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U Turn, Part Two


Contains explicit male/male sex.

Pairing: Angel/Lindsey

Summary: On his way out of Los Angeles, Lindsey has an encounter with Angel that leads to his return to Angel Investigations. Spoilers through “Dead End”


Disclaimer: Angel belongs to Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy, and probably some others who aren’t me.

Acknowledgment: Thanks to Laura, beta extraordinaire.

* * *

Part Two

“Lindsey! Cupcake! I didn’t expect to see you back here so soon.” The Host swooped down on him the moment he entered the demon sanctuary and karaoke bar.

Lindsey smiled faintly, while the Host took him by the shoulders and grinned his red-eyed, green-faced grin at him. He hadn’t expected to be here, either, but the confrontation with Wesley had shaken him. He wasn’t worried that Wesley could kick him out—not all on his own, anyway. But Wes could tell the others what had happened, get them all to gang up on Angel and insist that Lindsey had to go. At the very least, he could make life very unpleasant. Lindsey had to do something, and he had no idea what. “I figured you’d have known all about it.”

“That’s one of the things I like about you. You just keep surprising me.” The Host took him by the arm and led him to the bar. “T and T for my favorite cowboy,” he told the bartender, then leaned an elbow on the bar. “So what’s up, pussycat? You going to sing for us tonight?”

“Yeah. I need your help. Big decision.”

The Host cocked his head. “Sophie has a choice to make, does she? Well, sit tight while I talk to Golgo over here, and we’ll get you on in about thirty.”

Lindsey nodded and pulled himself up onto the barstool. The Host’s latest houseboy/bartender batted his eyelashes at him, then wandered away when Lindsey declined to flirt. More drama was definitely not what he needed tonight.

More alcohol wasn’t really high on his list of needs, either. The champagne had mostly worn off by now, but pouring gin on top of it would not be a good idea. He took a small sip of his T and T and settled back to listen to a Petrash demon interpret ‘NSync. The double throat meant he could actually harmonize with himself. Of course, that didn’t mean he could carry a tune.

Meanwhile, the Host was in deep conversation with Golgo—interestingly enough, a human, of the large and blocky variety. Sort of a cubist impression of a human. One of Wolfram and Hart’s enforcers, probably.

Or maybe not. The entire city didn’t belong to Wolfram and Hart. Not yet.

He didn’t know whether he could say that for himself. He might not be collecting a paycheck from Wolfram and Hart, but they were still pulling the strings. Had he really beaten them in the fight over Angel’s hotel? Maybe they’d gotten exactly what they wanted—Lindsey and Angel all over each other again, another step closer to breaking Angel’s curse. If you believed, as everyone but him seemed to believe, that Lindsey was capable of breaking Angel’s curse.

After the Petrash, there were more demons. One of them performed “L’amour est un oiseau rebelle” from Carmen, and did a creditable job of it. Lindsey had spent many evenings like this, sitting in Caritas with a drink in his hand, listening to creatures human and demon sing, shout, screech, warble, and otherwise commit acts of vocalization. He’d always enjoyed it, whether or not he got up to sing himself. He felt safe here. Comfortable. He liked the Host, with his flamboyance and wit and open affection.

But tonight, all he could think about was sitting in the lobby of Angel’s hotel, singing and talking and laughing with Cordelia and Gunn, with Angel and Wesley and David Nabbitt. For just a little while, it had felt like he belonged somewhere.

The Host came up behind him and put a hand on his shoulder. “You’re on.”

He didn’t even think about what he was going to sing until he was on stage, seated on a stool with the Host’s guitar in his hands. He’d already sung himself out tonight, and didn’t really have the heart to put on a show. So he just let his fingers pick out the notes as they would, and found himself singing “I’ll Fly Away,” an old favorite of his mother’s, only his version was slow and mournful, not bright and hopeful the way his mother used to sing it, despite the misfortune life had shown her.

Afterwards, he joined the Host at a table in the back. “Well?” he asked impatiently. “What am I supposed to do?”

“Whoa! Slow down, cowboy. In the first place, you know I don’t tell you what to do. You never do it, anyway.”

“And in the second place?” Lindsey sat, took a sip of the drink the Host had brought over for him, and tried to rein in his impatience.

“In the second place, what’s your hurry? Believe me, Lindsey, you don’t want to rush off headlong into what’s coming next.”

Lindsey felt a cold chill that he covered with another swallow of gin and tonic. “Bad, huh?”

“Well. Let’s just say things will get worse before they get better.”

“So help me. How do I get out of this?”

The Host took a sip of his own drink and regarded Lindsey thoughtfully with his blood-red eyes. “Your problem right now isn’t getting out. Your problem is understanding just exactly what you’re in. You can’t make the right choice until you know.”

Lindsey sat back with a huff of frustration. “I know what I’m involved in. Wolfram and Hart want me with Angel. Angel’s people want me gone. They all think somehow I can turn Angel evil, and they’re all crazy.”

“What makes you so sure about that?”

“Jesus. Look at me. I’m not exactly his type, am I?”

“Then why do you suppose he keeps jumping your pretty little bones? Let’s see, three times in the past week and a half, is it?”

“Well….” Lindsey felt his face heat. Sometimes talking to someone who knew more about what was going on in your life than you did could get a little embarrassing. “I started it,” he finished lamely.

“Sure you did. You asked, he obliged—and it didn’t take much persuasion, did it? After that, I’m pretty much seeing him not needing an invitation.”

“But it’s all just some twisted sex thing. It takes more than that to change him. He has to feel… something….”

The Host inclined his head sympathetically. “You can say the ‘L’ word, Lindsey. It won’t bite you.”

More heat rushed to Lindsey’s face. “He’s never going to feel that way about me. He hates me. He thinks I’m evil.” A soul in need of redemption, Wesley had said. The most dangerous thing of all. And—oh god—hadn’t that been Darla, too? Angel’s need to save her had been what made him vulnerable to her.

“And you hate him, too, doncha, Sparky? Funny thing, hate. ‘Cause from where I’m sitting, you’re already half in love with him.”

Lindsey felt like he’d been punched in the gut. He set his drink down and searched for words. “No, I’m….” He cut himself off in mid-protest. There was no point denying what the Host already knew. But—

It was true. And if Lindsey was half in love, was it so impossible that Angel might be, too? That in time the hate would fade, and all that would be left was the passion? He was a danger to Angel. Wolfram and Hart had known what they were doing all along.

But would it be so bad if Angel lost his soul? Lindsey didn’t care about good and evil. Wolfram and Hart would be happy, and at least he and Angel could be together—

But they wouldn’t be together. Lindsey knew better than that. Darla without a soul had told him she loved him just so she could laugh in his face. Darla had used him and left him without a backward glance and Angelus—Angelus was so much crueler than Darla. Lindsey’d read all the files, he knew what Angelus was capable of. Angelus would kill him. If he was lucky, Angelus would just kill him.

And if Lindsey left, Wolfram and Hart would kill him. Pretty much came down to who he’d rather be killed by.

“No, sugar,” the Host said softly, “It comes down to doing the right thing.”

Lindsey laughed bitterly. “The right thing? I’m dead either way.”

“Then it looks like you might as well think about someone other than yourself for a change, doesn’t it? Who wins this round? Angel—or Wolfram and Hart? It’s up to you.”

Lindsey felt his heart sink. Maybe he could sacrifice Angel to save himself—if letting Angel turn evil would even save him. But to do it knowing he was playing right into Wolfram and Hart’s master plan—that would be too much to bear. “I have to leave him, don’t I?”

The Host patted his shoulder. “Sorry, hon.”

But already his mind was spinning plans and plotting escape routes. “If I leave right away, tonight, I might be able to get clear before they figure it out. We had the big celebration today, they won’t be expecting me to take off. Unless they—shit.”

The Host raised an eyebrow.

Lindsey shook his head and explained. “The whole hotel’s wide open. Angel doesn’t even lock the door to his suite. It could be bugged from top to bottom. We should get bug sweepers in there, damn it, why didn’t I think of that?” Lindsey stopped and sighed. “Doesn’t matter now. I’ll just have to take my chances.” He thrust out his hand to the Host, who shook it bemusedly. “Thanks. For everything. Guess I won’t be seeing you again.”

The Host just smiled.

* * *

The hotel was dark and quiet when he got back. Lindsey saw no sign of Angel as he returned to his room and quickly threw his belongings into his duffel. That was just as well—best to just slip away quietly, no discussions, no recriminations. Should he leave a note? He pondered for a moment over his legal pad, then decided not to. There was really nothing to say. Angel knew why he had to go.

He crept down the stairs with his duffel and guitar as quietly as he could. Bluebell was parked around the back. The street was empty as he walked around the block and put his things in the bed of the truck.

They hit him as he reached for the door handle. Something exploded against his temple; a fist drove into his kidneys. Lindsey’s vision went red with pain, and he flung himself around, swinging wildly in the direction of the blows. Another fist smashed into his jaw, and he flew off his feet, crashing to the sidewalk, wrenching his shoulder as he hit the ground.

There were four of them, he thought, although he never got a good look at any of them. Boots kicked his sides and back, as he curled up, trying futilely to protect himself. Every time he attempted to get up, he was kicked back to the ground. He felt his ribs crack, his face scrape against the concrete, his mouth fill with blood. He fully expected to die.

