It didn’t used to be just the three of them.
It used to be four.
Jesse, Xander, Willow, and Cordelia all used to be friends.
It didn’t matter to them that Cordelia’s parents had more money than the other three put together and never let them forget it; that Willow’s parents forgot about her more often than not; that Xander wished his parents would forget about him. Jesse was the only one whose parents seemed relatively normal, so that’s where they spent most of their time.
They were the Four Musketeers and nothing was going to tear them apart.
Nothing, that is, until Harmony Kendall’s thirteenth birthday party and that stupid game of Spin the Bottle.
It was Cordelia’s turn and it landed on Willow. Everyone laughed and catcalled and they just looked at each other. Cordelia raised one eyebrow questioningly and Willow shrugged and gave her that crooked grin she loved so much. They leaned in and pressed their lips together.
Cordelia felt like she’d touched a live wire. Their mouths slotted together like they’d been made for each other and she didn’t know where the idea came from, but she slipped her tongue out and tentatively brushed it against Willow’s bottom lip. Willow gasped and opened her mouth and their tongues touched and one of them whimpered, but to this day Cordelia wasn’t sure which one of them it was.
As far as first kisses went it was pretty mind-blowing.
It was also wrong (But it wasn’t. It was the most perfect thing ever and she could never have it).
Her parents would kill her if they found out that she liked kissing girls, that she liked kissing Willow. It was bad enough her mother had heard her whisper Willow’s name in her sleep the other morning. The slap she’d gotten had left a mark for hours and her ears had rung from all the yelling. She could only imagine what would happen to her if her parents found out about this.
Cordelia jerked back, staring at her best friend with wide, terrified eyes. She couldn’t feel like this. She wouldn’t feel like this. So she did the only thing she could: she lashed out.
She humiliated the girl she was pretty sure she loved to save herself.
She hadn’t counted on Jesse and Xander siding with Willow, although she should have, but by then it was too late. She’d made her choice and lost the best friends she’d ever have.
She made their lives hell and lost herself in the process. Sometimes she wondered if it had been worth it, but she knew the answer.
She made herself the most popular girl in school, but it didn’t mean a damn thing.
She was surrounded by people, but she never felt more alone.
A long time ago, she used to have friends. She saw them every day, but they might as well have lived in another country. She’d burned that bridge and there was no rebuilding it.
Did they ever think of her as anything other than their nemesis now?
Did the answer even matter?
Cordelia looked at her reflection in the mirror and wondered just who was staring back at her. She could hardly believe the shallow, vapid shell of a person was really her, but there was the proof. Before she could sink too deep into her self-loathing, Aura called to her from the locker room door.
Time for cheerleading practice.
Time to put the mask back on.
She did as she was supposed to do, but there were cracks forming. She wasn’t sure how much longer she could keep the act up. She wasn’t sure she wanted to.
Something was in the air. Change was coming.
Cordelia was balancing on a knife’s edge and she had no idea which way she would fall, or who or what would be the tipping point.
She bumped into someone as she left the locker room and she muttered an apology without looking.
“No worries. It was my fault.”
Cordelia paused and looked at the girl. Short, blonde, kinda cute. She’d never seen her before in her life, but somehow, Cordelia knew she was going to be important.
“See you around, Buffy.”
Huh. She guessed she’d just met the tipping point. Life was about to get really interesting.
Cordelia smiled. She smiled a real smile as she realized she was actually looking forward to it.