Author's Note: This can stand alone, but it will make more sense if you read "Being Found" and "Being Taught" first. Verse/Setting: Continuation of my "Being" verse which occurs Post-Angel the TV series.
Disclaimer: I don't own anything from Angel and am not making money from this fic.
Warning(s): AU; discipline of adults; violence

Being Accepted

"Swaying to the band
Moving like a hammer
She's a miracle man"
- The Look by Roxette

The pretty brunette bounced to the heavy beat of the drum, keeping a fraction of an inch between herself and the men in front of and behind her. It was a game to see how close they could get to rubbing up against each other without actually making physical contact. The man watching her smirked. Yeah, she looked like a wildcat and he was going to be the one to tame her. Too bad his method of taming would end up with her drained in a back alley. He'd enjoy it though.

When she finally pulled away from her two admirers he watched as she headed to the bar to get herself a drink. Putting on his most charming smile, he sidled over to her, leaning slightly into her space, but not overcrowding her. He wanted her interest, not her ire. She surprised him when she turned and leaned into his space, giving him a saucy grin and nearly purred.

"Wanna go outside for a little while?" She eyed him through half lowered lids and he couldn't believe his luck.

"I thought you'd never ask," he answered huskily, doing his best to not look too much like a predator. He took her arm and led her through the crowd toward a back door.

No one noticed when the girl returned to the club 10 minutes later, looking out of breath and flushed. Just as no one noticed the dust in the back alley get swept up by a gust of wind and blown out into the street. Such was nightlife in L.A.

# # #

Angel and Spike were sitting in their booth, with Lorne, watching as Lindsey performed to a rather full house. There was no denying the kid's talent. While Angel was grateful that the younger man was firmly in his life now, he couldn't help but wonder what the boy's life would have been like if he'd gone into music as a career instead of the law. With Lindsey's luck, he would have found some way to sell his soul to the devil for a golden fiddle or some such rot. Angel smirked before turning to look at Lorne.

"So, what's the news? Anything happening that we should be aware of?" He was asking just to have something to say- things had been quiet the last two months. The first month, Spike and Lindsey had been grounded, and he'd made a special effort NOT to take any jobs that he'd need them to help with. They'd been cross about that, but it did reinforce the punishment. This last month, things had just been quiet for some reason. It made Angel nervous. When things got this quiet, something big was usually getting ready to rear its ugly head.

"Actually," Lorne looked at Angel and frowned, "I have heard some rumors. Something is apparently going around killing off vampires and demons- which isn't that bad, except that the vampires and demons being taken out are children or minions of some rather dangerous powerhouses in the underworld."

Angel raised an eyebrow at that. Taking out the bad guys was a good idea. Deliberately targeting various nefarious individuals was not so good. There was a delicate balance between fighting the good fight and starting Armageddon. He knew that from experience.

"Yeah," Lorne continued. "They haven't figured out who is doing it…yet. But you can bet they'll be painting a target on whoever it is as soon as they figure it out. Hopefully, L.A. won't blow up in the meantime." Lorne grimaced, then turned back to continue watching Lindsey sing.

"Hopefully," Angel repeated quietly, frowning as he thought about what Lorne had heard. Perhaps it was time for a little investigating; see if they couldn't figure out what was behind the killings before the various targets did, and reign in the one doing the killing. It might be a slayer- and it'd be a shame to lose one of the girls because she was overzealous and made a lot of unnecessary enemies. If it was another big bad trying to claim turf- well, he'd rather have the evil that he was used to than some new and unknown evil.

# # #

Lindsey had finished his final number and left the stage, heading over to where Albert stood. Albert handed him a drink, then nodded his head toward a dark corner of the bar. "Girl over there wanted a chance to meet you. I said I'd relay the message." Albert grinned as Lindsey blinked, his eyes widening.

"She wanted to meet me?" he glanced toward the corner, subconsciously straightening his back and shoulders and sucking in his gut.

Albert chuckled. "That's what she said."

"Well ok then," Lindsey smiled brightly and turned to head in that direction when he noticed Angel, Spike, and Lorne all heading toward him in an intercept course. He sighed. "Or not," he muttered, then glanced at Albert.

He quickly wrote his number down on a piece of paper and gave it to the bartender. "If you don't mind, buddy- hand her that and tell her to call me if she's serious. I have a feeling business calls, so can't take her up on her offer right now." He smiled his thanks, then turned and walked to meet his team.

"We've got some research to do, squirt!" Spike grinned at Lindsey's grimace at the name. It was so much fun to wind the kid up.

"Research on what?" Lindsey looked between the three men. "Did something happen in the time I was on stage?"

"Well, see…that's the million dollar question, kid." Angel answered. "There's apparently someone going around killing vampires and demons that have friends in high places. If it was just one group that was being targeted, we might be able to assume it was a vendetta. But the targets are from many different families or organizations. It's starting to get the natives restless- which could cause problems down the road. I'd rather find out what I can now and prepare for the fallout."

Lindsey blinked. "Huh. Ok." He went back to the bar and grabbed his guitar and jacket, before walking back to the three men. "It'd be a hell-of-a-lot easier if we had an idea where to start the research…"

"Language!" Angel admonished, even as he nodded his head in agreement.

Spike and Lorne both snorted.

# # #

"Well, if that ain't a big surprise…" Faith muttered to herself as she watched the singer be intercepted by Angel, Spike, and Lorne. "I didn't think they were on friendly terms…."

Lindsey had been lucky, she decided. She'd sensed some supernatural elements vibing off of him and assumed that he'd been turned at some point. If not turned, then ghouled or some other creepy thing that would make him less than human. After all the trouble he'd caused for Angel in the past, she'd figured she would take him out back for a little payback in the form of a quick dusting, or at the least beating him out of town. She'd figured that until she'd seen him interact with the other three men; he was obviously on good terms with them now- and they seemed very fond of him. Shrugging, she waited until the four men had left the bar before walking up to the bartender.

"I guess he wasn't interested…" she made her voice sound disappointed.

"Oh, he was," the bartender answered before reaching into his pocket and pulling out a piece of paper and handing it to her. "He wasn't able to stay long enough to head over there though. He asked me to give you this."

She smiled her thanks and took the paper from him, glancing at it. It was a phone number. She smiled. That might prove useful.

# # #

Five days later and Angel was no closer to finding out who was behind the multiple deaths of the underworlds main players. If it weren't for the fact that it was causing upheaval in the supernatural elements, he wouldn't have cared, but things were becoming more unsettled the longer it went on. If he didn't find a way to put a leash on whoever was causing the problems, there would be a war in L.A. No one wanted that.

Lindsey, bless him, had used every available resource at his disposal- including some that he'd had in Wolfram and Hart. He'd been a bit surprised to still have access through them, though he hadn't said anything to Angel about it. Angel didn't push the matter, figuring the kid would come to him when he was ready to talk.

Spike had gone to ground to try and get more information from the trenches so to speak. The only thing he found out was that there was apparently a girl involved- as every one of the scum who'd been dusted or killed had left wherever they were in the company of a girl. It looked like it might be a slayer after all.

Angel sighed and turned his chair so that he could look out the window at the setting sun. One of the benefits of having bought the newer mansion is that he'd been able to have it fitted with special glass that allowed the brightness of the sun in without letting in any of its damaging rays. He closed his eyes in meditation. They'd find something soon- he felt it. He just hoped it was soon enough to stave off the trouble that he felt brewing.

# # #

Faith, grimaced at the taste of blood in her mouth as she ran through the maze of warehouses, attempting to make her way to an exit. She'd definitely underestimated this particular target. She should have stuck with her usual M.O. of meeting, greeting, and dusting at the clubs. Instead she'd decided to follow her target "home" and see if he scared up anything else she could fight. Now she was running for her life. Of course, even if she reached the exit, she still needed to get far enough away from this place that they couldn't drag her back. Considering the fact that she didn't have a car- she'd somehow managed to hitch a ride on his car without him noticing- the chances of her being able to get away and NOT drug back were very slim.

Unless… furtively, Faith searched in her pockets until she found the phone number that Lindsey McDonald had left for her nearly a week before. If he was friends with Angel, maybe…just maybe…he'd be able and willing to help pull her bacon out of the fire. Hiding herself in a darkened corner, she quickly made the call.

"Hello?" she whispered. "Lindsey McDonald?"

"I don't know if you remember me…you left your phone number for me at that bar you performed at the other night…" she glanced around herself nervously. "Look, I'm in a bit of trouble…"

# # #

"I have suffered for my anger
There are wars that can't be won."
Keep the Faith by Bon Jovi

"ANGEL!" Lindsey came skidding around the corner, nimbly keeping his balance, then righted himself and continued till he stood in front of Angel's desk. "Angel, we have to go get her now! She's in trouble!"

