Disclaimer: Joss Whedon (and others) own the Buffy-verse. DC and the WB own Luthor, and this is the Timmverse animated version of him. I own a lot of debt.
Questions, comments, suggestions and cheap shots (or a beta): review or adoxerella at sbcglobal dot net
Angel's least favorite part of taking over Wolfram & Hart, aside from the fact it was a pit of evil, was the advent of Monday morning meetings. They were long, monotonous, and held none of the urgency that kept group sessions at Angel Investigations interesting. The only urgent thing in these meeting was the need to get to the donuts before Fred got all the good ones. Spike was always quicker than him with that anyway.
Soon, Spike had conceded the crueler to Fred, and instead alternated dunking his cake donuts in blood and coffee. The meeting was getting down to business, and Fred had started in on her latest pitch to wheedle more funds for the science department. Unfortunately for Fred, this when Angel had chosen to drift off.
He didn't brood, since this usually got a coffee soaked donut lobbed at him by Spike. He just sort of blocked out the drone of Fred's report and took a few moments to think. Sometimes he would think about how they were going to turn a major player for evil around without being corrupted by it. However, this morning he was more interested in pondering how he was going to get Buffy to help him punish Spike for sneaking hot sauce into his blood last night.
His thoughts were interrupted by a commotion outside the meeting room. When he looked up he saw that he was the last to notice. Everyone else was staring at him waiting to see what he would do. Rather than deal with the reproachful look that Fred was shooting him for not listening to her presentation, Angel looked towards Spike instead.
“Well first,” Spike said, sounding more like William the Bloody Awful Poet than Angel's vampire boyfriend. “You should have been listening to Fred's presentation as it was quite informative.
"Second," he added in a more familiar accent. "Aren't you going to see what has your secretary all riled up. Plonker," the insult was thrown in as an afterthought.
Before Angel could reply, the doors to the conference room sprung open, and a tall man strode in the room. An irate Harmony trailed behind.
"You can't come in here. This is a private meeting of the senior staff."
"Which is precisely why I am here. Do you have any idea who I am girl?"
"Lex Luthor," Wes replied for Harmony. "I see the reports of you arrogance were not exaggerated."
Rather than be insulted, Luthor gave Wesley a haughty look.
"It's not arrogance if it's deserved."
Wesley just raised an eyebrow at the man's reply, his expression clearly indicating he didn't feel Luthor deserved anything. Luthor had already dismissed him and turned towards the room at large."
"I'm here to see Mr. Angel."
"There a reason you had to barge into a private meeting to do it?" Gunn asked.
Luthor gave Gunn a look that somehow managed to be incredulous and patronizing at the same time.
"I tried to keep him out Boss," Harmony said apprehensively. "He just barged right by me."
"It's alright, Harmony," Wesley assured her. "It's quite clear Mr. Luthor believes himself to be outside the tenants of protocol."
"Protocol is a waste of time, something I don't have an excess of. Now which one of you is Mr. Angel. I want to speak with my lawyer."
"I'm pretty sure that isn't us anymore," Gunn said, not impressed with Luthor's bluster.
"That's what I'm here to talk about."
Luthor sat down and eyed the donuts with disdain. He turned to glare at Harmony.
"You there. Make yourself useful and get me something decent to eat. Whatever you boss usually has. Some of his coffee, too."
"Uhm, Mr Luthor," Harmony began. "You might not want-"
"Stop sniveling and get me some breakfast."
Angel had been enjoying how his staff was handling Luthor, but he decided that it was finally time to step in to the situation.
"It's okay, Harmony. Bring the man what he wants, I don't mind," the smile on Angel's face was disarming for Luthor, his staff was slightly worried by it.
"Angel, are you sure that's wise?" Wes asked, not quite sure what game Angel was playing.
"It's okay Wes. I mean, if Mr. Luthor can come all the way from Metropolis just to see us, we can make sure he has the best," Angel said. "Bring me a refill too, please, Harm."
Down the table, Spike snorted softly at Angel's reply, but the rest of the staff wasn't quite sure to make of Angel's actions. Harmony shrugged, shot Angel one more odd look, then left.
