Pairings: Angel/Wesley, Spike/Xander, Dalton(ofc)/Riley, Fred/Soshie(ofc)<
Rating: ADULT

Pairings this chapter: Angel/Lindsey
Summary: When Lindsey came to Angel for help, he put himself under Angel's protection. Now that Spike has forced Angel to start running his clan like a real clan, Lindsey is back under Angel's protection as a slave. Xander's slavery came out of his guilty pleasure at submitting. Riley admits that slavery is better than addictions, and if pressed he'd admit that he loves Dalton. And Wesley... Wesley practically begged Angel to use a slave spell on him, throwing himself into total dedication to the cause, something he always excelled at. Lindsey, however, is not as enthralled with slavery as all these others (pun intended).

Warnings: everything and the kitchen sink on this one, kiddies. Lots of BDSM, D/s, slavery, bondage, etc



The Length of a Leash

Lindsey rubbed his wrists, feeling his skin tingle at the sensation. For over a month, Angel had kept him in leather cuffs, which was longer than Lindsey had expected. For a man who couldn't step on a bug without suffering a year of guilt, Angel was turning into a leader who looked suspiciously like a Master Vampire.

"Do not make me regret giving you the freedom of the hotel." Angel punctuated his words by grabbing Lindsey's neck and pressing his fingers deep into the flesh. "I can put you back in that cage."

Lindsey froze. He wouldn't go into that cage again. Life may have forced him admit that Angel and that damn spell had enslaved him, but there were all kinds of slavery. Hell, he hadn't even known he was enslaved to Wolfram and Hart, but after seeing the evidence--the employment contract that he had signed without fully analyzing how all the subsections related to the termination conditions--he could see how slavery didn't mean he had to give up power. He had power at Wolfram and Hart despite the fact he had unwittingly signed himself into slavery, and he could have power here. He just had to find a way to talk Angel around to his point of view. That meant he needed to find a way to avoid ever going in that cage again. Locked in a small cage was the most helpless feeling he'd had since leaving home and the abject poverty that had stolen every bit of self-esteem he'd possessed.

"I'm just going to meet the crew and check out the hotel I'm supposed to be saving from tax repossession," Lindsey said with his most charming smile. If he had to play nice, he might as well point out that he had a few skills they sorely needed around here. Namely, he wasn't an idiot like some others he might mention.

Angel narrowed his eyes and pulled Lindsey closer, wrapping his arms around him before nuzzling at Lindsey's neck. Lindsey squirmed, his cock warming to the attention even if Lindsey's higher brain functions didn't appreciate the affection. Yes, Angel was his owner. Yes, Angel fed from him and fucked him and owned him. Yes, in the dark of the night, Lindsey could even admit that it felt good to not worry about who was trying to stab him in the back. Angel was oddly protective for a slave-owning master vampire. However, Lindsey hated that part of him that wanted to soak up all that affection. He should be stronger than that. He was a man.

"Don't disappoint me," Angel murmured, his lips against Lindsey's throat. Lindsey tilted his head out of either a desire for the bite or a desire to make Angel think he wanted the bite--Lindsey wasn't sure which was true anymore. Angel slowly sank his fangs into the curve of Lindsey's exposed neck, sucking for just a moment before he pulled out. However, he continued to hold Lindsey tightly against his chest. "You do remember the limits of the spell, don't you?"

"Yes. I leave you, I die. You die, I die. I know the rules Angel, and trust me, I am very fond of breathing, so I'm not going to break the rules."

Lindsey heard a snort from the far side of the room. Stiffening, Lindsey waited to see if perfect suck-up Wesley and his stupid do-gooding ways would ruin Lindsey’s chance at a little freedom. That idiot would like the damn cage, not that Angel would ever use it with him.

"Be good," Angel finally ordered as he let Lindsey go. "Wesley, what's on the agenda today?"

"A ga'arak clan would like permission to operate in your territory. They're offering the full loyalty and services of two warriors in return for a compound of up to seventy ga'arak in the northern hills."

