I was a taller girl too, once. (regala_electra) wrote,
I was a taller girl too, once.
regala_electra

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Betrayer, Chapter Three, now with shiny commentary!

I want to first thank everyone who responded to my previous post. I very nearly cried. I had a nice talk with my dad, made a kickass dinner (Szechuan Chicken with Cashews), and now am very relaxed, no longer full of anger. It was really good to vent.

And now, I will give commentary of my epic fic, while hoping that I am inspired to finish my A/S story. I really want it done by tomorrow.



Okay, so this is the part where I really start delving into the characters and it's also where I really get into the plot. When I realized, “crap, this is going to be one hell of a story.” I think it’s probably one of my favorite chapters because I began to get a better feel for the characters, especially Lilah. The prologue and the first part are really just the introduction, it’s here that I’m able to really start kicking up the plot and altering the events of “Tomorrow” and the aftermath to fit this extremely twisted version of Wesley’s decisions post-“Forgiving.”

*
Part Two: Bound in a Nutshell - NC 17
*

The chapter title is directly taken from Hamlet, but I had inverted the lines I could be bound in a nutshell and be king of infinite space, were it not that I have bad dreams (paraphrased), and used the first part as the title of the second chapter. But I think the themes of Hamlet do fit into Wesley’s psyche, or at least, our understanding of what’s going on in his head.

It was raining outside and Lilah entered the pub, soaking wet. Her hair, always meticulously styled, was now flat and drenched to her skull. The matching jacket of her costly suit had turned a darker shade of beige due to the water damage. She had the appearance of a drowned rat.

I love this introduction of Lilah. I love playing with the weather, this is the weather that Wesley wanted: rain, misery, a dampness that cannot be rid of. I also liked playing with the images, she’s supposed to come it looking effortlessly beautiful, and she totally doesn’t.

Another image Wesley would amuse himself with after another *pleasant* encounter with his personal Wolfram and Hart babysitter. Lilah was always on his trail, always making sure she had an idea of what he was doing, where he was going. And she couldn't leave it well alone. Wesley wondered if she had gotten up in the ranks at Wolfram and Hart mainly due to her ability to toss nasty one-liners.

Draining the remnants of his whiskey, he said without looking up, "Lilah, how…interesting to see you here."

More alcohol! I’d say it’s time to start a drinking game, but that’s sort of redundant.

"Ah Wesley," she smirked, grabbing some paper napkins to wipe her soaked outfit. It was a futile venture. "What a surprise. You. Drinking. Tell me, does it actually make any of the pain go away?"

Yes, Wesley really needed to focus on the image of her drowning in the rain to sate his rage. Grimacing a bit as he looked at Lilah, skin flushed and wet, no longer perfectly smooth via foundation and other skin care products, but real, he replied, "There'd have to be pain for it to go away."

Again, Lilah’s only reaction is smirking. But I feel that this playoff with these two characters is honest to their personalities. Wesley won’t take her shit and she enjoys getting under his skin.

Bitter laugh. "How noble." Changing topics rather quickly as she pushed some of her sopping locks out of her face, she asked, "Been avoiding your phone messages?"

"No." He didn't need anymore prodding from her about A.I.'s severed bonds with him.

"Really? That's interesting…say, why don't we have a drink? I'll be right back."

Ooh, that means that Lilah has something else up her sleeve. I hoped that people when reading this could sorta tell Lilah has more to talk to Wes about then just following him around, as he thinks.

It had been nearly two days since Buffy Summers had come to him to ask his help. Since there had been no reports of Sunnydale mysteriously disappearing or the world ending, it seems that she had succeeded in stopping her friend. Or killing her.

God, I hated doing the timeline stuff. So pretty much Part One takes place right after Willow freaks out and kills Warren. But at the same time, Tomorrow is just occurring. I think. Gah, this is why I don’t like doing Big Stories, I’m terrible keeping everything concise.

Wesley didn't care enough to find out, either way.

"This round's on me."

A bottle of the best Irish whiskey in the house. Filling his glass, she said, as she lifted hers to her eternally smirking lips, "Cheers."

He said nothing as he downed it. It irritated his throat; his recuperation wasn't going quite as fast as it normally did. The doctor was worried but didn't bother to scold him about his drinking. Even though he had come into the clinic reeking of alcohol. As long as Wesley could pay the bills and the price of medication, it wasn't the doctor's business to care.

Fun story. Well, not fun, but still, a story. I was getting lovely feedback from someone off of the B/A fanfic board I primarily posted on, and she mentioned, that my assestment here was a little off. She explained that a lot of doctors have to deal with patients coming in clearly reeking of alcohol and they wouldn’t really care, not because they *don’t* care, but because it’s something that happens a lot. I wrote back, thanking her for the info, but explained that for Wesley, it was something that stuck to him. I personally still feel it’s an honest character belief, just to show that no one cares if he lives or dies. Plus I liked talking about his pain, and that he’s almost purposely making sure he stays in pain.

"Fred died."

Oh, I rambled an awful lot and kinda took the punch out of this statement, huh? But I rejoice, for at that time, Fred annoyed me to no end.

A blank, empty statement. Only Lilah could fill it full of the hateful glee she possessed.

Silence. Wesley didn't have anything to say. He didn't want to think. To remember.

Large innocent brown eyes surrounded by dark frames. Small little nose and an upturn to her lips. She always looked so happy. So…fragile.

And no one had told him.

She was dead.

