Five Cities, Five Stories: Lilah
by Jennifer-Oksana

I. Raleigh-Durham

"I think you'll find the contract extremely lucrative," Manners told the twenty-three-year-old girl, looking her up and down like she was a piece of meat. Del wasn't quite sure she liked the way he kept doing that, even though she knew he was harmless. They always were. Helmholz in her second year had been giving her the eye all year and when she'd called him on it, she'd damn near brought his tenure to an end. Helmholz. The most popular fucking professor in school. All because she had guts.

Delilah Marie Morgan had guts. Delilah Marie did not put up with shit from anyone, and especially not slightly creepy guys offering contracts that looked like the answer to prayers, but which were actually a world of nightmares waiting to happen.

"I've seen your contract, Mr. Manners," Del said sweetly. Del was always sweet. It was a family trait. Mom--the daughter of six generations of Alabama belles--had been the nicest, politest person on the planet until she'd gotten sick--and that wasn't good to think about. So Del didn't.

Del's roommate, a seventh-year ABD in history studying Greenblatt on some damn thing or other, was always so impressed at how Del managed to tell the world to go to hell with a smile.

"Self-confidence is definitely not your flaw," Nancy had said while they were both working in the sunny, if slightly small, living room of their apartment.

"Modesty, either," Del replied, looking through the law review articles for Mortensen's special issue about Critical Legal Theory. "Sometimes I want to throw these articles against a wall."

"Deconstruction comes to us all, dear," Nancy said pithily. "Much like death, taxes, and that cold that's going around."

"I know you have, Miss Morgan," Holland Manners said. "What do you think of it?"

Del wanted to take this job. She wanted to take it so badly she could taste it. It was on the West Coast, away from Raleigh-Durham and North Carolina, away from her early days as a mallrat suburban kid from Ohio with no class. Los Angeles was ten thousand times better than her best offer so far--in DC, sure, but the pay was shit and DC's housing market sucked major ass. Her student loans were going to eat her alive, and her mother was doing worse and worse with the dementia. If she took this job with Wolfram and Hart, there would never be any need to worry again. Besides which, 'Special Projects' had an interesting sound to it.

But. There were too many ambiguous clauses, things about immortal souls, true names, inner sanctums, and weird John Grisham-esque shit that gave Del pause. She hadn't slept for two days, thinking about it. Money, power, Los Angeles, that was great. Souls, secrecy, and the vibe? Not so great.

What job was worth her soul? Sure, she was a woman in a man's world. Sure, she wanted to be Queen of the Fucking Universe like everyone else--hell, if Del was being honest, she'd have to admit that she wanted it more than most people. She was really fucking sick and tired of being poor. And sure, she wanted Mom in the right home. But this wasn't the job for her. There were other options, maybe not so pretty, but Del wasn't going to screw up her life just for pretty.

So goddamn much money, though, going right down the drain...the Houston job with that one company--what was it, Enron?--she prayed that would be better. Because if not, she'd be kicking herself about this for years to come.

"I'm really sorry, Mr. Manners," Del said with her best insincere smile. "I don't think this job's for me..."


II. Indianapolis

"You're my favorite doll of all the dollies," Drusilla coos to her baby girl, bound and dressed in lace and ribbons and bows and ruffles. "Aren't you pretty? Don't you like the ribbon in your hair?"

"It's sweet," Lilah says with bracing faux cheer. She can't see the ribbon in her hair. She can't see herself in the mirror. All she can see is the room behind them, dustier than the last one.

No wonder Darla was pissed about getting re-vamped. What the hell is the use of being gorgeous if all you can see if empty air?

Dru's lip trembled. "You don't like it," she accuses, her tone already histrionic. "You think it's ugly. You think I'm ugly, your mummy's an ugly thing!"

"Drusilla," Lilah pleads, holding up her velvet-bound hands. If she's not careful, Dru will really lose it, lose it like that time in Las Vegas, and no one wants a repeat of that fiasco. "I don't think it's ugly. I can't see it. Remember? I can't see myself in the mirror."

"Oh," Drusilla says as the thought registers. "Yeah."

Drusilla's hands drift over Lilah's skin, and Lilah wishes the other woman weren't so goddamn cold. She's starting to miss the banal feel of a nice warm human hand against her already-hard nipple.

At least she can't see this, the humiliation that ruins all of the fun Lilah has as a vampire. For instance, she'd mentioned to Drusilla that her stepfather, Harold, was kind of an asshole. Drusilla had immediately arranged for a field trip here to Indianapolis so that they could kill him dead. A couple of times.

That had been very enjoyable, to say the least. Harold had cried when Dru sunk those beautiful sharp teeth into his neck (big alligator tears), and begged Lilah to think of her little stepsisters and stepbrothers.