Wesley made it sound almost boring. If Wolfram and Hart were negotiating, they would have asked for much more. Ga'arak were known for magical weapons. Or maybe they'd demand twenty warriors in return for protection. For the ga'arak, sending sons into service elsewhere was an ideal way to avoid having to kill them in dominance battles, so an offer of two sounded more like an insult than a legitimate tribute. However, Angel nodded--the happy little idiot. Lindsey knew more than any of this lot, so he was still trying to figure out how he'd managed to get himself enslaved not once, but twice.

Life wasn't fair.

He didn't know that coming to Angel for help could be seen as giving the vampire a claim over him. Okay, maybe he should have known that, but he definitely knew that Angel never would have taken that claim if Spike hadn't backed him into a corner. Now Spike was a vampire to fear. He ruled the Hellmouth with a short temper and a long arm. Sending humans out as foot solders... that was a move designed to strike terror in any demon. After all, humans outnumbered them a thousand to one, and the only reason most demons didn't have nightmares every night was because humans were largely useless. But on the Hellmouth, you had Harris and Finn and that human witch and who knows how many other humans who could eviscerate you.

"Lindsey, do you have something to offer?" Angel asked. For one second, Lindsey had the uncomfortable feeling that Angel could read his mind. That wasn't part of the spell, though. Lindsey smiled.

"No. I'm just looking forward to a little exploring."

"I suggest you keep clear of the pyashi on the third floor. They tend to not slow down even if a human foot gets in the way of their nail gun,” Wesley offered.

"Is that the voice of experience?" Lindsey asked sweetly.

Wesley glared at him for a minute, leading Angel to sigh loudly.

"Actually, it's fascinating the way pyashi have been distorted in mythology over the years. The shoemakers elves, for example. In that myth, the elves refused any payment, a mythological form we see repeated in Harry Potter with the--"

"Can I leave now?" Lindsey interrupted. If Wesley wanted to wax poetic about his stupid stories, Lindsey wanted to be far, far away.

Angel gave another sigh, and Lindsey could feel the shifting power in the room. While Angel might play head of the clan, he wasn’t the ultimate power here. He was too hesitant. And Wesley really wasn’t a power player. He was a puppy of a man who rolled on his back and showed his stomach every time Angel came near. It was nauseating. However, Lindsey did have one or two theories about the power dynamics around here, and just had to tap into the right source to turn his luck around. After all, he was Lindsey McDonald. He’d started on the bottom and fought his way to the top before.

Angel reached up to run a hand through Lindsey’s hair, and Lindsey had to clench his teeth to avoid the wave of longing that swept through him. It would be so easy to trust Angel, but that wasn’t in Lindsey’s nature. Besides, look how trusting Angel had turned out for Doyle. He’d died fighting this ridiculous fight of Angel’s and Cordelia had nearly followed. Lindsey wouldn’t allow himself to become a pawn.

Letting his hand drop away, Angel gave a little nod, and for the first time in a month, Lindsey had permission to walk more than ten steps without a leash or a collar or hobbled ankles. Clenching his teeth against an urge to thank Angel for the small freedom, Lindsey turned and strode out of the large room he shared with Angel and Wesley.

“Hey Lindsey,” Fred sang in an overly perky voice as she waved to him from down the hall. She had her hand around her Oden Tal’s lover's waist. Sophie--that was her name. Lindsey had watched her fight, but considering that Lindsey had spent most of his time gagged at Angel's feet, Lindsey hadn't been formally introduced. "You'ree looking real good!" Fred offered cheerfully. The woman needed to drink less caffeine. “It’s real nice to see you out and about. How’s it going with the tax problem?”

“You mean the situation where Angel let the taxes on this place put us all in debt to Wolfram and Hart?”

“Yep. Is it all fixed now?”

Lindsey rolled his eyes. No wonder no one at Wolfram and Hart never spotted her techno-mage abilities. She presented herself like a brainless twit, and she clearly wasn’t interested in gossiping about the boss. In contrast, Soshie just considered him with cold eyes. That one wasn't warming up to him.

“I claimed that some sloppy paperwork on the city’s part denied us our due process right to pay the debt ourselves before it was offered to someone else.”

