Angel stood in his office and watched their first official workday at Wolfram & Hart begin. Wesley and Fred arrived together. She was whispering in his ear when the elevator doors opened and let them into the lobby. She quickly stepped back, not wishing to make a spectacle of herself. The whole thing was still odd to Angel, but he supposed he would get used to it. They were both carrying boxes of supplies for their respective offices. They spoke a few quick words and then she leaned forward and kissed him before they went their separate ways. Angel's eyes followed the man who had no idea he had once been host to a god. Wesley didn't notice that he was being watched as he went to his office. Gunn arrived next. He looked very out of place in his street clothes holding his own box which had a basketball sticking out of it. Gunn headed in the same direction Wesley had. Angel, Wes, and Gunn all had offices on this hall. "Like ants,"
Angel jumped and turned around. Lilah was standing in the entrance to his elevator, leaning against the frame, staring at him with a big smile on her face. "I thought that was my private elevator." Angel said peevishly "And don't you have your own office?"
Lilah stepped out of the elevator and let the door close behind her. "I come and go as I please, but in all other respects I am your humble servant. I communicate the partners' messages to you, your concerns to them, and assist you in your duties as the new CEO of this branch."
"Duties? I thought I could run this place however I want." Angel said
"You can run this place however you want, but to do that, you have to run it. This is a business Angel. You can't just take our client list and start hacking away at the evil demons one by one. Well you can, but then this branch will go bankrupt and you won't be the CEO of anything anymore. You'll be back where you were before and all the perks of your position will be gone." She gave him a meaningful look. "All of them."
Out of the corner of his eye Angel saw Wesley and Gunn in the hallway talking about something. "I get it." Angel said "I have to play your game. I have to… make compromises."
"Huh," Lilah said, amused "Is that thick skull of yours finally softening?"
"I'm not stupid Lilah. I can use Wolfram & Hart to fight evil, but I have to be creative about it, smart about it. I can't just attack everything head-on with my battle ax."
Lilah looked behind her at the wall of weapons Angel had behind his desk.
"I'm not saying I'll never do that." He said
"Of course not." Lilah said "You're still you. You're still the vampire with a soul that the ancient prophecies say will determine the fate of the world. You're still Angel."
"And I always will be. So if your bosses' master plan is to turn me over to the dark side you should tell them they made a big mistake in handing me all of these nice toys."
Her sunny grin remained as present and broad as ever. "We're a bit more subtle."
Angel heard a knock on his door. He continued to glare at Lilah. "Come in."
Wesley entered. He sensed the heavy tension between the two dead people. "If you're busy I can come back later." He offered
"No Wes; it's fine." Angel still hadn't removed his contemptuous gaze from Lilah.
"I was just leaving." Lilah said "Remember what we talked about." She told Angel as she got into his private elevator "See ya Wes." She winked at the confused Englishman.
"I really hate her." Angel said
"She seems different." Wesley said
Angel finally looked at Wes. "What do you mean?"
"I don't know. I can't place it." He shrugged. "I guess death changes a person."
Angel looked away. If he only knew. "Yeah," Angel said softly
"Sorry," Wes said, thinking Angel's response was because of Angel's own long past death and not the death of the person who had spoken. Wesley didn't remember that death.
"What? Oh," Angel looked back at Wesley and tried to give what he hoped was a normal ease-putting smile. "No I'm- I take it you didn't come in to talk about Lilah."
"No," Wes said "I started going through our client files."
"Good." Angel said "I should have thought of that. We'll need to categorize all of the files to figure out how to deal with each client. We'll also probably have to go through all of our employees and have them sing for Lorne. Then we…" Angel paused. "I'm just now realizing how much work turning this place around is going to be."
"Second thoughts?" Wesley asked
"No, you? I mean I know you never wanted to come here to begin with."
"No, but we're here. No sense in second-guessing our decision."
"Right," Angel said "We need a plan. We need… like a meeting or something."
"You could have your secretary set up the conference room." Wesley suggested
"Good… good idea. You're better at this than me."
