From the personal files of Jenny Calendar:
When you’re thinking private eye, you don’t think bright, sunny days, glitzy hotels, and palm trees lining the sidewalks. But my office in Los Angeles has been constantly full of clients, which I guess says a lot about—
“Would you stop that,” said Rupert somewhat long-sufferingly, “it’s annoying.”
“You’re typing on a literal typewriter all the time, and you’re bothered by the sound of my computer?” Jenny countered with a laugh, and went back to her completely-fictionalized private files.
When you’re thinking private eye—
“What can you even be writing about?” Rupert pointed out. “We haven’t had a new case for weeks. There’s absolutely no reason for you to be writing anything.”
“You know what, if you want to spend office hours staring off into space and sulking, you do that,” Jenny informed him. “Just don’t bother me when I’m trying to actually make something out of being bored.”
Rupert made a hmph noise and then said, “Buffy and Willow are bringing lunch by.”
“Did you tell them to bring those nifty little finger sandwiches?” Jenny deleted most of what she’d written. She didn’t want to let Rupert know it, but he did have a point; writing fake case files when nothing was going on wasn’t exactly a constructive use of her time.
Rupert smiled a little bit. “I did, yes,” he said. “Buffy wanted to make sure there was something healthy for you, though, so she made a salad as well.”
Jenny made a face. "Your kid is trying to kill me," she informed Rupert.
“No, she just knows that a working woman cannot live on coffee and Starbucks pastries alone,” Rupert reminded her with an amused quirk of a smile.
From the personal files of Jenny Calendar:
When you’re thinking private eye, you don’t think two people in an office who are burning through the limited funds they have and spend most of their so-called work days bickering like five-year-olds just because they’re bored out of their minds. Lately Rupert's been saying that his decision to work with me was always a clear indicator of a midlife crisis and he should just go the whole nine yards and buy a sporty red convertible (he’s joking, but I think he does have a little bit of a point).
There just haven’t been as many people coming to us for help lately. Which is a good thing, I guess, but it's sort of a problem when your job hinges on there being crimes to solve. Raises a lot of interesting moral questions, actually. Should I quit being a private eye and go back to being a freelance programmer? Should I try and create crimes just so I can make money out of solving them? Follow-up question to that: Should I become a con artist?
I'm literally sitting here writing cheesy detective novels where there should be case files because there are no cases coming in. It's really weird, though, because usually there are tons of cases coming in this time of year. Every time of year, actually. Los Angeles isn't a very friendly place most of the time. Buffy almost got mugged a few days ago, but, well, she’s Buffy, so she broke the guy’s arm, made a damn good pun about it, and brought it up at one of Rupert’s dinner parties as a conversation piece.
Faith thought it was hysterical. I’m hoping that my kid doesn’t start breaking people’s arms too.
Maybe the fact that we're not getting clients has to do with something bigger, though. That new law firm down the street always seems to have people coming in and out, but when I googled "Wolfram and Hart," nothing actually came up. I told Rupert about it, but his response was to tell me that either something was wrong with my computer or that I was so bored that I was trying to make a conspiracy theory out of the concept that not everything needs online advertising to succeed, and then I threw my bag of potato chips at him and he called me childish.
Don't get me wrong, though! Rupert's a total sweetie and it's super important that these personal-files-about-nothing reflect that he's got a lot on his plate too. Not only is he also a single parent (sort of, it’s complicated) he ended up quitting his job as museum curator to join me as a partner in detective work. It's just that he can be a tiny bit draining to deal with on a daily basis when I'm also trying to figure out how to keep our business afloat.
Buffy and Willow showed up with lunch at around two in the afternoon. “Hey, Sherlock Calendar, solve a case for me,” Buffy said cheerfully, leaning over the desk and snagging a decorative pencil from Rupert's mug. “Who took my favorite green sweater?”
“That's not really a case without evidence," said Jenny, grinning back and taking the lunchbox Buffy handed her. “I might need a little more information.”
“Your sweater's in the wash, Dawn got tomato sauce on it,” Rupert answered, crossing the room to hug Buffy. “I had a chat with her about borrowing your things without asking.”
