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 my wonderful Betas 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.
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Lindsey looked at his watch, again, wondering for the tenth time what he was doing there. He had piles upon piles of work waiting for him at the office. Yet here he was, sitting at the bar of a casual restaurant.
The powerful attorney cringed at the real reason he was sitting there. Deep down inside, he was nothing but a big softie. One phone call from that soft, stuttering voice and he was putty.
"Please, Linds," she'd asked him. "Just one night, th-that's all I'm asking. Just take her out to dinner, o-or something."
She knew he couldn't resist her; never had been able to. So when his favorite cousin, Tara, had called him, asking him to take her friend Willow out while she was at a conference in LA, he could scarcely refuse.
Reluctantly, he'd agreed to meet her. Tara had given him Willow's e-mail address and they'd corresponded briefly this past week. Yesterday, Willow had emailed him a photograph of herself so that he'd know who to look for.
"It's better than 'I'll be the one wearing green carrying a red rose'," she'd joked. At least he thought she'd been joking. You could never really tell with e-mail.
Lindsey had printed out the photo and now pulled it out of his jacket pocket. She was cute, he had to give her that, if a little young for him. She was still in college after all - a freshman.
He took a sip of his beer, glancing at himself in the mirror behind the bar. He figured he'd go dressy-casual, wearing a white button-down shirt - top button open, no tie - tucked into blue jeans and his cowboy boots. He was also wearing a blazer to complete the outfit.
Turning back to the restaurant, he scanned the room again for Willow. As if on cue, the petite redhead walked through the doors, looking as wary as he felt. Swigging back the rest of the beer, Lindsey set the glass on the bar and pushed himself up.
Willow was so nervous she almost didn't come. She still couldn't believe that Tara of all people set her up on a blind date. They really hadn't known each other very long, but when she'd told her new friend of her weekend computer conference in LA, Tara had insisted that Willow had to meet her cousin Lindsey. Even after she found out Lindsey was a guy she was hesitant to agree.
Tara insisted that he was a good guy and that she'd have fun with him. Willow was a little surprised to get an e-mail from Lindsey not an hour after she agreed to meet him. But in a way it was good. He did seem nice, from his e-mails, which wasn't saying much. The last e-mail she'd sent him had had a picture of her in it. He didn't send one back, so she had no idea what he looked like, aside from some old photos Tara had shown her.
She paused when she got out of the taxi in front of the restaurant, looking down at what she was wearing. "Casual" he'd said, when he'd recommended this restaurant. Willow didn't want to be too casual though, so she'd gone with a long skirt and a t-shirt.
Taking a deep breath, she entered the restaurant, then paused realizing she didn't know who she was looking for. She only hoped that Lindsey was already here.
She looked around at all of the single men standing around the bar area. She watched as one of the most beautiful men she'd ever seen came towards here. 'This can't be him,' she told herself, hoping that she wasn't drooling.
"Hello, Willow?" the hunk asked, when he reached her.
"Uh huh," Willow acknowledged. Realizing she was staring, Willow blushed and ducked her head. "Lindsey? Um, hi."
Lindsey shifted uncomfortably, not sure of what to do in the face of her blatant appraisal of him. He thought about offering to shake her hand, or hug her, but he didn't think either was appropriate.
"So... You hungry?" he asked.
"Yeah, kinda. They kept us pretty busy all day," Willow admitted.
"Great. I'll let them know we're ready to be seated."
Willow was glad for the moment alone to kick herself, mentally, over her behavior so far. 'Just great, ogle the guy who's taking you on a pity date; make him all uncomfortable before the date even begins.'
"Ready?" Lindsey's voice asked, pulling Willow out of her self-flagellating thoughts. He was holding his hand out for her.
"Yeah, sorry," she apologized. "Let's eat."
They silently followed the hostess to their table. Lindsey pulled out her chair for her, surprising Willow with his gentlemanly behavior. Once she was settled, Lindsey sat down across from her and they both opened their menus.
"Would you like the wine list?" the hostess asked.
"Ye-- ah, no," Lindsey answered. "No thank you."
"You didn't have to do that," Willow said once the hostess left. "If you wanted some wine, that's fine."
"I didn't want to be rude. As a lawyer, I can't offer to buy alcohol for a minor, but that doesn't mean that I have to show off."
"And telling me you're a lawyer isn't showing off?" Willow teased.
"Well now, that's just a point of fact," he smiled back in answer.
They spent a few minutes reading the menu, ready to give their orders when their waitress arrived at the table.
"So tell me how you met Mouse," Lindsey said.
"Mouse?" Willow giggled.
"Tara. She was always a quiet little thing, hence the nickname."
"Oh, she is so getting flack for that one when I get back," Willow grinned. "We met at school, at a Wicca meeting."
"Damn, she's still into that? I thought for sure that father of hers had banned all witchcraft after her mom died."
"Maybe that's why she stuck with it," Willow shrugged. "As a way to keep her mom alive. I don't know that much about her family, but I know she was close to her mom before she died. I get the feeling that she had to practice in secret before she came to Sunny U."
"Makes sense. So, I suppose that means you're a witch too," Lindsey guessed.
"You betcha," Willow grinned. "Seeing as how you knew Tara and her mom practiced witchcraft, I take it that you believe in it too?"
"I believe that there's more than one higher being," Lindsey admitted. He generally didn't discuss his beliefs with strangers. Hell, he didn't discuss them with his friends either. But Willow made him want to open up. Maybe it was because she seemed so open-minded. "With all of the things that I've seen, I just can't believe that there's one omnipresent deity. Especially with all of the evil in the world," he finished, mumbling that last sentence.
Shaking himself out of thoughts of evil, Lindsey flashed Willow his brightest smile. "I guess that if you're hanging with Mouse, then you are the magick practicing kind of witch."
"What if I said that I was?" Willow cautiously countered.
"I'd say that it's good that you're careful who you admit that to. Lots of people out there who'd be happy to exploit someone with power."
"And would you be one of those people?"
"Me, nah," Lindsey brushed the accusation off, trying to get back on a lighter note. "Just don't want you getting yourself into trouble, that's all."
Willow wasn't sure what to make of this shift in discussion, but she wasn't going to press it. They were hardly in a place to be talking about magick and the kinds of people who'd like to exploit it.
"So, are you still in a band?" Willow asked Lindsey, following his lead back to more neutral territory.
Lindsey choked on the sip of water he'd just taken. "Geez, I haven't thought of that band in ages. I'm surprised Mouse remembered that, and told you about it."
"I'll take that as a no."
"That's a big no," Lindsey agreed. "I still sing every once in a while at this karaoke bar I know, just to unwind and keep in practice mind you, but nothing more than that. Doesn't really go with my career."
"That's right," Willow silkily smiled. "You're a big, hot shot attorney."
"And proud of it. I know all the jokes about how evil lawyers are, but I make a damn fine living for myself."
"Hey, I wasn't accusing you of anything," Willow held her hands up in defense, laughter in her voice. "If you're such a powerful guy, then how come you can't get your own dates?"
"Oh, I get plenty of dates on my own," Lindsey postured. He was trying hard not to join in Willow's laughter. Her eyes simply glowed with mirth.
"That why you don't have a girlfriend?" she continued taunting him, enjoying his efforts not to laugh.
