Secrets in Her Lipstick Mouth [Buffy]

Secrets in Her Lipstick Mouth
by Jennifer-Oksana
Show: Buffy
Rating: R
Pairing: Buffy/Cordelia, Cordelia/Other
Summary: How Cordelia spent her post S1 vacation.


“Art and buildings,” Cordelia told everyone hoarsely, wondering if
she’d have had anything nicer to say about St. Croix if her parents had
come through on that particular pipe dream. “I was totally beachless
for a month and a half. No one has suffered like I have suffered–”


Which, she thought to herself, was true. But hardly for the reasons she
was telling her friends, but if she told her friends the truth, they’d
freak out on her, and the last thing she needed was to lose all of her
friends over that stupid bitch.

Besides, it hadn’t been suffering. Just teen experimentation that
Cordelia had accidentally taken way too seriously. She’d heard all
about it from her cousin Hannah-Beth last Christmas. Hannah-Beth had
been visiting from her junior year at Smith and she was miserable the
whole time because her girlfriend had broken up with her for a preppy
boy at UMass.


“I fuckin’ hate those sorts of girls,” Hannah-Beth had told her,
offering her a clove cigarette while sipping vodka-laced orange juice.
Cordelia had taken the cigarette, impressed that even wearing
Birkenstocks and a smell tank top about saving the planet, Hannah-Beth
was still as glam as fuck. “Don’t ever date a girl like that, Cor.”


“Oh, so totally not,” Cordelia said. “Besides, hello, I’m straight.
Totally crushing on Daryl Epps and…”


“Enjoying those mysterious sleepovers with that blonde girl,” HannahBeth
replied dryly. Cordelia blushed. It wasn’t like she and Harmony
had…well, not really, anyway, and how would Hannah-Beth know?


“I’m…” Cordelia protested.


“It’s okay, Cor,” her cousin replied, patting her on the arm. “You be
as straight as you want. Just never date a girl like that, or you’ll be
crying into your beer for months, wishing you’d listened to your scary
dykeadelic cousin.”


And Cordelia, walking down the hallway with all feelers out for the
stupid bitch who hadn’t called, written, or spoken to her for a month
and a half, was wishing she had.



After the Death of the Master


“You really drove your car into the school?” Buffy asked again, as if
she hadn’t heard the story five times. She was clearly a little wacky
on something, which made sense, because Cordelia had supplied the wacky
in the form of Daddy’s best tequila. “Like, vroom?”


“Yeah, like vroom, vroom, oh my God, I’m gonna die, but eat my dust,
vamps,” Cordelia said again, not minding the repeating.


They were clearly outlasting the rest of the post-Master-dusting party.
Mr. Giles and Miss Calendar had taken off two hours ago, muttering
something about leaving them to their vapid generational rituals or
whatever (like they weren’t leaving to go find somewhere private and
make with the sex). Angel had taken off twenty minutes previous, really
apologetically, but it was almost sunrise after all, he said. Xander
and Willow were conked out next to each other on the couch in
Cordelia’s den, those wild party beasts, and Buffy was…Buffy was
sitting next to Cordelia.


On Cordy’s bed, giggling her pretty little head off.


“That’s so excellent,” Buffy said. “Your house is so great.”


“I know,” Cordelia replied. “Oh, that so wasn’t modest.”


Buffy laughed wryly and sank into the pillows, holding Cordelia’s
favorite stuffed teddy bear, Miss Patches, close against her chest. She
was smirking at Cordelia’s little statement like it was the funniest
thing ever, which was slightly offensive.


“Yeah, like you’re ever worried about being modest,” Buffy said. “Not.”


“Wayne’s World much?” Cordelia retorted. Buffy might have just saved
the world, but there was no way she was getting away with that lame-ass
comment. “Should I go wake your Garth up so I can get a schwing and
some bitching air guitar to go with?”

Buffy laughed again, but real laughing.


“Excellent!” she said giddily, suddenly grooving with Miss Patches.
“Cordelia’s World, party time, excellent!”


“Oh shut up!” Cordy said, wondering why it was so funny when it wasn’t.


“Oh, make me!”