He was barely conscious when he heard one of them say, “That’s enough.”

“Wait,” another one said. Hands shoved Lindsey over onto his back, pulled his right arm away from his body. Then a heel came down hard on his wrist. Bones crunched. Lindsey heard himself scream, or try to, a dim, echoey sound in his ears.

“Okay. Let’s go.”

Hands grabbed his arms and legs, lifting him up. Lindsey keened helplessly as the motion shifted damaged body parts. He wanted to pass out and skip the rest of it. But his consciousness stubbornly held on, dopey and confused but still aware as they carried him away.

They dumped him on the front porch of the hotel. He heard wood splinter, felt the pieces fall onto him. They’d smashed his guitar. “No,” he moaned, his voice bubbling with the blood in his mouth. But they were already gone.

Lindsey couldn’t get up. Every slightest attempt left him gasping and nauseated with pain. Nor could he call out for help. He had internal injuries, he was pretty sure. He began to shiver with cold. Shock was setting in. If no one found him lying here, he’d likely be dead by morning. Was that their plan? For his life to dribble out on Angel’s front porch?

His mind drifted as he lay there, waiting for it to end. The pain lessened as the shock deepened, and that was a mercy, but he still couldn’t move. It was out of his hands, his hand, Brad’s hand, broken and useless again. He could only wait and hope. Lindsey didn’t waste much time on hope. Hope didn’t get you anywhere. His mother had had hope, and what good had it done her? Have faith, and everything will work out all right. His sister Rebecca died of the flu, her long black hair dull and damp on the pillow, and Mom said, Have faith. Then the flu took Sara, his precious littlest sister, and Mom said, She’s gone to heaven. Have faith. Men came and took the house away, and he said, Why won’t Daddy tell them to go away? Where will we go? And Mom said, Have faith. God will provide. Lindsey didn’t have any faith. He had his wits and his determination and his guts, and that was all. Now he had nothing. He wished he’d just tried to outrun the goons in the Bronco, headed straight for Oklahoma. He wanted to see his mother again before he died.

He could hear her voice quite clearly over the rushing in his ears. Have faith, Lindsey, she said. Everything will work out all right.


“Mom?” he whispered. There was blood in his mouth.

“Not quite.” It was Angel. “There’s an ambulance on its way. Hang in there.” He brushed the hair off Lindsey’s forehead.

“How… ?”

“Shh. Just take it easy.—Cordelia called me. She had a vision.”

Have faith.

* * *

There were sirens. Paramedics buzzing around him like busy flies. Blood pressure cuffs and IV needles. The bright white interior of an ambulance. A steady throb of pain, gradually fading as the drugs kicked in, his consciousness fading with it.

The next thing he knew was a hospital bed, and a thick, heavy pain in his wrist. There were doctors gathered around him, his ribs grated, and he couldn’t see his hand, where was his hand?

“No!” he protested, while they wrapped his wrist in bandages, cold and wet with plaster. Where was it, hadn’t he brought it? Was it still lying on the floor of the hall where he’d fought with Angel, where they’d brought Darla back to life? They’d left him alone there, all of them, Holland and Lilah and Angel, too, alone on the floor with his bloody stump clutched in his hand, left him to crawl bleeding to his car, drive somehow one-handed and dazed with shock to the hospital, and where was his severed hand? He hadn’t thought to bring it, couldn’t send anyone back for it, not to that place, and now it was too late to reattach it, it was gone.

“No,” he shouted again, trying to jerk his arm away, determined not to let them cauterize it this time, not to let them seal it off, leave him ugly and broken and incomplete….

“Take it easy, Lindsey,” one of the doctors said. And, “Carol, check his IV,” said another. And the drugs flowed into his bloodstream, and he faded into unconsciousness once again.

The next time he woke, he was lying in bed, covered to his shoulders in clean white sheets. The room was quiet and he was alone—

Except for Angel, sitting at the side of the bed, still and patient, as if he’d been sitting there for days. Which, for all Lindsey knew, he had.

“How long?” he asked. His throat was dry and his voice cracked.

Angel poured a glass of water from the pitcher on the bedside table and held Lindsey’s head while he drank. “About sixteen hours. It’s evening. You’ve been in and out all day, but you probably don’t remember. You haven’t been making much sense.” He put the glass back on the table.

“My hand…,” Lindsey remembered. He pulled his arm out from under the cover.

It was there. Encased in a cast that went almost to his elbow, but there were definitely fingers and a thumb sticking out the end. He still had his hand. Lindsey let his head fall back onto the pillow. It had all gotten jumbled up in his head, this time and the time before, but it was coming clear now. The goons that had jumped him by his truck, the beating, being dumped on Angel’s front porch. The bootheel grinding into his wrist. His guitar smashed to pieces.

But they hadn’t taken his hand. Not this time. Not like Angel had.

Angel gave his arm a little pat. “The doctor said you’d be fine. You’ll be strumming your guitar again in no time.”

“It’s broken,” Lindsey corrected bitterly. “I felt the bones snap.”

“Well, all right, a little time. Eight weeks. But—”

“And my guitar’s broken, too.”

“We’ll get you a new one.”

Lindsey didn’t answer. He stared at the cast covering his wrist. He tried to wriggle his fingers and failed.

“And hey,” Angel continued, determinedly cheerful, “at least you already know how to do everything left-handed.”

He couldn’t help a hollow laugh. “Right. I’ve had practice being a cripple. Big advantage.”

“Lindsey….” Angel reached out again, but Lindsey turned away. “You’ll heal,” Angel said quietly. “You’re going to be okay.”

“Until the next time I try to leave and they beat me up again. Or maybe next time they’ll just kill me.”

“They’re not going to hurt you. Because you’re not going to leave again.”

“I have to!” Lindsey turned to Angel, heedless of the pain the sudden motion caused, and god, Angel looked so concerned sitting there at the side of the bed, hunched forward with his hands in his lap, biting his lower lip, big brown eyes all soft and doe-like. Damn it, Angel wasn’t supposed to care, that was the whole problem.

“No, you don’t. It’s going to be okay, Lindsey. I talked to Wesley, and it’s okay.”

“This isn’t about Wesley.” God, Angel could be so dense. Didn’t he see what was happening?

“Then what is it? Why did you leave?”

“I went to see the Host at Caritas.” And he told me I was in love with you. Ridiculous to think it could be true, that Lindsey could be in love with Angel, that Angel could be in love with him, although he knew the Host wouldn’t lie, and if he wasn’t in love with Angel, why did it hurt so much to think of leaving him?

“And he told you to leave.”

“He told me I had to make a choice. About who wins—you, or Wolfram and Hart.”

“They’re not going to win.”

“They’re winning right now! Look at you—do you feel sorry for me? Do you want to protect me? That’s exactly what they want you to feel!”

“I don’t care what they want. I care about—”

Lindsey could see it hit him. Angel’s eyes grew wide and he sat up in his chair and he knew.

Then Lindsey knew, too. Really knew. Oh god, it was true, it was all true, he was in love, stupidly, ridiculously in love, and it was completely impossible—he still had to leave, more than ever he had to leave, and they’d kill him and he’d never see Angel again and it hurt so bad he almost wanted to die—no problem there, he’d be dead soon either way. He sucked in a breath that sent shooting pains through his cracked ribs, and savagely blinked away tears.

But Angel had grown thoughtful after the first realization hit, and now leaned forward to rest a cool hand on Lindsey’s arm. “We’ve been going about this all wrong. You told me, ‘Don’t let them make you play their game. You have to make them play yours.’ Well, that’s exactly what we’ve been doing—we’ve been playing their game. It’s time to make them play ours. Time to change the rules.”

Lindsey gave himself a mental shake, then took a slow and careful breath. “What do you mean?”

“I have an idea. I’ll have to go away for a few days, maybe a week. I don’t want to say anything until I see if this is going to work.”

“Angel, you can’t just—”

Angel interrupted him with a gentle squeeze of his arm. “When they let you out of here, I want you to go back to the hotel and stay there. If this doesn’t work, we’ll think of something else.”

“You’re not going to tell me what you’re up to.”

Angel just smiled. “Promise me you won’t try to leave again.”

“You really think you can solve this?”

“Yes. I do.”

All right, why the hell not? “Okay. I’ll stay.” The relief was almost as painful as the realization had been. He wasn’t going to die—not yet anyway. And he was going to stay with Angel.

Angel got up, with one last pat on Lindsey’s arm. “Get some rest. I’ll see you when I get back.”

Before he could worry too much about it, Lindsey had fallen fast asleep.

* * *
Cordelia came to visit him the next day, bringing flowers and her dazzling smile. “Lindsey! Look at you! You look….”

“Like four big guys beat the crap out of me?” Lindsey returned her smile as best he could with a sore jaw and swollen lip.

“Pretty much.” She sat down beside the bed, dropped a bouquet of carnations across his lap, and helped herself to a glass of water from the pitcher at his bedside.

He was unreasonably glad to see her. “Angel told me it was you who called him. Thanks.”

She waved a dismissive hand. “Thank the PTB. They sent out the alarm. I just made a phone call.”

“I hope it wasn’t too bad… I know the visions are rough on you….”

“I’m fine. What’s a little headache, compared to a broken wrist, two cracked ribs, bruised kidneys… ?”

