Author: dragonydreams (Elisabeth)
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: 2,455; Total Word Count: 11,110/10,000
When Lindsey got back to his room, he immediately went to his bedside table and pulled out the phonebook he knew would be inside the drawer. He skimmed through the restaurant section until he found the Italian place Willow had pointed out to him as her favorite on their tour of downtown that afternoon. He called and was able to secure a reservation for two for that evening.
Stretching out on the bed, Lindsey did a mental review of the day. To say it had gone better than expected was an understatement. Willow was just as charming as she'd been the night before, only more so. He was surprised that he'd gotten on as well as he had with her friends, too. Well, aside from the Slayer. He could tell that he'd have to work to get Buffy to trust him. Normally he wouldn't be bothered, but he could tell that Buffy's opinion mattered to Willow. But he didn't think he'd have any problems befriending Xander and Giles.
Inevitably, his thoughts returned to Willow. The chemistry between them was undeniable. And that kiss had been...incredible.
In college, and especially after going to work for Wolfram & Hart, Lindsey had dated some beautiful and successful women. None of their carefully created beauty could compare to the simple elegance that shone from Willow. Maybe she was why everything had gone so wrong at Wolfram & Hart. He needed to be away from there so that she could come into his life.
"Get a grip, McDonald," Lindsey groused to himself as he ran a hand over his face. "You didn't believe in fate before; there's no reason to start doing so now that a pretty girl has caught your attention."
'But Willow is not just another pretty girl,' a small voice in the back of his head insisted.
"Great, now I'm hearing voices," Lindsey mumbled, pushing himself off of the bed. "Too bad it's right."
He stripped as he made his way to the bathroom and a nice hot shower. As Willow's face floated through his mind, he thought that maybe he should make it a cold one. Tonight was just going to be their first date, after all. She was a young woman, so seemingly innocent despite what she knew about the realities of the night. Just because the women in LA were easy, didn't mean that Willow would be, no matter how much his body wished that she would be.
Clean and dressed in khakis and a light blue button-down shirt, Lindsey carefully lifted his guitar out of its case. He lovingly ran his fingers over the wood and strings before strumming a few chords. Part of him wished he could be playing in front of Lorne tonight to see if this thing with Willow was as good as it seemed. He thought about taking Willow to that open mic night he'd seen and playing for her, but he wasn't quite ready to open himself up like that. Maybe on their next date, he thought with a smile.
Lindsey lost himself in the comfort of his guitar, the music calming and bolstering him. He had missed this, more than anything else, when Angel had taken his hand. From before he could remember, music had been his safe place, his escape. Something he could do that would make all the bad things in his life dim and disappear, at least for a while. Nothing bad could touch him when he was cradling a guitar on his lap, fingers dancing over the strings, his eyes closed.
Whenever his conscience reared its head during his time with Wolfram & Hart, he could pull out his guitar and play his distress away. Sometimes he'd go to Caritas to play for Lorne if playing for himself wasn't getting the job done. But he'd always been able to get the project finished afterwards.
Until Angel had taken that away from him.
Maybe that was why he had lost himself in Darla. He'd known it was futile, falling for the former vampire cum vampire. She had been so consumed with her thoughts of Angel that she couldn't spare him a glance.
He'd never admit it aloud, but she'd been right about one thing. It wasn't really her he wanted to screw. He wanted to make Angel pay. He wanted Darla to want him because he was everything that Angel wasn't; which was why she would never want him. Lindsey had a soul, but wanted to be evil; at least he'd thought he did. Angel was a vampire with a soul who wanted to be good; something that wasn't in his nature.
In the end, Darla left them all unsatisfied. None of them got what they wanted and they were all left to pick up the pieces. Alone.
Only now Lindsey wasn't alone. He didn't know how he was so certain that Willow would stay by his side through this new phase of his life, but he was. She was his light at the end of the very long, dark tunnel his life had become.
And if he didn't leave soon, he'd be late to pick her up.
Lindsey was relived when Willow was the one who responded to the knock on her door. He wasn't in the mood to deal with Buffy and her insistence that he was going to hurt Willow.
