Author: Kat Lee
Fandom: Buffy the Vampire Slayer/Angel
Character/Pairing: Xander+/Cordelia, hints of Angel/Cordelia
Challenge/Prompt: sunnydalescribe DC 8: Charity and beattheblackdog 135: Angst
Warning(s): Cannon Character Death, Spoilers
Word Count: 1,365
Date Written: 18 November 2018
Disclaimer: All characters within belong to Whedon, not the author, and are used without permission.
“How about one last dance?” he asked, holding out his hand. He was surprisingly dashing, not just in his tux but in his mannerisms, but then she knew that this wasn’t the real world. Plus Xander Harris could be dashing. He’d proved that more than once.
She’d tried to convince herself that he was a loser when they’d broken up and he’d actually managed to break her heart, but she’d never truly believed it. After all, what had lured her to him in the first place was how he managed to act so heroic despite being only another human in a world full of Supernatural beings. She’d felt a connection to him back then, when they’d been the only two humans among their friends, and then she’d ended up being something Supernatural herself, the Vision Girl to the legendary Vampire with a soul.
She sighed. She should be visiting Angel, but there was only so much of his angst-ridden dreams that he could take. She knew she’d broken his heart, but it wasn’t as though she’d asked to die. She’d much rather still be alive. Not for the first time, she wondered what would have happened to her if she had never broken up with this boy. Would she have still gone to LA? Would she have stayed in Sunnydale? Would she still be alive, or would she have died sooner? Of course she’d never know now, but she couldn’t seem to help pondering.
“Hmm?” She blinked, having become lost in her own reverie.
He smiled, and she realized the years had been kind to him. They’d made him into a harder and stronger man but also more handsome. “How about that dance?”
“You know,” she remarked, taking his offered hand, “I never thanked you properly for buying me that dress. It’s not that I needed your charity of course -- “
“Of course not. I didn’t do it to be charitable. You’d’ve found a way to get it without me. Cordelia Chase always gets what she wants.”
She flashed him a one hundred watt smile, one of those that used to send casting directors into furiously scribbling down notes. “Of course,” she agreed quickly and seemingly happily although it was no longer true. She hadn’t wanted to die. She’d wanted to live. She’d wanted to find a way to make things work with Angel. She had been so close, too, but then she’d never managed to make the good relationships in her life work for long. Xander had been her first love, and she supposed it was only natural that she wonder what he thought when he’d learned about her death. “Dating you was the charitable thing,” she added with a teasing grin.
“Yeah,” he agreed, surprising her and making her eyebrows lift slightly with question, “and I screwed that up pretty good.” His smile faded, and he looked down at their shoes. Suddenly their shoes were gone. His bare toes wiggled on the cold, makeshift floor as he stared at them. She reminded herself that this was just a dream, not reality; that’s how shoes could go missing so easily.
“We were both good at screwing up,” she admitted quietly. Had she made a mistake when she hadn’t taken him back? He’d tried so many times to apologize, and she’d never allowed him to even get a full apology out. But she was here now. She was listening now. Maybe peeking in on his dreams wasn’t just about fulfilling her own curiosity, she realized; maybe it also had to do with giving him one last chance. She cared more about people now than she ever had when she’d lived in Sunnydale. Maybe she was the one giving charity, giving him a chance to clear himself.
“You really are beautiful,” he breathed in awe, shattering her thoughts.
She grinned at him. “Of course,” she replied with her old, usual flair of complete self-confidence. She was beautiful. She’d always been beautiful, but it had only been in the last few years of her life that that beauty had reached deep within her to touch her heart and soul and make them shine. That’s why she was bathed in white now. That’s why she got to go up, instead of down. She’d been saved at last, and although she hadn’t wanted to live this life, not this one in Sunnydale with Xander or the one in LA with Angel, she knew what awaited her was peace and as much happiness as a girl could have without the guy of her dreams.
“And I was an idiot,” he said with a deep sigh. She felt him tremble inside as he reached a hand up and dared to cup her cheek. “I had the most beautiful girl in the world, and I let her go. I’m sorry, Cor.”
“It’s okay, Xander,” she said, accepting his apology and, for the first time, meaning it. This wasn’t just about charity or curiosity, she realized. This was about letting go and as much for her as it was for him. “I had a good life.” His deep, brown eyes widened with puzzlement for just a moment, but then he seemed to relax and accept her words. They both knew she was dead; this was only a dream. “I probably never would have left Sunnydale if you hadn’t . . . “ She paused, trying to choose the right words.
He finished for her, “Let the best girl in the world slip through my fingers?”
“Yeah.” She grinned. “That. I was happy, Xander. For a while, I was happy, genuinely happy.”
“Yeah.” He snorted. “With Angel.”
“Yes! With Angel! But I never would have had that if not for you, and I never would have had the courage to face the real monsters in this life if you hadn’t first held my hand in Sunnydale -- “
“And kept you safe in the closets.” He chuckled, and she laughed with him.
“Yeah,” she agreed, her hazel eyes shining. “And that. Thank you for sharing that part of my life, Xander. Thank you for helping me grow.” She leaned up on the tips of her toes and kissed his cheek. She was a little surprised to find that it was no longer smooth underneath the supple flesh of her lips.
As she withdrew, he turned his head quickly and caught her mouth with his own. His hand tightened his grip on the small of her back as he held her to him. He kissed her deeply and passionately, but his tongue didn’t try to do anything naughty as it always had, and hers had too, in their younger days. Finally he released her and took one step back. “Bye, Cor.”
“This isn’t goodbye, at least not permanently,” she said, shaking her head. “I’m just the first one of us to get here. I’ll still be here when you get here, but don’t you rush it, Xander Harris. The others still need you.” And she had too. She’d needed him, if for nothing more than his memory and his belief in her to be able to do the right thing and stand strong, for longer than she’d ever realized while she’d been alive. He had been the first one to believe in her, to truly believe in her, and because he had first believed, she had learned, at last, to finally believe in herself and in her capabilities to do more than just be the most beautiful, bitchiest girl around. She patted his cheek and let him go.
Xander sat up and looked around him as Cordelia’s spirit left his room. He tingled from head to foot in the delicious ways she used to make him tingle yet somehow the shivers went deeper. He looked around at the shadows. His room seemed dark and still, and he knew Cordelia was dead and had been for months, but he also had no doubt whatsoever that she had just been there with him. “Bye, Cor,” he whispered again to the darkness and smiled through his unshed tears. They had certainly both grown a lot, and she was right: he would see her again one day, and now he knew he was finally forgiven.