Small Price to Pay

TEASER: Grace, Angel and Cordelia only have two days left to find out how to cure Wesley.


DISCLAIMER: I don't own anyone in the following story except for Grace and Jamie. They belong to Joss Whedon and co.


Grace sat by Wesley's bedside in the hospital. It was her turn to stay up a watch him on the first night he had been admitted and she had begun to watch him very closely. In the past seven hours since he had been found, Wesley had begun to exhibit some changes. Small things at first, like his laboured breathing. Then larger things, like the bumps growing on the backs on his hands.

"How's he doing?" Angel asked, coming into the room with a styrofoam cup of hot chocolate in his hands. He handed it to Grace as she shook her head.

"Not too good Angel. There's something really scary going on with him and I can't really place what it is."

Angel took a seat across from her. "What do you mean?"

"Listen to him." She gestured with the stir stick from her drink. "He sounds horrible."

"He's had a rough night."

"Then explain this." Grace put the cup on Wesley's night stand, then reached for his hand and turned it over for Angel to see. On the back was a ridge of small bumps. They cross from the space between his thumb and forefinger, straight across to the place under his little finger.

Angel's brow creased as he looked at them, then reached across to look at Wesley's other hand. It had the same ridge.

"What the hell . . ." he trailed off as Grace nodded.

"That's what I mean. There's something happening to him and I bet my life, that it has to do with that needle I got from Lindsay."

"Jamie's analysing it for us right now." Angel said. "We'll know in the morning exactly what's going on."

* * *

"I knew it!" Lindsey exclaimed. "Grace is a demon, I knew there was something strange about her."

Lilah shook her head. "We didn't anticipate this. Now the vampire has the help of a demon? Lindsey, we could be in trouble."

He turned to look at her. "Are you crazy? Lilah, this is wonderful."

She crossed her arms, "How so?"

"We catch Angel, bring him in for studies. And we get the girl. What was she, a . . ." he paused as he searched for the name of the demon, "a Bracken demon, right?"

Lilah nodded. "I believe she was half Bracken."

"Half?" Lindsey asked.

"Yes, half. Only half demons can control their changes the way she did."

Lindsey nodded. "Half demon. That's just as good."

Lilah walked toward him smiling. "And by this time tomorrow, Wesley will be a half demon too."

Lindsey smiled back at her, feeling better than he had in so long.

* * *

"Tell me what you remember." Jamie Harrison said, sitting by Wesley's bedside. "Any information would be useful in helping us find your kidnapper."

Wesley nodded slowly, struggling to sit up in his hospital bed. Angel, Cordelia and Grace stood near the bed, all staring at him with worried expressions.

"It was too dark to see much," he began, wetting his lips as he spoke, "they arrived in a limousine, that much I remember. They . . ." he trailed off, struggling to remember what had happened to him. Wesley shook his head in despair, "It's no use. I can't remember anything more. I'm sorry."

Jamie sighed, not wanting to make the experience any harder on Wesley but needing the information. "Anything." She pushed, "anything at all. Try Wesley."

He drew in a deep breath. "All right. I'll try." He remained lying in the bed, his eyes closed for a few minutes before speaking. "The men that came out of the limo were both big. Maybe six foot three, or taller. They looked alike, brown hair, dark eyes. I don't recall much else about them, the details are fuzzy."

"What about inside the limo?" Jamie asked. "Was there anyone in there?"

Wesley rubbed his temples. "Yes, I believe there was. A young man and woman." His eyes flew open suddenly. "It was Lindsey."

Angel looked at him. "Are you sure?"

Jamie stared at them both. "Lindsey who? Do you have the last name?"

"Lindsey McDonald." Angel told her. "He works for,"

"Wolfram and Hart." She interrupted him. "I know." Jamie turned back to Wesley. "Are you sure that it was Mr. McDonald in the car?"

He nodded. "Positive. He said something about wanting to make me different." Wesley closed his eyes again and frowned. "I don't remember anything else, just waking up here."