Here is me, rubbing the salt into the wound. Again, I choice to use images instead of saying, ‘Wes felt really bad and confused,’ to start cracking into his emotional response. Plus, I felt that the way I describe Lilah *after* the statement’s been made as a pretty damn good assessment of what she would do.

"Angel's disappeared, as well as his seer, Cordelia. Connor tried to leave Los Angeles, but Gunn and Fred managed to intercept him at a private residence. One that you have been to before."

Cordy mention #2. And here’s the new backstory of what happens after the season finale of A:tS.

"Holtz's place." The memories came to him far too easy. A deal made that only ended up damning him to this wretched pub, sitting with a human being that lost whatever essence would've made her human, and a bitter taste in his mouth left over from a wound that would never heal properly swirled around his mind and he couldn't take it anymore. Yes, he knew the place well.

This was a fun paragraph to write, making the memories sort of liquid-like and become intensely analogous to the alcohol and the wound.

"Hmm. Isn't that just so funny? You tried to save Connor by making a deal with Holtz. An idiotic deal, but an attempt nonetheless. And the kid grows up, a kid with powers no one's ever seen before on a human except for the Slayer, of course. The son of Angel…and he kills one of Angel's allies. Pretty brutally too. There was a lot of gore and blood involved. Your other…what can I call him? Friend? 'Gunn,'" she said with a repellent air to the words as though the name was so beneath her, "Barely made it. He's in the hospital. When he wakes up, the doctors will tell him they couldn't save her. I'm sure he'll be all broken up over it. Losing the people you love tends to do that. Cheers."

She tipped her glass to him and finished her whiskey.

Lilah In Power is a tremendous thing to write. She’s just so over the top that she doubles back into a realistic character. I hoped that people could see or imagine her declaring this, making fun of Gunn’s name, and then tipping her glass to Wes. I feel that it’s a powerful image.

He didn't drink. Staring into the amber liquid, he wondered how Gunn would feel. Wesley had never lost anyone he loved. Not really. His mother and father were still alive.

There was no one he'd ever truly loved. He had a couple of old girlfriends, but it never was anything more than an excuse for a warm body in his bed. It was merely a bland companionship: a woman who had similar qualities and would enjoy him endlessly talking about the latest book he had just read in some rare and difficult language or listen to him blather on about his recent accomplishments as a newly trained Watcher.

It wasn't love.

Virginia. Yes that had been something, but she hadn't been someone he'd imagine himself with forever. She wasn't able to accept that someone had to go out there and fight darkness, even if it meant death, because it was the right thing to do. She wouldn't tell him that though. He had to finally admit it; he had to realize that she would never be able to accept him and his duties.

He had to leave her before she left him. And before they got trapped pretending what they had was actually real.

Nothing was real. Especially love.

I wanted to do *something* on Wes’s feelings on love. For romantic love, I honestly feel that he hasn’t had enough experience at this point to really know what it is. So the reason why the death of Fred is so important is that she represents that Potential Love he hasn’t quite experienced yet. Of course we all know his true love is Buffy. I kid, I kid. *g*

(sekrit message to fellow B/Wers: I ain’t kidding.)


He remembered occasional glasses of whatever alcohol he had around, drowning in them, thinking of what he lost after he had broken up with Virginia.

We got it yet? Alcohol. Everyone drinks. Except for Buffy.

He should've lied. Should've closed his eyes to her eyes that no longer had love in them, and allowed the desperate clinging desire she had for him win out instead: a longing to let the lie last a bit longer. She stayed because she wasn't the type to leave. She wasn't the type to admit to herself that she was with someone she would never understand. Why did he have to go out and fight…why did he indeed? She would've left eventually. Lies never last. They fade, as does everything.

As does the life of a young woman that he sent away with stern words. A young woman bearing the weight of the world on her shoulders with a broken, beating heart carrying an erratic rhythm.

Virginia would not understand why Wesley was doing this either.

But Wesley saw the truth. He knew it all along. To be in this war, a part of this mission, one would always be alone. There was nothing but brief moments of comfort, an occasional drunken stupor, and a mindless fling with someone else who had a life of their own that was eating away at their soul.

Damn, I’m proud of this part. The young woman is Buffy, because it is a bit vague, but I like that image of the broken heart, and how Wes is so focused on that. This is Wesley confronting what it means to be in the Good Fight and realizing that it’s just too taxing. What he does with that knowledge is up for you to decide whether it’s right or wrong.

Fred had died. And he…it wasn't *not* caring, but it was something horrifyingly close. He wondered if he would be able to mourn her properly, but for now it was only coldness. A blank gray where he would otherwise be feeling ill and awful. Even in Pylea when he had planned an attack that would kill many men, he still had that reaction, that coil twisting in his stomach, making him feel worse. Making him feel human.

But now…only coldness.

A coldness that he had felt since he translated the damn scroll.

"The father will kill the son."

Important section here. Well, everything in part two is pretty damn important except for later exposition of what’s going on in Sunnydale. But I felt that comparing one of the most powerful (for me) moments of Wesley’s life as presented on the show to his lack of feeling now was an interesting juxtaposition.

He finally spoke. "You have no idea where Angel, one of your most important projects, is?"

"Nope." He'd call her tone cheerful, if he didn't think that someone like her could actually possess the ability to be happy. She'd probably be happy when she was able to dance on Angel's ashes.

And she’d probably be wearing her best pumps when doing said dancing, would have a kick ass outfit on and would go party. Hell, she’d probably arrange a party on Angel’s ashes.

