I sighed a bit annoyed with my assistant for inturupting me yet again. I smiled when I heard Rupert on the other end of the line. We went through themotions of formal plesantries. "Well then how soon, should I meet you on the island?"
I put down my paperwork,and focused on the man on the other end of the phone. "I can be there as soon as you need,and We've got plenty of back up" I replied with a small smirk. I let my fingers twist the phone cord around a few times as I waited for an answer.
I was all set to hit the button to call in the back up, I was sure we'd probably need.
How soon we should meet on the island? I'd do almost anything to get out of London right now, I think looking at the files piled up on my desk, but to have the pleasure of her company while I'm out of the smoggy city? I catch myself from sighing into the phone.
Her next words hit a spot so deep inside me I have to grip the arms of my chair. I can be there as soon as you need. Bloody hell. I know she didn't mean it like that. Doesn't sodding help me calm down.
"If you could, please keep the evil henchmen a phone call away. The personal touch should be enough to get things straightened up."
I couldn't help the using the insinuating words. Personal touch. Mmmm. I'm confident that my tone was cool enough so I'm spared the embarrassment of her noticing the way my mind wandered.
"I'd like to leave tonight, but we can go in the morning if you're too tired."
I smiled while I listened to him talk. "Alright I can hold off the minions. I have a few papers to finish,if now's not good for you.." I'd picked up on his personal touch insinuation. "Well I aim to please. I'm just here to keep the clients happy. Which as you know would include you" I smiled as I untwisted the phone cord again.
I had a fairly good size of paperwork, that needed to be done, but I decided it could wait a few hours,hell at this rate maybe a day. I wasn't really in the mood to stay in the office today anyway. I sighed as I looked around my office for the second time today.
I hang my head listening to her talk about aiming to please, and keeping the clients happy. The woman is too smart for my own good. Anyone else who knows me would have thought me incapable of having a second meaning under those words. It's all the fault of giving in to that stupid impulse to kiss her that time. That only time.
I tried to bury the image she had of me slamming her against her car and kissing her as fiercely as I wanted under a month's worth of polite conversations, with no ogling or double entendres. Doesn't seem to have worked. I'm almost shaking.
Why the hell am I so affected by her? Gorgeous as she is, she is not my type. Most definitely not. Not the sort of woman to be on my side if I have to fight a demon. Not the sort to look after me, to clean my wounds if I crawl back bleeding. She's so completely wrong, and I don’t remember ever wanting anyone so badly.
I know I shouldn't do this. I should say, yes, Lilah, I'll meet you there in a few hours. What am I saying instead? I listen to myself, while I mentally bang my head on the desk.
"Now is fine. I can pick you up in less than an hour. Get a change of clothes. I have a feeling it may take a while to work the whole thing out. From what I gather, they won't be amenable to negotiations."
It felt like I've been arranging a romantic getaway. And the clothes... Why did I have to bring that up? I became too used to playing daddy to Buffy and the others. I am adamant not to explore this any further. Clothes, Lilah, road trip, secluded island, father figure. It's just too damn dangerous a territory.
I smiled when he said he'd be here in an hour. I blinked when he said to bring a change of clothes. I've never had to worry about my wardrobe before,when it came to clients,or dealing with demons. Then again these demons went back on their word, which never makes the Semior Partners happy.
I looked down at what I was wearing. He had a point these demons were known for being a bit careless,when it came to how they dealt with people. And this was not only an expensive outfit,but also my favorite. I turned my attention back to the man on the phone. "Alright I'll be all set by the time you get here. Anything paticular I should pack as far as clothes?"
Ithought about what I'd just asked him. Why does this feel less like a business trip and more like some sort of romantic getaway? Oh well I'll just try to keep thinking of it strictly as a business trip. Less danger involved that way ,hopefully.
Oh, she did that on purpose! I have a slide show in front of my eyes all of a sudden. She's out of designer suits and in designer underwear and then in nothing but designer jewelry. Damn!
I cough into the phone, embarrassed by my thoughts.
"Do you have anything that can have thick yellow gore dry cleaned out of it?"
Lovely image! Way to go, Giles! At least I didn't say anything about lace and stockings and... Damn!
"Not that I hope it will come to that, of course. Alright then. See you in an hour."