“Don’t think that I can’t,” Cordelia replied, clambering onto her hands
and knees with a gleam in her eye. “I’m totally going to clobber you,
Buffy.”


“You and what army?” Buffy asked. “I could slay you with my wit alone.”


“But not with your fashion sense,” Cordelia replied, jumping on Buffy
with a triumphant little cry. The triumph was short-lived, as within
thirty seconds, Buffy had Cordy pinned to the mattress, Buffy sitting
on Cordelia with a tipsy little smirk.


“See?” Buffy said, leaning over Cordelia. “I am the girl. I am girl
power personified. I am all that, a bag of chips, and a side of fries.
Aren’t I?”


Cordelia fake-shrieked, squirming underneath Buffy’s grasp for all she
was worth. She was kicking, she was tossing her head back and forth,
and even bucking up and down.


“Let go!” she squeaked. “Let go, Buffy! Uncle! Uncle!”


“Don’t wanna,” Buffy whispered, leaning close enough for Cordelia to
feel Buffy’s breath against her face, warm and only a little alcoholtinged.
“I’ve got you right where I’ve wanted you and I’m gonna…”


Wanted? Huh? Maybe Buffy wanted to tell her off or something, but it
didn’t seem like it. Because usually, when you were about to tell
someone off, you didn’t hold them down and lick your lips.


“You’re gonna what?” Cordelia dared her, blinking rapidly. There was
something very wrong with the situation. This should be scary, not
exciting. Buffy should have let go, not held on.


“I’m gonna…” Buffy paused to brush the hair out of Cordelia’s face.
“You have the best hair.”


“Yeah, I know, thanks,” Cordelia replied. Something was very wrong. The
squirming to get loose seemed less about trying to get free and more
like trying to stay pinned. “You had the best prom dress.”


“Thanks,” Buffy whispered, lowering her lips to Cordelia. Cordelia
kissed her, finding it strange and normal that Buffy tasted good, not
like lipgloss or sugar, and maybe a little like blood and dying, but
she liked the way Buffy kissed her.


“Let go, Buffy,” Cordelia pleaded when Buffy pulled away. “I’m getting
numb in my arms.”

“I don’t think so,” Buffy replied, rocking her hips into Cordy’s. “I
don’t feel like it.”


“All right,” Cordelia said lazily, meeting Buffy’s hips with her own
and raising the blonde an arched back that pushed her breasts up. “But
aren’t you a straight girl?”


Just because Buffy was a girl didn’t mean Cordelia didn’t know how to
deal with someone on top of her. Buffy’s hands let go of Cordelia’s
arms, which was good, because they really had been going numb.


“I am,” Buffy said, kissing Cordelia’s forehead and cupping one breast
with a free hand. “Aren’t you?”


Cordelia had kissed away the question, and by the time
Willow and Xander had woken up, Buffy had finished
kissing Cordelia goodbye and promising they’d keep in
touch all summer long.

A week later, without even a phone call, Buffy went to
her dad’s place in Los Angeles. Two days after that,
Cordelia’s parents had handed her a plane ticket to
Italy. And that had been that.

Except for the fallout. But that’s how it always is.


All Cordelia had meant to do was re-establish
semi-normal relations between herself and the Bizarro
Brigade. Okay, maybe hear if anything important and
world-endy had happened and also see if Buffy was
okay. She hadn’t meant to find herself getting
insulted right and left by everyone and finding Buffy
refusing to even make eye contact.

The awkwardness had been heavy even for the people not
in on Buffy’s little gay secret. Willow and Xander
were doing all of the talking and fucking it up
hardcore, though Cordelia could deal with the fact
that they were talking. The Cordettes took care of
the small talk so that she didn’t have to, and Buffy
clearly adhered to that school of thought.

But there was the not-looking and that was freaking
Cordelia out. There should have been looking, private
subtext, messages being passed back and forth with
casual glances. Buffy was screwing everything up.
There were things that had to be done in situations
like this, and Buffy knew it, dammit. Finally,
Cordelia had to give Buffy the pleasure of having
power over the entire situation.

