Spoilers: Directly after Season 3 "Billy"
Disclaimer: In court, Joss wins.
Author's notes: Reviews/Critiques: They make my day.
Summary: Summary of the Episode 'Billy': In the previous episode 'That Vision Thing' Wolfram & Hart holds Cordelia hostage until Angel frees a client named Billy from a hell dimension. In the episode 'Billy', several weeks later Angel investigates a wave of violence against women throughout Los Angeles, only to trace its cause to the man he saved, Billy. Because Billy is part demon, has the ability to infect men with a murderous hate for women. Feeling responsible, Cordelia seeks the aid of Lilah, who became a victim of Billy's power earlier that day when her co-worker Gavin was infected, and brutally beat her. When Cordelia and Angel finally face off with Billy, Cordelia prepares to shoot him when at the last minute, Lilah steps out from the shadows and shoots Billy herself.
The hall outside of Lilah's apartment door was cold and dark and creepy. It was creepy because at eleven o'clock on a Saturday night in the middle of Los Angeles, it was dead silent. According to the bellman 'Miss Morgan' had rented out the whole floor; not that she intended to use the whole floor, she just didn't want anyone else on it.
As Cordelia knocked twice firmly, she mused that it would be just like Lilah Morgan to hate neighbors. Her fingers ran absently up the smooth, wooden body of the door labeled 102, and she inhaled in the familiar smell of wood finish. In Sunnydale, the doors throughout her parents' house had been solid wood. There was nothing like a mahogany door to say, 'hello, I've got more money than you,' or in this case, 'hello, I work for an evil, multi-billion dollar law firm, where people in the mail room make more than you.'
One of these days, Angel would luck out and rescue a millionaire. (Of course it would have to be luck because he would never do such a strategic and logical thing on purpose.) Then maybe they could afford food from someplace other than China Palace, and she might actually be able to pay her electric bill.
From the other side of the door came the sound of footsteps, light and tentative. There was a pause, in which Cordelia could hear what sounded like a drawer opening and closing. Several seconds later the lock clicked, and the door swung open.
"Surprise, surprise. It's Cordelia Chase. Again." Lilah's slender frame appeared in the doorway, lips twitching in an incredulous shadow of a smile at the woman standing in the hall. Whatever skanky excuse for PJs the lawyer had been wearing, they were covered by a black coat buttoned up over her collar-bone and ending mid-thigh; leaving bare leg down to bare feet. Both of the lawyer's eyes were still circled by large, puffy bruises, but overall looked significantly less purple than they had several hours ago. Either she'd applied a helpful amount of well-done foundation, or she'd taken some sort of ridiculously fast medication; both of which seemed plausible.
"Like the jacket. Chanel?" Cordelia nodded mildly at the other woman's attire. Only a woman with legs like Lilah's could wear that sort of thing. Legs, and an intimidating amount of poise.
"Gucci." Lilah leaned against the door frame thoughtfully, "You know, in most societies, mortal enemies - or in your case the lackeys of mortal enemies - don't make regular house calls on each other. Keeping up appearances and all that."
"You already shot your client, I'd imagine whatever else you do tonight won't matter much at the morning briefing."
Tensing visibly, Lilah frowned. "Look Sherlock, not in the mood for moral talks or sisterly hugs." The lawyer's hand lifted from within her jacket pocket to reveal a pistol and take aim at the woman on her doorstep, "So why don't you leave me be."
"Not exactly in the mood myself." Mirroring the taller woman, Cordelia lifted a small gun from her own jacket pocket, and aimed. "Considering the crowd I run with, if I was in the mood for hugging and kumbayas, you really think I'd be here?"
Lilah's eyes - or eye, since the other one was still mostly swollen shut - narrowed. "Armed and breaking an entering, sounds nice on an actress's resume, don't you think?"
"Whereas in your line of work, that might earn you a bonus."
Cordelia brushed past, uninvited, into the room for the second time that night; catching sight of the corner of Lilah's lip, the side that wasn't cut, twitching up in a sneer as she nudged the door shut behind her unwanted houseguest. "I'm not interested in whatever redemption sales pitch Angel sent you to shove down my throat, and if you think you can keep barging in here at your leisure, Saint Cordelia-"
"I'm not here for Angel, and I'm sure as hell not here to redeem you." Guns still pointed idly at one another, Cordelia could see Lilah's frown deepen, eyes intensifying with curiosity. "So tell you what, you don't try to feed me that 'Evil's better, we have dental' crap, and I'll lay off the nobility. Fair enough?"
"Sure, except for the part where your sorry ass is still in my apartment." The lawyer tilted her weapon up to point at the center of Cordelia's forehead, expression stone.
