Disclaimer: Not Mine. Any lines I use from the actual episodes aren't mine either. I steal a joke made by Monty Python as well. Not mine. Bonus points to anyone who picks up on it.Dead Man Walking
Chapter 3: Lilah
Wesley was reading – no surprise there – when he felt it. He'd spent a significant amount of time and money trying to locate more books on who and what he was, about immortals, and the 'Game'. Finally, he'd called in a favor with one of the few people still associated with the Council that would speak to him, and gotten his hands on a copy of the Council's book Immortals
, a collection of everything the Watchers knew about the undying swordsmen.
It was a slim volume – immortals and the Watchers had only crossed paths occasionally in the past, sometimes with the awareness of both parties, sometimes without. Included in the book were details on known immortals, though some of the information on some had last been updated centuries ago.
It was a strange sensation, a sort of tingling that started localized at the back of his neck, but quickly spread throughout his entire body. It was a completely unfamiliar feeling, but one that also brought an intense sensation of familiarity with it. It was faint though.
He was interrupted from pondering the sense by a knock on his door. Whatever the source of it was, was on the other side of his door. Only one way to find out. He made sure his sword was leaning against the wall by the door. He didn't know how on immortal found another, but his awareness of the existence of the 'game', despite his own hope for death, made him never go without easy access to a blade. He didn't know if he would really have the will to not fight back, and just accept death, if it came to that point, so he wanted to be prepared if he changed his mind.
He didn't need to worry – this time. Lilah was dangerous, but on a far different level than any immortal could be.
The lawyer smirked a little, one eyebrow raised ever so slightly. “I would have called, but I figured you'd only tell me to go to hell.” You're already heading there, Lilah. Telling you would just defeat the purpose.
“So I though I'd just take a shot and drop by.” She looked him in the eye. “Aren't you going to invite me in?” I'd sooner invite Drusilla, or William the Bloody in. Although that doesn't mean as much as it once might have, since my blood would kill either one of them.
“No, I hadn't planned on it.”
Lilah raised her eyebrow a little further for a moment, then shrugged. “Okay,” she pushed past him – not that he was trying that hard to stop her. He was curious to hear her sales pitch. He looked out into the hall to see if there was anyone or anything else out there, that could be the source of that sensation, but it was definitely Lilah...he felt her moving into his apartment, as he looked in the opposite direction. What exactly does she think whatever it is she's doing with that will accomplish?
Perhaps she hoped whatever it was she had done would screw with his head. Not that he could get much more screwed up, he considered.
He closed the door and turned to see Lilah looking around the room. Looking for something in particular, Lilah?
“Huh. Not what I expected.”
“And what exactly were you expecting, Lilah. Do you think about the inside of my apartment often?”
She laughed a little. “No. I was expecting – you know, flowers, some get well cards, maybe a couple of balloons with the smiley faces on them?”
“If you were expecting those, you wouldn't have stopped by.” He replied tonelessly. Get to the point.
“Wow. I guess when she slit your throat she nicked your sense of humor.” No, she killed me. I think I damaged the sense of humor during the 'dead' phase.
“Not at all. I find you being here extremely funny.” Given that you are completely wasting your time, yes.
“And how is that?” She asked, walking towards his desk.
“Because you're here to offer me a job.” Lilah looked back at him for a moment, a slight smile playing on her lips. She idly picked up a statue for a moment before setting it down, and turning back towards him fully.
“Its shame, really, what happened. You dedicate your life to a cause, and the very people you try to help turn their backs on you.”
“Yes.” He replied, opening the door and standing aside so her path out to the door was clear. He was getting bored with her games. “Tragic. I'm not so broken up about it that I'll go and work for Wolfram and Hart out of some desire for revenge. Now get the hell out.”
“Oh, come on. Man of your talents: Scholar, man of intellect -”
“Deep inside knowledge of Angel Investigations.” Wesley finished. Her offer was unsurprising. But even if he'd ever sunk low enough – which he hadn't, not yet, anyway – to work for the facilitators of evil in dozens of dimensions, he'd never give them the opportunity to use his immortality. He highly doubted that they had no knowledge of Immortals, but it was likely no better than the Council's or at best a little bit better. They'd relish the opportunity to dissect an immortal, though vivisection would be even more pleasant, and in his case, possible. No.
