The New Step 3 – Defection
I do not own Angel the Series. That's all Joss, ME, WB, and whoever else. No profit will be made off this story, yadda yadda.Author's Note:
On the off chance any of you are interested in my random ramblings about Exit Strategy and Angel the Series – along with writing updates and occasional teaser excerpts, I direct you to my tumblr . alkenifanfiction. Tumblr. Com (the extraneous spaces must be removed, obviously).
Thanks to Starway Man for serving as my beta-reader for this fic.Exit Strategy
Chapter 4: The New Step 3 – DefectionLobby, Hyperion Hotel, Los Angeles
9:22 pm, April 27th, 2001
The phone hung there, off the hook, the dial tone still droning on – as Lilah Morgan stood there, almost unable to believe what had just had happened.
He mind still racing, Lilah forced herself to regain her composure. Literally. Closing her eyes, she imagined, for a moment, that she was driving knives into Lindsey's eyes and ears. She didn't bother with deep breaths, or counting to ten, and her imagined attacks on Lindsey didn't last long either. She didn't need any tricks or fancy ways to calm down and recover her composure – she'd worked at Wolfram and Hart for over seven years. No one lasted that long at the firm without knowing how to force themselves into a composed state when they had to.
Drawing on those experiences, Lilah drew herself back under control in less than thirty seconds. Even if those seconds had seemed more like minutes, or hours, or even days...Okay, so I'm in quite the situation.
Lilah, as she usually did, started by stating the obvious. Still...the situation wasn't as bad as it had seemed, straight after hearing Lindsey's voice. It was at least a little bit better now, anyway. She had a problem – Wolfram and Hart's golden boy had her mother. But on the plus side, that meant that Lindsey was going to be kept in charge of her case. Unlike some outsider, he at least knew
that if she died, everything would go public at once. So even if someone inside Special Projects tried to score points by taking her out on their own, Lindsey's entire job would rely on him stopping them.
She couldn't release what she had, or the firm would kill her mother at once. That was a given. On the other hand, they couldn't do anything to her mother, or to her, as long as she had all the files in her possession.
Where was her mother being held? Impossible to say for sure, but probably at the Fairfield Clinic. Either way, though, it didn't matter – Lilah knew her mother would be moved somewhere else at once, if anyone came snooping around. Given his recent promotion, Lindsey would now know more than she did about the labyrinthine network of Wolfram & Hart's holdings and possessions and shell companies and subsidiaries – both inside and outside this dimension. It wasn't guaranteed that he'd manage to hide her mother somewhere she couldn't find her, but Lilah knew she couldn't afford to place much hope on that.
She had a gun to her head. The firm – and especially Lindsey – had one to theirs. Mutually assured destruction scenario. Lilah forced herself to think tactically: the information, if released, wouldn't destroy the firm's operations in this realm, but it would
do a hell of a lot of damage. And in return, they would send a bullet into her mother's head.
She couldn't release what she had. Which meant that Angel Investigations would be stuck with the half that it still had.
So that was the question. Would she be able to get out of Los Angeles with their help, without giving them the other half of the information? They were the 'good guys' so wouldn't they still help her? They would understand the 'Wolfram and Hart has kidnapped my mother' angle, right?
Then again, they had no particular love for her, especially the Vision Girl. Lilah wouldn't put it past them to not help her, if that bitchy seer started on one of her rants. Especially
if Cordelia Chase decided to make life hellish for her co-workers, if she didn't get her own way.
Besides, under these new circumstances, did she really want to leave? Yes, that had been the end game for her exit strategy – but if she had any chance of finding and rescuing her mother, Lilah knew that Los Angeles was the place to be. And Angel Investigations probably offered her the best position from which to do that. And sure, she'd get to spite Wolfram and Hart a little along the way too, which had its advantages.
Could she really bring herself to hang around Angel and his band of merry men, though? They made her more than just a little sick, with their self-righteousness, and their 'goody-two-shoes...we're the good guys' attitude. And they'd probably get all preachy, too, the longer she hung out here.
Although she had to give Wesley some credit. Good guy or not, he had looked like he was fully prepared to shoot her if he felt it necessary. Angel probably would have too, but then, he was Angel. You can't take the vampire out of the man as much as he would like to wish.
So, what now?It's not like you have a choice, Lilah.
She thought to herself, her mind reaching a conclusion within a few minutes. The situation just couldn't stand as it was now.Lobby, Hyperion Hotel, Los Angeles
11:59 pm, April 27th, 2001
“God-damn! The way you just shot that demon as it came up behind you, cool as can be? That was something else, man!” Gunn clapped Wesley on the back, as they reached the patio just outside the Hyperion's front door.
“Well, he wasn't as good at sneaking up on me as he thought. Not even close.” Wesley agreed, smiling a little. Both men looked a little worse for the wear after the fight – though not too much, nothing more than scratches and bruises – as did Cordelia and Angel, for that matter. Having the floor plan and the other information provided by Lilah had made the entire task infinitely easier than it might have been.
“The look on his face when you flipped the gun around to point at him.” Gunn added, laughing. “Priceless.”
“That was good work on the Glorak Demon yourself, Charles.” Wesley commented to his friend as they kept walking.
“Bet your ass it was, Wes.” Gunn replied. The two of them stopped for a moment and shared their little 'secret handshake'.
Cordelia let out a scoff at the pair's antics, rolling her eyes and heading on through the door of the hotel, Angel close behind.
“So you're back.” Lilah remarked as they entered, leaning back against the front desk, arms crossed in front of her. “Back, and in one piece, complete with one baby-smuggling and soul drop manufacturing center taken out. Chalk one up for the good guys, and all hail the conquering heroes!” She added with a drawl at the end.
