Movement In Midsummer, Key Of Thoughtlessness
by Jennifer-Oksana

He knows things have gotten serious and dangerous when he decides, on the spur of the moment, to drop by Lilah's flat after an evening spent fruitlessly searching for Angel's watery grave. Wesley calls the evening a bust after an hour, the shortest time yet, and Justine can clearly see through his protests. She's been witness to enough evenings that were supposed to be spent working, heard enough screams and moans and the laughter during a game of chase where everyone involved won that she knows where Wesley goes when he's not all duty and business.

Justine's smirk when she emerges from the shower and allows herself to be cuffed and gagged says everything. Wesley is weak, venal, and carnal; Wesley is addicted to the pleasures of Lilah's bed and body. He ignores her, particularly ignoring the posture that begs him to slap her. More fodder for their next conversation, that's all, that Wes is so depraved he'd hit a defenseless woman rather than admit he's infatuated with a wicked one.

The closet door is quickly closed and locked, and Wesley falls against the bed, tired out by the evening's unexpected exertions. It is only ten-forty. Only ten-forty, and Justine practically chuckles in his ear at his rationalizations.

"Done your duty and earned your reward, hey, boss?"

But what would Justine say if Wesley suggested she ought to be his reward?

The idea is enough to make him chuckle at caring a whit for Justine's opinion, and before he realizes it, he's stripped and headed for his own shower, washing away the sea, the sins, and the grease of an evening's labor, thinking of the right line to start in a strong position on this offensive.

He fails utterly when Lilah answers the door in a green kimono, hair held up by two pencils in a bun, and a pen tucked behind her ear. How can she be so beautiful with all that tar and muck dripping from her soul? Why does he keep finding himself in these situations that no angel could navigate cleanly, let alone himself?

"Keeping busy?" he manages to rally, but he knows she's got him, how he's wondering if there's anything on under the kimono, what she's up to, why he hasn't started with that exposed neck and worked his way down.

"No rest for the wicked," she replies, waving him in. "I thought you had another engagement for the evening."

"I did," he says, feeling foolish. "I've interrupted you. I'll leave."

Lilah raises an eyebrow. "Lover," she says quizzically. "Why the concern? Give me ten minutes. You can, I don't know, try the TV. There's probably something drinkable in the kitchen. If you get scotch, I want one, too. On the rocks."

"Barbarian woman," Wesley says, feeling uneasy.

"Yeah, yeah, tell me again," she says, returning to her kitchen table, which is covered in charts and scribbles and undoubtedly, evil plans. For a moment, Wesley thinks of catching a glimpse, but all he can see is the way a stray hair tumbles down to the deep green of the kimono (he believes it's actually a haori, though he's not sure) against pale skin.

"You really aren't upset, are you?" Wes asks, poking around for two glasses and the Johnny Walker.

"Is there something wrong, Mr. Pryce?" Lilah asks. "You've spoken about my time as though it matters twice now."

Something wrong. Everything is wrong, including a sudden, longing want that catches Wesley in the chest. He can see how easily it can be normal. He brings her a scotch, kneads tense shoulders until her eyes half-close, and the lazy, feline smile spreads across her lips.

"Mmm," she'd purr. "Talented fingers, Wes."

It could be so easy to fall away. To throw Justine to Fred and Gunn and damn them all for hypocrites and fools. To suggest the opera, the ballet, walks down Third Street Promenade. He does not need to live this way, furtive late-night gropes, brutal fucks against kitchen floors and bathroom walls, traced bruises on those rare mornings they awake in the same bed over shared rueful smiles.

He cannot breathe. How does she bring this out of him? With Fred, it had been almost similar, but not quite this easy. He got so nervous imagining explaining to her parents, of introducing Fred to his parents, to what Gunn, to what Angel might say. Wesley's dream life with Fred was always one tinged with anxiety that he might ruin it. Worse, the knowledge that he would inevitably ruin it with his unworthiness.

Wesley's dream life with Lilah is cursed with simplicity. He is not the only one close to a fall. They are so close to a true indiscretion, a word of kindness, a shared glance, and all those defensive walls will come a-tumbling down like the walls of Jericho.

