Giles checked his watch again. The others had been gone for over twenty minutes. He was getting worried. Lindsey had never regained consciousness since their last conversation. The young man's breathing had begun to sound labored and Giles feared time was almost up. Giles decided to take a quick peek out from their hiding spot.
Slowly and quietly he made his way to the edge of the building. With great care he peered around the side.
"Well looky here," exclaimed the vampire as he pinned Giles to the side of the building. "We've got company."
Another vampire appeared out of the darkness. "That's the Watcher, ain't it?" he snarled.
"I believe you're right, Joey," smirked the first vampire. "What you doing out here all alone? Don't you know it ain't safe?" Both vampires laughed.
Giles struggled against the vampire holding him but the grip was too tight.
"Cat got your tongue?" joked Joey. "Scotty, I think you'd best loosen up there if you want him alive."
"Who says I want him alive."
"Come on, man. You know what the bossman said. We bring any intruders to him."
"Yeah, yeah, whatever," growled Scotty but he did loosen his hold and Giles gulped in much needed air. "You're lucky, watcher. I'd like to tear you limb from limb...course this is just a little reprieve. Reckon the boss will do worse."
They had just turned to leave when Joey stopped and turned back. "Did you hear that?"
"Hear what?" complained Scotty. "Let's go."
Joey ignored his friend and glared at Giles. "Friend of yours?" Without warning, Joey thrust Giles into Scotty's arms and ran back into the recesses of the alley.
"No." Giles tried to pull away but Scotty had a firm hold. In moments, Joey was dragging Lindsey out from the darkness. Without care, he dropped Lindsey at Giles' feet.
"You always bring sick friends out with you?" Joey kicked Lindsey causing him to groan.
"Stop it," demanded Giles. "Leave him alone."
"Stop it?" scoffed Joey. "You really don't want to piss me off, watcher."
"Ain't that McDonald?" Scotty asked as he stared at the crumpled form.
"Lindsey McDonald. He's the vessel old Marsoff has been after." Scotty handed Giles over to Joey and bent to get a closer look. "Damn straight. That's McDonald," grinned Scotty.
"What the hell is he doing here?"
"Guess we take these two to Gunn and he can find out. We just made some serious brownie points, my friend."
The two vampires grinned as they bound their captives.
Angel met up with Spike and Faith as planned. "What did you find?"
"Took out two," answered Spike.
"One for me," replied Faith.
"Didn't see any," reported Angel. "Pretty much a fortress on that side. No way in or out. Let's get back."
"Giles is probably going crazy. That took longer than it should have."
Angel and Spike nodded their agreement with Faith.
Their worst fears were realized when they got back and no one was there. A struggle had taken place, that much was certain.
"Damnit," swore Angel.
"Well," Spike spoke quietly, "they obviously didn't kill them here or there would be a body or two."
"How is that helpful?" growled Angel.
"Easy, Angel. Spike's right. It's a rescue mission now. Let's figure this out."
Angel and Spike nodded their agreement. They needed to work together to get Giles and Lindsey back. They had to work quickly as Marsoff would surely want to take up his new shell soon.
Marsoff angrily stalked thru the warehouse. He had been awakened by one of the vampires; Carl, Marsoff thought his name was, who insisted it was urgent and Gunn needed him right away. When he barged into the former office, he was surprised to see a man tied to a chair. He appeared quite bloody. The vampires were obviously working him over.
"Who's this?" he demanded.
"This?" smirked Gunn. "Why this is a watcher friend of Angel's, if I'm not mistaken. I'm not mistaken, am I?" Gunn asked Giles, pulling hard on Giles' hair to raise his head. It took all of Giles' strength to spit at Gunn. The vampire was agile enough to dodge the attempt and he laughed at the watcher before smashing his fist into Giles' face. The watcher would have fallen over backwards, chair and all, but for Carl's restraining hand.
"Why did you bring him here?" demanded Marsoff.
Gunn looked at the man with disgust. "I didn't bring him here. One of my patrols found him...right outside."
"Outside?" Marsoff was dumbfounded. "How did they find us? Which one of your idiot vampires walked outside the safe zone?"
Gunn was in his face instantly. "None of my family was outside your precious symbols, you embecile. They found us because they use their heads and don't assume things. More than I can say about you."
Marsoff ruffled at the accusation but instead asked, "Did you find the others?"
"Not all of them, but we did find one other." Gunn motioned to Harmony and Carl. Together they dragged a body from the shadows and dropped him roughly to the ground at Gunn's feet. When they had entered the light, Marsoff could see that it was Lindsey McDonald.
Marsoff smiled in disbelief. "They brought the vessel to me?"
"I really doubt it was their intention, but none the less, here he is."
Marsoff moved closer. Lindsey looked terrible. Marsoff doubted the man had much time left. He needed to get the knowledge now if he was going to. He made a tentative probe into the ex-lawyer's mind and met with little resistance. He ventured a little further and there he found some resistance. Marsoff laughed. It was nothing compared to what he had been experiencing.