"Hey," Willow said, holding the door open to admit him to her room, a faint blush on her cheeks as she remembered what had happened in there just a few hours ago.
"Hey," Lindsey echoed, kissing Willow on the cheek as he stepped past her into the room. He did a quick scan of the room, relaxing when Buffy was nowhere in sight.
"Where's Buffy?" he asked.
Willow scowled. "Out. Luckily she was gone when I got back, so I have no idea where she is."
Taking Willow in his arms, Lindsey tilted her face up so he could look in her eyes. "Did she give you a tough time after I left?"
"She tried to," Willow admitted, her arms naturally encircling Lindsey's waist. "We yelled, and then I stormed out. She was gone when I came back to get ready for our date."
Lindsey took a step back so that he could run his eyes over Willow's body, without having to take his hands off of her. "You look beautiful," he sincerely told her.
"You're looking pretty great yourself," Willow said, her hands caressing him.
Reluctantly, Lindsey stepped out of Willow's embrace, knowing that if he didn't now, they wouldn't be leaving this room – or remain clothed for very long.
Clearing his throat, Lindsey said, "We should get going, or we're going to be late for our reservation."
"Reservation?" Willow eagerly said, a slight bounce in her step as she grabbed her purse. "We're going somewhere that requires a reservation?"
Taking her hand as she locked the door behind them, Lindsey said, "I don't know if they require one, but I made a reservation, just in case."
"Where are we going?" Willow asked.
"You'll see when we get there," Lindsey teased, his eyes sparkling at Willow's mock-pout.
As expected, Willow was thrilled that Lindsey had remembered which restaurant she'd pointed out as her favorite. The conversation over dinner was just as easy as it had been all day. At the end of the meal, Lindsey admitted that he could see why it was Willow's favorite, and promised to take her there again.
It was only 9 o'clock when they finished their meal, so Lindsey proposed getting a cup of coffee, decaf, and Willow eagerly accepted.
"Do you mind going back to the Espresso Pump?" Lindsey asked, hoping she'd say no. He really did want to check out the open mic night tonight so that he could decide if he wanted to play in the next one.
"There really isn't anywhere else to go, except the Bronze, and I'm not really in a clubbing mood," Willow said.
The place was pretty crowded when they arrived, much to Willow's surprise. They could hear someone singing, and she figured they were all there to see him, as it was definitely a male voice – a somewhat familiar one at that.
"Oh. My. Goddess." Willow froze on the spot when she saw a very familiar face sitting on the stage, when they got close enough.
"Is that Giles?" Lindsey asked, leaning down to whisper in Willow's ear.
Willow did a remarkable impression of a fish, while trying to wrap her mind around the fact that Giles, Watcher-father-figure-mentor-shopkeeper Giles was sitting on a stage, in public, playing the guitar and singing. Singing really well.
Eventually, she managed a nod in response to Lindsey's question.
While Willow did her impression of a statue, Lindsey looked around the small café in hopes of a table being free. As if reading his thoughts, the couple at the table next to them stood to leave and Lindsey quickly sat down as soon as a chair was vacated. Seeing Willow still gaping at the stage, he pulled her back until she was seated across from him.
The jolt of her bottom hitting the wooden chair shocked Willow back to awareness.
"That's Giles," she fiercely whispered to Lindsey.
Trying to hide his mirth, Lindsey said, "I thought so. I take it you didn't know he was playing here tonight?"
"No. Not tonight, or any other night. I didn't know he even still played the guitar," Willow said, turning in her seat to try to see Giles again.
Feeling a little ignored, Lindsey rested his hand over Willow's, purposely drawing her attention back to him. "He must have had his reasons for not telling you," he said.
Returning her attention to her date, Willow said. "I get that. It's important to have something that's just yours, something that makes you happy." Willow turned her hand over so that she could clasp the hand that Lindsey still had resting on hers.
When the set ended, Willow joined the crowd in enthusiastically clapping. She was excited that Giles was headed in their direction when he stepped off the stage. He seemed a little embarrassed as he approached their table.
