Title: The Set-Up
Summary: Willow and Lindsey are set up by a mutual acquaintance.
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: Thanks to velvetwhip, emeraldswan and strangecreature for all of your help.
Author's Note 2: Written in answer to mrsdrake's Unanswered Challenges, Challenge #12: Pick two characters from the BTVS/ATS universe that have never met on the shows. Then send them on a blind date together. That's it. Be creative with it.
Willow floated into Angel's office, her lips still tingling pleasantly from Lindsey's kisses. She couldn't believe how attracted she was to him, so quickly. She wasn't typically one for swooning, but Lindsey made her want to swoon.
"Angel, I'm back," she called out, knowing the vampire would be waiting for her.
She remembered Lindsey's jealousy when he found out she was staying with a male friend and wanted to giggle. No one had ever been jealous of who she spent time with before.
Angel looked up from the book he was pretending to read when Willow drifted into his office. The dreamy expression on her face tempted him to smile. He couldn't remember the last time that he'd seen her looking so happy.
"You had fun with your friend's cousin, I take it," he said as she settled into a chair across from his desk.
"Yeah," Willow sighed. "I never knew a blind date could work out so well."
"Date? This was a date?" Angel asked, sitting up straighter. She hadn't said anything about it being a date before she left. Just dinner with her friend's cousin. No wonder she'd been so nervous before she left. "I thought you said Tara's cousin's name was Lindsay."
"Lindsey's a guy," Willow giggled. "I know, what kind of name is that to give a boy? His parents must have wanted a girl pretty badly."
Angel felt the hairs on the back of his neck stand on end. Willow was right; Lindsey was not a common name for a man. In fact, he'd only ever met one male Lindsey, and he felt a knot of dread forming in his stomach as he hoped he wasn't the one Willow had met.
Schooling his features, Angel politely requested, "So, tell me about him. What does he do?"
A slight frown intruded on Willow's blissful expression as she said, "He's a lawyer. Pretty good one from what Tara's told me. He's confident enough to be successful."
'No!' Angel internally screamed. It couldn't be. Not Lindsey McDonald. Not an employee of Wolfram & Hart. Not for Willow.
Angel closed his eyes and expanded his senses. He inhaled deeply and sure enough, there it was. Lindsey's scent was all over Willow. He took a small measure of comfort that the shyster hadn't gotten Willow into his bed; the scent of arousal coming off of Willow was strong, disturbingly so, and he could only scent her arousal. Besides, Willow was too smart to go to bed with a man she'd just met.
He was more disturbed that she was so strongly aroused by the smarmy lawyer though. While she was a smart girl, Willow could still be naïve, despite the horrors she'd lived through.
He didn't notice he'd been softly growling until he felt Willow's hand on his and opened his eyes to see her worried face watching him.
"Is everything okay, Angel? You were growling."
"I was? Sorry," he tried to apologize. "Willow, I hate to ask, but I need to know. This Lindsey, does he by any chance work for Wolfram & Hart?"
The light that brightened Willow's face caused the knot that was taking over his stomach to grow. "Yeah, that's it. Do you know him? He didn't say anything about knowing this place when he dropped me off."
"We've met," Angel succinctly told her. His tone telling her that it was not a pleasant encounter.
"Uh oh. That doesn't sound good. What happened? Was he opposing counsel on a case you were working on or something?"
"Or something. Willow, what do you know about Wolfram & Hart?" Angel tentatively asked. He hated that he was about to dash the dreams he could see forming behind her eyes about Lindsey. But he couldn't let her get involved with such a lowlife.
"It's a law firm," she slowly answered, not sure where Angel was going with this, but not liking his tone of voice.
"Yes, but what do you know about their clients?"
A crease formed between Willow's eyebrows. She still wasn't sure what Angel was getting at. "I have no idea. What difference does it make? I mean, I know lawyers are evil, but you're starting to give me the wiggins with all of these questions."