"I'm too busy to have a girlfriend," he answered truthfully. "Being a fancy lawyer doesn't leave a lot of free time to date."
"Well, you're here with me," Willow pointed out, feeling a secret pride that he made time to meet her.
"I also have a stack of paperwork on my desk. Can you honestly tell me that you can say no when Mouse asks you to do something?"
Willow smiled shyly, remembering her own conversation with Tara. "No, I guess not. In any case, I'm honored that you took time out of your busy schedule for me."
"It's my pleasure, really." Lindsey said, reaching across the table to squeeze Willow's hand. His lips curled up in a small smile at the color that suddenly flushed Willow's cheeks at his gesture.
The awkward, yet oddly comfortable, moment was interrupted by the arrival of their food.
Willow eagerly bent her head to her meal as she tried to figure out what had just happened. 'That was a spark,' she told herself. 'There had definitely been sparkage. But I don't even really know this guy. Okay, so he's gorgeous, and Tara's cousin, and a singing lawyer.'
Lindsey divided his time between eating and watching Willow eat. He found her studious avoidance of looking at him amusing. He could practically hear the wheels turning in her head. He'd already guessed that she was a thinker. In fact, he found it endearing. He'd always preferred smart girls to the dumb ones. The dumb ones were good for a one-night stand, but this girl was obviously a keeper.
'Wait just one minute there, McDonald,' he cautioned himself. 'Willow's not someone you should be thinking about keeping. Not while you're employed by Wolfram & Hart at least. She radiates innocence, and not simply due to her young age. Which is too young for you.'
Forcing himself to wipe the newfound frown from his face, Lindsey spoke up. "So why is it that you're not involved with anyone?"
Lindsey wanted to kick himself at the pained look that crossed her face.
"I, um, was, until recently. Shortly after I met Tara I caught my boyfriend in bed with another... woman."
"He must have been an idiot," Lindsey said vehemently.
"How could he cheat on someone as sweet as you are?"
"You don't have to say that," Willow protested, feeling herself begin to blush again. "You don't even know me."
"Maybe not," Lindsey reached across the table, lifting her chin to make her meet his eyes. "But I know people. And I can tell that you aren't the kind of person that should be cheated on."
Part of Willow wanted to defend Oz. She knew it was silly. He'd hurt her terribly. But he'd been her first love. It was hard hearing bad things about him, despite what he'd done to hurt her.
"Thank you," Willow mumbled. After a pause, she added, "You too. I mean, you've been great tonight. I bet that there's tons of girls, women, who would jump at the chance to be your girlfriend, even with your long hours."
Lindsey chuckled. "I'm not often in the right position to meet women like that. Most women I know are even more cut-throat than I am. They're fellow lawyers."
"Well, I can see why you wouldn't want to date them, what with the bad rep lawyers have and all," Willow teased.
"Hey, now," Lindsey protested, laughing heartily. Willow joined in his laughter.
The rest of the meal continued amiably. Laughing and joking easily filled the spaces between bites of their meals. Lindsey insisted on paying for dinner and, after much protesting, Willow relented – on the condition that she paid the tip.
As they walked towards the exit, Lindsey surprised himself by asking, "Did you need to get back to your hotel or would you like to do something else?"
"Well, first of all, I'm staying with a friend, not at a hotel. But I do have kind of an early morning tomorrow. So I should probably go," Willow reluctantly admitted.
"Oh," Lindsey commented, his disappointment at having to end the evening already evident in his voice.
"Um, what did you have in mind?" Willow asked. "To do, I mean."
"But you just said..."
"I know, but I'm having fun. And how often do I get to spend an evening with a handsome lawyer in LA?"
"I don't think that I want to know the answer to that question," Lindsey laughed. "To be honest, I hadn't thought that far ahead."
"What about that place you go to sing karaoke?" Willow suggested.
Thinking of all of the demons that would be there, Lindsey didn't think that was the best idea. This girl might be from Sunnydale and study witchcraft, but that didn't mean that she knew about demons.
"Not tonight. I don't have my guitar with me," he hastened to add.
Willow tried not to wince at the mention of a guitar. 'It figures that he's a guitar player,' she miserably thought.
"Hey now, what's that look for?" Lindsey asked, watching her face fall.
"My ex. He was the guitarist in a popular local band," Willow admitted.
Lindsey reached out and pulled Willow into his arms. "I'm sorry, you didn't say that earlier. I didn't know."
Willow wrapped her arms around the solid body enfolding hers. He was so much bigger than Oz – taller, more muscular. Her head seemed to fit perfectly against his shoulder.
Lindsey was glad that Willow couldn't see the shocked expression he was certain that he was wearing. He usually wasn't a touchy-feely kind of person. Heck, he didn't know many guys who were. But she'd looked so vulnerable when she talked about her ex, that all he wanted to do in that moment was make that look go away. Even though he couldn't see her face, he was pretty sure that it was gone now.
He relished the contact of her body pressed against his. She was a little thing, but it felt like she was made to be in his arms. He loved how her head was resting against his shoulder. He had a sudden urge to find some nice slow music to spend the rest of the night dancing, just like this. But he didn't want to have to share her with anyone.
Pulling back, he met Willow's eyes when she looked up at him nervously. He brushed the hair back from her face as he said, "I know just what we can do. It's a little secluded, do you mind?"
"Not at all," Willow sweetly smiled. She knew that she shouldn't be so accepting of the idea of being alone with this virtual stranger, but she was. In fact, she felt the beginnings of a tingle she hadn't felt in a long time in her belly.
Lindsey led Willow to his car and helped her into it before getting in himself. He drove out of the city, hopping on the Pacific Coast Highway. After half an hour he turned off the highway and wound his way through the hills until he stopped in a clearing.
Willow's first vocalized thought was, "It's beautiful." Quickly followed by, "So did you bring me out here to make out with me?"
"What? No!" Lindsey exclaimed, although the idea did sound rather appealing.
Willow grinned. "Relax, I didn't think you did. I mean, not that it would be terrible. I'm sure making out with you would be very nice, great even, but just 'cause we're in the middle of nowhere looking out at the ocean with no one else around doesn't mean that you are trying to seduce me."
"Do you want me to seduce you?" Lindsey asked when Willow ended her babble, his voice sounding like pure sex.
"I, um, I..." Willow didn't know how to answer. While she'd love to shout 'Yes' and then demonstrate that desire, she didn't want to come off as some first-date-make-out-slut. "Why did you bring me here?" she quietly asked in the end.
Lindsey took pity on the flustered girl. "Now don't laugh," he prefaced with. "I wanted to dance with you under the stars. Or what passes for stars in California."
"Really?" Willow beamed. "That's so sweet. I'd love to."
"Do you mean it?" Lindsey asked.
"Absolutely. But why here?"
"It's peaceful. I wasn't in the mood to go to a club and be jostled by a bunch of other people out on a dance floor. And I didn't think you'd be comfortable coming back to my apartment."
"So you take me to the middle of nowhere to ease my mind?" Willow giggled.
"Um, yeah," Lindsey reluctantly admitted that this probably didn't seem a much safer place if he wanted her to believe he wasn't going to try anything unseemly.
Willow reached over and touched his arm. "It's beautiful here."