Angel stared at the younger man in confusion. "Get who? WHO'S in trouble?" He was positive he'd just seen Illyria watching an old movie in the company of Spike. She was the only female he knew of that might possibly get into trouble- but if she was in trouble, chances are the rest of them would be neck deep in it right along with her.

"Faith!" Lindsey shouted over his shoulder, already at the locker where Angel kept his weapons and pulling out a deadly sharp sword. When Faith had called it hadn't taken him long to recognize her voice; she'd kept the connection long enough to give him an address and explain the situation. He'd always admired the girl, and knew that Angel cared about her. He carefully sheathed the sword and turned toward Angel to see if he was following.

Angel was standing behind the desk, a flummoxed look on his face. He was poised halfway between running to get his own weapon and sitting down again to question his ward. Lindsey bit his lip before pleading. "I'm sure it is her; I recognized her voice…she says she's at a warehouse and there are too many vamps and demons for her to fight all of them and survive…she's trying to get out and away, but it's out in the middle of nowhere and she doesn't have a car and…" he swallowed as Angel quickly nodded and moved to get his own weapon.

"Don't worry. We'll get her out," He clasped Lindsey's shoulder briefly, then smiled and headed out the door. "You gather up Spike and Illyria- I'll get the car," he called over his shoulder.

# # #

Twenty minutes later they were at the warehouse, glancing around it nervously. "She said she'd be at the north side, if she made it out…." Lindsey whispered uncertainly.

"Well, then that is where we will head," Angel answered, slowly driving the car to that end of the building. It didn't take long before a small blur, burst out of the building- at least 7 demons and several vampires following it.

"We're up!" Spike clapped his hands, then jumped out of the car and ran to the fray. Lindsey was already ahead of him by several feet. Illyria looked at Angel, then shrugged and got out of the car heading to the door of the building to close and block the exit. No sense in letting more opponents out. Angel shook his head, then got out and went to join the fight.

It didn't take long for the five of them to decimate the minions who had made it out of the warehouse before Illyria blocked their exit. Seeing that there was no one left in the immediate vicinity to fight, and worried that the reinforcements would be coming around the corner at any minute, Angel quickly grabbed one of Lindsey's and Faith's arms rushing them to the car; Spike and Illyria fast on their heels. As they peeled out of the parking lot and headed away from the warehouse to go home, the supernatural forces Faith had been antagonizing poured out of the building. Angel grimaced. They'd made it out just in time.

# # #

They had made two short stops- one to drop Illyria off at home and one short stop at the run-down motel Faith was staying in so that Spike could pick up her possessions and then ride her bike back to the mansion. Faith had argued the point for five minutes, claiming that she didn't need to go home with them, but Angel hadn't relented and she'd finally given it up as a lost cause. It wasn't like she was all that attached to the motel room, anyway, and if it made Angel feel better- then she'd stay with team Angel for a bit.

When they'd first arrived at the mansion, Faith had been wide-eyed at how big it was. "It's just you that lives here?" she asked, her mouth hanging open.

"Well, me, Spike, and Lindsey…" Angel shrugged. He led her into the house, taking her bag from Spike. "You're room will be across from Lindsey's and next to mine. Spike's room is across from mine and next to Lindsey's…" he clamped his mouth shut before he could start rambling. He wanted to give her a little time to settle in before he brought up her actions of the last couple of weeks.

Opening the door to her room, he placed her bag on the bed. "You're welcome to redecorate if you want."

Faith grinned. "Angel, thanks man…I only expected you to help pull my butt out of the line of fire- not give me a place to live…I'm not even sure how long I plan to stay…" she stopped, noticing the slightly hurt look in his eyes, although he didn't say anything. "But I'm sure I'll appreciate having this lovely room for the time I AM here. It's so much better than that dump I was at." She grinned at him, but he still had a saddened look on his face.

"Why don't you clean up, get into something comfortable- then come on down to the kitchen. We can get everyone something to eat and then we need to talk." Angel's serious tone worried her somewhat, but she shrugged in acceptance. "Sure thing, big guy."

She waited until he had left and gone into his own room, before grabbing her toiletries and a clean set of clothing and heading for the shower.

# # #

Fifteen minutes later, she was squeaky clean and heading down toward the kitchen. Spike was sitting at the table and Angel was leaning against the bar- both of them drinking a cup of coffee.

"Lindsey should be down in about 10 minutes, he said he needed to rinse off…" Faith went to a cabinet and pulled out a mug for her own coffee. She was fairly certain Angel wouldn't mind her making herself at home.

"That's fine. I ordered pizza for dinner. I hope that's ok?" Angel watched her closely.

It was a bit disconcerting, the way he was looking at her. Finally, not liking that she felt the need to squirm under his gaze, she pouted at him. "What???"

"Oh, sorry," he smiled sheepishly. "I was trying to make sure you didn't have any wounds that needed taken care of. You don't do you?" She blinked and shook her head no. It had been a long time since anyone had actively cared about her- most everyone else assumed that as the next eldest slayer she would handle her own wounds and didn't bother checking on her. She smiled crookedly, a warm happy feeling spreading through her body.

She glanced over as Lindsey walked in, holding his shirt in one hand and holding bandages and other medical items in the other. He grinned at her sheepishly and then looked at Angel. "One of 'em got me and I can't reach to fix it…" he shrugged, turning a bit pink in embarrassment. Angel just raised one eyebrow, before tugging the younger man closer and turning him around so he could look at the wound.

"It's not too deep. You won't need stitches." Angel gently cleaned the wound with antiseptic, ignoring the hiss Lindsey let out from the sting. He then carefully put on anti-bacterial medicine and bandaged the spot. "Keep an eye on it, just in case. A few of those demons have poison on their talons and if you aren't sure which one clawed you…"

Lindsey nodded at the directive before shrugging into his t-shirt and going to get himself a mug of coffee. He sat down next to Faith. The four of them relaxed and got reacquainted while waiting for the pizza to arrive. Once the food had arrived, they were too busy filling their belly's to do much talking.

# # #

They all chipped in to clean up the mess- Faith easily fitting into their routine. She and Lindsey seemed to hit it off very well- once she got over the fact that 'evil lawyer boy' was actually working with the white hats. She and Spike had apparently become friendly before Sunnydale's collapse. She was a bit irritated that the blond hadn't tried to contact her once he become corporeal again, but she could understand why he hadn't.

Angel was hopeful that what he had to say would be accepted by her- she seemed to be relating to him in the same way she had before she had taken off the last time they'd seen her. He'd rescued her from falling into the abyss- he could relate to her in a way not many other people (with the exception of Spike and Lindsey) could. If she agreed to his demand, he'd have his "daughter" back. With that in mind, he cleared his throat to get the others' attention.

He waited for the all to sit down around the table before beginning to speak.

"I think you should move in with us permanently, Faith." He didn't even try and ease her into the conversation, feeling that the direct approach would work best.

Faith blinked owlishly, then grinned crookedly. "I dunno, Angel. I've not settled in one place since…well…never." She shrugged, then bit her lip.

"That's because you never really had a home to settle in." Angel remarked. It wasn't a question. He knew Faith's history, and he knew what he said was true. "You and I have history Faith, we're family…and you have a home now- if you are willing."

Angel smiled. "I don't expect an answer immediately, and you need to be aware of a few things before you agree- but I don't think you'd regret it, if you gave us a chance."

Faith glanced at Spike and Lindsey to see what their reaction to Angel's words, was. They didn't seem surprised and in fact looked like they approved of his offer. She swallowed. "What things do I need to know? If I was actually considering…" she asked hesitantly.

She was surprised when Angel looked at Lindsey and nodded his head slightly. Lindsey answered for him.
"Angel has four rules that all us young-uns are expected to follow." Lindsey drawled out. "Don't lie ta Angel; Take care of our health; Obey Angel when he gives a direct order; no deliberately putting ourselves in unnecessary danger." He blushed slightly. "and I ain't tellin her the consequences…."

Faith blinked, then looked at Angel who was looking at Lindsey with exasperated fondness. "Those are the rules," Angel looked back at Faith. "Each rule has its own consequence, but I won't bother you with those unless your decision is to stay with us. I hope you do stay Faith. I think it would do you good- and I know we would do well having you stay."

Faith nodded slowly. "I…I'll think about it tonight. I can let you know tomorrow morning?" she asked hesitantly.

