D M. Evans
Disclaimer – All characters belong to Mr. Whedon. The lyrics belong to Toby Keith and the quote is from the Bible – NLT.
Rating – FRT
Time Line – Season One of Angel set within I I Will Remember You /I
Feedback – yes please, – none, Lindsey-centric
Summary – Lindsey makes a life altering choice during the day Angel has turned back.
Author's Note #1 – This is written for Jadedcynic's IWRY ficathon written for nwhepcat. Challenge requirements at the end. Basic premise – What other events were lost when Angel has the Oracles take back that day?
Author's Note #2 – Even though Caritas wasn't shown during this season, for the purposes of this story assume it was in LA for a while and Lorne here is merely referred to as The Host as he was for quite some time in canon
Author's Note #3 – Thanks to Evil Little Dog for the beta and to Southern Bangel for the help with the legalese
Just lost, when I was saved!
Just felt the world go by!
Just girt me for the onset with eternity,
When breath blew back,
And on the other side
I heard recede the disappointed tide!
Part One: Life LXXXIII by Emily Dickenson
Lindsey glanced at the brief, trying to concentrate on work. This case was particularly distasteful and a bone of decency made him want to tank it. He couldn't even imagine what would happen if he did. At least the latest 'Get Angel' scheme was in Lilah's hands.
He wasn't sure how he felt about that because if Lilah succeeded that meant he would look expendable, always a bad thing at Wolfram and Hart. On the other hand, if she failed, which seemed likely given how crafty Angel had proven to be, then Lilah could end up dead or worse. That might move him up the ladder.
Hearing someone come into his office, Lindsey glanced up, easing into his 'I'm happy to see you' smile. It always paid to be friendly to the boss. "Is there something I can do for you, sir?"
Holland sat in the chair on the other side of his desk. He crossed his legs, interlacing his fingers over his knee. "I have a new case that I want you to make your top priority, Lindsey. Ms. Olecki will bring in the case file."
Lindsey was surprised. Holland usually didn't show up to assign a case personally unless it was for a very important client, or something the partners didn't want to dirty their hands with until victory seemed likely and they'd show up to take the case back, or if Holland was about to hand Lindsey something on Angel. "Of course, sir."
"The file will have everything you need to know about the client, of course. I just wanted to impress on you the importance of this case." Holland leaned forward in a confidential manner, tapping the edge of Lindsey's desk. "Mr. Steele is critical to a pan-dimensional deal so you need to be sure the charges go away."
Lindsey didn't like this. It could mean dire consequences should he fail. "Understood."
"I'm sure you would." Holland unfolded from the chair. He gave Lindsey a fatherly look. "And why don't you take a little time for yourself? A happy relaxed lawyer is a strong one."
"I'll keep that in mind, sir." Lindsey shot his superior a curious look. What was Holland assigning him that he thought that Lindsey would need a little R & R from it?
Holland left, sending in Ms. Olecki with the brief. If Lindsey thought his current case was making him nauseous, this new one was worse. Lindsey poured through the indictments, the police reports and notices of evidence. To the normal world, Steele would appear as a pedophile and child murderer. He was all that and more. Steele used the pain of children to feed the demon who gave him his power.
Lindsey shuddered at the thought of what happened to the souls of these children. He couldn't do this. He couldn't represent this man. Thoughts of his siblings played in Lindsey's mind. He had been the oldest. He had looked out for them. Lindsey couldn't imagine a monster like Steele getting hold of his brothers and sisters and doing those terrible things to them. It was too much to ask of him to get this man off. He needed to get out of his job. It was too ugly but he was in so deep. How could he have done this to himself? How had he rationalized Wolfram and Hart to himself? He had convinced himself that he wasn't responsible for the evil his clients did. All he had to do was his job and his hands would be clean. It was a lie. Every child Steele raped and murdered would be on him once he got the charges dropped or the bastard acquitted.
But if Lindsey quit, he was dead. Even death wouldn't save him from the Senior Partners. His contract went beyond his passing away. How could he have signed such a contract? Ambition and fear, he reminded himself bitterly. He had been ambitious enough to make excuses for what he would be asked to do if he got on board with Wolfram and Hart. He had also been afraid. The Wolfram and Hart representatives that had come to wine and dine him had scared him. Lindsey remembered being half afraid that they'd kill him quickly if he turned down their job offer. And he wouldn't be like his father, losing the house, losing a child because a doctor cost too much money. He'd never live in desperate poverty again. Still, he regretted the day he got their attention.