“Okay, okay.” He couldn’t help wincing a little as she listed off his injuries. The doctors were cutting down on his painkillers, and he was feeling every bruise and scrape. “I wonder why they did it, though.”

“Why who did what?”

“The Powers That Be. They’re forces for good. Why would they send you a vision about me?”

“Maybe because you’re important to Angel?”

Lindsey felt his face heat, and hoped the bruises disguised his blush. “I’d think they’d want to get rid of me.”

“Obviously, they don’t. Maybe you’re supposed to help Angel. Like you did with the hotel.”

Lindsey sighed. “That’s what I thought I was doing when I left.”

“Getting yourself killed is not helping,” Cordelia said firmly.

He found himself smiling. Of course, it was nice when anybody didn’t want you to get killed, but it was especially nice when that somebody was Cordelia. “Whatever happened to ‘If you get too close to him, you’re out of here?’ ”

“That was before I knew you could cook.”

Lindsey held up his broken arm. “Sorry. Not going to be doing much cooking for a while.”

“Hey, do I get to sign your cast?”

“Sure. You can be the first, if you can find a pen.”

Cordelia began to dig in her purse. “Didn’t Angel sign it when he was here yesterday?”

“No. I don’t think he was…. We weren’t really….” Lindsey looked away, flustered. I care about… you, Angel had been about to say, when he realized what it meant. To live with Angel, wanting him, loving him, knowing he could never have him, had been hard when Angel didn’t care about him. To know that Angel did care, and he still couldn’t have him—that was the worst kind of torture. They’d have been better off just hating each other. “He didn’t tell you where he was going, did he?”

“Nope.” Cordelia finally retrieved a pen from her bag and began to inscribe her name on Lindsey’s cast, decorating each letter with flowers and birds and curlicues.

“I guess that means he’s going to do something dangerous and stupid.”

“Oh yeah.”

“And there’s no way to stop him.”

She finished up with a drawing he knew was an angel, because he recognized it from Angel’s calling cards. He felt strangely pleased to have it there. She dropped the pen back in her purse and smiled kindly at him. “Why would you want to stop him? He’s trying to help you.”

“I don’t need—” Lindsey bit off his protest. He was lying in a hospital bed, his own grand gesture squashed like a bug. He was hardly in any position to claim he didn’t need help. He continued weakly, “I don’t think he should be doing this.”

“So it’s okay for you to sacrifice yourself for him, but it’s not okay for him to do it for you?”

“No.” It was most definitely not okay. For Angel to get himself killed trying to save Lindsey? Leave him here alone? He couldn’t bear the thought of it. And he didn’t even want to think about why. “I don’t want them to win. If Angel goes out and gets himself hurt or killed—Wolfram and Hart win.”

“And if you go out and get yourself killed—you don’t think that would hurt Angel?”

He sank back onto the bed, eyes closed. “Then they win. No matter what, they win.”

He felt Cordelia’s hand on his shoulder. “Not necessarily. Angel does stupid and dangerous stuff all the time. He’s a hero. I think it’s in the job description. And you know what? Most of the time, he wins.” He heard her stand up, felt the light brush of her lips on his forehead. “Have a little faith, Lindsey. It’ll be okay.”

* * *

It was Gunn who came to take Lindsey home when he was released from the hospital. He said it was his own idea—”Nothing going on at the office, thought I’d take a little field trip”—but Lindsey had half a notion that Angel had sent his largest and toughest associate to make sure Lindsey really got back to the hotel. He was perversely tempted to make a break for it, just to see what would happen. He reminded himself that he’d already tried that, and spent three days in the hospital for it.

“So, Angel didn’t drop any hints about what he was up to… ?” Not likely Angel would have told Gunn anything, but it never hurt to dig for whatever might come up.

“No, man, not to me.”

“You don’t have any ideas?”

“I have an idea that if he wanted us to know what he was doing, he would have told us.”

It wasn’t that he didn’t question Angel, Lindsey thought. He just wasn’t interested. “Yeah,” he sighed tiredly. Lindsey tried to lean his elbow against the passenger side door, but his cast got in the way.

Gunn looked at him sidelong as he eased his truck through the heavy afternoon traffic. “Tell me something, Lindsey. What is it with you and vampires? First Darla, now Angel. You got a death wish or something?”

Lindsey glared at Gunn for a moment before deciding the streetwise demon hunter wasn’t making fun of him. “Danger. Excitement. No condoms.”

Gunn chuckled. “Okay. But there’s other ways to get excited.”

So the guy wanted a real answer. It wasn’t something Lindsey was used to talking about. Healthy relationships, Holland Manners had told him. But didn’t ask why. “They’ve seen so much. So much history, so much of the world. Angel’s two hundred and fifty years old. And Darla—over four hundred years. She was here when Virginia was a scrappy little colony. And California was one big wilderness. Can you imagine how much someone can learn in all that time? Angel can speak at least nine different languages, maybe more. Most vamps don’t make it past twenty. They get caught out in the sun or staked or something. Only the best, the smartest can survive for centuries.

“They have intelligence. Cunning. They’re strong. Powerful. They take what they want. Nobody… takes from them.” Lindsey suddenly found his voice catching. He stopped and stared out the window. His broken wrist ached.

“You forgot the part where they’re evil bloodsucking monsters.”

Lindsey laughed hollowly. “Yeah, well, I’m an evil bloodsucking lawyer. Besides, Angel’s not evil.”

“Not as long as y’all don’t get horizontal with him.”

Powerful and dangerous and I’ll never have you. “That’s why I left. Why I tried to leave. We can’t be together. I know that.”

Gunn said nothing, eyes on the road.

“He told you not to let me leave, didn’t he?” Lindsey asked abruptly.

Gunn glanced at him, uncomfortable. “He just doesn’t want you to get hurt.”

He loves me, Lindsey thought. It was a giant, cruel cosmic joke. He’d met someone he could really love, someone who was everything he’d ever wanted, someone whose slightest touch or whispered word set him on fire, someone who by all the wonders was actually capable of loving him back—except that if he did, he risked losing his soul. “I don’t want him to get hurt, either.”

“You really got it bad, don’t you?”

” ‘Bad’ is definitely the word for it.”

“Hey, maybe Angel will figure out a way to fix things.”

“Maybe.” Lindsey leaned his head against the truck window and closed his eyes.

“Y’all don’t want to talk about this any more, do you?”

Lindsey smiled wryly. “You want to sign my cast?”

“You bet.”

* * *

Cordelia greeted him with a hug and a kiss on the cheek, while Gunn went off in search of a marking pen to sign Lindsey’s cast. Wesley hung back with his arms crossed, looking like he had a bad taste in his mouth.

Finally, Wesley set his jaw and stepped forward. “I feel that I owe you an apology,” he said stiffly. “I didn’t believe Wolfram and Hart would harm you. Obviously, I was mistaken.”

Lindsey half-smiled. “You also said that even if they did, you’d rather see me dead than Angel turned.”

“Well. Yes, that’s true, but….”

“Forget it. Sign my cast.” Cast-signing, Lindsey decided, was a great conversation-stopper. It said, ‘I’m hurt, indulge me’ in a nicely non-whiny way.

“Really?” A small smile flashed across Wesley’s face before he returned to his usual disapproving self. But he still took the marker from Gunn when he’d finished drawing a cartoon pickup truck on the cast and added his own precise “Wesley Wyndham-Pryce.”

“Now I’ve got all of Angel Investigations on my cast,” Lindsey said.

“Except for Angel,” Cordelia added, then immediately looked as though she wished she hadn’t.

“Yeah. Except for Angel.”

* * *

Later that night, Lindsey lay in bed, alone in the huge hotel. Each of the others had offered to stay, but he’d told them he’d be fine and tossed them out. Now he was beginning to wish he’d accepted their offers. Well, maybe Cordelia’s anyway.

He wasn’t afraid; that wasn’t it at all. Sure, the hotel was huge and a bit spooky when it was empty, but he was used to living alone and he’d seen enough real boogeymen in his time not to be troubled by shadows. And he didn’t need anyone looking after him. He was tired and achey but basically okay. He had his cell phone in case anything unexpected happened, but his only enemies these days were Wolfram and Hart, and he was right where they wanted him to be.

No, the problem was Angel, or rather his absence. Late nights, after everyone else had gone home, Lindsey used to lie in his bed and think of Angel just down the hall in his own bed. What would he be doing? Lindsey would wonder. Sleeping, dreaming his slow clockwork demon dreams? Was there ever a hot-headed, formerly one-handed lawyer in those dreams? Would he be lying there awake, sheets tumbled around his cool body, hand drifting down over his stomach, through the dark hair at his crotch, to take up his thick cock and give himself the only sexual release he allowed himself?

Lindsey would take his own cock in his hand and stroke himself, slowly, mind filled with images of Angel just down the hall, carefully matching his motions to whatever he imagined Angel was doing right at that same moment.

And somehow Angel, with his powerful vampire senses, would know exactly what Lindsey was doing and would tease, knowing that Lindsey liked it fast and rough, keeping his touch light and his movements slow, and Lindsey would have no choice but to follow, running just his fingertips up the underside of his cock, gently circling the head with his thumb, cupping his balls but never squeezing, letting the heat build gradually, listening to Angel chuckling softly as Lindsey twitched and pleaded for more, until—

But not tonight. With Angel gone, the hotel was big and dark and empty, and thinking of Angel wasn’t a heady late-night game, it just reminded him of feelings he couldn’t act on and didn’t want to feel. And it reminded him that Angel was out there somewhere, putting himself in danger, trying to save Lindsey, who didn’t want it on his conscience if Angel failed.

