under_hatches: (Angel/ Lindsey)
[personal profile] under_hatches
Title: In Dark Woods, The Right Road Lost
Characters: Lindsey/Angel
Word Count: 8.594 words
Rating: R
Notes: This developed from a snipped I wrote for [livejournal.com profile] silme711. The boys just didn't want to leave it at the opening scene. She asked for wet, dirty and scared, and it turned into the longest h/c I've ever written. Comments are ♥





Lindsey runs. He stumbles and catches himself before crashing into the underwood. It's ungraceful, and he is not as quick as he would like to be, since he is wearing his damn office shoes, stupid Italian leather shoes with no profile whatsoever, just slippery soles, and his jacket gets caught on low hanging branches. The rain is not as bad here, but he is soaked already, hair hanging into his eyes. He keeps going, does not check behind him, just goes straight for the blackness. The forest is not quiet at night. The trees move and moan, and the constant rustling of small animals leads him to believe that whatever hunts him is close.
He can only make out single trees in a mass of black, only sees them when he is close, so he zigzags between them. Branches are reaching out, snatching, the rest is lost in the darkness, and no matter how hard he tries, his eyes won't adjust.
He turns, it's stupid, but he turns. He tries not to slow down, but a branch strikes him across the side of his face and he stumbles again. There is nothing but darkness in every direction. The next time he stumbles, he falls, crashing hard into the ground. He moans, curls up, berates himself.

Get up, get up, get up. He stays like this for a few heartbeats, lies on the pine needles and fern, the somehow soft forest earth, then scrambles onto his feet again. Run, he had said. And Lindsey had started running.

He has no idea of how far he has come, whether there still was somebody behind him. He has lost Angel, but isn't sure whether that even is a good thing. The incident at the office seems far away now, insignificant, and Lindsey stumbles over how stupid it now all seems.

Move, move, come on.

His lungs are burning, he can hardly hear anything over his wheezing breath and the cracksnap of twigs and leaves under his shoes. He stumbles again, knocking his knee at a tree stump, winces at the pain shooting through the joint, gets up again.

Gotta keep moving, Angel said...

This is when he stops. Angel said. It sinks slowly into his consciousness, and he curses. He looks around to find some landmark to guide him, stares into the darkness because there has to be something, anything. The rustling to his right is caused by something bigger than a squirrel or rabbit or whatever moves around here at night, and Lindsey does not think. He starts running again, only to be taken down by something a second later, hitting him square in the back. As soon as he hits the ground, he rolls, bringing his arms up to protect his face, and a punch lands on his left wrist. He howls, scrambles. He manages to get away for two heartbeats, then the thing is on him again, snarling, and it's different, he doesn't want to think about it, just wants to get the fuck away from it.

Lindsey kicks out, moves away as fast as he can, dodging the next swing taken at him, moves straight into the following. It throws him sideways, his shoulder connects with a tree and that's it, he can feel himself slide to the ground. There is another rustling to his left, and he doesn't even look, doesn't want to see. The thing in front of him makes a sound, and Angel slams into it.

“Run,” Angel shouts at him, but it's muted somehow and Lindsey takes too long to process, to understand what run means. But then he does.

The rain has eased up when he stops again, the earlier torrents reduced to a timid drizzle that hardly makes it through the leaves of the trees. He tries to breathe, but his heart is hammering in his chest and he is shivering and it all does not help. This time he can tell that the snap of branches next to him is a foot step, and he stills. There is no way he can run now, he feels too light-headed, too fucking shaky, and closes his eyes. Let 'em have it, he thinks.

“Told you to run, not make yourself a target,” Angel says and steps closer.

Lindsey stares at Angel. He wants to be mad, tries to muster the strength for it, but his knees threaten to give out and he almost sobs, catches himself at the last moment and swallows the sound. Angel comes even closer, carefully, and Lindsey sees the bruises, the blood.

“Is it,” Lindsey asks, but does not end the sentence. He doesn't even know what it was, whether it is dead or just gone.

Angel looks at him and nods curtly before reaching out and brushing a lock of hair out of Lindsey's eyes. There is something in his look that makes Lindsey want to crumble, just reach out maybe, hold on to the offered arm. He doesn't, just stays there, shivering slightly.

“Let's get you back,” Angel says. He turns to lead and Lindsey follows, telling himself that Angel does not stop to make sure he was okay, that he does not slow down because Lindsey is limping slightly.


Lindsey slips several times, tripping over roots and stones, and Angel always stops and looks around as if he has to remember the way. It is quiet now, with the rain having finally stopped, and they walk in silence. Lindsey watches Angel, the way he moves is slightly off, his right shoulder hunched. On impulse, he walks up to Angel and places a hand on his right arm, when a movement to his left catches his eye. He hasn't even turned when the thing slams into him; he almost brings Angel down with him. Angel shouts, but Lindsey is beyond comprehending, his mind whirling as he falls to the ground.

It should be dead, it should be dead.

He tells his feet to move, but he only lies there, and then the thing turns and charges at Angel, and for a brief moment, Lindsey thinks that this is his opening, that this is his chance to run. It moves swiftly, and Lindsey catches a flash of claws but then there is this tearing sound and he turns away, feeling sick. He reaches around, grabs a dead branch and swings it at the thing.