Lindsey flashed a dazzling smile at her before turning on the car's radio to a classical station. He turned the volume up high, then exited the car, moving around to open Willow's door. He offered her his hand and helped her out of the vehicle, pulling her into his arms in one fluid move.
Willow melted into his embrace, this one not much different from the hug outside of the restaurant. Only this time there was swaying and no uncomfortableness.
Lindsey couldn't remember the last time he felt so carefree and relaxed. Working at Wolfram & Hart was very stressful, especially with this new menace to the firm, Angel. He felt his body stiffen and tried to shake off the frustration that thoughts of the vampire brought on.
"Everything okay?" Willow asked, pulling back a bit to look up at him.
"Yeah, sorry. Started thinking about work," he apologized.
"Thinking about work gives you so much tension?" Willow asked, unconsciously running her hands over his shoulders, trying to ease the stress from his body – causing an entirely different kind of tension to build.
"This one case, yes," Lindsey admitted. "But I don't want to talk about work. I'd been thinking about how nice this is, how relaxing compared to what I do all day."
"Me too. You're very comfortable, Mr. McDonald." Willow pulled him closer to demonstrate her point.
"Comfortable?" he questioned, lazily running his fingers up and down Willow's back.
"Mm-hmm," Willow nodded, closing her eyes. "That feels nice."
'So will this,' Lindsey thought as he slowly lowered his head until his lips grazed Willow's. Her eyes popped open and she looked at him questioningly. He pulled back a bit, allowing Willow the opportunity to push him away. Instead, she pressed her body closer to his, tilting her head up to graze his lips this time.
For many long moments, they tortured themselves by teasing each other's lips with barely-there touches. Finally, unable to take it any more, Lindsey wound his fingers in Willow's auburn tresses, pulling her flush against him, as he pressed his lips firmly against hers.
They both moaned at the sensation, then again as the vibrations were felt in the other's lips. One of Willow's hands found its way into his hair as the other slid up under his jacket, pressing against the heat of his back.
Lindsey rested his forehead against Willow's as they reluctantly parted in order to pant for breath.
"How did you do that?" he whispered in awe of the passion this girl invoked in him.
"Do what?" Willow whispered back.
"How'd you get me to lose control like that?" he asked, his fingers never stilling as they traced her face, ran through her hair, over her shoulders, anywhere they could reach.
"Magick," Willow grinned, pressing her lips to his once again.
Lindsey laughed into the kiss, believing her flippant answer. She truly was a magickal creature if she could get him to become nothing but putty under her gentle ministrations.
He suddenly realized that he wanted to know more of this girl. Not just her body, although he'd love to explore every inch of her skin with his lips. He wanted a relationship with her. Something he hadn't wanted with anyone since he started college.
It was a sobering thought. Especially since she wasn't his to have. She was barely an adult, in college, in another city, who was only recently single after what sounded like a harsh break-up.
When he felt Willow begin to pull his shirt from his pants, he pulled away, catching her hands in his to still her actions.
"No," he insisted.
"Wh-why not?" Willow asked. She tried not to berate herself for her bold actions.
She thought this was what he'd want, why he'd brought her here. She knew she wasn't a worldly woman, but he seemed to like her, if his kisses were anything to go by. It had taken her only a little convincing that it would be okay to give herself to him, knowing it would most likely just be the one time. But she wanted Lindsey, enough so that she didn't want to think about what would happen later. She knew they had very different lives, but she didn't want to have a life not knowing what it was like to be with him, if only once.
"I don't want some casual fuck with you," Lindsey sincerely said, stepping back.
"I know I'm not much to look at..." Willow began, tears beginning to form in her eyes.
"You're beautiful!" Lindsey said, cursing himself for making her think he was rejecting her. "You're passionate, and smart, and funny..." He laughed harshly at himself, "For a lawyer I'm not being very eloquent am I?"
"I think you're getting better," Willow said, slipping her fingers through his.
"What I meant to say, is that I want more with you. More than just this night. You deserve better than a quick fuck in the middle of nowhere. You deserve more than a quick fuck period. What I want, is to see you again, to... I don't know... date."
Willow blinked owlishly up at him. "You wanna date me? But... You're here, in Los Angeles, and I live in Sunnydale. And you're like... an adult!"
Lindsey laughed, pulling their joined hands to his mouth to kiss her fingers. "Would you be willing to try long distance dating?"
"You mean, I come visit on weekends, and then you come to Sunnydale?"
"Yes. I want to get to know you better, Willow. I want to spend time with you after tonight. Is there any chance that that's something you'd want?"
"Goddess, yes. I-I'm usually not so forward with guys, but I just didn't want to have to let you go."
Lindsey let out a sigh of relief, then pressed a soft kiss to Willow's waiting lips.
"I better get you back to your friend. She's probably worried that I kidnapped you," Lindsey said when they parted.
"You're right, he probably is. He's the overprotective big-brother type," Willow agreed.
"Should I be jealous you're spending the weekend with another man?" Lindsey teased as he helped Willow back into the car.
Willow laughed. "Not about this guy. He's my best friend's ex. That's like against the law."
"I don't remember reading that in any of my books," Lindsey chided.
"Oh, you know what I mean." Willow playfully slapped his arm as Lindsey headed back towards the city. "When he found out I was coming to LA he insisted that I stay with him. Wouldn't have me paying for a hotel when he had a perfectly good couch."
"Still, maybe I should meet him," Lindsey suggested.
"Aren't you the overprotective boyfriend," Willow lightly said.
"I certainly hope so," Lindsey seriously answered.
Willow sobered at Lindsey's serious tone. "Isn't it a bit soon for us to use the B-word?"
"I s'pose it is," Lindsey agreed with a sigh. With hope in his voice he added, "But it's going to apply sooner rather than later. Right?"
Willow rested her hand on top of Lindsey's on the gear shift, relishing in the shiver of excitement the simple touch evoked. "Oh, yeah."
Once they were back in the city limits, Willow directed Lindsey to Angel's offices/home. Lindsey had never been there before, but he knew the address by heart. He hoped that he didn't let on that he knew who she was staying with. Willow obviously had great affection for her host, and he wasn't ready to admit to her how he knew who Angel was.
He walked her to the doors of Angel's offices, hating that they would have to say good night. Possibly goodbye, if Willow told Angel who she'd been out with. He obviously didn't know beforehand, otherwise there was no way he would have let her keep the date.
"So, now what?" Willow nervously asked as they lingered outside the door, fingers tangled in a loose embrace.
"You call me when you get back to Sunnydale to let me know you're home safe. We talk, email, and I'll find a way to come visit you soon." Lindsey used their joined hands to pull Willow closer.
"Are you sure you want me to call you? What if you're busy?" Willow asked, playing with the lapel of Lindsey's jacket.
"Then you'll leave a message and I'll call you back. I want this, Willow. I want you."
"I want you too," Willow said, sliding her hand up to tangle in the hair at the nape of Lindsey's neck, pulling him down to her eager mouth.
This kiss was slow and bittersweet. They poured their newfound longing into it, each hoping that the other meant what they'd said, knowing it was possible that they would change their mind upon reflection.
Finally, it was Willow who pulled away, licking her lips.
"I know this sounds corny," Lindsey started, reaching into his inside jacket pocket, "but here's my card. All of my numbers are on it, my home number's on the back."
