Can't See How It Shines
by Angelina

It's still dark. But I'm not cold anymore. And the pain in my side is less now. Not completely gone...but less. I'm aware of some soft of feeling where the pain used to be; a niggle, threatening to develop into something more at the first opportunity. My head is really heavy. With great difficulty I manage to open my lead-filled eyelids and a dimly lit hospital room swims into view. Even this little bit of light hurts my eyes and my head begins to pound just that little bit harder.

"Ah, I see you've rejoined the land of the living, Ms Chase."

All of a sudden there's a very large woman leaning over me, lifting my wrist and looking at her watch. I press my head back further into the pillows to try to focus on her but it doesn't work because she's already bustled away and is writing something on a clipboard. I wonder how long I've been here. It occurs to me that I might have been in a coma for weeks on end.


I start to ask when I was brought in but my mouth is too dry and the words stick in my throat. Then she's back again, lifting up my head and bringing a plastic cup of water to my lips. I manage to swallow a few drops and then she takes it away, lowering me back to the pillow.

"Now don't be trying to talk and get all excited. I think you had enough excitement earlier tonight to last you for a while, don't you? Those drugs you're on should knock you back out soon."

So it was tonight. It was earlier tonight that I walked in on my boyfriend kissing another girl, turned and promptly fell through the floor onto something that caused me quite a lot of pain. Speaking of which. I fumble with the covers, trying to see my injured side.

"What did I just tell you? You've to rest now. You won't see anything down there, it's all bandaged up. You'll end up with a nice scar, the doctor sewed you up beautifully."

A scar. I've never had a scar before. Not even a little one on my knee or anything. It's a miracle I've survived so long in Sunnydale unscathed. And trust me to get scarred because of a kiss. Not a monster or a vampire. A kiss. My head is getting heavier. I just want to close my eyes. But wait...shouldn't there be people here?

" parents?"

That was a feeble effort but at least the words came out this time. I don't expect my parents to be here. They were flying to New York for some social event this evening.

"We're trying to get hold of them. I'm sure they'll be here as soon as they can."

Mmmhmm. Maybe tomorrow, after the hangovers wear off.

"There are a couple of people waiting in reception. I told them to go home but they wouldn't hear of it. There was a bit of a scuffle at one point, I thought we would have to throw them out."

People? What people? I don't have any friends. Not after tonight.


"Well, I gather the young man is your boyfriend. And I assume the young lady with the...colourful language is a friend of yours."

My heart jumps a little. Faith's out there waiting to see me.

"Not my boyfriend. The girl...come in?"

God I sound retarded. But my foggy brain and my dry mouth just won't allow proper speech. The big nurse turns to look at me sternly.

"You should still be sleeping. You shouldn't be having visitors."

I try really hard to look pathetic. It's not exactly difficult when you're lying in a hospital bed with a gaping chasm in your side and lots of drugs pumping through your system. Nursie sighs and points her finger at me.

"Alright, but only for a couple of minutes. The doctor would have my hide!"

She turns and leaves the room. For a second I wonder why I've asked to see Faith. I can't really talk to her. And rampant sex is probably out of the question. I like these drugs by the way.


A soft voice drifts over from the door. I force my eyes to focus on her as she approaches. I try to smile...but for all I know it could be a face is going a little numb.


Well, that's a start I suppose. She arrives at the side of the bed and stands there awkwardly, as people do when they're visiting people in hospitals. Then she reaches out and takes my hand in hers, squeezing it slightly. She keeps her eyes on our joined hands as she speaks.

"You had me scared stiff, C."

She laughs a little as she says it. But I can tell she means it. Faith doesn't just go around flippantly admitting to being afraid.


She looks up at my face. With her free hand she sweeps an errant hair from my brow. Then she leans down and presses a firm kiss to my lips. Then she moves so that her mouth is against my ear.

"Just don't do it again in a hurry, OK?"