Lindsey picked up the Steele file, knowing he wanted out. He couldn't do this. His soul still rode inside him and it couldn't bear the stain. He needed to find a way to freedom.
Lindsey waited his turn on Caritas' stage. His guitar rested in its case at his feet. As a boy, all he wanted was to go to Nashville and make it big. He was going to be a star. Now he played as a way to keep from going insane. Music soothed him, took him away from the ugly world in which he worked. It eased the pain caused by the stray thoughts that occasionally he liked the world he lived and worked in. He had the lifestyle he promised himself.
The dreams of Nashville died when he was in high school. Lindsey hadn't been blind to what his father was and the life of grinding, soul-devouring poverty in which they lived. He watched siblings die, saw the house taken away and not all the love his parents gave them could make their kids feel safe.
Lindsey promised himself that this wouldn't happen to him. Music was too ephemeral. He'd most likely end up selling tools at some lumberyard or ranching on someone else's spread if he chased the lyrics. No, he had worked hard, nearly to the point of collapse, to make up for a shoddy primary education. He worked until his undergrad transcripts shone and his pace didn't slow in law school. The demons of poverty and starvation drove him mercilessly. Lindsey wouldn't be like his father.
And he wasn't. His father was a good, honorable, honest and happy man, everything Lindsey wasn't, not any more. Some of those embers still burned in him though, as evidenced by his problem with representing Mr. Steele. Maybe if he cut ties with Wolfram and Hart, he'd find his way back to being a better man.
"Are you ready, Blue Eyes?" The Host put a hand on Lindsey's shoulder, startling the young man out of his reverie.
Lindsey nodded at the green demon. There wasn't much Wolfram and Hart knew about the Host other than he was some kind of seer. The Host appeared to be very accurate and impartial. He didn't seem to care if you were good or evil, which is one of the reasons he wasn't in a Wolfram and Hart holding cell doing his tricks for them alone. Wicked or benign, the Host didn't seem to care so long as the beings sang for him, he'd read them. The lawyers were encouraged, by their higher-ups, to come and sing for the Host.
After the first of the jitters faded, Lindsey enjoyed coming here. He didn't like having someone inside his head, teasing out his thoughts, his future. But once he got used to it, he had to admit it was helpful. He unpacked his guitar and took his place on stage. Slipping the guitar strap over his shoulder, he looked out at the crowd and took a deep, relaxing breath. He was afraid of what the Host might see and what that might entail. What if the Host saw him dying as he fled Wolfram and Hart? Worse, what if he caved in and freed a murdering pedophile? He'd never know unless he sang. Lindsey picked out the opening riff to Toby Keith's How Do You Like Me Now.
How did they like him now? Lindsey was sure no one liked him now, not even himself. His family probably wouldn't even speak to him if he made an effort to tell them he was still alive. When was the last time he had a girlfriend or any kind of friend? All he did was work and sleep. There was no time for anything else. He had become a person he hated.
As he went back to his table to put his guitar away, Lindsey heard the Host telling everyone he'd be taking a half hour break. Sweat broke out over Lindsey's body. He'd never seen the Host do that before. A few minutes for a drink break yes, but a long one, no. Maybe he was making too big of a deal about it. It wasn't like he came to Caritas all the time, just once or twice a month. It was possible the Host took breaks but the look on the green demon's face made Lindsey feel a little verdant himself.
"Have a seat, Blue Eyes," the Host said, with an expansive wave of his hand.
Lindsey's butt hit the chair, his legs feeling a little weak. He didn't need to be a seer to see something bad in his future. "It's not good, is it?"
"It depends," The Host said, sitting down across from Lindsey. "Do you have a prepaid burial or not?"
"That isn't funny," Lindsey snapped as the color faded from his face.
"Wasn't meant to be," the Host replied, glumly. "What you're thinking…it's like committing suicide and I think you knew that before you came through my door. I'm not sure what exactly you were hoping I could tell you."
