Some days it just doesn't pay to get out of bed. It must be all that time I spent in California, but sometimes I can't take the dilly-dallying. I've given every waken hour of the last five months to rebuilding the Watchers' Council. It looked like it's moving along nicely. And then there are days like this!
I had to talk to people too old to be allowed anywhere outside a pyramid. People who think that what the world needs now is to go back to the old ways. People who think that bloody Quentin Travers was too soft. I slam shut the door to my office when I leave. There isn't anyone else left in the building so this display of frustration doesn't sully my reputation as a cool and collected leader.
I find my way into a nice pub, and go straight for the darts. I throw them at the target as if it's in turn the head of every the old sod who annoyed me today. I'm at the third scotch when my aim starts to get shoddy. I let out an audible growl when an arrow I had mentally pointed between the eyes of our accountant misses my a few inches.
I catch a smile on the woman's face before I look at her directly. I noticed as soon as I came into the pub, but she was way out of my league, and I was way too pissed off to do anything about it even if she weren't.
Now I'm slightly pissed on top of being pissed off, so I look at her. She's drop dead gorgeous. A few years ago, before all the near death experiences of Sunnydale, my mouth would've dropped open and I'm fairly sure that some drool would be involved. Even in my old days as Ripper, I never got anywhere with women like that.
I return to my drink. Not because I couldn't get anywhere with her, though that's a strong possibility, but because I'm sure that she expects me to over there and make a fool of myself trying to hit on her.
An hour or so later, my mystery woman leaves. I watch her move through the crowd like she's untouchable. Like she floats. There's darkness and frost surrounding her like a cloak. Or maybe I'm drunk.
I know that I'll return to this pub hoping to see her again.
((Open to Lilah))
I finished off my fourth scotch, and paid the bartender. There'd been a few,okay several drunken idiots who'd tried to hit on me,but I'd just blown them all off. Instead I was much more focused on the ruggedly handsome guy that was trying to maim the dart board. He kind of reminded me of Wes and not in a bad way either.
Having finished my little drinking binge for the night I grabbed my purse and started to walk out of the pub. The bartender noticed that I'd left a business card behind, he shouted after me,but I didn't hear him, as I walked out of the pub.
"I'll take that," I tell the bartender, who was trying frantically to get my lady's attention.
I had two reasons for doing this, despite having no intention of calling her. For one thing, none of the losers in the pub deserved it. For another, if she never came back to this unfashionable dump, I'd have the chance to find her again.
When I read her card, my face falls. She works for Wolfram and Hart. That's just too damn bad! Looks like she's out of my league in more ways than one. I'll tear up the card and forget all about it.
"Another scotch," I demand, putting the card in my pocket.
I'm not going to cal her. I can spell honey-trap. I wonder if she tastes like honey. That settles it. I'm drunk enough to go home and fall into a dreamless sleep. I need it to be dreamless. Something's happened to me since I came back to England. I keep dreaming about California. At first I thought I missed Sunnydale. I thought I miss those children who kept saving the world. The children who were so much like a family that I didn't even notice the years going by while I did nothing with my life.
They aren't nightmares, either. Out of all the monsters I've faced there, of all the people I loved who are buried in that hellish place, you'd think I'd have nightmares. For a long time, I wondered why I don’t have any. I rarely dreamt of Jenny Calendar after Angelus killed her. I dream of Anya sometimes, but it's always about our days at the Magic Box.
For a few months now, my California dreams plague me. They seem real. They feel like memories. But they aren't memories. I dream of things that hadn't happened the way I remember them.
One of the first things we learn as Watchers is to know what's real and what is not. My dreams felt real, and my memories did not. As soon as I get some spare time from rebuilding the Council, I'll do something about it. The alcohol buzz makes me remember a Pratchett line "+++ Divide By Cucumber Error. Please Reinstall Universe And Reboot +++ ~Hex"
I crawl into bed, hoping that tonight, this morning that is, I'll dream about the beautiful, if evil, Lilah Morgan.
Two days later I ended up in the same little pub, talking to the bartender,who's name I found out is Benny. Seems he has a thing for the 1940's movies,he kees calling me doll. It's cute in a way. I ordered another scotch,while I looked around, hoping to spot the guy that was in here lastnight.
