Glamourous Rags


Somewhere along the line, I got noticed.

Someone, up where the Powers that Be Are, heard me being loud and they thought 'o, hey! that's Cordelia' and they pulled out my file and they smiled their little secret smile - I have a smile just like it that kicks in whenever I am at a party and catch myself noticing a phony Versace or a real Jean Muir. And they thought, we can use her.

And since then, whenever it was, almost anything I say or do might mean something.

That night, in the library...I'd told myself that I was there to look for Wesley, because, hey cute Watcher boy. Got to get back in the habit of boys...

Of course, what I was really doing, was hoping against hope that I would see Faith, and we could talk again, one last last time. It would be too shaming to admit to myself that it was her I most wanted to see; colour me denial.

No Wesley. No Faith.

I walked into the library and the moment I saw her, I knew I wanted her. Fluffy pink sweater and all..

Weird much; I had seen her in outfits that were almost OK and not had a blip. Whatever I said about her, down the years, I knew she had a sweet little face and puppydog eyes that someone could go for. But not me, because I did not notice girls that way. Until Faith.

Had some terrible door opened in me that meant I would start noticing girls all the time?

I so didn't want to notice those eyes or think about the skinny body under that awful sweater.

We made the obvious small talk about how she was locked in the cage and how I would let her out, and I bitched her a bit, but my mind was not on the game. In the gutter, a bit, but not on the game.

Faith had been a sudden madness - I could always finesse that, and persuade myself that I was some sort of victim here, just carried away on a wave of slut. Looking into Willow's eyes and feeling a hunger like the hunger I thought I saw there - that's enough of a lifestyle choice that you lay in a stack of Sophie B. Hawkins and Melissa Etheridge.

I was not going to go there. It was too totally weird, too totally round and round in circles like the game you didn't understand at some party and suddenly everyone is looking at you...and you realise you didn't understand the small print on the invitations.

But there was no harm in looking and no harm at all in talking to her about the biggest of all the reasons why this had to be the very worst idea that my overactive teengirl hormones had ever come up with. Just to remind me, as well as her.

So I told her I was going to talk to her about the ethics of boyfriend stealing, because I really really needed right now to be reminded of why I didn't like her one little bit, let alone want to look into those big brown eyes and run my tongue around that neat little mouth. Those brown eyes - they kept staring at me, as if she were weighing me by the pound..

I just couldn't get mad enough, that was the trouble; I needed to be BitchCordy at my worst and all I could do was keep going with whatever came into my head, which just was not anything like my best material. She just sat there, on the floor of the cage, being adorable.

So I went and got myself a coffee in the hope that an injection of caffeine into my system this late in the evening would turn on the badness. But all Giles had was a stash of some disgusting English instant that for some reason he liked enough to buy by the case. I mean, how pretentious! What is the point of importing stuff by the crate when at the end of the day it brews up just exactly the same as Taster's Choice?

It made me hyper, but not nearly irritable enough; I kept on blabbing away and all the coffee did was keep me sufficiently alert that I managed not ever to mention the fact that I wanted her. She sat there quietly; sometimes she was so quiet that it was like she was dead. All I could here in the room was my own heart and the blood in my blushing cheeks and the fizzing of one of the lighting units on the library tables.

Willow, locked up, in a cage, powerless to do anything to screw me up further than I was already except by looking at me like that. It worried me how much that made me squirm as I sat there, all sensible with my coffee - a girl completely in my hands, that I was getting to do things to without her being able to stop me.

I was used to the power of an ironic glance or a cutting remark, and those were here too; I was used to the power of flirting, of looking at people through lowered lashes and daring them to make their move. The simple power of having someone behind bars at my command - that was something new and hot and, to a part of me that was trying to be sensible, vaguely ewww! I would never be able to look at the library cage, or think of Oz in there three nights a month, in quite the same way again.

I worried that I was sending her to sleep but every time I looked at her, she stared back, bold as brass, as if she wanted to come out of the cage and eat me all up.

