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Letting Go in Four Acts

by Jennifer-Oksana


"And I hate myself just enough to want him But I hate him just enough to get off
But I understand him
Maybe I'm just crazy enough to love him
Why not?"       --Poe, "Trigger-Happy Jack (Drive By A Go-Go)
*       *       *

Only in the kind of world where Angel, Cordelia, and Connor disappeared in the same day could things have gotten as bad as they had. Only in the kind of world where Charles refused--absolutely refused--to talk to Wesley about help--only in the kind of world where you happened to run into evil bringing back takeout and coffee while you tried to decide what to do.

Well, Fred was living in that kind of world these days.

Lilah from Wolfram and Hart was in the same line as she Fred at the Coffee Bean. Funny to think that evil liked non-fat mocha lattes. Evil was looking dressed down, too. Pretty green blouse, jeans, platform espadrilles--Cordelia would approve of the outfit, Fred thought. If Cordelia were around and not out there somewhere.

"Um," Fred said, against her better judgement. "Aren't you too important to get your own coffee?"

"Used to be," Lilah said, tossing her head and giving Fred a strange look. "Fran, right?"

"It's Fred," she replied icily.

"Oh, that's right," Lilah said airily. "I remember. He said that, one time--but anyway. Fancy running into you here!"

"Yeah," Fred said. "You like the mocha lattes here, too?"

"Better than Starbucks," Lilah said with a feline grin. She was just like a big ol' cat, and Fred didn't think she was the kind that liked to be petted. Not by a longshot. Lilah was the kind of cat that scratched your best chair just because you didn't want her to and dared you to make her stop. "What's on your mind, Freddie? Shouldn't you be getting back to your big, mean boyfriend?"

"I was just picking up some coffee," Fred said. "So what are you up to these days?"

Lilah's grin got absolutely wicked and Fred wondered what on earth she'd said to provoke that kind of reaction.

"Curious?" Lilah asked, her eyes roving over Fred's rather worn outfit and wispy hair with the professional consumerist disapproval that was very Cordelia. Or Cordy before she'd gotten all demony and busy with Groo and disappeary.

"Maybe a little," Fred's tongue confessed while Fred's brain cursed at it very loudly.

"Too bad," Lilah replied. "I don't satisfy idle curiosity."

Fred pretended not to care while she considered what to say next. Because she didn't really want to get into a fight with a pathetic evil minion at a Coffee Bean--that was sort of anticlimactic. Besides, Lilah really wanted to fight with her and Fred was better than that sort of petty--

"Who were you talkin' to about me?" Fred asked, suddenly alarmed.

Lilah's laugh had a very nasty edge to it suddenly as she picked up her coffee. It was the kind of laughter that screamed that something very funny and very awful was going on, and Fred really didn't want to know. Except that she needed to know, because Lilah wouldn't laugh like that if there wasn't something horrible and oh. oh no, God no.

It couldn't be true. It couldn't be true, but it might be true and if it was true, then. Oh God no.

"I'll give you three guesses," Lilah said with a delighted little purr in her voice. "And one hint--it's not anyone vampy."

The barista called for one mocha latte and one triple espresso. Fred hurried up and grabbed her order, trying to figure out someone--anyone- -that Lilah could have talked to about her that wasn't him. Please not him.

Lilah was sitting at one of the little tables. She gestured for Fred to join her, which the other woman did, albeit feeling guilty as hell. It was probably breaking all sorts of rules, sitting and talking to Lilah like that, but she had to know what was going on.

"Look, I don't want--it's not Wesley, is it?" Fred asked, taking a big old slurp of her latte. "I mean, of course it's not Wesley. It's probably one of your evil colleagues. Linwood, right?"

Lilah cackled and Fred's heart sank. Not Wesley. Not with--not with her. Anyone else in the world but her.

"Wow, you're not nearly as clueless as I thought," Lilah said brazenly. "I guess I should update my files."

So Lilah wasn't only mean and evil, she was petty. Fred decided that she really didn't like Lilah so much, especially the way she was laughing at her. But if there was more Lilah wanted to say, Fred needed to hear it. She needed to know what was going on with Wesley.

"Leave Wesley alone," Fred said fiercely. "You're just playing with him."

"And what exactly would you be doing with him?" Lilah asked poisonously. "Don't you dare take the moral high ground with me, you self-righteous stick figure. At least I didn't have my face so close to Angel's undead ass that I abandoned a dear, dear friend when he needed me the most."

