By Kate Bolin

She walks in, and she looks like hell.

It's a different look for the Queen of Sunnydale, 'cept, of course, when I smashed her face in with my elbow, but it isn't a good look for her, all dark circles and gaunt cheeks. I don't even think she's moisturized.

Gotta wonder who'd look more fitting behind bars - me or her.

But, no, I'm a new girl now, and I've reformed my ways, so when I pick up the phone and talk to her, I don't automatically start with her looks. I'm polite, I'm sweet, and I ask in my gentlest voice, "So where's Angel?"

She's looking at me with red-rimmed bloodshot eyes, and I can feel my heart sink just a little. Fuck. Someone's died or something's happened and there ain't no more Angel. This voice in the back of my head starts to panic and scream over and over again "What do we do now, Faith? What do we do now?" when she says, her voice rough, "Faith, there's been...something's happened..."

I gotta play it cool, I can't let her get into me, I can't let her see me react. "What? You got a stain on one of your shirts and want to see if laundry can't take care of it?"

Her eyes narrow slightly, just enough to turn the voice in my head from a scream to a whisper -- the satisfaction of getting her rising over the panic -- but then she stops, shaking her head, looking at me with wide eyes, and I can feel my stomach hitting the bottom of the chair. "Faith...there's been..." She pauses again, and I swear if she fucking repeats herself I'm going to scream, I'm going to scream, will you tell me what happened...

She takes a deep breath and doesn't look at me when she says it.

"Buffy's gone."

My stomach's on the floor now. My stomach's on the floor and my head is shaking and I don't know what to fucking do or say so I just shake my head and mumble "No" a few times because, fuck, Buffy's dead and I'll never get to talk to or hold or kiss or say "I'm sorry" over and over again to her.

I won't get to do shit, because Buffy's dead, Buffy's gone and they sent this fucking bitch to tell me. And when I look up to see her reaction, she's staring up at the clock, her face vacant.

That does it. That fucking does it. I'm not upset any more, I'm fucking furious, and my eyes flash at her angrily. "So you came to tell me...what? 'Oops, sorry, Faith, that whole prison thing is a mistake, 'cause we sure do need a slayer now'?"

Cordelia's entire face tightens up. "Not likely," she snarls out. "Just because you're The Slayer," and I can hear the godamned capital letters in those words, "doesn't mean you're any less psychotic." Cordelia leans close to the glass, her bronze lipstick shimmering under flourescent lights as she continues. "If they ever actually let you out, I'll be right there with a crossbow."

I lean back and prop my foot up on the table. "You think you're tough enough to handle me, Cordelia? That bruise I left on your face last time tells me somethin' different..."

Cordelia's fingers clench into fists and she closes her eyes. "Bitch," she whispers.

And I grin. Oh, how I've got her. "You know what I don't get?" I say, calmly, like it's just another conversation. "I don't get why you care so much about her being dead."

"That's funny," Cordelia says back, her voice just as calm. "I don't understand why you don't." Her voice gets even sharper, 'cause God knows Cordelia Chase could cut steel with that voice. "After all, you were the one who wanted to jump her. Still bitter about being turned down?"

Yeah, that hit. Point one to the homecoming queen, but there's somethin' going on with her, and once she says that, it's all crystal clear. This is my fight, and I've got weapons you ain't ever thought of. "Well, y'know how it is," I say, smiling at her. "Couldn't ever crack that straight-girl shell of hers, couldn't get deep down into her, no matter how many sleepovers we'd have..." I shrug, nonchalant as hell. "I guess she just wasn't strong enough to actually turn me down -- spouting denial while being a goddamned tease the entire time..."

"Don't you ever say that," Cordelia finally snaps back. "Don't you ever say she was never strong enough, or good enough. Especially coming from you."

Damn. That did it. I lean forward, staring into her eyes. "What?" I whisper, my voice barely audible over the phoneline. "Can't handle the truth?" And my grin gets sharklike and my eyes start to leer and yeah, I've got her right where I need her. "Buffy never wanted you, you know. She spent all her time in denial, bitching and moaning about Angel couldn't love her and there were no other men while ignoring what was right..." I start tapping the glass, tracing along the lines of her face. "In..." Tap. "Front..." Tap. "Of..." Tap. "Her." Tap.

I lean back, grinning. "Whereas, y'know, if we had just skipped the middle-man, we could've been having a fine, me, screwing all night long..." I pause. "But that would've probably meant actually admitting it to yourself, huh? And fuck knows we can't have the queen of Sunnydale be a raging dyke...can't have a rugmuncher in a cheerleader's outfit..." I take a few seconds to let it sink in, then continue. "Too busy being popular to realize that you just wanted to kneel between Buffy's straight-girl legs..." I laugh. "Should've just knelt before mine, C. God knows I wouldn't've turned you down."

Her eyes close for a second and she shudders, once, a quick burst of rage and grief. "You have no clue what you're talking about," she finally whispers. "You could never replace her."

"Couldn't I?" I snap back. "Looks to me like I did -- she is dead, right?"

She slams the phone back down on the hook and stares at me. I see her mouth "fucking little bitch" before she stands and runs away. I lean back in my chair, tipping back on the back legs, and I laugh. I'm laughing and I'm crying because it's so fucking stupid and B's gone and this girl with her long legs and perfect tan would've given it up for her -- for that blonde bitch and not for me.

And I'm stuck here without a chance in hell.

But I know what I am.