“Your secret’s safe with me,” Cordelia said, loading
the phrase with as much significance as she could.
Buffy should have looked up then and possibly nodded.
There needed to be acknowledgement that she and
Cordelia had safe secrets, the moment of something
that hadn’t really mattered. That was how it should
be, dammit. That was all that Cordelia wanted. But of
course, Buffy being the queen freakazoid of the
universe and clearly PMSing, she didn’t do it.

“Well, that works out great. You won’t tell anyone I’m
the Slayer, and I won’t tell anyone you’re a moron,”
Buffy said, brushing past all of them and leaving
Cordelia with a knot in her gut.

That stupid fucking bitch! Moron, indeed, Cordelia
thought when she could think again. At least Cordelia
hadn’t been the stupid drunk girl who’d initiated the
early-morning macking. Xander and Willow were talking
again, but who gave a damn? Buffy had totally given
her the brush-off in less than twenty-five words,
refusing to admit there had been a drunken antic.
Cordelia was way pissed. That was just too harsh and
it broken rules. Rules that existed to safeguard them.

Fuck Buffy anyway. Cordelia didn’t need her and the
attitude. Hell, Cordelia didn’t even really want her.
First of all, Cordelia was straight. Second of all,
even if she was, you know, bi, she didn’t date
losers. Besides, who would want to get involved with a
girl who didn’t moisturize and had an attitude the
size of Mount Everest?


Previously, in
Tuscany

At least on the beach in St. Croix, she could have
suntanned and swam and not looked like a dumbass
American tourist. Plus, they spoke American in St.
Croix, didn’t they? Not like here in Firenze, where
everyone spoke Italian (she hoped) and all the
nastiest guys kept pinching her ass whenever she went
for a walk.

Meanwhile, Mom had been crazy enough to drink the
local water and she ended up stuck in their hotel
suite, wailing for a doctor in as many languages as
she could half-remember, so Cordelia couldn’t stay in
and try to find American TV shows to watch in
Italian. That was at least sort of entertaining.
Instead, Cordelia was trapped in Italy, forced to
look at the art and the buildings and the Italians.

Though it hadn’t been all bad. Firenze was also where
Cordelia had met, wooed, and won Roland.

Roland was–Roland was gorgeous, with a thick thatch
of dark hair, a pair of slightly cracked glasses, and
this perpetually confused look on his face that was
absolutely adorable. She’d always remember his eyes
as blue, though in fact they had been green. Roland
and spoken Greek and Norwegian fluently and his uncle
had paid for him to cross Europe with a rail pass and
a backpack for the summer.

Lovely, useful Roland. They’d met in a tiny caf, the
kind she wouldn’t have been caught dead in if she’d
spoken the language. He’d wandered in with a packful
of sketchbooks and cameras, noticing her sitting at a
table with a double espresso and the keen, hungry look
of someone who wanted to be noticed.

“Pardon me, miss–” he’d said in Italian. “I don’t
speak very good Italian, but I noticed you sitting
there and–”

“I’m sorry, I don’t speak Italian,” Cordelia replied
in Italian so bad Roland mistook it for
Portuguese.

“Oh, bugger,” he’d sworn in English. “I’m
sorry–you’re Portuguese? Or Spanish? Habla
espanol?”

“No, I’m American,” Cordelia said in English. “Wait,
you’re English?”

“Welsh,” he replied. “I’m Roland. What’s your name?”

“Cordelia,” she replied. “Would you like to sit down?”

Roland sat down next to her, stumbling over his
backpack. Cordelia didn’t notice. She was too busy
going over her cover story, the one she’d written out
on the plane to Italy. She was nineteen and she was
touring Tuscany with her twin sister Ophelia. Where
was Ophelia? Oh, Ophy had a stomachache and was
staying at the hotel for the day. They were from San
Diego, but Cordy was at USC now, part of a sorority,
and a journalism major.

“Thanks,” he said, smiling at her. Roland pushed up
his glasses slightly and forever after, Cordelia
would prefer slightly geeky men with dark hair and
charming smiles. The way he explained with a sexy
accent that he was an aspiring artist, the way he
tried to order coffee in Italian and failed, these
things all made a thousand future things about
Cordelia’s life make sense.

