Pt. 11

~ooAIoo~

Lindsey took his time finishing the coffee, following it with a long, hot shower. He stood under the steaming water until it started to cool. Dragging himself from the shower, he toweled off, grateful the mirror was too fogged to see into. If he looked half as bad as he felt...

Wrapping the towel around his waist, he exited the bathroom, the steam rolling out after him. His skin prickled in the coolness of the bedroom. Sighing wearily, he rummaged thru drawers and closet for clothes to wear. After struggling into them, he slumped down onto the edge of the bed and, with a determined effort, remained upright. It was so tempting to close his eyes for just a moment but he doubted Angel would appreciate the delay and it would only result in another 'loud discussion'. Lindsey smiled, thinking it might be worth it just to see the vampire blow a gasket. Without realizing it, his eyes slowly drifted shut, his body sliding back onto the bed.

~ooAIoo~

Angel looked up from the book he had been reading and listened. The water had shut off finally and he could just make out light footsteps coming from one of the carpeted rooms on the floor above. Drawers opening and closing - a weary sigh - the light squeak of a bed, then temporary silence. Finally some additional light squeaking. Angel tuned his senses to the room above, shaking his head at the rhythmic breathing. Lindsey was asleep again. He contemplated waking the man but then recalled his haggard appearance. Deciding their discussion could wait, he turned his attention back to the book he'd been reading.

~ooAIoo~

"You belong here, Lindsey."

"No one will come for you. Nobody cares."

"You're worthless. You can't be saved."

The knife cut deep and he couldn't help screaming at the pain. He could feel the blood running down and his life ebbing away as the shadowed figures continued to slice into him. The cuts were made slow and deep...meticulous. Each stroke intended to invoke the most amount of pain. The taunting voices added to the physical pain. He pulled against whatever held him but there was no give.

"You are ours for eternity!"

Lindsey gasped awake, his whole body shaking as he darted glances around the darkened room. It took a moment for it to come fully into focus and he could recognize where he was. Still shaking, he cautiously got to his feet, relieved when the carpet didn't suck him in like quicksand as had happened in his dreams. The images were all mixed up, coming in flashes - the real with the nightmarish. Taking deep steady breaths to calm himself, he made his way from the bedroom into the living room. He flipped the lightswitch, squinting at the sudden brightness. Taking careful inventory of the room for any unseen dangers, he made his way to the small liquor cabinet at the far side of the room. Debating the wisdom of his actions for only a second, he opened the cabinet and flinched at finding it empty. A queasy feeling started in the pit of his stomach but he pushed it down. He made his way into the mini-kitchen, searching the cabinets, growing more panicked as he discovered each was empty.

"I got rid of all the alcohol while you were out."

Lindsey spun around at the unexpected company. "What?"

Angel would have laughed at the confused question if not for the fear he detected beneath it. "Alcohol's not going to help, Lindsey."

It took a moment to sink in but Angel could see the instant Lindsey's walls came back up and his defensiveness returned.

"You threw out MY-"

"You can't find any answers in the bottom of a bottle."

"Who the hell says I was looking for answers?" yelled Lindsey, slamming the cabinet door shut.

"I've been where you are. I know the nightmares that come from hell."

Clenching and unclenching his fists, Lindsey tried to regain control of his emotions. Anger and fear were fighting for domination. "I ain't looking for your pity and I don't need a lecture from you about hell. You have no idea..." He cut himself off. This conversation was over as far as he was concerned. Glaring at the vampire, he attempted to leave the room but as he walked by, Angel grabbed his arm and threw him back against the wall.

"I'm not done." Angel crowded into his space, eyes flashing.

Lindsey pushed him back. "I don't care. I'm not listening to any more of your-"

Angel's hand around his throat cut off his sentence and his air.

"You care about this?" Angel tightened his grasp just slightly. Lindsey's hands came up to vainly pull at his hold and he loosened his grip slightly to allow the man to breathe. "Now, I am going to talk, and you are going to listen. Understand? Just nod if you do."

Angel could feel the quick pulse beneath his fingers along with heavy breathing. Lindsey's hands still gripped tightly against his and he could see the fury in the man's eyes, but finally he nodded.

Letting go, Angel backed up a step. "Believe it or not, Lindsey, I want to help you and I think I can...if you'll let me." Without further conversations, Angel turned to leave. Just as he reached the door, he turned back. "I'll be in the lobby when you're ready to talk."

