TEASER: A relative of the late Lee Mercer helps Lindsey with a little plan to drive Angel insane.
DISCLAIMER: I don't own any of the characters except for Grace and Ophelia. The rest belong to Joss Whedon and co.
"I'm sick of him Lilah." Lindsey growled from behind his desk. "I'm sick of his games, I'm sick of his taunting and I'm especially sick of her."
Lilah rolled her eyes. "Maybe you're just jealous that Angel's getting some and you're not."
Lindsey slammed his hand down on the desk, taking care to use his left, not his right. Lilah jumped at the noise and he smiled at her.
"Speak like that to me again and I'll have the Senior partners know how you treat the Junior partner." Lindsey shot a cocky grin in her direction, then stood up and began to pace the room. "I really need to get rid of him. I need to find something that will take him out of the picture."
Lilah frowned. "Isn't that what Darla's for?"
Lindsey glanced at her. "Darla is a minor issue right now. We don't know what the Senior partners have in store for her and she's still as wild as she ever was."
"At least she can speak in full sentences." Lilah pointed out.
Lindsey sighed. "So, she can speak in full sentences. She doesn't remember a single thing about Angel or about anything else. Her life before going to hell is a distant memory that we still have to dig up. And frankly, I'm getting a little tired of waiting around for that."
"So, what are you going to do Lindsey?" Lilah asked. "Find an evil witch to help you get rid of Angel? Get some dark force to steal him off the earth? Possess him?"
Lindsey stopped pacing for a moment as a smile turned up the corners of his mouth. "I'm not sure about those first two Lilah, but that third one sounds like it could work."
She looked at him. "It could?"
"Yes." Lindsey nodded. "Possess him. Make him do things he normally wouldn't do."
"And how would that help us?" Lilah asked.
Lindsey turned to her, exasperated. "We know that Cordelia is his link to the Powers that Be. And we also know that if we cut off that link, there's no way Angel will know what to do. His friends are his strength. When their lives are even potentially in danger, he'll fight with everything he's got to save them." Lindsey raised his right arm. "We have our proof of that right here. But if we were to have something possess him, control his mind, then Angel would say and do things he wouldn't mean. Perhaps even drive his friends away. And without his friends, Angel is nothing."
Lilah smiled at him. "I do believe you've had a brilliant idea Lindsey. How are you planning on doing this now?"
"Oh," He grinned down at the floor, "I'll find a way."
"So, we have nothing?" Grace asked, looking at the files that sat in front of her. "Really?"
Wesley nodded unhappily. "We have nothing. Not one single case in the last three weeks. Meaning no money at all."
"And that's bad." Cordelia concluded. "When Angel doesn't get paid, it means that we don't get paid."
Grace frowned. "How am I supposed to pay my rent?"
"How am I supposed to buy new clothes?" Cordelia wailed. "This is hell on earth."
"I'm sure everything will be fine." Wesley insisted. "Angel has assured us that we'll all be fine."
"Angel has assured us nothing." Cordelia said. "There's no way we'll be fine. We're all gonna," the phone shrilled cutting her off. Cordelia made a diving leap for the telephone and picked it up before the first ring had ended.
"Angel Investigations, we help the hopeless." She smiled brightly, waiting to hear the case. Her face fell suddenly. "Oh, hey Angel." There was a long pause and then, "no, we haven't had any calls other than you. Sorry." Another pause. "Yeah, see you then." Cordelia hung up the phone and shrugged. "Angel's as worried as we are. If we don't get some clients soon we're not going to be able to pay the rent on this place."
"Then what?" Grace asked. "If we got kicked out of here, where would we go?"
Cordelia shrugged. "Your guess is as good as mine. I'm not sure exactly what to tell you. I think we're screwed."
"I've said it before and I'll say it again," Wesley raised a calming hand, "it's not that bad. We'll make it through this, we've had rough times before."
"Not as rough as they're gonna get." Someone spoke from the doorway behind them and they turned quickly to see Lindsey standing there, leaning against the door and swinging his handless arm.
