Series Title: 37 By 37
Story Title: Angel Is A Centerfold
Author: Restive Nature
Disclaimer: I do not own the rights to Angel the Series. They belong to Whedon/ Greenwalt. I also do not own the right to the lyrics alluded to or mentioned within this fiction. They belong to the writer Seth Justman, the J. Geils Band and their label EMI. No infringement is intended and this fiction is for private enjoyment only.
Rating: R (for language, sexual innuendo and derogatory terms)
Type: Straight Fiction
Summary: Dawn just wanted to prove that she was right. Because Angel Is A Centerfold.
Spoilers/ Time line: Post BtVS series. Angel in season 5.
Feedback: Always welcome!
Distribution: Ask first please.
A/N: As usual, I no longer include lyrics within or post fiction. If the reader likes, please go ahead and look up the lyrics to familiarize yourself with the song. It is not necessary to know much about it other than a young man is shocked when he discovers that the classmate he has a crush on has done a photo spread for a men's magazine. Other than that, enjoy!
A/N2: Faith has a bit of a potty mouth and not much of a filter in this fiction. If some of the things she says offends, please remember that this is most definitely not the author's opinion. I was just trying to stay true to what I felt Faith's "voice" was.
Angel Is A Centerfold
“Seriously, it's her chest,” Faith announced as she moved agitatedly, bouncing on the balls of her feet as she waited for the elevator doors to open.
“Her chest?” Dawn repeated with a scoff. She stood beside Faith, outwardly composed, but honestly, she was near to shaking in her boots. If Buffy found out she was here... Let's just say neither big sis or her watchdog's, meaning anybody not affiliated with Angel would be very, very unhappy.
“Well yeah,” Faith nodded. Dawn knew that the dark haired slayer, which wasn't much of a differentiator anymore these days, what with the awakening of slayers all over the world. Anyhow, Dawn knew that Faith wasn't happy about having to come here either. But they were kind of stuck in a situation that they needed help with immediately. And with Willow out of the country and kinda out of her mind, working on a totally new level with her magics, they were outta luck for anything else.
And it wasn't like they'd come to see Angel. Specifically. More like they had tracked down that green horned empath dude to these offices, since he no longer set up shop at his karaoke bar. There was no karaoke bar anymore. It had been a surprise to learn that Lorne, as he was known was now running the entertainment division of this law firm. And what the hell was an entertainment division for? But then, even singers, songwriters and slimy little producers needed representation as well.
“I mean, that's what the whole thing's about,” Faith went on as the doors finally slid open. Dawn wasn't really paying attention to what floor they were on, but her eyes did widen as she took in the richly appointed lobby they had just walked into. She nudged Faith, who glanced around with an appraising eye. It was dismissed a nanosecond later as Faith gestured to an office listing on the wall closest to them.
“Nuh uh,” Dawn rejoined. “He was talking about her dress. The whole thing goes on like that until the end. He was startled and upset, but couldn't resist after all.”
“Yeah right,” Faith scoffed as she ran a quick finger over the golden name plates affixed to the wall.
She located Angel's name immediately, and took in the title directly underneath with a little chuckle before she gestured away from the wall. “Show me a guy who's not thinking about some chick's tits and I'll show you a liar.”
“It doesn't matter if he was or not,” Dawn protested as she followed after her, for all intents and purposes, protector, “it was how he expressed the mores that he had grown up with.”
“Mores?” Faith rolled her eyes. “Look who's getting all college-y now.”
“Don't try and change the subject Faith,” Dawn chuckled as well as the two women strolled across the expansive lobby. Their argument, that had begun in the cab ride over, might have continued, if it hadn't been for a particularly high pitched shriek that nearly deafened them and then a blur of blush pink and blond hair whirling around a desk to grab at Dawn. Faith was taken aback by the suddenness as Dawn yelped under the force of the attack.
“Dawnie!” the woman, if it was such, was shrieking. “Oh my goodness. It's been so long! How many years ago was it now that I kidnapped you? Oh look how tall you've gotten. And your taste in clothes has improved so much!”
The strangeness of the situation flew right over Faith's head as instinct kicked in, and the innate sense that all Slayers were gifted with alerted Faith to the true nature of the blond haired Vampire. With ease, she had yanked the female off of Dawn as the teenager stared at the attacker with shock.
“Get off her you bloodsucker!” Faith growled as she threw the blond back and took up a defensive position between the Vampire and her target. The tall and necky Dawn.
“Oh it's okay,” the blond held out one hand. “Dawnie and I are old friends.”