Luthor turned towards Angel, ignoring the rest of the table.
"Now Mr. Angel," Luthor began.
"Whatever. Look, I'm not sure who advised you that dropping Luthorcorp was a wise idea."
"Actually," Wes interjected, "I believe Wolfram & Hart were your personal attorneys."
"I am Luthorcorp," Lex replied impatiently.
"It seemed to do alright while you were in prison," Fred replied.
"Yes, well now that I am back out," Luthor continued, obviously getting upset at the interruptions. "I am fully in charge of the firm again."
"Which we still don't represent," Gunn responded.
"As I was saying," Luthor ground out. "Whoever advised you to drop me from your client list was leading you astray. The Luthor name is held in the highest regard by many Americans. A young CEO such as yourself should be looking to build connections with such names, not destroy them."
As he warmed up to his speech, Luthor's tone became more and more condescending. This made Angel's crew more and more nervous. Spike had bitten back a laugh, while Wesley had nearly choked on his coffee when Luthor called Angel a young CEO. The whole table was watching their boss to see how he would respond to the other man's attitude.
"That's an interesting perspective, Luthor," Angel replied mildly. "However, when I became CEO of Wolfram & Hart, I asked my staff to point out which of out clients were most responsible for the firm's negative image. Your name was near the top of that list."
"Nonsense. I can see how all the negative propaganda The Daily Planet spews out may give a more suggestible person the wrong idea, but an intelligent man such as yourself shouldn't be fooled."
"I wasn't aware they gave Pulitzer's for propaganda," Lorne muttered just loud enough for a vampire to hear.
"It wasn't a news story that convince me, Luthor. It was the information in Wolfram & Hart's own files."
"Give me the top five items, guys," Angel said, looking to his staff.
"Well, besides the attempted murder of Superman and the smuggling that landed you in prison in the first place," Gunn began. "And yes we are aware you claim that you were set up for that, there is a rather interesting rider in a research proposal you gave you shareholders. The proposal allowed for gains made by weapons research on a joint project between yourself and Waynetech, when it is well known that, per their CEO's orders, Waynetech does not work on weapons projects."
"Then, there are several questionable funds transfers you made around the same time," Wes picked up the narrative. "Although we couldn't quite confirm it definitively, it appears that you moved money into an account owned by an alias of the Joker, a known felon."
"We didn't have to search to find how much Kryptonite you've brought into the country, even though it's a controlled substance. After all, the stuff nearly killed you," Lorne said, nodding towards the protective chest unit that Luthor had hidden under his expensive shirt.
"Of course," Spike continued, his use of his actual accent drawing a few raised eyebrows from his friends. "If you wanted to eliminate anything related to Superman, you could always look at the fact that a dummy corporation that traces back to you has been helping to arm the Kaznian insurgents. Since it is well known these insurgents violently control any territory they come into using money they get from the opium trade, it is hardly the mark of good character to support them."
"And finally," Fred added. "There is there's a little project you're funding at Cadmus."
"I have no idea what you're talking about," Luthor said in an even voice. Luthor managed to keep a neutral expression, but both vampires in the room heard his heart speed up.
"I'm sure you don't, despite the fact that you had Wolfram & Hart cobble together a very plausible alibi which would allow you to deny knowledge of the Cadmus' actions without having to perjure yourself. It seems weird that you'd go to such trouble to distance yourself from legitimate research," Fred finished mildly.
Before Luthor could reply, Harmony gave a perfunctory knock before entering the room carrying a tray with four mugs on it. She sat two in front of Angel and two in front of Luthor before looking towards Angel.
"Anything else, Boss?"
"No, Harmony, that will be all."
"It most certainly will not be, what is this?" Luthor said, indicating the mugs in front of him.
"You wanted what I have for breakfast, Luthor. You got it. Everything I need all right here in a mug, and it's even my special blend. Go ahead, Harmony," Angel said, nodding towards the door.
Harmony exited the room as fast as possible.
Luthor was busy glaring at Angel, who was content to reach for his coffee and take a drink, a serene look on his face.
"I don't know what you're playing at here, but I will not be threatened."
