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18 February 2009 @ 01:55 pm
reprisal [angel - Lilah, Lindsey]  
Title: reprisal
Fandom: Angel
Characters: Lilah Morgan, Lindsey McDonald
Rating: PG
Word Count: 1600
Summary: Post Season Five. Lilah comes to visit Lindsey in his custom-made hell.

When Lilah Morgan had first been given the address to the hell dimension, this wasn’t exactly what she had been expecting.

Fire and brimstone, while perhaps a bit quaint these days, have always been more to the Senior Partners’ liking. Certainly, they’re capable of thinking progressively and of changing with the times, but in many ways they still tend to be rather traditional. For a situation such as this, therefore, Lilah had been expecting to find herself walking through a level of Dante’s Hell, not your average white walled office building.

Granted, it’s a vaguely eerie white walled office building, composed of a single white walled hallway that seems to (and probably does) continue forever. There are doors evenly placed on either side, windowless and likely stronger than steel, numbered but in every other way identical. No, this may be an office building, but only at the most literal level.

Uncaring and utterly impersonal. Lilah realizes that for some, this is the most devastating prison there is.

She stops in front of a door labeled 1317 and doesn’t bother to double-check her information. All things said, 1317 is a suitably meaningless number, which makes it perfect for the Senior Partners’ purposes. Without hesitating, Lilah pushes the door open and steps inside.

“So…” she begins, leaning against the side of the doorframe, her arms crossed in front of her, “leaving Wolfram & Hart. How’s that working out for you?”

The room is a mess by anyone’s standards, the desk literally overflowing with paperwork. Lindsey McDonald is seated behind it, half asleep, his head nestled in the crook of his arm. His hair has grown a bit since Lilah last saw him, and it acts as the finishing touch on an image far removed from the promising young lawyer she remembers.

Lilah doesn’t bother to hide her smile when he straightens up enough to glare at her. “Paperwork, is it?” she comments lightly, nodding her head towards the piles that cover the desk. “I would have expected something a bit more… diabolical after such a heinous act of treason.”

“So you’ve come to gloat, is that it?” Lindsey asks. He shoves the papers away with one hand (Lilah now notices that the other is chained to the chair), though the gesture doesn’t seem to do any good; the piles are at least as overwhelming as they were before.

Interesting trick.

“Nothing so crass,” Lilah slowly shakes her head. “Though it would be fun, wouldn’t it? And more than understandable. So all right, let’s put it that way… I have come to gloat.” She moves into the room and it takes her about three steps to reach the desk. Leaning against it, she smiles at him with mock sincerity.

“You just couldn’t stay away, could you? Two years of self-discovery—” (she pauses here to laugh) “—and in the end, you just come crawling back. Lindsey, you do know that you could have just gone to a fortune-teller to find out that much, right? We’ve got some damn impressive ones.”

As she speaks, his eyebrows make a noteworthy attempt to escape his forehead, and Lilah’s smile only grows larger. “I didn’t come back here for you,” Lindsey spits at her.

“No, you came here for Angel,” she agrees brightly. “Remember him? Tall, dark, handsome. And haunted!” she quickly adds. “Mustn’t forget haunted. Still, he wasn’t altogether happy to see you, was he?”

“Death hasn’t been all that kind to you, has it, Lilah?” Lindsey bites out, shifting in his chair. “I remember you being wittier than this.”

Well, that certainly hit certainly a nerve.

“Perhaps,” she allows easily enough. “Angel brings out the worst in all of us. Still… to finally side with him and then be stabbed in the back…” She glances at the blood-coated holes still present on the front of his shirt and bites her lip. “Though apparently not quite stabbed. Nor in the back, but the details are hardly important anymore.”

Lindsey’s smile is forced and less than pleasant. “But the details are all that’s ever mattered to you, Lilah,” he tells her, biting off each word. “So let’s talk about those details. See, I did some research on what happened while I was away, and I’m sure you’ve got quite the story to tell.” His smile slips away and his mouth twists into something rather different. Lilah wants to slap him for it.

“If we look at those damned details of yours closely enough,” he concludes, his eyebrows raised, “we’ll probably be left wondering what the hell you’re doing here at all.”

“And that’s where you’re wrong,” Lilah replies, picking up several sheets of paper. She briefly glances through them before placing them back on the desk. There’s nothing remotely interesting or important in their contents – nothing mystical at all. These pages are merely examples of the constant paperwork that builds up when a law firm has existed as long and on as many planes of existence as has Wolfram & Hart.

Lilah can see just how ironic a level of hell this is.

