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, Walking a Thorny Path, 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: 1,502; Total Word Count: 16,818
I realize that I haven't posted since the end of March. This chapter has been finished, but I forgot to post it. You can thank athenewolfe for the reminder. If you need a refresher, or read for the first time, you can do so HERE.
"How's the hand?"
Willow felt, rather than saw, the tension that filled Lindsey. She looked at him, then to the person who had spoken.
Taking a tentative step forward she asked, "Angel, what are you doing here?"
"Willow, get away from him," Angel harshly told her, his eyes never leaving Lindsey.
Willow stepped back, taking Lindsey's hand in hers. "No. What are you doing here?"
Willow caught movement and saw Buffy step forward next to Angel, a look of ... not regret, but a silent apology nonetheless.
"Oh, Buffy, what have you done?" Willow asked quietly.
"I'm sorry, Will, but I did what I had to do," Buffy said, taking a step towards her best friend.
"What you had to do?" Willow slowly repeated. "What exactly is it that you thought that you had to do?"
Ignoring the stare-off between the two men, Buffy entreated to Willow's good sense. "I did what I thought was best for you. What you'd do for me. I had to prove to you that Lindsey is evil. I could see that you weren't going to take my word for it, but I thought you might listen to Angel, seeing as how they're enemies and all."
Willow was dumbfounded. She could hardly believe what she was hearing, let alone seeing. Her eyes roamed around the shop. For the first time she noticed that Giles and Xander were milling around the back, pretending to work, but obviously trying to stay out of the way.
Catching Xander's eye, she asked, "Did you know about this?"
Xander shuffled nervously to the front of the shop. "Yes and no. I didn't want any part of this. You have to believe me, Will. I liked Lindsey when we met," Xander said.
"You would," Angel dryly commented.
"A little warning might have been nice," Willow said.
Xander came closer and quietly said, "I tried calling you last night but you weren't home. Haven't you checked your messages?" He glanced quickly at Lindsey, then asked even quieter, "Have you been home since last night?"
Blushing to the roots of her hair, Willow answered, "I have been home, but I didn't have time to check the machine."
Realization dawned and Willow returned her attention to Buffy. "Is that why your bed wasn't slept in? You went to LA to get Angel?"
"I didn't think he'd come if I just called him," Buffy admitted.
"You drove to LA?" Willow asked, her disbelief evident in her voice.
"I tried to get Xander to drive me, but he refused," Buffy sulked.
"I told you I wasn't getting in the middle of this," he reminded Buffy. Thinking of Anya, he added, "Who Willow dates is none of our business. You've dated the evil undead before, I don't see why Willow can't date the not-so-evil not-undead."
"Because I have a soul," Angel ground out. "Why do I have to keep reminding you of that important detail? I didn't have a soul when I killed people. He did."
"I never killed anybody," Lindsey said, speaking for the first time.
"No, you just gave the orders. Worse yet, you did everything in your power to make sure that the monsters who did kill for fun got away with it."
"I was just doing my job," Lindsey snapped.
Turning to Xander, Angel said, "Did he tell you how we met? He was representing a powerful vampire who lured single girls with dreams of being famous to his home where he could kill them. He killed the girl I was trying to protect. When I went after him, he was about to kill Cordelia."
That bombshell had the desired effect. Xander looked back and forth between Lindsey and Angel. Lindsey looked slightly sick, whereas Angel looked smug. Then he looked at Buffy, who just looked uncomfortable. Finally, he turned his attention to Willow, who looked about how he felt. Granted, Cordelia had meant a lot more to him than she ever would to Willow.
Lindsey leaned down to whisper in Willow's ear. "Why did he bring up that detail about Cordelia?"
"She's Xander's ex," Willow whispered back.
Xander's face was blank as he stepped before Lindsey. "Is that true?" he asked.
"It's true," Lindsey admitted. "I even helped him track Ms. Chase down from a video tape of a party. I was very good at serving my clients."