“Can it, Lilah.” Cordelia retorted, an annoyed bite to her tone. “And what are you doing out here, anyway? How did you get out of your room?” She demanded, walking further into the lobby.
“What?” Lilah shrugged with a raised eyebrow. “Did you really expect me to stay in there for hours, all by my lonesome? I got bored.” She stepped away from the front desk, facing them directly. “So, believe me now?” She uncrossed her arms for a moment, before crossing them again, staring at them.
“Yes, we do.” Wesley said as he walked over to her. “Or at least, I believe that you very much want us to believe you. And the two may well both be true, given that we're talking about you, and talking about Wolfram and Hart.” Wesley stopped, looking at her directly. “I'll believe you more when we see the rest of the information. So, where's the other half?”
“That wasn't the deal, Wesley.” Lilah pointed out. “The deal was, I get out of L.A., you get the information. In case you haven't noticed, I'm still in L.A.” Not that that plan is going to actually go as intended, but still.
“All I need to do is talk to an old buddy of mine, and you'll be on your way, out of the city and the hell away from us.” Gunn confirmed.
“Excellent.” Lilah remarked, but then she added, “Though, as much as I would like for things to go to plan...believe me, I'd love to get out of here and leave you all to have fun with Wolfram and Hart...unfortunately, it's not going to work like that. A complication's come up.”
Gunn scoffed, “Should have known evil-lawyer-bitch would change things up!”
“Can we toss her out on her ass now?” Cordelia looked to Angel and Wesley, the latter's hand drifting to the handle of his pistol. Lilah just looked unfazed, arms still crossed in front of her, one eyebrow raised, as if daring him to pull it out and shoot her.
“You're afraid.” Angel said, voice lower than usual. “I can smell it. Not of Wesley shooting you – something else. Something's changed from when you showed up. A complication, like you said.” He stepped closer, raising his voice back to normal. “We're not going to get the rest of the files.” It wasn't a question. “You're not going to give them to us, at least not willingly.” Lilah shook her head. “Why? Just because you're contrary and evil?” Angel asked with a scoff.
“What would you do if I said yes? Kill me?” Lilah rolled her eyes.
“We could drag you back to Wolfram and Hart and let them eat you alive.” Wesley pointed out. “Except that you probably have some kind of contingency plan to deal with that.” He kept his hand on his gun, but didn't draw it, musing. “Of course...this is Wolfram and Hart we're talking about.”
“Bingo.” Lilah replied. “I had a gun to Wolfram and Hart's head – well, to Lindsey's head, anyway, given how his precious career and corner office would have been gone if he didn't stop me from releasing the information. Unfortunately, Lindsey found one to put to mine.”
“I don't see why we should believe you.” Gunn retorted. “Besides, whatever it is – if you don't hold up your end of the deal, we don't hold up ours. Simple as that.”
“Nothing is that simple, Gunn.” Lilah replied, rolling her eyes. “Besides, getting out of L.A. isn't on my to-do list anymore. Getting away from Wolfram and Hart isn't going to get me what I want.”
“What do they have that's stopping you? Its obviously not you-” Cordelia started, before her eyes narrowed. “So, what, is there someone in this world you actually care about that isn't you? Who? Because I find that
pretty hard to believe.”
“Believe whatever you want, it makes no difference to me. And this isn't a sleep-over, Princess.” Lilah shot back. “I'm not going to bare my soul for you or anyone else to see.” Angel started to say something but Lilah cut in before he could get it out. “And yes, I still have it. Wolfram and Hart doesn't take your soul at my pay grade.”
Gunn rolled his eyes. “Still not believing you. Can still be pretty damn evil, even with a soul.”
“Oh, definitely. Most of my clients still had their souls.” Lilah agreed. “And sure, by your narrow little definitions, I'm evil; but I'm also the person in this room who knows the most about Wolfram and Hart – and while I don't have the depth of Wesley's knowledge on the subject, I sure as hell know more about demons than you three,” She gestured to Cordelia, Gunn and Angel. “You have the first half of the files I gave you, and I just know you're smart enough to figure out some useful stuff out of there.” Her 'certainty' managed just the right touch of skepticism for maximum insult.
“You're not making a particularly good case for us letting you stay here,” Wesley pointed out, his eyes hard and flinty.
“I'll pay rent.” Lilah offered with a smirk. She knew full well that Angel Investigations barely managed to keep its account ledgers in the black, and usually only on the skin of its teeth.
Despite herself, the mention of money got Cordelia's attention, as she thought back to the stack of bills she'd seen in the briefcase Lilah had brought those floppy discs in. She kept herself under control, but still...money would be nice.
“Well, obviously, if we decided to let you stay in the Hyperion, you're certainly going to have to. But I don't think we can trust you enough to even remotely consider letting you actually 'join' Angel Investigations, and certainly not at this time.” Wesley stated. “Nonetheless, we have enough space in the hotel to keep you locked
up in a room of your own, while we figure out what to do with you.”
“I'm not going to be your prisoner while I try to figure out how to get the gun Lindsey's got to my head away from me.” Lilah shot back. “Besides, you're the good guys. You're not supposed to do that sort of thing!”
“Sorry, but you've made quite the incorrect assumption. You're going back up into the room you were in before, and you're going to stay there, locked in, as a general rule.” Wesley replied. “Or are you forgetting who has the gun in this room? Indeed, wouldn't killing you now lead to the files getting released, and thus Lindsey getting axed? Literally, I mean?” He didn't need a response from Lilah. “That would be a win/win situation for us
, if not you and your former co-worker...”
In response to the look Lilah sent him, Wesley shook his head. “Oh, very well. As useful as that would be, I'm not prepared to go that
far for its own sake, but we have no reason to trust you at this time. Prove useful, however, and we shall see.”