by Jennifer-Oksana (email@example.com) website: http://www.imjustsayin.net/jennyo rating: R
spoilers: A New World
summary: They have a way of finding each other that's uncanny. Wesley/Lilah/Ethan, Ethan/Giles (implied past) disclaimer: right. cuz I have the money to own them.
"And there is much else that is knife-like about Desire." --Neil Gaiman
He's hungry. The word describes him too well, almost personifies him. The American girls he beds at a moment's whimsy always tell him he has hungry eyes. He laughs at them before pushing them into motel mattresses and hard, suspect pillows.
Hungry. That's the least of it, and those stringy, big-eyed girls are hardly the thing to take the edge off. He'd gotten himself pretty damn hungry and lean in the desert and he was tired of the petty tricks an old chaos man can enjoy with thin, nubile children.
So it's off to Los Angeles, the big shining cesspool that's a world unto itself. He's not so fond of Los Angeles, not Ethan, though it's seething with chaos. The plasticine sheen of the place gives him the willies, but he's ravenous. Desperate enough to brave the phonies, pierce the surface and find the real food that's waiting like a heartbeat below the surface.
And someone--or something--is waiting for him. He's heard it calling him since he reached Palm Desert. The rhythm of the call is hypnotic, imperceptible to all these scrabbling masses of potential human, but to someone as hungry as he it's a veritable scream.
"Don't worry, love," Ethan murmurs to whatever is calling him. "I'll find you."
There's no reply. Just the call, over and over, pleading for something it may not even understand.
Come for me. Find me. I want you.
I'm coming. I'll find you. I want you.
Desire pours into the void, so tangible that it's a song coming from the broken speakers of Ethan's stolen car. It's the gasoline that's pulling the squeaking wheels through the faceless names that pretend to be town, Pomona, West Covina, La Verne, Fontana.
Neither of them can stand the club he's chosen. It's crawling with children, beautiful, frivolous, utterly dull children. She used to have fun finding the dumbest and prettiest one (boy or girl, but that's a secret her companion doesn't know, even though she suspects he's keeping the same secret) and taking it home to hurt.
The hurting was only fun because it was unexpected. The best part is always the unexpected thing, the thing that starts the blood flowing in her veins, better than any drug or spell, though those are very nice too, when used--properly.
"Do you want to go?" she asks, twirling the glass of cosmopolitan ever so slightly. The liquid spins and the ice cubes clink against the glass and Wesley is looking at her with these eyes. "It's insipid. And we're very clearly together, so--"
He doesn't change expression. "Where else should we go?"
"Anywhere. My office? My apartment? Your apartment. For coffee. The pier. Las Vegas. Mexico. Anywhere," she offers. He doesn't take the bait. She rolls her eyes and takes a drink. "We should dance, at least."
"We're ten years older than anyone on the dance floor, you realize."
"And a hearty fuck you, too," Lilah replies, standing up and finishing her drink. "Come with me."
She can tell that he's thinking about saying no, about giving her a nasty, bitchy little leer and staying put, but instead he stands up, all lean grace and sullen, needy desire, and struts onto the dance floor, giving her a faux sneer.
Lilah is not a good dancer, despite all of this. She's graceful but everything's a bit too practiced. When she moves, it's calculated to remind everyone around her that yes, she is that beautiful and tall and perfect and they are most certainly not good enough for her.
But then there is him. Her brand new obsession, her matched void of wanting. And she wants him. There are so many ways that she wants him and the sex is the least of it. If it was about sex, she wouldn't be here, trying to match him with her mediocre dancing. He is about finding something in a world that doesn't like her. She wants him to like her and she almost never cares about nonsense like that.
His arm is suddenly around her waist. "You're awful," he murmurs warmly in her ear. "You make Angel look coordinated."
She shimmies against him, sliding her hands down her thighs. "I know."
"What do you want from me, Lilah?" he asks, brushing her ear with his lips. They are far from being graceful, but there's something raw in the way they cling to each other. "You ask me to work somewhere you hate. You dance around wanting me in your bed. We go to terrible clubs and say nothing. Tell me what you want."
"I want--" she says, but before she can spell out the wanting, the world suddenly seems to glow with something new. They look over at the entrance and he's standing there, old, faded, lean--and hungry.
Wesley recognizes him, of course, but the shock of recognition is tempered by the swell of energy that's calling out to him. Lilah is nearly motionless now, probably fascinated by the chaos that Rayne carries about with him like an aura.
"His name is Ethan Rayne," Wesley tells her. "He's a chaos mage."
"He's looking for us," Lilah says. "We should say hello."
"I suppose so," Wesley says. They walk, not touching, to the old mage who is smiling with some faint amused tolerance at their act. He is dressed well, but completely wrong for this crowd. They probably thought he was a washed-up actor of some sort at the door, to let him in like that.
Rayne is practically glowing when they finally reach him. He reaches out for Lilah, who gives him (without meaning to at all) a hug and a brief peck on the cheek. It's as if they're old friends. Wesley hangs back, unsure of the whole arrangement.
"Let's get out of here," Rayne says peremptorily. "I've lost my taste for the young and trifling these days."
And as simple as that, they follow. Well, Wesley follows Lilah, who follows Ethan with almost blind delight in her eyes. Wesley is stunned at the level of coincidence working here--how would Rayne--and why would Lilah--and why was he? It makes no sense, which means that there is a very good answer to each and every one of his questions.
"Where are we going?" Wesley asks as they reach ground level and the wild and wooly world of Sunset Boulevard.
"There's a small diner near here," Ethan says. "Norm's. I thought it might be as good a place as any to talk. The tea is vile, but it is Los Angeles, after all."