Benny noticed I was looking, and smiled. 'So what's a Hollywood lookin' Dame like you doing in a place like this?' I laughed,the man has a big thing about old movies. "Just needed a break from the rest of the world" I took another sip of my drink. 'I know how that is' benny said still smiling. Benny was great he kept most of the drunken morons away from me. He reminded me of my favorite movie Casablanca, it was nice.
It takes me another week, but I end up in that pub again. I'm disappointed, but not surprised that she's not there. I drink less, concentrate on the dart board more, and leave early. Her card's still in my jacket pocket. I didn't call, nor am I ever going to, but I checked up on her.
Learning that she moved to London from the LA office of Wolfram and Hart makes it even more difficult to stop thinking about her. I'm tempted to call my only real contact in their LA office, but Wesley Wyndham-Pryce and I haven't parted on the best of terms. The man was an abysmal Watcher. If it hadn't been for that pig-headed father of his, the runt would’ve never gotten his hands on a Slayer.
I don't call Pryce, but I can't stop thinking about her. I can feel the Ripper in me trying to come out. I wonder if Angel feels that way about Angelus.
I miss my kids. I keep calling Buffy for the silliest reasons. I ask her opinion about little things having to do with the organization. I call Dawn to be less of an absentee father figure. I call Xander and Faith to ask about new Slayers. I call Willow to check on her addiction to magick under the guise of setting up protocols for the Watchers' Council to cooperate with the covens.
But I'm always alone. Even when I talk to them. They're too far, scattered all over the world. So, I end up going to the pub every night. Hoping to see her again. Hoping to reach her through the darkness and cold that surrounded her. Fearing that her darkness might pull me in. Wanting to feel anything other than frozen.
I walked into the pub after a rather hellish day at the office. I walked up to the bar and smiled at Benny. "Hey Benny" He smiled at me. 'Hey Doll, the usual?' "Actually no,martini with a twist"
He nodded and went to make it. He came back a few moments later, with my martini. 'If you're looking for your mystery guy, he's over by the dart board. He really seems to fancy you. ' I sipped my drink as I watched the man play darts. He was quite good I noticed with a small smirk.
I'll be damned! She came back. If this is an entrapment, they sure picked the right bait. I managed not to call her, but sure as hell I can't stay away.
This time I'm almost completely sober. I abandon the dart board and walk up to her. I see her chatting with the bartender. She can't be a regular. I was here almost every night this week, and I hadn't seen her.
"Good evening, Ms Morgan," I greet her. "How are you settling in? Do you miss California?"
She looks surprised that I know her name and her background. Again, this triggers the suspicion that it's a trap. Someone with the resources of Wolfram and Hart would have to know how I was. But maybe she didn't find me interesting enough to have me checked up.
I saw Benny look past me,and followed his glance. I smiled. "Mister Giles,I'm settling in fine thanks,and I.. well I miss it sometimes yes." I took a few small spis of my drink, as I turned to face him better.
"And if you don't mind my asking how is the new Watchers Council coming along?" Gee he looks surprised,well he's not the only one around here who does their homework. And if he found out anything on me, he knows I'm the best at what I do. I gave him a smile. "Don't look so shocked It's my job to know who's who. And please call me Lilah"
Wow he really does remind me of Wes,huh guess it wasn't just the dim lighting in here. I tried to keep my mind off my Ex- Watcher and Ex- lover, and focus my attention on the man infront of me.
I walked right into that, didn't I? That fake surprised look that crossed her face. She's Wolfram and Hart upper management, not a femme fatale from a fifties' black and white movie. Should be more careful around her. Should be a lot of things around her. Aroused isn't one of them. Her voice pierced right though my outer shell, and found one of the few soft spots I still have.
I give a vague shrug to her question about the Council.
"It's coming along," I say.
Her next comment however, I can't shrug away. It's her job to know who's who. Is she actually admitting she's here to... tempt me?
She asks me to call her Lilah. Lilah. The name rolls of her tongue, making me think that it's designed to be moaned by the happy mortals who get to touch her. I thought I was sober when I walked over. My head is starting to spin a little.
