Just To Be Different

TEASER: Lindsey and Lilah want to make Angel's friends all very different . . .

DISCLAIMER: I don't own anyone except Grace and Jamie. The rest belong to Joss Whedon and co.



Wesley entered Angel's office and shook off his wet umbrella. It had been raining for days without stopping even once and he was beginning to feel like he was finally home.

"Anyone here?" He called, wiping his shoes off on the mat at the front door and walking in.

"God Wesley, why did you have to go and do that?" Cordelia asked, coming into the room and pointing at the muddy welcome mat at the door.

He looked at it. "Shouldn't I have wiped off my shoes?"

"Not on the mat. Now I have to go and wash it again." She picked it up and stared at it before sighing and walking away.

"What am I supposed to do next time?" He called after her.

"Take off your shoes!" She answered, then a door slammed behind her.

Wesley sighed and sat in a nearby chair to unlace and remove his shoes.

"Hey Wesley." Angel said, coming into the office. "I see you used the mat to wipe off your shoes too. I made that mistake last night."

Wesley smiled at the vampire. "Cordelia does seem in a rather odd mood. She's being neat and organized."

"I know." He reached for the coffee maker, "A habit Grace has sort of knocked into her, but she's knocked it way too far into her."

"I heard my name." Grace said, entering the office from where Wesley had come. She too paused to wipe her shoes off on the mat, then realized there was none. "What happened to the mat?" She asked.

"Just take off your shoes." Wesley advised. "It may stop Cordelia from scrubbing the floor."

Angel paused in the midst of pouring his coffee and looked up. "On second thought, track mud all around, maybe Cordelia will scrub the floors."

"Very funny." She said, coming up the stairs while wiping her hands on her jeans. "Hey Grace."

The other woman nodded. "Hey. How's everything going on here?"

Angel shrugged. "Suspiciously quiet. We haven't had much action lately."

"It's the summer," Grace offered, "don't demons go on holidays?"

"Not very often, obviously." Cordelia said. "If they didn't maybe they wouldn't be so uptight all the time."

Wesley glanced at Cordelia and placed his shoes near the door to put on when he had to leave. "Demons on holidays? Sounds nice, as unrealistic as it may be." He stood up. "But Angel's right. It has been a little too quiet lately, it can't be those kids can it?"

Angel shook his head. "This is too much of a lapse in action. The kids couldn't do this all on their own, there has to be something else out there."

"Wolfram and Hart?" Cordelia suggested.

"They're evil, remember?" Angel asked. "They wouldn't be killing any demons, just employing them."

"So then what?" Grace sat in a chair across from Wesley. "Something new in town maybe? A demon we've never seen before."

Wesley nodded. "That's possible. What's more likely though, it a makeshift slayer. Someone experienced enough to be keeping nightly business off the streets."

"I was going to go out looking tonight." Angel said. "Having some help would be nice."

"I can go with," Wesley began, but was cut off when Cordelia's hand slammed down on his shoulder and forced him back into the chair.

"I'm free." Grace said, not missing a beat.

Angel nodded. "Good. I'll meet you here at eight tonight." He sighed. "For now, I should probably go to sleep."

Grace smiled at him before he turned and walked to the elevator shaft, then she stood up and looked at the other two. "Unless you need my help, I should get going too."

Cordelia shook her head. "Wes and I can handle it, you can go."

She slipped her shoes back on. "See you both tonight." Then she turned and left the office.

Cordelia's hand finally left Wesley's shoulder and he turned to her angrily.

"What was that?" He asked, rubbing his shoulder. "You have quite a bit of strength in those arms and that hurt."

She smiled apologetically. "Sorry Wesley. I just didn't want you ruining that opportunity."

"What opportunity?"

Cordelia rolled her eyes. "For Grace and Angel to be alone together. Sometimes I wonder about you."

Wesley stood up and faced her. "I see it too Cordelia. But do you think it's such a good idea for them to be alone together? You remind me all the time of what happened when Angel was with Buffy."

"He's grown since then." Cordelia said. "And Grace understands about the whole curse thing. They could work together."

"Without sex?" Wesley asked.

"Jumping into their relationship a little quickly now, are we?" She smiled. "Wesley, she's been here for five weeks and you know her mission statement. She'll find a cure before they feel the need to hop into bed with each other. Besides, Angel knows the consequences now, he'll deal."

