the pearl


Lipstick One: Wet N' Wild, #535: 99¢

When she first moved to L.A., when she was convinced she'd be a star, that she'd make it immediately, that everything would work out perfectly because she was Cordelia Chase, international superstar... She didn't put up with anything. No half-assed moves by second assistants, no vague mentions of nudity, not even a little cleavage in her full body shots.

She can put up with a lot of things now.

Because now, there was nothing in the fridge, and the landlord was giving her pointed looks, and she had to pay the bills and Wet N' Wild always tasted nasty, especially when you knew you couldn't afford anything better. And despite how much she spent on the lipstick, it'd still end up smeared on his cock just to be Girl #3 In Crowd.

She touched up her lipstick, pushed up her breasts, and walked back into the casting director's office.


Lipstick Two: Maybelline Wet Shine Diamonds, Spoiled In Rubies: $6.49

Even though they work on opposite sides of town, Xander always manages to be there to pick her up as she locks the shop. Sometimes, if she's been really busy, and if he hasn't, he showers before he gets there, his damp hair slicked back as she slides into the car next to him, leaving a lipstick mark on his cheek.

They'd talk about their days, Xander telling funny stories about the construction site, and Cordelia complaining about the fashion sense of some of the shoppers, and they'd drive back to their little apartment, eat dinner at their small kitchen table, and doze off in front of the little TV before waking up and going patrolling with Buffy.

Afterwards, they'd be too keyed up to go back to sleep for a few hours. Sometimes they stayed around, talking to Willow and Buffy about college and work and all the things two single women with rather extreme dating histories can get up to on a Hellmouth.

Other times, they went back home, barely remembering to lock the front door as he would push her against it, kissing and caressing, his hands sliding up under her shirt, the living room lamp glinting on the thin gold ring on his finger.

Her hands would grasp his shoulders, the tiny diamond on her ring reflecting rainbows.


Lipstick Three: Urban Decay, Gash: $12

For being unable to see herself in a mirror, Cordelia was quite talented at putting on makeup. The colors were similar to what she wore when she was alive, being that, of course, even the undead had to admit to being an autumn instead of a spring, but she figured that death allowed her a bit more leeway in being a little more defined.

Slash of red on the lips, two rings of black and brown around the eyes, pale skin only accentuated by the faintest amount of red-bronze blush on those perfect cheekbones. The kind of colors she would've worn if, say, she had spent all of high school planning on killing herself and writing bad poetry.

She occasionally does Darla's makeup as well, sliding pearlescent pink lipgloss over those lips, silvery gray eyeshadow on eyelids, and rose blush on the cheeks. Darla looks different than Cordelia, but they still call each other sisters, even when the bright red and the pink are smeared together on their lips.

Drusilla doesn't let anybody do her makeup. Late in the morning, when she's fallen asleep and Darla and Cordelia are watching her, Cordelia occasionally makes a comment about having the wrong eyeshadow.


Lipstick Four: Mac, Viva Glam: $14

She gets the best grades and gets accepted to the best schools and is out of Sunnydale before she can even wipe the dust off of her feet.

She joins the right clubs and the right sorority and majors in business, because even though she's supposed to just find a wealthy good-looking fraternity brother, she's not stupid and she knows that a good investment portfolio will do a world of wonders if that good-looking fraternity brother ends up sleeping with the au pair while the prenuptial agreement is framed in the office.

She doesn't come back to Sunnydale often, and when she does, she never goes out at night. She saw Xander once, as she drove from the airport to her home, but didn't realize it until much later.

She borrows her father's tax returns for her accountancy class. She spends a single Saturday night going over them, reading them carefully as she scribbles out notes in her notebook.

She adds up the numbers, then adds them up again. Then a third time. She gets out the small diary she's kept since she was eight, and counts up numbers from that as well.

It doesn't add up. There are thousands of dollars unaccounted for.

She rips the page out of her notebook and shreds it. She never speaks of it again.


Lipstick Five: Versace, V2081: $23

Her first acting job was this:

One night, being the one girl in the corner of a massacre. The building collapses around her, and she spends a good minute sobbing in the background as she writhes, a sharp piece of rebar poking through her stomach.

Her skill impresses the director, and, afterwards, when she's walking to makeup, he stops her. "Where'd you learn to act like that?" he asks.

She gives him a tired smile and lifts up her shirt, pulling aside squibs and latex to reveal a circular scar, the kind you only get from a long and dirty puncture wound. "You act what you know."

He looked at the scar, then looked at her, then invited her to breakfast.

At the premiere, she was on his arm, smiling for the cameras as they walked past.

In the next movie, she had a slightly bigger role, with lines and everything. She spent three days as an actress on the set and the rest of the time as his girlfriend.

Not that anyone minded. Much.

That movie won an award, nothing big, sound editing or something, and she went to the awards in a $3000 dress that left enough to the imagination, but still revealed plenty. His regular makeup artist, who could create any number of wounds, was hired to cover up her scar.

"If I had known you had this," she said to Cordelia as she dabbed on foundation. "I would've put you in a belly top and glued the rebar to it."

Cordelia closed her eyes, and didn't say a word.

This Angel/Buffy the Vampire Slayer story was written by Kate Bolin. If you liked it, there's plenty more at And you can feedback her at