At the moment, none of that was on Cordelia’s mind.
She was watching Roland, trying to draw a picture of
him in her memory while she smiled big and almost
listned to the details. It was funny, how he was
looking at her without noticing her checking off
requirement after requirement in her head. He was
handsome, smart, nice, and European. He wouldn’t ask
too many questions about Ophelia, which was okay
because Ophelia didn’t actually exist in this
universe except sometimes in Cordelia’s head.

Cordelia, like most of us, would have died of surprise
to learn that in an alternate dimension, she did have
a twin sister named Ophelia. The universe is
sometimes like that.

Cordelia was almost surprised and actually delighted
when he asked her to go on a scooter ride with him
the next day. Roland was perfect. He was almost too
perfect, like she’d created him in her head between a
sorbet and a trip to another art museum.

He waited three days before he asked her back to his
room at a little pensione or whatever they called
them in Italian. He had to leave the next day (so did
Cordelia; Mom’s stomach had gotten worse and they were
going to a spa town until she mended) and would she
like to come up for a visit?

It had been the perfect virginity-losing experience
until a few minutes afterward, when he handed her a
cigarette and smiled at her with compassion and maybe
pity.

“What?” she said in a panic. “Did I do something
wrong?”

“No,” Roland replied, brushing her hair back from her
face. “Not at all.”

“You’ve got a weird look on your face,” she said, her
stomach turning somersaults. “What?”

“Whoever he was, he was stupid,” Roland said. “That’s
all.”

Cordelia went back to her parents and her rollaway
bed, somehow much less pleased with herself than
she’d meant to be. She wished Daryl hadn’t died
before she’d slept with him, and all in all,
everything was rather bland until she hit the spa
town.


Cibo Matto at the Bronze should have been vaguely
cool, except for the part where Buffy was bound and
determined to piss everyone off, including and
especially Cordelia.

There was the sleek ignoring walk (that was okay, they
weren’t friends), there was the intense talk with
Angel. Then there was what Buffy did to Xander,
overtly to break everyone’s heart in one fell swoop.
The truly sucky part (at least to Cordelia) was that
the little sexy dance of forced heterosexuality was
aimed directly at Cordelia’s
ever-so-over-the-one-night-groping heart.

Fucking bitch! Fucking Buffy Summers, the biggest
closet case that Cordelia had ever seen, including
Xander Harris, most of the Cordettes, and her
hairdresser!

Then there was the exit, directly aimed to cross
Cordelia’s path, just to reiterate for the lovely
Miss Chase that yes, if you weren’t sure, that was
just as much for you as it was for Angel, Willow, or
Xander.

Cordelia did not handle rejection well. She especially
didn’t handle the kind of rejection that Buffy was
dishing out, and she certainly didn’t just stand
there and take it.

“Buffy!” she called, following the evil creature into
the alley next to the Bronze, and why were there so
many creepy alleys around the Bronze, anyway? Did
they design the place to be a vampire feeding ground
or what?

Buffy paused but didn’t turn around. Oh, how Cordelia
was going to turn the bitch inside out when she got
the chance. She was going to give her a good old
fashioned what’s what and watch Buffy squirm in its
clutches.

“You’re really campaigning for Bitch of the Year,
aren’t you?” Cordelia snapped. That was enough to get
Buffy to turn around. Good.

“As defending champion, you nervous?” Buffy said
flatly, giving her the look of fuck off and die.
Cordelia rose to the bait, partially because it was a
good opening, and secondly because Buffy was ready to
run at any moment, and Cordelia was damned if she was
going to let her get away without a fight.

“I can hold my own,” Cordelia replied, walking closer
while Buffy pretended not to care. “You know, we’ve
never really been close, which is nice, cuz I don’t
really like you that much–”

Buffy’s head tilted. Score one for Queen C. Besides,
they were close enough now to touch, if either Buffy
or Cordelia so desired and the air was crackling with
betrayal, annoyance, rage, and the awkwardness that
exists between girls who hate each other because they
should, not because they actually do.

“I’m gonna give you some advice,” Cordelia said after
a few more insults. “Get over it.”

