Summary: Lindsey is attacked by a demon and receives help from an unexpected source. Follow-up to "Noon Recess."
Disclaimer: I don't own any of the characters portrayed here, they remain the property of their respective owners/creators.
Rating: PG-13, for themes and language.
Time Frame: Some time after the events of "The Gift." (spoiler warning).
Archiving: Be my guest, but e-mail me (firstname.lastname@example.org) to let me know. . .I like to know where stuff I write ends up and I might want to see what else you've got.
Dedication: To Loots, on the occasion of her birthday.
Lindsey finished the song, and grinned as loud applause came from the audience. He bowed, then surrendered the microphone and quietly walked off to get his possessions. He had been in the small town near Sacramento for about three months, and he had mostly stayed to himself, renting a small apartment and spending a great deal of time thinking about the future. The small club that had Karaoke night every Saturday had proved to be an irresistible lure, and this had been the third time he had come here. He noticed the regulars, along with a few unfamiliar faces. He caught a movement out of the corner of his eye, and turned to see a tall, well-proportioned woman sitting in a darkened corner booth, sipping a drink. Oddly, she seemed to be wearing a hooded cloak, which combined with the darkness prevented Lindsey from recognizing her. She seemed to be ignoring him, and Lindsey shrugged and departed, walking out into the darkness.
Lindsey's apartment was about half a mile from the club, and he had decided to walk the distance that night: it was warm, and he knew from the files he had seen at Wolfram & Hart that vampiric and other demonic activity in this area was next to nonexistent. He smiled to himself and prepared to cross the street.
A large arm darted out of the shadows and yanked him into an alley, throwing him bodily against a brick wall and stunning him. Lindsey shook off the disorientation, only to freeze as he heard a low, sinister voice whisper, "You've been a very bad boy, Lindsey. . .your former employer asked me to have a word with you."
Lindsey looked over, then up. * Oh, shit * The creature standing five feet from him with an openly gloating expression on his face was a Erak demon. From the notes that Lindsey had seen, there were only three known to exist on Earth, and all were very highly paid assassins: they were very fast and strong, and had the unsettling ability to gain the knowledge of their victims by eating their brains. They could be killed, but Lindsey was sadly lacking in the resources to pull it off. He backed off, thinking of how to stall and wondering if the heavy caliber pistol in his pocket would slow it down enough to let him run for the hills. He smiled and asked, "I don't suppose you'd like to change employers? I'll give you twice what they're paying you. They paid me very well. . .you don't have to doubt that I'll come up with it."
The Erak demon moved with blinding speed, and Lindsey found himself pinned to the alley wall by his throat. The assassin laughed, then replied, "I'm sure you do, Lindsey, but I have a reputation to keep up. . .and W & H might send some more business my way. Nothing personal, and I'll make it quick." The demon winced and commented, "Lawyer brain. . .tastes awful, but a job's a job."
Lindsey closed his eyes and prepared to die. He was startled to hear the sound of someone else clearing their throat, and was caught totally off guard when the demon screamed and forcefully threw him hard against the wall, stunning him and sending him spinning to the ground. He struggled to his feet, and his blurred vision made it impossible for him to see exactly what was happening, but he could see that the assassin was lying on its back, hands over its face as it screamed. A cloaked figure strode up with a drawn blade and drove it into the demon's chest without hesitation. A last scream came from the demon before it spasmed once more, then was still. Lindsey blinked, but his vision remained blurred as the cloaked figure put away its sword and moved purposefully over toward the fallen lawyer.
Lindsey blinked again, and his vision cleared enough for him to realize that his rescuer was the woman from the club. He tried to ask, "Who are you?", but the throbbing pain in his head was too much, and he fell into darkness, wondering if he would ever awaken.
* * * * *
Lindsey opened his eyes gradually, and felt a moment of blind panic before realizing that he was lying in his own bed. He sighed in relief: it had all been a dream. He was reaching for the light when he saw the cloaked figure sitting in the chair next to his bed and froze. He was frantically deciding what to do when the figure spoke in a familiar voice: "About time you woke up. I don't have all night to sit here."
