RATING: PG 14.
TEASER: Lindsey's nights are consumed with dreams of his dead family as Wesley finds out something interesting about Angel's future as a human.
WARNINGS: Strong violence and minor language.
DISCLAIMER: I don't own 'em. I wish I had the geniousity (is that a word?) of Joss Whedon, but sadly, I don't. I just own Grace O'Doyle. The rest belong to Joss and co.
Lindsey McDonald was standing alone in downtown Los Angeles. A strange calm had fallen over the normally busy town and not a single soul moved through the streets as he watched for them. Lindsey couldn't see any movement anywhere, as hard as he looked he couldn't find a single living thing.
Cars were abandoned in the middle of the streets, their engines dying and sputtering out. Purses, briefcases and backpacks littered the sidewalk and parks, looking lost, as if their owners had dropped them and run on the spur of the moment. Fog overran the city, making it nearly impossible for Lindsey to see more than a few yards in front of his face.
He took a few steps forward, his shoes thumping loudly against the asphalt of the street. His shadow loomed ahead of him, cast into a strange shape by the street lights behind him. Silence enveloped him as he searched for a sign of life. He sighed and walked toward a bench in the park across the street. He fell wearily onto it and lowered his hand to his hands.
Lindsey glanced at his arms sharply to find that he had both of his hands, both intact and both real. He grinned, turning his right hand over and staring at it. He poked it with a finger from his left hand and smiled even wider when he realized that his right hand had feeling again. It was back.
Someone stepped up in front of him and Lindsey looked up, startled by the sudden presence. A young girl stood there, her brown hair falling in curls down her back and her green eyes glowing with interest. She couldn't have been more than seven years old. She was wearing a pair of black jeans and a blue sweatshirt with a dog on the front. In her left hand she dragged along a beat up backpack with characters from an old cartoon that Lindsey barely remembered. She grinned happily when he glanced at her, showing her missing front tooth. As he stared in awe, she giggled and pushed her tongue through the hole.
"C'mon Lyns," she begged, dropping the backpack and grabbing his hand. She pulled at his fingers until he stood up. "You promised you'd take me today. You promised mom that you would because you couldn't take me yesterday."
Lindsey followed the young girl, stooping for a moment to retrieve the backpack she had dropped, then took off after her again.
"Wait!" He called and the girl stopped. He caught up to her and crouched by her side. "Who are you?" He asked. "I don't know you. What's your name? Where are your parents?"
The young girl's face crumpled. "Mom said this would happen." A tear squeezed out and ran down her cheek. "She told me that you wouldn't remember."
"Remember what?" Lindsey shook his head in despair, then brushed away the solitary tear on the little girl's beautiful face. "I'm sorry, but what's going on?"
"Lindsey!" She shrieked, snatching her face away from his hand. "Don't be such a stupid head!" She smacked at his right hand, leaving a little red mark on it. "Why don't you remember me? I was your best friend, you told me that before you left. You promised you'd always remember."
Lindsey felt his heart breaking. "I'm so sorry little girl,"
"My name is Isabelle!" She screamed at him before running away into the park. The fog closed around her, taking her from Lindsey's sight. He sat down hard on the grass, his eyes wide and his hands running through his hair.
After a moment he noticed that he still held the young girl's backpack. He opened it carefully and pulled out the thin booklet inside. The front of it read 'My Family' and Lindsey knew what secrets it contained before he opened it.
"Don't." He hissed in a low voice to himself. "You don't want to see this." But despite his words, his trembling hand opened to the front page of the book. Pasted on that page were pictures of people. Two pictures were at the top and under them were the words 'Mom and Dad'. Under them was a line of five children, each with a name under it. The last picture on the right was a picture of Lindsey at a younger age, when he had been fifteen. Tears squeezed out of his eyes as he stared at the picture. The picture under all the others was of the beautiful little girl he'd seen moments before. The caption under her picture read 'Isabelle McDonald'.
"This is crazy." Lindsey murmured, wiping away the tears that came streaming down his cheeks. "It's insane. It's nothing."
Even after he spoke the words, Lindsey tenderly touched two of the pictures. Alex and Joanna McDonald.
"Flu season." He murmured.
He flipped the page to find a picture of him lifting Isabelle in the air. There were pictures of the same kind on the next page and the page after. The last page read 'My big brother Lindsey is my best friend because he takes me out to the park every day after school, except when he works sometimes. I love him the most out of all my brothers and sisters.'
Lindsey threw the booklet down on the ground and looked up to find Isabelle staring at him again.