Lilah was a good bluff - naturally, lawyer - but Cordelia knew better. She could think about a dozen very good reasons- well, at least two very good reasons- why Lilah Morgan was not going to fire that gun. First off, there was that good old sense of self preservation; which did not mesh with the chance that Cordelia's gun might go off too. Then there was the part where Cordelia had the several centuries old vampire on her side, the one that had locked Lilah and Lindsey in a wine cellar with two hungry, psychotic vampires. Not really something one forgets over night, or ever.
"You're shaking," Cordelia pointed out, eye's on the glaring lawyer's unsteady trigger hand. It was no mystery what had her shook up. Cordelia was willing to bet money Lilah didn't do her own dirty work very often, which would put shooting Billy until he crumpled into a heap on the cement pretty high up on the 'why my day sucked' list, right beneath getting the shit beaten out of her.
Cordelia almost felt sorry for her. Almost.
"Lilah, I've had enough of guns for one day. So just once, in the name of defeating... a common enemy," and those calculating eyes were on her, gauging sincerity, "could we just pretend to be civilized?" There was a pause, then in a tentative wisp of a voice she added, with a half-smile, "I brought ice cream."
The battered face before her lit with disbelief, then amusement. Lilah's finger eased off the trigger, frown wavering. Then, "Flavor?"
An indistinct grunt, a pause, and Lilah's arms sunk to her sides. "Mind as well, won't be celebrating tomorrow when the committee eats me for breakfast." Cordelia must have made a face, because Lilah corrected, "Figuratively. Drink?"
"Still have that wine I saw, earlier?" Cordelia slid her gun back into her pocket, and pretended to examine a large painting on the wall, "I've got radar for Merlot." Out of the corner of her eye, she saw Lilah pause tentatively, before setting her own gun down on an exceptionally nice bar top. Another quiet moment passed, and she could see the lawyer's silhouette lift a bottle casually and pour into two delicate-looking wine glasses, then rotate on the balls of her feet to slink - not walk, but slink - to Cordelia's side.
Lawyer Bitch's perfume wafted slowly to Cordelia's sensitive nose as she turned to face her reluctant hostess and accept the glass Lilah had been holding, fingertips brushing the other woman's perfectly manicured hand.
"Cordelia," Lilah's face suddenly felt very close to hers, voice smooth and crisp and utterly feminine. Dark eyes fixed on her, calculating and curious, "You're here, with me, because..?" Beautifully arched brows that were, for the most part, undamaged by the beating she'd taken lifted curiously, and Cordy caught the faint trace of heavier alcohol on the other woman's breath. Scotch, if she had to guess.
"Can't afford the wine I like," her days as one of the richest girls in Sunnydale were long past, but left her with an insatiable, undying love of excessively nice things, "and it seems that oddly enough, you can. I figure that since you recently gave me the worst headache of my life, not that you're forgiven mind you," that psychic bastard had nearly turned her inside out with pain, "You owe me a drink, in the least."
A bemused half-smile accompanied Lilah's skeptic laugh, "You're here because you think I owe you booze?"
"And a non kumbaya-inclined celebration." Smiling wryly, Cordelia relished a sip, before strutting, strutting because she couldn't sit by and let that woman out-slink her, to an expensive-looking couch, and sat. Several seconds later, Lilah slid into the space beside her.
The night's events had given Cordelia a momentary but powerful distaste for the male half of society. In her social circle that left Fred, who in all of her irksome babbling and physicist glory, was not the company Cordelia needed.
She needed good wine and luxurious leather couches and someone who didn't think Burberry was a dessert; and if that meant barging her way into the apartment of a quasi-evil lawyer bitch, then so be it. If Angel could boink Darla and get away with it, she damn well could have a drink with the hero of the night.
Which was a title she never thought she'd use for Lilah.
The attorney's body was turned so that Cordelia faced the less-damaged side of her face, hair falling loosely to frame the array of improved, but not abolished, cuts and bruises. Lilah swirled her drink calmly, her tone classically smooth even as a disbelieving smile stretched over her face. "So in this little who owes who equation, how does me shooting Billy play in? If I know you good-and-plenty types, which after two years of trying to get you out of my hair I imagine I would, I saved you a significant amount of guilt; shooting him so that you didn't have to." Long, mostly bare legs crossed gracefully, the soles of her feet arched in that, 'I was made for heels' way. "I'd even say that makes us about even, or you owe me a drink."
Cordelia took in another sip, pulling her eyes away from the lawyer's lower body. "Don't kid yourself. We dragged his ass out of hell in the first place, which was your fault. It's only right we put him back where we found him. Besides," she took a more enthusiastic drink, bordering on swig, as she relished the taste of wine she could never afford, "You killed Billy of your own accord, for your own reasons. After two years of getting in the way of you evil-lawyer types, I've seen enough to know those shots had nothing to do with me."
