Title: Across the Universe
Rating: NC-17 overall
Word Count: 8,241 total
Pairing/Characters: Willow/Lindsey, AtS team
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.
Betas: Angel's Kuuipo
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 L.A.)
Author's Note 3: For the purpose of this story, Lindsey and Eve were never lovers, just partners.
See Awards this story has won.
Across the UniverseChapter 1
Willow sighed as she felt her consciousness return to her body. She knew that she had been on the astral plane for a long time, too long perhaps, but she wasn't having much luck finding what she'd been looking for. Who she'd been looking for. It worried her more than she cared to admit.
She heard her name being called, as if from a great distance. As her senses settled more firmly into her body, she noted the tone of urgency and worry in the voice calling her.
"Kennedy? What it is?" she groggily asked, opening her eyes.
"Thank god! We were starting to think you weren't coming back," Kennedy exclaimed. She pulled Willow into a quick, uncharacteristic, hug.
Willow awkwardly returned the hug before pushing the younger girl away. Apparently Kennedy's crush on her still hadn't gone away completely, despite Willow's continued refusal.
"Don't be silly." Willow accepted Kennedy's hand and stood on shaky legs. "Woah, rubber legs."
Kennedy grabbed Willow and helped her to remain upright. "That's what I've been trying to tell you. It's been almost two weeks since you took your little astral trip!"
If Kennedy hadn't been holding her up, Willow certainly would have fallen given how fast she jerked her head up to meet the slayer's eyes.
Kennedy nodded. "I hope you found what you were looking for."
"I need to sit." Kennedy helped ease Willow back down on her bed.
"Did you find it?"
Willow dropped her head into her hands. "No. No, I couldn't find him."
"Not even a trace?" Kennedy asked, caring not at all for the person Willow was looking for, but more about the witch's frustration.
"Barely. There was barely a trace… in Los Angeles. It was so faint, though."
"Well, wouldn't those tattoos you told me about make it extra hard to find him?" Kennedy asked.
Willow shook her head. "Not for me. I should have been able to find him anywhere on the planet."
"Do you think he's dead?"
Willow's head snapped up, eyes flashing. "Don't you dare even think that."
"But if he's not on the planet…"
"You know the kind of world we live in. Just because I can't find him, doesn't mean he's dead. In fact, if he were dead, I would have been able to find his body, which means he's alive."
"And last seen in L.A.," Kennedy concluded.
"I need to go there. He must be in some kind of trouble." Willow stood and slowly made her way to her desk. More importantly, to her laptop.
"Oh, good, you can take care of something for the Council while you're there," Kennedy said.
"What are you talking about?" Willow absently asked as she started looking online for a flight to take her from Rio to L.A.
"Word is that those guys that took over Wolfram & Hart tried to get in touch with you just after you left for the astral plane. The CEO himself, Angel something, called Giles looking for you to do some kind of magic thing. Of course, Giles refused to help, because, y'know, they're evil."
Willow had stopped her search and turned to look at Kennedy. "Angel called Giles to get me to do a spell for them? Did he lose his soul again?"
"Why else would he be running Evil Incorporated?" Kennedy flippantly replied.
"Why didn't you tell me this sooner? If Angelus is loose none of us are safe." She grabbed the Orb of Thesula she'd been using as a paperweight and began to gather her other soul restoration supplies.
After several minutes of throwing things onto her bed, she paused. "Wait a minute, you said Angel called Giles?" Kennedy nodded. "Then he still has his soul. Angelus would never call Giles for help. Do you know what they wanted me to do?"
"No idea. Andrew told Buffy that Angel said it was some kind of emergency, but that was it. Apparently Giles hung up pretty quick after that."
"And no one was going to tell me about it either, I bet."
Kennedy looked at her shoes. "Yeah, I wasn't really supposed to say anything about that, I think."
"I need to call Angel," Willow said, reaching for her phone.
"That's probably not such a great idea. I bet he's really pissed about Giles turning him down."
"Angel's an old friend. If I just explain to him that I never got his message…"
"He'll what? Forgive and forget?"
"You're right. I shouldn't do it over the phone. I'll go see him when I arrive in Los Angeles. Heck, maybe that giant law firm he's running will be able to help me find Lindsey."