Willow took the card and held it to her chest. "I'll call, the second I walk in the door. I promise."
With one last kiss, Willow turned and went inside. He could hear her calling out to Angel to let him know she was back.
Lindsey allowed himself a lingering look at Willow before leaving. He didn't want Angel to catch him there, after all.
As he drove back to his apartment, he found himself praying to whatever deity might be listening that Angel wouldn't say anything too horrible about him to Willow; and if he did, that she'd do him the courtesy of hearing him out. He knew that she could be the goodness that saved his sanity. He only hoped that he would be able to tell her that.
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."
Lindsey sat in his car outside of Caritas, the engine idling. He stared into the middle distance, trying to figure out how he came to be here. Yesterday he'd been perfectly content with his life. He had a high-paying job that gave him the respect he'd always craved. One blind date later he was ready to give it all up for a sweet smile and big green eyes. What had happened to him? He didn't fall in love at first sight. Especially not with women who were younger than him and as pure and innocent as they come.
He wanted to call up his cousin Tara and either yell at her for ruining his life or thank her for sending him the best thing he'd ever met.
Looking up at the garish sign for the demon bar, Lindsey realized he knew exactly why he was here. He needed to know if he'd lost his mind. Or had he finally found the missing piece that would make his life complete?
With a deep sigh, Lindsey turned off his car and opened the door, stepping out to face his future.
Inside, he took in the myriad of demons and humans milling about. A demon that looked like a giant slug was squeaking through some unrecognizable song on the stage. Lindsey scanned the room for the green-skinned demon that owned the club. Spotting Lorne at the bar, Lindsey crossed the room to him.
Lorne was trying hard not to cringe at the singer's rendition. Its future wasn't so bright either, which he also was trying not to show.
Seeing Lindsey approach, his red eyes sparked. "Well, look what the cat dragged in. It's about time you gifted us with your vocal talents again, pumpkin."
"I've been busy," Lindsey acknowledged.
"Working where you do, I would expect so," Lorne jeered. "But look at you now. You look like you lost your puppy."
"Worse," Lindsey smiled as he thought of Willow. "I've met someone."
"Be still my butt, which is where my heart is located," Lorne exclaimed. "That's wonderful news. So why the glum? Don't tell me; she's too good for you."
"That's not even half of it," Lindsey agreed. "Got an open slot tonight? I could really use some advice."
"For you, of course." Lorne glanced at the stage and applauded as the slug-demon finished. "Just let me give Clyde there his reading and we'll get you set up."
"Thanks, Lorne. I really appreciate it."
"No, sugar, thank you. It'll be a pleasure listening to someone who can actually carry a tune."
With that, Lorne left to consult with Clyde, leaving Lindsey a moment to gather the courage he needed to bare his soul for the second time in one evening.
When he saw Lorne gesture him to the stage, he wove his way through the tables, picking up the club's guitar on the way. He tuned the strings, dimly aware of Lorne introducing him.
"Ladies and demons, we've a special treat for you this evening. I give you Lindsey McDonald, of the illustrious Wolfram & Hart. Give him a warm welcome."
Lindsey blinked as the spotlight temporarily blinded him. He closed his eyes and began to sing:
"I am driving up 85 in the
Kind of morning that lasts all afternoon
Just stuck inside the gloom
4 more exits to my apartment but
I am tempted to keep the car in drive
And leave it all behind
Cause I wonder sometimes
About the outcome
Of a still verdictless life
Am I living it right?
Am I living it right?
Am I living it right?
Why Georgia, why?"
Lindsey could admit to himself that he wasn't proud of working for Wolfram & Hart. He'd suspected there was something different about the firm when he'd started working there, but he'd had no idea it was as bad as it was.
For all of his tough upbringing, he had been completely naïve when it came to what went bump in the night. Accepting that there were demons in the world, real ones, had not been easy. It had been even harder hardening his heart and conscience to help these demons.
"I rent a room and I fill the spaces with
Wood in places to make it feel like home
But all I feel's alone
It might be a quarter life crisis
Or just the stirring of my soul
Either way I wonder sometimes
About the outcome
Of a still verdictless life
Am I living it right?
Am I living it right?
Am I living it right?
Why Georgia, why?"
In one evening, Willow had reminded him of what his goals had been before he'd ever heard of Wolfram & Hart. Her joie-de-vivre was infectious. She made him believe that he could have a life outside of Wolfram & Hart. Something he'd stopped believing was possible.
"So what, so I've got a smile on
But it's hiding the quiet superstitions in my head
Don't believe me
When I say I've got it down
Everybody is a stranger but
That's the danger in going my own way
I guess it's the price I have to pay
Still "everything happens for a reason"
Is no reason not to ask myself
Am I living it right?
Am I living it right?
Am I living it right?
Why Georgia, why?"
As he strummed the last cords of the song, a round of applause went up. Lindsey had gotten so lost in his thoughts that he had forgotten about the audience.
He stood, said his thanks, and left the stage, eager to hear what Lorne had seen.
"Step into my office," Lorne suggested, waving Lindsey to his private table in the back.
"Is it that bad?" Lindsey was afraid to ask.
"Well now, that depends on who you ask," Lorne smiled. "By the way, I can understand your dilemma. Your redhead is quite the looker."
"You know Willow?" he asked in surprise.
"Honey, you're falling so fast that you were sending her picture out far and wide."
"I could have told you I was falling for her fast. But what do I do about that? She said she can't be with me while I work for Wolfram & Hart, but I don't know if I can leave."
"We both know you're up to leaving, so we're going to skip over that good news," Lorne said, taking a sip of his Sea Breeze. "The big question is: Is it safe for you to quit?"
"Talk to Holland. I think he might surprise you," Lorne suggested.
"That's your advice?! Talk to my boss! Holland hand picked me to come work for him. He won't want to hear that I want to leave. I signed a contract with Wolfram & Hart, in blood, for Christ's sake!"
"You just answered your own question. Pull out your contract. Read the fine print. I think you'll find a loophole or two that will help you out."
Lindsey blinked in disbelief at the green demon. "You're telling me that my contract has an out-clause? Why don't I remember that?"
"You never thought you'd need one," Lorne pointed out.
Before Lindsey could ask any more questions, Lorne stood to leave. "Don't over-think it. Go home, get some sleep, and read over your contract. Look inside yourself. You know what you want." He started to move into the room, but turned back. "For the record, there's nothing worth fighting for more than the love of a good woman."
Lindsey remained glued to his seat for many long minutes before finally rousing himself and heading home. He collapsed into his bed, falling into a restless sleep. He was plagued by dreams of Willow, and what Wolfram & Hart could do to him -- or her -- if they objected to his leaving.
In the morning, after a hot shower and a good breakfast, Lindsey went in search of his contract of employment. When he found it, he settled himself at his desk with a pad of paper and pen, ready to go over it with a fine tooth comb.
He was a little surprised that he had so quickly decided to leave his job. He wasn't even aware of having made a conscious decision to quit. It just seemed like the natural thing to do in the face of Willow's insistence that she couldn't be with him if he worked there.
Was he really prepared to change his entire life for a woman?
'Willow is no ordinary woman,' he reminded himself.
'No, she's a sweet girl, a witch, who is younger than you, and is friends with Angel,' the devil on his shoulder countered. 'She doesn't even live in L.A.'
