"You don't have to do this, it's not your place." That's what I tell him, but he never listens. Sometimes Wesley will look at me in a meeting, or when we pass in the hall, or as I turn in a report and I could swear that he remembers. There's a tender roughness that creeps out through his eyes that feels like he can recall something, us, what he once was, me. It makes me feel like a teenager again, but it's not like I was the average teenager going to law school at the young age of seventeen in the most authoritative apparel that I could get my greed hands on.
"You shouldn't even be here to begin with." There's Wes, always knowing what to say to a girl to make her feel special. It's only a spell, an enchantment, a slight disillusionment that keeps up that barrier between him and recalling all the things that really happened. Memories are cellular. Skin holds a record of the things inflicted on us and scars are what's left behind to tell the story. Those aren't things that can be easily washed away.
"What do you mean?" Where the hell does he get off telling me I shouldn't be here? The ritual that traps the original events is just a few simple words and a sprinkle of some sort of ancient dirt, which required two trips to the dry cleaners to be removed from my Donna Karen business suit. I thought that it would have been more difficult to take a person's entire existence, erase it, and give them a new one, but it doesn't even require an experienced shaman. A beginning level Wiccan could perform the same task with ease. It's the dirt that's a bitch to get a hold of, but thanks to a careless shaman that was forced to retire early and an over eager dry cleaner I now have a supply all to myself.
"You're dead, you not supposed to living and breathing in front of me. People aren't allowed to go on pass their expiration date. It's not the way things are meant to be." Wesley says in a matter of fact tone. At first I thought of taking the usual route of erasing Angel himself, which would get rid of my main problem, but that's far too predicable and not true to what I like to think is my own personal style. Besides, where's the suffering in never existing?
"And what about Angel? He's dead. He's not really even living or breathing. His expiration date was centuries ago and you want to stand here and tell me that I'm wrong." Yeah, that'll teach him not to be such a hypocrite. Absentmindedly I'll forget and clutch at my lower abdomen instead of grabbing for my scarf encircled neck, which is supposed to be my weak spot. That earns my odd looks from the new bosses, especially the souled champion that thinks he's onto some great conspiracy from within the company. Maybe he thinks he can see something behind my iced over dead cold eyes that refuse to let any indication of what goes on behind them shine through. Angel would like nothing more than to hear my tortured soul screaming out from pass my corneas, 'Yeah, that's right, sucker, you took the bait and now we're plotting.' He may want someone to pat him on the broad shoulder and say that he made the right choice, but what he needs is someone to accuse him. Deep down he has to have something not go right every time, so he has a reason to be miserable.
"You know that's not what I meant, Lilah." There's that little something again in his voice. Excuse me if I'm a little bitter, but only Angel and I know what the true time line held. How melodramatic? Now I'm faced with these new events that occurred. I had once thought that history couldn't be changed. Events could be and were shifted and altered, but the outcome would be the same no matter what. I was partially right. I'm dead in either sequence of circumstances, except in this one I'm more hurt and affected by it.
"Oh really, I do? What makes you think that? I barely even know you." And it's true, I don't know this Wesley, he's not the Wes that I knew and possibly loved. All because some bastard and his whim for his bastard son the not so innocent and the wholly innocent are made to suffer. Darla could have her miracle birth, but I can't. Her long dead body's supposedly diseased womb was able to sustain the life of a egotistical brat, while mine couldn't even supply oxygen to the growing cluster of cells that had just begun to develop eyes.
"Look, it's just not right, you shouldn't suffer l like this." Damn him and his morals that tell him to say those things to me. Our child, Wes and mine, is never to see the sun or learn the alphabet, but the spawn of two evil vampires is allowed another life when his first was tyrannically messed up by delinquent parents. Wes will never watch child out in the sun or teach the child the different numbers. He doesn't even get to know that there was a possibility. I'll never get to see Wes watch our offspring play in his crib or help to show them how to spell in as my languages as there are stars. We would have been better parents than our own. We would have been sure of that, being careful not to make the same mistakes that were inflicted upon us. Everyone seems to have a mean dad these days and some have a senile mother thrown in the mix too. No, that future was stolen by a hero, his severely disturbed son, and their whore.
"Who said I was suffering, Wes?" I ask, wondering if anyone had. They think that they live in a fascist society where, because they've saved the world a few times, they can do whatever they want. Well, let me tell you a secret: I've stopped an apocalypse or two myself. I might have been in my own best interests, but then again aren't their motives always close to home as well? According to them the life of one child is worth more than the life of another simply because it isn't connected to then, but me, the lawyer bitch with a frozen black heart. A heart that still finds a way to crack at the thought the thought that the child, who didn't get the chance to kick once, doesn't exist any longer. Before I was at least comforted by the selfish fact that I wasn't going to be alone for all eternity. Wherever I went, so went the proof that declined to purge itself from limbo.
