The Last Word

A/N: If you have "Boys of Summer" by the Ataris then by jove go put it on!! It's the best song ever! Actually, any version of that song is quite good, but the Ataris version is my favourite ) Put it on now! NOW!

Cordy's POV, obviously.

Please tell me what you think, I honestly love criticism.

Disclaimer: Ya'll know these guys aren't mine, if they were, I'm sure you'd be far less interested.

Summery: A short Xander/Cordelia piece, set after Graduation Day Part II- because no one leaves without saying goodbye.

I don't know how I got here. Ok, well obviously I know how I got here. We took a left off Ravello, right at Longman and went straight on to Royal. But I mean emotionally here.

I'm all mixed up inside. I've got butterflies. Of corse I do, I'm leaving home. Not just leaving home, but leaving town, leaving everything I've ever known as home. I'm not gonna recognise the parlour in L.A., I'm not gonna know where to buy cheap shoes and bags to match, I'm not gonna know where the hot boys hang out after school. I won't even know where to buy ice-cream in summer or the prettiest places in the park for making-out. I'm getting a whole new life. I'm gonna have to get a new hairdresser, hopefully someone cheap because I'm broke.

This place is so familiar, so ingrained in my memory, more than I knew. It's like a part of me. This is where I grew up. For the first time, I'm looking and I'm not just seeing the boring small town I got stuck with, I'm seeing all the things that have ever mattered to me. I'm seeing the only tree I ever climbed, the swings in the park where I had my first kiss at 7 years old, after paying Toby Sherman $5 for it (what a rip), the street corner where I was first attacked by a vampire-that happens a lot in Sunnydale. I'm seeing my whole life, and I'm leaving it behind.

I've imagined this day so many times. The day I leave for L.A. to become an actress. It's been my dream since forever. I never thought I'd be poor today and leaving home with nothing but a small suitcase stuffed with the last of my clothes. I never thought I'd be this scared. I certainly never thought I'd be sitting next to Xander Harris as he drove me to the bus terminal.

That's what I mean, about being here. I don't know how I got to the point, where Xander Harris is the one seeing me off. I don't know how I got to the point where I care what he thinks and what he says. I don't know how I got to the point where I'm actually glad he's beside me.

"Have you got your ticket?" He asks for the hundredth time.

"Yes," I say, "My bag is so small, it's practically the only thing I'm taking."

"Don't sell yourself short." He says "You're taking your winning smile and that charming attitude you're so famous for."

I roll my eyes, "Don't get sarcastic with me," though he always is, "That attitude you're referring to will serve me better in L.A. than any "Winning Smile". I'd like to see a wuss like you survive in the real world. They'd eat you alive."

"That attitude I'm referring to is you being a bitch, and look, talking like a tough L.A. girl already." He says.

I inch my hand across the seat and grab hold of the edge of his shirt. It's comforting somehow just to hold on. I'm so scared. It's like a security thing. Even when he's scared he's too sarcastic to admit it, and right now I need something strong to keep a hold of. He looks slyly down at my hand and focuses his eyes back on the road. Good. He better not say anything. I can see him smiling so I look away out my window. I don't let go of his shirt.

Xander, who would have thought? Him and his little "Scooby Gang" (well, Buffy's gang really, Xander's not the leader by a long shot). They're the ones I'm gonna miss. I resist the urge to bash my head against the windshield. How did I end up friends with the losers? All those near death experiences got to me after a while. I started to care when the dork patrol got hurt. If Buffy saved me from something, I wasn't just happy I was alive, I was kinda grateful to her. Then there was Xander and our little romance. And suddenly I was casting off all my popular friends to hold hands with him at lunch and talk to the gang about what demons were up for a slaying. I actually liked talking to them after a while. Willow could be so sarcastic and bitchy for a shy little geek, but she always got all shocked and apologetic when she was. Buffy was such a whiner, but she never gave up. Oz was always so calm and annoyingly cool. And Giles, with his books and his tea and his demons. Always slightly frustrated or muttering about something. "Oh god I'm gonna miss that odd British man!" I squeak.

Xander looks curiously at me, but I look away. I don't want him to see me crying over Giles.

