The words ‘Wine Bar’ illuminated the footpath outside in blue neon. Most nights, this place was full of white-collar types, brandishing their cell phones and PDA’s like fashion accessories.

Lilah didn’t really like the bar, or the people in it. She wasn’t sure why she kept coming back. Certainly not for company. Perhaps it was for the feeling of superiority she got, perched on her stool by the bar, Chanel suit immaculate. Looking down on all the try-hards, who only wished they could have her salary, her car.

Tonight, there was nobody to look down on, or ignore. They were all at home, with their families, celebrating the most over-hyped holiday of the year. The television above the bar -- which normally showed music videos, or Fashion TV -- flickered grey and white. Jimmy Stewart headed into Martinis’s Italian Restaurant and Bar, and Lilah looked down into her own, empty, martini glass. “Schmuck,” she snorted.

She tossed a ten onto the bar, picked up her coat, and stepped outside, hailing a cab.

“Where to?” the driver glanced in his rear-vision mirror as she slid into the back seat.

Good, she thought, noting his reflection. One couldn’t be too careful. “Wolfram and Hart”.

“Workin’? That ain’t no way to spend Christmas Eve,” he said, pulling out into the traffic.

“Just drive.” Lilah pursed her lips. Christmas was a celebration of good. Of family and giving and peace. She didn’t care for any of those things. Today was just another day. And the Charity Ball for the shelter wasn’t going to plan itself.

The cab pulled up outside Wolfram and Hart, and she passed the fare forward to the driver, taking care not to actually touch him.

“Merry Christmas,” he said, his voice thick with sarcasm.

“Whatever,” she said, swinging her legs out the door.

The building was a patchwork of darkened windows. Normally most of them were ablaze 24 hours a day, but it seemed even evil people went home for the holidays. Probably just to take advantage of an excuse to get drunk and eat too much.

Lilah punched the security code into the panel by the front doors, then pressed her palm to the cool glass panel. A little electronic beep sounded as the light flicked from red to green, and the front doors whispered open.

She repeated the same process in the elevator, exiting a level higher than usual -- the floor for her new office. The gold plaque was already on the door. ‘Lilah Morgan – Co-Vice President, Special Projects’. She pressed her thumb over the ‘Co’. One of them was for the chop -- literally, and she was determined it would be Lindsey. She’d worked too damned hard to loose to that…

Light spilled out from beneath Lindsey’s office door, catching her attention. What the hell was he up to? Taking a deep breath, Lilah smoothed down her skin-tight skirt, and shoved the door open.

Lindsey swivelled towards her, sprawled in his office chair. A tumbler of whiskey teetered dangerously in one hand. “Lilah,” he said, drawing the word out so it sounded dirty, sleazy.

“What’s the matter, all alone at Christmas? Nobody to share the joy with?” she smirked.

He motioned towards her with his glass. “Pot,” he said, then tapped his chest with his plastic hand. “Kettle.”

Lilah shrugged. “I choose not to observe certain holidays.”

“Why, Lilah? Bad memories? No presents? Drunken fights?”

She felt her breath catch. “We didn’t all share your deprived childhood, Lindsey.”

He ignored her, spinning 180 degrees to face the window again. The police scanner on the small glass table beside him crackled to life, and suddenly it all became clear. He wasn’t here to stab her in the back, he was -- looking.

“Oh, how sweet, still searching for your briquette girlfriend?”

“Shut up, Lilah,” he sighed, not turning around, and she knew she’d hit the nail on the head.

“You’re as bad as Angel,” she said, approaching him, running a finger along the back of his chair. “The two of you, brooding over a four-hundred-year-old prostitute. She’s dead, Linsey -- a vampire. She didn’t love you before, and she certainly can’t now.”

The chair ricocheted into her stomach as he jerked to his feet. He spun on one heel, blue eyes sparking with malice, but his voice was low and even. “Stay out of this.”

For some reason, her heart fluttered in her chest, a sliver of fear -- not that she’d let it show. Lindsey had a temper on him, it was one of his weaknesses. She’d always wondered what he’d be like if she really pushed. Not just that dance of taunt-and-withdraw they usually did.

Lilah stepped up into Lindsey’s face, where she could feel his energy, his anger, humming around him like a forcefield. “That little-girl voice, those cherub lips. You thought she spared you because she loved you,” she taunted.

“Lilah,” he growled, grabbing her shoulder with his good hand. His fingers bit in, and she knew there’d be a bruise in the morning. “You don’t want to jerk me around right now.”

Oh, this was too easy, like baiting kids in the playground at school. She always could fight better with words than fists. She let a smile play across her lips. “And all she really wanted was power. That must really burn.”

Lindsey shoved her, hard, and she stumbled back a few paces, her butt hitting the edge of his desk. Her feet flew up, and she tipped backwards. She could hear the adrenalin rushing through her veins, ears ringing with her own heartbeat. It was a rush -- and a turn-on.

“Don’t try me,” he hissed, face inches from hers.

“Oh, come on, you know it’s true,” she laughed, breathlessly. “Poor little Lindsey and his Tupperware hand. What girl would want…”

As soon as she mentioned the hand, it came into view, rushing towards her face. She flinched, turning away, expecting the sting of impact, but it never happened. Instead she felt the cool, smooth, artificial fingertips tracing the line of her jaw. When she glanced back at him, there was a difference in his eyes. Heat, want.