Another too quick kiss to my cheek and she stands back up.

"Not staying?"

My eyes keep drifting shut and I struggle to keep them open.

"Can't babe, you need to rest and get better. And I don't wanna piss that nurse off...I think she could probably take me in a fight."

I laugh...but it sounds more like a cough and it hurts my side. I wince a little and she looks guilty. She squeezes my hand again.

"Get some sleep. I'll be back tomorrow, I promise."

My eyes finally win the struggle for closure. Her hand is warm around mine and I can feel myself drifting away on a cloud of chemically induced slumber. But I should probably say goodbye to her first.

"Love you."


The next time I wake up there's no comforting veil of numbness. My head is clear and my side hurts more. It's early in the morning from the way the light is coming in the window. The room is suffused with cold blue. How apt. That's the way I feel.

How come up until yesterday I felt pretty much invincible? I was happy. I had friends who liked me and cared about me. I had a boyfriend who didn't cheat on me. I don't know what I've got. And I don't know what I want.

I know what I don't want. I never want to get hurt like that again. Physically or emotionally. I never want to feel that stab of betrayal again. I'm never opening my heart up to that kind of risk again. Drastic? Maybe. But it's what I need right now.


"Hey babe, lookin' good this mornin'!"

I look up to see her leaning against the doorframe. She's dressed in the same clothes she was wearing last night. Her hair is tousled and there's some blood on her shirt. I take it this means she's been out slaying all night. See, there's another reason I have to do this. It's just way too precarious. Every night she goes out there and battles against insurmountable odds. Any given night could be the time she doesn't win. The time she doesn't come back. And I couldn't handle that. So it's best I end it now before it goes any deeper.


She comes further into the room. Again she's a little nervous and awkward. She stops a little distance from the bed. Like she senses something is up.

"How d'you feel?"

I shrug my shoulders. I'm trying to be nonchalant but my whole body is shaking. I take a deep breath. This is a mistake as it accentuates the shuddering in my limbs.

" everythin' OK? I mean...besides the obvious..."

I can't look at her. I can't look into those warm, trusting eyes and say what I'm about to say.

"Faith I don't think this is working out. I think we should just stop it now."

My eyes are firmly on my knees. She hasn't made a sound since I spoke. I don't know what reaction I expected. Maybe I thought she would blow up. Or storm out. Or at least do something. As far as I can tell she isn't even breathing right now.

" said you loved me."

I did? Oh God I did. Last night. I said it because I felt it. Because I do love her. And it's because I'm in love with her that I need to do this. And it's because I'm in love with her that it's tearing me apart inside.

"I was on drugs."

That was unnecessarily cruel. But effective. She puts something down on the bed and turns on her heel and leaves. I don't watch her go. I wouldn't be able to see her if I did, my eyes are so full of tears. I wipe them away and look down at what she left on my bed. It's a single white daisy.

I finally break down and weep into my pillow. With every sob my wound throbs a little more, reminding me of my reason for doing this. But right now it doesn't seem like this is the way to avoid pain. Seems more like a direct route toward it.


"Can I come in?"

Oh God, not now, please not now. At least here I'm the wronged party and not the heartless bitch. I keep my back facing him and I don't reply to his request. I hear footsteps so I guess he's decided just to come in anyway.

"They wouldn't let me see you until now."

I wish I'd told them not to let him in at all. I can't deal with this all in one go. And hearing his voice just makes me remember last night. Him calling down to me from above. Like some fucking guardian angel. He lays an over-the-top and garish bunch of flowers on the table so I can see them. My eyes stray to Faith's single flower and a lump forms in my throat.

"Those are flowers."

No, those are a shoddy attempt at an apology. There's a difference. I hear him sit down. I don't want him to be here. I want to be by myself so I can wallow. I slowly turn myself around so I'm facing him.

"Look, Cordy, I want you to know that I..."

I cut him off before he can give me some sob story.



