. He’d sit at the table, knocking back whiskey and casting an aura of gloom and melancholy that was bad for business.
When Wesley had phoned him up asking for a doctor who treated vampires, the Host had immediately thought of Dhaliwal. It was Angel’s business to help the helpless and Dhaliwal looked like he could use some help. Bringing the two together was the Host’s good deed for the day.
Though the Hyperion Hotel had many rooms, few of them were fit for habitation. Most of the rooms were empty, and whatever furniture was left was there only because it wasn’t worth anyone’s while to carry it away. Room 212 was better than most. It had a bed, a chest of drawers, a working light fixture complete with 40- Watt bulb, and running water in the bathroom. A broken air conditioner filled the bottom half of the window; the top half was covered by a threadbare curtain in a shade of orange that had last been popular in the early seventies. There was even a television which, surprisingly, still worked, although it only received three channels.
Spike had lived in a crypt at the cemetery before he had been imprisoned in a dark and dirty cell underneath Sunnydale. For him, Room 212 of the Hotel Hyperion was stylish living.
Angel sat on the side of Spike’s bed, wondering whether he should wake the other vampire or let him sleep. He’d warmed up a cup of pig’s blood in the microwave downstairs. He dipped his fingers in the blood and then used it to wet Spike’s lips, which were dry and cracked.
“Come on, William,” he coaxed. “Try to drink a little. Just a drop.”
Wesley, standing in the doorway, cleared his throat. Angel turned around.
“The Host says that he knows someone who can help Spike,“ Wesley said. ‘‘He`s named Dr. Dhaliwal. The only problem is that the Host thinks that he might not be pure human. He said something about his eyes. He thinks he`s part Gaurog.”
“A demon of humanoid appearance, not especially violent although considered untrustworthy. The species is sexually dimorphic. Males are large, muscular and have thick tails covered by plates of hide which can be used as clubs. Females are much smaller, graceful and willowy, with elegant tails that are covered in a fine soft down. Gaurog females are notorious for seducing human males, after which their outraged male relatives show up to demand compensation.”
“So you’re afraid this doctor is some kind of fraud because he might be part Gaurog?” Angel asked.
Wesley shook his head. “No. His reputation is excellent. I’m concerned, however, that Spike’s chip might not prevent him from harming someone who is not a pure-blooded human.”
“The shape that he’s in right now,” Angel said, “Spike couldn’t hurt a fly, let alone a Gaurog demon.”
“Still...” Wesley said.
“I’ll stay in the room when Dr. Dhaliwal is doing his examination to make sure that Spike doesn’t attack him,” Angel said, turning away from Wesley.
The former Watcher had been dismissed. He stood in the doorway for a moment longer, but Angel’s attention was entirely focussed on trying to get Spike to eat. Frowning, Wesley went downstairs to join the others.
Angel had insisted on staying in the room. He had not let the doctor see his patient alone. He’d argued that Spike was too dangerous, which was ridiculous. Dhaliwal’s bodyguard could handle any trouble that came up, but such incidents seldom happened, despite the nature of Dhaliwal’s patients. Even demons did not normally attack those who were tending to their wounds. Angel stood in the doorway, too far away to do any good if Spike suddenly lunged at him. and looked at the wall. The vampire carefully averted his eyes from the examination, as if he were respecting Spike’s privacy.
When he’d finished the examination, Dhaliwal pulled off his gloves. He looked around the dismal room – the bare stained mattress without a sheet or a pillow, the dim light that made a proper examination difficult, and the flimsy curtains that would let in the morning sunshine. He sniffed at the red liquid sitting in a cup on the battered chest of drawers.
“Pig’s blood?” he asked, handing the cup to the Gaurog demon.
The demon took a sniff and nodded.
He looked over at Angel, who was now at Spike’s bedside. As he watched, Angel leaned over Spike, whispering something that only Spike could hear. He placed his hand on top of the other vampire`s. The very picture of solicitude. The vampire with a soul comforting his wounded childe.
“Vampire families are the worst,” Dr. Dhaliwal said to his bodyguard in badly accented Gauroghi.“They combine all the worst traits of humanity and demonkind.”
Dr. Rajinder Dhaliwal usually kept his emotions under strict control. However, he was feeling a surge of anger that was too powerful to be ignored. It wasn’t because the vampire he was treating had been tortured; vampires and demons inflicted all sorts of grisly punishments on each other, and it was Dhaliwal’s unpleasant job to stitch them back together afterwards. He was used to that.
He was angry because Angel had given him hope, and then taken that hope away from him. He’d planned to come up with some excuse to talk to Angel alone, without his Gaurog bodyguard/jailer present. He’d hoped that the vampire with a soul could solve his problems. However, seeing what Angel had done to Spike had made Dhaliwal change his mind. The doctor would never be able to trust the person who had purposefully inflicted this kind of pain on another. Such a brute could not handle his situation with the delicacy it required.
“Why did you do this?” he asked Angel. “What did he do? Did he cheat on you?”
“Spike and I are not a couple,” Angel protested. He meant to tell the doctor that he was not the one who had tortured Spike but the doctor was in full spate and would not let his speak.
“You pour bleach down his throat, and then you ask me why you can’t get him to swallow. He can’t feed because he’s hurt, and he can’t heal because he’s starving. What’s the solution? We feed him intravenously. Human blood not pig’s blood. ”
“I know. You’re the good vampire. The one with a soul. No human blood passes your lips. Very commendable. However, this vampire is used to human blood and he’ll heal more quickly if you feed him his normal diet.
I know a place where you can get human blood. They supply blood for ritual use. It’s not medical quality, but it’s ethically gathered. They pay the donors the same rate as the Red Cross, but they don’t ask any questions about needle use, hepatitis, or unprotected sex. Caveat emptor. I’ll give you the address.
Do you know how to set up an IV drip?”
Angel shook his head.
“Not difficult. I’ll show you how.”
“Where have you been keeping him? Not here. You know how I can tell? Those curtains are threadbare, and Spike is dehydrated. In his current state he’s highly flammable. When the sun comes up, he’ll go up like a stick of phosphorus. Put him in a room without windows, maybe underground, before he burns the place down. Back in whatever cage you had him in.”
“Finally, no more buggery.”
Angel must have gasped or made some kind of sound, because the doctor turned on him then, unleashing the full force of his anger on the vampire.
“You heard me. No buggery. Not till he heals...if he heals. He may need surgery. I couldn’t examine him properly. Too painful and then his face started to change....what do you vampires call it?....he was vamping out. “
“Spike was...violated.” Angel said.
“That`s what I said. I don’t like this kind of case. Demons killing and wounding their enemies I can understand...sort of...but why do you hurt the ones you care about?”
“I didn’t hurt him,” he said. “It was the Initiative.”
The doctor looked at Angel. He wasn`t angry any more. He just looked sad and defeated.
“I’ve been around your kind too much. I can almost understand. You have a soul, but there’s a demon inside you too, and you have to keep him quiet. “
“If you do it again, I’ll still come, because I’m the only doctor treating demons and vampires in the Los Angeles area who does house calls and I feel a certain responsibility to my patients. But I’ll charge you double, and my fees are already steep. So don’t do it again.”
“Honestly, it wasn’t me,” Angel repeated.
Dr. Dhaliwal nodded, although it was clear that he didn’t believe him.
“I’ll send you your bill by the mail. Pay it promptly. I work for Wolfram and Hart, and you don’t want to have to deal with our collection agency.”