Summary: Faith and Lilah walk into a bar.
Fandom: Angel the Series
Disclaimer: Joss's, not mine.
Original story: The Last Seduction by married_n_mich
Many thanks to lyrstzha for beta and various handholding.
(I also accidentally wrote a remix that I was unable to submit to the comm because the fix I remixed is coauthored: The Buffybot and Mr. Gordo Save the World (Ozymandias Remix).)
The story begins: Two women walk into a bar.
Hey, wait. It’s not a joke. Not yet anyway. So, Lilah and Faith walk into a bar. No, not that Lilah; not that Faith. Everybody knows the way those stories play out. This is something different.
This Lilah has her head on her shoulders; she still has her integrity. She’s never worn pigtails.
And this Faith? She’s a good little inmate. She curls up at night with the phantom weight of the Mayor’s knife in her palm, but she never ever makes it real. Bertha doesn’t know how grateful she should be for that restraint.
Faith is nervous. Lilah can tell. And why shouldn’t she be? Two hours ago Faith was looking at the world through an inch of Plexiglas and for the moment she’s scot-free and living the high life. After all, it’s not every day someone of Lilah’s caliber hits Ladies’ Night at Giuseppe’s with little Miss Wrong Side of the Tracks. That kind of attention is enough to put any girl on edge.
"That’s why I’m here?” Faith says. “You want me to take Angel out for you?"
Another Lilah in another story, she will say yes and mean it. She will make an offer that Faith can’t refuse. Angel will grind to dust between them that very night and she and Faith will fuck with his blood drying in sticky smears on their forearms.
But this Lilah—she’s tired. And she’s wearing Chanel.
"I had big plans for you, Faith. Bust you out of jail and drag you over to our side." Lilah draws one fingertip through the condensation beading on the side of Faith’s glass. "What a waste of time."
Faith doesn’t bother to agree but Lilah hears the words as if she said them all the same. In the long stretch of silence that follows, Lilah watches Faith’s throat work as she swallows, her cheeks hollow as she takes a drag. Lilah thinks she has never seen anything so mesmerizing—the intensely erotic purse of Faith’s mouth around a Camel Light, her full lips parting on the smoky exhale. "Are you in love with him?" Lilah says.
"You’re asking me about love? You gotta rethink that one. I’m the last one anyone should be asking about love.” Faith stubs out her cigarette and taps the filter of another on the table before she lights it. “I’m not in love." Faith is telling the truth. There’s no Buffy in this story.
"I don’t know much about it myself. I thought I was in love once, but it didn’t turn out all that well." In most versions, Lilah has Wesley Wyndham-Pryce in mind but a handful of times she is referring to Helen Brucker and in one apocryphal account of this tale the man in question is Lindsey McDonald.
Lilah would rather die than admit it, but sometimes she really misses Lindsey. Lindsey and his evil hand would know exactly what to do, exactly how to press Faith back into the cheap leather of the booth and make her squirm, exactly how to turn her devotion to Angel into betrayal. At some point in the evening, Lilah will forget those are two different things.
"That’s why I keep saying sex and love don’t mix.” When Lilah hears those words come out of her mouth, she begins to suspect that she’s drunk. She counts the empty martini glasses clustered on the table which confirms that suspicion.
Faith grins, wicked and dirty, and Lilah shivers as if she’s been touched. "You’re right. Sex is always good.” Faith lowers her voice and leans in so closely that Lilah can feel the damp heat of Faith’s breath on her cheek. “Bringing somebody right to the edge and then making them beg for it. Talk about power." Faith doesn’t slouch back over to her side of the table and for the space of two heartbeats, Lilah thinks they will kiss.
Sometimes they do. Sometimes Faith fists her hand in Lilah’s hair and licks into Lilah’s mouth, traces a whisky slick tongue along Lilah’s jawbone and down to her shoulders. Other times they wind up in the bathroom, Lilah’s pantsuit puddled on the cracked linoleum around her ankles and Faith’s clever fingers buried to the hilt. But this time, nothing happens. They just breathe the same air until Faith smirks and sparks up another Camel. Lilah thinks that somebody just made a point and she’s pretty damn sure it wasn’t her.
"What happens now?" Faith says.
"You go back to jail."
"Not what I meant."
"You mean, are we friends now?"
"Not what I meant either."
At this point in the story, the following options present themselves:
1. Faith and Lilah play quarters until the wee hours. Lilah is spectacularly bad at this game which she finds inexplicably comforting. Eventually, their waitress cuts them off, refusing to acknowledge the two fifties Lilah presses into her hand, and Lilah and Faith sit in her car in the parking lot until the sun breaks over Giuseppe’s neon sign. Lilah knows she is being foolhardy, but for one tiny moment she lets herself wonder what would happen if she just cranked the car and drove away from California. This road doesn’t go on forever; she can’t drive far enough or fast enough to leave Wolfram and Hart in the dust. But it’s nice to dream for a little while—the windows rolled down and the radio thumping bass through the seats, Faith’s bare feet propped up on the dash, the solid thrum of the engine settled deep in Lilah’s bones.
2. Gavin Park sends his Armani to the cleaners at 9:27 the next morning but he has very little hope of salvaging the suit. Blood is such a bitch to clean and Gavin imagines that will be true of Lilah’s in particular.
3. While Faith is in the restroom, Lilah empties a vial of clear and odorless liquid into her bourbon and when Faith dies, gasping and foaming at the mouth and bleeding from her eyes, Lilah is almost sorry.
What happens now is this: Lilah doesn’t answer. Faith goes back to jail. Lilah returns home to her cold and empty apartment and waits for the rest to be written.