Choices by Psychofilly


Summary: Cordelia held her hands up like Lady Justice balancing her scales, "Stuck between heaven and hell and able to enjoy neither…." She gave Lilah a shrewd once over, her expression hardening. "Comas suck."


Spoilers: Home, Season Four.


Notes: This is an older fic I was putting a little dialogue polish on and thought I would post here. It's based on the premise that anything Angel can do Cordy can do better. Even sell out.



Lilah Morgan had once believed she could cheat fate. Her father had left before she was old enough to have any cognitive memory of him. Sometimes the smell of cigar smoke, sweet and cloying brought back impressions… but that wasn't the point, nor was the smoke swirling in front of her eyes from cigars. Her mother was a good woman, a churchgoer, an attentive parent, neither a drunk nor abusive. If her mother only had one flaw it was a lack of ambition. She had been a waitress, tired and faded but content to slowly fade into old age in a two stop-light town.

Lilah had despised her for it.

Lilah had known very young that she was destined for better. She worked her ass off in high school. She had graduated valedictorian in her class, worked two jobs putting herself through college. She'd had sex with whomever and whenever she pleased but never needed to use it to get ahead. She'd had a bright future until that day.

She wondered if everyone had one of those days. The one where your whole existence narrows down to one word, and an interminable stretch of time where life passes you by and leaves you with few options and zero chance for greatness.

Cancer. Her mother had it, and whatever spark her mother still possessed for living had determined she was going to fight it… with her daughters help. Lilah understood the implications. Quit school, stay in that suffocating little town, work some local-yokel job and watch her talents fade with disuse until she became as bland and used up as her mother.

Not a chance in hell.

Desperate, Lilah had made a deal with the devil himself . She'd patted herself on the back for her ingenuity and daring in the way she had beaten her odds and hit her own personal jackpot. Lilah cared for her mother. She made a deal that meant that her mother would have the best care and an easy life of luxury for as long as her cancer was in remission. However, Lilah had made the deal for herself. It had been a damn good deal… until a vampire, a seer and a certain uptight watcher had thrown her life into a slow spiral of suck.

Now there were only the consequences and not even the sharp blue of Wesley's regretful eyes or the way he'd tried to be her gallant knight all the way to the bitter end could ease the cold hard fact that Lilah Morgan had signed her eternal soul into damnation and done it with a smile on her face and a song in her heart. She'd made her bed….

Since handing over the keys to Wolfram and Hart to team Angel, Lilah suffered fiery torment. She found it interesting that the blistering inferno of hell only served to sharpen her inner eye. She looked back at her life with clear clinical focus, undimmed by the smoke that blanketed the air around her. Funny, but even now, she didn't see one damn thing that she would have done different at the time. Which is probably why she deserved the flames that danced along her skin.


Lilah became aware of her surroundings by slow, painful degrees. Her skin tingled with the sense memory of it's recent torment, but the heaviness of her limbs and the bleary out of focus shapes swirling through her field of vision told her she'd been drug back onto the physical plain… again.

"How long is this supposed to take?" one of the soft-edged streaks asked sharply. "She looks like warmed over crap."

"She's been in hell, what do you expect?" an as yet unidentified person said.

"I expect her cleaned up and in your office in an hour. I'm sick and tired of waiting around," came the arch reply.

"Yes ma'am."


59 minutes later….

Lilah smoothed the nonexistent wrinkles out of her skirt, then reached up and fussed with her hastily styled hair. Whoever her benefactor was, she agreed her idea of "cleaned up." She'd lost track of the seasonal fashions (not much use for Channel and Manolo in hell) but she liked. The suit was a classic cut and the jacket might have been tailor fitted. She squared her shoulders, took a few deep breaths to get used to the feel of air once again and opened the door.

She halted mid-stride and gaped at the woman sitting behind the doctor's desk. "Cordelia?"

Cordelia grinned, "Well it's about time."

Lilah scowled down at the woman who had once drove a ceremonial dagger through her throat. "Aren't you supposed to be in a coma?"

"Yep," Cordelia rose smoothly, sauntering around the desk and gesturing for Lilah to have a seat in one of the doctor's chairs. "Actually, I'm wasting away as we speak."

