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Midnight in Helsinki

Summary: Lindsey learns just how far he can't run from LA.
Rating: PG-13. Lindsey swears a bit.
Notes: In every way possible, this story is for Celli. If you like it, e-mail her and let her know
Spoilers: Season 3, Dead End. Season 4, Habeas Corpus and A Long Day's Journey.
Disclaimer: Not mine. Joss's (and still, in some distant, sad sense, David Greenwalt's). Can we get Christian Kane back on the show? Please? Copyright 2003

It was fucking cold in Finland in January.

Paul Pearson wrapped his coat around him as he left the office building. A sullen gleam on the west horizon indicated where the sun has set, even though it was only two in the afternoon. The air was bitingly dry, sucked clear of moisture by the freezing wind.

It felt nothing like the Santa Ana desert winds in Los Angeles. Which was the whole point of coming here. The Scandinavians were a practical, no-nonsense, clear-minded people. Yes, they had myths and legends that they didn't realize were all too real, but they had also had the foresight to build an apocalypse into their mythology. He'd come here seeking that, the IKEA serenity of straight lines, primary colors, no frills, and no unnecessary pieces.

He turned to go down the Mannerheimintie to get to the train station, and stopped dead.

"Hi, Lindsey," Lilah Morgan said. "Long time no see."

"~Missa~...." Lindsey coughed and shook his head. He spoke primarily English at his job for a Finnish company looking towards English-speaking markets, but he was used to coming up with a few words in the local tongue on the street. "Where the *hell* did you come from?"

Lilah shrugged, that long, elegant wave she had perfected that seemed to ripple across her whole body. "Physically, temporally or morally?" she asked, as though the question was of little importance, the banter that they didn't even have to think about because they were too busy thinking under it. But she was drawn too tense for it to really work, a fine trembling that you had to know her well to read.

A year and a half since he'd last seen her, he still could read her like a book. He hadn't gotten far enough from LA, damnit. Should have gone to Tibet, although wasn't spirituality he wanted. It was normality.

"So nice of you to drop by," Lindsey said with acid pleasure. "I hope you're leaving soon?"

"I don't know. I thought I'd stay. You managed to hide out here well enough."

"Oh, yeah, that reminds me. How did you find me here?" he said furiously, all pretense gone, taking a step toward her and crowding her. A few people glanced at them; aware on some level something was wrong. Instincts were so much more powerful than people gave them credit for.

"I looked," Lilah said. "And I knew you better than they did. They figured you'd head for home-sweet-home, be a good ole boy again, connect with your roots." She slurred the last word into a mocking Southern accent, but he could still see that she wasn't really putting her heart into it. She was needling him out of habit, out of self-protection. "Why'd you come to a place that only gets about twenty minutes of sunlight during the day?"

"Had enough sun in LA," Lindsey shot back. "And just think what the summers are like."

"All-sun, all-the-time, huh? Just the sort of place that vampires and other things that go slaughter in the night would hate?"

Backing away, Lindsey turned and walked for his train, hoping against hope that she would just let him go, that he could pretend this was a mirage that he'd seen in passing. Lilah Borealis, a flicker against the night sky, seen and gone.

Her heels clicked on the sidewalk as she kept pace with him. "You're not even curious? Not even a, 'Hi, Lilah, go to hell' for old times' sake?"

Without pausing, without looking at her, Lindsey said, "What? Did you get tired of being the sole head of Special Projects? Find out that there really is a glass ceiling at Wolfram and Hart? Although it's probably for humans rather than women there."

"There isn't a Wolfram and Hart. Not any more."

Lindsey froze. Wind whipped the hair he'd let grow long again, as uncorporate lawyer as he could look while still working as a corporate lawyer. Scrabbling in the pocket of his greatcoat, he pulled out a knit cap and yanked it on. "What do you mean?" he asked, aware that his voice sounded perfectly, casually normal.

"Wolfram and Hart is gone. Destroyed, in this dimension at least. Everyone's dead."

"Except you."

"Except us," Lilah countered.

"No," Lindsey said. "I'm not part of it any more. I quit. Remember?"

Lilah scoffed. "Like that's going to matter to that... the Beast."

"The what?" Lindsey asked, conscious only of a great weariness. Getting sucked into this all over again.

"The Beast. It appeared in the alleyway behind where Caritas used to be, where Connor was born," Lilah recited, as though she was giving an update at a staff meeting. "Caused a rain of fire to shower down on LA, broke into Wolfram and Hart, slaughtered everyone in sight, and last I heard as I was running like a sissy girl, blotted out the sun in LA."

Lindsey disregarded the things that didn't make sense, the 'where Caritas used to be' and 'where Connor was born'. "So, if Beastie Boy killed everyone in Wolfram and Hart, how did you survive?"

Lilah blushed. She actually, honestly blushed. "I had... help getting out." She put one hand to her side, wincing as though it hurt, in an unstudied, unconscious gesture that told Lindsey more than words. Something had happened to her, something other than what had sent her running. "I got out, and got far."

"Good plan. Keep going. I've heard Moscow is cold this time of year."

"It wants to end the world."

Lindsey closed his eyes. Ragnorak, the apocalypse, the end of the world. The long nights of the Scandinavian winter would never give way to spring. "So what? Why not? One of these shots has to finally end the existence of life as we know it, right? Hell, half the time we were orchestrating it ourselves. Does it really matter who does it, and how? Or are you just mad that someone beat you to it?"

"I'm not ready for the world to end yet. Damnit, Lindsey, listen to me." Lilah grabbed the lapel of his coat, and twisted. She was shivering, Lindsey distantly realized, her coat perfectly appropriate for a cold Los Angeles day, but not for Helsinki. "You've got to be careful. It's after us."

With more haste than care, Lindsey pulled her hand away -- using his left one, the new one, the replacement. "No. Listen to me. I am not part of this us. I'm Paul Pearson, a lawyer for the excellent firm of Liisankatu International. Paul Pearson never worked for Wolfram and Hart, and thinks that vampires are really stupid Halloween stories. Get the hell out of my life."

He pushed her away and kept walking. From behind him, Lilah called. "Darla's dead."

He froze, long enough for her to catch up with him again. "Of course she's dead. She's a vampire," he said, making a lie out of his last pompous pronouncement. Proving that he was Lindsey McDonald, who knew vampires and demons and monsters existed, and not the alliterative Paul Pearson, with his mundane, boring, comfortable life.

"She's dust," Lilah said. "She died giving birth behind Caritas, to Connor. To Angel's son."

A hundred things occurred to him to say, starting and ending with the impossibility of two vampires creating a baby. "What do you want, Lilah?" he asked, turning to face her fully. "You didn't come here to trade quips, and I don't believe that this was the only place you could think to come."

Lilah looked at him, masks down, her eyes clear. "Actually, it was. I wanted to come someplace where someone cared if I lived or died. Even if he would prefer I died."

That startled a laugh out of Lindsey, his breath streaming out into the cold night air. "You're twisted," he said, and even he could hear that his voice carried approval. "So, what's your name, if I'm going to be introducing you around?"

"Lillian Price. Got a couch I can crash on for awhile?" she asked. "And a job at your unpronounceable office?"

"Couch, yes," he said, knowing that it was insane. "The hell I'm taking you on as a coworker again. You'll try to steal my job."

"Fair enough," Lilah said with a cocky toss of her head. "Just as long as you know I could."

"Couldn't," he shot back, beginning his walk to the train station again.

"I so could..."


Copyright Tania 2003-2004
Violators will be forced to ride in the trunk.

A FangedFour.com Production