Again with the double entendre, and Cordelia wasn’t
sure which one pissed Buffy off more. There was also
a serious hurt look on Buffy’s face, which was
totally one of the things Cordelia had wanted. Except
now it wasn’t worth it.

“Excuse me?”

“Whatever’s causing the Joan Collins ‘tude, deal with
it. Embrace the pain, spank your inner moppet–”
Cordelia was rambling and she knew it. But what else
was she going to say? Come out already? I’m sorry you
have a stick up your ass the size of a regional
cheerleading trophy and can’t deal with your issues?
I think you’re cute as hell?

“I think it’s time you started minding your own
business,” Buffy snarled. Cordelia nodded
ruefully.

“It’s long past,” she said, wishing there was some way
to shake Buffy out of it. But of course, Buffy would
have to put on her hood and spin around like the
queen brat of the universe. Cordelia decided to get
one last snide comment in before taking off–as it
should be. Just as it should be.

“I’m just going to see if Angel wants to dance–”

Karma always bit Cordelia on the ass so fast that it
was almost like magic. Cold, undead hands were on her
mouth and she couldn’t even scream before she was
dragged away, wishing that Buffy would look back just
for a second.

But of course not. That would have been too easy.



Previously, at a Spa

Maybe drinking tainted water had been the best idea
Mom had ever had, Cordelia thought as she walked
through the hotel doors to the nearly- deserted pool.
This town was so much better than Florence–Firenze–
whatever. Mom was all about the spa therapy and
Cordelia got to come along wherever Mom went if she
wanted.

That had been nice for the first two days, with the
massage therapists and the mud baths and the yummy,
low-cal lunches and the special water, but by the
third day, Mom had gone on and on about her
Epstein-Barr one time too many and Cordelia was
starting to wonder if her father was willing to join
her on an escape from Mom trip, which was just such a
scary idea that she couldn’t even imagine.

Then she’d discovered the pool at the tiny little
hotel next door to their very American touristy, very
expensive hotel. For whatever reason, nobody used the
pool, and almost nobody seemed to be staying at the
hotel, anyway.

Cordelia had come to a very sensible decision, which
was to use the deserted pool to sunbathe. She would
sneak into the hotel, slide out to the pool, pull out
a floppy hat, her brand-new sunglasses (a pair of
Guccis they only made in Italy), a towel, and then lay
herself out on a chaise, neatly gleaming all over
with tanning oil.

A very pleasant nap followed. Then, of course,
everything went to hell when someone woke Cordelia up
by pouring a glass of very cold water on her face.

“You’re going to burn,” someone said matter-of-factly.
“Also, you shouldn’t be here. My tribe has booked
this whole hotel for their reunion.”

Cordelia, spluttering, could hardly open her eyes.
When she did, she tried to smile but was too busy
gawking to manage. A lovely young woman with light
brown curls, olive-tinted skin, and the most perfectly
1940s-style black bikini Cordelia had ever seen was
standing over her. Marilyn Monroe would have worn
that bikini with less grace than the girl who was
currently wearing it, which was pretty damn well.

“Your tribe?” Cordelia asked, sitting up. “Are you
Indian or something?”

The girl snorted. “I’m Romani.”

“But you speak English,” Cordelia said, somewhat
confused. “Like, American English.”

The girl laughed. “You’re not so bright, are you?” she
asked, sitting down next to Cordelia and lighting a
cigarette. “My name’s Lorraine. I’m what you might
call a Gypsy, except not exactly. I’m from–well, all
over, but I was born in Prague and spent most of my
childhood in Arizona.”

“I’m Cordelia,” Cordelia replied, trying to avoid the
smoke. “I’m from Southern California. Near LA.”

Lorraine smiled with just a hint of naughty in her
eyes. “Well, you couldn’t have been from anywhere
else, could you, sweetheart?” she asked.

“I guess not,” Cordelia said, feeling like she’d
walked into her own dream, a dream where she wasn’t
as quick with her tongue as Lorraine was with her
insults. “I’m sorry. I was having a good nap when you
woke me up–I’m not quite me yet.”

