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Lilah flashes pearly white teeth and the two doormen step aside, allowing her and her companion to pass. Discretion is par for the course in a place like this and Lilah is accustomed to having doors opened for her, in every sense of the word. Through the cigarette smoke, dry ice, and electronic beat, the hostess greets her, taking her expensive fur coat. Real fur, naturally. She's used to dealing with deception every day - it's her forte, after all - but she likes her clothing to be the genuine article.

They're led to a corner booth, champagne in an ice bucket already waiting for them, and Lilah slides in, ladies first. She watches her companion sit, squeak of leather pants against the upholstery as Faith slides closer.

"So, this how you normally clinch a deal?" Faith asks, watching the girls lined up at the bar, sweet-talking balding businessmen and rich playboys. Some of them dance, right there at the bar, peeling off sheath-like dresses like layers of skin. Men stuff rolled up twenties into the girls' g-strings while the girls give fake plastic smiles. Much like the one Lilah uses day-to-day in her working life, the exception being that the only whoring she does is strictly metaphorical.

She looks at Faith sidelong as the hostess pours the champagne. Taking an experimental sip, Lilah nods in satisfaction and the hostess leaves. "I like to think I have a certain finesse for reading people. Wolfram and Hart like to keep our clients happy, Faith."

Dark, glossy eyes slither over Lilah, snake-like. "You gonna keep me sweet?" Eyes flick to the patrons of the club, to the skinny blonde girl with her legs wrapped around a pole not five feet away from them. Sliding up and down like a bitch in heat, that feigned, porno variety of ecstasy written all over her face, all closed eyes and biting her bottom lip. In reality, she's probably thinking about her taxes, or her kid, or what the fuck her parents would say if they knew what she was doing. "Whatever shit you got in that file of yours, doesn't mean you know me. I'm just along for the ride. And the cash."

Lilah gives a thin, well-practised smile. A law school smile. "Of course. This is just an added incentive. If there's anything you want," she pauses, leans forward a little, "and I mean *anything*, I can arrange it for you. We 're here to anticipate your needs."

"Is that right?" Faith slouches down in the booth, knocking back her champagne and shoving the empty glass away. Her eyes survey the darkened club, the gaudy fibre optic lighting, and shimmering curtains. The girls with their body paint, see-through dresses and their. . . Cordelia Chase? Moving through a throng of rowdy men with a tray of drinks balanced expertly on one palm. One of the guys puts a hand on her ass and Cordelia spins and glares. Moments later he and his friends are escorted out, involuntarily, by the security staff.

Rule number one of these places: never touch the girls.

Faith sits forward slowly, eyes rooted upon Cordelia, and Lilah follows her gaze to the commotion. Well, well. Wonders if Angel knows that his pet seer moonlights in a strip club. Not a dancer, of course, because that would be far too cliché for the fallen daughter of an elite suburban family. But waiting tables isn't much more respectable.

"You know her?" Lilah asks, idly, though fully versed in the life and times of Cordelia Chase, former cheerleader and May Queen. Accepted into every college she applied for, though Daddy's money didn't stretch that far, thanks to a small tax evasion problem. Pity, that girl could've gone far.

"Kind of an enemy of an enemy. She had a thing for my Watcher and I fucked her ex-boyfriend."

"But you really wanted to fuck her, instead of him." Not a question, but a statement of fact.

Faith makes a dismissive noise. "I've had girls like her before. All the same, these high maintenance chicks. They'd rather give away their shoe collections than admit that other girls get them hot."

"I can get her for you," Lilah says as casually as if she was talking about the weather. Dark eyes swivel towards her, brimming with amusement and incredulity. Lilah sips her champagne slowly, eyes peering over the rim at Cordelia as the waitress sullenly fills her tray with another round of drinks. "You only have to say the word."

Without waiting for a response, Lilah raises her hand, catching Cordelia's eye as she deposits the drinks at another table. Reaches for her purse and pulls out a few twenties, as Cordelia approaches their booth.