"If it's not what made him disappear," Kennedy mumbled.
"Goddess, I hope you're wrong."
Willow went back to searching for flights and found one that left the next day. She booked it and began to pack anything she could think of that she might need, Kennedy keeping her company.
"When you said I could do something for the Council, you meant spying on what Angel's doing at Wolfram & Hart, didn't you?" Willow eventually asked.
"The idea has been bantered about since Andrew went to retrieve that crazy slayer," Kennedy admitted.
"For me to do it?" Willow clarified.
"Not you specifically, no. You're still our main Global Slayer Locator, after all. But if you're going there anyway…"
"I'm not really comfortable with the idea of being some kind of spy. I mean, Angel is a friend."
"Angel was a friend," Kennedy corrected. "Before he agreed to run the largest power center for evil on the planet."
"I'm sure he had a very good reason for doing so. And not because he's evil."
"In that case, what are you going to tell Giles your reason for going to L.A. is? To look for your missing boyfriend, who also used to be evil?"
"No, you're right." Willow sighed.
"I really must object." "You can't go in there alone."
"One at a time, please," Willow said, resolve face staring into the webcam. Giles and Buffy's images quieted.
"Did you find him?" Buffy asked.
"Not really. I'll tell you about that later," Willow promised, not wanting to reveal her real reason for going to L.A.
"I'm sorry. I still think it's a bad idea for you to go to Wolfram & Hart all by yourself."
"I know you do. I don't love the idea either, but I have to believe that there is a good reason that Angel and his team took over."
"You're much too forgiving a girl," Giles chided. "With all that you have seen, how can you still be so naïve?"
"Is it naïve to want to trust my friends? I've met all of Angel's team. Remember? None of the rest of you can say that. They're all good people, and they all followed Angel to Wolfram & Hart."
"For your sake, I hope that you're right." Giles removed his glasses to clean them. "All right, if you must go to satisfy your curiosity, go. But do take every precaution. Kennedy will acc-"
"No." Willow cut him off.
"I beg your pardon?" Giles re-affixed his glasses to glare at her. "Did you just say 'no'?"
"Yes, I said 'no'. I can't go in there with a Slayer in tow after Andrew's little visit. I can take care of myself just fine."
"Promise me you'll be careful," Buffy finally said.
"Have a safe trip," Giles said before he signed off.
"You think he's there, don't you?" Buffy guessed, after Giles was gone.
Willow bit her lip and nodded. "It was faint, but that's the last place he was before he disappeared."
"And you're sure he's not…"
"I'm sure. I'd know it if he were," Willow insisted.
"Good luck." Buffy signed off.
"Hang in there, Lindsey, I'm coming." Willow promised her blank monitor.
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 had throw 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 L.A., 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."
Willow felt the blood drain out of her face and wasn't all that surprised to discover that she was suddenly sitting amongst the books covering the floor of Wesley's office.
"I thought he'd let all that go," she murmured to herself.
Wesley crouched in front of her. "You knew about his rivalry with Angel, then?"
Dumbly nodding, Willow said, "He didn't like to talk about it, but I knew that they had tried to kill each other when he worked here. Angel had cut off his hand and Wolfram & Hart gave him a new one."
"That would be the short version, yes."
"He's not... Angel didn't..." Willow couldn't even bring herself to ask.
"No, Angel did not kill him."
"Then where is he?" Willow meekly asked. As the realization hit her that he really was alive, she asked more determinedly, "Where is he?"
"I'm afraid I don't have that answer for you. You'll have to ask Angel."
Immediately on her feet, Willow headed towards the door. "Yes, let's go do that."
"Where is he?" Willow demanded, storming into Angel's office, fire burning in her eyes. "What have you done with him?"
"Willow, we're kinda in the middle of something here," Angel said, gesturing to Eve, Spike, Lorne and Harmony.
"I'm not leaving until you've told me what you've done with him."
Angel glanced past Willow to Wesley. "Care to fill a guy in?"
"Lindsey McDonald. She's looking for Lindsey."
"How the hell do you know Lindsey? Were you another one of his accomplices?" Angel asked Willow.
