by corrupt-blondie

Cordelia entered her low-rent apartment after a hard day at work. Just a little over a week until graduation Cordelia thought over and over in her brain. After that I can get out of Sunnyhell for good, Cordelia added. She looked down to see a cockroach scuttle across the floor and disappear into the crack in the wall. Cordelia sighed dejectedly. No matter how much she cleaned, how many bug-traps she set up, a little cockroach will make an appearance to mock her. This is your life, Cordelia. Look at what you are reduced to, Cordelia. She thought she was going insane when she could have sworn that one cockroach was laughing at her.

After taking off her jacket to reveal her waitress uniform, Cordelia headed to the bathroom to start a shower. The hot water poured down on her body and Cordelia imagined she was in her bathroom at her old house, but the hot water would always last for about ten minutes so Cordelia hurried with the shampoo and conditioner. By the time the hot water ran out, Cordelia was rinsing the soap off her body.

Wrapping a towel around her body, Cordelia looked at the mirror and saw not only her reflection, but also someone she always tried to forget. A black- haired woman with crystal blue eyes pierced through Cordelia's heart. Her pale white skin glowed under the light from the bathroom.

"Hey, Cordelia." The woman smiled, but her eyes were so hollow.

"Why is it you always come around when I feel like crap?" Cordelia questioned.

"Sorry, but you always bring me out when you feel like crap. Not my fault when you feel like shit everyday." The woman replied.

"Whatever. I just want you to go away." Cordelia sighed. She didn't want to talk to this person.

"My, Cordelia. I think you've gained some pounds since I saw you last." The woman responded.

"Don't." Cordelia pleaded. She couldn't handle this again.

"Just making an observation." The woman replied, stepping closer to Cordelia. "Are those bags under your eyes? Wow, working those long hours really make you look like you've dragged through shit."

"I don't want to do this, Sally." Cordelia begged.

"Well, someone needs to tell you these things. Since everyone else is talking behind your back, then it must be up to me to say it to your face." Sally answered. "I think you know what they say, Cordelia. I think you just want to pretend that they don't." Sally whispered in her Cordelia's ear. "They all know what you really are. a brainless whore that will never amount to anything in her life and will be forgotten by graduation. What they don't know is what you do to numb the pain growing here." Sally pointed to Cordelia's brain. "And here." Her finger then pointed to the brunette's heart.

"Please." Cordelia whispered, tears stinging her eyes, "Please stop."

"We held such promise, Cordelia." Sally continued. "We could have gone places but you had to screw us over when you got horny with Xander."

"It wasn't like that, Sally." Cordelia whispered, "I thought I loved him."

"Yeah, and see how that turned out?" Sally scoffed. "You meant nothing to him, Cordelia. He chose that nerd, Willow, over you. You meant nothing to him and his friends. You saw how easily they shut you out of their lives."

"I cut myself out." Cordelia corrected.

"You prevented the inevitable. You knew they were going to cut you out so you did it for them to spare yourself the pain." The other woman stated.

Cordelia couldn't take it anymore. Sally's words were voicing her insecurities and it was cutting her to the bone.

"I see that you need to get dressed." Sally observed. "I'll be out in what you call that shit box of a living room."

When Sally was gone, Cordelia opened up the medicine cabinet to find a couple bottles of prescription drugs. A couple of co-workers told her that they helped relieve pain, and help function properly. She opened one bottle and poured the contents in her mouth. Cordelia took a half-empty bottle of Jack Daniel's and began to drink greedily to wash down the pills. She ignored the burning sensation in her mouth and throat.

Sally has always been in her life. Always mocking her and pointing out all the things wrong about her and her body. Too fat, Cordelia. You're a slut, Cordelia. You're a fucking nobody, Cordelia. You'll never amount to anything, Cordelia.

Sally was there on the holidays when her parents were away. She was always there when she looked in the mirror. Sally was always three steps behind Cordelia wherever Cordelia went. Always there when Cordelia was at her lowest just to spit on her for good measure. Always there to make Cordelia's life a living hell.

Cordelia finished putting on her clothes and brushed her hair and teeth before slowly making her way to the living room. When she reached the end of the hall and peered around, she saw the other woman sitting on her ratty couch smoking.

"Took you long enough." Sally stated. "Oh, I see our Cordelia has been trying to numb the pain again."

"Fuck you." Cordelia seethed.