Jamie closed her notebook and stood. "That's enough for now. I'll have to investigate further into this case." She lightly touched Wesley's hand. "For now, I just want you to rest."

Cordelia stared at Jamie's fingers on Wesley's hand and watched as they just barely missed the growing ridge. She felt a sudden tug of anger and jealousy as she watched this woman touch him. She wasn't allowed to touch Wesley, he wasn't hers.

Cordelia startled herself by realizing that she was actually jealous. It wasn't that she wanted Wesley . . . was it? No, it was just that she didn't want anyone else to have him.

But as she stared at him in his hospital bed, looking weak and frightened she realized it was true. She did want Wesley. So much had changed since the last time that they were together, they were both different now, better people. She shook her head and decided that for now, they had to concentrate on what Lindsey had done.

"That needle," Angel was saying, "did you find out what was in it?"

Jamie faltered then. "I examined it, broke it down to whatever I could but the components are still strange. I can't tell you what's in it."

"Do you have it still?" Cordelia asked, then turned toward Angel. "We could send it to Giles. If it's something supernatural of course the police won't have records of it but Giles will."

Angel nodded, "That's a good idea."

"I still have a sample." Jamie pulled a test tube from her purse and handed it to Angel. "I sure hope your friend can help you, because there's no way I can tell you what's in that."

Wesley smiled weakly. "If anyone knows, it'll be Giles."

* * *

"I sent it early this morning," Angel said into the phone, "it should arrive there tonight some time." He paused, listening to what Giles had to say. "Thanks. We really need to know what's in that." There was another long pause and Angel smiled. "We're all doing well, except for Wesley, as I told you. Other than that, we're fine. We're having a little trouble with a local law firm, Wolfram and Hart, but nothing we can't handle." His smile grew larger, "I'll make sure I tell them. All right Giles, take care of yourself." Then he hung up.

Cordelia and Grace were sitting in the office waiting for an answer.

"Well?" Cordelia asked. "What'd he say?"

"That Xander, Willow and Buffy say hi."

"Oh," she smiled, "that's nice. How are they doing?"

Angel nodded, "Giles said they're good. They went up against a pretty tough demon earlier in the summer but that's all over with now. You know how it goes."

"But about the mixture?" Grace interrupted.

"Right, sorry. Giles said he'd take a look at it as soon as he got it and get Willow to look at it to. They'll call as soon as they know anything, day or night." Angel looked around. "I guess there's not much more we can do other than wait."

Grace sighed. "That's gonna drive us all insane."

"I was under the impression you were already insane." Angel teased, then shot a secret grin in Grace's direction.

Cordelia looked shocked. "Angel, you made a joke." She turned to Grace. "I am quite impressed. You have the influence to make Angel joke."

Grace smiled, "Well, I don't really like to brag, but . . ." she trailed off, still smiling.

"Should we wait here, or go see Wesley?" Angel asked, serious once again.

Grace looked up. "I'd say we should go stay with Wesley, but shouldn't someone stay by the phone?"

Cordelia nodded. "She's right. And I don't exactly want to stay here alone. If you want to go watch Wesley for a while we could stay here and wait for Giles to call. Then we could switch off."

"Okay," Angel took his duster off the back of his chair, "I'll call before I leave so you'll know when to get ready." He waved as he went out the door and the women waved back.

Cordelia waited until the outside door slammed, then turned to Grace. "So, what's going on with you and Angel?"

Grace pretended not to know what she was talking about. "Me and Angel? What do you mean?"

"You're about as good at bluffing as Doyle was." Cordelia snorted.

Grace smiled. "I'm that obvious?"

Cordelia nodded, but didn't say anything.

The half demon sighed and thought for a moment before speaking. "I don't know what's going on exactly." She began, "I know there's something going on but I can't exactly define it. It's just there, nagging at the back of my mind. But I know nothing can happen until we can find a cure for him. And I don't know when that will be." She finished unhappily.

