Angel stormed into Wolfram & Hart, his anger rising with every step. The only thing that kept him from hurling a chair out the window was that it was a bright sunny day in LA.
In the back of his mind, he knew he needed to get it together and calm down. Becoming head of the law firm was enough of an uphill battle without this little temper tantrum, and he was acutely aware of the looks he was receiving from his employees as they scrambled to get out of his way. There was also Eve. He needed another visit from her like he needed a cavity. At the moment, though, he just couldn't bring himself to care.
After everything he had done, Giles and the others had no faith in him. He could see it in their eyes. They were treating him like some damn kid who had bitten off more than he could chew instead of the centuries old vampire that he was. Xander even had the gall to call him Michael Corleone. It was irritating and infuriating, and yet Angel knew he shouldn't have been surprised.
For all they had seen and done, they were still kids, kids who saw things in black and white, color blind to the world in all its gory technicolor glory. Giles was the only exception, but he currently had his Watcher stick too far up his ass.
Even Buffy was struggling. Though she was giving him the benefit of the doubt, she knew him well enough to know something wasn't quite right; she knew he wasn't being completely honest with her and that made her wary. He couldn't tell her about Connor, though. If he did, he'd have to come clean about the memory spell he had placed on everyone, and he knew her well enough to know that it wouldn't sit well.
The real twist of the knife was Faith, though. He thought she out of anyone would be on his side. And she had been… until last night, when he had offered to erase her past deeds from everyone's memories, even hers.
Angel felt his fangs extend just remembering the look on her face.
He was practically vibrating with anger by the time he reached his office. His mood didn't improve when he saw someone other than Harmony sitting at her desk.
"Who the hell are you?"
The red-headed woman jumped at the sound of his voice, her gaze skittering nervously, petrified. Feeling the tiniest pang of remorse, Angel tried to school his expression into a less angry glare. From the look of terror on her face, he wasn't successful.
"Na- Nadine Roman, sir, from steno," she stuttered. "Harmony asked me to fill in for her while she stepped out for a few minutes."
Angel snarled but said nothing. He was not happy with the situation, but it wasn't her fault, and he was liable to give the woman a heart attack if he said anything more. He simply vowed to himself to have yet another talk with Harmony about protocols before stalking into his office and slamming the door shut.
As he sat down at his desk, away from the prying yet terrified eyes, he felt his temper start to cool until he finally felt calm enough to tackle the work in front of him. Instead of reaching for the paperwork and mail piled on desk, however, Angel pulled a piece of paper out of his pocket, one that had the number Finn had given to Buffy on it.
It was time he and Finn had a little chat.
Angel arrived much earlier than the agreed upon meeting time to get a lay of the land. As luck would have it, Finn had the same idea - except he had come even earlier. Angel spotted him immediately in the crowded station, sitting on a bench in the middle of the room. Though it looked like he was reading the book, Finn, the ever dutiful soldier, spotted him a split second later, a smirk on his face at his one upmanship.
Angel brushed it aside. All that really mattered was that Finn agreed to meet. If anything, this turn of events made things easier, giving Finn a false sense of security.
With that in mind, Angel sat down on the bench behind him, with only the slightest grunt of recognition.
He felt, rather than saw the way Finn rolled his eyes.
"I almost didn't come," the boy said, his tone conversational with only the slightest hint of animosity present. "But for you to call me? I figured it had to be good, even if I don't believe you want my help to keep Buffy safe."
Angel ignored his comment and got straight to the point. "What are your intentions with Buffy?"
Finn made a sound of incredulity. "Seriously? This is why you called me? Aside from being none of your business, we have bigger problems to worry about."
"I was speaking on a professional level," Angel clarified, fully enjoying the other man's discomfort, discomfort he purposefully inflicted. "Feel free to expand on the question, though. I could use a good laugh."
Finn turned his head ever so slightly and glared. "It's like I said last night, We just want to talk, figure out what's going on and where we all stand."
"And if she doesn't want to?"
"She will," Finn stated.
Though his voice was confident, Angel heard the tiniest flicker of uncertainty there and pressed.
"But if she doesn't? Will you fall in line like a good soldier, or stand with Buffy? Can I count on you? Can Buffy count on you?"
Despite himself, Angel couldn't keep his own emotion out of the last question.
Not surprisingly, Finn shot to feet a moment later, steel in his voice as he spoke. "This meeting is over."
When Angel got back to the office, Nadine was sitting at Harmony's desk again.
She looked up at him fearfully as he passed by.
"Harmony's at lunch and she was worried that-"
Angel waved his hand dismissively as he brushed by her, walking into his office, knowing the mind reader would be there already. As soon as the door was shut and he was seated behind his desk, he gestured for her to begin.
"It was difficult, with the others there. My craft is not usually practiced under such... circumstances, and certainly not without eye contact. I was only able to catch glimpses into his mind," she said primly. "What I saw was schematics, floor plans of a hotel, including access tunnels. The young man was arguing with someone in front of them."
Angel frowned. "Did you see anything else?"
The mind reader hesitated. "Just one other thing. The answer to your question is yes."
Angel scowled. He knew that already, but hearing it from someone else struck the point home. Feeling agitated and needing to be alone, he waved his hand dismissively at the mind reader, who took the hint and started for the door.
Before she left, Angel called out to her.
"You won't tell anyone of this, correct?" he asked, letting the slightest hint of menace into his voice.
Paling ever so slightly, the mind reader shook her head. "No, sir. Of course not."
Satisfied, Angel nodded. "Good. You can go."
He was still as stone as he watched her hurry out of his office as quickly as she could. As soon as the door closed behind her, however, he began pacing back and forth.
It wasn't much to go on, but it sounded like the military was ready to use force if the situation required it. If that were true, it would be an unprecedented move, using force against US citizens on US soil. He wouldn't put it past them at all, though. As Xander had said, any military that could create the Initiative could not be trusted, not even with safety scissors.
They were also fools if they thought he would stand by and watch. He would do everything in his power to keep Buffy and the others safe, no matter what.
If she would let him. After all, if he was going to tell Buffy what he had discovered, he might have to tell her how he done it.
Angel rubbed his hand over his face. For the first time in 250 years, he was tired.
A/N: I know, I know. It's been forever since I updated, and now when I finally do, it's with a 'quieter' installment. Would it help if I said the next chapter will be Faith and Tony, Round 2?