I'm not giving her permission to use my first name. If she's ever going to call me Rupert, it won't be casual, in a pub. She'd scream my name while she's writhing under me. Where did that image come from? I can't possibly be sober!
I'm going to be Mr. Giles for her. I've been Giles for long enough in California. Took me a long time to find the appellative endearing. For the first few months, it felt as though they were yelling for the butler.
"Is the appointment to London a demotion? For losing control of the LA branch?"
I proceed in this conversation with one immutable principle, she is not going to tell me the truth about anything unless it serves her purposes. Then why am I still talking to her? Don't I have enough of office politics and power plays?
When she speaks again, I have my answer. I talk to her because I would do just about anything right now to hear her voice, to feel like I'm the only man in the room that matters to her.
I'm too damn old to get a crush. This is liable to turn into a full blown midlife crisis.
I nodded when he said that the Council was coming together. I had some more of my drink,as he asked why I'm here at the London Branch, and if it has anything to do with the loss of the LA branch.
So he knows then? I'd kept up on the happenings in LA a bit,but I tried not to dwell on anything happening in LA much,because that led to thoughts of a certian someone.
Pulling myself away from my thoughts I finally answered him. "No it wasn't for loosing control of the LA branch. I just..needed a change." Yeah more like I was left for dead in a fucking sewer and nearly died trying to get to my last living shaman contact.
I sipped more of my martini and tried to ignore the ghost of pain coming from my side, where the beast had gutted my like a bass. the shaman had said, that I might get a few even though I was fully healed.
She admits losing control of the LA branch. Very odd. I expected her to say that they didn't lose control, that Angel and his team have been sucked in their trap. Divide and conquer. That's what I would've said, to undermine the confidence between two powerful organizations on their side.
Either she's a great actress, or she's off her game. I caught an expression on her face that didn't say ice queen. Was it nostalgia? Regret? Bitterness?
I have to do a more thorough check on her. No reason why we shouldn't keep our connection open, sort of like a bridge. A rickety bridge where you hold on to the devil just to make it across.
She is so beautiful. I hope my stuffy-tweedy-Englishman tweedy exterior doesn't show any signs of cracking. If she weren't a Wolfram and Hart employee, I'd let the Ripper out to play. At least for one night. If this was a classier place, I'd ask her to dance.
"Are you enjoying the change? Is London everything an American would expect?"
This is not one of my top performances. I tried to focus on her answer, but all I see are her perfect lips, moving, bending, curling. If she wets them, I'm lost.
"Does it live up to your expectations?"
God! I want her to say "it does now" . It would take a stronger man to resist her charm. I think I should cut my loses and never come to this pub again.
I smiled. "London's great,not like LA but nice. Although I have to say this branch of the firm is much classier. Must be all the refined British traditions or something"
I noticed Benny Giving Giles what looked like a thumbs up or something. I turned ever so slightly, so I was able to catch his eye. "Something wrong Benny?" I knew my tone was cold as ice,and it had the same effect on Benny that it did on Gavin. He got this little scared look on his face, then moved further down the bar.
I smirked,well looks like I haven't lost my touch. I think it's safe to say Benny won't be listening to my conversations anytime soon.
I turned my attention back to Giles. I'm begining to think that maybe Wes did me a favor, by telling me to leave. "And as for it living up to my standards, it does." I flashed him another smile. And there's that look again, my mother was right men are all the same.
She caught the bartender's approving look. She's addressing him with three little words, but makes them feel like a whip for 'Benny'.
For me, her voice is like ice on my skin. In the best way. I can put steel in my voice, but not ice. My libido runs away with me. I'd like to trail an ice cube on her skin, then follow the cold line with my tongue. I need a good shag like I need another scotch right now.
I signal Benny for a refill. The scotch doesn't help in the least when, trying to avert my eyes from her lips, my gaze falls on her legs. Christ! My eyes caress her legs the way I'm not allowing my hands to do it. I hope it's not as obvious as I fear. I tighten my grip on the glass, and empty it in one swig. Need to get away. Go home, have a shower, wank off, anything!