"Did Angel tell you about the scroll?" Cordelia asked.

Grace looked up. "What about the scroll?"

"That one day, after he fights and earns his redemption, Angel will become human."

Grace stared at Cordelia for a long moment, struggling to find the words to express what she was feeling. "He never told me." She finally said. "I . . . I didn't know."

"I'm not trying to pretend that this is going to be easy," Cordelia said, "but I just thought that you should know, even if you can't find a cure there will eventually be a day when you can be together."

Again, Grace couldn't find her voice. When she finally did, she said, "Why wouldn't he tell me? Didn't he want me to know?"

"I think maybe he didn't tell you because he didn't want to get your hopes up about it and have to make you wait until it happened." Cordelia explained in a soft voice. "I don't think he did it to hurt you."

"No," Grace decided, "I don't think he did either."

* * *

"How much longer will he have to be in here?" Angel asked, watching as the nurse renewed Wesley's intravenous.

She shook her head uncertainly. "I can't give you an exact number of days. He's had some side effects from whatever happened and the doctor would like to run some tests."

Angel glanced down at Wesley, making sure he was asleep. "What kind of side effects?" He asked.

The nurse also looked at Wesley before answering. "We did a chest x-ray earlier this morning and we noticed a growth under each lung."

"Cancer?" Angel looked surprised.

"No, not cancer. The doctor examined it and he knows for sure that it's not any kind of tumour we've seen before. We can't pinpoint what it is, what it's made out of or what could be inside." The nurse paused for a moment. "We think it's tissue of some kind but it's nothing we can name."

"What about the bumps on his hand?" Angel asked.

Again the nurse shook her head. "It's a strange case. We really have no idea what's going on or what could have triggered these growths." She finished taking care of Wesley and shot Angel a quick smile before leaving the room.

Angel stared as his friend slept and wondered exactly what Lindsey had done to him.

"I won't let them get away with it." He whispered a vicious promise in the empty room. "Not now, not ever. They won't get away with hurting my friends."

His cell phone rang a moment later, startling him.


"Angel, it's Grace." She spoke rapidly, as if she were worried.

"Yeah, what's up?"

"Giles just called us back."

"Oh." Angel suddenly understood why she sounded worried. "What did he say?"

"The mixture is something called 'Alendale poison'. It hasn't been used for centuries, the late fifteenth century was the last recorded use of it. It was used by women who pretended they were vengeance demons. Someone named Anya explained this part to me."

Angel nodded, "Anya used to be a vengeance demon. She'll know about the fakes."

"Yeah," Grace continued, "she got a little excited talking about her demon days but she was pretty cooperative. She said the some women wanted to be the ones to punish unfaithful men so they created this poison. Once injected into the human blood stream it takes seventy two hours to change the human into a demon."

Angel paused to digest what Grace was telling him. "So, we basically have two days left to find some way to stop this?"

"Giles said there was an antidote created in the early thirteenth century, right after Alendale had popped up. But we have no way of finding this, or even knowing how to make it. They couldn't find anything at all about the antidote. Not a name, not a location of where it could be, not even a simple recipe."

"Grace, it'll be okay." Angel said. "Wolfram and Hart wouldn't risk using this without an antidote somewhere. There has to be one. The senior partners wouldn't let Lindsey do that without a back up plan."

"But Angel, what if the senior partners didn't know?"

He took a deep breath. "We're just going to have to hope that they did."

* * *

"I want to see how our little boy is doing." Lilah said, leaning against Lindsey's desk.

"You know that I do too." He said. "But we can't go now, not when he could still remember us."

She sighed. "You know that's impossible. He'll never remember."

"I know." Lindsey smiled. "I just can't wait to see the look on Angel's face when his best friend ever turns out to be a demon. What a surprise."

Lilah laughed, the sound causing the vampire in the cage to growl.

"Looks like our girl is unhappy." Lindsey said, staring at the cage. "How long do you figure until she's up to full strength and remembers everything?"