"Hi, what can I -- " Cordelia stops dead when she spots Faith sitting next to the well-groomed woman in a business suit, and remembers suddenly Giles' telephoned words of warning to Angel not days ago. Desperate, dangerous, with nothing left to lose. Right now Faith looks pretty much like a snake waiting to uncoil. Wonders if she should warn Business Suit Lady that she's
sitting beside a deranged psycho killer. Then again, maybe that's what floats Business Suit Lady's boat.

"My friend here would like a dance," Lilah says, glancing briefly at Faith with a smirk.

Cordelia folds her arms. "I don't dance."

"Sure you do, princess," Faith says, all smoky drawl, and Cordelia bristles. "Used to see you every Friday night in the Bronze, bumping and grinding with your girlfriends. Bet you never told them how much you got off on it."

"Fuck you."

"Is there a problem here?" The hostess glides up to the booth, a nervous smile plastered over her face.

Cordelia opens her mouth to protest but Lilah butts in. "We'd like a private dance."

The hostess looks at Cordelia, then at the paying customers, and hesitates. Gives Cordelia a sharp look. "Of course, if you'd like to follow me."

"Go ahead," Lilah murmurs to Faith, eyes returning to the skinny blonde thing still writhing on the pole in front of them. "I'll stay here and. . . admire the view."



The private room is a dark, clammy little hole with just a comfortable leather chair and a couple of spotlights to illuminate the gloom. Faith settles herself in the chair, one leg thrown casually over the side, and waits. Begins to think that maybe Cordelia Chase, high school teen dream, hasn't got the guts to follow through on this.

Then the music kicks in, some anonymous '70s funk that could be the accompaniment to any number of cheap pornos. A previously concealed door at the front of the room opens and Cordelia steps through, wearing the same kind of dress as the other girls in the bar. Slashed to the thigh and leaving little to the imagination.

She struts out, the picture of impeccable confidence, and stares Faith right in the eye. Huh, well, maybe Faith had CC pegged all wrong. Lets a grin slide over her face as Cordelia shimmies up to the chair.

"C'mon, C, show me what you got."

Cordelia leans down close, affording Faith a perfect view of her cleavage, bringing it tantalisingly inches from Faith's face, before pulling back. "You wish. I'm not as cheap as you are."

"I'm not the one dancing for money. Angel not paying you enough? Or maybe you let him bone you too for a few bucks."

Cordelia's hand connects with Faith's face before Faith can react. So much for those Slayer reflexes. She watches with a growing sense of horror as Faith brings fingertips to her bloodied lip.

And just as she expects Faith to jump out of the chair and beat the unholy crap out of her, Faith laughs. Just throws back her head and laughs. "Nice shot, C. Guess I had that coming."

"Yeah, well." Cordelia knows what the girl in front of her is capable of and edges back towards the door all the same. Because Faith has a funny habit of turning psycho in the blink of an eye.

The movement isn't lost on Faith and she looks at Cordelia steadily, a smile still playing on her lips. "If I wanted to cause you pain, you'd be feeling it already." Cocks her head as she studies Cordelia and wishes she could see that long, lean body in a better light. "Aren't you gonna finish your dance? I paid for it. Only fair that you finish what you started, right?"

"You didn't pay, your *friend* did." Cordelia feels the potentially suicidal urge to pick hairs around Faith.

"So we'll get her in here and you can dance for her too."


"Dance for me. You think you're so fucking hot. Prove it."

Cordelia's jaw clenches visibly in the half-darkness. Knows she shouldn't give Faith the satisfaction of rising to the goading but what are her options, really? Maybe if she does what Faith wants then she'll get out of this without broken bones. And she'd like to see that feral grin wiped off Faith's face.

So she begins to move to the music and tries to convince herself that it's just like performing a cheerleading routine. Only without pom poms and, well, clothing. Tries to think of the money, those new shoes that she's been coveting, and, God knows, the apartment could do with a lick of paint. Tries to focus on that and not Faith's too dark eyes as she lowers herself onto Faith's lap. Slaps away the hands that reach for her hips.

