Disclaimer: Mutant Enemy, Bellasarius, and all involved are the geniuses behind these characters. I just borrow them at times to manipulate them much like action figures before returning them slightly abused but generally in good shape.
Taking Back Sunday. "Louder Now". Hollywood. 2006.
Summary: "Wanted to see a familiar face?" Lilah sneered, but Lindsey forced himself to hold his ground.
Spoilers: Well, it's completely departed from both canons, so - nothing, really.
Inspiration: 'Not Fade Away'. Also adoxerella, particularly leelaa, and mendenbar deserve a certain (large) amount of credit for letting me know this story has been far from forgotten.
Notes: So suddenly I was reminded of their presence and that led to me remembering their quite storied history within AtS canon...also, I shake my fist at adoxerella and her bloody Black Butler. *shakes fist*
Timeline: For those who need reminding at this point (we can all thank my writer's block *kicks it*), post-AtS; AtF notwithstanding, though it's inspired some stuff; BtVS S8 has NOT happened, and the NCIS timeline has been fiddled with to match that of the Jossverse.
Part XXV: Backtalk
The whole truth and nothin' but the truth - stop me if you've heard this one before...The whole truth is nothin' but a good excuse...
Lindsey slowly, carefully made his way down the hall of this crazy-assed house that he was partially convinced the Senior Partners - the Wolf, the Ram, and the Hart's way of letting him know he had trespassed not only upon them, but their descendants - holy hell, the Partners had descendants and he and Lilah had spent the last five or so years of their respective careers trying to kill them!
They really don't tell you people anything, do they? he'd heard Angel's voice down in that basement right before he was released and there had been a definite mocking edge to it, telling him he'd screwed up in so many ways, there was never going to be any recompense.
Not that the word had ever really come to his mind before. Even with those three children he'd helped - God, Angel, a Child of the Senior Partners, just like the love of his life, Eve, another- get to safety in direct violation of the earthly company's policy.
In reality, he knew now that the Powers That Be - God's Hands on Earth - and the Wolf, the Ram, and the Hart - the Hands of the Devil that had controlled what he'd thought were the direct lines to the Senior Partners, how wrong had he been? - were forever playing a sort of one-upmanship sort of game with one another, with Angel, Eve, and that psycho Marcus as their central players, both using Angel on their team whenever they had a particular shot to take at the other. Sometimes at the same time.
Right now, even, they were still jockeying for the souls of every single person Angel had ever killed, or had been until Angel had made his choice to retain all sides of himself within the unbelievable shell they inhabited on Earth. Lindsey would call it petty, but considering the previous more than a year of his life, he didn't feel like courting their anger again. He'd finally learned his lesson once and for all and now was an excellent way to show that.
Lindsey stopped, panting in exhaustion, but managed to bring his shaking - mockingly unharmed - hand up to his face and forced himself to stare at it, now enraged but forcing himself to tamp it down or he'd expend the rest of the meager energy he did have to get to his destination and it was bad enough that it felt like the halls of this house shifted and moved fluidly, seemingly purposely making this trip onerous and without end simply because it recognized that he, like Lilah, who he knew had to be escorted by Pryce the same way Eve had needed to bring him anything he needed, shouldn't be here.
They were intruders and cursed ones, at that. He wondered if that was God's personal doing, forcibly showing him the physical map of his errant ways. It didn't start with this evil hand of his, but that had been the worst. It had all but turned him into a malfeasant demon, slavering at the feet of the evil it served.
He wanted it gone, now.
...unhand me, God damn me...
He'd been serious when he'd told Eve he wanted this innumerably damned hand removed once and for all and would be glad with the arm he had left, thankful like he should have been that Angel hadn't cut his head off instead. It had taken him far too long, with too many dips back into the tempting well of power and goals he never would have reached no matter how hard he tried - they'd shown him that much when a pacifistic anagogic demon, of all things, had been the one to end his life, not Angel, as he felt he'd deserved. Simple bullets instead of a charged battle to the finish. Granted, he was always going to lose - hell, he'd even listened as Angel reminded him that he was the most prolific serial killer that Lindsey had ever known and Lindsey had even conceded that he'd never given him his proper dues for that...
But then his piper had come to be paid and a flunkie had turned on him, shooting him point blank.
It was like a bad dream.
He hadn't even had the stones to tell Eve how he'd died and she'd asked several times by now. She could call on her own powers and find out, but she wanted to trust him to tell her. Problem was, he was too much of a coward to do so.
...So long as you don't torture me with my past, let's be honest, a secret silent is a secret safe...
Lindsey very gingerly shook his head, trying to rid himself of memories of that night, but knowing it to be a futile gesture. It'd stay with him as long as he li - could one call this living? He had been literally rotting and was still falling apart at the seams. Angel had held true to his promise to his little - to Eve, Lindsey corrected himself, knowing he couldn't allow himself to acknowledge their 'familial' bond as long as...