“Yeah, like that'll work,” Buffy muttered, making a face. "Any new clients?"
“Well, we solved your sweater mystery, so pay up,” said Jenny seriously.
“Ooh, is that shifty law firm still being shifty?” Willow asked with interest.
“Ah, yes, the ‘law firm,’” said Rupert sardonically. “Perhaps Bigfoot is involved in their nefarious dealings as well, then, Jenny?”
Jenny threw a pencil at him. “Don’t trash Bigfoot,” she said.
“Yeah, what did Bigfoot do to you, Giles?” Buffy teased. “And anyway, Jenny’s pretty good at being right about these kinds of things.”
“No she is not, she destroyed an underground crime ring on a hunch one time and now no one listens to me when I say she’s wrong,” said Rupert exasperatedly. “What about that time she was convinced that feral bats had flown into the victim’s apartment and torn him to shreds?”
“I thought that for five seconds because you said—”
“You’re both actually really good at being right,” Willow observed, then, with a small frown, “Usually not at the same time, though.”
“Kinda makes for a confusing team,” Buffy added. “But hey, whatever works.”
And that was when a gorgeous, well-dressed woman walked into the room.
Now, Jenny wasn’t exactly the typical quintessential brooding detective, and Lilah Morgan wasn't exactly the perfect model of a femme fatale. She was considerably more businesslike than seductive, but she had an air of self-confident mystery that, to Jenny, was more alluring and compelling than any woman she had ever met.
“Ms. Calendar of Calendar-Giles Investigations, I presume?” Lilah said, though the tone of her voice suggested that she knew she was right. “I'm Lilah Morgan. I'd like to request your help.”
Jenny was kind of busy wordlessly staring at Lilah. Not one of her finest moments.
Rupert, being a thoroughly helpful co-detective, stepped in to make an even worse first impression than Jenny, even if it wasn’t exactly on purpose. “I'm Giles,” he said. Then, “That is. Rupert,” then went through his usual stammery period where he tried to figure out how to introduce himself. Buffy and her friends called him “Giles,” Jenny called him “Rupert,” and most of their clients ended up calling him “Mr. Giles,” but Rupert still tried to make sure everyone got to choose what to call him for themselves.
Jenny usually watched this spectacle with rapt, amused attention, but she was currently still spellbound by Lilah Morgan. Willow lightly tapped her shoulder with a file folder to jerk her out of it (Jenny had to remember to thank that girl later) and Jenny managed a very intelligent “Calendar. Is me.”
Lilah's mouth quirked upward. “Good to know,” she said. “Listen, I work for Wolfram and Hart—”
Rupert looked expectantly over at Jenny, who would later realize that he was anticipating her to start on one of her Wolfram and Hart conspiracy theories. But those were born out of boredom, anyway, and Lilah was incredibly attractive; bickering with Rupert was way less important than talking to Lilah.
“Oh, that’s great,” Jenny said as enthusiastically as possible, hoping that Rupert wouldn’t start in with any teasing in front of Lilah.
“Actually, not really.” Lilah gave her a small, terse smile. “I’m beginning to think that something is up with that corporation, and I heard that you were the lady to go to when it comes to corruption. It was you who brought down the Three, right?”
Rupert started muttering something along the lines of “does every bloody client who comes in here bring up the Three” and “the one damn time I was wrong about something and no one lets me forget it.”
Buffy patted his shoulder with a badly-hidden smile. “Come on, Giles,” she said, “you’ve been wrong more times than that.”
“Yep, that was me,” Jenny said smoothly. She’d gotten pretty good at graceful recoveries over the years, and she was determined to be as charismatic as possible to make up for her awkward introduction. “Now, what kind of stuff do you want me to look into? I don’t generally work on baseless claims unless the wages are good.”
“Oh, I can assure you that you’ll be more than compensated for your efforts,” said Lilah easily, sitting gracefully down in the chair across from Jenny’s desk. “You see, I have reason to believe that Wolfram and Hart is silencing nearly all of your potential clients.”
“What?” said Jenny, startled.
“Good lord,” muttered Rupert.