"Stop," demanded Giles. "You let him kill Lindsey and he'll destroy us all. He'll be unstoppable."
"Shut him up," ordered Marsoff and Carl punched Giles viciously in the face.
There was a sound of a struggle outside the door. Gunn motioned for Carl to check it out, but before the vampire could move, the door burst open.
"He's telling the truth," Angel spoke as he brushed the dustof two former vampires from his sleeves. "Only two guards, Gunn? I expected more from you."
Gunn frowned at Angel. "Good help is hard to find these days."
"Yeah well, you can't expect too much loyalty when you sacrifice your family for the benefit of that weasel." Angel nodded at Marsoff.
"To what do we owe the pleasure?" sneered the vampire leader.
"Oh, you know. I was in the neighborhood. Thought I'd look up an old friend. Maybe see if I could help him get a little final rest."
"How thoughtful of you, old friend. But I'm enjoying my new life."
"You won't for long if you let Marsoff kill Lindsey."
"Somehow I don't recall you being all that concerned about Lindsey McDonald. Something new?" Gunn sarcastically asked.
Angel spared a glance at Lindsey and Giles before replying. "Marsoff becomes invincible the moment Lindsey dies. You think he'll let you live? Think that's part of his plan?"
Gunn snorted in disbelief but noticed the nervous look that crossed Marsoff's face for just an instant.
It was becoming too risky Marsoff decided. He would have to just kill Lindsey now before Gunn became too suspicious. Marsoff made a move towards Lindsey but Harmony blocked his way. Marsoff tried to go around her but Carl moved in front of him.
"Get out of the way," he demanded.
"What's the hurry, Marsoff?" questioned Gunn suspiciously.
"No hurry. I'm just tired of all these games they're playing."
"Really? Because I get the feeling that maybe there's some truth in what Angel here is saying."
"Don't be absurd. He's just trying to get you to turn against me. We have a plan, we need to stick to it."
Gunn nodded but didn't take his eyes off of Marsoff.
"How's this going to play out, Gunn?" asked Angel.
"It appears we have a stand-off."
"Really? Is that what you think, Charlie?" Spike and Faith came into the room and stood beside Angel. "Rest of the building is empty," Spike reported to Angel.
"Spike," smiled Gunn. "Good to see you too. And you brought a friend. Well, the more the merrier." Gunn moved slowly back from the group and closer to Giles. He pulled on Giles' hair to raise his head. "I can snap his neck before you have a chance to bat an eye. Reckon that's not something you want to happen." Gunn moved away from Giles and knelt down beside Lindsey. "I can kill this one too but you wouldn't really care about that, would you?"
"Don't." Angel made a slight step forward.
"You're serious? You really believe killing this waste of space would be a bad thing?" Gunn stood up and moved back to Giles. "You are a contradiction, Angel. You had him killed and now you want him to live."
"He lives or we all die. Including you...Harmony...everyone except Marsoff. He wins. Is that what you want?"
"Don't listen to his nonsense," growled Marsoff. "Let me finish the ritual like we planned."
"What is the final plan, Marsoff?" asked Faith.
Marsoff ignored the slayer. His prize was only a few feet from him yet so far.
"We have guests, Marsoff. It's bad manners to ignore them. Perhaps you could answer the lovely slayer's question?"
"I'm not playing games, Gunn. Let me finish him now."
"No, I think not yet. Soon, perhaps." Gunn smirked as he saw the simmering rage Marsoff tried unsuccessfully to hide.
Muttering, Marsoff moved away. As Gunn and the others continued their conversation, Marsoff probed into Lindsey's mind. What he was searching for exactly, he wasn't sure. He would know when he found it. There was still pain but minimal to what it had been. Marsoff smirked as he finally found something he could use. The spell seemed to have almost popped up at him. Soon he would be rid of them all. Marsoff began reciting the spell.
Giles tried to stay awake. He was trying to make sense of the conversation around him but the beating he had endured left him barely clinging to consciousness. Just under the sound of the conversation, he could hear murmuring. He used all his strength to concentrate on deciphering it. As the other conversation was blocked out, he started to make out words within the murmuring. "Oh my...get down!" he yelled as he toppled his chair to the floor. Angel, Spike and Faith instantly fell to the floor while Carl and Gunn remained frozen. Harmony dove for Gunn as the explosion came. Carl was engulfed in the flames.
Angel was the first one standing. He noted the flames that licked at the walls. He saw no signs of Marsoff or the vampires. Spike and Faith, who were near him, were attempting to stand. Where the explosion had come from, he had no idea. How Giles had known it was about to happen was another question. Thinking of Giles, Angel made his way to the overturned chair. Giles appeared unconscious. Without delay, Angel untied Giles and was moving to pick him up to get him out of the burning building when Spike and Faith were suddenly at his side.