Lindsey closed his eyes, shoving every thought away and simply forcing himself to forge toward his destination.
It was a long and arduous trip to the bathroom, this was downright torturous, but he pushed himself until finally he was where he knew Pryce and Lilah now slept.
So many people in this house had been dead at some point, some longer than others, but he wanted answers about this. Wanted to see this for himself, unable to take Eve's word for it no matter how much he loved and trusted her otherwise.
Slowly raising the unharmed demon hand, Lindsey managed to knock three times before Lilah's surprised voice sounded on the other side, telling whoever it was to come in.
Lindsey again used the demon hand to open the door and found himself gasping in shock.
There sat Lilah, at least four months pregnantin an armchair here in Pryce's room, reading what he immediately recognized as a section of a codex, likely the one gifted to Pryce when he joined the firm, one he knew was really a Wolf, Ram, and Hart 'family heirloom', if you could call it that. A family, an heirloom.
"Jesus Christ, Lilah," he spouted before he could stop himself. "What the hell?"
"I'm not dignifying that with a response," Lilah said flatly before going back to her reading.
"Pryce? Poindexter, are you serious?"
It was then that Lilah looked away from her reading again to shoot him a look that Lindsey actually feared might make him fall fully apart. "If you call him that again, I'll have what passes for your brain ripped out through your eye sockets and shoved into your lungs, got it, zombie?"
Her voice was so serious, Lindsey actually swallowed and found himself speechless for a moment. When he spoke again, it was merely a croak, "You - you ac - you love 'im."
Lilah gritted her teeth before closing the book and placing it in a would-be calm way on the table she sat near, which was stacked high with more volumes of the codex, likely courtesy of Angel.
"MacDonald, you better have a good damned reason for being here..." Lilah let the threat in her voice trail off, knowing Lindsey know she was completely serious.
"Wanted to see a familiar face?" Lilah sneered, but Lindsey forced himself to hold his ground.
"Well, more or less. I...heard you were about and wanted to see - "
"If I was a half-dead wreck like you are? Sorry to disappoint."
Lindsey ignored the jibe, as usual, and got on with business, "No, uh, Eve told me that eventually you'll be going back to your contract in the Hell Branch. I just..."
"Wanted to see why I was granted a reprieve. Hell, Lindsey, I never figured you for a rubbernecker, especially in your condition."
Lindsey sighed before he realized he was exhausted and found himself running out of breath.
Lilah was smiling vindictively as Lindsey began sagging toward the floor, his utter exhaustion beginning to overcome him, and merely waved as he eventually found himself on his back, gasping.
"Having fun down there?" Lilah said without bothering to hide the mockery in her voice or get up, though Lindsey figured that had more to do with being pregnant and being unable to lift him. When he didn't answer, Lilah rolled her eyes and picked up the phone, pressing a button that he assumed was the intercom.
"Oh, Eve, your - " Lilah cut her sing-song tone off, obviously remembering who she was talking to, before sighing, "Your boyfriend somehow made it to mine and Wes' room and now he's lost all control of his muscles. He's on the floor, he - "
Lilah would have continued if Eve hadn't suddenly appeared right next to Lindsey before immediately bending down to check his pulse. Lindsey watched as Lilah put the phone down and simply sat silently except for the words, "My apologies,"
"You're damned right, your apologies, you leech," Eve spat but, to her credit, Lindsey didn't see Lilah move not one muscle in response. He turned his eyes to Eve and she began to speak again, "What were you thinking, coming down here? You could have gotten lost - you know this house repels strangers and, according to Angel, you and Lilah are still classified as such. You could have ended up in some soundproofed closet or something and then I never would have found you until it was too late!"
Eve was crying again and Lindsey cringed inwardly, but mustered up enough energy to explain, "I...needed to see...Lilah...we worked...side by side...for way too long...for me...not to...be curious...about her now. 'Sides, Pryce...was talkin' 'bout...life debts to...fix all...this. I...saved her...from the...Partners...by givin' up...the Head of Special...Projects Division...title. She'd be...dead, weren't...for me."
Eve suddenly understood, which - Lindsey could see - brought a strange new fear into Lilah's eyes. Eve, everyone knew, didn't give a damn about her, Pryce, or their kid, not like Angel did, and would use that life to restore Lindsey's body in but a moment.
"Wait! Baby...no...that's...not what I want...that'd...be like...keepin'...this hand. I was talkin' mystical, and with Lilah's word, not the kid. Kid's done nothin' to deserve bein' killed and...Angel would...destroy you like he killed your...other brother...you take an...innocent life...'specially in...his child's house. We know Gibbs...lost his...only child...his daughter...Angel's granddaughter - a great-granddaughter to the Wolf, the Ram, and the Hart...to paranoia, but revenge? Angel'd kill you...thousand times over. Then the Senior Partners...would come after you. Please, baby."