"Good." Lilah noticed the other woman was dressed to the nines, not a hair out of place, made up and manicured. "So, you're non-corporeal then?"

Cordelia held her hands up like Lady Justice balancing her scales, "Stuck between heaven and hell and able to enjoy neither…." She gave Lilah a shrewd once over, her expression hardening. "Coma's suck."

Lilah shrugged indifferently, "So does eternal torment." Still, she was curious, "What do you want Cordelia?"

"More than you might imagine, but right now… two things."


"This is a bad, bad, idea," Lilah grumbled as she hurried through the law offices of Wolfram and Hart. These weren't the halls that clients ever saw. She was deep in the bowels of the beast all but running along echoing hospital-green corridors. She was almost there. Almost….

{"You see, I've had a lot of time to watch and to think and since I obviously had no control over my life, I've made some decisions about the direction of my afterlife."

Lilah shifted in her seat, cocking her head and studying the woman in front of her, "And where do I fit in?"}

She slammed through the double doors, knowing a security detail was hot on her heels and Angel wouldn't be far behind, neither would Wesley. Nervous sweat ran down her temples and slicked across her neck, making the scar there itch. She didn't have time to shut off every machine so she ran right past Cordelia's room and down the hall, around the bend… and there it was.

Lilah wrenched the circuit box open, never minding the finger-nails that split and bled. She reached in and began yanking wires. Just flipping the switch was too easily fixed. Live current burnt her hands and caused her to seize, but it couldn't kill her again so she gritted her teeth and ignored the pain. She had made a deal, and as always, she was prepared to weather the consequences.

{"That's- wow. I have to hand it to you Cordy- I can call you Cordy, right?" Lilah asked. "With the whole bonding in the etheric, yadda yadda yadda..."

Cordelia waved her hand dismissively. "Sure, why not."

"That's a hell of a plan you have there. I'm not sure I get it exactly, especially the part about Angel, but-" Cordelia's mouth thinned into a petulant line, her brow knitting into a frown.

"I don't care if you understand the plan. All I want to know is will you help me or not."}

The building went utterly dark and silent. The backup generators should have kicked in, but Lilah had disabled them first. She propped herself against the wall, sliding down until her knees brushed her chest. She wrapped her arms around herself and just breathed. Part one of the operation was complete. Time would do the dirty work for her as the machines that kept Cordelia alive ceased functioning; freeing Cordy from the limbo Angel had inadvertently trapped her in.

Pounding feet vibrated the floor as security rushed towards the hospital ward. Flashlights were snapped on, casting chaotic whirls of light against the far wall. Nobody ran down to the junction box, not that it mattered. Bullets wouldn't kill her any more than the electricity had. She smirked when an anguished roar echoed through every nook and cranny of the ward, seeming to shake the foundations of hell itself. Angel had remembered his sleeping beauty after all. Lilah hoped she was well and truly dead.

{"Well?" Cordy asked, clearly impatient.

Lilah leaned back, nibbled at her cracked nails and pretended to give it some thought. Finally she asked the inevitable question, "What's in it for me?"

Cordelia crossed her arms and smiled in triumph. "A promotion."

Lilah waited, "As in?" she finally prodded.

"As in- I don't know, but even if it's scrubbing demo- poo it's better than burning for eternity with nothing to do but regret your past sins." Off Lilah's look her smile grew wider. "Of course, you don't regret a damn thing do you?" She turned, picked up a file and tossed it into Lilah's lap. "Your file says you are completely irredeemable, which says to *me* that you simply embraced your inner bitch and the world couldn't handle it- or maybe just Wesley couldn't." She shrugged. "Either way it has to be awfully boring burning alive for all eternity when there is no chance for rehabilitation for all that effort." She chuckled when Lilah tossed the file to the side. "Let's say we use that fire-cell on someone who might get some use out of it?"}


Lilah's head jerked up when she heard the unmistakable sound of Wesley's voice. Tiredly, she pushed herself up off the wall and hurried towards the hospital room. Doctors were working frantically to save Cordelia's life, but she was slipping through their grasp. The air charged with an electric current that sizzled along her still raw nerves. Cordelia was dying… Time for part two of the plan.