“Well, it’s not really a you-specific thing,” Lilah explained, waving a hand (ooh, she was wearing nail polish, said Jenny’s brain with distractingly attracted interest), “it’s sort of more that a lot of innocent people are being hurt by people who are paying Wolfram and Hart to make sure that they don’t talk. As it happens, I was asked to be one of those people pretty recently, but that’s not the kind of thing I want to direct my interest towards—”
“So you came here to ask for my help in helping those people?” Jenny finished hesitantly.
“So I came here to ask you to help me take down Wolfram and Hart,” said Lilah smoothly. “It’s a pretty big job, but I figured the lady who took down the Three—and solved the Angelus case—is more than suited for that thing.”
At the word Angelus, Buffy flinched.
Jenny looked down. She didn’t at all like thinking about the Angelus case. “Yeah,” she said finally. “I’m definitely the one you’re looking for.”
Lilah nodded slowly. “Good,” she said, and slipped Jenny a card. “Tomorrow night, Caritas. Ask for Morgana at the front—that’s the name I go by when I’m there.” As an afterthought, she added, “Don’t call my work number. I don’t want anyone knowing I came here.”
“You work right across the street,” said Rupert, who sounded unusually terse. Jenny shot him a look, trying to get him to behave, but he shot her a look right back.
“You’d be surprised at how unobservant people can be,” said Lilah lightly. “Sometimes they miss things that are right under their noses.” Getting up from the chair, she added with a smirk, “And Ms. Calendar—do feel free to ask me to dinner at your leisure.”
“We don’t date clients,” said Rupert shortly.
“Who said anything about dating?” Lilah gave Jenny an appraising look. “Generally, I prefer a more…casual approach.” Without waiting for a response, she swiveled gracefully on her heel and left the office, the sound of her high heels echoing down the hallway.
Jenny had to take a breathless moment to collect herself before standing up and crossing the room to snap at Rupert, “What the hell was that?”
“We really don’t date clients,” said Rupert stubbornly.
“Rupert,” said Jenny testily, “you have never acted like that about anyone who’s come in. Is this, like, some weird jealousy thing? Because you were fine with that other girl who asked me out—”
“I don’t trust her,” Rupert replied simply, as though this was the end of it, which it very clearly wasn’t. Just like Jenny had said to Lilah, she didn’t work on baseless claims unless the wages were good, and Rupert wasn’t paying her to listen to his weird gut feeling about a very attractive new client.
“You know, there is a whole lot of irony in you acting like there’s a reason for you to dislike some random client not minutes after you were accusing me of conspiracy theories,” Jenny said shortly. “I actually wish this was jealousy, because then you’d at least have a justified reason for being an idiot.”
“Ooh, sparks flying!” said Willow nervously, grabbing at Buffy’s hand. “Um, glad you guys have clients we have class in a few hours see you later Jenny!” Without waiting for a response, she all but dragged Buffy out of the office.
“I don’t get jealous,” Rupert huffed.
“Is that what you’re focusing on?” said Jenny exasperatedly. “I know you don’t get jealous. We’ve been working together for three years and you haven’t once kicked up a fuss about flirtatious clients. This is weird behavior even for you, England.”
Rupert rolled his eyes. “I just—she doesn’t seem completely honest,” he said finally.
“So what if she’s not?” Jenny persisted. “It’s not like investigating what she’s saying is going to do us any actual harm. And if it turns out she wasn’t telling the truth about Wolfram and Hart, well, I’ll just let her seduce me and call it a day.”
Rupert gave her a look, but it was his usual good-lord-please-stop look instead of whatever weird, petulant thing he’d been pulling earlier. “I really wish your approach to flirtation was different,” he said finally. “That was rather overt, you and Lilah.”
Jenny grinned. “She’s into me,” she said. “And I’m more than loving it.” Tucking her arm into Rupert’s, she added, “You know, I’m expecting you to take me somewhere truly spectacular for dinner after a day like this. I want at least a four-star rating on Yelp.”
“I do not,” said Rupert, “own a smart-phone, I have never understood online reviews, stop asking me to rank things, we are going to walk to that diner on the corner because my car’s still in the shop and your car is terrifyingly small.”
“That’s the spirit,” said Jenny cheerfully as they exited the office. “We make a great team.”