Chapter Notes:

I know it's become a thing to thank for nominations for member of the month in the shoutbox, but doing so makes me uncomfortable.  I'm not a fan of proclaiming it for all to see.  On the other hand, I worry the nice folks who nominate me will think I'm ungrateful when everybody else is publically thanking and I'm not.  So I'm just going to assume anybody who's nominated me is reading this story, and put out a general thank you for all current, past, and future nominations.  I do appreciate it. 

This chapter relies fairly heavily on AtS knowledge, especially the S5 episode "Underneath" (the one where they rescue Lindsey from the holding dimension).  Thanks to the writers for borrowed dialogue, etc. 


 

Lindsey

 

 

"I kinda need it now," Lindsey's wife insisted, hand on his shoulder.

He swallowed, nervous dread bubbling up from who knows where. It's just the basement, he told himself, but rather than reassure, the thought made his sweat pool in unpleasant places. "All right. I'll be right back," he said, then paused with his hand on the doorknob, in case she changed her mind.

Trish didn't. "They're on that shelf, where we keep those thingies."

Right. No sweat. Just the basement.

Lindsey opened the door and took a cautious step into the gloom. He could smell himself, rank fear escaping from every pore, but down he went anyway, down, down, down, his heart thudding in his ears with every step.

He peered around the dim room, wanting to grab the stupid bulbs and get out of there before his heart exploded, but what he saw only made it beat faster.

Something wasn't right. Unless his eyes were fooling him, his basement looked distinctly like… a torture chamber?

What gave it away, you shmuck? Was it the chains? The gruesome instruments of torture? The big freaking pile of hearts on the floor?

There was a movement in the shadows, and then a thing stepped forward. Lindsey's heart stepped it up a notch, while acrid sweat poured down his back. He eased his way towards the stairs, but the thing got there first. The flickering candlelight provided more than enough illumination to reveal the evil gleam of excitement in its eyes.

"Oh, it's you." Lindsey tried to smile at the monster intent on torture and bloodshed. "Is it that time again already?"

With the recognition of the Wrath came the return of his memories, front and center the vivid details of what the next several hours would entail. Hey, anticipation's half the fun, right? The Senior Partners were detail oriented like that.

But Lindsey had a secret weapon – his own set of memories, strong enough to hold on to during the hours of torture. They kept him sane; they kept the need for revenge alive in his soon-to-be cut out heart.

The Senior Partners had made a mistake in allowing the return of his memories. Strapped to the post, Lindsey could retreat into his head, lash of the whip a distant sensation disconnected from his reality.

The vampire puts his foot on Lindsey's client's chair. "Really. Hmm. Can you fly?" he asks, and sends the client out into the light. Then the vampire strolls out, casual as you please.

Lindsey calls one of his associates to inform him of the new player in town. On the outside, he's as calm as can be. But on the inside, he's seething. That cocky vamp just cost him. Big. Lindsey is going to make him pay.

The vamp – Angel – is a repeated thorn in his side. No matter how Lindsey tries to remove him from the picture, Angel walks away. Saves the day. Renegade Slayer? Angel rehabilitates her. A second assassin? Angel dispatches it with ease. The law, in the form of an angry, vindictive cop? Angel dodges that one too.

Worse, when Lindsey suffers a crisis of conscience, he turns to the vampire. It sickens him that Angel is the one he trusts to ask for help. It sickens him more that Angel gives it. Just like that. Fucking hero. Angel expects something from Lindsey now – expects Lindsey to make the 'right' choice. But Holland offers him something better. Something he knows Lindsey can't resist.

Power.

Lindsey will do whatever it takes to secure his new position. To gain more power. And that includes participating in the ritual to resurrect the woman foretold to be Angel's downfall. Lindsey chooses not to feel guilty about this.

He feels zero guilt after Angel cuts off his motherfucking hand.

His dislike of the vampire grows a weensy bit more personal after that, compounded by his growing feelings for Darla. Something in her calls to him, and it's not just that she's the tool by which they will destroy Angel. The sanctimonious cocksucker refuses to save Darla's life, so Lindsey does what he has to. He finds Drusilla, as per Holland's orders, and brings her in. It doesn't take much to convince her to do what Angel won't.

Darla, as a vampire, is magnificent. Lindsey falls for her, even harder than before, despite the way she plays him. She's a vampire. He was stupid not to have expected it. Probably stupider still to think she cares for him, in any way, but she hasn't killed him. Not yet. It's gotta mean something, he tells himself.

