Writing Darkfic with Lilah
by Jennifer-Oksana (www)

Lilah Morgan -- the recently returned evil bitch queen of Los Angeles. Quite possibly Angel's most effective adversary, having actually managed to pull off a Wolfram and Hart scheme or six without losing a body part, though Cordelia did cause Lilah to literally lose her head. Her triple-cross of Holtz, Angel, and Sahjean led directly to Connor being taken to Quor-toth. She actively recruited Faith into attempting an Angel assassination. When faced with Drusilla, Darla, and vampire snacktime, Lilah managed to survive. In fact, no less an authority than Drusilla dubbed Lilah "wicked." When Wolfram and Hart was planning to choose Lindsey over Lilah as the President of Special Projects, not only did we discover that Lilah had blackmail material on everyone, we discovered the woman carries a gun and is not above going postal on an entire boardroom of lawyers. We also know that Lilah is willing to do things like have Cordelia tortured, mack on faux!Angel, wish to boogie on Angel's ashes, try to vivisect Connor, et cetera, all in the name of the job. She's also shed her own blood when compelled to by Angel to help Angel get revenge on those who took Connor in the first place.

Meanwhile, she's also implicated in the downward spiral of Wesley Wyndam-Pryce, as the two were engaged in a tragic, kinky (and possibly destined) love affair for six months before their break-up and her death. When tragedy nearly struck Fred, Lilah was at the top of a short list of suspects--and though it wasn't actually Lilah for once, Angel took active glee in ripping the hood off Lilah's posh Mercedes convertible. Lilah got her revenge not long after (at least on Wesley) by dressing up like the object of her jealousy. Not long after that, Lilah endured graphic Beast torture, a choking by Connor (it's notable that Wesley, Angel, and Connor have all tried to shut Lilah up by wrapping their angry hands around her throat), and a humiliating breakup where Wesley left her to limp out of the sewers alone with a gut wound before a brutal death at the hands of Cordelia, a feeding at the hands of Angelus, and a decapitation by Wesley. And this is only skimming the surface of dark, dark, dark things that have happened or were caused by Lilah Morgan. In short, it's not a question of making Lilah dark; she's the darkest of the human character in the Jossverse. It's the question of what to do with all the pretty darkness you've already got.

How can we make it so? How can you not make it so? It's extremely difficult not to turn Lilah into a walking, talking femme fatale cliche. Almost every bit of canon information we have about Lilah lends itself to darkfic. Her mother is senile, loving Wesley got her ass dead, vulnerable, terrified, and constantly humiliated, she works for an evil law firm, most of the people around her want her dead or out of the way, she has no friends, and if Jossverse patterns hold constant, she probably had an evil dad, too.

So dark Lilah is canon Lilah, though there are obviously a few flavors to choose from. Traditionally, Lilah has been the Bad Girl Cliche; an Angel writer looking for a villain hands Lilah an evil plan and enjoys watching her fail at it while she threatens the world and blusters with an almost endearing incompetency. This is not entirely unfair, though again, Lilah is the most effective lawyer we've ever seen out of Wolfram and Hart. There is also Easy Victim Lilah: given that many, many people (Angel, Wesley, Connor, Darla, Drusilla, Gavin, the Beast, and Cordelia) have physically assaulted the woman, it is not hard to imagine Lilah as an Angelus victim (except for the part where Lilah tossed his ass down the stairs when he tried), or cannon fodder, or a sexual assault victim--as many of those assaults have had uncomfortable sexual over or under-tones. One caveat, of course, is that this flavor of Lilah is prone to act out at unpredictable moments--thanks to her Billy-induced torture, Lilah found her very big gun and capped the little bastard. Lilah emptied her gun into the Beast before he laid a finger on her. Gunn and Fred are afraid of her and will not go up against Wolfram and Hart while Angel and Cordelia are out of the picture. Lilah had her latest boss, Linwood Murrow, beheaded, with little more than a Palm Pilot and a smile. Even Wesley, who constantly has the upper hand against Lilah, falls victim to one of her games, which leads to Lorne having part of his memories removed. Hell, Lilah is back from the dead, yo. Back from the dead. She might be a victim sometimes, but she's a pretty tough one.

Certainly, Lilah can be played as the easy victim, but there are large amounts of canon information, direct and indirect, that Lilah is a survivor, a "vicious bitch" who inspires respect. Consider that Angel, after years of empty threats toward Miss Morgan, finally has to winnow information out of her by playing it smart.

Lastly, we have Lilah in Love, and for those interested in making a three-dimensional Lilah, this is the simplest path. Canon gives us a woman whose heart is constantly broken by her less-than-attached lover, though we also have fun-loving-hot-sex Wes/Lilah to look at as well. But again, Wesley/Lilah is full of incredible canon moments that implicate Lilah as human, and really quite complicated. For someone who we know to be delighted with evil, Lilah in love is incredibly self-sacrificing and almost redeemable. Her dignity matters less to her than keeping her man, and her happiness matters less to her than his.

Creepy onscreen moments include the almost-textual Lilah/Faith moment (Five by Five), Marcus!Angel macking on and then biting Lilah (Carpe Noctem), Lilah and Drusilla's creepy-ass exchange in Reunion, with the moisturizing bit, anything in Forgiving with Lilah, the first Lilah/Wesley sex scene in Tomorrow, Cordelia capping Lilah in Calvary, "Lilah" and Wesley's conversation before her decapitation in Salvage--you really can't go wrong with almost any scene not in Slouching Toward Bethlehem and dark Lilah.

Keep in mind, Lilah's not a goddamn fluffy puppy. Neither is she Satan. Even in her earlier, emergency backup lawyer days, she's always had a nervous, almost open vulnerability that she learns to repress as she goes along. She's often protested that her actions against our beloved characters are "just business." Whether you entirely believe that is up for debate, but she at least has the layering to say so. Also, note that writing Lilah often involves violent and unpleasant sexual connotations. Onscreen and in fic, the character has a near-omnipresent sexuality that has played against everyone from Faith to Wesley. Dark sex and sexuality will probably be an issue. But most importantly: Lilah's not Satan. Slapping the name Lilah Morgan on your one-dimensional villain is a sloppy feature of casefile-based darkfic in particular. Lilah isn't stupid; she doesn't just antagonize Angel for the fun of it, though she's not opposed to enjoying it. She sometimes makes poor choices, as Wolfram and Hart is often prone to making them, and for whatever reason, Lilah follows the company line. But do remember that unlike Lindsey, Lilah has actually succeeded in screwing with Angel without the help of Darla. Write her accordingly.

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