"Do you know what you did to me?" She asked, reaching forward and gently stroking his face. "Do you remember?"
"Your voice." He murmured. "It's too old for you. You're only seven years old Isabelle."
"But I was a little older when I died." She replied. "Don't you remember Lyns? You were nineteen years old, I was eleven. You started working for Wolfram and Hart. Do you remember the rest?"
Lindsey shook his head and squeezed his eyes shut. "I won't relive this."
"I'll make you." She replied.
When he opened his eyes again, Isabelle had turned into a beautiful young woman. "This is what I'd be if you hadn't killed me Lyns. You know the girl that the vampire loves? Grace? That's who I'd look like. I'd only be a few years younger than she is now. That's why you hate her so much, because she reminds you so much of me."
"Shut up Isabelle." He growled.
Isabelle kneeled in front of him, taking his face in her hands once more. He looked away and back again to find her as an eleven year old girl, still holding that old backpack. "You started to work for Wolfram and Hart and they didn't like that you had a family."
"I don't believe this." Lindsey said.
"You blocked it out." She told him. "They said having a family was dangerous. It's like having someone to convince you to leave the firm. Don't you remember coming home that day Lyns? I do, I remember it like it was yesterday. Maybe that's because, for me, it was yesterday."
"I'm not going to let you do this."
"They stormed into our home before you came back from work Lyns. They slaughtered us. Don't you remember Lyns?"
"Stop calling me that!" He yelled.
"Remember coming home to that bloodbath? It was your birthday and you were coming home to celebrate. After so many years of living in shelters, we had finally been able to afford a real home thanks to you. But that didn't last very long, did it?" She asked. "Our parents were shot and stabbed in the kitchen, both sitting at the table. Our sisters were dead in the living room. But not me, they knew about your love for me. I was always your favourite, so they made sure I got a special death."
Lindsey turned away, as if it could ward off the painful memories she was saying.
"They cut me up really good. They stabbed me so many times, I could feel the air whistling through the holes in my lungs before I died. Do you remember what they did to me after that?"
"No." He whispered.
"They decapitated me. They cut off my head and left it on your bed Lyns." Isabelle stroked his face again. "You loved me so much and because of it they brutally murdered me. You found my head, my open eyes staring up at you, pleading with you to find a way to take it all back. But you couldn't. You had sold your soul to Wolfram and Hart and part of the price was your family." She shook her head sadly. "I was so disappointed in you Lindsey. I always thought you'd come home to us. I guess I was wrong."
Isabelle stood up and backed away. "I was wrong and now look at you. You're fighting against the good and you're losing. The battle is almost over Lindsey and you're not going to come out alive." She nodded to his right hand. "You've already lost part of yourself, when's the rest going to get lost too?"
Lindsey glanced down to find his hand still there. "It's here Isabelle." He held it up for her to see. "It's still here."
"I wasn't talking about your hand Lyns." She leaned forward with a sad smile and gently touched his chest. "I was talking about your heart." She turned away and began to leave into the fog once more.
"I never meant for it to be like this." Lindsey called after her. "I loved you so much."
Isabelle looked back at him, tears shimmering in her eyes. "I love you Lindsey. I've always loved you, you were my older brother, my favourite brother. I loved you and I believed in you with my last breath. As I died, I still held so tightly to the belief that you would come and save me, but you never did. You shattered a little girl's faith in her big brother. And while I still love you Lindsey, I no longer believe in you." Then she was gone.
Lindsey stood up, glancing around wildly. The silence had returned, but with it there was a tension. "Hello?" He called.
Lindsey turned to find Angel swooping at him out of the darkness.
Lindsey sat upright in his bed, breathing hard and gasping for breath. He scrambled to see his hand in the dark, switching on the beside lamp and staring at the place his right hand should have been. There was nothing there, as he knew there would be.
He lay back down again, the light still on, still breathing hard. "It was just a dream." He murmured, wiping the sweat off his forehead. "Just a dream."
Lindsey lay there for a long while, remembering the things his younger sister had said to him in that dream.
"Isabelle." He finally murmured, then buried his face in his pillow as he began to sob.
Grace hopped down the stairs of Angel's apartment with a book in her hands. Cordelia and Wesley were sitting together on the couch, flipping through files and papers.
"What are you guys doing?" Grace asked, hopping in front of them.
Cordelia smiled. "Going through our old cases. We're trying to see which clients maybe need a follow up. Make some more money off them."