"I don't even know what he was doing here. All he told me was that he had some unfinished business he needed to take care of before he left. Then he dropped off the face of the planet."
"You're not too far off," Eve said.
"What are you talking about? Who are you?" Willow asked, suddenly curious about this woman's presence in Angel's office.
"Eve. The Senior Partners took him," she succinctly told her.
"No, that's not possible... the tattoos..."
"Came off," Angel stated. "Wes was able to mystically remove them."
"Why would you do that? They were the only things keeping him hidden from the Senior Partners. Do you have any idea what they would do to him?"
"Need I remind you that he was trying to kill Angel at the time? We did what was necessary to protect one of our own," Wesley said.
"But Lindsey is mine," Willow said.
"Yours? How, exactly?" Angel sneered.
"So, you're the little girlfriend," Eve commented, smirking. "I can see why he wouldn't tell me more about you. You're delicious."
"Yes, I am. His girlfriend, I mean," Willow informed them.
"Willow, he's evil," Angel protested.
"No, he was evil. He's changed. I've seen the change in him. Do you really think that I would fall for someone evil?"
"I'm starting to think that I don't really know you at all," Angel stated.
"Yeah? Well the feeling's mutual, Mr. CEO." Willow closed her eyes to calm herself. "I don't want to fight about this right now. I just want to find Lindsey. Now, do you know where he is or not?"
"Hell, most like," Spike said, having been enjoying the show. "Or one of the hells. We were trying to suss that out when you came storming in here."
"I know where he is," Gunn said, entering the room. "And I can get us in."
"Great! Let's go," Willow said, hoping she wasn't going to have to defend herself to yet another person.
"What's the witch doing here?" Gunn asked, his voice surprisingly lacking venom, in Willow's opinion.
Before she could say anything, Wesley said, "She's looking for Lindsey, and she truly did not know why we'd called for her before yesterday."
"Has she met--?" Gunn started to ask, but before he could finish, Wesley interrupted. "Not yet."
"Now that we're all caught up," Willow said impatiently, "we need to go rescue Lindsey from Hell."
"Not hell. It's a Wolfram & Hart holding dimension," Gunn informed the group.
"Close enough," Spike guessed.
As Willow headed towards the door, determined to start their rescue, Angel's words stopped her dead in her tracks.
"You're not coming."
"Excuse me?" she asked, whirling around.
"You heard me. You. Are. Not. Coming." Each word brought Angel one step closer to Willow.
"I can take care of myself," Willow said defiantly.
"Oh, I believe that you could," Angel agreed.
Angel cut her off. "You're a distraction, plain and simple. I will not have you getting in the way of our mission because emotion is clouding your judgment."
"I can separate my emotions from the task at hand," Willow protested. "I'm not some lovesick child."
"Your actions so far have done little to make me believe that. You've as much as admitted that your main purpose in coming here is more to find Lindsey than to make amends with us."
"I didn't know before I got here that amends needed to be made, aside from a missed phone call. Spike, you know I could be helpful, right?"
"Probably, yeah, but seeing as how if it were up to me we'd leave the trickster where he is, I'm not all that big on reuniting him with his girl."
"Well, good thing it's not up to you. What'd he ever do to you anyway? I thought you got along in Sunnydale."
"That's just it, isn't it?" Spike came towards her. "When we were in Sunnyhell I thought we were getting to be all friendly like. Then he shows up in L.A. and he goes and uses me like that! Pretended to be a seer named Doyle who got visions of people in trouble that I needed to save. He played me."
"You never said you'd met him before," Angel said. "I know you're not the sharpest stake in the drawer, but even you should be able to recognize your friends when they show up."
"He was wearing a sodding glamour," Spike bit out. Turning on Eve, he added, "That your doing?"
"Guilty," she said, completely unapologetic. "If it makes you feel any better, he did feel bad about lying to you. But it was necessary for you to become the heroic vampire with a soul. Pretending to be Doyle was the best way to do it. Right, Angel?"
"Don't think that I've forgiven you for using his memory like that," Angel said.
