"Lindsey McDonald if you don't get out of that tree this second, I'm gonna tell your Momma."
The shrill voice snapped him out of a deep sleep, causing his entire body to jerk into an upright position. Scanning the darkened room more out of instinct than need, Lindsey knew he wouldn't find the owner of that particular voice.
She was hundreds of miles away, and years older now.
In all honesty, if she were to come upon him now, she probably wouldn't threaten to go for his Momma. Instead, she probably would be searching for the nearest supply of rocks to wing at him till he fell out of that damn tree. Christ, she'd probably keep throwing until he was knocked unconscious.
If there was ever was a bridge he'd effectively burned, it was that one. An arsonist with a gallon of gasoline and a book of matches couldn't have done a better job. It was a damn bridge he wanted to erase from ever cell of his brain. But no matter how hard he tried to block out that part of his life, it always seemed to trickle back through the cracks.
"Crap." With an exhausted sigh he slumped back against the pillows. Three nights now he'd been plagued by that one particular dream. Three nights where he'd been forced from the comfort of his bed to stalk his dark and quiet apartment. Tonight he refused to allow a memory from his past to get the best of him. He wasn't some homesick college kid who craved for his girl's voice and charms.
Fuck Lorne. It's not like he had a magic eight ball. He'd been wrong before, saying one thing and the situation playing out slightly different.
Besides, no one could touch him at work. The project with Darla was on schedule. Any week now she'd be ready for her debut and he would have front row seats to watch as Angel fell on his face. Concerned his juggling act was about to crash and burn, he'd kept his eyes open over the last few days, watching Holland Manners for any sign that the back up plan he had was going to be needed.
Not a thing, not even a slight frown to indicate a possibility that something could be wrong . He was still Wolfram and Harts Golden Boy.
Sucking in a deep breath feeling the tension slacken.
But what about the song?
His abdominal muscles balled up again, almost anticipating a sucker punch. Having played the game long enough, he knew to ignore any coincidence could be fatal. So why that song? If it Lorne was by some small chance right, what did it mean? The song only meant one thing to him. Which circled back to her.
Turning on his side, slamming his fist into the pillow a few times, he laid like that for several minutes.
"Here, take this." Brushing past where Wesley was hovering over Cordelia Angel kneeled next to Cordelia's still form with an expression of distress. Placing the ice cold bottle of water in her hand, he took it back from her when she was unable to twist the cap off. Shaking a few Advil into his palm, he swallowed past the lump in his throat. "How many?"
"How many are in the bottle?" Cordelia asked in a unsteady voice. Her lips twisted into a half smile. And it made him feel worse. He knew Cordelia was trying to mask the pain she was in. Just like he knew her visions were getting worse.
"Four then." He answered dryly, trying to play along.
"What did you see?" Still hovering, Wesley had a pad of paper held tightly in hand, a pen ready to start taking notes. Knowing Wesley meant well, Angel told himself to let it go his over eagerness. Ever since they'd uncovered his future in the Scrolls of Obearsian, Cordelia and Wesley both had been gungho to get through as many cases as they could.
He still hadn't found a way to wrap his mind around the possibility that there could possibly be a light at the end of the tunnel. There was only one downside. By the time he reached the point where he reached his Shanshu, their Great Grandchildren were going to be dead.
"Lindsey McDonald." There wasn't anything else she could've said would've surprised him more. If the Powers were under the belief that he was going to be saving that piece of shit they had another thing coming. "David Nabit."
"What'd McDonald do now?" Grumbling to himself, Angel ran a hand through his already disheveled hair.
"No. I don't think he's involved like that." Shaking her head with a wince, Cordelia took the water from Angel's hand and swallow the pills.
"But you just said Mr. McDonald's name." Looking up from his pad of paper, Wesley's pen had stalled.
"He's there. We're there." Evading the confused looks she was receiving, Cordelia rubbed at her temples. "It's more jumbled then usual. So many emotions and colors. I'm going to need time to sort it all out."
Angel gave Wesley a look when it looked like he was about to ask another question. "Why don't you take a nap upstairs?"
"Don't treat me like that." With as much pep as she could muster, Cordelia gave Angel a sharp look that lasted only as long as her weary eyes could focus. When there were three Angel's staring back at her with a twin expression of stubbornness, she gave up and leaned back against the coach. Which he was eternally grateful for. When Cordelia decided to dig her heels in, it took an act of God, or Goddess, to make her change her mind.
"Perhaps Angel's right and a nap is in order." Wesley said. "Then perhaps you'll be able to sort through your vision. Well that is . . . there's no time restraint is there?"