Angel smiled. "Take as long as you need sweetheart…." He looked at his watch. "It's getting late and we've all had a very busy night. I suggest we all head to bed now before the sun comes up again."

It didn't take long for the kitchen to empty out, its occupants quickly heading for their beds and welcome sleep.

# # #

"And if I fail what happens then,
Can I still count on you as a friend."
Live to Rise by Soundgarden

Faith didn't fall asleep for at least an hour after heading to bed, considering Angel's offer to live with him and the others. She hadn't been expecting such an offer; she hadn't been expecting much at all really. She had come to L.A. following the same nameless urge she had been following for the last several years since Sunnydale's collapse and the demise of her relationship with Robin.

To be honest, that urge had contributed greatly to the demise of her relationship with Robin. He hadn't understood why she insisted on flitting from place to place instead of picking one of the more dangerous areas of the world and settling in to fight evil. While he'd always felt as if he was leaving unfinished business if they moved on to other locations, she'd always felt like she was missing something bigger and more important if they didn't move on. She'd felt that way until reaching L.A., that is.

The unending itch that had been urging her ever onward eased somewhat after she'd ridden into the city proper. She'd decided to stick around a little while longer than she usually did to see if perhaps it eased completely. It hadn't; not until the night she'd discovered Angel and the rest of his team at that club. So there was her answer; apparently the Powers- That-Lived-To-Be-A-Pain-In-Her-Ass wanted her to be in L.A. and somehow working with Angel.

Even so, she hadn't considered actually living with the vampire. She was surprised at how right the idea felt. Even with those silly rules that Lindsey had conveyed to her, the idea of not living alone held more appeal to her than she would have expected, considering she'd pretty much been alone her entire life.
Of course, she did need to consider those rules. Lindsey had indicated that there would be consequences for not following the rules, and while she doubted seriously if Angel would actually do anything to her if she broke one, she at least needed to know what was being threatened; there was no sense moving in, if she'd be kicked out the minute she misbehaved.

Not that she'd really need to worry about if she broke a rule or not. Keeping care of her health was only common sense after all. Obeying a direct order from Angel shouldn't be too difficult. He was the leader of the team and she knew that he would expect to have the final word in what was done. If she didn't agree with something he'd ordered, she figured she'd be able to change his mind about it. Lying really wasn't her thing. She preferred to be up-front-and-in-your-face with her rebelliousness. The only one where she might have a problem was putting herself into unnecessary danger. She was the freakin' slayer! Any danger she ended up in would be necessary! At least that's how she saw it. If Angel didn't view it the same way, maybe lying would become an issue.

She frowned slightly. Did she want to put herself in the ranks of a follower? Yeah, the living space was awesome, and the company was surprisingly welcome; but did she really want to tie herself to other people in such a way? She thought about where she could go if she decided against taking Angel up on his offer and was surprised by how sad she suddenly felt. Snorting ruefully, she rolled over onto her stomach and closed her eyes to sleep. If she felt sad at just the thought of not staying, then it was a forgone conclusion that she'd end up staying. May as well enjoy the nice comfortable bed and stop worrying about it.

# # #

Angel was up early the next morning, making breakfast for the younger members of his household. He glanced over as Faith wandered into the room, obviously still wearing what she'd gone to sleep in. He smiled at her, and motioned toward the table.

"The first batch of eggs and bacon will be done in a few seconds," he remarked while pulling a plate out of the cupboard and beginning to spoon up the meal for her.

She smiled back and went to sit down. "When do the other two usually wake up?" She murmured quietly.

"They'll probably be here within a few minutes after they smell the food," Angel chuckled as he placed the plate in front of her.

She nodded and took a bite, considering her words. After she'd swallowed she asked, "I think I'd like to live here, if you were serious…I'm just curious as to what those consequences Lindsey didn't want to talk about were." She slanted a look in his direction, taking another bite of food.

Angel, couldn't help the grin that formed on his face as she said she wanted to take him up on his offer, and chuckled when she mentioned Lindsey's reluctance to talk about consequences. "The rules aren't really that difficult, I don't think, so you shouldn't need to worry about consequences," he eyed her, noting how she nodded her head at his words. "However, should any of the rules be broken you could expect the following…."

# # #

When Lindsey and Spike arrived into the kitchen 5 minutes later, Angel had finished preparing the remainder of the breakfast and was putting it on the table.

"I'm going to go take a quick shower. If you need anything, Lindsey or Spike can help you…" He said over his shoulder toward Faith. Faith for her part was staring at her plate, an indecipherable, almost disturbed look on her face as if she had heard something she couldn't quite wrap her mind around. She nodded silently at his words.

Spike poured himself some blood and headed into the living room to watch morning cartoons. Lindsey filled his plate then sat down across from Faith and began eating, every so often darting a look in the dark haired slayers direction. Finally, he couldn't remain quiet any longer. "What's wrong?"

Faith blinked and looked back at Lindsey, her eyes wide. "Was he serious? I mean- grounding me if I don't take care of myself or if I disobey an order? Washing my mouth out with soap if I lie?? Spanking me if I put myself in danger and he thinks I shouldn't have????? I mean, don't get me wrong- Angel's a good looking man and you and Spike could rev any woman's motor- but I guess I had thought of you guys differently somehow and I'm not sure I want to get into that kind of kink with you. It just feels wrong somehow. Icky…!"

Lindsey's eyes slowly widened through her diatribe until he had a horrified and slightly queasy look on his face. "NO! No…no it's not LIKE that!" he spluttered, nearly inarticulate. "Angel, Spike and I are NOT lovers…and especially not kinky lovers!" He shook his head vehemently, the idea of having sex with his 'father-figure' derailing him enough that he didn't think to explain what 'it' was like.

"Well," Faith frowned slightly, "If it isn't because of kinky, fun-times, then…it's like…it's like he thinks we are children!" She wrinkled her nose an offended look on her face.

Lindsey, slowly let out the breath he hadn't realized he'd been holding, grimacing before he took another bite and chewed slowly; he watched her closely and considering his next words carefully. He then placed his fork beside his plate and put one elbow on the table, propping his chin up on his hand. "He does look at us as children." He shrugged, sitting up straighter and moving his elbow back off the table. "He told me once that he was over 250 years old- so as far as he was concerned, a thirty-something year old was a child. You're younger than me, so…."

He smiled. "I thought it would bother me a lot more than it does, but he….doesn't do it to be condescending and most of the time I only feel like he's treating me like a kid when he starts being over-protective." Lindsey shrugged again. Now didn't seem to be the time to remark on the fact that Angel had quickly become a father-figure to him; and he doubted that any time would be the time to say he suspected Angel wanted to become a father-figure to her as well. He didn't really know Faith well enough to know if she would welcome such a thing or be offended by it.

Faith frowned slightly, before shrugging. "Ok. I guess I can understand that. He is a lot older than us. Still…."

Faith and Lindsey finished eating in silence before working together to clean up their mess and heading back to their rooms to change. She didn't realize until Lindsey was already hidden in his room, that he hadn't actually answered her question. Was Angel really serious about the consequences?

# # #

Angel sat behind his desk in his office, twirling a pen and staring out the window. He had been very happy when Faith had agreed to move in, despite the rules. She seemed to be adjusting just as quickly as Lindsey had. It made him nervous how similar the two were. They both had a tendency to be confrontational, and although neither one had been so with him- lately- he expected that one or both of them would buck his authority at some point soon. His money would be on Faith, since she hadn't yet experienced the results of going against him, but he couldn't rule Lindsey out.

However, Faith was the one who he had to gently remind to get sleep when she'd spent nearly forty-eight hours going out on patrol, and then staying up all day to help research or just hang out with her new family. Lindsey had begun much the same way- testing the boundaries regarding his health, just to see what Angel would do. The only difference between the two was that Angel hadn't given Lindsey a choice about moving in- Faith had been given a choice. He hoped that would make a small difference in her acceptance of his authority, but he suspected that she would push against it sooner rather than later. The only question was to what degree she would push.

He frowned to himself, turning back toward the work on his desk. He shouldn't focus so much on the possibility of Faith rebelling. If it was one thing he'd learned over the years, focusing on something tended to make the very thing you didn't want to occur, occur. He had gone through several of the items on his desk, when his door was opened and Spike walked in, followed by Lindsey and Faith who seemed to be pushing the blond vampire to the front of their group to be the spokesperson.

Spike glared at the two of them when they pushed him just a trifle too hard. "Back off! You two drive a bloke to distraction!" he muttered something else about fratricide, but Lindsey and Faith just grinned unrepentantly at the blond. Huffing, Spike turned toward Angel. "So, have you looked at that research we showed you last night? Mutt and Jeff here want to go take on the bad guys."