Without warning, Xander swung back and punched Lindsey squarely in the jaw, causing him to fall backwards.
"Xander," Willow cried, kneeling down to cradle Lindsey's face to check the damage.
"Do you swear that you're done with it?" Xander demanded.
"I swear," Lindsey ground out. "I know that I can never make up for the things that I did at that place, but I had to walk away before I truly did lose my soul."
"If you so much as look at a baddie with understanding I'll stake you myself," Xander said.
"Um, Xan, he's human," Willow reminded him.
"I know," Xander said, coldly. Then he extended his hand to the man on the floor and helped him to stand.
"Excuse me," Buffy said, storming up to the others. "What just happened here? Xander, you were supposed to be on my side. You've never forgiven Angel for the bad things he's done."
"As Willow said, Lindsey's human. Humans make mistakes and can try to make their lives better when they see the errors of their ways. Deadboy is, and will always be, a vampire. There's no forgiveness or understanding."
"That doesn't even make sense!" Buffy protested. Spinning around she pleaded, "Angel, do something."
"What is it that you expect me to do?" he asked. "Do you want me to lay out every little detail that I know about what he did at Wolfram and Hart? Does it look to you like anything that I say will make a difference about how Willow feels about him? I told you that this wouldn't work."
"He's right, Buffy. I'm sure that I'll learn terrible things about Lindsey's past, over time, but that doesn't matter to me. What matters is who he is now, and who he wants to be in the future," Willow told her friend.
"Besides, I think we're too late," Angel said, glaring at Lindsey.
"What are you talking about?" Buffy asked.
She looked back to Willow and Lindsey, noticing how close they stood together, how Willow hadn't stopped touching him. Her eyes widened as she realized what Angel was implying.
"You slept with him?" Buffy screeched. "On the first date?"
Willow winced at the volume Buffy used, and at the accusatory tone. "That's none of your business," she bristled.
"Oh, God," Buffy groaned. "Don't you see, he's already corrupting you!"
"He didn't force me to do anything that I didn't want to do," Willow said, more confidently, memories of that morning making her smile.
"Willow, you'd never have sex on the first date," Buffy said, doubt creeping into her voice.
Smirking, Willow said, "I brought the condoms."
The sound of a hammer dropping and a muffled, "Good Lord," from the back of the shop caused Willow to blush. A glance at Xander's dazed, slack-jawed expression also reminded her that this wasn't the best place to have this conversation.
Lindsey released Willow's hand and slipped his arm around her waist, pulling her closer. He knew that that wasn't something she had planned on sharing with everyone, especially not all at once.
"I-I think that's enough of this for today," Giles said, intervening. "As it appears that I will be stuck with Angel for the day, I'll understand if you would like to wait until tomorrow to begin work."
"Thank you, Mr. Giles," Lindsey said. "I'm sorry to have put you in this position."
"It's just Giles. I know that it's not your fault. Buffy can be a bit stubborn at times," he said, apologetically.
"Hey!" Buffy said. "I can hear you, you know."
"Ah, yes, now you can hear me. Why is it that your ears were not working properly when we all tried to tell you to leave bloody well enough alone? If being with Lindsey is a mistake, Willow will discover that on her own. It serves no one's best interest for you to try to drive them apart," Giles told her, his frustration with her actions evident in his voice. Turning back to Willow and Lindsey he added, "Not that I believe that this is a mistake."
"I knew what you meant, Giles," Willow assured him. "Do you mind if I do the spell tomorrow too? I think I'd like to show Lindsey around some more today, since you're giving him the day off."
"Of course," Giles said. "Enjoy yourselves."
"Not too much," Angel added.
As Willow and Lindsey turned to leave, Buffy approached them. "Willow..."
"Not now, Buffy," Willow said, not turning around. "We'll deal with us later. I can't be around you right now."
"I was only trying to help," Buffy said.
"I know," Willow sadly acknowledged, pulling Lindsey out the door.
To Be Continued...