"Well I'm used to morally ambiguous bureaucracies. I was a watcher."
"Right," Angel said "What was morally ambiguous about the council?"
Wesley shifted awkwardly like he regretted saying that. "I'll get Gunn and call Fred and Lorne while you get in touch with your new secretary. I think you'll like her." Wesley's eyes now sparkled with mischief. "You're old friends."
"You met my secretary?" Angel asked
"We can meet in the conference room in… what do you think? Twenty minutes?"
Angel watched Wesley go. "Okay," He said uncertainly to the now empty room. He went over to his desk and sat down. He took a moment to appreciate what a nice desk it was and how well his office was turning out. The wall of weapons, the HD TV, and the copious space were all little (not so little really) touches that made him feel more comfortable. Angel wondered if that was good or bad. He picked up his phone. "Hello," He said to the phone "Is this-"
"You have reached ritual sacrifice. To sacrifice a loved one-" Angel slammed the phone down quickly and heavily. He heard another knock on his door. "Come in."
Angel gaped at the blond woman who entered. "Wes said you wanted to see me."
"Harmony," Angel scowled. "When did you get back in L.A.?"
"I came for the whole no sun thing and just never left." Harmony said with a chipper countenance. "This is just such a wonderful city with so many opportunities."
"Do the words leave and never come back not mean anything anymore?"
"If you're talking about that thing that happened with the whole me betraying you and Cordy threatening to kill me, that's ancient history. It's not good to dwell on the past."
Angel glared. "Explain to me why I shouldn't kill you."
"Why would you want to kill me? I'm your secretary."
"You're evil." Angel said
"Well yeah," Harmony said "But I'm not, you know, evil. Ya know?"
"No, I don't."
"Look please don't fire me." Harmony said "This job is my big break. I'm actually a really good secretary and if you just give me a chance you'll be so glad you did because-"
"Harmony shut up." Angel said, thinking "Wes sent you in here?"
"Yeah, he's the one who picked me out of the steno pool."
"Why?" Angel asked
"Well you need a secretary so-" Angel got up and left his office. "Where are you going?"
Harmony followed Angel to Wesley's office. Angel rapped on the door. "Come in."
Angel entered, his annoyance obvious. "Is this your idea of a joke?"
Wesley was sitting at his desk reading. He looked up. "What? Oh, Harmony."
"This isn't funny."
"It wasn't meant to be-" Wesley couldn't keep a straight face. "Well actually it was meant to be funny. But I did have a practical reason for picking Harmony to be you assistant."
"Ooh assistant," Harmony said "That's way better than secretary."
Angel ignored her. "Which would be?"
"Anyone who works for Wolfram & Hart is bound to have questionable morals." Wesley explained "As you said we will have to vet all of our employees. The process could take weeks and since your assistant will be handling sensitive information I figured the devil we know is better than the one we don't. Harmony is at her worst unfaithful, she's hardly dangerous."
Angel glared at Wesley for a moment. "You're right." He relented "It's better to have someone mostly harmless like Harmony than a spy or assassin or whatnot."
"I apologize if I overstepped my responsibilities." Wesley said "Perhaps I-"
Angel flinched at Wesley's apology. "No, it's fine. You made a lot of sense."
"Does that mean I'm not fired?" Harmony asked excitedly
"No you're not fired." Angel said reluctantly
"Yay!" She squealed "I'll go get you some blood!"
Angel and Wesley watched her run from the room. There was a moment of silence. "If I caused you any distress I do apologize." Wesley said "Your first day here must be hard enough."
"No, no," Angel said hastily "I was just surprised to see her is all."
"Yes it was a bit odd when I saw her again too. The strangest part was…"
Angel knew what statement he didn't want to finish. "She reminded you of Cordy."
Wesley nodded. "I don't know if it's because they were friends or…"
Angel nodded as well. "It's hard to adjust to life without her."
"Yes it is." Wesley said "Especially for you I'm sure."