Later, once more with nothing but a stump thanks to Angel smashing his prosthetic – be glad it wasn't your other hand – Lindsey sits on his bed and stares at his half-emptied closet. Darla is gone. Just gone, without even a goodbye. Maybe Lindsey deserves it for leaving without a goodbye himself before heading off to kick Angel's ass. Stupid of him to have fooled himself into thinking she was his. Stupider of him to have hoped Darla cared for him, or at least appreciated his love for her.

Now he's left with an empty closet and an empty heart, and an empty space where his hand should be.

And, god dammit, he doesn't even like his job that much. Not enough to make up for everything he's been through, all in the name of impressing the Senior Partners and bringing Angel over to their side.

 

*******

 

Lindsey peered around the dim room, wanting to grab the stupid bulbs and get out of there before his heart exploded, but what he saw only made it beat faster.

Something wasn't right. Unless his eyes were fooling him, his basement looked distinctly like… a torture chamber?

What gave it away, you shmuck? Was it the chains? The gruesome instruments of torture? The big freaking pile of hearts on the floor?

There was a movement in the shadows, and then a thing stepped forward. Lindsey's heart stepped it up a notch, while acrid sweat poured down his back. He eased his way towards the stairs, but the thing got there first. The flickering candlelight provided more than enough illumination to reveal the evil gleam of excitement in its eyes.

"Oh, it's you." Lindsey tried to smile at the monster determined to rip his heart out. Literally. "You miss me, big guy?"

With the recognition of the Wrath came the return of his memories, front and center the vivid details of what the next several hours would entail. Hey, anticipation's half the fun, right? The Senior Partners were detail oriented like that.

But Lindsey had a secret weapon – his own set of memories, strong enough to hold on to during the hours of torture. They kept him sane; they reminded him of the pleasure he'd taken in plotting Angel's downfall.

The sting of the mace biting into his flesh faded as Lindsey escaped into his mind.

He'd been surprised to hear that Angel had passed off the Amulet Lilah had provided, along with the chance to be a Champion, to somebody else; he'd been even more surprised to learn it was a now-souled William the Bloody who'd picked up the mantle of Champion.

Of course, none of it had been near as surprising as the news that the Senior Partners had made that bastard the head of the LA branch in the first place. Just like that. And it wasn't something the vampire had even wanted. Angel had taken everything Lindsey had sacrificed for – no, Angel had not taken. He'd had it handed to him on a silver platter.

The news spurs Lindsey to return to LA sooner than planned, half-imagined fantasies of revenge against both Angel and the Senior Partners solidifying into a tangible plan.

But first there is the trip to the bottom of the Sunnydale crater. From what Lindsey's inside source has told him, the Senior Partners don't care about retrieving the Amulet now that it's only Spike stuck in there. They have no use for him.

But Lindsey does.

The helicopter drops him off close to the center of the crater, the pilot outright refusing to return for him. Lindsey isn't concerned. He'd expected as much.

He almost doesn't stumble upon the injured girl in the crater. Would have missed her entirely if he'd been five feet to the left, where the large rock would have blocked his view of her as he ascended. Part of him thinks about continuing on anyway. He has what he'd come for. She isn't his concern.

"Hold on," he says, before he realizes he's made up his mind to help her. "I'm coming." Lindsey doesn't know if the broken-looking girl splayed across the jagged rocks is alive or dead, but he scrambles over to her as quickly as he dares, a steady stream of reassurances accompanying the clatter of rubble that slips and slides beneath his feet.

"Don't move, I'll be there in a minute." He thinks he can see her chest rising and falling, just barely. Lindsey hurries the last few feet, his unnatural strength and grace allowing him to move far more quickly than an ordinary man. Her cracked lips twitch when he holds the water bottle to them, and then she chokes, confirming she is alive after all.

It isn't until after he's moved her and cleaned the blood and dirt from her face as best he can that he recognizes just who it is he's stumbled upon.

The realization that the Slayer has amnesia – the Slayer Lindsey's nemesis loves, no less – sends his thoughts scattering in all directions, few of them chivalrous. The perfect chance at revenge has just landed in his lap, almost as if somebody up there has orchestrated events in his favor. For once.

He'd be a fool not to take it.

Lindsey gives Buffy another hefty dose of painkillers, and once she is asleep, examines the items in his rucksack. Tattooing the Slayer to keep her hidden from whoever might be looking for her will be simple enough, though primitive under the conditions. He doesn't worry about her getting an infection, what with her supernatural constitution. He also doesn't doubt his skills at applying the tattoos – he's successfully applied the protection glyphs to multiple residences over the past year, and even worked on himself a time or two.

Despite his confidence in his abilities, he doesn't brand Buffy while she's sleeping the sleep of the drugged. Or the next time, either. Each time he pulls her clothing back, something makes him hesitate. Something suspiciously like the conscience he thought he'd tossed years ago. Rather, he sits and watches her, finding peace in the way her chest rises and falls with each breath and the way color slowly reappears in her cheeks as her injuries heal.

