Never Count the Cost

Many thanks to Mahaliem for beta reading this fic.

Lilah drew form 39C towards her and uncapped her pen. Expense forms were always submitted hand written, though she’d never been able to get a convincing reason why that was so out of the Accounting staff, even when this very pen had been buried nib deep in a nerve cluster in Perkins’ hand. The deputy accountant had been surprisingly inventive as he babbled out a stream of excuses but you soon learned to recognise an evasion in this place. She’d decided that it was sheer bloody mindedness coupled with the Luddite tendencies of most demons and left it at that. Eventually.

She poked at the crumpled heap of receipts in front of her, sighed, and pulled out one at random, copying the details onto the pale yellow form in a scrawl she took pains to make just this side of indecipherable.

June 1. 2002. $79.95. Lingerie

And she was damned if they were getting any more than that. Let them drool and jerk off to dreams of her in silk and satin, rich red ribbons, night black froth of lace against her pale skin – though if she ever found out they’d dressed her in baby doll pink, they’d die choking on the stench from their entrails – let them jerk and shudder all they liked. It wouldn’t be accurate.

Lilah smiled. It had taken her nearly seven hundred dollars to discover that Wesley got off on her in leather, but not enough to make it worth the stickiness it left on her skin when he peeled it off her, and liked ripping silk to shreds, but usually couldn’t be bothered, preferring to lie back and watch her strip as he gave orders in a lazy, husky whisper. And when she wore crisp, white cotton, demure and plain, he turned into just what she wanted in bed...

Men were so complicated sometimes. Lilah just liked Wesley naked.

Cotton...her mood soured. Wesley’s sheets were cotton too. She’d left him sprawled amongst them one night, face down, looking as if twitching a finger would be beyond him. She’d walked down the corridor, enjoying the thought of him sleeping with her scent on him, wondering if he’d dream of her, feeling a softening at the thought that startled her into a dreamy smile. She’d been almost at her car when her steps had slowed as she tried to work out what felt wrong, and then she’d realised that one earring was missing and the weight of the other felt strange, as though such a tiny tug needed to be balanced or she might fall over. Smiling at the absurdity, she’d walked back and opened the door without knocking, gone so short a time that she didn’t feel the need to announce herself.

In the minutes that she’d been gone, Wesley had stripped the bed.

Sheets and pillowcases lay in a heap on the floor, ready to be laundered, and he was showering. Lilah had felt humiliation before but never so keenly. Wesley had told her she was dirty when he fucked her and she’d let each taunt slide off her like water on glass, truthfully not caring what he said when his fingers were hot and hard against her body and his eyes were empty of all but need.

But know that he could not bear a moment’s more contact with her, that he could not stand to sleep on sheets she’d lain on, when she left his apartment with his come slickly thick between her legs because he’d never once offered her the use of his shower and she was too proud to ask...

She’d stood there, rage and hurt trembling through her body in echoing spasms, building up until all she could hear was her own harsh, angry breathing, until she’d had to grit her teeth to stop them chattering -  then she’d stripped off her panties, picked up a handful of sheet and wiped herself clean with it. Leaving silently, without killing him, had been harder than going back the next night and kissing him as if she didn’t know that to him she was the definition of guilty pleasure.

Shaking herself free of the memories, she reached for another receipt and scrawled down the details.

June 6. Manicure. $40.

She liked her nails short enough not to catch on things, but that wasn’t an option in her world, so she grew them long and kept them polished and coloured; diamond hard, jewel-bright shades that she picked for the names. There was something that amused her about nails coated in ‘Sinful Scarlet’. Sin was all sorts of things, but was it red? Lilah didn’t think so.

The manicurist had tsked and sighed over the jagged edges she had to file down. It was always the three centre fingernails that suffered the most when she clawed at sheets or skin, but Lilah hadn’t screamed for Wes for a while now, not since the night she’d lost her earring, and he was getting inventive trying to make her. Which, though she was silent to punish him, wasn’t exactly a bad thing for either of them. Wesley on his mettle was driven and ruthless and that appealed to her on too many levels to be anything but a bonus. She frowned. He’d hurt her once without meaning to; surprising a yelp of pain, genuine and unstudied, out of her, and spent the next five minutes apologising. That bothered her - not because of the chivalry; she could see he wasn’t going to shed that any time soon, but because it made her wonder just how much of the darkness was an act. It had to be real to be worthwhile to her employers, as they never hesitated to remind her.

Last night, he'd told her to keep on the glasses she'd worn to taunt him, to remind him that what he wanted he couldn’t’d been the best punishment she could come up with.

And he’d liked it. He’d been hard before he walked over to her; angry and amused and aroused, but not hurt. She’d wanted him to be hurt. If she couldn’t hurt him then he didn’t care...

But she’d gone along with it, like she did in all the games they played, until Wesley had looked up at her, pigtailed and pert as she rode him, her plaid skirt pushed up and her white blouse ripped open, and she'd realised the indifference wasn't an act, even if the darkness was.  

And after that, Wes doing his laundry at midnight didn’t seem such a big deal any more.

The receipt for the glasses she’d worn when she’d dressed up as Fred wasn’t in the pile. Some things you can’t get out of paying for.

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