Wesley had asked Lilah a question once, when they were both alive and lying in her bed on crumpled sheets, post-coital sweat drying on their skin. What, he had wanted to know, had been the point of selling her soul to Wolfram & Hart? Yes, she lived in luxury now; those messy sheets they were lying on were satin and the dregs of champagne going flat in their abandoned glasses were from a top-notch vintage. But a few decades of prosperity in exchange for an eternity of torment and servitude was a damn stupid move, and Lilah was far from stupid. It had been a thoughtful and intelligent question, and therefore one that merited unusual honestly from her.
"I was going to be damned either way," she had admitted. "By the time I signed my contact, I'd already racked up a pretty impressive record of sins, and I know myself. I wasn't ever going to change. So I figured, why not get something out of it? I was just steering into the skid, really."
There had actually been more to her decision than that. Lilah had figured that most of humanity probably ended up in Hell, after all. And so it would be a good idea to do something to help herself stand out from the masses when the time came, in a positive way. Showing a willingness to get on board with the whole evil ethos was the most likely way to not get lumped in with the faceless hoards heading off for generic torment like cattle being steered towards the slaughter. Lilah had worked out early in life that if she couldn't be good, she'd damn well better be useful. And she would have told Wesley all of that, except that he had started nibbling on her earlobe and she'd decided to put her mouth to better uses than talking.
She wished now that she'd let him in on her thoughts. If he'd seen her point, and acted accordingly, maybe it wouldn't have taken so long for them to get to see each other again.
As it was, Lilah had ended up having to climb Hell's corporate ladder all alone. It had taken a while, but in the face of eternity she supposed waiting a few years for a promotion really wasn't a big deal. And eventually the day came when she was able to effectively slide the right knives into the right backs, and then she ended up with a new title, a throng of demons working under her and a snazzy corner office with a rather smashing view of the pit of burning souls.
And a lovely clause in her new contract that allowed her to choose her own assistant.
Lilah was nervous, and couldn't say why. Or maybe she could but she wouldn't at any rate. She carefully adjusted the scarf on her neck, being careful to ensure that it covered the mark there. She knew it didn't really matter; Wesley was well aware of her scar. He'd been instrumental in its creation. She reminded herself that he wasn't likely to be awash in other offers here. If he was sensible, he'd jump at the chance she was giving him.
But sense had never been Wesley Wyndam-Pryce's strong point.
Wesley blinked when he was brought in front of her desk, but showed no other signs of outward surprise. He didn't quite manage to keep his expression entirely blank though; the corners of his mouth twitched up in what would have undoubtedly been a smile if he hadn't managed to stop himself just in time. It had only lasted a second, but Lilah had spent the happiest months of her life on Earth studying this man in intricate detail, and she knew him as well as she'd ever known anyone.
Wesley was happy to see her.
"I thought it would be sooner," he said, in lieu of any pleasantries. "I thought you'd be in touch right away. And then when you weren't, I assumed I'd never get to see you."
Lilah cocked her head in a vague apology.. "Hell's a big organisation. Things take time here. That's actually part of the design."
Wesley shrugged slightly. "You'd know better than me." He jerked his head towards one of the demons holding his chain. "Is there any chance you could get rid of this lot, and we could talk properly?"
It was a daring move, and without Lilah's protection that kind of insolence would have earned Wesley a few decades of daily dismemberment. The demons growled in warning, but the remark had made Lilah's dead heart jump a little in her chest.
So they hadn't broken him. Good.
She dismissed the demons, matching them glare for glare as they stomped off out of the room. A snap of her fingers undid Wesley's restraints and with another snap she set up a comfortable spread: food and drink, a big sofa. It was a bit showy, perhaps, but having power and not using it was rather pointless and at any rate she was hungry. "Care to sit and chat?"
Wesley's eyebrows arched when he bit into a strawberry. "Food that doesn't turn to ashes in my mouth. I'd kind of forgotten what that was like."