Which, of course, she did; when I let her out, she started chasing me round the school in game-face and as I ran for my life, I reflected in an oddly cool way that this was where being a dyke always got me - into trouble and heartbreak and nearly getting killed. Eventually she cornered me in the rest room and would have got me too, if Wesley hadn't been there, cleverly mounting an ambush just in time to save me from who knows what.

He waved a cross and a bottle of holy water in her face and she growled and strutted away; it felt like being saved and it also felt like a letdown. Which couldn't possibly be the case because it left me alive and alone with Wesley.

I registered that for Willow to be a vampire meant that someone I still vaguely thought of as a friend, and had just noticed was attractive, was dead. You would expect that I'd feel numb about there, but I just felt chatty and like trying to get Wesley out on a date. I am really not a very caring person.

We went for dinner, he and me, and made polite conversation over the closest Sunnydale could come up with to decent cooking, as far as Wesley was concerned, which turned out to be some little place tucked away near the docks, almost embarrassingly close to Bill the Cook's diner, where sailors went to eat East Indian food, which turns out to be like Mexican, only a lot more so.

Wesley sat and fussed over the menu, picking me things that weren't too rich and greasy, or too viciously hot, or so he said, but what he got me was pretty much all of those things. I didn't care, though, because all I could think of was Willow and how when her face changed and she started attacking me, there was a part of me that just wanted to let go and end it, and be ended. The sting of the curry on my lips and tongue made me think of just how it would feel to have teeth bite into my neck, a pain that had bitterness and sweetness and a sort of velvety taste.

I had been prepared to give up everything I cared about for Faith; was there some madness in me that now I was at least thinking about dying for a moment with Willow?

Clearly not, it seemed to me in the cold light of next day, when Willow was just there, in daylight, and not a vampire, and did not seem, when I asked her to pass me the copper sulphate in chem lab, to have any memory of the previous night that involved me. She was distracted, but not distracted in a way that had anything to do with me.

So I found myself just feeling confused - some magic deal probably, and nothing anyone was telling Cordelia about. They play their little games with magic and nearly get me killed - but no-one cares about how I feel. People accuse me of being shallow, and they clearly know all about that.

I seemed to be kind of dating Wesley now, though in a way that didn't involve holding hands or making out and was mostly about his buying me dinner and talking about the problems of being Buffy's Watcher and Faith's Watcher and having to go on runs with them, and how horrid they both were when he couldn't keep up.

'I get out of breath just thinking about them.' he said.

'I try never to do that,' I said. 'Unless I have to.'

Which was probably too revealing a remark, but he didn't pick up on it at all, which settled one thing.

Either Wesley was significantly more devious than he gave any impression of being or Faith had really been entirely paranoid about him. My money was on Faith being crazy, now I thought about it - painful to admit, but true. After all, she dumped me for Buffy - got to regard that as evidence.

Dating Wesley meant I could go on hanging out, watching Faith and watching, I now surprised myself to notice, Willow and trying not to think about watching Xander still. And watching Wesley was a whole deal in itself - I wanted so much to want him, because he was exactly the sort of thing I ought to want.

Smart, well-dressed and capable of being an education in himself. And skin so soft, when I touched his hands in passing, that it was almost as good as touching a girl....

I wanted to want him as a man, but what I found myself doing, most of the time I was with him, was trying to find a way of looking at him with my eyes asquint so that somehow I could see him as a slightly odd looking girl with short hair and a stylish men's suit. I wanted so much to feel lust for him, but it was this odd girl - Wesley I could conjure up in my mind that somehow I found myself spending time with.

Delusional, much. And not fair to him, at all.

Faith just never looked at me any more; it was as if I did not exist. We were both good at this, of course, because we had had weeks of practice, but this was something new.

So I kept watching her ; being in the library meant I could manage indirect glances at her, watch her watching Buffy and watch her ignoring me. No, ignoring implies some sort of effort; Buffy was in the room with us, and so I wasn't there at all.