If only my cell phone would ring! I'd have a graceful way out. Those damn kids never bother to think about the time zone, calling me at all hours of the night. Why isn't anyone calling now?
I watched as Benny tinidly came back down to refill the glass. He's staring awfully hard at that glass,huh must've been something I said. I waited for him to leave before adressibg Giles again.
I noticed he had that look on his face, the same one Wes would alwys get,just before throwing me up against a wall. A small shiver ran through me,but I did my best to shrug it off. Finishing my drink I looked at him. "This was fun,but i really should be going. I have a ton of paperwork waiting for me back at the office.."
I paid Benny ,then started to leave. As I walked away from the bar, I thought I heard Benny mutter something about my being a bitch, and just smirked. What he's nice and all,but he had to find out sometime that I'm not one of those nice girls. I mean we can't all be Wesley's precious Winifred.
The bartender calls her a cold bitch. I find this very amusing. The mangy little tit thinks she's cold, and I'm close to bursting in flames just from looking at her. She's the sort of woman who can set one's bed on fire. Hell, she could probably send one's whole house in flames, because there's no way a man could stand not to take her on or against any available surface
I'm about to do something very stupid. The knowledge that it's stupid doesn't stop me. I get a few bills out of my wallet and put the money on the bar before bolting out the door.
I see her next to a silver Mercedes. I'm lucky. Or unlucky, if I think further than the next ten minutes and the stirring in my trousers.
"You forgot something," I tell her.
She opens her mouth to say something. It's all I need. My body presses her against the car. My hands are in her hair, messing up the sophisticated hairstyle. My mouth is on hers.
This is a very bad idea. It is dangerous and stupid. Feels like magick, the way Ripper used to wield it. Should be able to smell the damn brimstone. Instead I smell Chanel.
I'm not going to go any further than kissing. I keep telling myself this, but it's getting harder and harder. As do I.
I was at my car about to get in,when Giles came outside after me. I didn't get much of a chance to say anything,because next thing I know, I'm pressed up against my car, and have him kissing me. Everything suddenly feels like it's spinning really fast.
I should pull away,but this feels good, even it's just kissing. My mind is racing with about a million different things, not one of them having anything to do with the man kissing me. Ok Lilah pull it together, move damn it, this isn't Wesley.. After what seems like ages I finally managed to pull myself away from the kiss.
"You always do this with women you've just met?" I ask, trying to hide the fact that it'd thrown me way off guard. Not too mention that one kiss brought back a whole flood of painful memories. Things I was trying so desperately to forget.
I busied myself with getting my car door open,while I waited for an answer.
I realize that I was counting on her to stop me. It worries me that she'll stop me too late. I don't believe for a second that it's my kissing skills enthralling her. She's either baiting me, or she was just as lonely as I thought. I also don't believe that she's so taken aback that she can't react. Not her style at all.
"You always do this with women you've just met?"
No, I really don't. I'm glad she's just using the icy voice rather than a highly fashionable and slightly illegal stunt gun. Or some evil spell. Damn! She can always do this when she gets in the car or at her office. I have to do a hex check up bright and early tomorrow.
She turned her back to me, opening her car.
I have no reply. No acceptable explanation for what I just did. I take off without saying another word.
Life was so simple for me on the hellmouth. No big demonic law firm gave a damn about a high school librarian, or a magic shop proprietor, or a Watcher. My status as head of the New Watchers' Council changed things. Now I'm a target worth bating with a high class woman like Lilah Morgan.
I'd managed to get my car door open,and no answer came. I looked over to see him just staring at me for a few short seconds, then walking away. Well can't say i saw that coming. Oh well I had other things to worry about, like the mountain of paperwork, waiting for me back at the office.
Sighing I got in my car and drove back in the direction of the office. I got halfway there,before deciding to just go home. Once I was home I took a nice long hot bath, and changed into my pajamas. I grabbed a glass of red wine and got into bed with my new issue of Vouge magazine.
While flipping through the pages I tried not to think about how useful Rupert giles could be to the firm. I tried not to think about him or another Watcher I knew. I sighed and glanced at my phone, that lay on the night stand next to me. No I'm not going to call him, besides he's probably busy and it's late. Wes wouldn't really want to hear from me anyway.