"Rather not." The other woman replied while inhaling the nicotine from her cigarette. "Wouldn't want to get all those nasty germs from all the other men you've slept with."

"What did I ever to do to you to deserve this?" Cordelia asked.

"I'm here so you will never be alone since everyone else leaves you." Sally answered.

"I have finals tomorrow. I need to sleep." Cordelia responded.

"Like you're smart enough to pass." Sally sneered. "You're good for one thing, Cordelia, and that's to look pretty. Even then you screwed that up. No one cares if you have a brain. They only care about is whether you're a good lay or not."

Cordelia didn't respond to the other woman, she only sat down on the couch beside her. She opened the drawer of the table next to the couch and pulled out a mirror, a dollar bill, and a little bag of cocaine.

"So sad you're reduced to this, Cordelia." Sally stated, not looking at Cordelia, but continued to smoke.

"Shut up." Cordelia whispered before separating the white powder into three rows. She rolled up the dollar bill and sniffed the first row.

"You know, when you were getting mauled by your customers during work. Buffy and her little group of friends were planning an attack on the Mayor. They're doing something important and what are you doing? Getting fucked up so you can pretend that everything is all right." Sally replied after Cordelia went down for the second row.

"Shut up." Cordelia repeated. "You tell me that everyday since I found out Buffy's identity. You tell me everyday how much I'm a screw up. I get the fucking picture!" Cordelia screamed.

"Well someone needs to tell you these things because you are doing nothing to change!" Sally yelled right back at the brunette.

"No! You're sadistic! You like driving me insane! You like doing this to me!" Cordelia screamed, tears streaming down her cheeks. "The only time you were nice to me was when I lost the baby! Xander's baby," Cordelia finished with a whisper.

"You were already in pain." Sally replied.

"That's when you said you loved me. You're fucking sick." Cordelia seethed.

"Face it. I'm all that you got." Sally responded knowingly.

Cordelia finished the last row of cocaine before putting everything away. She got up and headed to her room, but turned around and said, "You may be all that I've got, Sally, but that doesn't mean I have to like you being around."

A couple days later, Cordelia was walking home from another late night of work. It was nightfall and Cordelia was thankful her apartment was close to her work. She turned the corner when a demon jumped at her. Cordelia wanted for it to be a vampire because she was prepared for a vampire. She didn't know what to do when she heard a voice. Sally's voice.

"Don't you wish you actually knew how to defend yourself?" Sally called from behind her. "You are so weak, Cordelia. You were meant to die. All these times that you were saved it was just preventing the inevitable."

Cordelia didn't respond to Sally, but closed her eyes when the demon prepared to swing. When she felt nothing, she opened her eyes to see Buffy and the demon fighting.

"Buffy always comes to save your life. I wonder what would happen if she never showed up. Why waste her energy in saving you, Cordelia? You're such a waste in this world." Sally stated as she walked closer to Cordelia.

After Buffy killed the demon, she went to Cordelia to see if she was all right. She noticed unshed tears in the brunette's eyes and wondered what was wrong with Cordelia.

"Cordelia?" Buffy asked with no such luck when Cordelia didn't respond.

"Cordy?" Buffy tried again, this time lightly touching the taller woman's arm.

"Shut the fuck up!" Cordelia screamed, turning her head to side as if she was talking to someone that wasn't visible to Buffy's eyes.

"Excuse me?" Buffy questioned a bit hurt by Cordelia's response.

"I'm sorry, Buffy. I wasn't talking to you." Cordelia answered.

"Wow. Someone is talking to you, Cordelia. Someone might actually care if you live or die." Sally observed, noticing something in Buffy's eyes that intrigued her.

"Cordelia? What's wrong? Who were talking to?" Buffy asked, slightly worried about the brunette.

"Buffy, you're hurt." Cordelia observed the long gash on the smaller woman's left arm, ignoring Buffy's question.

"It will heal by tomorrow." Buffy replied.

"It might get infected. I'll clean it up for you." Cordelia said.

"That's not all you want to do." Sally stated, but only Cordelia heard it.

"Okay. What are you doing here, Cordelia?" Buffy inquired. This was no where near Cordelia's house.

"I. I live around here." Cordelia whispered as she headed to her apartment with Buffy at her heels

"You do?" Buffy questioned. "What about your house? And car?"

"Xander never told you." Cordelia stated with slight shock that her ex- boyfriend would actually keep his word.