She settled back into the plush leather and regarded him carefully. He was thinner than before, and he'd never had much weight to spare. But his eyes were still that stormy blue; his jaw was still set at that particular angle that made him almost too pretty to take seriously. Almost. Lilah plucked a fat grape from its bunch. "It's the little things you miss."
He gave a fuller smile at that and took another bite. "Is this a last meal situation? Part of the torture - a final treat before I'm sent off to… whatever?"
She'd forgotten how much she loved his accent. "Wesley, you're already in Hell. How much worse do you think things can get?"
That made him laugh a little. "Lilah, you and I know better than anyone that things can always get worse."
And there was the starting point that she needed. "They can get better too."
She outlined the deal she'd been authorised to make. A private apartment in the area reserved for favoured beings, furnished with earthly amenities. Unlimited food and water. Exemptions from typical torture and the possibility of trips up top if their work required it. She could see the spark on his eyes at that last point; she knew he was already wondering if that meant he could find ways to be useful to Angel again.
Damn his stupid moral compass. Or damn it even more, at any rate.
"You'd have to work with us; there's no getting around that. They'll know if you betray them and I won't be able to protect you from the consequences, if that happens. But I wanted to put the offer on the table." She studied his face carefully. "I'd take care of all the really heavy stuff. You wouldn't be authorised for that anyway."
Not at first. Although Lilah suspected that the folks in charge felt like Wesley had potential.
He held her gaze. "It's tempting."
"It's meant to be."
"May I speak frankly?"
She rolled her eyes at that. "Like I could stop you."
His mouth twitched upwards again. "Did you seriously have me brought here, after all this time, to ask me to sell my soul in exchange for a fruit basket?"
It was pretty much the response she'd been expecting, but it was no less frustrating for that. "They already own your soul, Wesley. I'm just giving you a chance to get a little compensation for it."
His hand brushed against her knee, just a whisper of a touch but it sent shivers down her spine. "Is this what they offered you on Earth? Just a chance to do a tiny bit better than the people around you? I can see the appeal, but really - you should have held out for more."
The words hit her hard, and she could surmise that they were meant to. They'd never talked much about their childhoods; she'd already seen his file before they'd even met. She knew all about his past - the Watchers and Sunnydale, Faith Lehane, his father's cruel perversion of what parental affection was supposed to be. And Wesley was an intelligent man who had built his life around research. So she assumed that he was aware of the hungry months of her childhood when her mother's disability checks hadn't stretched to cover both heat and food, never mind the kinds of status markers that her non-scholarship classmates had been able to afford. When you grew up with a constant sense of having less, the chance to turn that around was no small thing.
But Wesley hadn't grown up having less. Just feeling like he was less. Which meant she'd misjudged her approach. Hopefully it wasn't too late to correct her course. "What's the point in staying out there, with all the others? Do you think you're doing anyone some kind of good by suffering in solidarity? There's not a single soul in Hell that's going to give one solitary fuck if you take the chance for something a little better." She grabbed hold of one of his hands and squeezed it hard. His palm was still calloused from the guns he'd used on Earth, and his skin was warm. She'd never understood why people in Hell still felt like they were alive, but at that exact moment she was pretty sure it was part of their punishment. The vulnerability of Wesley's skin made her ache. "Except for me. No one asked me to bring you here, Wes. This isn't like before; no one else is trying to recruit you. I just wanted to try and make things better for you."
She scanned his face, desperate for some clue about his emotional state, and found that he was doing the exact same thing to her.
They'd always been more alike than he'd wanted them to be. That had been part of the problem
When he finally spoke again, his voice was as rough as it had been after his throat was slit. "Why?"
"If no one's asking you to do this, then why are sticking your neck out for me? I don't know the Senior Partners as well as you do, but I'm pretty sure they don't like divided loyalties." He gestured at the lavish office and the food spread in front of them. "Lilah, why are you taking this kind of risk?"
And there was nothing that she could think to do in response to that but kiss him.