I think she said good bye or something but I'm too desperate to get off the phone before I say anything too stupid.
I have a change of clothes in the office. I put some all purpose weapons in the bag, too, and I go to the basement to get some specific anti-Skilosh potions and powders. I would definitely prefer to deal with the situation peacefully, but I believe in being prepared.
The same instinct comes into play while I'm driving to her office. Maybe I should buy some condoms. I'm not in the habit of carrying any with me. Come to think of it, I should probably check the expiration date on the ones I have in my nightstand.
I decide against stopping by the chemist's. I think it would be safer if I didn’t have any. Might save me from yielding to temptation. If it arises. The safest method of protection is abstinence. Judging by what goes through my mind while I'm waiting for her, abstaining could very well be a problem if she gives me any encouragement.
I smirked as I heard him cough over the phone. Seems someone was thinking very bad thoughts about yours truly. I looked down at my designer Donna Karen busniess suit,when he mentioned thick yellow slime. "I make it a habit not to get that close when dealing with demons. Less risk of getting my wardrobe ruined beyond help."
I said goodbye to him,but I don't think he really heard me in his rush to hang up the phone. An hour later though I was all packed and waiting for him outside on the front steps to the building.
I'd grabbed everything I'd need out of my car and made sure that I had all my paperwork finished,or locked away.
She's outside when I pull the car over. I get out to help with her bags.
"You look very nice," I say, as the polite understatement of what I really think. "I hope we won't need to get to the yellow slime part."
Our hands touch when I reach for her bags to put them in the trunk. I swallow dryly. Her skin is so smooth and warm.
"The island is rather far. I hope you'd like to drive part of the way. I've been up most of last night. And no, I'm not going to tell you what I did," I add before she asks what kept me up.
I've spent most of last night trying to figure out what the hell Wolfram and Hart were up to buying property around Aberdeen.
I smiled, when I saw him pull up and get out of the car,walking over to me. "Thanks" I replied when he commented on how I looked. "And yeah the less possibility of slime the better." I remarked as I glanced down at my brand new Prada pumps.
I swear any of this outfit, or my clothes I brought to change into get ruined, I'm making someone pay for the dry cleaning. I noticed how rough and slightly calloused his hands are. As he took my bags from me and put them in the trunk. They reminded me of Wesely's hands. they're the kind that a man only gets from real physical hard work.
I was brought back from my thoughts,when he said he hoped I didn't mind driving. I smiled as I got into the passengers side. "No I don't mind driving." I arched an eyebrow at his rush to inform me that asking exactly what he did all last night wasn't an option. "Well I have a few guesses.." I replied,before turning to fiddle with the car stereo.
I probably shouldn't just allow myself to play with the stereo,but it's become habit. Must be from all those annoying as hell business trips I got stuck taking with Lindsey.
"Any idea why those bastards went back on their word? I thought your contracts were ironclad," I say, paying attention to the traffic, not the way her fingers play with the buttons of my stereo.
Truth being told, I don't care very much about the demons' reasons to break the contract. All I want is to hear her voice. Preferably using legal terms that might have a chance to snap me out of the spell I seem to be under.
I'm so damn tired. As soon as we leave the city I'll ask her to drive.
I flipped about twenty channels until I found one I could live with. It was soft rock,but it was better than no music at all. I turned to him,after I finished playing with the buttons of the stereo.
"I haven't a clue,they probably found a better offer or something. At least that'll probably be Rooks's excuse to me. He'll mostly likely claim he doesn't like something the Partners are doing. hence the tribe going back on the deal. And as for our contracts being iron clad.. they are most of the time,but every once in a while The Senior Partners get whimsical and add various little loopholes and subsections to them."
I looked over at him,he looked awfully tired. "so how exactly do you want to handle this? Because as I'm sure you know Rooks's not usualy susceptible to making new deals, after breaking the old ones." Personally I think that the cheif of the tribe is just a selfishly cheap bastard.
And unfortuneantly for me, he seems to like me. What is it with demons wanting me as more than their lawyer? I guess I kind of understand the attraction,but most of them don't even like humans.
Well except me. Hmm must winning personality,or something. It's probably better not to really think about the 'why' too much, I'll just get a headache.