Lorraine winked at her. “That’s plenty all right,
princess,” she said. “I was just surprised to see
anyone out here. Most of the people here are old and
boring and dislike swimming pools, so I was almost as
surprised as you were to see a lovely creature like
you gracing this humble spread.”

Cordelia wasn’t quite sure, but she was thinking that
Lorraine was flirting with her. Which was a new
experience for Cordelia. She wasn’t used to the games
of normal dating being turned into a girl-on-girl
thing. That was always so much quieter, at least for
Cordelia. It was less silly, more direct.

Maybe she was wrong.

“You’re very strange,” Cordelia said. “Usually I’d
have escaped the weird by now, but you’re also cute.
And American. And my age. Three things Tuscany lacks
hardcore.”

Lorraine laughed. “I’ve noticed that when I get
anywhere near my Romani relatives, I suddenly become
a public speaker,” she admitted, patting her thigh
absently. “A really bad one to boot.”

“I guess,” Cordelia said, trying to shield her now
overtanned stomach from the sun. “So–Lorraine?”

“Yes?” Lorraine asked.

“Are you flirting with me?”

“Do you mind?”

“Not really,” Cordelia said. Lorraine’s smile got
downright sexual.

“Good,” she said, taking a long drag off her
cigarette. “You know they sunbathe topless here,
right?”

Cordelia blushed. “Yeah.”

“I think we should keep up with local customs,”
Lorraine said, undoing her bikini top slowly. “Don’t
you?”

Cordelia felt like she had somehow become a sixteen
year old boy. And not a particularly socially adept
sixteen year old boy. No, she was the Xander Harris
of formerly cool girls turned boy, because she could
not stop looking at Lorraine’s tits. Breasts. Not
tits, that was the kind of word someone like Xander
wouldn’t even dare use. She was still staring.

“Um, I guess,” Cordelia said, staring at Lorraine as
her hands refused to move. Lorraine smiled, stood up,
and slid herself behind Cordelia.

“You’re new at this, aren’t you?” Lorraine murmured in
Cordelia’s ear.

“Yeah,” Cordelia said.

“It’s okay,” Lorraine whispered, undoing Cordelia’s
top. “I live to help pretty girls like you.”


Vampires. Cordelia was already sick and tired of
vampires. Anne Rice needed to be beaten with a stick.
Or maybe she just needed to get a summer house in
Sunnydale and discover just how much fun vamps
weren’t.

Also, it was annoying that her one good act for the
year was going to result in her brutal murder. So
much for doing nice things for dorks.

“I so don’t want to die,” Cordelia said, wishing Buffy
would just save them already. Buffy would save them.
Maybe. If she was over her serious issue thing.

It would also suck if Buffy’s freaking out over making
out with Cordelia resulted in Cordelia’s brutal
murder. Cordelia couldn’t even begin to describe how
much suckage that would be. She totally never should
have touched Buffy, but like, how was she supposed to
know that Buffy was a closet case freakazoid?

“Come on, Buffy,” Cordelia muttered, watching Miss
Calendar do the weird thing with her hands again.
What was her deal? And dammit, why couldn’t they
figure out an escape plan, especially with all of the
vampire guards–

“Well, well, well,” someone said. “Looks like we’ve
got a complete set of cards now.”

Cordelia’s head twisted around and her stomach
dropped. They were dead. If Willow and Giles didn’t
matter to Buffy, they were all so dead. She didn’t
want to die.

“No!” Cordelia said, trying to sound angry. She
sounded scared, and hated that she sounded scared.
“I’m not supposed to die tonight. I’m going to be
famous. Also, a gypsy girl told me you wouldn’t kill
me. So you have the wrong person because I totally
cannot die.”

Miss Calendar’s eyes went wide. The vampires were not
impressed.

“Someone shut her up,” the head vampire said. “Shut
them all up. The sacrifices won’t be nearly as
impressive if they’re howling and crying.”

Cordelia put her fists up. “You’re going to have to
fight me first,” she said. “I’m not going to die. I
don’t want to die. It would wreck my social
life.”

“For the love of the Master!” someone squawked while
Cordelia tried to punch the nearest vamp. She
missed.

