Author's Notes: This is a late Christmas story for my good friend Jenna. This story takes place during the second season of Angel, a few days after the episode 'Dead End'. Oh, and 'the Host' is Lorne, but this story takes place before we as the audience know his name. Written January & February 2007.
Disclaimer: I do not own any of these characters, and I am not making any money from these stories.
Warning: Non consensual disciplinary spanking of an adult by an authority figure.



A Binding Contract


Cordelia put a hand up to her head and yelled out in pain. Angel rushed over to her and caught her before she fell all the way to the floor. The papers she had been holding scattered on the floor. Wesley walked over to her as well, and looked on with concern as Angel held her and waited the vision out. A few seconds later Cordelia took a few deep breaths hoping the pain would lesson. Angel said, "Cordy?"

She kept her eyes closed and said, "I saw Lindsey."

Angel glared over at Wesley and said, "I warned him that if he came back to town causing trouble I'd kill him."

Cordelia said, "No. You need to help him."

Angel and Wesley said, "What?!" in unison.

Cordelia winced at the volume, and Angel muttered, "Sorry. Tell me exactly what you saw."

"Lindsey is knocking on a door, but the door is already ajar, and opens when he knocks. He calls out the name Jenny, but no one answers. He walks into the house and there is a woman and three children all dead in the kitchen. Lindsey kneels down to the woman, and touches her shoulder saying Jenny again, but he's crying. That's it. That's all I saw."

Cordelia opened her eyes and looked at Angel as she said, "I have some extra strength pain medication in my purse."

Angel looked over at Wesley who was already headed for her desk to get it. Angel tried to help her stand, but her knees started to buckle under her. He picked her up, even though she protested, and he carried her over to the couch. He put her down and a few seconds later Wesley arrived with some medication and water. She took it, and Angel said, "You rest. We'll look into Lindsey."

Angel pulled Wesley aside and said, "Lindsey said he was going back to his roots before he left town. Do we have any records of his family?"

Wesley nodded and went to find the file they had on Lindsey. Once Angel had fired Wesley, Gunn, and Cordelia, Wesley had decided to make files on all the important people from Wolfram and Hart, and now he was glad that he had. He said, 'Two sisters, and one brother still living. One of his sisters is named Jenny."

"Address?"

"She lives in Tennessee."

Angel sighed and said in a voice low enough that Cordelia couldn't hear him, "Why would the Powers That Be want me to help Lindsey? I mean he's been a huge thorn in my side for the past two years, so why should I help him. Maybe Cordy is wrong about this one."

Wesley shook his head. "That is highly unlikely Angel. And from what we've seen in the past, the visions will continue to hurt Cordelia until we solve the case. I'll look into late night airline tickets for us."

Angel shook his head in irritation and said, "Just get a ticket for me."

Angel realized he was giving Wesley orders out of habit, but once he realized what he had done he said, "I mean if you think that would be best. No point in wasting a bunch of money on all of us going. We barely have the money to even send me, and frankly I don't think Lindsey deserves to be saved."

Wesley pursed his lips and said, "If you don't think Lindsey deserves to be saved, then I think that's a convincing argument for someone else to go. It hasn't escaped my notice that you and Lindsey have a very juvenile relationship, with the both of you trying to outdo the other."

Angel pouted and looked away. "I don't know what you're talking about."

Gunn came through the lobby doors holding an ax and called out, "Killed all three of them!"

Cordelia groaned, and Wesley and Angel glared over at him making motions for him to keep his voice down. Gunn looked apologetic and walked over to Angel and Wesley as he whispered, "Sorry. Vision?"

Wesley filled him in, and Gunn said, "Sorry guys, I'm gonna have to sit this one out."

Wesley was a little surprised and said, "Don't tell me you have a grudge against Lindsey as well."

Gunn shook his head, "I don't do airplanes. But someone needs to stay back and hold down the fort right?"

Wesley looked over at Cordelia and said, "Yes, and you'll need to look after Cordelia as well. We'll keep in contact via cell phones. I'll get Angel and myself a flight to Tennessee tonight."

Angel said, "Can we afford that?"

Wesley said, "Angel Investigations can't, but I can."

"Wes you….."

Wesley held his hand up and said, "I made very good money as a Watcher, and my family is quite well off. It's not an issue, and really it's not even your call."

Angel glared at the floor while Wesley walked off to make a call. Angel muttered to Gunn, "Was I that bossy?"

Gunn nodded, "In a different way, but yeah you were."

Angel stalked off to his room to pack some clothes.
********************

Lindsey drove around the block again, and passed the house. He shook his head and kept going. He drove to a local bar and stopped in for a drink. He'd arrived in town yesterday, and looked up his siblings in the phone book. He had to do some further digging, but eventually found all three of them. As of yet, he hadn't been able to force himself to face even one of them. He decided to start with his oldest sister Jenny, and he had driven past her house three times before chickening out.

The bar was mostly empty. He ordered a beer and took it to a booth. He took a sip and then sat staring at it trying to get up the courage to go see her. He thought, 'It's not like I just abandoned them. I sent them money. Lots of money.'

He took another drink and thought about the last time he had seen her. She had been crying, and begging him to help her, and he had walked away. He tried to talk himself into believing it had been the right choice, but now that it was all said and done, he often questioned that. He thought about his childhood, and how he had come to this point in his life.

Jenny was three years older then him, and she had been ten to Lindsey's seven when their father had lost the house. Lindsey's younger sister, Missy, had been five, and his youngest brother, Colby, had been four. The family had tried to stay together, living out of an old truck with a canopy, but six months of that, and their mother had died of pneumonia during the winter. After the loss of his wife, their father had given up, and put the kids in foster care, telling them it was temporary. Just long enough for him to get his finances in order. But that had never happened, because he had died less then a year later of lung cancer.

Lindsey supposed he should consider himself lucky that he got to stay with all his siblings for the first four years of foster care. He knew that was somewhat unusual. And he knew he should be grateful that the first set of foster parents had been kind to them. But his hate for his father's weakness always overpowered those feelings.

The next three years Lindsey and his brother were in and out of five different foster homes. He had been separated from his two sisters, but Jenny had made sure they always kept in contact.

When Jenny turned sixteen she did what she had planned to do from the day she saw her father lose the house. She dropped out of school, got a job, and found an older man to marry by the time she was seventeen. A week after her marriage she got custody of her three siblings. So by the time Lindsey was fourteen he was living with his intact family unit, and he knew he should have been happy about that, but it hadn't worked out that way.

He hadn't gotten along well with his sister's husband, and found he had trouble keeping his opinions about that to himself. But for the next four years things had been better then they were in foster care. He had always had enough to eat, he had clothes to wear, he was able to stay in the same school for his entire high school carrier, and he had the love of all three siblings at home.

The day after graduation Lindsey and Jenny had a huge fight. Jenny wanted him to get a job, and help her with finances so that she could divorce her husband, but Lindsey told her he was going to college. She had called him selfish, and he had called her a doormat. The next day Lindsey had moved out, and never looked back.

Lindsey drank the rest of his beer and muttered into the empty glass, "I sent her money after I got hired at Wolfram and Hart."

He thought to himself, 'Well I sent her money for the first three years at least. I would have sent her more if she had ever written me back or said thank you even once.' He sighed and went out to his truck and noticed that the sun had set while he was in drinking. He got in his truck and decided to drive by the house again.
**************

Angel and Wesley had an uneventful flight, and got a motel room close to the address they found for Jenny Kingsley. Angel stayed in the room with the blinds shut, and slept while Wesley did a stake out across from Jenny's house. He had seen her children go to school, and he had seen her go to work. He had seen them all come home as well. He had also seen Lindsey's truck drive by three times, though Lindsey hadn't seen him. As soon as the sun was setting, Wesley called Angel at the motel.

Angel answered, "Hello?"

"It's me. There hasn't been any unusual activity at Jenny's house except that Lindsey himself has driven by a few times. Other then that, no one else has come over. They are all in the house now."

"Okay, I'll be there in a few minutes."

When Angel pulled up to the house, Wesley got out of the rental car that was a few houses down and walked to meet him. They walked up to the house together and rang the bell. Jenny answered the door with a smile, "Can I help you?"

Wesley said, "I hope so. We are…. friends with your brother Lindsey, and we have reason to believe you might be in danger."

Jenny looked scared and said, "Why? Has he been hurt? Is he…."

Wesley shook his head, "No, no, nothing like that. We just… have reason to believe something might happen to you."

Jenny's look of worry turned to suspicion. She put a hand on her hip and said, "I don't know what kind of game you're playing, but I'm not buying it. Leave now, or I'll call the police."

As she was about to slam the door in their face, they all heard screeching tires and turned to see Lindsey's truck jerking to a stop. He jumped out of the truck and ran to Jenny's door. He glared at Angel and said, "What the hell are you doing here!"

Angel glared back and said, "Trying to save your sister!"

Lindsey looked over at Jenny, and they just looked at each other for a few seconds. Jenny said, "Lindsey? Is it really you?"

Lindsey looked down at his shoes and said, "Yeah."

She unlocked the screen door, opened it up, and walked out to stand next to him. She put both her hands on his face and made him look at her. She gave him a smile and said, "You look good honey."

She pulled him into a big hug and Lindsey found his eyesight blurry with tears. He didn't trust himself to talk, and just hugged her tight. A girl who was about five years old came to the doorway and said, "Mama?"

Jenny let go of Lindsey and said, "Kayla honey, this is your Uncle Lindsey."

Kayla gave him a small smile and a wave. Lindsey tried to wipe at his face discreetly and gave her a wave back. Jenny said, "Go tell Bonny to set another…"

Jenny looked at Wesley and Angel and said, "…. Three more spots at the table for dinner."

"Okay." Kayla ran off to do as she was told.

Lindsey glared over at Angel again and said, "They're not invited."

Jenny said, "Oh, I thought…. they said they were your friends…."

"They're not."

Wesley cleared his throat and said, "Lindsey may I speak with you alone for just a moment please?"

Lindsey glared at him but nodded and walked a few feet away so they were standing on the sidewalk. Wesley said, "Cordelia had a vision of you. You arrive at your sister's house to find her dead along with her three children. We are here to prevent that."

Lindsey found he was both worried and angry at the same time. But he did believe Wesley. Lindsey thought about it for a second and said, "Wolfram and Hart."

Wesley nodded, "That is a logical assumption. From what I've heard they don't let employees go with out some kind of retribution. So may we come in?"

Lindsey didn't like it, but nodded yes. They walked back and said, "Okay, they can come in for dinner."

Jenny stepped into her house and said, "Okay, come on in."

Angel, Wesley, and Lindsey all walked in, and Jenny closed the door behind them.

An eight-year-old girl came out and said, "Mama, is Daddy home?"

Jenny shook her head, "No sweetie, he's not due home until tomorrow, it's your Uncle Lindsey and a couple of his… associates."

Bonny gave Lindsey a shy smile and said, "Oh. Hi."

He smiled and waved. A three year old girl came running past them all chasing a dog through the house and laughing. Jenny smiled at Lindsey and said, "And that was Shannon, my youngest."

He said, "Three kids?"

She nodded. He said, "I… I didn't know you remarried until a couple of days ago. What happened to Bill?"

She lost her smile and said, "I left him a few weeks after you left home."

"Why?"

She looked away. "Because you were right, I was a doormat. I let him walk all over me, and I realized that day that he never had and never would respect me. So I made sure my finances were in order and then I moved out and took Colby and Missy with me. I filed for divorce a week later. We couldn't live in a house anymore, but I was able to keep us in an apartment with no trouble, and we were able to stay in the same school district."

Lindsey said, "I'm glad you got away from him, but even if there was some truth to what I said, I didn't have to be mean about it. And you were right too. I was selfish."

She looked back at him and smiled, "It's all water under the bridge now. Have you been to see Missy or Colby?"

He shook his head no and said, "I wanted to see you first. How are they?"

"They are both doing very well. Missy is six months pregnant with her first child, and Colby has just asked his girlfriend to marry him."

"Wow."

After a little pause Jenny led them through the house and to the dinner table. She said, "Sit down, I was just about to bring out the food."

Lindsey said, "If you don't have enough…."

"It's fine, I made spaghetti. There's plenty."

Once Jenny was gone Lindsey looked over at Angel and said, "Why are you here helping out my family?"

"Cordy had a vision of it, and she'll continue to be in pain if we don't save them."