"Wesley." Forcing the name through clenched teeth, Angel glared at the other man and didn't drop his gaze until Wesley backed down. "Why don't you see if you can get David on the phone while I get Cordelia into bed?"
Fidgeting under the heavy stare, Wesley swallowed hard before slipping off.
"Do you need help?" Having learned his lesson over the last few months, if he didn't push her in the forward direction immediately, she'd side track him and get her own way in the end. Right now, she desperately needed rest.
"Let me just close my eyes for just a minute and I'll be fine."
"Are you sure? I could carry you up to my room. It'll be a lot more quiet up there." Brushing a strand of her hair from her face, he hated how worn out she looked. It was wrong that a twenty year old could look this tired.
"Angel I'm fine." Yawning, the stress lines on her forehead lessened. "Just let me sleep for a few minutes."
Watching until her chest fell in a slow, steady rhythm, Angel lowered himself to the ground next to the couch. They were going to have to find a different way of doing things. Some kind of spell or enchantment perhaps, to help Cordelia with the visions. Or maybe something to take them from her entirely. She may fight him on it, but he wasn't going to lose her because the Powers couldn't come up with a more creative and safe way to send him on his missions.
Looking around the lobby of the Hyperion, Angel listened to Wesley's voice coming from the back office. The Powers must be sick in the head, if they had heads, if they thought he was going to help Lindsey McDonald they had another thing coming. Forcing Cordelia with that kind of pain, over a person who wasn't worth it made this that much more intolerable.
"Angel." Wesley called out as he hurried from the office. "There's been an accident."
His day was shot to hell and it wasn't even noon yet. Currently covered in a Caramel Macchiato, something his client just had to have before their meeting with his soon to be ex, Lindsey glowered at his secretary's empty desk as he barged through his office doors. Apparently the temporary from the secretary pool hadn't had the grace to make an appearance, which left him high and dry for the rest of the day.
To top off the crapfest which was slowly becoming his life, Lilah seemed to have created a second sense where he was concerned. Always one step behind him, her annoying tight smile mocking him, while her eyes seemed to burn holes into him. She'd been uptight since she'd all been cut out of the project dealing with Angel's resurrected ex-psycho. He wished Holland would just give her another project to occupy herself with, because he was getting tired of her games.
"You look absolutely horrible." Not appearing to be apologetic in the least, Lilah sauntered up from behind and tsked at him. "Did you know you have a little something on your shirt?"
"Is there a reason you're here?" Loosening his tie in an angry jerk before tossing the destroyed garment into trash can, Lindsey tried not to remember how much it had cost. "I'm a little busy."
"I can tell." Leaning closer and taking a sniff, Lilah smirked. "Is that decaf?"
Answering her with a grunt, Lindsey moved away from her and to the closet on the other side of the office. Whenever she got to close, the suspicious part of his brain told him to keep an eye out for a knife sticking out of his back. She was a viscous woman who didn't like to loose. It wouldn't come to much of a shock if she had a Succubus somewhere in her family tree.
Stripping off his shirt, Lindsey balled it up and tossed it to the floor. He wished she'd just say whatever the hell she was busting at the seems to say and get it over with. His day wasn't even half over and with only three hours of sleep he didn't know just how long he was going to keep a lid on his temper.
"So when did you start taking divorces in your case load?" Pretending to examine her manicure and not his bare chest, Lilah looked like a starved woman who'd been denied of sex a little too long.
"Since Holland told me to do it as a favor for him." Uneasy under her scrutiny, Lindsey berated himself for forgetting that Lilah wasn't one of the guys. Pulling on a clean crisp shirt he buttoned it quickly.
Raising her brow, the gleam in her deadened. "Holland?"
Knowing he was losing the edge by allowing the corner of his mouth to slip up just a fraction. "Yeah, he asked me to call him that at the club last week."
"If you two are so close, why is he making you take on a divorce?" Lilah asked in a clipped tone.
Taking time to savor her irritation, Lindsey slipped on a new tie, taking his time so she could stew. It gave him time to figure out how to explain how he ended up getting roped into the stupidest divorce known to human and demon kind. It belittled his talents and undermined his ranking. It had cost him a large amount of pride to keep a smile on his face while Mr. Manners had approached him.
He hadn't bothered with a divorce for years now. It was something the well trained monkeys from the third floor handled. Instead Holland had slapped him on the back and stated it was a favor the Senior Partners as well as himself. Like he even had a chance to say no.
It should have taken only a week tops to get things in order, seeing how the soon to be ex-Mrs. Corbin had signed a prenuptial. Instead she threatened to expose his client for the demon he was. Literally. After this last meeting there was no telling what was going to happen. It never bode well when ones client tries to kill someone with their lawyer present.
