Willow found her coming out of one of the training rooms on a Wednesday afternoon, the first time they'd ever had cause to speak one-on-one. It was not the easiest sort of meeting; Willow was coming to complain and Lilah was looking like she'd rather be anywhere but there.
"It's Willow, right?" she said, toweling down a bit. "Sorry--I forget names. And you don't talk much in meetings. Besides. I don't have to remember names; I'm--"
"The fabled and fabulous Lilah Morgan," Willow replied, not sure what to think. On the one hand, she looked like nothing more special than a tall brunette with a perpetual smirk wearing dirty and probably overpriced workout clothes. On the other, she was the human aspect of an ancient being who knew things that Willow would die a thousand deaths just to hear about. "You don't look so much like a dragon lady to me."
"I only break out the scales for special occasions," Lilah answered easily, rolling her head from side to side. "I can't do it in this dimension, anyway. Here, I'm just me. Fabled and fabulous."
Fred hated Lilah with the fiery passion of a thousand suns. Fred said that Lilah was the antichrist incarnate and that if Angel wasn't sure this was the only way to help the helpless, she'd be halfway to Texas by now and screw this job (well not the lab and the good work they were doing, but the job yes) and sometimes Fred overreacted some. Willow could relate. She guessed that Lilah was the Cordelia to Fred's Willow--and Willow still had to bite her tongue to refrain from making Whore-delia comments in Angel's hearing, even after hearing the whole sad and creepy story of Cordy post-Sunnydale.
But it was important to make her own judgments, and for herself, Willow wasn't sure what she thought of Lilah. The woman was petty, vicious, and biting--Willow had heard a few things Lilah had said to Fred at the Thursday morning meeting. But the lawyer was strangely calm for a wicked witch who could become a giant winged serpent and possibly destroy the universe--to say nothing of the part where she could make Angel jump on the worst of days. And right now, Lilah was just looking at her with dark, emotionless eyes, sweaty and lean and clearly a bit tired from training her ass off.
Damn, she was hot.
"Hey, Willow? Are you here to stare, or was there something you needed?" Lilah asked, raising a neatly shaped eyebrow. "I've got to take a shower. I have a two o'clock with a few local shaman-translators and--really, are you here for a reason?"
In fact, Willow had been here for a good reason. She was going to ask Lilah, very politely but very firmly, to quit with the twig jokes. Fred was actually quite sensitive about her weight, and the last thing a shaky alliance like theirs needed was a giant blow-up because Lilah and Fred had both been into Wesley at one time or another. And now...now Willow was looking at the big bad wolf and thinking how long...how very long...it had been since Willow had been with a woman.
And Lilah looked like the kind of woman who knew how to use her legs, her hands, her lips, and even her nose to her lover's advantage. Willow was not thinking this. She couldn't be. Because that would be wrong. That would be wrong like the time Anya cuddled her and said it got a little sexy. Wrong as a thing that was wrong.
"Um," Willow said, trying to figure out how her mouth had gone dry. "I needed to speak with you."
"So speak," Lilah replied acidly. "Stop staring. I can't turn into a dragon, a demon, or whatever I am in those other dimensions or planes. Here, I'm basically your average middle-aged lawyer bitch. When I get whacked with a stick, I get bruised. When I run too long, I get winded. I have to train my ass off just to keep up with Fred. So if you're here to ask me what sort of magickal essence I draw from--"
Ouch. Apparently a sensitive point. Willow shook her head vigorously, interrupting Lilah's rant.
"No, I was here to talk about something else, which I have--I think I've forgotten," she said awkwardly, watching a bead of sweat slide down Lilah's neck and onto her collarbone. "It wasn't that important."
Lilah rolled her eyes. "Okay then," she said. "When and if you remember, Red? Talk to my assistant and we can have one of these amazing girl-talk sessions over mimosas and Xena reruns."
Well, *there* was the bitch. Somehow, it didn't bother Willow so much. It wasn't like in the olden days of Cordelia and soul-crushing adolescent isolation. Willow was staring at Lilah like she was a steak dinner and not explaining why, and Lilah was sweaty and bruised and had a two pm meeting to get to, and no doubt she just wanted Willow to go the fuck away.