"Wes," Lilah says, suddenly inches from him, a wry grin curling her mouth. "Looks like you need to be woken up."

She unfastens his trousers deftly, dropping to her knees, a hand around his cock before he can think to say anything. His right hand grips the counter, and it seems all so absurd, really. A fall? With Lilah? Their simplicity is in that it is sex and boredom driving them toward the most banal and boring of sins.

He tears the pencils from her hair and wraps both hands into the resulting mess. Wesley does not think of sore knees, nor of the perfection of the image of Lilah, laughing, as he undoes the obi on her kimono or haori or whatever it is, exposed from throat to toes, watching Wesley with knowing eyes as he dips his quill in ink.

"You'll find that this sensitizes the skin," he hears himself say, starting at her collarbone. "I couldn't believe it when I read the incantation. It was in a stuffy old manuscript my father had given me, all herblore and household accounts, and then, right after an account of the man of Wyndam Manor selling cows at double the price he wished, a spell to make a love encounter unforgettable."

"Well, just you and me being here," Lilah teases, holding as still as she can manage as the ink tickles the first character into flesh, "It's already inevitably memorable."

"Shh," Wesley might say. "Have some faith in my esoteric abilities as well as the ones well proven."

"The thing with your tongue isn't esoteric?" as she shivers from the second character swirling from Wesley's quill, the words moving in an intricate curve from collarbone, around the curve of her breast and beneath it, spiraling back toward navel and inevitable, the opposite hip, a set of spirals and curves that mimicked the female form.

He can see this, even while he knows the feel of her tongue on the underside of his cock, swirling about the head, increasing the speed of the rhythm. The base of his spine is starting to feel the familiar pressure, but he cannot shake this almost-extant universe.

Lying atop theirs like a thin film of the possible, visible but never quote touching, the widening of Lilah's pupils when Wesley finishes the final character on her right hip and then kisses it, touching it with his lips and just the tip of his tongue.

"What's this? Struck dumb?" Wesley would taunt with a smile to draw the venom. "One last touch..."

The palm of his hand, an elaborate character looking exactly like the spell he's inscribed on her, the half-gasped, "Wesley..." and he's back to her hard, hot mouth on him, while the lovers splayed on the rug in her living room are shivering and grinning at each other as Lilah rises up, casting off the kimono, kissing him hard enough to knock them onto his back.

"Fuck," Wesley grunts, barely verbal now. He's not looking down, not paying attention to the bloody excellent blow job he's receiving. All of his attention is on that unreal, ghostly encounter between someone who is almost Lilah and practically himself.

"How long does it last?" she asks, resting her head against his chest, wonder tingeing every word, as if she might break the spell if she questions its magic.

"As long as we want it to," he says. "Do you like it?"

"I've never felt anything like this," she says, eyes bright with some fever as she looks up at him. "What happens when we do more?"

"Shall we find out?" Wesley asks, very carefully fitting his mouth against hers for a long, slow kiss, the kind of kiss they used to call deep kissing. But he's coming now, sharp and nasty and brutish, and it dissolves, smoke and mirrors to disguise unpleasant reality.

Like his life. Like this thing between them, and Lilah is rising to her face and getting a glass of water, a hard expression marring her features. Wesley turns away to miss that look of bitterness and anger boiling under her composed face.

This is nothing but a victimless crime.

"Well, you're certainly the epitome of romance, Wes," Lilah says, smirking. "Wander in, get a blow-job, don't even manage to say anything except, I think, fuck. You're so clearly the man I've been dreaming about since Mom got me Barbie's Dream House."

"And every man aspires to a shrill corporate whore who spends her many free evenings plotting murder and other petty crimes," Wes replies absently, knowing that nothing hurts her more than the utter disinterest he can show her. In the absence of love, hatred can be a worthy substitute.

Lilah sweeps away, refastening her hair. "If I'm your whore, you're the john paying for what other men get for free," she says. "Get out. I have an early meeting tomorrow."

He stumbles as he goes, confused and heartsick as he pulls the door closed behind him. What's worse, really? Dreaming of happiness with the wrong woman...or being capable of such casual cruelty because he's afraid of it?


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