"You certainly sound quite distraught about that."

"Oh, I don't worry. The Senior Partners will use all our resources to find that bastard. And then, they'll scald Linwood for his stunt at the Drive-In."

"I think you mean scold."

"No, I meant scald. When you go against the direct orders that the Senior Partners have set up, you tend to get punished severely. Linwood was annoying them anyway. Not even able to drive Angel crazy. Not even able to get him to kill *you*. Of course, if you died, that would ruin their new plans. Linwood's been…temporarily removed from his position."

"And I'm sure it will soon become permanently."

Okay, I’m again taking from the show and twisting events. I loved that Lilah ended up beheading Linwood, but here, I had no idea what to do, so I decided to just take him completely out of the picture. Plus the scold/scald moment was a fun bit of dialogue to write, it just came out naturally.

"You're catching on quickly for someone who used to play for the other team."

"I was a part of the Watcher's Council. They too ran a tight, merciless ship. At least, whenever they weren't bogged down by their bureaucratic nonsense."

"Temper, Wesley," she warned, incredibly amused by his dark bitterness, "Don't want you to get stuck on the past. And besides, you have a new, sparkling future to look forward to. You've been summoned to the White Room tomorrow."

Not planned, just sort of wrote that. I’m a terrible outliner, I mostly just set myself to write and see what happens. When I sat down to write part five is when I did do some plotting, as well as relying on feedback from others, especially [Bad username: jennem] to help me flesh out the final plot events. But this White Room thing was completely out of the blue for me. I was just writing this part and suddenly I wrote Lilah saying this to Wesley. I’m sure everyone now knows what a complete and utter fraud I am, claiming I knew exactly what I was doing. *Such* a lie.

"Really? Am I supposed to care?"

"Probably not. You didn't even shed a tear over the girl you spent so much time obsessing over."

"I get over things quickly when a person tells me that I ruined everything and it's all my fault." Acid bile rose in his throat and he ignored it. "Besides, why should I care?"

"You're repeating yourself."

"As everyone tends to do."

She had been eyeing his scar for quite a while. He had ignored it. "Justine died too. I'm sure you would've love the honors-"

"I have no taste for revenge."

"Right. Only the whiskey, then? Because I thought joining the people aimed to make your former allies' lives miserable would be a message you were aiming for revenge."

"You misunderstood." Damn them all. He made his choice. And he was going to take it all the way through. Even if he had to sever every human feeling, every pain, every regret he had left. His soul was damned, so why not strip away his humanity as well? It dulled the void.

Is that necessarily a bad reaction, though? No, really, I’m asking. I killed off Justine mostly because well, I didn’t find her an interesting enough character to keep around, although I loved the big reveal in “Deep Down.” Again, I kept Wes’s ‘decision’ vague enough so that readers would just assume it’s his choice to work for Wolfram and Hart.

Made it all so much clearer and easier.

"Do you think they'll bury her here or back home?"

Lilah was god-awful at small talk.

"Possibly home. She did…have parents."

"Right. I wonder if Gunn will allow you to go to the funeral. Or, if you'd actually attend, since you're playing Mr. Bad Ass all of a sudden." Getting up from her seat, clothes still wet and skin still slick, she flashed her always-annoying grin, "Been nice chatting with you."

"Oh, there was something I wanted to go over with you," he said, finally removing himself from the seat he had inhabited since sunset.

Confusion mixed with some sort of twisted satisfaction. "Yes?"

"I wanted to tell you…to shut the hell up."

Nasty frown but just before she said anything, he grabbed her, tightening his hold as he kissed her. Roughly.

It tasted like stale alcohol and salt and the fresh rain on her skin had grown foul.

That last line? I loved it. I still feel a shiver, just as when I wrote it. That it had ‘grown foul’ I felt was just so creepy and oddly fascinating. I hoped that it would be somewhat shocking, to have him just kiss her, but also fit into the nature of the characters in this story.

Running a hand through damp hair, he demanded, "My place."

And the cold, unfeeling stare back at him was probably an identical mirror to his own face. Hiding her surprise, she icily agreed. "Okay."

It’s just so stripped of emotion, that it becomes emotional. I loved Wesley/Lilah because there is something delightful to write about two people who really should hate each other, but are somewhat attracted to the other. It’s wrong, but it’s a good wrong.

And as he walked out in the rain, not bothering to pull up his jacket, to even try to stay dry, he didn't think of long brown hair and nervous smiles and faltering twangs of a sweet Southern girl he thought he might have loved.

He thought of musty books and ink-blood stained papers, and babies becoming vicious killers, and friends that vanished just like raindrops shattered dispassionately on the ground. No longer noticeable, but still just there.

And he couldn't see them anymore.

Hurrah for images! I’m proud of this part, it’s just incredibly beautiful without saying too much and it’s sorta noir-like, no? I like these paragraphs because it’s the most vivid reveal of Wesley’s view of the world, we see a lot through Wesley’s eyes, we’ll enter his dreams in the next chapter, but Everything You Need To Know About Wesley is right here. He can’t see them anymore, because they’ve shattered to the ground like the rain.

*

Lilah stayed the night, nude and unashamed in his bed. Wesley had gotten little sleep. How could her warm body be so cold against his?

A pity fuck or just a plain old fuck?

We’re entering my first true NC 17 sex sequence. It is incredibly odd writing your first sex scene. I admit, there was mild blushing. When I did the editing though, I had no feelings whatsoever, but it’s good to know that Wesley/Lilah is my first true smut experience, although I’d read tons of it, this was the first time I set down to make a good scene that worked. And now I don’t care, I’ll write slash, write a bit of het, it don’t matter as long as I get my characters laid.