And to top it all off, even if he did still want to play his game with the absent Angel, imagining him in some motel room, or staying with a demon acquaintance, or hiding out in an abandoned building somewhere—here he was with his right hand out of commission again, and left-handed jerking off was a frustration he didn’t feel like putting himself through.

So all that was left was for him to lie awake and wonder if he’d done the right thing after all, and if this was what the Host had meant when he said things would get worse before they’d get better, or if there was still more pain waiting for him.

* * *

Lindsey spent most of the next few days in his room, reading and resting and nursing a major case of self-pity. He ached in so many places he couldn’t tell where one ache stopped and the next one began, and he hated being unable to use his right hand. He couldn’t even make himself a sandwich without some sort of drama. He’d struggle one-handed with the peanut butter jar, holding it against his chest with his cast, getting peanut butter all over his tee-shirt. He wouldn’t be able to hold the bread still to spread anything on it, and he’d end up chasing it all across the counter, tearing it to pieces. Frustrated, he’d swear and throw the knife into the sink. Cordelia or Gunn, hearing the clatter, would rush in to see what sort of mess he’d made. They’d offer to help; he’d snap at them. Finally, he’d mutter apologies and rush upstairs, to wait in humiliation until they brought a sandwich up to him. It was easier just to stay in his room, pretending to be asleep, and let them leave food outside his door.

After a few days, though, he was beginning to go stir crazy, and even the thought of fumbling around in the kitchen with his cast and suffering everyone’s solicitousness seemed preferable to spending another day alone in his room. He came downstairs determined to make himself useful and pestered Wesley for something to do until they were both thoroughly irritated with each other. Finally, he talked Wesley into letting him hire a bugsweeper to go over the hotel.

Jack was the best of the numerous sweepers Lindsey had met while at Wolfram and Hart, and the one he’d used to sweep his own apartment. Abrasive and hyper, Jack could be a pain to work with, but he knew everything there was to know about electronic eavesdropping. He showed up that afternoon at the hotel with dark circles under his eyes and stains on his shirt, and immediately installed himself at Wesley’s desk, pushing books out of the way to unload his bag of tricks and begin planning the sweep. Lindsey was glad the others were all out of the office.

“Say, Jack,” Lindsey asked casually, “Suppose you’d been hired by Wolfram and Hart to bug this place. Would you tell me?”

Jack leaned back and put his feet up on Wesley’s desk. “You know better than that.”

“It’s just kind of ironic, the possibility that you’d be sweeping your own bugs.”

“It’s been known to happen.”

“And you ‘found’ them all?”

Jack drew himself up and shook his finger at Lindsey. “Hey, buddy, I don’t double deal. I do the job for whoever hires me.”

Lindsey smiled placatingly and changed the subject. “You really think it’s necessary to sweep the whole hotel? Most of the rooms aren’t used. It’s just the lobby here, the basement, and a couple of the rooms.”

“So, if you thought the place was bugged, and you wanted to have a private convo, where would you go to have it?”

“I’d leave the hotel.” Jack raised an eyebrow at him. “Yeah, okay, one of the unused rooms. Shit. This is going to cost me a fortune, isn’t it?”

Jack shrugged. “Take it out in trade.” Lindsey narrowed his eyes. “Legal advice, McDonald. Sheesh.”

“Oh. Sure.” Lindsey winced. Two weeks cooped up with Angel and sex was all he could think about.

“So if I find any bugs, what do you want me to do with them? Pull them or leave them in place?”

Lindsey frowned. He hated the thought of Wolfram and Hart spying on him, but—”I can’t afford to do regular sweeps. So even if we pull the bugs, they’ll just put them all right back in…. Still, no point making it easy for them. Pull them.”

Jack nodded enthusiastically. “How about some false readings to confuse them?”

“Too much trouble. Whatever they’re going to find out, they’ll find it out one way or another. I just want to know if the damned bugs are there.”

Jack leaned to the side, coming perilously close to tipping the chair over, and plucked the phone cord out of the wall jack. “Aww,” he cooed cheerfully, “Isn’t this sweet?”

“What? It’s a phone splitter.”

“Actually, it’s a transmitter. Broadcasts your phone conversations for distances up to a quarter mile, receivable on any FM tuner.”

“You’re putting me on, right?” It wouldn’t be beyond Jack to convince him that he had a telephone in the heel of his shoe.

“No way, my man. Here.” He tossed the plug to Lindsey, who managed to catch it left-handed. “Feel the weight. It’s too heavy for a normal dual plug.”

Lindsey turned it over in his palm. As far as he could tell, it looked and felt perfectly ordinary. “So why’s it so sweet?”

“Strictly amateur. You can buy these on the net for under a hundred bucks. If it’s our friends at W and H, it’s a decoy.”

“But it works?”

“Oh, yeah.” He leaned back in the chair, hands behind his head, a satisfied grin on his face. “Bet you five bucks there’s a real wiretap on this line.”

Lindsey smiled briefly. “I’m already paying you to find the bugs here.”

“Okay, then. Let’s get to work.”

Lindsey nodded and casually stuffed the little telephone transmitter into his jeans pocket.

Two hours later, Jack had accumulated a collection of half a dozen telephone and room bugs from all over the hotel, including Angel’s and Lindsey’s bedrooms. There was even one up on the roof, which Lindsey found annoyed him even more than the one in his bedside lamp. He told Jack to keep whatever he found, as part of his payment, then shook his hand.

“Thanks. Let me know what I can do for you.”

Jack leaned in with an exaggerated leer. “Baby, you know what you can do.” He laughed raucously, slapped Lindsey on the shoulder hard enough to rattle his broken wrist, then walked away, still laughing at his own joke.

Lindsey rolled his eyes, shaking his head. One day he’d take Jack up on his teasing. Probably scare the guy into the next county. Then, glancing around to make sure he was alone, he pulled the transmitter out of his pocket. Did the thing really work? Something like this could come in handy some day—if Jack wasn’t just screwing with him about it. He could test the device easily enough. He didn’t have any reason to eavesdrop on Angel Investigations’ business, but it was a low-risk operation. He wasn’t likely to get caught. And you never knew what information might turn out to be useful. He hesitated for a brief moment, then plugged it back into the phone jack with the office telephone.

Just out of curiosity.

* * *

Later that evening, in his room, Lindsey switched on his FM radio—generally tuned to one of L.A.’s few country stations—and began to turn the knob. Feeling a little foolish, he went twice all the way up and down the dial, finding nothing but the usual soup of pop, jazz, rock, talk, and static. There was a silent spot up around 108 KHz that might mean something—if no one was on the phone at the time, the device would just be transmitting dead air. He would have to try during a phone conversation to see if it really worked.

He found his cell phone and dialed Angel Investigations. After two rings, he heard Cordelia’s voice. “Angel Investigations. We help the helpless.”

He disconnected without saying anything, then tuned the radio back to his country station and opened a book.

Half an hour later, he hit the redial button on his phone. This time, after four rings, he was transferred to Angel Investigations’ voice mail, which meant the line was probably busy. Lindsey tuned the radio back to 108 KHz.

“—she can do it? I mean, I know she’s the one who put the curse back on him after the last time he went all evil, but does she know how to change it? So she doesn’t accidentally turn him into a frog or something?”

It was Cordelia’s voice, coming in loud and clear. Lindsey jumped back from the radio, so startled he nearly missed what she was saying.

“I… I don’t know. She’s going to look at the spell and see if she can figure it out. She’s gotten to be a pretty powerful witch, and now she’s got Tara to help, too. She might. She might be able to do it.”

Lindsey didn’t recognize the second voice. Female, young, full of confusion and pain and hope. Whoever it was, this was clearly none of his business. He started to turn the radio off, then hesitated. Witches and curses and turning evil—they had to be talking about—

“But that would be great, Buffy! Wouldn’t it? If Angel’s curse was fixed so he couldn’t lose his soul… ?”

Buffy. The pieces snapped into place. Angel had gone to Sunnydale. To Buffy. His cheerleader, his Slayer, his true love. Lindsey stepped back, sank down onto the bed. He’d never meant to stumble into anything like this. He should have smashed that transmitter the moment he’d gotten it in his hand.

“Yeah,” Buffy was saying, “Of course. It would be great. But….”

“But what? You don’t think it will work?”

“I don’t know. I just… Who is she, Cordelia?”

“Who’s who?”

“The girl. The one Angel’s with. The one he wants his curse fixed so he can….”

There was a beat during which the only sound was the pounding of Lindsey’s heart. Then, cautiously, Cordelia asked, “What did Angel tell you?”

“He said there’s no girl. He said there’s an evil law firm trying to make him lose his soul and he just wants to protect himself. But he’s hiding something. I can tell.”

“It’s true, Buffy. Wolfram and Hart. They’ve been after Angel practically since he arrived in L.A. They already brought Darla back from the dead to try to turn him evil, and it almost worked.”

“And now he’s in danger again.”