Lilah attempted to sweeten the pot, but her tone was casual, conversational. He could tell she knew what his answer was going to be. “Did I mention that Wolfram and Hart has the finest library of mystical, occult and supernatural reference material in the world?” Now she was just enjoying herself at his expense. “Full medical, dental, 401(k) package.” Only one of those would be even the least bit useful to me.
Wesley shook his head. “Not interested.”
Lilah shrugged, her expression unchanged. Yea. She'd known his answer ahead o time. “Hey, it was worth a shot.” She reached into her purse and removed a book in red gift-wrapping. “Anyway, here's something to help pass the time in the unemployment line.” Wesley took it when offered and wrapped it, tossing the paper to the side. He lifted it up and read the title.
“Dante's Divine Comedy.”
“Actually, its just part one, the Inferno. Its not a first edition, more like the fifteen hundreds, but it is in the original Tuscan.” A rather expensive bribe that she knows won't get her anywhere.
Wesley wondered what else she was playing at, by giving him thus. “Have you read it?”
“Several times.” It was a classic, after all, and required reading at the Watcher's Academy to boot. Perhaps if less time had been spent on reading 'classics', like that, and more time on useful fields of study, like how to prevent your Slayer from going completely off the rails by not being such a complete ass...a useless line of thought.
He'd been down that particular memory lane hundreds of times since it happened. The fault lay with both of them, he knew. He had been a truly abysmal Watcher, but Faith was the one who chose to go not only rogue, but dark. But if he'd been better...well, it had happened, and short of some time-travel spell, he had nothing he could do about it. He tossed the book onto the coffee table in front of his couch.
“Then you know its a guided tour of the underworld, the nine levels of hell.” Where was she going with this, he wondered. She was...intriguing. Every word and action calculated, and there was something that piqued his curiosity, something that made him not
want to simply shove her out of the room manually.
He humored her. He was, as he'd considered, curious. “Yes. Descending concentric rings based on the severity of the sin.”
“You know I always forget – the very bottom of hell, in the ninth circle, the devil is frozen in ice, right?” Indeed... “He's got three heads, three mouths, and those mouths as reserved for the worst sinners. Now...I can't remember...who's in the center mouth?” Ah.
“What...what was his name? The one person in all of human history deemed the greatest sinner. Who is it?”
Wesley wondered whether or not to actually answer her, and continue this farce of a conversation, but he had no reason not to. Pathetic to say, but apart from his 'conversation' with Gunn, when he'd come begging for his help, this interchange of comments with Lilah was the only contact he'd had with his fellow human being since he'd gotten home from the hospital. He hated himself, hated his situation, hated her for that fact, even though she carried no blame, but he wanted the conversation to continue. He wanted...needed, craved the interaction, since he had nothing else to work with. “Judas Iscariot.”
“Right.” She said, with a smirk on her face and in her tone. “The worst spot in hell is for those who betray.” The punchline is reached, as it were.
She brushed past him, heading for the door, but stopped and leaned in towards his ear. Wesley tensed up automatically. She whispered “So, don't pretend you're too good to work for us, Wesley.” She continued on to the door.
Before she could step fully out of the door, Wesley replied. “I would think, Lilah, that of the two of us, you would have a better idea as to the exact layout of hell.”
Lilah closed the door behind her.
The book refused to be out out of his mind, sitting there on the table as he worked on his laptop. He was not doing much of anything, unfortunately. Just keeping up with the news of what was going on back home, in England. But the book kept niggling at him. It didn't make sense why, but it wasn't the book itself. It was Lilah's words. He'd already suspected that he was damned to hell, so it wasn't like Lilah had told him anything new. Maybe it was the...confirmation she offered. The confirmation that he was in fact damned. That someone agreed with his own...interpretation of his fate.
He only kept it open for seconds before closing it again.
A microwaved instant meal and cheap red wine. Truly the dinner of champions. It was only a day since Lilah's visit, and he found himself missing her. Not just the contact, interaction with another human being that she represented, though that was also something he missed. No. Also...she was smart. He always had to be on his guard around her, aware, lest she trip him up. She was sharp. Always kept you on your toes. He was missing her for herself, though the very thought sickened him. It was mostly, he thought, the lack of any human interaction that was really driving it. That was all.
