CHAPTER THREE

All hell shall stir for this.

William Shakespeare - King Henry V. Act v. Sc. 1.

A HOPE IN HELL

"You be nice, Mom," Lilah said, holding her mother's arm. The doctor's wanted the elder Morgan to be more ambulatory and her mother most assuredly didn't agree.

"I don't know you," her mother spat, punching at her. "Where's my Lili?"

"I'm right here, Mom and please, stop calling me that." Lilah sighed, trying to hurry the slapping, pinching, clawing old woman back to her room and her wheelchair. "It's almost time for you to see the beautician. That'll be nice."

"She'll paint my nails like a whore," Mrs. Morgan said, trying to sit down in the hall. Lilah hauled her up. "My Lili wouldn't like that."

Lilah looked at her own nails painted a ferocious red. Wes liked them that way. "How about a nice pale pink? You'd like that, Mom."

"No."

"Fine, I'll tell the beautician no nail polish." Lilah plopped her mother down in the wheelchair.

"I hate this room," her mother said, waving a hand around her private room. "The woman in the next bed is a pig."

"Mom, you have a private room. There is no other bed," Lilah said, starting to wheel her mom to the beauty shop.

"What do you know? You're a stranger."

Lilah didn't respond. She dropped her mom off at the beautician's then headed to see Lindsey. She still hadn't managed to reach him and shatter his nightmare. More than a month had passed since he and Wesley had appeared in her hell. She was more sure than ever that they weren't some ancillary demons shoved into her hell, pretending to be her men. They were the real thing. Everything she had tried with Lindsey had failed. He remained steadfastly the sick little boy but he looked forward to her visits, so Lilah tried to go daily, hoping maybe one day he'd remember her.

When she got into the room, Lindsey was sobbing and screaming in fear. What looked like a Catholic priest – hell was full of them; the old proverb was true, the roads in hell were paved with the skulls of priests of any variety of beliefs – was trying to rub chrisma oil on Lindsey's feet. Lindsey's ears, eyes, lips and nose already glistened with the holy oil.

"Get out," she told him.

The old priest whirled, looking at her with rheumy eyes. "I'm performing the extreme unction."

"You're scaring him to death." Lilah yanked the priest away from the bedside. "Lindsey doesn't need the last rites."

"Without the sacrament, this child's soul is damned," the priest argued hotly, obviously old school.

"One, the child isn't even Catholic. Two, he's already dead, three, he's already damned, now get out and quit scaring him." Lilah stabbed a finger at the door.

Sparing her a vicious look, the priest packed up his stuff and left. Lilah sat at Lindsey's bedside. His hand fumbled for hers.

Lindsey's blue eyes seemed too big for his wan face. "I'm already dead?"

She smiled, brushing his hair back. "I just told that awful man that so he'd leave you alone. You're fine. Want me to turn on the TV? I bet Scooby Doo is on."

He grinned. "Yeah."

Lilah turned on his TV. His hell seemed very geared toward his childhood and his TV reflected that by only showing children's TV. On really bad days, the only thing on were Barney, Spongebob Squarepants and the old H.R. Pufnstuff. Those were the days she'd turn the TV back off and tell him stories. Today Scooby Doo was on so she left it. It sure as hell beat the talk shows and soap operas that came on her mother's TV.

"Can you stay long?" he asked, settling back.

She squeezed his hand. "Not too long today. I have to get back to my mom."

"I wish my mommy would come." Lindsey shivered. "I'm so scared without her."

Lilah couldn't look at him, couldn't bear the fear in his eyes. "If you get scared, Lindsey, call for me. I'll try to come."

"Thank you." He sat up and kissed her cheek before turning back to the show.

She knew she would never hear him or help him if hell was out to torment him, just as she couldn't interfere much in what happened to Wesley. However, unlike Lindsey, she could reach Wesley. Every day, they pushed the boundaries further and further. It took a week before they could kiss without demonic interference. It took the month before intimacy was allowed, a strange intimacy where neck and belly wounds weren't a distraction, particularly painful and thankfully not bloody. Somehow they had made a bubble of time that was theirs alone. In the day, they suffered; she here in Oaklawn Gardens, he in his childhood home, but at night, they were together. Lilah kept waiting for something to come and snatch that away because it was something they liked, something they looked forward to. She was amazed hell had let it gone on for so long.