It was official: Fred hated Lilah more than anyone in the world and that was saying something. Fred tried not to hate anyone, even violent demons and annoying Yankees who mocked Texas right in front of her.

"He--he took Connor! And I--Angel would have killed him--I--leave him alone!"

"Why would I want to do that?" Lilah asked sweetly, her eyes burning into Fred's. "You don't have the right to tell me anything about Wes. Not one damn thing."

Fred started wondering if Charles would do some quality violence for her on Lilah's tall, all-too-perfect person. Because it was starting to sound like a damn good idea.

"You don't have the right--"

"Listen to me, Fred," Lilah interrupted with a fierce glare. "Wesley doesn't need you. He doesn't need to hear you telling him what a bad bad boy he's been. He doesn't need to watch your anorexic ass condemning him. He doesn't need you. And I don't need you getting in my way. Leave. Wes. Alone. I have plans for him and they don't involve you in any way, shape, or form."

She cocked her head speculatively. "Unless you want to come along with me tonight. That could be fun--you'd be a nice thing to give him. Us."

Fred backed away, blushing. Oh, that had just been--underhanded.

"Don't hurt him," Fred pleaded, feeling completely out of her league. "He's had a bad--"

"Life?" Lilah asked with something that could have been compassion if she weren't an evil soulless lawyer monster. "With friends like you, how am I going to hurt him? Hell, I'm probably good for him. I at least give a damn."

"You're the last thing he needs."

"Oh, sure," Lilah said. She sounded tired of arguing. "Because one whole person in the world who's interested in him is far, far too many for a major player like Wesley. Especially a major player who fucks like he does."

Lilah made a self-satisfied little noise and Fred blushed.

"Oh, what I could tell you about that man in bed," Lilah muttered. "But anyway. Leave him alone, or you'll wish you had."

"I really hate you," Fred said, utterly helpless.

"Good," Lilah says. "Now go away, little girl, and go help the hopeless or whatever you pretend to do. I have much more important things to do than fight with skinny self-righteous prigs."

Fred stood up, trying not to stumble. It was horrible. It wasn't true. Wesley wouldn't even get involved with someone like Lilah. No no no. Not a chance. He was just trying to do his best. Getting involved with Lilah--no. She had to go talk to him right away and make sure that this was just a horrible lie, and when Wesley told her so, she would find Lilah and she would slap her. Or something.

Fred stumbled out of the Coffee Bean, leaving her order behind, though she was clutching the take-out tight. She thought that maybe she should give Charles his lunch before heading all the way out to Santa Monica-- especially with Charles' truck--but then she might have to talk to him about it and Charles might get funny about it and.

It was better. Yes. Just to go now.


Days were starting later and later for Wesley and ending in the dead of night, usually right around last call, unless it was one of those nights where Mistress Morgan decided that she fancied a go, and then they ended considerably later than that. He despised that she seemed to have no foibles about standing at the door and banging on it, politely but insistently, until he let her in. She didn't scream, she didn't call over and over. Lilah merely knocked, knowing that eventually, she would enter. Would be allowed entrance.

She wasn't the worst companion in the world for all of that--she thought far more of her seductive abilities than Wes did, and she was a dreadful flirt who thought there was nothing sexier than a ballsy woman, but--but--there were good things about the bird.

She always remembered to bring alcohol, condoms, and videos (not the pornographic sort) and she didn't mind leaving when he told her so. She also seemed not to give a damn about anyone. Wolfram and Hart were on the receiving end of her endless cutting remarks at least as often as Angel and his lot. Something also had to be said for a woman who would fuck you any way you wanted and beg you for more.

He hated her. But he was beginning to like her.

Wesley groaned and picked up the remains of last night's spree. He'd chosen shite gin, and the pizza must have been absolutely inedible for them to leave so much of it uneaten. Then there were Lilah's personal effects, strewn on the floor like so much garbage.

Had they even made it to the couch? And sweet Christ, the handcuffs-- steel handcuffs--damn, but the woman was a perverse one--and--

Was that the door? What the hell time was it, anyway?

Wesley, holding a pair of underwear, a pair of handcuffs, and the empty bottle of gin, walked to the door and opened it.

"You're early," he said languidly and before he recognized the woman standing before him. "And rather clearly not who I expected."