Looking up to the doorway where Holland Manners was standing, Lindsey was thankful his conversation with Lilah had come to an end. For now anyway. His sleepless nights were catching up with him and it was hard to stay on the top of his game.
"Heard there was a little issue with the Corbins today." Of course he had, Lindsey thought, he was probably watching the entire meeting from the comfort of his office.
"Nothing we can't bounce back from sir." There was no missing the tight smile on Holland's face. "I have one of our Shamans already working on erasing Mrs. Corbin's lawyers memory of this afternoon. She'll be without a witness."
Almost holding his breath, Lindsey waited as Holland thought this through. "Explain why only the lawyer."
"I figured it would serve to remind Mrs. Corbin not to play a game she doesn't know the rules to." Disliking the way Lilah was enjoying Holland's grilling, Lindsey forced a smile. "Of course Mr. Corbin thinks it'd be easier to just get rid of her, but as you asked I got him to understand why we can't do that at this time."
"Very good." With a nod, Holland's face relaxed. "Very well thought out. Lilah, I noticed the file I asked for still isn't on my desk."
Lilah's amused expression slipped off her face. "I apologize sir, I will go see why it was delivered this morning."
"Thank you Lilah." There was no warmth in his eyes when he smiled at her as she excused herself. Waiting until she was gone, Holland closed the door behind her. "Lindsey we need to talk."
Almost tripping on his way to his desk, Lindsey caught himself. There was never a good conversation at Wolfram & Hart that started that way.
"I'm concerned about you Lindsey." Holland started softly, sounding like a concerned parent, instead of an upset employer. Which was good, seeing how this could be the moment Lorne had been speaking about. That is if Lorne had been correct. "You appear to be worn out these last few days. I hope your not coming down with something."
"No sir." Quick to respond, Lindsey couldn't shake the way Holland's eyes bored into him. "Never been healthier."
"I can't tell you how happy I am to hear that." Holland smiled. "But I can't help but still be concerned. Maybe I've given you too much."
Startled, Lindsey frowned. "Sir have I done something to displease you?"
"No. Nothing like that.." Shaking his head, that damned smile still on his face, Holland walked closer reaching out and patting Lindsey's shoulder. "I can't tell you how proud I've been of your progress. I just don't feel that you've been taking care of yourself."
"Just a few long nights." The smile on his face felt brittle.
"Do you know what you need?" Holland answered before Lindsey could respond. "A wife."
"Excuse me Sir?" Lindsey couldn't had been any more confused if Holland had asked him to cough up a kidney.
"You need someone to take care of you Lindsey. There's nothing better than coming home to a warm meal and a loving woman."
"Sir." Lindsey started slowly, making sure he chose his words well. "I really don't have time for casual dates at this time in my life. I hardly see how I'm supposed to find a woman to marry."
"Oh heavens, of course you don't have the time for that." Holland laughed. "No. We have an agency we use for that sort of thing. Now don't look at me like that. This isn't some escort service. Besides, we're still dealing with the mess the Fleiss case caused."
Feeling he needed to make some sort of gesture when Holland paused, Lindsey nodded numbly.
"No, this particular group has been around for half a century. Not only do they have the best trained women but they are very well rounded. Most can speak multiple languages. Are certified by Cordon Bleu. While they're bedroom skills are known through out the world." A wicked grin curled at his lips.
Sweat beaded on the back of his neck, while his intestines knotted into a fierce ball. The thought of having some Wolfram and Hart handpicked wife greeting him when he got home every night made his private area shrink.
"Sir I appreciate your concern -." Stopping when Holland raised his hand, Lindsey felt like a cornered animal who knew their time was running out.
"No need to make a decision now." Smiling again like an over indulgent grandfather, Holland Manners slapped Lindsey on the back. "The thought of being chained down makes most men a little green. Just think about it. When you're ready we'll get HR on it."
Salvation came in the sound of Holland's cell phone, ringing from inside his suit jacket. "Yes?"
The smiling, grandfather like expression faded seconds into the call.
"That's totally unacceptable." Snapping, Holland listened again to the voice on the end of the line. "These are only excuses. I want you in my office in one hour so we can discuss how disappointed I am."
"Trouble Sir?" Lindsey asked, relieved for once he wasn't responsible for Holland Manners bad mood. "Is it Darla?"
"What?" Frowning, Holland looked up almost having forgot he had company. "No, not Darla. This is something bigger I am afraid. You and Lilah will need to clear you schedules and meet in my conference room in twenty minutes."
Watching as Holland left his office, Lindsey felt a cold shiver roll through his body.
Shaking it off, Lindsey hurried to inform Lilah of their afternoon agenda, while telling himself not to make too much out of the sick feeling in his stomach.