"What the hell was that?" exclaimed Spike.
"No idea," Angel truthfully replied. "We need to get out of here." The fire was spreading quickly and the room was full of smoke.
Spike was just getting ready to help with Giles when he heard coughing. He looked around the room and spotted Lindsey. "Angel?" Spike nodded towards the ex-lawyer.
"We've got Giles. Grab Lindsey."
The warehouse was fully engulfed in flames by the time Angel and Faith brought Giles out. Angel paced as Faith tended to Giles. Spike had yet to appear as Angel watched the building starting to crumble into itself.
"Angel?" Faith asked hesitantly.
"He's fine. He just likes to be dramatic." Angel couldn't keep the worry from his voice. "The fire's going to attract attention. We can't stay here."
"You want to just leave?"
"I don't want to, Faith, but we need to take care of Giles. We can't do that if we're fighting other demons who've come to check out the fire."
"Five more minutes," pleaded Faith.
Angel smiled softly. "Five more minutes," he agreed.
Gunn held Harmony close as he bathed the burns that scorched her right side. She had tackled him to safety but she hadn't been as lucky. The fire had severely burned her. "Shhh! Easy, baby." Gunn continued to offer consoling words. "I know it hurts but you're strong. We'll get thru this and then... they will pay. All of them." The cold compresses that Gunn was applying to the burns on Harmony were only temporarily soothing. It would take a considerable amount of time for the wounds to heal fully. While waiting for his lover to heal, Gunn would plan their revenge on Angel and his crew.
Faith peered up at Angel as she tended to Giles, "Anything?"
Angel was about to reply when he spotted movement in the smoke. He squinted to get a better view but the smoke was too thick.
"I think..." Angel glared at the smoke, willing it to disappear. Slowly it seemed to obey and coming out of the gray was Spike carrying what Angel assumed would be Lindsey. "There he is." Angel went to help Spike. The bleach-blonde vampire gladly gave over his burden to Angel. It had been a close call and he had wounds to prove it. Bonelessly, he flopped tiredly to the ground beside Faith and Giles.
"You alright?" asked Faith, worriedly.
"Do me a favor and ask me that tomorrow."
Angel lay Lindsey down on the other side of Spike.
"How is he?" asked Spike.
"Still alive." Angel could hear the quiet, eratic heartbeat and the raspy breathing as Lindsey's lungs fought for oxygen. After a moment of rest, Angel stated, "Let's go."
Angel picked up Lindsey as Faith and Spike carried Giles between them. Faith took most of Giles' weight as Spike's injuries hampered him.
They made it back to the warehouse where it had all started and Angel called a break. Giles had come around a few times and was currently clinging to consciousness. Lindsey had yet to awaken. If Angel hadn't been carrying the young man, he would have thought him dead. There was no movement or sound coming from the man. Only his vampire hearing could barely discern the fluttering heartbeat and strangled breathing. Angel was having mixed feelings on the matter. If Lindsey died, then there wasn't a choice to be made. Angel had arranged the young man's death once but he wasn't sure he could do a repeat performance. He could have told Spike to leave the young man in the burning building but it had felt wrong. Carefully he lay Lindsey down.
"How's Giles?" Angel asked.
"Fading in and out," replied Spike as Faith fussed over Giles.
Spike motioned with his head for Angel to follow him. They walked slightly away from the others.
"We get Giles back."
"And Tex there? What about him?"
"I'll worry about Lindsey."
"You figure on finishing him off?" Spike waited for an answer but Angel just stared off into the distance. "Like to think I didn't just risk my life so you could kill him at your convenience. Could've left him to burn if that's the case." Just as he started to walk off, Spike added, "You know he saved us, right?"
"What are you talking about?"
"Giles says McDonald is the reason old Marsoff turned into a fireball. Figures Lindsey somehow tricked him into reciting a self-destruction spell." Spike walked away.
Angel closed his eyes and hung his head as he absorbed what Spike just told him. So much had happened so quickly, he hadn't had time to process it all. It appeared Lindsey had saved them all. That required a lot more thought than they had time for at the present.
Angel knelt beside Giles. "You ready to move on?"
Concern laced the vampire's voice and Giles appreciated it. He nodded and Angel started to get up but Giles' hand on his arm stopped him.
"You OK, Giles?"
"Lindsey saved us."
"Yeah. Spike told me."
"Angel, he's earned another chance."
Angel glanced at Lindsey's unconscious form. With a sigh, Angel replied, "We'll see what happens."
Giles nodded, "I guess that will have to do." Giles closed his eyes.
"Spike, Faith? I need you two to get Giles back."
"What about you and Lindsey?" asked an uncertain Faith.
"We'll be along. Just going to rest a little longer."
"We can wait with you," Faith replied.
"Please, Angel? One more shot?"