Look at him, all hopeful, like I'm going to say 'It's fine Xander, I don't mind that you like to kiss Willow in your spare time. I don't mind that my body is scarred because of it.' Like that's ever going to happen.

"Stay away from me."

I turn back around because I can feel myself welling up again. And I will not let him see me cry. Especially when the tears aren't even really anything to do with him. I hear him get up and walk to the door where he stops. Please just leave, Xander. The footsteps start up once more and before I know it I'm crying.


So they finally let me come home. Not that my parents were grief- stricken or anything when they found out. They called from New York and made sympathetic noises long-distance. They finally made it back yesterday and the doctors let me out today.

It doesn't actually make all that much difference where I am. I can mope just as well anywhere. However, they probably wouldn't approve of my current activity in the hospital so being at home does have its advantages. I'm destroying those sucky pictures we had taken at the pier. Funny, I thought I'd get more pleasure out of cutting Xander and his buddies up and watching the pieces burn. But I'm not enjoying it at all. I'm still depressed. I keep thinking about Faith and the terrible way I treated her. I keep wanting to call her, then I remember that I would just be opening myself up to more hurt that way. So I've made it this far. That's something I suppose.


I'm going back to school tomorrow. I don't want to go back but it has to be done some time. I did speak to my parents about home tuition but they were stressing about some letter that had arrived in the mail about taxes or something. So they said no. I ask you, what is the point in being rich if you can't attend to your only daughter's every whim? They kind of yelled at me when I brought that up so I resigned myself to life at Sunnydale High.

It's been a week and I haven't seen or heard from anyone. Well, except Xander who keeps calling and leaving messages. But he doesn't count. What I mean is that I haven't seen or heard from Faith. I haven't been out but every night I lie in bed and hope that she'll appear at the window and beg me to take her back. Which is asking a bit much since it was me who called it off out of the blue. But so far there's been nothing.

So I've decided to come to the mall. I need a new outfit to get me through the day tomorrow. Something daring. Something wild. Something that shows Xander Harris that I'm way better off without him. I'm sorting through a rack when I come to a leather skirt and shirt in a deep burned russet colour. The distinctive leather smell reaches my senses and suddenly all I want to do is find Faith and bury my face in her shoulder and cry. I'm still holding the outfit when someone taps me on the shoulder. I spin around, hoping against hope that it's her.

It isn't. It's that little witch Amy. Who caused me all those problems last year with Xander and all the women chasing him and me realising that I quite liked him after all. Yeuch...flashback of Buffy's mom with her hands all over him. Bleuch. Amy has a sympathetic look on her face that just makes me really angry.

"Hey Cordelia. I heard about your accident. I'm really sorry."

I fix her with a disinterested stare before turning back to the outfit.

"Yeah, I'll bet you heard about it."

"I...uh...well, it's just that Willow..."

I twirl around to face her again and she kind of recoils. Hmmm, looks like I still got it. I liked having that kind of power.

"Willow, huh? And how is Willow these days? Moved on to anyone else's boyfriend yet? Making moves on Buffy's beau yet?"


It's fun watching her squirm. But then, she always was kind of a wuss. It's not that much of an achievement.

"Whatever. Give her my love when you see her, will you? Tell you what, give her my hospital bill at the same time. Or maybe I'll give it to her myself tomorrow."

I make up my mind that this is the perfect outfit for my return to hell. I mean school. I take it off the rack and make it clear I'm about to leave.

"So...y-you're coming back to school tomorrow?"

"Yep. Young, free and single again. See ya."

I turn and head to the cash register. My heart is beating quickly. Why? It was only Amy Madison for Chrissakes. What am I going to be like tomorrow? Oh well, as Vivien Leigh once said, tomorrow is another day. Of course, she wasn't going to face a school full of judgemental teenagers.


