So how come he was called Gavin anyway, Lilah thought as the cleanup crew wiped the last shreds of entrails from her desk, instead of something monosyllabic and Korean?
Gavin...One of those hideous geek English names like Rupert or Giles, she thought. The sort of name that goes with bad teeth and tea-bags drying out in a saucer on the desk.
She tipped the ichor-stained blotter that Harvey had left behind into her waste-paper basket.
You couldn't get decent help anywhere anymore, she reflected as she rang Human Resources on the speaker phone. But perhaps the deterrent effect of flaying and evisceration was the way to go.
Anything with any excuse, so long as someone suffered for it. Someone not Lilah Morgan. Never again.
It was such a shame that the Senior Partners still failed to see Gavin as she saw him - arrogant and pushy and a source of too many complications and dead by slow torture. She really wished that they saw him as dead, because it would make her life so much simpler.
She had never particularly wanted to kill anyone personally herself - that sort of thing you contract out. Flaying was such a fiddly business and it took so much practice to get those little bits between the toes off in a single go.
Gloves made of fine skin, delicately tanned; the only good thing about latex was that snap as you pull it on. A snap like the breaking of delicate necks.
Killing Billy had been fun, though, once she had set her mind to it; straightforward, shot to the brain, shot to the chest. Gloves - fine kid gloves - for the powder burn and not even a splash of ichor on your suit. And. in addition, taking the kill away from Angel and that bitch Cordelia.
Better shoes? She really didn't think so.
She looked at the smear on her right lapel and wondered how people at the retail end of the demon business coped with all the cleaning.
Gavin, though... He'd be worth getting a little mussed and sweaty over. She owed him for the beating the other week and she owed him for the mess he'd made of the Darla business and she owed him for dead demon spilling its guts all over her desk.
And, since it apparently hadn't been Angel that took her on the office desk in the Hyperion, she might as well blame Gavin for it. If it was not for his silly little games, she would not have been there.
Killing him would be a pleasure she would sell - well, not her soul obviously, but all of her Armani suits for, or at least get them messy. Not so messy that they couldn't be cleaned. One of these days...When the Senior Partners tired of him, or if she ever managed to get anything good on him.
But not this evening... Human resources weren't picking up either. Another score to settle, there, except perhaps not; you really did not want that bit of the firm annoyed with you. So many possible transfers to other postings, and so few of them places you wanted to be seen dead.
Nine in the evening and nothing planned. Too late for fast food and too early for a sleeping pill. And not a mood that would be resolved by going into a draw and finding things to fold.
What's a girl to do with misery when you have no other way of getting rid of it? Pass it forward
There was a light on in the Files and Records Department; there was always a light on there and Files and Records herself was always home. I thought I needed to get a life, Lilah thought to herself, but that girl carries it to extremes.
'Hello, Miss Morgan,' Files and Records said with her usual inanely perky grin. 'What can I do for you this evening?'
'Oh, I don't know,' said Lilah. 'Tell me something interesting. You must know all sorts of interesting things.'
Again that perky grin.
'I'm Files and Records. I know everything.'
'Everything?' Lilah said, a sudden thought coming to her.
'Everything.' The grin moved from perky to smug and - yes - just a hint of salacious. Perhaps not a wasted evening after all.
'So, Gavin Park? Any secrets there I should know about?'
That damaging noise of the rolodex from Hell rattled from the inside of the other woman's skull.
'Personnel files are closed to everyone below the rank of Senior Partner', a gruff voice suddenly took over from Files' mouth.
Typical, Lilah thought, Human Resources can't be bothered to pick up, but they are always on my case.
'He spends all his time building model railways,' Files added in her own voice. 'He asked me out for a date once and thought I would like to look at his engines. The poor boy did not seem to realize that I don't go out. Let alone on dates. With boys.'
Definite promise there, Lilah thought.
'But you can tell me things about people who don't work for us, right. Entertaining things.'
'Oh, yes,' Files said, with a smirk.'I have hard facts; I have information from usually reliable sources; I have mere gossip; I have malicious speculation. Which would you like?'
Lilah sat herself down on the right-hand corner of Files' desk, stretching her left leg along the edge of the blotter so that her black pump rested just delicately against the pencil tidy at the far end and her right leg dangled.