Angel nodded. He looked at Wesley. Something was different about him. Wesley wasn't one much for apologies, (and last year Angel had found out why) but he'd now apologized to Angel twice in a row. There was more to it than that, but Angel couldn't place it.
Angel shook his head. He had to stop phasing out like that. "Yeah,"
"Nothing, I was just thinking."
Harmony reentered the room with a mug which she offered to Angel. "Here ya go boss."
Angel eyed the mug wearily. "Is that-"
"Pigs blood," She assured him "Wes told me about the new company policy."
"Right," Angel said "Our new policy." He took the mug.
"No killing or eating humans." Wesley explained
"Yes," Angel drank his blood. "That's- hey this is really good."
"The secret ingredient is otter." Harmony explained
Angel stared at the collection of files in front of him. The five of them were trying to get a basic understanding of their clientele, but the numbers were daunting. That didn't even touch upon how downright evil some of their clients were. "That's disgusting." Gunn muttered
Angel looked over at him. "What?"
"You don't even want to know." Gunn told him
Harmony entered with a tray of coffee. "I hope I got everybody's order right."
"You're a saint." Lorne said when Harmony handed him exactly what he had asked for
Angel snorted in disbelief and muttered something quietly. Harmony continued to pass out the mugs of coffee. "Thanks," Fred said "I don't even know where to start with all of this."
"I have to admit, even I'm a little confused." Wesley said
"Really?" Angel asked
"We need a lawyer." Wesley said
"Well this is a law firm." Fred said
"We need a lawyer we can trust." Angel said
"Well I start readings tomorrow." Lorne said "Should I begin with the legal department?"
"No," Wesley said as he opened another file. "You should start with security and all of the department managers. They are the ones most capable of assassinating one of us."
Wes didn't notice everyone looking up to stare at him. "Well that was dark." Gunn said
Wesley put aside his file. "Just because the senior partners don't want us dead doesn't mean that everyone here is on that same page. We've observed incongruous behavior among their ranks in the past. I think our most pressing priority is eliminating those who pose a serious threat to our personal safety and then moving on to figuring out the professional elements."
"Just so we're clear," Lorne said "When you say eliminate-"
"I meant firing them, obviously."
Gunn pushed aside his pile of papers. "Well I'm taking a break."
"Seriously?" Fred asked
"Come on." Gunn said in a bitter tone "I don't even know what incongruous means."
Gunn cut Wesley off. "I don't need a definition, I need a break." Gunn got up and left.
They all watched him go. Fred was a little stunned. "What was that?"
"I think we're all a little overwhelmed." Angel said "I am at least."
"We've been in here for six hours and haven't accomplished a thing." Wes said
"Okay," Angel said "New plan. Wes you and Lorne go through the employee roster and make up a schedule so that everyone gets read. Fred and I will go through the files on the biggest evils that we apparently represent now and get them all in one pile so we can sort them out."
"I'll go down to files and records and get the employee files." Wes said as he left
Lilah approached Gunn when he left the conference room. "Frustrated?"
"This isn't what the big cat promised me." Gunn said as she fell in step with him
"The senior partners just want to know you're sure." Lilah explained
Gunn stopped and turned to face Lilah. He stared into her eyes. "I've been sure since I left the white room. I'm not going to change my mind. So let's stop dicking around."
Lilah pulled a business card out of her pocket and handed it to him. "Okay big man."
He snatched the card from her hand. "Thanks," He stormed off.
Lilah chuckled as she watched him go. From the corner of her eye she saw Wesley leave the conference room. He didn't see her. She waited until he was a ways down the hall and then followed him. She watched him get in the elevator and eyed the screen which showed the floors the elevator was passing. Lilah smiled when she saw where the elevator stopped.
"Stunning isn't it?" Wesley gasped and dropped the employee files he had just finished collecting from the files and records department. He turned to look at Lilah, who had snuck up on him. They were alone in the expansive room that was filled with file cabinets. "I used to come down here just to look. All of this knowledge, all of this power. Doesn't it just get you all hot and bothered?" She gave him a seductive grin.