"Willow, I know people like to joke around and say that lawyers are evil. That rumor probably got started by referring to the employees of Wolfram & Hart. These lawyers truly are Evil, with a capital E. They represent crime lords, mobsters, rapists, and demons."
Willow couldn't stop herself from laughing. "You're trying to tell me that Wolfram & Hart is where demons go when they have legal trouble?"
Looking dead serious, Angel answered, "Yes."
His total lack of mirth sobered Willow.
"But if that's true, then that would mean… No."
"I'm sorry, Willow. But I've seen Lindsey in action. He's a damn good lawyer, but he's working for the wrong side. He helps vampires and other demons to get away with living in a human society and still be evil."
"Just because he works there doesn't mean he's a bad person. What if he didn't know what he was getting himself into when he started working there? Or maybe he doesn't handle those kinds of cases?" Willow suggested, not willing to believe the man she'd had such an incredible evening with could be a bad guy.
"Willow, when I met Lindsey, he was in a meeting with a vampire who had lured Cordelia to his mansion in order to kill her. He went so far as to brag that none of Wolfram & Hart's clients have ever been convicted of any crimes. He knew what he was doing."
"No. You're wrong. He's a good man. I know it. I know it," Willow insisted, tears forming in her eyes. She stood and ran for the stairs leading down into Angel's apartment.
Willow pulled the business card Lindsey had given her out of her purse. She wiped furiously at her tears before pulling Angel's phone off its stand. She paced around the living room for a while, working up the nerve to dial the numbers on the back of the card.
Pulling her 'resolve face' out, Willow sat on the couch and dialed Lindsey's home. He picked up on the third ring.
"Hello?" came his wonderful voice over the line.
"Is it true?" Willow asked. If he was who Angel said he was, he wouldn't need her to explain her question.
"I was wondering if I'd ever hear from you again," Lindsey said. He was equally relieved and afraid at hearing from Willow so soon. When he'd gotten home he'd grabbed a glass of whiskey and his guitar, trying to drive away the fear that he'd lost Willow before they'd even had a chance.
"You didn't answer my question," Willow countered. She had to gulp past the relief she heard in his voice.
"No, I guess I didn't," he agreed. "Look, this will be easier in person. Can I come see you?"
"It's true then, isn't it?" Willow's heart sunk.
"That I work for Wolfram & Hart? Yes. That my clients are not stellar citizens? Yes." Lindsey took a deep breath, steeling himself to do something he wasn't accustomed to doing. "Please, Willow, can I see you? I'm not a bad person, I swear."
"Do you help demons get away with being evil?" she coldly asked.
"Yes," he wearily answered. "But not all of my clients are demons. That's only a recent thing."
"Why do you do it?"
"It's my job," Lindsey answered, settling back on the couch. It looked like he wouldn't be able to do this face to face after all. "I promise you this isn't what I set out to do with my life."
"Why should I believe you?" Willow asked, anger laced with hurt filling her voice. "How do I know you weren't just using me to get to Angel?"
"Tara set us up, remember? I had no idea you even knew who Angel was until I dropped you off."
"How do I know you aren't lying to me now?" Willow asked suspiciously.
"You don't. Let me come over there. I want you to be able to look into my eyes to see that I'm telling you the truth. I had a great time tonight, Willow. I meant what I said about wanting to be with you. That hasn't changed. What will it take to make you believe that I'm not evil?"
Willow was silent for a moment. She wanted to believe him. She didn't think she was such a bad judge of character that she could fall for someone evil, again. Granted, there was the thing with the demon robot, but that was his power, to manipulate people into loving him.
"Angel has to be in the room," Willow stated.
Lindsey cringed, but was expecting that request. "Fine."
"And I get to do a truth spell," Willow added.
"Of course," Lindsey agreed. "I wasn't going to lie to you, but if that's what you need to do to know it, then I'll submit to it."
"All right. Come on over. I should have the spell ready by the time you get here." Willow hung up the phone.