"Unfortunately, none of our clients seem to need a follow up." Wesley sighed.
Grace nodded, smiling happily. "Great, sounds like fun. Uh, where's Angel?"
"In his room." Cordelia said. "He grumbled something about trying to sleep. Maybe you can wake him up and put him in a better mood." She paused as Wesley and Grace both stared at her. "Oh come on! I didn't mean it like that!"
Grace just shook her head with a smile and turned toward Angel's bedroom. She pushed open the door to find him sprawled out across his bed, his face buried under his pillow. He was wearing his regular black pants without a shirt and Grace shook her head again as she watched him toss and turn, attempting to sleep.
She crossed the room and carefully sat on the edge of the bed, then placed the book she was carrying on the floor. Knowing her hands were cold, Grace placed them both on Angel's back and laughed when he winced, then flipped over to look at her.
"Sorry." She said, still trying not to laugh.
Angel made a growling sound in his throat and shook his head. "You forget, I'm always cold. You still surprised me though." He sat up against the headboard and looked at her. "How come you're here so early? You usually don't get here until noon."
Grace nodded, "I know." She bent down and picked up the book, then moved so she was sitting beside Angel. "I just really wanted to show this to you."
"What is it?" He asked, opening the front cover.
"I was out last night, in the new magic shop and the store keeper said this book might have some clues to a cure for your curse." Grace flipped through a few pages. "I haven't been able to find anything yet and there are a few passages I'll have to get Wesley to translate, but it's looking hopeful."
Angel stared at her in wonder. "I had no idea you were still doing this."
Grace frowned. "Doing what?"
"Working on a cure for me. I thought you'd given up."
She shook her head. "Don't be silly. Of course I'm still working on the cure and I'm not going to give up."
"It's just that you've been here for so long. What is it? Eight months now?"
"Nine," she corrected him, "and it doesn't matter. Things won't be normal until I find a cure for you."
Angel smiled. "You're incredible."
"I love when you do that."
"Do what?" He asked. "Tell you you're incredible?"
Grace shook her head. "No, I love when you smile." She grinned at him. "You're got such a great smile. I wish you did it more often."
He smiled again, wider this time. "Well, with the way you're working, I might have a reason to smile more often."
Grace nodded, flipping the pages again. "I have a great feeling about this book Angel. I know it's going to help us out, even if it's just a little bit." She yawned.
"Tired?" Angel asked.
She nodded. "I was up most of the night reading the book. I didn't get much sleep."
Angel took the book from her hands, then stood up and turned down the covers of his bed. Smiling gratefully, Grace crawled under the comforter and snuggled against one of his pillows. A moment later, Angel slid in beside her, turning on his side to face her.
Face to face, Grace smiled at him, then leaned forward to brush his lips with her own. Angel smiled back, then watched as she closed her eyes and fell asleep. He stayed there a moment longer, waiting until he heard her steady breathing. Then Angel pushed back the covers on his side and stood up, tucking the sheet gently around Grace.
He found his shirt on the floor and shrugged it on, then entered his living room while buttoning it.
"Hey." He said, sitting across from Cordelia and Wesley.
Wesley glanced up and smiled. "What was that all about?"
Angel frowned. "What was what all about?"
"Grace came in here with more energy that a pack of toddlers on a sugar high." Cordelia explained. "She nearly bounced from room to room. What was that book?"
"Oh," Angel nodded, "she said the book might have clues toward a cure for me. Nothing definite yet and she said there are a few passages that need translating." He grinned. "She was pretty hyper, but she crashed a few minutes later."
"Is she sleeping?" Cordelia asked.
Angel nodded again. "Sound asleep. So much for that sugar high."
Wesley smiled, noting Angel's happy tone as he talked about Grace. "Is the book in there with her?" He asked. "Because I can get to work translating those passages now. It's not like I have anything else to do."
"Yeah, she dropped it on the floor before falling asleep." Angel answered. "You can go in and get it if you'd like. I have something to do."
Cordelia glanced at him. "Where are you going?"
"To see Gunn." He replied. "I'm not sure he even wants to see any of us after what happened last time . . . but I figure I'll try to talk to him anyway."
Cordelia nodded as Wesley went into Angel's room to retrieve the book. "That's a good idea. As much as you don't want to admit it sometimes, we need his help."
"That's why I'm going." Angel said. "If she wakes up before I'm back tell her where I went." He asked, then turned and went to the sewer opening he could slip into and travel safely beneath the streets of Los Angeles.
