Disclaimer: All Angel and Buffy properties belong to Joss Whedon and his associates. No infringement upon their rights is intended. This story is loosely based on the Season 5 of Angel. Italics indicate thoughts, and bold indicates emphasis.
Chapter One – First Day
Lily ran her neatly manicured hands down her black skirt to smooth it as she examined herself in the brightly polished glass of the building. She felt quite small when faced with the looming structure before her. She went through a mental checklist to steady her nerves.
Straight black skirt that touches the tops of my knees? Check. Crisp white linen blouse? Check. Short black jacket? Check. With one more deep breath, she stepped into the lobby.
Right, Wolfram and Hart. Her eyes went to the directory posted near the elevators and located her floor. This is it, she sighed. It's now or never. I wonder what exactly these guys need with an in-house linguist?
With a toss of her head, she quietly stepped into the open elevator. Her appointment was for 6:15 – dusk, which had seemed odd to her when she set everything up. But then lots of things seemed odd to her, like the woman standing next to her loudly discussing her sex life on her cell phone.
"Oh, you are not going to believe this. He actually had feathers, and then. . ."
Above in the offices of Wolfram and Hart, Angel paced. The blinds of his office were still drawn; he realized the sun wasn't a threat here, but old habits died hard. Much like everything else around me. He went over the interviews he'd managed to squeeze in between handling other "business." Why Wesley thought they needed an additional linguist on staff was beyond him, but he'd gone along with the idea.
Lily Rose. Who gives their daughter two flower names? Angel glanced at the calendar on his desk. What sort of teasing must she have had?
Angel pushed the intercom on his desk, "Harmony, tell Wesley the interview Giles set up for us will be here soon."
"Can do boss," came the perky reply.
"'Nother little old lady come to court?" asked a voice from behind the office door.
"Go away, Spike. I'm busy," snarled Angel.
"Tut, tut, Peaches. Just here to grab me smokes. Left 'em behind after our last little bonding session."
"Fine, get them, and go."
"So, she the one Tweedy sent?" Spike asked as he wandered to Angel's desk and pulled a pack of Marlboro's out of the middle desk drawer. He noticed the résumé on the desk. Lily Rose. What sort of daft name was that then? Bloody perfect. Just what we need. A little, fluffy victim girl.
Angel grabbed the cigarettes from Spike's hand, earning a startled protest from the shorter man, walked to his office door, and threw the cigarettes into the foyer. They landed in front of the elevators.
"There are your smokes. Now run along like a good boy, won't you, Spike?"
"Right, well, I was leaving anyway," was the curt reply.
Spike bent to pick up his smokes as the elevator doors opened.
"And then the chocolate got caught in . . ."
Lily hurriedly got out of the elevator. Thank God, this is my floor. I so don't want to know where she got chocolate. She was so distracted she didn't notice the blond man in front of her until it was almost too late.
"Watch it, luv. Nearly spoiled my smokes," muttered Spike, waving off the woman's black leather pump that nearly ground his fags to mush. As he slowly began to stand, he let his eyes travel up the leg that belonged to the foot that wore the pump. Nice.
"Pardon?" Lily quickly drew back her foot and stopped, nearly getting caught in the elevator doors as they smoothly shut. "Sorry. You know, those things'll kill ya." She smiled slightly at him and moved off.
Now that bird might be worth looking into, Spike thought as he watched her walk away towards the reception area.
"Can I help you?" said the rather bored blonde woman behind the desk.
"Yes, I'm here for a 6:15 interview with Wes –." The receptionist cut her off and came bubbling out from behind her desk.
"Oh, goody, you're language lady. The boss has been all brood-y and stuff waiting on you. Follow me."
Brood-y? Did she just say brood-y? Is that even a word? What in the world is going on here?
The blonde escorted Lily into an enormous office that quite obviously belonged to someone who wanted to exude alpha-male. She let her eyes roam around the room. Lots of wood, lots of leather, lots of sharp, pointy implements?
"Lookit, boss. Language lady, and she isn't shaky like the last four." Harmony said as she pulled Lily from behind her and pushed Lily towards her boss.
Lily's mouth dropped at that comment. She thought she had been complimented, but she couldn't be sure.
A voice from the shadows on the other side of the room said, "Thank you Harmony for that incredibly tactful assessment of our recent spate of interviewees." The voice wasn't angry, just tired. "You can go now."
"'Kay," was the perky reply, and out she went with a bounce unaware that she had been insulted.
Oh, she's definitely a native. Not LA, though. One of the 'burbs? Lily brought a hand to her head, and she felt the familiar pang of a headache beginning. Not now, dammit. Gotta make an impression.
"Did I miss her? Has Harmony run her off?"
British, Oxbridge, trying desperately to sound like he isn't from somewhere. Sheffield, maybe? Her head was beginning to pound. Damn, why do I do this? Okay, deep breaths, stop playing Professor Higgins and just get through the interview.
The man emerged from the shadows, and when he spoke Lily felt the tingle in her head ease, "Won't you sit down, Ms. Rose?"
Damn, damn, damn. Irish, Limerick? Galway? Ow. Stupid head. Two Brits and an Irishman. Talk about exploiting a girl's weakness. Can this possibly get any worse?
". . .Quite an impressive résumé for one so relatively young," the shadow man continued.
"Yes, well, I like to keep busy?" God, that sounds stupid even to me.
"Perhaps introductions are in order, Ms. Rose? I am Wesley Wyndham-Pryce; I'm in charge of the research department where most of your work will talk place." Wesley stepped forward and shook her hand, gesturing to the couch in front of the desk.