Being immortal didn't prevent him from feeling pain, more was the pity. His reflections had distracted him as he peeled off the plastic film covering his meal, only coming back to the present when the sensation of a quick, stinging burn hit him from his fingers. Hissing a little involuntarily, he shook his hand for a moment before leaving off the plastic and reaching for the mostly empty bottle of wine. He was drinking a little less than before, today. But still, he knew he'd be polishing off this bottle before the night was out. Cheap red wine it may be, but it was still alcoholic. It was what he had to work with, as it stood.
Before he could eat or drink, though, the beep from his half-closed laptop interrupted him. He looked at it, sitting on his coffee table. He pondered ignoring it, at least until he was done with his meal, such as it was, but he didn't last more than a minute before he stood and opened the new message he'd gotten.
782 W. Palm Terrace.
It didn't take a genius to figure out who had sent him that vague and 'anonymous' message. More of Lilah's mind games, no doubt.
The only way to risk losing was to play, but well...he was going to play. Lilah wanted to play mind games with him. He was...far gone enough to want to let her.
A club. She'd asked him to come to a club. To what end?
He wondered. He stood on the balcony, overlooking the dance floor below, looking for Lilah.
She found him first, however. He felt that strange..tingling sensation again as she approached from behind him. He knew it was her before she spoke.
“I see you got my invitation.”
He turned to face her. “Obviously, Lilah, or I wouldn't be here for you to state the obvious to. Invitation to what, exactly?”
“I thought the 'come alone' was a particularly ironic touch. I mean, how else would you come?” Her self-satisfied smirk alone was worth the price of admission.
“Hilarious. Now, if you're not going to get to a point any time soon, I think I'll take my leave. I have a bowl full of shards of broken glass waiting back at my apartment that I could be eating right now.” He started to brush past her, though he wasn't exactly interested in leaving – and though she put out a hand to stop him, Wesley saw that she knew this. Steps in a dance, for the both of them.
“Don't be like that Wesley. And don't rush off just yet. Look over there.” She pointed down at the bar. Wesley required no effort to realize who she was pointing to. The red hair alone was the first indicator, and besides, her face was burned into his memory. He doubted he'd ever forget what she looked like. Justine. He looked back at Lilah and raised an eyebrow. She explained – sort of. “I went to a lot of trouble to arrange this little show for you.”
“What kind of show?”
“The kind that ends with a big death scene. Come on. Don't tell me you wouldn't like to see the bitch that slit your throat and left you to die,” Successfully
, he considered, “get a little of her own back.”
“What's going on here, Lilah?”
“Some source – and for the life of me I can't imagine who – tipped her off that tonight this place would be filthy with vampires. Which, as it turns out, is true.”
“Right, because that same source tipped of the vampires that she would be here.”
Lilah attempted to affect a look of innocence. She failed. “Seems she has been pissing off a lot of undead Americans lately.”
“And you thought I'd enjoy a box seat for her slaughter?” Part of me certainly would. The larger part of me would rather actually be the one who does the slaughtering.
Both of those facts scared him – a little, but he was finding he didn't care. Playing at 'white hat' had gotten himself, and Angel Investigations as a whole, roughly nowhere when it came to fighting the various forces of darkness in L.A. Wolfram and Hart was still extant, and still as powerful as ever. The Powers that Be were obsessed with Balance, but if one side is sitting in the middle of the see-saw, and the other side is sitting on the 'evil' side, then its not exactly a balanced see-saw, now is it? The Watchers' Council was guilty of many crimes, but Wesley agreed with them, especially these days, that the end of a greater good was more important than the means used. Though the Council did have plenty of nonsense and frankly useless means that they used rather than effective ones. Still, he wasn't going to give Lilah the satisfaction of him watching the vampires kill her.
Lilah smiled brightly, and Wesley found it almost endearing, in a 'she's sadistic and evil', sort of way. “Well – yeah.” Right you are.
“You really don't know the first thing about me, do you?” She did, actually, but this time he managed to fool her, just a bit, he thought.
“Probably not.” He turned and started to walk off. Lilah followed and spoke quietly in his ear. “Like, will he go straight to his car, or will he stop to warn her first?” No difficulty there.
He didn't even stop moving. “Doesn't even have to think about it before abandoning her to her fate. That's good. Better than I expected, really. That's all I needed to know.” She turned away from him. “You can go now.”I can honestly say I didn't see this coming. A pleasant surprise, I must say, to be surprised.
“A test, Lilah? Really?” He turned to face her.
“Oh don't look so grim. I just needed to know whether or not I was wasting my time. And to prove we're still friends-” Is that what we are?...Well, we probably are the closest the other has to a friend at this point. Now that is truly sad.