"Not that I'm a fan of Tex there, but he did save us," added Spike.
"No, he saved himself. If Giles hadn't figured out what was being said, we would have all been engulfed in the fireball that Marsoff became. The only one saved would have been Lindsey."
Spike smirked, "What? You figure he could've crawled out of that blaze on his own? He's been unconscious this whole time. Seems to me he would've died just like the rest of us."
Angel couldn't argue that point. Truth was, he didn't want to argue any points. He just wanted things to be simple again, black and white. The shades of gray were minefields where one wrong move would be the end...for everyone. "Just get Giles back, OK?"
Faith didn't trust herself to speak so she just nodded. Spike gave Angel one last look and then the two of them picked Giles up and began their journey home.
Angel watched them until they disappeared from view. When he turned back towards Lindsey, the young man's eyes were open, watching him closely. They stared at each other for a moment before Lindsey closed his eyes and turned his head away, slipping back to unconsciousness. Angel thought he saw resignation in Lindsey's eyes. He seemed certain that Angel was going to kill him or just let him die. Angel sat, going over in his mind everything that had happened between he and Lindsey. He had had more powerful opponents, smarter opponents, even more evil opponents by far, so why did this one human trouble him so much?
"Confounding, isn't he?"
The voice startled Angel. He turned quickly and found himself face to face with Holland Manners. To say he was surprised would have been an understatement.
"Yes, Angel, we meet again. Life...or should I say death, is strange, isn't it?"
"How..." Angel was pretty much speechless.
"How am I here?" Holland laughed. "Oh please, Angel. Surely you must realize death is not the end...especially in Hell. It's just the beginning."
"What do you want?" growled Angel. He really did not like the smug man that was Holland Manners.
"From you?...Nothing. Just waiting for a friend." Holland smiled down at Lindsey. "He looks deceivingly innocent unconscious like that, doesn't he? I mean the boy is a menace to both sides. Always switching back and forth. Good - Evil - Good - Evil. He could have had it all." Holland shook his head in disappoinment. "My biggest mistake was not terminating him after his first betrayal. That and the wine tasting party. Nasty business that was." Holland looked to Angel. "I have you to thank for that, don't I?"
"Much as I'd like to take credit, you made that mess yourself."
"Yes, I suppose you are right. Still I must say I have lasting anger regarding your part in it." Holland's gaze remained on Angel but then the man smiled. "Well, on with the business at hand." He motioned to Angel. "Please proceed."
Angel regarded the man. "What exactly do you think is going to happen?"
"Please don't insult my intelligence, Angel. You were just about to end things for our young friend here."
"And why does that concern you?" growled Angel. He really disliked this man.
"Why, I'm here to pick up the garbage." Holland smiled as he regarded Lindsey.
"What? So you two can run Hell's version of Wolfram&Hart?"
"Oh goodness no, Angel. You are terribly misinformed. Lindsey has other things to endure. Let's just say he is no longer a part of management. Too many bad choices in his short life. A shame really. He never lived up to his potential for evil. Too much of a conscience, I guess."
"Most certainly. If it wasn't for his hatred of you, we would have lost him a long time ago. Unfortunately even that hatred wasn't enough to secure his obedience."
"I'm not going to help you."
"Why not, Angel? Wasn't it your plan to kill him now? Guess I should have waited to show up until it was over. My mistake. I got so excited with the prospect of bringing Lindsey to Level 7."
"Yes. We just weren't making enough pain progression on Level 6 and there was a recent opening on 7 so I wanted to make sure we didn't lose the spot to some other unfortunate soul. It is such a rat race down here. Course I hadn't planned on some ritual ripping him away. A terrible inconvenience, I assure you." Holland noticed the confused look on Angel's face. "Sorry, I guess you aren't acquainted with the new way things are run down here. It's been awhile since you've been to Hell, hasn't it?" Holland moved to sit down. "There's been some restructuring. We have levels in Hell now. Ten of them as a matter of fact. This level here? This is Level 1. Really quite mild in comparison to lower levels. LA should continue to fall to lower levels as space becomes available."
"Was at Level 6. Honestly, quite painful, especially for a human, but I needed more. I'm just not satisfied that he has suffered enough. I mean he did betray us several times. No one has done that even once and lived...ever." Holland got up and walked around to where Lindsey lay as Angel kept a close watch on him. "Such a waste. And I had such high hopes for him."
"Step back," warned Angel, uncomfortable with how close Holland was standing to Lindsey.
Holland smiled and raised his hands in submission as he backed away. "I can't touch him, Angel. Not while he's still alive." The smile disappeared. "If I could, I would have taken you both already."
Holland's anger sent a chill thru Angel. Holland looked like a mild-manner businessman but Angel was well aware of the lengths Holland would go to if he felt the need.