Wesley gathered his papers. "What do you want Lilah?"
"Just to chat."
"I'm busy." Wesley said
"Come on Wes, when's the last time we had a nice talk?"
"A few days before never." He said "And since when do you call me Wes?"
"I thought I'd try it out." Lilah said
"Well stop." He said "My friends call me that."
"You don't want us to be friends?"
"Not particularly, no." He said
"Gee," She put on a mocking expression and touched her chest. "I'm hurt."
"You'll get over it." He started to walk by her.
Lilah grabbed his arm and shoved him into a filing cabinet, causing him to drop all of his papers again. "You know something?" She said "I kind of like being dead."
"What the hell are you doing?" Wesley asked her, shocked
"You might not want to be my friend," She said "But you sure as hell don't want to be my enemy." She shoved him again, causing him to hit his head against the cabinet.
"Ow! What is wrong with you?" He asked "Have you lost your bleeding mind?"
She let go of him and backed up. "I just thought I'd give you the proper Wolfram & Hart welcome." Lilah walked away. "See you around Wes." She said as she left the room.
Wesley waited until he heard the door to the room slam shut and then knelt down to pick up the files again. "I really hate this place." He muttered as he headed for the hall
Gunn sat in the waiting room, fidgeting. "Mr. uh… Gunn?"
"Yeah," Gunn told the pretty secretary who has called his name.
"Your MRI looks great and Dr. Sparrow said we can start the procedure tomorrow at eight o'clock sharp." She gave him an endearing grin.
"Is there any way the good doc can squeeze me in today?" Gunn asked
"I'm sorry mister Gunn, but it's a six hour procedure and Dr. Sparrow doesn't work after five o'clock. Plus he's booked for today. Actually he's booked for the rest of the month, but Ms. Morgan convinced the doctor that you were a special case."
"Is that a problem?" She asked
"Nope, see you tomorrow at eight." Gunn got up to go.
"That's it." Angel closed the last file. "That's all I can take for one day."
"I think I'm actually past my limit." Fred said, looking a little green
Wesley walked over to her and kissed the top of her head. She smiled and leaned back so he could kiss her on the lips. "Do you want to get out of here?" He asked her
"That's the best idea I've heard all day." Fred said "Do you need us for anything else boss?" She asked Angel "Or can we get out of here?"
"Go," He said "I'm going upstairs to get some sleep."
"Marvelous idea Angel-cakes." Lorne said "I'll follow your example."
The four of them got up to go to their respective homes. Angel stood in the hall and used his vampire hearing to listen to Wesley and Fred as the couple headed for the elevator. "As far as first days go," She said "This is one of the worst I've had."
"I'm sorry." Wesley said "But it's all uphill from here."
"Yeah, like that guy rolling a boulder up a hill and not accomplishing anything."
"Maybe this is the senior partners' big plan, to overwhelm us with paperwork."
"Maybe," He said "But it will take a lot more than that to stop us."
"Angel," Angel stopped eavesdropping and looked at Lorne.
"What are you doing?"
"I'm uh… I'm going to my office." Angel fled, leaving a confused Pylean behind.
Angel came downstairs ready to make his second day on the job a hell of a lot better than his first day. He went into his office with the high priority files he and Fred had separated from their client files. These were the people who the need to stop was most urgent. Angel picked up the first file. This was a demon who granted wishes in the worst possible way. He would approach unsuspecting humans and give them three wishes. The first wish would be legitimate and was usually wasted on a test. The second and third wish would be twisted with vengeance demon style logic. If someone wished for money a close relative would die, leaving them a sizeable inheritance or they would find a bunker in their backyard filled with (stolen) money.
Angel heard a knock on his door. He was starting to grow weary of that door. "Come in."
Wes came in with a file. "We have a problem."
"Of course," Angel said "It's us after all."