"If I knew how they came after me when I leave, then maybe I could avoid it," Lindsey said, knowing it wouldn't help. Wolfram and Hart had thousands of means of execution at their fingertips. "Or maybe you know a way I could hide from them."
The Host's eyebrows reached for his horns. "Hide from Wolfram and Hart, that's no small task."
"Then I'm probably as good as dead because I have to quit my job and run," Lindsey said, his lips pulling into a grim line.
"Quit? I never thought I'd hear you say that."
At the sound of Lilah's voice, Lindsey's blood formed ice crystals. If she knew his plans, he was dead before he began. She wanted total control over their division. Lilah would turn him into Holland and the Senior Partners, knowing full well what would happen to him and she wouldn't bat an eye. Lindsey couldn't even find his voice as he stared up at her. He had dressed down in soft jeans and a polo shirt when he had come to Caritas but Lilah stood there in her expensive Prada suit looking every inch a Wolfram and Hart lawyer. Did she ever go off duty? For an insane moment, Lindsey entertained the idea that he would have to kill her to keep his secret from the Senior Partners and it wasn't in jest. He was that afraid.
Lilah sat down uninvited. "I can't believe you'd give it all up and run. Do you know what they'd do to you?"
"What do you care? You'd be glad to see me go," Lindsey countered and was surprised to see the look on her face. It wasn't one that said, 'yes, of course I want the competition dead.'
"You and I, we make each other work better," Lilah countered. "We might not like each other but we inspire each other. We need our competition to be at our best. Besides, if you resign, they'll kill you."
"Which is what brought Blue Eyes here," the Host interjected, a rather put-out expression on his face at Lilah's interruption.
"What prompted this?" Lilah asked, ignoring the demon. "Is it something I'm going to get blamed for?"
Lindsey shook his head. Of course she would worry about that. "It's a client…the things he does to kids." Lindsey shot a horrified look at the Host. He had come perilously close to revealing privileged information. "Can you honestly tell me, Lilah, that you're totally unaffected by some of the things we do?"
Lilah was quiet for a moment then looked over at the Host. "What drink would you recommend?"
"My personal favorite is a Seabreeze," the Host replied, "But the Mellon Collie and the Infinite Gladness is on special tonight, that's two kinds of rum, Midori melon, chocolate syrup and cream. Very sweet but scrumptious."
Lilah nodded. "I'll have one of those. I don't like cranberry juice." She saw the look on Lindsey's face. "What? So I have a sweet tooth."
Lindsey laughed as the Host flagged down a waitress to put in an order for Lilah's drink as well as another Seabreeze and a beer for Lindsey. "I just never thought about you having anything feminine like a sweet tooth."
Lilah scowled, smoothing the lapels of her expensive suit. "I'm feminine."
Lindsey looked at the way her breasts pushed out against the silk shirt. He had never really noticed before but Lilah was pretty. "Not at work you aren't."
"I can't afford to be. Feminine is still seen as weak," she countered. "And to answer your question…I'm almost glad to have the Angel assignment. Failing might get me killed but I can't feel too bad about anything that might happen to a vampire and the people who hang out with him. Some of the other stuff…yes, I have to remind myself how I got into this in the first place. It's the only way to make it through."
Lindsey drained the remainder of his beer, not expecting her to admit to it. "Then you understand why I need to get out."
Lilah brushed her hair back. "I know that they'll kill me if I don't tell them about your plans. They'll find out that I knew ahead of time."
"And they might promote you if you do," Lindsey said grimly. "You knew that so why announce that you overheard me?"
"I honestly don't know." Lilah admitted after a moment's consideration. "My life would be a lot less complicated with you out of it. I'm curious how you plan on getting away from them, though."
"That's where I might be able to help, pussy-cat," the Host said and both Lilah and Lindsey stared at him. He smiled magnanimously. "Hey, when you're in this business you end up with a lot of contacts. I might be able to find some high powered magic users that would be willing to part with concealment spells."
Lindsey's blue eyes lit up. "Wouldn't they be nervous about going up against Wolfram and Hart?"
The Host shrugged and took a bracing drink of his Seabreeze. "We'll try to leave that part out of it in the beginning. I said it'd be no small task. Why don't you kiddies sit and enjoy your drinks and I'll go make some calls?"