Fred stared at Wesley, jaw hanging loose and eyes as wide as a child who's wandered in on her parents in bed.

"Oh," she said. "Oh my."

"Indeed," Wesley said with the dryness of absolute humiliation. "Would you like to come in? I think the couch is over there somewhere--I need to put this away, you see--"

"Uh-huh," Fred said breathlessly, eyes still wide and disbelieving. Wesley hustled away to the kitchen, chucking the bottle and underwear in the trash and setting the handcuffs in a drawer. "Your place is awfully messy."

"I have a persistent houseguest who delights in trashing the place," Wesley replied, washing his hands. "I suppose you won't sit down. Do you need something?"

"I was at the Coffee Bean," Fred said, apropos of nothing. "I ran into your persistent houseguest."

So it was going to be even worse than Wesley had imagined. He thought about throwing Fred out, telling her it was none of her business, and changing the locks so none of them could get in, but that would only bring Gunn about and Lilah was about so often she might call a locksmith and claim that she'd lost her key. So with a little sigh, he steeled himself and walked back into the living room, no smile.

"I see," he said. "What of it?"

"What of it?" Fred asked, folding her arms. "Wesley, you're--you're--"

"Fucking," Wesley said helpfully. "I'm fucking Lilah."

The statement hung in the air and Fred wished that somehow it could be erased, but it was there. Hard and cold--and unapologetic to boot.

"How could you?" Fred asked, her eyes trying to be hard and failing. She was simply without any form of understanding. "How--could you?"

"She's there," Wesley said. "Have you ever had someone--of course not-- anyhow. It's not precisely what you think."

Fred raised an eyebrow. "No?"

"No," Wesley replied firmly. "You know how it is to be alone, don't you? Imagine if you'd had one person--just one--who was out to betray you, but who let you do as you would until the other shoe finally dropped."

"You have--" Fred said, trailing off. She knew that wasn't true. He didn't have anyone. Not anymore. "There's got to be someone better than her."

Wesley looked at her. "Possibly," he said. "But I'm not with her to join Wolfram and Hart. I'm--it's just sex, Fred."

Fred stared at him, possibly more horrified than she had been. "That's- -that's awful! You're usin' her!"

"And she's using me," Wesley pointed out. "What of it? She wants me to join Wolfram and Hart for reasons of her own. We know that we've got secret agendas. Honesty is the best policy in a relationship like this."

"So you know she wants you--"

"Compromised might be the best word for it," Wesley said mildly. "Perhaps under her spell. And I want her to be quiet."

Fred's brow knitted unconsciously. "What do you mean?"

"She talks all the time. It's damnably distracting," Wesley said. "I despise her, but she talks so much that I find myself drawn into--well, never mind that. I'm not sympathetic to Lilah. I'm not interested in joining Wolfram and Hart. I'm not evil. Not that it's your business, anyway."

Fred glared. "Well, aren't you just full of information."

"That's what she says," Wesley replied dryly. "Anyhow, I'm sorry that she told you. I'm sorry that it upsets you, honestly."

"But you're not gonna stop seein' her. Or--sleepin' with her. And you're not going to come back, are you?"

Wesley looked at her, utterly confused. "I don't want to die that quickly, Fred," he said.

"Angel's gone, Wesley," Fred said, her eyes trying to see something of the man she'd known in the stranger wearing his face. "So is Cordelia, so is Connor. We need you, Wesley."

Wesley might have laughed, but the situation was far too funny for laughter. Need. He knew all about need, and he knew that if he went back--and every inch of him ached to return, ached to go back--it would be everyone's needs but his. He would be the embarrassing unmentionable, he'd be the use-value.

He looked at Fred, and for the first time in a long time, realized that she was strangely unappealing, and almost as annoying as all of Lilah's mockeries of her. There was nothing about being forgiven in Fred's little speeches.

"But you don't want me," Wesley said. "I'm tired of being needed where I'm not wanted."

Wesley opened the door to his apartment, and Fred's heart flipped over. She knew she wouldn't come back if she left now, and she knew that Wesley was no longer her friend. He stared at her with even less passion than the evil lawyer bitch had.

"We'll always let you come back," Fred said grandly, but it sounded like a lie even to her. "There's always such a thing as redemption."

"Yes," Wesley said with an ironic smile. "I'm very glad there is, for your sake."

He closed the door. Fred didn't spend too much time lingering. Best not to worry about it. She'd have to move on instead.