"Hey, you wanted to go too, yo!" Faith interjected defensively while Lindsey shot him an incredulous look.

Spike sniffed, crossing his arms over his chest. "That's before I discovered that there is a Passions marathon running today and you two aren't willing to wait for it to be over."

Both Lindsey and Faith rolled their eyes before turning to Angel with expectant, hopeful gazes. Angel sighed, hating that he was about to make them unhappy. "I did look over it- I think we need to do more research before tackling this particular big bad. There is something that seems off about it. It might not hurt to have a few more reinforcements come in either; perhaps call in Sally and Trish, since they've worked with us before…."

Spike grinned and shot off a quick salute. "Alrighty, then. If you need me, I'll be watching the best show ever to grace the telly!" He quickly turned and left the office, ignoring the irritated and semi-betrayed look Faith was shooting him. Lindsey didn't seem much happier, but he seemed resigned to the decision.

Angel shook his head at his grand-childe's antics, before looking back at the two remaining 'children'. He frowned slightly as he took in Lindsey's sulk and Faith's irritation. "You know, I didn't say we wouldn't take care of the problem; just that we needed to wait a little longer. Getting ourselves knocked out of commission because we rushed things would cause more problems than it would solve…."

Lindsey looked at his feet, then nodded reluctantly. He was still sulking, but at least he'd accepted Angel's words. Faith on the other hand looked like she wanted to continue to argue. Instead she just crossed her arms over her chest and glared. "Yeah, whatever. We so could take this guy on! But it isn't like I have a choice, is it?" Snorting, she whirled around and stomped out of the room, Lindsey snapping out of his sulk long enough to watch her with slightly widened eyes before turning back towards Angel.

"Er…I'm going to go to the bar if you need me…" he gave Angel a half smile before leaving the office himself. A few minutes later Angel could hear Lindsey's truck pulling out of the garage and heading down the drive.

"Well, that went well," he muttered, rubbing his forehead and sighing. He knew it had to happen eventually…he just wish it hadn't happened.

# # #

Lindsey drove his truck the long way to Lorne's bar, every so often glancing at the young woman who sat next to him. Faith had followed him to the garage as soon as he'd left Angel's office, not saying anything as she'd hopped into the cab next to him. Currently she was glaring out her window- still not saying anything. Lindsey sighed softly.

"You know, he's only trying to protect his family." He said softly, signaling his intention to pull into the parking lot as they reached the bar.

"I'm the slayer. I'm perfectly capable of handling the situation. And don't pretend you don't have some supernatural mumbo-jumbo going on as well. I've been able to sense it since the first time I saw you in Lorne's over a month ago." Faith retorted.

Lindsey blinked at her comment, giving her an uncertain look. "You sensed something supernatural about me?" He spoke softly. When she nodded, he frowned thoughtfully, but then shrugged. His abilities, lack of abilities, and all things leading to that situation were a discussion for another time. Right now Faith looked ready to do something foolish, and though they'd only been sharing a home for a short while, he viewed her as a sister. He had to be there for her.

"If Angel thinks it is too dangerous, he must have a reason. I mean- a slayer with two vampires isn't anything to sneeze at. There has to be something we didn't notice to make him hesitate…" he attempted to reason with her without actually telling her she was wrong.

She snorted, following him into the bar and sitting down next to him. When Albert came to take their order, she smiled at the man. "I'll have what he's having…" she nodded in Lindsey's direction, then sighed as the bartender walked away. "I still think we could take care of the situation. In fact, I'm positive I could take care of the situation. It would be easier with help, but I could do it!"

Lindsey looked at her worriedly. "Well, there's no real reason you need to tonight, right? We can wait a day or two- Angel can get that information or back-up that he wants and we still get to go kick some butt. No need to just rush in because we can, right?" He bit his lip as he realized his words weren't having the desired effect.

Faith looked at him with a big grin. "No reason except one. Angel is wrong and I'm going to prove it! I'd be happy if you came with, but I get it if you don't." Faith shrugged, biting into the burger that Albert had just put in front of her. "I'd appreciate it if you'd drop me off where I need to go though. If I had to go home and get my bike, I'm pretty sure Angel would try and stop me, and I'd rather not have to walk the whole way," She shrugged, giving Lindsey a hopeful look.

Lindsey swallowed, a sour taste in his mouth. "Yeah, sure. I guess I can do that…" he reluctantly replied. Just how the hell was he supposed to handle this situation?

# # #

"I need some peace of mind, no fear of what's behind.
You think you've won this fight, you've only lost your mind."
Had Enough by Breaking Benjamin

Once he'd agreed to drive her to the location, Lindsey had to force himself to eat- his stomach in knots from worry. The worry wasn't entirely because she was getting ready to disobey Angel and he was helping her, either. He'd actually thought Angel was correct- there was more to that building than met the eye. Something was up. He couldn't help but feel like he was getting ready to drive his little sister to her death. The problem was, she would go even if he didn't drive her. At least if he drove, she'd have one person available for back-up. Unless...

Lindsey excused himself and headed back to the restrooms. Once he was safely away from Faith's sight, he quickly sent a text message to Angel. "Going 2 do thing U won't like. Try 2 stop us- Pls?" Sighing to himself that back up would at least be on the way- as long as Angel got the text message- he took a few more minutes to calm himself before heading back out and sitting down to finish his dinner. He studiously ignored the phone vibrating in his back pocket. Faith didn't say anything- although she did give him an irritated look that he was taking so long to chew each bite.

Finally, Lindsey couldn't put it off any longer. Throwing a wad of bills on the table to cover their meal, he stood and pulled Faith's chair back for her, then took her arm and walked with her to the door and back outside.

"Lez git this over with then," he drawled softly, unlocking the truck- Faith quickly jumped into the cab while he took his time walking around and climbing in behind the steering wheel. If Faith noticed his reluctance to go, she didn't say anything.

# # #

Angel was sat in the rec room watching TV with Spike and Illyria. Spike was sprawled on the couch. Illyria had come by a few minutes earlier to watch the show with the blond in an attempt to 'learn more about the mortals of this realm and how they behaved'. Angel shook his head in amusement, wondering if he should be worried that the blue goddess was taking hints on behavior from a soap-opera. He blinked as he felt his cell-phone buzz. Pulling it out of his pocket, he glanced at the message and growled- startling both of the room's other occupants.

"Damn it! I KNEW I should have locked them both in their rooms!" He stalked out, heading into his office and grabbing several weapons while dialing Lindsey's phone. He growled again when the boy didn't answer.

Spike came sauntering out into the hallway, Illyria following him. "I've set it up to record, ya? So what did Tweedle-dee and Tweedle-dum do? As if I couldn't guess?" Spike smirked but quickly schooled his features into a concerned frown when he noticed Angel's fury.

"Right. To the Bat-mobile it is!" Spike quickly grabbed Illyria's arm and steered her to the garage, letting Angel get the equipment together. He knew when it was better to stay out of the way.

# # #

Angel pulled his car up into a deserted and well hidden section of parking lot. He quickly noted all entrances and exits for the building, as well as the fact that Lindsey's truck was not there- yet. He hoped that the two hadn't gone to another location for a showdown and he was in the wrong place to help them. Narrowing his eyes, he snorted. There weren't any other places where they had been making plans to shut down the big bad- where Angel would not like them to be. This was definitely the place. Either the two had come to their senses and had decided to go home like good little children or he'd been given enough warning to arrive before they got here. He let out a sad sigh as Lindsey's truck finally pulled into the parking lot and stopped close to the main entrance.

# # #

Lindsey slowly pulled into the parking lot and parked close to the entrance. He looked at Faith and decided to try one last time. "I don't think this is such a good idea Faith- something just doesn't feel right about this place. I think Angel might be right…." He sighed as Faith turned toward him, her eyes flashing.

"He is NOT right! Don't worry about me, Lindsey. I'll be fine. You just stay here in the car and out of my way and I'll be back before you know it." She huffed at him and pulled away roughly when he tried to take her arm and argue more. "Just stop it! You can't tell me what to do! I understand if you feel like you need to follow orders- but don't expect me to become a good little soldier with you! It isn't my thing!" She growled at him, then leaned over and kissed him on the cheek to let him know she wasn't mad, before jumping out of the truck. He had his phone out of his pocket and was already dialing Angel before she'd made it into the building.

# # #

"They're arguing?" Spike commented, before he noticed Faith lean over and kiss Lindsey's cheek. "Or not?" He watched as Faith jumped out of the truck, but Lindsey stayed put. "Are we going to go after them… her…or what?" He finally glanced at Angel.