Eve surveyed Lindsey's rag-doll-like body for a moment before lowering the hands that she'd raised, "You and your soft-spot for kids. Alright, so you're right. Morgan, what would you give to keep your daughter safe?"
Lilah's eyes, already wide with fear, her hands desperately splayed over her belly, tensed up once more. "Anything, just so long as she is allowed to be with her father, as per your deal with Angel. That's all I want, I know I can't have Wesley anymore."
Eve raised an eyebrow, intrigued, "Well, I'm not as maudlin or forgiving as my far-too-humanized brother so you can forget any ideas of complete and utter mercy. When Lindsey loved Darla, you ordered that she be staked, no matter the consequences. He fought for her, the same as he'd fight for me. Would you fight for Wesley Wyndham-Pryce, for your daughter, Liliana Morgan Wyndham-Pryce?"
At Lilah's face draining of blood, Eve smiled wickedly, but Lilah forced herself to croak now, "Y-yes. Please. W-what do you want? Please? For my daughter and her father's safety, what do you want?"
"I want your blood," Eve said simply. Lilah blanched, blinking furiously as tears began to wend their way down her throat. "Your body is currently coursing with blood - mystical blood, no less - with healing powers a thousand times over a normal human's. More. Slayer blood. I want it, for Lindsey.
"Give me a full cup and not only will I continue my brother's mercy in allowing you to say Pryce's name, but your daughter will be brought under the full protection of the Wolf, the Ram, and the Hart, the first Slayer to be so. Wesley Wyndham-Pryce being the first Watcher to Watch his own child, a Slayer, in addition to working for this NCIS my brother and his offspring are far too wedded to - will be, as well."
Eve's eyes glistened silver and Lilah paled dangerously, but didn't pass out. "A cup of your blood, your daughter's blood, and you will have everything from me you wish - need- "
Just then the door crashed open, splintering, but the damage was contained as Angel, his eyes purely white and followed by his harried earthly father, stood, his entire being radiating rage as he stepped into the room.
Eve, despite her Immortal status, took a step back, but Angel simply stood staringat her, completely silent.
"What the hell? Brother, you're - you're unconscious, the price for trying to save these peons over and over!" Eve snarled, but Angel completely ignored her words, stepping into the room, and standing between Lilah and Eve before speaking in that same otherworldly, bombastic voice as before.
"YOU DARE TAKE THE BLOOD OF AN INNOCENT TO FURTHER THE ENDS OF YOUR OWN SELFISHNESS?"
"IT IS NOT SELFISH," Eve returned, her own voice now matching his. "IT WAS A TRADE, ONE MADE OF A FREE WILL, AND - "
"IT IS NOT FREE WILL WHEN YOU THREATEN TO ACHIEVE WHAT YOU DESIRE, SISTER, AND YOU KNOW IT PERFECTLY WELL. I SHOULD SEND LINDSEY BACK TO THE HELL THAT SPAT HIM OUT."
"NO!" Eve screamed, sending both Lilah and Angel's father coursing toward the floor in agony where Lindsey already lay screaming, blood running from his ears and with no way to properly shield them.
"YOU TALK OF MERCY, YOU KNOW NOTHING OF IT. YOU DISGUST ME, SISTER, IN YOUR UTTERLY SELF-MINDED GOALS. WESLEY - ALREADY UNDER THE AEGIS OF OUR FATHERS THROUGH ME - WOULD HAVE HEALED LINDSEY ONCE HE FOUND THE SALVES AND SPELLS TO DO SO, BUT I'M REMOVING THAT DUTY FROM HIS ROSTER.
"LINDSEY WILL HAVE TO MARSHALL ALL OF HIS OWN POWER TO HEAL HIMSELF AND YOU HAVE NO ONE TO BLAME BUT YOU. IF YOU WANT FASTER RESULTS, YOU WILL HAVE TO WORK FOR THEM, YOURSELF."
Eve went to scream again, but Angel - Thomas - held up a hand and her voice was instantly stifled. He stared once more, seemingly without sight, around at those human in the room, and gave another wave of his hand, repairing even Lindsey's ears since that wound had been incurred outside the Wolf, the Ram, and the Hart's wrath.
After checking on Lilah's overall health, Thomas glared once more at his sister before disappearing again into the myriad that was his existence within Angel's body.
With his business finished, Angel promptly fainted, and Connor climbed gingerly up to kneel before his again comatose son, muttering rapidly in Irish. No one else understood him, but it didn't matter. Connor leaned forward and, as he'd seen his own son do, kissed Angel's brow. Angel's eyes fluttered, but he didn't awaken.