And in fact, Lilah had. She'd very sadly called all of them to say Harold had died of a heart attack and then replayed herself the wine cellar massacre, but with relatives and step-relatives and lots of Jack Daniels. She'd learned a few things in the process. For instance:

Fear tasted sweet. Fear and hatred when mingled with a vague incestuous knowledge that this was revenge--that was better than sex or chocolate.

"Spike left me," Drusilla whispers, her hand sliding down Lilah's waist and heading for the hip. "He left me for the Slayer. Naughty Spike."

Naughty Spike was now a pile of dust in Sunnydale, two months back. Lilah was tired of hearing about him, but if she said so, Drusilla got rather offended. And when Dru got offended, Lilah got gagged.

Which was no good at all.

"But you'll never leave me, right?"

Lilah stares into the mirror, trapped and bound with all of Dru's ribbons and bows. She has no guarantee that tomorrow, Drusilla won't forget to untie her and leave her in here until the end of the world.

"No, of course not."

"Mummy. Say mummy. Or mummy will have to punish her baby."

Lilah sighs. Darla had the right of it, getting out fast.



III. New Orleans

"I think this is the way I want to die," Lindsey laughs as Lilah orders them another round of beignets and cafe au lait. It is September in New Orleans; it is Southern Decadence. The air is wet and alive, and it's wrapped around Lilah like Lindsey will be in their hotel room. "Fat and happy and back in the South where I belong."

"New Orleans isn't the South," she says, giving up on her pants. Why does she always wear black pants out at night? They're speckled with powdered sugar dust and she's vaguely annoyed about that. Not annoyed enough to stop eating beignets. "This is paradise. Another world."

She is wearing a slightly damp wifebeater and a pair of black mens' pants that she shoplifted somewhere in Houston. He cut her hair into a butch little bob somewhere in Georgia. She gave him the outrageous blond highlights in Biloxi. He stole the lipstick for her from the Saks at Canal Place yesterday because he knew it was the one she liked.

They're a pair, the two of them.

"There's only one world," Lindsey replies, looking at her with a grin on his face. "This one. It's the only one that matters."

The money is running out. The old Lilah, the one who kept tabs on everyone, she would have cared. The new Lilah, the one wearing suspenders and wondering why the goddamn tourists keep staring at her, she cares. But not as much. If the money runs out, they'll get day jobs. Whatever it takes to keep going, to keep wandering.

"That's what you keep saying," she says fondly, thinking maybe that they can pick themselves up a little friend tonight. It's in the air, the way it's licking come-ons down Lilah's back. Each pretty boy that walks by, every girl in her feather boa and wobbly smile, they seem like prey.

And she feels like a predator, watching casually from her slightly sticky chair as they pass by.

"Because it's true," Lindsey says, grabbing her hand. "We've only got this life, you know. We need to make it worth the time we don't have."

Her gaze turns from the parade of innocents to the biggest innocent of them all. They think they're going to head West next, up to Winter Park and Denver and ski country. Lilah's going to grow her hair out and Lindsey's going to shave his head. It'll throw off anyone who's following them, if anyone cared enough to follow.

And after ski jumps and cold weather and Aspen bigwigs? Who knows. Lindsey secretly wants to go to Big Sky Country, Wyoming and Montana, and breed cattle and be a cowboy, but Lilah knows better. Okie dumbass. What does he know about growing up there? She knows all about it, and she's not going back to Wyoming. Not ever.

And what's so wrong with here and now, anyway?

She leans over and kisses him, lingering over his mouth and the sticky-sweet taste of powdered sugar that nearly overpowers the experience.

"Who cares about time?" Lilah asks, looking out at Decatur Street and surrendering to the pregnant air, with its blandishments and languor. "Tonight's all the time we need."


IV. Los Angeles

Apparently, whatever she is, she's not entirely a little girl.

"You want to live? Suck him off."

Fucking white room. Lilah knew it was coming, should have seen it a mile away, but that's neither here nor there. She drops to her knees without a word. Not an, "excuse me?" not a "what?" and not a sigh of protest escapes her lips. It's funny how much she's learned to stifle at Wolfram and Hart.

"I don't want her to touch me," Angel growls. Her eyes flick up at him. Liar. They both want it, or have at one time or another. His body is rigid; her body is fluid, in supplication, unashamedly abject. The air around them is electric with the shared, unspoken knowledge of previous mutual desire.

"I didn't ask you," the little girl replies. "Don't get into the habit of thinking just because they respect you, that I care. Besides, you're already hard."

He is at that. Men. Even of the souled, undead variety. Lilah pulls off his belt and undoes his pants contemptuously, her pretty red fingernails barely fumbling with this latest humiliation. Denigration. Violation?