Lindsey shook his head, trying to clear the groggy feeling he had from not sleeping the night before. He his head throbbed angrily and occasionally his vision blurred. The harder he tried to pay attention at the meeting, the harder it was to stay awake.
Holland smiled, standing before the employees he had gathered in his office. "I hate to bring this upon you on a Monday morning, but we've had some strange things going on this weekend. They could easily be attributed to the vampire and his friends, but to be on the safe side we have the mind readers here today."
Lindsey groaned inwardly. It wasn't that he had anything to hide, the only thing the mind readers would be able to tell Holland at the end of the day was that Lindsey McDonald was dead tired. He just hated wasting half the day standing in line and waiting for the ten seconds it took for these women to stand in front of him and read his thoughts.
As the other employees filed out of the office, Lindsey sighed and pushed himself to his feet, intent on sitting against the wall for the entire day if he was going to be forced to stand.
"Lindsey." Holland said, before he had left the office.
"Yes sir?" Lindsey asked, turning back toward him.
"I just wanted you to know that if you don't want to, the mind readers won't have to read your thoughts."
Lindsey smiled lightly. "That's very kind sir. But I know if I accept your offer you'll think that I have something to hide, when I don't. So, I'll wait in the line and I'll let them do their thing. It's not my life on the line this time."
Holland nodded. "If you say so Lindsey. It's just that you look dead on your feet and I thought you'd appreciate the time off to go home and get some sleep."
Lindsey brightened at the prospect of sleep. "You'd be willing to let me leave for the day?"
"Of course. I don't want any of my employees coming to work sick. If you still want to prove to me that you have nothing to hide, then I can call the mind readers in now and we can get it over with so you can go home."
Lindsey smiled gratefully. "Sir, that would be the best thing I've heard in a long time."
Holland smiled back, then buzzed his secretary to send the mind readers in. The two women entered a moment later and stepped up in front of Lindsey. He barely seemed to notice as the thought of spending the entire day sleeping was still on his mind.
One of the women smiled. "He's thinking of nothing but going home to sleep." She said. "He doesn't have a single guilty thought in his mind."
Holland nodded. "Thank you both. You may move onto the others now." As they left the room, he looked at Lindsey. "And you have my permission to go home."
"Thank you sir. I've never been this tired in my life."
Holland nodded sympathetically. "Get some sleep Lindsey. Come to work tomorrow rested and feeling well."
Lindsey smiled again, then picked up his jacket off the back of the chair and left the office. There was nothing that sounded better to him at that moment, than sleep.
Holland watched as his best employee left his office. When Lindsey was gone, he reached over and touched a button on his call system. "Send in Darla and the others." He said, then went around his desk to wait.
Darla, Lee and Lilah entered the room a moment later, all standing in front of him.
"It's working." Holland said. "The thoughts you're putting into his mind Darla have begun to take their toll."
She smiled. "As I told you they would."
Holland nodded. "You have more powers than I could have ever dreamed." He glanced at Lee. "Get her to teach you. We need another who can do this to him."
Lilah shook her head. "I don't understand why we're having Darla put these suggestions into his head. So, he thinks Angel kills his family instead of us? Then what?"
"If he thinks Angel kills his family, he'll go after the vampire himself." Holland answered.
"Why would we want that?" She asked. "He'd get himself killed."
Holland smiled. "You have no idea how effective these dreams are. If he's insane with anger and lack of sleep, he'll be more powerful than we'd ever know. Trust me Lilah, this will help us in the end."
Wesley dropped the heavy book on the coffee table beside the files he and Cordelia had been studying. She jumped slightly, then glared at him before getting up to get more coffee from the pot in Angel's kitchen.
Wesley removed his glasses before setting to work on the passage of the book that Grace had already highlighted with a marker. His fingers worked quickly, flying through the words and writing down their English interpretation.
He paused for a moment, biting the end of the pen he was holding. "Well, this is very interesting." He murmured, glancing between the book and the small, locked closet that held the scroll of Aberjian.
"What is?" Cordelia asked, sitting beside him and looking at the book.
"This book." He chewed on the pen again. "The book keeper didn't lie, it holds clues toward Angel's cure."
Cordelia visibly brightened. "That's so great! Tell me what it says."
Wesley frowned. "I'm not exactly sure at the moment. I mean, I have a fairly good idea, but I just need this other book." He glanced around the room, discovering the book he needed on the table near the door. He got up to get it, then returned to the couch and flipped through the pages. After a few moments of silence, as Wesley marked things on the pages, Cordelia groaned.
