by Buffonia

"I hate math," Cordelia whined and chucked her pencil at the scribbled upon notebook paper. Willow looked up and smiled across the table.

"No you don't." Willow took a sip from her milk carton. "You just hate having to do it during your free time."

"Try lunch period," Cordelia rolled her eyes sarcastically. "Free time? Please. These precious moments I have to eat and unthink are priceless. And completely being invaded by stupid numbers!" She finished with another whine and slammed her text shut.

"Don't blame the numbers," the redhead said thoughtfully "There are good numbers a-and there are bad numbers too."

"Good numbers?" Cordy quirked a brow at her newest friend's newest ramble.

"Yeah. Good numbers are the ones that represent stuff like anniversaries and how many presents and-and..." she ranted on searching for words."oh! and..."

"...birthdays?" Cordelia finished with a dramatic blink, knowing that Will was trying to hint to it all along.

"Yup those are the good ones. Far better than the numbers that stand for how many times you've embarrassed yourself, those are bad, bad numbers," Will replied sheepishly.

Cordy laughed. "Yeah I'm aware that it's your birthday tomorrow, they didn't outlaw calendars."

"Well, I wasn't exactly sure if you knew. We haven't been...close for that long." she said hesitantly and glanced at the clocktower. "Oops. I have to go to the computer lab before next period. Want to come with? You could make fun of how fast I type and look at the naughty sites."

"As exciting as that sounds," Cordelia began dryly. "I'm going to have to take a raincheck," her eyes traveled across the courtyard thoughtfully.

"Okay then," Willow nodded. "See you last period?"

"Yeah, last period." Cordy's gaze shifted back to Willow's green one and she smiled warmly. Her hazel eyes followed the redhead as she ascended up the stairs from the courtyard. When she was out of sight Cordelia's smile faded and her features fell resolutely. She looked over to Xander and Buffy who had just entered the area a little while ago.

She took a deep breath and walked over to them clutching her books to her chest.

"Uh, hey Cordelia," Buffy glanced awkwardly to Xander and he just smiled weakly at his ex-girlfriend before dodging her gaze.

"Before we get ourselves emotionally invested in some uncomfortable pretenses, like that we're all bestest friends, I'll cut to the chase," she talked looking squarely at Buffy, barely acknowledging Xander. "I want to throw a party for Willow's birthday. I figured since I have hardly any friends anymore, " she finally stole a sharp look to Xander. "...that I should probably invite hers."

"Oh." Buffy shifted her weight from foot to foot. "We can do the festive celebration thing, count us in." Her enthusiasm was forced and it was pretty obvious.

"You can bring someone if you like but as a rule, no vampires or demons or anything." She caught herself, "unless, they have soul."

"Um, that's okay. I, actually, don't have anyone to bring." Buffy looked away quickly, blinking something back, "except maybe Faith?"

"Fine, but I'm taking a huge risk already inviting a bad luck magnet such as yourself. So keep a leash on Ms. I'm-Not-Just- President-of-the-Slutty- Slayers-Club." Cordelia's icy tone melted and she paused. "I just want Willow to have a good time."

Buffy's eye twitched a little, she was glad that Cordelia wasn't completely alone in her pain, but she wasn't jumping for joy at the idea of sharing her best friend with her either. "Yeah, me too. So where do you want Willow to have a good time?" She paused realizing how that came out. "I mean, where are you planning to have the party?"

"I'm thinking the library, because you guys all feel so at home there," the brunette stated matter-of-factly. "And all I would have to do is tell her we're all facing some life-threatening horrible death and that we have to meet about it."

"Life-threatening death," Buffy repeated slowly. "It's scary how that really won't make her suspicious."

"So tonight. Library." Cordelia repeated. "Be there."

"I can run it by Giles during training this afternoon," Buffy offered. "Can we bring cheap party favors?"

"Sure, we already established you could bring Faith didn't we?" she said as she spun on her heels. A pained expression flooding her features after she turned her back to them and strutted off. She sighed internally, Way to go Cordy, miss your ice queendom much?

"Up with people is missing a valuable commodity," Xander shook his head bitterly as he watched her walk away.

"I don't know," Buffy started. "She was actually talking to us, not just to make us miserable either."

"No you're right," The boy agreed. "That was just an unanticipated side effect."

"Oh come on Xander," Buffy scolded. "Some of what she said was okay."

"You mean you liked the thought of Faith on a leash too?" he said hopefully with a goofy grin.

"Oh yeah," Buffy rolled her eyes and smirked sarcastically. "The idea of having Faith as my own submissive sex slave gets me so hot and bothered."

"I cannot stress enough how not alone you are there," Xander's grin faded to a look of awe as he archived the mental image.

Buffy slapped his knee playfully. "Trust me, the day me and Faith get down on each other's bad selves it will be safe to ice skate on the hellmouth."


