Title: Minutia

Author: Me

Rating: PG

Fandom: (Wait for it...) Buffy the Vampire Slayer/Angel

Spoilers: Buffy Season 7, Angel Season 4

Summary: When the world ends, a boy greets a girl. (Xander, Cordelia)

***

It was strange only being able to see out of one eye. Not that Xander couldn't see everything anymore, but it was just a bit different. Depth, something that had always been just as natural as breathing was suddenly missing.

No one commented when he missed the edge of the seat, or when the door handle was just a bit to the left from where he'd reached.

He supposed that he shouldn't be too depressed about the whole thing. He could still see. Walk, talk, move. Breathe even. Not everyone who'd been in Sunnydale could say that.

He didn't think about Anya. He couldn't if he was going to do this, rather than curl in a ball and let the world disappear.

The walls in the corridor weren't white. He'd somehow expected them to be. Every movie he'd ever seen with a place like this in it had showcased white walls, cold rooms and lots of beeping. But the only white he'd seen so far was in the background of a painting of flowers. Irises. Big purple ones.

No, everything here was muted. Lots of tasteful colors and soft browns. She'd have liked this place. Well, probably not, but she wouldn't have made jokes about the decorating.

He still wasn't sure why he was here. No, that was wrong. He knew. He was here because he couldn't be anywhere else. Because when the solemn bus they'd managed to find had wound its way to Los Angeles, he'd been the only one to ask the question.

It had been something of a shock, really, when Angel had been the one to answer. His eyes dark with pain - but really, when were they anything else? - the older man and taken him aside and explained.

Sleeping, like a princess. No chance. Never waking up. Mother to a demon who never was.

Yeah, it was just like Cordelia to not do anything in half-measures. And just like Angel to let the situation lie.

Oh, had that screaming match been something to behold.

Idly, he watched the room numbers flick by. He'd conned the address out of Gunn. To be honest, it hadn't taken much effort. Just a quiet inquiry and a serious look. Apparently, you were more pathetic when you only had one puppy eye.

Managing transportation had been a little more tricky. Yeah, Angel and Wesely and everyone else had come into some serious money, but that hadn't easily equated to a garage full of cars. Plus, asking Angel had been a bit of a bad idea, considering the obscenities exchanged. In the end, he'd asked Lorne. The demon had offered to go with, and for one single tiny moment, Xander had almost taken him up on it.

It hadn't lasted though. No, this was something he owed to her. To himself even.

Lorne had nodded, his red eyes dark with something that could have been tears, and handed over his credit card and the number for a cab company.

And here he was.

Room 322.

Gently pushing the door open, he edged quietly into the room. Xander had no idea why people always hushed themselves in hospitals. If the occupants weren't alive enough to appreciate the noise of the living, why bother masking it? It didn't matter though. Nothing mattered here. Not the fresh flowers, or the big windows, or the little room that seemed entirely too tiny for what it held.

No, nothing mattered except the woman sleeping in the bed.

"Oh, Cordy..."

He'd been six years old the first time he'd met Cordelia Chase. Quiet and not a little scared, he'd stepped down off the bus bumping quietly behind Jesse. His new backpack filled the brim with school supplies and lunch had weighed just a bit too much, and when he'd missed the step on the curb, he'd ended up flat on the sidewalk, facing the sky. Two dark pigtails had appeared above his head, and before his eyes even had the chance to tear up, she'd shaken her head and called him an idiot before stomping off.

She looked six again. Lying there on mint green sheets - he'd never known the difference before a memorable three-hour lecture on the variance of hue she'd given him during one of their numerous trips to the mall - clean of makeup, she looked like a little girl. But not one he'd ever known.

This girl looked weak. Vulnerable.

Even chained to a wall, about to be sacrificed to the demon of the week, she'd never looked like this before.

"Look what happens when I don't see you for a few years." He hadn't meant for his voice to shake.

Dammit. This wasn't right. It wasn't supposed to be like this.

Xander came further into the room and settled in the single chair next to her bed. It was purple, like the flowers in the picture, and very comfortable. And the sitting stopped his knees from shaking.

"So." He was glad that his voice didn't echo. That would have been entirely too much. "Looks like we've had a banner of a year, huh? Me and my icky eye adventures and you taking your turn as Jocasta. Lorne filled me in."

If she'd been awake, she would have hit him for that. And then mocked him for actually remembering something from English class. And about how his eye patch didn't make him look dashing or sexy, but just like a pirate reject from a bad foreign film.

Huh. Funny the things one's brain comes up with.

"This place is pretty nice, all things considered. The doctor guy who met me was telling me all about their physical therapy program. He said you go swimming, and get calisthenics twice a day. Man, I haven't heard anyone call exercise that since gym class junior year. That was before the coach got eaten by the moss creature." He sat further back in his chair, losing himself to the general babble because watching her not move and hearing her not talk was too much like missing Anya.

And that wasn't fair to anyone.

"So, I heard you ascended and descended and tried to kill everyone. You know if any of us ever tried to write a book about our lives, it'd probably do really well in the genre era. And I know what you're thinking, and yes, I'm literate enough to hunt and peck out a book. I'd have more problems selling it than getting it out. I mean, some of the stuff we've done is a little unbelievable, even in fantasy and horror fiction standards." He smiled a bit; imagining just when in his verbal babble she'd have stopped him and demanded that they go out for coffee.

God, he'd missed her.

He'd forgotten how much until just then. He'd honestly completely repressed how much he'd grown to rely on her the last two years of high school. Even when she'd wanted to sacrifice him to demons for kissing Willow - how far away from that little adventure had they gotten? - she'd been in his life. A constant. Someone who'd cared if he lived or died.

She wasn't exactly doing a lot of caring right now though.

Wow. Both tear ducts still worked.

"Oh, Cordelia." He leaned over and pulled a tissue out from the slightly dusty box sitting next to her bedside. His brain had a short argument on how silly it was to have the box there in the first place versus how, with what Angel must be paying for this place, the cleaners were so below par. He wiped the good eye before doing his best with the missing one.

Yeah, he wasn't getting used to this any time soon.

After disposing of the tissue, he settled back. She hadn't moved at all, save for the gentle rise and fall of her chest. Irrationally, the anger which had been dancing quietly on the edge of his world roared through him. How dare they just fob her off like this. It wasn't right.

"I don't know what I can do here Cordy. I never really knew why or how you cared for me in the first place. I let you down then." He glared at his hands as they twisted in his lap. He jerked them apart and looked back at the sleeping woman. "It looks like a lot of people are doing that to you right now."

Gently, he leaned forward and picked up the hand lying on the bedspread. It was soft, the nails cut short and neatly tended. For some reason, that sent a new spasm of rage through him. They hadn't even tried, had they? "I don't want to do that to you again. So. Um, if it's okay with you, I'm going to come visit pretty often. I don't know what's going on with everyone, or even me, but I want to do this."

Xander smiled a bit and squeezed the motionless hand. "I'll be here when you wake up, Cordy. Because you will. You still need to kick my ass about leaving Anya at the altar."

Smiling and crying a bit, he leaned back in his chair again and got comfortable. He'd read somewhere that people in comas could hear what doctors and family members said. Could know their surroundings. Well, he was just going to have to tick her off enough to wake her up, wasn't he? And he really needed someone to listen.

"Oh, you haven't heard that story, have you? Well, it starts like this..."

-fin-