' Oh,' she said. 'I always enjoy malicious speculation, especially if it's based on a tenuous but logical string of evidence.'
'Good,' Files said. 'That's just how I like it too. Obviously we are going to get along just fine.'
She reached in her desk drawer and produced a well-thumbed folder.
'They allow me my own collection, you know,' she said. 'Because they know I love to show and tell.'
Lilah carefully crinkled the left side of her mouth and half-hooded her eyes; it was an expression of knowingness which she had found most people found seductive, and she always played to her strengths.
'So,' she said. 'Do you show often? And tell.'
'Not really,' Files said. 'People don't usually give me the chance to say what I want. After all, I'm only Files and Records. Who knows everything. But a girl can dream. They let me dream, you know. It helps me reorganize what I know, more efficiently, or so they tell me.'
This was more, really, than Lilah felt like knowing, particularly when there might actually be entertainment to be had.
'So show already,' she said. 'And tell.'
'Given how interested you are in Angel,' Files said, 'you've never really bothered to find out anything about Sunnydale.'
'Sure I know about Sunnydale,' Lilah said. 'Usual civic amenities - airport, museum, zoo, secret government installation, Hellmouth. Where the Seer comes from, where that annoying ex- Watcher used to work. Yaddah, yaddah. Home of the Slayer - Angel's great love - died, came back, died, came back. Unlike Darla, he doesn't ever kill that one. She just dies.
'Well,' Files said. 'The firm's policy has always been to keep track of things up in Sunnydale. Medical records clerks, the odd homicide detective, the photographer at the local dance hall. There's a lot that isn't on the record.'
She produced some photographs of Cordelia Chase, looking fully ten years younger and wearing what must have been quite a nice formal before she dragged it through a hedge and smeared herself with mud, leaning on an insipid little blonde.
'Oh,' Lilah said. 'Those are so - well - priceless. She looked better with boils. Can I have one? Pretty please?'
'No,' Files said. 'But you can come and look at them anytime you want.'
'What had been going on?'
'They're just arriving at their High School Homecoming dance in that one,' Files said. 'And in the other ones they're just leaving again. Together.'
She smirked some more. Her breathing grew suddenly more audible in the quiet room.
'The photographer said, in his report, that there was something going on about a competitive assassination event. But how plausible is that? Who'd want to assassinate Cordelia Chase.'
'Anyone who ever met her.' said Lilah, 'But I take your point.'
'After all,' Files said. 'Just look at their record. They both seem to like it quite rough. Oh, and then there's your own little friend, too, looking at them as they leave.'
Faith was still an embarrassing sore point for Lilah.
'After all,' Files said, the fine sheen of sweat on her hands growing more obvious with every photograph or document she turned over, 'Here's an arrest record for breaking and entering that is obviously both our Slayer friends; and here's photographs of them dancing the night away. Quite the couple, aren't they? And here's medical reports of Faith with a knife-wound in her guts and Buffy with an interesting wound to her nexk - a bit like that one you've got actually. Like I say, they like it rough in Sunnydale.'
'And your point is?' Lilah said.
'Oh,' Files said. 'Just standard stuff about how, when you fool around with people, you're fooling around with their whole history. And all those complications. So much better to start' - she paused, craned her face up expecting, and getting, a kiss across the desk - 'without history.'
Very slowly, Lilah lowered both legs to the floor, stood up and stalked around the desk to where Files had swung round to meet her. Files had parted her knees slightly and so Lilah walked around to the back of her chair and cupped her chin in a firm left hand.
'Don't ever think,' Lilah said, ' that you get to make the running here. What you have shown me is amusing, no more. Naughty schoolgirl stuff, not deep background. I've had Angel's teeth in my neck; I've had Faith press me against a wire fence with more power than you have ever felt from a pair of hands; I've had Cordelia Chase tell me off with a loaded crossbow poking out of her shoulderbag. Old stories and a few cute photos don't tell me anything I don't already know in my bones.'
She grabbed Files by the shoulders.
'You know nothing until you know it as the pressure of skin on skin, or teeth in a vein, or the possibility that someone who hates you will kill you where you stand. '
She pulled the other woman to her feet, tightening her grip on the other woman's imprisoned arms until she could feel the upper bones bruise against the slight muscles that surrounded them.