"Wouldn't dream of it." Eve grinned. "Besides, I agree that Willow should remain here." All eyes focused on her. "What? After Spike and Angel, Willow clearly has the most power of you lot. Who better to protect me from the assassin the Senior Partners sent after me?"
"You know, you have a point," Angel agreed.
"Angel, no! You can't expect me to stay here and play babysitter. I should be helping you get Lindsey."
"It's settled. Spike, Gunn, you're with me. The rest of you are to remain here and do what you can to protect Eve. Now," he said, turning to Gunn, "how do we get to this holding dimension?"
"You ever taken the Camaro?" Gunn asked, eyes gleaming.
"It's not fair," Willow said, pouting, as she looked out the windows of Angel's office at the L.A. skyline. Wesley had left shortly after Angel, muttering something about seeing what Illyria was up to, so she was left alone with Eve, Lorne and Harmony. Well, Eve. The others seemed to be in no hurry to protect their Liaison, despite what they'd told Angel, and took off shortly after Wesley.
"Honey, you more than anyone should already know that life usually isn't fair," Eve said.
Turning to face her charge, Willow said, "You know, if this so-called assassin ever does come for you, maybe I should just give you to him. Lindsey wouldn't be in this mess if it weren't for you."
Eve laughed. "Believe what you want, but taking down Angel wasn't my idea. I just helped. You really don't know anything about Lindsey, do you?"
"I know that he's a good man," Willow said.
"A good man with a strong desire for vengeance where Angel's concerned. I honestly have no idea how you could be so blind to it."
Willow fidgeted. "We never really talked about Angel. I knew that it was a sore point for Lindsey so we usually avoided discussing him."
"Well, while you weren't talking about Angel, Lindsey was working out how to get back at him. Once he found out that his nemesis had been given the keys to the castle, everything just fell into place."
"And just how did Lindsey find out that Angel had taken over Wolfram & Hart? We weren't anywhere near here when that happened."
"Okay, so maybe I did pass along that little tidbit."
Willow gave in to impulse and smacked the smirk off Eve's face. "I knew you were behind it."
"First, ow. Second, and I hate to repeat myself, I didn't come up with the plan. I only passed along some information and helped put Lindsey's plan into action."
"A plan that never would have been put into action if you hadn't told him about Angel. He was happy... we were happy... before you went and opened old wounds."
"That wound never really closed. Lindsey wouldn't have been so quick to leave you to go after Angel if it were," Eve pointed out.
"Why were you even helping him? What do you have against Angel?"
"Nothing. I could care less about Angel, aside from the fact that he's made it his mission to take down my family. But I don't really hold that against him. We're not that close."
"Your family?" Willow's face scrunched up in thought. "Are you descended form the Gypsy clan that cursed him?"
"Please," Eve scoffed. "No, I'm a child of the Senior Partners."
"Then why is Angel helping you now? Why didn't he just kill you?"
"I'm immortal. He can't kill me."
"Oh, right." Eve's mouth snapped shut as she silently cursed herself for letting that truth out. "About that..."
Before she could say anything else, the building shook. Then again. And again. Like footsteps.
"He's here," Eve gasped, turning pleading eyes on Willow. "You've got to help me."
"What do you expect me to do?"
"Go talk to him. Change his mind. Blast him to pieces. I don't care, just do something."
Willow rolled her eyes but headed to the lobby nonetheless - to get away from Eve if for no other reason.
Just as Willow, and apparently Eve who was trailing her, stepped into the lobby the elevator doors opened and a tall man in a suit stepped off. He looked at the women and gave them a cold smile.
Willow turned to Eve. "Run."
Both women ran for the other bank of elevators, heading down towards the garage. They seemed to be thinking that if they could get a car they could outpace this assassin.
Eve points to a box on the wall when they entered the garage. "Keys."
Willow grabbed a random set and pressed the alarm button, frantically trying to see which car it belonged to. Finally the familiar beep of doors unlocking was heard and both women rushed towards the car. They climbed in and Willow threw the car into gear.
Just as they started to pull out of the space a bright light flashed and three bodies dropped on the hood of the car.
"What the...?" Willow shouted, stomping on the brakes and putting the car in park. She looked up and recognized the bodies rolling off the car. "Lindsey!"