So, here I am. Back. And scared stiff. But I'm resolved not to show it. Deep breaths. Deep breaths. I'm Cordelia Chase. I will not be kept down for long. Especially not by a couple of dorks like Xander and Willow. So just open the door already.

I open the door and step out. I know I look good in my new outfit. No, I look better than good. I strut up to the school like I own the place. Just the way I used to. I'm Queen C.

Ooookay. People are looking at me. And not in the good 'I want to drop to my knees and lick her feet' kinda way. More in a 'it's that girl who got cheated on' way. And as if my life weren't bad enough... here comes Harmony and her band of airheads. Formerly known as 'my friends'. I stop walking. They stop too and look at me. Then Harmony walks forward. The others, big shock, follow her. I brace myself for the inevitable insults.

"Cordelia! You look amazing!"

OK, not quite as cutting as I'd expected. She makes a big show of air-kissing me.

"Oh. You have to meet Anya."

She yanks someone I haven't seen before to the front. The girl looks OK. Questionable combo of orange and green aside. She looks bored while Harmony continues. Maybe she has half a brain.

"She just moved here, and her dad just bought -- what was it -- oh. A utility. Or something."

Good old Harm. Very little idea of what's going on in the world around her. Anya kind of smiles at me.

"Nice bag. Prada?"

Impressive. Able to identify high quality designers on sight. I like her.

"Good call! Most people around here can't tell Prada from Payless."

Before we can continue to bond, Harmony breaks in and brings up the dreaded subject.

"God, Cordy, when I heard about... Well, I mean, I couldn't believe it. But it was smart. You know, the injury thing? You take a week off, let everybody forget about the temporary insanity that was Xander Harris."

She thinks I faked it? Yeah, because that's the first thing that springs to mind to cover up a break up. 'I fell down a hole and got skewered by a big metal thing.' If I was lying I'd just say I had the 'flu. But at least she's being civil, friendly even. So I go along with it. I raise my eyebrows at her.

"Xander who?"

It takes a while for it to sink into her walnut sized brain that this is a joke.


There's nervous laughter -- the sheep of course wait to see if Harmony will laugh before joining in. It used to be me they looked to for things like that. Some people are so fickle. Then Nancy speaks up, uninvited.

"You know what you have to do. Start dating. Get back on the horse."

I cannot think of anything I would like less. Well, unless the dating involved Faith. And since it's been a week now with no contact I'm thinking I've completely burned my bridges on that front. But I plaster a big fake smile on my face and give the answer they want. They're all I've got at the moment.

"Oh, absolutely! I am ready to ride!"

Harmony smiles widely.

"Then I have just the stallion. He's so you."

She takes my hand and starts to lead me across to the stairs. Where she points out Jonathan. Tiny, little Jonathan who used to get my coffee order wrong. Poor guy hasn't a clue what's going on. But I have. Retribution. This is my punishment for leaving the fold and sinking to the depths of dating Xander Harris. I should've expected this. I did expect this. But then they were all smiles and compliments and I let myself believe that they would brush it aside. I wouldn't have if I were them. I attempt to keep the hurt from my face. I don't think it works very well. Harmony carries on, giggling, loving every minute of it.

"I'm pretty sure he won't cheat on you. At least not for a while. Plus, he's got a kill moped."

She laughs and they walk off, leaving me alone. Jonathan looks at me in understanding. I guess he knows what it's like when people make fun of you. I've made fun of him in the past. I won't be doing it in the future.

I turn away from his sympathy and head into the school building. This day already reeks to the high heavens. And the bell hasn't even rung for homeroom yet. I'm guessing it's gonna get worse. And it just did. Xander is standing at the end of the corridor looking at me. Panic stations! Can't talk to him. Can't look at him.

I grab for the first familiar looking guy I see in the crowd.

"Hey, John Lee. Do I have something caught in my teeth?"