“I'll have her pulled out of there before anything really lethal happens. That way you don't have to torture yourself with her death on your conscience.”
“No.” Wesley replied, smirking a little as he saw another familiar face in the crowd below, moving towards Justine. “By all means, feel free to keep her in there until either she or the vampires attacking her die. Except that I think a third option has decided to make itself known.” Lilah stepped next to him and saw what he saw – Angel moving through the crowd. Wesley watched his former friend hand a stake off to another, a young man – couldn't even be twenty. He'd never seen him before, but there was something familiar. He couldn't place it. He watched the two – Angel and the other – move in almost perfect harmony as they fought the vampires.
“Who's the boy wonder? He moves just like-” Wesley placed it. Time moved at different speeds in Hell dimensions alright.
“His father.” He was back. Where then, is Daniel Holtz?
He wondered idly.
No matter. It wasn't his concern anymore. He was gone before Lilah turned back to him with another question. A bowl full of shards of broken glass almost sounded appetizing at the moment. Not quite though.
Among his myriad of morbid and depressed thoughts, Wesley often found himself pondering his new immortal state. Despite the dark depths he'd fallen into immediately after his first death, Wesley found that oblivion no longer held quite as much appeal for him. The return of Connor. A curiosity of the highest order. As much as it wasn't his concern, not his problem – well, it was something. And while he'd gotten out of the dark, depressed depths he'd been mired in before, he was in a whole new class of dark depths, different, and much lower than the ones he'd been in before. He found that he had enjoyed, in a twisted sense of the word, Lilah's company. He was too...apathetic to really loathe himself with the intensity he knew he would under other circumstances, but he still loathed himself for it.
With Lilah, he knew where he stood. Lilah saw him as a person with worth, value. His father never had, no one in Sunnydale really had. None of his former friends did. Not really. Lilah...Lilah considered him someone of worth. It was true that she measured his worth in terms of the value of his skills and knowledge to Wolfram and Hart, but...the basic facts of the human condition remained true. Being valued felt...good, on a basic, primal level. Man was a social animal, and couldn't cut themselves off from everyone without losing some of their sanity.
And when Lilah was around, he certainly wasn't bored. Because that, apart from a fellow immortal swinging a sword around, was the real threat to an immortal, or at least their minds, anyway. Boredom. Supposedly some immortals managed to fight off their opponents for thousands of years, living through so much history. Things had to get repetitive, after a while. Especially given that human nature remained even more static than everything else.
Each chapter of history was, at its core, a remake of the previous one. Just with better special effects and different actors, and maybe the plot twist was a bit different, but the basics remained the same. Humans – and near-humans – though, felt, acted, did the same types of things over and over. It is a wonder we progress at all.
Once again, thanks to that strange tingling sensation – and he really, really needed to figure out what it was Lilah was doing to cause that - he knew it was Lilah before she actually stood next to the table he was drinking at. Shot glasses and empty beer glasses littered the table.
At least this pub, for all its...lack of maintenance, sold quality British beers. A friend of his at the Watchers' Academy had once told him that American Beer was like making love in a canoe.
Fucking close to water, in other words.
“Mind if I join you?” Wesley looked up from his ruminations at her. Dressed as sharply as ever. He looked her over once before answering.
“On many levels and with great intensity.” True.
“But go ahead anyway. You were planning to regardless of my answer.” He took the only shot glass left that wasn't empty and poured it into his beer.
“I didn't know you knew me so well.” She sat down. She eyed the scar on his throat. “How's the throat doing? Its certainly healed a lot better and faster than I would've expected.”
“You'd be amazed what the proper combination of magical herbs and ingredients can accomplish, Lilah.” He'd be damned before he told her about his immortality.
She cocked her head to the side a moment before responding. “You're not telling me the whole truth.”
“Of course not. Are you particularly surprised?” Wesley took a sip of his beer.
“No, not really,” She said after a moment's consideration. Then, “Life's something, isn't it? One day you're a pivotal figure in the big battle, fighting the 'good fight', next thing you know you're thrown out on your lonesome. No one even cares what you think any more. Well- I care.”
“No.” Wesley said. “You care about my value to Wolfram and Hart as a potential employee. Fine distinction, but an important one to make.”
“Okay,” She leaned back in the chair a bit, holding her hands up in mock surrender. “You got me. But at least I care. More than you can say about your former friends.”
