Title: Double Twisted Fast With Wire
Author: Jedi Buttercup
Disclaimer: The words are mine; the worlds are not.
Summary: Here was another whose soul yet burned: who hadn't checked his passion at the door. 900 words.
Spoilers: Post-series for both.
Notes: Challenge fic, from a random pairing prompt.
The courier tossed a new batch of employee files on her desk, and Lilah caught her breath at the quickly- stifled flutter of hope in her chest. Poor caged thing; it was that lingering thread of feeling that kept her chained to a bureaucratic hell, doomed to always wonder if Wesley's contract had finally come due but never know for sure, and she knew it. And yet, she couldn't regret the mortal weakness it represented; the day she could face a delivery with perfect equanimity would be the day she was truly dead.
Wolfram and Hart might own every other part of her, but she would never willingly let go of her passion. Without it, Lilah would be no better than a zombie; an unusually attractive zombie, perhaps, but still an animated hunk of lifeless meat. She'd escaped that fate once already, the day the Beast had slaughtered the L.A. offices; she refused to let it claim her now.
She hesitated a moment, perfectly painted fingernails hovering over the tab of the topmost file, then sighed and flicked it open. They never her gave the easy assignments, or the most difficult; those went respectively to the current favored Child of the Powers and to Lindsey McDonald, who'd earned more punishment before his death than the usual suburban dungeon holding dimension could offer. She got the complex ones, instead; the ones most like Wesley, each reminder like the prick of a thorn.
Designer hells: not the traditional Lake of Fire, but they still did the job.
Severus Snape, this particular file header read. Another British wizard, though of the wanded type, not a Watcher. Great, just what she needed.
A lot of people sought contracts with Wolfram and Hart as a way to evade some other, inconvenient obligation or fate. That's how they'd got their hands on Sirk, Wesley's predecessor in the research department; and ultimately, how they'd got their hands on Angel himself. Snape had apparently been dodging two prior oaths: first, to the psychopath he'd hocked his soul to as a teenager in exchange for the power to strike back at his childhood bullies, and second, to the psychopath's opposite, the man Snape had turned to when he'd realized his first bargain would destroy the woman he loved. When the woman had died despite his plea for help, he'd sought out the firm to ensure that both his erstwhile masters were similarly rewarded.
Wolfram and Hart had agreed to Snape's main condition without a qualm, actually eager to guarantee Lily Evans' son the optimum upbringing to fulfill the prophecy the man had partially overheard. After all, it would be much easier for them to extend their control in a Wizarding World without Voldemort- or Dumbledore, who could never resist the chance to meddle. If perhaps Snape should have been a little more specific about what he meant that optimum upbringing to include, and refused to believe the evidence when he saw it- well, that was hardly their fault.
In return for that concession, Snape had agreed to greatly reduce the pool of possible acolytes available to either of his former masters. Through varied strategies of flattering without foundation, censure without reason, and commanding without explanation, he'd sharpened the fangs of bullies, reduced the ranks of future Aurors, encouraged the children of the privileged not to think for themselves, and in short greatly increased Wolfram and Hart's pool of future clientele.
On paper, his successes meant his perpetuity clause activation should have been a pretty simple matter. But his file had hit her desk, not Hamilton's successor's. So that had to mean...
Lilah flipped several pages deeper into the file, then sighed as she unearthed his termination certificate. Of course. A heroic sacrificial death was one of the very few loopholes that could invalidate a properly signed contract. The Powers That Be were filing a claim for his soul as a result- but the matter hadn't been decided yet, so in the meantime he was being put to work in a purgatorial capacity. It would be her job to get him to commit some new unforgivable sin before the claim was settled, to cancel out any possibility that he might actually escape from Wolfram and Hart's control.
"So what else is new," she said to herself with a sigh, then closed the file again and paged the man in.
Her first impression was that he was going to be more than usually unpleasant to work with... and she'd mentored some truly repugnant beings both before and after her ignoble end. Death hadn't been kind to Severus Snape, and he hadn't exactly been attractive before. Between the lanky hair, the beaked nose, and the ugly, gaping wounds in his throat, he was never going to win any beauty contests.
But the look in his eyes as she appraised him- now that gave her pause for second thought.
Here was another whose soul yet burned: who hadn't checked his passion at the door. Anger and resentment were excellent motivators; Lilah could definitely work with those.
"Severus Snape?" she said smoothly, standing and reaching up to unwind the scarf around her throat. Soft distraction wasn't going to work with this one; she'd wear her wounds as openly as his. "I'm Lilah Morgan. I'll be your guide until you get settled."
He replied with a sneer, eyes glittering in speculative interest. "Charmed, I'm sure."