Buffy had been running through the hall, still in flight from the library, when she saw Xander stagger.
“Xander?” She moved through the crowd, approaching her friend.
“Xander?” Cordelia turned to behold the oafishness of her boyfriend. She stopped to watch him lean against the locker…
…only to stand in the middle of a heedless Slayer’s path.
Buffy slammed into her, before she could stop herself. She managed to catch Cordelia, half swinging her around, rather than knocking her to the floor.
“Excuse you,” Cordelia snapped, anxiety bringing back her former attitude to colliding with Buffy Summers. Too many smirking faces, whisperers, and people having secrets were making her short tempered. “A little more rescuing your friends, less attacking them.”
“Sorry,” Buffy said, but she was as irritated as Cordelia. After facing Willow, Giles, Kendra, or whatever Kendra was, she was as on edge as she’d ever been. “It would be easier to do, if you didn’t get in the way.”
“I’d be delighted to.” Cordelia scowled as Buffy moved past her. “As if you weren’t the one always getting in the way,” she grumbled in a low voice. Not very low, though.
“A lovers’ spat?” Harmony asked, all smiles and pure poison. She strode toward Cordelia with the Cordettes in tow.
“Not that it’s any of your business.” Cordelia smiled right back. As if she hadn’t been the one who taught Harmony the Art of Venomous Pleasantries. “Didn’t you have an exam to fail? It’s about time for your comic attempt at Advanced Placement.”
“I am in Advance Placement.” Harmony’s smile died. Cordelia had hit a nerve. “Same as you and your nerd friends.”
“Yet you can’t even figure out how cheat successfully.” Cordelia allowed her smile to turn completely vicious. She’d hit a nerve. Now was the time to stomp on it. “Maybe you should try bribing Willow to pass you the answers, if you can remember how to add.”
Harmony looked for one moment as if she’d swallowed a bug. Breathing through her nose, she forced a smile upon her face. “Well, we can’t all make friends the way you do, Cordy. Especially with other girls.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?” Cordelia demanded.
A groan interrupted her. Xander was rising from the ground, looking dazed. Buffy hovered over him, clevage half falling out of her outdated blouse. Once more, she was entirely too close to Xander.
It irritated Cordelia, considering the torch he’d carried for her.
Xander was looking at Buffy, though. He was looking straight in front of him, into empty space. As if someone else was there.