Snark

Snark

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"For, although common Snarks do no manner of harm,
Yet, I feel it my duty to say,
Some are Boojums--" The Bellman broke off in alarm…

"'If your Snark be a Snark, that is right:…

"'But oh, beamish nephew, beware of the day,
If your Snark be a Boojum! For then
You will softly and suddenly vanish away,
And never be met with again!'…

In the midst of the word he was trying to say,
In the midst of his laughter and glee,
He had softly and suddenly vanished away---
For the Snark was a Boojum, you see.

Extracts from ‘The Hunting of The Snark’
Lewis Carroll

I’ve been sitting in my apartment, thumbing through a book I found outside my door when I got home from the hospital. I thought it belonged to my neighbour’s daughter, but she says not. I don’t know whose it is. It’s a book of children’s verse, and it fell open at ‘The Hunting of The Snark’. I read that as a child. I should have been reading Latin or Greek, or perhaps some dead demonic language, like a good little Watcher-to-be, but I was reading about the Snark instead, and my Father found me. That was one of the many times he locked me in the cupboard under the stairs. In the dark. I’ve always hated the dark.

I wonder if it’s dark in the Quor-toth?

It’s my fault. All my fault. I believed that stupid prophecy, and I stole Connor from Angel. There was a chain reaction, like pyramid selling, only it was pyramid theft, and now Connor is gone. Lost in another dimension. All my fault. My father never thought I would amount to anything. He was wrong. I’ve amounted to the world’s greatest screw-up.

I might even have brought on the end of this reality - how would *that* be for an epitaph, Father? You see, Angel is understandably not quite himself at present. At least, he isn’t the ‘himself’ that we have all come to know and depend on. He’s one of the others. It may be that it’s one of the others that we haven’t seen yet, and it’s quite likely to be one of the others that we fervently hope we will never see. Not in our lifetimes. If Angel decides to move Heaven and Earth to get his son back, he’s perfectly capable of doing it. Not the Angel we know. He wouldn’t wipe out this reality for the sake of a baby, not even if it’s his son. One of the other Angels might, though. Not, I think, Angelus, who’s all about getting his kicks. But some of those other Angels? One who had regained his clarity, who was driven by a terrible purity of purpose? And it would all be my fault.

So now I’m going to see whether I can set things right, or simply screw up worse than ever. I’ve come to see Lilah.

Her door has bolts and bars enough to keep human intruders out. There are mystical locks, I expect, and that simplest lock against her greatest fear. She would never invite him in.

If she lets me in, I’ll be safe from him while I’m here, but I don’t really care about that. He hasn’t come for me yet - although others have come without his knowledge but on his behalf - and it would be something of a relief if he did. After that night in the hospital, he haunts me, stalking the dark places of my mind. I see him around every corner, feel him in every shadow at my back. In the dark. I never turn out lights behind me now.

He *will* come. The only question is, when?

And she does let me in. She’s fresh from the bath, wrapped in a black silk robe that clings to her. She must still be slightly damp. Her scent is a subtle one, spicy and warm, and I want to breathe in more of it. Get closer. Perhaps it’s magic. It’s no doubt expensive. With the resources available to her, it might even be malabathron, a perfume that was worth a king’s ransom, back in the day.

She leads me in to her apartment, swaying her hips in that way that makes me want to take hold of them and pull her into me, until she’s in me and I’m in her. I shake my head to clear those thoughts out. It’s either the medication I’m on, or the perfume. I’ll go for the perfume. Then she turns, and her robe parts, revealing long, graceful legs. The soft folds almost conceal the right leg, draping over it, clinging still to that scented moisture, but her left leg is naked to my gaze, from her shapely foot to her tempting inner thigh. She sees what I’m looking at, and she smiles, a sly and knowing smile. Lilah is a beautiful woman, but there is something about that perfume, filling my nostrils, pervading my brain, and I wonder if she could have known I was coming. Or whether she was expecting someone else.

She doesn’t sit, and she doesn’t invite me to sit, either. I fight my way through that perfumed haze. I have a purpose here.

“Lilah. About the Quor-toth…” My voice is low and harsh from the slash across my throat, and I wonder whether it will ever be right again. Whether *I* will ever be right again.

She turns a little, and the front of her robe slips, showing the fullness of the inside of her breast, just a glimpse, and for the moment I don’t want to talk about the Quor-toth. I just want to be out of the dark.

I close the distance between us, and reach up to a slim lock of hair that is coiled against her slightly damp cheek. I run my finger underneath the lock, freeing it. Then I run my hand through her hair and suddenly I am kissing her. It isn’t a kiss of love, of comfort, of friendship or even of passion. It is a kiss of blinding need, of joining and burying and forgetting. A kiss that devours me, from the outside in. Like the man who hunted the Snark and found the Boojum, I want to disappear into this embrace. To softly and suddenly vanish away.