Lindsey nodded, and felt a little better knowing that Angel had a valid reason to want to help his sister. Wesley added, "And of course we are here to help Jenny because she is an innocent, and clearly a good person."

Angel looked away and said, "Yeah, that too."

A few minutes later Jenny had brought the food out, and was gathering her kids up to the table. Once they were all there, Lindsey started dishing up some food and Jenny said, "Have you forgotten your manors Lindsey?"

He looked at her confused for a second, and then realized what she was talking about. He put the spoon down and said, "Sorry." and bent his head waiting.

Jenny said a short grace and then started dishing up food for the kids as she said, "Everyone help yourself."

Once everyone was served, Jenny turned to Lindsey and said, "I'm so glad you came to see me after all these years, but… well I have to ask what prompted you to visit?"

Lindsey looked out a window and said, "I quite my job, and I am trying to decide what to do with my life now."

"What job was that?"

Lindsey said, "The same job as before. I was a lawyer for Wolfram and Hart."

She said, "You're a lawyer? Wow, I'm impressed. I always knew you were smart and driven. I suppose I shouldn't be surprised."

Lindsey shook his head, "I wrote to you and told you about my job the day I got hired. I sent you all that money….."

Jenny just looked confused for a few seconds, "Money?"

Lindsey nodded and said, "For three years I sent you money."

Jenny had a moment of realization and then glared out the window and said, "Bastard!"

Bonny looked over at her mom with surprise, and Kayla snickered and whispered to Shannon, "Mama said a bad word."

Jenny looked over at Lindsey and said, "You sent it to the old address didn't you?"

He nodded. She said, "I'm sorry honey, but I never got your letters or your money. Bill must have cashed them."

Lindsey felt anger pulsing through his body. He said, "I'll kill him."

Angel said, "Are you sure about that Lindsey? You don't have any flunkies to do your dirty work for you now."

Lindsey glared at Angel and said, "Stay out of this!"

Wesley being the voice of reason said, "If you came here to start a new life Lindsey, I would recommend not killing someone right off the bat."

Jenny said with a nervous laugh and some confusion, "He's not really going to kill Bill, that's just something people say. What are they talking about Lindsey?"

Lindsey looked over at her and said, "I… I've done some things that were…. morally ambiguous."

Angel laughed and said, "That's lawyer speak for illegal and reprehensible."

Lindsey glared at Angel and shouted, "Shut up! This is none of your business!"

Jenny said with reproof, "Lindsey, we don't shout at our guests."

Lindsey turned to her and glared, "Don't talk down to me like that! I'm not fourteen! Trust me, the 'guests' deserve it."

Wesley said, "Maybe we should inform your sister of the reason for our visit."

Lindsey sighed and looked around the room at his three nieces that he didn't even know he had before today. He looked at Jenny and said, "Can I talk to you alone? I'm sure Angel and Wesley can watch your girls for a few minutes."

Jenny nodded and got up from the table to lead Lindsey into another room. Angel and Wesley kept the girls entertained by listening to them talk about everything and anything that came to their minds.

An hour later Lindsey and Jenny finally came back into the dining room, and both looked like maybe they had been crying. But they seemed to have come to some kind of resolution. Lindsey turned to Angel and said, "All three of us are going to spend the night and guard the house. When whatever it is tries to attack, we get information from it before we kill it. I need to know who was going to hurt them and why."

Wesley nodded, "Agreed."

Wesley and Angel sat in the living room, and were somewhat amazed when they saw Lindsey help Jenny get her girls ready for bed like it was second nature to deal with small children. Once they were all in bed Jenny and Lindsey sat together in the dining room for a little privacy and talked some more, catching up on each other's lives. At midnight Jenny finally said she was tired and had to go to bed.

Lindsey went into the living room and Wesley said, "Angel will take watch outside on the roof. Lindsey, you keep watch in here for the first shift, and wake me up in five hours if nothing has happened yet."

Lindsey wanted to tell Wesley where he could stick his plan of action, but found himself nodding in agreement.

At three am Angel caught an assassin who was breaking into the house. He got Lindsey, and woke up Wesley. The three men went outside to the lawn to interrogate the assassin who surprised them all by being human. As soon as Angel vamped out, the assassin started giving up information. Lindsey was dismayed to hear that Wolfram and Hart had in fact paid for the hit. Angel tied up the would be assassin and said, "Call the cops."

Lindsey shook his head. "No way. Just kill him like we said."

Angel shook his head. "No, he's human. Call the cops."

Lindsey pulled out a gun and said, "Fine, I'll do it."

Lindsey aimed at the assassin, but Wesley grabbed Lindsey's arm so it was pointing up. Lindsey struggled for a second, but Angel helped Wesley, and soon Wesley had the gun in his hand and disarmed. Lindsey shouted, "Are you two kidding me?! He's an assassin! We'll be doing the world a favor by killing him!"

Wesley said, "It's not for us to decide." He looked pointedly at Angel and asked, "Isn't that right Angel?"

Angel looked away, knowing a big reason Wesley was in charge right now was because Angel had somehow crossed over the line from being a champion to being a vigilante. Angel nodded and said, "Yes."

Lindsey said, "Fine. I'll call the cops, and then once he's in jail I'll call in a favor."

All three men were surprised when they heard Jenny's voice from the doorway. "Lindsey! You will do nothing of the kind. I don't know how it came to be, that you think you have the same right as God to decide who should live and die, but I know for a fact that Daddy, Mama, and I never taught you that."

Lindsey yelled at her, "He was going to murder you Jenny! He was going to murder your children!"

Jenny walked down the steps and put a hand on Lindsey's shoulder and said, "Killing someone because you're protecting someone you love from harms way is forgivable. Killing someone in cold blood after they are already trapped is never okay."

She turned to Angel and said, "I'll call the police."

He nodded to her and then looked at Lindsey with a smirk and said, "I like your sister."

Lindsey gave him a somewhat subdued, "Screw you."

Wesley said, "The disaster was averted for now, but once Wolfram and Hart find out what happened, they will be sending another."

Lindsey shook his head and muttered, "I should have known. Should have warned them….."

Wesley said, "You'll need to take up this issue with Wolfram and Hart. Make some kind of arrangement or settlement with them so they will leave your family members alone."

Lindsey nodded absently, "Yeah. I'll have to go back to LA. Maybe Lilah will help me."

Wesley said, "We'll help you."

Lindsey was too surprised to react at first.

Angel rolled his eyes and said, "Really? We're gonna help him? I'm thinking we've gone out of our way to help him more then he deserves already!"

Wesley gave Angel a glare and said, "The first time Lindsey came to us and asked us for help you handled it poorly."

Angel's eyebrows went up, but he remained silent as Wesley continued. "I didn't say anything at the time, but now I believe that was a mistake. If it had been any other person coming to you for help, you would have talked with them and encouraged them that they were doing the right thing, but because it was Lindsey you basically told him you didn't think he could be good, so why should he bother trying."

"I did not!"

"I've watched you with other's Angel. You do treat Lindsey differently. I'm not sure if it's jealousy or something else, but you always assume the worst of him."

Angel yelled, "He brought Darla back from the dead only to make her undead again! He brought Drusilla to town and helped the two of them go on a killing spree! I should assume the worst of him!"

Wesley shook his head in disappointment. "Yes he did those things, but if you had treated him differently the first time he came to you for help, he might not have."

Angel gave up. "Believe whatever you want to Wes. Lindsey would have gone back to the firm eventually, no matter what we did to help him."

Lindsey was really surprised that Wesley was sticking up for him. He said, "I'd really appreciate any help you can give me. I'll do anything necessary to make sure my family stays safe."

Jenny came back out of the house and said, "The cops are on their way."

Lindsey looked at Angel and said, "Sun's gonna be up soon. Why don't you two go back to the hotel, and I'll meet you there later today and we can talk about what to do about Wolfram and Hart."

Angel said, "Yeah, like we're gonna leave you here alone to kill the assassin."

Jenny said, "Lindsey won't kill him."

Lindsey looked over at Jenny and agreed, "I won't kill him."

Wesley said, "Very well. Come on Angel."

Angel shook his head, "You're not gonna buy that are you?"

Wesley started walking towards his car. Angel glared over at Lindsey one more time, and then stalked off to his own rental car.
***********************

Back at the hotel room Wesley called Cordelia and Gunn to let them know what was going on, and that they would be home along with Lindsey the following morning. Angel was silently brooding on the couch for most of the morning until Wesley finally sat down next to him and said, "Enough. Tell me what's bothering you."

"I've been thinking a lot about what you said, and the more I think about it, the more I think you're right. I do treat Lindsey differently."

"That's a step in the right direction. Now you have to ask yourself why."

"I've been asking myself that all morning. I just don't seem to be able to find an answer. The guy just bugs me."

Wesley thought about it for a few seconds, and then asked, "Maybe he reminds you of someone from your past. Maybe something in his mannerisms or the way he looks triggers you to react a certain way."

Angel thought for a minute and then leaned back and muttered, "I can't believe I never put it together like that before."

"What?"

Angel looked over at Wesley, "It's his arrogance…. he has no respect for me or for most other people. He thinks he's better then me. Well that and the fact that we are on opposite sides of the fight most of the time. He reminds me of Spike, and so I react to him the way I do to Spike."

Wesley nodded, "I see. But the thing you need to keep in mind is that Spike is a demon with no soul, and Lindsey is human. You shouldn't be reacting to them the same way."

Angel leaned his head back and closed his eyes. "I don't know Wes, it still doesn't seem wrong to me. I treat him differently because I'm reacting to his behavior. How should I react to him when he's being an arrogant prick?"

"First off, I doubt name calling is helpful. And second, how would you react to Spike if he got a soul and came to you asking for help?"

Angel thought about it so long, Wesley thought maybe he had fallen asleep. As Wesley was getting up to go get some lunch, Angel said, "I'd remember what it was like when I first got my soul, and I'd try hard to help him adjust to society."

"Then maybe you should keep that in mind the next time we see Lindsey. I'm going down to the restaurant to get some lunch. Would you like anything?"

"Coffee."

"I'll be back shortly."
*******************

Lindsey arrived at their hotel room later that evening. Wesley opened the door and let him in. As he came in Lindsey said, "I told Jenny what was going on, and she's going to warn Colby and Missy jut in case Wolfram and Hart has someone else coming to do the job before we fix this. She and the kids are going to stay with Missy until I give her an update."

"Good. I've already called and made reservations for the three of us to take a flight back to LA tonight. We leave for the airport in two hours."

"Okay. What's the plan once we get to LA?"

Wesley looked over at Angel. Angel said, "You'll call Lilah, explain what you want, and then set up a meeting in a neutral location like the Host's bar, Caritas. I'll be there with you, and the rest of the team will back us up. Be prepared to make whatever deal she offers you, and get it in writing, because you know they're going to want something in return for leaving you and your family alone."

Lindsey sneered, "Right because you know so much about how Wolfram and Hart works."

Angel almost took the bait, but glanced at Wesley and thought about their conversation earlier. Instead of making a snide comment of his own, Angel said, "I'm sure you do know more about it. What do you suggest we do?"

Lindsey was too surprised to know what to say for a few seconds. Then he stuttered, "Um… Well I….. I think we need to have something to bargain with before we call her."

Angel wanted to make a comment about blackmail, but instead said, "That's a good idea. Do you have something, or know of something we could use to bargain with?"

Lindsey could see from Angel's facial expressions that he was struggling with being nice. "We could give them back the scroll you took."

Angel snapped and said, "We could give them back the hand you stole from someone else who was on a waiting list."

"You cut it off in the first place!"

"You wouldn't give me the scroll!"

Wesley intervened, "Angel."

Angel looked away and muttered, "Sorry."

Wesley turned to Lindsey and said, "I'm sure we'll be able to find a solution that doesn't involve giving up the scroll or a hand. Let's all think it over on the flight back, and then discuss this further at the hotel."

Wesley looked back and forth between Angel and Lindsey a few times. He said, "The both of you need to stop bickering about things that happened in the past. You need to learn to work together."

Lindsey said, "Or he could just sit this one out and leave me alone."

Angel looked at Wesley and said, "You see what I mean! How am I supposed to help him when he's like that?"

"Don't do me any favors!"

Wesley held up a hand and said, "Stop it both of you!"

Wesley looked at Lindsey and said, "Have you had any dinner yet?"

"What? No. Why?"

"Let's you and I grab something from downstairs before the flight."