"She's such a good girl," the not-a-little-girl notes clinically. "Don't you have anything to say for yourself, Lilah?"

Does she? She looks up at Angel, who has his eyes closed. He's possibly even thinking of England. Asshole.

"I really can't think of anything," Lilah says, trying to feel less disturbed about the whole situation. It is not the first nor will it be the last time she has had to seduce and destroy. But she's never been asked to do this. Fuck or die. Well, technically, suck or die, but close enough.

"Are you sure?" comes the retort. Lilah, who is resentfully easing down those boxer shorts, knows there's no good answer to that. Angel is as stiff as a statue. On more than one count. "I could change my mind, you know, if I felt like it. What if I get bored? Mortal copulation is so...banal. It's only the nasty feelings that make it interesting."

"I don't want to die," Lilah breathes, still on her knees, her hand fumbling around Angel's semi-hard cock like a teenage girl's. "I really don't wanna die."

Angel laughs, a brief, curt laugh that doesn't bring joy or comfort to her heart. In fact, it only confirms what Lilah's always known. Angel is a creepy bastard who gets his kicks from below the waistline, sunshine. Until he bit her, it was even a turn-on, but now? Not so much.

"Ooh," the little girl says, and Lilah imagines she's clapping her hands in delight. "Now you've got it."

Lilah swallows hard and wets her lips. Angel's got a grin on his face that makes him look like a shark, and she knows he's going to enjoy this far too much, the hypocritical bastard. Yeah, now she's got it.

She does indeed.


V. Las Vegas

Sunshine's streaming through the window; beautiful, beautiful sunshine, even though it's winter-pale and delicate in the desert air. February is a lousy time of year to go to Vegas, but she's out of town. If it weren't for all the destiny stuff waiting back in LA, she'd never go back.

"You're sure?" she asks the doctor.

"Yes, I'm sure," the doctor says. "You're pregnant."

Lilah stares up at ceiling, exposed to the world and pretending that she's somewhere better. New York. Paris. Tokyo. Wolfram and Hart's Japanese clients loved her. Lilah could do very well in Tokyo, if she could get out of this clusterfuck.

"How far along?" Her voice sounds like a stranger's. There's a dull ache behind her eyes that reminds her that she can't go home and get drunk to forget. She's not even sure there's a home to go to.

"Six weeks." The doctor's not comfortable. He knows this isn't a planned pregnancy, but he can't know just how unplanned and unpleasant it is. Six weeks. That puts conception during the day that the Beast rose. Fabulous. What a wonderful thing to explain to Wesley or Lilah Junior.

"Mommy and Daddy were having a pissing contest because Mommy was jealous and Daddy was a tool--and so Mommy dressed up like Weekday Mommy--and then Daddy decided he couldn't wait long enough to use a condom, and Mommy was so upset about the rain of fire that she forgot emergency contraception."

That's assuming Wesley or Lilah Junior is an option. It's not an option, though there's something perversely appealing about keeping it. Fuck the world, right? And that's good, isn't it, grand, isn't it, great, isn't it, swell?

"Miss Morgan?" the doctor says, stopping her brain before Lilah breaks into mental song.

"I'm sorry. Give me a minute to get dressed," she says, waking up to the reality of the situation. She can't be pregnant. Well, she can and she is, but she's not going to stay that way. Lilah's not cursed with much in the way of scruples, but she knows she'd never stick anyone with the destiny thing. Especially not her own baby. Spawn. Kid.

"Do you need me to call someone to take you home?" the doctor's asking her, and she's still not out of the goddamn stirrups or dressed. She can't make her body move. Her hand's on her stomach, and it's flat. Flat the way only a personal trainer and athletic sex can make a stomach. The cell cluster invading her body hasn't even broken the skin yet.

"I can do it," she says. "I need--look, give me a few minutes?"

The doctor nods, leaves, and Lilah stares up at the ceiling for another minute. Then she pulls herself together enough to put on her clothes and find her cell. Goddamn cell phones. When is she not on the cell? She'll die of brain cancer someday. At her daughter's tenth birthday party. At her son's high school graduation. At her fiftieth wedding anniversary party, drooling into a paper cup. She'll fall over and it will be terribly sad.

A cell phone will kill Lilah Morgan, and there will be mourners at her funeral.

Lilah stares at the phone in her palm, unobtrusively waiting to be used. She's going to die from the cell phone, but before she does, she has to get rid of the baby, got to get rid of her identity, find a new place to go, a new person to be.

Lilah stares at her phone dully, the other hand on her stomach. God. There's no one she can call who will answer.


Silverlake: Authors / Mediums / Titles / Links / List / About / Plain Style / Fancy Style