"About what?" The blonde slayer inquired.

"The IRS took everything. My father didn't pay his taxes for over ten years." Cordelia answered. She continued after Buffy's gasp of shock. "My father was sent to jail and my mother fled to Europe. Since I'm of age to be an adult, she figured that she didn't need to be around, or want to for that matter. So she left and I had to find a place to live. I first started to live in a motel until I saved up enough money to get an apartment. I've been working two jobs so I could get enough money for a prom dress, but I didn't have enough. Xander finished the payments." Cordelia sighed as she turned the keys to unlock her door. "I still work two jobs so I can pay for this place."

Buffy cringed when she saw a cockroach crawl across the floor.

"I'm sorry about the bug problem. I don't have enough money for an exterminator." Cordelia offered sadly when she noticed Buffy's expression.

"Just be surprised that she even followed you home, Cordelia." Sally stated, taking her normal spot on the couch.

"Shut up." Cordelia whispered.

"What?" Buffy asked.

"Nothing." Cordelia dismissed. "Make yourself comfortable while I get the first-aid kit in the bathroom."

"I wonder why Buffy is even here." Sally asked more to herself than Cordelia.

Cordelia reappeared in the living room with the first-aid kit in hand. She sat on the edge of the table while she cleaned the wound. Buffy winced slightly as the chemicals stung her wound. Cordelia smiled softly, thinking that it was cute that even a slayer didn't like the chemicals.

"God, Cordelia. How pathetic can you get when you're lusting after Buffy like this? Now that you fucked every male, it's time to move on to girls? Tisk Tisk." Sally said as she looked up close to Buffy. Cordelia ignored her as she continued to dress Buffy's wound.

"I wonder what she will think of your drinking, or maybe the drugs. This will be interesting." Sally resigned to the loveseat in the corner of the room, quietly observing the two women.

"How long do you work each day?" Buffy asked.

"Right after school until about eleven." Cordelia answered.

"Maybe you should tell her about binges of drugs and booze. Or maybe you come home around two in the morning because you spent the night over some guy's place. I'm sure she would like to know if she's going to fuck you tonight." Sally piped in from her resigned spot in the corner of the room.

When Cordelia finished dressing the wound, she closed the kit and about to put in away when a small hand grabbed her wrist.

"Buffy?" Cordelia inquired.

"You can put that away later." Buffy stated, looking into Cordelia's eyes hoping the brunette could see in her eyes what she was feeling.

"Okay." Cordelia drawled. Out of the corner of her eye, Cordelia saw Sally smoking again. It was weird, whatever pains Sally inflicted on herself, Cordelia felt and vice versa. So she felt the smoke filling her lungs and she couldn't deny the feeling calmness of her nerves from the nicotine.

"Cordelia, I have something to tell you." Buffy said.

"Yeah, that I'm a raging dyke and I want you to be my first." Sally sneered.

Cordelia continued to ignore the other woman that only she could hear or see and replied, "All right."

"I've been having dreams about you ever since Homecoming." Buffy explained in a jumbled rush.

"Oh." Was all Cordelia could reply to Buffy's previous statement.

"I freaked you out." Buffy smiled in spite of herself.

"No. It's just. I kind of had these feelings for you for sometime now." Cordelia admitted.

"How sweet. I think I'm going to cry tears of joy." Sally sarcastically remarked. However, she stayed quiet when she watched the two women slowly lean into kiss. It was soft and sweet at first, but the passion, desire, and need for human contact grew with each second. Clothes were slowly starting to be peeled off their bodies and both made their way to Cordelia's bedroom.

Sally smiled at the door hearing the screams of ecstasy and said, "Interesting on how you're going to deal with this one, Cordelia. I'll be here in the morning when you wake up."

Cordelia woke in her bed with slender but strong arms wrapped protectively around her abdomen. She smiled at the blonde resting next to her and noticed the small smile on her face. She pulled out of Buffy's arms with difficulty, careful not to wake the slayer. She took a robe and wrapped it around her body and headed to the bathroom. Her bare feet padded down the hall, avoiding the little bugs scampering on the floor.

She turned on the sink and splashed cold water on her face to wake herself up. She looked in the mirror and she wasn't surprised to see Sally smirking at her.

"Interesting." Sally remarked. "That she said she loves you."

"You heard." Cordelia stated.

