Spoilers: ~10 years post-series, but no spoilers past "Home," near as I can tell.
Summary: Lilah holds the trump card.
A/N: For rayne_y_daze in the Lilah round of femslash_minis. Snark, a snowglobe, and dancing. Sort of.
Lilah has wandered the mirror hall of Wolfram and Hart's subterranean branch for more than a decade, and she can still be surprised by it. With her wander her virtual sidekicks, angels on her shoulders who mutter annoyingly through long sleepless hours. There's Wes, holding a fountain pen and marking their path on a perfect parchment scroll, winding their trail through the mirrors in some vain but fondly cherished hope that if they know the place well enough they can snatch its secrets from the core and escape with them. And there's Lindsey with a broadsword in his hand and a stake in his pocket, still the intern convinced that weapons are more effective than magic. There's Linwood's head, directing her to be cautious; when his voice rises above a mutter and becomes a command, she darts down the first hallway she sees, and Wes calls, "Slow down a bit; there's some detail work on this tapestry that could be quite significant…"
She doesn't worry about leaving them behind; they'll always catch up. They aren't ghosts exactly, but they're more than memories. They have shape and substance that someone like Fred would be able to determine, but Lilah's got neither the tools nor the desire to know what they are. She brushes them away, runs beyond them, forgets them for a month or year — they'll be back.
She's alone now, though, except for the mirrors, literal in this chamber, echoing back hundreds of Lilah Morgans, each one ever so slightly marred by the imperfections in the glass. If it's a lesson, she doesn't care. She checks her hair and turns to leave when the snow starts to fall. Big, puffy flakes that melt in her hair and land on her hands, and a long black scarf she wasn't wearing a minute ago.
If she thought this were torture explicitly designed by the Senior Partners to torment her, it would be easier to endure, but she knows she doesn't rate a personal hell, not even yet. She's been deposited in the overflow chamber for magics and devices and dead partners no longer needed, and now they've dumped a weather system on her. No more. Something flits by her cheek and she brushes it away, but it flits again. She searches for a metaphor, though metaphors seldom function the same way in this world. Softer than a butterfly, more substantive than the shades.
It's soft and glowing and suddenly she knows.
"Angel." She knew he'd find her. She laughs too hard at the thought that he's come to rescue her, chokes on it.
And the soul flees from her, taking refuse on a snowdrift, cuddled against the mirrors that edge the cavern. It looks more than anything lonely. Vulnerable. She smiles.
"You're not Angel, are you?" She can hold it in her hand, but it won't warm her; it's freezing as the snow that's getting in her stockings and her hair. "Let's get out of here. Don't worry; I can keep you safe."
"You caught a butterfly in your net, didn't you?"
Luckily, Drusilla's is a voice that Lilah would recognize in the seventh circle of hell. She clutches the soul tighter; it's just become a bargaining chip.
"Guess so. This belong to you?"
Drusilla — very much not a ghost, full of form and quite expressive, writhes beside her. "I don't like it very much. It chokes me."
"Thought so. I'm sure we could find an Orb of Thessala somewhere in this dimension."
"Would you really want to hurt a girl?" Drusilla asks, hope brightening her voice.
"Yeah, sure. If that's how you want to play it. Pain and gain, good times all around."
"Take me dancing?"
Lilah cradles the soul, running a thumb along its topside, and it shies away from her touch. When she lets it go, though, it drifts over Drusilla's neck, draping itself like a scarf, then skitters back to Lilah's hands. She laughs that it's safer to be in her hands than in a vampire's grasp.
"I'll take you wherever you want to go if you can keep Wes from tagging along and making a map of our route."
"Can't make anything become what it's not." Dru moves lazily, hips jutting against invisible partners; Lilah's willing to bet they aren't invisible to Dru. "Once I had a playmate. I made him myself, of poesy and rue. Would you play?" When she looks at Lilah straight-on, lucid and demanding, Lilah's glad she's usually nutty. Easier that way.
"Let's just get in out of the snow. Then we'll make plans."
Drusilla holds out a hand with a grin, and Lilah, shuddering a bit though she knows vampires can't kill dead people, grabs hold of it and tries to run. But running works oddly here, and the snow's like quicksand, holding them.
"Like taffy at the fair. Like twists of candy."
"Or that. Look, let's—"
"Let's revel," Drusilla says.
Lilah's not like Lindsey. She never wanted a vampire for a pet, never dreamed of Angel as anything but nemesis. If she thought that he'd be worth it in a bed — or on a desk or in the pits of hell, Lilah wasn't picky — it wasn't about his fangs so much as his dick. And Lord help her but she wasn't Wesley with his death-dreams. Fucking vampires was like playing with fire, and say what you would about the beauty of scars, but fire was dangerous and it was a fool's carnival to try to ride a demon. Can you hear me now, Wes? I don't want to be a dead man's bride.
"We wouldn't have to dance upright. We could lay ourselves out like frocks for a ball," Drusilla tells her, demonstrating. Now they're on an endless plane, black diamonds and white snow crisscrossing the floor, dizzying Lilah, delighting Dru, who throws herself onto the pattern so hard Lilah can't imagine how she's still in one piece, but she is. Or rather, as the buzz of gold against her fingers reminds her, two pieces, but still fewer pieces than Lilah would be in if she swan-dived into a maze of marble. Drusilla rolls over and spreads her legs, letting her skirts ride lopsided up her legs, an invitation Lilah wants to read, an envelope begging with frantic eyes to be sliced open by knife-sharp fingernails.
It's just a game; it's all games. Fun and games till someone loses her head, deadly games till the chips are all down and there's nothing left but to roll the dice and taste the girl.
The soul scampers away, still and eternally as skittish as the moment it was untimely plucked.
- fin -