"Well, I guess if you aren't going to speed things along, I'll just rest here a bit. I'm sure it won't be too much longer either way." Holland sat back down, crossing his arms and smiling at Angel. "Make yourself comfortable, Angel. We should have a few minutes to reminisce."
Angel attemtped to grab Holland but his hand went right thru him.
Holland laughed. "We are on two diffferent planes of existence, Angel. Until you die -permanently, not this undead vampire thing- then you can't touch me either... Or until you drop to Level 5 or more. Then all bets are off." Holland looked around the warehouse then looked back to Angel, "Wouldn't have a deck of cards, would you?"
Angel was fed up with Holland. With great care, he picked up Lindsey and started to leave.
"You can't be serious?" laughed Holland. "Just leave him."
Angel felt the shudder that rippled thru Lindsey. He wasn't unconscious as Angel had assumed. Holding the young man slightly tighter, Angel turned to Holland. "Go back to where ever it was you came from. You're getting nothing here." With that , Angel started to leave.
"I'll have my revenge," Holland angrily yelled after Angel. "On all of you."
Angel had gone several city blocks before stopping. He set Lindsey down carefully. The young man was shivering so Angel took his coat off and wrapped him in it before picking Lindsey up again and continuing the trek towards home.
They had gone another couple blocks before Angel spoke. "Lindsey?" He waited a moment but there was no answer just a slight tensing in the body he carried. "I know you can hear me, Lindsey."
When Lindsey still didn't answer, Angel stopped in a secluded alley and set Lindsey down, leaning him against the building. Angel waited only a few seconds before blue eyes opened and met his. Angel was taken aback at the fear and sorrow in them. Lindsey had never shown either emotion to Angel.
Lindsey looked away quickly. He could feel the vampire reading him. He wasn't going to show fear in front of Angel. They both knew he was helpless to whatever whim that Angel chose to follow. Lindsey was pretty certain where that left him. He would soon be back in Holland's company enduring whatever new torture his former boss chose to inflict upon him. It made him shudder and he cursed his weakness.
Angel saw Lindsey shivering and he knelt down next to him. He pulled the coat tighter around the young man. It seemed to cause Lindsey to shiver even more. "I'm sorry, Lindsey," Angel voiced quietly.
"Just do it," Lindsey stuttered. "Get it over with."
Angel was surprised. "I'm not going to hurt you, Lindsey."
There was a pause before Lindsey turned to face Angel. "What?"
"I was apologizing for before. I never should have..." Angel couldn't finish the sentence. "I was wrong, Lindsey."
Lindsey felt he must be dreaming. Angel wouldn't apologize. Not to him. Lindsey closed his eyes tightly then opened them, expecting to find himself being tortured. Instead he met Angel's steady gaze.
Angel watched the emotions crossing Lindsey's face. The young man was physically and emotionally spent and he couldn't hide what he was feeling as he normally did. Angel didn't need Lorne's talent to decipher what Lindsey was thinking or feeling. "Let's go home," was all he said as he lifted Lindsey up. Angel could still feel how tense Lindsey was up until the moment he finally lost consciousness. It worried Angel that perhaps Lindsey had lost his will to fight. The stubborness that was Lindsey McDonald seemed to have been stripped away. "We'll work it out, Lindsey," Angel assured the unconscious man.
The others were all gathered in the infirmary. Giles was asleep or unconscious, Lorne wasn't sure which. He continued to pace the room as Faith and Spike attempted a game of cards.
"Shouldn't they be back by now?" questioned Lorne, quite agitated.
Faith looked to Spike who shook his head. He had no idea what Angel was going to do. Lorne caught the look between the two and instantly stopped his pacing.
"What's up, kids?" he asked, trying to mask the sudden apprehension he felt. "What aren't you telling me?"
"Nothing to tell, Lorne," assured Spike.
That definitely set Lorne on edge as Spike rarely called him by his name. It was always "green jeans" or something similar. "Tell me," he demanded.
Just as Spike was about to reply, there was a tremendous racket in the hallway. They all ran out to find the front door busted open and Angel hurrying down the hallway carrying Lindsey. He brushed by them so quickly no one had a chance to say anything.
"Faith," Angel called urgently, "he's stopped breathing. He needs air." Angel began CPR as Faith hurried over to begin mouth-to-mouth. Something the vampire couldn't give. Spike and Lorne worriedly stood close by. The commotion woke Giles.
"What's happened?" he asked weakly.
Lorne went over to calm him. "Easy there. Everything's fine." Lorne wasn't good at lying and Giles instantly saw thru him.
"How bad is he?"
Spike came over to join Lorne. "Don't worry about Lindsey right now. Worry about yourself. You took quite a beating, Giles."
While Giles appreciated their concern for him, he needed to know how the ex-lawyer was doing. He had promised Lindsey another chance and after what Lindsey had done, Giles felt he more than deserved it. "How is he?" he asked more sternly.