The night Xander turned up in the Hall of Records with his jaw all banged up - that was the only good bit of yet another of the worst nights of my life. Angel had hit him; well, I could relate to that - but Angel's hitting him meant he was Angelus again, and that would have been the worst news ever except that the idea of Angelus and Faith as a couple was so derangingly unpleasant that I really couldn't speak at all - or even think, much.

I sort of got it, even then, but there was just no way to explain it to the others, particularly as we bundled into cars and off to the mansion. I mean, if I couldn't explain Faithsmooching when she was good, I really was not about to sign up for explaining her if she had gone seriously apocalypsly bad.

'Oh, by the way. Faith's gone bad because she is in love with Buffy. The Angelus thing is just her way of expressing affection.'

I just couldn't see Xander and Willow wrapping their alleged minds round that, because put like that, it sounds crazy. You had to have been there - and besides, if they did understand, the next question would be 'You know this how?'

No, I don't think so.

Holding a knife to Buffy's throat and then kissing her before she ran away - you'd think they'd get it then, without my saying so, but somehow they just didn't. Too busy comforting Buffy and being reassured that Angel had just been acting. Yes, I paused and thought, Angel is a really good actor, and from somewhere he found the character's motivation to punch Xander's lights out. Just fancy.

Then I made my excuses and slipped away. Things were out of hand, and I needed to talk to Faith before she went beyond recall into the wonderful world of Absolute Evil. First it's leather, then it's wild monkey sex and next thing it's interesting surgical devices and the end of life as we know it. Girl's gotta have fun, but let's not go overboard.

I let myself into her motel room - I still had the key - and it was instantly clear that she did not live there any more. The place did not have that clean smell she managed to give it by spending half her budget on bleach, and the envelope corners on the bed had gone limp with the heat.

When I left, I found a reception committee waiting for me; three very large vampires who were not even pretending to be what they weren't anymore. They were all sort of built and wearing something that was not quite cammies; some vampires look like hungry losers, but these guys had a sleekness and confidence to their dead and toothy look that said 'We work for someone important.'

One of them pulled my shoulder bag off before I could even try and go for my holy water spray. Obviously, I thought, this is not a coincidence and obviously these guys have been briefed. Oh well, I thought, at least it will be quick; hope I can keep my mouth shut.

'Boss wants to see you,' the largest of the three said and tugged me towards a BMW idling in the lot.. Oh goody, I get someone gloating at me for five minutes before I get to die, I thought; villains are so predictably fond of their own voices.

I had spent part of the evening looking at photographs of the men who got out of the back seat, so I knew who he was. Sunnydale's wicked uncle in the far too well-preserved flesh; you would think that with a hundred years to learn style and selling your soul or whatever, he could manage a smarter suit than that.

Open-necked shirts without a tie never look good on mass murderers. There is a decorum about these things.

'Miss Chase' Mayor Wilkins said, 'I can call you Cordy, can't I? I like these moments to be as relaxed as possible.'

'This would be last moments?' I said.

'Well, gosh, yes,' he said. ' But I hate to rush the formalities. You young people are always in such a hurry. It seems just a moment ago that I was kissing your forehead at a fundraiser - you know, you were a very sweet baby, such a shame - and now you're all grown up and I've got to kill you. You know, it's a funny old world.'

'Hilarious,' I said.

'Sarcasm is never attractive,' he said.' But I guess you can be forgiven. In the circumstances.'

This time, I didn't even bother. I just raised an eyebrow and the left half of my upper lip; you don't always even have to say 'Perleeze!', just think it loudly.

' It's very old-fashioned of me, I know,' he said. 'But I really don't understand it. How someone like you, with all the advantages, ends up being the sort of person who tries to corrupt a sweet young thing like my Faith.'

'As opposed,' I said, 'to selling your soul, living forever and trying to get her the Scourge of Europe as a dream date.'

'Got me there,' he said with a chuckle. 'I suppose people in glass houses...Wait until I'm gone' - he turned to the vampires who were holding me - 'and then kill her.'