He's done that. He's saved her. Something he hadn't been able to do for Darla.

In the end, he brands her anyway. He tattoos Buffy with the protection glyphs he dares not use on himself – glyphs not intended for mortals – carefully inking them onto skin unlikely to be bared to others' eyes, at least not until after the Slayer has served his purposes. Even the Powers That Be won't see Buffy coming now.

And then Lindsey adds something more: a set of runes designed to keep her memories from returning.

Slayer isn't likely to follow his plan if she remembers her feelings for Angel, now is she?

It's too perfect an opportunity to resist. And if his conscience ever gets the better of him, he'll point her in the direction of a plastic surgeon and a laser. Then run like hell before she can find him.

After getting Buffy out of the crater, he sets her up in a small apartment not far from his own. Much as he wants to share his wonderful secret with Eve, Lindsey knows it's in her best interests not to know. What she doesn't know can't be tortured out of her.

Fine, his best interests, if you're going to be picky about it. But hers too.

He can't resist gloating to Eve about his perfect backup plan, but never enough to give her any clue of what it is. All he tells her is that he had a surefire way to bring Angel to his knees.

For good, this time.

 

*******

 

There was a movement in the shadows, and then a thing stepped forward. Lindsey's heart stepped it up a notch, while acrid sweat poured down his back. He eased his way towards the stairs, but the thing got there first. The flickering candlelight provided more than enough illumination to reveal the evil gleam of excitement in its eyes.

"Oh, it's you." Lindsey tried to smile at the monster set to carve his heart out of his chest. "You just can't keep your hands off me, can you?"

With the recognition of the Wrath came the return of his memories, front and center the vivid details of what the next several hours would entail. Hey, anticipation's half the fun, right? The Senior Partners were detail oriented like that.

But Lindsey had a secret weapon – his own set of memories, strong enough to hold on to during the hours of torture. They kept him sane; they reminded him of how he'd created the perfect backup plan.

"Come on, Buffy. You've got to push yourself. Reach deeper. It's you against the evil out there, and trust me, evil doesn't give a shit how tired you are."

Buffy jack-knifes to her feet. "Oh, I'm not tired. I'm just getting started." She feints with a left jab and then drops to her heels and swings out a foot, catching Lindsey off guard and knocking him on his ass. Foot planted on his chest, she says, "Whatcha gonna do now, huh, boss man?"

"Something like this." He kicks upwards and almost manages to reverse their positions, but Buffy has been paying attention to his lessons.

"Son of a –" With a high-pitched scream, Lindsey falls to the ground, hands wrapped around his valuables. He rolls on the floor for several seconds before managing to open his eyes.

Laughing hazel ones meet his. "What was that you were saying?"

"You're not supposed to play dirty with me," he wheezes, but secretly he's proud of the girl. She's been hesitant to go all out for weeks. Looks like she's finally gotten over it. "Angelus is the one we kick in the balls, Slayer. Not your doting Watcher."

Buffy only grins, and Lindsey can't help but grin back. So much fire for such a little slip of a thing. Angel isn't going to know what hit him.

"You ready for a break, oh Watcher-of-mine?" she asks, hand extended to help him up.

He shakes off the pain and crouches into a fighting stance. "Not on your life. The moment we stop training is the moment we allow Angelus to win. Again."

Buffy's eyes darken. "Not gonna happen, Giles. He's going to pay for what he's done."

Lindsey scoops up a blunted sword and launches himself at her. She dodges his attacks until she's secured a weapon of her own, and then she meets him blow for blow, until they both lie panting on the floor, chests heaving from the exertion.

"You done good, kid." Lindsey brushes away a strand of sweaty hair that has stuck to her cheek.

"Tell me that after I kill Angelus."

Moments like this, he loves her. Not in the way he'd loved Darla, with all his heart and soul, or in the way he loves Eve, as a man loves a woman. Lindsey loves Buffy the way he thinks a Watcher might love his charge; certainly the real Giles must have loved her this way.

Mostly, though, he loves Buffy because Angel does. And because she is going to destroy him.

 

*******

 

"Oh, it's you." Lindsey tried to smile at the monster sharpening its instruments of torture. "Should I be worried you're reading more into our relationship than I am?"

With the recognition of the Wrath came the return of his memories, front and center the vivid details of what the next several hours would entail. Hey, anticipation's half the fun, right? The Senior Partners were detail oriented like that.

But Lindsey had a secret weapon – his own set of memories, strong enough to hold on to during the hours of torture. They kept him sane; they allowed him the pleasure of imagining all the ways his backup plan might have destroyed Angel.