Someone not Fred knocked on the door at seven sharp. Wesley didn't even have to guess who it was; he knew and it made him nauseous to realize that he'd been expecting her all day and wanting her since Fred's disastrous little visit.

"Go away."

"I brought Jim Beam to apologize," she said. "Though I don't know why I'm apologizing. I got you what you wanted, didn't I?"

Wesley snorted. "Oh, come in. And give me that."

Lilah walked into the book-littered but otherwise neatened-up apartment and tossed him the bottle and sat down on the couch, smug as a cat who's just managed to bring you a fresh new mouse.

"You are the most tedious woman," Wesley said, walking into the kitchen to get a pair of glasses. "What did you say to her?"

"I said to leave you alone. I said that you didn't need her. I also told her that I fucked you," Lilah said. "All of which is true. But I think she really took offense at the leave Wesley alone part."

Wesley laughed. "She did."

"Well, poor Miss High and Mighty," said Lilah, stretching out. "I'm actually sorry."

"The hell you are."

Lilah laughed. "Well, of course not, but I'm sorry that you had to deal with that," she said. "I meant the part where I said I liked you. I really like you. I think she's an anorexic stick girl with a bug up her ass."

Wesley walked back into his living room, handing her the Beam on the rocks. "Yes, she mentioned that as well."

"It was so much fun to tell her so," Lilah admitted, taking a slug of her drink. "Did she let you explain anything?"

"Actually," Wes said. "She did. Except for the part where I think you're repulsive. It was very cathartic."

"Oh, so I guess all's forgiven! When do you start up with Angel Investigations again?" she asked, her teeth shining at him cheerfully in a cruel parody of a smile. Fucking bitch, Wesley thought. Right as usual, but bitch anyway.

"Don't make me laugh," he said. "I am not forgiven in any way, shape, or form."

Lilah nodded in mock-severity. "Haven't suffered enough, have you?"

He almost said something nasty to her, but something about the comment sparked something other than annoyance and distaste in him. Lilah had it dead to rights, even with the mocking and the torturing. He was being punished until that--that--that self-righteous stick woman--and a bleeding asshole like Angel--said he'd suffered enough for his sins.

Who were they? Who the fuck did they think they were?

"Not for them," he admitted ruefully. She looked shocked at his relatively non-hatefulness. "Lilah, why do you keep coming here? I don't want to join Wolfram and Hart. Even if I was that desperate, I think you people run a shoddy operation. It's not happening."

She shrugged. "Probably not. Fuck 'em anyway."

He laughed. "So fuck Wolfram and Hart, fuck Angel and his people, and what's left?" he asked. "Day jobs?"

"Hell no," Lilah said, finishing her drink. "What I'm thinking is much, much more obvious."

"Independent operations?" Wesley asked, assessing the way she was looking at him. She was serious. "You really think in a town like this, we could get away with it? We don't have any muscle between us."

"Consulting, my dear Mr. Wyndham-Pryce, doesn't require muscle. Besides, I have a candidate or two if we need the muscle. But what I'm thinking is pure data. We know things. We know valuable and profitable things. And if we do one last burn through Wolfram and Hart, we will know everything and I mean that in the literal way. If it works."

She gave him a look that was definitely lascivious.

"If what works?" he asked calmly.

"I have a friend," she said, unbuttoning the first two buttons of her blouse. "She knows some things. And I think she'll absolutely love you."

"This is insanity," he said, sitting down next to her on the couch and helping her get rid of the rest of her shirt. "We'll be caught. And then we'll be dead. Of course, if that's your plan--"

"I don't have much interest in dying, Wes," Lilah said, taking off his shirt. "I worked pretty damn hard with a bunch of limp-dicked lawyers to get to where I am. I'm not going to stop playing just because they told me to. And I sure as hell don't intend to get caught."

He slid off one bra strap after the other, right shoulder left shoulder, leaving her to unhook the damn thing and drop it on the floor. Today's bra was a deep pink, almost girly but not really.

Wesley put two fingers against the outside curve of her neck. She shivered. The throat fetish was uncanny. Disturbing, too. He traced her neck up to the ear, looking in her eyes the entire time.

"We'd have to trust each other," he said. "Otherwise, it's back to insanity and being very, very dead."

"The trust could be an issue," she admitted, her hands moving to the waistband of her skirt. "It's the perfect moment to get back to where we used to be."