Lindsey watched the door shut before finally moving from the wall. With anger on full boil, he swept his arms violenty across the counter, sending everything on it crashing to the floor. Stalking into the bathroom, he pulled open the cabinet door below the sink, reaching into the very back recesses and pulled out a small bottle of bourbon. Smiling, he stood up, twisting visciously at the bottle top, throwing it to the ground, and moved to take a drink. The fog had long cleared from the room and he caught his reflection in the mirror. He froze. Was this what he'd become? He barely recognized the man staring back at him. His breath quickened and his heart raced, as he lowered the bottle from his lips. Visions of his father came to mind. The man's rapid decline at the loss of their home. The conditions they were forced to live in because his father couldn't hold down a job because of the drinking. The trouble his older siblings had gotten into as they tried to take care of the younger ones. The total mess their lives had become.

When he'd left LA, after the evil-hand incident, he'd gone home to Oklahoma. He had been searching for his roots just as Angel had guessed. He'd wanted to find out what had gone so wrong that he'd ended up working for an evil law firm. What had driven him to make the choices he'd made. But all he'd found in Oklahoma were ghosts of his past. His family was gone. They'd left and hadn't even bothered to tell him. He could've found them but it was clear, he wasn't a part of that family any longer. He'd burned too many bridges and let too much time pass, so he wandered aimlessly for a long while. Wolfram&Hart would show from time to time so he was careful to never stay too long in one place...until Nepal. He'd stumbled upon the monks by accident but they'd been more than happy to apply the protection runes...for a price. Luckily, he'd been able to pay it.

Coming back to the present, Lindsey stared at his reflection until he snapped. Rearing back, he threw the bottle, shattering the mirror but enough remained to mock him. Taking his fists, he began to punch the images that still stared back at him. The mirror pieces shattered against his force even as they ripped his knuckles to shreds.

Suddenly arms were around him pulling him back. He struggled against the hold as he was pulled from the room. Stop! He fought harder but the pressure around him only increased, preventing his freedom. Stop! Blind rage and fear fueled his struggle but he could feel his strength waning until it was used up and he slumped bonelessly against whatever force held him tight.

~ooAIoo~

At the sound of glass shattering, Angel had run up the stairs two at a time. He'd tracked the sound easily and wasn't completely surprised by what he'd found. As a vampire, he didn't have a reflection, and there had been times he was certain that was a good thing. As much as he'd hated some of the things he'd done, he'd never had to face himself in the mirror. He remembered Darla...the human Darla, telling him about how it had felt.

"Stop!" He grabbed hold to prevent Lindsey from further injuring himself, blood dripping from the man's hands. The bright crimson splattered the walls as if they'd been tie-dyed. Lindsey continued to struggle in his grasp. "Stop!" Angel doubted his voice was getting thru until suddenly the man went limp in his arms. Angel manuvered him to the edge of the bed, slowly releasing him, ready to restrain him if the fight returned...It didn't.

Lindsey sat just staring at his blood-stained hands. A towel was placed on his lap and he watched fascinated as the blood dripped down and was absorbed into the white cloth. A wastebasket was placed between his legs and his arms pulled down to rest on the towel. He sat staring, seeing only the blood. A chair was pulled up then a pile of medical supplies was laid beside it. Finally, black shoes and pant legs could be seen just across from his boots & jeans. Lindsey noted this only slightly as the blood stains kept most of his attention. Hands came into view and began to wipe at the blood on his right hand causing him to flinch.

"Easy, Lindsey." Angel continued to wipe gently at the blood with a damp cloth. He looked closely at the hand, spotting a sliver of glass. Picking up the tweezers from the pile of supplies at his feet, he started pulling glass shards from the mangled knuckles. Once he was finished with both hands, he placed another towel on top of the previous. "This might hurt some." Taking Lindsey's wrists in a light one-handed grip, he poured peroxide over the wounds. Lindsey barely flinched as the liquid bubbled in the cuts. "Almost done." Angel placed a gauze pad over the wounded knuckles and wrapped. He repeated the process on the other hand. "Okay. That should do it." Angel pulled both towels from Lindsey's lap and dropped them in the waste basket. "I'll need to clean up the mess in the bathroom so why don't you just lay back."