Lindsey decided he was a little hungry, and since it meant less time with Angel he was all for it. He nodded and headed out. Wesley followed.

Down in the restaurant after they had both ordered some food Wesley said, "Tell me what it is about Angel that bothers you so much."

"I came here to eat, not for a session with my shrink."

Wesley leaned back and thought about it for a second. When their food arrived Wesley said, "Before I worked with Angel I was a Watcher. Do you know what that is?"

Lindsey nodded. Wesley continued, "When I was younger I thought I would be a Watcher my whole life, and when I was no longer welcome at the Watcher's council I had a difficult time deciding what to do. And over the past few years the biggest thing I've learned about reinventing one's self is that you must have the ability to change and adapt. As a lawyer with a large firm to back him up, you could be arrogant and abrasive. Now that you're unemployed and asking for help, I would suggest you tone that down a notch."

"I didn't ask for your advice."

"And yet I'm giving it to you anyway."

Lindsey rolled his eyes and ate faster. Wesley gave Lindsey a scrutinizing look. "How many people go up against Wolfram and Hart and win?"

Lindsey shrugged. "Not many. I can only think of a handful."

"With both yourself and Angel being in that count?"

Lindsey nodded. Wesley said, "So imagine how much more damage you could do to Wolfram and Hart if the two of you actually put your minds together instead of arguing."

Lindsey sighed and said, "Okay, if I tell you I'll try to get along with him, will you shut up?"

"Will you mean it?"

"Sure."

Wesley nodded and put a bite of his food in his mouth. Lindsey was happy to eat the last few bites of his meal in silence.

The flight back to LA was quiet, as Wesley had had the foresight to not get three seats in a row, and they all got some sleep.
******************

Early the next morning when Cordelia came to work she saw Angel, Lindsey, and Wesley all sitting in Angel's office talking. She smiled, walked in, and sat next to Wesley on the couch. "Looks like you're all playing nice. That's good. What's the game plan for getting Wolfram and Hart to leave Lindsey's family alone?"

Wesley informed her, "We've been brainstorming for about half an hour, but we haven't come up with any viable plans."

Lindsey said, "We came up with plenty of viable plans. You just didn't like any of them."

Angel glared at Lindsey and yelled, "Kidnapping Lilah and holding her ransom is not a viable plan!"

Lindsey yelled back, "Well it's a better plan then setting up a meeting with her empty handed!"

Cordelia said, "Okaaaay. I guess we're not playing nice. How about some coffee?"

Lindsey smiled at her and said, "That would be great."

Cordelia smiled back and said, "I'll have a nonfat mocha. Take a left out of the lobby doors. The stand is two blocks away."

Lindsey started to shake his head but Angel said, "I'll have coffee, black."

Wesley added, "Small latte for me please."

Lindsey looked around the room trying to figure out how it was he had been elected to go. He opened his mouth to say he wasn't about to be Angel Investigation's gofer when
Gunn came walking in with a tray filled with five cups. Gunn said, "Hey, good to have you guys home." as he started handing out coffee to everyone.

Gunn handed a cup to Lindsey and said, "Wasn't sure what you would like, so it's plain coffee, but there's cream and sugar in the fridge if you like."

Lindsey took his cup and said, "Thanks."

Gunn took a sip from his own cup and sat down. "So what's the plan?"
***********************

After a long morning of arguing, Wesley finally decided to go with the original plan, and Lindsey begrudgingly called Lilah on the phone. Lindsey knew her personal cell phone number, and was glad he didn't have to go through her secretary to get in touch with her. Lilah answered with, "Lilah Morgan."

"Lilah, it's Lindsey."

There was a pause and then Lilah asked, "Change your mind about leaving already?"

"No, but Wolfram and Hart doesn't seem to want me to leave."

"Funny, I was happy to see you go."

"Look, they sent someone to kill my sister and her kids, and I want to prevent that from happening again. I'm willing to make a deal, and I want you to be my liaison."

Lilah gave him a snide, "Why Lindsey, I'm touched you would pick me."

"You can be bitchy all you want, but you know that my leaving was the only thing that saved your ass and got you promoted, so I think you owe me."

Lilah laughed. "I owe you? You're kidding right?"

Lindsey was about to yell when Angel snatched the phone from his hand and put it to his ear. He said, "Hi Lilah, this is Angel."

Lindsey said with anger, "Hey!" but Angel ignored him and walked a few steps away to better concentrate on Lilah.

Lilah said, "Angel? Well this is a surprise."

"Lindsey and I want to make a deal. We're willing to do the firm a favor to ensure the safety of Lindsey's family."

Lilah paused for a second and then said, "A favor…. Okay, I'll talk to my boss and see what we can come up with."

"We'll meet you at nine pm in a little karaoke bar called Caritas. Have you heard of it?"

"I know the place."

"See you then. Have some documents ready to sign. I want this resolved tonight."

"I'll see what we can do."

Angel hung up and looked at Wesley as he said, "She'll meet us."

Lindsey was silently fuming. He hated being outdone by Angel. He was realistic and practical enough to understand that because Angel was a vampire there were some things that Angel would always be better at, like brute strength. But Lindsey had prided himself on outwitting Angel on more then one occasion, and seeing Angel close the deal with Lilah before he was able to do it himself frustrated Lindsey to the point of not thinking clearly.

Wesley nodded and said, "Good job. Cordelia, you call the Host and let him know we'll be coming and the reasons behind it. Angel you see if we have the blue prints for the sewer system in that area, and for Caritas itself in our files. Gunn, we want to make sure we've got all possible exits covered, so maybe you could talk to a few of your acquaintances and see if any of them are willing to help us out for the night. Lindsey, you and I should talk a little about what Wolfram and Hart might ask for. Then when we are all done, we should all look over the blue prints and go over the plan for this evening."

Everyone went their separate ways to follow Wesley's instructions.
*********************

They had everything planned out before dinnertime. Lindsey had kept his anger and irritation to himself, not wanting to make the planning take even longer then it already did. But the one thing that was stuck in his mind was that he shouldn't have asked for help. He should have just done this deal on his own. He thought the plan sucked, especially since it involved Angel, and the longer he sat there pretending to go with the plan, the more he hated it. When they had the plan all worked out, Wesley suggested they all order a pizza, and Lindsey took that opportunity to get out of the Hotel. He said, "Pizza? Sorry, but I think I'll pass. I'll call a cab, go somewhere decent to eat, and meet you guys back here in an hour or two."

Wesley said, "I doubt it's wise to be out in the city alone at this point in time."

"Wolfram and Hart know where we are. If they wanted to snatch me, they would have done it already. I'm perfectly safe for the time being."

Wesley looked at his watch. It was five pm. "I suppose you're right. We'll see you back here before seven then."

Lindsey grit his teeth, hating Wesley's assumption that Lindsey was somehow a part of the team for him to direct, and said politely, "I'll see you then."

Lindsey walked to the counter and called a cab. He waited for the cab while Cordelia called and ordered the rest of the team a pizza. As soon as his cab arrived Lindsey smiled and walked out the door. He gave the cab driver the address to Lilah's apartment.
*****************

Wesley looked at the clock and noticed it was ten minutes after seven. He walked over to Angel and said, "Lindsey is late. You don't suppose…."

Angel shook his head. "They're gonna want us to do them a favor. No way are they going to jeopardize that by taking Lindsey out from under our noses."

Wesley slowly nodded while trying to decide if he agreed with that or not. Angel said, "Give him ten more minutes."

By the time seven twenty rolled around, Angel was giving serious consideration to the possibility that Wesley had been right. He walked over to Wesley and Cordelia who were standing by the lobby's counter and said, "Okay, you're right. Something is wrong."

Wesley shook his head. "No you're right. You offered to do them a favor. They aren't going to pass that up."

Cordelia said, "But they know that Angel is doing it for Jenny and her kids, not for Lindsey."

Angel and Wesley thought about that for a few minutes, and then Angel slapped his hand down on the counter in frustration and said, "Damn it!"

"What?" Wesley and Cordelia asked in unison.

"He went out to do the job on his own. He's probably gonna try to kidnap Lilah the way he had originally planned."

Wesley shook his head no and opened his mouth, but Angel beat him to it. "I told you I realized Lindsey is a lot like Spike right?"

Wesley nodded and Angel continued, "Well I'm telling you right now that Spike would have been totally irritated that the plan we all decided on was not his, and he would have gone behind out backs to carry out his own plan before we could stop him."

Wesley looked at Cordelia who shrugged, not knowing if Angel's hunch was right or not. Wesley looked back at Angel and said, "If he did go to get her…"

Angel nodded. "They would have been watching and waiting for an attack."

Wesley sighed with irritation and said, "Call Lilah and tell her if she hurts Lindsey not only will we not do any favors for Wolfram and Hart, but that we also will find a way to force them to leave Lindsey's family alone."

Angel picked up the phone and dialed the number he had seen Lindsey dial for Lilah's cell phone. She answered, "Lilah Morgan."

Angel could hear Lindsey's muffled screams in the background and said, "If he has any permanent damage, I'm gonna be pissed."

Lilah gave a nervous little laugh and said, "I don't know what you're talking about."

"If you and your firm hurt Lindsey, I'm not going to do any favors for you, and I'll find a way to force you to leave Lindsey's relatives alone."

There was a pause, and Lindsey's screams stopped. Angel could hear Lindsey breathing hard and Lilah said, "Fine. I'll bring him with me to the meeting with no permanent damage."

Angel gave her a mean little laugh and said, "No. We'll be there to pick him up in ten minutes, and you better hope that he's in decent enough shape to walk out of your apartment. The meeting has been changed to tomorrow night at nine pm to give him time to recover."

Angel hung up the phone and looked at the other members of the team as he told them what he had heard. Wesley said, "Looks as though you were correct."

Angel shook his head. "I wish I wasn't."

Cordelia said, "I'll call the Host."

Gunn added, "And I'll call my guys to let them know the day has changed."

Wesley looked at Angel and said, "Let's go get him and see what they've done."

Angel drove them to Lilah's apartment. On the way Angel said, "Maybe we should just leave him there to suffer. It's not like he didn't bring it on himself."

"I told him we would help him, and that's what I intend to do even if he isn't cooperative."

Angel's jaw twitched in annoyance, but kept quite for the rest of the ride. He entertained himself with thoughts of punching Lindsey in the face.

Soon they arrived at Lilah's doorstep, and Wesley knocked. Lilah answered, and they could see Lindsey sitting on the couch with his hands tied behind his back. His clothes were rumpled and his head was hanging down with his eyes closed. Wesley asked, "What did you do to him?"

Lilah smiled and said, "Nothing permanent. Just a little electro shock therapy."

Lindsey's head came up a little and he said, "Bitch used some homemade device to electrocute me twenty different times trying to get information out of me."

Angel shook his head thinking that even now Lindsey didn't seem at all repentant or ashamed of what he had done. If anything he seemed to be filled with righteous anger that Lilah had hurt him. Wesley asked, "Can you walk Lindsey?"

Lindsey got up, but it looked difficult, and as he headed for the door he almost fell. He made it to the door and looked at Lilah as he said, "Nice try sweetie. But I'm keeping my memories."

Wesley looked at Lilah questioningly. She shrugged and said, "The firm wanted to have Lindsey's memories of working for the firm removed. We would be more then happy to leave his family alone if he was willing to forget he ever worked for us."

Lindsey yelled, "That's six years of my life!!"

Angel put his hand through the threshold of Lilah's doorframe and grabbed Lindsey by the upper arm. He pulled Lindsey out into the hallway and said, "Come on. We're going."

Once they got to the elevator Wesley cut the ropes off Lindsey's wrists. Lindsey rubbed his wrists, and said, "Thanks."

Angel growled, "Thanks? Thanks for what exactly? Thanks for saving your sorry ass after you went behind our backs to carry out a plan we all told you wasn't gonna work?!!"

Lindsey looked back at Angel with a glare and said, "Actually I meant thanks for untying my wrists."

Angel got into Lindsey's personal space, and Lindsey tilted his chin up as if to say he was ready to defend what he had done. But before either of them could say anything Wesley put a hand on Angel's shoulder and said, "Let's give Lindsey some time to recuperate before talking."

Angel and Lindsey were still facing off, so Wesley asked, "How was Lilah planning to remove your memories?"