Fred's smile brightened even more. “Good for you. Bureaucracies usually are sloppy with something, but getting them to admit it takes some doing.” She had the nerve to actually pat him on the arm before she headed for the stair, that insipid smile still on her face. Lindsey sighed. It might be harder to manipulate these folk than he’d planned, but he was up to the job.

A troupe of four foot pyashi went hurrying past, and Lindsey pressed himself against the wall to let them. Wesley might be a prick, but he was right that pyashi were not amused by people getting in their way. Now Lindsey just had to decide where to go.

Walking slowly to the railing, he looked down into the lobby. Groo was fighting with two vampires, both of whom had cleaned up quite a bit since they’d appeared on Angel’s doorstep asking to be admitted to the clan. Most of the vampires who did that got turned to dust on the spot, but something in these two had led Angel to give them a chance. Both had dark hair, and they were equally tall, but the blue eyed one had a faster fighting style to meet his smaller frame while the dark eyed one was slower. That one swung a sword with more skill than Lindsey expected. Groo, however, fended both off with easy as they sparred, giving them fighting tips as he parried blows from both at once. If Lindsey was looking for a weak link, Groo wasn’t it. Like Wesley, the man was an overgrown puppy who all but panted with joy in Angel’s presence.

A bracken was behind the counter, looking as human as Doyle ever had. Either it was a half-breed or it was using a glamour, but right now, the woman looked like a pretty typical LA blonde, at least until she sneezed. She was too new to have any real power. She was one more than had almost magically appeared, seeming to know that Angel had changed his policy on accepting new clan members before Angel’s car had even stopped in front of the hotel. Spike had to be behind that. It made sense since Angel wasn’t the most proactive vamp in the universe.

“Oh no. If you three get blood on my floor, I will make sure all of your suffer worse than the hottest level of hell, do I make myself clear?” Cordelia waded into the middle of the sparring session, and the taller vamp snarled at her. In less than a second, she had her finger in his face. “Do it again, and I will pull your fangs, and do not assume I am using hyperbole because I did not enjoy figurative language in English class, and I am so not going to use it in real life.”

Groo’s body language shifted, and he tilted in head in a move that was both submissive and seductive. “My queen, we would never soil your domain. I never should have offered to review even basic skills outside the training room.” He sidled closer like the good little lap dog he was. “And if this one’s fangs offend you, I will pull them for you right now and make a necklace for you to show your prowess.”

For one second, Cordelia wore an absolutely disgusted expression, and then she rolled her eyes as Groo finally slipped an arm around her waist and pulled her close. Lindsey leaned on the rail and watched the show. Wild Kingdom played out in front of his eyes as the two vamps flinched back, their eyes going to the floor in an overt show of submission.

“I apologize, Mistress,” the big one who’d snarled at her said in a voice softer and more cultured than Lindsey would have expected.

She huffed dramatically. “I do not want someone walking in and seeing something they shouldn’t. Appearances people. Appearances matter, and when you’re trying for subtle, two vamped out vampires fighting in the lobby is not useful. You have a training room so this doesn’t happen.”

“Of course, my queen,” Groo immediately agreed. “I shall present myself for any consequences you see fit to impose after I finish instructing these two on how to avoid dying.”

Lindsey snorted. Clearly Wesley wasn’t the one who was totally whipped. Groo might as well beg for a spanking. Schmuck.

Cordelia seemed to really study the two vampires after Groo’s announcement. “Are you taking them with you to the new Rapture house?”

“Yes, my queen. This house is quite large, and Angel and I agree that without more warriors, some vampires might escape. All must be captured or killed and the humans retrieved, which will require considerable coordination and many helpers.”

“Are the two ga'arak going with you?”

Groo nodded. “Master Angel feels they will be good additions and this fight will allow us to assess how their fighting abilities rank them within the warrior class.”

Lindsey watched the two vampires trade worried looks. Oh yes, there was a new hierarchy, and unless these two wanted to be at the bottom, they were going to have to work harder. Lindsey hadn’t thought Angel was talented enough for that sort of manipulation, but then again, Lindsey wasn’t totally convinced Angel had arranged this new system.

