Rating: PG for now, might go up later
Summary: Leaving Wolfram & Hart was the best decision Lindsey could have made.
Disclaimer: I claim no ownership over these characters. I am merely borrowing them from Joss et al.
Distribution: joss10k, my site, the usual lists, anyone with previous permission. Anyone else - just ask.
Feedback: Yes please! It makes me happy and keeps me writing.
Thanks to my betas: strangecreature, kallie_kat & emeraldswan for all of your help.
Author's Note: While this takes place during season 5 of Buffy, I'm leaving out some things to suit my purposes. 1) No Dawn & Joyce isn't sick, so Buffy is still living in the dorms with Willow as her roommate. 2) Tara is just a friend.
Chapter Word Count: 2315; Total Word Count: 4262
After a dream-filled sleep, Lindsey woke with a sense of hope that he hadn't felt in a very long time. When he had first started driving away from Los Angeles, he hadn't been completely sure that he was doing the right thing. After meeting Willow, he knew that he was.
It was strange. He normally wasn't one to look for signs to show him that he was making the right or wrong decisions in his life; readings from an empath demon aside. If he were, he never would have gone to work for Wolfram & Hart in the first place. Yet somehow, one chance encounter with a sweet, young woman and he was suddenly seeing that meeting as a confirmation that he had been right to leave LA.
Stretching as he rolled out of bed, he flexed his evil hand and wondered what he should do now that he was here. After a quick shower and shave, he headed out in search of breakfast. He spent the day walking through the streets of Sunnydale, familiarizing himself with what was available to a man looking for a new start in life.
He wandered past a few bars, a magic store that was closed while being taken over by new management, and a coffee bar that was advertising an open mic night that night. He made a mental note to return to see who was performing, maybe even bring his guitar with him.
He also headed over to the college campus, telling himself that he was simply checking that out too, even though he knew he was really hoping to catch a glimpse of Willow. He bought a newspaper and found a bench near the library he had dropped her off at the night before, assuming that it was near where she lived.
For the next hour, Lindsey spent his time divided between reading the news, obituaries, real estate listings and help wanted ads. He had to try to keep his laughter down a few times while reading stories that were obviously the results of demon attacks, but were being explained with much more mundane causes. He wasn't surprised to see that many of the help wanted positions were re-advertisements. With such a high mortality rate on the Hellmouth, he expected that there were always job openings.
Skimming the want ads he found himself getting lost in his thoughts. 'What am I going to do with my life?' he asked himself.
He had the stark realization that he couldn't continue practicing law, no matter how great a lawyer he was. Wolfram & Hart would easily be able to track him down that way, and that was the last thing he wanted. No, he was going to have to do something else. Something less challenging and less intellectually stimulating.
With a sigh, he started looking at the ads again, in earnest. He had been a bartender in college; he supposed he could do that again, for a little while at least. You certainly met some interesting people in that line of work. Maybe he could work at the campus bar, hoping to see more of Willow. If she was even old enough to drink. He had a sinking feeling as he realized that she probably wasn't even 21 yet. So no chance of her hanging out while he worked at a bar. Scratch that idea.
Working on campus wasn't such a bad idea, though. He wondered what opportunities might be available. He could work for the law school, maybe. Find a way to put his vast knowledge of the legal system to work in a non-practicing manner. Those jobs were probably reserved for law students, though.
A shadow fell across the paper and Lindsey glared up at the person blocking the sun. "Do you mind? You're in my light." When the woman stepped aside, Lindsey nearly fell over himself to apologize. "Willow, hey! Sorry, didn't mean to snap at you."
"Yes, you did," she said with a grin. "What's got you in a grumpy mood on this sunny day? Or, more importantly, what are you doing back on campus?"
"Would it sound too much like a stalker if I said I was hoping to see you?" he bashfully asked.
"Yes, but flattering too. I've never had a stalker," Willow said. Then realizing how that sounded, she added, "Not that I'm looking for one. From what I hear, they're not so much fun to have around."