How do I want to deal with it? Sad thing is, I have no plan.
"Hell if I know. We usually went for the 'off with their heads' tactic back in Sunnydale. Speaking of Sunnydale, from your point of view, did it make any difference that the Hellmouth was sealed?"
I must be more tired than I realized. I have my doubts about the efficiency of our efforts in the fight against evil, but I didn't intend to let that show. Especially not on front of her.
I need to let her drive, but I'm waiting for her answer before interrupting for the switch.
I frowned when he said he didn't have a plan,for how to handle the tribe. Oh well no big deal I'm sure we could wing it. Not like I haven't do that before. I looked at him slightly confused,when he asked me about Sunnydale and the hellmouth.
"I wouldn't really know if there was a difference. I was too busy running away from the chaos that was Los Angeles. I do know that the Partners seemed some what pleased about it though,just before everything went to hell in LA."
I sighed as I thought back on that week. Everything had gone so very wrong. First the beast had shown up out of nowhere,and slaughtered the firm. Then there had been the rain of fire,and my personal 'favorite' Wesley saving me, only to have him tell me to leave town,before he left me to die.
"Yeah, we really dropped the ball there, didn't we? If Pryce hadn't had the idea to get Faith out of jail... I still can't believe the idiot let Angelus out without having Willow there from the beginning."
I shake my head in disgust. Messy business all over.
"Maybe you’d better drive," I tell her, pulling the car over.
We're almost out of the city. I have to hope she got used to driving on the left hand side of the road. It sure took me a while to get used to the change when I moved to the States.
I pulled my attention away from the window when he mentioned Wesley. "I'm sure he had his reasons,for letting her out. And as for Angel's bastard of an evil egotistical twin, He was doing the right thing. It's just how he works." I smiled to myself as I remembered how he always around me.
Granted we had our bad moments,but for the most part things were good. Really good, then it all went to hell. I'd like to blame Angel,or my job,but I know better. They weren't the real cause for what happened to us. Oh they played a part yeah,but they weren't the main cause for him leaving me. That was all my fault.
I nodded when he said I should drive. After he puklled over I got into the drivers seat. I waited a few mintues for him to get settled,before talking off.
I do my best to relax in the passenger seat. After my American years, I can't help the sensation that I should be driving when I'm on the left seat. I close my eyes trying to escape the unpleasant contradiction between habit and reality.
"Of course he had a point to get her out. Who else did he have? He was in no position to call on Buffy. Besides, he wanted to save his vampire friend, and she had already sent Angel to hell once before. And, yes, he had no better card against the Beast than Angelus. I'm just saying that if you take the guy's soul out, you better be sure to have around the one person who re-insouled him."
My dislike of Wesley comes from messing with my Slayers. If it hadn't been for his stupid blind obedience to the Council, Faith would've been spared a lot of grief. I learned to like the girl when she returned from prison. After Wesley had gotten her out. I can't blame him for a lot of things. Again, I have that fatherly, understanding attitude. Even about Wesley. I was a lot like him, before I had my arrogance knocked out of me by my dabblings into dark magic.
"I do know how he works, Lilah. We have the same basic training. If they hadn't sent him to deal with two Slayers before he had even trained a potential, a lot of mistakes could have been avoided. At least when I was his age I paid for my mistakes myself."
I whispered the last part, lost in memories of my youth. My dangerous experiments.
"You know I think you're the first one to actually agree that he did the right thing,when it comes to how he dealt with the beast. His so called friends weren't exactly greatful.." I replied bitterly.
I took a few moments to focus on driving and collecting my thoughts,before turning to him. "You may've had the same Watchers training,but you're not really the same. I mean you're not that same magic junkie anymore. And Wesley's not that bummbling stuck up moron you used to know. He was just a man trying so hard to get the approval from everyone around him." Everyone except me I thought to myself. If I really thought about it we had a lot in common in that area.
God I miss him,I didn't think it would hurt this much. I was wrong, so very wrong. I turned my attention back to the road,as I softly said."I'm sorry I know you probably meant most of what you said to be a good thing. I guess I've just gotten so used to defending him against Angel and the others.. you know what nevermind" I kept my eyes on the road.