It certainly hadn't dulled the recent information. He was due for his appointment at the White Room in two hours. It was still raining.

"Hmm…you up?"

"Yeah." His voice was always the worst in the morning, more like a broken echo than a real voice.

"That was…"

"Nothing. Get out."

"Sure, be all sweet to me now…"

Her sarcasm was wearing thin. But he doubted he'd ever get to shut her up.

Wesley and Lilah are good banterers.

Turned back to her from his spot at the window. He was already dressed for another day at Wolfram and Hart. "Let's not make this anything, Lilah. Not leverage, or pity, or sympathy, or anything. Just. A. Fuck."

Fuck is fun to write.

"Of course, that's all it is. But that? Was great." Knelt in his bed (he'd have to burn the sheets), flipping her now dry hair off her shoulders. "Want another round?"

Trying to keep his face as neutral as possible, but unable to hide the loathing, he said again, "Get out."

Searching for and finding her clothes, she dressed quickly. "You may think that you can write this off as some moment of weakness, Wesley, but you wanted it. Me. Losing everything you once cared about and who do you turn to? Or should I say, who do you slam against your bed, fucking mercilessly until you can't take it anymore?"

Heh, I did like writing this. Wesley is projecting his disgust, but still, she’s just such a powerful force, she’s almost overwhelming his hatred of her. Lilah says what she thinks if it’ll get her what she wants, and I love that about her.

"You, Lilah." He reached for her again. And he again tasted the death and blood on her lips. She was certainly a part of Wolfram and Hart. Ruthless. And so…inhumane.

He wondered how many people she had purposely and inadvertently killed. He did not wonder if she cared.

Lilah was incapable of that.

Riiiiight. He’s clearly turned on by her evilness! Silly Wes, trying to be all noble and tragic, but really, the Dark is the Sexy for him.

He ripped off her blouse, not caring if he ruined it; he was sure she could afford a replacement. Pushed up her skirt. Nothing underneath. Wound his fingers in her hair and pulled her head back, demanding that she *see*. She stared into his eyes.

Her own eyes were drugged with lust and rage. It was a mixture of both and the combination disgusted him. But she was there. And she would always be.

Now, he would decide how she would be there for him.

Slammed her against the wall and was amused by her moan of pleasure mixing with a groan of pain.

It’s a dark scene and I shouldn’t be laughing. But I totally am. Mostly because I had joked in chat rooms that this fic was all about the Wall Sex. It’s another theme, like the alcohol, that just turns up for no damn reason. My first time writing sex and it’s up against the wall. I don’t care if you’re amused, for I am amused enough for everyone.

Began removing his clothes when her greedy, finely manicured hands just unzipped his fly and released him.

"C'mon Wes, just fucking do it."

Positioned her and angled one of her legs around his waist and slammed hard into her. She gasped a scream, voice momentarily rendered in shock.

Taking a gentle path of kisses across her cheek, closer and closer to her ear as he kept his pace brutal, felt her insides hot and soaking and yielding and his broken, faded whisper against her ear, "Now, how'd you like to know what it feels like to have your vocal cords ruined till all you have left are scratches and sputtering sounds?"

Now, I felt that this was hot. Twisted and violent and wrong, but hot. I tried to do a lot of character work in the sex scenes if only because I don’t like just writing ‘insert A into B’ type of sex scenes. It had to be written just as other scenes in the story would be, and it shouldn’t be out of place. There’s a reason for the sex, besides the sex. Plus Wesley’s line here is good, although I’m not quite sure I ever managed to word it exactly how I wanted it to sound.

Not waiting for an answer, he pulled out, bruising her lips with a kiss neither passionate or merciful, thrusting hard up into her center. Moving a hand down to manipulate her aching clit, he felt the pressure building inside her.

The most graphic paragraph here and I only pray it didn’t sound awkward.

Her eyes weren't shut but they were hazy and it was clear she was somewhere else, climbing up some wonderful pinnacle and she was about to fall over and she wanted it, she wanted it badly…

And he stopped.

Snapping out of her haze, she looked at him, now still and managed to mumble, "What…"

Before he started again, pushing harder and faster and increasing the pace while removing any feeling, he looked at her and said, "This is it."

Anything he felt for her was gone, spiraling down instead of up and he was disgusted and there were no innocent woman with sweet brown eyes coming to his apartment asking for help, instead there was only rain dying as it landed; and alcohol, a warm body that froze him; and her inhuman, horrible promise of a future of chaos…of order…

He didn't know anymore, didn't care what their future plans were, all he knew was that he was spiraling down and she was taking him because he needed a fucking guide and she was fucking him and he was fucking her and it was all so pathetic and vile and necessary that he could scream…

But she did instead.

And he found himself coming, coming to a black, empty state of nothingness and for a moment he was at rest. But not at peace.

This was it.

There’s the character work. I can’t really comment on it any further, it’s there in the fic itself, whatever I was trying to express.

Lilah sagged against him and he would only have to move back a little and she would fall. But he was tired too and so he rested against her, allowing the warmth that was like ice to sate him for the moment.

Her skin was soft but not gentle-soft. Moisturizers, most definitely, expensive brands to momentarily dissuade time from ruining skin, from decaying it into the wrinkles and creases of the future. His slightly prickly cheek was against her smooth one. He'd have to shave.

