Author: Imzadi
Title: Reprisal
Rating: PG-13
Disclaimer: Everyone belongs to Joss; I own nothing.
Notes: This begins immediately after Reprise.

Darla was angry. No, to be exact, Darla was furious. She hated Angel as she had never hated anyone before. She had given him her best and it wasn't enough. Was it the blonde cheerleader? Or the brunette seer? It didn't matter. He was going to suffer. How best to do it?

When Lindsey arrived back at the apartment after the shambles that had been the 75 year review, Darla was waiting for him. She stood by the window sadly looking out. He quickly drew the curtain closed so no one would see her. After all, the order had been given to stake her on sight.

"Darla, what is it?"

She allowed her lip to quiver just slightly and a tear to trickle down one cheek.

"Lindsey. Thank God you're back." She looked at him and then looked down, as if she were ashamed to look him in the eye.

"What is it, Darla? What's wrong? Tell me."

"Angel," she whispered with just the slightest hint of a stammer. "It was Angel."

Lindsey's arms went around her protectively in spite of himself. Although he knew she wasn't to be trusted, he couldn't help himself. She had been so vulnerable. Maybe this time that damned vampire had gone too far.

"What did he do to you? Tell me. Tell me!"

"Oh, Lindsey." She laid her head against his shoulder. "I don't know why he hurt me. I don't know. I'm so unhappy. Just hold me, please." She raised her head just a little so her hair tickled his nose. Her perfume was laced with phemerones. She leaned against Lindsey so that her stomach rubbed up against his groin with the expected results. He didn't stand a chance; after all, she was a professional and had been for 400 years.

Before he knew it, he was in bed with Darla. Lindsey had been an experienced man, particularly with the would-be actresses who had competed for the attention of Russell Winters, his ex-client. Many of them had had no scruples about sleeping their way to the top, especially when one of the stepping stones was a handsome young lawyer. They had been very talented, but none of them could come close to Darla. She did things to Lindsey that he could never even have dreamed of.

When he reached the last orgasm of which he was capable that night, Darla bit him. She sipped daintily from him tasting the thick, sweet blood that ran through his veins. But his death was not what she wanted, nor did she want to turn him. All she wanted was to put her mark on him. Finally she cut her wrist with a fingernail and allowed him to taste a few drops. That was all it would take. He belonged to her now.

Lindsey fell back on the pillow exhausted and was asleep almost immediately. Darla rose, dressed, took everything she wanted including all of the money from his wallet, and left. Her destination was a small storefront known only to a select few, primarily vampires and demons.

"Gerard, I need a spell."

"What kind of spell, Darla?"

As she told him her desire, he shook his head. "It's not possible."

"It is. We had sex. We shared blood. It's possible, and I want it."

"You don't know what you're asking for, Darla."

"I'm not asking, Gerard. I never ask. I'm demanding."

Shaking his head, Gerard disappeared into the back and returned with a small vial. "Take this, then, and be damned. You won't listen to reason, Darla. You never did."

Holding the vial tightly, Darla disappeared into the night.

When Lindsey awoke and found Darla gone, he went to his closet and pulled out his cowboy boots. Then he took off in his old pickup truck, sledgehammer in the bed, in search of Angel.

One broken prosthesis, one hand transplant, one song at Caritas, one trip to a body farm, and one COPS SUCK sign later, Lindsey was on his way out of Los Angeles, for good, he thought. After all, there was no reason to go back. Was there?

Five months later, Darla realized that Gerard was right. This had been a very bad decision. She couldn't continue to carry this child. She sought out ways to rid herself of the "thing" growing inside of her body, but she could find no relief. Something was protecting the child. She had no choice but to go back to her original plan. But first she had to know where to find Lindsey when the time came. The shaman couldn't end her pregnancy, but he could find an itinerant lawyer turned singer. And he could refresh Darla's connection with Lindsey so that she would be able to find him.

When Lindsey had had enough of the nomadic life and headed for San Francisco to seek help in resuming his law career from his mentor at Hastings, the shaman knew it too.

Lindsey's address and phone number were filed until Darla needed them.

Three months later, Darla found herself at the door to the Hyperion. "Hello, Daddy!"

One look at Angel's face when the ultrasound revealed that Darla was carrying a human son was enough. She knew that she had found a way to crush his spirit. Now she was afraid that it would kill her, too. Well, 400 years was enough without her childe and consort.

Although she could face the death that she knew would come, the pain was something else. It was the most excruciating pain she had ever felt. Still, she was strong; she could handle it. After all, she was Darla, wasn't she?

Now was the time to write the letters: two letters, one to each man. One would break Angel's heart and the other would most likely make Lindsey very happy. That wasn't her goal, of course. She didn't care if he was happy, just that Angel was miserable. The shaman would see that both of them were delivered a year after the birth. If she made it through somehow, she'd deliver them herself.

Darla's plan was perfect except for one thing. She had a human being with a soul inside of her, and she began to feel love for him. Would she still love him when he was born? No, she was sure she wouldn't. And she couldn't deliver him. So, rather than let the baby die, she staked herself. As Darla fell into dust, a baby boy began to cry in the dark wet alley. Angel picked up the little boy and held him in his arms.