Scrambling out of the car Willow rushed to where Lindsey was leaning heavily against the car.
"What did they do to you?" she asked, hugging him.
"He'll be fine," Angel said.
"Whereas we got shot and almost killed by a juiced-up S&M demon. Thanks for asking," Spike added.
Crushing Lindsey to her, Willow sobbed, "I thought I'd never see you again."
"Willow?" Lindsey asked, his arms slowly raised to wrap around her. "Are you really here?"
Willow pulled back far enough to look at him. "I'm really here. Goddess, I was so scared when I couldn't find you. Don't you ever do this to me again."
Willow leaned up and pressed her lips to Lindsey's in a desperate kiss.
"Let's get upstairs," Angel suggested.
"I can't believe you're really here," Lindsey said as Willow helped him to lie down.
After their encounter with Suit-man (aka Marcus Hamilton), Eve signing away her immortality, learning that Eve had been in love with her man, and Lindsey telling Angel THE Apocalypse was in motion Angel had given them this suite in the Wolfram & Hart building.
"Where else would I be?" Willow asked, slowly stripping off Lindsey's shirt, boots and socks.
"South America, where I left you?"
"Did you really expect me to just stay there looking for slayers after not hearing from you for weeks? I spent two weeks on the astral plane looking for you. I was afraid that you were dead!"
Lindsey caught her hand before she could start pacing. "I'm sorry that I scared you like that."
Willow visibly deflated, sitting on the bed next to him. With tear-filled eyes, she asked, "Why did you do it? Why did you have to come back here?"
Lindsey couldn't meet her eyes. "I wish I could explain it in a way that would make sense to you. I guess it's like when you went after that guy Warren."
"This is nothing like that," Willow coldly stated. "I acted out of blind rage. You planned and plotted and waited years to go after Angel. What changed? Why now? Because he was suddenly put in charge of Wolfram & Hart?"
"Yes!" Lindsey sat up so suddenly that all of his injuries protested and he fell back on the bed with a moan of pain. Biting down the pain, he ground out, "Yes. This should have been mine. All of it. The power, the suits, the money, the cars. All of it should have been mine. I was their Golden Boy. If I hadn't left when I did, I would have been sitting where Angel is now."
"But you did leave," Willow pointed out. "You decided that this wasn't the life you wanted. What changed? I thought we were happy."
"We were," Lindsey quickly agreed. "We are."
"Then why come back to fight the man who had the life you didn't even want anymore?"
"Because I was afraid that I would have regretted not taking advantage of the opportunity if I didn't. C'mere." He scooted over on the bed to make room for Willow to lie beside him. He breathed a sigh of relief when she did.
"It wasn't all about getting back at Angel, you know," he continued, running his fingers through her hair.
"It wasn't?" Willow looked up at him, running her fingers over his bare chest. More bare than she had seen it in a long time.
"It's like I told Angel; the Senior Partners brought him in for a reason. They want him distracted while the final cogs are moved into place for the apocalypse. I don't want them to succeed. I rather like the world the way it is, especially now that I've got you."
"Why couldn't you just tell me what you were doing? I would have helped."
"I didn't want to put you on their radar. Of course, I'm pretty sure you're on it anyway because of what you did in Sunnydale, but I didn't want it to be because of me."
"You think the Senior Partners know who I am?" Willow looked around, nervously. She really should have thought of that before rushing into their domain.
"Darlin', you single-handedly created an army of slayers who will be fighting their foot soldiers. Yeah, I'd say they know who you are now."
Lindsey leaned down to kiss the tip of her nose. Willow tipped her head up to meet his lips. The soft kiss quickly deepened. When Lindsey began to push at her top, trying to slide it up her body, she panted, "I'm still mad at you, you know."
"I know," Lindsey acknowledged.
Willow yanked her shirt over her head and removed her bra before attacking his mouth again. Her hands ran down his chest, heading straight for his jeans. Lindsey groaned into her mouth as she deftly freed his aching erection. He made a sound of protest when Willow broke their kiss, but stifled it when he realized she was removing his jeans and boxers completely.