Lindsey took a small step back and turned to Wesley. "I'm not exactly sure. While they were giving me time to recover between shocks, Lilah called someone and said they were ready for 'it'. I asked her what 'it' was, but instead of answering that she told me she had gotten clearance to erase all of my memories from working at the firm. She thought maybe that would make me talk since the torture hadn't worked. You guys called shortly after that, and Lilah called 'it' off."

Wesley nodded and looked forward at the elevator doors as they opened and said, "It sounds as if our call was fortuitous. I'm glad."

Lindsey a little stab of guilt at that. He knew Wesley had been on his side the entire time, and now instead of yelling, or accusing him of doing the wrong thing, Wesley was just saying he was glad Lindsey was okay. Lindsey couldn't say he was sorry, especially with Angel standing right there, but he did feel slightly bad about it. Wesley had to keep a hand on Lindsey's arm to help him stay upright on the way to Angel's car. When they arrived Wesley said, "We've rescheduled the appointment with Lilah for tomorrow to give you some time to recover. Once we get back to the hotel you can lie down and get some sleep."

Lindsey wanted to argue, but just nodded knowing he was going to need the sleep. He practically fell into the backseat, and was asleep a block away from Lilah's apartment.

Once Wesley was sure Lindsey was out he turned to Angel and said, "You may not see it yet, but Lindsey does have a conscience, and he does have a sense of guilt when he's done something wrong. But his defenses come up quickly when the first thing you do in a confrontation is yell."

Angel scoffed, "A conscience?"

Wesley ignored that. "And really why shouldn't he be defensive and abrasive around you since you've proved to him time and time again that you don't like him, don't care about his well being, and basically would be happy if he were dead."

Angel was on the defensive now and said, "Hey, I never said I wanted him dead."

Wesley gave Angel a look that said he clearly didn't believe that. Angel sighed and said, "Okay, maybe I've said some things that some people might interpret as me wanting him…. out of the picture."

"If you find you are just unable to care about Lindsey as a person, then why don't you think about how Jenny would react if you had to go tell her that her brother was dead."

Angel did picture it and didn't like the image. He sighed and said, "Okay, okay. Point taken. I'll try to do better."

"Thank you."

When they got back to the hotel they had to both help Lindsey walk in because Lindsey was in and out of consciousness. They put him in one of the empty bedrooms and once Lindsey was on the bed Wesley said, "We should check for burns and dress his wounds so they don't get infected."

Wesley went to get one of the first aid kids while Angel started to take Lindsey's shirt off. Lindsey woke up as Angel was trying to get his arms out of his sleeves and said weakly, "What the hell? Leave me alone."

When Angel just kept trying to get the shirt off, Lindsey started to struggle. Angel growled and said, "Knock it off. We're gonna check you over and bandage your burns with or without your consent."

Lindsey was too surprised to do much besides lie still while Angel finished getting his shirt off. Angel took a look at the burn marks. There were twenty burn marks in various places on his chest, torso, and back, each about the size of a nickel. Angel said, "That's gonna hurt for a few days."

Wesley came back in the room with the kit and the two men had each of Lindsey's burn marks medicated and covered within ten minutes. Lindsey couldn't make his mind work very well, and couldn't decide if he should be grateful or offended. As soon as they were done, Wesley put a blanket over Lindsey, and turned the light off as he and Angel walked out.
**********************

The next morning Lindsey woke up sore all over, but feeling better then he had the night before. He got out of bed and groaned. He looked down at his chest and saw all the little bandages. He had a vague memory of Angel and Wesley patching him up and blushed, hating the thought of being so vulnerable in front of them. He noticed that someone had put his travel bag in the room, and that the first aid kit was still there. He got out a change of clothes and some painkillers, and headed into the bathroom grabbing the first aid kit on the way.

Half an hour later he felt a little better physically, but he was dreading facing everyone, since he knew Angel would be yelling and making him feel worse then he already did about what he had done. His stomach growled and he realized he hadn't had dinner the night before. He took a deep breath and went downstairs to find some breakfast.

He walked down the stairs and saw that the whole team was already up and working. Wesley and Angel were in the office looking over paperwork. Gunn was cleaning some weapons, and Cordelia was filing her nails at her desk. Cordelia was the first to see him. She smiled at him and held up a little sack from McDonalds. "Egg McMuffin?"

He was a little surprised she was being so nice but he nodded and said, "Sure. Thanks."

He opened the bag and got out the sandwich to eat. Gunn came over and clapped him on the shoulder as he said, "Come on, I'll show you where the microwave is. It's been sitting there on her desk for an hour now."

Lindsey was doubly surprised that Gunn was being nice to him as well. He followed Gunn into the kitchen, and as the sandwich was warming up, Gunn said, "That was a damn fool stunt you pulled last night."

Lindsey felt his defenses kick in, but before he could say anything Gunn laughed and said, "Guess that means you're a full fledged member of the team now, cause Lord knows we've all done some really dumb ass stuff. And we're all really glad you didn't get yourself killed."

The microwave beeped, and Lindsey got his food out. As he was sitting down to eat Gunn said, "You want coffee?"

Lindsey was wary of this question now and thought about it for a second. Gunn laughed even louder and said, "Don't worry, I'm not gonna go all Cordelia on you. I was offering to make you some." And he pointed to the coffee pot.

Lindsey smiled and nodded. After Lindsey had his coffee, Gunn sat down at the table and started telling Lindsey a story about some vampires he had killed the other night, and Lindsey found himself entertained by it. Once Lindsey was done eating, Gunn got up and said he was getting back to the weapons. Lindsey sat there finishing his coffee and thinking it was nice to have some company early in the morning. He remembered living in his first foster home, and having all his siblings talking and smiling while eating breakfast. He realized he hadn't had company for breakfast in years.

He took the last sip of coffee and then went out into the lobby. Cordelia smiled at him and asked, "Feeling better?"

"Yeah. Thanks again, the food really helped."

"No problem."

Wesley and Angel came out of the office now that they saw Lindsey was done eating. Wesley asked, "How are you feeling this morning?"

Lindsey felt another stab of guilt and said, "I'm fine."

"You seem to be mostly recuperated. Any lingering pain? Headache? Did you need help bandaging your burns?"

Lindsey wasn't sure why, but the concern over his wellbeing made him uncomfortable. He was a little snippy when he said, "No. I told you, I'm fine."

Wesley said, "Very well. Come into the office with us please."

Lindsey followed Wesley and Angel into the office. Lindsey found it a little disturbing when Wesley closed the door behind them. Once the three of them were alone Wesley turned and said, "We're all very glad that we were able to get to you in time to prevent Lilah from doing you long lasting harm, but it could have all been avoided if you had stuck with the original plan."

Lindsey wasn't sure what to say. He knew Wesley was right, but he couldn't get himself to agree. He crossed his arms and said, "Look, I'm glad you guys came and got me when you did too, but the original plan sucks, and I doubt it's gonna work any better then my plan did."

Angel's jaw started to twitch in anger as he heard this, but he had agreed to let Wesley do the talking. Wesley remained calm. "Here at Angel Investigations we work as a team. I highly doubt that this is a novel concept to you, so I would appreciate it if you would make more of an effort to work with us instead of against us, at least until this particular case is over. We all want the same end result, and we are much more likely to achieve our goal if we work together."

Lindsey shook his head. "I'm not part of the team Wesley. Don't expect me to fall in line, the only reason I'm even letting you guys help me, is because I know you want to protect Jenny too."

Angel couldn't take it. He walked up and grabbed Lindsey's arm and gave him a shake as he said, "You're letting us help you? Letting us?!"

Angel was making a fist, and Wesley was about to intervene when all three men heard Cordelia scream. Angel let go of Lindsey and was the first out the door. Cordelia was still sitting at her desk, but she had both hands on her head and her eyes were shut tight. Angel ran to her, and put a hand on her back as she continued to yell out in pain.

Lindsey turned a worried look to Wesley and said, "What's wrong with her?"

"She's having a vision."

Lindsey knew from working at the firm that Cordelia was Angel's link to The Powers That Be, and he knew her visions allowed Angel to find people who needed his help, but he hadn't realized the extent of the pain Cordelia was in when she had them. He found himself feeling bad for her even though he didn't want to.

Cordelia suddenly became silent with some tears on her face. She looked over at Angel who had kneeled down next to her. She said, "You have to spank Lindsey."

Gunn and Wesley both turned and looked at Lindsey with surprise and confusion. Lindsey just looked confused. Angel leaned into Cordelia and said, "I'm sorry, what?"

"My vision. It was of you spanking Lindsey in your office."

Angel looked over at Lindsey with irritation, and then back at Cordelia. He said, "Cordy… Are… are you sure that's what you saw? I mean I know your visions have been getting worse for you… more painful. Maybe you're a little confused."

He leaned in and said in a voice low enough for only her to hear, "Maybe that's not so much a vision as some kind of dream or fantasy, because it sounds a little kinky to me."

Cordelia kept one hand on her forehead, glared at Angel, and smacked him on the shoulder repeatedly as she said through clenched teeth, "Does it look like I'm having fun here!! I'm telling you what I saw!! I don't control my visions!!"

Angel backpedaled quickly and said, "No, no. I mean, I know you don't control them, it's just that… spanking? Really? Why would The Powers want me to do that?"

"How should I know?! All I can tell you is what I saw. I saw you punching Lindsey, and Lindsey trying to punch you back. Wesley breaks it up, and Lindsey takes off. But people are watching him leave the hotel alone. They attack him and take him to Lilah who's waiting in some warehouse. Once they get there, Lilah tries to stick some mechanical gizmo into Lindsey's head, which accidentally kills him. Then the vision changes to Lindsey trying to leave, and you catching him and spanking him so he can't go."

Lindsey's heart rate had picked up as he was hearing the conversation between Angel and Cordelia, and now he was starting to panic at the thought that Angel very well might do what Cordelia said, no matter how wrong it seemed. Lindsey decided he should be out in the sun, and tried to turn to walk up the lobby steps. He found his way blocked by Gunn and Wesley. His eyes darted around the room, and he said, "I… Um… I think I need some fresh air."

Wesley shook his head no and said, "I'm sorry Lindsey, but visions are not to be taken lightly."

Gunn nodded and said, "Sucks for you, but if that's what Cordy sees, then that's what's gonna happen. It's not like you don't deserve it for what you did yesterday."

Lindsey tried to dart around them only to have Gunn grab one arm and Wesley grab the other. They held him firm while he struggled to get out of their grip. He yelled out, "She's obviously demented! The pain of the visions has made her crazy! I can't believe you assholes are going to believe that this is the right course of action!"

Wesley said in a clam voice, "Her visions have been proven correct time and time again."

Angel had been keeping track of what was happening on the other side of the room and now stood up. He looked at Wesley and said, "It doesn't make any sense Wes. Why would the Powers want me to do that?"

Wesley thought about it. Lindsey yelled, "You're right Angel, it doesn't make sense. The Powers wouldn't want you to do it."

Wesley looked at Lindsey and then back at Angel. He said, "Actually it makes perfect sense."

Angel crossed his arms in irritation and said, "Great, then you do it!"

Wesley shook his head and said, "I already see Lindsey as a person with a good soul. You're the one who doesn't."

Angel yelled, "All the more reason for you to do it!"

Lindsey yelled, "Why are you all assuming it needs to be done!"

Wesley ignored Lindsey and said to Angel, "No. You need to do it for multiple reasons. You need to stop seeing Lindsey as some kind of nemesis and start seeing him as part of the team. You need to see him as human with all the faults and fears of a human, and not as some evil entity. And you need to prove to him that you're going to treat him with care and concern instead of hate and loathing. If you don't, he'll never be able to work as a part of the team."

"I'm not part of the team, and you can shove your advice up your ass Wesley!"

Angel glared at the ceiling and called out, "After everything I've done to help others, you're asking me to do this? Haven't I suffered enough?!"

Getting no answer Angel sighed heavily and walked over to Lindsey. Lindsey shook his head no and yelled, "No! You don't need to do this Angel. I'll just leave. I'll never bother you again I swear."

"Apparently I don't get to let you leave."

Angel got to Lindsey and grabbed his upper arm as Wesley and Gunn let go. Angel cocked his head to the side and really looked at Lindsey. He said with a little awe, "You're scared."

Lindsey shook his head in a panic. Angel said, "I've only smelled fear on you once before, and that was before you actually knew me. I didn't smell fear on you when I cut off your hand. Not when I came to your apartment and knocked you around for what you had done to Darla. Not even when I locked you in that room with Dru and Darla to die."