Lilah sat with the feverish Lindsey until he fell asleep. She collected her mother from the beauty shop, the old woman moaning and crying the beautician had made her look like a painted whore. Lilah finally calmed her mother in time for arts and crafts. She sat with her while her mother and other residents cut out construction paper, under the watchful eye of an occupational therapist and nurses' aides, and decorated the bits with glitter glue and crayons. It struck Lilah, not for the first time, that this was life come full circle. Her mother was back to using safety scissors and eating with a bib like a pre-schooler. In some sick way, Lilah was glad she had never gotten this old.

Lilah stopped for Chinese take out on her way home, sesame wontons for her, General Tso's chicken for him. It wasn't good Chinese, nor was it bad. It was just there, that was another flavor of hell, bland mediocrity. Chumley waited at the door for a panicked young Wes to pound on it. The cat had come to expect the nightly visits. It usually took Wes about five minutes to settle down and remember his adult life. When he did, they ate, Wes slipping Chumley hunks of pork from the fried rice. It was no wonder the cat liked him.

They curled up together on the couch to watch TV. There was no need to rush headlong into the bedroom like teens. No matter how good, even sex got boring after a while if that's all one did. There was more pleasure in trying to maintain a normal relationship. Hell knew they had a more normal relationship now than they were had in life. Finding things to talk about was sometimes hard. She didn't want to talk about her days with her mom and he most definitely didn't want to talk about his father. They occasionally talked about mortal life but that became quickly dismal.

Once they had talked about Fred but only briefly. Wes wanted to know what Lilah knew about Illyria. She had only vague recollections from some inner office memos. Lilah had been surprised Knox had pulled off summoning the ancient creature and not surprisingly felt nothing about the death of Fred and her body being inhabited by Illyria but she never told Wes that. They usually limited conversation to how she and Wes were successful in shaking loose hell's hold on him and why they couldn't free up Lindsey.

Lilah flipped through the channels on the TV. Hell seemed to be in a good mood. There were movies worth watching.

"Leave it there," Wes said as Indiana Jones came on and Lilah was content with that. She liked Harrison Ford. Wes laughed roughly.

"What?" she snuggled against his chest.

"This was one of Angel's favorite movies." Wes grinned. "I remembered him telling me that and thinking, 'Angel likes Indiana Jones? How peculiar'."

"It does boggle the mind," Lilah agreed with a smile.

"Angel was like that. You thought you knew him and then he'd come out of left field with something totally bizarre." Wes's expression softened with the remembrance. "I'm more surprised that hell doesn't have me reliving the last two years, me betraying him and vice versa."

"Am I included in that betrayal?" she asked without venom or concern, just simple curiosity.

Wes stroked his chin, thinking for a moment. "At the time I liked to tell myself that yes you were but it wouldn't be the whole truth."

"Good." Lilah shifted on the couch making room for Chumley.

Wes took a drag on his bottle of beer. Hell's sense of humor reared its ugly head again. He couldn't get good British beer here, just Milwaukee's Best, more like piss water than real beer. "I've been thinking about this Lilah, why you were able to break me free of my father's hold."

"I'm listening." A hint of excitement crept up. They had both been puzzling this out ever since they started stealing time together, mostly silently, keeping their thoughts to themselves.

"Think about it. Why would they want you to know that Lindsey and I were both dead and here now?"

"Other than to deepen my despair?" Bitterness colored her tone. Wes wrapped an arm around her tightly. "I've considered that the Powers That Be did this by design. I met you both on the same day."

"I don't doubt we both died the same day. Angel wanted Lindsey dead. My death wasn't planned but was highly likely. It's likely none of them survived the Black Thorn's attack." Wes's face went thoughtful. "So why are only Lindsey and I here? Fred's been dead for months. She had the same contract as I did and yet you've not seen her. Gunn was the least likely to survive the attack but he's not here. Either he did survive or maybe he didn't, and, like Fred, Gunn has been sequestered elsewhere. Spike, Angel and Illyria might have survived but I know Angel wasn't expecting it. He sent his son and Nina away."

"Demons would probably get a different sentence than us. Angel and Spike's souls had prior claims on them," Lilah said. "I wouldn't expect to see them."

"Nor would I." Wes reached across her to pet Chumley. "But something is afoot. Can you feel it?"

Lilah nodded. She had been thinking that since the first day she ran across both men. "Yes. I thought it was odd that you and Lindsey were both trapped in your childhoods, even when there were equal hells to be culled from your adult lives. It was like a sign. I thought maybe the same entity was in charge of your suffering. What I can't puzzle out is why that would be or how I got through to you and not him."