Faith wrapped her legs around Buffy's head with a grunt. Before flipping the petite blonde over onto the ground via the strength of her thighs. Buffy yelped as she landed with a thud onto the mats.

"Ooh lookee here," Faith taunted. "We've got ourselves a screamer."

"You want to hear a scream?" Buffy quipped back before jumping to her feet. "Hope you don't bust a vocal chord." She attempted to kick the brunette but Faith caught it at the ankle and twisted the girl's leg so that Buffy smacked the floor once again.

"Girls," Giles reprimanded. "Less bickering and more, um, fighting. Concentrate on technique."

"I think Xander's concentrating on our technique enough for all of us," a sweaty Faith gestured to the boy sitting cross-legged atop the library table sipping a juice box.

"What exactly are you doing Xander?" the Watcher queried.

"I'm spotting," Xander replied defensively.

"True that," snorted Faith.

"Do you guys know what you're bringing to the party tonight?" Buffy shifted the conversation.

"I wasn't under the impression that we were expected to contribute..." Giles began.

"How else would it be a party?" Buffy raised a brow inquisitively. "If it's just us, the books and the tea, I think 'Surprise!' would be an extreme overstatement."

"Point well made," Giles scratched his forehead. "But I plead exemption for supplying the venue, what about you?"

Buffy thought for a moment and pouted. "I dunno. What's easy?"

"Well there's chips, Cordelia's probably got cake, there's ice cream...," Xander listed suggestions.

"Oh!" Buffy became suddenly enthused. "Me and Faith can be all over ice cream," she suggested as the boy's gaze became glazed over. "What about you Xan?"

"Yes please...," He replied wistfully.

Buffy gave him a suspicious look. "I mean what are you bringing?"

"Oh-uh- I can be blower boy." He snapped out of his daydream as everyone peered at him. "As in I can bring the party blower thingies, you know, noisemakers. And hats..." he added defensively. "Forget the first part."

"Gratefully stricken from the record," Giles muttered. "And what time is Willow planning on arriving?"

"Nine-thirty," Cordelia answered as she pushed through the swinging doors of the library entrance.

Faith shifted uncomfortably and diverted her gaze, she was awkwardly aware of how Cordelia felt about her.

"Cool," Faith's tone was nonchalant and she grabbed Buffy's hand. "That'll give us a couple hours of pre-party slayage." She began dragging Buffy to the doors.

"Is it completely necessary?" The blonde frowned. "Think there will be any action before the party?"

Something flashed through Faith's eyes before she quipped coolly. "Could be. I sent out word that we had other plans, but some vamps could have missed the memo."

"Yeah get your 'danger-as-a-breakfast-food' slayer urges out while you can because I need nothing to ruin this for Willow," Cordelia warned. Faith flinched angrily.

"Hungry and horny are officially of the menu," Buffy affirmed with a smile as she started hauling the brunette slayer off by the elbow.

"Oh bring the hungry," Cordelia offered more kindly still looking at Faith before her eyes flickered to Buffy. "I don't care what she does with the other part." The two slayer's disappeared through the library doors at a determined pace.

"Speak for yourself," Xander murmured under his breath.


"So are we going to the Bronze after the meeting tonight?" Willow asked as she scratched her homework out onto some paper.

"Sure," Cordelia tried to sound casual. "If there's time..." She rifled through her closet trying to find something to wear. "Are you staying over tonight?"

"I guess I could. Did you already ask your parents?"

"Oh they'll be out late tonight." Cordelia stated as she held a blue top against black pants and studied the match carefully. "Some gala for PETA or maybe it was the National Rifle Association..." Cordelia pondered aloud paying more attention to the outfit than the conversation.

This caused Willow to look up from her homework with a disbelieving expression. "Your parents support the NRA?"

"Well, Mom's pretty anti-'kills-a-family-member-nine-out-of-ten-times' American rights," Cordelia explained. "But they're pro-Charleton Heston."

"Oh." Willow cocked her head to the side in a confused manner. "I guess that's okay..."

"I don't pretend to understand their logic," Cordelia sighed. "But I also know enough not to bite the logic that pays your car insurance and annual wardrobe fees." She tossed the clothes in hand onto the bed and began to strip. Willow looked back to her homework and tried to focus on the next problem.

"How does this look?" Cordelia asked, having changed into a form-fitting tube dress.

"Wow," Willow's jaw dropped and her friend smiled satisfied. Cordy always looked good but the dress clung to her in just the right way. Willow attempted an ambivalent tone, "I mean, it looks good."

"Just good?" Cordelia quirked a brow at the redhead's sudden plummet of enthusiasm with a bit of dejection.

"Well, you know, good can mean all sorts of things. There's 'Oh I didn't get sucked into a muddy grave' good and-and," She hesitated. "And, well, there's sexy good too."

"Okay then, I revoke feeling insulted" Cordelia's smile returned. "As long as you mean the all encompassing 'good' rather than the synonym for 'okay.'"