Without breaking that kiss, or the clutching hands that accompany it, she guides me into her bedroom. Only then does she pull back, when we are both gasping for air. There are restraints on the bedposts. I suppose, if I had thought about it, I should have expected that there would be. And I want that. I want to be helpless, to be at her mercy, to be punished for my sins. Anything, except be in the dark.

I take hold of the ends of the sash holding that black robe together, and just as I am about to tug, there is an imperious knock on the door. She was expecting someone else, then. I would leave and find my punishment elsewhere, but she pushes me towards an alcove in the wall. A small chair is fitted into there, and I sit down a little too heavily when the edge of the seat strikes the back of my knees.

“There’s no need for you to go - this shouldn’t take long.”

What? Does she expect me to sit here, some sort of voyeur for another liaison? I don’t want that sort of punishment. I make to rise, but she clicks a small switch on the wall, and I cannot move.

“Previous occupant had it installed. It’s powered by electricity. I’m still assessing it. No one can see you, don’t worry.”

I’m in the cupboard under the stairs again. She could leave me here until only my skeleton remains, or until that crumbles to dust. I cannot move, and I’m in the cupboard, but this time, I can see.

She picks up a small spray and whisks around the room with it.

“Mystical deodorant. No one will know you are here.” She smiles again, that sly, knowing smile. Then she straightens her robe, dabs some more of that magical perfume behind her ears and into her cleavage, and goes to open the door. It isn’t who she was expecting.

“Lilah.”

“Angel!” She spits the word out, as if it were venom, and she a snake.

“Aren’t you going to invite me in? Make nice?”

“NO! And in case that wasn’t clear enough, you are NOT invited, and never will be invited in.”

“Never’s a long time.”

As he says that, his voice seems to draw nearer, and I hear a little gasp from Lilah. He’s in. How did he do that? I thought the invitation thing was more of an absolute than a guideline? She clearly thinks the same.

“You CAN’T come in. You aren’t invited!”

He’s standing framed in the doorway to the bedroom, and I can see him. He pulls something from his pocket. It’s a police officer’s badge. It must be a fake, one you can buy on almost any street corner.

“Your concierge was very obliging to the police officer answering the call about an unknown intruder climbing through your window. We both wanted to make sure that nobody had broken in to your apartment, Lilah. We were concerned for your welfare. He *is* a servant of yours - well, a servant of sorts - and he can invite me in as well as you can.”

Heaven help all of us if Angel starts to scheme against humanity like that. He doesn’t do it because Angelus would do it, and there are clear demarcation lines between the two of them, which Angel will not cross. If those lines become blurred? I remember the lawyers in the wine cellar, at a time when Angel himself seemed to have vanished away. Or was one of the others.

“Oh, and the one you were expecting? Not coming.” His voice is bland when he says that, and I wonder if he has made a subtle joke. An Angelus quip.

She looks disconcerted for the moment, then decides to use what weapons she has available. The subtle, spicy musk drifts towards me, through whatever mystical barrier she has put there. I wonder what effect it will have on a vampire?

“Just because he isn’t, doesn’t mean to say someone can’t…”

As she speaks, she lets her hand fall. This might not be entirely wise, although I doubt that anyone is going to make Angel happy just now. Quick as a weasel, his hand shoots out to grasp her wrist.

“I haven’t come here to play hunt the trouser mouse…”

There’s another waft of that scent, and his expression changes. He smiles, and although he’s wearing his human face, that smile has fangs in it. He still has hold of her wrist, and he drags her into the bedroom.

I have to hold my breath. What if he hears me? And although I’m in the light, here in my cupboard, he brings the darkness with him, flowing in billowing, choking waves, following his every movement. His other shadow.

She reaches up to slide the coat off his shoulders, and he does what I so nearly did; tugs at the ends of her sash. Her robe falls open, and he gazes appreciatively at her.

“Whore.” His voice is oddly flat, as if that isn’t the word he means to say. Or as if he’s speaking to somebody else. To me. A tic of anger crosses her face, and I think for a moment that she means to hit him. He gets in first, though, and lands a backhanded blow that sweeps her backwards on to the bed. She’s going to have a bruised cheek tomorrow.

Before she can collect herself, or move, or even recover her wind, his shirt and jeans are lying on the floor, and her wrists are in the restraints.

“Did you hope to get those on me, Lilah? Let me tell you, you gotta be quicker than that.” She’s still wearing the robe, and he simply rips down each sleeve, and it’s just material now. Then, surprisingly, he devotes himself to her pleasure.

She resists him at first, curses him, fights against the restraints, tries to kick him off her. It’s clear that he’s had too much experience at this, though, and never have I been more aware of his other selves, his other lives. Soon, the only thing she’s fighting is herself. Delicately, gently, he attends to the demands of her arousal, with hands and fingers and lips and tongue, until she, too, is not herself. She is beside herself with need, panting and arching, and trying to get *more*.