'She's what we didn't know we were looking for,' he insisted. 'She's the answer to the self-loathing we've been feeling since we got in deeper with Wolfram & Hart.'
'But will she still want you when the danger is gone?'
'She liked me before she knew where I worked.'
'And where will you work when you quit your job?' the devil pressed.
'I'll find another job. I'll go work for the ACLU, like I wanted to when I started law school.'
"Enough!" Lindsey shouted, trying to quiet the conflicting voices in his head so that he could concentrate. For good measure, he popped a Les Paul CD into his stereo system to distract his turbulent thoughts.
After an hour and a half of carefully reading his contract, line by line, even pulling out a magnifying glass to read the fine print, Lindsey sat back, hardly able to believe what he'd just read.
Reading aloud, Lindsey spoke the relevant lines, "If, at any time, the signed employee discovers his true path, his destiny as it were; and finds that it cannot be fulfilled while employed by Wolfram & Hart, he is free to pursue it. All cases will be reassigned to another and the signed is free to leave, provided he takes nothing pertaining to any client, past or present of Wolfram & Hart with him. Any attempt to sabotage open cases or projects in the works will nullify this clause and the signed employee will suffer the consequences."
Had he found his true path? Lindsey wondered. Was Willow his destiny?
"Talk to Holland," Lorne had said.
Lindsey glanced at the clock, and despite it being a Saturday, knew he'd find his boss in his office. With a sigh, Lindsey stood and moved to his bedroom. If he was going to confront his mentor, he needed to dress the part.
Half an hour later, Lindsey pulled into his spot in the parking garage below the Los Angeles branch of Wolfram & Hart.
He knocked respectfully on Holland's door, then waited to be admitted.
"Lindsey," Holland greeted him, looking up from the papers on his desk, discreetly gathering them together. "To what do I owe this pleasure?"
"Mr. Manners," Lindsey formally greeted his superior. "Sir, if you have a moment, I'd like to discuss the terms of my contract."
Only years of practice enabled Holland to mask his surprise. Deliberately misinterpreting Lindsey, he said, "Of course. I'd be happy to review any contract you're working on. Although by now I'd expect you to know what you're doing."
Lindsey shifted slightly in his seat, uncomfortable now that he was having this conversation. He knew Holland had understood him from the beginning. His mentor had an uncanny way of seeing through people's masks.
"No, sir," Lindsey started, opening his briefcase and removing his copy of his Terms of Employment. "I was referring to my contract of employment with Wolfram & Hart."
"Don't tell me you're thinking of leaving me," Holland mock-gasped.
"I'm sorry, sir, but I believe that my path has diverged from the firm's," Lindsey said, using one of the key phrases he'd found earlier.
"I'm sorry to hear that," Holland admitted. "Let's have a look."
Lindsey passed over the document. "I've put an arrow next to the relevant passage."
Holland skimmed over the passage, already having guessed which one Lindsey had wanted him to read. He'd been afraid this day would one day come. Lindsey had always had the kind of passion and eagerness to please that could one day bring about a crisis of faith. Not everyone had what it took to last in this organization. Most were used up and spit out. But then there were a few smart ones who figured it out before they got in too deep or gave up.
"So, you believe that you have found your true path?" Holland slowly asked, sitting back in his chair, meeting Lindsey's eyes.
"I do," Lindsey smiled.
"What's her name?" Holland smirked knowingly.
"Wi--What do you mean?" Lindsey stumbled.
"My boy, more often than not, when a man tries to leave here, citing this particular clause, it's because of a woman. Now what's the little lady's name?"
Lindsey smirked. "Now if I told you that, you'd just go after her and either try to force her out of my life or worse. I think I'll keep it to myself."
"So there is a woman," Holland gloated.
Lindsey groaned. "Yes, alright. I met someone, who I think could be..."
Now it was Holland's turn to groan. "If you say soulmate, I'll throw you out the window. Spare me the poetic musing of young men in love."
"I was going to say my future wife," Lindsey said, although he'd been thinking 'soulmate'.
"Let me guess, she heard you worked here and demanded your resignation," Holland smirked.
"Actually, she said that she wouldn't ask me to leave my job for her. Granted, she said we couldn't be together if I remained here..." Lindsey couldn't believe he was admitting all of this. He idly wondered if that truth spell was still in effect.
"But you're so head over heels in love that you're going to do it anyway," Holland finished. "Need I remind you that love is not a 'true path'?"
"No, and I'm not mistaking it for one. In all honesty, it isn't even love; yet. But it could be; and I'd very much like to have the chance to see if love is a possibility with W--her. However, while discussing all of this with her, I came to realize some things about myself that I'd long forgotten about. This isn't what I'd set out to do with my life."
"Lindsey, when I met you, you were young, an idealist. Just because your path has taken you down a different road, doesn't mean that it's any less valid a direction to be headed."
"For me it is," Lindsey argued. "This isn't what I wanted for myself, it never was. I'm grateful for you taking me in and teaching me. But these aren't the lessons I want to learn. These aren't the kind of clients that I want to represent, they never were. But I told myself that in order to make an impression, I needed to hold my tongue and defend them to the best of my ability. And I did that. Until now. I've met someone who has held up a mirror and shown me that I don't recognize the man that I see reflected back in it. This isn't me, Holland."
Holland's smile was genuine. "You've never done that before, called me by my name."
"I wasn't able to before," Lindsey replied.
Holland heaved a put-upon sigh. "Is there nothing I can say to convince you that you're about to make a terrible mistake? The Senior Partners won't be happy about this. They had high hopes for you."
"Tell them Lilah's a better man for the job. She was made for this firm. I was groomed well for it, but you and I both know that I could never have gone all the way."
"No, perhaps you're right. I guess we'll never know," Holland said wistfully.
"Then you won't protest when I submit a formal letter of resignation?" Lindsey asked.
"I may try to change your mind again, but if this is truly what you think is best for you, then I will accept your resignation."
"I'll be completely free?" Lindsey pressed. "They won't be able to pull me back in, for any reason?"
"Provided you leave only with what you brought in with you, and nothing else." Holland's voice held a wealth of warning.
"What could I possibly want to take with me from here?" Lindsey laughed.
"Oh, I can imagine a few things, but I'm not about to go giving you any ideas that we both know you already have."
Lindsey stood, retrieved his contract from Holland's desk and placed it back in his briefcase.
Holding his hand out to Holland, he said, "Thank you for understanding."
Holland took the offered hand, shaking it solemnly. "While I may not like it, or approve, I do understand."
"I'll have that letter for you first thing Monday morning," Lindsey said as they walked to the door.
"I've no doubt that you will. Take care of yourself, Lindsey."
Holland closed the door behind Lindsey and returned to his desk. Picking up his phone, he hit speed dial.
"We've lost him."
Lindsey was humming as he slipped into his car and headed home. He felt lighter than he could remember feeling in years.
"Angel, you are not going to pounce on that girl the second she walks through the door," Cordelia reprimanded her boss.
"Of course not," he agreed. "I was going to wait for her to take off her coat first."
Cordelia looked up from her magazine to stare incredulously at Angel. Ever since she'd arrived at work that day he had been going on and on about Willow having gone on a blind date with Lindsey McDonald and that she was about to throw her life away on him. As the day had worn on, his rants became more frequent, and she could practically see the path he had worn in the floor with his pacing.
