Lilah didn’t get many assignments in Los Angeles these days. The Senior Partners kept her busy anywhere but here. In the six months since the LA offices had changed hands, she had only been back once.
Her own special form of Purgatory.
When she did come, she liked to walk along the concourse connecting the Wolfram & Hart buildings to the city transit center. It was set up like a small shopping mall, with anything the wage slaves might need, from dry cleaning to video rentals to travel agents. She sometimes lost track of how long she was away between assignments, so she liked to scan the newsstands, the latest movie releases, the current fashion trends to keep some connection to this plane, however tenuous. As long as she didn’t stop too long or stray too far from her assignment, her superiors didn’t seem to mind.
They thought it added to her torment.
She was just about to turn off down the corridor which would take her to the elevators back to the other dimension when her eye was caught by a brilliant white head in the back corner of the bistro seating area outside the Starbucks.
Maybe she’d risk stopping, just for a minute.
She sauntered up to his table, where he was leafing heedlessly through a magazine someone had left behind. “So, how’s being mostly dead treating you these days?”
Spike, aka William the Bloody, aka the last champion of Sunnydale, looked up at her, his icy blue eyes narrow in suspicion. “I know you?”
She offered her hand, wondering how he’d respond. “Lilah Morgan.”
The glare turned to suspicion. And maybe just a little curiosity? He seemed to concentrate for a moment, then reached out and took her hand in his own, his non-corporeal flesh solid through but thin on the edges, sinking under the layers of her skin. “’s not so bad, some days. And you?”
She shrugged. “Being dead always sucks. But hey, still pretty.”
“That we are. What can I do for you, Counselor?”
Lilah shook her head, sliding into the chair next to him. “Just saw you here, thought I’d say hi, check up on the gang.”
“Oh, you did.” He scanned her appraisingly.
“Is that so surprising?”
“Considering your history with the Superfriends, I’d have to say yeah.”
”And how would you know about my history.”
She kept her surprise from showing. “Wes . . . talks about me?”
Oh. “Well then, how . . .”
“Read his diary. Interesting stuff. Not many blokes cut off their lady’s head as a gesture of affection.”
That shouldn’t have pleased her as much as it did.
But she said, “And sacrificing yourself in your girlfriend’s place makes you the soul of restraint.”
“Wasn’t her place. She’d died enough. Just wanted to make sure she had a chance to do some livin’ for a change.” There was an intensity to his words that made her tremble inside.
To hide her reaction, she shot back, “And then there’s that pesky soul . . .”
Spike studied her critically for a moment, and she felt like he was looking right through her. Then softly, almost compassionately, he said, “Ask me the question.”
All her defenses immediately flared to life. “I don’t know what . . .”
“Sure you do.” His voice was warm as he coaxed her gently. “Ask me the question, Lilah. Ask me what you want to hear, and I’ll tell you the answer.”
She could tell he understood, that he understood the need to know while not being allowed to ask the question. She surrendered. “How is he?”
“Grim.” He slouched back in the chair, wrapping his coat tighter around him. “I’ve known a few dour Watchers in my time, and this one takes the prize. Must be hangin’ around Peaches. He’s not quite brooding, but he’s got morose down cold.”
An image of Wes at his grimmest last year flashed through her mind. “But he’s alright?”
Spike shrugged. “He’s managing. Hasn’t done anythin’ too stupid, aside from agreeing to this contract with Hell’s lawyers. No offense intended.”
“None taken.” She studied him for a moment. “What about you?”
He looked at her directly and said without flinching, “I miss my girls.”
“I’ll see what I can find out. Get you word somehow.” She went to rest her hand on his, and was surprised when her flesh went right through him.
He raised his hand and wiggled his fingers apologetically. “Sorry about that.”
She rose from her seat. “Well, I should be going. Back to the pits of despair.”
“Lilith cast out of Eden.”
“I beg your pardon?”
“You don’t know the story of Lilith?”
She shook her head.
“Lilith was the original woman. Made from the earth just as Adam was. But she believed she was the equal of him, and refused to submit to his will. So God cast her out into hell and made Eve to take her place. Only Eve led Adam to temptation and exile, didn’t she? And Lilith continued tormenting God and man for eternity in punishment for what they had done to her.”
“What are you saying?”
He leaned forward. “Just because you’re down, doesn’t mean you’re out, pet.”
The thought about the torment, the degradation, the subjugation she had endured since her death, all the misery and humiliation she had suffered. And suddenly everything that made her Lilah Morgan rose up within her.
She glanced about surreptitiously, then leaned close to his ear. “You were supposed to get that trinket. Not Angel, not the Slayer. Find out why, and you’ll have some real power over Them.” She emphasized the word without naming names.
He looked up at her in surprise. “Thank you.”
She turned away with a wave. “See you around, Blondie.”
She found herself whistling as she moved through the corridor, giggling when she realized she had Spiked the big brass . . .
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