Wesley shook his head. "I hope you're right."

"I know I'm right."

"For now, let's just deal with the problem at hand."

Cordelia looked at him. "Which would be what?"

"Finding out whatever is taking away all our business."

* * *

Lindsey McDonald watched from his office window in the Wolfram and Hart building as Angel walked by on the sidewalk below. He was walking with a woman that Lindsey didn't recognized but he knew there was something different about her. He could sense it.

The vampire behind him raged in her cage. She slammed against the walls, causing the box to jump, then thump back down to the floor.

"She's restless." Lilah stated, coming into the office.

Lindsey looked at her. "She's been in hell for the past four years. I don't think she's restless, I think she's insane."

Lilah ignored the sarcasm in Lindsey's voice and joined him at the window. "How's your arm?"

A bitter laugh escaped his mouth. "Handless. What do you think?"

"That's Angel." She said, looking out the window. "Who's he with?"

Lindsey walked to his desk and sat in front of the computer. "I don't know yet. I will soon."

Lilah joined him. "Is she even human?"

"Apparently she is." Lindsey clicked into the Los Angeles records. "She's been in L.A. a little over five weeks now. Opened a bank account a week ago, rented an apartment even earlier. Probably on Angel's money. It looks like our girl is here to stay."

"What's her name?"

Lindsey clicked into the record of her driver's licence. "Grace O'Doyle. She's twenty four years old, born May 19, 1976 in New York city." He closed the files and turned away, shaking his head. "I still don't think she's human. At least, not all human. There's something about her."

Lilah laughed. "What are you? A demon receptor?"

Lindsey ignored her this time. "I want to know why she's here and why she came. But at the moment, I just want to get through to Angel. Our vampire friend won't be ready for a few months still, we need to make him see we will win."

"How do you suggest we do that?" Lilah asked. "He doesn't have anything we can take from him."

"Yes he does."

Lilah looked over at him. "What's that?"

Lindsey smiled. "His friends."

* * *

Cordelia sighed as she sat behind the desk in Angel's office and tapped her pen impatiently. The clock on the wall said that Wesley was six hours late and she was beginning to worry. Wesley was never late.

She stood up, walked toward Angel's door, then walked back and sat down again. He had asked her not to disturb them, apparently he and Grace were making good progress on finding a cure for him.

Cordelia didn't understand why he thought Grace would be able to help him when no one else ever could. Why he thought she would magically find this miracle cure and everything would be right for them.

She knew the vampire was falling in love with the demon and also knew that Grace was on her way to falling for Angel as well. She wanted to see Angel happy more than anything. But she also wanted to see him happy and non-psychopathic. That would work out so much better for them.

Cordelia glanced up at the clock again. Wesley was now six hours and eleven minutes late for work, so she stood up and walked to Angel's door. Trying hard not to feel bad, she knocked loudly, then waited for Angel to open the door.

"Cordelia." He looked at her. "You've never knocked before, why start now?"

She pushed her way into the office. "Wesley's six hours late."

Angel looked at his watch. "He's not here yet?"

Cordelia shook her head. "I don't know what's going on. This isn't like him."

"What do we do?" Grace asked.

Instead of answering, Angel picked up the phone on his desk and quickly dialed a number. He waited for a long while, then hung up. "There wasn't any answer at his apartment."

"Maybe he's just out somewhere." Grace offered. "You know, like grocery shopping or something."

Angel smiled at her. "We're not ones to look for the best case scenario."

"Oh." Grace looked upset. "Well, what can we do? Can we call the police?"

* * *

The phone shrilled in the Los Angeles Police Department and a tall woman with long, black hair reached for it. Before she could answer the ringing phone, another hand reached it first and Kate shot the first woman a fake smile before speaking into the phone.

"L.A.P.D." There was a long pause as she listened to the person on the other end of the line, then another sarcastic smile crossed her face, "Well, I'm sorry Angel but we can't go out looking for him until he qualifies as a missing person. He has to be gone for twenty four hours, why doesn't your agency find him?" She listened again, the smile still plastered on her face. "Six hours isn't enough time. Call back in eighteen." Then she reached over and dropped the telephone receiver back into its cradle.

"What was that?" The woman asked.

Kate sneered at her. "It was nothing Jamie. Nothing you need to worry about."