Grabbing a condom out of her luggage, Willow shimmied out of her remaining clothes and straddled Lindsey.
"Good to know you came prepared," Lindsey sighed as Willow slid on the condom, following it quickly with her body.
"Always," Willow moaned, sinking fully down on Lindsey.
Her hair curtained them as she leaned down to brace her hands near his shoulders. Lindsey's hands went to her breasts as his mouth captured hers, allowing her to set the pace. After not being together for over a month, he knew this would be quick.
As if reading his mind, Willow began to move faster. She arched her back, breaking the kiss and bringing her breast in range of his mouth. Lindsey eagerly took a puckered nipple between his lips. Willow moaned in appreciation. Her fingers dug into his hair as she held him to her.
Knowing he wouldn't last much longer, Lindsey slid a hand down Willow's back, over her hip to her brush against her clit. It only took a couple more passes before Willow clenched around him, crying out her release. Lindsey quickly followed, collapsing back on the bed.
It was several minutes later when Willow finally found the energy to roll off him and dispose of the condom.
"I really missed you," she said, curling against his body.
"Me too, babe." He languidly ran a hand along her back. "I really didn't mean to be gone so long."
"You mean that you didn't think you'd get caught," Willow corrected.
Lindsey chuckled. "Guilty."
Propping herself up to look in his eyes, she asked, "So, what now?"
"I guess that's up to Angel." Lindsey frowned.
"C'mon, Willow. Use that pretty little brain of yours." Willow pouted. "We're not exactly guests of his High and Mighty."
"You're saying we're his prisoners?" Willow asked in disbelief.
"Maybe not you, but I sure as hell am."
"No," Willow said sitting up. "No, he can't do that. Not after he just rescued you."
"Do you remember why he did that? Not for my sake and certainly not for yours."
"You know about the Senior Partners," Willow stated.
"Ding, ding, ding, ding, ding. Give the lady a prize."
"Already gave me one," she reminded him.
Lindsey smirked. Sobering, he said, "There's no way Angel's gonna believe that I told him everything tonight, which means that he's gonna want to keep me on a tight leash until he feels comfortable that he knows everything I know."
"Did you tell him everything?"
"Of course not."
"Lindsey," she whined, drawing out his name.
"Why should I make this easy on him?"
"Please don't antagonize him. I just got you back," Willow pleaded.
"Tell him not to antagonize me," Lindsey pouted.
"So while you guys break out the rulers, where does that leave me?"
"Wherever you want to be."
"I want to be with you, you big dummy," Willow said.
"Even if I'm here?" Lindsey asked, afraid of her answer.
"Especially if you're here. I don't trust that you won't do something stupid again. Not yet, at least."
"Normally I'd take offense at a statement like that, but given the circumstances, I'll admit that it's warranted. Just this once."
"Only once?" Willow grinned, snaking a hand towards his groin.
Willow and Lindsey stayed up late into the night... talking. With nowhere in particular they needed to be, they luxuriated in being in the other's arms.
"Good Morning," Willow purred, rubbing her face against Lindsey's chest.
"Mmm... 'morning to you, too." Lindsey ran his hands along her body.
Willow stretched up to kiss him, morning breath be damned.
"Isn't this sweet," commented a voice from the bedroom door.
"Angel, get out," Lindsey growled as Willow 'eeped' and pulled the sheet up to her neck.
"What are you doing here?" Willow managed to squeak.
"You missed the morning meeting," Angel informed them.
"What morning meeting?" Lindsey asked, knowing the answer.
"The one where we decided what to do with you," Angel said.
"Wait a minute... What?" Willow stuttered. "You can't just have a meeting like that and not tell us!"
Angel held up a memo. "This was put under your door last night."
"Give it here," Lindsey demanded. He and Willow quickly skimmed the memo. "You know, for something like this, a phone call would have been polite."
Angel simply shrugged, failing to keep a smirk off his face.
"Can you give us five minutes to get dressed so we can talk about what happened at this meeting?" Willow requested.
"Fine. Be my guest." Angel went back out to the sitting area, closing the door behind him.
"Of all the nerve..." Willow started, but Lindsey cut her off before she could gather too much steam.