Lindsey had a wild eyed look to him and his eyes were darting around the room as he tried with all his might to get his arm out of Angel's grasp, almost pulling his own shoulder out of its socket to get away. Angel grabbed Lindsey's other arm, so that he wouldn't hurt himself. Angel wanted to smile in satisfaction. He wanted to gloat that he had finally found a way to put fear in Lindsey. He wanted to be happy about this new discovery, but he found himself frowning and saying, "Jeez, I'm not gonna kill you. Come on."

Lindsey had a stray thought that he'd rather be killed. Angel had to forcibly drag Lindsey into his office. Once he got them both past the threshold, he kicked the door shut with his foot. He kept a tight grip on Lindsey, and pulled him to the desk. He pushed Lindsey's chest down onto the desk, and kept a hand in the middle of Lindsey's back to keep him in place.

Angel could smell the fear coming off Lindsey in waves, and found it disturbing. He could remember loving that smell as Angelus, and that made it even more repugnant now. He really didn't want to spank Lindsey, but he did trust Cordelia's visions. He also generally trusted Wesley's advice, and thought if he was going to do this he should try his best to do it right. He hadn't ever spanked anyone before, but his father had done it to him often enough that he got the general idea.

Angel said, "You shouldn't have snuck off yesterday after we had all agreed to the plan. You could have gotten yourself killed. As a matter of fact, you almost did get yourself killed. Then just a few minutes ago when Wesley was talking to you calmly and reasonably about what you had done, and how to prevent it from happening again, you had the gall to basically tell him to screw off because you weren't part of the team. Well, I'm telling you that you are part of the team until this is over, and you will fall into line for Wesley so that we can save both your sister and you. Do you understand me?"

Angel paused to see what Lindsey would say, but got nothing from Lindsey. Lindsey had stopped struggling and shut his eyes. Lindsey had heard Angel, but he was trying hard to make his mind go somewhere other then where it was, and didn't have time to respond.

Angel didn't like or understand Lindsey's reactions. He tried to calm Lindsey's fears. "Lindsey I'm not gonna hurt you. Well I mean I am gonna hurt you, but you should be able to tolerate it. I promise you I'm only gonna use my hand on your ass, and nothing else. It should be much less painful then what Lilah did to you yesterday, and you weren't afraid then."

Lindsey wasn't sure if he was relieved by Angel's words or not. But he found his panic had calmed down enough that he could make his voice work. "I'm not afraid of pain."

Angel knew from experience that Lindsey really wasn't afraid of pain. "I know. So what are you afraid of?"

Lindsey remained silent but thought, 'Losing people I love.'

Angel wanted an answer before he started, so he tried another tact. "Have you been spanked before?"

Lindsey whispered, "Yes."

"When was the last time?"

Lindsey squeezed his eyes shut even harder trying to block it out. He said, "Just fucking do it and then leave me the fuck alone."

Angel almost swatted him, but held back and said, "Nope. I'll do it when you tell me about the last time you were spanked."

Lindsey didn't want to relive that. He wanted to be left alone to try and get his mind back into some kind of normal working order. Lindsey said, "You're not my God damned psychologist! Just do it!"

Angel thought about it for a few seconds and then said, "I'm not trying to psychoanalyze you, I'm trying to do this the right way."

Lindsey was feeling less panic and more irritation as the time passed. "There is no right way to do this!"

Angel could feel Lindsey's fear waning. He said, "Well, you're probably right about that, but I'm sure there are lots of wrong ways to do this, and I'm trying to pick the least wrong way. Please tell me about the last time you were spanked, and then we can get this over and done with."

Lindsey sighed and gave in, thinking Angel could keep him there bent over the desk all day if he wanted to. "By my daddy when I was eight."

"What for?" Angel pressed.

"Talking back to him."

"Tell me about it."

"If we're gonna have a whole fucking conversation, why don't you let me up."

"I know you probably think this is worse torture then what Lilah did to you, but after your attitude this morning with Wes, I'm thinking you deserve it. So go on and tell me, or we can stay this way all day."

Lindsey tried to push himself up off the table, but Angel had no trouble holding him down. Once Lindsey was worn out from his struggles he said quietly, "The foster folks had told us kids that our daddy was coming to see us in the afternoon. The last time he'd seen us, he had told us he would be back to get us and that he would take us home, so I packed up my stuff. When he got there he told us he couldn't take us, and we had to stay with the foster folks for longer. I… I told him he was a loser, and that he should just stop coming to visit us in the foster home since he was never going to keep his word and get us out. I ran to my room and slammed the door, but he followed me, pulled me over his knee, and gave me a few swats. I remember thinking at the time it was odd that he kept holding me when it was over. I mean he wasn't a particularly affectionate person. He would always give us a quick hug after he spanked one of us, but that was about it. But this time he just held onto me for the longest time. I didn't find out until later that he had learned about his advanced lung cancer that morning. It was the last time he visited us, and the last time I saw him coherent. I only saw him once more, and that was in the hospital right before he died."

Angel said with sympathy, "Damn. I guess I can see where you'd have issues."

"I don't have issues! You said you'd do it, so go on. Stop talking me to death."

Angel could tell the fear was mostly gone. He wasn't sure if it was because Lindsey had had time to adjust to the idea, or if the talking had helped distract him. But either way Angel found it easier to do now. He kept his force in check since Lindsey was a human, and brought his hand down on the right side of Lindsey's ass, and then on the left. Lindsey hadn't been ready for it, and his body jerked with the impact, and a grunt escaped before he could clamp his mouth shut. Angel kept spanking him until he could see Lindsey had to struggle to keep quiet and in place. Angel stopped and said, "You ran off on your own and almost got yourself killed. I want you to promise me it's not gonna happen again, because I don't want to have to see Jenny's face when I go tell her you're dead."

Lindsey couldn't help but picture Jenny's face when she had found out their father had died, and felt himself choking up. He wanted this to be over, so he could be alone in his pain and misery. He whispered, "I promise."

Angel nodded and started the spanking back up. Lindsey's body betrayed him and started to squirm around to avoid the swats, and though he kept it quiet, some tears went down his face. Angel smelled them and stopped again. He said, "Wes and the rest of the team, excluding me, have been really nice to you. They've done everything they could to help you and your sister out, so I want you to be nicer to them."

Lindsey didn't trust his voice so he gave a curt nod to show he had heard. Angel gave him six more swats that were harder then the rest, and Lindsey couldn't hold in his yells. Angel took his hand off Lindsey's back, and Lindsey pushed himself to standing, but kept his back to Angel. He tried to wipe his face discreetly, and wasn't sure how to get out of there without facing everyone.

Angel put a hand on Lindsey's shoulder and gave it a companionable squeeze as he said, "I expect you to keep your promise Lindsey, I'm gonna go out and give you some time alone. Come out when you're ready, but take all the time you need."

Lindsey was grateful for the time alone, and felt relief wash over him as Angel closed the office door behind him. He looked around to make sure he was alone, and then lie down on his side on the couch and let himself cry while he thought about his family members who were no longer around. When he had been working at Wolfram and Hart, he had found it much easier to block out the memories of his folks and two dead siblings, but right now he was finding that almost impossible.

Angel went out and closed the door behind him. He noticed the lobby was completely empty, and figured the group must have headed to the kitchen at some point so they wouldn't have to hear what was going on. Angel could hear Lindsey softly crying in the office and cringed thinking it was his fault. He walked towards the kitchen and muttered, "I liked it better when I thought he was evil."

Angel walked into the kitchen and found the rest of the team sitting around the table with Gunn and Wesley trying to help cheer Cordelia up, even though she was still obviously in pain. When Angel went in, all conversation ended and they looked at him. Angel looked at Cordelia and said, "How are you feeling?"

"I don't think I'm gonna be much help for the rest of the day. I took my meds, but even that doesn't do much to help with the pain."

Angel sat down next to her and said, "You want me to drive you home?"

She looked over and said, "No I want to be here to help out later today. Maybe I could just go upstairs and take a short nap in one of the spare rooms."

"Take any room you want."

She nodded and then asked, "How did it go with Lindsey?"

Angel looked over at Wesley and said, "I don't know how to answer that. I mean it sucked for both of us, but Wes is right that I can't see him as some evil thing anymore, and I doubt he's gonna run off on his own again before this is over, so I suppose it went well."

She put a hand on his forearm and patted him gently before standing up. "Someone come wake me up if I sleep past five."
*****************

Half an hour after Angel left the office, Lindsey had his emotions under control, but he still didn't want to face anyone. He got up off the couch and wandered around the office, opening drawers to see what there was to see, but found nothing of interest. He thought about the rest of Angel's team laughing at him when he went out into the lobby, and didn't think he could take that without striking out at them. He noticed the phone on Angel's desk and decided Angel Investigations could pay his long distance and called his sister to give her an update on their negotiations with Wolfram and Hart. They ended up talking for over an hour.

When Lindsey finally hung up the phone he felt more like himself, even if he had had the conversation while standing. He looked at the office door, took a deep breath, and went out into the lobby. He took a look around and found it surprisingly empty. He wondered where everyone was and then looked over at the lobby doors. He took a few steps up to them and stood there looking out for a few minutes while he thought about leaving. He knew if he could get out into the sun that there would be nothing Angel could do to keep him there at the hotel. But he also had believed Cordelia when she said that Lilah's henchmen were out there waiting for him. He sighed heavily and turned back around to see if he could find anyone in the kitchen, and came face to face with Angel.

Lindsey was startled and took a step back. "Jesus, are you trying to give me a heart attack?!"

Angel had his arms crossed and was scrutinizing Lindsey. He had come out of the kitchen and seen Lindsey at the lobby doors. He had quietly gone up to him to make sure he could grab him if he needed to keep him from leaving. Angel had been surprised but pleased that Lindsey had made the decision not to leave on his own. Angel said, "Good choice."

Lindsey refused to dignify that with a response since he didn't feel he actually had a choice. Especially since Angel was right there and would have stopped him from going if he had tried. After a pause Angel said, "We got a call about half an hour ago. You up for helping Wesley with research?"

Lindsey's heart rate went back down to normal and he looked at his watch. "Might as well, we still have a long time before we meet with Lilah."

Angel nodded and turned expecting Lindsey to follow. "He's in the back office."

Lindsey shook his head once to clear it, and then followed Angel. Once he saw the office, Lindsey noticed two of the team members were missing. "Where are Cordelia and Gunn?"

Angel filled him in. "Cordy is resting upstairs since she has a migraine, and Gunn is checking with his friends to make sure they can help us out tonight."

Wesley took his eyes away from his book to see Lindsey and said, "Ah good, I was hoping you could help me identify a demon."

Wesley handed Lindsey a notepad full of information on an unknown demon and said, "Let me know if any of that sounds familiar, and if not, you can help me go through these books."

Lindsey was a little surprised that Wesley didn't even mention what had happened a couple of hours ago, but at the same time he was glad. He nodded and took the notepad looking through the information.

The three men did research most of the afternoon, and when first Cordelia and later Gunn showed up, Lindsey was grateful that neither one of them mentioned what had happened to him either. When it was finally time to go to Caritas, Lindsey would have been able to make himself believe it was all a bad dream except for the fact that his ass was still sore.
***************

Angel, Wesley, and Lindsey all walked into Caritas, knowing Cordelia, Gunn, and Gunn's friends were watching the exits. Lilah was already at a table sipping on a martini, and holding a manila folder. She smiled at them when they arrived. On the way to her table they were greeted by the Host. "Well, well, well, what do we have here? Sworn enemies working together for a common goal?"

Angel gave him an irritated, "We're not sworn enemies."

Lindsey muttered, "Not so much working together as forced together."

The Host took a good look at Lindsey and said, "Honey, I haven't seen your soul so clearly since…"

He trailed off and looked back and forth between Lindsey and Angel a couple of times. Lindsey was sure the Host knew exactly what had happened between them by his expression of surprise and turned bright red. Lindsey snarled, "We have business."

Lindsey pushed past the Host and walked over to Lilah's table. Wesley and Angel followed, but the Host grabbed Angel's arm to hold him back for a second. Angel gave the Host an impatient look, and the Host said, "You're on the right track Angelcakes. Just be sure to see it through to the end if you want it to make a difference."

Angel was annoyed with the Host's riddles and said, "What the hell does that mean exactly?"