He didn't allow this closeness to be gentle or appear caring. No, not that all. Or even as some admission that this was really happening. It was simply a smooth cheek, cut hard, that he rested his face against. Was this where he was always going to end up?

It was soft enough. So he allowed the few worries he actually had left in his soul to be comforted by that. Oh yes, it was soft enough.

I loved portraying that he was tempted to let her fall and he doesn’t, he’s making an excuse, that he liked the feel of her, using her for comfort, but the need to care is still inside of him, although the darker aspects of Wesley’s personality are canceling out that need. Plus I hoped that final line about it being soft enough was really creepy for such a simple line.

*

Wesley and Lilah had silently agreed to leave for work at separate times. Lilah went back to her own apartment to wear something that "wasn't torn and shredded" while Wesley had walked into work with cleaner clothes after a heartless rut in his previous attire.

She was now outside his office, annoying poor Miss Westminster about the appointment.

Poor Miss Westminster indeed.

"Listen, I'm taking him, so you inform him again to get his ass out of his office. *Miss* Westminster."

Lilah had just a…ruthless edge to her. Yet that was all she was. All edges. Soft, but there was no real gentleness. Wesley didn't need that anymore, anyway. It reminded him of…other things.

Thus, the attraction begins to grow.

Waiting just a moment longer as Lilah finally snapped, "I don't care that he locked his office door, I'm getting in there!"

Opening the door, he commented, "Lilah…lovely as always."

She tossed her now perfect hair as she straightened up and replied, "Wesley. You're almost late. I don't think that would be a good idea."

"Oh, yes, it would be terrible. Shall we go, then?"

A pucker of her lips that seemed to be an amused grin, but he was sure it was just an annoyed tick.

My god, she didn’t smirk! A new expression. Exciting!

She took him to the elevator and unfolded the slip of paper handed to her by one of the executives. Proudly punching in the sequence, she mumbled, "Now I get to know the combination."

Ah, I loved referring back to Angel and Lilah’s visit to the White Room.

"I beg your pardon?"

With what passed for a sweet look, she said, "Something involving Angel." The dark look Wesley gave to her indicated his disinclination to hear more about it.

As the elevator car finally stopped, she said dryly, "Welcome to the White Room."

And white it was. The light was bright and harsh. It was so clean and the air was not fresh or stale. It was…clinical. Like a hospital. Without the air of impending death. Well, not the air of the dying. Wesley was sure that deaths had occurred on the too clean floors.

"You're two minutes late. I'm not surprised."

A voice came out from the white where no shadows could be. Entering the room from…somewhere else, was…a beautiful woman, no more in her earlier twenties at the latest.

Lilah was unable to hide her surprise. "You…got older…"

The woman was wearing a simple black dress as though she was going to a funeral. Her lackluster, plain brown hair was tied back. Hands crossed in front of her, she stated in an odd elderly yet completely childish voice, "Aging holds no barrier against me. I can be a child or a dying man; it doesn't matter. What does matter is who you want to see."

I wanted to keep the Girl in the White Room as mysterious as possible, she’s an interesting character, but I thought it would be a real kick to Wesley if she showed up basically as Fred, but not a duplicate as Fred. I felt that would be a little too obvious.

And this…person? Demon? Had chosen the form of a young woman. Going to a funeral.

Brown innocent eyes and hope and death and now they were empty and lifeless.

Wesley wondered what Connor looked like now that he had grown up.

Unintentional foreshadowing. If I wanted to look like I knew what I was doing, I’d totally claim I meant this for all its intentions, but no, this is more just more character study that turned out to be a plot foreshadowing moment.

"You were summoned here for two things. Lilah can leave now."

"What?"

The woman turned her dull gray eyes at Lilah's defiant form and enunciated slowly, "Your life was spared the last time you were here. Should I test Wesley as well? This time I'll make sure he completes my task."

Lilah left the room in a hurry, causing Wesley to wonder what exactly happened to frighten her.

"You helped the Slayer. Normally, I'd say that's quite a nasty trick you played on us."

"I didn't help her."

"Do not lie. You did. You gave her a binding spell that managed to restore the balance in her friend's power. It made her *good*. That's an offense I would normally punish. Severely."

So, you ask, was this what I intended them to talk about? No, this is again me just writing and things just naturally evolving. I was going to do some warnings and the White Room Girl would talk about what happened to Angel, but this additional stuff sort of unintentionally came up as I began this part.

The small piece of paper.

A meaningless spell, rarely used, for the person it was cast on would have to have an enormous imbalance in her system for it to work. And most witches and other spell casters knew how to maintain a cohesive balance even when performing a series of powerful spells. Willow must have gone completely mad for that spell Wesley had handed to Buffy to work.

And she must have channeled dark forces indeed, for her to further that insanity.

"Are you terribly angry?" he asked without any measure of caring.

Her pale face broke out into a smile that reminded him too much of a demonic grimace. Of death. "Oh, not angry at all. You restored order."

Big theme here and not only that, it’s what drives the plot. Who’s in control, what is in order, and how to break out of being trapped in roles.

"Yes, well, Sunnydale is one of the most powerful hellmouths on Earth. I'm sure you have plans for it."

"Our plans do not include the Slayer's home. For the moment. Sunnydale is an annoying place, isn't it? So many Apocalypses had to be averted. It was very fortunate that the Slayer became the protector of it. It would have ruined my plan."

"You said 'ours' before."