As she was going down into the deep dark night, she
had to think as she felt herself being dragged,
well–maybe Lorraine didn’t know it all.

Or maybe this is the meantime.



Previously, at the hotel

“I can tell you the future,” Lorraine murmured, her
long fingers tracing a spiral from Cordelia’s belly
button outward, massaging tanning oil deeper into
Cordy’s skin. “I can see it in your eyes. I can smell
it on your skin.”

“Tell me it involves Christian Bale and a palatial
villa on the beach,” Cordelia replied, her eyes
half-closed with drowsy wanting. Lorraine laughed.

“You will always love more than you’re loved back,”
Lorraine replied, putting her ear against Cordelia’s
tummy. “Your ears have that bent to them. But you’ll
have great love affairs. Like amazing, epic,
passionate.”

“That’s cool,” Cordelia said, looking at the sky
through Gucci sunglasses and stroking Lorraine’s
hair. “Will I fall in love with girls or boys?”

“Only your heart knows for sure,” Lorraine replied,
peeking up at her. Cordelia frowned.

“You’re really got this gypsy girl thing down, don’t
you?” Cordelia asked. “What if I don’t know what my
heart knows? I mean, I could want one thing, but know
it’s the wrong thing. What then?”

Lorraine yawned and sat up, staring at the almost-dyed
blue of the pool in front of them. The water
glimmered and shattered, leaving light patterns to
dance on the bottom. “I’m going swimming,” she
announced, straightening herself up into long lings
and sun-baked skin matched to her black bikini. “I
need to get wet before I burn up.”

Cordelia, stretched out like a cat, watched the other
girl dive into the water, turning the placid surface
into something rougher and choppier with a little bit
of splash. Lorraine was going to have to wash out a
billion gallons of chlorine out of her hair, she
thought, and curly hair took forever to dry right.
But it looked nice, the swimming and the nice cold
water and–

“Hey!” Cordelia shrieked. “You splashed me!”

“You need to get in the pool, Cordelia,” Lorraine
said, soaked and grinning. “You have way too much
attitude for someone your age. Get in the pool and go
swimming. I’ll rinse out all the chlorine tangles, I
promise.”

Cordelia thought about it, took off her sunglasses,
and leapt in the pool, which was colder than she
thought it would be. Lorraine squealed for a few
seconds until Cordelia dunked her, and then she came
up sputtering, grasping for Cordelia.

“You’re gonna get it for that, girl,” Lorraine said,
looking for something of Cordelia to hang on to.
“You’re–”

Lorraine suddenly let go of Cordelia’s neck, gasping
and choking.

“Lorraine, are you okay?”

Lorraine’s mouth was hanging open while she stared,
colorless and terrified, at Cordelia, who was not
getting it in a major way.

“Are you okay?” she asked, trying to do something.

“I just really saw your future,” Lorraine whispered,
finding the pool edge and clinging to it. “Oh,
Cordelia.”

Cordelia, treading water, looked at the other girl and
shook her head. “What?”

Lorraine slowly and gracefully swam to Cordelia and
wrapped her arms around her. “Your future will be
very strange,” she said.

“I’m going to die,” Cordelia said, shivering.
“Vampires, right? Because I know some.”

Lorraine was soft and smelled like chlorine and
cinnamon breath mints. It was strange to imagine that
she was actually a roam-around-the- country,
honest-to-God gypsy-type person, Cordelia thought.

“It’s all very unclear,” Lorraine said, kissing her on
the cheek distractedly and letting go. “Not vampires,
Cordelia. Though you should watch out for a few of
them.”

“Demons?” Cordelia asked, almost hopefully.

“I can’t tell you,” Lorraine said. “This is what I can
tell you. Whoever she was, watch out for her. She’s
the only one who can save you, but she might kill you
in the meantime.”

Cordelia remembered that. Much of the rest of the
summer, she let herself forget in a haze of sunshine,
too-similar architectural masterpieces, and endless
objets d’art, but she remembered what Lorraine said.
It came back to bite her in the ass later.