It gives a roar that sounds like pain, so Lindsey hits it again. He brings down the branch again and again, until it backs away from Angel. He hasn't thought any further than this, and is relieved to see Angel standing up and attacking the thing. He moves slower than Lindsey is used to see him move, but his hits are well aimed. Thankful for the darkness, Lindsey tries not to look at the thing too closely, sees only a blur of teeth and claws and tusks, wet with blood, and when Angel side-steps, swaying, he brings the branch down hard in its head. The sound could have been anything, splintering wood or skull, but it's deafening.

As soon as he can breathe again, he looks for Angel, chiding himself at the same time. It has to be some sort of rescuers syndrome, he's only repaying the favor, he tells himself, until he sees Angel lying on the ground. The icy shock he feels cannot be explained by surprise, he knows this and pushes it away, running the few steps over to Angel and dropping to his knees.

“Angel?” His voice sounds too shaky, too thin, and he clears his throat. It is too dark to see properly, so he reaches out, running his hands over Angel's body. He does a quick inventory, face, neck, no blood, no torn skin, just cold, then shoulders, judging from what he saw earlier, the right one hurt, but definitely not bleeding. He tries to forget the tearing sound, the blood on that thing. He should not be here, he thinks when he gently touches Angel's chest, they both shouldn't be here. He should leave.

Leave Angel. He thinks but does not consider. No.

Instead he continues, stroking firmly along Angel's ribs. It's his leg, the thing got his leg, Lindsey reaches right into the blood and recoils. He presses down, tries to remember what to do. That ripping sound, it was when the tusks dug into the leather, Lindsey realizes, tearing the pants and skin, but not deep enough to tear through flesh. He breathes through his nose, the tightness in his chest getting worse.

He is afraid to let go, afraid to not let go, to wait too long. He tries to remember how vampires heal, whether he should do anything beyond regular first aid. His mind betrays him, catches him in a whirl of naked panic, he can't even say whether he is afraid for himself or Angel. Lindsey finally lets go, unbuckles his belt and pulls it from the hoops, slips it around Angel's thigh and pulls it tight. He pats his pockets, keys, loose change, a pen, and then undoes his tie, wrapping it tightly over the wound. He likes to think that it's the cold that makes him shiver.

He shakes Angel, who makes a sound, but does not sit up.

“Lindsey?”
“Angel. Fuck, get up, we have to go.”

It takes too long for Angel to come too, much longer than Lindsey had thought. He tries to look at his watch, but he can't make out the hands, so he gives up and tries to look at the sky.

Can't stay dark forever.

“We have to leave,” he says again, more urgently.

Angel gets up, tries to stand, but hisses.

“Where is your car? We have to move now.”

Lindsey slips Angel's left arm over his shoulder, takes some of Angel's weight and starts dragging him.

“Lindsey,” Angel says and it sounds too quiet, too resigned.
“No. Move, you idiot.”

Angel limps badly, buckling every few steps, leaning heavily against Lindsey, and Lindsey moves on, determined to fucking drag Angel to the damn car if necessary.

“You're only in this fucking mess because you followed me,” Lindsey says, struggling when Angel slips from his hold, “Fuck, you're heavy.”
“If I didn't,” Angel starts but then breaks off.
“Yeah, I'd be dead. Like you'd care.”

There is a path and Lindsey thinks he remembers Angel parking near that.

Angel makes a confirmative noise, so Lindsey starts to drag him in earnest. In the last few minutes, Angel went from limping to dragging his leg, and started shaking. Lindsey wonders whether vampires got cold, but shakes his head. The last thing he needs is pondering over a vampire's daily needs. He would just get him back to his little tightly knit team of crime fighters and then leave, preferably to soak in a tub for at least an hour, try to get his stiffening muscles to relax again.

Lindsey can see the car standing at the end of the path. For a moment, he feels relieved until he realizes that seeing the damn thing means it is getting lighter. He pulls Angel along the dirt path as fast as he can, not giving him time to rest. When he finally leans Angel against the car, he can see well enough to see the blood soaking through the make shift bandage, drowning out the pattern of the tie. He pats the pockets of Angel's coat for the keys.

“Getting late,” Angel smiles.
“I know.”
“We're not going to make it before sunrise.”
“I know, alright,” Lindsey barks.

He rubs a hand over his face.

“Keys, Angel.”
“In the car.”

Lindsey rolls his eyes and swings the back door open.

“Get out of your coat.”
“What?”
“Out. Of. Your. Coat. Now, Angel.”

Amazingly, Angel shrugs out of it and passes it to Lindsey.

“We're not going to make it to LA.”
“We will. Get in.”

Lindsey nudges Angel towards the back seat and Angel climbs in.

“I will put our coats over you, alright? I'll get you back.”

He pauses for a moment, unsure why he offers this. Angel seems exhausted, he is shaking and compliant and Lindsey frowns at that.

“I'll get you back,” he repeats and drapes the coat around Angel, covering him, pulling it over his face after a short nod from Angel. He gets out of his own jacket, covers the rest of Angel's body and closes the door carefully.

As soon as he starts the car, he floors it, driving as fast as he dares over the roads, checking the sky.

