by zara hemla

He was back now, back from the dark, watery days when she thought he might just stay as fantasy. That he might end up living in the green-black after all, in spite of all the prophecies, in spite of his own miraculous nature.

It hadn't mattered, that summer, whom she did. Wesley was a side trip, a cultivation: a fallow field, harvestable. It hadn't mattered, because what she really wanted was in a box that couldn't be opened.

Then he came back, pale-faced and shuttered, and she followed him from afar, watched as he watched Conor. She planned what she'd do when he caught her. She practiced what to say.

Some days she didn't think about him at all, but those days were few and very far between. Days when she didn't dress as if he were going to show up in her office. When she didn't imagine conversations with him, conversations where they bumped into each other on a rooftop, where he saw her in line at the store, where he pled for help on his pretty knees.

"If you knew," she'd say to him. "If you knew, it would tear you in half." Whatever it was he was supposed to know, whatever the big plan was supposed to be, she left vague in her daydreams. It didn't matter, as long as he begged.

And he'd say, "What can I do to change your mind?" He'd look up at her as if she were the only chocolate left in the box, as if she were vanilla cream, and he'd begin to rise, sliding upwards toward her, hands ready for her hair, for her waist.

Daydreaming, she sagged deeper into her chair. If it weren't for the cameras. . . . But there weren't cameras at home -- at least, not any that she'd found. She'd had a professional or two come by, and they couldn't find anything either. Still, she suspected, and so she kept her daydreams for the office, or for the darkest of night, when cameras too were blind. They'd kiss, and she'd have him in thrall, he'd be ready to do anything for her, because she had saved him from something, something he could never repay her for.


She started up, half standing.

"Don't you ever knock, you fuckin chink?"

"Fuckin Jap, actually," said Gavin Park, and his face creased ever so slightly. "I wish I had an evil hand -- I'd slap it across your mouth until you bled through your teeth. Boss."

"Why don't you do it now?" she asked lightly. She stood, half a head taller than him in her heels, and tipped her head to the side. "Isn't your hand evil enough now?"

Their eyes locked for a moment, then he muttered something under his breath that sounded like a slur on her parentage, and slapped a folder down on her desk. Well, tit for tat. She ignored the slur.

"What's that?" She gave up the height advantage by slouching back into her chair. Linwood had really had taste in office furniture, and now that he had no head, well, he didn't need the leather headrest on the leather chair with the massage function. Oooh.

Gavin gave her a narrow-eyed look (well, could he give any other kind?). "The new report on the Chase woman -- which dimension she's in, what haircut she has now, how bored she is. Just for you. Boss."

Poor Gavin. He wasn't a bad fellow. Just way outclassed, and how she hated having her fantasies interrupted. Those sorts of things could be rebuilt -- she'd done it many times -- but they were never the same.

She was about to wave him out, but the phone rang. She answered it on speakerphone, because it was Wesley, and she loved to annoy Gavin with him. "Hold on, Gavin. Hello?"

"Hello." He had a voice like yesterday's sandpaper, and sometimes it made her cringe just to hear it. "I've been thinking about you."

Over Gavin's moue of displeasure, she sighed languidly. "You don't have anything else to do but think about me." Then she giggled lightly, calculatedly. "What am I wearing when you do?"

Wesley began to tell her, in great detail (or lack thereof), and while he did, she flipped through the Chase folder, making sure Gavin had dotted all his Is and crossed his Ts. As Wesley got down to describing a silver toenail polish, she rolled her eyes and waved Gavin out of the room.

Wesley asked her to remove some articles of her clothing, and she pretended to do it, all the while giggling and moaning into the telephone. Truly, she would be extremely happy when he was wooed into the fold and she could be done with his tortured spirit and his poncey British affectations. How long had the man been in LA? Five years or something? And he was still talking like he'd just stepped out of Westminster Fucking Abbey? What a joke.

It honestly wasn't that long until the reason he had called was . . . well, finished, and he hung up with a breathy sigh and a statement about how she was the best, the best.

"Yeah," she said to the dead telephone, "only because you haven't gotten any in a couple years, and what you wanted it with before was nothing but a stick figure in clothes."

What fools these mortals be, she thought smugly. First Linwood, who'd underestimated her big time, and Gavin, who'd switched from belligerence to toadying as soon as he'd seen which way the wind blew, and Wesley, who thought he was more than a good set of homework problems.

She leaned back in that glorious, glorious chair. So should I work? she asked herself. Please. The office had a minibar, she had a most excellent chair and a view of LA that could only be beaten by the offices of Aaron Spelling. Her desk had so much legroom underneath. Ooh. Angel, trapped in the kneehole of her desk, asking her in a voice rough with lust whether he could. Whether he oughtn't to. That he must.

She leaned back, the folder on her desk completely forgotten. Who cared about stupid Cordelia Higher Being Chase? If she could align herself just right on the massager, she'd end up as a higher being without any divine intervention.

He walks through the door in his black leather jacket, unsmiling, carrying a really big sword. He says that she's in danger, but that he had to warn her, that he can't forget about her, can't let her die when they could run off together. To a tropical island . . . no, to a hideaway in Malibu.

And then they're in his black sex machine of a car, and he turns to hear and he says he absolutely cannot wait another moment and he pulls the car off the road and they climb into the backseat and oh. He is nothing like Wesley, who is unshaven and always smells of something. He is smooth and his hands have two hundred plus years of experience.

Screw the cameras. She's the boss now. She can take, and take, and take.


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