{"Last chance, Lilah." Cordelia admonished, darkly.

"Bitch, please. You wouldn't know scary if it bit you in the ass. Quit with the threatening already, I'm in." Lilah laughed in Cordelia's indignant face. However, the laughter died when Cordelia latched onto her arm, jerking her close and kissing her harshly….}

Angel was the first to notice her presence. His dark head whipped around, his eyes blacker than Irish coal. "You!" he snarled viciously.

"Miss me?" Lilah taunted coolly, ignoring Wes' disapproving stare. No, she wouldn't stay dead if she could help it, not even to soothe his conscience.

"What-?" Angel asked, but before either could speak, she was pole axed by a wash of pure spiritual energy. No time for snark, "I have a message for you," she said through gritted teeth as Angel stalked closer to her, his fists clenched, "From, Cordelia!"

Before he could react, Lilah pounced, her lips crushing against his. Angel made a very unmanly squeak of surprise as Lilah levered his lips apart and then they both just hung on as Cordelia poured herself into Angel through Lilah's mouth.

Lilah screamed, not because Angel was gripping her hard enough to leave bruises that would last for weeks, or because he'd vamped out from the shock of energy and almost bitten clean through her tongue but the power…

Oh sweet baby Jesus….

Everything that Cordelia ever was or would be passed between them. Every hope, every dream, every heartbreak, every disappointment danced across her tongue and onto his. They could taste her happiness, the hope, the pure and simple love that she had let grow in her heart for this man. Lilah was there for the breathless phone call, she and Angel experienced her nervousness and excitement as she made a mad dash across town to Point Dume. Angel groaned at her crushing disappointment when Skip showed up. Her betrayal, her anger when Jasmine-

They had all failed her, her so called friends. Angel tasted the ash of Cordy's hopelessness and desperation as he turned his back on her in anger. The endless questioning of why? The ineffectual struggle for control, all she could hope was that her friends would stop and ask her what the hell was going on, just one of them, *any* of them…. Despair, darkness, isolation, betrayal, rage.

Yet, through it all, there was love. Lilah was the conduit as Cordelia poured every last drop of every emotion she had ever felt into Angel, washing all three of them clean of everything but pure and radiant love. Angel fell to his knees taking Lilah with him.

Just as suddenly as it had begun it was over. Lilah knelt in the middle of the floor panting as Angel leaned heavily against her, face buried in the crook of her neck. She could hear a heartbeat, fast and frantic…. Angel took a deep ragged breath, pulling away and searching around the room in confusion.

"Cordelia?" He scrabbled backwards, his face turning purple. "Cor-!" He choked, hands flying to his neck as he struggled and then drew in a frantic gulp of air. He took another and another… his eyes bugging in his head as he began to hyperventilate. Wesley rushed to his side, deftly pushing Angel's sleeve up and feeling-

"There's a pulse!" He jabbed his fingers into Angel's neck, digging there despite Angel's pained yelp. "That hurt? Good-God I'm still getting- Angel, you-you're human!" Wes broke into a huge smile, giving a shout of triumph. Angel stared wide-eyed at Cordelia's corpse as he relearned how to breathe.

"Cordy," he gasped. "She did this?" Angel's panicked gaze searched Lilah's expression. Slowly, Lilah nodded. Part two of the operation was complete.


One week later….

"Angel, are you sure? There is still a lot of work here, a lot of good out there that has yet to be done." Wesley questioned even as he shook Angel's hand once more.

"I think so, Wes," he stated with more certainty than he surely felt. "It was Cordelia's last gift to me before she died. I'm sure she'd want me to take whatever chances at happiness I have left." He picked up his overnight bag and looked around his offices, Wesley's offices now. "We both know you are better suited for this sort of work anyway and since I'm no longer in the superhero club…." Angel shrugged. Truth be told, he didn't know what was supposed to come next. He'd never dreamed he'd reach his shanshu, and here it was.

"Ah, but Cleveland?" Wes questioned dubiously.

"That's where Buffy is." Angel replied evenly. "So, that's where I should be too."