He drives by some scattered houses and soon they form a settlement that turns into a small city just as the east light up enough to be called sunrise. There is no way he can tell how far they still need to go, so he pulls over at a gas station to refill and ask for the way. He buys water and a first aid kit and a road map. He calculates distances, time, travel speed. Finally, he asks for a motel close by and drives there.

Angel can barely walk, so Lindsey ends up carrying most of his weight, the coat still wrapped tightly around him. The receptionist gives them a funny look and Lindsey snarls at him and then drags Angel on. He had asked for a room close to the entrance and that is what they get: king-size bed, one chair, tiny desk with complimentary paper, shower in the adjoining bathroom. Angel staggers towards the bed while Lindsey locks the door, and collapses onto it. Lindsey draws the curtains shut, pulls their sides tightly together and then leans the chair against one piece of cloth that threatens to fold the wrong way and leave a gap.

“Do you want to shower,” Lindsey asks but Angel is already out.

Lindsey sits down on the bed, thinks of a hot shower, sleep, getting something to eat. Sighing he leans over, checking the bleeding. Angel looks worse now that Lindsey can properly see; he had hoped otherwise. He gets up and wets one of the flimsy towels, cleans Angel of the dirt and grime and blood as best as he can. He pulls off Angel's shoes, loosens the belt around his thigh, replaces his tie with a fresh bandage from the kit he bought. He looks at the bruises, but then looks away. He tugs one blanket around Angel's shivering frame, hangs his coat on a hanger, the hanger into the wardrobe.

He showers then, hot water over aching muscles, leaving the door open so he can listen into the other room.

Angel sleeps restlessly. After drinking the water, Lindsey resolves to watch him, sits upright in that god awful chair, all wood and no cushion, but the lack of adrenaline still lulls him to sleep. He only wakes when Angel makes that sound, wounded and frightened, and Lindsey is at his side in an instant.

“I'm here,” he says.

Angel reaches for him and Lindsey holds out a hand, catching Angel's in his.

“It's alright,” he say, “I'm here, we're at a motel, I'm sorry I couldn't get you to your friends.”

It all comes out in a rush and Angel opens his eyes to look at him.

“Bad,” he asks.

“You'll be fine,” Lindsey answers automatically. He has no idea what to say, what to do. “Let's get you out of those pants, so I can look at the wound.”

He takes the scissors from the first aid kit and cuts off the bandage. Angel makes a sound that lets Lindsey suspect he dozed off again, but then he reaches for the button of his pants and undoes it. He pulls the pants down his hips and then hisses again.

“Fuck, Lindsey.”
“It got you good. Don't worry,” Lindsey says, thinking that is a fucked up thing to say, way to go. He pulls the ruined pants off Angel's legs as carefully as he can.

“You smell like fear,” Angel says, sounding small.

“It's... yeah,” Lindsey says. He looks at the wound and it does not look half bad, the bleeding has stopped but he catches a glimpse of Angel's ribcage. His stomach turns a little and he forces himself to apply a new bandage before lifting Angel's shirt. There is a stretch of skin bruised so badly it looks black, and Angel shies from the touch. When Lindsey reaches out, Angel grabs him by the wrist and twists painfully.

“Leave it,” he manages through clenched teeth.
“Let go off me,” Lindsey hisses back, “I'll get some ice. Do painkillers work? Or do you just sleep it off?”
“Sleep,” Angel says and Lindsey gently pulls his wrist from Angel's grip and leaves to get ice from the machine down the hall.

It takes long, Angel tosses all day, and when it gets dark, Lindsey does not dare to move him. His bruises are already changing color, but he is not fully resting, and the shadows sink deep into his face. He wakes from time to time, looking around unfocused, having Lindsey confirm where they are, before falling back into a daze.

He finally wakes in the middle of the night. Lindsey helps him sit up.

“I can't get you back unless you're better,” Lindsey says.

Angel looks at him and then gazes at the window and the drawn curtains.

“You brought me here,” Angel says, surprised.
“Yeah, and I would like to get rid of you again.”

Angel looks vaguely hurt at that. Lindsey rolls his eyes.

“Come on, what helps? Anything that would make you heal faster?”
“Well, I...,” Angel looks sheepish.
“What.”
“It's better when I'm... when I have...”

He would make a joke if Angel did not look so miserable.

“You need to feed?”

Angel squirms at that, looking at the curtains again, then the nightstand, the open bathroom door.

“I won't let you feed off of me,” Lindsey says louder than he had intended.
“Didn't ask for it,” Angel replies.

Lindsey can see that Angel is in pain, he shifts on the bed, carefully and hardly ever moving his right side. There are lines on his face etched deep now, his eyes in a constant squint. Angel is quieter than usual, no edge, no fight.

“Will you be ok for a minute or so? I'll run and grab a bite and then you can...” Lindsey motions with his hand.
“Grab a bite too?”
“Oh, ha ha, very funny.”

Angel winces.

“You don't owe me anything,” he says, voice tense.
“I know,” Lindsey says and means it, “I know.”

Angel regards him for a moment.

“Go,” he then says.

