Wesley comes into the office looking cheerful. Like, way too cheerful.
“What’s up with you?” Cordelia says, wrinkling her nose.
“Oh,” Wesley says, puffing his chest out like a turkey, if turkeys could be British and super annoying. “Nothing.”
Cordelia squints at him. “Is that a hickey?”
“Of course not,” Wesley says slyly.
“Ugh,” says Cordelia. God, she misses Doyle.
You know what they say: keep your friends close, your enemies closer, and hell, while you’re at it, let your enemies’ friends fumble their way to second base so you can steal your enemy’s secrets.
“A vampire with a soul, huh?” Lilah says, popping the olive from her martini into her mouth. Wesley Wyndam-Sucker-Pryce watches with rapt fascination. He’s got good taste. She’ll give him that much. (Although, to be honest, he strikes her as the type that’ll go gaga over anything with breasts and the audacity to maintain eye contact with him. A man with enough experience to have developed good taste wouldn’t have used “A little-known fact about shurikenjutsu, or, in layman’s terms, the art of wielding throwing stars: …” as his opening line. Even if the woman he’d just approached was flipping through a copy of The Enthusiastic Novice’s Guide to Throwing Stars. Hey, she had to lure him in somehow.) “That must get somber.”
Tactic #1: turn him against Angel, plain and simple. He’s only been working with the vampire for a couple weeks, and something tells her it wouldn’t exactly be hard to break this one.
“On the contrary,” he says proudly. “Working with Angel is nothing short of exhilarating. Why, just last Monday, he and I took out a nest of viscous sloth demons living in the basement of a fraternity house. The slime was, I grant you, unpleasant, but the thrill of danger! The rush of triumph in the face of near-certain death! I feel it forged quite an intimate bond between us.”
Maybe he’s gay.
She slips her foot out of her shoe and runs it up and down his ankle.
His eyes widen. She’s willing to bet that’s not his only physical reaction.
“Oops,” she says coyly. “Was that your foot?”
She can’t remember the last time she had this much fun.
Well, okay, this morning when she mocked Lindsey’s hair for twenty minutes.
“How titillating,” she says, resting her chin on one hand in a gosh-that’s-fascinating move. “The sloth demons, I mean.”
“Ah, yes: forgive me,” he says gruffly. Or at least gruff seems to be what he’s going for. “Such talk oughtn’t to pollute feminine ears, especially ones as exquisite as yours.” (Finally someone notices her earrings today.) “I do have a rather unchivalrous tendency toward forgetting that not all lives are as fraught with bounteous violence as my own.”
Lilah personally oversaw last week’s evisceration of the intern in charge of coffee runs (how hard is it to remember ‘two shots of espresso,’ Floyd?), but she doesn’t argue. Who doesn’t dig a damsel?
“After all,” Wesley finishes grandly, “not everyone has the nerves of steel befitting a … rogue demon hunter.”
She knew certain things coming into this: Wesley Wyndam-Pryce grew up in England, trained at the Watcher’s Academy, and got his ass fired when his slayer went all Susie Murder. But this is the first she’s heard about rogue demon hunting. Ever, actually. Demon hunters aren’t usually so insecure that they have to plop the word ‘rogue’ into their job description.
“Not to brag,” he tosses in with a nonchalant grin. “I’m sure being a lawyer is very rewarding as well.”
“Oh yeah,” she agrees, smiling right back. “Not to brag, but—” (Her foot creeps up his ankle again.) “—I’ve been told I can get anyone off.”
“Oh,” Wesley Wyndam-Pryce breathes, “dear God.”
Originally, she was just going to let him cop a feel, but when you’ve reached the point where you’re necking with a bespectacled dweeb in the grungy bathroom of a demon bar called Petey Fivehorn’s Pub and Grill, you might as well commit. She’s always gone above and beyond where the job is concerned. It’s kind of her thing.
Wesley’s fingers are trembling against the clasp of her bra like a Disney fawn’s first shaky, adorable steps when: “Not that I’m not accustomed to random trysts in inappropriate public locales – I assure you, I am: libraries, supermarkets, bingo parlors, the usual – but, erm, perhaps you’d like to take this some place a bit more … comfortable. If you’d care to accompany me back to my flat, we could—”
Lilah likes comfort. Luxury. Style. She also likes a man bright enough to realize that she’s a few cuts above bathroom-bang material. So sue her. (Or try.) Plus, the fact that he says ‘flat’ instead of ‘apartment’ momentarily drives home the whole British thing, and even she has some weaknesses. She’s evil, not dead.
“Sure,” she says, smirking as she brushes her fingers across his face.
He yanks her hand from his cheek and drags her out of the bathroom, and it’s kind of hot for a few seconds until she realizes he’s just desperate to get out of this hellhole.
“I think the sink may have given me hepatitis,” he chokes out, looking nauseous.
“Hang in there, soldier,” she says, patting him on the back. Well. Maybe a little farther south.