“On the contrary, I have every reason to be here. You see…” she breaks off long enough to laugh, “And this is funny – the Senior Partners actually appreciated my efforts. They decided to… overlook a few of your details and actually promoted me.” She smiles at him, much too brightly. “Postmortem, obviously, but I’m in no position to complain.”

She sits down in a chair that she’s certain didn’t exist an instant before, and momentarily pauses. “But enough about me. Let’s talk about you. Speaking of which…” she gestures vaguely towards the piles, “shouldn’t you be getting to that?”

“What’s the point?” he asks, a note of bitterness in his voice. “There’s always more.”

“Isn’t that the point of punishment?” Lilah suggests wryly. Paperwork, endless or otherwise, might be a strange sort of sentence, but she can see how it might be effective. “You’re lucky that torture is apparently out of vogue.”

He just looks at her, five years of futile anger lurking behind his eyes, and Lilah knows that luck has nothing to do with it. Leaning back in her chair, she shakes her head and flashes him a smile. “But that’s just it, isn’t it? Here you are, daring enough to spit in their faces, to try to tear down everything… though you of all people must realize how impossible that is,” she quickly adds. “And what do they do in retaliation?

“Nothing. Nothing at all.” She laughs then, delighted, because really – this is hilarious. “You come crawling back here,” she continues, her lips frozen in a mocking smile, “desperate to prove yourself to someone, anyone, and instead of taking your little rebellion seriously, they throw you into this… administrative nightmare and let you create your own hell.” She glances up at him and laughs again. “That must really rankle your pride.”

Lindsey doesn’t say anything for a long moment. He simply stares at nothing, jaw locked but his face otherwise devoid of any expression. “Maybe,” he finally grates out, “but I’m not playing their game this time. I’m done being their lackey.”

Lilah blinks. She looks down at the piles and piles of papers in front of them and suddenly realizes that they’re all completely untouched. She shuts her mouth with an audible click and shifts her attention from the workload to Lindsey, ignoring the expectant look he’s throwing at her.

Of course. He hasn’t simply paused in filling them out; he never bothered to begin.

“You can’t do that,” she states, and it’s more than an assertion. It’s a cold fact. One doesn’t simply refuse the whims of the Senior Partners, no matter how banal. There’s some leeway, she knows, some room for negotiation within their unfathomable greater plans, but the game is theirs. The game has utterly and always been theirs.

“Watch me.”

“You do this, Lilah warns him, “and you may yet end up in one of their more torturous hells. They will tear you apart.”

Oh, but isn’t that exactly what he wants? Isn’t it just? The forced acknowledgment that such an action would necessitate, the recognition that at the end of everything, he has managed to put even this much of a dent in the Senior Partners’ grand scheme. And she isn’t surprised, not really. Lindsey McDonald’s resolve may occasionally wander, but he has always been ruled by obsession, and his personal welfare…

Not always much of a priority.

“They tried it once,” Lindsey shrugs. “Didn’t work then, but they’re welcome to try again.”

“Well,” Lilah tells him, smiling again because as stupidly self-destructive as this is, it’s nothing new and reminds her of her reason for coming at all. “You enjoy that, and if you ever get tired of…” she glances pointedly around, “well, nothing at all, I suppose, you should know that there are… other opportunities open to you.”

He tenses and stares at her warily. “Like what?”

Lilah smiles. “Like working for me.”

All things considered, bitter, disbelieving laughter is probably one of the better possible reactions. “You… can’t be serious.”

“Oh, but I am,” Lilah assures him. “I owe my current position to your… earlier defection, and would be more than willing to return the favour.” And hold it over your head for the rest of eternity, she doesn’t bother to add, but he’s certainly smart enough to infer as much.

Lilah glances at her wristwatch and smiles. “Look,” she says, “I’ve got a meeting in an hour so I haven’t got any more time to waste. Think on it… but not too long, okay?”

And then, still grinning, she leaves him.

Evilawyer's Fic Journalevilawyer_fic on March 11th, 2009 12:36 am (UTC)
Read this the other week, but didn't get back to comment until now. Very nice capture of Lindsay's brand of rebellion and Lilah's brand of manipulation.
Rhaella: Darla x Lindsey - Angelrhaella on March 12th, 2009 05:47 pm (UTC)
Thank you for the comments. :)
spangielkaspangielka on April 2nd, 2010 08:54 pm (UTC)
I have just read it and I love it. Great writing, it's just pure Lilah and Lindsey.
Rhaella: Inara - Fireflyrhaella on April 2nd, 2010 10:54 pm (UTC)
Thank you! I'm glad you enjoyed it. :)