"Lindsey." Wesley murmured in a low voice. "I'm surprised to see you here. Is there something,"
"Cut the crap." Lindsey said. "I know that the last time I was in your office I was looking for a way out but it's not like that anymore. I'm here to give you a warning."
Cordelia's eyes flashed as she stared at him. "And what warning would that be lawyer boy?" She rolled her angry eyes. "God, do you honestly think we're scared of you? As I recall, Angel sure did a number on your hand."
Lindsey stepped into the office. "Well this time Angel won't be here to help you."
"And why not?" Grace asked, taking a step forward.
Lindsey's eyes lit up with recognition. "Of course, demon girl. I remember you like it was yesterday. How could I forget such a beautiful face?"
"And how could I forget one without a soul?" Grace retorted. "Get out Lindsey. We don't need your lies here."
"They're not lies," he threatened, "they're the full on truth. I know Angel's out of town right now, but I can guarantee you that when he returns, it's all going to change."
Cordelia marched up to Lindsey and glared at him for a long moment before both her hands shot out, meeting his chest and shoving him backward. Lindsey stumbled and caught himself on the door frame before he smiled and straightened his suit jacket.
"See you in a few days." He winked at Grace, then disappeared down the hall.
"I really don't like him." Cordelia muttered, still staring at the place where he had stood.
Grace's mouth twitched with a half smile. "And you certainly showed him that when your hands connected with him."
Wesley sighed slowly and took a seat on the couch near him. "Although I'm trying desperately not to believe Mr. McDonald, aren't either of you the slightest bit worried?"
Grace glanced at the former watcher. "Why should we be? Angel's out of the city and Lindsey has no way of knowing where he is."
"Yet he did know that he was gone." Wesley replied.
Cordelia shrugged. "He could have found that out easily."
"How?" Wesley challenged.
"Well, by watching us maybe." She suggested. "He might have seen that Angel hasn't been around lately."
Wesley just shook his head. "Or he might have used his access to the city files and found out that Angel had taken a flight to southern Canada on a routine call with Gunn and his gang."
"What?" Grace looked confused. "Angel said he was going to Fargo for something."
"He lied to keep you from worrying." Wesley said. "Gunn had a problem with vampires migrating, some of them he felt he should have killed long ago and he was in need of a little help. Angel booked the flight and helped to pay for it, which is why we're a little low on funds right now, and he's up there right now, helping Gunn."
"Oh." Grace slumped into the couch next to Wesley. "So he lied."
"Just to keep you from worrying." Cordelia told her.
Grace glanced up. "You knew too?"
"Well, I . . . um, no. I had no idea!" Cordelia turned to Wesley. "Shame on you for keeping this secret from us! That was cruel and heartless and,"
"Cordelia, it's okay." Grace interrupted.
"It is? Good then, it's okay."
"It's not okay." Wesley said. "We have a problem at hand. We have to figure out what Lindsey meant. I think we've been underestimating the hatred he holds for Angel. That's the most powerful weapon he has going right now, besides whatever vampire they raised in that box."
"What did he say again?" Grace asked. "Something about things being different when Angel returned, right?"
"What do you have for me?" Lindsey asked, entering his office and shutting the door behind him. Lilah and Holland stood together near his desk."
"Lindsey, it's so good to see you." Holland said, smiling at the younger man.
Lindsey nodded. "Hello sir. To what do I owe this honour?"
"Lilah told me about your plan. She told me you were getting a little impatient where Darla's concerned."
"It's just that she's taking so long to reach her full strength." Lindsey protested. "I figured I would be doing you a favour if I severed his link to the Powers that Be. We've tried it before sir and we've failed. I promise you it won't happen again."
"I thought the plan was to wait for Darla." Holland said.
"I know it was sir, but while we're waiting on the vampire, Angel's concocting some plan to kill us." Lindsey replied.
Holland leaned over Lindsey's desk and pressed the button on the intercom. "Send them in." He said, then straightened up again.
Lindsey frowned. "Send who in, sir?"