Lindsey blinked, then sat up and stared at the woman for a long moment before whispering, "Cordelia?"
The woman drew back the hood of her cloak, revealing her blonde-streaked dark hair. Lindsey involuntarily flinched as the dark eyes glared at him, and waited for a moment until Cordelia shook her head in disgust as she replied, "You don't miss much, do you?" She reached out and turned on the light, and added, "Are you going to barf?"
Lindsey considered the question for a moment, then shook his head, responding, "I think it was more the shock that made me pass out than the shots to the head. . .I really thought I was dead." He stared at her, then could restrain himself no longer: "Cordelia, how--?"
Cordelia shook her head in disgust, then stood up, shedding the cloak and revealing a lovely black dress that hugged her curves. She paced angrily for a moment, then replied coldly, "I was in San Francisco for a commercial shoot, and I was getting ready to drive home when I had one of those visions. . .you know, the ones your former employer tried to kill me a couple of times over?" Lindsey managed to keep a poker face, and Cordelia continued, "I had to get on the phone with Wesley and find out how to kill one of those damned things, leaving out the little detail about who was in danger, after which I drove over here and waited in that smelly club until you finished and left. You know what happened next, and I dragged you back to my car and brought you back here. Now that you're awake, I'm leaving." She turned regally, reached for her cloak, and was heading for the doorway when she felt a hand on her arm. She whirled and snapped, "What?"
Cordelia saw the stunned look on Lindsey's face, and waited for him to take a deep breath and ask quietly, "Why, Cordelia? Why would you come to help me? You certainly don't owe it to me: I've been party to attempts to kill you, and God knows I've been in on trying to turn Angel into a basket case this last year. . .why didn't you just let me die this time?"
Cordelia glared at Lindsey, but Lindsey noticed the intensity of the glare was diminishing after a moment, and watched as she walked back and sank into a chair. He moved back to the bed and sat across from her quietly. Eventually, Cordelia looked up and replied, "Part of it is just that any time Wolfram and Hart want something, I'm going to be pretty much against it, even if it means saving your worthless ass."
Lindsey blinked, then nodded in acknowledgment. Cordelia continued, "Second, if the Powers That Be tell me something's important, I'm inclined to listen to them. If that means I have to save someone who's tried to kill me and the people I care most about in the world, well, I may be seriously pissed off about it, but I'm going to go along with the program. . .I've seen what going off on vendettas or obsessions can do to someone in the last year, and I'm not letting that happen to me." She looked down, and Lindsey saw the muscles in Cordelia's jaw tighten as she looked back up at him with a truly venomous look in her eyes and snapped, "But the most important reason is that there was no way I was going to let you die without letting you know just how pissed off I was at you."
Lindsey recoiled internally, seeing the depth of anger in his rescuer's eyes, but he kept his cool and replied, "Go ahead, then. . .you've certainly earned the right to say whatever you want to me, Cordelia."
Cordelia paused, visibly taken aback by Lindsey's acceptance, then continued, "Damn it, Lindsey. . .I thought we were getting through to you. When you tried to save my life last March. . .when you couldn't tolerate seeing those kids die: I thought that you were going to stay clean, then I pick up the paper and read that you've got the fancy new corner office at W & H, with all of the perks." Lindsey summoned all of his will to avoid cringing at the look of revulsion on Cordelia's face, and after a moment Cordelia continued, "Then there was this year. . .do you have any idea what the torture Angel was going through did to all of us. . .did to ME?" Lindsey forced himself to meet Cordelia's accusing glare, and she shook her head and continued, "And when Angel pulls himself together and comes back to us. . .what do I do? I get all gooey the second I see and hear you doing your pop music star bit. . .do you have any idea how guilty I feel about that? Particularly after we heard about Bu-"
Cordelia cut herself off in mid-sentence, and Lindsey could see the look of horror and guilt in her eyes: she closed her eyes, and when they re-opened they were brimming with tears. Lindsey stepped closer to her and asked quietly, "What is it, Cordelia? What happened?"