"Willow, Lindsey, I didn't know you'd be here," he said by way of greeting.
"Giles, you were wonderful up there," Willow gushed. "Why didn't you tell us you were singing in public?"
"I'll just go grab us those drinks," Lindsey said, excusing himself from what appeared to be an awkward situation. "It's good to see you, Giles. Can I get you anything?"
"No, nothing, thank you," Giles replied. When Lindsey stood to go order coffees for himself and Willow, Giles took his seat. "A-are you here on a date?"
"Actually, yes, we are," Willow said. "For some reason, Lindsey really wanted to check out the open mic night, even though he didn't say so. He asked about it when we were here this afternoon, though. Is this your first time singing here?"
"Um, no," Giles admitted, cleaning his glasses so that he didn't have to see the pity in Willow's eyes he knew would be there. "I try to play every other week or so," he added.
"That is just so cool," Willow gushed. "I knew you'd been in a band when you were younger, but I had no idea you kept it up."
Giles coughed slightly at her phrasing. Yet another thing he'd never tell the children was that his playing here had done wonders for his social life.
"A-are...do you plan on telling the others?" Giles nervously asked.
Willow shrugged. "Not if you don't want me to. I don't know why you haven't told us yet, though."
"Thank you, Willow. If any of you were to have found me out, I'm glad that it was you. Can you just imagine what Buffy or Xander would have said or done if it had been them who had seen me playing?"
Willow giggled. "Yeah, I see your point. You're really good though, Giles. You have nothing to be ashamed of."
"She's right," Lindsey said, returning with two steaming coffees. "You have an amazing voice."
Giles stood to give Lindsey back his seat. "Thank you, Lindsey. Although I'm sure I'm just average."
Sneaking a sideways look at Willow, Lindsey decided to go ahead and ask Giles the question he'd been wondering all afternoon. "How does one go about getting stage time here?"
"Do you play?" Giles asked in surprise.
"From time to time," Lindsey admitted. "I used to play more, but then I wasn't able to for a while. I just started playing again."
"Play? What do you play?" Willow asked, feeling left out.
"The guitar," Lindsey said, as if it were the most obvious thing in the world.
"Oh," Willow said, momentary pain over Oz's departure washing over her.
"I-is that a bad thing?" Lindsey asked, confused as to why it would be okay for Giles to play the guitar but not him.
Sparing Willow having to answer, Giles quietly informed Lindsey, "Willow's previous boyfriend played the guitar for a popular local band, before he left her."
"I'm sorry, I didn't know," Lindsey said to Willow, squeezing her hand.
Willow took a deep breath and shook off bad thoughts about cheating ex-boyfriends.
"I'm okay. Really. Lots of guys play the guitar. So, uh, how long have you been playing?"
"For as long as I can remember…and we really don't need to talk about this," Lindsey said.
"No, it's all good. Maybe sometime I can hear you play?" Willow hopefully suggested.
Lindsey grinned. "Yeah, I think that can be arranged. That's actually why I was so interested in coming here tonight. I was thinking of playing at one of these open mic nights."
"That'd be cool," Willow said. "If you do, I'll be in the front row."
"You'd better be," Lindsey said, eyes locking with Willow's.
Giles took this as his cue to leave. "I think that I've intruded on your evening for long enough. There's a sign-up sheet at the register if you want to get on stage next time. I will see you both at the shop tomorrow."
Willow spared a quick glance in Giles' direction. "Bye, Giles. See ya tomorrow."
"Good night," was all Lindsey said, never taking his eyes off of Willow.
Returning her full attention to Lindsey, Willow blushed as she said, "Maybe I could get a private performance."
Lindsey raised an eyebrow, knowing he'd love to play just for Willow, alone in his hotel room.
"I think that could be arranged," he practically purred.
Willow swallowed hard at the lust in Lindsey's eyes. Her body flushed in reaction. "N-now?" she breathlessly asked.
"Let's get out of here," Lindsey agreed.