He looked at me apologetically.

'I don't like to watch them eat' he said. 'It always strikes me as so unhygienic. Besides, if I stayed to watch, I might end up having to tell young Faith all sorts of white lies about what happened.. Some things it's better she doesn't know, yet.'

He got back in the car and his driver pulled away; well, I thought, that's my life done with - a few snappy comebacks and a sports car without me in it.

I concentrated on his departing taillights so that I did not have to see death coming for me.

Which is why I almost missed the whirl of crossbow bolts that turned two of my potential killers into dust in seconds, including the one who was holding me. I dove rolling for the ground and my bag - it had fallen open and I grabbed the holy-water spray and flicked off its lid. She needs time to reload, I thought, and sprayed the survivor hard in the eyes.

He sizzled appealingly and I somersaulted back upright with a stake in my hand; I was just about to plunge it into him, when a sabre-blade flicked out of the shadows and sent his head flying.

'Wow, Faith' I said. 'When did you...' and then broke off, because the sword blade that came up in salute was held in the hand of Rupert Giles.

'I think, Cordelia,' he said, ' that we really need to have the serious chat I have been delaying having with you for some considerable time.'


He drove me back to his apartment in that scruffy old car of his, sat me down on the sofa, put the kettle on and poured himself a brandy.

He looked at me enquiringly.

'Drinking's for los-' I started to say on reflex, and then realised that I needed some brandy, very very badly.

'Yes, please,' I said. Manners are there when I need them.

'Normally I wouldn't,' he said. 'Highly illegal here for some reason. And I do appreciate how your home situation might put you off - but really, near death experience, medicinal purposes and all that...'

He poured me a glass rather smaller than his own, passed it to me and went and fussed in the kitchen; in a moment he brought us both mugs of something which smelled like leaves and earth, only it wasn't the horrid stuff people like Willow's mother drink, it was the thing that that stuff is trying to be. It was peppery on my tongue, sharper in its way than the brandy, but silky and comforting as it chugged down my throat.

'I would have said, not to mention heartbreak,' he said. 'But that would have been a lie, wouldn't it?'

I felt the terrible thunder of chickens coming home to roost.

'Let me make this a bit easier,' Giles said. ' I've known about you and Faith for a while. She was never the most diligent Slayer, but she always turned in full descriptions of kills for the Diaries. Of course, she was discreet about it, but really how many people do we know who would blind a vampire with hairspray, run a foam-demon down with their car and instinctually go after a Nyarkna's peculiarly unattractive horns? And the coincidence of her anonymous co-combatant's knowing how to fight a squid demon and Mr Vernon's class on cephalopods a week earlier really did not escape me. '

He looked at me over the top of his glasses as if I were his younger colleague rather than a naughty schoolgirl he had caught out.

'Very good work, that, by the way' he said.

Rupert Giles has few faults, apart from tweed, but like most older men, he loves to be the one who does the talking; I am sure he was always like that, but years of explaining things to Buffy and Xander have obviously taken their toll as well.

He showed no sign of stopping any time soon, and besides he was telling me stuff I already knew and demonstrating how clever he had been to know it as well. Men often think of this as the art of conversation.

' I wondered for a little,' he went on, ' why Faith was being so uncharacteristically tight-lipped. And then I realised that I was being stupid and naive.'

'You never said anything,' I said.

'Anything that brought you back into the group' he said, 'was a good thing. I don't think you appreciate how fond of you everyone is. Besides, you were obviously good for Faith, for a while at least; now, this may strike you as a bit cold-blooded of me, but it did mean I stopped having to worry about what would happen if she ever had a serious talk to Buffy about her feelings.'

'Was that obvious to you as well?' I said. 'Because it took simply forever for me to get it.'

'Ah well,' he said. 'The spectator sees all the game, you know.'

He smiled one of those weary man-of-the-world smiles that would have been very attractive if I lusted after older men. I thought that and then wondered which of those last two words was the crucial one - because Buffy's mother, say, with the fabulous skin...