Jamie, much taller than Kate, stood up from her desk. "What was that call Kate?"

"I said it was nothing." And then she was gone.

Jamie sat in her chair hard and sighed. Then she reached across the table and clicked rewind in the small tape recorder. It was a good thing the law required them to tape all phone calls received to any line in the entire department. She clicked the play button and waited to hear the conversation.

Kate's voice came up first, "L.A.P.D.."

"Kate, it's Angel. Wesley's missing, he didn't come to work this morning and we're worried."

"Well, I'm sorry Angel but we can't go out looking for him until he qualifies as a missing person. He has to be gone for twenty four hours, why doesn't your agency find him?"

"Kate please. I know you hate me and I don't care, we need your help. He's never been six hours late for work."

"Six hours isn't enough time. Call back in eighteen."

"Kate. God dammit!" Angel's voice was cut off with a click.

Jamie stopped the tape and leaned back. Why had Kate refused to take any of his information? And why did Angel say he knew Kate hated him? Jamie knew that the detective normally would have ignored any personal vendetta in order to help the man but something was different. Kate had never been nice to her, in fact Jamie always thought she was one of the nastiest people she'd met but she was a good cop. But something about this case wasn't right. Something made her want to find this man and to solve the mystery. She didn't know why, she just knew it was a gut feeling she had. Jamie had learned to follow her gut instincts.

She stood up. The man's name was Angel and Kate had said he had an agency. Possibly a kind of investigation agency, judging from the way Kate had mentioned it.

Jamie picked up the phone book and paged through it, looking for some kind of agency with the name Angel in it.

"Looks like my lucky day." She said, her finger tapping under the name of 'Angel Investigations'. She picked up the phone, then decided against having her call recorded and ripped the ad out of the phone book. Then she grabbed her jacket off the back of her chair and left the office in search of a pay phone.

* * *

Lilah entered Lindsey's office without knocking, stopped to look into the cage, then patted Wesley on the head.

"He looks good." She commented, sitting on Lindsey's desk. "A good looking guy. Maybe we should keep him."

"Calm your hormones." Lindsey said. "We can't keep him. He'll be much different in the next seventy two hours."

"He's still unconscious?" She asked.

"Take a look at him." He answered. "Does he look awake?"

She rolled her eyes. "I should have known all men would act like this when I became a lawyer."

Wesley moaned from where he was tied to the chair. Lilah glanced over. "How long until we inject him and release him?"

"Please don't talk about it." Lindsey said. "No one knows about this. Just you and I. We don't need the big boss finding out about this and killing either of us because we didn't go to him first."

"How do you plan on hiding this if he walks into your office like I just did?"

"The difference between you and the boss, is that he knocks." Lindsey replied, sneering angrily at Lilah.

"You certainly have changed since you lost the hand." She said. "Bitter about it still?"

"Losing a limb is quite the sacrifice." Lindsey said to her. "Not that you'd know anything about sacrifice. You just had daddy buy your position in this company."

Lilah stalked up to Lindsey, her hand out and prepared to slap him but he caught her wrist and shoved her backward.

"No fight!" The snarling voice came suddenly from the cage, Lilah and Lindsey stared at it in surprise.

"She talked." Lilah said finally.

Instead of answering, Lindsey crouched near the cage and stared in at the vampire.

"No fight." Darla repeated. "Just kill."

Lindsey stood up. "It meant nothing. She doesn't want us to fight because she wants us to kill each other."

"But she's right." Lilah replied. "You've gone through a lot Lindsay, I understand, but we both have to try harder to get along. For the sake of the firm."

He nodded. "You're right. We need to end this."

Lilah sighed and looked back over at Wesley. "Is it time?" She asked.

Lindsey walked over to his desk and opened a drawer. From it he removed a syringe and a bottle of fluid. He smiled. "I think it's time."

* * *

"Yes, this is Officer Jamie Harrison." Jamie spoke rapidly into the phone the minute someone picked up on the other end. "I heard your phone call to the department and I want to help." She paused, just long enough for the woman on the other end to reply. "I'll be there right away." Jamie said, then hung up the phone and walked in the direction of the street name she had been given.

* * *

Cordelia hung up the phone. "You would not believe who that was."

"Tom Cruise?" Grace guessed, still tapping away at the computer.

