This takes place in Angel Season 5, after Home. Some spoilers for Angel 5x01, except that that episode didn't actually happen. My own reaction to the first episode of Season 5 of Angel, written immediately afterwards. In theory it was supposed to be the first in a series, for now it's just a one-off.



We at Wolfram & Hart

Angel sat at his desk and looked contemplatively at the documents in front of him. He rubbed his hand over his forehead, sighing. This wasn't what he signed up for when he'd taken on the mission. Not the mission of being a champion. And particularly not when he'd agreed to become the CEO of an evil law firm. He poked at the papers on his desk with one finger, sighing. They didn't go away.

His intercom buzzed.

“Yes?” His tones were gruff, with an undertone of petulance. He hated the intercom.

“Ms. Burkle is here to see you now!” Harmony's bubbly voice came over the line and he repressed a shudder. “Did you want me to show her in? Oh, and beverages! Did you want something to drink? The cafeteria has come with a great new blend of llama's blood with just a dash of platypus! I could bring you a cup…”

“No, no…that's fine, just – just have her come in.” He knew why Wes chose Harmony to be his secretary, at least in theory. It still didn't prevent him from wincing internally every time he had to see or speak with her. She made him think of the past, of the days he could never retrieve. Of Cordelia. Plus, Harmony was usually really annoying.

The door swung open, and Fred paused in the doorway, fidgeting nervously until Angel gestured her to a seat. This felt wrong to him as well. They'd saved the world together. Well, sort of. They were allies, friends even. At least in his mind. He sometimes wondered what was in hers. In all of theirs. Lilah had told him it would be taken care of – she hadn't really told him how. And he'd never been very good at being the boss anyway.

He looked at her with what he hoped was a grave expression. It was hard to balance the exact right amount of seriousness with concern when he hadn't properly seen his reflection in a couple of hundred years. Pylea didn't count. He fleetingly wondered if the resources of Wolfram & Hart could be used to create a magic mirror. Nothing big, just a small pocket sized one. Would that be an abuse of power? Where should he draw the line of personal gain? Or, he brightened, maybe one could be created in Fred's lab. Science was usually a lot more flexible, morally speaking, than magic. Nobody sold their soul for a new microscope. At least, as far as he knew. Then again…

Focus , he reminded himself. Fred.

“We have a small problem.” He began, and glanced over at her with hidden worry, waiting for her reaction.

“Oh!” Fred chirped up, flashing him a nervous smile. “It's the budget, isn't it? I knew asking for that Collider Detector was going to put me over. But really, its potential usefulness in studying the effects of high energy particle collisions could really help us develop some new patents and I think that you'd see that we'd manage to do some really good things with it, plus you know, if we could mass produce any of our products we'd easily make back the funding and…”

Angel held up his hand, seeing no chance that Fred was going to pause for breath anytime soon. “No, no, it's not the budget. The budget is fine.”

“Oh.” Fred smiled weakly. “I hope it's not the recent projections in the Temporal Flux Predictability Project. Because those are just tentative and we're thinking that really, with a little bit of tweaking we can manage to get them stabilized and…”

She trailed off as Angel just looked at her blankly, eyes glazing.

He shook his head, trying to focus. “Umm,” He shuffled some papers nervously on his desk, trying to find a diplomatic way to address the issue. “It's Knox.”

“Knox?” Fred's voice rose in surprise. “Oh no, he's not…evil, is he? I thought Lorne already gave him the test…”

“Um,” Angel looked down at the document from Human Resources. “No, he's not evil.” He pondered that statement a minute. “Not – not extra-evil. At least…no. No, I'm afraid the problem is…”

He cleared his throat. “Knox has filed a sexual harassment suit. Against you.”

Fred blinked in surprise, mouth falling open slightly.

Angel felt compelled to rush through the rest of what human resources had coached him on. “Apparently you've been using inappropriate nicknames like ‘Knoxy' and trying to…” He stared at the document in front of him. “Make him reciprocate your affections in a way in which he feels his job is threatened.” He looked up at Fred, panicking inside at the thought of her reaction.

Fred flushed bright red. For once, she looked speechless.

Angel glanced down at his desk again, taking an unneeded breath before blurting out the last part. “And he says that you, um, attempted to seduce him in the lab last night.”

Fred opened her mouth for a moment. Closed it again. Angel looked at her, willing her to say something. It didn't work. It never worked.

He cleared his throat again, trying to move past the uncomfortable silence. Clung to the documents in front of him. “As you are aware, Wolfram & Hart has a very strict policy against inappropriate relations in the workplace, particularly that of a superior attempting to harass a subordinate. However, we are aware,” He glanced down at the paperwork. Not that he needed to, not with his memory. But it was easier than looking at Fred's face. “We are aware that at times these accusations may be made in error, due to misunderstandings, or in a spirit of revenge for a slight. However, it is strict policy to inform you that we are launching an investigation of these accusations. And that during the time of that investigation you will, of course, be given a paid leave of absence.”

He looked up again, noted that he was crumpling the paper in front of him in his fist. Carefully smoothed it out again. Tried to avoid the shocked expression on Fred's face. Stood up carefully.

“Is there anything you need from your office in the meantime? Security will, of course, escort you out of the building but I'd be happy to walk down with you…”

Fred blinked. “No, um, no, I'm fine, I really don't have all that much here yet. I was going to move in more of my personal effects next week but y'all know I've been been really busy getting the lab organized and haven't had a lot of time…”

Angel looked at her nervously, pressing the intercom button.

“Yeah, boss?” Harmony's voice piped up. “Did you want to try the llama blood now? It's really great and…”

Angel winced. “No, no, Harmony. I'm fine. Could you let security know that Fred – Ms Burkle – is ready for her escort out of the building?”

“Sure thing! Oh and I have to say, I really love the new uniforms you got them! They're so snazzy. So much better than those boring black things the old Ops team used to use, I mean really, Cordelia would have just died…”

“Harmony!” Angel's voice was sharp and low. “Not now.” He released the intercom button. “Fred…”

She just shook her head, giving him a brave smile. “It's ok, it really is. You've got to follow procedure. Any good scientist knows that…”

He reached out a hand, almost touching her, before drawing back. “Fred – if it's a false accusation, we'll get to the bottom of this…I'll talk to Wes, Gunn…” He watched the expression crawl across her face and he realized what he'd said. If .

“I – I've got to go…” She fled from the office.

Angel stared after her, rubbing his temples. He really wished he could kill something about now. He listened to the sounds of security arriving, heard Fred's voice attempting to be cheerful. Listened to their leaving.

Pressed the button on the intercom. “Get me Wes, Gunn and Lorne. Now.”

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