Dawn opened her mouth to protest immediately, but it seemed Faith wasn't in the mood to deal with listening to anything. The blond however, seemed to have things just to her way of liking as she waved off security guards that were rapidly making their way to the sudden disturbance.
“It's okay,” the blond called. “Just a little misunderstanding. We're okay.”
“Are you sure Miss Kendall?” one asked, his hand at his hip where Dawn could see a large tazer was holstered, instead of a gun.
“Really sure,” Harmony nodded. But Faith wasn't relaxing.
“There's no misunderstanding here Vamp,” she hissed. “Because I'm totally clear on just how hard I'm gonna kick your ass.”
“Oh, but that wouldn't be good,” Harmony pouted. “I've been having such a good week. I really don't want to hurt the boss' friends.”
“The boss?” Dawn repeated, and before Faith could move forward to engage her natural enemy of ages old, she moved forward and making sure that Faith knew she was there, put a staying hand on her friend's shoulder. “Wait! Harmony? You work here?”
The blond nodded emphatically, her face lighting up again. “And it's great. I get dental, the salary is wonderful for a young, twenty-something on her own in the big bad city. And oh, my apartment? To die for!”
“You're already dead,” Dawn pointed out, a little lost. Since when did law firms hire Vampi- oh right. “Wait, did Angel hire you?”
“Uh huh,” Harmony nodded again.
“Wait, you know her?” Faith demanded, finally cottoning on to the fact. Dawn nodded, even as Harmony continued with a rambling explanation.
“Or well, not so much if you figure that I got promoted from the typing pool,” Harmony sighed, blowing out an unnecessary breath. “And as soon as he saw me, he fired me. And then I had to prove my worth. And I did. So he totally gave me a second chance, which is like hiring me. Right?”
“Uh, I guess,” Dawn grimaced at the blond that had, years ago, kidnapped her when she had stupidly ran from the safety of her house after eavesdropping on a very frustrated Buffy. She turned to Faith. “You might remember her. One of Cordy's followers,” she prompted and Faith, her eyebrows drawn together, a disgusted look on her face.
“Those prissy, pampered, wanna be, fashion victims?” Faith demanded and when Harmony happily nodded, she waved her hand before her. “Damn girl. When you get vamped?”
Harmony sighed, a long sound full of mourning. “I bit the big one at graduation,” she pouted and then brightened drastically and clapped her hands together. “Oh! Bit it. Because I got bit and died. That's hilarious!” She laughed at her own inanity and Faith exchanged a very disturbed glance with her younger charge.
“Okay,” Faith interrupted quickly, “no offense, but what the hell is Angel thinkin' of? Letting a bloodsucker other than himself work in here?”
“Oh there are tons of us,” Harmony gestured with a wave of her hand now. “But since Angel took over, there's new policy. Animal blood only of course,” she enumerated, holding a finger up. “We get tested every day. And anyone off the diet,” she leaned in slightly and drew her finger across her throat. “Gackk!” she made a noise that one could assume was an approximation of dying. Faith simply nodded.
“What about your soul?” Dawn demanded.
“Not necessary,” Harmony chirped. “In fact, with the clientèle I deal with, and you know, Angel, when he's in a mood, sometimes it's better not to have one.”
“I hear ya there,” Faith laughed and suddenly, just like that, the tension was broken. “Never met a man that could mope more.”
“And demanding,” Harmony drawled as she made her way back around her desk to take a seat before her computer. “You would not believe how complicated his coffee orders are.”
“Like this one here?” Faith jerked her thumb towards Dawn. “Likes peanut butter in everything!”
“Hey!” Dawn protested, immediately assuming typical offended teen stance number eight, patent pending, all achieved in a mini huff. “Starbucks was the one that offered the peanut butter flavoring. And was it my fault that Trina got me that gift card for my birthday?”
“Da-yum!” Faith chuckled. “That was supposed to be for twenty-five cups of coffee. Not one gigantic ass cup with ten different shots!”
“It was mine to do with as I wanted,” Dawn preened and then turned to Harmony. “Said so on the card that came with it.”
“Sounds yummy,” Harmony nodded and then leaned forward. “I prefer the low cal line. Gotta watch the weight since, animal blood? Goes right to my hips.”
“Really?” Dawn looked surprised. “I didn't know that.”
“Oh yeah,” Harmony nodded, as if she were discussing the secrets of the universe, completely serious and looking too puffed up with self importance. “Just because I'm young and undead, doesn't mean I can just let myself go.”