"What have you come up with?" His blue eyes regarded her inquisitively.

"One option is that you really aren't Wesley's soul and he isn't Lindsey, that you're a new fresh layer of paint in my hell and that after giving me this hope, giving me something to look forward to each day, that it'll be taken away and hell becomes that much more bleak," she said, not meeting his eyes, trying not to weep at the thought.

Wes nodded. "Reasonable assumption."

Lilah pulled herself together, shuddering. "I get pulled back to the surface from time to time, as you well know, as part of my contract. I'm wondering if someone or something isn't bringing us together for reasons we can't see yet," Lilah continued, not sure she liked that idea any better than she did Wesley being like her mom, a mere non-role playing character in hell.

Wes took another swallow of beer. "That was my surmises. I think there is a lot of merit in that theory. I think someone wants something from you and I, and perhaps in time, Lindsey, too."

"We're dead. What do they think we can do?" She dreaded the answer, having ugly ideas of her own.

Wes' lips parted in an eerie smile. "You convinced all of us to sign on with Wolfram and Hart after you were dead."

She felt like hitting him for that. "Don't remind me."

"When has dead really meant dead in our world, Lilah?" Wes made that rough laugh again. "I can name two resurrected people without even thinking hard on it, Buffy and Darla."

"Three, Connor," Lilah said, a pitiless amused remembrance of Angel's pain bobbing to the surface. "Angel cut the brat's throat before dropping his corpse on our door step and telling us to fix him."

Wes nodded. "My point exactly. Dead isn't dead. If someone has plans for us, you and I could be the next ones brought back and forced back into life."

"Or stay dead. It doesn't keep Wolfram and Hart from finding uses for me," Lilah said, ruefully.

"I think it's too much of a coincidence that you, Lindsey and I are here together. Something has plans for us."

"That might be why it took so long for us to get this far. Whoever it is putting us together is trying to sneak it under someone's radar or else you and Lindsey would have come fully equipped with your memories and you and I wouldn't have kept blacking out and getting shoved into our respect corners of hell. So long as our changes were gradual, we got away with it," Lilah said, then felt a pit of despair forming in her heart. "Do you think there's a chance this is real or are we deluding ourselves?"

"Maybe we are. Maybe we need to." Wes trailed a finger up her arm. "Milton wrote, 'The mind is its own place, and in itself can make a heaven of hell, a hell of heaven.' The question becomes, in wondering if this is real are we making heaven out of hell or vice versa."

Lilah rubbed her forehead. "That's giving me a headache."

He laughed more easily this time. "I know. I think it's real. I think when the time comes, the Powers That Be will give us back Lindsey as well."

"Whatever else he might have been, Lindsey was bright. If this is real, I want him on our side," Lilah said, having no doubt of that in her mind. "I think it's real…wonder how long this will take."

"It could be a very long time indeed. Time has little meaning here." Wes sighed. "And whatever is it, you're the pivotal player, Lilah. Even when I'm trapped in my hell, hiding from my dad, barely able to remember who you are, I know soon you'll be home and I'll be safe." He kissed her softly. "Lindsey lies in that hospital bed waiting for you to tell him one day he'll feel better again. Whatever's coming, if it even is, you're the one who matters most."

Lilah buried her fingers in Chumley's fur, turning that over in her mind. She had always wanted to be the one who mattered, to be the one who had the power. Now, she'd much rather have someone take care of her. Was that her doubts? Hell was in doubting, that much she knew. "I think you're right, Wes. Now what?"

"We continue as we are. You and I, together as much as we can be. We'll try to find ways to reach Lindsey and when the time comes, we'll be ready," he said, with now signs of doubt.

Lilah drew on that. "I'm sure of that." She kissed him warmly and they left Chumley watching Indiana Jones while they retired to her bedroom. As they lay in a tangle of warm bodies, Lilah found a sense of purpose, her hope in hell. If they were right and something was priming them for a new mission, she was ready for it. Maybe this time she'd get the chance to fix her mistakes. Even if it was a delusion, it was a good one. She felt more right and whole than she had in a very long time. Go on, universe, throw something my way. I'll be ready. That in mind, Lilah spooned with her lover, finally content.

FINIS

Requirements:

Who would you like the story to focus on? (it can be more than one person, or a pairing)
Lilah after her beheading

Anybody else you want in the story? (minor character/s)
Wes would be nice.

Two things you don't want:
Violence, torture, graphic sex

Two things you really want:
Insight into character, good story

This story is a non slash story.