Wesley handed Angel the file. "His name is Corbin Fries. Wolfram & Hart is representing his case which includes a long list of charges that ranges from racketeering to human trafficking. The case against him is pretty much air-tight." Wesley explained
"Sounds like that problem solved itself."
"Except Mr. Fries is threatening to release a plague that will kill every living being in the L.A. area if we don't find a way to clear him of the charges he is clearly guilty of."
"That's a problem." Angel admitted
"I should say so." Wesley said
"What do we do?"
"Fred is already in the lab trying to figure out what the disease could be, if he got it from us, if there's an antidote, and any other information that could be useful. I talked to the lawyer assigned to Mr. Fries' case and he says the possibilities for mystic interference in the trial are minimal. Apparently the D.A had shamans cast a spell to protect the jury from enchantment."
"The D.A. has shamans?" Angel asked
"Not really the issue,"
"Right, I'm sorry. Continue,"
"We have no idea how Mr. Fries intends to spread the plague or how to prevent him from doing so." Wesley said "Right now it looks like the city's only hope is to get this scum bag off."
"Oh joy," Angel said "Is he here?"
"Yes, should I send him in?"
"Yeah, let's see what the man has to say for himself."
Knox put a pile of papers in front of Fred. "This is a detailed report of every contact Mr. Fries ever had with our lab or our lab staff. We never did any work with him on a plague."
"Thanks," Fred saw Lilah enter the lab and scowled.
Lilah seemed unaware of Fred's ire. "Hey Freddy, how are you settling in?"
"What do you want?" Fred asked "And don't call me that."
Lilah smirked. "How's your quest to save the world again going?"
"Fine, thanks for asking."
"Are you starting to get it?"
"What a necessary service Wolfram & Hart provides society." Lilah said "Has always provided society. The big bad lawyers have saved the world more times than your little group ever did. We stop people like Fries from causing messy catastrophes like this on a weekly basis."
"And you also allow other people just as evil as he is to commit horrible crimes against humanity on a daily- on an hourly basis. You may have kept the death toll down, but that's only so your clients wouldn't run out of lambs to maim and slaughter." Fred accused
"Our motives may be questionable, but you can't fault the results."
"People die and suffer every day because of you."
"If you mean that they're alive to die and suffer because of us, than yes you're right."
"I don't have time for this." Fred said
"No," Lilah said "You just don't want to hear it."
"Things are going to change." Fred said "We're going to save all of the people you did, prevent all of the catastrophes you did, without sacrificing innocent people to do it."
"Innocent people like Cordelia?" Lilah was surprised when Fred responded by slapping her. The tiny Texan was tougher than she looked. Lilah reminded herself that this diminutive woman had killed a god not too long ago, but Fred didn't remember that. Where did she get this courage? "I'm dead. I don't feel pain." Lilah explained to Fred
"Too bad." Fred picked up her papers and headed to her office without paying Lilah any further heed. Lilah watched the physicist go, unable to explain the admiration she felt.
Lorne entered the courtroom. This case had taken the top spot on everybody's priority list; he wasn't going to be meeting with any of his fabulous new clients until the gang knew that there would be a city to meet those clients in tomorrow. Fred was researching the plague, Wes was researching mystical means Fries might use to spread it, and Angel was trying to find any accomplishes Fries might have in his scheme. Lorne's job was to monitor how the case was going. The most courtroom experience Lorne had was his fondness for Judge Judy, but even he knew that this case was not going well for Fries. The Wolfram & Hart lawyer representing Fries was sweating bullets. The man was arguing the case like his life depended on it, because his life did depend on it. Everyone's did. Lorne took a seat. Fries turned to look at him and the look he gave was clear. Fries wasn't concerned. One way or another he was leaving this courtroom a free man, no matter how many corpses had to be accrued to attain this result. Lorne gulped.
Wes looked up from his book at Angel. "No, you?"
"Fred found a lab tech that might have been working with Fries under the table but he died last year in Illyria's attack on Wolfram & Hart and he didn't leave a paper trail."