Did he say "will"? Does that mean no Inquisition from two handsome men from the UK? Oh thank God. I don't think I would have survived that. Huh? Hand out? Right. Smile; no, not deer in headlights, the real one; good, now shake. Bollocks, I'm no good at this.
"And I'm Angel. I'm in charge of Wolfram and Hart. The LA branch. For the time being." He extended his hand to the young woman in front of him. Her heart was racing, more so than any of the other candidates. He inhaled just a little. That's interesting. No real fear, just nervousness and. . . honeysuckle? What an unusual combination. He smiled in spite of himself. She might work.
Wow! Gotta love a man with shoulders, broad shoulders. Oh good Lord woman, get a grip. Lily mentally gave herself a smack. He's a man. Period. Shake his hand, and get on with the sodding interview. Oh no. I'm doing it already. Can't mimic. Not now! They'll be offended. Is he smiling? Why is he smiling? And why do I suddenly feel like prey?
She took his hand firmly and shook it. She was surprised at how cool it was, but was even more surprised when he shook her hand firmly in return. Unbidden, a smile flashed across her own face. Oh, I like him. No wet-fish-cause-you're-a-girl handshakes for this one. I'll definitely like working here.
"Ha-hem, yes well. Could we get to the matter at hand?" Wesley interrupted the interlude. He wondered what there was about this woman that made Angel smile. He also wanted to know why Rupert Giles was listed as a reference. When he called to check her out, the other former Watcher had been vague to say the least. In fact all he said was, "You'll want her."
Lily turned her attention quickly back to Wesley, deciding that standing and grinning at the boss was not the world's best idea. She very slowly sat down on the couch that was positioned in front of the desk, crossed her ankles and waited. She shifted slightly to get more comfortable, and her skirt inched just a little higher. Blushing slightly, she ran a hand down the fabric hoping she was surreptitiously pulling the skirt down to a decent length. Angel, however, noticed and continued to smile.
When she sat down, Wesley briefly wondered if what Giles had meant had anything to do with the absolutely lovely legs that were now crossed in front of him. He shook his head slightly to clear it and sat in the armchair next to her.
"Ha-hem yes well.."
"You said that already, Wes." Angel moved to sit behind his desk. Now this is amusing. Wesley seems flustered. That doesn't happen everyday, at least not anymore. He was beginning to like this girl more and more.
"Right then. Ms. Rose, why don't you tell us a bit about yourself?"
This is always the worst part. I hate the "tell us about yourself" part of interviews. Lily rapidly went through the inventory of items that were safe to relate to relative strangers when it hit her. Angel. She'd heard that name before. Rupert had mentioned it in a letter once. Lily smiled. Oh, definitely the right place for me. I owe you big time, Ripper.
Odd. Her nerves are gone. Now it's just honey-suckle. And her body language has shifted. She's more certain.
"As you probably know from my letters and my résumé, I've done quite a bit of traveling over the last ten years or so. While I don't hold any official degrees, I have completed language programs at Berkley, Dartmouth, Brigham Young, and Michigan. I've done freelance translation for just about anyone that needs it from archaeologists to newspapers to the UN." Lily paused and briefly chewed her bottom lip before continuing.
"Which all boils down to the fact that I'm a polyglot as you probably guessed." She winced waiting for the questions. There weren't any. Just polite interest on both their faces. "Oh, sorry. People usually don't know what that means, and I end up making a fool of myself explaining that just because the title means "many tongues" it doesn't mean I have many tongues." Wesley stifled a small laugh at the last bit of information. She smiled broadly at him in return. I hope this means I'm doing well.
"Anyways, I can translate virtually any language. Spoken language, that is. I have to hear it before I can translate," she said to Wesley and then turning her gaze to Angel she added in a conspiratorial tone, "And any language means any – Sanskrit, Dalmatian, demon, whatever." She shrugged as if the gift weren't a big deal.
Angel leaned forward, "Why would you think we would care if you can translate demon languages?" His voice was quiet, smooth, and more than a little threatening. If she had been paying closer attention, she might have noticed the hint of gold in his otherwise deep brown eyes.
Lily's eyes widened in surprise. Oops, now I've done it. Determined to muddle through, she squared her shoulders and replied, "Because Rupert told me to apply, and he never sends me where my unique talents would go to waste."
Angel leaned back in his chair. No change in her breathing or her scent. Near as I can tell she is being honest. She calls him Rupert, huh? What is she – 28? Just how does Giles know her and how well?
As if on cue, Wesley asked, "I wanted to ask you that. How do you know Ru…Mr. Giles?"
"Hmmm?" She tore her eyes from Angel's. My, what a strange test of wills this is turning into. "I met him ten years ago in Hong Kong. I translated a scroll for him from the Eastern Chou dynasty. We've kept in touch." A tiny sigh escaped her lips.
"I see." Wesley looked down at the résumé before him and raised an eyebrow. "But that means you were only 18," he said with more vehemence than he intended.
The young woman blushed and shrugged slightly, "It's just a gift. No biggee. There are some hitches. For instance, I have to read aloud what I'm translating. We. . . I never figured out why. Guess I need to feel the language in order to process it." Her hand fluttered to a place just over her heart when she said "feel". "Anyway, with an average-length work I can translate most known languages in two to three days. Unknowns take a little longer," she paused, as if pondering something. "And as I mentioned I do better if I can hear a native speaker first. Sometimes I don't get tone and inflection quite right. Oh, and I mimic," the last was said very quietly.
"I said I mimic," came the reply in Wesley's voice but from Lily's mouth. A small hand smacked itself over her lips, and grey eyes widened in surprise.
Wesley dropped her résumé in surprise.
Angel moved from behind his desk and over to her. "Welcome to Wolfram and Hart, Lily. I think you'll do just fine."