Lindsey raids the vending machines next to the closed restaurant, vows to come back for proper food during business hours while piling up the small packages. For a moment, he tries to decide what to bring Angel, but then remembers and just gets water. He almost tip toes back into the room, watching Angel's silent form, and eats a pack of cookies before discarding the rest, telling himself he will keep it for later.

Lindsey curls up against Angel afterwards, watching closely for discomfort, but Angel sleeps peacefully for now. Even though Lindsey does question his motivation, right now, in this room, he knows his priorities, no matter how unexpected they are.

They spend two days like this, Lindsey only leaving the room when he gets hungry, and he always brings back water for himself and coffee that Angel sips slowly. He washes their shirts in the sink, hangs them to dry, when there is no laundry service available. They don't talk much, but Lindsey watches Angel closely, watches him get better first but then suddenly worse again.

He is weaker in the afternoon of their third day somehow, barely able to get to his feet, and Lindsey discards all hopes in getting home tonight.

“Let me look at you,” Lindsey says gruffly, “Is it the wound?”
“I need to feed,” Angel says.

Lindsey takes a step back.

“Oh, please,” Angel says, “Like I'd do that.”
“Let's just say I know you're one fast bastard.”

Angel almost smiles.

“Hey, we could order pizza and you get the delivery guy.”
“Not funny.”
“Sorry.”
“You're not.”
“Yeah.” Lindsey smiles.

Angel moves on the bed, shifts slightly, hisses again.

“Do you have control over how much you take?” Lindsey then asks. He looks down at his hands.
“Lindsey.”
“Do you?” Lindsey insists.

Angel does not answer.

“I'll go out to eat something. I will be back in a few.”
“How is the food around here anyway?”
“Nothing worth traveling for.”

Angel laughs quietly. Lindsey pats Angel's arm and then gets up to leave. At the door he turns, but Angel lies on the bed silently, eyes closed.

Lindsey does not even make it to the dingy restaurant that sits next to the motel when he hears it. It is not even dusk yet, but it moves among some shrubs behind the building, sniffing and shuffling. The hairs on Lindsey's neck stand up and he runs back to their room, sprinting past the receptionist, needing three tries to get the door open.

“It followed us,” he gasps out as soon as the door is locked behind him. “We need to go, now!”

Angel looks at him.

“It?”
“The thing from the woods, I... Get up!”
“It's a demon, Lindsey.”
“I don't care what that fucking thing is,” Lindsey yells, “Just get dressed and let's go! It's dark enough to get to the car.”

Angel sits up at this and cocks his head. He watches Lindsey pack the first aid kit and two small water bottles into a plastic bag, followed by a toothbrush and razor.

“You're upset,” he states.

Lindsey pauses.

“That thing tried to kill us and it did a good job of roughing you up. I thought we had killed it, so yeah, I might be a little upset about it being here.”

Angel nods as if he didn't think of that. Lindsey crouches down next to the bed.

“Get dressed, please? Let's leave.” He flinches a little when Angel reaches out and cups his cheek.
“I can't,” Angel then says.

“What do you mean, you can't? Get up!”
“Lindsey. It's not even dark yet.”
“We'll cover you with a blanket.”
“Lindsey.”
“I'm not fucking leaving you here!”
“You get awfully worked up over this.”

Lindsey stands up and turns away because he knows his face is showing too much right now. He looks at the window, assesses its size, tries to remember the shape of the monster. He rubs a hand over his face.

“Right, ok, so we lock ourselves in. Try and get you in shape to make a run for the car once it's dark enough.”
“And how are you planning on getting me into shape?”
“I'll figure something out.”

Lindsey paces, tries to clear his head enough so he can think. He comes up with the same solution again and again.

He pulls the small desk in front of the door, not because he thinks it will do much good, maybe give them a few seconds should it come to this, but the action of it is reassuring.

“How do you feel,” he then asks.
“Been better.”

Lindsey walks to the bed, sits down. He places a hand on the injured leg, watching closely for a reaction.

“Are you still in pain?”

Angel makes a noise that is somewhere between a snort and an affirmation.

“Let me change the dressing.”

When Angel shifts, he hisses quietly, not looking at Lindsey at all as if Lindsey caught him lying. Lindsey cuts the bandage off, looks at the wound. He thinks he should put something on it, some sort of ointment, the edges of it are much too red, too angry looking. He looks at Angel, then applies a fresh bandage.

“It's not that bad,” Angel says, but he sounds breathy, unlike himself.

“You better stop in time,” Lindsey says and undoes the first two buttons of his shirt.
“I won't do that.”
“You gotta.”
“No,” Angel replies without conviction.

Lindsey swings his legs up on the bed, lies down next to Angel.

“If you have a better idea, let's hear it.”
“You could...”
“One that doesn't involve me leaving you,” Lindsey interrupts.

Angel stays silent. He reaches out and touches Lindsey's shoulder, his neck.

“I can't.”
“I'm offering.”
“You have no idea...”

Lindsey huffs and sits up to face Angel.

“You have no idea what you're asking,” Angel says slowly. There is a growl in his voice, just underneath the surface. Lindsey leans closer.

“Just fucking do it already.”