His eyebrow went up as Angel's phone rang, before glancing back at the truck to see Lindsey apparently trying to make a call. Angel quickly answered.

"Whatever you are doing…DON'T!" Angel's voice was firm with the promise of swift retribution if his words weren't heeded.
"Stay where you are Lindsey. We are close by and I will take care of Faith." Angel admonished, trying to calm the younger man down enough to listen to reason.

"LINDSEY! Damn it!" Angel snarled as the connection was lost. He looked toward the truck in time to notice the younger man jumping out of the cab with a sword and heading toward the door.

# # #

Lindsey was relieved when Angel had answered the phone, but he hadn't been given any time to say anything before Angel was issuing orders. Lindsey winced. He'd hoped to avoid direct orders. There was no way he'd be getting out of this without at least being grounded, now.

"She needs my help, Angel. She went in by herself. I tried to talk her out of it, but she wouldn't listen and she needs my help!" Lindsey's voice was frantic with worry. The bad feeling he had been getting all evening, since Angel had told them to not do anything had been growing considerably stronger. Something very bad was about to happen and Faith was alone in there.

"She doesn't have time for me to stay where I am- she wouldn't listen to me and she went in already and I have to help her! I'm sorry Angel…I really am…I didn't want to make you mad at me. But I can't just leave her in there alone…." Lindsey's voice cracked at the end, his mouth and throat suddenly dry. Everything was too still and the very bad feeling was screaming in his gut like a siren. He hung up, flinging his phone down beside him before reaching under the seat and pulling out one of his favorite swords. "I just hope you can forgive me," he muttered sadly under his breath before jumping out of the cab and heading toward the entrance.

# # #

"That's our cue, people! Let's go!" Angel commanded, grabbing his own weapon and jumping out of his car, using his vampire speed to join the boy before he could disappear inside. Spike and Illyria weren't far behind, so they were able to catch up in time to see Angel grabbing Lindsey's arm, turning him sideways to give him five solid swats to the seat of his pants, and then turning the kid to face him.

"I told you to stay where you were and that we were close by!" Angel admonished. Spike didn't know whether to laugh- the look of shock on Lindsey's face was priceless- or feel sorry for the bloke.

"I…didn't know you meant that close…" Lindsey stuttered helplessly while rubbing at his bum. The kid noticeably shook himself. "Faith went in and I have a really, really, really bad feeling about it…." Lindsey glanced at Angel in worry.

Angel frowned at the words, and then nodded. "I'd like to tell you to stay in the truck, but we might just need you in there. However, you will stay close to me and if I tell you to do something, you will do it immediately and no questions asked. Am I clear?!" Angel stared into Lindsey's eyes firmly. Lindsey nodded his acceptance, relieved that he would be allowed to fight beside the others.

Glancing around at the small group to make certain they were all prepared, Angel let the way into the building.

# # #

Faith frowned to herself as she walked into the building and made her way down a deserted corridor. She hated to admit it, but her slayer senses were screaming danger at her in no uncertain terms. Lindsey had probably been right- she probably should have listened when he tried to convince her to obey Angel. It was just so much harder than she thought it would be.

Faith had been alone most of her life. The only real authority figures she'd had in her life were watchers- and she hadn't had very good luck with those. Her first watcher had been killed shortly after her calling. Giles had never been her watcher and while she listened to him, it was only because she had been in a new place and it was easier than trying to figure everything out on her own. And he had never acted very authoritarian anyway. Then had come that blond bitch who'd only wanted to use Faith to take over the world. She'd been authoritarian, but she'd just made Faith despise anyone telling her what to do even more. Then there had been Wesley. He'd actually turned into an ok guy. Unfortunately, he still wasn't really an authority. The Mayor might have been one, but looking back she could see that he wasn't really an authority figure as much as he was a manipulator. Angel was an authority figure, and she did respect him and trust him.

Angel telling her what to do and expecting obedience was ok, as long as he was telling her to do things she wanted to do anyway. But when he'd told her she couldn't do something she wanted to do…. To be honest, she really didn't have a pressing need to come here tonight of all nights. She would have been fine waiting for another time. It was the fact that Angel had told her no that spurred her into going ahead with her plans. Not the most intelligent thing she'd ever done and she just hoped that she didn't die before she lived to regret it.

It was entirely too quiet. It was only just occurring to her that it might have been a trap, when she felt the thin wire catching her ankle and the tell-tale click before all hell broke loose.

# # #

The explosion had caught them all by surprise. One minute they were walking quickly in an effort to catch up with Faith before she actually ran into any enemy; the next moment the floor was rumbling, the walls were shaking, and items were falling from the sky. Angel threw himself on top of Lindsey while Spike threw himself on top of Illyria, covering them to keep the falling debris from injuring them too badly.

Once everything had settled somewhat, they all jumped to their feet- Illyria giving Spike a rather amused look. "Foolish man. Do you not remember who I am? You were more likely than I to be hurt by this explosion, and yet you covered me?" Spike fidgeted at her words and looked sheepish, but she didn't look offended or upset. In fact she looked oddly pleased, so he didn't say anything back.

Lindsey, too used to Angel's protective nature to comment, was looking down the smoldering hallway, a horrified expression on his face. "Faith…" he looked at Angel and Spike before looking back down the hall. The hall was in flames- it would be very difficult if not deadly to the two vamps to go that way. It wouldn't be very comfortable for him or Illyria either, but at least they wouldn't turn to dust if they got too close.

"I can get her…with Illyria's help…" he looked toward Illyria to make certain she agreed with his comment then turned toward Angel. He begged him with his eyes to trust him to do the job. Glancing back down the hall and knowing it would prove more difficult for him, Angel nodded his head at the younger mortal.

"Be careful." He admonished, giving Lindsey a quick squeeze on the shoulder before letting him and Illyria head down the hall and out of his sight.

Spike watched the two disappear as well, not liking the helpless and useless feeling he now felt. "Wonder if this is what the kid feels like whenever we do things that can't hurt us but can kill him- and we make him stay back?" He shrugged, not expecting a reply. Angel just looked at him thoughtfully before turning to keep watch on the hallway again.

# # #

Lindsey quickly moved their way down the hall. Lindsey hadn't noticed, but Illyria watched him thoughtfully- the younger man was moving a lot more quickly than a normal mortal normally did. She could sense something working in him, but was uncertain what it was. She would mention it to Angel later and see if he had noticed anything. She would not be happy if the little boy had his body taken over by another god- like she had taken over Fred's body. She quite liked being the only superior being on this tiny little planet. Plus- she actually liked Lindsey.

Lindsey, for his part, was glancing in any room that had a door open- but so far Faith had not been in any of them. Just when he feared that she'd somehow been taken and the explosion just set as a distraction, he saw black leather lying on the floor several yards ahead. Finally, he'd found her.

"Faith!" he yelled out, running the rest of the way, Illyria keeping pace beside him. He stopped rapidly, falling to his knees beside the slayer, quickly checking her over and making certain she was still breathing. There was a cut on her face, but she was breathing. She began to moan softly as her eyes blinked open.

"Someone get the number of that truck that hit me?" She muttered before coughing. "Lindsey? Illyria? What…?"

"We have to get out Faith…there was an explosion and I'm not sure how much longer the roof will remain on this fire-trap…" Lindsey muttered quickly. "Do you think you can stand?"

Faith, winced as she forced herself to her feet, holding onto Lindsey for support while she tested out her limbs and made sure nothing was broken or otherwise injured. "I think I'm good to go. Just a knock to the head…but my head is hard." She smiled weakly.

Lindsey grimaced, but held out his hand. "Well, then we need to head out of here. If you feel like you're going to take a tumble, squeeze my hand so I can catch you…" he grinned slightly, then began moving back the way he and Illyria had originally come. Illyria followed closely behind, ready to catch the slayer if Lindsey couldn't.

# # #

"I should have gone…" Angel muttered for what felt like the hundredth time to his rapidly becoming irritated companion.

"Angel! Fire and vampires do NOT mix. You want to leave the two kiddies orphans? Just when they were starting to feel all secure and accepting you being so bossy to them?" Spike smirked at his grand-sire.

Angel glared at the blond vampire and crossed his arms over his chest. "I'm not bossy!"

Spike's eyes widened and he snorted. "By whose definition???"

Shaking his head, Angel sighed. "Ok. Maybe I am bossy. But it's only because I want them to stay safe. And now neither one of them are safe. Because I'm stuck here and not able to go help them!" he growled.

Spike sympathetically looked at Angel. "I know. I'm worried about them too. We need to trust Lindsey though. He needs that just as much, if not more, than your protection." Spike shrugged, turning back to watch the hallway, hoping his 'little brother' would come barreling through at any moment.