Lorne and Spike turned towards the other bed allowing Giles a view of what was going on there. Angel continued to give compressions as Faith followed with quick breathes.
"Wait, Faith." Angel paused and listened closely. He could hear the heartbeat and the rattling breath. "He's back."
They all sighed in relief. "Let's elevate the head of the bed," Angel said as he looked around the room. "Does any of this equipment still work?" They had mainly used the infirmary for fixing up cuts and scrapes. Whether the oxygen masks and the heart monitors worked was anyone guess.
After a few false starts, they were able to get the oxygen to flow and the heart monitor to work. They hooked Lindsey up to both machines. Giles had tired himself out helping them to get things up and running. He was now sleeping soundly in the bed next to Lindsey's.
Angel was too wired to sleep and had told the others to go rest. They would take turns staying with the two patients. Lorne had decided to stay with Angel to keep him company. Angel figured Lorne simply didn't trust him alone with Lindsey and he couldn't blame him. Angel had, afterall, called for Lindsey's death. The fact that he had brought Lindsey back today and had given him CPR to revive him, didn't erase what Angel had asked Lorne to do previously.
Lorne observed Angel closely. The vampire was deep in thought and had said little since the others had left. The quiet was working on Lorne's nerves. "Penny for your thoughts, sunshine."
Angel looked up startled. He had been so absorbed in thought, he had forgotten anyone else was there. He smiled slightly at Lorne. "Not sure there are enough pennies to cover all the thoughts running around in my head," Angel answered honestly. "I don't..." Angel didn't know what to say or how to say it.
Lorne nodded in agreement. He could definitely relate to those feelings.
"I'm sorry, Lorne."
"What are you sorry for, big guy?" Lorne quietly asked.
"For the whole Wolfram&Hart deal. We never should have gone there."
"You were saving your son and Cordelia. We understand that."
"I should have found another way to fix things."
"What way, Angel?" Lorne felt sorry for the vampire as he struggled to find an answer. "Listen, Angel. We all agreed to go there. We all made our own choices."
"We both know that if I hadn't agreed, none of you would have ended up there."
Lorne couldn't argue with that statement but still felt compelled to reply. "We could have refused. You didn't force us to follow you there."
Lorne smirked. "You think you have that much influence over us? Don't flatter yourself, sweet cheeks. We were all pulled in by the thought of unlimited resources and so much power. Maybe we did want to use it for good but you can't lay down with evil and expect not to be burned. We just didn't realize it would be an inferno."
"No maybe about it. We all made mistakes, Angel. All we can hope for is that we've learned from them. I'm pretty sure there won't be any more jobs with evil law firms in my future," joked Lorne.
"I've missed having you around, Lorne."
"Missed me? I've been haunting these halls for close to a year now."
Angel continued to gaze at Lorne.
"OK, so maybe not in full Lorne fashion but...I'm getting there, Angel."
Their attention was drawn to Lindsey's bed. The young man had groaned and moved slightly before settling down again. Lorne went over to check that the mask was still on. Angel watched the care that Lorne displayed with Lindsey. He checked the young man's brow for fever and smiled when he found none.
"How is he?" croaked Giles.
Angel was instantly at the watcher's side. "Easy, Giles. How're you feeling?"
"Like I've been run over by a train."
"They did quite a number on you."
"Indeed," agreed Giles. He turned his attention to the other bed. "How is he?"
Angel shrugged. "Holding his own at the moment. Not sure what else we can do for him."
"Maybe talk to him. Let him know he's not alone."
Angel hesitated before replying, "I doubt hearing my voice would comfort him."
"Perhaps you're right. Maybe save the talking for Faith and I. We don't have a history with Lindsey as do the rest of you."
"Lindsey knew Faith too," replied Angel.
"Yes, I know but it really wasn't an antagonistic relationship like yours."
Angel nodded his agreement. He could see that Giles was quickly wearing out. "You should get some rest."
Giles smiled slightly and closed his eyes. Soon Angel could hear the even breathes of sleep. Angel went to check on Lorne and Lindsey. The green demon was seated at the bedside just staring off into space.
"Is it my turn for the pennies?"
Lorne smiled and shook his head. Soon both of them were absorbed in reading books as both patients slept peacefully.
Two days passed and Giles had left the infirmary for his own room. He made frequent visits to check on Lindsey but tired quickly. The others took turns staying in the room as they didn't want Lindsey to wake up alone.
Angel sat deep in thought as he took his turn to watch Lindsey. Angel had no doubts when the young man fully woke up, he was going to be confused A lot had happened to Lindsey in the past few days. That added with his time in Hell...