"Hey," Willow said, for form's sake. "You might have an easier time with your shiny new minions of good if you didn't insult them 24/7, you know."
Lilah almost retorted with something ill-tempered, but then--Willow could swear Lilah was checking her out, just a little. It was believable--after all, there was the very fabled encounter between Faith and Lilah, where Lilah had flat-out picked Faith up at a bar when Faith was at her psycho-bitchiest. As Faith had said, there's something about a woman who can get slammed against a fence by a Slayer and keep her cool. And apparently (so said Fred), Cordelia and Lilah had a moment or two of mutual fashion queen sexual tension.
Fred, when she wasn't tentatively trying to get on Willow, was saying a lot about girl on girl looks, touches, and smiles. Willow was starting to think that maybe Fred should have waited a couple of years to go to UT for her undergrad, because Fred? Completely and totally the cutest little baby dyke known to man, but sometimes the stage of "look, I do like girls! See!" got to be a little...and at twenty-seven it was...
"Yes, but it might be easier for my shiny new minions of good if they didn't insult me 24/7, either," Lilah replied, again interrupting a Willow internal ramble. "I'll lay off the twig talk."
For someone who was just a plain old middle-aged lawyer, Lilah was pretty damn near psychic, Willow thought before folding her arms over her chest.
"Well, that's good," Willow said. "You're showing your maturity."
"Yeah, look at me. I'm maturity personified. Which is actually true, if you consider the ancient interdimensional being side," Lilah said, folding her arms right back, which highlighted the most excellent cleavage and Willow was going to the extra special hell. Or maybe it was just Evil Miss Thing. Maybe she had secret evil sex powers that she didn't talk about that went along with being a literal dragon lady. "Tell Fred the next time she has a problem with me to tell me to my face and not send her skinny-ass girlfriend to do it for her."
Even that was kind of take-charge and hot.
"I'm not her girlfriend. Well, I am in the sense that I am her friend who's a girl, but I came to tell you because Angel thinks perhaps you and Fred shouldn't interact too often, what with the part where you've each tried to kill each other since we started working together like one big happy Addams Family," Willow retorted.
"Fair enough," Lilah said bemusedly. "Was that it?"
"Yes, I believe it was," Willow answered. "Sorry to keep you."
Lilah shrugged and walked toward Willow, clearly on her way to the showers. But before Willow could blink and regroup after her embarrassing display of unprofessional behavior, there was suddenly warm mouth near her ear, whispering--and oh, Willow's heart was going pitter-pat.
"I meant it about mimosas and Xena reruns," Lilah said with a low chuckle. "My secret shame is that I just can't get enough of pretty girls in leather who regularly bathe together. You?"
Wow. Faith was not wrong about the Best. Pass. Ever. ("If I swung that way, Will, it would have worked.") A little bit cheesy and self-aware, a lot sexy, a nice side of triple entendres, and Willow was going to have to share this one with Xander over beer and videos and cheese fries.
"I like mimosas," Willow said weakly. "You prefer Xena or Ga--oh, I'm stupid. Callisto."
"Back when she was hot and evil," Lilah agreed. "If you ever tell anyone I'm a Xena fan, I will make what you did to the Mears boy look like foreplay."
Willow laughed. "I would think you'd be a little more afraid I'll tell that you asked me out?" she said. "What with Wesley and the whole starcrossed true love bit?"
"Apparently evil also means bi and skanky...and like Wesley didn't spend the better part of our first go-round trying to seduce Fred," Lilah replied with a shrug. "Anyway. Meeting. We can plan slutty one night stand later. Mention the Xena thing and there will be infinite pain--and Willow?"
"Yeah?" Willow said, expecting something down and dirty to be said.
Lilah smiled, already halfway out of the hallway. "Cute outfit."
Willow blinked and almost said something, but Lilah was already gone. And Willow, when she caught her breath, realized that she didn't know anything more about the woman than when she'd started. Callisto, hotness, mimosas, cute outfit. It didn't add up to anything except fascination. Maybe pain. Maybe desperation or horniness or weird connection-feelings.
All Willow knew was that she planned to make that appointment. And maybe dress like Gabrielle when she went.