There was a pause, then, "Fair enough." Lilah tipped her glass lightly, "Your drink it is. But if you try to tell me you've got better taste in shoes again, Angel or no Angel, I'll blow you the fuck away."
Time crept by, and the two women fell into conversation. It turned out a company healer put up someplace in Florida was working his mojo on Lilah's steadily improving face even as they spoke, which was so effective that before the hour was up the cuts around her mouth had nearly vanished, and all that remained of her black eyes were faint traces of purple around a set of enviably dark lashes.
Cordelia had never actually seen Lilah before today, and the sheer attractiveness of the face that appeared from beneath the scabs and bruises spurred a natural, competitive envy to life that bit at the back her mind, and was only quelled by the vain, but honest knowledge that she herself was equally stunning.
By the time they'd covered the topics of Prada's new shoe line, which Lilah had the privilege of seeing before the rest of the world, and several paintings in the room that were, she avidly professed, not some school boy's knockoff of original work, Cordelia had blazed her way through several glasses of increasingly excellent wine, and was feeling warm, slightly tingly, and far more comfortable than the logical half of her brain reasoned she should in the company of Wolfram & Hart's hell-bitch extraordinaire.
But for her, it was a god damn rarity to bum around with another woman (Fred only sort of counted, in the most endearing way), and this was the one, and probably only, time she was going to have a good excuse to do it. She was not passing it up, and apparently, neither was Lilah.
Lilah, who had started drinking long before Cordelia had showed up the first time, was slowly nursing the remainders of her second glass within the hour, and showing a beautiful set of teeth as she laughed through a story featuring Gavin's poor attempts at a come on. "Bastard won't ever replace Lindsey, which I suppose is a good thing. That man was a walking distraction."
"So you and Lindsey... you were together?" Cordelia smiled inwardly at an image of the two lawyers on lunch break spread atop one of their oversized desks, clothes tearing and curse words flying as two monstrous wills collided.
"Obviously not in the chocolate and flowers sense of the word," Lilah's lips arched coyly in a smile, "But from one- what was it you called me earlier, vicious?"
Cordelia's smile twisted into a smirk, "A vicious bitch."
"Charming - from one vicious bitch to another," Lilah's perfectly arched brows lifted suggestively, "there's more than one way to top a co-worker."
There was that sexual confidence again, and with the glow of wine warming the lawyer's cheeks, it practically radiated off of her. In that terribly vain, I-will-own-your-ass-in-bed, way; which, Cordelia mused, in most situations was probably true.
The taller woman's gaze fluttered down as she swirled the last bit of liquid in her glass, then swallowed it.
"So, the black eyes spoke for themselves, but where'd the cuts come from? Gavin's got nails?" Too much time spent investigating crime scenes for her to remember that it was Lilah, and Cordy did not care.
"He slammed my face into some glass shelves, which were holding glass knickknacks," frowning, the lawyer added in a vindictive tone, "knew I didn't like those ugly things." Cordelia felt her brows knit together in a rare look of sympathy as Lilah relinquished her glass to sit empty on the table, easing back into the embrace of the overly nice cushions. The movement sent another faint wave of expensive perfume Cordelia's way, which she ignored as the lawyer continued, "But Billy or no Billy, he won't try something like that again. You should've seen the bastard's face when I was done with him," Lilah's lips parted in a sadistic smile, "and by his face I mean the sorry state I left it in, not his expression. Though that was priceless too, in its own right."
"Hell hath no fury," Cordelia lifted her glass in a faint semblance of a toast, before downing the rest of her drink. Was that her third glass? It might've been her fourth, but she doubted it. It didn't feel like she was slurring, and she knew that when she hit four was when her pronunciation went down the tubes. Not that her hostess would have noticed, Lilah had taken in just as much as she had, if not more so, before Cordelia had even arrived. Though predictably, she held her liquor well. Not once had the lawyer slurred or stuttered.
Nimble fingers undid the top few buttons of Lilah's jacket, revealing a previously hidden, fading set of bruises that circled her throat; presumably another mark of the afternoon's Billy-based, men-gone-mad extravaganza, along with a hint of cleavage. Cordelia slid out of her own jacket casually, because suddenly the room felt a bit warmer.
Cordy leaned forward to place the empty glass next to its fellow, closing her eyes as she sunk back contentedly into warm cushions. Warm and smooth and oddly firm cushions. She blinked, realizing that it wasn't a cushion her side was pressing into, it was the other woman.