"If the plague is mystical Fries must have a way to set it off from a distance, perhaps an incantation of some sort, maybe even a single word. If we can prevent him from saying it-"
"How? We bust into the courtroom and kill him?" Angel asked
"That might set it off as well." Wesley said "We may have only one choice."
"I thought we were down to no choices. One is good."
"We might have to break him out and force him to tell us how to stop the plague."
"That's kind of overt." Angel said "And this is me saying that."
"Angel we're running out of options." Wesley said
Lilah entered the courtroom and took a seat next to Lorne. "How's it going?"
"Not looking good for the L.A. populace." Lorne said
"Except for the dead," Lilah reminded him "We'll be fine." She considered what she had just said. "Or at least no worse off than we already are."
"Why are you here?" Lorne asked in a scathing tone
"I'm keeping an eye on Angel's new operation."
"Angel's not here."
"No, but you are. Why is that I wonder?"
"Somebody needs to watch the proceedings."
"So they send you." Lilah said "Instead of a lackey."
"They trust me." Lorne said
"Maybe," Lilah replied "But do they respect you?"
Lorne turned away from the proceedings to face her. "This is hardly the time for your mind games. We'll all be dead soon if Fries is found guilty."
"I'm already dead." Lilah reminded him
"That's not my fault. I'm sorry you never got what you wanted."
Lilah jolted in her seat. "What are you talking about?"
"I see it in your aura. You are longing for something you can no longer have. Maybe it is something only available to the living, or maybe it is something you could never have held onto anyway. Right now I have much bigger problems. I know you don't care about-"
"I care." She cut him off "You have no idea."
"Maybe not," He said "But if you care so much why don't you try and help?"
"I already did." Lilah looked away from him and stared straight ahead at the proceedings.
"What are you-"
"Shhh, don't ruin the effect."
Lorne stared at her. A few minutes later the doors to the courtroom were opened dramatically by a young black man brimming with confidence. It took Lorne a moment to recognize Charles Gunn under the tailored suit and charismatic grin. What happened next blew Lorne away while Lilah just sat there with a smug grin on her face.
Angel was leaning against his desk staring at Gunn. Lilah was on the other side of the office leaning against the wall watching them with a big grin on her face. Wesley, Fred, and Lorne were standing in front of the glass barrier between Angel's office and the hall where Harmony was sitting at her desk leaned forward trying to spy on them. "Okay," Angel tried to get his bearings. "I just need you to run this by me one more time."
"Angel what more is there to say? I had a mistrial declared and can use legal finagling to draw this case out for the next two or three years. In return Mr. Fries will tell us where the plague is stored and how to destroy it. He will be forced to cease most of his criminal activities while the D.A.'s office is watching him and with no source of income he'll have to use all of his savings to pay our ever-increasing exorbitant legal fees. Once he's completely bankrupt, which coincidentally should coincide with the two or three years I can draw this case out, we will cease representing him and he'll go to prison for the rest of his life. Problem solved." Gunn sat comfortably in his chair looking very pleased with himself. Fred was staring at him.
"That's great and all." Angel said "But I was talking about the part where you let Wolfram & Hart go poking around in your head without telling any of us."
"I didn't know I needed your permission dad."
Angel scowled and had to remind himself that Gunn didn't remember what that word meant to him. Wes spoke up. "You know they can't be trusted Gunn. What you did was foolish."
"You said it yourself." Gunn said "We need a lawyer. Now we have one."
"You let Wolfram & Hart play with your brain." Fred said "I could never do something like that. I could never let them change me, change who I am."
Angel flinched, but no one saw because they were all staring at Gunn. "Guys it's still me." Gunn protested "I'm still Charles Gunn, I just happen to know a few things about the law now that will be extremely useful if we're going to succeed at what we're trying to do here."
"If I might interject," Lilah said
"I'd rather you didn't." Angel said
Lilah ignored him. "While you were all running around like chickens with your heads cut off the councilor here just saved the day without ever stepping his toe outside the boundaries of the law or spilling a drop of blood. And for the record he is still the same man, just a man who knows everything there is to know about the law in this nation, every other nation, and most demon clans." Lilah smiled at Gunn and he returned her grin. This disturbed Angel immensely.