“They’ve sent someone else. And this time, he’s afraid it will work.”

“Buffy, you should really be asking Angel about this….”

“Please, Cordelia. I have to know.”

Lindsey tried again to make himself turn the radio off. He shouldn’t be listening to this, he didn’t want to be listening to this, he wanted to forget he’d ever heard any of it—but he couldn’t move, he was frozen where he sat, his heart twisting in his chest. Of course Angel had denied that Lindsey existed. Of course he’d gone to Sunnydale without telling anyone. Of course Angel still loved his cheerleader, and once he’d gotten his soul attached so he could really be with her, he’d forget he’d ever wasted a moment slumming with an enemy.

“He didn’t lie to you,” Cordelia finally answered. “It isn’t a girl.”

“Then what… ? Oh my god. Oh. My. God.”

“His name’s Lindsey. He’s a lawyer, he used to work for Wolfram and Hart. He and Angel were enemies for a long time. It was really… intense between them. Last year, he came to us for help. He said he wanted out, and Angel tried to help him, but he ended up going back to them. After that, things just got worse. They tried to kill each other a lot. Angel cut off Lindsey’s hand. It was a whole big thing.”

“So… where’s the true happiness? I’m not hearing a lot of happiness here.”

“Well, you know Angel. He wants to save people. I think he took it a little personally that Lindsey didn’t seem to want to be saved. When Lindsey finally decided to leave Wolfram and Hart for good, Angel went to see him off, and things got a little hot and heavy between them. I guess it was one of those love-hate things. Or lust-hate, anyway. Wolfram and Hart had somebody watching Lindsey, and they decided Lindsey should stick around just in case he and Angel might want to go at it some more. They chased Lindsey until he came back to Angel and they won’t let him leave. When he tried the other night, they beat him up pretty bad. Broke his wrist, a couple of ribs. That’s when Angel decided he had to do something. He’s just trying to protect Lindsey.”

“Does he… love him?”

“He loves you, Buffy. Always has. Gives the big broody guy a reason to brood.”

Lindsey lunged at the radio, switching it off with a vicious jab.

He lay on the bed, staring up at the ceiling. How had he come to this? Poor white trash to driven law student, Wolfram and Hart’s golden boy to helpless pawn in the house of his enemy—he was sure there was a thread there somewhere, a path that led from there to here that he could put his finger on and say, There. That’s where it all went wrong. Just backtrack to there, and correct that one mistake and the world will right itself and I’ll be back on top, in control, safe. But he couldn’t see it; all he could see was a jumble of images, places, faces—Darla; Angel; Holland Manners; his mother. He’d tried to please them all, and he’d failed them all somehow. He’d turned one way and then the other and never managed to make anything right; it had all fallen to pieces in his hands.

And now—now—Had he thought being trapped here with a creature he hated and lusted after in equal measures was the worst torment he could suffer? Until love had crept into the equation, bringing with it the agonizing irony of knowing that caring for each other only made things that much more impossible. All that was nothing compared to this: he’d fallen in love with Angel, but Angel loved someone else. Angel wanted to make the curse of his soul permanent so he could forget about Lindsey and go back to his Slayer.

Lindsey balled his hand into a fist, fingers digging fiercely into his palm. He felt that he was burning up from the inside, hot ash in his chest and throat. He wanted to run, to throw everything in his truck and just drive until he ran out of road, but he knew he couldn’t. Wolfram and Hart wouldn’t let him, and even if they would, he’d promised Angel he’d stay. And he was a hopeless fool, but he was going to keep his promise to a demon, even if that demon only came back to tell him goodbye.

But oh god, it hurt. He didn’t really know why it should. It wasn’t as if he’d ever thought he had the remotest chance with Angel, curse or no. But there was at least something painfully noble about losing someone for the sake of his soul; while being dumped by someone who could have him but didn’t want him was just pathetic and humiliating. This was worse than having Darla laugh in his face while she told him she’d only spared his life to use him for his Wolfram and Hart connections. Worse than being told to do the right thing by a demon who knew his heart better than he did, when doing the right thing meant probably getting killed. Worse than being beaten nearly to death by four thugs who wanted him helpless and hurt to play on Angel’s sympathy.

He couldn’t bear it. Lindsey flung himself off the bed, rubbing his eyes with his fist, and stalked downstairs, in search of something to give him the tiniest distraction from his frustration.

Cordelia was still there. He started when he saw her, expecting somehow that the world would have cleared out of the way of his pain. She looked up from the papers scattered on her desk and raised a distracted hand in greeting. He returned a grunt and a nod, then proceeded to pace a couple of turns around the lobby.

Ordinarily, he would bury frustration in work. Researching, planning strategies, studying depositions, delving into the minutiae of the law—despite the wrong turns and torments of his tenure at Wolfram and Hart, he’d never lost his love for legal work. Lacking a case to occupy himself, he would play his guitar; he would cook a meal; he would work out at the gym. None of which he could do with his wrist in a cast and his ribs taped.

“What are you doing here so late?” He’d meant the question to be idle conversation, but it came out irritable and accusatory.

She stared wearily at him for a moment before answering. “Just finishing up a few things.”

He strolled past her desk, studiedly casual, fingers trailing across the papers piled at the edge. “Heard anything from Angel?”

Another dull stare. “You know I would have told you if he’d called.”

He shrugged. He could ask if she’d heard anything about Angel. Would she tell him the truth? He could grill her, pick apart her story. But what would be the point? He already knew what she knew. Angel was in Sunnydale with his Slayer. “Why does he have to make such a big secret out of it?”

She yawned, ran a tired hand across her face. “Because he’s Angel.”

“You want some coffee?” He thought he could make coffee, at least.

At last, he got a wan smile out of her. “You don’t have to do that.”

“I don’t mind. I ought to be able to do something useful….” Once again, it came out more irritable than he meant.

He turned to go to the kitchen before she could do more than widen her eyes at him. He felt like he was escaping, and he didn’t like it, but he couldn’t bear the way she took his bad temper, staring wearily at him.

It wasn’t until he’d gotten into the kitchen and begun to struggle one-handed with the coffeemaker that it occurred to him to wonder why Cordelia was so subdued. Had she had a vision? That always seemed to tire her out. Or maybe she was worried about Angel leaving, too. Not that it would affect her all that much. Sure, she was Angel’s friend, but Sunnydale wasn’t that far away, and Angel Investigations had gotten along well enough without its resident vampire-with-a-soul while Angel was off dabbling with the dark side. She’d do fine. It was Lindsey who’d had his life chewed up and spat out and his ego smashed down to the ground by this ridiculous and hopeless passion. Not to mention getting his wrist broken and his ribs cracked.

What would be left of him after Angel left? A beat-up lawyer with no home, no friends, no prospects. Ex-employers who could poison every job he ever tried to get in the future if they wanted to. A family he’d neglected for the past seven years while he clawed his way to the top of the garbage heap. He’d probably end up an old country lawyer in some hick town back in Oklahoma, handling wills and divorces and representing the town drunk when he shot out the neighbor’s windows. Unless Lindsey was the town drunk himself, polishing a barstool at the local tavern and regaling anyone who’d listen with sorry tales of the love of his life, the dark-eyed demon who cut off his hand left him for a cheerleader.

He turned too suddenly, forgot about his cast for a split second, and the coffee carafe shattered on the edge of the counter. Broken glass sliced into the first finger and thumb of his left hand. He stepped back, swearing, shaking his bleeding hand, and it was just too much, too much pain, too much helplessness. Hot tears filled his eyes, and it only made him angrier, and more frustrated, and he wanted to break everything in sight.

“Lindsey?” Cordelia had heard the crash and come running into the kitchen. “Oh my god, Lindsey, are you okay?”

“I’m fine,” he spat out between gritted teeth, turning his face away to hide the wetness in his eyes, and clenching his bleeding fingers in his fist.

“No, you’re not. Here, let me see.”

Choking back his frustration, he let her take his hand, wash the blood off under the faucet, and wrap a towel around it. Then she led him out of the kitchen, ordering him firmly to leave the broken glass for her to clean up later, and sat him down on the circular couch in the lobby to bandage his hand. “They don’t look too deep,” she said of his cuts. “You’d better watch it, Lindsey, while you’ve still got one good hand left.” She smiled her wide, warm smile.

The words slipped out of him, as hot and painful as the blood from his hand. “He’s not coming back, is he?”

Cordelia blinked. “Who, Angel? Of course he is. What are you talking about?”

He’s going to get his soul fixed so he can go back to her, he wanted to say, but he couldn’t. He wasn’t supposed to know that. “He can’t come back while I’m here, and I can’t leave.”

“He left to find a way to solve this. Not just to leave.”

“What if he can’t solve it?”

“He will. Or he’ll come back and we’ll try something else.”

“What if the solution is for him not to come back?”

“Then he would have said so when he left. Lindsey, he said he had an idea, something to try. If all he meant was to take off permanently, he would have told us. He wouldn’t just leave us hanging.” Cordelia finished bandaging his cuts. She was clearly becoming impatient with him, and why shouldn’t she? He wasn’t telling her anything.

“He has an idea. A dangerous idea. He could get killed, or—or worse.” He could fix his soul so he can go back to his old lover and he won’t need any of us any more. “Why wouldn’t he tell us what it was?”