Never have I been more aware of the demands of my own body, either. Like her, I cannot move, cannot escape the tableau in front of me, cannot escape what he is doing to her. I desperately need release, and I cannot achieve it.

Now, he eases his way up her body, covering her from my sight. Then she sighs, and I know that he has entered her. He begins the age-old rhythm, and she wraps her legs around his waist, striving to get closer and, because she cannot use her hands, she urges him on with eyes and voice. He has taken her to the edge, and he is holding her there, one foot off the precipice, but unable to fall. She is in an agony of need.

So am I. I cannot even touch myself, and I must. I must, or I shall die of a surfeit of desire.

He twists himself to thrust *just so*, and she takes a deep breath. She is starting to slide over that precipice, while I am still in a torment worthy of hell, but he pulls away from her, rolls off the bed, and starts to dress. As soon as he has his jeans on, he walks out of the bedroom, under the weight of her disbelief.

“No,” she whispers. “No, you sonofabitch, you don’t leave it there. NO!”

I wonder whether he simply means to give her a tiny taste of hell, but within a few moments he returns to the bedroom. He has a small tray on which he has gathered various objects. When he puts it down on the bedside table, even the haze of lust that wraps me around cannot disguise the things on there. A small but sharp knife; a staple extractor; a meat fork; a long and pointed wooden skewer; a razor; shoelaces; a cheese wire. Household objects, all of them.

Gently, he plays with her nipples again, while his other hand roams down between her legs. He can feel that her fear has not overcome the state of her arousal. It hasn’t overcome mine, either.

Still playing with her, enacting the devoted paramour, he puts on his demon face. By now, he could put on any face he liked and she would beg him to continue, to give her relief. He truly is a master of this. Then he digs a claw into her nipple, and she screams. He hasn’t let her come, though. He works gently at her breast again, keeping her on that edge.

“Remember Linwood’s instructions, Lilah? He told you to give me anything I wanted. Anything to help me get Connor back. But it didn’t work.”

From somewhere, she finds enough coherence to answer.

“Not my fault. I gave you what you wanted.”

“You gave me what I asked for, not what I wanted. Not what I needed.”

He leans on her thighs, inspecting her most private cleavage, then digs another claw viciously into her clitoris. She spasms forward as far as the restraints, and his weight, will allow. He still won’t let her come, ceasing all stimulation until she recovers, when he starts stroking and teasing again.

By now, I’ve bitten through my lip, and I’m praying that he can’t smell the blood.

“I could use everyone of those things on the tray, and we could be here for a very long time, Lilah.”

She eyes the tray warily.

“But the thing is, I don’t need to. There’s nothing that I can’t do with fingers and claws, with tongue and teeth, to ensure your very real pain, and my very real pleasure. And I’m good at it. Look in your files. I’m sure there’s enough on me in there. You’ll see what I mean. You’re going to use all the resources of Wolfram and Hart to get my son back from the Quor-toth. I don’t care how you do it. I don’t even need to *know* how you do it. You’ve got seven days.

“If he isn’t back by then, I *will* be, I promise.”

He pauses and turns to look at the objects he has brought in.

“And just maybe I’ll give you the choice. Me, or…” He inclines his head towards the tray. Fear is painted over Lilah’s beautiful features.

He gives her nipple a vicious tweak, and my cock clenches in sympathy. Then he stands up and puts his shirt and shoes on.

“Don’t fool yourself, Lilah. I’ll do what it takes. Whatever it takes.”

He puts his coat back on and starts for the door.

“Aren’t you going to untie me?” Her voice is breathy with unfulfilled need, sharp with spite. He pauses, but doesn’t turn round.

“Don’t need to.” He raises his voice a little. “Don’t worry, Wes. I’ll let you out in a little while. You might want to help Lilah get Connor out of the Quor-toth. You could develop a *working* relationship with her, couldn’t you?”

And then he’s gone.

I feel the hot sting of tears, as it becomes clear that my latest betrayal of this man has been known to him all along. And then the power cuts out. He’s done that, I’m sure. My restraints are gone. I could go and free Lilah, now. But I stay where I am, in my cupboard. I feel something inside me, the essential *me*, perhaps, begin to thin and fade. To softly and suddenly vanish away.

I’ve hunted the Snark. But a Snark isn’t always a Snark. Sometimes it’s a Boojum. The man who finds a Boojum will softly and suddenly vanish away, and never be met with again.

And Angel isn’t always Angel. Sometimes he’s…other. Oh, yes, I’ve seen it.

So I sit in my cupboard a while longer, until I find out what is left of me. In the dark. With Lilah.

THE END
30 May 2004

Author’s note: It’s not a word I use, but I think I know what fox1013 meant by snark. I can’t write that one, though, so I wrote the other one. Fox, I hope you like it, nonetheless.

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