"I wish." Cordelia sat in a chair. "No, it was an officer that overheard the call you made Angel. She wants to help us and she's on her way over right now."

"Is that legal?" The vampire asked.

Cordelia snorted. "Who cares if it's legal? We're getting the help that we need."

The front door opened only minutes later and a tall, exotic looking woman entered the building.

"I assume you're Angel." She said, holding out her hand to the vampire. "I'm Officer Jamie Harrison. I understand you're in need of a little help."

"You won't get in trouble for helping us?" Grace asked, looking up.

Jamie shook her head. "Just doing my job, looking out for the innocent."

"Funny," Cordelia said quietly, "judging from Kate, I thought you guys had given that up."

Jamie laughed. "Kate is quite the . . . interesting person. I'm guessing you've had your share of run ins with her. I mean, you obviously don't have a licence to run this place."

"Uh . . ." Angel looked around the room for an escape.

"I'm not going to take you in." Jamie said. "Kate might. But not me. I understand what you're doing here and I have to say that the L.A.P.D. appreciates your help."

Angel felt a slight smile touch his lips. "Thanks."

"Now," Jamie took a seat on the couch, "about this friend of yours. Can I get a verbal description and a picture?"

Angel nodded, "I can get a picture from his apartment if you'll let me go."

"Go ahead. I can ask these two for the description."

Angel went to the elevator shaft and pressed the down button, disappearing into his lower level apartment.

"Why did he go down there?" Jamie asked.

"Uh," Cordelia looked around, "there's another exit. He prefers to use that one."

The officer seemed to accept the answer and pulled out a pad of paper to begin the questioning. "First off, what is the man's full name and when was the last time you saw him?"

"Wesley Whydam-Pryce." Cordelia answered. "The last time I saw him was probably about eight last night. He was supposed to go straight home after he left here."

"Do you have some reason to think he may not have made it?"

"We have some enemies." Grace spoke up. "All four of us do. We've made our share of them while living here. And we're kind of scared that one of them has done something to Wesley, something he didn't deserve."

Jamie jotted this down and then turned back to Cordelia. "Could you give me a description of him?"

Cordelia nodded. "He had really dark brown hair. His eyes were green and he wore glasses most of the time . . ."

* * *

Lindsey signalled for the driver of his limousine to stop at the upcoming intersection as he and Lilah prepared to dump the body. The men that worked for them, that did their dirty little jobs, were holding Wesley in their laps in the back seat. One man had his arms and the other was holding his legs.

"Dump him in the alley." Lindsey said. "He won't remember anything and I want him to be as disoriented as possible. The longer it takes him to find his way back to Angel, the less of a chance they have of finding a way to stop his transformation."

Lilah smiled at Lindsey as the men hopped out, carrying Wesley's body with them. They returned a few minutes later, empty handed.

"No one saw you?" Lindsey asked.

Both men shook their heads.

"Good, because if someone had, we might have had to do something bad to you." He smiled at them. "Like slowly cutting off an ear."

He knew behind the tough mask, both men were trembling inside. Wolfram and Hart had power beyond anything they could imagine and they were sitting in the backseat with a junior partner. They could easily be killed.

"We're off!" He announced cheerfully to the driver and grinned. Things were looking up for Wolfram and Hart. They might finally get rid of the vampire after all.

* * *

Grace opened the door of Angel Investigations and stepped out onto the street. She had insisted on walking home, no matter how dangerous Angel thought it was.

"I can take care of myself." She mumbled, recalling her demon side. If someone were to anger her, they would be messing with the wrong woman.

A limo pulled up alongside her after a few minutes of walking in peace and the window unrolled, revealing the face of a good looking young man.

"Can I help you?" Grace asked, as she stopped walking.

The man smiled. "I'm sure you can Ms. O'Doyle. That is, if your cooperate."

Grace's polite smile slid off her face. "How do you know my name?"

"We know a lot about you Grace." The woman spoke from behind the man and she too smiled out the window. They both had such perfect smiles, smiles that told of unspeakable horrors and deaths.

"And you would be?" Grace asked, trying to make herself angry. She only succeeded in scaring herself even more and hoped with all her heart that fear would have the same effect on her as anger.

"My name's Lindsey McDonald," the man said, "This is Lilah Morgan. We're from Wolfram and Hart."

Grace took a step backward. She could feel her fear burning in the back of her throat and felt her face shift.