The chemistry was electric; it always had been between them. At the first touch of her lips, all of Wesley's cool control melted away, replaced by fire. He grabbed hold of her arms, his grip painfully tight, and hauled her into his lap. He wasn't even trying to put up a show of resistance, she noticed, and a dark part of her heart crowed in triumph. Her skirt rode up and her expensive stockings split, but she couldn't have cared less. She pulled his shirt open and scored his chest with her nails, savoring the hiss she drew from his throat. His next kiss had more than a hint of bite.
They'd always been good at this, going from zero to sixty in the space of a touch. Never in her life, or anything that came after it, was there anyone else who was able to get this kind of reaction out of her. Maybe that had been where her addiction to him sprang from, his uncanny ability to get her body humming with only a touch. Or maybe he could only do that because she was addicted to him. It could be either. Buttons scattered as he pulled her blouse open. Her delicate lace bra tore apart like wet tissue paper. Wesley's teeth closed around her nipple and her delighted cry echoed around the cavernous office. The fact that no one came running to see what was happening made her pretty certain her demonic overlords had been watching the whole time and knew exactly what was happening.
She couldn't even bring herself to care. At least they'd have a good show.
She moved to slide down his body and take his cock into her mouth. Fuck, she'd missed sucking him - the head of his erection nudging her throat open, the sounds he used to make when she swallowed around him. But Wesley grabbed at her back with frantic urgency, keeping her pressed against him.
"I'm not going to be able to wait." His voice was a low thin needy thing. "Not this time."
That implied that he thought there would be other times, and she knew she should warn him that it wasn't the case. If he really intended to take his misguided principles and walk out the door after this, then he wasn't going to be able to come back. But his hand was already between her legs, shoving the crotch of her panties to one side as his thumb played with her clit and she didn't think she couldn't find the ability to form words. So she just yanked his trousers open, raised up and then lowered herself down onto him, feeling all of her nerves light up with the kind of thrill that only came from being granted something that had been craved and denied for a long long time.
They both moaned.
Even when they'd hated each other, this had been fucking magic. Lilah had never been precious about sex, never seen it as something valuable to be hoarded or carefully parceled out as though it were finite. She'd lost count of the number of people - and some not-people - that she'd had in her bed. But none of them had ever made her body react like Wesley did. Her hips worked on instinct as soon as he was inside her, writhing around so that she could feel him in as many places as possible. She rocked against him again and again, shamelessly chasing after the kind of high that only the right drug could provide. His fingers dug into her hips as he lifted her and then dropped her onto his cock again and again. They no longer needed to breathe and so they didn't bother, choosing instead to stay linked at the mouth, joined top and bottom as they moved together.
The sensation kept building, hot and fierce and perfect inside of her, until Lilah was so close to the edge that it was almost painful. But that moment stretched into two, and then many, and release hovered just out of reach. For a terrifying second she wondered if this was some feature of Hell she hadn't been aware of, that she could get right to the point of orgasm but never cross it. And then, Wesley whispered her name against her lips, the soft Lilah, incongruously tender against the wild motions of their bodies, and then the world tipped over. Pleasure shot through her like spikes, hot and sharp and perfect, and she screamed as she clenched around him, wanting to keep him inside her as long as possible. She felt Wesley strain against her one last time and then he was crying out too, before they settled, spent as the living, into each other's arms.
One wave of her hand was all it took to vanish away their ruined clothes and summon up a soft chenille bedspread. She remembered her throat just a moment too late, but it didn't seem to matter. Wesley curled up behind her, spooning their bodies together as she drew the blanket over them both. He laughed softly against the back of her scarred neck. "Useful little powers you've got there. A man could get used to his lady having those."
"Then do." His lady. She tried to keep her voice light but even she could hear the need in it and so she abandoned the effort. "Stay with me, Wesley. Please."
It felt like an eternity before he responded. "Lilah, I spent my entire mortal life trying to be a good man. I fought on the side of the righteous. I waged the battles I was supposed to wage, did all the things I was supposed to do. I loved the kind of girls I was supposed to love. You and I were an exception to that, not the pattern on which I built my existence."