Walking up to him, he realized she was the exact same height as…*her*. "Does it matter? What's ours is mine and you are mine. And ours. You brought order for the moment. Now…I have to discuss with you a very simple request."

Her being Fred. Again, I was trying not to be too obvious.

"What?"

"Don't lie anymore. You know the truth. You stupid fool, you knew it all along. We've found Angel. He's been sunk to the bottom of the ocean. By his son. It's fitting in a way. We won't save him. That's your job."

"What?"

"Gather whoever you want. The Slayer. Angel's associates. You'll be given any materials or resources you need to get him back. In a week's time, I want him freed."

"A week?"

"Angel deserves some time alone, don't you think?"

Wesley hid a grin. To think of Angel, trapped. Alone. In pain. It was now a thought that gave him…not pleasure, but something unusually reminiscent of it. "And you have no idea where Connor is, do you?"

The time again plagues me, I kind of just threw in a date because it would have to be discussed here. I hoped that it was a neat way of rescuing Angel, little did I know that Wesley would actually be the one to rescue Angel on the show.

"We have…leads. But he is not important for the time being. Goodbye Wesley Wyndham-Pryce."

And with that, she exited…somewhere else.

Returning to the elevator, he remained silent throughout the ride. Even though Lilah was showing signs of anxiety that she wanted to ask, something held her back from saying anything.

As the door opened, she finally spoke.

"You don't have anything to say to me?"

"No, Lilah, I don't. I have work to do. Goodbye."

And with that, he went back into his office. And worked until sunset.

I felt it was a good, terse ending to such a big reveal, now the plot’s growing, it’s not just Wes working for the bad guys, he has a mission to save Angel. I left it open regarding who he could contact if only to give myself future room if I wanted Gunn to come in or possibly deal with Cordelia, which I really wasn’t up to at the time.

*

Buffy stood in the empty hall of the Hyperion Hotel for an hour before she finally left. There were a few phone messages, but the people seemed to be perspective clients. No Angel.

Angel.

Buffy hadn't gone to the hotel after speaking with Wesley. She had taken the small slip of paper back to Sunnydale with her, had help from Anya, and managed to secure (to bind that terrible power) Willow, until Giles came.

Okay, here was my problem writing Buffy. At the time, she was really invested in everyone else. Clearly, I had S6 Buffy to deal with, who was in a major depression, but my other problem was that I just couldn’t figure out how to present her in this story. The B/A stuff I do groan about, maybe it is true to her character, but I do feel that at some moments it’s just too heavy-handed. Plus, because there was no way that I was going to make this a true crossover and bring in the BtVS crew, she has to recap what’s going on over there, hence all this exposition and altering of the S6 finale “Grave.”

And Giles had gotten a source of pure magic from a coven he'd been working with in London. He hadn't explained it all, but together, they all managed to strip away the layers of poisonous magic corrupting Willow.

It was clear to all of them that Willow had been corrupted by her own ambitions. By grief. By vengeance. She tried to absorb all the magical powers that a human could touch. However, she couldn't handle it; it had driven her power-mad.

She almost destroyed them all.

Willow was now halfway mad with grief and the other half of the time was spent trying to understand what happened. Her mind was nearly gone.

And Buffy had to escape. At least for a while. It was all…just too painful.

It was too hard to see Willow wandering aimlessly in the house, sobbing or stuttering, "Tttara…died?"

I love pain. LOVE it. So having Buffy be overwhelmed because she’s kinda responsible for shattering Willow? Fun and slightly easier to write.

So she came here. To Angel; who she hadn't seen since a brief visit after she came back. Angel, who she was sure wouldn't ever want to see her again.

Angel, who still was in her thoughts. Even when she didn't want him to be.

Spike had disappeared. She frankly didn't care. After…the…*attack*…she didn't want to see him again. She'd kill him.

She had wasted three years by not killing him. By believing that he could…never. He wouldn't ever…she was sure that he wouldn't…

And he did.

She was a fool.

The attempted rape is a major issue with me, you can’t write Buffy post-season six and just ignore it, especially in a large work where you’re writing a lot about her emotional state. I have to give reasons why she’d come back, and I need to be able to honestly draw from all of her experiences. So she has this pent-up anger she doesn’t know what to deal with, because she was in crisis/Apocalypse mode and that’s when she pushes aside her emotional baggage to save for another day. It’s when she has a moment of peace that everything comes back with a vengeance.

Dawn, she promised Dawn that she would be there for her. Really there for her.

The only thing she hadn't promised to Dawn was for Buffy herself to be happy. To be there for herself. Buffy didn't want to lie anymore. She didn't want to deal with it.

She promised to show Dawn that there was hope in the world, when she didn't believe in that anymore. But it didn't mean that she could fake a smile and convince Dawn that fantasies were real. That Dawn could do anything she wanted.

Buffy not living for herself is something I do see in her character. Her promise to Dawn at the end of S6 struck me exactly as that, as something that is not at all healthy, but Buffy thinks is okay, because lying is easier than being honest that she can’t be happy, for many complicated reasons she tries to ignore.

Giles was currently taking care of Willow. Buffy had seen his eyes after Willow woke up from the removal of her powers. Giles blamed himself for what Willow had done.

Buffy had seen that haunted look in her eyes everyday since she first became a Slayer. Now, it was so pronounced that it was impossible for her to escape it. And now, she could spot the same look in an instant on someone else's face.

Jonathan and Andrew had escaped. But Warren had been murdered. Viciously.

Willow had crossed the line.