"I can see it in your eyes. You're not good at hiding your emotions when we're alone. There's something different in them now, but you're still there, alive and kicking despite everything and it's not right. You should be able to stop. No one should live forever." Who can he say that and not remember? As constellation I received a lavender turtleneck and matching necklace from Angel with a note pinned to it saying that he was sorry for everything that had happened. The gift was the ultimate tongue in cheek comment to the things that had never occurred.
"Maybe I want to, maybe this is what I've worked my whole life for. Did you ever think of that?" In reality I never wanted this, I'd never thought it'd go this far, I thought I'd be able to find a loophole being the lawyer that I am. I had planned to tell Wes about the meek life growing inside me and feeding off the days of my shortened life, but I was never given the chance. There was always something else going on. Beside, how would I explain something like this? I mean, who has time to worry about an unwanted pregnancy and all the questions that would arise from it? There was the whole end of the world thing to deal with before anything else could be considered.
"I want to help you." Why would this Wesley want to help me? Hell, why would my Wes even want to help me? I'd even flirted with the thought of running from the firm like Lindsay. If Wesley's thrill with me was over once I came out into the light, then there was the option of running to Linds out in the country to shack up with him. What the hell? Forget Verace and Gucci maternity, just pass me an over sized t-shirt proclaiming, "baby comes out here." Lindsay would have been one of the good guys then and wouldn't have been able to turn away a person in need, but I don't want to be helpless or hopeless. That idea was brushed aside just as fast as it was brought up.
"I don't need your help anymore, Wes, I've had enough of your help for the rest of my lifetimes." It wasn't smart to call him Wes, it blurs the lines I've worked to define. By the time I decided how and what to tell Wes, it was too late. I was dead, and Wes and I were dead, the baby was dead, and there was nothing to talk about. Thirty-three years, thousands of cases, millions of mounds of paperwork, countless affairs, endless betrayals, and what do I regret the most? The cold, black oblivion encased in the cool, hardened exterior. All I do everyday from now until eternity to regret. And plot.
"That's not true, I've barely even made an effort to help you." It causes me to wince inwardly despite myself. This is what I signed up for that first day of my last year of law school. I was so small, trying to make it in the big world. I can admit to that now. I didn't know what else to do but pick up the pen, ink supplied courtesy of my open vein, and sign the document. It's a hell of my own doing and I suppose I deserve it. Damned perpetuity contract that won't stay burned and the chivalrous act of Wesley that has been expunged. The thought of it can still make my heart splinter inside my chest, but that will stay hidden and thinly veiled over calculated comments and witticism.
"In this brave new world, I guess that's true." There's my mouth getting me into trouble like always. I'd considered so many times asking to start over with him from scratch with a second chance. I was tired of hearing my voice speaking taunts and quips. The little girl inside me wanted to cry out that I wished I could shut my mouth for once and open up. For once I would have liked to hold hands despite how broken, bruised, and bloody they were. I was too weak and weary from wondering what everyone else was thinking of me to let myself relax, but the closest I came was with him.
"See, it's words like that, that make me think. It's like you're dropping these hints to me and I don't understand them. What am I missing, Lilah, and why don't you just tell me?" I might profess to be an evil bitch, but even I know it's cruel to manipulate him like this. Inside a person's mind they're free to be who they are and who they want to be without anyone else passing judgement on their thoughts and ideas. While I still have a soul and am human, I might do things outside of myself that are unquestionably evil, but inside my head I was right. Even when I was wrong, I was right in my own way. If I were the sentimental type I would say that I loved him and I guess from what I've said so far it might seem like I am, but everyone sounds different in their head. The hard part is when it comes out into the open through actions and words, that's when everyone starts wrapping their angry hands around my throat for a squeeze.
"I wish I could tell you, I really do." Some people might ask how a human, like me, with a soul can so effortlessly cause so much pain and destruction. Well, it's easy, dark things happen to you and around you. It makes it all the more affable to becoming a walking, talking cliché of a femme fatale. Even with the bad girl bitching facade, I still feel like the victim. Having been assaulted by just about everyone dead and alive in the greater L.A. area, uncomfortably propositioned with sexual tones by half of them, I tend to cling to anything I can. If I don't have the upper hand, you bet your ass I'll find a way to get. Don't forget that half of the former Angel Inc. is afraid of me, I've beheaded bosses before, and I don't play on being anything short of a vicious bitch who lives up to the name.