"It's typical is what it is," Lindsey said, pulling on his boxers as he got out of bed. "It's much easier to plan my immediate future if I'm not present."
"I still say you should have been there," Willow pouted, rising naked. Last night she'd found a couple of robes in the closet, like at a four star hotel, and she went to retrieve them now.
"Not disagreeing with you on that point. I'm just not surprised, is all." Lindsey took the robe Willow handed him and they both pulled them on.
Angel was standing by the windows when they came out and turned to face them. He raised an eyebrow. "You call that dressed?"
"I don't call it naked," Willow retorted. She and Lindsey settled on the couch. "So tell us what you decided about our future."
Angel sat in a nearby chair. "You're free to do whatever you want now, Willow. You're welcome to stay here for as long as you like, but if you're needed back in Brazil, I won't stop you."
"I hate to say 'I told you so'," Lindsey said.
"So it's true then?" she asked Angel. "You're going to keep Lindsey prisoner here, even after going to some holding dimension to bring him back. Not that I'm ungrateful, but why bother?"
"Lindsey has information that I need. That's the only reason that he's here and not still receiving his daily dose of torture."
"So you plan to keep him as your hostage? Yeah, sure, that's a good way to get someone to be honest with you... take away his freedom!" Willow felt Lindsey's hand settle on her thigh.
"Lindsey knew very well that we wouldn't be simply letting him go once we brought him back."
"I tried to tell you last night," Lindsey reminded her. "I know the way things work here, even with someone new in charge."
"So what am I supposed to do?" Willow asked, the urge to cry making her voice thick. "I'm not just going to leave you here."
"I'm not asking you to. I'd love it if you could stay here until Angel's satisfied that I've told him everything I know. But who knows how long that will be." Lindsey spared a brief glare in Angel's direction.
"Willow, I meant what I said," Angel interjected. "You're welcome to stay here with Lindsey for as long as you want."
"Give me a minute here." Willow stood and went to the window. After several minutes of silence, she finally said, "I know Wes is your go-to magic guy, but he's doesn't have anywhere near the kind of power that I have."
"What are you sayin', babe?" Lindsey asked, going to her. "You want to work for Wolfram & Hart?"
"Wolfram & Hart, no. I already have a job with the Watcher's Council. But until Angel's ready to let you go, I'll help him out." Turning to Angel, she asked, "What do you think?"
"I think you'd be a welcome addition to the team," Angel agreed.
Willow gave him a watery smile. "Uh, thanks."
Standing, Angel said, "I'll leave you to get properly dressed. Willow, I'll give Wesley a call and let him know what we've discussed. When you're ready, head on down to his office. If he's not there, try Fr--, um, try the lab."
"Sure thing," she agreed.
Once he was gone, Willow let out a breath she hadn't realized she was holding. "What have you gotten us into?" she muttered.
"You having second thoughts already?" Lindsey asked.
"And third and fourth thoughts even." Willow gave him a tentative smile. "I'm not changing my mind. If being here with you means that I have to work with Wolfram & Hart for a while, then I'll do it. Giles would probably love to have some inside information on the place. And let me tell you, mister, that is not a chat that I am looking forward to having."
"I'm sure that you'll be able to convince him it's for the best," Lindsey assured her, sliding his arms around her waist. "What do you say we grab a shower and some breakfast before anything else."
"Sounds like a plan to me."
After a long shower, followed by a quick brunch in the Wolfram & Hart cafeteria, Willow and Lindsey went in search of Wesley. As Angel had guessed, he was not in his office, but rather in the lab. As Willow looked around, she could just picture Fred in there, in her element.
She was brought down to a harsh reality when she looked ahead of her to find a woman with Fred's face, only blue, with blue hair and a skin-tight red leather outfit.
"Fred?" she gasped and backed up a step.
The person before her stiffened upon hearing Fred's name. "You knew the shell."
"Willow, Lindsey," Wesley said, stepping out of an office, presumably Fred's. "I see you've met Illyria."
"I sense power," Illyria said, cocking her head.
"Hi, I'm Willow. You're probably sensing me."
Illyria took a step closer and Willow tried not to flinch under the cold, intense stare. She felt like she was being evaluated. Like Illyria could see straight through her.