Cordelia is in the middle of organizing their client database – or, okay, painting her fingernails this great shade of turquoise – when all of a sudden there’s somebody’s hot spearminty breath on her cheek.
Ew, minty fresh demon! she thinks, and then realizes it’s Wesley. Not much better.
“I may or may not,” Wesley breathes into her ear, “be sleeping with the enemy.”
Is he trying to hit on her? Does he not remember The Kissing Of Unsexy Doom?
“Okay, a) we’re the only ones here. No need to inhale half my hair while you’re creepy whispering in my ear, bucko, and b) oh, Wesley. You can’t sleep with fashion sense or a general state of cool. They’re intangible.”
“I suspect there’s an insult veiled somewhere within that statement,” Wesley says tersely, “but I, being of the opinion that one should always rise above petty adversity, am choosing to let it slip by without offering any remark.”
“I was saying your enemies are fashion sense and cool. ‘Cause of how, you know, you don’t have any. And seriously, who talks like that?”
Wesley sniffs. “Just as I suspected. I ought to have confided in Angel and left you out of it completely.”
She guesses this is the closest thing she’s gonna get to gossip. Might as well roll with it. “All right, Wes. Who’s your new girlfriend?”
Wesley pulls a business card out of his pocket with flourish.
Attorney, Wolfram & Hart
“Wolfram & Hart??” Cordelia repeats, incredulous. “You mean those big bad lawyer guys who keep making Angel all grumpier-than-usual?”
“The very ones. Ms. Morgan appears to be one of their star attorneys. As well as an enthusiastic novice of shurikenjutsu. That’s the art of wielding throwing stars—”
“Wesley,” Cordelia says, “you do get that she’s just using you for information, right?”
“I don’t know,” Wesley responds, putting a pensive finger to his chin. “Certainly that was her priority at first. But as the evening progressed – well. I suspect that there might have been—” He’s flaunting his neck like he’s Buffy, all drink me!, and Angel’s about to die of arrow poisoning or whatever all that crap was. (It’s easy to lose track of the order of events in The Snoresville Saga Of Buffy And Angel.) His evil lawyer hickey is on full and nauseating display. “—a rather electric … unstoppable … quite animalistic current of feeling between us—”
His babble is felled by Cordelia’s eyebrows. She is so never getting sick of the power of her skeptical glare.
“Well, I’m going to use her right back,” Wesley caves, pouting. “So there.”
“Yeah,” Cordelia says, patting him on the shoulder. “Good luck with that. Don’t get yourself murdered, okay?”
“Oh, Cordelia,” Wesley says, patronizing as all and then some. “She’s only a throwing star novice. I assure you: I’ve nothing to worry about.”
Cordelia snorts and goes back to painting her nails.
Lilah means to have Wesley killed. She thinks maybe she’ll have him taken out in a rogue throwing star incident gone terribly wrong. That way she’s combining two of his favorite things: shurikenjutsu and the unnecessary use of the word ‘rogue.’ She likes the guy enough to give him a customized shuffle off this mortal coil. But then he asks her to the movies and, well, it’s been ages since she’s gone to the movies. Ensuring the onset of the apocalypse really does put a dint in a girl’s social life.
She thinks Gladiator sounds sufficiently badass, but Wesley insists upon Cast Away. And cries for like the last half hour of it. As soon as Tom Hanks loses that damn volleyball, her big bad rogue demon hunter’s a goner. He has a handkerchief that he takes out of his pocket and everything. It’s one of those moments where she doesn’t want to have him murdered: she wants to keep him in a cage by her desk so she can have something to amuse her on bad days. Kind of a Dance, monkey, dance! situation.
He’s still weeping when they file out of the theater.
“Oh, God,” she groans, rolling her eyes, “you really are one of the good guys.”
“Oh, God,” he chokes, dabbing at his eyes, “you really are evil.”
“Guilty,” Lilah says pleasantly, and steals the last of the leftover Red Vines.
“Lilah,” Holland says, “a word on the Wyndam-Pryce situation.”
“One hundred percent about stealing intel, sir,” Lilah answers crisply. “And I’m confident that any day now he’ll be cracking like an egg.”
Holland says nothing. She can’t blame him. Was the ‘like an egg’ really necessary? It’s almost like she’s been spending too much time with a certain Englishman who talks like an Austen buffoon.
“You don’t really think I would associate with that idiot of my own free will, do you?” Lilah adds more effectively, arching an eyebrow.
“Right, then. Keep up the good work.”
She waits ‘til Holland’s out of her office, then casts an appreciative glance at the bouquet of white roses that was delivered this morning. As far as dashing gestures go, it’s not one hundred percent effective. The card reads Just remembered you existed, Hope you’re well, I suppose, because Wesley obviously has no idea how to do the whole keep-it-casual thing and make it convincing. He’s also signed it Samweel Cywe-Prywynd. It’s the worst anagram Lilah’s ever seen, and Lilah’s seen a lot of anagrams. Forces of evil, as a rule, love anagrams. The potential for sneakiness, and all that. She’s pretty sure they wouldn’t love this one. Still, she reads the card a couple times – for the laughs – before she runs it through her shredder.