Buffy waited until everyone else was safe and home to
take Cordelia back to her house. That was something,
at least. It wasn’t enough to make up for the fact
that she’d almost been killed by a pack of vampires
and hung upside-down and ignored by everyone and her
favorite Bronzing outfit was now intensely stained,
but.

It was something.

“You’re going to be fine,” Buffy said as they walked.
“I think you might have a charmed life or something.
Plus the Teflon ego.”

“If this is charmed, then I totally don’t want to see
uncharmed,” Cordelia replied. “So, get enough
shoulder time in with Angel?”

“Cordelia–”

Cordelia snorted. “Sorry,” she said. “I can’t help it.
You drive me nuts, Buffy.”

Buffy offered her hand to Cordelia, which Cordelia
took gratefully. “The feeling is mutual.”

“I noticed how the sexy dance was all about Angel,
except the part where it totally wasn’t,” Cordelia
said. “I mean, not like I want to be your co-mascot
in the Slayer Pride Parade or anything, but that was
bitchy. You made everyone hate you in less than five
minutes.”

Buffy nodded. “It was pretty damn effective. Except
that you’re you and didn’t take the hint that I was a
hetero ho-bag.”

“I don’t let people brush me off without getting in a
last word,” Cordelia replied, squeezing Buffy’s hand.
“Besides, you were being stupid. I can handle other
things, but that was just like, hi, and I’m a
six-year-old with issues.”

Buffy smiled. “You were the only one brave enough to
come after me,” she said. “Brave or stupid, I can’t
decide which.”

“I care, Buffy,” Cordelia said. “And you pissed me off
pretty hard and I don’t let that go well. I mean, you
didn’t even give me the look of shared drunken
groping shame. That was harsh.”

“I know,” Buffy said. “So was telling me how you don’t
like me that much.”

Cordelia shrugged. “I don’t, though. I mean. Well, I
do. Sort of. But we don’t like each other, I mean,
not like–and really not like–you know.”

“I know,” Buffy said, tilting her head Cordelia-ward.
“In an alternate dimension far far away, maybe there
is a Buffy and Cordelia.”

“An alternate dimension without high school,” Cordelia
said. “That would be a good one.”

Buffy nodded again, and Cordelia knew they were almost
at her house and they were both delaying. That was no
good. “So, we’re not exactly friends. Except you can
count on me to keep a secret and you know, be there
when you need a good reality check,” Cordelia
blabbered.

“And I’ll always be there to save you from the legions
of demons and vamps who seem to want the pleasure of
your company,” Buffy replied. “No matter how much
it’s karma.”

“Thanks, Buffy,” Cordelia replied sardonically. She
let Buffy’s hand go. “This is my house.”

“I know,” Buffy said, grabbing Cordelia’s face for a
brief, smooshy, messy kiss that Cordelia pulled away
from almost immediately, amazed that after all that
had just happened, after everything, Buffy had kissed
her anyway.

“Buffy, don’t,” she murmured. “You don’t have
to–Buffy, don’t.”

Don’t be the straight girl in my life, Cordelia
thought at her. It’s hard enough already, knowing
that you’re going to haunt me for years, into
therapy, and into relationships with nice men who
remind me far too much of Roland.

“You’re safe. Always,” Buffy promised, looking at
Cordelia with strange, hungry eyes. Years later,
during the Faith debacle, Cordelia will remember this
and wonder if Buffy is ashamed of liking girls, or if
it’s just the same utter cluelessness about the world
that causes Buffy to do things like sleep with
vampires.

“Night, Buffy,” was what the Cordelia of that night
managed to say, stumbling up her driveway and running
toward her room, trying to figure out what the hell
had just happened to her. She wanted to laugh, she
was almost crying, she was sort of relieved.

By morning, of course, Cordelia decided to be relived
and move on. There was closure. Sort of. And even
sort of closure was important. At least Cordelia knew
now that Buffy was in serious denial and it wasn’t
exactly her fault. She’d heal. Eventually, and
probably better with a new hot boyfriend–maybe that
guy Devon, from the band. He was hot enough. Yeah.
He’d do.

It wasn’t what she’d wanted, but it was something. And
that was enough.

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