In San Francisco, Lindsey suddenly sat up in bed. My God, am I having a heart attack? I'm not even 30 yet. But as quickly as the sharp, stabbing pain had come, it was gone. A feeling of warmth emanated from the place on his neck where he bore two puncture wounds, a souvenir of Darla's "love". As he placed his hand on the wound, he could feel that marks dwindling into nothingness. He got out of bed and went to the bathroom mirror. Yes, the marks were gone.

"Darla," he breathed softly. Then, kneeling by his bed, he prayed for her soul.

One year later

Angel and Fred sat on the floor as Connor walked between them.

"He's doing really well, Angel."

"Look at my boy go! Notre Dame quarterback of the future! Then the Raiders! I'll be able to go to the night games!"

"I thought we agreed on the Dallas Cowboys, Angel!" Fred loved to tease him.

Wes and Cordelia came in from the kitchen.

"The cake is ready, Angel. It's adorable!"

"Did you get ice cream?"

"Yes, Angel. And we have balloons, and streamers, and lots of presents." Cordelia smiled indulgently.

"And you know how Cordelia loves to buy presents!" Wes smiled at her.

Just then there came a knock at the door.

"It must be Gunn and Anne. But why would they knock?" Fred went to open the door. She came back holding an envelope. "Angel, it's a special delivery letter for you. No return address." She handed him the envelope and picked up Connor. "Let's change your diaper before the party, Connor." He grabbed a fistful of Fred's hair and cooed at her.

Angel opened the envelope and began to read.

So today is Connor's first birthday, Angel. You must be so happy, so proud. Your precious son. Well, guess what, Lover. He's not your son. Lindsey is his father. After I left you, I went to Lindsey's bed. Everything you and I did, I did with him. But he's different from you. He's warm, and alive, and, yes, virile. You're wondering why I waited so long to tell you. I wanted you to come to love him the way I loved you, so it would be harder to lose him. And you will lose him. I've written to Lindsey, and I know he'll come for his son. Blood tests can prove what I'm saying is true. I told you you'd pay for what you did to me. I forgave you once, even twice. Not three times. Kiss you son goodbye, Angel, because I know Lindsey is on his way. Vengeance is mine.

Suddenly his face fell and he sank into a chair.

"No, it's not possible. It can't be. No!" The paper dropped to the floor. He put his face in his hands and wept.

Wesley picked up the paper without thinking and began to read. "Oh, my God." He shook his head in disbelief. "Oh, my God."

"What is it, Wes?" Cordelia took the letter. "That bitch! That evil bitch! How could she?"

Angel got up, picked up Connor, and headed for the kitchen.

"Come on, we can't take his birthday celebration away from him, especially if it may be our last."

"What am I missing?" Gunn and Anne had just come in. "Who died?"

"Darla wrote Angel a letter before she died. She said that Connor is not Angel's; he's Lindsey's. And she also sent Lindsey a letter telling him."

"We won't let Lindsey take him."

"I don't think we could stop him legally," Wes said.

"Come on, everyone. Now is not the time. It's Connor's day!" Angel beckoned them all into the kitchen. They pasted on smiles and followed him in. Somehow the cake and ice cream just didn't taste the same.

Lindsey took one more look at the ring before closing the box and putting it in his pocket. Tonight would be the night. He would propose to Kate. He couldn't believe his good fortune in running into her in that diner in Phoenix on his way back to California. She had been working as a waitress, living from day to day, just as he had been. He had convinced her to come with him. Now she was a police detective on the San Francisco homicide squad, and he was an assistant district attorney. Life couldn't be better. Then the doorbell rang.

It was a special delivery letter with no return address. He opened the envelope and, as he started to read, sank into a chair.

"It can't be. Unbelievable! Why didn't she tell me sooner?" Then he rose and went to his computer where he pulled up an online travel service and bought a ticket on the first flight out to Los Angeles. Then he made two phone calls. The first was to his immediate superior.

"Bill, this is Lindsey. I have to go to Los Angeles for a day or two. Personal business. I don't have anything hot at the moment. Can someone cover for me? I'll be back as soon as I can. Yes, I'll stay in touch."

Then he called Kate. "Darling, I'm going to have to put off our dinner for tonight. I have to go to L.A. No, I don't really want to. Yes, I'd love to have you with me. I wish you could come, but I understand. I'll call you and we'll go out when I get back. Would you please call and change our reservations to the day after tomorrow? Thanks, Darling. I love you. Bye, now." He threw a few things into a bag, went downstairs, and hailed a taxi to take him to the airport.

Although Angel had curled up next to Connor on the bed, he hadn't slept a wink. Neither had Fred, Cordelia, Wes, or Gunn. Anne had left right after the cake and presents, knowing that, even though she was Gunn's girl, she didn't belong there now.

Lindsey had spent the night at the airport hotel, although he didn't sleep a wink either. He wanted to go to the Hyperion when Connor was up. The thought that Angel might have hidden Connor or even gone away with him didn't even cross his mind. At eight he took a taxi to the Hyperion, went to the door, and knocked.