"I suppose…." Wes mused. He shook off whatever thoughts were troubling him. "You can always come back, if-"

"I don't think so, Wes." Angel softly negated. "I think it's time to retire, get a tan and enjoy my life." There was a plaid shirt packed in his bag. He planned to put it on and walk barefoot on the beach before he left LA forever. "I'll call when I get to Buffy's."

"All-right." Wes studied Angel for a long moment. "Good luck old friend."

Angel simply nodded and walked through the lobby into the LA sun.


Lilah rolled her eyes at the monitor and turned back to the woman behind her. "God, those two were almost- maudlin." Cordelia smiled, but she didn't look up from the file she was reading. Lilah frowned, still confused about the point of it all. She crossed the room and snatched the file out of Cordy's hands, "So, what's next?"

"Hey! I was reading that." The other woman huffed indignantly. Lilah scanned the file. It was Angels.

"I knew it!" she gloated. "There was no way this thing with Angel is over." She snapped the file closed. "Well, my part is anyway. You said something about a promotion?"

Cordelia held out her hand for the file. "I like my coffee with cream and two sugars. The real stuff, I'm dead so no more worrying about the figure, right?"

Lilah blinked, "Excuse me?"

Cordelia rolled her eyes and snapped, "Coffee, cream two sugars… now please!"

Lilah took a reflexive step back, her hands going up in front of her. "You mean to tell me my `promotion' is to be your secretary?" she asked incredulously.

"Well, yeah. I'd say it beats the hell out of cleaning demon-poo, don't you?"

Lilah scowled. Cordy had a point, but now she was even more confused. Cordelia leaned forward, resting her elbows on the desk. "You don't get it?"

"No," Lilah agreed, "I don't understand anything. Why give Angel his redemption-?"

Cordelia snorted, rather unattractively. "What redemption? His shanshu? Puh-leaze!"

Lilah sat down in the overstuffed leather chair. Cordelia's coffee could wait. Her eyes narrowed in suspicion. "What exactly did we do then?"

"We made Angel human. Nothing more, nothing less. His redemption is exactly where it's always been…. Out there, on the streets, helping the helpless. Just because he decided to abandon everything because he got his reward a little earlier than planned and assumed he didn't have to work towards it any more, thus never attaining it, isn't my fault. He wants to run off and be with Buffy, then that's his problem, not mine."

Lilah knew she was grinning like an idiot but in that moment, she didn't care. In fact, in that moment, she thought Cordelia Chase was fucking hot. "But, you had to know that's exactly what he would do."

Cordelia tutted and shook her head sadly. "That whole free-will concept can be a real bitch."

Lilah just needed one more thing. "What about you? What are *you* getting out of this? Angel leaves and you get the LA branch?" Cordelia was giving her a shrewd look that made her realize that this was a woman who had been underestimated her entire life by pretty much everyone- herself included.

"Wes gets LA," she said dismissively. "LA is small potatoes anyway." Lilah waited as Cordelia leaned back in her chair and crossed her feet on her desk. "You are looking at the youngest Senior Partner in the history of Wolfram and Hart." She smiled sweetly, but there was nothing but frost behind it. Her eyebrow arched regally and Lilah slowly rose to her feet.

"Cream and two sugars?" she asked. Cordy nodded as she walked out the door.

As Lilah waited in the kitchen nook for the coffee to finish brewing she leaned against the necro-temperd glass and watched the traffic far below. Never in a million years would she have dreamed she'd be on this rung of the evil corporate ladder. She'd been through hell, literally, to get here but the scar on her neck was gone and her heart once more beat in her chest.

Angel hadn't been the only dead thing re-awakened that day but unlike him, she was still working towards her goals….

Most mortal employees of Wolfram and Hart had no idea about the executive inter-dimensional suites that made up five more floors of the building they occupied. She squinted, thinking she saw the swish of a duster and the strong confident steps of a former vampire on the streets below. She placed her palm flat on the glass. It was too far up to be sure, but she imagined it was him, wandering around the city in the sunlight.

"See you in hell, Angel." Lilah Morgan whispered with a smile.



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