He did, however, begin to speak in a clearly Irish dialect, "I only wan'ed ter help, Da," he said now, prompting Connor to stroke his brow, which black runes were now beginning to appear across, and Connor tried fruitlessly wiping at them, but to no avail.
It wasn't evening, not now - what on Earth was Liam doing taking control so early? "Eve was goin'ta use Liliana's blood ter heal Lindsey an' that woulda cursed them both. She was actin' in selfishness an' fear an' I know what that's like, Da - Holtz did the same thin' ter my Connor out o' hatred an' vengeance. I 'ad ter stop 'er. A Faustian deal such as that..."
Connor, Sr., nodded, "The babe didna deserve ter live under such a fate, I know, Li. Ye did...ye did good, lad. Ye 'ave ter let Jethro out o' his sleep, son, it's goin' ter kill ye if'n ye don'."
"I won' die. I already died. But I canna' awaken either of us, not by meself," Liam replied simply, sadly, and Connor's face fell once more in dismay.
"Then why on the Lord's earth did ye do it, lad?" he asked desperately and Liam simply sighed.
"Ye woulda done it fer me, if ye coulda, would still. Wouldna ye have?"
This last question was asked with much less surety and Connor found his heart caving in once more, "O' course, Li. Without a though'. Jethro is yers as you are mine. Bu' what if yer stuck like that ferever?"
Liam took a deep breath and every voice of those inside him spoke alongside his own, "A worthy price to pay for my blood and my blood's blood. To keep them and their own safe."
For the first time, the aegis printed in Liam's skin came back to the surface and Connor gasped in shock, staring at all the names, including his own, and those of their family, mates, loves...everyone he now knew and many he did not, all over Liam's arms in his own handwriting.
"Dear Lord in Heaven," he whispered in wonderment, blessing himself, as well as Liam before stroking his disheveled hair.
"I saw me eldest," Liam said softly, his voice filled with bitter sadness. "I need ter tell Ziva an' Ari I am sorry. He hurt 'em so much...just ter get at me...he took me heart - ripped it right out o' me chest, bu' it wasn' enough...never enough..."
Ziva and Ari's names glowed blood red on Liam's arms before his deadened skin cracked and the names, themselves, began to bleed.
"Liam, stop! It wasn't yer fault!" Connor cried, but his plea landed on literally deaf ears as Angel's eyes turned pure white again and he began to seize once more.
Eve stepped up, her expression bored, but Connor turned and snarled at her, "Stay the hell away from my son!"
Without warning, Lilah found herself rising to her feet and as carefully as possible coming to sit down next to Angel's convulsing form, turning him on his side before she spoke to his astonished father, who didn't know whether to pull Angel further away or leave them be as she was pregnant and, as was constantly asserted, perfectly harmless.
"An eye for an eye," she said in what she probably hoped was a careless tone, but Connor could read the distress in her voice. Without another word, Lilah raked her fingers across her arm and brought forth five lines of blood, which began to congeal on the surface of her skinimmediately.
She took the hand she'd scratched herself with and, with her free hand, swept the blood onto the pad of her thumb before subsequently smearing it on Angel's shuddering forehead where it sank in, bringing his body almost instantly to a stop.
"That'll only work for about a day so whatever Wes and anybody else is doing, they better do it quickly."
With that, she slowly got to her feet again, ignoring Connor's attempt to help her, and went back to sit down and read, acting as though she'd done nothing.
Eve started to rave at the audacity of this - this bitch helping Angelbut not Lindsey, but Lindsey's hand on her arm stayed her hand and voice.
"What you were gonna have her do for me wasn't right and you good and well know it. The Senior Partners may have applauded it, but the Powers were gonna have your ass and that I won't allow, either. If Pryce helps me now, it'll be of his own free will, and even more than that - because she did the same for Angel.
"I know you don't care how your extended family works, but I've been watchin' as best as I can. Debts don't go unpaid around here and, even more than that, no good deed goes unpunished.
"You brought Lilah back to life, sure, but then you went and tried to barter a - hers and Pryce's baby's life for mine? You'll be lucky Pryce doesn't kill you - he's not just an amateur mage anymore, you know that as well as I do.
"I've been watchin' him, too, just like you. Cyvus Vail didn't completely die. His amassed magick - though now light - lives on in the father of the baby you just tried to curse. He'll have your guts for garters, don't nobody stop 'im."
Eve's breath hitched and Lindsey managed to turn his head enough so that he could look at the now peacefully sleeping Angel. "And the only one who could - the girl's probable godfather - can't do a damned thing for you right now, sweetheart. All I can do is hope you ain't back in the Deeper Well by mornin'. I don't exactly have decades to wait for you to come out again."
Eve backed away from Lindsey, then, her eyes widening in fear.
"Shit," Lindsey said abruptly, an unnatural silence now filling the house. "He's coming."