"No touching," she says through gritted teeth.

Faith glances up at the surveillance camera in the corner - it's off. Guesses she has to thank Lilah for that one later. "With my hands or just in general?"

With a sneer, Cordelia slides off Faith's lap and reaches for the fastening of her dress, dragging the zip down slowly as she dances, watching Faith watching her. Sees the lust with which Faith's eyes devour her body, and realises that she, Cordelia, has the power here. The knowledge makes her that much bolder, her moves that much more brazen, as she slithers out of the slut-tight dress, leaving her only in a g-string and high heels.

Faith's tongue darts out to wet her lips as Cordelia approaches slowly, heels clicking loudly in time with the beat of the music. Faith shifts in her chair, just itching to touch what she can't have. Cordelia smiles to herself. Just because the patron can't touch, doesn't mean *she* can't. Oh, yeah, she was going to make Faith wish she hadn't pushed her. She was going to blow Faith's mind.

Bracing herself on the arms of the chair, Cordelia gyrates to the low down dirty bassline, grinding her hips briefly into Faith's leather clad thigh, watching the rapture that steals across Faith's features. Settles herself on that rock-solid thigh and runs her hands over Faith's breasts; not a coy touch but one of absolute confidence, and feels the stiff peaks of Faith's nipples against her palms.

Dark eyes widen as Cordelia's hand travels down a taut abdomen to the zipper of Faith's pants. A quick one-two and that hand slides underneath the leather and cups the concentrated heat of Faith's pelvis, feels the moisture that soaks Faith's underwear, and it makes Cordelia feel triumphant somehow.

"Isn't this against the rules?" Faith breathes, her voice velvety and low. "Not that I'm complaining."

Cordelia responds simply by pushing the sodden material of Faith's panties aside and stroking the swollen flesh beneath with two fingers.

Faith's staring at Cordelia, unable to mask her confusion or her lust. She really doesn't have a clue why Cordelia's doing this. But then again, she doesn't really care beyond the fact that she hasn't got laid for eight fucking months, on account of that wicked inconvenient coma B put her in. So she flexes her hips, trying to initiate more intimate contact.

"What do you want, Faith? Really?" Cordelia asks, her voice strangely rough to her own ears. Goosebumps rise in the wake of Faith's stare trailing unabashedly over Cordelia's perfect, perfect breasts.

"I wanna fuck you."

"You can't buy that."

A finger grazes Faith's clitoris and her hips jerk upwards, almost dislodging Cordelia.

"I'll bet Xander or Wesley could never make you scream."

"And you could?"

That finger dips slightly into wetness and Faith's hips surge forward once more, her answer lost in a groan that makes Cordelia suddenly aware of her own arousal, of her own slickness against Faith's thigh. Which was so not part of the plan. In that moment of distraction, she feels Faith's hands on her hips, moving over the thin straps of her g-string.

This time, she allows it. But just as she has the power to touch Faith, so she can take it away -- withdrawing her hand from the constriction of Faith' s pants.

Faith's eyes flash in annoyance, until Cordelia brings moisture-coated fingers to her lips, and sucks them clean. Faith grins slightly, showing her appreciation. Then Cordelia leans forward, taking Faith's face in her hands, and runs her tongue teasingly along Faith's lower lip before covering that full mouth with her own. Quickly pushing her tongue inside, she kisses Faith in a way that's all about conquest, and nothing to do with tenderness. What was it Faith used to say? Want. Take. Have. Not a bad motto to live by, really.

When Cordelia pulls back, they're both breathing hard. Her mouth hovers near Faith's ear. "You could never make me scream. You want to know why? Because you're nothing. You're beneath me, you'll always be beneath me."

She rises smoothly, smirking at the look on Faith's face. A fleeting look of being bent, spindled and skewered, courtesy of the girl formerly known as Queen C. Then the cocky mask of indifference slips back into place. But Cordelia doesn't stay to listen to Faith's parting shot, doesn't even bother to pick up the flimsy dress discarded on the floor. She won this time, and she stalks out of the room with head held high.