Spare time is all the time you have. Nothing ever matters; there aren’t any deadlines, no urgency, just time spilling over you like waterfalls of blood and tears, drowning you like the ocean during a rip tide, salt and cold and so powerful in its absolute indifference.
The ocean does not care if you die; it is not even aware that you are struggling to emerge from its chill to say something. You must say the one word that makes all of this real.
The ocean does not care if you drown; it will permeate you, bloat you, and never once say sorry. What is your death to it? What is eternal dreamtime?
How could it mean anything? Water doesn’t remember.
You have taken to training for the fight that’s inevitably coming. Everything is available to you here, and you have found the greatest and best of artisans to craft your sword, your shoes, and your clothes. And with time on hand, you have time to train, to think out a plan.
She seems to have the same idea, and lately, you’ve been running in the same circles, as weird as that is. Looking for the same things: steel, leather, and high heels. It seems strange that even though you’re both looking for the same thing, you haven’t quite crossed paths.
Of course, a relationship between a woman and her killer is always somewhat surreal, and you respect that. You’ve heard that she’s gotten stranger in this neverworld of possibility, frequenting the strip clubs that little this place like carrion, taking up singing little snippets of songs to potential victims before she slices them in two, getting really damn good with that blade of hers, biding her time.
You suspect that she’s planning revenge, same as you.
You don’t think she’s got the right. Not the right you do.
Every night, there are swords, and training, practicing until you’re lathered, feeling your body (though is it your body or is it your mind? is there really a difference here?) twist as you move shoulders, waist, knees, wrist, feinting, parrying, and thrusting. Nothing except you and the sword that cost you nothing except the painful story you have to tell.
And then one night, after working those muscles to the breaking point, she appears, framed by the yellow light just outside the entrance to your studio.
“Hey,” you say, feeling a chill in your stomach. “You took your time.”
“I’m not here to fight with you,” she replies, crossing the threshold in slick black pumps, molded to her feet as though they were meant for her. Which is probably the truth, given the number of people willing to work for either of you. “I was simply observing.”
She is naked to the waist underneath a short blue and grey silk robe that’s defiantly open, dark hair falling raggedly around her perfectly beautiful face. Her lipstick suits her skin tone, a rich plummy color that highlights how pale her skin has gotten here. The manicure is perfect, gripped around the hilt of her sword. If it weren’t for her high heeled shoes, you’d be sure she was here to kill you. Instead, you look at how the sheath accents her silk-stocking-clad legs, how everything urges you to look upward and ogle her assets.
“Do you always dress like that when you’re observing?” you ask, coldly glancing at her bared stomach. “It’s a little inefficient.”
She slides the blade out of its sheath, eyes trained on your face as the metal sings its hissing sharp song. The way she moves makes the whole confrontation ambiguous — is this a seduction or a fight? Why is she wearing those fucking heels?
“Maybe,” she agrees, raising the blade professionally. “Depends on the war. And I didn’t come to fight.”
“What’d you come for?” you ask, circling her slowly.
“To give you a little advice,” she replies, moving with you but not moving the sword. She’s at the disadvantage here — naked, high heels, on your turf. To attack now would be insane, but you wouldn’t put it past her. “Stay out of my way.”
“Is that all?” you ask, sneering and moving a step closer. “Because you wasted a trip if so. I’m doing this, and I really don’t care if I have to put a hole in you on the way.”
She takes a step back, and you’re ready, more than ready, to shishkabob the bitch and get back to your training schedule. But the high heels baffle you. No one goes to war in heels and nylons; not even her.
“That’s not all,” she replies, sheathing her sword and setting it, very respectfully, on the ground, before taking off the robe and letting it fall to the ground, fluttering softly before pooling into a small fabric puddle. “I want you to look at me, Cordelia, and think about the right of revenge.”
You drop to your knees. Neither of you buy the gesture, but it looks good. “Scars are in this year, I see,” you manage to say feebly, looking at the wound on her hand, in her side, around her neck, on her breast.
“Yeah, that girl assassin look is de rigueur,” she replies with a smile, walking forward without a hint of shame or self-consciousness. “Come on, Cordy, you put so many of them on me yourself. Don’t you want to look at them up close and personal?”
As a matter of fact, you didn’t. Not really. But then again, when she’s two inches from your nose and you can see, hear, smell, and touch her, parts of you start to change your mind. And when you put your hands on her thighs, you can see a way to win this standoff.
“Is this your revenge on me?” you ask, running your hands up her inner thighs and coming back down with your thumbs. She always did look fucking incredible in heels. “Make me feel guilty about your failures and things I didn’t even know I did? You’ve gotten lazy, Lilah.”
“Maybe it’s a warning,” she replies, swaying a little but still standing straight and tall. Underneath your fingers, she’s warming up, and when you lick the toe of her high heel, there’s a distinct shiver. “I’m going to kill Angel, Cordelia. Whatever you say, I’m going to do it. I don’t blame you, but I do blame him.”
She thinks you’re trying to protect him, and the thought makes you laugh as you tug her down with one well-placed yank to her panties. “You think I want to protect Angel?” you ask, lips pressed against her ear, near enough to kiss. “You of all people think I’m doing this to protect him?”
“You’re his best friend,” she reminds you, her arms still hanging limply at her sides as you slide a leg in between hers. “His fellow champion.”
Your hands pull her closer to you, one on her waist and the other on her back and she doesn’t resist. “That’s before his mission left me comatose in a bed, all my friends without their memories, and my soul stuck in this limbo. You think you want revenge?” you ask, trembling. “Fuck your back-and-forth. I’m not going to rest until he begs me to die. And then I’m going to slice something else off, and something else, until I get bored. Then I’m going to leave him for sunrise.”
She whimpers. Apparently, detailed revenge fantasies turn Lilah on, but you sort of guessed she’d be putty in your hands after hearing the plan.
“If you’re fucking with me, I’ll get you back,” she promises, her lips suddenly wet and close to the corner of your mouth. “Your kiddy revenge fantasies will look trite.”
You laugh and ease her onto her back, kissing the scar you left on her neck. “I believe you, babe,” you promise her, hands roaming over her breasts and pressing them up. “You always did have the drive when nobody else did.”
Putting a sword in her heart would mean nothing; she has suffered almost as much as you have, and the way her body writhes on the wood floor when you press a kiss between her breasts is fascinating at worst and hot as hell for the most part. Besides, she still has her heels on and you want to feel them kicking against your shoulders blades when you make her come.
“Cordelia,” she says, staring up at the ceiling. “No matter what.”
Your sword safely out of her hands and yours, you nod solemnly.
You could have been sisters, almost. Her body moves like yours when it’s turned on, the hips moving up and down almost as reliably as the waves of the ocean you’ve promised yourself you will emerge from, and when you lower your head to her clit, you know that she’ll help you get revenge. There is still time to train.
All you have here is time.
In your very own personal nightmare.