Author:  Meltha

Rating:  G, nothing objectionable

Feedback:  Yes, thank you.

Spoilers:  Angel's "Billy"

Distribution:, the Bunny Warren, and the 500 Club.  If you're interested, please let me know.

Summary:  Lilah has angered the Senior Partners and waits for her punishment.

Author's Note:  The eleventh in the Jewel Box series, a collection of 500 word fics (in response to The 500 Club) and an idea taken from Challenge in a Can  In this case, it's Lilah, jewelry, and regret. 

Disclaimer: All characters are owned by Mutant Enemy (Joss Whedon), a wonderfully creative company whose characters I have borrowed for a completely profit-free flight of fancy.  Kindly do not sue me, please, as I am terrified of you.  Thank you.

Cleaning House

People deal with failure in many ways: drinking, overeating, insomnia.  Lilah Morgan preferred her own brand of self-destruction.  When things went wrong, she tied a kerchief around her head and cleaned her apartment maniacally.

Billy was dead. Lilah had killed him, feeling no guilt over ridding the world of the arrogant man who had beaten her to a pulp.  Unfortunately, Wolfram & Hart's saw things differently.  Billy was chosen to wreak widespread havoc, and he'd been killed inside a week.  She knew punishment was coming, but not when.  That was part of the company's reprimand, but knowing it didn't make it any less effective.

Trash bag in hand, she rooted through her closet, killing time before she became a Clantos demon's plaything or was told to bathe dozens of Plathars, which exuded a corrosive mucus.  She was opening shoeboxes, checking for nicked heels, when she grabbed one suspiciously light box that rattled loudly.  Expecting to find nothing important inside, Lilah popped the lid.

It was his fraternity pin.

Seeing it shouldn't have shocked perfectly coiffed, spit-in-your-eye Lilah so much.  Seven years had passed, and she thought it was long gone.

His name was Alan.  Another law student -- young, brilliant and handsome -- she'd laughed at his fervor for social justice, but it didn't matter.  The same passion showed up in everything he felt, including their relationship.

It had been wonderfully absurd.  She was the bad girl, dressed in leather and Lycra, crimson-hued lips and smudged dark eyeliner.  She was also the smartest in the class.  He had been the perfect student, superbly earnest and rarely seen without a tie.  Oil and water met and mixed into pure gold.

He'd given her his fraternity pin, telling her he loved her and hoped after they graduated she might consider becoming engaged.  Taking the pin, she made no promises.  She'd worn it every day, though no one knew since she pinned it to her bra strap.

Wolfram and Hart's offer came the following year.  Alan was an idealist, but he wasn't stupid.  He quickly figured out who these people were.  Eventually, she had to choose between him and them.  She'd laughed in his face and flounced away, convinced the firm would be able to replace anything he could offer. 

The Senior Partners were excellent at giving employees what they wanted.  Wealth poured in the door.  Prestige and power were hers for the plucking.  Sex was there at a snap of her fingers.  But love wasn't within their sphere of influence.

Looking at the pin, she wondered what would have happened if she'd chosen another path, imagining a life less alone.  She'd never doubted her choice.  Picket fences and toddlers weren't her idea of paradise, she thought.  However, this wasn't heaven either.

Maybe she had loved him.  An unaccustomed pain clenched her frozen heart, and it took a moment to recognize the feeling as regret.  True regret.

Laughing, the Senior Partners were satisfied with the punishment they'd given their wayward protege.