"I didn't hear a single threat, just a statement of facts. All the information we've manage to gather is bound by attorney client privilege. We are going to all the trouble to purge our client rolls to improve our image, so you can rest assured we will not be doing something as unethical as revealing anything covered by that privilege."
As soon as Angel finished speaking, he took another drink, this time out of his other mug. Down the table, Fred gave a small smirk and followed suit as soon as Angel finished. Spike didn't bother to hide his smirk as he followed right after her.
Luthor just kept glaring at Angel. When Angel didn't so much as blink at his look, he finally spoke.
"I understand how hard it is to change one's public image. The media is always looking for something to latch on to. Some kind of scandal or mistake that they can take advantage of. It would be a shame if all the work you are doing was negated because of bad publicity."
The rest of the table stiffened at the thinly veiled threat. Angel just took another drink.
"Yes, it would be. That's why I trust my senior staff to police their own departments. Plus we have a very," he paused to think of a word, "stringent code of ethics that we have put in place. We do not take any threat lightly."
"Yes, well one never knows when someone can slip through the cracks," Luthor replied, and finally raised a mug to his lips.
It wasn't the coffee.
It also didn't stay in his mouth long. He spit it right back out into the mug.
"What the hell is that. What are you giving me?"
"Otter," Angel said, taking another drink of his blood.
"Well, it's mostly pig's blood, but Harmony swears the secret ingredient is otter. It's the best blood I've had since I went off people."
Luthor looked disgusted, but Angel and Spike both caught a whiff of fear behind the bluster.
"If you're trying to poison me with some sort of-"
"You know, for someone who is supposed to be so smart, you're really good at pretending to be dim. Blood, for breakfast, used eat people, ringing any bells, Luthor."
"I don't have to stand here and listen to this foolishness."
"No, you don't. All you have to do is leave, and remember that Wolfram & Hart have been here long before your ancestors even thought of coming to this country and it will be here long after your descendants are gone. Any 'bad publicity' will just be a blip on the firms radar. And if that 'publicity' gets leveled on any of my staff," Angel vamped out and glared at the man. "That would be unfortunate, don't you think?"
"You are making a big mistake," Luthor said, giving one more glare towards the room before he stalked out, slamming the door behind him.
Angel downed the rest of his blood in one gulp then shook off his 'game face'. When he looked back towards his table the rest of the staff, except for Spike, looked grim.
"What? It got rid of him, didn't it?"
"Yes, but it might not have been a good idea to antagonize him. The last thing we need to deal with is the kind of trouble that Luthor can generate."
"He does have some pretty heavy hitters who can go to bat for him, even if he doesn't have Wolfram & Hart behind him anymore," Lorne added.
"You're right, which is why I may have casually mentioned Cadmus when I was talking to Buffy the other day. It was when we were out with Willow, wasn't it, Spike?"
"Yep," the blond replied with smirk.
"What happened to attorney client privilege?" Fred asked.
"I didn't say anything about clients, Fred. I just happened to wonder what Cadmus did, since I haven't heard of them before. You know me and science, I never understand it. I may have also mentioned that I thought they had a location in Gotham."
"I sometimes forget how devious you can be when you want to, Angel," Wesley said.
"It's not devious, Wesley. We can't take the stuff we have to the authorities because we are bound by ethics, but if other people come to the same conclusions, than maybe something can be done to stop whatever it is they have planned."
"He's right," Fred replied. "Ya'll know a search like that is going to get certain people's attention, and I really didn't like the stuff that I read about Cadmus in Luthor's file."
"Did you have to so thoroughly alienate, Luthor?"
"Not alienate, Percy. Intimidate. The bloke has pissing contests with Superman, he expects people to fawn all over him. He just found someone who wouldn't fawn. It just may take him a while to realize it."
"And if he decides to stir up trouble before then?"
"We deal with it," Angel said. "Now let's get this meeting over with. We've all got work to do today, and I for one don't want to be here late."
Although some of his staff looked unsure, everyone settled down fairly quickly to finish the meeting. Angel managed to keep most of his attention on the reports this time. He was confident that when Luthor finally managed to make his next move, he and his friends would be more than ready.