"I still think this was a bad call." Wesley said
"Yeah well it was my call to make." Gunn snapped
"Charles," Fred said in a shocked tone "We're your friends. We're worried about you."
"Well don't. If you think Wolfram & Hart put something dangerous in my head then you can have Lorne read me. But I'm telling you this is me and I'm exactly the same."
They all shared uncomfortable looks. "You already seem different to me." Fred said
"I stopped Fries. Isn't that the important thing?"
"I don't know." Fred said "Is this our lives now? We just let an awful man who does awful things get a two year reprieve from a sentence he deserves. You manipulated the legal systems that are in place to protect people to serve your own ends-"
"To save thousands, maybe millions of people." Gunn said
"But also to make money for the firm right?" Fred asked "That's what you plan to do while Mr. Fries is enjoying his unjust reprieve, take his blood money to fund this branch."
"We have to make money." Gunn said "This is a business we're running."
"He got some of that money through human trafficking." Fred protested
"What do you want us to do?" Gunn asked "Set the money on fire? Donate all of it to a human's rights organization? We saved L.A. and Fries will be punished. We got everything we could ask for. We just had to make some compromises." Gunn was starting to get annoyed.
"I don't know if I'm okay with that." Fred said
"Then why are you here?" When Gunn said that the temperature in the room seemed to drop a few degrees and silence took over Angel's office. "That came out wrong."
Fred's voice was ice. "I think it came out exactly how you meant it to."
"We have to make compromises." Gunn said "It's the only way to help people."
"Help people or help yourself?" Fred asked
Gunn became frustrated. "You think I just saved all of those lives for myself?!"
"You don't have to shout." Wesley said
"She's being unreasonable!"
"Enough!" Everyone turned to look at Angel. "Gunn's right."
Angel cut Fred off. "This is what they want. They want us to turn against each other and lose sight of why we're here. But they underestimated us. We have to be able to rely on each other because we're all any of us has. This is going to be hard, maybe harder than anything we've ever done before, but it is worth it. We're going to turn this place around. Maybe we'll have to cut people like Fries a few breaks, but we're not here to punish bad guys, we're here to help the innocent. We do need someone we can trust who knows the law and the only people we can trust are each other. Gunn should have talked to us, but I think he made the right call."
"Thanks Angel," Gunn said
"I know this is hard for you." Angel told Fred "But we can help more people now than we ever did before. There will be compromises, but we won't compromise on who we are."
Fred hesitated. "I just worry about us. I love you all and don't want to see you get hurt."
"Thank you Fred." Gunn said "But I can handle this."
"And if you ever have a problem you'll come to us right?" Fred asked
"I promise." Gunn said "Trust me."
"We do trust you." Fred said
"She's right." Wesley said "Please don't mistake our concern for mistrust."
"Look now we can all focus on our different departments. I can get all of our cases sorted through in just a few days. Fred can get all of her lab work done. Wes can handle all of the research we need. Lorne can start reforming the PR department after he finishes reading all of our employees. Angel you can start trying to figure out why the senior partners brought us here."
"You're right." Angel said "We didn't get anything done while we were focusing on stopping Fries." Angel started to get excited. "But that's over. Today is the first day of a new era at Wolfram & Hart. We'll show the senior partners just what we're capable of."
"Ra, ra," Lilah said
"Lilah, get out." Angel said
Lilah put her hands in the air, signifying surrender. "This was a great first day guys, I'm proud of all of you." She left the office with a huge grin on her face.
"She knows their plan." Angel said
"And they do have a plan." Wesley said "This is all a part of it."