His thumb found her larynx and she moaned, throwing her head back. He pushed against the spot very, very lightly, feeling the rings of her windpipe. Such a strange situation and for the first time, not merely an exercise in self-loathing. If he could learn to trust her--if she was in fact worth trusting--he could have his own future again.

"When did you get into breathplay?" he asked, averting his eyes. It was too much to watch her get turned on over even the threat of being choked. "You're not really the type, are you?"

"Not really," she admitted, kicking away the skirt and leaning back against the couch. "It's a long story and it's mostly cliched."

"Tell me anyway," he said, undoing his belt and laying it aside slowly. She looked up at him and blinked, surprised that he was interested.

"I had a boyfriend--"

"At university?"

"High school. He was older," she said, watching as he undid his jeans. "Lots older. A friend of my mother's. Married at the time, midthirties, old money."

"Aren't they always?" and he'd gotten his hands on her breasts, cupping them firmly. She laughed.

"I was so pretty in my school uniform, he said. Ritzy private school, of course, even though we weren't--"

"Pleated skirts and choking?" he asked, his hands on her waist now and his face dipped to kiss her stomach. "Sick bugger."

"Extremely," she drawled, trying not to squirm as his tongue swirled around her belly button. "He told me I was his angel. Maybe that's why I'm not so surprised when Angel does the things he does. I don't trust angels."

He might have answered, but it felt like he was massaging her stomach with his tongue instead. She squealed a little and kept talking, even though his fingers were crawling up her thighs with intentions.

"We'd go to the best places in town," she said, her breathing speeding up as she caressed her own neck at the memory. "At least I thought so. Private upscale hotel rooms. Nice bed and breakfasts where they all assumed I was nineteen or twenty. The woman who ran the place would always remind me to use birth control. Nice wo--oh, keep doing that thing you're doing with your tongue."

He stopped, looked up at her, and grinned. "You were saying?"

"Son of a--ooh. Oh. Anyway. It was an acci-acci-you're a fucking god-- dent. I told him I was gonna, I was gonna tell my--ohhhh--mom. He got so so so mad and we started fighting on the--oh, god yes--bed. I don't know what we were doing but he was on me hard and I--and I--and I--I'm gonna come so hard--it was like nothing I'd ever felt before."

She paused for a moment to do some quality moaning. He didn't seem to mind so much, but she caught her breath pretty fast and kept talking.

"It was good, it was really good," she gasped when he didn't stop. "I mean, he got freaked after a while, but at first, he thought it was fun, the way I'd let him touch me, let him hold me down while he was-- he was such a sick fuck. oooooooooooooh, god damn you're amazing."

Lilah thought about holding her breath, but it usually scared them off, though Wesley had more kink in him than her usual. And the story was more or less told. But she kept talking anyway.

"I want to trust you," she said, closing her eyes and forcing her hands to stay at her sides. "I think it'd be an interesting experience, trusting someone. For the first time in a long time. But before I trust you, right now, I just want to fuck you."

She closed her eyes. His hands were on her neck almost too fast, and she could hear him breathing against her neck.

"Trust me," he whispered, sounding suddenly very passionate and alive and angry all at once. "Trust me and fuck me."


What was that Pope line about vice? Something about a hideous face that first one hated, then pitied, then embraced? Wesley couldn't remember. Pope had been something of a troll anyway, probably disappointed in love, locked in a mortal form he hated. But there was something in his lecturing on vice for all of that.

Lilah looked at him curiously, propped up on one elbow and extremely naked. She didn't seem to mind the nudity, and why would she, anyway? She was, for all of her many incredible faults, a beautiful woman. Wesley smiled at her half-heartedly and went back to thinking about the specifics of her plan.

"I don't see how you're going to get her to walk out with us," he said, puzzling it out in his head. The rest of it would be simple, but the culmination was going to be tricky.

"It relies heavily on your charms," Lilah admitted, looking at him hungrily but not a sexual sort of hunger. This was the Lilah he knew better: all about power. "This friend I told you about? I told you she knows some things. She's actually--well, she's Files and Records. She knows everything."

"What is she?" Wesley asked suspiciously.

"I think she's human," Lilah said. Wesley grimaced at her. "What? She's a secret. She doesn't exist outside her office."

"You're hanging our lives on something you don't know is human or even interested in sex," Wesley said. "I refuse to do this without the proper research."