Holland smiled and nodded toward the door. Lindsey turned his gaze in that direction and watched as it opened. Two guards came in first, pushing the doors inward and standing on either side. Lindsey's eyes widened as he watched the next two people set foot through the doors and walk into his office.
Darla stood there, smiling at him with her blonde hair full and clean. Her eyes were clear, no longer confused or disoriented and she was dressed in a black, knee length skirt and a blue blouse. She looked like any other beautiful young woman Lindsey would have seen on the street.
"Hi Lindsey." She spoke softly, shooting a seductive smile in his direction. She had her right arm looped through that of a man and Lindsey's felt his breath catch in his throat as he saw who it was.
Lee smiled at him, recognizing the fear and confusion in his old friend's eyes. His black hair was combed back, as it had always been during the years they'd known each other. He was dressed in a black suit, carrying a briefcase in his right hand, his left arm was bent at the elbow and held Darla's hand as if he were escorting her to her senior prom.
"Lee is dead." Lindsey whispered, his voice uncertain and shaky.
Holland nodded and smiled. "Yes, he is." He turned toward the door. "Lee, why don't you show Lindsey before he has an aneurysm."
Lee smiled his perfectly evil smile and nodded. "Of course sir." Then he glanced at Lindsey and in the moment that he looked down his face had changed. Lindsey's gasped and took a step backward, slamming against his desk. Lee's forehead was twisted and deformed and his eyes glowed a brilliant gold colour with flecks of green making them look all that much weirder. He ran the tip of his tongue over the sharp fangs in his mouth, then grinned.
"Hey Lindsey, it's been a while, hasn't it?"
Lindsey's mouth opened and closed as he desperately tried to think of something to say. "Yeah," he finally managed to murmur, "it's been a while."
Holland slapped a hand down on Lindsey's shoulder. "Oh come on Lindsey. Show a little more enthusiasm than that."
"I-I don't understand sir." Lindsey said, still emotionless, as he turned toward his boss.
"Oh, now think about it rationally for a moment." Holland motioned toward the guards to leave and they shut the door on their way out. "Did you really think I was going to have a valuable employee like Lee killed? It was all part of the master plan Lindsey, I knew if you were put in that position where you were almost killed, you'd come back to us. You respected that about Wolfram and Hart."
"And Lee . . ." Lindsey trailed off.
"I had him shot." Holland said. "And then I had him turned into a vampire so we could keep him. Granted, he can no longer do day trials, but nevertheless, he'll be a useful asset to this company."
"The only thing I don't understand sir," Lee said, letting go of Darla's arm and walking further into the room, "is why you waited so long to let Lindsey know I was back."
Holland smiled. "All part of the plan Lee. I promise you, it will all make sense in the end." He turned back to Lindsey. "Now as Lilah tells me, you've found a sorceress that's willing to work with your plan."
Lindsey nodded. "She said she'd be willing to do the spell whenever I needed her to."
Holland nodded toward the phone. "Call her. I want it done now."
"I'll be there in half an hour." She promised, then hung up the phone and dropped down into the chair near the table her phone was on. Lindsey McDonald had just called her, needing her services, it appeared his boss wanted the job done on the vampire now.
"What have I done?" She moaned, placing her head in her hands and shaking it violently until her hair fell from behind her ears and into her eyes. She hadn't come to Los Angeles to hurt anyone, she'd just come to get an inside look at Wolfram and Hart. They'd been her obsession from the day she'd been old enough to know what the world really was and what the word evil really meant.
Her name was Ophelia and although they didn't know it, Lee Mercer was her uncle. Lee had been her favourite uncle, he'd always had gifts for her and some kind of story to tell. But after a few years, he began to pull away and although she never understood why, Ophelia vowed to have her uncle back one day. And when she'd found out where he worked and what they did, she'd become even more interested in finding out exactly how Wolfram and Hart worked.
Ophelia stood up, brushing her black hair off her face and drawing in a deep breath. Her dark eyes were sparkling with fear, but she reminded herself that she was doing this for her mother, who had died earlier that year. It had become apparent to Ophelia by the time she was only seven years old that her mother and Lee had been close at one point in their lives. She'd always told her daughter how much she looked like her Uncle Lee. Since he'd been involved with Wolfram and Hart her mother had seen less and less of him, until he completely disappeared from her life.