Cordelia glared at him, but the force was gone from it as she whispered, "What do you care?"
Lindsey looked back at her and shrugged, replying, "I've given you open reign to say what you want to me. . .why not this?"
Cordelia blinked, and a tear fell free as she whispered, "Why not? You'll hear about it soon enough anyway. . .good news travels fast among you bad guys, doesn't it?" Lindsey ignored the insult, and he waited for several seconds as Cordelia regained her composure, then stated quietly: "Buffy Summers died two months ago."
Cordelia's words hit Lindsey with the force of a freight train, and for a moment he was at a complete loss for words. Cordelia stared at him, surprised at his reaction and waiting for him to say something. After a minute or so, Lindsey looked up and whispered, "Buffy Summers. . .dead? That's terrible news, Cordelia. . .I'm very sorry to hear it."
Cordelia laughed bitterly, then retorted, "Yeah. . .I bet you're just heartbroken about it."
Lindsey thought about letting it go, then decided that, yes, he did want her to know how he really felt about it. He forced himself to meet her angry stare as he responded, "Cordelia, I can't speak for the higher-ups at W & H. . .no one in their right mind would try to figure out what was going on in those twisted skulls of theirs. I can tell you what it was like for us lower down on the totem pole, though. Do you think that we wanted The Master to open the Hellmouth and let every demon imaginable run loose on the Earth? Do you think we wanted Acathla to suck the world into the demon dimension and doom every living thing here to eternal torment, including us? That little government operation in Sunnydale last year really made a mess of things, too, and Buffy was there to clean it up. . .again. I don't mind telling you, there were more than a few quiet toasts raised to Buffy Summers at Caritas the last few years. . .and if the higher ups knew about them, they certainly never bothered any of us about it. Buffy being dead means we're all a lot less safe, and being away from W & H has certainly made that even more true for me." Lindsey saw the open doubt in Cordelia's eyes, and concluded, "I know you have no good reason to believe me, but I'm telling the truth."
Cordelia's eyes narrowed, then softened as she looked down, then whispered, "I believe you. . .I've been where you are. Well, I've never been part of an evil organization dedicated to spreading demonic influence around the world, but I remember treating Buffy badly, but desperately wanting her to be there when we all needed her. We were getting along all right when I left, but I never really made it up to her for all of the terrible things I said to her over the years, and now I can't ever do it." She turned abruptly, blindly reaching for her cloak as she whispered, "I have to go."
Lindsey obeyed an impulse and grabbed Cordelia by the arm, causing her to turn angrily and glare at him again. Lindsey took a deep breath, then added, "Cordelia. . .do you think W & H was trying to kill you because they had a strong dislike for underemployed actresses? You've caused the forces of darkness a lot of grief in L.A. . . .and I ought to know. Buffy would have appreciated what you've done for the cause. . .and for him."
Lindsey's face twisted in distaste with the implicit reference to Angel, and Cordelia raised an eyebrow as she whispered coldly, "Don't you dare mention him. . .you have no right-"
"To tell the truth? The hell I don't!" Lindsey snapped back at Cordelia, and the feeling of intimidation he had been dealing with since he had recognized Cordelia vanished as he continued, "Yeah, I was in on the whole thing this last year. . .drive Angel nuts, turn him dark, though I would have been just as happy if he had ended up extra dusty. I was there when he locked that cellar and left us all to die. I was there when Darla came back after he had his way with her and tossed her out on her ear." Lindsey saw Cordelia turn bone white, and took a moment of dark pleasure in having broken THAT little piece of news to her, and he concluded, "And I was there when he had his little epiphany and ran back to all of you. . .and you took him back after everything he did. I may be every bit the evil bastard that you think I am, but I've earned the right to say this: he beat me, he's beaten them, and he couldn't have done it without you." He walked up to her and stared into her eyes from six inches away as he added softly, "That, Miss Chase, is the truth. Deal with it."