"Trust me, they're not." Lindsey sat back on the bench, gesturing for Willow to join him. His smile grew when she did.
"So what's got you in such a bad mood?" Willow asked again. "Bad news in the paper?"
"No more so than usual," Lindsey said. "No, I was just realizing that I have no idea what kind of job to look for."
"Well, you were a lawyer before, right? Why can't you just find another firm here?" she asked.
"It's complicated. I didn't exactly leave my former employer on good terms. It's not an easy place to just up and leave. They may be looking for me. And I don't want to make it easy for them. Going to work for another law firm would be like walking around with a target on my back."
"What kind of place did you work for?" Willow teasingly asked. "You make it sound like you left the mob or something." She giggled at the idea.
"No, not the mob. This place was worse," Lindsey solemnly told her.
Willow's giggles stopped abruptly as she gaped at Lindsey. Her quick mind pulled up parts of a conversation she had had with Cordelia at the end of last year. She gasped.
"You're him. You're the lawyer from Wolfram & Hart that went to Angel about the blind kids! I helped Cordelia decrypt those discs you stole."
"Aw hell, you know Angel?" Lindsey groaned, burying his face in his hands.
"Uh huh, since my sophomore year of high school," Willow said. "You two don't get along, I take it?"
"It's a long story," Lindsey said. "But no, for the most part we can't stand each other."
"Oh, well then I won't tell him you're here," Willow offered, resting her hand on Lindsey's arm.
"Why would you do that?" he asked, turning to face her, a look of amazement on his face.
Willow shrugged. "It's not really any of his business where you are if you're no longer on his case in LA. Right?"
"Well, when you put it like that, yeah. That's awfully decent of you," Lindsey said, a twinkle in his eyes.
"Pfft," Willow waved off the compliment. "I love Angel, but he can get a little single-minded when he takes offense to someone, or something. I guess now I know how you knew about vampires last night."
"Right, that. If you know about Wolfram & Hart, then you know about the kind of clients we, I, had. Not all of them were of the human variety."
"Not to repeat myself, but are you evil?" Willow felt she had to ask.
"I'm trying really hard not to be. I reached the point where I had seen too much and just wanted out. I could rationalize most of what I'd seen and done, but something happened and I couldn't live with it any more."
"If that's the case, you probably don't want to be hanging around Sunnydale. After LA, this is like the biggest demon population around. Well, I hear Cleveland has a pretty big one too," Willow said, a hint of sadness in her voice. The thought that Lindsey might be going out of her life as quickly as he'd entered it was a disappointing one.
"I don't know about that," Lindsey said. He'd picked up on Willow's hint of disappointment at the thought of him leaving and it brightened his day. "I'm kind of used to being surrounded by demons. The trick is to stop working for them. Any suggestions?"
"Um…" Willow bit her lip as she thought about possible job opportunities for an ex-lawyer that didn't involve demons. "Well…"
"Do you have a job?" he asked, interrupting her thoughts.
"Who me? No. Full time student here. I have a lot of extra-curricular activities that take up most of my free time."
"Oh." Lindsey knew that syllable must have sounded awfully depressed, but he was afraid that she was too busy to date him. And man was he moving quickly in his thoughts if he had them dating already – spending all of their nights together, safely away from hungry demons. It was a nice thought though.
"Oh, hey," Willow excitedly said. "If you know about demons and magick and stuff, my friend just bought the magick store. Maybe you could help out there."
"Work in a store?" Lindsey said, testing the idea out. He'd never done that before, but he was adaptable. "Will it matter that I don't practice?"
"Not at all. Most of the people who shop there wouldn't know a toad's stone from a piece of gravel. If someone knows what they're talking about, you can just ask Giles or me. I'll be hanging out there a lot when I'm not in classes."
'Bingo!' Lindsey shouted internally. "I suppose it wouldn't hurt to talk to your friend. If you don't mind my asking, how could someone your age be taking over a shop?"