“He just didn’t want us to worry.”

“So whatever the hell he’s doing, it’s worse than whatever we can imagine sitting around here in the dark waiting for him to—to—”

“Waiting for him to what, Lindsey? What are you so worried about?”

To hell with it. Lindsey jumped up, went over to Wesley’s desk and pulled the phony phone plug out of the wall. He slammed it down on the desk. “It’s a transmitter. When you were talking on the phone earlier, I heard the whole thing on the FM radio in my room.”

“You bugged my phone?” Her eyes widened.

Impatiently, he explained, “I didn’t bug you. Wolfram and Hart did. Jack found the transmitter when he swept the place today. He said it was a decoy, to cover up the real phone tap. I was curious. I thought he might be screwing with me about it—I just wanted to see if it really worked.”

“So you bugged my phone.”

“I didn’t do it to eavesdrop. All I thought I might hear was some boring conversation with a client. I didn’t mean any harm—”

“You could have asked me, you know. ‘Hey, Cordelia, let’s see if this thing works. You call the time lady and I’ll go see if I can hear it on my FM radio.’ Did that even occur to you?”

No, it hadn’t. He was too used to living in paranoia, to never trusting anyone, especially the people he worked with. It hadn’t occurred to him to let her in on his little plan. So he’d gone behind her back, and now she was seriously pissed.

Seriously pissed. Finally, he really saw her, towering with anger, jaw set and eyes flashing. It hit him like a blow, a horrible sick feeling washing through him. “I… I’m sorry.”

“No, you’d rather be Mr. Sneaky Lawyer, and listen in on other people’s conversations, and now you’re all upset about what you heard. Guess what, Lindsey? Too bad.”

“I’m sorry,” was all he could say. He took a step back, shaking. Oh god, he couldn’t lose Cordelia, on top of everything else. “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean….” His eyes stung, and threatened to overflow. He’d betrayed the only friend he had left. He turned, blindly, towards the stairs.


He stopped, and turned back to her. She was shaking her head in exasperation, most of the anger drained out of her. She walked over to him, put a hand on his shoulder, a rueful smile on her face.

“Take it easy, Lindsey. It’s okay. I mean, I’m mad, but I’ll get over it. You really only hurt yourself.”

Relief broke in him. He fell into her arms, his cast pressed awkwardly against her back, a few determined tears leaking onto her shoulder through tightly closed eyes. She held him, patting his back. “It’s okay, Lindsey,” she repeated. Gradually, the world tipped back into position, and began to make a little bit of sense again. Finally, he pulled away, rubbing his eyes with the back of his bandaged hand.

Cordelia smoothed the hair back from his forehead. “You really love him, don’t you?”

He nodded tiredly. “Guess so.”

She patted his shoulder. “I wish I could tell you everything’s going to be okay. I don’t know what he’s going to do. But you—you know you can stay here, don’t you? As long as you want. No matter what Angel does.”

He nodded again, too wrung out to speak. He couldn’t imagine staying here if Angel was gone for good, but for the moment, he couldn’t imagine leaving, either, and it was enough not to have to think about it. Enough to know he hadn’t completely ruined things with Cordelia. Enough to have gotten through another day.

* * *

Lindsey lay in bed, naked under the covers, his bandaged left hand resting lightly on his cock. He stroked himself slowly, not really expecting to go anywhere with it, but oddly enjoying the light scratch of the bandages, the unfamiliar motion. It was almost like being touched by someone else—and that was a feeling he hadn’t enjoyed in far too long. He conjured up the feel of Cordelia holding him—the strength in her body behind the soft curves, generous bosom crushed against his chest, the silkiness of her hair brushing against his face, the faint sweetness of her perfume. She was nice to him. She put up with his selfishness and bad temper, tried to make him feel better, enjoyed having him around. She was honest and straightforward—a pleasant change from the people he was used to associating with. She was smart and pretty and why couldn’t he just fall in love with someone normal and good like Cordelia, instead of smashing himself up against the brick walls of demons and dangers and forbidden desires?

Of course, he had no idea whether she was attracted to him as a lover. She’d been warm and friendly and even affectionate with him, but all in a sisterly sort of way. He hadn’t gotten any sexual vibe off of her. But she knew he was hung up on Angel, and she wasn’t the type to waste her time on someone she knew wasn’t available. Unlike certain other people, namely himself, who found unavailability to be an irresistible turn-on. If he told her he was through pining after Angel? Would she be interested?

What if she were here right now? Her fine strong body lying next to him. Her hand on him, gently stroking. He’d put his arms around her and pull her on top of him and kiss her wonderful mouth and he wouldn’t think about Angel….

Angel’s cold mouth pressing down on his….

Lindsey’s cock twitched in his hand.

Cordelia. Cordelia’s body on his, pressing him gently down into the mattress….

Angel shoving him up against the wall, one hand gripping him between the legs, the other at his throat….

Lindsey groaned and rolled over onto his side, letting go his now rock-hard cock. Well, all right, so he wasn’t exactly through pining. Or whatever you’d call it. But still—Cordelia. He liked her. He was attracted to her. It could work with her. He just needed to work on it a little, or something….

And hadn’t he tried this a hundred times before? Distracting himself from the latest inappropriate lust object by going after a friend? Had it ever worked? He’d only end up ruining things with Cordelia, and right now he needed her friendship a lot more than he needed a romance.

Lindsey sighed, and grabbed his cock so fiercely he jumped a little from the harsh scrape of the bandages. It didn’t have any effect on his hard-on, though. It was still raging, and all right—Angel. Angel lying behind him, one hand twisted in his hair, kneeing his legs open, pushing inside him….

Lindsey brought himself off, left-handed and wincing from the bandages, images of a dark, brooding vampire in his mind.

* * *

Days passed, and no word of Angel. Lindsey was dying to ask Cordelia—and Wesley and Gunn and the mailman and everyone else he came in contact with—if they had any news, educated guesses, or wild speculation about what Angel was doing and when, and if, he’d be home, but he managed to restrain himself. Most of the time. In fact, he was on his best behavior—most of the time—helping out with research (and he found that searching through dusty old volumes for obscure information about demons and incantations was not really all that different from searching through dusty old legal texts for obscure information about cases and court decisions) and computer hacking and even manning the phones now and then when Cordelia wanted a break. He tried to tell himself that this wasn’t so bad, that he wouldn’t mind hanging on here for a while if Angel didn’t come back, but the truth was, he was bored and restless and aching for a real job.

At least his injuries were getting better. The broken wrist, of course, would take weeks to heal, but the cuts on his other hand closed up, his bruises faded, his jaw stopped aching. He was still more irritable than he wanted to be about the inability to use his right hand, but constant reminders to himself that it would heal in time and this was only temporary helped him keep a lid on his frustration.

He couldn’t say he was happy, but he wasn’t completely miserable, either. At least, not all the time. Nights were still the worst. He’d lie awake, mind and senses so full of Angel he almost couldn’t breathe. And he’d think, I may never see him again, and it would hurt like sharp knives cutting him over and over. Sometimes during the day it would hit him, too, and he’d have to stop whatever he was doing, plead a headache and go upstairs to sit on the edge of the bed with his head in his hands and wait it out.

But most of the time he was okay. Most of the time he did his work, chatted with Cordelia and Gunn, tried not to get on Wesley’s nerves too much, and waited.

* * *

It had been one of those times. He’d been up in his room for most of the evening, feeling even sorrier for himself than usual. Finally, he decided he’d better go back downstairs and apologize to Wesley. And probably Gunn, too. Hell, make it apologies all around.

He was on the stairway when he heard the voices. The voice. His heart started to pound and he took the rest of the stairs nearly at a run.

And there was Angel. Standing at the counter by the office, laughing with Wesley and Gunn. Cordelia was at his side, holding his arm and grinning so widely it seemed almost to split her face.

“Angel,” Lindsey said softly, under his breath.

But Angel had the keen hearing of a vampire. He looked up at once, a slow, sly smile forming on his mouth. “Lindsey,” he said. “I was just coming up to see you.”

“What… what happened?” Lindsey’s breath was coming in quick gasps.

“He got his soul attached. Permanently,” Cordelia announced excitedly. “No more ‘true happiness’ clause.”

Lindsey tried to smile. “Great. Great. So… now what?”

Angel looked around at his crew. “Guys, I should talk to Lindsey.”

Right. Talk. Lindsey wasn’t sure he could form a complete sentence.

Angel crossed the lobby to take Lindsey by the arm. “Why don’t we go up to the roof?”

“Yeah. Sure.” Up to the roof. Where the serious conversations took place. He walked up the stairs with Angel’s hand on his arm. He was fairly certain it would leave a handprint on his bicep that would never fade away. Thirty years from now, forty, he would be able to catalog every place on his body that Angel had ever touched, no matter how casually or how cruelly. Every kiss, every brush of fingertips on his arm, every rock-hard fist to his jaw. No one would ever touch him again without evoking memories of the blows and caresses he’d received from the demon he’d hated and loved in equal measures, often at the same time.

They reached the second floor, and Angel, hand still firmly gripping Lindsey’s arm, led him down the hall toward the back staircase. Lindsey wanted to say something—anything, really, just to break the suffocating silence, but even if he’d had words to say, he was fairly certain no sound would come out of his throat. He almost wished Angel hadn’t come back at all, if all he was going to do was say goodbye and leave again. Angel’s presence at his side was doing things to him he could barely stand. His stomach was flip-flopping so he almost thought he’d be ill.