Lindsey watched as Cordelia nodded. “I’ll make sure we have more beds for the humans. And you two…” Cordelia poked her finger toward the two vamps. “You will not be using any of these humans until they are clean and sober. I don’t care if they beg you for the bite, if I find one fang mark on them, you will suffer. And when I say suffer, you do not even want to guess what I’m thinking about, got it?”

Both vamps nodded. Once she got their submission, Cordelia seemed to relax some. “Good. If you need blood, the humans in the red room have chosen to stay. Make sure that you watch out for each other so you don’t accidentally hurt someone. Got it?”

“Yes, Mistress,” the larger one agreed, but he was already backing up. His partner glanced at him and then started backing away as well. They were stronger than her, but she clearly had them well in hand. That was power. Lindsey leaned on the rail and watched while Cordelia turned her back on them and walked away. For a vampire, that was a brutal insult, but the two vampires just took the opportunity to turn tail and run. One of these days, she was going to misjudge or say something while Groo wasn’t there to enforce her rules. It was an odd dynamic, but one that Lindsey definitely could use to his advantage.

He remembered the first time he’d seen Cordelia. Russell Winters liked her… not well enough to keep her around, but he had planned to have her for one very enjoyable evening of sex and blood. She had been as charmed by him as any of the other women Russell had targeted before Angel had killed him. He could work with his.

Lindsey waited as Groo followed the two vampires out of the lobby before he headed downstairs. The bracken woman smiled at him, and Lindsey smiled back, uncomfortably aware of the fact that she had seen him on Angel’s leash. However, he needed to focus his game.

“Ladies,” Lindsey offered cheerfully. The bracken woman looked over at Cordelia and then vanished.

“Was it something I said?” Lindsey asked with a mock frown as he watched her go. Out of the corner of his eye, he watched as Cordelia leaned against the counter and considered him. That was fine. He had a nice body for her to consider. He wasn’t some muscled idiot like that Groo who fell at her feet. Women wanted something more mysterious… more challenging than some dumb ox. He flashed her a quick smile and then turned his back on her to study the art on the walls. It looked expensive, and Lindsey did appreciate expensive.

“She’s still a little uncomfortable with the whole slavery issue.”

“And you’re fine with it?” Lindsey challenged her. Women might deny it, but they all wanted an alpha male. He could play that part better than most.

Cordelia’s eyebrows went up. “I’m not getting involved in someone else’s love life.”

“Really? So, what if Angel decides he wants a traditional clan? I mean,” Lindsey softened his tone, “I know that he’s trying to respect that his clan has very few vampires, but Master Vampires do have needs.”

“Well, you should know about that more than me.” Cordelia really didn’t pull any punches. Lindsey could feel the sting of that because he did know more about Angel’s sexual preferences than he cared to. Luckily, he knew how to play this game of emotional attack with the best of them, and Cordelia could not compete with the lawyers of Wolfram and Hart.

“I do. I never chose to, but then I suppose that’s part of the slavery that you choose to not get involved with.” Lindsey’s words touched a nerve, even if Cordelia tried to hide her reaction. “He is a vampire, and he has a vampire’s instincts. I accept that. I just hope you never get caught up in that.” Lindsey had set the hook with his bait, and he turned to leave. She needed some time for the fears to really stew and mature.

“Do you really think Angel will let his vampire instincts rule him?” Cordelia called from behind him. Lindsey paused and debated his response. If he pushed too far, too fast, he would lose her. He had to carefully urge her to distrust Angel, slowly urge her to turn to him as the one with the answers. And he would be strong and offer those answers.

He slowly turned. “He certainly seems to show more and more demonic traits with each passing day,” he pointed out. It was true enough, but then the truth always did make the best bait.

“He is,” Cordelia mused. Lindsey took a small step forward; he could almost feel the unstable ground under his feet.