But the Host had already seen some new demons walking into the club and had left to greet them.

Angel was the last one to sit at the small table with Lilah. She waved to the waiter and said, "Drinks are on me boys."

Angel gave the waiter a look that sent him to another table and turned to Lilah. "What's the deal?"

She set her drink down. "You know what your problem is Angel?"

"I'm sure you'll tell me even though I don't care."

"You don't like to have fun. Always straight to business."

Angel clenched his jaw with impatience, "What's the deal Lilah?"

She tossed him the folder and looked at Wesley. She traced a finger down the side of his face and said, "I'll bet you like to have fun."

Wesley, obviously embarrassed and slightly pleased at the same time, stammered out, "Well… I… I suppose I've had my share of fun in the past. The term fun is a fairly generalized word and….."

Lilah turned away from him and cut off his rambling as she said to Lindsey, "How's the chest?"

"Never better."

Angel had skimmed the first page of the folder and said, "You want us to kill him?"

Angel passed the folder to Wesley who held it so Lindsey could read it at the same time. Lilah nodded.

Angel said, "What else?"

Lilah smiled and took the last swallow of her drink. "That's it. You kill him, and I'll draw up an agreement for Lindsey to sign. We'll leave him and his family alone."

Lilah put on her jacket and picked up her purse. As she stood Wesley said, "It says here you haven't found a way to kill him."

She leaned down a little so she could be in his personal space. "That's why you'd be doing us a favor honey."

She stood up straight and said to Angel, "Call me when it's done."

Angel nodded and then watched her leave. Lindsey slouched down in his chair and said, "Great. Just great."

"What?" Angel asked.

"This demon has been a thorn in Wolfram and Hart's side for about six months now. He keeps eating our higher paying clients. He calls himself Jal. We've sent more then one assassin after him, but no luck."

Angel said, "Eating?"

Lindsey nodded, "We've found the remains of humans and demons after he's eaten bits of them."

"But it's not random? He's going after Wolfram and Hart's clients?" Wesley asked.

Lindsey nodded. "Rumor has it that when he first got to town he came to the firm and tried to get a job as one of our assassins, but he got turned down. Now he's trying to prove to them that they made a mistake. If we fail to kill him my guess is they'll offer him a job."

Wesley said, "It says you're not sure what kind of a demon it is."

Lindsey nodded. "That's right. He seems to be impervious to fire, and bullets and swords don't penetrate his skin. I haven't personally seen him, but the one assassin that got away said he thought the Jal's skin was made of some kind of metal. We've hired people to use magic against him, but it always backfires on the person performing the spell."

Angel nodded and said, "Okay. Let's head back to the hotel, and work on this together."

Back at the hotel the team poured over what little information Lilah had given them, and Wesley picked Lindsey's brain until one AM trying to find anything they missed. By the time everyone decided to call it a night, they were no closer to finding a way to kill the demon.
*******************

The next morning Lindsey woke up and realized he was still at the hotel. While he took a shower he noticed his burns were healing well and decided not to bandage them. His rear end was still a little sore, but it was better then the day before, which made it easier to put in the back of his mind.

Once he was dressed and ready he went downstairs. He found Cordelia in the kitchen sipping a cup of coffee and eating a muffin. She pointed to a little box on the counter and said, "Help yourself."

Lindsey got a cup of coffee and a muffin and sat down across from her. After a few seconds she said, "Come up with any new ideas for killing Jal?"

Lindsey shook his head. "You?"

"Nope."

Lindsey sighed in disappointment. Cordelia shrugged, "Don't worry, we'll figure it out. That's one thing you can count on Angel for. He doesn't give up, even when the situation looks hopeless."

Lindsey thought that made Angel a chump but kept that opinion to himself. After a few minutes of quiet eating Gunn arrived with a big smile and said, "Guess what was on TV last night at two in the morning?"

"Triple X girls gone wild?" Cordelia suggested.

Lindsey laughed.

Gunn frowned, "No. Terminator 2."

Cordelia waited for more and said, "Well…. That's nice."

Gunn grabbed a muffin and some coffee and said, "And as I was watching it, I was thinking about this Jal guy and how to kill him."

Lindsey said, "Lure him to a steel factory so we can try to melt him?"

"Well I guess we could try that, but I was thinking about freezing him with some liquid nitrogen and then see if he shatters. Or if he doesn't shatter, at least it should give us some time to try something else on him while he's out of commission."

Cordelia smiled, "That's a really good idea Gunn."

Gunn smiled back, "Thanks."

Lindsey thought about it for a few seconds and nodded. "Not bad. It's something the firm hasn't tried, so it's worth a shot."
**************

A few hours later Wesley and Angel had made some calls and found out that not only was there a company that made and sold liquid nitrogen right there in LA, but also that it was relatively cheap to buy as long as you were only borrowing the containers it came in. They decided to buy two ten gallon tanks, figuring if nothing went wrong they would only need one. Wesley took Gunn with him, and drove to the company. They pretended to work for a new welding company and were able to get the liquid nitrogen with no trouble.

As soon as Wesley and Gunn got back, they showed the other members of the team how the liquid nitrogen containers worked. Then they all sat down to come up with a plan of attack for getting to Jal.

Wesley started out. "According to the information we received from Wolfram and Hart, Jal is living in the sewers with a small group of Gla'ah demons. And while I don't relish the idea of lugging these huge containers of liquid nitrogen down to him, I don't see a reasonable way to get him to come to us. Any ideas?"

Cordelia said, "I forget, are the Gla'ah demons the slimy blue ones or the grayish bald ones?"

Lindsey said, "Gray bald guys, and really pretty easy to kill; all the same weaknesses as humans. Wolfram and Hart thought Jal liked to have the Gla'ah demons around him because they made him feel superior."

Gunn said, "How many Gla'ah are we looking at having to go through to get to Jal?"

Wesley looked through the paperwork Wolfram and Heart had given them and said, "Probably five to seven."

Angel said, "I suggest that I carry the liquid nitrogen, since I can carry twenty gallons without too much strain. Then once we find Jal, Wesley and Gunn take the lead killing off the Gla'ah. If any of them try to get away, Lindsey and Cordelia can take care of those. Then once we see Jal, all the rest of you get out of my way and I'll spray the liquid nitrogen on him. If he freezes, I'll try to shatter him. If that works then we'll be done. If not we'll come back here and make a new plan."

Lindsey said, "What if we could get Jal to come here to the hotel. That would be better right? Here we control the variables in the environment where as in the sewers Jal is going to have the advantage of knowing the layout better then us."

Wesley nodded. "Yes it would be better to lure him here, but I don't see…."

Lindsey interrupted, "I can get him here."

Angel sounded doubtful, "How?"

"I'll pretend to still be on Wolfram and Hart's payroll. Go to him, show him my business cards and tell him the firm has had a change of heart. Tell him they want to have a meeting with him here at the hotel."

Angel thought about it for a second seeing both pros and cons to the idea. He looked over at Wesley to see what he thought. Wesley said, "That's a good idea Lindsey, and it very well might work, but if Jal doesn't believe you, or if he's just in a bad mood he might kill you and eat you instead, and not necessarily in that order."

Lindsey said, "I'm willing to take the risk."

Wesley shook his head. "I'm not."

Lindsey looked over at Angel and said, "I seem to remember someone telling me that if I were willing to lose my life for a cause I believed in, that it would prove that I've changed. Anyway if we go with Angel's idea we'll all be risking our lives. Hell, just getting in my car to drive downtown I'm putting my life at risk."

Angel remembered telling Lindsey that if he really wanted to change he would have to be willing to die. He shook his head and said, "I'm sorry Lindsey, I was wrong before."

Wesley said, "There's always risk with what we do, but we try to be as safe as possible, and if something sounds too risky then we find another way."

Lindsey was starting to get irritated. He said, "But I'm telling you it's not too risky. Jal wants to work for the firm. He's gonna be happy about it and show up at the hotel."

Wesley shook his head. "I'm sorry Lindsey, but there is no way we're letting you go down into the sewers to meet with Jal all by yourself. You might not even make it to see him."

Lindsey yelled, "You say that like I've never been down in the sewers before; like I have no idea how to protect myself and no clear picture of reality."

Angel jumped in before Wesley could respond. "What if we put our plans together. Lindsey could take the lead in his suit and tie with Wes and Gunn following close behind as your bodyguards. I'll bring the nitrogen, but I'll stay much further back with Cordelia so that Jal won't know we're there. Then if Jal buy's your story, we can all head back to the hotel and wait for him, but if he doesn't then we have a backup plan."

Wesley nodded and said, "That's a good plan Angel."

Lindsey knew it wasn't rational of him, but it grated on his nerves that Wesley was going with Angel's plan instead of his again. He shook his head and said, "We don't know what kind of senses Jal has. He might be able to tell Angel is there even if Angel does stay pretty far away, and no offense Angel, but you have a bad reputation down in the sewers. I'm telling you guys, it would be much better, to let me go to him alone. I'll take my gun which will take care of all the Gla'ah if they attack, and you'd be amazed at how many demons respect the Wolfram and Hart business cards. I'll be fine."

Angel shook his head. "Sorry Lindsey, I agree with Wes."

Angel looked at Gunn and Cordelia and said, "Opinions?"

Gunn nodded. "Putting the plans together sounds the best to me."

Cordelia nodded in agreement also. Angel looked back at Wesley. Wesley said, "It's decided then."

Wesley turned to Lindsey and asked, "Did you bring any of your suits with you?"

Lindsey was still irritated about the whole thing, but he knew he was outnumbered so he said through clenched teeth, "I have one, I'll go put it on."

He got up and headed to his room to change. As he was leaving Cordelia looked at her watch and said, "Could we maybe do lunch first? I'm kind of hungry."

Gunn added, "Me too. Who knows how long it's gonna take to find Jal. Let's eat first."

As Lindsey was headed up the lobby steps he muttered to himself, "Way to prioritize."

Angel was the only one who could hear Lindsey's comment, and thought that Lindsey could use some time to cool down before going into the sewers. He said to Wesley, "Lunch is probably a good idea."

Cordelia called into the closest Chinese restaurant and ordered some food for everyone. Angel went into the kitchen and had some blood while Gunn went out to pick up the lunch.

Upstairs Lindsey put on his suit and his shoulder holster. He checked his gun, put it in the holster, and put his extra clip in his pants pocket. He got a couple of his business cards and checked himself in the mirror. He looked like his old self but wasn't sure if that was a good thing or not. He thought, 'My plan was better. I don't get why they're so concerned over my safety now. A few months ago Angel would have shoved me down into the sewer to fend for myself any day of the week. Irritating.'

Lindsey shook his head and went to sit down on his bed. He didn't want to go downstairs. He didn't care about lunch, what he cared about was getting this job over and done with so that he and his sister could be safe. He sat there for a while just looking out the window and thinking. About fifteen minutes later there was a knock on his door.

"Yeah?"

Angel opened his door and said, "Food's here."

"I'm not hungry."

Angel paused for a second and then said, "Okay, someone will come get you when the rest of us are done."

Lindsey gave a curt nod. Angel left and shut Lindsey's door behind him. He went down to the kitchen with everyone else and sat at the table to visit with them while they ate.

Lindsey sat and looked out the window for a few more minutes until his stomach growled. He decided maybe he could eat something and went downstairs. As he walked into the empty lobby, he was struck with a sudden thought, 'I could just go see Jal while they're eating.'

Lindsey looked over at the door that led to the kitchen, and then looked over at the door that led to the basement where he knew there was a sewer entrance. He looked back and forth a couple of times. He thought about Cordelia's visions, and he thought about what Angel had done to him yesterday after he had went off on his own instead of going with the groups plan. Then he thought about how it would feel to successfully carry out his plan and prove to the whole team that he had been right. He made his decision and walked to the basement door hoping that Cordelia wouldn't have a vision of what he was about to do.

He made it to the sewer entrance, and found he was much more nervous about being caught by the team then he was about traversing the sewers alone. Once he was in and headed towards the last known location for Jal he felt a little more relaxed, and with each step that feeling increased. It took him about twenty minutes to walk there, and along the way he ran into two vampires and a demon he didn't recognize. All three of them had let Lindsey be on his way as soon as he showed them his business card. There weren't many demons who wanted to get on the bad side of Wolfram and Hart.

He encountered the first Gla'ah demon about fifty feet from Jal's location, and was sure that Jal was still there. Lindsey smiled at the Gla'ah, showed him his business card, and said, "I'd like to meet with Jal. I'm from Wolfram and Hart, and we have a proposal for him."

