He stood across the street from the new home of Angel Investigations, the address crumpled in the palm of his prosthetic. The warehouse was nondescript. Unremarkable. There were a dozen like it near the docks. It was as removed from society and movement as the other building had been public and obvious. Blowing up this place wouldn't take out a busy city block...it would make a few birds scatter to the ocean and take out an abandoned factory or two.
He had no intention of causing an explosion this time.
Just an earthquake.
Shaking up Angel's calm little world. Turning the tables. Changing the rules of the game.
Lindsey swallowed convulsively. His guts were knotted in a perfect Windsor, but he reached past them for his bravado. He refused to be a kitten any longer. It was time to prove he could be a lion. A man-eater. A vampire-eater.
The freight lift rattled and creaked as it brought him up from the basement level. It was the oddly comforting sound that had clinched this warehouse as the perfect spot to reestablish his apartment and the office. A rather large subterranean living space and private bathroom had all ready existed--probably am old Mafia hideaway--and he and Wesley had moved in desks, potted plants and new shelves and file cabinets for the warehouse itself to look moderately approachable.
Cordelia still wasn't satisfied. When she wasn't throwing her energy into opening files on all the helpless people she'd seen in her visions, she was looking at carpet samples and wallpaper swatches. He was thankful her creative obsession hadn't extended to the basement...it had come furnished and suited him just fine.
Angel moved past a huge bookshelf with old demonology tomes stacked in uneven piles, listening to his boots scraping on the dull concrete. Another soothing sound. The clicking. At least until Cordy decided between wine red plush and hunter green berber. Whatever that meant. Her sample books were spread out on her desk, along with several open manila folders. A ridiculous looking fern hung over the edge, its springy fronds reaching out and brushing Wesley's research table.
The place had yet to appear completely professional. And there were no walls. And no privacy. Perhaps that was why he spent so much time outside it? So much time doing other things? So much time concerned with the man who'd caused their move?
He dropped down into a high-backed leather chair, letting the name straighten his spine and raise his hackles. His hunted one. His prey. Something about the man brought out the demon in him...brought out the urge to tease, to stalk, to take, and possess. It was as if leaving the office and the veil of Angel Investigations released him from the curse, from the drive for redemption. Away from Cordelia and Wesley's eyes, he could almost...could almost be Angelus again.
He didn't know whether the idea was frightening or thrilling. All he knew was that Lindsey's submission was victory. Lindsey's quivering body under his hands was ecstasy. And everything in between was lunacy.
The thick metal door slammed...echoing through the cavernous room. The warehouse was never quiet for long. He looked up, expecting to see his seer with another armful of samples...or his "rogue demon hunter" with some sort of useless antiquity.
He did not expect to see his kitten.
"Is this the new home of Angel Investigations? I hear you help the hopeless," Lindsey drawled, aiming a loaded crossbow directly at his heart. His dark eyes were cold. Focused. Vindictive. Brave.
So, the hunted wanted to become the hunter, did he? Angel couldn't stifle the laugh that bubbled up in his throat. The laugh that made him feel vile and strong and in control.
"Are you hopeless?" The vampire arched an eyebrow, evidently completely nonplused about the crossbow bolt that could head towards his heart at any minute. He just leaned back in his big, black, chair, hauling his feet up onto a long table.
"You seem to think I am," Lindsey drawled, even as his confidence began to waver like a plucked guitar string. His fingers tightened around his weapon's sensitive trigger. He'd stormed into the warehouse with the full intention of taking back all the pride he'd lost when Angel had chopped off his forearm... when Angel had come to him in the alley...and his bed...and his office. It seemed that the road to Hell was paved with his intentions. Because Angel had no visible weakness. Nothing fazed him. Nothing scared him. Not even death, it seemed. "I'm not hopeless. And I'm not weak. And you don't hold all the cards," he continued, ignoring the warning sirens stirring in his belly.
"I don't? The little cat thinks he's a gambler now, does he?"
"The 'little cat' has claws," Lindsey reminded, harshly, forcing his legs to carry him closer.
"Only one set of real ones. Are they a match for my teeth? Obviously not." Angel shrugged, smiling.
He drew in a deep breath, willing his knees to lock...willing his fingers to stay steady. "How do you know? How do you know I won't kill you?"
"I don't have to know...it's right there in your eyes. You can't kill me, Lindsey...you don't want to. It doesn't really matter what I do to you. You come back for more. You take it. You're addicted to it." Angel was matter-of-fact...although he caught bits of dark bitterness behind the words. "I own you."
"No!" Even as he shouted the word and shook his head violently, he knew he was just denying truths. He choked on the knowledge. On the verbalized confirmation. "You do not own me, Angel. I don't need you. I don't heed you. I can break whatever spell you've put on me any time." He swallowed down the lump in his throat, hating the beauty he couldn't tear his eyes from.
And the beauty rose up, came around the tables and desks. "Can you? There's no twelve step program for love." He said the last word huskily...with reverence that didn't befit a creature of night.
"Love?!?!?" Lindsey gasped, backing up. "Ah do not love you!" The South permeated his voice. The ruler cracked down on his knuckles. He could close his eyes and feel the dirt beneath his feet, hear the jeers and the laughs. The panicked words tore from his throat. "Ah cain't love you!"
"Yes, you can." Angel's eyes were suddenly sad. Not victorious. Not full of conquering pride. Sad. And that made them all the more hard to look into. "Yes, you can, Kitten. 'Love thy enemy as thyself.'"
"D-don't quote Scripture at me." He took deep breath after deep breath, trying to bring back all that he'd let go of. The law school polish in his voice...the defiance in his spine...the sanity of hate. Not love. Never love. "You're a monster, Angel. And you will not win me over with Lucifer's silver tongue."
Just as quickly as the sadness had come, it was gone. Replaced by angry resignation. "No...you like Wolfram & Hart's flash of green, don't you? That is all you'll let yourself love, isn't it McDonald? Not justice. Not flesh. Just cold, hard, cash. No matter what it costs your soul."
Lindsey let himself lower the crossbow he knew he wouldn't be firing any time soon. "Why do you care?" he demanded. "Is this your way of playing with your food? Fucking with me before you take the final bite?"
In one swift movement, the vampire closed the space between them and he was dragged against the hard chest that he'd come to long for more than any mattress or pillow. The cool mouth that haunted his every waking thought traced a phantom kiss against his pulse. He struggled, but it did no good. Angel's hold was too strong. In so many ways.
And then there was a gentle whisper into his hair.
"I've lost my soul before, Kitten...and I wouldn't wish it on anyone. Especially you."
And then there was space. Empty space.
He stumbled from the arms that released him too suddenly. He stumbled and let the momentum turn him around and take him back towards the door. The crossbow dropped and bounced on the concrete and he left it. He just ran, curling his motorized hand close to his body. Some vampire-eater he'd turned out to be. He felt...declawed. He felt...defeated. Again. Was he doomed to fail? Was he cursed to walk forever with Angel's shadow over him? Or was he blessed?
Love thy enemy as thyself.
Sweet Lord in Heaven.
He couldn't...it was his undoing...his death warrant...the end of everything.
But he did.
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