“I don’t know where this is going. Do you?” Lindsey asked softly, letting his gaze drift toward the stairs. He carefully arranged his features to hint at a bit of fear. Women didn’t respond well to cowards, but a little weakness always brought out the maternal in them.

“Some days I think I don’t understand anything at all,” Cordelia admitted in a tone that made it clear that she didn’t want to admit that. Lindsey carefully avoided showing any reaction to that admission.

“I suppose that’s the problem with being human, we can’t see the future.”

“Oh, that’s true.”

Lindsey nodded. “But I find that you can make predictions about people. What is it they say, the best predictor of future behavior is past behavior.”

Immediately, Lindsey could feel that he’d made a misstep somewhere. Cordelia’s eyes narrowed dangerously. Maybe she was recalling Lindsey’s past or maybe she was assuming that he meant to invoke Cordelia’s past as a helpless little cheerleader who had to hide behind a slayer to survive high school. Lindsey wasn’t quite sure where her thoughts had gone, but he needed her to focus on Angel.

“Every time Angel comes for me, I think about what happened to his last lover,” Lindsey said as he allowed his gaze to wander aimlessly around the lobby. Follow the bait, girly. Just follow the bait, he silently willed her.

“Buffy,” Cordelia said softly.

Lindsey nodded and tried to put a little more sadness in his expression. It was a matter of turning down the corners of his lips and relaxing the muscles around his eyes. He had practiced his hang-dog look in the mirror back home, and it still worked on every woman every born. He’d even managed to charm Lilah once or twice, although it never lasted long. The woman didn’t have a heart to manipulate. Lindsey’s brain suddenly made a connection that it should have made a month ago. If his employment contract was really a slave contract that was binding on his soul even after death, that meant Lilah’s was too. Hot damn. Now that was a nice thought.

“Buffy was an arrogant, over-bearing, air-headed fashion disaster, but she deserved better. She deserved much better.” Cordelia sounded emotional about that, which was good. If she was as cold as Lilah, this would be much harder.

“She shouldn’t have trusted Angel,” Lindsey agreed sadly. Follow me little girl, he thought. Follow my lead and start thinking about how anyone who trusts Angel is lost. Once Cordelia believed that, it would be only one small step to get her to turn to him. Then he could help her turn Angel into the slave and Lindsey McDonald would be back at the top of the food chain, where he should be.

“Shhh, Angel’s coming,” Cordelia said as she started studying her nails. In his wildest dream, Lindsey never would have expected a reaction this strong or for her to turn to him this quickly. Clearly there were fractures and stresses in this clan beyond what Lindsey knew about.

“Cordelia,” Angel said as he came down the rest of the stairs. Lindsey retreated to the far end of the counter and watched warily. “Is everything ready for the attack?”

“We’re waiting on the two ga'arak warriors. Groo wants to evaluate their fighting skills before taking them out in the field. Nathan and Will are ready to go.”


Cordelia sighed and gave Angel a weary look. “The two new vampires.”


“Soshie is going with you, so with you and Wesley, that makes eight.”

Angel nodded. “Good.”

Cordelia crossed her arms. “Excuse me? Good? Eight of you against a large house full of vampires? I don’t think so mister. You’d better go and make nice with Gunn because you need more fighters.”

“Gunn made it very clear what he thought of me.” Angel’s anger made his vampire nature come to the fore. His eyes yellowed, and the very angle of his body looked somehow alien.

“Yes, but he’s never liked you. You two worked together before, and you’d better start working together again because we need fighters.”

“I’ve never had more than you and Wesley backing me up before, and we’ve been fine,” Angel argued.

“Because you never took on the suck houses. They’re expecting us now. And after hearing what you did to that skanky master vampire wanna-be from the last house, they’re going to fight harder than ever. So go out and convince Gunn that fighting next to you is better than letting these vamps get away with running Rapture houses in our city.”

“He didn’t listen to me last time, what makes you think he’ll listen this time?”

“Because this time you’re going to promise to not bite him, and you’re going to make that promise without sounding like you want to bite him.”

“I never—”

“Save it. I was there, mister,” Cordelia cut him off. “So we are definitely not going after them tonight. Besides, you have to take care of Lindsey.”

