Summary: It’s Lilah’s hotel. She earned it.
“Murdered, forgotten, nameless, terrible
Beheaded girl, outstaring axe
And beatification, outstaring
What had begun to feel like reverence.” –Seamus Heaney
And was there ever a moment when she did not regret staying behind like a child, like an invalid, like a hated thing to be kept under wraps? She and Cordelia, the wounded birds, the womenfolk needing to be kept safe from the wolf ravening outside the door.
Well, fuck that thesis. The wolf was always, is always, in grandmother’s bed. Lilah should have known.
“Why do you think I let him out, you stupid bitch?” mocked Cordelia-not-Cordelia, and Lilah had heard the knife in her throat before she felt it, blood and bone and spinal fluid exploding into violent bouquets.
(so this is how Wes felt) she thought, the color fading out of her vision as Cordelia (stupid snatchy whore. I’ll get her for that later) disappeared and the world went black and very thankfully, Lilah had been good and dead before the afterparty began.
Kind of funny, the theory that Cordelia and Lilah were the weak ones, when they were the two most dangerous creatures in all of Los Angeles at the time?
Lots of things are funny now.
To end like this, that is funny. She is and was and ever will be the last denizen of this godforsaken hotel, slowly but surely watching herself and time (the two most reliable forces Lilah knows) drive the others out.
Fred was first, and easiest. She hadn’t had to do anything at all. Just watch over her shoulder. Fred hadn’t even dreamed to blame it on Lilah.
“It’s just creepy, that’s what it is,” she’d told Angel and Wesley and the whole lot of good-and-plentys. “You look at yourself and sometimes it’s like you’re seeing double.”
Fred had eventually gotten a job up at Stanford and sent postcards. The best part was that Fred had also gotten a girlfriend, and Wes had hated that, the son of a bitch.
Son of a bitch. Wesley is a son of a bitch. And this is Lilah’s hotel now, all hers, so she could write it on the walls over and over in big black letters and what would anyone do about it?
Send photographers, maybe. The tourists have come now that everyone else is gone, and Lilah rather likes all the attention. Everyone’s looking for Lilah Morgan now.
Yeah, now that she’s only a memory. Stupid Crisis.
Stupid stupid stupid Crisis. Someone stole her identity afterwards, along with her bank account, her car, et cetera. There’s proof of this, but it makes the historians wonder. Is it really Lilah’s head on display?
Lilah likes her head. It’s disgusting and disturbing. Sometimes she’ll make it pretty again.
Everything’s for fun when you’ve got a hotel to run! (Rhymes. She’s obsessed with rhymes. Oh, my love, you’re such a dove, from up above, and zoom zoom zoom, in the little room until it’s so inane that she goes to the basement and sulks.)
Anyhow. Her head is on display in the hotel. Someone makes a lot of money charging tourists to see Lilah’s desiccated head (whereas the body is still unexhumed in the garden) and the possible glimpse of the real thing, spectral or not.
They must make a lot of money. They keep sending caretakers, people to make sure no one’s squatting here. Besides Lilah of course, but who else would dare after she’s made so very very very sure to drive them all out?
Gunn and Lorne went almost at the same time, though she can’t remember now if that was her or if they died in the Fight, the great and stupid fight that claims everything eventually.
(you STUPID bitch, why do you think I)
“Are you doing all right tonight, girl?” the caretaker (speaking of) asks. Lilah does not particularly like this one. Apparently, even ghosts in LA tell implausible stories, and no one thanks to the identity stealer, really believes Lilah is Lilah.
She doesn’t like that. God damn it all, if a girl’s going to die violently, she at least deserves her life and death as one uninterrupted, well-known history.
“You’ve been quiet lately,” the caretaker murmurs, straightening a picture. “I always wonder why you get quiet when you’ve got so much to say.”
Angel was the best to destroy. He didn’t like it one bit that Lilah was in his hotel (not his. HERS. Her blood on the ground, her bones buried in the garden, her fucking HEAD with the rosebushes. In the glass case. Was that then? No. That was after. How did it preserve so well?) and slowly driving away business and visitors.
(you’ve got to do something, Angel!)
Angel was always her favorite to torment. He swore at her when she broke all his windows one by one by two by six.