There hadn't been any discussion of what Lindsey endured in Hell but from his reaction to Holland Manners, it obviously hadn't been pleasant. Angel remembered the lack of reaction that Lindsey had had to the Wolfram&Hart holding dimension. Having his heart ripped out of his chest every day for two months and who knew what other tortures. The basement had been full of devices to cause pain. It hadn't put a dent in Lindsey's demeanor. Whatever had happened to the young man during his time in Hell, however, had left its mark. Angel figured at the time that Lindsey deserved it but now he had his doubts. Yes, Lindsey had done some terrible things but he had also done some good things. Things that went against Wolfram&Hart. He had paid a high price if his reaction to Holland Manners was any indication.
Angel also thought about his own part in their history. After his Darla epiphany, while he was beating Lindsey unconscious, he had told Lindsey that he was sorry. Sorry that he hadn't tried to help him more, sorry that Darla didn't love him, sorry- Angel shook the thoughts from his mind. His job was to help the helpless and Lindsey had been far from helpless.
Angel got up from the chair he was sitting in and began pacing the room. His shift had just started and already he felt exhausted. Ever since Holland's little visit, Angel's mind had refused to rest. Thoughts continually raced. What he should have done differently; what he would change if he could. It wasn't all about Lindsey either. The loss of his friends weighed heavily on his mind. Lindsey had told Angel before he left LA that 'the key to Wolfram&Hart was to not play their game, to make them play yours'. Angel hadn't followed that advice and his friends ended up paying the price. Cordelia, Fred, Wesley, Gunn...and Connor.
Angel was pulled from his thoughts by a wracking cough. He turned to find Lindsey attempting to turn to his side. Quickly Angel was at his bedside, helping him turn and holding a small pan for him. Giles had indicated it was a good sign if Lindsey coughed up phlegm as long as it wasn't tinged with blood. Angel still found it disgusting but it wasn't as if it could be helped. After the coughing had settled, Angel brought a glass of water to Lindsey's lips. The ex-lawyer had yet to become fully aware of his surroundings. He took the offered water then lay back and seemed to drift off again. Angel sighed as he set the glass aside.
A couple more days passed. Giles, while not at complete strength, had shown remarkable improvement from when they had first returned. He took his turns watching Lindsey. It was his and Faith's turn at the moment and all had been pretty quiet. The silence didn't bother either of them; Giles read and Faith played solitaire.
The silence was broken by a cough. Giles and Faith approached either side of the bed. Lindsey's head rolled side to side and he frowned. Gently, Giles touched the young man's shoulder. "Lindsey?"
Lindsey seemed to cringe away from the touch. "Stop," he pleaded softly. "Please stop."
"Easy, Linds," soothed Faith. "It's just us; Giles and Faith."
Lindsey started shaking. They weren't sure if it was fear or cold. "Get another blanket." Faith nodded and went to the cabinet for the blanket. Quickly she was back and together they added it to the covers already cocooning Lindsey. Giles lay his hand across Lindsey's forehead to check for fever, finding none. He smiled at Faith who gave a sigh of relief. No fever. When they looked back down at Lindsey, they saw blue eyes staring back at them.
"Lindsey? How are you feeling?" asked Giles. Noting the young man's apparent confusion, he continued, "We're back in the infirmary and you're safe. Marsoff is dead." There wasn't a reply. "Do you understand, Lindsey?" Still no reply.
"Giles?" asked Faith, concerned.
Giles just shook his head as Lindsey remained silent but kept watch on both of them. "Come stand on this side with me, Faith." The slayer did as asked.
"Lindsey? Can you talk to me?" Giles asked.
They all turned to the sound of the door opening. Angel walked in, pausing when he noticed all eyes on him. He looked around himself to find what everyone was staring at. "What?"
"Angel?" Lindsey quietly rasped.
"That's right, Lindsey," encouraged Giles. "Do you remeber what happened?"
"No, Lindsey. You haven't been shot," corrected Giles.
"Not recently anyway," remarked Spike as he and Lorne came into the room. Lorne threw a glare at Spike but the platinum-haired vampire chose to ignore it.
"Easy, Lindsey," soothed Giles as he noticed the young man starting to panic. "No one is going to hurt you." Giles turned to the others, "Perhaps there are too many of us in the room." Giles nodded towards the door and the others started to leave.
"I think that can wait. Why don't you try to get more rest," soothed Giles. "We'll be outside if you need anything." Just before he shut the door, Giles added, "You're safe her, Lindsey."
Lindsey watched as they all filed out of the room. Once they were gone, he released a sigh. It was disconcerting to wake up in a strange room surrounded by enemies and strangers. His heart was telling him it was OK but his mind was warning him of danger. He tried to remember what had happened but the flashes of memory made little sense. He hadn't wanted to fall asleep again but he was unable to keep his eyes open. Consciousness slipped away once more.
They gathered in the waiting room outside the infirmary. After they had all taken a seat, Giles spoke, "Lindsey is obviously a little confused."
"What does he remember?" asked Angel.
"Not sure at this point. He obviously remembers you, Angel...and he remembers being shot."
"Temporary amnesia or what?" asked Spike.