"We'll figure it out. They'll tip their hand, and when they do we'll be ready." Angel picked up an envelope from the top of his mail pile and then walked into the middle of the room to finish his speech. "We stick together, there's nothing we can't do. There's nothing we can't-"
A familiar necklace fell out of the envelope Angel had torn open. It shined for a moment and released a whirlwind of light. Fred shrieked in surprise. Wesley pulled her away from the necklace toward the glass wall. Lorne backed up with them. Gunn jumped to his feet and backed away from the necklace and Angel followed suit. A kind of dust came together and formed a skeleton. The light lay on the bones and turned into muscle, blood, and skin. A vampire stood in front of them looking up at the ceiling and screaming in agony. He had platinum blond hair and a long leather coat. He stopped screaming and looked forward, locking eyes with Angel.
"Spike," Angel said, his voice thick with malice
"Spike?" Wesley sounded confused
Harmony rushed into the office. "Blondie-bear," She squealed in excitement
Spike looked around, trying to orient himself. Nothing made sense. There were faces here, faces he didn't know. He clutched his knees to try to prevent himself from toppling to the ground as his legs threatened to give out. Where was the fire? Where was he? He had felt himself melt away. He had felt his skin turn to ash, his organs boil, and his bones explode. Now he was in this unfamiliar place. The only thing that he recognized was- "You," Spike's fangs extended.
"What are you doing here Spike?" Angel asked, eyeing his wall of weapons
Spike rushed Angel. Angel tried to defend himself, but Spike went right through his fellow vampire and ended up standing in the middle of the chair Gunn had been sitting in before Spike had materialized. Spike's fangs retracted as he stared at his position. "Oh bugger,"
"He's a ghost!" Fred shouted
"No," Wesley said "He's a vampire."
"Since when can vampires go through furniture?" Gunn asked
"You're dead," Angel marveled
"Well yeah," Harmony scoffed "Who here isn't? Besides the meat bags?" Wesley, Fred, Gunn, and Lorne turned to glare at her. "I mean that as an endearing term."
Angel and Spike ignored Harmony. "How?" Angel asked
"What the bloody hell did you do to me?" Spike demanded
"Me?" Angel asked "What are you talking about?"
"You're the one who brought that stupid necklace to Sunny- Buffy!" Spike broke off in the middle of his sentence to shout the slayer's name. "Where is she?"
Wesley knelt down to pick up the necklace. "This is why you went to Sunnydale?"
"Maybe we shouldn't touch it." Angel said
"Seems perfectly harmless." Wesley said
"You've touched enough mystic relics, don't you think?" Angel said
"What are you-" Wesley never got to finish his question.
"It bloody well isn't harmless! Look what it did to me!" Spike exclaimed
"Hold on." Fred said "I'm confused. Who is this guy?"
"This is William the Bloody," Wesley said "One of history's most notorious vampires."
"And he died in Sunnydale when the hellmouth collapsed." Angel said "Buffy told me all about it when she was here for- She said he died in the final battle against the first evil."
"And now he's come back as a ghost?" Gunn said
"Vampires can't become ghosts." Wesley said
"They can't have kids either." Angel muttered
"What?" Wesley asked
"I must be in hell." Spike moaned
"No, just L.A." Lorne said "Trust me, it's way better than hell. Most of them anyway."
"Wes, care to jump in with an explanation?" Angel asked
Wesley looked at the bauble in his hand. "What is this?"
"I don't know." Angel said "Wolfram & Hart told me it was necessary to defeat the first."
"But didn't you go to Sunnydale before we took the deal?" Fred asked
"What deal?" Spike asked "What the hell is this place and who the hell are you people?"
"I'm Lorne." Lorne said "And this is a lovely little law firm called Wolfram & Hart."
"Aren't they evil?" Spike asked
"We're under new management." Gunn said
"Yeah?" Spike asked in a voice mocking interest "And who's that?"
"Me," Angel said
Spike laughed. "Well that's bloody brilliant."
"Okay stop!" Fred put up her hands in a stopping gesture. "I want a real explanation, not a bunch of sentence fragments. Who is this guy and where the heck did he come from?"
Spike examined Fred. "I like her. Who is she?"