Standing on the porch, Cordelia Chase removed her Gucci sunglasses and rang the doorbell. Within a minute the front door opened. For a second she thought Willow was actually going to shut it in her face but the redhead emerged with some trepidation.
"Cordelia!" Willow squeaked in a voice high enough to attract all canines in a three block radius. "What are you doing here?" A pause as she tried to regain her composure. "I mean, hi! You checked out of hospital then. You look really great, considering the whole rebar narrowly missing vital organs thing."
"Vogue says being impaled is all the rage for dieting. Gwyneth swears by it," Cordelia replied, deadpan, and watched Willow squirm. "I guess I'm curious about what exactly he sees in you." The statuesque brunette gave her counterpart a cursory once-over. "It can't be your taste in knitwear, that's for sure."
Taking pot-shots at Willow's retarded fashion sense was easy and predictable. Any guilt was offset against the satisfying and effective result it yielded - in this case, Willow's trembling lower lip.
The redhead visibly wilted. "Oh." So this was how it was going to be.
"I can almost understand why Xander did it. All it takes is the suggestion of boobs - even small, pale, geek floozy-wannabe ones - to turn his head. But you..." Cordelia crossed her arms, "I thought you were fixated on Oz. 'Oooh, my boyfriend's in a band. Oooh, that makes me a groupie,'" Cordelia continued in what was not a bad impersonation of the saucer-eyed girl in front of her.
Hurt, petulant silence then a quiet: "I'm sorry" from Willow.
"What did you say?" Cordelia wanted to relish this, wring every precious drop of petty satisfaction from it. Whetting her lips, she watched Willow's anxious stare dart from the immaculate sheen of Cordelia's Italian shoes to manicured nails before finally settling on brown eyes perfectly accentuated by well-chosen autumnal shades of eyeshadow.
"I'm sorry," Willow repeated in a surer voice and tugged down the cuffs of her oversized sweater. "We really didn't mean to hurt you. It was hormones and – and wrong lusty badness. I - I didn't think you really cared -- "
"I cared," Cordelia said, eyes flinty. "God, so much that I made myself a social pariah for him."
Choosing to ignore Willow's extreme discomfort, Cordelia didn't relent. "I knew he had a crush on Buffy. Understandable, though tasteless - guys secretly want to have their ass kicked by a strong woman. But you? Queen of the dorks. I don't get it. Did he want you to talk dirty to him in HTML?"
Willow got offended really fast. "Hey, you dating the co-founding member of the I Hate Cordelia Chase Club? Not exactly destined for success. Besides, what goes around comes around."
"Oh, please. So I was mean to you. Get over it."
Chin raised in defiance, Willow hovered from foot to foot, psyching herself up. It might've been intimidating if it wasn't so comedic. "You were ashamed of Xander. All you cared about was what your pea-brained followers thought of you. Maybe he got sick of your complete self-obsession."
Cordelia raised an eyebrow. "Let's cut through the passive-aggressive crap. Just what is your problem Rosenberg? We're a little too old for the 'you stole my Barbie in kindergarten' thing."
"It's not about me."
Willow took one step forward so that she was practically nose-to-nose with the brunette. It was the closest she'd been to Cordelia since that supply closet incident at Parent/Teacher night and she found herself in a heady, disorientating cloud of expensive perfume once again. "I hate you," Willow said, aware that she was shaking and hoping that her adversary wouldn't notice.
But Cordelia did notice - that and the slight dilation of Willow's pupils. Okay, that was... unexpected. "It's mutual, believe me," Cordelia said, a little distractedly.
She looked at Willow and began to notice things. Like how shiny Willow's hair was and how it was naturally bone straight (no hours spent with straightening irons for her). There were hips and breasts under that shapeless sweater - Cordelia remembered catching glimpses of ivory limbs and boyish thinness in the locker room after gym glass. At the time, Cordelia had felt superior but that wasn't exactly how she felt now.
Sometime in the last year or so, Willow had become pretty. This development threw Cordelia. "Look, I just came here to dispense a few scathing one-liners so..."
"I hate you," Willow said, stare rooted upon Cordelia's lips. "I hate that I have this great boyfriend that I love but all I can think about right now is -- "
Suddenly the space between them vanished and Cordelia dimly registered that Willow was kissing her. Well, not so much a kiss as a devouring. More surprising than the kiss itself, Cordelia allowed it and, although short and with a little too much teeth, it was a good kiss (it went without saying that Cordelia was an authority on that subject). When they broke apart, Willow had this wild look in her eyes and Cordelia felt a rush of heat that warred with repulsion. Like the times Harmony used to get too into it during those sleepover make-out sessions and Cordelia had to remind her that they were rehearsing for boys.
This was no rehearsal but it was doubly important for Cordelia to put Willow in her place. She made a point of delicately wiping the corners of her mouth with her thumb. "Presumptuous, much?" Seeing the horrified look on the redhead's face, Cordelia smirked. It was almost too easy.
Turning on her heel, Cordelia began to walk away. Halfway down the driveway, she paused and glanced over her shoulder at Willow's crestfallen face. "Maybe Faith is more in your league. I hear she isn't too fussy and doing Buffy's best friend is the next best thing to doing Buffy herself. I guess that's was Xander was thinking."
With that parting shot, Cordelia slipped into her car and drove away, trying not to think about how sweet Willow's lips tasted or how the look of utter malice in Willow's eyes somehow excited her more.