'You're hurting me,' Files said.
Lilah gave her a shove that sent her staggering against one of the nearer filing cabinets and then walked over and pinned he, leaning in to it so that her whole body was a prison for the slighter woman.
'Never talk to me about rough stuff as if it were a game,' Lilah said. 'This is no nonsense with safe words and courtesy codes.'
Files looked up at her with frightened eyes and Lilah found her sternness dissolving into a broad grin.
'Which isn't to say,' she went on,' that just because it isn't a game, it can't be quite enjoyable along the way. Now, take those cheap clothes off - the sight of them offends me.'
Lilah stepped back and watched, with a cultivatedly bored expression as Files did as she ordered.
'Now fold them,' she went on. 'Don't make the place untidy.'
She let Files stand there submissively for a moment and then reached out and scratched the perfect pale skin at the base of her throat with the sharp nail of her left index finger; the smooth skin was like foam or whipped cream that parted like a sigh letting drops of blood show like tiny beads.
Then she pulled the other woman to her and lapped at the throat a second, just enough to feel the other woman quail with anxiety and expectation.
'Files, you know everything. You'd know if I'd been turned.'
Files looked abashed.
'Like I said,' Lilah said, ' there is knowing something and knowing it in your guts, where it counts. You know I am not a vampire, but my teeth at your throat is a knowledge of a different kind. You know that you want me, but the feel of my fingers on you...and in you...and my mouth moving from your throat...to the hinge of your jaw...to meet your own hunger...is something yet again.'
Files' hands reached up to Lilah's shoulders and Lilah pulled away for a second, staring at her with merciless grey eyes.
'This is not a game,' Lilah said, ' and it is not some girly nonsense about equality and respect. You are not my equal; you are Files, who knows everything, and a silly little girl, who knows nothing. Except what I choose to show you...there...and there...and there.'
Files said, 'I just wanted to-'
'You don't get to want anything when you are with me. You don't get to choose anything. You're not strong enough.'
Lilah's high clear laughter was the cry of a stooping hawk; the sure momements of her hands a watchmaker no longer needing his glass to know the position of a mainspring. The other woman's soul was between her teeth and pressed against her thighs and wet beneath her fingers and salt with sweat and blood under her tongue. The sigh of the other woman was quiet satisfaction enough.
Lilah hated screams; everything in its place and time.
Files looked at her anxiously.
'Don't you want...'
Lilah smiled at her; people had died after seeing that smile.
'Sweet of you to ask,' she said. 'But no...'
Lilah leant against the wall and watched as the other woman dressed again, sat at her desk and put the folders wistfully away.
That unbecoming smugness had returned.
'I knew you'd come and see me tonight,' Files said. 'I knew it from the first time we met.'
'And how would that be?' Lilah said.
'I'm Files and Records,' Files said. 'I know everything.'
'Actually,' Lilah said with a cross-examiner's feigned casualness, 'that is not quite true. Is it?'
'I'm Files and Records. I know everything.'
'What's your name?'
'I'm Files and Records. I know everything.'
'You don't know, do you? They took that away from you to make all that room in your head.'
Lilah laughed again as the other woman's repetition grew more desperate.
'I'm Files and Records. I know everything.'
'Remind me never, ever to offend Human Resources. There are worse places than the Organ Bank and the Dog Food Plant.'
'I'mFilesandRecords Iknoweverything; I'mFilesandRecords Iknoweverything.'
Damn what a rush, Lilah thought as the other woman babbled faster and faster, it is the pain of sexual satisfaction turned to the knowledge of bettrayal.
Oh well, better not break her or someone might be vexed with me, Lilah thought and said, 'Reset!'
The babbling ended, there was a moment of clarity and memory in Files's eyes that was the biggest hit of all and then Files slumped glassy-eyed in her chair.
Lilah had one hundred and forty seconds to leave the room before Files would sit up again and used them to take a last look at that delightfully unbecoming photograph of Cordelia Chase.
Now there's someone I'd really like to have in an office job at Wolfram and Hart, Lilah thought as she strutted down the corridor.