"Oh, Giles is my adult friend. He was the librarian at my high school and I spent so much time in there that we became friends. After I graduated and the school blew up, we kept in touch."
"And your boyfriend, what does he do?" Lindsey not-so-subtly asked.
"He's a musician," Willow automatically. "And he's not my boyfriend. Not anymore."
"I'm sorry to hear that," Lindsey said, his grin belying his words.
"No you're not, but that's okay. I'm glad he's not my boyfriend anymore, too."
Just as Lindsey was about to take that opening to ask Willow out, a blonde girl Willow's age bounded up to them.
"Hey, Will. I've been looking for you. You didn't come back to the room after class and I've been waiting," she said.
"Oh, sorry. I saw Lindsey sitting here and stopped by to say hi," Willow apologized. "What's up?"
"This is Lindsey?" Buffy asked, running her eyes appreciatively over Lindsey's seated form, causing the man to fidget.
"I don't believe we've met," he said, standing. "As it appears you know," he locked eyes with Willow, pleased that she'd mentioned their encounter to this girl, that he assumed was her roommate, "I'm Lindsey McDonald."
"Buffy Summers," the blonde supplied, shaking his hand. She had a feeling she knew that name from somewhere, but pushed it out of her mind, assuming it was just from Willow mentioning it the night before.
Lindsey's face paled. "You're roommates with the Slayer," he practically yelled, facing Willow.
"How does he know what a Slayer is?" Buffy asked Willow, then turned to Lindsey. "How do you know what a Slayer is? You're not from the Council, are you?"
Willow was instantly on her feet standing between the two. "Buffy, chill, it's okay. It makes sense that if he knows about demons then he knows about the Slayer."
"But how do you know I'm the Slayer?" she asked Lindsey.
"I worked for Wolfram & Hart," he answered.
Recognition filled Buffy's face as her hands unconsciously balled into fists. "You're Angel's Lindsey. You're the one who has been harassing him! If you weren't human, I swear you'd be standing there dead."
"How is it that everyone here knows Angel?" Lindsey asked, throwing his hands into the air.
"I was in love with him," Buffy coldly answered.
"Oh, right," Lindsey said, "I remember reading that in his file."
Trying to dispel the situation, Willow blocked Buffy's line of sight. "Buffy, before you go running off to tell Angel where Lindsey is, you should know that he left Wolfram & Hart, for good. He's trying to start over. Be good. Right?" The last part was directed to Lindsey.
"Right," he said. He was deeply moved that this wisp of a girl was standing up to the Slayer in order to defend him. He also now knew how it was that she knew how to kill the vampire the night before.
"And you just believe him?" Buffy asked Willow. "He says he's good now and you're going to take him at his word? God, Willow, I know that you like seeing the good in people, but don't let a pretty face cloud your judgment."
"You know that I wouldn't do that," Willow protested, hurt that Buffy thought she could do something like that. "I can see it in his eyes, and in his aura. He's trying to turn his life around. And I think we should help. Please don't pass judgment on him, not yet. Get to know him a little bit first."
Buffy slowly ran her eyes over Lindsey again, this time scrutinizing him in a way that made him feel like something she'd scraped off her shoe, and not at all in the slightly pleasant way she'd ogled him earlier.
"Fine. You may as well bring him along. Let the others decide how evil he is now. That's why I was coming to find you anyway. Giles called; he wants us to meet him at the shop."
"Oh, okay. I wanted him to meet Giles anyway. I thought maybe he could work at the shop when it opens," Willow agreed. She hoped her friends would like him. She'd thought that he was going to ask her out before Buffy showed up, and she knew that if he did, she'd say yes.
Turning to Lindsey, she said, "Is that okay with you? Do you want to come with us?"
Ignoring Buffy's mumbling that he didn't have a choice, Lindsey stiffly answered, "I'd love to."