I smile at him and move in really close, putting my head at an angle so he can look in my mouth. From where Xander's standing, I'm hoping it looks like we're kissing. Otherwise it's looking like the stupidest thing on the face of the earth. He doesn't laugh, so hopefully it looked the way it was supposed to. Xander heads into the cafeteria and I step back.

"So... What's new? God, it's been, like, a gazillion years!"

But not long enough. I had had enough of big dumb jocks by the time I was 15. And then that experience with the big, dumb, dead jock kinda put the final nail in the coffin. But right now I'm willing to do anything to get someone cool to talk to me. How sad. He smiles at me. Good start.

"Look, the guys are kinda down on me lately. Coach has cut me back to second string. If anyone saw me hanging with Xander Harris' castoff on top of that... Death, you know, but... maybe... if you wanna go someplace private..."

He did not say what I think he just said. 'Xander Harris' castoff'? Is that how I'm seen?


He makes 'come to bed' eyes. Or tries to and fails badly.

"Think about it."

Then he turns and leaves. Oh. My. God. I was just turned down by a jock. But, I'm a cheerleader. This is unprecedented. And I didn't even really want to go out with him. I should've been the one turning him down. How can I have fallen so far, so fast? I turn around, planning to go slit my wrists somewhere quiet, and run straight into that Anya girl. She smiles.


Well, she might as well get it over and done with. Harmony's probably given her plenty of ammunition.

"Go ahead. Dazzle me with your oh-so-brilliant insults. Just join the club."

She looks completely unperturbed by my little self-pitying outburst.

"Hardly. Uh, actually, I've been looking for you. Ever since we met this morning, I was, like, thank God there's one other person in this town who actually reads W."

Huh? She wants to hang with me? The social leper?

"But Harmony..."

"Oh, she follows me around. If that girl had an original thought, her head would explode."

It strikes me that I've become Willow. I'm the unpopular geek that the new girl seeks out after being accepted into the 'cool group'. Oh God, my life as I knew it is now officially over. Not that that's an entirely bad thing. But very sobering. I might as well take advantage of this girl's good taste in people. A compliment is always a good thing. Her necklace is nice.

"Is that Gucci?"

"Um... no. It's an actual old thing, sort of a, um... good luck charm my dad gave me."

Looks expensive. She did say her dad had bought a utility. I think a little mild humour should help this tentative conversation along.

"Too bad I didn't have one of those pre-Xander."

We both kind of laugh, let's face it, the joke wasn't brilliant. Then she starts down the hall and I decide to tag along.

"Can I just say... Men."

Wow, a kindred spirit. I guess some guy has dumped all over her recently too. Or maybe she's a lesbian. Either way, we got something in common.

"Second it."

"Apart from being without class, the guy's obviously blind. Deserves whatever he gets."

Hmmm, 'the guy's obviously blind', yep, I'm tending towards the lesbian theory. Maybe that's why she came looking for me. She's got the hots for me. It's all the leather, isn't it? That's what did it for me. Damn leather. Well, if she tries anything I'll just have to tell her that I have a girlfriend. Had. Had a girlfriend who I am still very much in love with and stupidly broke up with.

"I'm not even thinking about him. I am past it. I am living my life."

"Still, I mean... Don't you kinda wish..."

"I don't wish. I act. Starting now, Xander Harris is gonna get a bellyful of just how over him I am."


This is like purgatory. The Bronze is exactly last on my list of places to be tonight. But if I'd sat at home like a sad little recluse that would be letting Xander win. So I forced myself into the hottest dress in my closet and called Anya. She seemed really keen to come out with me. And she's stood at my shoulder the whole night. She seems quite bored. I don't know if this is an act -- one I used to have perfected. Or whether she thought it'd just be me and her. Anyway, that's not even a consideration. I'm here to be a social butterfly and have a great time. Or at least pretend to. So I've been talking to some guy for twenty minutes...and I couldn't name one subject we've spoken about. And I'm not entirely sure of his name. Mark? Matt? Something like that.

