Chapter I: Dealing With It
"What do you mean, 'we'll wait for the appeal'?"
"I mean what I say." Lindsey McDonald crossed his arms, facing Gunn squarely. "There's no way we can win this thing at first trial, but if we appeal we'll have a better chance of convincing the judge that he's innocent."
"Which he's not," Gunn reminded him flatly. He hated it when they were forced to represent clients like the one whose case he and Lindsey were now handling. The man was quite obviously a Caharras demon, although he disguised himself almost perfectly in human form. And everybody in the business knew what Caharras demons fed on…
"You don't have to tell me twice." Lindsey spread his hands, as though to indicate that there was nothing he could do about it. Then he shrugged. "Nasty piece of work, though… He didn't really have to leave that poor girl alive while he fed on her."
Fred, who was putting the finishing touches on a file she was presenting in court the next day, looked up from the computer screen in interest. "'Fed'? As in blood?"
Lindsey leaned back into his chair and smiled. "As in he tore the victim's liver from her body as slowly as possible, and then scooped out the surrounding flesh in order to make a hollow… His way of cleaning things up," he added, which only managed to add to the growing disgust on Fred's face.
"While she was still alive?..." Fred almost choked up over the keyboard. "And… you're… defendin'…"
Gunn felt his hatred of his new client wash over him again. "We don't have a choice. You know how it works, Fred."
She nodded, turning back to the screen with a sigh. "Yeah. Ah know." They all knew, and it was far too much to handle, on most days. Two months at Wolfram and Hart's had transformed the former Angel Investigations crew to a group of hardened, if not very skilled, lawyers who could handle defending even the most obviously and obscenely guilty client.
Half an hour later, the door of the conference room they were in swung open to admit Harmony, who was adjusting the headset of the brand new telephone operating system that Angel had been wheedled into buying with one hand, and trying to keep her hold on an incredibly thick file in the other. "Have any of you seen Angel?"
Gunn and Lindsey shook their heads, almost of one accord. People went in and out of the office frequently, and they had gotten used to finding someone missing at a crucial moment, only to discover that they had been inside the building all along. "No, not lately. Why?"
"Because I need to get these files to him, and he's missing again." Harmony's mouth formed a cute little pout which she seemed deliberately to be directing at Lindsey. She often made gestures of the same kind, but he always seemed to be thoroughly absorbed in something else. At the moment, that 'something else' was the back of Fred's head.
She hadn't turned around, or even moved, since Harmony entered the room. It was Gunn who, after a prompting look from Lindsey, called her. She didn't respond at first, and then seemed to be rousing herself from some deep reverie.
"Yes, Charles?" She waited. Listened. "Angel? No, sorry, haven't seen him all day." And then she turned back to the screen. It was as though she was drawn to it by some invisible force.
Harmony clicked her tongue in sugary-sweet mock pity and turned to Gunn. "Your girlfriend needs to get out more." And then, swinging her hips as much as possible in the process, she left.
Gunn was almost sure he had seen Lindsey's expression change fractionally at the words 'your girlfriend', but after looking up and finding Angel's former enemy steadily absorbed in the case files spread out on the table in front of him, he put his suspicion down to paranoia.
"Angel. What are you doing here?" Spike quickly tried to rearrange his expression into what he hoped was one of bland innocence. Of course, he failed miserably - as he usually did whenever he tried to get anything past his grandsire – and contented himself with a lazy grin.
Angel's gaze took in Spike, the several empty ale mugs on the bar counter in front of him, and the two women seated on either side of him – both obviously vampires – and his face hardened. There had been a lot of stress going around at Wolfram and Hart lately, and Angel was becoming increasingly aware of the fact that Spike, whose loyalty now belonged to Angel, never seemed to be around when there was work to be done. He was actually turning out to be more trouble than he was worth.
Angel was just about to unleash his temper on his rebellious grandchilde, when the sound of someone calling him from across the room caught his attention. A tall, scaly humanoid demon wearing a trench coat and a 20's-style hat tipped across his face moved forward smoothly to shake Angel's hand.
"Finally, we meet." His voice was as smooth as his movements, and it reminded Angel strangely of smoke. Spike had fixed his full attention on the stranger – getting ready to fight him if they had to – but his grandsire remained carefully impassive.
"You don't know me," the demon continued. "My name is Elhias, and I have been searching for you a long time." Then he chuckled gently. "Excuse me – I meant to say that we have been searching for you a long time."
Angel glanced sideways at Spike, who raised his eyebrows, before answering the demon with a sigh. "If you're looking for legal help, you're going to have to call in at my office." He started to pull out a business card from his coat pocket, but the demon shook his head.
"No, no… You don't understand…" Through the shadow that covered Elhias' face underneath the hat, Angel recognized a pair of glittering crimson irises. "We do not need help. We are here to help you." Seeing the suspicion and disbelief on their faces, the demon sighed. "Perhaps my friend could explain it to you better… Elena?" He seemed to be calling to someone who wasn't in the room, and for a moment both Angel and Spike thought that maybe he had had one too many drinks.
But then a faint sound, like the ringing of tiny silver bells, filled the space around them and a woman appeared at the demon's side. She obviously wasn't human; her hair, in its many shades of gold, auburn and crimson, seemed to be wafting in a continual breeze; she wore a dress of a fluid green material that certainly wasn't made by machines; and she was surrounded by a strong, invisible aura. Of course, this was not to mention that fact that she was only around six or seven inches tall.
The woman, who the vampires took to be some sort of fairy, rose lightly through the air and hovered towards Angel, scrutinizing his face closely. After a long pause, she drew back, and there was a gentle half-smile on her face.
"Aye," she said softly, and her voice was accompanied by the same sound of silver bells that she had arrived with. "He's the one."
To Be Continued.
Author's Note: First of all, I apologize if I went into too much detail about the new characters - but it's really just to help create a clear image of them, and not to transform them into Mary Sues.
This fic is set at the beginning of season 5 and follows the storyline of past seasons pretty closely, except for the addition of Lindsey and a few unanswered questions which will, hopefully, be answered in the coming chapters. I'll give a more thorough account of the fic's storyline in the next chapter, where the actual story will kick off.
Reviews, replies, opinions, etc, are all welcome, and I might get round to replying to them – I've only done review replies a few times before, and I really want to reinsert it as a regular feature in my fics.
And pairing ideas, by the way, would be very much appreciated: I would really like to try some new pairings instead of the old, over-used ones (B/S, A/C , D/C, etc). Pairing suggestions can also include BtVS characters or characters that are no longer included on 'Angel' and could be brought back to life at some point in the fic.
Sidebar: the legal lingo between Gunn and Lindsey at the beginning of the chapter was completely television-inspired, so please forgive any technical mistakes I might have made.