Angel had to admit Spike had a point. Taking a deep breath, he tried to calm himself and stop fretting. He could trust Lindsey. He smiled slightly. Kid was still in big trouble when they got out of this mess.

They didn't know how much actual time passed before Lindsey and Illyria, supporting Faith, came jogging through the flames and headed toward the vampires. Letting out a relieved sigh, Angel quickly moved to their side and lifted Faith up into his arms. Spike clapped Lindsey on the back, grinning at him. "Good job, Sport!" then proceeded to kiss Illyria soundly. Lindsey blinked at the blond vampire and goddess then shook his head deciding not to ask. He quickly followed Angel out of the warehouse, Illyria and Spike hot on his heels.

Angel glanced at Illyria. "Do you need medical attention?"

She watched him impassively. "I do not."

Angel nodded. "Then you and Spike can take Lindsey's truck home- or wherever you'd like to go. The kids are with me."

Lindsey opened his mouth as if to protest- he hadn't been injured either, after all. But then he remembered the kiss and decided maybe the other two needed some alone time. From the look on Angel's face, Angel had quite a bit to say to him anyway; might as well get it out of the way. Smiling faintly and tossing his keys to Spike before waving at Illyria, he followed Angel back to Angel's car, listening to Faith complain that she could walk, thank you very much.

"Heh, poor kid looks like he's marching to his funeral." Spike commented. Illyria just shrugged before walking to the truck and climbing inside.

# # #

"The consequences that are rendered
I stretch myself beyond my means"
It's Been Awhile by Staind

They hadn't had to spend too much time at the ER. Faith's slayer healing had taken care of the most minor wounds. The only thing that needed to be checked was her head- and by the time the doctor's were able to see her that had healed to where it was only a minor concussion.

Angel had insisted Lindsey be checked out too, since he'd had to go through fire and smoke to find Faith, but the doctor's weren't able to find anything wrong with him at all. They had told him that if he had difficulty breathing in the next few days to come back immediately- it was hard to say what was in the fumes that he'd breathed in, after all. Lindsey had agreed, but he didn't think it would be necessary. He felt perfectly fine- and he'd been injured enough time and in enough ways he figured he should be able to know if he weren't.

Faith had looked sheepish as Angel had assisted her back to the car. Her attempts to walk without his help had been met by a stern glare, so she'd quickly given up walking on her own. Lindsey grinned impishly at her when she looked in his direction- relieved that Angel didn't have a reason to be 'helping' him at the same time. He wouldn't have put it past the vampire to make him wait in a chair until Angel had gotten Faith into the car and could come back for him.

They had all three quickly gotten in the car and buckled up, heading home. Both Lindsey and Faith had expected the lecture to start immediately- but Angel just drove, quietly staring at the road ahead and not saying anything. Faith, determined that she wasn't going to show any signs of the guilt she was actually feeling, sat calmly and still- staring out her window. If Angel didn't want to start addressing her actions yet, she certainly wasn't going to bring it up!

Lindsey couldn't help but fidget. He grimaced at himself as he shifted for a third time in as many minutes. If it had been anyone else in the car, he would have been able to pull off the calm nonchalance that Faith was displaying. He'd actually be better at it than her. But with Angel- he was reduced to a squirming little boy, every time. It irritated him that he couldn't control or hide his emotions when it came to the vampire, but he had to admit that in a way it was nice to have someone that he couldn't bullshit easily. Sighing softly, he leaned sideways until his forehead was propped on the car window and he stared out at the passing scenery.

# # #

The minute they'd gotten home, Angel had locked the car doors so that Faith and Lindsey couldn't slip away too fast. He turned so that he was facing Faith, but he could also see Lindsey from the corner of his eye.

"We're going to go inside and we're going to deal with your actions from today. I will deal with you first Faith, and then I will deal with you Lindsey," Angel turned his head enough to look Lindsey in the eyes before facing Faith again.

"You will go inside, get ready for bed and then wait for me in the corner of your bedroom." His tone allowed no room for disobedience of his orders. Faith looked like she wanted to argue, but shrugged instead, looking away from the disappointment she saw in Angel's eyes.

Lindsey swallowed nervously, blushing when his voice came out in a slightly hoarse croak. "I….may I wait outside on the back porch? I'll stand in the corner there if you want, I just…." His eyes darted to Faith before he forced himself to look back at Angel his eyes pleading.

Angel blinked, surprised at the request. Granted, usually when punishment was being dealt out Lindsey was usually the first in line so he didn't have to wait too long- but…. Angel blinked his eyes in realization, then smiled slightly at the younger man in sympathy. Lindsey didn't want to hear his little sister being punished. Angel nodded, answering softly. "Yes, son. You may wait outside in the back. Sit on the porch swing and I'll come get you when it is time for you to face the music." With that, Angel unlocked the door.

Lindsey was quickly out and heading for the back porch, while Faith- not entirely believing that anything was going to happen- meandered her way into the mansion, making her way upstairs to where their rooms were and locking herself in the bathroom. Angel sighed, following behind her. Knocking on the bathroom door, he called through. "15 minutes Faith. That's it. I suggest you not make me come and get you."

Sighing softly again, Angel went into his room to try and prepare himself for the upcoming confrontations.

# # #

Faith winced at the tone in Angel's voice, before shrugging out of the last of her clothing and stepping into the shower. She debated taking longer than the 15 allotted minutes, but the truth was she was ready to get things over with. She'd directly disobeyed his order not to go after the big bad and in the process put herself in danger. If he didn't do anything- as she suspected he wouldn't- then they could all stop pretending that she actually had to listen to him and things could get back on an even keel. If he actually did what he'd threatened….

She frowned at the tiny part of her that wanted him to follow through and keep his word. She had to admit that part of the reason she'd done what she did was to prove that he wouldn't do anything- that he wouldn't keep his word and follow through. She'd wanted to prove that he was just as unreliable as every other person who'd ever tried to "lead" her had been; just as much if not more than she'd wanted to prove she didn't have to listen. But the fact was, if he proved that he was reliable and did keep his word- she thought she actually might want to listen to and obey him.

It would be nice to let someone else be in charge and lead instead of having to make all the hard decisions on her own. And despite her griping to Lindsey about how his consequences would be treating them like children- the rules themselves did very little to curtail her ability to run her own life. They just curtailed her ability to endanger her life, which wasn't a bad thing.

Realizing that she'd nearly been in the shower for her allotted time, she quickly rinsed her hair and jumped out, drying off and putting on clean clothes. Gathering up her items, she slipped out of the bathroom and into her room, tossing everything onto a nearby chair. By the time Angel walked in, she was standing with her nose in the corner, quiet as a mouse. If he was going to follow through, it was going to be because he planned to all along- not because she made him mad by disobeying him again.

# # #

Angel slowly walked into Faith's room, noting that the slender girl was standing where he'd told her to. He felt some of the tension he was feeling drain from his shoulders at the relief he felt that she wasn't going to fight him the entire way. He had no doubt she'd fight him eventually, but it was nice to not have the opposition from the very beginning.

He sat down on her bed and observed her for a moment. She seemed uncertain and a bit disbelieving. She probably thought he wouldn't go through with it. Unfortunately for her, he had every intention of following through- it would do no one any good if he backed off, and even if she wouldn't admit it to herself she needed him to do what he promised. Slanting his head slightly, he called out to her. "Come talk to me Faith…."

Slowly, the brunette slayer turned toward Angel and walked to where he was stood in front of him, hands folded primly in front of her. She couldn't quite bring her eyes up to meet his gaze; they kept darting around the room or looking downward at her feet. Angel couldn't help but smile. Good. She felt guilty. There might be a chance they got through this without completely losing her after all.

"What rules did you break? Can you tell me?" Angel softly asked, wanting her to admit what she'd done wrong- or find out if she honestly did not know.

Faith grimaced. "I disobeyed a direct order by going to that building to fight the bad guys. And I put my life- and eventually Lindsey's and everyone else's life- in danger." Her voice was low and husky. She tried to hide it, but he heard when her voice catch at the admittance to putting other people's lives in danger.

Angel nodded, "You're right. That's exactly what you did. Can you tell me why you felt the need to break those rules?"

Faith winced and shook her head no, but then answered him anyway. "I'm not sure…."

He waited patiently while she tried to form words for what she was thinking.