The Host got up and headed out. Lindsey made eye contact with Lilah. "I guess he doesn't realize we're not quite friends. You could turn me in before he can make those calls."
"I could but I won't," Lilah replied, softly.
Lindsey looked at her in shock, an unsettling realization dawning. "You hope he can do it, hide us from Wolfram and Hart. You want out, too."
"Some days, yes, I do. The days when I'm sure I won't get out of the building alive or the ones where I'd rather set my client on fire than represent him," Lilah said.
Lindsey hadn't realized they shared anything. "I know. You have to remind yourself why you got into it. Why did you?"
Her eyes fastened on him. "Why do you want to know?"
"Curiosity, I suppose. It's not like I could use it against you," he said, trying to think of things she could have done that he might be able to use against her if he wanted to.
"My mother," Lilah replied, stabbing her drink with the colorfully straw. "She has early on-set Alzheimer's and I wanted her to have the best of care."
"And that takes tons of money," Lindsey finished for her. He would never have guessed Lilah signed on with Wolfram and Hart for altruistic reasons. It was a side of her he hadn't a clue existed.
"More than you can imagine. Mom was great. She pretty much raised me alone, gave me everything I wanted. She was my best friend…until she no longer knew who I was," Lilah said, her voice laced with sadness.
For a moment, Lindsey wondered if this was some kind of trap. Why was Lilah being so vulnerable and open? Maybe she really did want to go with him if the Host could help them. "I'm sorry. It's a terrible disease."
"I used to go see her but now, Wolfram and Hart doesn't leave me any time. I felt like I was the mom, trying to get her to eat. I'd catch myself playing the games she used to do to get me to eat my peas." Lilah smiled, a distant look in her eyes. She came back to the present, glancing at Lindsey. "So why did you do it?"
"To take care of my family as well…only it worked out differently than planned. We were poor, dead poor." Lindsey wished he had another beer waiting for him but that would just make him tipsy and he couldn't afford that now. "I remember one winter I was playing Superman with my friends and, of course, we had to jump off the roof. Me and Jimbo both broke our arms."
"It wasn't funny...okay a little but what happened next wasn't. It cost so much for the x-rays and the cast that when the flu came there wasn't enough money for the doctors. I woke up one morning and my brother lay dead beside me in bed," Lindsey said, his voice as dead as his eyes.
Lilah swallowed hard, stunned. "I'm sorry."
Lindsey shook his head. "I swore I'd never be that poor and that I'd help my family. That's why I'm here…only Dad saw the changes in me. He told me I had become a godless man and that he didn't want my money. He wanted his son back. He thought Wolfram and Hart had killed my faith and to him, that was an important thing."
"The look on your face says he was wrong." Lilah twirled a strand of hair around a finger. "I never pegged you as being religious."
"I'm not. I grew up that way, though. For a long time, I believed. It hurts not believing," Lindsey admitted. "Dad was active in our church but I remember thinking as a kid, if God was so kind and my Dad had so much belief, was such a good man, then why were things so hard? Why did we lose the house? Why did my brother and sister die? Why did nothing good ever happen to us?"
"Age old question," Lilah said. "Why do bad things happen to good people?"
"I know but as a kid…it was rough and I started to doubt. Every Sunday though I'd get fired back up again. I remember the Sunday School teacher putting this passage on the blackboard for us. "Even if you had faith as small as a mustard seed," the Lord answered, "you could say to this mulberry tree, 'May God uproot you and throw you into the sea,' and it would obey you! And I thought, how amazing would it be to have such a power and it was there in the Bible that we did."
"You went around commanding trees, didn't you?" Lilah smirked.
A blush rose up Lindsey's face. "I did. Maybe it was a dangerous passage to teach to kids. I took it literally and not a damn tree listened to me. It was like being let down by your best friend. I was so sure that my faith was bigger than some damn mustard seed but nothing happened. It was obvious God wasn't holding up his end of the bargain. My faith died then. Wolfram and Hart just buried it six feet under."
"Oddly, Wolfram and Hart made me believe," Lilah said. "Maybe not in a heaven but certainly in a hell."