"Willow is a grown-up," Cordelia reminded him, again. "She has the right to date whoever she wants. Even evil lawyers."
As Angel, once again, pointed out that the fact that Lindsey was an evil lawyer was enough reason to object to Willow dating him, Cordelia silently mused over the turn of fate that had her defending geeky, boyfriend-stealing Willow Rosenberg. While she was partly grateful to the redhead for ridding her of her loser boyfriend, she was also still miffed that the mousy girl had been able to sneak around with Xander in the first place. No one had ever taken a man away from her before, or since.
Still, past aside, Angel was being an over-protective jerk, and that automatically made her side with Willow.
Recalling something Angel had glossed over earlier, Cordelia interrupted him. "Didn't you say that he told you that he didn't know Wolfram & Hart was evil when he joined the firm?"
"Well, yes, but maybe he took some kind of anti-truth spell potion before coming over here."
Cordelia simply raised an eyebrow in objection. "Now you don't really believe that, do you?"
Angel sighed, sinking into one of the chairs in front of her desk. "No, but that doesn't mean that I believe him."
"Obviously," Cordelia muttered under her breath.
"Am I really being that prejudiced against him, simply because he works for Wolfram & Hart?" Angel asked, sounding a little lost at the possibility.
"Angel, you have spent the last five hours telling me that Lindsey is evil because he works at Wolfram & Hart, despite the fact that he passed Willow's truth spell, and ignoring Willow's ability to see the good in people. I mean, she was the first to accept me into their little Scooby gang back in high school, even before your precious Buffy did. If she could be right about me, then can't you admit that she might be right about Lindsey too?"
Angel remained silent, mulling over what Cordelia had asked.
Before his thinking could become brooding, Cordelia said, "People deserve second chances, Angel. You should know that better than anyone. I mean, when you were Angelus, I was terrified of you, but you got your soul back and I forgave you. If I can work for you after experiencing that, then don't you think you can give Lindsey the benefit of the doubt, too?"
Angel winced as Cordelia made some very valid points. He idly wondered when she'd become so wise. He supposed that losing everything the way that she had when her parents' money was taken way had taught her something about humility.
He could remember when Buffy had come to visit him after his not-so-stealthy trip to Sunnydale. She had questioned him about hiring the former cheerleader as an employee. He had defended Cordelia, saying that she wasn't as bad as she had been in high school. She had learned from the past and wanted to help people, help him on his path to redemption.
Did he really have the right to deny Lindsey the same opportunity?
If Lindsey truly didn't know what he was getting into when he went to work for Wolfram & Hart, and honestly wanted to leave now, could Angel reasonably hold his current employment against him? No, he couldn't. It wouldn't be right for him to hold it against someone who truly wanted to return to a righteous path when he was seeking his own redemption for past sins.
"Am I really being that much of a hypocrite?" he asked.
"Duh," Cordelia succinctly affirmed. "What do you think I've been trying to tell you all day?"
"You know, it's not nice to tell your boss 'I told you so'," Angel sulked.
"Yeah, well, you deserved it. Does this mean that you're willing to give him the benefit of the doubt now?"
"I suppose," Angel reluctantly agreed, not meeting Cordelia's eyes.
"And you're going to offer him a job when he does quit Wolfram & Hart?" she pressed.
"Now let's not get ahead of ourselves," Angel protested, looking up sharply. "We don't know that he's going to quit working there."
"Oh, please," Cordelia huffed. "You said it yourself that he's falling for Willow. If she won't be with him while he works for Evil Incorporated, then he's gonna quit. You don't want Willow dating someone on unemployment, do you? Of course not. And at least if he's working here you can keep an eye on him, while helping out our clients even more."
"Can we just wait and cross that bridge if we come to it?" Angel gruffly asked.
Cordelia stared at Angel, knowing a delaying tactic when she saw one. In a voice that let him know that she would be bringing this up again when Lindsey left W&H, she said, "For now."
Just then, a movement by the door caught her eye. Her face lit up as she exclaimed, "Hey, Willow."
A little taken aback by Cordelia's excited greeting, Willow hesitantly replied, "Hi, Cordelia. It's good to see you."
Angel stood to greet the redhead. "Willow, hi. How was the conference today?"
"It was amazing," the hacker gushed. "I learned so much today. I mean, I thought that I knew a lot about computers, but some of the people there made me look like a toddler in comparison."
"And that's a good thing?" Cordelia questioned.
"Well, no, but they were willing to share their ideas, which was way cool. I was afraid that everyone would be all closed-mouth, trying to keep their breakthrough secrets to themselves, but it wasn't like that all. I guess a shared love of computers made them more open."
Seeing the blank stares on her friends' faces, Willow changed the subject. "So what did you two do all day? Find any new baddies to stop?"
Cordelia and Angel exchanged a look before Angel said, "It's been pretty quiet today. We're in between cases."
"Which means that we're waiting for someone to call and hire us," Cordelia explained. "Or a vision."
"Oh. So what do you do around here while waiting for people to come a-calling?" Willow asked.
"Read mostly," Cordelia answered. Granted, her reading material tended to run towards Cosmo and Variety, while Angel tended to stick to musty old books on demonology.
"Really? You read?" Willow teased her former nemesis.
"Yes, I read," Cordelia said with an exasperated sigh. "Just today I read all about a great part coming up in a series of commercials."
Willow couldn't contain a giggle, and when she snuck a glance at Angel, noticed he was having a difficult time keeping his laughter in check as well.
"So, Willow, Angel has been telling me that you've met a thorn in our side that goes by the name of Lindsey McDonald," Cordelia said, changing the subject.
Willow's face lit up at the mention of Lindsey's name, even as a blush stole across her cheeks. "Yeah, we've met."
Ignoring the glare coming from Angel, Cordelia pressed on. "From what I hear, you've more than 'met'."
"It wasn't like that," Willow exclaimed, not wanting to be thought of as a slut.
"I didn't mean it like that," Cordelia corrected. "I just mean that it sounded like more than just a casual run-in."
"Oh, right, yeah it was. I didn't even know you guys knew him until I got home from our date. You see, my friend Tara set me up on a blind date when she heard I'd be in LA for the conference. All I really knew about him was that he was a lawyer - oh, and Tara's cousin."
"Lindsey with family. Huh," Cordelia mused. "Just goes to show that he wasn't spawned from Hell, like Angel here said."
"Hey, don't go dragging me into this," Angel protested. "And I never said that."
"Close enough," Cordelia muttered. "So he's related to your friend? I don't remember going to school with a Tara."
"I met her in college, at a Wicca group," Willow explained. "She was the only one there with any power to speak of and we just clicked. We've been hanging a lot since Oz left."
"Yeah, that was a bummer," Cordelia said. "I never would have thought he'd just up and leave like that."
"Me either. I mean, after what we all went through in high school, I never would have thought he would cheat on me."
"Wait a minute," Cordelia interrupted. "Oz cheated on you? I always thought he was the loyal type."
"Yeah, me too. He met another werewolf; a skanky female werewolf, who was also in a band. What's it with werewolves and music anyway? Does it really soothe the savage beast?"
"Focus, Willow," Cordelia chided.
