Rating: PG-13, may go up later
Pairing/Characters: Willow/Lindsey, AtS team
Word Count: 1,735 this chapter; 3,045 total
Summary: Willow goes in search of Lindsey when he suddenly disappears.
Timeline: BtVS: Post-Chosen, AtS: During Underneath (some dialog may be borrowed from the episode).
Disclaimer: I claim no ownership over these characters. I am merely borrowing them from Joss et al
Distribution: My site, the usual lists, anyone with previous permission. Anyone else - just ask.
Feedback: Yes please! It makes me happy and keeps me writing.
Author’s Note 1: Written for the Which Witch Ficathon. I didn't entirely follow my prompt - What if Willow joins Wolfram & Hart with Angel's team after leaving Sunnydale? - but I hope you enjoy it anyway.
Author’s Note 2: This is a non-direct sequel to my story Searching for Stability. I have a story in mind that takes place in Sunnydale between that one and this one, but it is currently incomplete. The main thing you need to know (if you don’t want to go read SfS) is that Willow and Lindsey met while she was in England for her magic rehab and Lindsey was there hiding from the Senior Partners after he left LA.)
Author's Note 3: For the purpose of this story, Lindsey and Eve were never lovers, just partners.
Willow stepped off the elevator into the lobby of Wolfram & Hart and had to make a conscious effort to keep her mouth from dropping open. This was a far cry from when she'd visited Angel at the defunct Hyperion Hotel.
She heard the voice from her past before she was caught up in a very tight hug.
"Harmony?" Willow asked in disbelief.
"In the flesh," she happily confirmed.
"What are you doing here?"
"I know, who would have thought that I'd be the assistant to someone like Angel, right?"
"You're Angel's assistant?"
"Uh huh. Are you here to see him? You don't have an appointment."
Willow felt like she'd entered some kind of alternate universe. "Yes I am, and no, I don't. Is he in?"
"It just so happens that no one showed up for his morning meeting. Well, except for Spike. So, yeah, he's free."
"Woah, back up. Um, Harmony, I hate to tell you this, but Spike's dead."
"Who isn't these days? Oh, you mean the Hellmouth. Yeah, we know all about that. Didn't that dweeb from the Council tell you Spike was alive?"
Willow rubbed her forehead. "No, Andrew didn't say anything."
"Oh, well, surprise!" Harmony looked pleased to be able to share this good news.
"Oh, right. Follow me." Harmony pushed opened the doors to Angel's office. "Hey, boss, you've got a visitor."
"Not right now, Harmony. We need to go see… Willow." Angel stopped in his tracks when he saw who had followed Harmony into his office.
"No, she's here to see you." Angel glared at her. "Right. Okay, I'm just going to leave you guys to catch up." She backed out of the office and closed the doors.
"What are you doing here?" Angel practically growled, his body taut.
"I heard you were trying to reach me," Willow said, doing her best not to crumble under Angel's anger.
"Two weeks ago," he bit out. "I tried to reach you two weeks ago."
Willow took an involuntary step back. "I-I just found out about that yesterday."
"Good ol’ Giles, waiting until it's too late to step in," Spike muttered from behind Angel.
"It wasn't Giles. I just got back yesterday and Kennedy told me she'd heard through the grapevine that you'd called Giles."
"So you were really on some astral plane?" Angel asked, relaxing a bit.
"Yes, I was. I was searching for something and it was harder to find than I expected. I didn't know I'd been gone that long."
"You really couldn't be reached?" Spike asked, coming forward.
Willow shifted uneasily. "Well, that's not entirely true. Giles would have known how to get a message to me if there was an emergency."
"It was an emergency," Spike yelled.
Wincing, Willow nodded. "That's why I had to come and see you. To tell you in person that I would have helped you if I had known. You have to believe me. Please, Angel…"
Angel felt the fight drain out of him. "I believe you. You've always come to my aid in the past. You have a much bigger heart than some people in the Council."
"Thank you. So, does this mean I get a hug?"
Angel nodded stiffly and Willow stepped into his arms. As the hug lingered, Spike began to pace.
Noticing the hug was going on longer than was proper, Angel suddenly shoved Willow away. He met her eyes, smirking, "Find what you were looking for?"
Willow let her eyes drop. "Yes. You still have your soul."
"Next time you can just ask."
"Angel, I'm sorry, but I had to know for sure."
"Don't you care if I still have my soul?" Spike asked, pouting.
"Of course, I do." He pulled her into a tight hug. "Spike, how are you even here? Buffy said you burned up in the Hellmouth."
"Right, that." He stepped back. "I can explain. You see--" After several false starts he turned to Angel. "Care to explain?"
"The amulet showed up here and Spike re-formed from it. He was a ghost for a few weeks until a magic package arrived and made him solid again."