It wasn't a surprise, but it still hurt. "I realize that, but-"
He pressed a finger against her lips. "Let me finish. I did all of that, as well as I was able. And I'm still in Hell. And since the worst has apparently come to pass… well, you were right earlier. I do want to get something from it. But it's not a few little luxuries and a slightly less terrifying eternal nightmare. Food and water and all are very nice, but they're not enough to make me want to change sides. What I want is freedom, Lilah, from all of those expectations. I want to be myself. Most of all, I want let myself be free to love the woman I actually love." His hand spread across her belly, his palm as hot as a claim. "Do you understand what I'm saying?"
She did. Understanding had never been the problem between them, after all. She hid her smile against the pillows. Her heart was soaring, a strangely warm lightness spreading from her chest throughout her while body. If this was what perfect happiness was, then she'd never known it on Earth. "If you mean what I think you mean, you're going to owe me another dollar."
This time, his laughter seemed genuinely amused. The novelty of that was thrilling. "Let me make it a fiver then. I'm in love with you. In the middle of all the mess and decay and hurt, I fell in love with you and I just stayed there, no matter what I did to try and leave that behind. Knowing that you were so close to me, all this time, and not being allowed to see you has been the very worst part of Hell, and I'm not enough of a masochist to sign up for more of that. So I don't give a damn about any little perks the Senior Partners can offer me, but if you've got a deal that means I get to stay with you now?" He swallowed hard but his voice didn't falter. "Then I'll take it."
A part of Lilah's lawyer's mind was objectively noting how that was at least ten dollars worth of honesty, but the rest was reeling with something she suspected was joy. She understood Angel's temptations now, better than ever. This was worth losing a soul over.
Maybe Wesley had already lost his soul for it. Maybe Lilah had lost hers. In either case, it was a bargain at the price.
She wriggled around so that she could see his face. This ridiculously beautiful man. She really had tried, in life and in death, to make him happy. She hadn't been a good person, but she'd always done her very best to be good to him. She always would. There was no one else, living or dead, who had ever been worth that effort from her. Maybe her desire for his happiness had been motivated by selfishness - this is the most incredible thing I've ever felt, and I want you to be feeling it too so that you'll STAY - but if he ended up happy in the end then what did it matter? "I'll have the paperwork prepared right now", she promised. "You'll never have to leave again."
He tucked her head against his chest, and she knew the embrace was a surrender. She moved slightly so that she could kiss the scar on his throat. She was glad it was back now; she'd always resented Angel for taking it away as part of his little charade. That scar was hers. She hadn't given it to him, but it had been part of what had given him to her and she adored it.
Wesley gasped as her lips and tongue laved against the sensitive line. His hands skimmed down her body in a way that made her want more, even though they'd scratched that itch just minutes ago. So she rubbed herself against him, setting the mood for another round.
But Wesley pulled away, looking at her admonishingly. "And?"
She shrugged. "And?"
There was fond laughter at the edges of his voice. "You're supposed to say it back."
"Ah." Lilah feigned incomprehension just for the joy of playing. "Why? You already said you'd sign on."
And then she was tumbled onto the floor with a shocked burst of laughter, the blanket tangling around them as he rolled on top of her. He kissed her mouth, her eyelids, the scar that matched his own. "Say it. Or else I'll be the worst assistant ever. I'll sneeze in your coffee and mess up every single photocopy unless you say it right now."
Lilah had never been able to abide sloppy photocopies, and besides she really did love him. So she prevaricated a bit just to make him work for it, but she gladly whispered it against his skin as he slid into her again. " I love you, Wesley." And she said it again when they amended his contract to give him permission to live with her, and then again in the moments before they slipped off to sleep in what was now their bed.
She knew of course, that this wasn't the end of things. It would take all of her considerable skills to keep them both reasonably safe amid the constant warfare, both literal and corporate, that comprised existence in Hell. And the kind of work they did was meant that their pasts and their futures were likely to cross paths again on several occasions, and that would inevitably get messy. But for two people who had been violently murdered and were years-dead to have futures at all, let alone ones that promised considerable joy along with the struggles, was no small thing. So as she fell asleep in Wesley's arms, for the first time in her existence Lilah Morgan felt genuinely blessed.