Willow had the grace to blush. "Sorry, guess I'm still kind of bitter."
"You have every right to be," Angel said, trying to comfort her.
"Thanks," Willow smiled. She gave herself a mental shake and said, "Doesn't matter. Oz is my past. Now there's a new guy in my future, I hope."
Angel's small smile instantly slid off his face, seeming to jump to Cordelia, whose smile grew tenfold.
"And this time not only is he older and taller than you, but he's gotta have a lot of money, working at Wolfram & Hart," Cordelia beamed.
"Yeah, he's made a great living for himself being evil, hasn't he?" Willow dejectedly agreed.
"Hey, don't do that. He's gonna quit, I just know it," Cordelia said, mentally slapping herself for bringing Willow down again.
"How do you know that? Did you see it in a vision?" Willow snarked. "It's not like I asked him to leave his job for me."
"No, no vision. But if that guy's half as smart as he is gorgeous, he won't let you get away. From what I heard, he isn't really happy there anyway. Who would pass up a chance to be happy with their job and a great girl like you?"
"Hopefully not Lindsey," Willow muttered under her breath.
"So, when are you seeing loverboy again?" Cordelia asked, not having heard Willow. "You are seeing him again before you leave, right?"
"Yeah, he's taking me out for breakfast tomorrow," Willow smiled, anticipation beginning to fill her with butterflies again.
"In that case, let's say we do an old fashioned movie night," Cordelia suggested.
Angel looked decidedly uncomfortable with this suggestion. "What exactly does that entail? And will my presence be required?"
"Yes, your presence is required," Cordelia insisted. "We'll order pizzas and watch classic movies, I think we need a love theme."
Willow perked up at the idea. "Ooh, can we get 'Say Anything'? You can't have a good movie night without John Cusack."
"You know, maybe I should go patrol. Pizza and chick flicks aren't really my thing," Angel protested, standing up and backing towards his office.
"Oh no, buster." Cordelia jumped to her feet and was blocking Angel's path faster than a human should be able to move. "Willow won't be here much longer and you are going to hang out with us. And you're going to have fun."
Willow barely managed not to laugh at the scene before her. Moving over to her friends, she took Angel's arm. "Come on, it won't be that bad."
"Fine. But it'll have to be at Cordelia's apartment. I don't own a TV," Angel reluctantly agreed.
"Great. I'll order the food now and we can pick up the videos on the way to my place," Cordelia said, gathering up her things.
Before Angel could sneak away, Cordelia pushed him ahead of her out the door, leaving Willow to close it behind her as she laughed and followed them to Angel's car.
Lindsey pulled up in front of the Angel Investigations building at five minutes to eight on Sunday morning. He had hoped that Willow would be waiting for him outside, in the sun, so he wouldn't have to see that annoying, holier-than-thou vampire, but wasn't surprised when she wasn't.
Lindsey was determined not to let thoughts of Angel get to him today. He felt better about his life, and himself, than he had in a very long time. And he couldn't wait to tell Willow about it.
He hastened inside to find Willow waiting for him, a bright smile on her face. Her vampire bodyguard was lurking in his office doorway.
"Willow, darling, you're a sight for sore eyes," Lindsey said, crossing to her. He marveled at how sexy she could make jeans and a t-shirt look.
Willow's eyes greedily took in Lindsey's similarly attired form. Unconsciously, she licked her lips. "I could say the same thing about you."
Stepping forward, Lindsey bent to brush a kiss against Willow's cheek, just as she tilted her head, causing him to catch her lips in a fleeting kiss instead. A spark of electricity spread through both of them, even as Lindsey pulled away.
"Are you ready to go?" Lindsey asked.
"Yep," Willow grinned. She grabbed her purse off Cordy's desk, calling back over her shoulder, "Bye, Angel."
"Just be back in time to leave for your bus," Angel called back, hoping she heard him.
"What time is your bus?" Lindsey lightly asked once they were in his car, trying to ignore the knot in his stomach at the thought of her leaving.
"Oh, it's not until 3:15. Cordy and I were going to go shopping. She insisted that if I ever came to LA she was going to do something about my wardrobe. We may sorta be friends now, but she still doesn't think that I can pick out my own clothes."
"Are you still going shopping today?" Lindsey asked, hoping the answer would be no.
"Nope. You've got me all to yourself until I need to go," Willow happily replied. "That is, if you want to. I mean, I don't want to keep you from any important weekend things you may need to do."
Lindsey placed his hand on her knee, squeezing gently. "Willow, there is nothing I'd rather do than spend the day with you."
"Good," Willow grinned. "So where are we going?"
"I thought we might have a breakfast picnic at the spot we went to Friday night, if that's all right with you," Lindsey said.
"Sounds heavenly," Willow replied, loving the idea of it being just the two of them. No waitresses interrupting them, no noisy restaurant to have to talk over. Just them, for what little time they had left.
"There's some things that I wanted to talk about with you, and I didn't want to have to deal with a lot of other people," Lindsey admitted. "Plus, I'm selfish. I didn't want to have to share you with anyone."
Willow shyly looked over at him, "I was just thinking the same thing."
Lindsey turned on the radio to a classic rock station and they quietly listened to the music the rest of the way, each lost in their own thoughts of what the other might say over breakfast.
Willow was a little afraid of what it was that Lindsey had to tell her. She'd made her opinions of his employers perfectly clear. What if he said that he simply couldn't leave his job? At least not for a woman he'd just met. She was rapidly falling for the strong man she knew him to be and didn't want to have to give him up yet.
Lindsey, for his part, tried not to show his nervousness as he mentally played out possible scenarios for when he told Willow he was resigning from Wolfram & Hart. His favorite one had her jumping into his arms and kissing him senseless. He knew that she'd be happy for him no matter what, but he also couldn't help fearing that she would be overwhelmed by such a strong action. He didn't want her to feel pressured to be with him, believing that the reason he'd left his job was because of her. He'd have to explain that it was something he'd wanted for a while, she was just the catalyst that made him realize that if he didn't get out now, it might truly be too late very soon.
As they pulled into the clearing on the hill, Willow felt a sense of calm settle over her. It was a beautiful, sunny day and she was here with a handsome man who wanted to be with her. She knew it was a bit silly, but somehow, she knew everything would be okay, no matter what it was that Lindsey had to tell her.
Lindsey noticed the serene look on Willow's face as he put the car into park. His breath caught at how beautiful she looked with the sun shining in her hair and the complete and utter calmness on her face.
Willow smiled as she turned to look at Lindsey, having heard his intake of breath. "What?"
"Nothing," he swallowed hard. "It's just…you're so beautiful." The shy blush that stole across her cheeks at the compliment only intensified her beauty in his eyes.
"Thank you," she mumbled. Shifting uncomfortably under his intense gaze, Willow asked, "So, what'd you bring for breakfast? I'm starving."
That shook Lindsey out of his reverie. "Oh, right, of course. C'mon, I'll show you."
He quickly exited the car and moved around to help Willow out. Then he removed a large picnic basket and a blanket from the trunk of the car. Willow helped him lay out the blanket and they settled themselves near each other.
Opening the lid of the basket, Lindsey listed the items as he pulled them out. "We have: fresh croissants, strawberries, some muffins, juice, and coffee. I hope this is okay. I couldn't exactly keep omelets warm in here for very long."