"It's just that, I don't obey other people! You know? And you were expecting me to obey you … and I know that the rules aren't unreasonable or hard or anything that I can't easily do…but I don't obey other people! And I wanted you to know that…but then…." She shrugged, turning slightly pink. "Then I thought, maybe it wouldn't be so bad obeying at least one person- if I could trust them and if they kept their word and…and I trust you, but I didn't believe you'd actually do what you said….so…."

"So you were testing me?" Angel raised one eyebrow, smiling slightly.

"Yeah, I guess…" Faith shrugged again, looking at her feet.

"What is it with my children testing me?" Angel muttered in amusement, smiling when she looked up in confusion at his words.

"Hate to break it to you, princess, but I will always keep my word unless prevented by outside forces." Angel smiled again before his face became stern. "So, what happens when you disobey a direct order?"

"I get grounded…" Faith muttered, torn between feeling relieved that Angel could be counted on to follow through and miserable at the fact that he was actually going to follow through. "Dammit."

"Language," Angel mildly admonished, before shaking his head. Yeah, her and Lindsey were entirely too much alike some times.

"You are correct. Since this is your first offence, you will be grounded for one week. No extracurricular activities. You will be stuck at home doing whatever chores I find for you to do. No TV, telephone, or anything considered 'fun' unless I give it to you or approve it first. You don't have a job, so there will be no need to worry about that. However, your slaying activities will be put on hold until your grounding is over- unless I discover something that needs taking out and we absolutely can't do it without you. Your bedtime will be 9pm. Do you have any questions?" Angel looked at her expectantly,

Faith looked at him with a slightly stunned look on her face then shook her head no. "I…I understand. No questions, yo..." she answered in a soft whisper, dread beginning to form in the pit of her stomach.

Angel grimaced slightly. "Now for the part I hate…"

"You don't have to do it, if you hate it so much!" Faith suggested hopefully.

Angel smiled faintly at her then shook his head. "No. I'm afraid I do, little girl. I promised to always keep my word, and my word was that any child of mine who deliberately put themselves in unnecessary danger would receive a spanking. It's time to pay the piper, Faith." He held out his hand without another word, waiting to see what she would do.

Faith swallowed, unable to believe she was about to submit to this. This wasn't going to be the "fun and games" type of spanking she'd indulged in a few times since hitting puberty. It was going to be a "you did something wrong and I'm about to show you how wrong" type of spanking. Which meant it would hurt, and she'd feel guilty, and… she looked into Angel's eyes, her own eyes wide and scared. Hesitantly, she lifted her own hand and placed it into the vampire's hand.

"I'm proud of you Faith," Angel remarked calmly before tugging her forward between his knees. He didn't hesitate to pull down her sleep pants- he'd already decided that while he would allow her to keep her panties (they'd be scant protection) that would be all she'd be allowed to keep. He ignored her dark blush when he discovered she wore a thong- and had to wonder if she'd been talking to Lindsey and had 'prepared' just in case. He quickly draped her over his knee, using his other leg to lock her legs in place. Placing one hand on her back to keep her still, he rested his other hand on her bottom. "Why are you receiving this spanking Faith?" he asked calmly.

"Because I put myself in danger and there was no need…" Faith whispered, closing her eyes tightly.

At her words, Angel raised his hand and let it fall with a hard slap against the exposed bottom in front of him. He moved methodically left to right, top to bottom, making sure to cover every inch of pale skin on her posterior and upper thighs. Once, twice, on the third set he began to speak.

Smack, Smack, Smack, Smack, Smack.
"You do NOT put yourself in unnecessary danger! Our jobs are filled with enough danger that we have to face without you deliberately going out and putting yourself in positions that you DON'T have to be in!"

Smack, Smack, Smack, Smack, Smack.
"If you do something like this again Faith, I will make certain that this spanking will seem like a walk in the park? Am I clear?" He stopped smacking long enough to hear a choked yes. He nodded.

Faith hadn't attempted to keep from crying or making noise- but she seemed determined to keep from giving in completely and letting her sobs- that he knew she was holding back- free. "We're almost done, sweetheart." He told her before lifting his leg and pressing down on her back enough to expose the tender crease between her bottom and thighs. He quickly began peppering the sensitive area with hard smacks, not giving her time to brace herself or prepare in between then. Smack, Smack, Smack, Smack, Smack. Smack, Smack, Smack, Smack, Smack. Smack, Smack, Smack, Smack, Smack.

"I'm sorrrry!" Faith finally wailed in misery, before going limp and sobbing out her sorrow. Angel immediately stopped spanking and began to gently rub her back.

Faith wasn't sure how long she lay there sobbing before she finally realized the spanking was over. Blushing hotly, she pushed herself up, thankful for Angel's firm grip that kept her from falling on her face. She winced as she pulled her sleep pants back up, then looked up at Angel uncertainly. When he wrapped her tightly into his arms and held her, she let out a relieved sigh. "I'm so sorry…" She whispered.

"I know you are darling. You've been punished and I forgive you. It's in the past now…" Angel muttered against her hair, before pulling back slightly and looking into her face. "Why don't you lay down for a bit and rest. I need to go take care of your brother and then I thought we could order in Chinese…" he smiled faintly as she shook her head and tried to hide a yawn before she shrugged slightly and nodded.

"Ok. A nap might be good…" she smiled sheepishly, before lying down on her stomach. He couldn't help but chuckle as she was asleep within seconds. He quietly shut her door behind him before taking a breath and going to find his other child.

# # #

Lindsey wasn't sure how long he'd been sitting on the porch swing, but he knew it had to be at least 45 minutes. He wrapped his arms around himself miserably. He'd blown it…again…and his little sister could have been killed because he hadn't handled things right. He wasn't sure what he could have done differently, but he was positive that it was somehow his fault that things had gone so wrong. And he had tried to figure out what he'd done wrong, he really had. He knew that Angel would ask what rules he had broken before punishing him. The problem was, he could only think of one rule that he had really broken- but he was positive he had to have broken more. Why else would he feel so guilty?

Rubbing his eyes, wearily, he went over his actions in his head again. His shoulders ached from tension and he flushed angrily as he felt his eyes filling up with tears and sniffled slightly. Angel hadn't even spoken to him yet and he was already close to bawling like a baby. What the hell was wrong with him lately? One minute he felt like a tightly coiled spring- ready to pounce the minute he was released; the next he felt like a balloon that had lost all its air- stretched out and empty; always somewhere was this feeling of something impending- but he couldn't tell if it was a good something or a bad something. In short, he felt all kinds of out of sort and it was affecting his emotions and ability to make decisions.

He sighed softly. At least he knew he wouldn't accidently get himself killed- at least not if he obeyed Angel. The vampire would keep him alive, in spite of himself. He glanced up as Angel finally came onto the back porch.

Angel was a bit surprised when he walked onto the porch to see how pale and frantic Lindsey looked. He frowned slightly, in confusion. The boy had disobeyed an order, it was true- but that was the only rule he actually broke. While he might have put himself in danger- had Angel not stopped him from going into the building- he hadn't actually broken that rule yet; and Angel felt the five smacks he'd given the kid for even thinking about going into the building were sufficient punishment, considering Lindsey hadn't actually done it. So why did the kid look so overwrought?

"Lindsey…" Angel blinked as the younger man jumped to his feet and began to pace.

"I'm sorry Angel, I'm sorry…it's my fault…I should have stopped…I…" Lindsey's voice became more frantic with each word he spoke until Angel couldn't understand any of what was being said. His concern deepening, he moved closer to the kid trying to calm him down and get his attention. "Lindsey…"

Lindsey was unable to focus. He could tell he was unable to focus and even though he heard Angel trying to get his attention, repeatedly, he couldn't seem to shut up. Frustration at himself only caused him to ramble more, however, and he wasn't even sure what he was trying to say so nothing he said made sense.

Angel watched the younger man melting down in front of him, horrified and trying to figure out what he could do. He needed Lindsey to focus. Taking a breath, he quickly marched over to the incoherent boy and dragged him along beside him. Sitting as far back on the swing as he could, he quickly pulled an unresisting Lindsey to lay on the swing- over his lap- and then raising his hand brought it down hard on the unprepared man's backside. It was enough to shut the boy up.

Angel sat quietly- one hand on Lindsey's neck, the other resting on his bottom- and waited for his charge to calm down enough for him to talk. When Lindsey finally stopped shaking, he tried to sit up, but Angel wouldn't let him and he soon settled, blushing faintly. "I'm sorry…I don't know what is wrong with me…" the kid muttered, thoroughly embarrassed and ashamed at his loss of control and the position he now found himself in.

Angel rubbed his neck gently, "Don't apologize for things you haven't done wrong," he remarked softly, patting Lindsey on the bottom gently when the younger man attempted to get up again. Lindsey stopped moving and sighed, folding his arms loosely under his head, resigned to being over Angels lap for the indeterminable future.