"Yes. I wonder if she would still love you if she knew the real you." Sally replied, lighting up a cigarette.

Cordelia didn't have the courage to reply because she was scared that Sally might be right.

"You see. if Buffy knew about your secrets. she would be ashamed that she ever went to bed with you. She would think that she degraded herself to think she could ever love a piece of worthless trash like you." Sally added.

"You don't know that." Cordelia said, her voice breaking.

"I do. You don't deserve someone like Buffy. She's too good for you. Hell, someone like Faith is too good for you." Sally laughed at the idea, completely ignoring Cordelia's tears.

"I know." The brunette whispered sadly.

"Now. how are we going to tell the slayer this." Sally pondered up some ideas. "You have to protect her from yourself, Cordelia. You are on a downward spiral. Do you want to take her with you?"

"No." Cordelia answered.

"That's my girl." Sally smiled. "You got any ideas?"

"I'll just tell her." Cordelia responded.

"Tell her that you two can't be together. Perfect." Sally patted Cordelia's back. "I suggest you relax and prep yourself for a little check in to heartbreak hotel." Then Sally left the bathroom so Cordelia was left to be alone with her thoughts.

About a half an hour later, Cordelia was sitting on the couch nursing her tea and Sally was sitting in the loveseat.

"You're doing the right thing, Cordelia." Sally offered when she noticed how Cordelia was backing out of the plan.

"I just don't know. She. she made me feel alive." Cordelia responded.

"This is good for both of you. If she finds out about your darker side, then she won't be near you to make you feel alive." Sally replied, using imaginary quotes with her hands on the word alive.

Cordelia sighed until she heard the door to her bedroom open.

"Hey." Buffy smiled.

"Hey." Cordelia responded.

"I woke up and you weren't next to me. I guess I worried." Buffy admitted sheepishly, walking closer to the brunette sitting on the couch.

"I needed to freshen up." Cordelia replied, not looking at the blonde. "Sorry."

"It's okay. It just. well brought up old memories." Buffy said softly, remembering when Angel left her or should she say Angelus?

"You want some tea?" Cordelia offered.

"Sure." The slayer answered. She started to notice the sullen look on the brunette's face.

"Just get it over with!" Sally demanded impatiently. "We have places to be Cordelia. Like work for instance."

"Buffy. we need to talk." Cordelia said while offering the cup of tea to Buffy. "About last night."

"It's was amazing, Cor." Buffy interrupted, hoping she could de-rail Cordelia from what she was about to say next. Nothing good ever came out of those four little words.

"Yes, it was." Cordelia smiled sadly, looking at her cup.

Buffy leaned over and lifted Cordelia's face to meet her eyes, "I meant what I said, Cordelia. I do love you."

Cordelia wanted to jump with joy, but she took one look at Sally and was instantly deflated from any amount of happiness.

Buffy was worried at Cordelia's expression and repeated her previous statement more firmly; "I love you, Cordelia."

Tears stung Cordelia's eyes but she willed them to never escape, her heart breaking when she replied, "I don't."

"What?" Buffy recoiled her hand from Cordelia's face.

"I don't love you." Cordelia stated when a single tear broke free from the damn that Cordelia had built out of her own will.

"You don't mean that." Buffy observed. "I can see it in your eyes."

"You're wrong." Cordelia replied. "You can't love me."

"I can't love you?" Buffy inquired.

"Come on, Cordelia. Keep up the Oscar winning performance." Sally piped up.

"You can't love me because you don't know me, Buffy." Cordelia clarified.

"I want to get to know you more then. I know what I feel, Cordelia." Buffy stated adamantly.

"What we had, Buffy." Cordelia put heavy emphasis on had. "Is what people would call a one night stand. I know about the hungry and horny thing after slaying. You just killed a demon and the rush. then you saw me. I think we all know what you can get out of that equation."

"That's not true. I know what I feel." Buffy pushed.

"And I do too. You were nothing more than a rumble in the sack, Buffy. I'm sorry if you felt differently and I led you on." Cordelia replied, using her acting skills to make it believable.

Buffy could feel her heart being shattered to a million pieces when she looked at Cordelia's eyes for confirmation. She stood up, her lower lip quivering, and responded, "Fine."

When Buffy went into the bedroom to get dressed, Cordelia allowed another tear to escape her eyes. She wouldn't allow herself to break down into tears in front of Buffy because then the slayer would know that she put on a show. She heard clapping and Cordelia turned her head to see Sally giving her a standing ovation.