The line that Buffy had crossed, for good intentions, but it had destroyed her all the same.

Buffy wondered if Willow would ever be able to come to terms with that.

If Willow would ever be in a state of mind that she could understand what she did.

Giles had told Buffy all about the conversation he and Willow had before he left. He said he was a fool; that he only managed to make the situation worse by leaving.

Buffy simply smiled, a pale and faded imitation of a smile that once was true, and told him that it wouldn't have mattered. She hadn't been able to help, nor Xander. There was nothing Giles could do.

Except be there.

No, she wouldn't start blaming him. She wouldn't blame anyone. This horrible fact - what Willow had done and her inability to stop it before Willow destroyed herself - Buffy couldn't avoid it anymore.

Willow could've destroyed the world if Buffy hadn't stopped her. And now, Willow was shattered. From all the research they'd done, it was clear: Willow's mind was ruined. She'd never *be* Willow anymore.

But then, Willow lost Tara. That would've destroyed her anyway. But if she hadn't tried to use magic to soothe her pain, Willow might still be ok. Still be Willow.

She'd never be able to handle any kind of magic again; the power would be too unstable and would kill her.

And Buffy wasn't even sure that Willow would want to be herself again.

To deal with the truth, the real horror of living, that was too much for some people.

Willow now stared back at everyone with blank eyes. That was when she was most coherent. Other times…no, Buffy couldn't think about it. It hurt too much.

Hugging herself, she continued on her walk along the grim-looking streets.

Haven’t had much to say, because honestly, it is what it is. I tried to express some of the problems with S6, I brought in Buffy’s feelings about Giles’ abandonment and the fall of Willow, but whether or not it worked is up to the reader to decide. I don’t think it’s that fascinating or enticing and it doesn’t really drive Wesley’s story, but it is setting up the reasons for Buffy’s final decision.

She had to thank Wesley. Wesley, who refused to help her, yet handed her the key in stopping Willow.

He had changed so much. Gone was the stuffy, impossibly pathetic Watcher. He was much…he looked like he had gone through a lot. His scar…

Buffy didn't need to ask questions. She too had gotten scars from battle. Unconsciously, she touched the lingering scar on her throat.

Yeah, because I totally couldn’t avoid that. I’m such a whore for scars. Plus the change of Wesley has to be something that would fascinate Buffy, I haven’t gotten to the part where I became tempted to make Betrayer have overt B/W tones (much to [Bad username: jennem]’s horror, at the time), but we’re inching closer, with every section.

Knocking on the door, she heard a rushed and muffled "Just a moment!"

As the door swung open a shocked Wesley declared, "Buffy! Ah…I wasn't expecting you."

"What? In the way I just suddenly turned up…again? Umm, can I come in?"

"Uh…now's not a good time."

"What, you have a hot date or something?" she joked. Her comment was met by silence. Surprise then realization in her eyes as she quickly said, "*Oh*…sorry, I'll leave, but I just…Angel's missing. I mean, did he move or something? He's not…um, there. There wasn't anyone at the hotel."

"Wesley?" A woman's voice came from the apartment. "What the hell are you doing?"

I had to make sure that Buffy and Lilah had never met before in S1 on AtS, or at least, she’d never introduced herself. This scene was frantically checked in a later chapter to make sure that I did remember what I had written when I added a plot twist-y/mind-bend that Would Change Everything and then turned out, didn’t matter all that much. I’ll explain that a bit more when we get to it, but basically, Buffy had to be able to say “Wesley’s girlfriend?” when she hears the name ‘Lilah.’

"Nothing, Lilah. Get back in bed." Buffy tried to hide her shock at the authoritative tone in his voice.

"Sorry. No." Whoever was his date seemed to be kind of bitchy.

"Lilah." He again commanded, voice becoming a dark growl.

Okay, now this was creeping her out.

It ain’t creeping me out, but then, I’m sick. I liked using Buffy to be an outside perspective to the Wes/Lilah, she isn’t going to see it the way they do, so I thought this was a bit humorous and considering how I absolutely sucked at humor at this time of my writing ‘career,’ I hope it worked.

"Ruin my fun. We'll just have to make plans for later." She smirked at him as she entered the living room space, dressed in a very rumpled and expensive business suit. Teasingly running a perfectly manicured nail across the scar on his throat as she left a hard kiss on his lips, she said, "Later." Turning to Buffy, her face became serious, but the eyes seemed cold and calculating, as she said, "Good luck."

"Good luck?" Buffy repeated the words in her head but they still didn't make sense. Turning her confused gaze to Wesley, she said, "What was that?"

I just love this little meeting, it’s just a passing comment that Lilah gives her, but it interesting that it’s all Lilah says to her.

"Buffy, it's a long story. And it's not important," Leaving the door open as he walked over to a new stack of musty-looking books and assorted papers on his desk, he said, "Well, it's terribly important, but not for the moment. You have questions. About Angel's disappearance?"

"Yeah. I mean, if it's none of my business…"

"Oh, Angel's business is always everyone's else business." Wesley was unable to hide the loathing as he spoke while he carelessly flipped through the book that was on top of the stack. "He is currently residing in the bottom of the ocean."

Wesley was a little too bitchy there, but the way he just blandly states the facts, is very Wesley. So it’s only slightly uneven. Which means I only slightly suck here.

"God." Unable to say anything or to honestly convert her panicking thoughts into words, she stammered out, "Is he…he's alive right…?"

Buffy wondered when her feelings for Angel would finally die. When it would stop hurting.