Lindsey held the phone to his ear for several seconds after he heard the line go dead. He couldn't believe that he was about to submit himself to a truth spell, and in front of Angel no less. But Willow was the first good thing to come into his life in way too long. He wasn't going to let her go so easily. Plus, it would be fun to stick it to the vampire by dating his friend.
Angel was sitting at his desk when Willow came back up the stairs. He hoped that she didn't realize that he'd been listening to her entire conversation from the stairwell.
"Lindsey's coming over," she told him.
"Why?" he gruffly asked.
"He wants to explain himself to me in person."
"I'm not leaving you alone with him," Angel insisted.
Willow smiled. "I figured. I told him you'd be there while we talked. But I don't want you interfering, Mister. You can be in the room, but that's it. No threatening him or hurting him in any way. Understand?"
"What's the fun in that?"
"Angel…" her voice held a warning in it.
"Fine. Observing only. Got it."
"Good. Now, do you have any magick supplies here? I have a few with me, but not much. Lindsey's agreed to let me do a truth spell on him."
"I find that hard to believe," Angel snorted.
"What did he ever do to you anyway?" Willow asked, surprising the vampire.
"Do to me? He represented the vampire that tried to kill Cordelia!" Angel retorted.
"Has he done anything to you himself?" Willow pressed.
"It's what he represents!" Angel stood and began to pace. "Wolfram & Hart is evil. The Senior Partners are demons that are so powerful that they don't even exist on this plane. They are everything that I am trying to fight against."
"So it's Wolfram & Hart you have a beef with, not Lindsey per se. Good vs. Evil. Black and White. You more than anyone should know that there are shades of gray in the world," Willow said.
"This isn't about me," Angel insisted. "Wolfram & Hart is evil. Lindsey works for Wolfram & Hart. Therefore Lindsey is evil. Period."
"Not so fast, mister," Willow said, rounding on Angel. "Vampires are evil. Angel is a vampire. Therefore Angel is evil."
"I have a soul, you know that," Angel said. He knew where she was going with that comparison, and he didn't like it.
"Yes, I do," Willow's expression softened. "You defy that principle. And I know there are other demons out there who aren't evil. They just happen to be demons. It's not their fault. So maybe Lindsey just happens to work for an evil law firm. It doesn't have to mean he's evil."
"And I'm not," Lindsey said from the doorway. His heart had swelled as he heard Willow defend him to Angel. Maybe it wouldn't be so hard to convince her of the truth.
"Lindsey," Willow couldn't help grinning at seeing him again. She knew he was here to be put under a microscope, but she couldn't help flushing with warmth at seeing his handsome face. "How long have you been standing there?"
"Not long," he admitted. "Just long enough to hear that you want to believe that I'm telling you the truth, even without the spell."
"We're doing the spell," Angel insisted.
"Yes, we're still doing the spell," Willow agreed. "You never said if you have any spell ingredients."
"In the file cabinet across from the door," Angel told her.
Willow moved into the outer office and began rummaging through the drawers until she found what she was looking for.
"Got it," she said as she came back in the room to find the two men glaring at each other. "I'm, uh, just going to run downstairs for the rest of the ingredients and the spell. Play nice."
"Of course." "Don't worry." Came from the men, and Willow hurried off, not wanting to leave them alone for longer than necessary.
"What's your game, McDonald?" Angel growled as soon as Willow had reached the bottom of the stairs.
"No game. I'm here for Willow," he told Angel.
"What do you want from her?"
"Are you asking my intentions?" Lindsey laughed, ignoring the anger his laughter evoked from the vampire.
"Yes, I suppose I am," Angel said.
"Look, I swear, I didn't know you knew her. My cousin really did set us up. I was just doing her a favor. I didn't know I'd like Willow so much. Hell, she's the first girl I haven't wanted to just bang and move on from in a very long time. I don't want to hurt her."
Angel was thrown by the sincerity in Lindsey's voice. Still, lawyers were notoriously good actors.
Before he could retort, Willow came back into the room. "Okay. I've got everything all set. Lindsey, have a seat on the couch. Angel, you go sit at your desk."