"She's interested in sex," Lilah replied quickly, looking away. "I know that much. And she seems pretty damn human. Except for the knowing everything part."

The impact of what she wasn't saying hit him in the gut. "Dear God," he muttered.

"That's what she said."

"I didn't need to hear that," Wesley said, turning away slightly. They had so much to do if this was going to happen. "Could you kindly get dressed?"

"Spoilsport," she said. He laughed. There was something desperate and almost fun about this after all. Two people who didn't even quite like each other, certainly didn't trust each other, and who were trying to stay alive despite strenuous opposition plotting something like this. Plotting to get free of all of the tedious nonsense.

Once you decide you're dead, living gets a lot simpler, Wesley decided. There was no way they'd pull this off. Someone was going to kill them very, very dead. She'd make it more fun than if he'd stayed with Angel and the endless guilt. The endless blame that might as well have come from his father.

All of them, judging him. All of them, ready and willing to lock him in that closet under the stairs. Well, to hell with that.

"What are you thinking about?" she asked, wearing one of his shirts and her light green thong underwear. "How to make it work?"

"I think it won't," he said. "I think that you want to die and take me with you."

Lilah shook her head. "I don't want to--"

He covered her mouth with his hand. "It's all right," he murmured, looking at her. "I understand."

A terrified, little-girl-lost look came into her eyes. He realized that he was smothering her, a little. He moved his hand. Lilah backed away, slowly, the fear rising from her in waves.

"I don't want to die," she repeated, clasping his shirt closed around her. "They always think I want to die, that's why I--I don't want to, Wes."

He'd touched some nerve in her, something that she hadn't managed to deaden with all the years of lying and cheating and drinking herself senseless in between. Strange what'll wake the fear in a person, he thought dryly.

"If you don't want to die, don't make suicidal plans," he said.

"What's life without a little risk?" she countered. "Besides, I've factored in the problem with Files and Records. That's where you're going to want to go first, right? You'll have a couple of weeks to figure out what she is."

"Your confidence in me is staggering," Wesley replied. "And flattering, if somewhat disturbing."

Lilah sighed. "If I don't trust you, this is suicide. Mutual suicide. And I always said that if I was going to kill myself, it'd be with vodka and a bottle of pills."

"How very Lupe Velez of you."

"Didn't she drown in her own toilet?" Lilah retorted. "That, I'm not doing. Nor would I enjoy the dog food in San Pedro version, nor the shot in an alley by a Wolfram and Hart operative, nor the killed by Angel version--"

He grinned at her. "So it's the vodka and pills for you? It doesn't always work, you know. And there's all the vomit."

Lilah pressed her lips together and wrinkled her nose, clearly disgusted by the image. She'd relaxed a little, though, and the wheels in her head were going as fast as his.

"Smoke inhalation," she muttered, far away look in her eyes.

"That's--what?"

"You ever want to set the world on fire, Wesley?" she asked, a slow smile sliding over her face. "Or the seventh floor of a very prestigious law firm, anyway?"

"You're mad. They'd have the police on us," he replied. Damn, but the woman had a death wish! "There are spells to reconstruct burnt files, anyway."

Lilah shrugged. "Just a thought."

"Your first plan's the likeliest one," he replied. "I think that we're chancing a lot on this Files and Records--doesn't she have a name?"

Lilah shook her head. "Not that I could get out of her."

Wesley nodded and poured them another round of Beam on the rocks. The bottle was already half empty, and he figured the way they went through it, maybe they'd drink themselves to death before any plan came together.

"It's all right," he said, taking a sip of the whiskey, wondering why she hadn't sprung for Jack Daniels, at the very least. "We'll figure it out."

They were going to die. If she betrayed him, he would take her with him. If they fucked up, someone would find a pair of corpses floating with no one to mourn 'em. If they actually managed to pull this off-- well, that was the unthinkable, wasn't it? Success. Success would be sweet and deadly, too. They'd get cocky and it would kill them in the end. Maybe it would take longer, but no matter where they turned, it was suicide.

He liked it. He liked it the way he was starting to like her, halfdressed and hopeful one moment, heartless and horrible the next. She was clear in her intentions, for all of her foibles. She would eat his heart out in front of him and not behind his back.

At least Wesley hoped so, as he abandoned himself to her plans, her needs, and her dreams. He trusted her to take him to hell. He trusted her to let him die, and in the unlikely case that they lived, he trusted that it would at least be pleasant.


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