Lindsey stepped out of the limousine and she saw the needle he held in one hand.

"Don't be afraid. This won't hurt, it'll just make you different." He stepped toward her, the needle held out and Grace realized suddenly that he only had one hand. That was the man that Angel had told her about, the man who had lost his hand in the battle for the scroll.

"Please don't." She begged, trying to sound more scared than she really was.

"I just want to make you different." Lindsey said again, stepping even closer.

Grace felt her face shift again and suddenly she was the demon. "I already am different." She growled and took a step toward Lindsey.

In his fright, he dropped the needle and it smashed on the sidewalk, the fluid inside started to drip out. Instead of bending over to pick it up, Lindsey retreated to the limo and it drove away quickly.

Grace bent over and carefully picked up the needle. It wasn't completely smashed and not all the liquid was gone. If she was careful she could get this back to Angel and they could figure out what the lawyers from Wolfram and Hart had wanted to do to her.

* * *

"Angel?" She called, entering the building. "Where are you?"

She heard the elevator rumble and a moment later Angel stepped out. "What's going on?" He asked.

Grace held up the needle, "This is what's going on. Mr. McDonald cornered me on the street and tried to stick this in me. Apparently he just wanted to make me different. I thought you'd want this."

"How'd you get away?" He asked, stepping toward her and gently taking the needle from her and putting it carefully in a plastic bag.

"I managed." She replied.

Angel turned back to her, the needle safely put away and he frowned. "You used the demon."

"What else was I supposed to do?"

"Can you control it yet?"

Grace shrugged. "I think I can. It came out when I got scared and it went away the second Lindsey left. If I can't fully control it yet, I'll be able to soon."

Angel stepped even closer to her and laid a gentle hand on her shoulder. "I just want to make sure that you're safe."

Grace smiled. "I'm fine. Just a little shaken."

"Are you sure it's safe for you to go home?" He asked, letting his hand drop from her shoulder, down her arm to her hand.

"I think so." Grace grasped his hand, then leaned forward and lightly kissed him. "I think I'll be okay."

Angel smiled at her. "I can walk you home."

Grace shook her head and dropped his hand. "I'll be fine. Just find out what's in that needle."

"Okay," Angel nodded, "I'll see you tomorrow Grace?"

She waved as she walked out the door, "Definitely."

* * *

Jamie walked down the deserted street carefully reading over the notes she had taken after her meeting with Cordelia and Grace. Both women had seemed very concerned about where Wesley could be and what had happened to him, but the entire time Grace had seemed somewhat distracted. She was busy on the computer, tapping away at the keys and making notes on a paper beside her. Jamie had decided she was working on files they had stored in the computer, maybe a case that they had recently picked up.

She sighed and flipped the page in her notepad. She really wanted to help them, they all seemed so desperate to find their friend and all she wanted to do was make their worries go away.

Jamie was turning onto her street and passed an alley when she heard the moaning. It was coming from deep within the alley, like the person didn't want to be heard.

*Or someone else didn't want the person to be heard.* She thought, as she ran toward the sound.

Lying on the pavement in the rear corner of the alley lay the body of a man. He was groaning in pain and as Jamie bent down to look at him, she saw that he was bathed in sweat. His forehead was very warm when she touched him and he thrashed out when her hand brushed against him.

"I won't let you hurt him." He mumbled, slapping her hand away.

*He's delusional.* She thought, then studied his face. Everything about him matched the description that Cordelia and Grace had given her.

Jamie reached for her portable radio and quickly called for backup. The ambulance and police car arrived within minutes and the paramedics quickly loaded the man onto the stretcher.

Kate got out of the police car and made her way over to Jamie as quickly as possible.

"What's the story?" She asked her.

Jamie smiled. "You refused to take the case Kate. It's none of your damn business." Then she turned and walked away.

* * *

"Wesley!" Cordelia called, coming into the room. She ran up to him and hugged him quickly, then moved aside.

He smiled weakly as Angel and Grace joined Cordelia standing by his bedside.

"How are you feeling?" Angel asked.

Wesley shrugged. "As well as can be expected I suppose. I'm still a little groggy."

"So what happened?" Grace leaned in, making sure none of the doctors or nurses heard. "Where were you?"

Wesley turned his grim eyes toward them all. "That's just it," he said, "I don't remember."

The End

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