Lindsey’s guts turned to stone, and when Angel looked over at him, Lindsey’s heart starting beating fast enough to make his chest actually hurt.

“If he has time to come down here and try and suggest that I shouldn’t trust you, then you aren’t keeping him busy enough. Either that or his leash is too long. Take care of that before I do something he’s really not going to like.” In one minute, Cordelia gutted Lindsey’s entire plan, and Angel was advancing on him. While Lindsey considered running, he knew he wouldn’t survive the spell if he did. However, looking at Angel’s fury, Lindsey wondered if he would be better off dying. When Angel reached him, he caught Lindsey by the shirt and pulled him close enough to snap a leash onto the collar.

“We were only talking,” Lindsey tried saying, even though he didn’t expect his obfuscations to work on Angel. Sure enough, Angel gave him a shove toward the stairs without answering.

“Angel,” Wesley called from the top of the stairs. “I just noticed that—”

“Later, Wes. Lindsey and I need to have a little discussion.” Lindsey could feel his fears start breeding like rabbits.

“Oh.” That’s all Wesley said, just ‘oh.’ Lindsey was about to get the skin stripped off his back and that’s the best Wesley could come up with. Lindsey seriously hated the man.

“I’ll be back down in a few hours.” Angel’s timeframe didn’t reassure Lindsey any. A vampire could do a lot of damage to a human body in a few hours. “See if you can talk to Cordelia. She’s worried that we’re short fighters, and you know how she gets when she’s worried.”

“Vicious and deadly?”

“That’s the mood. See if you can reassure her.”

“Wonderful. Yes, thank you so much for the impossible task. After I cheer up Cordelia, I’ll get to work on world peace and the reunification of the delic tribes.” Wesley was still muttering as he headed down the stairs, but Lindsey really didn’t give a damn about the man’s woes. Lindsey had his own to worry about.

“Move,” Angel ordered before shoving Lindsey toward their bedroom.

“I didn’t plot against you. She’s really making this sound like more than it was. I only expressed a few reasonable doubts,” Lindsey pointed out. “I understand that might have been taken poorly, and perhaps I showed some lack of judgment in talking to her.” Lindsey actually thought he’d shown more than just “some” lack of judgment. Clearly, Cordelia was more difficult to manipulate than he’d thought. Angel pushed him into the door to their room, and Lindsey was pinned against the wood for a moment until Angel turned the knob and propelled Lindsey into the room rather forcefully.

Lindsey stumbled into the room and whirled around to face Angel. He might not have a chance in hell of winning a fight, but he’d try. Of course his first choice would be to curse Angel to the darkest depths of hell, but the damn spell didn’t allow for that. Lindsey couldn’t do anything to actually harm Angel or contradict the man. And that was a good place to begin his defense.

“Angel, you know that I can’t act against you. I might have said something to upset Cordelia, but I was not attacking you.” Much.

Angel closed the door and locked it. “Strip.”

Lindsey really did not like the sound of that. He’d expected it, but he didn’t like the sound of it. “Can we talk about this?”

“One more word, and you’ll be gagged,” Angel warned. “Now, you can obey or you can make me come over there and pull the clothes off you, but if I do that, you willna be wearing any clothes at all for a good long time, clear?” If the words weren’t clear, the Irish lilt was. Angel was angry. Lindsey started slowly unbuttoning his shirt. His fingers trembled as he worked, and his brain ran in circles like a gerbil on a wheel as he tested out various arguments as he tried to figure out how to talk his way out of this when he’d been ordered to not talk. He wouldn’t get more than four or five words out before Angel crossed the room and forced him to stop talking, so he had to find the best four or five words.

He dropped the shirt on the couch and started unbuckling his belt. He quickly pulled it free and tossed it behind the couch so that Angel would have to search for it… or Angel would have to make him search for it. The pants came much slower, and Lindsey could see Angel’s temper fraying.