Without a word, the men moved into their assigned positions. Willow lit the bundle of herbs she was holding and waved them around. Then she read the short spell from the paper she was holding.
"That should do it. We've got about two hours until it wears off," she said, setting the still burning herbs in the ashtray Angel had set out for her.
"How do we know it worked?" Angel asked.
"Ask him a question," Willow offered.
"What are your intentions towards Willow?" Angel asked, smirking.
"I would like to be her boyfriend. I want to earn her trust so that we can have an open, honest relationship. I think I could fall in love with her," Lindsey answered.
"Damn," Angel muttered. "Proceed," he said to Willow.
Willow forced back the tears of happiness that Lindsey's words had evoked. She moved to sit next to him on the couch.
"Have you ever been in love before?" she couldn't stop herself from asking.
"No. Love is a weakness and I couldn't afford to be weak," he answered.
"Why not?" Willow asked.
"Being weak means getting your house taken from you when you have half a dozen kids that are left homeless. Weak doesn't get you good grades and scholarships to the best schools. Weak doesn't raise you from nothingness," Lindsey angrily said.
"Is that what you did?"
"Yes. I saw how my daddy got walked over. That wasn't going to happen to me. I worked hard. Got myself into a top notch university. Got myself noticed."
"By Wolfram & Hart?" Willow guessed.
"Yes. While I was in law school they came to me, said they liked my tenacity. They wanted me to intern with them, said I had a bright future. They offered to pay off my loans and the rest of my education if I promised to put as much effort into my cases as I did my education. What could a poor boy say?"
"You took it." Willow cast a sideways glance at Angel, but his face was unreadable, his chin resting on steepled fingers.
"I had no other choice," Lindsey insisted.
"Couldn't you hold off and hope someone else made you a better offer?"
Lindsey laughed. "Wolfram & Hart is the most powerful law firm in this dimension, several others too. No one says 'No' to them. They made it very clear that it was in my best interest to accept their offer."
"What would have happened to you if you'd refused?"
"I don't know. But I doubt it would have been pleasant."
"Did you know what they were when you went to work for them?"
"No," Lindsey quickly answered. "All I knew was that they were the best. They started me out on small stuff at first. After I'd passed the Bar and been with them for another year, that's when they started introducing me to some of their meat and potatoes clients. Holland Manners had already taken me under his wing by then. He only notices the best and the brightest."
"Why didn't you try to leave once you knew what they were really about?" Willow asked.
"I was already in too deep. I'd met too many clients, won too many cases."
"Do you want to leave them? Now that you know what they are?"
"Sometimes. One thing Holland taught me early on is that morals have no place in a law firm. We're there to get the client off. If they can afford our rates it's the least they deserve. It's not our place to reserve judgment."
"But what do you believe? How do you feel about the work that you do? The clients you represent?"
"They're scum. They deserve jail time, or worse. But it's my job to get them off. And I'm damn good at my job."
Willow took a deep breath, not sure if she really wanted the answer to her next question. "What is your stance on good vs. evil? Which side do you want to be on?"
"That's not a simple question to answer. Honestly. There are humans who do horrible things, despite having souls. There are demons that are benevolent. Do I like myself for representing evil? No. Would I leave if I could? Yes. But leaving isn't as easy as it sounds."
Changing tactics, Willow asked, "Why did you become a lawyer?"
"I wanted people like my daddy not to be taken advantage of," Lindsey answered. His face registered his shock at admitting such a thing aloud.
"You wanted to help the helpless?" Willow asked, sneaking a glace at Angel, knowing that was the catchphrase Cordelia insisted on using for Angel Investigations.
Angel was slowly shaking his head, really not liking where Willow was going.
"Would you still want to do that?" she asked.
"Wolfram & Hart doesn't do helpless. They prey on the weak. Make the injured parties look like they deserved it," he answered, loathing in his voice.
"If you left them, I meant."
"But I can't," Lindsey insisted.
"I can't be with someone who helps evil. My best friend is the slayer. I help her fight evil. I can't date it," Willow softly said.