"Come on!" She said. "Just tell me. Turn the gibberish into English and tell me what it says."
"It says to check the scroll of Aberjian." He replied.
She groaned again. "That's it? We've checked that stupid scroll a billion times."
Wesley raised his eyebrows. "I'd like to remind you that 'stupid scroll' saved your life when you were having the endless visions."
She grinned. "Oh yeah, that."
"Besides, in this book are the instructions to translate a passage I thought would be impossible to ever read." Wesley smiled at her and shoved his glasses back up his nose. "Thanks to Grace I can finally find out what it means." He stood up and hurried over to the case. After unlocking it and removing the scroll, he returned to his place and found the passage he needed to translate.
"It's not even difficult." He murmured, glancing down at the pages. "This is very simple."
"So what does it say?" Cordelia asked.
"It says that a young woman intent on helping Angel earn his redemption will find a way to turn him back. "
Cordelia's jaw dropped. "That's Grace! Oh my God, Wesley! That's Grace. That means Angel's going to get his soul back so he can be with Grace!" She jumped up. "That's incredible."
Wesley rose with her. "I know, it-it's fantastic. Grace and Angel will be ecstatic."
"Forget about them!" Cordelia cried. "I'm ecstatic." She dove forward and wrapped Wesley in a hug. "Angel's going to be human and he's going to be with Grace."
Wesley nodded and smiled, wrapping his arms around Cordelia's waist and hugging her back. He found after a few seconds, the moment of surprise had passed and Cordelia's arms were still wrapped around him, her head nestled contently in the crook of his neck.
Wesley cleared his throat uncertainly and Cordelia jumped a little.
"Oh, uh, sorry." She mumbled, catching him staring at her.
Wesley shook his head. "No, no, quite all right. I'm sorry too."
The slowly backed away from each other, Cordelia still staring at him in that way that made him feel slightly uncomfortable and slightly turned on.
She frowned suddenly. "No, you know what?"
"Why sorry? Why am I saying sorry?" She asked. "I'm not sorry at all." Cordelia walked up to him and grabbed Wesley by the back of the neck, then brought his head down to meet hers in a kiss. Completely startled, it took Wesley a moment to react to the kiss, but when he did it was wonderful. All the past doubts he had, had about Cordelia, all the thoughts of past bad experiences and failed kisses flew from his mind as he lost himself in the kiss he'd been waiting for since he had met her.
Cordelia took a step back, smiling shyly, then took a seat on the couch again. She shrugged. "I've been waiting to do that for a while. Sorry, I guess I kind of over stepped my boundaries, huh?"
Wesley sat beside her and shook his head. "No, you didn't over step any boundaries. I've been waiting to do that since I met you Cordelia."
She brightened. "Really?"
"Oh." Cordelia grinned. "Good. I'm glad to know I have such an effect on men."
Wesley smiled back and tilted his head slightly to get another kiss from her.
"Hey, if you two are planning to make out on Angel's couch, at least tell me." Grace said suddenly from Angel's bedroom door and they jumped apart guiltily. She chuckled, then walked to the kitchen to find something to eat.
Cordelia followed her quickly. "You're not surprised?"
Grace raised an eyebrow. "Surprised that you kissed?"
Grace laughed. "No, I'm not surprised that you kissed. I am surprised that it took you so damn long though."
"What?" Cordelia shook her head. "We didn't even know about these feelings, how could you?"
Grace pulled a bowl of salad out of the fridge and found a fork in a drawer before answering. "Of course you guys knew, you were just too proud to admit it. Angel and I have known for quite a while. It's so obvious. When you watch Wes and he's not looking, you have that sort of glazed look in your eyes. He does the same thing. As I said, I'm surprised it took you guys so long to figure it out."
Cordelia sat across from her at the kitchen table. "Why would you be surprised about that?"
Grace looked at her sadly. "Angel and I can't be together and not by our own choice. I thought that maybe, working so closely with two people like that, you both would realize how lucky you are when you find someone you love that you can be with."
Cordelia smiled sadly. "I know how you feel Grace. But at least you can be a little bit happier."
"Because Wesley worked on that book you got." Cordelia said. "There's a passage in the scroll that tells of a young woman finding the cure for Angel." She smiled. "You Grace."
"He translated it. You're going to find the cure and you're going to be with Angel."
Grace dropped the fork she was holding, a look of absolute disbelief on her face. "I'm going to find his cure?"
Cordelia nodded. "And when you do, you won't have to worry about anything ever again."
Onto Part 2
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