The Gla'ah examined his card, grunted once, and motioned with his hand that Lindsey follow him. Lindsey followed and soon got his first look at Jal. Jal was humanoid with shiny metallic blue gray skin. He stood about six foot tall with his head and mouth being considerably larger then a human's would be. There were six Gla'ah demons in the room with him, and they basically surrounded the room leaving Jal and Lindsey in the middle to talk. Jal gave Lindsey a smile, and Lindsey got an unfortunate look at the double rows of razor sharp teeth that filled Jal's mouth. Lindsey cleared his throat once and held out a business card to Jal. "Hello Mr. Jal, my name is Lindsey McDonald, and I'm with Wolfram and Hart."

Jal took the card, looked at it, and then handed it off to one of his team. He said, "What can I do for you Mr. McDonald?"

"After having had some time to review your case, Wolfram and Hart has come to the conclusion that we might have been too hasty when you first applied for a job. We'd like to have a meeting with you to make an offer."

Jal smiled even wider and said, "Is that right?"

"Yes sir. We think you could make a valuable asset to the firm, and we would be willing to pay you quite well for your services."

Lindsey could tell that Jal was enjoying this, and had to give himself credit for his well thought out plan. Jal was about to say something when one of the Gla'ah leaned in and whispered something in Jal's ear. Jal's smile vanished. He looked at Lindsey and said, "There's a rumor going around that you no longer work for the firm. That you are the first lawyer to actually get away from the firm with your life and soul intact."

Lindsey felt himself start to sweat a little, but gave Jal a charming smile as he said, "Well let me assure you that the rumor is false."

Before Lindsey had time to react, two of the Gla'ah had grabbed his arms so he couldn't move or grab his gun. Lindsey struggled for a second, but then stopped and tried to calm himself down thinking he could talk his way out of this. He said, "Okay, let me be straight with you. Your information is half right. I did get away from the firm, but not for long. I got away for about a week, and then they targeted my family for termination and forced me to come back. Wolfram and Hart never has, and never will let an employee go after they have signed a binding contract tying their body and soul to the firm."

Jal thought about that for a few seconds, and then said, "So they sent you to offer me this position as some kind of punishment for your bad behavior?"

Lindsey shook his head and forced out a little laugh that sounded more nervous then he had wanted it to. "No. No of course not. I'm one of the best lawyers they have. They sent me, because they knew what an important job this was, and they wanted it handled correctly."

Jal cocked his head to the side. "Where and when is this meeting you told me about supposed to take place?"

Lindsey took a deep breath of relief and gave them the address to Angel's hotel and said, "Five pm tonight."

Jal held up one of his hands in front of Lindsey's face. He didn't have fingernails or claws, but each fingertip ended in a sharp point that would do the same damage as claws if used for that purpose. He took a step towards Lindsey and said in a deep growl, "Then I'll know where to send your head."

Lindsey's heart rate skyrocketed, and he found himself wishing he had brought some backup. He shook his head and said, "The firm spent a lot of time and money getting me back! They aren't gonna like it if you kill me!"

Jal smiled and said, "We'll see. Maybe next time they'll send someone more important to try and woo me."

Lindsey shook his head no, and struggled to get away from the Gla'ah that were still holding him. Jal raised his hand, and was about to gut Lindsey with one swipe of his fingertips when the door to his room was kicked open. Wesley came in first, closely followed by Gunn and Cordelia. Lindsey had never been so happy to see members of Angel's team before.

Wesley evaluated the situation quickly, took aim and shot Jal in the chest. It didn't do much besides make Jal take a few steps back because of the impact, but it distracted him from gutting Lindsey. Gunn and Cordelia each had swords and Gunn was fighting with two Gla'ah, while Cordelia was fending off another. Wesley took aim, and quickly shot the two that were holding Lindsey, and then shot Jal again to keep him at bay. But Jal was ready for it and it didn't phase him. He lifted his arm to gut Lindsey again, but Lindsey was free this time, and dropped to the floor to avoid it.

Jal yelled in frustration. He lifted his arm again, but before he could lean down and take a swipe at Lindsey's back, Wesley ran up to him distracting Jal long enough for Lindsey to roll away. Wesley was about three feet away from Jal, and shot him point blank in the middle of the face three times. He could hear the bullets ricochet off Jal and imbed themselves into the sewer walls. Wesley had expected the bullets to at least push Jal back a little bit, but they hadn't. Jal brought his arm down, and gutted Wesley with his sharp metallic fingertips.

Wesley groaned in surprise and pain and dropped his gun. He put both his hands onto his lower abdomen, but found he was losing blood and bile quickly. He dropped to the floor still holding his abdomen and passed out.

Lindsey had rolled out of the way, stood up, and pulled out his gun. He had shot the last remaining Gla'ah, and then turned around in time to see Jal gut Wesley. Lindsey yelled, "No!"

He put his gun up and shot Jal repeatedly, even though Jal just chuckled through it. When the clip was empty Lindsey heard Angel's voice behind him. "Lindsey! Gunn! Pull Wesley out of here and get him to the surface! Cordy is calling for an ambulance."

Lindsey saw Angel's form dashing past him and he saw Angel take a running leap at Jal. Angel distracted Jal long enough for Lindsey and Gunn to get Wesley out of the room, and on the way out, Lindsey saw the tank of liquid nitrogen sitting just outside the door. They carried Wesley as fast as they could following Cordelia to the nearest manhole. As they went up, they heard a hissing noise that Lindsey thought was Angel spraying the liquid nitrogen on Jal.

Once they got to the surface, Lindsey and Gunn lay Wesley down on the sidewalk, and Gunn got Wesley's shirt off to examine the wound. There were five slash marks that went all the way through the skin, muscles, and intestines. Cordelia was talking to the 911 dispatch person urging them to hurry up, and Gunn shook his head thinking it didn't look good while trying to put direct pressure on the gaping wounds. Lindsey looked down at his hands and saw they were covered in Wesley's blood. Five long minutes later the ambulance pulled up, and Cordelia hung up her cell phone.

The rescue crew got to work on Wesley, and Cordelia answered all their questions to the best of her ability. They got him in the ambulance as quickly as possible, and told them that only one of them could ride along. Cordelia volunteered, and got into the ambulance with Wesley. Gunn and Lindsey stood there watching it go for a few seconds. Then they both heard Angel's voice from down in the sewer call up to them, "Anyone up there?"

Gunn and Lindsey both climbed back down into the sewer and out of the sun. Angel said, "Wes?"

Gunn shook his head. "Doesn't look good, but they're taking him to the hospital, and Cordy's with him."

Angel gave a short unhappy nod and said, "The liquid nitrogen worked. Jal shattered into a million little pieces. I want you both to help me gather up enough of the pieces to give Wolfram and Hart as proof of his death."

Gunn, Lindsey, and Angel worked for the next ten minutes to gather up pieces of Jal, which was somewhat difficult since the pieces were still too cold to actually touch with their hands. Once they had filled a small metal container that Angel had found with pieces of Jal, Angel handed it to Gunn and said, "Let's go."

Angel picked up Wesley's gun and Lindsey's gun, put both in his jacket pocket, and then picked up the half full container of liquid nitrogen to take it back to the hotel. Lindsey looked around trying to see if there was something he could do to help, but didn't find anything. Angel looked at Lindsey with a mixture of anger and disappointment, and jerked his head in the direction of the hotel telling Lindsey without actually saying anything that he'd better get moving. Lindsey took the hint and followed Gunn back to the hotel with Angel following a few steps behind the whole way.

Once they got back to the hotel Gunn put the metal container on the lobby's counter and said, "I'm gonna get cleaned up and go to the hospital."

Angel said, "Call me with an update, and I'll be there as soon as I can."

Gunn nodded and headed upstairs. Angel looked at Lindsey and said, "You go get cleaned up as well. I'm gonna call Lilah, and arrange for her to meet us here as soon as possible with a contract."

Lindsey nodded and headed upstairs to shower and change, but half way up the stairs he turned and said, "How did you know I was gone?"

Angel said, "Cordelia knew you felt bad about us not using your idea, so she made you a plate of food and took it to you so that you wouldn't go hungry just because you were pouting. Imagine her surprise when you weren't even in your room."

Lindsey didn't like Angel's use of the word 'pouting', but was feeling too guilty about everything to mention it. He just nodded once and went upstairs. He went to his room and saw the full plate of Chinese food sitting on his dresser. He shut the door behind him and leaned against it for a few seconds closing his eyes. Images of Jal gutting Wesley popped into his head until he opened them again. He gathered up the clothes he was wearing before he put on his suit, and took them into the bathroom to take a shower.

He stayed in the shower a long time, not wanting to face anyone including himself, and not wanting to hear that Wesley had died before arriving at the hospital. Eventually he got out and got dressed. He refused to look at himself in the mirror and went downstairs to find Angel.

Angel, Lilah, and two of Lilah's flunkies were all in the lobby obviously waiting for Lindsey. Lindsey walked over to them and Lilah gave him a big smile as she handed him a contract. She said, "The firm wants to thank you for taking care of that little problem for us Lindsey. Looks like you and your family are free and clear."

He took the contract and spent the next twenty minutes reading and rereading every paragraph to make sure there were no loopholes. It basically stated that Wolfram and Hart would never target Lindsey or Lindsey's blood relatives again, as long as Lindsey didn't use or divulge any information he had of Wolfram and Hart. It also stated that upon his death, Lindsey would return to the firm to serve them for another hundred years before his contract would officially expire, but Lindsey had been expecting that, and would cross that bridge when he came to it. Lindsey signed and dated it, and handed it to Lilah. She signed as well along with one of her flunkies and Angel as witnesses. She held out her hand to shake with Lindsey but he held his hand up and said, "Evil, remember. Better not test your luck."

Lilah obviously didn't believe that but put her hand down anyway and said, "It's been a pleasure doing business with you."

He gave her an honest, "The feeling isn't mutual."

She smiled and as she was walking out she said, "See you next time Angel."

He ignored her. Once the Wolfram and Hart people were gone Lindsey said, "Did you hear from Gunn or Cordelia?"

Angel said, "Wes is still in surgery."

Lindsey nodded and the hotel was silent for a few seconds.

Angel was worried about Wesley, and wanted to be at the hospital to get all information first hand. He said, "There's a sewer entrance that's close to the hospital. Let's go."

Lindsey wasn't sure if he wanted to go to the hospital or not. He didn't think he could stand it if he had to hear the news that Wesley hadn't made it through surgery. But Lindsey could tell Angel was expecting him to follow so he did. They walked through the sewers, and once they got to the correct manhole, Angel said, "You go up first, and then I'll come up covered with my coat. You put the manhole lid back on while I make a dash for the hospital."

Lindsey nodded, and climbed out. He watched Angel make a dash for the hospital, and then put the lid back over the manhole. Lindsey looked over at Angel who was waiting for him just inside the lobby doors. Lindsey looked out at the street, and knew he could just leave. Everything was tied up with Wolfram and Hart, and he could safely go back to his family. He doubted Angel would look for revenge even if Wesley did die, since it had been Wesley's call to go after him. But Lindsey found that he couldn't just take off. He had to know for himself if Wesley was okay or not, even if it meant facing the truth if he died.

Lindsey walked to Angel, and they soon found Gunn and Cordelia. There was no update yet, so they all sat around waiting in silence. A few hours later a surgeon came over and said, "Cordelia Chase?"

She stood up and said, "Yes."

"You came in with a Wesley Wyndham-Pryce?"

"That's right."

The doctor said, "The good news is he made it through the surgery. The bad news is he lost a lot of blood before we got to him, and because his intestines were cut the bile from them is almost sure to cause infection. He's in the ICU now, and if he makes it through the next forty-eight hours, he should have a full recovery. He's still asleep from the anesthetic at this time."

"Thank you. May we see him?"

The doctor looked around at the group and said, "Only two of you may visit at a time, and only for twenty minutes total right now. Then there will be another twenty minute interval at five PM, and one more at eight PM. After that you will have to wait until ten in the morning to visit again. But two of you are welcome to stay in our ICU visitor's lounge all night long if you like. Our doctors or nurses will tell you if there is any change in Mr. Wyndham-Pryce's status."

Cordelia nodded in understanding and said, "Thank you." again.