"Well now, I agreed to drink with you. That doesn't mean we get to cuddle." The lawyer's delicately curving lips lifted in a smirk as Cordelia jerked away, Lilah's head tilting back with a laugh.
"Don't flatter yourself." Cordelia curled her lip in a look of disgust that probably would have been much more convincing if it hadn't been for the better half of a shapely, milky-white thigh peaking out as the lawyer stretched, looking utterly unabashed.
"Come now sweetie," Lilah leaned forward to look up at her through her lashes candidly, "I've read your file. I know what you were up to in high school, Queen C. Experimental little thing, before you ran in with that Harris kid."
It was all Cordelia could do not to let her mouth drop open.
"There's a record of my teenage sex life in your little black book? You've gotta be kidding me."
There was that coy smile again, with just the right hint of vanity. "Our 'little back book' has just about everything you've ever done on record, including personal relations."
She was abruptly aware of the blood in her veins as her flustered pulse sped into a brief rendition of the Mexican hat dance. No one knew about that, no one who she hadn't threatened and bribed into shutting up. Cordelia shook her head, fingers tapping in agitation, "It's like big brother, with fangs."
"File doesn't tell me any thing I couldn't have already guessed." Lilah's eyes burned into hers for a moment, wearing that self-satisfied smile that made Cordelia want to create more work for that healer in Florida.
"Well, if you'll bare my presence for another two minutes, I'll call a cab home before you weasel any more information for your files out of me."
Lilah waved a hand at the air absently, "Whatever, the ice cream stays."
After a few last minute insults and a mutually expressed desire to never see one another again, Cordelia found herself again at the doorway, trailed by Lilah who presumable intended on locking up. She had every intention of leaving, she even had one foot out the door, when their eyes caught.
The next thing Cordelia knew she was being slammed fast and hard up against the wall, Lilah's lips colliding roughly with hers. Her heart beat wildly in her chest as the lawyer nipped forcefully at her lips, long-nailed hands squeezing into Cordelia's wrists as they were forced over her head and held tight against the wall. There was anger and fear and something else coursing through her veins as the other woman's curving body pressed smoothly into hers, and she was too shocked to struggle properly. Pulling back, Lilah's eyes met hers; dark and powerful and ablaze with something that looked remarkably like hate and need combined.
Then with the slow, deliberate motion of a predator, Lilah's tongue slid expertly over Cordelia's bottom lip, leaving other parts of her longing painfully for a similar sensation.
And before her mind could register much of anything, Cordelia's lips had parted for the other woman's tongue, hips pressing needily into the body against her.
Their lips moved skilfully against one another, tongues delving into mouths that were still sweet with wine while the lawyer's manicured hands left their merciless grip on her wrists to wander. Suddenly free, Cordelia's fingers found themselves lacing through Lilah's hair, pulling their faces hungrily together till the kiss was all tongue and teeth. Curiosity coaxed Cordelia's hands to spread first down the nape of the lawyer's neck, then separate to stroke down along Lilah's jaw-line and up the curve of her stomach simultaneously. Her nails dragged over the space where she could feel the lawyer's naval, over the slope where stomach became ribcage, over that and further up to a chest rising and falling with speedy breath, her wandering hands earning a muted groan of approval as Lilah's body arched into her touch.
And Cordelia was not doing this. Evil lawyer. E. V. I. -
Lilah's thigh pressed between her legs, and Cordelia lost a moan into their fierce lip-lock.
She was not liking this. She did not like this. Did. Not. Like. This.
One of Cordelia's hands traced up the back of Lilah's thigh, pushing the hem of her skirt up several very significant inches in the process.
And who did she think she was kidding? Lilah was putting Xander Harris and nearly every other touch, male or female, Cordelia could remember to shame.
Lilah's fingertips had begun to trace infuriatingly light circles down the slant of Cordelia's hips, slipping beneath the fabric of her shirt to electrifying the skin above the belt of her pants. Their kiss broke apart as the lawyer moved to nip up the nape of Cordelia's neck with increasing force, just too hard in a way that made the hairs on the back of her neck stand on end, and provoked a tiny gasp out of her before she could gather the pride to stifle it.
"What happened," the lips left her neck, and Lilah's voice was throaty and low in her ear, "to a civilized evening?"
With a sudden burst of force Cordelia shoved the other woman back, hands gripping Lilah's shoulders as she guided her up onto the edge of a feebly creaking table. Something fell off the other end of the surface and shattered, but neither woman seemed to notice. Straddling the lawyer as two sets of hands worked furiously at jacket buttons, Cordelia muttered: "Lilah, shut up."
And several hours and one forgotten cabdriver later, she did.
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