Cordelia stared back at Lindsey, breathing softly, and the lawyer caught his breath for a moment as he just stared, mesmerized by the sight of her. Obeying another impulse, he leaned in and kissed her very softly on the lips, reaching out to gently squeeze her shoulder as he did so. After a moment, he pulled back, and began to turn, expected either to be slapped or to hear retreating footsteps and the loud slam of the front door. He was startled when he felt a hand seize his arm and yank him backward, turning him back to where he caught a brief glance of Cordelia before she pulled him over to her and returned the kiss with a disconcerting level of ferocity. For a moment, his thoughts were chaotic, able to comprehend nothing but the sudden infusion of warmth into his body as Cordelia pressed close to him. . .then he remembered who he was, and who she was, and pulled away from her, staring at Cordelia with shock and no small amount of fear. He caught his breath, then gasped, "Cordelia. . .you're just upset by all of this, and I don't want to be involved in anything that's going to cause you, Angel, and the others to hunt me down and kill me painfully later. . .maybe you should leave."
Cordelia blinked, then smiled coldly, and Lindsey shivered at the menace in the dark eyes as Cordelia whispered, "Lindsey. . .if you even think about backing down now, you'll never have to worry about Angel again, because you'll never leave this room alive. You're not the noble type, so don't bother to try to fake it for my sake." Cordelia reached behind her back and tugged at a hidden zipper, causing the sheer black dress to fall to the floor, revealing the fact that she was not wearing a bra. She walked up to him with a confident stride, and it was all Lindsey could do to keep his attention focused on her face as Cordelia whispered, "Well?"
Lindsey swallowed hard, then took one step back, taking in both the sight of Cordelia's exposed breasts and the threatening expression on her face. He looked at her, and his words to her from the prior year in the courthouse came to his lips, as spontaneously as they had the first time: "So young, and so untender?"
Cordelia's expression changed abruptly, looking wistful. She blinked, then looked at him with a coy smile as she replied as she had before: "So young, my lord, and true." She closed the distance to Lindsey again, and this time when Cordelia pulled him down into the kiss, he did not resist in the slightest.
After a moment, they broke the kiss, and with infinite care and longing they divested each other of their remaining clothing. Lindsey took a moment to admire the curves of Cordelia's back, ending with the small tattoo in the small of it. He closed his eyes and breathed in her scent as he felt her caressing his chest, and was startled when she whispered to him, "Lindsey?"
Lindsey opened his eyes, and noted that Cordelia was giving him a rather solemn, earnest look. He managed a strained smile and asked, "Yes, Cordelia?"
Cordelia frowned at him, then replied, "If this leads to my becoming pregnant with demon spawn, I will cause you a horrible and painful death. . .just thought you should know that."
Lindsey looked at Cordelia calmly, resisting the urge to laugh, then responded, "I think I can pretty much guarantee that won't happen." Cordelia was silent, and Lindsey took that as assent as he pulled her to him, and then there was only the sound of their breathing and movement.
* * * * *
Lindsey's eyes snapped open, and it was only a second or two more before he turned and realized the other side of the bed was empty. He sighed, not knowing whether to be disappointed or relieved. He closed his eyes and quietly reviewed the events of the previous night in his head: whether W & H succeeded in killing him that very day, or if he lived to be a hundred and fifty, he was sure he would never forget what had just happened. He stepped out of bed and pulled his clothes on, his eyes scanning the room for some time before he noticed the note sitting on the counter. He walked over and opened it, noting the neat, careful style of the handwriting as he read it:
A few things:
#1: This didn't happen;
#2: For something that didn't happen, it was pretty good;
#3: If you even think about coming back to L.A. to cause Angel problems, you'll wish I'd let that Erak demon finish you off. Stay gone;
#4: Thank you for what you said, for whatever reasons you chose to say it to me.
Lindsey shook his head as he finished the note, then folded it carefully and put it in his shirt pocket as he started to pack to leave. This place had lost its appeal to him, and he would have to find another place to stay. Lindsey allowed himself to feel a long moment of regret that the place would not be anywhere near Cordelia, then focused all of his attention on the task of packing quickly.
As before, comments are welcome and desired.