Now, ten years later, her mother was dead and Ophelia was intent on bringing her uncle home from the evil. She was going to take him away from Wolfram and Hart and she was going to get inside even if it killed her. Or someone else.
Packing her things into a bag, Ophelia stepped into the hall and closed her hotel door behind her.
"Do you always travel in the cargo hold?" Gunn grunted, shifting his position amongst the bags and suitcases.
"Sunlight." Angel reminded him. "Although I don't recall saying you had to travel with me. You could have taken a seat on the plane with the rest of your friends."
Gunn shrugged, turning away from the vampire. "I suppose I better get used to this if I'm gonna be helping you." He shifted again uncomfortably. "Or, if you're gonna be helping me." Gunn avoided the vampire's eyes. "Thanks, by the way."
Angel felt a slight smile touch his lips, but he tried to keep it down. He knew if the boy saw him smiling he'd become angry and pull back more than he already had. Angel wasn't ready to give up on making friends with Gunn.
"No problem." He replied. "You know where I am when you need my help."
Gunn nodded curtly, indicating that their conversation was over. Angel turned onto his side and smiled again, then lay his head against a bag and tried to fall asleep.
Ophelia knocked on the office door of Lindsey McDonald lightly, half of her hoping that no one would open the door.
Instead, Lee's smiling face appeared a moment later. When he saw who stood before him, his smile faded slowly, as if he couldn't believe what was going on. "Ophelia?"
She nodded slowly. "Uncle Lee."
"Don't call me that," he hissed under his breath, "while we are here, you don't say a word of our relationship."
Although the words stung her, Ophelia nodded and entered the office as Lee held the door open for her.
"Ophelia." Lindsey stood up and smiled. "You're right on time. I've prepared a table for you like you asked. Are you ready?"
"Thank you Mr. McDonald. I'm ready." She took her bag from her shoulder and began to remove things from inside.
"Ophelia," an older man stepped up beside her, "Lindsey tells me you're an experience sorceress."
"I am." She replied.
"Can you explain to me exactly what's going to happen to Angel once you're through with this spell?"
Ophelia drew in a deep breath. "I'm going to call upon the demon Hegira to posses him. If all goes well, by the end of the week, the vampire will have lost his mind."
"What time did you say his flight gets in?" Grace asked, nervously wringing her hands and watching the clock.
Wesley glanced at the clock on the wall. "About an hour after sunset. Don't worry about it Grace."
"How can I not worry?" She asked. "Didn't you hear what Lindsey said? Something's going on right now. Something big."
"I thought so myself, although I didn't want to say anything." Wesley replied.
Grace was nervously pacing Wesley's apartment. They'd all left the office earlier that day and returned to their own homes, but Grace hadn't lasted long alone before she'd been in the hall outside of Wesley's apartment.
"Must you pace?" He asked finally, looking up from the book that he was holding.
"I'm sorry." She walked over to the chair across from him and sat down heavily. "I'm so wound up right now, how in the world can you be so calm?"
Wesley shrugged. "Call it a gift."
"I'm serious Wesley. Isn't there anything we could be doing?"
He shook his head. "I highly doubt it. At the moment, all we can do is wait for Angel's plane to get into the city and then go pick him up and see how he is."
"And if he suddenly wants to kill us all, what do you plan on doing then?" Grace asked.
Wesley frowned. "Why in the world would Angel want to kill us Grace?"
"Lindsey said that it would all change when Angel got back. Something is going to be different."
"Stop worrying so much." Wesley said. "I'm sure everything will be fine."
Angel's eyes flew open and he found himself staring into the face of Gunn.
"Do you always make those noises when you sleep? Because if you do . . . man, remind me never to invite you to a sleep over."
"Something's wrong." Angel said, sitting up in the cargo hold and slamming his head against the roof.
Gunn jumped backward, falling against the luggage. "What'd'ya mean, 'something's wrong'?"
