Title: Time on My Hands
Author: Nestra (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Summary: When Lindsey leaves, where does he go?
Spoilers: Angel season 2, all the way through Dead End.
Distribution: List archives, anyone who already has permission. Otherwise, please ask.
Notes: Title from Chaim Tannenbaum's song "Time on My Hands." The lyrics will be on my website, as soon as I manage to update it.
Thanks: Shrift, Jonquil, ita, Celia, and the DRV girls.
Disclaimer: Lindsey - not mine. Song - not mine.
Lindsey finds running for his life oddly liberating.
He's never been one to let his nostalgia slip into stupidity, so he'd ditched the old truck a couple hundred miles out on I-10, trading it for a nondescript '85 Chevy Caprice with an odometer that had rolled over at least twice. Aside from the obvious drawback of the tracker concealed in the engine, the truck hadn't been air-conditioned, and Lindsey had refused to travel through the Southwest in May without air. Maybe his years of driving company Beemers had spoiled him, but sticky vinyl and scorching hot metal held zero appeal.
He'd paid cash for everything -- small bills, and nothing too crisp. Paid a witch for a *Nebulosus* spell, guaranteed to make him unremarkable to anyone who might otherwise notice him. Gas station attendants with penchants for gossip, chatty convenience store clerks - no one had ever spoken more than five or ten words to him. "How ya doin'? Here's your change. Have a nice day." And he'd walked out the door, knowing they'd forget him as soon as the dust from his wheels had settled back down.
He'd performed another low-level charm himself, ensuring that any psychic bounty hunter would find multiple trails leading in varying directions. Not subtle, but it'd served his purpose.
Nobody leaves Wolfram and Hart alive -- or dead, for that matter --but Lindsey plans to be the first.
He usually tries not to think about what Holland has become since his death, because it reminds him of what Holland used to be. Underneath the manipulations and the faux geniality, there'd been a streak of sincerity in him. Holland had chosen his course and stuck to it, and Lindsey had admired that. But Holland had never quite understood that Lindsey wasn't like him. Lindsey'd wanted power, but he'd wanted independence more. He'd thought that Wolfram and Hart would give him both.
And for a while, he'd believed that he could do it. Work at Wolfram and Hart without losing himself. Holland had argued persuasively, and he'd used all the right words, known exactly what buttons to push. Appealed to Lindsey's desire for power and flattered him by praising his initiative.
But in the end, the perks hadn't been worth it. Not when he couldn't trust his own body because Wolfram and Hart had carved up a man he used to know and given Lindsey his hand, hoping to bind him with obligation and gratitude. Lindsey wasn't ever going to let anyone bind him, not with anything.
That promise had sustained him through high school, when he'd worked twenty hours a week at Harper's Groceries, smiling at little old ladies and carrying brown bags full of cat food and soup to their ancient Buicks. It'd helped him swallow his pride while he'd filled out the first of many financial aid applications, begging for enough money to get him the hell out of Oklahoma. He'd had the grades, and he'd known exactly how to bullshit through the essays on his application to Cornell. Tell 'em what they wanted to hear. Didn't matter if it was all true, as long as it was true enough.
Another lesson that served him well later in life. Truth is fluid, especially if you're telling people lies they expect to hear.
Turn on the Southern charm at alumni events, fight for the contacts that could get him an internship in New York City during the summers, give him recommendations he desperately needed. After four years of constant battle -- smiling at rich kids' sly insults, learning to give back as good as he got -- getting into Hastings had been a breeze.
But Hastings seems far away now, years and miles and ages ago. He's got the early evening moon hanging in front of him and a scarlet sunset filling his rearview mirror, and no one in the passenger seat to complain if he wants to sing along to Hank Williams. Lindsey hasn't felt alone in a long time, and he's enjoying it.
I-10 stretches for miles and miles in front of him, flat as a board and just as boring. His mind wanders during the unchallenging drive, and sometimes he sees the turning points of his life stretched behind him, like freeway exits he'd decided not to take. If he'd stayed in Oklahoma, he'd probably have married Annie -- after he'd knocked her up. He'd be on her daddy's farm, trying to scratch out a living from ground that refused to grow anything, and watching his children grow up hating him for his own ineffectiveness.
If he hadn't taken Holland's offer of a job in L.A., he'd have stayed in San Francisco, maybe tried to get a job in corporate law. He'd have an apartment that he paid too much for and didn't like at all, and he'd get on a downtown bus every morning and try not to meet anyone's eyes.
And if he'd left Wolfram and Hart when he first thought about it, when he'd seen the execution order for three innocent children...well, if he'd left then, he'd probably be dead.
'Cause this is the thing: it's not like life presented him with one clear choice--a fork in the road where one path was shadowed and lined by big ugly trees and covered in fog, and the other path shimmering with sunlight and a beckoning choir of celestial voices. More often, his choices were "Get into college or get stuck in Oklahoma." "Do what Holland says or get killed." "Find out where new hand came from or face possibility of unintentional suicide."
So he'd created his own choices; accumulated enough blackmail material to make sure Wolfram and Hart would have to think real hard before coming after him. Made the choice to leave, and did it with enough flair to confuse the hell out of his former employers. Maybe it had worked, maybe it hadn't, but he wasn't going to sit around and wait while they made up their minds.
Right now, he doesn't have to think about anything more complicated than where he'll stop for dinner. He can keep driving until he hits the coast, if he feels like it.
Maybe he'll head up to Austin, get work as a musician in some club on Sixth Street. Spend some time wandering around the hill country, in little towns that won't look too hard at an Okie boy with wanderlust and pain in his eyes. Maybe he'll spend a few months in New Orleans, where they don't look twice at anybody. Take a few trips to the Gulf Coast and walk down the beach, letting the sand crunch between his toes in the eight o'clock twilight.
Maybe he'll turn to the north and see if he can survive a winter where the temperature drops below zero and stays there for weeks at a time.
Or maybe he'll go back to L.A. and see if Angel's still alive.
After all, he's got nothing but time.
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