Christmas Card From A Hooker In Minneapolis

Pairing: Wes/Lilah
Rating: PG
Summary: Christmas in hell's not so bad.
Author's Notes: For momentsintime for the Buffy Secret Santa exchange.

Lilah was fully aware of the irony of being trapped in Hell for Christmas. At least the Senior Partners worked it out so that time passed down here; there were cold martinis and calendars and you knew what day it was up ... there. Hell on the Senior Partners' dime wasn't really that bad. Could have been worse. The vodka could have come in a plastic bottle.

Who knows why martinis stay cold in hell? Lilah didn't, and she didn't worry about it too much, because the Senior Partners were obviously up to something with this whole set-up. She didn't flatter herself that this special version of the after life was because of her; she'd made a splash at Wolfram & Hart L.A., but no matter what they'd fooled Angel into thinking, the L.A. office was small beans in the greater scheme of W&H International.

But Lilah wasn't one to look a gift horse in the mouth, as her mama would say, so she drank her martinis and watched the bartender rip pages of his word-of-the-day calendar and admired the manicure that somehow never chipped. Leave it to the Senior Partners to make Hell look like Heaven; anything to make you forget about that clause in your contract that you'd signed, sealing your soul in perpetual service with the lawyers from ... damn, she thought, can't even finish that sentence without sounding like a cliché. Maybe that's Wolfram and Hart's idea of hell.

When the bartender ripped the page that said December 23 off the calendar and tossed it, crumpled, into the trashcan below the bar, Lilah felt allowed the liberty of a hefty holiday time sigh. Having calendars, nice as it was for remembering her Uncle Morty's birthday, could be less than painful but more than a walk in the park when things like this rolled around.

Before the end of the world and the sky bleeding fire, Lilah thought, I might have been spending tonight with Wesley. But there are no special dispensations for surface visits anymore, and Lilah knows this - she comes when she's called and these days, she's not called very often. And maybe that was the hell of it.

So she can't pay a quick visit to the north office on the 8th floor to give Wesley a little bit of holiday cheer (not, Lilah thought, that necrophilia really counts as an appropriate way to spend the holidays) but there's no limit on letters. Lilah remembered the mail room, back when she wasn't even a junior partner and therefore had no secretary to drop packages off down there, that there was a special letter slot - one that frequently glowed red and gold with heat - that came straight up from Hell. She'd thought it was a joke, but now she knew it wasn't.

And she'd not seen Wesley in six months, not since he tried to burn that horrible contract for her, and it's not as though she had anything else to do tonight. Hell was great for personal reflection and letter writing. Maybe that was the hell of it.

Lilah asked the bartender for some paper and a pen, slugged back the remainder of her fourth martini, and wrote.

Dear Wesley ...

It's not snowing here, but then again, you wouldn't expect it from the Senior Partners, would you? They expend enough energy keeping my martinis cold, why make it snow just for Christmas? At least they let us know it's Christmas. That's something. Of course, they don't celebrate down here - W&H have never really gone in for those mainstream holidays, after all - but most of the Christmases I spent on Earth, I'd rather have spent in a bar, by myself, with a martini.

Which is what I'm going to go back to doing as soon as I rid myself of this ridiculous urge to write something sappy happy and Christmas cheery to you. I'm not a Christmas cheery sort of person, if you hadn't noticed, but there's been no sign of you since June and I know you know that you can send me letters or request a visit if you wanted to see me. And if there's a time for writing to people who have left your life on a day to day basis, it's Christmas time.

So here I am, writing to you. The bartender turned this paper up with no problem, so I can only guess that it's something that happens more than occasionally. This is the sort of place, after all, that makes you want to repent your sins, and what better way than to apologize to the people you fucked over? And I can't claim that I didn't try to fuck you over more than once.

Or that I didn't fuck you more than once.

I'm not sure what there is to apologize for, but there's got to be something, yes? So here goes nothing. There's no chance I'm getting out of here no matter what happens, that's what the contract says, but maybe I'll feel a little better, and not have that 8th martini before bed.

So here goes nothing, Wes ...

Wesley had been back from England three days when Christmas occurred. He'd not wanted to hang around for the holidays with his parents; despite the months sitting across the dinner table from his father, the specter of killing him robot double still hung heavy on the backs of Wes's eyelids when he slept. But when he arrived at Wolfram and Hart, he'd found people scattered to the four winds for the holidays, not like years before. Spike and Angel seemed to have worked something out, though no one would tell him any of the details, and they were off to London - private jet, no cargo for them this time - to see Buffy and Giles and the rest of the Sunnydale refugees.

He hoped they'd return without having inflicted to much damage on each other.

Fred was finally going home to Texas, to see her parents, and Charles was already gone when Wes returned - Lorne was floating around his division somewhere, and they had a date for some drinks and some singing later on, but at the moment, Wes was sitting at his desk at 10 am on Christmas Day, shifting through two months worth of mail.

Not his preferred way to spend a holiday, mind you, but it was better than sitting alone in his apartment. At least this felt productive.

He was nearly to the bottom of the pile, earliest on top and the most recent on the bottom, sorting into piles of "Important", "Interesting" and "Junk Mail", when an envelope with a familiar hand on the front and a W&H seal in the corner appeared in his hand.

"Wesley Wyndham-Pryce", it said, in writing that was unmistakably Lilah's. Wes weighed it in his hand, staring at his name. His heart wasn't pounding, his eyes weren't watering, and he felt strangely calm. He pushed the remainder of the mail away from him and picked up a silver letter opener that had been a gift from Rupert last Christmas. He slit the envelope and pulled the single sheet of notebook paper from it.

He began to read. I'm sorry, Wesley. I'm sorry that I couldn't ever tell you that I loved you.

I did.

I love you.


Wes set the letter on his desk and dropped his head to his hands. What should he do with this? What could he do with this?


Wesley picked up his pen and pulled a stack of letterhead towards him.

Dear Lilah ...

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