Lilah shook her head. "I don't know. A month, maybe more." She looked worried. "Is that enough time?"

"It'll have to be." He opened his mouth to say something else when the intercom beeped on his desk.

"Yes?" He asked, pushing in the button.

"There's an Officer Harrison here to see you Mr. McDonald." The female voice spoke over the intercom.

"Give me a second." Lindsey let go of the button as Lilah opened a hidden closet door and strain to push the cage containing Darla inside. Lindsey went to help her, then went to his door to open it. He was stunned to see a tall, beautiful woman walking toward his office. She held out her hand.

"I'm Jamie Harrison."

He nodded, "I'm Lindsey McDonald and this is Lilah Morgan."

"If you don't mind," Jamie said to Lilah, "I'd like to speak with Mr. McDonald alone."

"That's no problem. I should be getting back to my office any how." Lilah left the office, shutting the door tightly behind her.

"What can I help you with Ms. Harrison?" Lindsey asked, sitting behind his desk and placing his arms on the top.

"Officer Harrison please." She said, then pulled a notebook from her purse. "I'd just like to ask you a few questions concerning a recent kidnapping and another report of violence here at Wolfram and Hart."

Lindsey smiled what he knew was a charming smile and leaned back in his chair. "I'll do whatever I can to help you Officer."

"All right. The night before last,"

"That would be the seventeenth?" Lindsey asked.

Jamie nodded. "Yes, the seventeenth. That night a man was kidnapped. He was found the next evening and in a recent interview he directly pinpointed you as one of the kidnappers."

Lindsey laughed. "Me? Well, I hate to break these delusions, but I had a case yesterday, a very important one. You can ask Ms. Morgan or any of the senior partners, I was here on the night of the seventeenth."

"All night?" Jamie asked, doubt rising in her voice.

Lindsey nodded. "Until three or so in the morning. I didn't get much sleep so I stayed at the office as long as I possibly could."

Jamie jotted this down, then flipped the page. "I'll have to question Ms. Morgan and the senior partners as you suggested, but I'm sure your alibi will come through."

"Of course."

"As for the other thing," her eyes scanned the page, "there was a report of a fight here about two months ago." Her eyes went down to the top of his desk. "I was wondering if you'd tell me how you lost your hand Mr. McDonald."

"Snowmobiling accident," he said easily, "I have family in North Dakota and when I went up there for Christmas this year . . ." he trailed off and held up the handless arm, "well, let's just say I didn't have the best time."

"No," Jamie leaned forward, "let's not just say that. Let's tell me the name and phone numbers of all the family members that live in North Dakota and let's tell me the entire story."

Lindsey sighed and stood up. "All right. I have all my family members numbers in this book." He rummaged through a drawer, as if looking for the book. "Where did I put it?" He asked himself. "Oh yes, I remember." He walked toward the wall. "Come with me please Officer Harrison."

Jamie shot him a look full of suspicion, but followed him to the wall.

Lindsey opened the secret panel and stuck his arm inside. Pretending he was looking for the phone book he quietly unlatched the door to Darla's cage.

"Dammit." He muttered. "I could have sworn I left it in there."

When Jamie leaned forward curiously to see what else could be in the secret closet, Lindsey moved over and grabbed her upper arm.

"Shouldn't ask so many questions," he said, "it could get you killed." Then he shoved Jamie into the secret closet with the vampire and slammed the door shut behind her.

Lindsey moved over to his desk, listening to Jamie's wail as Darla savagely attacked her.

"Alice," he said, pressing the button on the intercom, "tell the feeders that they don't have to come today. Darla's already eaten."

* * *

"Jamie said she'd be back by now." Cordelia said, looking at the clock in Wesley's hospital room. "We need to know what Lindsey told her."

"What lies he told her." Grace corrected.

Cordelia nodded in silent response.

"So this poison," Wesley said, "it will make me a demon?"

Angel sighed. "Yes. Have you seen your hands?"

