Fred tidied the books. She lined them up neatly, and dusted them off, and arranged the astral physics section first by alphabetizing the authors, then arranging them by book spine size.
Every few minutes she looked at the clock, and bit her lip, and played with her hair before going back to line up titles like The Astral Travel Workbook next to Astral Projection and Psychic Empowerment. She sighed and looked at the clock again, huffing out a breath as she tried to appear casual about her work.
“Fred.” Angel’s voice jarred her into bumping her head on the shelf. “Their appointment might take a while. Ending a marriage is…complicated.” Fred turned to look at him, standing in the doorway with his hands in his pockets.
“Oh. Angel.” She giggled a little nervously. “Um. Just putting these back. Some idiot filed Goldberg next to Llewellan.”
Angel watched her, a small smile playing about his lips. “Wrong order?”
“Oh, goodness, no. It’s just that Goldberg and Llewellan can’t stand each other. Their books next to each other…” she shuddered. “Yikes.”
“Of course.” Angel nodded, seriously. “Can’t have battling books just hanging out on the shelves.”
“Well, no…” Fred broke off, blushing even as she grinned up at Angel. “Oh. You’re making fun….”
“No, no.” He strolled into the office and sat, leaning forward to rest his forearms on his knees. “Well, yeah, but it’s a nice, friendly mocking.”
“Well, that’s ok, then.” Fred smiled at him and bent to pick up another book, seeming to study it a bit before saying casually to Angel, “So……Wesley seems to really want this to be over….”
Angel looked off into the distance, thinking a bit. “Yeah. They both do.” He looked at Fred. “I don’t think they’re the only ones.”
She blushed to the roots of her hair, lowering her gaze. “Well, yeah, you know……..they seem so unhappy….I just want…um….it seems that they….you know….” She stopped babbling and looked down, pressing her lips together tightly. “They’re so unhappy.”
“Well, being stupid does that to ya.” Angel leaned back and closed his eyes. They were both silent for a moment, and Fred slowly picked up another book, shelving it absently as she thought. She snuck a look at Angel and quickly looked back down, seeing his eyes still closed.
“What is it?” She jumped at his voice, low and tired.
“OH! Oh. Um. Nothing.” She giggled nervously. “I mean, well, something, but you know….nothing.”
“Fred….” His eyes opened to slits. “Out with it.”
“It’s just….Angel…doesn’t this just eat at you?”
“Eat at me?” His eyes opened a bit more. “Uh, no…”
“Well, sure it does. This has to be just killing you.” She lowered her head and muttered, “It’s sure as hell drivin’ me crazy.”
Angel looked down at her a moment before speaking, choosing his words carefully. “Fred….Wes doesn’t want to be married to Cordy, and I don’t think she wants…”
“Well no, of course she doesn’t, Angel. She and I talked about this. And cried about it, actually.”
“Cordelia cried?” Angel sat up, leaning forward.
“Yeah. Yeah, Angel, she cried.” Fred looked up at him from the floor where she sat. “This isn’t just being embarrassed for Cordy…although, wow, has she got that market cornered right now…” She thought about sitting in Cordelia’s apartment the night before, and plowing through an entire half gallon of Chunky Monkey and commiserating with Cordelia Chase Wyndam-Price over her current status.
She thought a moment and came to a decision. “Angel…she’s……sad.”
“Sad.” Angel looked at Fred. “Why is she sad? Did she really want this? I mean, it wasn’t exactly the wedding of her dreams…”
“That’s just it. She doesn’t have a dream wedding. She’s not expecting any wedding at all.” Fred rose and walked to sit on the ottoman facing Angel’s chair.
“Think about it from her mind, Angel. She told me that she never expected to meet anyone and get married, because, who’s gonna get her life? She just thought, you know, being part demon was kind of a solo gig. She said she feels like this little matrimony faux pas is kind of the Powers That Be’s way of rubbing her nose in it.”
She looked at Angel, sadness in her face. “She knows she’s never gonna have that life. She’s just kinda sad at being reminded.”
Angel looked at Fred for a long moment, sighing. “Yeah. I get that.” They both sat there, lost in their own thoughts. Finally, Fred looked up at him, curious.
“What did you mean, it wasn’t the wedding of her dreams? I think that’s the most romantic…” She broke off as Angel looked at her again, amusement creeping into his eyes. “Oh, c’mon, it’s not like I have a homemade Starfleet uniform in my closet. I think that it just sounds….”
“Exactly like Vegas.” Angel finished, rising up.
“Yeah….” Fred’s voice trailed off as she got a dreamy look in her eyes. Angel sighed and turned to go back into his own office just as the phone rang.
He looked back at Fred, who apparently was writing “Fred Burckle-Wyndam-Price in the notebook in her head, and was obviously not going to pick up the phone. He picked up the receiver on his desk.
“Angel Investigations…We help….um….” He broke off. “Wesley? What’s…” he listened intently, immediately reaching for a pen. “Ok, ok…calm down. Where are you?” Fred came out of her trance and jumped up, looking at Angel anxiously.
He gave her a glance as he listened. “No. Don’t let her….ok, ok. On Penwaite Drive? Got it. Be there in a minute.”
He hung up and walked around the desk, stalking to grab up his coat and slung it on, Fred following him on his heels.
“What is it? Is everything alright? Was the attorney…”
“It wasn’t an attorney.” Angel’s voice was grim. “They were set up. Cordy is about to be offered as a sacrifice…” His eyes glinted as he yanked open the basement door. “Call Gunn, tell him to meet me….18801 Penwaite Drive. Down in the old canning district. Tell him to come armed.” And he was gone.
Fred ran back to the office and snatched up the phone, frantically dialing. Her hands shook as she waited for Gunn to pick up.
A bogus attorney? No, that couldn’t be. That guy at the bar who gave his name to her seemed to know what he was talking about….
what was that guy’s name again….oh yeah….Merle.