“No, of course not,” Dawn agreed. “I mean, what happens if you break a nail?”
“Exactly!” Harmony crowed. “They tell you that your hair and fingernails keep growing, but that is such a crock of-!”
“Hey now!” Faith interrupted with a roll of her eyes. “Before we get into modern vamps fashion tip of the day, is Angel in?”
“He is,” Harmony responded immediately, turning to her computer. “He's in a meeting with the Valtenq'ua right now. Should be done soon. He has another appointment at eleven, but he can see you before that. Shall I pencil you in?”
“Uh... yeah,” Faith grimaced again. “That'd be great.” She glanced up at the clock on the back wall and sighed. At least twenty minutes and if she had to sit here and listen to Harmony Kendall, someone she hadn't wanted to waste time on when she was alive...
But fate seemed to smile kindly on them, as Harmony's phone rang. With a bright smile at the girls before her, she held up one finger and answered the phone. “Yes Angel?” She listened for a moment and then nodded. “Right away boss. They just came off the copier.” She hung up and spun in her seat, reaching for some papers that were waiting in the tray of the desk top printer. “Be right back,” she threw over her shoulder as she moved further into the offices.
Once the door swung shut behind her, Faith and Dawn exchanged slightly stunned looks and then as one, burst out laughing.
Harmony was back out like a shot in just minutes. She took her seat at her desk and quickly typed something into her computer and then glanced up at Faith and Dawn still leaning on her desk. “I let him know some friends were here. He's so super excited to see you,” she bubbled perkily. “Of course, he has to finish up what he's doing, then he'll see you.” She turned and grabbed something else, just as a couple of scientists were moving towards them. “Oopsie,” she sighed as they got near. She glanced at Faith and Dawn, watching all this with a very slight modicum of interest. “Like I told you, every day.”
“Good morning Miss Kendall,” one of the scientists greeted, a goofy grin on his face as his hands were occupied by not dropping the small machine he was carrying.
“Hi Teddy,” Harmony greeted, her tone taking on that fake sound to it, when one was definitely not interested in wasting time on a person they deemed unworthy, but knowing that they had to for their own best interest. She held out her finger, pad up and Teddy busied himself pricking her finger and taking the small drop that welled there momentarily.
“Okay, thanks,” Teddy sighed as Harmony pushed her finger into her mouth and sucked for a moment. “See you tomorrow?”
“I'll be here,” she nodded, showing more interest in her finger, which okay, Vampire blood, even her own had to be a draw, than she did the male. Faith watched as the scientists continued on, stopping at one of the security guards and repeating the procedure that they had just completed with Angels' secretary. Dawn however, had lost interest immediately and was leaning over the partition of the desk that separated Harmony from the rest of the room.
“Hey,” she sounded excited and Faith, a little disappointed that the Vamps were apparently behaving themselves, turned back to the other two females. “Do you get Internet access on that?”
“Of course,” Harmony nodded. “Helps to pass the time in between boss man's demands. Was there something you...? Oh, I have to take these over to Research.”
“Would it be possible to look something up?” Dawn asked quickly while Harmony gathered a file. She nodded and pushed back her chair, gesturing for Dawn to have a seat.
“As long as you're quick, then it should be fine,” she decided. “I'm still logged on to the network and there's a search engine up,” she continued, startling Dawn as she now sounded like quite the consummate professional. Dawn thanked her and with a brilliant smile, Harmony headed off to the staircase located at one end of the large central room.
Dawn turned her attention to the computer and with a few clicks, was ready to start her search.
“What'cha looking up D?” Faith asked, slightly bored, but leaning on her elbows, pushing up on her toes to see what Dawn was doing.
“Looking up those lyrics,” she muttered. “I know I'm right.”
“Whatevs,” Faith snorted. “Guys are all the same.” But still, she did like being proved right, so she moved around the desk, like Dawn had, both softly arguing whether the guy was thinking about his class mate's dress or chest as they had been only minutes before. There were many sites and Dawn, impatient as ever, started clicking down the line. Surely a network as large as Wolfram & Hart had super evil speed Internet.
They watched as about seven tabs opened on the screen and the little icons did their loading cycle. There was a flash of light from inside Angel's office that caught Faith's attention. There was an easing of hostility in the back of her brain and she realized that whatever type of being that Angel had been meeting with were gone. Now, whether he had slayed them like a good little Vamp with a soul would, or they had magicked themselves out, she couldn't say. She would go with the latter, what with the flash. That usually indicated magic of some sort, didn't it?
