Lindsey McDonald was alone, out cold, paler than the sheets beneath him. His brown hair was in disarray, he was soaked in sweat, and the room reeked of his blood. One of his shirt sleeves had been cut away and his entire arm encased in bandages. His legs were tangled awkwardly in the blankets. He looked like hell.
Good, Angel thought. That's what he'd put Cordelia through. And she wouldn't have recovered. Lindsey would no doubt be up and about again, defending the whole corrupt system, within a matter of days. Angel refused to feel guilty about it. He'd tried to help him before, and he'd warned him that night, and Lindsey had still chosen to stay with Wolfram & Hart and try to kill Cordelia. He deserved what he'd gotten.
He looked around the room more carefully. There was no sign that anyone else had been there. No one slept at his bedside. Wolfram & Hart must not be very sentimental. Lindsey McDonald had been crippled for life, and no one could be bothered to watch over him. He probably deserved that, too. There was nothing to learn here. He could go.
But his eyes kept returning to the sight of him crumpled in the bed. He didn't like to see other people in pain. In the last year, he had gotten used to being the one who helped them-who made the pain go away. His work as a private investigator and savior of souls hadn't left behind twisted bodies, people sucking painfully for air and kicking feebly at the bedclothes in his sleep, as Lindsey was doing now. But there was no getting past it. He had done this, had left Lindsey a maimed wreck unconscious in the hospital. And he had been glad to do it. He'd left him to die with a smile and a quip while the other man screamed. He still remembered the fierce pleasure he'd taken in walking out on him. Beneath the worry for Cordelia and Wesley, he'd been exulting, savoring every shriek.
And was it really so strange, after all? He'd hurt a lot of humans in his time-not him, but Angelus. Angelus...He moved to the side of the bed. Angelus would have loved this. His posturing, overconfident adversary, literally cut down to size-he would have laughed at that. He would have revelled in the sight of him broken and vulnerable. He would have drunk in his beautiful helplessness as though it were Slayer blood. Angelus would have...Without thinking, he pushed Lindsey's hair back from his forehead. It was sticky from gel, but softening with his sweat. He brushed his hand along his cheek, feeling the dampness, the faint stubble.
"Poor Lindsey," he whispered, half-mockingly. "They've left you all alone."
The other man moaned softly, tossing his head against his hand, and the sound drew him in even closer. He wanted to make it stop. He wanted him to do it again. The sounds of suffering were so intimate...especially when he was the one who'd caused them. Lindsey's eyelashes were fluttering against his palm, and he was keenly aware of the delicate tickling sensation. All he had to was press down and twist, and he could snap his neck. The human body was so fragile.
"Are you sorry, Lindsey? You should be." If he were awake, he could make him sorry. Make him crawl. Make him scream. Then he could make it all better, for both of them. He slid his other hand down his neck, feeling the pulse thudding along rapidly. His fingers brushed over spattered blood, still a little tacky. Lindsey's agony, refined to its essence. Oh, it would be so sweet on his tongue. He bent down to taste it--
And recoiled just in time, appalled, fighting down the demon. He had to get out of there, back to Cordelia--
Wesley lifted his head as he came into her room. "Where have you been?" he inquired drowsily.
"Just walking and thinking."
He peered at him past the bandages. "Angel, is everything all right? You look--"
"Yeah. Yeah." He put a hand on his shoulder. "Go back to sleep. Everything's fine."
Except for Lindsey. That might not be all right, ever again.