"Wait and see at this point," replied Giles.
"Part of me hopes he doesn't remember everything," Lorne said wistfully. "Maybe then..." Lorned trailed off, unable to finish his sentence.
"I think we'll all be better off if he remembers everything as it happened."
"Why do you say that?" asked Faith.
Angel shrugged, "If he doesn't remember then we will always worry that there will come a day that he does remember." Angel turned to Lorne, "I know you wish you could take back what you did...what I asked you to do, but we both know that Lindsey not remembering right away doesn't make it disappear. You would always worry that at some point the memory could come back. It would be better to build from the truth than create some lie that is easier to live with. Believe me, I know. The lie I sold everyone when we took over Wolfram&Hart led to this. To us being in Hell."
Several hours later, Angel was seated in the infirmary reading a book. The library had had an extensive collection and Angel used every opportunity he could to take advantage of it. It was a shame they had to box up all the books and relegate them to the basement, but Giles needed room for his research books. Angel finished the last page of the book. Closing it and setting it aside, he got up to stretch his legs.
Angel regarded the figure on the bed. Lindsey hadn't regained consciousness since their last conversation. He seemed to be sleeping quite peacefully, actually. His breathing no longer labored and his heartbeat strong and steady. Angel continued to stare, deep in thought.
"Take a picture," rasped Lindsey. "It lasts longer."
Angel smirked as he settled back in the chair beside the bed. "How are you feeling?"
Lindsey raised an eyebrow as he regarded Angel but offered no reply. Angel did note that the young man checked for restraints, surprised when he found none.
"I'm sure you realize this since you're still here, but Marsoff's dead...thanks to you."
Lindsey gave a half smirk. "You sound surprised."
"Gotta say, I was somewhat. Didn't think you had it in you."
"You thought I'd just let him take over my life?" Lindsey asked indignantly.
"No, I figured you'd find a way to save yourself."
"Then what surprised you?"
"That you'd sacrifice yourself to save the world."
Lindsey snorted. "Where did you come up with that? I wasn't-"
"You can't deny it, Lindsey," interupted Angel. "There was no way in hell you could have made it out of that inferno and you know it. Not by yourself."
"Figured on you getting me out. You're the champion, afterall."
"And how did you figure we would have survived to get you out? We had no clue Marsoff was about to turn into a fireball."
"Looks like you made it."
"Yeah. We got lucky. Giles recognized the spell...but you wouldn't have known that. You were ready to sacrifice us all to save the world."
"That's what your pissed about?" Lindsey shook his head.
"You misunderstand, Lindsey. I'm not angry about it. If I had been in your position, it's exactly what I hope I would have done."
Lindsey was speechless as praise from Angel had never been directed his way. Lindsey wouldn't admit it, but what Angel thought of him mattered. After a moment of silence, Lindsey asked, "So why did you?"
Angel regarded Lindsey. "Why did I get you out?"
"I didn't. That was Spike's doing."
"He wouldn't have done it without your OK." Lindsey waited for a reply but Angel looked away. "Come on, Angel. Nobody here does anything without your approval. They all follow your lead."
"Do you remember running into Holland Manners on our way back?" asked Angel, effectively changing the subject.
Lindsey tensed and looked away. "Yes."
Angel heard the quiver in his reply. "Is what he said true? Are there levels in Hell and are we going to keep falling deeper?"
"Then we need to find a way out of here."
Lindsey was staring off into space and Angel wasn't sure he even heard him. He touched Lindsey's arm which caused the young man to jump.
"I said, we need to find a way out of here."
Lindsey shrugged, "How?"
"Giles is working on it. Reckon he could use some help. You up to it?"
"You want my help?"
"You're in this, too. I'm pretty sure none of us want to fall to lower levels."
"Forgive me but this seems a little too deja vu."
Angel nodded. "I'm sure it does and I don't blame you for being skeptical but we are all in this together, Lindsey." Angel paused, trying to put his thoughts in order. "You and I - we're never going to be friends. We both know that. But I've changed since The Fall. I think it's safe to say we all have, even you. We need to work together if we're to have a chance of getting out of here. I don't expect you to trust us right away. Frankly, I'm not really sure how far I trust you. You have every right to want to get even but I'm hoping we can all move past the distrust and work together. Can we, Lindsey?"
"Maybe," Lindsey haltingly replied.
"Guess that will have to do for now," Angel acknowledged. "When you're up to it, we'll give you a tour of the place and you can pick your room. Then maybe you can start helping Giles research for a way out of here." Angel turned to leave.
"I'd like to clean up...change clothes."
"Showers in there." Angel pointed the direction, "and we've put some clothes for you in the closet over there. Need some help, I can send someone else in."
"No, I got it...thanks," Lindsey hesitantly answered.
Angel walked out the door, giving a small nod as he shut the door.
Would love to hear some constructive critism. What was good - what was bad - were they in-character...etc