They passed the door to Angel’s room. Lindsey found himself staring at it, remembering what had happened inside. He could feel the blood rushing to his cheeks, the heat forming in his groin.

Suddenly, quick as a hunting cat, Angel had Lindsey by the throat, slamming him up against the hallway wall. There was a feral glint in his eyes as they bored into Lindsey’s, and a cool smile touched his lips. His free hand threaded through Lindsey’s hair, tightening to a punishing grip.

Lindsey froze in terror. “Angel?” The name was barely a harsh whisper in his throat. Was it Angel? Had the spell failed, and stripped away the soul instead of binding it? Was this Angelus in disguise?

Angel leaned in, inhaling the scent along Lindsey’s cheek, briefly nuzzling his ear. “I smell fear,” he said softly. “I like it.”

Lindsey opened his mouth to shout for help, had it stopped by Angel’s tongue in his throat, and melted to a moan of horrified delight. For a moment, Lindsey thought if Angel hadn’t been holding him up by the neck and hair, he might just slide boneless to the floor.

Angel broke the kiss, and murmured into Lindsey’s ear, “How did it go, Lindsey? ‘Powerful, dangerous, and you’ll never have me’? So what happens if you have me? Does it spoil the excitement?” He pulled Lindsey’s head back by his hair, and softly kissed Lindsey’s throat. “Maybe I’ll have to be a little more dangerous to make up for it.”

Oh god. The son of a bitch—he was teasing, scaring Lindsey on purpose because he knew it made him hard, made him hot, made him mad with lust. “Bastard,” he spat. Of course, Angelus liked to tease, too. They were the same creature, after all—except that Angel cared about the consequences of his actions.

Angel chuckled. “Or maybe you’d rather I stayed unattainable. Hmm?” He stepped back, let his hand slide free from Lindsey’s hair. “Maybe I should let you go.” He started to take another step away.

“Shit—” Angelus, Angel, to hell with it—Lindsey was going to have him. He flung himself at Angel, throwing his arms around Angel’s neck, heedless of his cast banging into Angel’s broad shoulder. “Fuck me. You son of a bitch. Fuck me.”

Angel put one arm around Lindsey’s back, cupped Lindsey’s butt with the other. “Right here in the hallway? Lindsey!” he chided, mocking.

“Here, anywhere, I don’t care, just do it!”

Angel kissed him again, picked him up with one arm, and swung him around to deposit him in front of the door to his room. “Well, since I do have a bedroom right here….” He swung the door open—

Then he grabbed Lindsey by the back of the neck and flung him inside.

Lindsey stumbled into the room, wincing from the cracked ribs. And maybe he ought to warn Angel to be careful of his injuries, but where was the fun in that? Besides, for all he knew, he’d end up dead when this was over, anyway.

Angel came up behind him, took a handful of Lindsey’s hair, and began to steer him toward the sofa in the outer room of the suite. His other hand reached around to slowly unbutton Lindsey’s jeans. “You know what I’ve been thinking, Lindsey?” his cool voice sounded in Lindsey’s ear, like the quiet murmur of a clear stream, “I’ve been thinking about how good you would look bent over the arm of my sofa. With your pants down around your ankles and your ass in the air….” Still holding Lindsey by the hair, he began to work Lindsey’s jeans and shorts down, taking his time, running long cool fingers lightly over Lindsey’s butt. “I’ve been thinking about it for hours.” He kissed the back of Lindsey’s neck, gently grazing the skin with his teeth—blunt human teeth, but still enough to make Lindsey whimper. “All the way here, I’ve been thinking, the first thing I’m going to do when I get home is bend Lindsey over and fuck him until he can’t walk.”

“Angel.” Lindsey’s voice sounded squeaky in his own ears. He managed a choking laugh. “I’ve been thinking about it a hell of a lot longer than that.”

“I know.” Angel pushed him down over the arm of the sofa and kicked his legs apart. “Every time I’m in a room with you I can smell it. Raw animal need. It drives me crazy.” Angel’s fingers probed between his buttocks, slick with lubricant. So he had been planning ahead—Lindsey was inordinately pleased. He buried his face in the sofa cushions, tried to arrange his cast somewhat comfortably in front of him, and spread himself for Angel to take. Finally, finally he was going to get what he’d wanted, needed, craved for so long he almost couldn’t bear it, he thought he might just die with pleasure.

“Now,” Lindsey found himself saying. Begging. No more teasing, he wanted to add, and Fuck me, but his capacity for speech was escaping him, he was reduced to moaning “Now.”

And either Angel took pity on him or, more likely, was himself beyond teasing, because Lindsey heard the blessed sound of a zipper going down, and then felt Angel’s cock entering him, thick and hard and just cool enough to whisper demon. Lindsey squirmed and thrust back as best he could, bottoms-up over the arm of the sofa, wanting it in him, now, all the way. He could barely believe it was happening, after all these long weeks of tease and denial. Angel was fucking him. Angel was holding him by the hips, thumbs digging into Lindsey’s buttocks, and screwing him with determination and delight and great concentration.

Lindsey closed his eyes and let himself feel it—Angel’s cock stretching him, filling him, just slick enough to ease into Lindsey’s anus with the slight catch of rough silk. Angel went in slow, but he was big, and it was a long time since Lindsey’d been fucked like this, so there were small hot sparks of pain in Lindsey’s ass, but that was good, too. If you were going to be fucked by a demon, it should hurt a little. And a demon should start out with slow, deep thrusts, just as Angel was doing, then go harder and faster until he’d settled into a steady, merciless pounding, and Angel was doing that, too, and it was just right, as right as it could be. Lindsey wriggled until the head of his cock was brushing against the arm of the sofa, a rough, scratchy caress, and god, was that keening noise coming out of him? His cock was swollen, burning, hard as steel. He was being fucked by Angel, and he loved it, he loved Angel, he was digging his fingers into the sofa cushion, he was moaning like something from the steaming pits of hell, he was coming all over the arm of the sofa, he was sinking down into a liquid pool of bliss.

* * *

Eventually, their clothes came off. Eventually, they made it to the bed. Lindsey was fairly sure Angel had fulfilled his intention of fucking him until he couldn’t walk. He certainly had no intention of trying to walk any time soon. If Angel wanted him in another position, he could just carry him.

Lindsey wriggled, pressing his back against Angel’s chest. Angel moved to fit himself more closely against Lindsey’s body. “Mm. You’re warm,” he said, stroking Lindsey’s hair. “Your hair’s getting long.”

“Haven’t thought about getting a haircut lately.”

Angel’s fingers slid through Lindsey’s hair, and tightened, gently pulling. “I like it longer. More to hold on to.”

Lindsey smiled. “I’ll let it grow.”

Angel propped himself up on one elbow, slid his arm around Lindsey’s waist. “I was thinking….”

“Oh god,” Lindsey groaned. “No more thinking. I can barely move….”

“Hush,” Angel commanded, and Lindsey hushed. “I was thinking, I could make a really good dungeon in the basement. Plenty of room, sound’s blocked off pretty well. I’ve already got shackles, and the exercise horse.”

Unbelievably, Lindsey felt his cock begin to stir again. And not only in anticipation of a whole basement for a playground. “You’re going to stay?”

“What do you mean? Why wouldn’t I stay? I live here.”

“I just thought… now you’ve got your soul for good, you’d want to go back to… your Slayer.”

“Buffy?” Angel took him by the shoulder and pulled him onto his back, so he could look down into Lindsey’s eyes. “You think I’d come back here and screw you blind and then just leave again?”

Lindsey looked away and shrugged. “Cordelia said you still love her.”

“Lindsey.” Angel took Lindsey’s face in his hand. “I broke up with Buffy for a lot of reasons. And yeah, not being able to make love with her without losing my soul was a big one. But it wasn’t the only reason. She’ll always be special to me. But Buffy has her destiny, and I have mine. I’m not going back to her.”

Lindsey felt a warm, sweet stream of relief flowing through him. Angel was staying. Angel was fucking him. He thought there were probably more sensible thoughts he ought to be having, but the prospect of being in Angel’s bed on a regular basis was all he could focus on at the moment. He nodded. Then, carefully, smiled. “So… now what?”

“Now?” Angel looked thoughtful. “I don’t know. What do you think Wolfram and Hart will do when they find out?—Do you think they’ll find out? About my soul?”

“Yeah, they’ll find out.” If they’ve got the bugs back in by now, they already know. Lindsey didn’t think he’d mention the electronic surveillance. Yet. “I don’t think they’ll do anything. It’s too late to kill me for punitive purposes, and they don’t waste resources on revenge. They lost this one. They’ll file it away and move on to the next plan.”

“So—you could leave if you wanted to.” Angel spoke very softly.

“Yeah. If I wanted to.”

“Do you?”

Lindsey knew the answer to that. He was pretty sure Angel knew the answer to that. He shook his head slowly. “No.”

Angel smiled. “So you stay. And I stay. We both stay. That works out pretty well.”

Lindsey had to agree.

* * *

Two weeks later, Lindsey was downstairs in the office with Angel and the others, discussing the details of the latest case.