"Oh God." Angel moaned, squeezing his eyes shut and grabbing his hair in both fists, pulling until tears came to his eyes.
"Angel? Man, what's happening? Are you okay?"
Gunn's voice came through the haze of pain as if he were miles away, his voice coming over a static filled telephone line. Angel barely felt the pain as he ripped at his hair and the tears suddenly cleared from his eyes. They remained squeezed shut as he groaned loudly, his stomach churning and his heart and head feeling like they were about to burst.
His fists clenched tighter around the hair they were already pulling and he screamed loudly, the noise tearing from his lungs and bursting into the confined space of the cargo hold. Then he was silent. His hands relaxed and they came away from his head, bits of hair and blood clinging to them. His eyes opened, revealing to Gunn that they were no longer brown, but they also were not the gold colour that they would usually turn as Angel let the demon take over.
"Angel?" Gunn moved backward, knocking a suitcase onto the floor. "Angel, what the hell happened to you? Are you feeling all right?"
Angel spun toward Gunn, the solitary light gleaming off his bright blue eyes. "Never felt better."
Ophelia sighed, her hands dropping to her lap and her head shaking, clearing out the words of the spell she had just performed.
"Well?" Holland asked.
"I did it." She replied. "The vampire has been taken over. His soul is fighting to regain control, I could feel that when the demon entered but he doesn't have a chance."
Holland smiled. "Good. Very good. Your help has been most appreciated. Mr. Mercer will show you out."
Ophelia nodded slowly, then collected her things and put them into her bag. Lindsey stepped forward and offered her his left hand. "Thanks for your help."
She smiled politely and shook his hand. "It was my pleasure." She answered, then followed Lee to the door.
As soon as the office doors closed behind them, Lee grabbed Ophelia's upper arm and pulled her down the hall and into a corner.
"What the hell are you doing here Ophelia?" He hissed, his hand tightening on her arm.
She frowned, "I'm here to take you home."
Lee smiled and shook his head. His grip loosened on her arm. "That amuses me Ophelia."
"Why does it amuse you?"
"Because no one can take me home now." Lee's dark eyes met hers. "It will never be possible."
Ophelia was silent for a long moment. "Mom died, you know. She had cancer for almost a year and she died about five months ago."
Lee didn't answer. He stared at her without emotion.
"Don't you even care?" She cried. "She was your sister. You loved her."
"I can't feel love." He replied.
"Why? Mom wanted to see you so badly before she died but you wouldn't come."
Lee sighed, his eyes cast toward the ground. "I remember loving her and I remember wanting to go to her while she was dying." He shook his head. "Holland would have never let me."
"Why don't you still love her?" Ophelia asked. "Why is it just a memory?"
"Because I'm not your uncle anymore. Your uncle died a long time ago."
She shook her head. "What?"
"He died Ophelia. I have his memories, but I don't have his feelings." Lee glanced up sharply. "I'll spare you the horror of seeing your uncle's face in the demon form, but I'll tell you this much. He's a vampire now. His body belongs to me, the demon. And since I don't have his feelings, I don't feel love for you. Since I don't feel that love, I won't have a problem killing you."
Ophelia's eyes grew wide and she took a step back.
"I won't kill you." Lee shook his head. "No, that would make Holland and Lindsey suspicious. They might know that Lee Mercer once had a family, he once had a chance to be someone special. Instead he chose this and they don't need to find out about what could have been." He let go of her arm and pushed her backward. "Just get out of here."
Ophelia stared, wide eyed, at the body of her uncle for a moment before she turned and started down the hall.
"Oh, and Ophelia." Lee called after her. She turned back to look at him. "Thanks for your help. Angel's going down, all thanks to you."
Ophelia cringed at the last words, then turned and ran down the hall, flying into the street and into the dark night. Rain pelted down on her head as she looked for a phone booth. She found one to her right and ran toward it, praying that this Angel person was in the phone book.
"Where is he?" Grace asked, tapping her foot impatiently. She glanced at her watch again, then looked around the crowded airport. "Gunn said the flight came in nearly an hour ago."