'What are we going to do?' I said. 'She's gone over the edge for good, hasn't she?'

'Wesley and I failed her,' he said, reaching over and pouring himself another brandy.

'I failed her.' I said. 'I tried to love her enough. I helped her with Finch's body. I was going to leave Sunnydale with her, did you know that?'

'Cordelia,' he said. 'You are the one person in all of this who needn't take any blame at all. I should have seen it coming - god knows, I have the experience.'

'You don't understand,' I said. 'I told her to do it - I mean, I was being sarcastic, mean Cordy, and I said if she wanted Buffy to notice her, she'd better go evil, or something like that.'

'When the one you love goes bad' he said,' you always go over everything you did'...

'Miss Calendar wasn't bad,' I said. 'She just didn't tell you everything'

'Lord, no, child,' he said. ' I wasn't talking about Jenny, god rest her. No, if you think, you'll know who I mean.'

I looked blank.

'You did such a very good job of kicking him in the balls' Giles went on. 'You remember. Ethan Rayne? The costume shop man?'

'Oh.' I said. ' I didn't know you were...'

I looked at his Tiffany lamp and his neat apartment full of tasteful old things.

'A certain discretion seemed called for at Sunnydale High,' he said. 'Buffy seems appalled enough at the idea that someone my age has sex at all...'

'What am I going to do?' I said. 'I went to her motel to talk to her, but I don't imagine that's going to do any good, is it?'

'No,' he said. 'Probably not. You'll get over her. It will just take time.'

'There's always someone else,' he said. 'And if that doesn't work out, someone else after that'.

He was very good at pauses that you didn't feel any need to jump into anytime soon.

'Time,' he went on. 'And perhaps a change of scenery.'

'I was planning to leave town after Graduation,' I said. ' Still will, if we are still alive.'

'I was wondering,' Giles said. 'I have gathered that something has happened to your family money.'

'Oh god.' I said. 'Does everyone know?'

'No,' Giles said. 'They are dear children, but I don't tell them things they don't need to know. Anyway, my relationship with the Council is over; but you do know Wesley would recommend you like a shot.'

I pulled a face.

'Yes,' he said, ' I know, 'teabag central' was I think the phrase. But you do have a flair, you know, in your own strange way, and they do give a first rate education...'

'No thanks,' I said. 'Renegade slayer's floozy? Not at all, the thing, dontcha know...'

He looked at me, amusedly.

'I always forget,' he said, 'what a very angry young woman you are. Be careful of that, Cordelia. Faith is a very angry young woman too.'

'You don't know everything,' I said.

'I was,' he said, 'an exceptionally angry young man.'

'I am going to LA.' I said.' To be an actress.'

'I was going to play rock and roll' he said. 'But somehow my life took tweedier turns'...

He thought he knew better than me what would become of my life, and I thought he was wrong.

Sometimes, you sit and talk to someone for an hour or so, and you realise that you know them so well, they know you so well, that there is not actually very much more for you to say again.

The next thing that happened was the day Buffy could read minds. I really was disturbed that Buffy could read minds; there were so many things I did not want her to read in mine.

It is at times like these that it comes in handy that people think they know what you are like; being foot-in-mouth BitchCordy has its advantages. I just thought dumb loud Cordelia remarks whenever I was near her and that was enough to keep her thinking she had seen all there is to see. She is the Chosen One, clearly, but not chosen for sensitivity.

Still, those were some of our last great days at school; we cheerleaders totally ruled at the pepfest - I know I haven't mentioned it much, but I did have a life at Sunnydale High. Even after I lost the sheep, and could be mocked in public by the likes of poor Harmony, still I had the squad.

Some people value you for what you can do, not who your friends are. We weren't one of the great squads - with people you depend on liable to turn up dead or allergic to sunlight, it was a miracle Sunnydale could put up teams at all - but we had nice moves and were kind of sexy.