Lindsey's voice was so soft, Angel almost missed it. "I need your help." He raised his gaze to meet the vampire's.

Angel nodded. "That's the first step. You can do this, Lindsey...if you want it badly enough."

~ooAIoo~

"So you think he means it this time?"

Angel nodded at Lorne. "I do."

"Then I reckon the only question mark is if it's permanent. From the stories green jeans has told, Lindsey jumps ship alot."

Angel shrugged.

The three of them were inside Lorne's office at Caritas. Muffled music could still be heard coming from the bar which was still in full swing. Angel had met up with Lorne and Spike to discuss the events of the day and Lindsey's decision. The man had made a choice and Angel hoped he would follow thru. They'd find out in a few days. Lindsey was scheduled to leave on a plane tomorrow to spend some time with the monks that had helped him when Buffy had "died". He had contacted them almost a week ago and they had agreed to help if Lindsey should choose to seek it.

Lorned sipped his drink, drumming his fingers on the desk.

"Something wrong?" Spike had come to know Lorne quite well in their time together and the empath was worried.

Lorne was about to deny it but the gaze from both vampires told him it was futile. Sighing, he set his drink aside, leaning forward, clasping his hands together. "What if...I mean, if he...are we...do we have the right to...you know..." Lorne drew his finger across his throat.

"Good question, mate. What about it, pouff? Do we take him out?"

Angel threw an annoyed glare at Spike for the nickname but shook his head on the rest. "If this doesn't work, Lindsey will be dead inside a year all on his own. We won't have to help it along."

Lorne and Spike were startled by the response.

"It's gotten that bad?"

"Believe me," assured Angel, "if the monks can't help him, Lindsey will drink himself to death...and it won't take long to do it."

"So if it's that bad, what makes you think he'll make it to the airport tomorrow?"

"I got someone that's going to make sure he gets there."

Spike's eyebrow's raised. "That's why you called him. And here I thought you had a death wish."

Angel glared. "For your information, Boone and I settled our differences."

"Boone? Who's Boone?"

"Mutual friend." Spike just held back the smirk he wanted to add.

"And why do I get the feeling you aren't telling me something?" questioned Lorne, as he watched the battle of wills between the two vampires.

~ooAIoo~

Dawn was just breaking as Lindsey came down the staircase with a dufflebag over his shoulder. Angel walked into the room from the basement, dusting off a book he was carrying.

"Here, give this to the senior monk, Esmeraldo. Tell him I'm sorry it took so long to return."

Lindsey nodded, taking the offered book. Clearing his throat, he started to say something but Angel held up his hand.

"You get yourself sorted out, you've got a place here...if you want it."

Lindsey's eyes widened slightly, his lips parting. "You're offering me a place to stay?"

"Actually, I'm offering you a job...Doesn't pay much but you'd be good at it."

"A job?"

"Sure, why not? You can handle yourself in a fight, you're good with research, and you know you're way around a courtroom."

"I'm not a practicing lawyer anymore," stuttered Lindsey, still stunned at the offer.

"Maybe not, but you still know the rule of law. Could be useful."

Silence enveloped the room. Angel had made the offer and hoped Lindsey believed it was a sincere one.

Lindsey looked down, shuffling his feet slightly. Looking up, head held high, he said, "Last time you wanted me on your little team, I ended up with two bullets in my chest courtesy of your friend Lorne." He hadn't meant it to sound bitter but there was still lingering anger.

Angel sighed, nodding his agreement. "True, but these days, I think he'd be more likely to shoot me."

Lindsey frowned, uncertain of what to think or say.

They were saved from further awkward silence by the sound of a horn.

"Well, looks like your cab is here."

"Uh..yeah. I..."

"Better get out there before he decides to leave without you."

Lindsey nodded once and walked out the door.

Angel stared at the closed door, listening as the cab drove away. He turned as he heard the basement door open.

"That was touching," teased Boone. "Maybe there's more to this kid than I thought."

"Just tail him. Make sure he gets where he's supposed to."

"You think he's going to chicken out?"

Angel looked back at the closed door, shaking his head. "No idea."

"Alright, I'll tail him...and if he doesn't go to the monks?"

Angel turned back to Boone. "Just get him there."

Boone smiled. "That I can do."

~ooAIoo~

NOTE: Boone is from S2 ep: Blood Money