“I’m sorry,” Lindsey said as he folded the pants. He went for pity, which really galled him, but his options were limited. He expected Angel to rush him—to physically overpower him. Instead, Angel leaned back against the wall. Lindsey stood in front of the couch, naked. He refused to play the blushing virgin by putting his hands in front of his tackle, so instead he stood with his arms crossed.

“I’m sure you are, but that doesn’t erase the punishment you have coming. Go to the cabinet and get the red gag,” Angel ordered.

Lindsey paused. His father had played this game, making him get his own switch, and Lindsey hadn’t cared for it back then, but coming from Angel, the order was insufferable. He clenched his teeth and fought against an irrational urge to fight. He couldn’t win, but he still wanted to shove a really big metal pipe right through Angel’s guts. It wouldn’t kill him, but hurting him really bad would be enough.

With a sigh, Angel stepped into the middle of the room. “Lindsey, I’m truly angry with you right now, so I don’t think you really want me touching you until I calm down. However, if you don’t obey, I’m very close to taking matters into my own hands.”

Put like that, getting the gag sounded safer than testing Angel’s patience. Backing away slowly, Angel went to the cabinet and opened the door. Inside were far more toys than Lindsey would have ever expected Angel to own, but then he suspected that Wesley and the Internet had contributed significantly. Some days Lindsey thought slavery would be a lot easier if he didn’t have to deal with Wesley the world-class suck-up.

“Are you going to make me gag myself,” Lindsey asked as he took the red gag out of a drawer. It had a flat bulb that filled the mouth, but Lindsey could still breathe around it if he didn’t mind a little less oxygen than normal.

“Considering that you can’t follow an order to stay quiet, yes. I want it tight enough that I can’t get more than one finger under the strap.”

Lindsey sighed as he realized this was his life now. He did a little perfectly reasonable recon, and now he would suffer for it. However, now was not the time to fight. He slipped the red plastic into his mouth and settled it in place before buckling the black strap around his head. He checked the fit before turning around to glare at Angel.

“The black plug with the ring at the end.” Angel walked to the couch and rearranged Lindsey’s pile of clothes to make himself a spot on the end of the couch. Lindsey wanted to argue so bad that he felt like the words were backing up in his throat, but gagged he could only turn to the closet and find the right plug. Lubing it, he reached between his legs and winced as he wiggled it up into his ass. He was too afraid and too tight for comfort, but with a little bounce and a few twists, he got it settled in. Now Lindsey was standing with lube-slicked fingers and nothing to do but wipe them on himself. That or wipe them on Angel’s collection of fancy blindfolds made of velvets and silks.

Lindsey glanced over his shoulder, but Angel sat impassive. From Lindsey’s experience, that usually meant someone was well and truly furious. Well, if he was getting beaten, he might as well make it worth it. He picked Wesley’s favorite blindfold—a padded satin length of cloth and wiped his fingers. Turning around, he considered Angel with his head held up.

“The black collar.”

Sighing through his nose, Lindsey retrieved it and buckled it around his own throat. The symbolism of a collar might be significant to someone else, but for him, the actual power of the magic in the tattoo Angel had the mage carve on Lindsey’s chest meant more than all these toys combined. The magic was the real leash—the one Lindsey had to figure out how to slip out of. The rest was window decoration.

“Steel leg cuffs.”

Lindsey shivered as the cold metal touched his skin, but he locked them around his ankles and the metal slowly started to warm.

“Steel cuffs with your hands in front of you,” Angel finally ordered after taking several minutes to study Lindsey.

Snatching the cuffs off the shelf so roughly that they scraped the wood, Lindsey clicked them around his wrists, glaring at Angel as he did so. He hated that Angel could sit there looking so composed while reducing Lindsey to a helpless thing. He hated it.

Again, Angel took his time to just watch Lindsey, and unless Lindsey was seeing things, Angel was sniffing the air. When Angel stood up, Lindsey braced himself for the beating. Maybe if he was chained Angel wouldn’t feel the need to beat him as much. Maybe, but Lindsey doubted it. In his experience, people hurt you more when they realized you couldn’t fight back. Lindsey’s body was tight with anticipation, but Angel passed him and went to the cabinet. “Hands behind your head,” Angel ordered, and Lindsey brought his hands up until the manacle chain rested against the back of his neck. Cold metal slid against his skin before a small click warned Lindsey that Angel had used one of the small gold padlocks. A second click came and then Angel put his hands on Lindsey’s hips and urged him forward.