Wesley raised his hands up in front of his face so that he could look at them. The ridges had since broken his skin and were growing larger by the minute. They were black and cracked, with tiny spikes on the top of each.

"God, whatever demon you're becoming sure looks like he could use some moisturizer." Cordelia commented, staring at the cracked skin.

"Thank you for that Cordelia." Wesley said in a weary voice.

"The nurse also said something about a growth under your lungs," Angel began carefully, not wanting to scare his friend, "have you noticed anything? Any trouble breathing?"

"For a while he sounded pretty bad." Grace said.

Wesley nodded, "I do remember having trouble breathing, like I had a cold. But now," he drew in a deep breath, "I felt like I've never been able to breathe better." He shifted uncomfortably. "But my back is itchy and it's hard to find a way to be comfortable. It seems everything I do aggravates something."

"Can I see?" Grace asked.

Wesley nodded and leaned forward, lifting up his shirt.

"Oh God." Grace said, drawing in a deep breath. She softly ran her hand over his back, touching the bumps and ridges that had grown there.

"What is it?" Wesley asked. "I mean, what does it look like?"

Grace couldn't find the words to explain what was happening to him. The skin on his back had cracked much like on his hands but the ridges that protruded were much larger. They were cracked and black, but in between the cracks was a shimmery green skin, almost like scales. There wasn't very much skin left on his back at all, mostly the scales and ridges.

"It's like your hands." She said quietly.

"Don't lie." He said. "It's worse than that, isn't it?"

Grace nodded slowly. "A bit. But we'll find a way to reverse it Wesley, don't worry."

"I can feel it in my feet." He said, smiling wryly. "I suppose my legs and arms will be next right?"

"Don't talk about it." Cordelia said. "Jamie's gonna be back soon and maybe she'll have some information for us. If she doesn't, we'll just have to get it on our own."

"Maybe someone should go back to the office." Grace suggested. "Jamie might have left a message there for all we know."

Angel nodded, "That's probably a good idea. I'll go."

"Grace, you go too. I'll stay here with Wesley." Cordelia said.

"Are you sure?" The half demon asked.

Cordelia smiled. "I'm sure."

Angel and Grace left the room and walked down the hall toward the elevator. As he watched them go, Wesley shifted uncomfortably and groaned.

"Do you want me to get you something?" Cordelia asked.

He shook his head. "I don't think there's much you can do for me now. Unless, of course, there's a way to get me out of here."

Cordelia nodded. "I'll try."

* * *

Grace followed Angel down the stairs, then grabbed his arm and turned him toward her. Without speaking he leaned down to kiss her, a kiss that had been broken off in the car. And that kiss had been broken off in the hospital parking lot, and the one before that, in the elevator.

"This isn't good." Grace said, before lacing her arms behind his head.

"I know." Angel answered, then found her mouth with his again. "But I can't stop it."

"We have to."

The only television in his apartment was still on, Cordelia had forgotten to turn it off when they left earlier that morning. But Grace and Angel barely heard it as they stumbled toward the kitchen.

Angel sat down in the chair and Grace continued to kiss him, standing over his legs.

"We should be worrying about Wesley." Angel said, when Grace finally moved away.

"I am," she replied, "I'm panicking." Then she kissed him again.

"Grace." Angel was suddenly serious, lightly pushing her away from him.

She looked utterly confused, and completely crushed.

"Look at the tv." He said.

"The body of thirty two year old Jamie Harrison was found on the streets of Los Angeles only one hour ago." The reporter was saying. "She was drained of her blood and her throat was ripped and mangled. Details have yet to be released, but we have reason to suspect that Harrison's body was found behind the Wolfram and Hart attorney's building. More updates as the case is revealed."

The picture changed to a woman talking about the weather as Grace let go of Angel's shoulders and sat down hard in the chair across from him.

They were silent for a long time, neither of them knowing what to say. Without Jamie they had no way to get into Wolfram and Hart. And they only had a little more than twenty four hours to help Wesley.

"Now what?" Grace asked finally.