Angel touches Lindsey's neck again, his fingers just brushing the skin gently. Lindsey opens his mouth to say something, to urge him on, but Angel suddenly pulls Lindsey close, so close he can't see Angel's face shift, only feels the fangs sink in. It's a different pain than he thought it would be, and his body jerks away. He feels the panic rising, forces himself to stay still, stay calm. Tells himself Angel will stop. Lindsey brings his hands up, shoves at Angel. It hurts more like this, when he struggles, like a slow burn. He lets his hands drop and Angel stops, touches his face.

“Lindsey?”
“'S fine,” he answers.

Angel licks over the wounds and makes a noise.

“You should sleep for a bit,” he says. And Lindsey does. He can feel Angel still touching him, easing him down gently, inspecting the wound once more. Lindsey mumbles something, he isn't even sure it's words, but Angel laughs.

“Sleep now.”

Lindsey wakes like he fell asleep, with hands gently touching him, this time lifting him up until he rests against Angel's chest.

“Come on,” Angel says, sounding amused, “An hour is enough.”

He comes back slowly, taking in the room, the unfamiliarity of it, Angel's hand on his cheek, the different light. Suddenly fear hits him. Slept too long, how could I... Angel brushes over his head, tugs at a curl of his hair, smooths it down again. He makes a sound, soothing, and Lindsey tries not to lean too much into the touch.

“Did I?”
“It's fine. I was awake.”

Lindsey just breathes for a few heartbeats, but then accepts the bottle of water Angel holds out. Angel is still touching him, his fingers brushing over the marks on his neck, making his spine tingle.

“How are you feeling,” Lindsey asks. His voice is rough and catches. He quickly takes another sip of water, but his stomach feels raw, so he puts the lid back on, saves it for later. Angel looks at him closely and then looks away.

“Better,” he says. He looks better too, much to Lindsey's relief.

“Let's get going then,” Lindsey says.

He touches his neck when Angel isn't looking, wonders if he'll keep a scar. Half hopes and half fears it.

Before they leave, Lindsey turns to look at the room. He breathes in and out, in and out, and closes the door.

On the short way to the car, Angel leans less on Lindsey than before, but he almost falls into the passenger seat, and immediately closes his eyes. Lindsey throws his bag on the back seat. He tries to move slowly, the world swirling slightly, moving at the edges. He breathes against this. Looks at Angel to remind himself, breathes again.

“Why did you come here, anyway,” he asks when he starts the car, “You wouldn't be in this mess.”
“Coincidence. I didn't save your ass on purpose, Lindsey. We got word of demonic activity, I went in to check it out.”

Lindsey is quiet for a moment. He watches the road markings slide by, listens to the sounds of the car.

“It's my fault,” he says when he takes a left turn. He barely catches Angel shaking his head, but does not comment on it. He hopes that Angel falls asleep again, because then it is easier. Angel slightly turns in his seat, sniffs once, turns a little more. His movements are careful, measured, and Lindsey wishes he had changed the bandage before leaving.

“You smell sad, Lindsey. No wait, that's not sadness, it's...”
“Stop sniffing out my emotions like that! Look at my face, I'm right here!” Lindsey shouts and hits the steering wheel.

“But you look angry all the time, Lindsey,” Angel says quietly, “What are you so mad about?”
“That's what you see when you look at me? Rage?”

Angel nods again. Lindsey rubs one hand over his face, clutches the steering wheel more tightly, shifts in his seat. He leans forward to try and make out the sign that's coming up. He clears his throat.

“I worry, alright? That thing is after us, and I want to get you back as soon as possible.”

Angel laughs under his breath.

“I don't smell worry, Lindsey. It's much softer than that.”

Lindsey breathes in, focuses on the road.

“We don't have to talk about it if you don't want,” Angel says.

“You can really smell all that, mm?”
“Yeah.”

Lindsey nods.

“I don't want to talk about it,” he says decisively. Angel makes an affirmative noise.

“You sometimes smell like another man,” Angel then says and Lindsey almost steers the car into the oncoming traffic. He glares at Angel, setting his jaw, staring out at the road. He is not going to answer this, he tells himself, he is not.

He glances at Angel who looks at him curiously.

“None of your business,” Lindsey manages, knowing he cannot even deny it.

“I think it is.”
“It's not, alright?”Lindsey says sharply, just this side of yelling, but Angel makes a noise that sounds like a snort, like he knows better.

“That emotion you smell of...”
“Cut it out,” Lindsey interrupts him, his voice low. “Just leave it be.”

They are silent until Lindsey has to pull over, the street only a blur, and he drives onto the service station, getting out as soon as the car comes to a full halt. He stumbles, hears the door at the passenger side slam, but he is too busy leaning over, hands braces on his knees, taking in air. He holds a hand out to Angel, a gesture meant to fend him off, but Angel takes Lindsey's hand in his, pulls him up. Angel gives him this weird worried look, and Lindsey knows he is probably too pale.

“I'll drive the rest,” Angel says.

He wants to protest, but the world tilts again, and with sudden clarity he realizes that Angel took more blood than Lindsey had thought. He staggers back to the car, Angel hovering beside him, and slides into the passenger seat. The hum in his ears is louder now, and he fumbles with the seat belt until Angel takes it from his hands and buckles him in. He glares at Angel then, but that doesn't swipe the uneasy look from Angel's face that somehow almost looks like worry.

