Author's Note: If you're here, odds are good that you can handle swearing, violence, and sexual situations, because those things happen in at least one of the shows I'm using for this fanfic.
This doesn't really have any spoilers. Or at least, I don't think it does. If someone notices something, I'll gladly edit this for warnings.
"How are you today, Xander?" Becky asked, her eyes even wider than usual as she gave a concerned look to the teen sitting on the other side of her desk.
"I'm okay. I'm not really sure what I'm doing here, though." Xander shifted awkwardly in his seat.
"Oh, I just like to check in with people sometimes." Becky nodded, smiling in a way that made Xander wince and look away. "I heard you used to be friends with Buffy Summers."
"I was." Xander said sharply. "Things have changed. I used to be able to walk, too." He gestured to his wheelchair. "If you want to know what's going on in Buffy's life, you're going to have to talk to her."
"Oh, no. No. I called you in here to talk to you." Becky opened her desk drawer. "Do you want candy?"
"Can we just get to the point of why I'm here? I'd actually rather be in math. And that's saying something." Xander took the piece of candy that Becky offered him, but didn't unwrap it.
"You used to be on the swim team. Now you're not involved in anything."
Xander chuckled, then burst out laughing. "They haven't really been looking to recruit the wheelchair kids for the water sports."
"I think you would benefit from being part of something, and Mr. Shurley is looking for more people to take part in his club."
Xander frowned. Buffy ran away at the end of the last school year. It fell to the friends she left behind to take on the demons because they were the only ones who knew of their existence. Oz was dead now. Willow had transferred to a different school. Xander couldn't walk ever again. But he did feel lonely sometimes, now that he had no one to talk to. Cordelia didn't want to date a cripple, and it's not like he wanted anything to do with Buffy or Giles. "I'll think about it." He turned the chair around, pushing himself out of the office and over to the drinking fountain.
"Xander. Hey." Buffy smiled tentatively as she looked down at him. "What did Miss Ro- what did Becky want?"
Xander stared back at her, his expression blank. Their guidance counselor's last name was Rosen, a little too close to Rosenberg for Buffy's comfort, apparently. "She thinks I have a chance at winning Dancing with the Stars. Could you go be elsewhere?"
It was the kind of thing Cordelia would say, and it made both of them freeze.
"I miss you." Buffy mumbled. "I miss everybody."
Xander scowled and unwrapped the jolly rancher as Buffy kept talking. He licked one side of it, crooking a finger at Buffy to get her to lean down, like he had a secret just for her. When she smiled in relief and moved closer, Xander pressed the piece of candy against her forehead. To Buffy's credit, she didn't move as he made sure it was stuck firmly, laughing at her the entire time he was doing it. He turned his wheelchair around and rolled away, not sure if the twist in his stomach was guilt or triumph.
Buffy walked into the bathroom and threw the candy into the trash can, then got a paper towel and wet it in the sink. She scrubbed the spot until it was red, her movements automatic as she avoided meeting her own eyes in the mirror. She knew that if she did, she was going to cry.
Meg and Anya walked into the bathroom just as Buffy turned toward the door.
Anya smiled over at Meg and leaned back against the door, preventing Buffy from leaving the room.
"Hi, Buffy." Meg's tone was too friendly as she walked over to the sink. She glanced at her reflection in the mirror, smiling with all of her teeth. "Is it true that you showed up at the Bronze last night with leaves in your hair? What exactly were you doing, hmm? I mean, it's not like anybody would want to fuck you that desperately."
"Corpses are probably her only option." Anya grinned.
"I could end you right now." Buffy told Anya. "You know that I could."
"Yeah, maybe. But you won't." Meg laughed. "Because then you'd have to explain to Snyder why there was a dead teenage girl in the bathroom and it would be my word against yours. Who do you think he's going to believe, one of the Cheerios or some girl with a criminal record longer than my legs?" She winked at Buffy, then pulled up her shirt to reveal her bandaged stomach, where Buffy had stabbed her the night before. "You can't win." She let go of her shirt, tugging it back into place. "Besides, everybody pretty much hates you."
Buffy folded her arms across her chest. "What do you want, Meg?"
"It's not really about what I want." Meg got lipstick out of her purse and started applying it. "Ms. Walsh says Snyder gave her a bunch of crap about how you're a ticking time bomb and that if you came to see her about joining the squad, she'd better do everything in her power to make sure you got in. We don't want you. Like I said, nobody wants you." She dropped the lipstick tube back into her purse. "Glee has to have twelve members in order to keep you on it and away from wrecking our chances of going to nationals. I need to go to nationals, so you need to stay in glee club."
"Is there going to be a point anytime soon?" Buffy sighed. "I still don't get what's in it for you. You're a demon. One I can't seem to kill, but that's something I'm working on. Anyway, what the hell do you even care about cheerleading?"
Meg smiled innocently. "I can't have layers?"
"We're joining." Anya blurted.
"Oh." Buffy murmured. "Okay, I guess?"
Meg stared at Buffy. "Well? Shouldn't you be thanking us?"
Buffy looked incredulous. "You're fucking joking, right?" She shoved Anya aside and left the bathroom, bumping into Castiel Dresden in her hurry to get away from the demonic cheerleaders.
Cas grabbed her arm to steady her. "Are you all right?"
"Peachy." Buffy remarked, sighing. "I'm surprised you're talking to me. Nobody else wants to, unless they think they're getting something out of it or trying to stick candy to my forehead."
Castiel tilted his head as he looked at her. "Why would someone want to stick candy to your forehead?"
"For the joy, apparently." Buffy muttered.
"I need to go. I have a class." Castiel frowned at her, then turned and walked away.
"My life wasn't weird enough last year." Buffy mumbled to herself as she walked over to her locker. "Somebody up there decided to add a whole bunch more weirdness. And now I'm talking to myself because there's nobody else that wants to listen." She leaned forward, resting her forehead against the metal door.
"Buffy, are you busy right now?"
Buffy turned her head, keeping her forehead against her locker as she looked over at Sam. "I'm having an amazing day, Sam. All the cool kids are just hopping right off their pedestals to make my life awesome. What do you want?" She stood up straight and spun her locker dial, then started putting the combination in.
"What makes you think I want something?" Sam asked awkwardly.
Buffy gave him a knowing smile as she yanked the locker door open. "What do you want, Sam?" She repeated.
"Uh... fine. Cordelia's been acting kind of weird around me for the last couple of days and I heard you guys used to be friends, so I thought you might have an idea of what's going on with her."
Buffy got her math book out of her locker and closed the door, then leaned back against it. "Is she wearing a necklace and talking about punishing people for wrongdoing?"
Sam stared at Buffy, his forehead creasing. "No?" He gestured to the cross around Buffy's neck. "Is that why people avoid you?"
Buffy scowled. "Okay, I can't help you figure out why your girlfriend's gone Angela Chase on you. There's this interesting thing that people do with their mouths nowadays. You might want to start with that."
"People have been talking about that?" Sam blurted, embarrassed. "I didn't think anyone knew. We just did it yesterday."
"Okay, more than I ever wanted to know. I was referring to talking. Ask her what the hell her deal is."
Sam's face turned red. "Oh. Yeah, I should have figured that out."
Buffy laughed for the first time in months. "Yeah. Well... class."
"Yeah." Sam said again. "Bye."