From her first words my brain snaps to attention. I try to keep my body relaxed and my eyes closed to keep her from noticing my sharp interest. I have to bite my tongue not to say anything when she refers to me as a magic junkie. God damn it they must have files thick as encyclopedias on all the players!
The way she talks about Wesley, though, tells me he's more than a name in a file for her. What had she said about Watchers when I pressed her for answers about the mind wipe? That they need to know everything. What else? That they want what they can't have? That they're not happy with what they do have? What the hell had happened between her and Wesley?
Her tone is full of sadness and maybe even pain when she says she is used to defending him. Bloody hell!
I'm quite shocked, but I know better than showing any signs of it. I could always hide my emotions. With age, I got even better at it.
"Yes, I know how they are. Champions. Righteous. World's in black and white for them."
I wonder if I should inform her that the Wesley Wyndham-Pryce fan club has at least another two members. Both Faith and Willow had been quite vocal in their praises for him. Willow talked about how good he looked, about the physical changes she saw. Faith however... Faith had told me enough to know that Pryce wasn't a wrong choice for her as a Watcher. It had been a very unfortunate timing in pairing them up.
"We all strive for validation," I tell her, my eyes still closed. "The trick is to want it from the right person."
I wonder whose approval had she wanted when she joined Wolfram and Hart.
I can't let go of the Wesley issue. I am certain she loved him, and the revelation chilled me more than any of the things I told myself for the past month.
"Maybe I should call Wesley. We have both bee fired by the Council at some point. Who knows how many things we may have in common?"
My tone got almost sleepy by the end. I'm wide awake and I wish I could see the emotions on her face when I say all this. I think she'd feel safer to know me asleep. She probably realized she said too much. I wonder how deeply does she still care.
I kept my focus on the road as he talked. I tried not to let my mind drift off to thoughts of Wes,as I listened to Rupert. "Yeah some champion Angel turned out to be.. " I muttered bitterly at the thought of everything he'd done, not only to me,but to Wes and his other friends.
"Their view of the world is screwed up. They just refuse to see the shades of gray even though they know that they're there." Thankfully Wes had managed to break free of that, with some help from me.
I glanced over at him,as he said we were all looking for approval. "Yeah I guess so, and finding the right person to want it from isn't as easy as it seems." Hell I should know,so should Wes. He probably knows better than Rupert and myself combined.
Thinking of Wes I can't help, but feel like I some how shattered into a million tiny pieces the day he just gave up and walked away. I still don't really feel like all the pieces are back in place yet. I'm just now finally admiting to myself that he broke my heart that day. And in some ways I feel like my being transfered to the London branch is some sort of punishment.
And I just want it to stop hurting so damn much. I shrugged when he said that he thought perhaps he should call Wes. "Maybe you should,but that's completely up to you. Although you're also assuming he'll even have time to talk to you.." I knew that was a lie. I'd tried calling him a few weeks back,and got him on the phone, only to hang up after he said hello.
Yeah I know I should've said something,but I was too scared. Too much has happened to both of us,I wouldn't even know where to begin, after yelling at him for leaving of course.
It was around now that I realized that I'd said a bit too much, concerning Wes. After glancing over at Giles,who apperaed to be half asleep, I went back to trying to keep my mind on work related topics.
Pryce too busy to talk to me? That would be the day!
She's wrong about Angel, though. I never liked the guy, not just because he's a vampire, but because of what he did to Buffy. That love cost both their souls. His literally. Still, whatever else he is, he is a champion. And he does know more shades of gray than she can imagine. Maybe that's why he is so harsh with the people who fight in his corner. The slide through gray into black is too easy. Even I know it.
Lilah finally falls quiet. I'm a little sorry for her. She seems to have gotten her heart broken. That's not easy for anyone, no matter how evil you are. Or maybe it's even harder for them because love's not altruistic on their side. I'd have what to tell her. I could even manage to comfort her. But she's not one of my girls, is she? It's not my responsibility to make her feel better.
"Yes, well, I'll think about it," I say drowsily. "Are we there yet?" I ask, opening one eye.
I hope it'll make her smile. That is the most annoying thing, childish thing I could say now. I must miss my kids more than I realized. I used to hate taking them to the mall because of the thousand times an hour they asked 'are we there yet'.
She needs some fun in her life. Coming from me, that's downright scary.