"Trust me, very all encompassy," Willow gave a sheepish smile in reply. "Involving everything in between."

"Well if you like my outfit that much then you'll let me dress you," Cordelia said firmly. "Now strip."


Cordelia shifted the box in her arms and glanced at her watch as they walked down the darkened school corridors.

"So what's that?" Willow asked again curiously and gestured at the box.

"I told you," Cordelia shrugged. "Just some Scooby snacks. Donuts and stuff."

"Oh. Right," Will replied skeptically still eyeing the package that Cordy was carrying.

She saw the brunette furrow her brow at the sight ahead and Willow followed suit as she glanced towards the library.

"Looks kind of dark...," Willow had worried tone..

"Yeah..." Cordelia tried to imitate her friend's concerned demeanor but inwardly she smiled in anticipation. The more they filled the gap between them and the library, the more Cordelia allowed her internal smile to transpire onto her glossed lips.

Cordy watched Willow's face as they pushed open the doors but before she could even utter a 'Surprise!' her gaze fell on the dismal sight ahead. Xander was handing Giles the gauze and medical adhesive as the librarian tended to the injured slayers. A half hung birthday banner sloped from the center of the stacks and some deflated balloons were littered on the tabletop.

"Oh my god!" Cordelia spat. "What happened?"

"Buffy and Faith were attacked," Giles explained while taping a bandage onto Buffy's forehead.

"Well duh," retorted the cheerleader angrily. "But what happened to the decorations?"

"We --uh- haven't had the chance to attend to that matter yet..." Giles said reproachfully.

"Yeah, excuse us for letting such a trivial thing like blood loss and head wounds to overshadow your party decor," muttered Faith bitterly.

"Party?" Willow glanced from her friends to the banner.

"Happy Birthday Will," Xander smiled weakly.

"You were going to throw me a surprise party?" Her features lit up.

"'Going to' being the operative phrase." Buffy winced.

"Well it's the thought that counts," Willow assured them, especially directing the encouragement to the girl next to her. Cordelia wasn't easily swayed.

"Well I guess that's not saying too much," Cordy glared at the slayers. "Because I thought I could count on you guys to follow through with this. But I guess I was wrong."

"Cordy, it's not their fault they were attacked," Willow attempted to mediate the conflict and avoid a fight.

"Right because they couldn't have waited 'til after the party to let they're slaying mess something up," even though she was answering Willow's question, hostility was still directed to the members of the table.

"I seem to remember being told to get out the slaying urges..." Faith began.

"Oh, so now this is my doing?" Cordy set the box down on the loan desk counter and folded her arms.

"If the cork fits," Faith narrowed her eyes. "then sit on it."

"Guys!" Willow shouted. "Stop it--"

"You heard Red," the darker slayer scolded. "Chill out Barbie."

Cordelia blinked back angry tears as Willow hand gently moved to the girl's shoulder. "Cordy, seriously, I'm fine, let's just go to the Bronze--"

"No," Cordelia feigned enthusiasm. "We came here for a party," she opened the cake box. "Are there any liquid refreshments?"

"Well, yes, there's tea," Giles finally spoke after having resolved to let the kids work out their own issues.

"I brought the hats," Xander offered, holding up a small stack of pointy party hats.

"Hats and tea," Cordelia repeated. "Wow if I had suggested we have an Unbirthday party you guys would have come through in a pinch."

"That dormouse in the teapot was so cute!" Willow giggled before frowning. "But kind of gross in an unhygienical way."

"I don't mind mice so much," Buffy stated as she patted a gash on her shoulder with some towels. "I mean I don't like them in my tea but in the general sense they're okay."

"Well having been one probably gives you a sympathetic edge," Xander offered.

Faith peered at Buffy, "you were a mouse?"

"Actually, she was a rat," Cordelia corrected.

"When was this?"

"Last year," Buffy sighed, "long story."

"Yet still extremely entertaining," Cordelia added.

"E-except the part where I almost went ax murdery on Xander and Cordelia," Willow interrupted.

"And when Joyce felt me up," Xander shuddered at the memory. Buffy jerked her head to him.

"Ew, she what?!" Buffy wrinkled her nose. "Why do curses always turn my mom into a big ho?" Giles cleared his throat and began pouring the tea.

Cordelia muttered something under her breath as she cut the cake into pieces and served them onto the paper plates. Willow glanced at Cordelia and frowned to herself, she could understand why Cordy would be upset, but she was being way bitchy. Reprising the old Cordelia wasn't rating high on Willow's birthday wishlist.

"Are you okay?" Willow mouthed to her extremely pissed off friend. Cordelia forced a smile and nodded. A sinking feeling spread throughout Willow's stomach, she had an idea what was irking the girl so much. Willow sighed resolutely.

"Guys, I have an announcement to make..." The redhead bit her bottom lip in apprehension. She moved to Cordelia and clasped her hand, the brunette look startled. Taking a deep breath she started again. "We have an announcement..."