"Bravo! Bravo! Cordelia you deserve an Emmy for that performance." Sally smiled. "I got an idea for our future."

"That would be?" Cordelia questioned.

"Hollywood, baby. You're going to be an actress, Cordelia." Sally answered excitedly.

Cordelia looked up to see Buffy looking at with confusion, "Who were you talking to?"

"Myself." Cordelia answered. Buffy didn't falter and wasn't about to leave until Cordelia would tell her the truth about what's bothering her. "Leave, Buffy." Cordelia demanded without any emotion betraying her voice. She noticed how her lover's blue eyes filled with sadness that was obviously there because of Cordelia. Buffy turned around and left Cordelia's apartment without another word.

Cordelia sat on the couch in silence. Sally didn't dare to speak but only observed how the brunette opened the drawer that held her cocaine and set up five rows. Cordelia rolled up the dollar bill and was about to sniff the first row when she hesitated.

"Go on, Cordelia. It's the only way to take away the pain." Sally cooed.

"I fucking hate you." Cordelia seethed but didn't look at Sally as she sniffed up the first row. Then the second row was gone as the first. "It hurts, Sally. Why does it hurt so much when it was for her own good?"

"It's meant to because you allowed yourself to be vulnerable." Sally stated. "All it had to be was a cheap fuck but you had to go about making it a loving experience. You brought this on yourself, Cordelia."

Cordelia continued on her fourth row, ignoring the sweat forming over body like a second skin. She ignored the fact that she was burning up or that she was getting dizzy. After the last of her cocaine was gone, the pain was still inside her.

"Cordelia, years of pain won't go away with five rows of cocaine. The pain will never go away." Sally whispered in Cordelia's ear.

"I didn't feel any pain when I was with Buffy. I felt like I meant something in this world, and only she could do that and because of you I pushed her away." Cordelia replied, getting up to search for the Jack Daniel's. "It's all your fault!"

"It really isn't, Cordelia. You screwed yourself over." Sally smiled, "I was just along for the ride."

"No. you always made me feel like shit every day for seems like forever. Can I ever get a fucking break from you? You ran out of new material so you just repeat the old ones over and over and over." Cordelia took a swig of the alcohol. She gathered up all the prescription bottles and stumbled back to the living room where Sally was waiting.

Cordelia sat down on the couch and poured all pills on the table. Her shaky hands broke open the capsules with a razor, and dumped the powder in the bottle of whiskey. All the while mumbling incoherent insults at the other occupant in the room.

"I never her hurt you the way you hurt me." Cordelia's voice was slurred.

"You do, Cordelia. The painful thoughts you think of yourself even when I'm gone hurts me. The way you shut yourself out from others hurts me. Being near you hurts me." Sally admitted. "The only thing you ever give me is pain."

"Well, I'm going to make the pain stop. I'm sending you away for good." Cordelia stated as she finished with putting the drugs in the alcohol. She took a violent swig of the whiskey before adding, "Eighteen years of your shit is going to end right now. You are going to be gone and we will both be at peace."

Sally watched as Cordelia finished the rest of the bottle. Cordelia stood in the middle of the room looking at Sally with tears in her eyes. "You're going to be free, Sally." The amount of drugs was starting to slow Cordelia's heart and slowly reach her brain. Cordelia started to stagger and Sally leapt from her chair to catch her. She carried the brunette over to the couch, the drugs starting to affect Sally as well. She lay on top of Cordelia, resting her head on the taller woman's chest. Both of their breathing grew softer and it was only Cordelia lying on the couch because Sally was indeed set free.

Cordelia heard the faint knocking on her door, but she couldn't get up to answer it nor did she want to. Her body started to jerk as her brain was sending mixed signals to her body due to the drugs. Her skin grew a deathly pale and her body temperature decreased rapidly. She didn't even notice Buffy storming in her apartment and instantly went to her aid. She saw the edge of her vision being black and it was increasing rapidly. She couldn't see Buffy calling the ambulance or feel Buffy's hands trying to restrain her. Her vision was getting cloudy, so she couldn't see tears in Buffy's eyes nor the pain lying in the windows to her soul. Eventually Cordelia's brain shut down and her body lied still. Her eyes staring at the ceiling, her skin blue and cold. The last thing she heard was Buffy calling her name, pleading for her to hold on.