With small, hobbled steps, Lindsey moved into the center of the room. “Kneel,” Angel ordered, and with no other choice, Lindsey went to his knees, tugging at his hands as he did so. Sure enough, Angel had padlocked the cuff chain to the back of the collar, locking everything in place. That meant the second lock had to be for the gag. Lindsey felt around with his fingers until he found the padlock threated through the gag’s buckle.

Behind him, Angel closed the door to the cabinet before going back to the couch. “I’m wondering if I should put you in the cage again, remind you that you’re owned and you don’t have the right to play these games,” Angel mused. Lindsey tensed and pulled at his cuffs, but he couldn’t really do much else.

“Widen your knees,” Angel ordered, and Lindsey squirmed around some until he could open his legs.

“That’s why I doubt the cage will work.” Angel leaned forward, elbows resting on his knees. “You know you don’t have the power here. But still, you think you have to fight. You don’t, Lindsey. No one could fight in your position.”

Lindsey glared.

With another of those patented sighs, Angel leaned back and let his arms rest on the back of the couch. “I suppose you think I’m going to whip you and rape you now.”

Lindsey didn’t think that, he knew it. Luckily he was gagged or he would have managed to make his punishment much worse by mouthing off.

“You have to understand that I will always treat you fairly. Not only are you helpless to win, Lindsey, but you don’t have to fight at all. I want you to think about that. Now, forehead to the ground, please.” Angel reached behind the couch and brought out a long, curved strip of metal that Lindsey didn’t recognize. It looked solid, so if Angel hit him with that, Lindsey was going to have broken bones. But, he didn’t have a choice. With guts that felt like cement, he slowly lowered his head to the ground, his legs still spread. He hated this. Hated.

“Think about the punishments I’ve given you, Lindsey, and think about what you’ve done to earn them.”

Lindsey had heard that before. Oh yeah. Boy, you deserve to be beat within an inch of your life, his father would say. Even as a kid, Lindsey knew bullshit when he smelled it. If his father or Angel or Wolfram and Hart wanted to claim they had some moral high ground to hurt him, they could. It didn’t make it true.

Angel walked around to Lindsey’s backside, and Lindsey held his breath. A hand caught his balls, and Lindsey snorted out his nose, surprised by that touch. Angel wasn’t hurting him, but Lindsey definitely didn’t want Angel anywhere near the tackle if they were about to start punishment. “Stick your ass out more.” To encourage him, Angel pulled back on Lindsey’s balls, forcing Lindsey to push back. Something cold touched the back of his leg, and then metal pressed against his balls. Lindsey frowned and bit the gag as he fought against the frustration that had settled in his chest. It wasn’t fair that Angel could do this.

Angel clicked something and pressed against Lindsey’s ass, and then the cold of metal lay across his whole backside, a line pressing against both his butt cheeks and circling his balls. “Spend some time thinking Lindsey, and one of the things you need to think about is the danger of trying to use Cordelia.” Angel gave him a friendly pat on the ass before he stood up and started leaving. Lindsey frowned and tried to kneel up, but a terrible pain in his balls brought his head back down to the carpet. It took Lindsey only seconds to figure out that Angel had locked the metal strip around his balls so that Lindsey couldn’t stand up without the part that pressed up against his ass pulling his balls off. He was stuck on his floor and there wasn’t a damn thing he could do.

Screaming his frustration, Lindsey yanked on his cuffed wrists until he’d half choked himself. Of course it didn’t do any good. Forehead pressed to the carpet, Lindsey could only stick his ass out, fold his lower body down and give up. For a vampire who’d never shown any interest in owning people, Angel was proving more difficult to get around than Lindsey had expected. But as punishments went, this one wasn’t the end of the world. It was annoying, but Lindsey had suffered worse before he was five. The only question was whether Angel had a part two planned.

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