"They're here somewhere." Cordelia murmured, searching the throng of people. "Maybe they got caught in the cargo hold. They're in a lot of trouble if they did."
Wesley shook his head. "I doubt they got caught."
"Yeah," Grace added, "I thought Gunn and Angel were stealthy professionally."
Cordelia smiled. "Most of the time. On occasion they can be loud and rowdy, but we don't see that side very often."
"There's Gunn." Grace said, pointing at the person weaving toward them through the crowd. She frowned, "Why isn't Angel with him?"
Gunn reached them, then grabbed Grace's arm and began to lead them away. "Something weird happened on the airplane." He began breathlessly. "Something happened to Angel and he went a little psycho. His eyes are all wild and something's definitely wrong. He's been watching you three for the past hour and this was the first time I could get to you without him seeing."
Grace pulled her arm from Gunn's grasp and stopped the movement of the group. "What are you talking about Gunn? What happened on the plane?"
He sighed, then looked around and dove into his story. "We were sleeping and he started making these funky noises. So I woke him up and he said 'something's wrong' and then he started flipping out. He was pulling his hair out and groaning and then he screamed."
Cordelia's forehead creased in concern. "Did he tell you what happened?"
Gunn shook his head. "I asked him what was wrong and when he looked at me, his eyes were blue. It was so creepy. Something really weird happened to him on that ride home. But he acted almost normal for the rest of the flight. Like nothing happened. But his eyes are blue. When he comes for you, don't trust him." Gunn nodded at them, then disappeared into the crowd.
"I told you." Grace whirled toward Wesley. "I told you something was going to happen. What Lindsey said was true. We are so screwed Wes."
He placed his hand on her shoulder. "We don't know what Gunn said is true."
"Wesley," Cordelia said quietly, "I have a feeling it's true."
Wesley and Grace followed her gaze to find Angel weaving through the crowd toward them. He moved easily, as if people sensed what he was and moved out of his way. He barely had to stray from the straight line he was taking and Grace was terrified by the grin that was placed on his normally sombre mouth.
Angel stopped a few feet in front of them and forced his smile wider. "Hey gang." He winked at Cordelia and she noticed Gunn had been right. Angel's eyes were now a pale blue colour.
"Did you get contacts on your trip?" She asked sarcastically, waiting to see the reaction he gave her.
Angel turned his grin to Cordelia. "Contacts? Whatever do you mean?"
"Nothing Angel," she shook her head, "I didn't mean anything."
The vampire nodded, then glanced down at Grace. "Hey babe. Things are well I assume?"
"Things are weird." She replied.
"Angel, you're acting . . ." Grace trailed off, searching for the word, "different." She finally said.
"All part of the master plan babe." Then he bent down, grabbing the back of her neck with his hand and kissed her. He tangled his hand in her hair, then jerked her away and ripped his hand from her hair.
Grace cringed and grabbed the back of her head, checking for blood.
Angel grinned at her. "See you guys later." Then he turned and was gone.
"Something was definitely wrong." Wesley murmured.
Grace glared at him. "Gee, ya think?"
Cordelia shook her head. "What could make Angel act like this?"
"The curse?" Grace asked.
"No," Wesley said, "there's nothing that could have possibly made him happy while he was gone. Lindsey did something, like he said."
Grace sighed. "Now what?"
"Now we go straight to the source." Wesley replied.
"Wolfram and Hart?" Cordelia asked. "Wes, that would be a suicide mission. We don't know who they raised in that box and Lindsey would have us killed on the spot if he found us. It's not safe."
"What do you suggest then Cordelia?" Wesley asked.
She shrugged. "I don't know. Maybe we could get Gunn to go inside for us."
Grace shook her head. "After the terror I saw in his eyes, I have a feeling Gunn's not going to be around for a while."
Wesley sighed. "Then I don't know what else to suggest."
As they had been standing there, the crowd had thinned out. Grace, Cordelia and Wesley stood in the now nearly empty airport and wondered exactly what would happen when they went home.
Onto Part 2
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