Lindsey feels like dozing off, the world fading to black and then back, the sounds dulling before returning. He closes his eyes for a moment, his head heavy, and when he looks up again, they cross the city lines. Safe in LA again. Lindsey stretches as much as he can within the limits of the cabin, and the dizziness tunes down to a dull throb at the back of his head. He looks at Angel, the tension in his face as he focuses on the road. He wants to reach over and touch him, but he doesn't.

Lindsey makes Angel drive straight home, and just watches the city go past outside. When they get close, Lindsey points to a parking spot close to the entrance, and Angel nods. They don't say a word when Angel parks the car, so Lindsey gets out and to the driver's side, hauls Angel out.

“Can you walk?”

Angel shakes his head, suddenly looking miserable.

“Jesus, alright. Let's get you home and into the good care of team Angel.”

Angel snorts at that and Lindsey does not know what to make of it until Angel leans closer, buries his nose in Lindsey's hair.

“You did a pretty good job,” Angel whispers.
“You're really out of it,” Lindsey remarks and starts dragging him towards the building.

He gets him in with a bit of a hassle and looks around, trying to decide on a good spot to drop him, something where Angel wouldn't need to sit straight, because that still isn't possible without pain. Angel leans on him heavily, letting his injured arm fall, dragging his leg. Lindsey can feel his own exhaustion set in, he tries to remember when he has eaten the last time and fails, the days and events blurring into each other.

Gunn comes into the hall, stops and stares. He shouts something, but Lindsey feels too detached, too relieved to have made it this far, to have gotten Angel back. He does a half smile, ready to hand Angel over.

“What have you done to him?” Gunn asks, his voice tight.
“What? Nothing,” Lindsey says. He can feel his smile faltering.

Suddenly the weight is gone from his side and he straightens up a little, looks at Wesley who now holds Angel upright. It feels odd, standing like this, without Angel's solid body resting on him.

“Where did you take him,” Gunn asks. Lindsey stares at him, not even understanding the question. He sees the curled fists, the tension in the other man.

“I brought him back,” he then says.

“Guys,” Angel says, sounding alarmed. “Guys, it's not...”

Lindsey feels something connect with the side of his head, and then the room tilts and slips from him. He hears Angel call out instead of finishing the sentence, and then, blackness.

“What was that thing?”
“I don't know.”

There is a pause and Lindsey tries to open his eyes.

“And he carried you,” someone asks.
“Yeah.”
“Out of the woods?” Another voice.
“I told you.”

Lindsey is lying down. He moves his hand, touches cloth, wool maybe. He feels as if there is a weight sitting on his chest. It takes him a moment to realize it's only a blanket.

“Alright, what did it look like then?”

He remembers the sound when it hit Angel, all muscles and fluid motion, black skin with coarse hair. He remembers the blood, the way Angel fell.

“Tusks,” he whispers.
“Lindsey?”

It's Angel's voice, so he opens his eyes and the room swims into focus. Angel sits in a chair close to the couch Lindsey is on and the rest of the team stands around him. They all look at Lindsey now, who pushes himself up on his elbows.

“It had tusks. And claws. I think five on each front paw. Stubby hint legs.”

Wesley looks at Angel who nods.

“How is your head,” Angel asks.
“What was that thing,” Lindsey asks instead of answering.

“Let's find out,” Wesley says. “Smaller hint legs, you say?”
“Yeah, shaped like some kind of bear, bulky, but very fast. Couldn't see its head properly.”

He had been too wrapped up in the memory of it, the woods, the attack, that he did not see Angel move. He blinks when Angel touches him, blinks again when Angel does not pull his hand away.

“Wes will look it up. You need to eat something.”
“Did you?”

Lindsey is aware that everyone else in the room looks at each other, but he keeps his gaze on Angel, waits for him to nod.

“Yeah, ok,” Lindsey says. He closes his eyes again when Angel moves away. It does not block out the thrumming in his head but it helps. There is a different hand on his arm now.

“About that, you know...,” Cordelia says and motions towards his head, “Sorry. I guess.”
“'S ok,” Lindsey mumbles, “My bad.”
“If you need anything... you know. Don't just sneak out or something.”

He opens one eye, looks at her, grins, shakes his head slowly. She smiles at him.

“You better don't. Ham or cheese?”
“What?”
“Your sandwich. You really should eat.”

She looks at him and he resists bringing up his hand to cover the marks on his neck. Instead he leans his head to the side. Cordelia smiles as if it was too late for that.

“How about ham and cheese,” she then says, pursing her lips and then nodding. She pets his arm and then leaves the room after giving him another smile.

He feels different lying here. He is too tired to think about why or how, so he closes his eyes. For a moment, he wonders where Angel vanished to, but then the door opens, quietly, and the foot steps have the distinctive sound of someone dragging one foot slightly behind. He is too far gone to open his eyes again, but he reaches out. Angel catching his hand is the last thing there is before sleep claims him.

When he wakes again, Angel is still there. He looks better too, rested and awake.

“What did she hit me on the head with?”
“A club,” Angel says and makes a face.
“Figures.”