"I look at you when no one else notices and I find myself wondering. I wonder why you're here, why you're still here. What were the choices that led you to this life or lack of it. What did you do before you died that condemned you to this existence. It feels like I can trace all the lines of your body, but I don't know what your middle name is. You have all this power and knowledge, but you're here with your head constantly threatening to fall off." Wesley rushes his words and clips his accent now. No one ever counts on me playing for keeps though. Sure, a fling here, a one night stand here, and a screw there, but with Wes something changed. A grope in the back of the file room didn't do it for me anymore. I wanted something more solid. I needed and craved something of reliability and I would rather get my heart broken before I'd give up on getting it. There's no need for dignity and honor when there no one there to back it up with happiness. If deriving that happiness means giving up control, then so be it, I'm tired of being in control all the time and I want to be free of setting the rules.
"Wes?" I ask and I know there's a silent plea behind the question. "How can I dream if I can't fall asleep?" This is the third time I've asked him this. I asked Wes one night when we were lying in bed, swimming in a sea of starch white cotton sheets, which seems so long ago. It was not long after that I presented him with a set of crimson silk bed sheets and pillow cases. I asked him the same question again a matter of weeks ago in the conference room after a meeting about a new ancient text that is believed to be found in India. Both times he looked at me with the same set of weathered eyes that told me that he knew exactly what I was talking about. The first time his answer came in the form of a hand slipping between my legs. The second time he lowered his eyes and assumed I was just messing with him to get a reaction. At that moment I thought I could be content with this new Wesley. I'd have to work and mold him until he resembled something closer to my, yes my, Wesley. It was then that I thought I could be satisfied with any Wesley, even the posh, bumbling, and awkward Watcher in Sunnydale that I had only read about in files. With death comes an understanding and comprehension of things and my stubborn will can learn to bend, but I still demand respect dammit.
"I don't know, Lilah, but I want to find out." There's still a doubt that Wesley felt anything close to love for me. Maybe it was just guilt and remorse mixed like a drink with punishment and redemption. Having to suffer with loving me would be the worst discipline someone could receive. Things were messy, I'll freely admit to that, but aren't most things? He may have wanted my life to end to get out of the sloppy ending and explanations, but that changed quickly when he was faced with the reality of my corpse in plastic when he felt something that could have resembled love. It started out as manipulation and masochism as an epiphany inducing screw, along with a play for power. It continued into hot, disheveled, and furniture breaking sex, but hate sex gets old.
"I used to dream all the time, believe it or not. In my dreams everything was perfect. Parents that held me and told me I was their little girl. Friends that laughed with me at sleep overs. Guys that actually stayed the whole night. A job that didn't strain my humanity and love over impossible reaches." I know I've said too much and I've gone over that line. When there's a hand in wrist deep, there's not many brain cells left to think about whether it's love or hate in his eyes. People say it's a thin line between love and hate. I agree, but I also know that the line is drawn one way or another and it was crossed. It might have been cut across by me or him, I don't even know which, but I'd venture to say it was me. What was the point if it wasn't love in this wonderful mess of our relationship? Time is all I have now. Time, memories, and aches that won't let me sleep. I could handle hell. I could stand being in purgatory, but this? This hell of not knowing what is real and what isn't should be killing me, but I'm already dead.
"Did anyone ever love you?" I can see my Wes seeping through again. I wanted Wes to understand that good and evil are only words. Champions, slayers, demons, lawyers? They're just titles. They mean nothing when they're stripped away to leave only the person underneath them. Beneath the pretenses and terms there are shattered and wrecked lives. Every time he came home to me in the middle of the night with cracked ribs and disjointed bones, I wanted to make it all better. I'd never let him know that I wanted to volunteer to bandage up his wounds and ask if they were inflicted by the so called good guys or the bad guys this time. He'd cough a little and I'd take that as the only answer I'd ever get anyways, then I'd turn over and pretend to go back to sleep, while I'd literally be timing his breathing patterns and wondering if I should be worried.
"I think so." At least I hope I was. My soul isn't worth much these days. It's old, weary, and full blemishes. But sometimes, just before the sun would come up outside my apartment window on a Sunday morning when I had carefully wiggled into Wes' arms in the night, it was then I thought if he'd ask me, I might consider switching sides. Consider, not actually act on, that's an entirely different subject. The thought of it make me feel better and gave me a false sense of security in the idea that at anytime I felt like it, I could be redeemed. It's not like I really wanted it, I just liked it to be there. I didn't want my options limited.