Maybe she’ll put off having him killed ‘til next year. She’s got a lot on her plate right now. And she does like roses.
“I don’t know about this,” Angel says warily. “A group dinner? Between us and one of my mortal enemies?”
“Are you kidding? If she can get us into Lucindo’s, I love her. It’s official. Wesley, marry this evil but fabulous woman. You know who eats at Lucindo’s? Jennifer and Brad. There were candids of them there in People!! Oh, God, I’m going to meet Brad and Jen. My life is finally beginning! I can leave you losers behind and pursue my true life’s calling! I bet Jen will totally hook me up with a guest spot on Friends.”
“I thought your visions were your true calling,” Angel points out. “Helping the helpless. They’re from a higher power and everything, so …”
“Visions-schmisions,” Cordelia says with a wave of her hand. “I’ll stop by a few times a week. You won’t even miss me. Hey, it will give you a lot more time to brood in the dark! You’ve missed that, right?”
Angel looks a bit sad.
“Ah, there she is,” Wesley says, catching the sound of Lilah’s approaching footsteps. “Now, I hope I don’t need to remind either of you to act civilly. Yes, we may be on opposing sides of the eternal war between good and evil, but that doesn’t mean we can’t all share one pleasant supper.”
“Does the war between good and evil have off nights?” Angel muses, sounding doubtful.
“It does tonight, Mr. Mopey Pants,” says Cordelia giddily.
“What’s mopey about these pants?” Angel demands with a flicker of hurt. “I thought they were kinda, y’know. Chipper.”
“It’s not really an off night,” Wesley points out, “considering my feelings for her are entirely a front, a ruse, a means of extracting information from our most formidable enemy—”
“You were doodling her name all over your case notes earlier,” Cordelia interrupts.
“Was not,” Wesley protests stoutly.
Cordelia holds up the paper as evidence. It’s covered in little hearts. Some of them have arrows plunged dramatically through them, but Wesley doubts whether even that will help perpetuate his I’m Just In It For The Wanton Lovemaking air, should it ever find its way to Lilah. Especially the ‘Mr. and Mrs. Wesley Morgan-Wyndam-Pryce’ jotted in fond and intricate calligraphy.
“I’m a bit of a … method actor,” he mumbles.
“Another hyphen?” Angel says. Rather judgmentally. Clearly someone without a surname can’t be expected to understand such matters.
“Aw, look, the gang’s all here,” Lilah purrs from the doorway. Where she is suddenly standing.
Wesley lunges for the paper in Cordelia’s hand and crumples it into a ball. And then throws it across the room into one of the potted plants.
“Confidential, Side of Good and Rightness top secret information,” he says, clearing his throat. “Hello, my darling.”
He sneaks a look at his cohorts, just to make sure they appreciate how smoothly he’s adapted to this sordid deception-laced love affair lark.
Angel grimaces. Cordelia gives him a double thumbs up that seems too enthusiastic to be trusted.
“Whatcha got there, Wes?” Lilah asks, throwing a glance at the potted plant playing jailer to his secret shame. “Ooh, let me guess: our names scribbled together, surrounded by little hearts.”
Wesley erupts into a coughing fit.
“That’s ridiculous,” he finally sputters.
“Is loving the enemy so wrong?” Cordelia wants to know.
Wesley steps into his flat one evening to find a pair of ancient throwing stars placed on his desk.
Perhaps it should be a bit frightening when Lilah steps out of the shadows. He ought to have sensed her presence; he’s rather known for hunting demons, after all, and she’s very close to being one.
But – but – ancient throwing stars.
“The flowers were so nice,” she says by way of rather slinky explanation. “I felt like I owed you something back, Mr. Cywe-Prywynd.” She tilts her head, lips curving wryly. “Am I pronouncing that right?”
“I always imagined the emphasis would be more on the – er, close enough,” he amends, off her expression. He can’t help it: he leans down closer to inspect the throwing stars. Should she try to stab him in the back, well, his reflexes are plenty good. “These look as if they date back to the—”
“Edo period, yep,” Lilah finishes, leaning against his desk. “I checked K-Mart first, but wouldn’t you know, they were fresh out.”
“You’re trying to sway me to your side,” Wesley deduces. “So that I might in turn help to sway Angel.”
“What, just because I brought you a priceless artifact and didn’t kill you even after you forced me to sit through a movie where a man forms a codependent relationship with a volleyball? Am I that transparent?”
“I believe you may underestimate me,” Wesley announces, putting on his most noble and stalwart of expressions.
“Yeah, well.” She tugs at his tie, smiling. “Right back atcha.”
The warmth of feeling (of something almost like affection) that wells up in him can surely be attributed to the throwing stars.