Whatever his name is doesn't seem to mind that I'm not listening, he talks away animatedly anyway. I sneak a glance over my shoulder at Xander and his pals. He's watching me. The plan is working. Willow and Buffy look glum. I hear Xander's inane laughter and risk another quick look: he's obviously faking having a good time. Ha. Sad person.

It amazes me that they had the gall to come here tonight. Sitting there, looking all innocent and goody-goody. You'd think they'd at least have the decency to stay at home and think about what they've done and feel guilty about it. But no. And so now I've had to stay here longer than I'd planned just so it doesn't look like I'm leaving on account of them being here. God, they're so inconsiderate.

Anyway, I think I've been here quite long enough to prove that my social life has not been hampered by my association with and subsequent humiliation by Xander Harris. Plus, my throat is starting to hurt with all this fake laughing I've been doing. Right, time to get out of this conversation...whatever it's about.

"Right, well, it's been really great talking to you ...umm...Mark? But I gotta motor. See ya."

Anya moves with me as I leave the table. I think I hear him say something like 'It's Marvin' but I'm not sure, it's kinda noisy in here.

"You're leaving?"

Aww, she's disappointed. That's sweet. I smile at her like I'm really sad I have to go.

"Yeah, stuff to do."

"But I'll see you in school tomorrow, right?"

Tone down the desperation, honey.

"Right. Tomorrow. School. Definitely."

"OK, I'll see you then."

Then she kisses me. Not quite an actual kiss but not an air kiss either. Contact was made between her lips and my face. Wow, forward much? And I think she tried to cop a feel. There was definite hand movement. She walks away and I'm left feeling uneasy about this new friendship that seems to have sprung up over a single day. Something not quite right about it.

OWWWW! Some idiot just bumped into me. I suppose it's not his fault. Sometimes I forget about the stupid wound. Then the slightest bump reminds me. I just want to go home. I push open the door and head outside into the street. It's a little chilly, maybe I should've brought a jacket. That wasn't important when constructing my knock-em-dead outfit. It is now. And my side is still throbbing.

"Hey, Cordelia, wait a second."

And just when I thought my evening of hell was over. Here comes my favourite person to cheer me up. I turn around to face the source of the annoying, high-pitched voice. Oh my God, I bet Xander put her up to this.

"Did Xander send you to beg for him? Because if he did..."

She interrupts me before I can come up with something suitably horrible for her to tell him from me.

"No. I'm a free agent, I promise. I just wanted to see how you are."

Hmm, let me think...

"Never been better."

I turn around and start to leave. Having an in-depth discussion of my feelings with Buffy is not high up on my to-do list. She follows me. Joy and rapture.

"Cordelia, I know what it's like to be hurt by someone."

OK, well I suppose that's true. I slow down and turn to face her again. She continues.

"Hurt so much that you don't think you're gonna make it. But I told my friends how I felt, and you know what? It got a little better."

Ah, but there's the problem. It was my boyfriend and my...well, semi- friend that caused the hurt. And then my so-called 'real' friends just made fun of me. So who the hell am I supposed to turn to to make it better? I'm about to say this to her when a vampire springs out of nowhere and lands behind Buffy, scaring me half to death in the process. These guys should get a clue. They go around wearing their vamp faces and growling all the time. What they should really do is play the suave, seductive vampire card. Works with Buffy every time. Anyway they fight. Lots of kicking and punching and...other fighty moves. I move back out of the way, I really don't want to get caught up in this tonight. Buffy does one of those really big kick things and...oh no!!!

"Cordelia, look..."

He's coming right at me! His body connects with mine and with an incredible amount of searing pain I'm thrown backwards into...a great big pile of garbage.

" ...out."