“We’re SORRY, Lilah,” he said, as though she wanted an apology. “We’re SORRY you’re dead. We’re SORRY the world is no longer afflicted with your pres–”
He never liked it when she made the walls bleed. Or actually appeared, rotting and swollen flesh so ripe and bursting with decay.
“I don’t know if you saw–I left you a copy of the Times in print, the way you like it,” the caretaker is saying, walking with Lilah through Lilah’s hotel, paying attention to the things Lilah wants her to fix. The caretaker’s an excellent minion. Gavin Park himself couldn’t have done better. “That man, the last one who owned the hotel before he turned it over to Mr. Gottlieb, Mr. Pryce? He died yesterday. It’s a pity, isn’t it? He was ninety-four, the obituary said.”
The walls start to rattle ominously and the caretaker jumps. “I’m sorry,” she says. “I thought you’d like to know.”
Ninety-ninety-ninety-four. My one true love, alive-alive-o!
She is unaccountably sentimental at the news. My bonny lies over the ocean (Wesley is dead), my bonny lies over the sea (Wesley is dead), my bonny lies over the ocean (Wesley is dead), oh bring back my bonny…
The caretaker ducks as the wind goes howling through the hotel like the voice of a screaming woman. The caretaker is used to strange happenings, the way everyone is these days. Ever since the Crisis, which is just over sixty years ago now, the world has taken better note of paranormal things, like the memory of the woman imprisoned in this hotel that she takes care of.
Poor thing, doesn’t realize that she’s just an echo.
Lilah is going to destroy the gardens. It seems fitting. Each bush will wither and rot on the vine, turn it all to black.
“You’re not going to get hysterical, are you, lovvie?” the caretaker asks. Lilah hates the caretaker a little more. Her name is Marilyn and she’s not British. No one who isn’t 100% fucking British gets to say lovvie. Ever. And she’s not so sure about the Brits, either.
There are so many rooms and locks and doors in this hotel. She could do so many wicked things. Has done. Angel. Door. Held it closed. Southern exposure in that room.
She is going to destroy the gardens.
“Open the door!” someone was screaming at someone else. It wasn’t her. She was keeping the door closed. “Get an axe!”
The axe flew into the wall. That wicked, wicked axe. It’s still there. Embedded into the plaster. Lilah likes to touch it, to watch it wobble and scare the children.
No one knows why it’s there, of course. They make theories and print them out and give them to her. All of the words are gibberish. She doesn’t bother to correct them.
“Lilah!” someone kept screaming. “Stop it!”
Or was that her? She died. Cordelia had the knife of beast-bone. Evil eyes.
Angelus is chasing her. She can hear him calling after her, Li-lah, oh Liiiii-lah. It gets confusing. Angelus became Angel again and why then, she got her revenge, dust and ashes and everyone screaming at her to stop it stop itSTOPitsTOPit.
Or is that her fantasy? She had so many. Make the carpets bleed and bleed. Make Marilyn the Caretaker (no, girl, Marilyn died twenty years ago. It’s Jolanda now, or was she maybe confusing her with a girl Lilah knew growing up?) trip and fall and die.
I KNOW. Whydoyouthinkilethimoutyou
Her throat is sore. (Wesley is dead) It’s Marilyn. Not Jolanda. (Wesley is dead) And Angelus is gone, he can’t hurt her anymore, she’s been here for years and years and weeks
It’s her hotel. Hers. They come to see her walk.
(Wesley is dead)
She is going to ruin the gardens (minutes) and make a mess for the caretaker to clean up. She is going to ruin the windows.
It’s her hotel.
And is there ever a moment when she did not regret staying behind? Her hotel. Prison. (Wesley is dead) A place to keep her for all eternity, dodging judgment that’s too complicated for the powers that be.
“Do you remember your name?”
She remembers. It’s all she has, her name. Her name is Lilah. It sounds right. She thinks it’s her name. Maybe it was Cordelia? The names all start to sound the same. The voices, the visitors. They blur.
“Look at the head, mommy.”
“It’s so sad.”
“Domestic violence is always the same. The boot on the neck.”
“Hundred and fifty years ago.”
“Sometimes it cries.”
Yes. That’s right. Sometimes. When she wants it to cry, she can make it cry. Maybe she will do it.
This is her hotel.
It’s all she has.