"Yeah, a hell you and I will both be spending a lot of time in," Lindsey said sardonically. "Unless the Host has something for us."
"I see you're assuming that I'm going with you." Lilah grinned.
"Well, not with me per se but if you didn't want a part of this escape, you'd have been long gone and reaping the rewards for betraying me to the Senior Partners," Lindsey replied.
"I want out. I have enough money saved to keep Mom in a nice place for a long time. Though…what the hell will I do with myself?" Lilah wrinkled her nose. "I guess that's the question everyone in witness protection always asks."
"Maybe I'll head to Nashville," Lindsey said thoughtfully as the Host headed back to their table a smile on his face.
"You're in luck. I've found someone in Nepal who promises he can hide you from anything, vision, video surveillance and magic. He's even thrilled to be sticking it to Wolfram and Hart," the Host said jovially. He looked immensely pleased with himself.
Lindsey couldn't help grinning like an idiot. "For real?"
"As real as those talented fingers on the end of your hands," the Host replied. "Why don't you put them on that lovely guitar of yours and get up there and give us another song. Let's see how this might shake out."
Lindsey pulled out his guitar again and settled on something upbeat again, Brooks & Dunn's Boot Scootin' Boogie.
There was a beer waiting for him on the table when he got back. The Host still looked happy. Lindsey took that as a good sign as he packed away the guitar.
"I'm not into that twangy stuff, but you're pretty good," Lilah said, am approving look in her eye. "I'm surprised."
"Thanks…I think," Lindsey said, grabbing the beer.
"Now, that's the kind of reading I like to see," the Host beamed. "You two lost souls get to find yourselves again. Have a seat and let me take care of the rest of my customers. Then I'll get you hooked up with my Nepalese friend and you'll be off to your new lives, clear and free."
"Those are two sweet sounding words," Lindsey said, relief washing over him.
He and Lilah settled back to listen to the rest of the patrons karaoke their way to their futures. Lindsey knew he was about to be free. No more clients that made him ill. No more helping demons to become even more evil and powerful. He and Lilah were getting a second chance to make things right. They never even felt the Oracles swallowing the day.
Lindsey looked at the Steele file. He felt like he needed a bath in acid just to get the slime off of him. How could he keep doing this? One of these days he needed to just quit Wolfram and Hart and start again. Yeah right, you'd be dead before you hit the city limits. . Lindsey glanced up when someone knocked at the door. He smiled uneasily seeing the almost angry look on Holland's face. That was as close to an emotion as he had seen his boss get. "Sir?"
"You can forget the Steele case, Lindsey. One of the fathers of Steele's alleged victims shot him dead this afternoon. The Senior Partners are most displeased," Holland said after stepping inside Lindsey's office.
Please don't ask me to find a demon to go kill that father. He did the right thing, Lindsey thought. "I'm sorry, sir."
Holland waved him off. "It's nothing you had any control over, Lindsey. We have another problem, an army of pureblooded demons called the Scourge and they are on a mission of annihilating half-blood demons. They could seriously thin out the ranks of our clients…and if they attract Angel's attention or vice versa that would be very counter productive. The Senior Partners do not want anything happening to Angel. You and Lilah need to work together on finding ways to hide our clients from this unwanted attention and make sure that no one but Wolfram and Hart gets their hands on Angel."
"Understood sir," Lindsey said, a queasy feeling in his stomach. Pure blooded demons? How much worse could they be than their regular clients.
As Holland left, Lindsey got to his feet and headed for Lilah's office. At least he no longer had to defend a murdering pedophile. Protecting demons from demons was somehow more palatable. At least the idea of quitting and running away had died for the moment. Better that hope dies and not him, Lindsey assured himself as he steeled himself for dealing with Lilah.
Character/pairing you want focused on: Lindsay
Kind of moment you want lost (self revelation, 'shipper, etc.) revelation and decision
Up to three other characters you want in the story: The Host, Holland Manners, Lilah
Up to four prompts/things to include: Lindsay sings for Lorne, an expensive suit, a childhood memory, a bible verse or hymn
Bible verse - "Even if you had faith as small as a mustard seed," the Lord answered, "you could say to this mulberry tree, 'May God uproot you and throw you into the sea,' and it would obey you! (Luke 17:6 NLT)