Of course I'll miss Xander. He was the first boy to actually break my heart. I hated him for that, but eventually I had to forgive him. Just in time to leave him behind. Maybe it was the danger that brought us together, maybe it was the hormones. I told myself that's all we had, but I'm pretty sure we were in love. He's such a dork. He has bad hair and bad clothes, he knows just a little too much about Star Trek, and he's always saying the lamest things. God, I do love him. I'll always love him, because he was my first real love, but more because he was the first one who actually cared about me. He didn't like me because I was pretty or because my daddy was rich or because I pretended to read psychology books. He just liked me.

It's this stupid leaving sickness. Everything is making me cry and I keep telling everyone how much I love them. I'm gonna say something soppy to Xander any minute now, and I wanna say it before I really start to cry and he can't understand me. "Xander, did… do you like me for my personality?"

"Cordy," He grins, "I like you despite your personality."

"Well, at least I have looks on my side." I snap, soppy thoughts vanished, "Unlike some."

"You thought I was hot stuff in the swim team." He says.

"It was the fish DNA." I assure him, trying not to think of how good he did look in those Speedos.

"What ever does it for you." He laughs. We laps into silence again. I'm not sure what to say. I'm glad we're friends I s'pose. We couldn't really have stayed much more. We drive each other crazy, and besides, he's a no hoper. But what I had with him, it was special… there was specialness. I'll never forget it, and not just because of the occasional apocalypses. Xander changed my life more than I'd like to admit. I'm still holding his shirt and I really don't want to let go.

He pulls to a stop, and I realise we're at the bus terminal. There's only one bus, it's ghastly, old and silver. The rout reads simply "L.A." I let myself out. Before I can think of it, Xander gets my suitcase. "Thanks" I mumble. We walk silently over to the bus, and he hands my suitcase to the driver, who stowes it in the baggage space. I really am going.

"Excited?" Xander asks to fill the awkward silence.

"Scared." I admit.

"You'll do fine." He assures me, just a hint of tenderness in his voice.

"Damn right." I smile. "Watch out world, here I come." I awkwardly extend my hand, and he shakes it. This is goodbye then. I turn towards the bus, shaking, and feeling more lost than I've ever felt before. I'm almost at the door when he calls out.

"Cordelia, wait." I turn around. Why did he call me back? He's looking at me, indecision marring his face. His mouth is half opened; he wants to say more, his eyes are a little lost. He almost reaches out a hand to me, and suddenly I know why he stopped me. I can't believe I was going to leave without it.

I run to him and throw my arms around his neck. His arms fasten around my waist and I can feel him holding me. Not just hugging me, but holding me. His weight pushes into me, full of love and fights and tears and happiness. It's like I can feel the last three years through his t-shirt. He's warm and big and safe. I hold onto him. How can I possibly feel all of this and not explode?

I can't hold them back anymore, the tears spill out. I shake as the sobs escape from me. Huge, hot, salty tears spill down my cheeks and splash onto his shoulder. Cries are choked by the salty water in my mouth. It feels like things are breaking inside, and if Xander lets me go, they're gonna fall apart. I'm crying more than I have this whole time. More than when I packed my bag, more than when I kissed my mom goodbye. I'm really leaving, I'm not coming back.

This will be the last time I ever hug Xander Harris.

He holds me tight; I can feel it all over. I grip his neck for dear life, crying into his shoulder until the sobs finally subside. Then I push reluctantly away and dry my eyes.

I wanna say that I'll call him, write every day and come home for the holidays. I wanna say we'll stay friends and never lose touch, but it's not true. "I'm not going to call." I admit.

He pushes a strand of my hair out of my eyes, "I'm not gonna write."

"I'm never coming back. So this is it. This is good bye." We both know it's true. We're really never going to see each other again, and it actually tears me up inside. I can feel the tears coming again, and I know I have to go. "You're such a loser." I mutter.

"You're an awful tart." He says. "I wouldn't have it any other way."

I kiss his cheek, lingering a little too long but I don't really care. "Don't ever change."

"Not a chance." He says.

I know it's really time to go, so I give him one last squeeze, a smile, and walk over to the bus. The driver waves me aboard as I flash him my ticket. I pause at the door, and turn back one last time. "Have a nice life Xander." I say. I've never meant anything so much.

He gives me a 100 sarcastic attitude free expression, a rarity from him. A little bit of a smile, something kinda sad, and maybe contemplative or wistful in the eyes. "You too Cordy. Have a nice life."

And that's the very end. Xander Harris has the last word.