Something Brighter
by Jennifer-Oksana

"Tonight I want to make it real
Close my eyes, feel it ride up my spine
Radiate out my limbs into air
Make it electric
I've got to know I'm still alive"
--Pretty Girls Make Graves

She comes to see you in late May, when the grass has gone from green to yellow-brown in boiling-hot Stockton, and she looks more and less together than she did back when she spent the entire limo ride running her hand up and down the side of your leg until you couldn't take it anymore and jumped into her lap, the other guy watching be damned.

"What the hell?" you ask her directly, watching the way she swallows. "You're not my lawyer, unless you've suddenly ditched Wolfram and Hart for the State of California and I don't think they could pay your cell phone bill, let alone anything else."

Feline grin, raised eyebrow, a piece of paper slammed against the safety glass. "One day furlough," she says dryly. "You coming or not?"

And you know you shouldn't, that the lawyer bitch is not to be trusted and that Angel would be pissed off to know that you were even considering it, but there are days when you think being stuck here forever is going to make you crazy, and one day outside of the pen might take that taste out of your mouth.

It's probably going to be promptly replaced with hers, but what the hell. Nothing worth fucking around here since Libby got transferred two months ago.

"Shit yeah, I'm coming," you tell her, patiently waiting for the guard to let you out.

This limo is nicer than the last one; clearly, the bitch has moved up in the world. "What happened to what's-his-face, Southern boy?" you ask, because as far as you saw it, pretty boy was the one obstacle between her and world domination. Well, him and Angel, but the difference is Angel's going to win.

"He got a soul and took off," she says bitterly, and you know now that all that fucking one-upmanship was because they wanted to bang each other but didn't, kind of sort of the way you and B...but you're not going down that shame spiral again, the psychologist says it's better that way. "He's off fucking cows somewhere, for all I know."

"You got foul-mouthed since I saw you last, Miss Thing," you inform her. "I guess being the boss will make a girl crazy like that. Or maybe it's that unresolved conflict within you about earning fuckloads of money for doing pure evil. Double lives do that."

She flinches and you smirk, cuz score one for you, but this being the bitch from hell and Los Angeles, she's got the K.O. punch up her designer sleeve.

"You're out because Buffy's dead," Lilah says flatly. "The Watchers are too busy deciding whether to spring you to get here first, but you're not out because the world needs your company, Faith. Buffy Summers is dead and now you're the one girl in all the world. And because of this, I'm authorized to make you an offer."

You close your eyes and swallow, because nothing has ever hurt like this, not even the moment when you felt that knife in your gut, not even waking up and finding out the Mayor was dead. Nothing would make you happier than to fasten your hands around the bitch's satin-smooth throat and choke the smugness out of her, but it wouldn't bring Buffy back. It wouldn't do anything but leave you with a corpse sitting next to you in a limo that would then deliver you to a bunch of pipe-wielding motherfuckers with machine guns to die next to the corpse.

But you're not going to let her think she can get away with this authorized bullshit, so you lean forward and grab her by the shoulders to see if she jumps.

"Tell your offer to go fuck itself," you growl, squeezing hard. She doesn't flinch this time. Apparently lawyer bitch met something scarier than an empty threat this year and lived to tell the tale. "Did you really think I'd go for it?"

"On the record, I think all offers are worth making," Lilah says slowly, not taking her eyes off you. "If you're asking what I really think?"

"You're the one in this car, aren't you?"

"I think all offers are worth making, even the ones that are going to be turned down flat," she replies, this look coming into her eyes, and you're reminded that yes, you did and do want to fuck this woman senseless, even with the huge hate-on you have for her. "People often reconsider over dinner and drinks. Or while they're sleeping in the nicest hotel room in San Francisco with a view. What I've discovered in my line of work is that people like being persuaded. It makes them feel wanted."

You know she doesn't think for a minute you'll agree to be Wolfram and Hart's pet Slayer. If she does, she's in for a rude fucking awakening tomorrow morning, but that doesn't bug you. It's her money. Or maybe it's Wolfram and Hart's money, either way. After the news you just got about B, if you don't get fucked up on booze, red meat, and lawyer pussy, you're gonna freak out and start taking out anything that moves and nobody, not you, not Angel, not even Wolfram and Hart, really wants that.

"Does that mean you want me, Lilah?" you ask, pretending to be coy. To be like her, all heavily-lidded gazes and innuendo and that dressed-up shit that doesn't mean anything. "I need to feel wanted, what with Buffy being gone and all."

She runs her thumb over your lips, pressing hard and you realize that you're practically on your knees in front of her, hands gripping her thighs instead of her arms now. And you do want her to want you, you want her to be devious and wicked and using Wolfram and Hart to get a chance to actually fuck you, not because she's just the corporate whore, sent out to seal deals and loosen lips. You don't need her to love you, not the way you needed Buffy to love you, but you want her to be there because of the wanting of you.

"I want what's best for my firm," she says, smiling like a fantastic plastic machine and you want to smash her, turn her into shards that you can drive through the hearts of the entire world, tear her into pieces, obliterate her. "So I want you if Wolfram and Hart does."

You imagine that there are going to be bruises on her thighs in the shape of your fingers, you grip the flesh so hard. But Lilah doesn't shy away. Instead she kind of flows toward you, cupping a breast, moving as close as she can to you while your heart pounds with rage.

"Off the record, the car is bugged," she whispers into your ear, her breath red hot against your earlobe. "And I think offering you a job at Wolfram and Hart is a waste of time. I'm here because I want to make you find God because you've never come so hard -- and this way, I can make the assholes in Corporate pay for it. That what you wanted to hear?"

You tumble into her lap, kissing her as hard as you can and it's not until after you're back in Stockton that you realize you were crying, and that the bitch, in what must have been one of her all-time most human moments, was letting you do it without saying a word.

All you know is that B is dead and you're alone, alone in a way that you've never known you could be alone and you loved her and she didn't know and you fucked her boyfriend because you loved her and you hated her and you're going to fuck this crazy bitch because you loved her, and she's going to let you because it suits her, maybe, or maybe for another reason. Crazy bitches are often deeper than they let on; after all, she hasn't lost her nerve yet, not even with all the blood on her hands.

"Fuck me, fuck me, fuck me, fuck me," you cry, rocking against her Armani suit harder and harder. You're not sure it's any different than when you were begging to die in the alley. You're not sure she cares, not from that predatory gleam, not from the way she bites down on your shoulder. Not sure you care, either. Sex isn't death, but it's close. It's something bigger, something brighter, and you have to just hold on, because if you don't...

if you don't...

You'll be lost. Even if you don't die, you'll be lost. You have to hang on, because you promised. Because life is sweet and you want to fuck her in the hotel room and eat filet mignon and drink rum and coke and someday tell Angel about the day you heard Buffy was dead, how you almost gave up but didn't.

And that makes it worth holding on. It does.


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