Angel looked around at his friends and said, "Go ahead Cordy, and you too Gunn. Lindsey and I will go in at five."

Cordelia and Gunn went to visit Wesley, and Cordelia held his hand and talked to him even though he stayed asleep through their entire visit. Lindsey and Angel sat in the visitor's lounge and waited. When Cordelia and Gunn came back Cordelia said, "He looks the same, but kind of pale. He didn't wake up."

Gunn said, "Didn't stop Cordy from having an entire conversation though."

Cordelia pretended to be offended, "Hey, at least with me there he knew someone was in the room. You might as well have been a lamp for all the talking you did."

There were a few minutes of silence, and then Cordelia said, "I don't know about the rest of you, but I'm starving. We never did eat our lunch."

Gunn shrugged and said, "I could eat."

Angel said, "Let's all go to the cafeteria."

The four of them went and got some food, which none of them actually ate much of. At five PM Angel and Lindsey went in to see Wesley. Angel went to Wesley's bedside and held his hand as he said, "Hey Wes, can you hear me?"

Lindsey stood near the entrance and felt the guilt and shame bombard him. Wesley stirred and opened his eyes. Angel smiled at him and said, "Hey there, you're awake."

Wesley looked around confused for a few seconds, and then as the memories apparently came back to him, he looked back at Angel and asked with a rough voice, "Did it work?"

Angel nodded, "Jal shattered, and Lindsey has signed the contract. He and his family are free and clear."

Wesley smiled and looked over at Lindsey as he said, "That's good."

Lindsey felt a hundred times worse, and walked over to the other side of Wesley's bed. He said, "Wesley…. You…. I…. Jal would have gutted me, and I would be lying in that bed instead of you if you hadn't stepped in. You were willing to die for me."

Wesley smiled a little and shook his head. "I believed the bullets would push him back, and I thought it was an acceptable risk. I didn't jump in there expecting this to happen."

Lindsey looked down and found he couldn't shut himself up, even if Angel was in the room and he was admitting way too much in front of him. "But you believed in me this whole time, and then I let you all down by going after Jal on my own. And even after that, you still came to save me. I….. I just wanted to say I'm…… I'm sorry you got hurt, and I'm grateful that you helped me."

Angel and Wesley could both tell that Lindsey had a hard time spitting that out, but they also could tell he was being completely honest. And as Angel watched Lindsey he could really see for the first time what Wesley had seen all along. That Lindsey really did have a conscience, and he really did feel guilty about the things he had done. Wesley put a hand over one of Lindsey's hands that was resting on the bed and said, "It's alright Lindsey. I forgive you, and I'm truly happy that things worked out for you."

Lindsey couldn't stand Wesley being nice to him after all that had happened. He felt his chest tightening and said, "I… I…. Excuse me."

Lindsey rushed out of the room and found the nearest bathroom so he could pull himself together.

Angel squeezed Wesley's hand and said, "Cordy and Gunn were here visiting with you a few hours ago, but you weren't awake. They'll come by again at the next visiting time, which is at eight o'clock. I hope that you'll be in a regular room by tomorrow, and then we can all come to see you."

Wesley said in all seriousness, "How bad is it?"

Angel couldn't lie and said, "The doc said the next 48 hours are critical, but if you make it through that without getting worse from infection, then you're home free."

Wesley nodded. There were a few minutes of silence and then Wesley said, "If I don't make it, there is an envelope in the top drawer of my desk at home with my will and all the pertinent information."

Angel nodded and said, "I doubt I'll need it, but I'll make sure the information gets to the right people if we need it to."

Wesley nodded in relief and said, "I'm tired."

"Did you want me to call your parents?"

Wesley shook his head, "No. No reason to bother them right now."

Angel squeezed his hand one more time and said, "Rest friend. I'll see you tomorrow."

Wesley fell asleep again as Angel walked out. He found Lindsey sitting in the visitor's lobby with Gunn and Cordelia. Angel filled them in on what had happened, and then said, "Lindsey and I are going back to the hotel for the night. If the two of you could stay here and visit him at eight, that would be really nice. Then we can all come back and see him at ten."

Cordelia and Gunn both nodded, and Angel looked down and Lindsey and said, "Come on."

Lindsey got up and followed Angel on autopilot. The sun had just set as they left the building, so they walked on the streets to get back to the hotel. As they were walking Angel spent his time thinking about Lindsey and what he had done, and especially what the Host had said to him about seeing it through to the end if he wanted to make a difference. Between Cordelia's vision, the Host's advice, and Lindsey's obvious guilt, Angel knew what he should do when they got back to the hotel. He didn't even feel that bad about it because he had been filled with guilt more then once himself, and because he knew that Wesley might not have gotten hurt if Lindsey had stuck with the team's plan.

As soon as they got past the hotel's front doors, Angel grabbed Lindsey's upper arm and pulled him towards the office. Lindsey was a little startled and said, "What's going on?"

Angel noticed that Lindsey didn't fight him as he pulled him towards the office and said, "It's time to pay for what you did."

Lindsey shook his head and did start to fight back, but not to the same extreme as last time. Angel took him into the office, sat down on the small black leather couch, and pulled Lindsey down over his lap. Lindsey struggled to get up and said, "No fucking way! Not like this! No one is telling you to do this!"

Angel had no trouble keeping Lindsey in place and started swatting the upturned bottom in front of him. Lindsey yelled, "NO!" a few times, but Angel ignored him.

Once Lindsey's protests and struggles had died down, Angel stopped and said, "Actually Lindsey I think the person who is telling me to do this the most is you."

Lindsey shook his head and said, "Screw you! I never said anything of the kind!"

Angel reached down under Lindsey and made quick work of undoing the jeans he was wearing, and pushed them down to Lindsey's knees. Lindsey started yelling obscenities mixed with multiple 'no's, but it didn't do him any good.

Angel started swatting Lindsey over his boxers, and as he swatted he lectured. "You knew what the plan was before you left, and you knew the plan we had all come up with together was a safer and better thought out plan then yours was. But instead of being a part of the team, you decided to go off on your own again, and in doing so almost got yourself killed again. Is any of this ringing a bell for you Lindsey?"

Lindsey kept struggling to get free, but his mouth betrayed him and he found himself saying, "I'm sorry."

Angel nodded, knowing Lindsey was already sorry before the whole thing started. Angel stopped swinging long enough to take Lindsey's boxers down as well, and then started back up. Lindsey had been close to tears since the incident with Wesley, and this on top of it was too much for him. He found himself crying quietly. Angel smelled the tears but kept spanking. A minute later Lindsey's crying was less quiet and Angel stopped spanking long enough to take his belt off. He doubled it over and held the buckle in his hand. He said, "If you had gone down there with the rest of the team like we had originally planned, all of us would have been safer, and Wesley most likely wouldn't have gotten hurt. Now I know it wasn't your intention to get anyone on the team hurt, but that doesn't change the fact that what you did caused him to get hurt."

Lindsey couldn't stand the stab of guilt that statement caused and nodded his head while crying. Angel brought the belt down ten times covering every inch of Lindsey's ass with angry red lines on top of the already dark pink skin. Lindsey yelled out with each swat, and his body fought involuntarily to get away from the pain. Then Angel brought the belt down four more times even harder, which he knew would leave some welts and bruising. Lindsey's body struggled for a few seconds after the spanking was over, but then he lay still and cried.

Once Angel was done he set the belt on the couch, and waited for Lindsey to calm down enough to talk. While he was waiting, Angel kept a hand on Lindsey's back to hold him in place. It took a while, but once the hard sobs died down into soft crying Angel said, "Tell me why I spanked you Lindsey."

Lindsey wiped at his face repeatedly and eventually was able to stutter out, "Because I went to confront Jal alone, and Wesley got hurt because of it."

Angel patted him on the back for the correct answer and said, "That's right. What should you have done instead?"

"Waited for the rest of the team. Stuck with the plan."

"Right again." Angel pulled up the boxers and then helped Lindsey stand up.

Lindsey quickly got his jeans back in place and tried to stop his crying without much luck. Lindsey turned to leave, but Angel stood and grabbed Lindsey's arm again. Lindsey turned back around and took a quick look at Angel to judge his mood before looking back down at the floor again.

Angel said, "We're not done talking yet. What do you think I was trying to accomplish by spanking you?"

There was a pause while Lindsey thought. "Revenge for getting Wesley hurt?"

"No, Wes would be livid if I tried to get revenge for him after he had already forgiven you. Try again."

Lindsey sounded pretty desperate as he said, "Can't you just tell me, and then let me be alone?"

Angel took pity on him and pulled him into a quick hug. "I'm trying to help you stay on the right path and become a better person. And I was also helping you get rid of some of the guilt you obviously feel for what happened to Wes."

Angel let go of Lindsey, but kept a hand on his shoulder. Lindsey had been too shocked to do much besides stand there as Angel hugged him. Angel patted Lindsey's shoulder once before letting his hand drop to his side and said, "Why don't you go get some sleep. We'll both go see Wes tomorrow morning."

Lindsey gave a slight nod, and then walked with a stiff gait out of the office and up to his room. Once he got there he immediately took off his pants and boxers which were irritating his sore skin, and lay face down on his bed. He spent the next couple of hours thinking about everything that had happened, reaching back every once in a while to try and rub out some of the pain without success. By the time he fell asleep he had decided that no matter how much he might hate it, he did believe Angel was trying to help him. And no matter how much he might resent it, he also believed it had worked.
*************

The next morning Lindsey woke up stiff and sore all over. He groaned and forced himself to get up. He took some pain medications and checked his ass in the mirror. He groaned again thinking that it was gonna hurt for days, and got in the shower to let the hot water try and relieve some of the tension in his shoulders. He eventually got dressed and went downstairs.

He found Angel, Cordelia and Gunn all sitting together at the kitchen table. Angel had an empty glass in front of him with some residual blood in it. Someone had brought some breakfast burritos, and Gunn had an empty wrapper in front of him while Cordelia had half a burrito in front of her that she was picking at. When Gunn saw Lindsey, he picked up the last one and held it out to him. Lindsey took it and muttered, "Thanks."

He stood looking at one of the empty chairs for a second, and then opened his burrito while standing and ate some of it. Angel looked at his watch and said, "You two should head over. Lindsey and I will be there as soon as we can."

Gunn and Cordelia left, and Lindsey and Angel regarded each other for a few seconds. Angel said, "How are you feeling this morning?"

"Like shit thanks."

Angel couldn't help but smile slightly at that. He stood up and said, "Come with me."

Lindsey kept eating his burrito and followed Angel. Angel went to the front counter and dug something out from behind the counter. He handed it to Lindsey. Lindsey looked at it and said, "An airplane ticket?"

"It's a one way ticket back to Tennessee. Your flight leaves tonight. Go pack your stuff, and we'll take it with us to the hospital. Then after we visit with Wes, Gunn will drive you to the airport."

Lindsey hadn't really been thinking that far ahead, but found he was happy and excited to go home and see his siblings. He said sincerely, "Thanks."

"You're welcome."

Lindsey headed to his room to pack his stuff. He hadn't brought much, and it all fit in one duffel bag. He took it back downstairs with him, and found himself smiling while thinking about spending time with his family, and getting out from under Angel's thumb.

At the hospital they found out that Wesley was recovering very well, and would soon be moved out of the ICU. Cordelia and Gunn visited him at ten, and then Angel and Lindsey were allowed to visit him at noon. Lindsey was relieved to see Wesley looked better, and was awake for the whole visit. Lindsey turned bright red when Angel told Wesley what he had done to Lindsey the night before, and that he had given him an airplane ticket for that night.

Wesley seemed to take it in stride and just wished Lindsey well and told him if he was ever back in LA to look them up. Lindsey couldn't do much besides nod and wish Wesley a speedy recovery. As they were walking back to the lounge Angel said, "If you have any more trouble with Wolfram and Hart, give us a call and we'll help. And if you decide to come back to LA, there's always an open position at Angel Investigations for you."

Lindsey looked over at Angel with surprise and said, "Really?"

Angel nodded. "Yeah."

Lindsey didn't know what to say. Once they got back to the lounge Angel said, "Hey Gunn, can you drive Lindsey to the airport?"

"Sure."

Gunn drove Lindsey to the airport, and dropped him off. As Lindsey got out of the truck Gunn said, "Good luck with your family, and your new life."

"Thanks."

Lindsey walked into the airport with a smile on his face, and thought about reuniting with his family and starting a new life.


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