Lindsey looks at the untouched sandwich standing near by and his stomach rumbles.

“Water,” he asks instead and Angel gets him a bottle and smiles. Lindsey takes only small sips, looking at the blanket and not at Angel.

“Did you find out what kind of demon it is?”
Angel shakes his head.

“Wesley is still on it. He said that someone had to summon the demon, I don't know.”
“Yeah,” Lindsey says, “I did.”

Angel stays silent for a long time and Lindsey feels like holding his breath only that he is not. It's not the first time he wishes for things to have gone differently, but part of him holds on to what happened to them on their way here. He knows it's not going to hold, that he will be send away again, but right now this is as close as he's ever come.

“You summoned that demon?” Angel finally says, his voice edgy and strained.

Lindsey juts his chin out a little, he is close to snarling, he can feel the curl in his upper lip, but he doesn't. Instead, he starts to feel dizzy as if the room was spinning, as if reality was tilting, and it all shifts into an all too familiar burn in his stomach, into the clenching of his fists. He thinks of the wood, leading Angel out of the wood, dragging him out. He tries not to hate himself for what happened. It takes effort to uncurl his fists, he needs to do it twice and finger by finger, and he holds onto the blanket after, to keep his hands busy.

Angel looks at him all the while and Lindsey wonders what he sees. Probably rage again, that anger burning away inside of him, flaring up easily and quickly, like straw fire. Maybe he could smell the struggle underneath, Lindsey thinks and it is too close to hoping. He breathes out, focusing on it, breathes in and looks at Angel, whose face softens somehow.

“Don't,” Angel says, but doesn't specify. Lindsey waits for him to continue but he does not.

“Maybe the ritual will help your guys determine what demon it was,” Lindsey finally says.

Angel nods.

“You have half an hour. Eat, take a shower. I'll come back for you.”

Lindsey needs ten minutes only to convince himself to get off that couch. He showers briefly, and too hot, his skin reddening under the scalding water, the mark on his neck burning under the stream. He dresses in his slacks, looking at the shirt sceptically, thinking he should have washed it but at the same time knowing that it would never dry quickly enough. If they're off to slay a demon, it will suffice; there is no need to ruin another shirt. He slips into it, the stiff cotton rubbing on his irritated skin, catching on the side of his neck just so that he forgoes closing the collar. He eats the sandwich in huge bites, swallows it with the water that's left. He feels almost normal again, only tired and somehow like after a fever. The door opens again when he is at the last bite, but Angel still looks apologetic.

“Wesley needs you to help identify the demon,” he finally says.

Lindsey stands, nods and then frowns. He looks around, but the room is unfamiliar, he doesn't even remember walking in, which you didn't, he reminds himself, You got carried, somebody carried you.

“I just need to find my jacket.”

Angel opens his mouth but then shakes his head and closes his mouth again. He looks at Lindsey and then away, as if trying to decide.

“You're not coming along,” Angel says.
“What?”

Lindsey pauses, looks at Angel who looks at the floor.

“You're not coming along. I want you to stay here.”
“But...”
“No,” Angel says, and his tone suggests that his decision is final.

Lindsey hangs his head, swallows his arguments for coming along. He wants to fight this, wants to fight Angel on this, he feels the hot searing of need, of wanting to, but at the same time, he feels heavy, as if underwater or asleep. He cannot help but feel betrayed, left out. He can almost taste the inevitable, waits for it, but Angel only looks at him, as if waiting himself.

“Let's go,” Angel says instead.

It doesn't take long for Lindsey to remember the words, Latin, so it's fairly easy for him to recall them. He writes them down, not wanting to speak them aloud again, and when he is halfway through, Wesley makes a surprised sound and gets up to get another book. There is only a drawing, but Lindsey needs to look away before examining it, it's surprisingly accurate, the tusks are there, the massive body, the blackness of it, as if straight out of something he had dreamed during an uneasy night. Wesley groans a little when Lindsey nods, but then launches into ways to defeating it, all of which seemed to translate into causing as much bodily harm as possible and then beheading it. Lindsey has to admit that he does not even feel confident running right now, much less trying to kill this thing, but when the others get ready, he still has to swallow hard and remember how to breathe around the guilt. He is not send away, so he goes back to the room he woke up in.

Angel comes to him before leaving.

“Rest,” he says. It is not what Lindsey expected him to say. Angel says more things, and Lindsey lies there, trying to listen over the rushing in his ears, he catches a few things he does not believe, and he catches a few things he heard Angel says before.

“I'll come back,” Angel says while standing up, making it sound like a promise. Before turning to leave, he adds, “Sleep.”

And Lindsey does. He forgoes the bed and curls up on the couch again. As soon as the door falls shut, he allows himself to slip into the soft darkness.

When Angel comes back, he is filled with coiled tension, like a spring, and Lindsey shies from his touch, still too wrapped up in dreams about the past days. Being awake seems unreal, with Angel that close, hair still wet from a shower he took after coming back. Angel gently pulls him up, ignoring the flinch, and looks him up and down.