“True.” He took another drink. “Extremely sad and terribly pathetic, but also entirely true.”
“I also care that that great big brain of yours is going to waste. Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't Angel Jr. a thing without precedent in human history?”
“Are we dealing with humans here? Last time I checked, we weren't. Not really.”
“Besides, you're wrong.” Lilah smiled and raised an eyebrow at him. That smile...
“Mesopotamian, Greek, Hindi, Celtic myth, the bible, even Darwin – they all support the coming of something that wasn't possible before.” He took another sip of his beer.
“Okay, the impossible is here. But what does it mean? Is it the herald of a new age, of better things to come, or is it the mass destruction of everything we hold dear?”
“Who knows? Every child born comes into the world with an unwritten future. The possibility of salvation or slaughter.”
“The prophecy was a fake, as I recall, Lilah. The greatest power prophecy has, I think, is that too many people believe in them, and in endeavoring to prevent them, make them come to pass.” This too was something he'd considered quite a bit, in his time since his first death. “You've read the Pergamum Codex?”
“It said that the Master would kill the Slayer and he would be free. What it failed to mention is that the Slayer wouldn't stay dead, and that the Master's freedom would last for a few hours at best. If destiny truly is real, then my philosophy is simple, these days. Screw Destiny.” He shrugged. “Connor will do what he will, because he is who he is. Prophecy is meaningless. Either it will happen, or it won't. It its possible to change, then its not fate, not prophecy, and it is prophecy, is fate, then nothing you do will help anyway.”
“On the contrary. If I encounter another prophecy...I intend to do whatever it was I was planning on doing before. Because if it is meant to happen, it will happen no matter what I do, and if it isn't meant to happen, then actively working against it is too likely to make it happen anyway.”
“You've changed since you got that cut on your throat.”
“I've had a lot of time to reflect, Lilah.”
Idly, Lilah raised a hand to her neck, and asked a question she really shouldn't have asked. “What was it like, when she got you?”
Wesley reached out with his hand and wrapped it around her throat. “Are you terribly anxious to find out?” He squeezed ever so slightly, and Lilah smiled – actually smiled. Wesley felt a jolt, both from the fact that he had his hand around her throat, and from her smiled. And unlike the strange tingling he felt at her approach, this one he could understand the cause and source of very well.
They were barely inside his apartment when their clothes started to come off. Intellectually, Wesley knew this was a terrible idea on a number of levels, but he couldn't bring himself to care. He wanted Lilah, she wanted him, and that's what there was.
And, again, Wesley was completely isolated as a person, still. Lilah was contact, relation with another human being, and that alone was good, felt good.
They didn't even make it to the bed before they had their first round.
They did make it to the bed, and eventually both their libidos and lusts were satisfied. The living room of his apartment was a mess, however. Neither of them, in their passion, had been gentle with eachother, or the room.
Passion was an odd thing. It was a descriptive term, ascribed to intense active emotions – anger, hatred, love, lust, happiness. No matter how intense one's sadness might be, for example, no one ever used the term 'passionate sadness'.
Wesley finally rolled off of Lilah and laid back on one side of the bed. “You know that sinking feeling you get the morning after?” Beat. “It arrived early.”
Lilah stretched as she spoke, “Its like a little death. Several, actually.” She looked at him. “You're not going to tell me to get out?”
“No. I was already anticipating the sinking feeling arriving early, and in any event, you're planning on leaving anyway.”
Lilah smiled and rolled out of the bed. “So that's it? No sweet kiss, no 'when can I see you again?'” Wesley simply half-raised an eyebrow at her. “Watch the dirty looks, Wes. That's what got me going in the first place.” She pulled on her shirt, buttoning it. “I'll give you this: you sure know how to channel your rage, frustration and hate. Always a bigger turn on than love.”
“So it would seem.”
Lilah chuckled, “I'm starting to like you. But don't go making any more of this than it is. And don't be thinking of me when I'm gone.”
“I'm already past thinking about you.” Wesley remarked. He'd considered saying 'I wasn't thinking about you when you were here', despite the fact that wasn't true, merely because he knew it would sting on a very basic, primal level. But he thought better of it.
“Spend too much time in the dark and you'll stay there, Wesley.” Lilah remarked as she picked up her jacket and bra and walked out.
Wesley laid back, staring at the ceiling and eventually falling asleep.