Your Tongue Like The Sun In My Mouth
by Lar

I have a lot of time on my hands lately. Funny how once you've trained your mind to work at full speed, you just can't turn it off again. Maybe that's just me, but spending years running at full alert for eighteen hours a day isn't something I've been able to stop. Oh, I tried. I gave it my best shot, tried to drown it in beer and scotch and then just plain old tequila, which by all rights should have left me blind or dead.

Funny how that shit never happens when you need it to.

Not that being dead is going to solve any problems. I suppose it might, but frankly Lilah doesn't look any happier than she ever did when she was alive. Part of that might be the fucking scarves she's gotta wear now to cover up that sweet lover's reminder Wes left her with. I wonder if he knew about the perpetuity clause, if he'd have found a neater way of keeping her from turning. Too late now, for him and for her and for me. We're all wrapped up in red tape and spilled blood.

I keep thinking about Darla. Which isn't any big surprise for anyone, and I get that more than most people do. Self awareness wasn't exactly one of my more stellar points but I'm not stupid. I loved her. I was obsessed with her. Those things are not mutually exclusive. So I met a woman from another time who was fragile and shattered and ancient and needy all at once. She looked at me and I thought she saw a champion. What she saw was a lapdog, I know that now. Even when she went to Angel and he turned her out, she came back to me and let me believe one last time that I was there to take care of her. She sent me out to wreak a little vengeance knowing that I didn't stand a chance of killing him, and that she'd be gone before I got back.

So yeah, I keep thinking about her, all the time. And when it's not her, it's him. Lilah likes to point out that I seem to have the vampire thing working on overdrive. She's not wrong. Darla took me in with her fraility, Angel took me in with that arrogance of his. In the end, she was stronger, he was weaker and it was his bed and not hers where I found out what it's like to touch skin that's never going to be warm. Unless it's right after a feed, and only then for an hour or so. It burns up fast, that heat. I kissed Darla in my office, kissed her just once and her tongue in my mouth was warm and sweet. Her body was the same in my arms. Warm, and soft, and she had her hands tight on my reins even then.

Darla might have known about Angel and me, I was never sure even when she told me. When he came to me all those times after he took my hand, she was still human and crazier than a bedbug. She couldn't smell him on my skin then, and if she could have, she might not have given a damn anyway. She was all caught up in dying, only I didn't know it until the doctors all said it was too late to do anything. I worked at Wolfram and Hart too long to believe that there wasn't something that could be done, but time after time it all came back to the same thing -- you want to save her, you need to kill her. Simple enough really, and I was so far gone that I never thought that she might get reflective and decide there was some reward to be had in dying for real this time around. I was greedy, but I thought it was as much for her as it was for me. It didn't take a hell of a lot of rationalization to bring it all back to believing that alive in any form is better than dead. She lived for 400 years as a vampire; I thought she'd have the knack of it down. Like I said, I wasn't thinking so clear.

She said that I wanted to screw him, not her. She was right about that. And wrong about it, too. She thought it was just about using her to get Angel, and strictly speaking I was already screwing him. Being screwed if you want to be precise. Face down in his bed a dozen or so times, maybe ten more up against a wall in some alley. Down in the parking garage at work. A few times in my apartment once he'd been invited in and I never bothered to revoke the invitation. There's this thing about addictions. You fall into them easier and easier every time.

I dream about them both, when I manage to sleep. She comes to me, she always comes to me in the desert. Last time we were driving through it with a full moonrise so bright it made my eyes hurt and it turned her to a ghost in blue and gray-white lines. She told me in that I was never going to be free of things and her voice sent shivers up my spine like she'd taken an icicle and ripped it down my back. She's always pale in those dreams, always cool. Sometimes she asks me to get her warm again and when I try to hold her she just flies apart, like snow flurries. Or ashes.

Lilah told me how Darla died. She gave me every detail, arms crossed and fingers fussing with that damn scarf around her neck, the cool smirk on her face letting me know that she was enjoying every second of it. I don't know if she expected me to have some kind of breakdown, but I didn't give her what she was looking for. She got into her limo and drove off with an arched eyebrow and a reminder that she and I were going to be partners for a lot longer than either of us really wanted. I told her we passed that point a hell of a long time back as far as I was concerned. And when the limo was gone, I bought myself a bottle and crawled inside it and tried to remember that there wasn't anything between Darla and me to mourn.

I keep hoping the next time Lilah shows up, she's going to tell me that Angel's dead. Maybe that's why I keep dreaming him when what I want to do is forget. I hated him, but I hated myself more for not being able to walk away from all of that. I look back and see that I was a game for him; he was happy to have me under him knowing that when it was done I'd shower to get him off my skin like it would make me forget that he'd always made it too fucking good to be able to say no the next time. I was young in lots of ways then.

In my dreams there's always Angel walking past mirrors that reflect my face instead of his. It's always dark, and it's always hot, and if Darla's snow and light, then Angel's fire. I always tell him to go to Hell at some point in those dreams. Sometimes it's right in the beginning and he grins at me and shakes his head and strolls past those damn mirrors so I can see myself reflected back a hundred times over. Mostly it's the end, after we've fucked or gotten as close to it as we can, and he'll push too hard and I'll tell him. He grins then, too and says he's already there, and his teeth area already buried in my neck when I wake up sweating. Those are the nights I don't go back to sleep.

It's been a year since I left LA. It's been six months since I spotted a field agent following me. It's been three days since Lilah was here, and I expect her and that limo to show up any time now. This time she's going to ask me to come back with her, and this time I might say yes. There's always the chance that if I go back there on my own the dreams might slow down. If I take the job she's offering me direct from the Senior Partners, I might actually find a way to screw over that contract that she wasn't clever enough to get out of. And if I'm really lucky this time around, when Angel sinks his teeth into my neck, I won't wake up.


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