Cordelia opened the door. "It's you."

"May I come in, Cordelia?"

"If you know what's good for you, you'll go away and never come back."

"Let him in, Cordelia, and then please leave us alone." Angel was there, holding a blonde child. He beckoned Lindsey to a seat and waited until Cordelia, Wes, Gunn, and a dark-haired girl that Lindsey didn't recognize left the room.

"It's been a long time, Angel."

"Let's skip the pleasantries, shall we. I know why you're here."

"May I hold him?"

"He's yours, isn't he?" Angel handed Connor to Lindsey. The boy snuggled up against him and tried to grab his hair, but it was too short.

Lindsey looked into his son's face. "He looks like her."

"I used to think so. Now I see a lot of you in him. The eyes, the mouth."

"I never knew. Yesterday I found out about him. She didn't tell me."

"That's what she said in her letter. I guess you've come for him."

Lindsey put the boy on the floor and watched him toddle to Angel. "What's his name?"

"Connor. You'd probably want to change it, though."

Lindsey looked down for a minute and then looked Angel in the eye. "I did a lot of thinking on the plane and in the hotel last night. I know one thing: I do not want to be the instrument of Darla's revenge on you. Even if I still hated you and, somewhere along the line, I stopped. Probably the night you smashed my hand when you could have killed me. Definitely when I got my new hand. I couldn't do this to you. Having seen him makes it harder, but I won't take him away."

"Why, Lindsey? You may not hate me, but I know you don't like me. Why?"

"Did you study the Bible in school back in Ireland, Angel? I did. I remember the story of King Solomon, the two women, and the baby. They both claimed to be his mother, so King Solomon said to cut the baby in half. The one who was willing to give him up rather than see him die was the true mother. You may not be Connor's biological father, but you've been his real father for a year. You've fed him, changed him, bathed him, walked the floor with him, and loved him. You deserve to keep him. I'll admit that he's lucky to have my genes. He'll be handsome, extremely intelligent, and athletic/baseball and academic scholarship material." Lindsey smiled his smug, arrogant smile, which softened into a genuine, slightly sad smile.

"And modest, too." Angel smiled back. "Are you sure this is what you want to do, Lindsey?"

"No, it's not what I want. It's the right thing. I'm trying to do the right thing nowadays. Sometimes it's hard, like right now." He swallowed. "One condition, though. I want to be a part of his life. You can call me his uncle or his godfather, but I want to be able to see him, to take him to the movies or the zoo or Disneyland on occasion, maybe even to take him up to spend a few days in San Francisco with me."

"Of course. You'll be Uncle Lindsey. Anything else?"

"I'll contribute to his support if you wish."

"That won't be necessary, but you can contribute to his college fund. Notre Dame."

Lindsey smiled. "I was thinking Harvard, myself. We'll discuss it later." He looked around. "Do you have a computer with a printer?"

Angel led him to Cordelia's PC. He sat and typed for a long time and then printed something up.

"These papers give you custody of Connor as long as you live. If you should die before he turns 18, I'll assess the situation and decide what is best for him."

"Where do I sign?"

"Call in Cordelia and Wes first. Our signatures need to be witnessed. We should have a notary, but it's not required."

"Okay, you can all come out now. I need witnesses to our signatures. Lindsey, I don't think you've ever met Fred. Fred Burkle, Lindsey McDonald."


"It's really Winifred."

"Funny, that's my sister's name. I have no idea where she is now. She was taken away from us and given up for adoption. I hope she's okay, wherever she is."

Angel, Lindsey, Wes, and Cordelia all signed the custody papers, with Fred and Gunn looking on and smiling.

"I'd like to hold him one more time, and then I have to go back to San Francisco. I have something important to do that I would have done last night. Tell me what you think of this, Cordelia." He took the box out of his pocket and handed it to her. She opened it up.

"It's gorgeous, Lindsey. The stone is beautiful and the setting is perfect for it. Who is the lucky lady?"

"You all know her, except for Fred, I guess. Kate Lockley. I found her in Phoenix on my way back to California from Oklahoma. She's a detective on the police force now. I'll propose to her tomorrow at our favorite restaurant." He took back the ring and put it into his pocket. Then he took Connor. "So long, champ. Uncle Lindsey will come back and see you again one day soon." He kissed the top of his son's blonde head. "Take care of him." He turned and walked out the door.

Angel found himself crying again, but this time it was tears of joy. Cordelia hugged him and Fred held onto his arm.

"You know, Angel, Darla may have done this to get even with you for leaving her, but she misjudged you and Lindsey."

"Maybe not. Lindsey has changed. He's not the man Darla knew. I hope he and Kate will be happy. I know Connor and I will be."

Back in San Francisco, Lindsey called Kate. "I can't wait to see you, Darling. I have an amazing story to tell you. And I have a very important question to ask. I know our dinner reservations are for tomorrow, but let's get together tonight. Okay, I'll see you here tonight then. I love you." He hung up the phone. "I love you too, son. And I forgive you, Darla, wherever you are."

And he allowed himself the luxury of tears for the son he had just given up.