"I…" Lindsey met Willow's eyes for the first time since the interrogation had begun. "I don't want to lose you."
Willow brushed her lips against Lindsey's in the barest of kisses. "I won't ask you to leave your job for me. We don't even know if things would work out between us. Oh, I want them to, believe me, I want to be with you. But I can't ask you to uproot your entire life for my sake. That decision has to be made by you. You have to want to leave that place for more than just me."
"I understand. Thank you." Lindsey pulled Willow closer and kissed her. He lost himself in her sweet lips and soft skin until he heard Angel clearing his throat across the room.
"I should probably go," Lindsey suggested, standing. "I need some time to think; clear my head." To himself he added, 'See a future-reading demon.'
"Of course," Willow agreed, standing as well. "Thank you for coming over, for telling me the truth."
"Some truths I didn't even want to admit to myself," Lindsey acknowledged.
"I especially thank you for those." Willow reached out and took his hand in hers. She led him to the main door, relishing the brief contact.
"I want to see you again before you go," Lindsey said quickly at the door.
"My bus leaves Sunday afternoon," Willow said. "I'm all booked up tomorrow."
"Have breakfast with me on Sunday, then," Lindsey suggested. "I don't want to leave it like this. I may not have an answer for you then, but I don't want to let you go yet."
Willow smiled, desperately not wanting to leave him. "Okay. Sunday it is. Pick me up here around 8 o'clock?"
"It's a date," Lindsey smiled back. He kissed her briefly one last time before heading out. He had a karaoke bar to visit.
Angel was standing in the doorway to his office when Willow turned around.
"Don't even ask," he glowered.
"You don't know what I was going to say," Willow pouted.
"You were going to ask if he could come work for me," Angel guessed.
"Okay, so you did know," Willow agreed. "Why can't he?"
"Evil lawyer," Angel reminded her.
"Hello! Weren't you just sitting there? He's not evil. He didn't know Wolfram & Hart was evil until long after he was working there. He wants to help people in his heart of hearts."
"I don't like him," Angel said, hating how petulant he sounded.
"You don't know him," Willow retorted. "I like him. I trust him. I could easily love him. Can't that be enough?"
"It's not that I don't trust your judgment…" Angel started, then changed tactics. "What would he even do here?"
"He'd still be a lawyer. I bet a lot of your clients could use a good one," Willow pointed out.
"I can't afford to pay him," Angel said after several minutes of silence.
"How do you pay Cordelia?" Willow objected. "You can't be making enough on your cases to pay what I'm guessing she's demanding you pay her."
Angel glared at her. He wasn't used to matching wits with someone as intelligent as her.
"Can we just wait and see?" he tried not to whine. "He may not even want to leave that place."
"But if he does…" she pressed.
"Then we can talk about it some more. Who's to say he'd want to work with me?"
"Just give him a shot, that's all I'm asking."
"Do you really think he could be the one?" Angel asked her.
"I really do. I mean, it's only been one date, but I've never connected to someone so quickly before. And it's not just because Tara spoke so highly of him. He's a good man in his heart, I can feel it."
"That's what we all thought about Oz, too," Angel reminded her, hating to bring up something so painful for her, but needing to put things into perspective.
"Oz was confused," Willow said wistfully. "I'm not defending him, and I can't forgive him, not yet anyway. But I can understand that he has something inside of him that he can't control because he doesn't know how to. Veruca got him all confused. Made him question who he was and who he could be. It doesn't change the fact that he was a good man."
"You're too good for him. Both of them," Angel said.
"That may be, but they still deserve to be happy. And I want to be the one to make Lindsey happy."
Angel cringed at that mental image, causing Willow to laugh.
"You know that's all I want for you too, right? I want you to be happy, Willow. I just don't see why it has to be with Lindsey."
"You don't have to. Just let me be happy, whether it's with him or not. It's my decision to make, not yours."
"I know. I just don't want to see you hurt."
"Thank you. But I have a feeling that Lindsey will surprise you."
"I hope so."
Continued in Chapter 3