Oh for fuck’s sake, just play the goddamn violin, why don’t I? Damn B/A.

"Do you know what happens to a vampire when it is starved?"

"Yeah." She tried to hide the tremble as Spike's voice slid across her memories…the constant playfulness, the mocking. The cold, desperate emotion. No. She couldn't let herself think about it.

Shutting off the memories, she said, "Living skeleton."

Except that it didn’t happen at all while Angel was stuck in the ocean alllll summer, so I felt like a bit of an ass when I had Angel become so damaged when he’s rescued, but, as I seem to always be saying, I’ll talk about that when we get to that.

Faint ghost of a Watcherly smile on his lips. "Quite right. Fortunately, Angel hasn't been trapped for too long…but if I don't find him…"

"You? What about Cordelia? Or…I thought he had other people helping him."

"Cordelia has disappeared. I haven't been able to find her. Gunn - he also worked with Angel - he's in the hospital. He was badly wounded in a fight. Another…she was killed in battle."

Cordelia mention #3. I could count it twice, but really, it’s just once and it’s again vague, mostly because the end of Tomorrow with the shiny ascension scarred me for life. There were tears of anger, horror, and morbid humor, my thought was, “they’re shitting me, right?”

"What about…Angel's son…he must be…upset about his father." Buffy could barely choke out the words.

Grimly, Wesley stared at her. "Connor is responsible for Angel's predicament."

"Oh." There was nothing Buffy could say. She didn't know…anything really. She didn't know Angel anymore. She was out of his life.

Wah wah wah.

"I didn't really want to ask you this, you have your work in Sunnydale, of course, as well as," he paused, as though he was thinking of how to properly word his thoughts. "How is Willow?"

"She'll be fine. What you gave me, it helped. A lot." All a lie. She'd gotten so used to it.

"Good." He stared directly into her eyes and she understood: he knew she was lying, but he didn't mention it. "I may need your help. I…there are some spells I can cast to find and rescue Angel, but they involve someone with a connection to him."

Magic is the easy path for AtS/BtVS stories. I don’t know anything about magic, so a lot of this is me just making stuff up as I go along, and ouch to this ‘connected’ business I set up here to force Buffy to have a practical reason to help Wes.

"And since his son is out of the picture," she attempted to joke. Curiosity getting the better of her, "Why you? I mean, you said…"

"What I said, it still stands. I am no longer a part of Angel Investigations. However, Angel has a mission."

"Yeah," she replied, voice distant. "Whenever they have a mission, you have to make sure they're there to perform it."

"I'm sorry…if you have objections…"

"No. I don't. I was just thinking out loud. I'm sorry." She was.

Sorry that she promised her sister that she wanted to live in the world again. That she would say yes because it was Angel and still…she loved…not him. She couldn't. The memories. She was in love with the past. When she was happy. When she had hope. "What do you need?"

Okay, as much as I have trouble writing her, that last paragraph does come close to who she is, being in love with the past that she can no longer be a part of.

"Well, the final spell is a tad difficult. To cast it, we need to perform a very taxing ritual involving the summoning of an ancient power-"

"Wesley, just tell me what you need from me and I'll do it."

That is also me keeping myself from bullshitting about the ritual. That would be too exposition-heavy, and also? It would be really boring. Buffy, being very active as she is, does make a logical character to cut off the ramblings about magic and keeps the story from tipping its hand, because I did plan to have Angel come back completely and utterly fucked up, as much as I could get away with.

Looking into her tired eyes, sensing the defeat, he suddenly seemed to retrieve a boost of strength, and said very sharply in a confident Watcherly tone, "Why? Why help, Buffy? I know that Angel…meant…means a great deal to you. But you've had your own troubles to deal with. You don't have to help me. Nor should you convince yourself that it's your responsibility. Buffy," he said, voice fading as his vocal cords cracked under the pressure, "of all the thing you've been responsible for, Angel, as he is now, is not one of them. You can leave this instant and just forget about what I told you. I shall handle it."

And was it so terrible that for a fleeting second that Buffy considered doing just that? Just walking away, finally burying the past that was hovering beneath her skin, thousands of tiny little shards imbedded inside her? She needed to get them out, she had to, but it was all that was left. Just broken memories and dead dreams.

Yes it was. But it’s a good terrible. This is Buffy’s temptation. And she rejects it.

She took a step back, but as she did, she shook her head. "No, Wesley, I have to do this. It's my job." And she attempted a weak smile but it was really a broken grimace as she said, "It's Angel."

"Yes," Wesley said darkly, gathering his books, he agreed, "It's always Angel."

She had no idea what was in store for him. Nor would she ask.

"Always," came the faint whisper from her lips.

Cliffhanger made through characterization is a little more natural, I feel. Not having them actually hanging off the cliff, but instead, this simple declaration is a quiet, interesting way to end it. And it is very B/A heavy and I almost feel like I should apologize for it. The always comment just stuck in my head because it isn’t true, there is no always, it’s just Buffy clinging onto the things that make her feel human, happy, and hopeful the 3 H’s.

But I do feel that there are some good passages in this chapter and we’re now getting a story developing. Characters are doing what they want and that is how I write plot, through the characters.

Tomorrow, and this time, I will have it up by tomorrow, will be Chapter There, where there is no sex, but there are disturbing dreams, which I will happily play a psychiatrist and explain Wesley’s fucked up vision and I bring in He who make Betrayer take forever to finish, yes, that character I no longer could empathize with: Angel.

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