"Are you kidding?" Willow asked, reaching for a croissant. "This is perfect. I'm usually a pretty light breakfast eater." She pulled off the end of the croissant and held it up to Lindsey's lips. "Open up," she said.
Lindsey obligingly parted his lips and Willow placed the buttery pastry on his tongue. Lindsey caught her hand and licked her fingers clean before carefully chewing, keeping his eyes on hers.
Willow's heart sped up as Lindsey licked her fingers. She'd meant it to be a playful action, but he had turned it into something totally sensual. She didn't even realize she'd spoken as she exhaled, "Oh wow."
Lindsey smirked. He had hoped that she'd like the gesture and was thrilled that it had worked. He had high hopes for the rest of their meal.
Picking up one of the strawberries, Lindsey held it to her lips. "Your turn," he huskily said.
Willow simply licked her lips before parting them to admit the fruit. Slowly, she bit into the berry, taking in only half before closing her lips over Lindsey's fingers to pull the rest of it into her mouth. Following Lindsey's lead, she licked his fingers clean of the berry's juices.
When she released his fingers, Lindsey couldn't stop himself from leaning forward and licking the juice off her lips. Willow eagerly met his lips, kissing him with all the lust he had so easily invoked. Willow pressed herself closer to him, wrapping her arms around his neck, giving in to the sensuality of the kiss. Lindsey couldn't seem to keep his hands still; they roamed over her back and hips, pulling her close as she moved into his arms.
It wasn't until Willow was practically sitting in his lap that Lindsey found the restraint to pull back. They were both breathing heavily, trying to make up for lost oxygen.
"I swear that I had only intended on us talking out here," Lindsey said. "Not that I'm complainin', mind you. I just didn't want you to think that I brought you out here under false pretenses."
"I know that," Willow assured him. Her fingers ran through his sun-warmed hair, as they were still comfortably entwined. "So the fact that you brought finger food for breakfast didn't even enter your mind when you were packing it?" she teased.
"It's not my fault that's what's easiest to bring on a picnic," he said.
"Well, you didn't hear me complaining over the turn of events, did you?" Willow asked, bending to nibble at his neck.
"No, I would have to say that you were most definitely a willing participant," Lindsey agreed, suppressing a groan at how wonderful her lips and teeth felt on his neck.
"Then it's agreed," Willow said in between kisses along his jaw, "the evil lawyer was on the level, for a change."
"I'm not," Lindsey said through gritted teeth, nearly sighing with relief when Willow sat back to look at him questioningly. "Not an evil lawyer, that is. Not anymore."
"But I thought..." Willow started to say.
"I quit," Lindsey blurted out. "I talked to my boss yesterday after finding an out-clause in my contract. He's agreed to accept my resignation when I hand it in tomorrow."
Willow stared at Lindsey with wide eyes, her mouth hanging open. She could hardly believe what she was hearing.
As she continued to gape at him, Lindsey grew nervous. "Willow, please, say something."
"Y-you...you actually quit? I didn't think...I mean I'd hoped...I wasn't sure if...but you did…and...for me?"
Lindsey relaxed a bit as Willow babbled. Confusion he could deal with. "Yes and no," he said.
He watched as Willow's forehead crinkled adorably as she tried to work that one out.
"Yes, I looked into my contract after you said that we couldn't be together while I worked there. You helped me to see how unhappy I've been. I mean, I knew that I couldn't stand representing some of the clients they made defend. But it wasn't until I met you that I realized that maybe, just maybe, I could leave. A friend pointed out to me that the reason I thought my contract was forever binding was because I never thought that I'd need an out-clause. In the beginning, I loved my work and never thought I'd want to leave. But then things changed, and I started working with more low-lifes and demons, and I began to hate myself." He took her hands in his. "You opened my eyes, Willow. You made me see that I can be a great lawyer and a good man. I want to be a good man, for you."
Willow stared at him with tears in her eyes for many long moments. "I...I don't know what to say."
"Say I did the right thing," Lindsey prompted. "Tell me I didn't just burn a potentially dangerous bridge."
"Yes, of course I'm happy!" Willow threw her arms around Lindsey, pulling him into a tight hug. "I was so afraid to let myself feel these feelings that I have for you, afraid that you wouldn't leave them. I want to be with you more than anything and my heart and my head were having a terrible time preparing for the worst. But you did it."
Willow pulled back and kissed Lindsey again. She poured her joy and her waning fears into the kiss. It was desperate in a way that the earlier one could never have been. They let their lips and tongues express all of their hopes and fears as they clung to each other.
"Please tell me this is real," Willow said when they parted, her hands still caressing his face.
"It's real," Lindsey promised. "If you want me, I'm yours. I don't know what I can offer you, seeing as how I'm now out of a job and live a couple of hours away, but I want this. I want to be with you."
"Gods, Lindsey, how can you even say that? Of course I want you. We'll find a way to make this work. I'm sure the unemployed thing won't be a problem for long. I bet there's lots of firms that would kill to have you. Not literally of course," she added. "Or, oh, you could work for Angel."
Lindsey frowned at that suggestion. "No offense, but Angel and I wouldn't exactly work well together. We can't stand each other. Besides, he's an unlicensed PI. What would he need a lawyer for?"
"I bet a lot of his clients could use a good lawyer," Willow said.
"Can we not spoil the mood by talking about Angel," Lindsey asked, a slight pleading note in his voice. "You're right, I'll find another job before long. But can we just focus on the important things right now? Like you kissing me?"
"Oh, I think that can be arranged," Willow agreed with a wicked grin.
This time when they kissed, it was a slow exploration. Just as passionate as their other kisses, but without the urgency. Now, they had all the time in the world to express their desire.
The rest of the morning passed quickly. Eventually they got around to nibbling at some more of the food, in between nibbling on each other.
As they were packing up for the drive back to Angel's, Lindsey said, "I can't believe this is the last we're going to be together for who knows how long."
"I know," Willow agreed, stepping into his arms. "I'm going to hate getting on that bus and driving away from you."
"So don't," Lindsey said.
"Lindsey, I have school tomorrow. I can't just stay here. Just like I wouldn't ask you to pick up and move to Sunnydale just to be closer to me."
"As tempting as that would be, that isn't what I was asking," Lindsey said. "I meant, don't get on that bus. Let me drive you back. I know that it won't be much, but it's a few more hours we can spend together."
"I'd love that," Willow said, grinning up at him. "Part of me wants to be all noble and tell you that you don't have to go out of your way, but I think the selfish part of me is going to win this time. I don't want to leave you yet."
"So...if you don't have that bus to catch, then I guess we don't have to leave just yet," Lindsey said, running his hand suggestively down her back.
Willow laughed. "You're incorrigible. And yes, we still need to leave now. If I don't get back before I would have had to leave for the bus, Angel will send Cordelia out to look for me."
"She wouldn't find us here," Lindsey pointed out. Seeing Willow wasn't going to give in, he said, "All right. I guess it'll be fun seeing his face when he finds out that I'm driving you back."
"You see, silver lining," Willow said, squeezing him before stepping out of his arms. She picked up the blanket and headed for the car.
Lindsey watched her walk away, smiling as he thought, 'Silver lining, indeed.'
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