"Like me, you have great power in a deceptively weak package. Are you here to challenge me?"
"Challenge you? Goddess, no," Willow insisted.
"Which goddess do you refer to? I was once revered as a god, although not female. Do you pray to me?"
"No, I was referring to the Mother Earth Goddess."
"A human delusion," Illyria sniffed with derision. "If you are not here to offer challenge, then I shall challenge you. I will not have my power questioned."
"I don't want to challenge you."
"You fear me, as well you should." Illyria seemed almost pleased.
"Okay, sure, I can fear you. I mean, you're way scarier than Glory," Willow said.
"Glory?" Illyria considered the name. "Do you refer to that petulant child Glorificus? A spoiled excuse for a hell god. It was wise of her siblings to cast her out."
"Yeah, that would be her," Willow agreed. Willow noticed that Wesley had come to stand beside Lindsey, who was wisely staying out of it.
"I grow weary of this conversation," Illyria announced, turning with accuracy to where Wesley now stood. "While this one has great power, it is no threat to me."
"Would you care to return to our work, then?" Wesley inquired.
"I would," Illyria agreed, crossing to the far side of the lab without a look back. Wesley watched her go.
"What happened to your little Texan geek?" Lindsey asked, slightly confused by what had just happened.
"You saw what happened to Fred," Wesley bit out. "She was infected by Illyria who carved out her body. Fred's soul was obliterated by that...thing."
"And you let it stay here?" Lindsey asked.
"Illyria has nowhere else to go. Her kingdom has long since been destroyed. Besides, I think you know how Wolfram & Hart likes to keep its enemies close. She could also be a powerful ally."
"So could I," Willow said. "Did Angel talk to you?"
"Hm? Oh, yes, he mentioned something about you helping me out until Lindsey decides to stop messing us about."
Ignoring Lindsey's smirk, Willow said, "Yeah, that about sums it up. If you could use me, that is."
"Of course I could use you," he said, finally meeting her eyes. "I'm sure your skills in both magic and research will be invaluable." Glancing at Lindsey, he asked, "And what will you be doing?"
"I'm the guy that knows about the Senior Partners, remember?"
"Yes, so you'll be doling out little tidbits of information as you see fit," Wesley surmised.
"Exactly," Lindsey said, wearing the biggest shit-eating grin Willow had ever seen.
"Can you two please play nice?" Willow asked, pleadingly.
"Doubtful." "Probably not."
She threw up her hands in exasperation and glared at both of them, but let it go.
"Willow, why don't you take today to get settled in your suite? Anything that is on my desk will hold until tomorrow."
"Thanks, Wes," Willow said, dragging Lindsey out of the lab.
As they crossed the lobby, Angel stepped out of his office. "How'd it go with Wesley?"
"Great! He gave me today off and we'll get down to business tomorrow."
"I think you'll enjoy the work he does."
"Bloody right she will," Spike agreed, seeming to appear out of nowhere. "We'll enjoy having her here, too. What with Fred gone, we're sorely lacking for female company." He ignored the indignant 'Hey!' that came from Harmony's desk.
"Spike," Angel growled. "Where did you come from?"
"Accounting. You really gonna stay, Red?"
"Well, since Lindsey can't leave, I guess I am," Willow acknowledged.
"Yeah, heard about your house arrest. It's not so bad, really. Was trapped here myself while I was a ghost. And hey, at least you're corporeal and can enjoy the company of your woman."
"Uh, yeah, when you put it that way..." Lindsey agreed. "Look, I meant it when I said I'd help you take down the Senior Partners You just make sure Willow stays safe. We don't know what they'd do to her after she created an army of slayers."
Hitting Lindsey on the arm, Willow protested, "Don't talk about me like I'm not here. I know the risks of staying, but it's not like I haven't spent the better part of my life at risk."
"I just got back to you, I don't want anything to happen to you."
"Oh, get a room," Spike complained.
"You know, that's not a bad idea," Lindsey agreed, nodding towards the elevators."Care to take this somewhere more private?"
"I like the way you think, mister," Willow agreed. Following Lindsey, she called back, "See you guys tomorrow."
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