A few seconds later, Angel was emerging from his office, a huge grin on his face as he beheld his new guests.
“Faith! Dawn!” he called as he began moving towards them. “This is great. What are you guys-!” But his greeting was cut off by a shocked gasp from Dawn and then a petrified squeal.
“Damn D!” Faith snarled, rubbing one finger over the ear closest to Dawn. “What'd I tell you 'bout the squealing and-!” her own words were cut off as Dawn's hands flew from the keyboard to her mouth and Faith caught sight of precisely what had caused Dawn's fright. Her mouth gaped open for a moment and then she whistled. “Day-um Angel! You hung like a fuckin' racehorse!”
“What?!” Angels' demand was startled as his stride picked up.
“Ohmigodohmigod!” Dawn's voice was still squealing, but muffled from her hands being over he mouth. “I can't believe... I didn't mean...!” And then her hands dropped as she turned accusing eyes to the man that she had thought of as... well, as everything at one point in her life. Father brother uncle, super hot cool crush, until she realized he used more hair product than she did. “Angel, why are there naked pictures of you on the Internet?” she demanded.
Faith wasn't sure how it was possible for the walking undead to go paler than pale, but he did it. And then with a roar, he leapt over the desk and had shoved Dawn away from where she was suddenly scrolling down the page. He was typing furiously and then clicking with the mouse, but suddenly there were pop ups everywhere and damn, Faith really meant popping up. How many different poses could one Vamp and... hello! How was that even possible? She tried to get a closer look, but Angel was holding one arm out, shielding the computer monitor from them and still trying to get rid of the damning evidence.
“What the hell were you looking for Dawn?” Faith asked, snickering as the girl ducked and dodged her sister's ex-boyfriend, trying to sneak a peek.
“The lyrics,” she grunted as Angel used a little strength to try and spin her away in the wheeled chair. “I typed in 'angel' and 'Centerfold'. How was I to know that it would take me to this?”
“There is no this!” Angel roared. “They were supposed to burn the pictures. They promised it wouldn't... I needed the money...” he babbled as finally the pictures started going away. Once the computer screen was cleared, he turned and, unable to meet their eyes, embarrassed, quickly explained. “It was back in the early eighties. I had no money, nothing and was living off of rats. Some guy approached me and offered me a hundred dollars to take some pictures of me. Said it was for a magazine.”
“Which skin mag?” Faith teased, her arms crossed over her chest. “Playgirl?” And from the miserable look on Angel's face, knew she was dead on. “Ah man,” she crowed between hysterical laughter. “You know that's just a front for the homo's to get their jollies right?”
“I do now,” Angel growled and then drooped his face into his hands. “When the publication came out, they found me again, wanting to do another shoot. I said no and... and threatened them that if they didn't...”
“What did you do?” Dawn asked with morbid fascination. And then she squealed again. “You went Angelus on their asses, didn't you?” There were tiny jerky movements of Angel's head and Dawn laughed. “I can't believe... Does Buffy know about-?”
“No!” Angel roared, his hands coming down to grip the arms of the rolling chair that Dawn was still seated in. “And she will never know, will she Dawn?”
Dawn regarded the older male for a long moment, her arms crossing over her chest now, looking her brattiest, sliest and downright scary all in one. “As long as you help me with my little problem and keep it to yourself,” she prompted. Angel barely hesitated before agreeing. He then turned back to the computer.
“Don't go looking for that again,” he warned. “I cleared Harmony's browser so you can't just...” he turned and looked at Harmony who had rejoined them, unnoticed at some point. “Get me Gunn. I'm gonna sue these bastards running those sites. And call Klempter, I might need the persuasion squad. Now Harmony!” He spun around, heading straight back to his office.
“Sure thing boss,” Harmony sighed as she chivvied Dawn out of her seat and rolled it forward to sit and make the interoffice call to Charles Gunn. The two visitors watched for a moment before Faith chuckled.
“What?” Dawn muttered.
“Wish I'd seen the website address,” Faith murmured back. “You might've agreed, but I didn't say anything, huh?”
“Ohhh,” Dawn squeed softly. “Right. Damn, I don't know, I was just clicking.”
Harmony, who had hung up the phone right at that moment glanced up at them. “It was homoporntastic.com,” she informed them. And after eying one another in surprise, Faith and Dawn reached out to pat the secretary on her shoulders in a congratulatory manner.
“Damn Blondie,” Faith grinned. “You just a full service Vamp secretary, ain't ya?”
“What can I say?” Harmony grinned cheekily. “I unlive to serve.”