"I . . ." Angel trailed off before he even had a thought out of his mouth.

"We have to find another way in." She said.

"I can't get in." Angel told her. "I tried last week. They found some new tracking system."

Grace thought for a moment. "Would I be able to get in?"

"I don't think they have anything against demons." Angel bit his lip. "They tend to employ them, so you might be able to get in." He reached across to hold her hands. "I'd send Wesley, but you know he can't go. I don't want to put you in danger Grace, but it's the only way."

She smiled. "That's sweet Angel, but you know I can take care of myself. I'll go."

"When? I mean, we'll need to plan."

"As soon as possible, I guess." She said. "We need to find out if there's an antidote for Wesley as soon as we can. He's in danger."

The elevator rumbled suddenly and Cordelia appeared inside with Wesley.

"Hi!" She chirped, helping Wesley out of the elevator.

Angel looked up. "What's going on?"

"I convinced the nurse that Wesley was okay and that he could go home." She helped him to Angel's bed where he lay down on top of the covers. "I mean, we don't need the doctors and nurses seeing what's going on with him." Cordelia joined Grace and Angel in the kitchen. "So, did Jamie call?"

"She's dead." Angel said.

"What?" Cordelia looked shocked. "What happened?"

"Vampire." Grace told her. "They said she was drained of her blood and that her throat was ripped up."

"Since when have vamps done the ripping thing?" Cordelia asked.

"I did once." Angel spoke quietly. They waited for him to go on. "You remember that summer when I . . . when I almost opened the mouth to hell and Buffy saved the world by sending me there?"

Cordelia nodded. "That was a tough summer. For all of us."

"When I came back, I was like a wild animal. It was really hard to just drain the blood, I wanted to tear at them and a few times I did." He glanced up to their startled faces, then added, "Animal victims. Not humans. Anyway, that's when vampires get like that. After a hell of some sort."

"A hell?" Grace asked. "There's more than one?"

Angel nodded. "There are so many different hells that you'll never be able to count. So many different dimensions. Where I was sent might not be the same place that this vampire had been sent."

"So what do you think's going on?" Cordelia asked. "Did Lindsey and his sick little gang bring back a vampire?"

Angel nodded. "I'm beginning to think so."

* * *

Lindsey stared at the small vial that Lilah held. She twirled it through her fingers, then dropped it back into her purse.

"Where did you get that?" He asked, stepping toward her.

She smiled. "The senior partners."

Lindsey felt his heart pounding. "What did you tell them?"

"Nothing." Lilah looked at him. "I don't need to tell them anything. The thing is Lindsey, killing that officer was probably the stupidest thing you've ever done. Not to mention leaving the body right behind our building. If things start to connect, they'll know she was working with Angel. What happens if they link the murder and Wesley back to us?"

"They won't." He said.

"But what if they do?" She began to pace the room. "If they do, we need this antidote to turn Wesley back before it gets us in any trouble."

"Then all our efforts will have been wasted." Lindsey protested.

She shook her head. "I don't think so. Not at all. This will act as a warning to them. They'll know to be more careful after this."

"They can't know that we have an antidote."

Lilah shook her head. "They won't."

* * *

Grace and Angel stood in the sewers under the Wolfram and Hart building. Angel pushed off the man hole above them and Grace started to climb the rungs into the building.

"Please be careful." Angel said.

Without turning back Grace said, "I'll be fine." Then she was inside te building, standing up in the basement.

"Lindsey's office is on the eleventh floor."

"What about the woman?" Grace asked.

"What woman?"

Grace knelt down again to be close to Angel. "Wesley said there was a woman with Lindsey in the limo. Shouldn't I be looking in her office too?"

"Lilah Morgan." Angel said immediately. "Though I would look in Lindsey's first and the minute you find anything, get out."

She nodded, then stood up and straightened the skirt and jacket she had on. "How do I look?" She asked.

Angel smiled at her. "Beautiful, as always." She reached down to take the briefcase from him and then she was gone.

Part 2