"I think so too." He whispers and I'm not sure if it was meant for me to hear to not. Everything was always so complicated with us. I was the snake in the grass waiting to attack and he was the traitor who destroyed from within. In the beginning we just wanted to mess up each other's lives beyond repair. He probably wondered why I kept coming back for more of his abuse. I always assumed that it was because he was a good lay with great kink. Wes had issues that no one even dreamed of and he could be a right bastard when he put his mind to it, which made me want him all that much more.
"Damnit, Wes, you talk about how I drop hints that you don't understand, but then you go and do it yourself." I exclaim, exasperated. I want to understand these things. I want to know everything there is to know in the world. Right now I just want to know if this is my Wes or the pathetic excuse of Wesley. In a sick and twisted way I miss the possessive bruises that he would leave on my neck back when it was firmly attached. My breath starts to rasp from the thought of his mouth swallowing her's challenging exactly how far they will go this time.
"It confuses me too, but it feels right. There's something trying to crawl it's way to the surface when I'm around you. This has to be some spell or something because I'm remembering things that never happened and feeling things that I've never felt." This Wesley lamented almost romantically in a hushed whisper that was all too British. I had often wondered why he didn't just shut the door in my face every night, but I always knew the answer that was creeping around in my insides.
"Now you know who it feels." I'm feeling that sharp sting of bitterness as I hope for the impossible. I can almost feel his hands running over my hips as his eyes come to focus on my face. That's when we would see things in grey, not black and white. I unashamedly wanted to stay underneath him, above him, enveloped in him forever. Any which way to make ourselves feel better. Games, hate, lust, soft, gentle, then hard and punishing, whatever we could get out of each other. That had started to make me feel old, fatigue and drained near the end, when we'd already clung on desperately to each other in a sick and twisted sense of dependance.
"Lilah, did you try some sort of spell on me to get back at Angel for whatever it is he did to you this time?" Wesley asked, wanting a straight answer that I wasn't entirely prepared to give him. My Wes would growl out my name with anger and emotion just as I would scream out his name with equally diminishing agitation. He'd always been protective of me, even in the beginning. When a demon would bruise or cut me, I could count on the body showing up on the front steps of Wolfram & Hart within the following days. Those incidents had brought up some questioning eyebrows and additional questioning clients wanting to know what happened to their demons.
"Not yet, I was thinking about it, but I guess someone beat me to it." I smile my false smile and contemplate who would want something like this to happen. His hands had amazed me at first. They were continuously littered with paper cuts, along with harsh scrapes and scattered blisters, but underlined with a softness that reminded all those that touched them that he was never meant to be a fighter.
"Lilah, the spell's almost completed, I feel different. I feel darker, but happier." This stranger in front of me seemed to change before my eyes without it being visible. The Wes that I knew had an air of ever present danger. A musky scent, coupled with sophisticated alcohol followed him wherever he went.
"Wes?" I ask again, now that I could definitely sense that this was not the stuffy ex-Watcher that had once inhabited the body of my Wes. He has eyes that were eternally darkening and shadowing, voice that increasing become more and more raspy and discordant, scar that puckers and itches.
"Yes, the one you knew and possibly loved." Wes said in half joke and half hope.
"Damn, is it really you? I was planning a spell, but I hadn't finished it yet." I still had my doubts and I don't like being tricked, especially by a little book worm of a boy.
"You weren't the only one trying to get back to your beautifully wounded lover." Wes explained in an ambiance of long dead romance. Oh how I loved it when he talked in his eloquent and articulate voice that encompassed a lifetime of reading dead poets. I'd take that to talking dirty any day of the week.
"Last time around we almost wrecked each other and everyone else around." I know my voice sounds needy, but I don't care. I'm finally starting to understand this.
"Last time we were different people, but this time we're going to get it right." Wes answered, while he remembered all the times he had thought of pretty things to tell me and comfort me, but then he'd abandoned them in favor of snide clips. I knew about those moments, I could read them on his face. At least he'd given me that much thought.
"You know, it's funny the things we do when we're not even sure we're in love. Do you really think you could love me in this ordinary sunlight?" I lament in a slightly pained voice that is lined with a sheer giddy happiness. I'd wasted so much time trying to convince myself that I couldn't love him. It's all such a waste now. Why didn't I just force myself to get embarrassingly talkative afterwards, it would have solved so many of our problems.
"Speaking of, let's get to work on that head of yours." Wes said with a genuine smile that was reserved for when he would get an authentic smile back from me. Who said I could be happy? We turned and walked out, leaving an empty conference room to wonder what came next.