"Looks like you're up," he says, giving Buffy the go ahead she's been waiting for. She'd argued and argued against him taking Angelus on his own. It's a stupid plan, she'd said, and yeah, she's right. Two on one makes far more sense than having the Slayer stand watch on the sidelines. But he can't explain to her why it matters. Why it has to be this way.

Angel is his to take on. His to destroy.

And Buffy is the backup plan.

The last thing he sees before he disappears into the portal is her shocked, devastated face looking up at him. Lindsey is surprised to find he feels bad about that.

He never did get the hang of being evil.

Which was why he is being teleported away by the Senior Partners, and Angel is still the CEO of Wolfram and Hart instead of him.

Buffy will fix that, though. As soon as Lindsey disappears, she moves, giving away her position. Angel only has a moment to register shock, and hope, before a well-aimed stake crumbles him to ash.

Nah, too fast. Not satisfying enough. Maybe it had gone like this:

Buffy will fix that, though. As soon as he disappears, she moves, giving away her position.

"Angelus!"

"Buffy? What are you doing here? How are you – I thought you were dead!"

"Did you really?" She steps closer to him. "You would have liked to think so. But guess what? You failed."

"Wh- what are you talking about?"

"Less talking. More fighting." With that, she lets loose her fists, pummeling Angel until he lies bleeding and broken on the floor, staring up at her with uncomprehending eyes from his bruised, puppydog face.

"Buffy, I don't understand. I love you!"

"But I don't love you, you disgusting, evil vampire." And with that, she draws her stake and puts an end to Angel.

That was better. But Lindsey could imagine worse fates for Angel. Maybe she hadn't killed him – maybe Angel lived, knowing he'd lost Buffy forever, and not understanding why. Maybe it had gone like this…

 

*******

 

Lindsey was starting to get annoyed with these jokers. What had they called themselves? Spike, Gun, and Angel? Ridiculous names – more proof this was all some practical joke.

The one calling himself Angel sighed and stood. "I can't believe I'm saying this, but we're here to help."

Whatever game they were playing, it had gone on long enough. He pointed to the door. "Okay. Get out. Now."

Angel grabbed him by the shirt, and Lindsey felt a frisson of fear. What if these people weren't pranksters, but something worse? How would he defend Trish and Zach against all three of them?

"Look, we're telling you the truth. You don't want to believe it, that's your choice. Either way, you're coming with us."

"Get off me," Lindsey said, trying to make the bigger man let him go. It wasn't working.

"Maybe this will help you make up your mind." Angel yanked his pendant, the one Trish had given him for his birthday last year, from his neck.

Lindsey collapsed to the ground. As he hit the floor, it all came rushing back to him. All of it. He looked up, realizing he was at Angel's feet.

Angel. Wasn't dead. And Spike was there too.

"Huh. You're both still alive. I didn't expect that," he said before he could stop himself. "What did you do to my Slayer?"

"Your –" Angel reached for him, face contorted with rage and pain.

Spike got there first. "What did you do to her?" His punch sent Lindsey flying across the room, over the back of the couch, where he landed in a heap. Spike leapt after him. Fist cocked for another blow, he yelled, "Tell me what you did to Buffy!"

Before Lindsey could respond, honestly or otherwise, the stuffing erupted from the back of the couch in a hail of gunfire. Spike grabbed his shoulder and fell to the floor next to Lindsey. "What the bloody hell?"

Gunn and Angel dove over the couch and landed beside them.

"Seems the wife isn't taking too kindly to our interference," said Gunn.

"We need Lindsey alive." Angel peered around the corner of the couch, and quickly withdrew behind their less-than-substantial barricade as a spray of bullets bit into the wall, chunks of plaster raining down on their heads. "For now. You two get him outside to the car; I'll take care of Machine Gun Molly."

Lindsey found himself manhandled this way and that as the heroes saved him, possibly against his will. He wasn't yet sure whether ending up in Angel's clutches – or Spike's either, he thought, rubbing his tender jaw – was any better than where he'd been. Sort of an out of the frying pan and into the fire situation.

But either way, he found himself back at Wolfram and Hart, on a plush couch, a now mortal Eve nestled in the crook of his shoulder. And judging from the way Spike kept bringing up the matter of the Slayer, and the way Angel kept twitching, and putting him off to discuss the Senior Partners, his backup plan had worked after all.

Not enough to bring Angel to his knees, the way he'd hoped. But enough to put the hurt on.

Lindsey leaned back, hands laced behind his head, ankles crossed and feet on Angel's coffee table.

Buffy hadn't quite worked out the way he'd hoped. But that was okay. Because it looked like there was some fun left to be had with the big guy yet.

 





Please login or register to review.