“The last demon with a tail like that….” Cordelia trailed off, staring at the doorway.

Wesley looked in the same direction, then he too froze, after a quick, apprehensive glance at Angel, who was already among the open-mouthed, looking very much as though he had a serious stammer coming on.

Lindsey turned to see who or what had everyone dumbstruck.

She was young, around twenty, small and blonde and very pretty. She was shrugging and smiling self-consciously, clutching her purse with both hands.

“Buffy.” There had been pictures of her in Wolfram and Hart’s files, but even without them, Lindsey would have known who she was, if only from the shock on Angel’s face. He felt his stomach clench.

“Buffy,” Angel said, half in confirmation, half in greeting.

“Buffy!” Cordelia exclaimed, determinedly hearty.

“Ho, boy!” Gunn muttered.

Lindsey took a deep breath, stretched out his fingers and relaxed them, and carefully composed his features—his usual pre-court ritual. No matter how difficult or frustrating or downright terrifying the case, he never entered the courtroom looking less than calm, confident, and in control. Never let them see you sweat—whether it was a trial, or a meeting with your lover’s ex.

Buffy came in to the lobby. “Hi, guys.” Angel moved forward to greet her. “I need your help on something.” She was speaking to Angel, but every few seconds, her gaze would slip past him to eye Lindsey curiously. “We’ve got this new baddie in town, nobody seems to be able to figure out who she is or where she came from, and she’s not in any of Giles’s books, so we thought maybe, you know….”

Lindsey rolled his eyes and went up to her, holding out his hand. “Hi. I’m Lindsey.”

Her hand was small but her grip was disarmingly strong. “Hi. I’m Buffy, obviously. I’m, ah….”

“Here to check me out?”

She blinked. “No. No, I’m just here to… to see Angel. And Wesley. And, and see what anybody knows. About this bad, evil, bad….”

“And to check me out.” She was a terrible liar. On the witness stand, he’d have her ripped apart in about twenty seconds.

Angel stepped between them, a hand on each of their shoulders. “Buffy, why don’t you and I… ?”

But she wasn’t on the witness stand. He backed off, nodding to Angel, then turned to Buffy, forcing a smile. “We should go somewhere and talk. After you’ve told everyone about your new bad guy.”

Buffy glanced at Angel, then back at Lindsey, and apparently decided the bad guy could wait half an hour. “Where can we go?”

“You sure?” Angel spoke to the air somewhere between Buffy and Lindsey.

Lindsey touched Angel’s arm, saw Buffy’s tiny flinch of dismay, and let his hand drop to his side. “We’re all adults here. I think we can have a civilized conversation.”

Buffy nodded brightly. “All kinds of civilization here.”

Angel reluctantly conceded, “Well, if you want….”

Lindsey gestured toward the stairway. “We can go upstairs.”

It felt a bit like being called into Holland Manners’ office. Voices would never be raised. Harsh words would not be spoken. It would all be terribly polite. Holland would make some bland remarks about the weather. He would ask after your health. Then, the faint Mona Lisa smile never leaving his face, he’d incisively hand you your ass on a plate. Or possibly give you a promotion. You never knew whether you’d make it out alive until you were closing his office door behind you.

They went up the front stairway and down the hall to the back stairs. “That’s Angel’s room,” he said as they passed by. “You probably already know that.” Buffy said nothing. “And that’s mine,” he gestured towards his own doorway. He still kept his clothes, his laptop and guitar there, and it was his retreat during the day, although he spent his nights across the hall in Angel’s bed.

“Oh. So you don’t… never mind.” Share Angel’s room? Was that what she was about to ask? In any case, she quickly changed the subject. “Where are we going?”

“Up to the roof. It’s where Angel and I go when we want to yell at each other.”

“Do you do that a lot?”

Lindsey smiled a little. “Not so much any more.”

They climbed the stairs together, and went out onto the roof. Once around the perimeter, and then they settled at Lindsey’s favorite spot, leaning their elbows on the low wall, looking out at the city together.

“It’s a pretty view,” Buffy commented.

“Yeah.” Enough small talk. She didn’t have Holland Manners’ touch, and he didn’t feel like waiting patiently for the axe to fall. Things were different now. “Are you here to take him back?”

Buffy looked at him, more amused than startled. “You get right to the point, don’t you?” Then she frowned thoughtfully. “Angel and I… it’s complicated. But—no, I didn’t come to take him back.”

He allowed himself a small sigh of relief. “Then I guess this is where you tell me if I hurt him, you’ll hunt me down and break my legs.”

Another brief smile. “Consider yourself told.”


She pointed toward the side of his neck. “You have a bruise. Here.”

Lindsey felt his face heat. He remembered Angel’s fingertips digging into his neck, one move in a long night of passion. “It’s nothing.”

“Angry puppy?”

He didn’t know the reference, but from the look on her face, it was clear she knew exactly how he’d gotten that bruise, and she was a little troubled by it. He wasn’t embarrassed, but he didn’t like anyone to think he was being abused. “He doesn’t do anything I don’t want him to.”

“You guys… play rough.”

Yes, we do, and the thought gave him a small thrill of pleasure. Especially hearing her say it. “He’s a vampire. He likes to torture people. Only now he’s got a soul, he only tortures people who want to be tortured.”

Buffy looked away. “He wasn’t like that with me. He was gentle.”

“He must have known that was what you wanted. Like I said, he’d only do it if you wanted him to.”

He could see there were other memories in her mind, complex and bitter along with the sweet. She’d been what, sixteen or seventeen when it had all happened with Angel? And she was a Slayer, his natural enemy. She must have gone through hell with him.

And Lindsey, new boyfriend of her first devastating love, didn’t know what to say. So he waited.

Finally, she smiled sadly, still staring out at the city lights. “I guess it must have been a disappointment to him. I wonder if that’s one reason he didn’t stay.”

Lindsey stared incredulously. “You’ve got to be kidding. Whatever it was you two had, you’ve got absolute and undeniable proof that for him, it was perfect happiness.” He watched while her smile grew warm and happy. It was a powerful thing, that smile. “Why ever he left, it wasn’t because you couldn’t make him happy.”

“Did he tell you why he left?”

“Not really. Only that there were reasons beyond the whole losing his soul thing.”

“He told me he wanted me to have a normal life. As if I ever could. I guess,” the curtain of sadness closed over her eyes again, “he didn’t worry about that with you.”

Lindsey laughed shortly. “For me, Angel’s a big step towards normal. Believe me. There were never any white picket fences in my future.”

“So you’ve always liked… ?”


“Boys, I was going to say, but….”

He laughed again. “Boys, demons—anyone who’s dangerous and inappropriate.”

“The whole bad boy thing. I get it.” She sighed, and again, there were worlds of unspoken memories behind her eyes. “Boy, do I get it.” Then she frowned. “But Angel—I have to admit, I was a little shocked. I just never thought of him that way.”

Lindsey remembered the files Wolfram and Hart had on Angelus—the Puritan boy he turned; the Victorian youth that he shared with Drusilla (now residing in Sunnydale, if reports were correct)—by all the evidence, Angel had always been as content to indulge himself with men as women. He wondered how much of Angel’s past Buffy knew, or wanted to know. “I think, when you’ve lived as long as Angel, you’ve probably tried just about everything.”

“It’s funny—well, funny in a really disturbing way—my best friend decided she liked a girl last year. And now Angel—I’m beginning to think I have this effect on people—”

Lindsey smiled. “I’m pretty sure Angel had other guys long before me. Or you. I don’t know if that makes you feel any better.”

She gave a rueful laugh. “I don’t know either.”

“So, is it better or worse that he’s with a man now?”

She gave the matter some thought. “You know, I think it’s better. I mean, I was shocked at first, but now—you’re just so different from me. I can’t really compare myself to you. That makes it a little easier. How about you? How do you feel about the whole me thing?”

His turn to do some thinking. He said slowly, “Sometimes when I’m with him, I wonder—if he still had the ‘true happiness’ curse, would this have cost him his soul? Would that?—Not that I want him to turn evil. I’ve seen enough of what he can do when he’s only a little dark. But I wonder.” He shrugged. “I think he still loves you. But for whatever reason, he’s with me. I never thought this would happen. Not so many weeks ago, I thought the only way this could end was with my death. So I’m not complaining.”

“You know, I think I like you.”

He grinned—and there was a trace of his evil lawyer smile in it. “I think I like you, too. This will really freak Angel out.”

They laughed together, and it was nice. She was nice—no all-powerful superhero, just an ordinary young woman, as full of doubts and insecurities as anyone. He didn’t have to be afraid of her; she wasn’t going to take Angel away from him. It was going to be all right.

He hadn’t thought about it before—but everything really was all right. He was free of Wolfram and Hart. He had a home, and a lover who was everything he’d ever dreamed of. He had a job—well, sort of a job—and if Wolfram and Hart left him alone, maybe he’d find a better one. He could even go back to Oklahoma if he wanted. Not to stay, but to visit. He hadn’t seen his mother in so long—maybe in a few weeks, after he’d settled in a little more, he’d go. Meanwhile, he’d call her. Tonight. Tell her… tell her things had been bad, but they were better now. Tell her he was all right. Tell her he was happy. Maybe it wasn’t perfect happiness, but it was more than he’d ever expected. It was enough.

back to part one | end.