“Honey! I think Willow is here!” Mrs. Summers called out from the kitchen.
“I’m on it!” Buffy bellowed back as she hopped down the stairs taking two steps at a time. “Hey, Wills!” She greeted the redhead with a huge grin as she opened the door.
“Hey! Xander, Cordy and Oz are waiting in the van. Ready for some Bronzing?”
“Sure!” The blond grinned wildly. She loved Saturday night outings. “Just let me get my coat.”
She walked briskly into the living room and picked up her leather coat that was draped over the coach.
“Angel’s meeting us at the Bronze. Let’s g-“ Buffy was cut off as the phone rang. “Hello?” She started as she picked up the receiver. “Angel, we were just talking about… What? What’s the matter? You’ve got the flu?” she paused and Willow watched as the smile on her face quickly crumbled. “Oh… Ok, then. Sure, don’t worry, just stay at home and… drink lots of fluids. No, I’ll stay home too; don’t really feel like going out if you can’t. Don’t worry, ok? Night.” With a disappointed sigh she put down the receiver.
“He’s not coming?” Willow dared to ask.
“No. Apparently he’s got the flu.” The blond answered disheartened.
“Really? He looked fine yesterday at football practice.” Willow noted.
“Must have gotten it from the guys in the locker room or something. You know, sweating and all, then cold showers and such.” Buffy tried to justify.
“Yeah… must be it.” The redhead replied unconvinced.
“Well, I’m staying then, but you guys go.” The blond said, head bowed and her lower lip jutting out for a pout.
“No way! You’re coming with.”
“Willow, I really don’t feel lik-“
“I don’t care, you need to have some fun. You know, relax through major, all night partying.” Willow stopped when she saw Buffy’s eyebrow cock up. “O-Ok, maybe not all night, seeing as we are seniors in high-school and all but… you know, partying till curfew time.” As she finished her enthusiastic speech, the redhead set her lips in a straight line to emphasize her resolve.
“I won’t take no for an answer.”
Buffy took a deep breath and sighed loudly before speaking:
“Ok, fine. I’ll go.”
A cloud of thick smoke engulfed them as the five teenagers walked into the club.
“Ah! The ever familiar and intoxicating air of the Bronze is entering my lungs. I can die a happy man now.” Xander sighed as he sat around the nearest available table.
“I hate this place.” Cordy protested as she practically coughed her lungs out.
“Oh, come on honey. It’s the Bronze. It’s where we-“
“One more word out of you and you’re a dead man Xander Harris.” The brunette threatened.
“Okay.” A small hissing sound came from Xander’s lips as he inhaled sharply, giving his girlfriend his best ‘you’re my queen and I shall do as you command’ look.
”Shutting up now and heading toward the bar to get some much needed refreshments. Orders.”
“Coke.” Willow piped up with a huge grin plastered on her face.
“Three sodas and a coke coming up.”
“Oh, oh… Let’s dance.” The redhead said giddily as she took Oz’s hand and practically dragged him to the dance floor.
“Ok, I think for my best friend’s sake and for all of us present I’ll make that four sodas. No more caffeine for her!” Xander quipped walking away, leaving Cordy and Buffy behind.
An awkward silence filtered between the duo. The truth was that they didn’t really know each other all that well. They had belonged to completely different groups all through junior high. Cordy always belonged with the high and mighty *in* crowd while Buffy mingled with all the rest – mere mortals. It had been that way ever since she could remember, but it had changed during the last summer. Suddenly, out of nowhere, Xander and Cordy had announced that they were an item and ever since then they had been hanging out together. Buffy had come to realise that beneath her popular bitch/queen act, the brunette was actually someone worth knowing. Cordy seemed to have vague, fleeting episodes of humanity in her and that was always a plus. But even so, they had never really gotten a chance to ever have a normal conversation.
So there they were, sitting together, staring into the crowd, trying hard to ignore the screaming silence between them.
“So…” Cordy finally ventured. “Angel didn’t come?”
“No, he’s home, sick. He’s got the flue.” Buffy answered quickly.
“Really? I just saw him earlier today, he seemed fine to me.” Cordelia started.
“Maybe it wasn’t him.” Buffy offered.
“Oh, I go to cheerleading practice every week, I’m pretty sure I can identify the starting quarterback of our school when I see him.” Cordy countered.
Buffy was about to answer when Oz and Willow returned. A strange look was plastered on the redhead’s face. She seemed even paler than usual.
“Willow? Are you ok? What’s wrong?”
“Oh, nothing. Maybe we should all just go home.” Willow replied.
“Go home?” Xander’s voice hovered over them as he set the bottles on the table. “We just got here.”
“But, we should just go. I-I’m tired and… I need to go.” Willow’s mind searched frantically for an excuse.
“You’re tired, you were just jumping your ass off on the dance floor, giggling like a madman and suddenly you’re tired and you wanna go home?” Buffy asked.
“Willow, what’s wrong?” Buffy could easily read the fear and nervousness in her best friend’s eyes.
“Nothing, lets just go.” Willow insisted as she glanced out of the corner of her eyes.
“Wills, what-“ Buffy stopped in mid sentence as she followed Willow’s gaze. Everyone in the table did the same.
“Hey, isn’t that Angel? What’s he doing with that skinny ho? I thought you two were-“
“Cordy, honey…” Xander interrupted his girlfriend. “Shut up.”
“Angel?” Buffy felt as if the ground had been ripped from under her feet.
She didn’t want to believe her eyes. Angel, her Angel, the Angel that was supposed to be home, in bed, sick, was actually out on the dance floor, arms tightly wrapped around a tall, skinny woman, whose black hair cascaded down her back as she ground her hips against HER boyfriend.
“What…” She couldn’t speak as the lump in her throat grew to the point she thought she couldn’t breathe anymore.
“Buffy, I-I’m sorry… I…” Willow stuttered clumsily as she saw the pain plastered over her best friend’s face.