He pulls him further away from the couch, looks at him as if to decide on something, and Lindsey feels like being put on scales. He shifts his weight, takes one step back, not to run, he tells himself, he's not running any more. He ends up almost in the middle of the room, where there is the most space, and Angel is walking around him with an odd smile Lindsey does not recall seeing before. Angel says nothing, so Lindsey keeps silent too. He does not know what to make of it, and the tension of it all is running through him like live wire. When Angel comes to a stop in front of him, Lindsey ducks before he can decide against it.

He is not afraid, he has spent nights in his company, so he refuses to be afraid now. It feels different anyhow, just around the edges, something he can't name. He wonders if Angel can smell that emotion, tell him what it is.

Angel smiles again, still pacing, still circling him somehow, like a thought you come back to.

Lindsey shakes his head, but the words won't come. Angel laughs a little under his breath, and the sound rolls down Lindsey's spine. He shifts his weight from one foot to the other.

“You let me feed off of you and now you can't stand being in one room with me?”

Angel sounds almost hurt, so Lindsey looks up, surprised when Angel tsks.

“Keep your head bowed like that, Lindsey, show me your neck. I can almost see where I bit you when you asked me, when you offered.”

Lindsey makes a sounds at that, quiet enough to hope that Angel did not catch it, loud enough to feel the heat rise in his face as embarrassment hits him. Angel comes closer, not yet touching, but leaning in.

“Still offering,” Angel says and Lindsey is not sure whether that is a question or not.

He does not answer, but keeps his head bowed, looking at the carpet. He looks at Angel through his lashes, swallowing when Angel steps behind him.

He is not afraid. He does not even flinch when Angel finally touches him, reaching around his neck from behind, one hand placed just under his chin, not squeezing, only gently pulling him back. And Lindsey lets himself being pulled until he stands flush against Angel's chest.

“Obedience smells sweet,” Angel informs him, his lips gracing the side of Lindsey's neck. “But I like that undertone you have, that slight struggle.”

Lindsey bites his bottom lip to stop himself from making a sound, but he can't help the smile, because this? This is... He can feel teeth scraping the skin on the side of his neck just so and he can't stop himself from moaning this time, low, holding his breath after.

Angel laughs again, turns him around, looks at him.

“You want this,” he says, sounding surprised and looking pleased.

Lindsey finds himself nodding, still not able to say a word, just nodding. But that seems enough answer for Angel, and he leans in and kisses Lindsey. Angel grabs him tightly by the arms, pulls him as close as he can and Lindsey wraps his arms around him, tilting his face up and into the kiss. He notices idly that Angel moves, pulling him along, but his hands find the buttons on Angel's shirt and he fumbles with those until his legs hit the side of the bed and he almost loses balance. Angel keeps him up and against his chest, breaks the kiss for a smile and to pull off Lindsey's shirt. Lindsey can't help but smile back, reaching out to touch Angel again, gently, just fingertips to skin, and Angel leans in, waits. Lindsey slides the shirt off Angel's shoulders and then down his arms, discarding it before reaching again for Angel. He crawls onto the back, holds out a hand and waits for Angel to take it. Angel sits down on the bed, stretching out next to Lindsey. He takes Lindsey's hand and lifts it to his mouth, sucking at the pulse point. Lindsey shifts, looks from his wrist and those lips to Angel, finds Angel watching him.

“Please,” Lindsey says, not knowing what he is asking, but close to begging.

Angel laughs again.

“Later,” he says and it sounds like a promise. “Later.”

But as soon as they are naked, Angel turns him around, stroking up and down that taut body, licking at the sweat slick skin, holding Lindsey down. He moves against Lindsey, rubbing, pressing up against him with his full length, and then starts to whisper. Lindsey cannot get all of the words, it is too much sensation, and when he tries to turn around, the pressure on his wrists increases, becoming painfully enough for him to hiss. He strains and bucks against Angel's body, feels Angel smile against his skin.

“Please,” he says again, writhing now.

“Don't you think it's still too early,” Angel whispers into his ear.

Lindsey pushes back as good as he can, the sensation in his wrists calms down to a soft throbbing. Angel lets go of one wrist and strokes down Lindsey's body, around the curve of his ass. He nuzzles the side of Lindsey's neck, licks the skin there, bites with blunt teeth. Lindsey waits, but that's it, just a soft sucking at his neck, fingers not yet entering him.

“Stop fucking teasing,” Lindsey grinds out.

“Yeah, alright,” Angel says and shifts a little, his mouth still on Lindsey's neck, still worrying the skin there. Lindsey waits for the press of fingers, but it doesn't come. Just when he makes a sound, something between an exhale and a frustrated groan, Angel sinks his fangs in. Lindsey bucks into him, keening, and when Angel reaches for Lindsey's cock, he only needs two hard strokes to send him over the edge.

Angel fucks him after, taking his time, licking over the mark on Lindsey's neck, and it's so slow that Lindsey cannot say how much time passes, but he comes a second time, sticky on the sheets under him.

He curls onto his side, exhausted and still trying to catch his breath. Angel presses up behind him, pulling him close and drawing the blanket over them both.

“Careful,” he says, low and quiet, “Might keep you.”

“Mm,” Lindsey replies, pulling Angel's arm closer across his chest. He repeats the non-committal sound when Angel tells him to sleep, pressing his lips against Angel's arm once, before drifting off.
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January 2012

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