Affording Balm [Angel]

Affording Balm
by Jennifer-Oksana
Show: Angel
Rating: NC-21
Warnings: slash, violence, rape
Summary: This is not about victim politics, because Lilah is not a victim.

She hasn’t been a victim since she was twelve years old.

(Cold hands, warm blood, couture, and perfume. “Isn’t this lovely? Just you and me. And Dru. And Lindsey, if he’s still conscious.” A sound that could be a purr. That is most definitely not a purr.)

And she isn’t a victim now. The reports can use all the therapy-culture jargon like survivor, victim, and the doctors can ask her if she needs a rape kit…a rape kit! she’s one of the city’s top lawyers, and they’re looking at her like she’s a battered wife from the shelter!….and to relax. She’s in shock. But she’s not a victim. She’s not like all of them.

For one, she’s alive.

(Cold hands, cold skin. They stank, stank like urine and feces and wine and vomit. It comes off their skin like a cloud, hard and cruel under the White Shoulders. Try not to gag. Try not to gag.)

“Would you like a cup of coffee?” Blank brown eyes, like Angel’s but not like Angel’s because Angel’s not so innocent and not so dumb. Angel told them all to go to Hell, thank you, and good night. He probably whistled on his way back to the Angelmobile.

“Fuck your cup of coffee.”

Her shoulder is severely dislocated. They figure she’ll be all right in a week or two, do some physical therapy, take relaxants, wear a sling. She figures she’s lucky it’s not a spiral break. It could have been much, much worse.

She’s alive.

(“I could tear you to pieces.” Two hands gripping her upper arm with inhuman strength and talon nails. She bites her tongue so hard that her eyes pricked up with tears, but she doesn’t scream. Not for this bitch. “You think you’re going to impress me with stoicism?”)

They keep asking her about the rape kit. As though only a man could be capable of this sort of death and destruction. Shows how nave the world is. She finally says, about two in the morning, “Fine. Go for it. I don’t care.” They think it’s the shock.

They don’t think to ask about the blood loss. And for a moment, she wants to tell them exactly what her assailants looked like, where to find them, and how many watt bulb would burn them in their tracks. But that would be career suicide, possibly actual suicide, and nobody wants that except…well, everyone but her.

She doesn’t say a word she doesn’t have to. She may never speak again.

(Blonde hair, blue eyes, skintight red everything. “You begged Angel to help you. How did it feel, watching him laugh in your face?” And there’s nothing but the pain, the short breaths, the chill running up and down her spine. “Answer me!”)

They finally send her home with her assistant, who looks glad that her intermittent attempts to seduce her boss into letting her attend all the smart little Wolfram and Hart parties as her date failed, at four-thirty in the morning. She still doesn’t say a word.

Not even when Annemarie tries to get one. She doesn’t speak. Her tongue is raw and swollen, and she thinks maybe she could cut it out. What was that myth? She remembers a bird. Philomela and Procne. Women’s Studies 101.

And yet she is not a victim. She is not someone to be pitied. They’d pitied her, but it had rolled off her back like her soul was coated in Teflon. In fact, she wonders if Wolfram and Hart has ever thought of that as a possible procedure for new employees.

(“I don’t want to die.” Five words torn out of her like she’s being tortured, and the air is so still that she thinks all the moaners and groaners have finally died. Maybe even Lindsey. Hopefully even Lindsey, the cunt-besotted son of a bitch whose obsession isn’t funny anymore.)

Philomela. There was a poem, or a play, and she can’t remember what it was. Alice Walker, maybe? Adrienne Rich? No. She can’t remember, so instead she heads to the bedroom and the large, large drawer of pills that is the drawer below the favored sex toys, and the thought of her purple silicone Cosmo so close to her makes her laugh and makes her retch.

Thank God for the pills.

The pills are all colors, all sizes, and all shapes. She has a pharmacy in Mexicali, not Tijuana because everyone goes to Tijuana, and she makes them rich because they make it convenient and safe. And hello, diazepam. Or chloral hydrate? Then again, there’s also benzodiazepine. She can chant the benefits and detriments in her sleep.

Mother had been so fond of them.

(“What would you do?” and the twist of her arm, the gasp of pain. “You would do anything. I think that’s…lovely.”)

She gets a glass from the cupboard, fills it with water from the sink. Breathing heavily, she pours out the water. Fills the glass with scotch.

And she can’t stop thinking of Philomela, fucking Philomela and her fucking idiot sister Procne. Thinking that anyone could save them from a world that did not care, that never cared, that was harsh and cruel and full of heroes who only cared for glory and immortality. Flying away as the swallow and the nightingale, and if there was ever a stupider teenaged girl metaphor for suicide, Lilah…and she realizes she’d lost her name, at least a moment….hasn’t heard it.

And Lilah hung out with a lot of depressive Goths with serious angst in high school.

(A kick to the backs of her knees, cold laugh. The twist of those pearls into her neck, pulling her away from the pain of her arm. The ominous sound of a zipper being pulled down. “Lindsey’s going to be so jealous.”)

Suddenly frantic with rage, Lilah swallows the scotch like it’s salvation, lets it burn her tongue and keeps drinking until the glass of liquid is gone and she’s gagging. She screams…once and only once…at the top of her lungs until there’s no breath left.

Fucking bitch. No. Fuck no. No, she’s not going to do what Darla, what Angel, what Lindsey, what Mommy wants her to do. Mix and match, wash it down with a bottle of scotch, prove that she’s a victim. Prove that when push came to shove, Lilah Morgan couldn’t handle the heat.

That she’s a sad little girl, a tragic Ophelia, a Philomela, wearing big sister’s clothes until they smothered her. Found sprawled out on the sheets, an everyday LA tragedy. Bright lights, big city, another uppity dead woman shooting too high and burning out.

(Her chin clenched in that hand, being forced to look up at her. That smirk. “I think I like your nasty little tongue. Keep it there. Dru! You think we can get us one of these corporate whores, too?” And the pressure on the back of her head, the choking smothering sweet taste against her mouth, the tears she didn’t want to cry.)

Lilah gags, gags and keeps gagging, because this is how to undo that bitch’s fucking manipulation of her. Get it all out, vomit and scream and cry and burn her mouth out with alcohol until it’s all gone. Take a shower and scrub herself clean of the victim-shock. Rinse. Repeat.

Then two benzos before bed. Just two. Lilah’s had an extremely traumatic experience, and is well-deserving of medication. After that, a week on Valium, then back to whatever anti-anxiety pill she’s been using. This is a sensible plan. The plan of a woman who cannot change certain things, but will not accept them.

Darla can’t die. But neither will Lilah. Lilah will live, her heart still beating.

And she’ll wait. Sooner or later, all the monsters outlive their usefulness.

And Lilah will be there.

Waiting, but not like Philomela. Like Procne, Procne who cried for her sister, and then destroyed all that Tereus held dear no matter what the cost. Procne who became Titus Andronicus who knew how to wage war.

Lilah pulls out the bottle of tequila, gargles. Spits so hard that she doesn’t notice it’s mixed with blood.

Yes. Lilah will be waiting.

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