I'm vaguely aware of the vampire getting back up and I assume she stakes him because he's not there by the time I manage to struggle to my feet, picking bits of gunk and rubbish off myself on the way. No doubt my stitches are torn. My ego is definitely on the critical list. Buffy stands there looking apologetic. If she dares to say sorry I think I'll punch her. Suddenly she hides her stake behind her back. The tinkly sound of laughter reaches my ears and I know why.

Someone up there must really hate me. Harmony and her band of merry bitches walk past and take a good old look at my less than pristine appearance. You know, I remember Buffy showing up at the Bronze one time looking like a scarecrow and I was the one who got to gawp and laugh. Then I fell in with her group and now I'm the one on the receiving end. Well, not any more.

"You know what I've been asking myself a lot this last week? Why me? Why do I get impaled? Why do I get bitten by snakes? Why do I fall for incredible losers? And you know, I think I've finally figured it out, what my problem is? It's you. It's all your fault. Before you came along my life was nice and simple. And now..."

Just as I'm about to really let loose on her, my nerve endings decide it's time to tell my brain that I need hospital treatment. A jolt of pain shoots along my side and I gasp at its intensity. I clutch my side and look back at Buffy.

"I'd love to stand here and tell you all the problems you've caused in my life, but if you'll excuse me I need to go to the E.R. now."

I turn around slowly and head towards my car. I hear her footsteps start up again.

"Wait! Do you want me to come wi..."


God, wasn't she listening to a word I was saying?


Despite her slightly creepy stalker qualities, Anya has proven to be an excellent listener. She's barely spoken a word for twenty minutes while I've bitched about all my woes.

" ...Buffy Summers. That's when all my troubles started."

Owww. Why does no-one make pain-killers that actually kill pain completely? Damn E.R. doctors, I'm sure the one that sewed me up was a vet. But I valiantly keep talking through my pain.

"When she moved here."

"Are you okay?"

See? This is the difference between Anya and Harmony. Anya shows concern for other people.

"Oh, I just pulled some stitches last night. Know why? Surprise. It was Buffy's fault."

She follows my gaze towards the geek squad, sitting on a bench, talking away like nothing's wrong in their little world. Harmony's voice tears my attention away from them.

"Oh, hey, it's Garbage Girl. Loved the look last night, Cor. Dumpster chic for the dumped."

Why are they suddenly everywhere? Why can't I go anywhere without ghosts of friendships past haunting me? They walk right in between my and Anya, giggling like idiots. An image of what I must have looked like last night flashes in my head and I look down as my cheeks start to burn with embarrassment. I look up to see that Anya's taking off her necklace. The one I complimented yesterday.

"Here. I think you need this more than I do right now."

Umm, OK. Giving me jewellery. I think we can safely say that we have entered official crush territory. But what the hell, no-one else is likely to give me anything in the foreseeable future. And it is a really nice necklace.

"Yeah, I can use some luck."

I glance back over at Buffy.

"And a stick with pointy, sharp bits. If that Buffy wasn't... I swear..."

OK, nearly said she was a slayer. I've got to remember that to normal people, that kind of thing constitutes crazy-talk. That's all I'd need, to be stuck in some cuckoo's nest eating checkers. No thank you. Anya doesn't seem to have noticed anything amiss.

"She's a pain. But Xander, he's an utter loser. Don't you wish..."

Again with the men bashing. Maybe she's one of these militant types. Well, if she wants to bash Xander that's fine by me. But that's not the point right now.

"I never would've looked twice at Xander if Buffy hadn't made him marginally cooler by hanging with him."

I was blinded by the whole 'I come from LA' thing. Which was slightly negated by the 'I like to brandish pointy wooden sticks at people' thing. But stupid things kept throwing all of us into each other's company and it all grew from there. So it definitely all started with Buffy.


She turns to look at Buffy. Like she can't believe that one little blonde could cause all this trouble.

"Yeah, I swear! I wish Buffy Summers had never come to Sunnydale."

Anya turns back to me. OH MY GOD!! She's...she's a monster...


And everything goes white.

Am I dying now?