Well, this was unexpected. And not entirely unwelcome. It wasn’t as if she’d never considered it. Though, in the current situation, with them both pitted against each other, it was probably unwise.

But as much as her head said “no”, the rest of her said “hell, yes”. This was practically foreplay for her. For him too, if the hard press against her stomach was anything to go by. All this fighting was obviously getting him hot.

“Fuck you, Lindsey,” she spat, half meaning it, half wanting to provoke him further -- and then his mouth crashed down on hers. His tongue was whiskey-flavoured velvet, sweeping through her mouth. She grabbed his shoulders, held herself up, let her breasts nudge his chest. His muscles flexed beneath her fingers, and one arm swept out, bulldozing office supplies off the mahogany desktop. Paperclips cascaded to the carpet, and there was a clatter of ball-bearings as a perpetual-motion ornament bounced to the ground.

Lilah scooted backwards, butt sliding to the middle of the desk. If he wanted this, he was gonna have to work for it. Lindsey followed her, one knee on the smooth brown surface, his body forcing her onto her back. She reached up, slid her hands under the waistband of his pants, grabbed his ass.

He bucked against her, eyes flashing. “You wearing another wire, Lilah?”

“You think I’d be dumb enough?” she said, leaning up and biting his jaw.

“I think you’d do anything to save your ass.” He pushed her back down, and began fumbling at her tiny buttons, one-handed. His jaw set in a hard line, lips twitching, and she could feel his frustration building in every muscle. She put a hand up to help, and he batted it away with his plastic one.

Finally, he grabbed a fistful of material and yanked, hard. Lilah felt seams straining, heard cotton snapping, and then the front of her blouse burst open in a shower of buttons.

“That was a Chanel,” she gasped, as his lips closed over one lace-clad nipple.

“I’ll buy you a new one,” he mumbled, mouth full.

She curled her fingers in the collar of his shirt. “Ditto.” One sharp tug and he was bare from neck to belt. His chest was a hard plane of muscle, well-defined pectorals and tanned skin. One benefit of being evil -- it came with a full Wolfram and Hart gym membership.

His hands crept up her thighs. It was a strange sensation, one flesh, one not, sliding under her skirt, riding the fabric up over her hips. His thumb on her thigh had her gasping, wanting more.

He paused as her skirt slipped up all the way, glanced up at her, expression on the verge of surprised.

“What, you really expect me to wear underwear with this?” she breathed.

He just shook his head, his good hand going to his belt. With an expert flick of his fingers, the buckle was undone, followed by his button and zipper. He’d obviously had more practice with his own clothes than other women’s. She grabbed his waistband, shoved it down, and felt her own eyebrows go up.

“You’re not the only one going commando, Lilah.”

He leaned forward, until his forehead was touching hers, his hand grasping the edge of the desk behind her head, and loomed over her, both knees on the wood now. One swift jab of his hips, and he was in.

There was no talking, just movement. He was strong, every thrust knocked her back across the desktop, and she had to lock her knees over the edge and pull back. Thrust and parry, deeper and deeper.

His eyes were closed. Maybe he was thinking of Darla. Lilah didn’t care, as long as he kept hitting that spot deep inside, the one that made silver sparkles crackle under her eyelids.

She scrabbled for purchase on the polished wood, and her hand hit the stereo remote. The speakers at the far end of the room came to life. Oh come all ye faithful…

Lilah started to laugh. She was faithful all right, and what did she have to show for it? A fight to the death with the man who was pounding her into his desk. Whichever way she looked at it, she was getting screwed. And she didn’t give a shit.

Lindsey buried his face in her neck, tucked one arm under her waist, tilted her hips. The change of angle was all it took for her to obey the first line of the carol that wafted across the office. The tingle started at her fingertips, and swept through her whole body. She bit her lip so she wouldn’t give him the satisfaction making her moan.

Come and behold him, born the king of Angels…

Angel, she thought dimly, as she felt Lindsey jerk against her, sharp and erratic. It was all Angel’s fault. How ironic she should hear his name right at the moment she was trying to forget everything but the feel of muscles clenching and releasing.

Oh come let us adore him…

God, would someone turn the damn song off?

Lindsey gasped, gave one final thrust, and slumped over her. While he caught his breath, she leaned over and banged her hand on the remote, silencing the stereo.

After a moment, he slid off her, hauled up his pants, did himself up, and ambled casually back to the window.

Lilah shimmied to the edge of the desk, stood and smoothed down her skirt, buttoned her jacket over her gaping blouse. Retrieving the phone from the floor, she dialled a taxi.

“Thought you were here to work,” Lindsey said, pouring himself another whiskey.

She cradled the receiver. “I was, but now all I want is to go home and take a shower.”

The police scanner crackled again. Lindsey listened to it for a second, then shook his head. “Don’t let me stop you.” He turned his back to her, sinking down into his leather chair.

Lilah lifted her purse from where it had fallen on the floor, and strode out the door. As she crossed the soft carpet to the elevator, she tossed her hair back over one shoulder. “Fuck Christmas.”