The three of them pile into Wesley's car, Rayne taking the back seat without a question. Lilah sits in the front, a strange, satisfied smile on her lips. Wesley suddenly wants to ask her what she's so damn happy about, but he can't find the words to ask.
"So you two are all alone here in the big city," Rayne says from the back. "However did you two find each other? It's almost like a delightful fairy tale."
Wesley rolls his eyes and keeps driving, resolved not to speak to the man. This is Ethan Rayne, after all, who is out for nothing more than a few cheap highs and the rebound and the chaos. He's nothing. His voice doesn't scream of possibilities that Wesley has been imagining every time he gets near Lilah, his presence doesn't feel like the answer to a prayer Wesley hadn't even known he was praying.
No. Of course not.
"It's a small world," Lilah replies smoothly. Very neat, that's Lilah, no room for messy thinking. "We ran across each other in a business matter. We have a few connections."
"Of course," Rayne says, the amusement clear in his voice. "It has nothing to do with that quality in you--in both of you--that called me here from the middle of the desert."
Wesley turns the corner too hard. "What quality are you talking about, Rayne?" he asks, trying not to sound desperate.
"You want," Ethan purrs, leaning forward between them. "You want so much that it's killing you."
Wesley steers the car into the parking lot. He is aware that Lilah's (not just Lilah's) breathing is fast and light with--something. Belief? Agreement. Desire.
They want. Oh, they want.
"So what you're saying is that we called you here?" she asks Ethan, looking surprised that such a thing is possible. The man (little Wesley Wyndham-Pryce, no longer a boy at last) isn't surprised. He stares into his coffee, refusing to meet Ethan's eyes. "Really?"
"It's not as uncommon as you might think, my dear," Ethan says patiently. He already likes Lilah, except for her stubborn refusal to believe in anything. Never mind that she's seen demons and vampires and hell and slaughter and all manner of unbelievable things. "Ask your charming companion over there. He knows."
Wesley's head comes up, slowly, and Ethan wants to burn those lips with his own. He's beautiful in his aching need for everything, is young--no longer so young--Wesley. Ethan remembers that Rupert--no, he's really nothing like Rupert. It's an entirely different sort of need. Wesley is special. He's amazing, in his own way. It's drawing them both to him, their own particular wanting swooning over that delicious, painful want that makes Wesley so--
"What do you know, Wesley?" Lilah asks, her voice cultured and mocking. "How did we bring Mr. Rayne right to us? Was it really a wish that our hearts made?"
She laughs at her own wittiness. Wesley doesn't laugh. Neither does Ethan, though he wants to. They're wonderful, both of them. A perfectly matched pair, really--she unable to believe but wishing that perhaps, just perhaps, she could. And then Wesley--nothing but belief and the screaming aching desperate wish to be rid of it so that he can stop hurting.
Ethan refrains from licking his lips. If he plays this right--and he will play this right--it's going to be quite a ride, these two darling things and him.
And then Wesley gasps.
She's got the old man's number. Ethan, that was his name. Lilah likes Ethan. She doesn't trust him as far as she can see him, but there are so few people in the world who are like her that she can't resist a kindred spirit.
So Lilah is showing Ethan Rayne that she's willing to play the game, to believe his cockamamie story about desire calling to desire. She's also going to remind him who's got the power in this situation--and more importantly, who has Wesley slowly writhing under her fingernails.
The old man wants Wesley. Who wouldn't want Wesley? Lilah used to not understand that. Wes was the limey working for Angel, and everyone wanted Angel.
Lilah doesn't want Angel. Angel can go fuck himself for all she cares. But Wesley--who couldn't want him? He wants it so much that you can smell it on him. And Lilah, like a guardian angel, is giving it to him.
"Well," Wesley says, trying to keep his voice even despite where Lilah's hands and fingernails are. "I've heard cases of it. More myth than reality, I've been told."
"Oh, it's reality, Wesley," Ethan nearly purrs, while Lilah's smile slowly grows. "Desire is powerful--far more powerful than people imagine and they think it's quite powerful. In the hands of the right people--and you, of course, are the right people--it can move mountains."
Wesley's breathing is slow, steady, and almost mechanical as his body reacts to her touching him. Lilah, very aware that Ethan is watching her, licks her lip. Not even a lick. Just a flicker to remind him.
Mine. For now, anyway
"Mountains, huh?" Lilah says, feigning interest. "I like the sound of that."
"You would," Ethan replies. "You're a sensible woman, after all. Very aware of the import of power. The way that very small things change reality. How a wrong move, a wrong touch and--"
Wesley isn't speaking. He should be, Lilah thinks. He should be slapping her, pulling away, something. But instead he's silent and yielding under her fingernails, balanced perfectly between her and Ethan's little game.
She realizes, as her smile fades, that they're feeding him--not only that, but they're glad to do it. That the desire and the game is all food to the man that she's touching beneath the table. And it's killing him.
And he needs more.
They'll kill him, he realizes as Lilah lets go of him, as Ethan's eyes sparkle at the performance that he technically didn't see. Between the two of them, these two well-dressed scions of chaos, they will eat his heart out and beg for more.
That is who they are, what they are. If Wesley has any sense, he'll stop. Now. He won't let them do it. He can see his future with these two as clearly as any foreteller.
Wesley sees everything. He knows everything, the truth of everything, the little currents of power and desire and needs curling around the three of them. He knows the end of it all, how many people will be hurt.
And then Wesley orders another coffee.
"I'm a devious degenerate, defender of the devil..." --MC Chris http://www.imjustsayin.net
If you enjoyed this story, please send feedback to Jennifer-Oksana
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