that is so fuckin’ romantic
(3/7) gifts/objects – wesley/lilah, angel
Wesley: So, Angel knows about our relationship - big deal.
Lilah: [grins] A dollar. You owe me a dollar.
Wesley: Oh damn!
Lilah: [laughs] You called this a relationship. [singsong] You lost the best, you said it first.
Wesley: [holds up a dollar]
Lilah: Sign it first. As proof.
Wesley: Proof of what?
Lilah: Of now. Of this. [kisses him]
Ahhh. Wesley and Lilah’s dollar bill. This scene is the ultimate in shipper heaven. The bet, OMG. They had a bet about who would be the first to call this thing between them a relationship—the first to slip and make that mistake (that’s how they see it.) I love how this bet delineates all the different power struggles going on, between Wesley and Lilah (neither wants to be the first to show that sign of what they consider weakness, the first to give up that emotional ground, which of necessity would involve yielding some of that ground to the other party, when they are both so bent on not succumbing to the other, or to whatever it is they have with each other), and within Wesley and Lilah themselves, as individuals (Lilah doesn’t want to be “one of the doe-eyed girls of Angel Investigations,” what she considers to be weak simpering women easily led astray by their hearts, she’s determined to keep looking out for herself and only herself; Wesley still can’t admit that he might share anything like love with Lilah Morgan—as far as he’s come from his S1 self, it’s still too fundamentally opposed to everything he believes he is.)
Everything about the subtext of this scene (especially when compared to their first post-coital scene in the S3 finale) screams that they are both falling for each other even if they are loath to admit it. Lilah is playful, kittenish, teasing—she smiles at Wesley and she glows, her defenses down to an extent we’ve never seen before. Wesley is more guarded, still more emotionally detached even though he’s the one who lost the bet—but there’s a genuine fondness and tenderness in the way he looks at Lilah that makes it clear there is something there, a real connection, a sincerity of feeling.
And that scares the hell out of them, leading them both to keep this sincerity at arm’s length, focusing on the mundane, the trivial, the dollar bill that lets them continue to pretend that their dynamic is simply a monetary transaction, another power play, another deal. Certainly not something that could possibly be rocking the foundations of their worlds, their identities, their conceptions of themselves and each other—how could something as ordinary and everyday and as businesslike as a dollar bill, something so completely devoid of romance and sentiment, possibly represent that?
But Lilah’s also unable to resist wanting the dollar to be personalized and individual in some way—for it to be a tangible proof and reminder of this relationship, of Wesley’s feelings for her, and hers for him, even as she continues to resist giving a name to any of it (“Of now. Of this.”) And that signed one dollar note is so representative of their entire dynamic—something that is built on cynical foundations, and always centered on negotiation and game-playing to some degree, but also ends up being marked with genuine, heartfelt emotion despite its best efforts to remain otherwise.
Lilah: Come on, what are you worried about, Wesley? You hated yourself for being with me. Or maybe you just hated yourself for loving being with me. Hey, semantics. In any case, we both knew, sooner or later, it would come to a messy end. For one of us, anyway. So ease up on that furrowed brow. You’re free now. No longer encumbered with the secret shame of our relationship.
Wesley: It wasn’t a relationship.
Lilah: There’s a signed dollar bill in your wallet I think proves different. You knew how I felt.
Wesley: You don’t feel.
Lilah: The only true thing I ever-
Wesley: You didn’t love me. You couldn’t.
Lilah: We’ll never know now, will we?