It makes me laugh to think back at how outraged we all were at Freddy's newspaper stuff saying we were all prostitutes showing off for men. It was never about boys; it was about being together and holding each other up - and I don't just mean that damn pyramid that always got sneaker marks on my shoulders; the squad were never friends, but we were sisters.

I had friends, and I had people I loved, and then I had the squad which made up for the other two.

Willow is so funny when she gets in Great Detective mode, but hey! Buffy was crashed and someone had to sort out who was going to kill everybody. I kept telling myself that I wouldn't ever get involved again, but there was always some very good reason to help, like surviving.

I didn't quite understand why my list of people to interview had Anya on it, double-underlined and with exclamation marks next to it. All I could remember about her was that she was that strange mad girl who lent me her necklace and babbled at me a lot; when I first met her, she seemed to be hanging with Harmony, but she didn't seem to hang with anyone much any more.

Just be cool and wear good clothes and sneer at people a lot, which does not, in my book, make her a killer. Willow can be such a bigot.

She was sort of difficult to talk to, though.

'So, Anya,' I said.

'You again,' she said. 'As if you haven't caused me enough trouble already.'

Quite mad, I decided, but sort of cute. I had to stop noticing women.

'So, Anya,' I started up again, wanting to get this over with. 'You hate everybody here, don't you?'

'Yes,' she said, as if we were discussing the weather and saying it was fine out. 'I hate everybody in this school.'

'You'd like to kill us all then,' I said.

'Yes,' she said. 'If I had my powers back...'

'But you don't,' I said. 'Have any powers that is.'

'No,' she said. 'And it's all because of you.'

'OK,' I said, ignoring the blame bit because I have problems too. 'You can't kill anyone soon, like, tomorrow?'

'How do you stand it?' she said. 'Being scorned and not getting any vengeance for it?'

'That's a very personal question,' I said.

'I was your own goddam personal vengeance demon,' she said. 'And somehow you stripped me of my powers. And that boy is walking around unscathed. I even see you talking to him, sometimes.'

'Oh.; I said. 'Well, you know, people move on. I've been scorned much worse since then.'

'That would be the dark-haired girl,' she said. 'How exactly does that work?'

Major breach of security, I panicked. Something needs to be done, I thought. I had to shut this woman up, now.

So I kissed her; she was only the second girl I ever actually kissed, and she was not a bit like Faith. She had a certain deer in the headlights quality for a second at first, and I almost stopped pulled back from pressure on her lips to the faintest touch like the wind, but she came up after me and stuck her hands behind my neck and pulled me into her like she was never going to let me go.

As she pulled me down, I ran my hands down her sides and felt her quiver against them, then cupped her firmly up against me. Her tongue and mine danced around each other like humming birds on speed; it wasn't a bit like Faith. Gosh, I thought, women really are as different as boys.

I was so not going to pursue this, though. Former vengeance demon, with lost powers - not girlfriend material however cute; more running a long way away material, leaving no forwarding. Some people, I thought, might just get carried away, but I am sensible, the second time.

'That was nice,' she said, pulling back as if she had finally remembered she had to breathe, these days. 'Can we do it some more?'

'So,' I said, being businesslike. 'You can positively guarantee that you are not the person who is going around thinking you are going to kill everybody tomorrow. Only, I have quite a list of people to ask.'

'Are you going to kiss them all?' she said.

'No,' I said. 'It's not something I make a habit of.'

'Only,' she said, 'I see what the fuss is about. I'd forgotten. A thousand years of vengeance and I forgot about kissing.'

'Well,' I said, 'good luck with that.'

'You owe me,' she said. 'You summoned me here, and I lost my powers, and you owe me.'

'It was kinda nice,' I said, ' but I don't think I want to kiss you on a regular basis. I'm still getting over the dark-haired girl.'

'You could probably get vengeance on her,' she said. 'I have this colleague.'

'No,' I said. 'She's managing to destroy herself perfectly well as it is.'