"Having said that, you did do something wrong. Can you tell me what?" Angel asked quietly.

Lindsey winced, but answered honestly in his unique, quiet drawl. "I disobeyed yer order about gettin out of the car. Not sure if I disobeyed 'bout goin' after the bad guy- I think I did, sorta- since I drove Faith there and then decided ta help her. I…" he frowned. "I don' think I broke any other rules…" he said this hesitantly. He felt too guilty for it to only have been one rule broken.

Angel however was rubbing his neck again. "You're right Lindsey. That was the only rule you broke. And for that, you will be grounded. Even though this is not your first time breaking this rule, I think 1 week is enough time for your grounding to last. I realize that most of what you did tonight was because of worry about Faith."

Lindsey, sniffled, "I'm sorry fer being secha bother…."

"You aren't a bother son. Not a bother at all…" Angel remarked quietly, rubbing the younger man's back until he could feel most of the tension had left his shoulders. Once Lindsey had relaxed sufficiently, Angel gently lifted him off his lap and stood him in front of him. He rubbed one knuckle gently under the kid's chin, lifting his face upward.

"We're going to talk about these weird feelings you've been getting and the whole becoming overwhelmed bit." Angel promised, his tone making it clear that it wasn't an option. "But right now I think you need to get some rest. Why don't you go lie down? I'm going to order Chinese in thirty minutes. I'll wake you up when it gets here."

Lindsey smiled crookedly and nodded. "Yah, that sounds good. Thanks Angel…." Turning, he quickly went back into the house and up to his room. Angel remained on the swing for a few minutes more, considering everything that had happened this evening.

# # #

"A little off center
And I'm out of tune
Just kickin' this can along the avenue
But I'm alright."
Jerk It Out by Caesars

Angel had sat outside thinking for a bit longer than thirty minutes; when he went inside he discovered Spike and Illyria- with Lorne in tow- sitting around the kitchen table. They were surrounded by enough different containers of Chinese food to feed at least 50 people.

"I take it you were hungry?" he blinked in bemusement as he took a seat also.

Spike shrugged, a trifle embarrassed. "Thought the brats would be hungry when they were let out of their rooms. And Illyria said she was hungry, and we decided to get Lorne and make it a real, live, family dinner and he said he could eat a horse…so…."

Angel chuckled. "It was a nice thought Spike. I'm sure Faith could polish off at least half of these on her own, with that slayer metabolism. Speaking of which- I told them I'd wake them up when food was here. I'll be back in a minute." Standing, Angel quickly left the room heading upstairs.

Lorne slanted his head curiously. "I take it the rug-rats got into trouble again?" He didn't sound too worried- since he knew they were safe at home and in bed at the moment, but he did sound slightly worried about what they may have been up to.

"You could say that," Spike snorted, then got up to go get plates and silver-ware. A few seconds later, Faith was bouncing into the room. Lindsey followed her; he was more subdued, a hint of strain around his eyes, but he smiled widely when he saw Lorne and went and sat down without any show of discomfort at all. Angel walked in behind the other two, and took his seat back, nodding at Spike when the blond began handing out plates and utensils.

Lorne waited until Lindsey and Faith both had a mouthful of food before commenting drolly. "You two really need to start obeying your daddy. I'm sure your little tushies would feel much better if you did. Besides- if you keep trying to give your daddy gray hairs, Uncle Lorne might just have to step in and add a little incentive of his own. I'm sure you don't want that, do you?" He eyed Lindsey and Faith with a tiny grin on his face that did nothing to reassure them.

Faith looked between Lorne and Angel then shrugged. "I'll try, Uncle Lorne- but I don't know how good I'll do. I always have been attracted to trouble…." She gave the older vampire and the demon a saucy grin. Lindsey, on the other hand, hastily swallowed his food before replying with a choked, "Ye'sir," blushing down to his roots. Angel smirked and nodded his head at Lorne. It was good to know he had another adult to help him reign in the holy terrors he'd- for all intents and purposes- adopted.

# # #

Lorne had decided to stay over in a guest room and Illyria had disappeared with Spike upstairs. Faith was still sitting at the table, a considering look on her face while Lindsey and Angel were cleaning up the remainder of their feast. She watched Lindsey curiously for a minute, until he glanced at her- a questioning look on his face.

"So, I know why I decided to let Angel be in charge, yo!" She remarked suddenly, then put her elbows on the table and propped her chin in her hands. "I just don't get how you got to where YOU'D let Angel be in charge of you…." She wrinkled her nose thoughtfully. "I mean- I have to admit it was a bit odd at first, having Angel get all parental with me," she glanced at Angel and gave him a big grin, "but he already had been mentoring me, helping me climb out of the huge black hole I'd thrown myself into….becoming a daddy was like the next step in line- so not really a shock, ya know?"

She narrowed her eyes and shook her head. "You never liked Angel though. He wasn't your mentor. You both hated each other, s'far as I knew. How do you go from trying to kill each other to you being willing to put yourself over his knee when you've been a naughty boy?"

Lindsey flushed at her choice of words, only refraining from telling her to mind her own business because he could tell she was genuinely trying to understand and not just being nosy. He could feel Angel's eyes watching him and looked at the ground shrugging. "I would never have accepted Angel's being in charge before I almost died," he whispered. "I was too proud to admit I needed help, and wrongly blamed him for everything that had gone wrong with my life." He looked up at Angel again and smiled crookedly, ashamed once again at his past actions. He slowly walked over to the table and sat across from Faith.

"Anyway, when everything in L.A. went down and I had escaped- I woke up in some tiny country hospital. They told me I'd flat-lined; they'd just about called the time when my heart started again." He swallowed, noticing Angel sit down to his left. He'd not talked about what had happened in the hospital before, and the vampire had a distressed look on his face at the fact that Lindsey had come so close to dying.

"I can't really explain it. Most of what I did after waking up in the hospital doesn't make sense when said out loud." He chuckled softly. "Long story short-somewhere along the line, Angel musta figured out something I couldn't, cuz next thing I knew he was making me live with him and putting me on a very short leash- and I wasn' mindin it so much. It felt safe. I hadn't felt safe in forever…." He was staring at his hands when Angel reached across and gave his wrist a gentle squeeze.

He looked up at Faith and smiled helplessly. "So anyway- I guess when you've got a home, and feel safe, and the reason for feeling safe acts more like a daddy than the sperm donor that made ya…" he gave Angel an impish grin, "it's easy to accept whatever comes with it."

Faith leaned back in her chair, eyes serious. "Yeah. I get it. We're just one big happy messed up family, aren't we?"

"You got it, sis…" Lindsey smiled again then leaned back in his own chair, pointedly not staring at Angel who was trying to wipe his eyes without either of the younger ones noticing.

# # #

A little over a week later, Angel was sitting at his computer researching the next big bad they wanted to take out. They had discovered that the bomb that had been placed was the work of one of the crime families that was associated with the supernatural world. They hadn't liked that Faith was eliminating their allies and causing upheaval in their businesses.

Since Angel didn't go after humans, unless given no choice in the matter, he found out everything he could and then forwarded the information to the appropriate alphabets in L.A. Word soon got around that Angel had adopted another 'stray' and that she was just as off limits as the young pup was. Angel had to grin when his informant had told him that. The semi-offended looks Lindsey and Faith had on their face just amused him further.

Currently the slayer and young lawyer were playing a card game, and if the look on Faith's face was anything to go by- Lindsey was winning. Lindsey was still having the odd episode of not being able to control his emotions and of having an intense sixth-sense for lack of a better word. Angel frowned slightly. He really needed to talk with the boy about what was going on with him, get some more information, so that he could research further and find out how to help his son. He had wanted to wait until things had settled back down though. He hadn't liked the haunted look the kid had in his eyes, but a week of being home bound and family bonding seemed to have eased that.

He glanced over at the kids again, hearing Lindsey start to laugh. "It's NOT FUNNY!" Faith pouted. "Daaaaaad, make Lindsey stop laughing at me!" Faith grinned over at him impishly before socking Lindsey on the arm.

"OW!" Lindsey rubbed at his sore arm then glared. "Daaaaaad, Faith HIT me!" he said in his best affronted tone, before losing it completely and falling onto his back laughing again.

Angel rolled his eyes then played along. "Don't MAKE me come over there, you two!" he admonished, then grinned as Faith joined Lindsey in lying on the floor and laughing. Shaking his head and chuckling in spite of himself, he turned back to his computer. He'd talk to Lindsey later tonight.

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