"Why haven't you told Buffy?"
"Time hasn't been right."
"How long are you in town for?" Angel cut in. "I don't mean to be rude, but we do have a business to run here."
"Oh, um, right. Of course. Big CEO and everything. I'm here for a couple of weeks, I guess. I'm actually looking for someone. Maybe--"
The door opened. "Angel, if it's alright with you… You!"
Willow had turned at the sound of Wesley's voice, prepared to greet him. Instead she was met with a cold fury. She barely had time to erect a barrier before Wesley threw a fireball at her.
Before he could strike again, Angel stepped between them. "Wes, it's okay. Calm down."
"What is she doing here? Now? When it's too late."
"Too late? Does this have to do with the call a couple of weeks ago?"
Wesley stepped around Angel, advancing on Willow. She kept her barrier up, afraid of the violence she saw in the man's eyes.
"Oh, yes, I'd say that this has everything to do with that call. Why come now when you wouldn't come then? Are you getting some kind of pleasure from seeing our pain? I heard about your little trip to the dark side. Are you enjoying this?"
"Angel, what is he talking about? No one has told me why you tried to reach me. What happened?"
"Fred is dead," Wesley yelled. Willow paled, stumbling backwards as if she'd been slapped. "An old one infected my Fred and carved her out before taking possession of her body. You could have stopped it."
"You don't know that," Willow said, trembling. "I would have tried, if I could have, but you don't know that I could have saved her."
"You couldn't have," Angel said. "We know that now, Wesley. Once the process started, nothing could have been done to stop Illyria."
"But we never even had the chance to try," Wesley argued, his eyes pleading for understanding.
Willow could feel that there was more to those words and understood the depth of Wesley's pain. Memories of black hair and veins filled with black magic washed over her and she truly wished she could have been here to try to spare Wesley what he was going through now. She dropped her shields.
"I know you don't want to believe me, but I wish more than anything that I could have helped you."
"I want to believe you, but…"
"But the pain is too raw to believe that she's not in your world anymore. Yeah, I get that."
"Wesley, do you think you could show Willow around the building? Without harming her? There's something Spike and I need to take care of."
"Of course.” He paused to calm himself before turning to Willow. “Would you like to see my department? I am in charge of mystical artifacts, among other things."
"Hello! Witch here. Of course I want to see it."
"That was some spell you performed last year," Wesley commented on the way to his office.
"To activate all the slayers? Tell me about it. It was such a rush."
"It's hard to believe that the Council never tried something like that before," Wesley commented.
"Not really. It's much easier to control just one girl than it is to control thousands of them. The old Council was big on the control."
"Yes, I well remember."
"Do you like this better? The life certainly seems to suit you, recent losses aside."
Wesley cleared his throat. "There is much more freedom in the work that we do now. Especially with the resources of Wolfram & Hart at our disposal." With a flourish, he opened the door to his office. "Please excuse the mess, I've been researching."
"No problem. Just look at all these books. With how much the Council lost in the explosion, this looks like a treasure trove."
"You're not that far off." Picking up a large volume, he said, "This is a source book. I can use it to call up any book in our archives."
"Any book?" Wesley nodded. "What about other kinds of paperwork…like personnel files?"
"That's… an odd request. What exactly are you doing here, Willow?"
"I'm looking for someone," she admitted.
"The same someone you were looking for on the astral plane all this time?" Willow smiled meekly. "And when you couldn't find them there, you came here? Why?"
"Don't get me wrong, I really did want to talk to you guys face to face about why you'd called for me. But I also have my own reasons for coming in person. A friend of mine dropped off the map about a month ago and I've been trying to find him. The last hint of a location I could get on him was here in LA, so I thought maybe I could get a better trace from here."
"And by coincidence he used to be employed by Wolfram & Hart? If you don't mind me asking, why would you possibly want to track down a former Wolfram & Hart employee?"
"It's a long story, but we met while I was in magic rehab in England. He was there hiding from the Senior Partners and we just kinda…clicked."
"He was your boyfriend?"
"Still kinda is."
"And yet you needed to spend two weeks on the astral plane to even deduce that he was in Los Angeles?"
"Look, I know how that sounds, but he had some kind of secret mission that he didn't want me to get involved in. He wouldn't tell me anything about where he was going or what he was doing. But until he disappeared, we were in constant contact. That's why I got so worried when I couldn't find him by the usual human and mystical means that I had at my disposal."
Hoping that he was wrong, Wesley asked, "What is his name?"
"So you'll help?"
"If he is who I fear, then I may have some answers for you."
Wesley ran a hand wearily over his face. "I was afraid you were going to say that."
"What do you mean? You know him? Have you seen him?"
"Oh, yes. When last we saw him, he was trying to kill Angel."