'So anyway,' she said,' who else is there I could kiss? That would be as good as you?'

I preened a little and then honesty overtook me.

'You could try kissing Xander,' I said. 'He was quite good at kissing.'

In the end, it was the dinner lady planning to poison the soup, and all those questions came to nothing.

Well, then there was the prom, and Xander buying me my dress, and me forgiving him. I sort of hoped that Faith would turn up, if only to try one last time to get a dance with Buffy; I danced with Wesley and we were the most glamorous couple there, if only because Angel really cannot dance at all.

The next thing I knew, we were all getting ready for this big battle with the Mayor and his vampires and someone mentioned in passing that Faith had poisoned Angel and that Buffy had fought Faith and put her in a coma. I wanted to care, and I wanted to be angry, but I knew that was hardly the point.

I would always love my Faith, but the person I kept hearing about, the person who tried to kill Willow and Angel - this wasn't the Faith I had loved, this was a new person who had grown out of Faith like a seamonster slicking off the skin of the human being they once were. I was almost glad - if the worst had happened, I didn't have to worry about anything I might do that would hurt her.

I won't say I cheered Buffy on, because I wanted nothing more than never to have to see her again, but it was none of it her fault. She did not love Faith; she did not even know Faith loved her - people who know they are going to die young and fight to the death every day until then really cannot be expected to have social graces.

I finally kissed Wesley and it was a disaster; I had this sweet mature person in my head and my lips met those of a nervous overgrown boy. Not at all what I wanted, even on the last day of my life.

I think it was because I never expected to survive Graduation that I held myself together so well that day; Faith should have been with us, should have been on our side. And she had been the great traitor and I still thought it was my fault.

Someone had to make up for it and I remembered all her lessons, all those hours in back alleys with swinging dummies, all those hours when I was waiting to be kissed and trying to be worthy, and I got it right for once, and twice, and several more.

Like she said, a straight jab from the wrist and use the elbow and upper arm to follow through; I'd had plenty of time to watch the dance of Slaying and I was always quite good at picking up moves.

When you know you are going to die, and don't much care, you can throw yourself into a dance with grim quiet energy; that's what they do all the time, Buffy and Faith, and that day I wanted nothing more than their silent violent melancholy.

I lived through it, and watched the school explode, and I never really expected that to happen. I lived through it and made small talk with Buffy and Willow and Oz and Xander, and I went off to the Bronze with them as if they were my friends that I would love forever. It wasn't true, but that night it was.

Buffy had killed - or as good as - the woman I loved, and I forgot about it, I let it go, and said what a shame it was that Angel was gone for good. I think I even said, oh well, I'll give him a talking to if I see him in LA and laughed as if running into him was the most unlikely thing that could happen. Buffy and I were two broken-hearted women sneaking drinks from the hipflask Xander had smuggled in from somewhere and swearing eternal sisterhood.

Thank god, I thought, as I helped her rebraid her hair in the restroom, at least I am not attracted to Buffy. I loved that she was whiny, short, self obsessed and dressed in unbecoming pastels, because it meant that there was at least one good-looking woman in Sunnydale I was not about to hit on.

Los Angeles was going to be a new start; this girl thing had to stop.


On my last day in Sunnydale, I went to the hospital.

Faith lay there, tiny and pale. The shadows in her eyes had taken over to the point where she was almost as dark-eyed as a very cute skull and she had more drips and monitors attached to her than it almost seemed like there would be room for.

Someone once told me, if you have more than five things attached to you, you probably are not going to make it out of the hospital. It did not look good for Faith.

I wanted to shout at her, but she would never hear me, or smack her around the head, but she would never feel it.

'I didn't do this to you,' I said. 'You chose it over me.'

And then I sat on the chair by her head and cried all the tears I had been saving since the night she was with Angel.

Then I kissed her - once on the forehead, once on each shut tragic eye and lastly on those betraying lips.

'Goodbye,' I said to my love.

And then I walked to the bus station and left Sunnydale forever.

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