Disclaimer: Joss and his associates own the characters; I'm just playing with them.
Rating: PG
Genre: genfic: angst.
Word Count: 1260
Characters: Cordelia, Xander and Anya
Warnings: Character death. Spoilers for the end of BtVS 5 and the end of Angel 2.

Summary: Suddenly the horrors of Pylea are just a pleasant memory as reality pays a visit to the Hyperion.

Author notes: One of a series of 'What if?' scenarios. This is my first time writing Cordelia, so any constructive comments are welcome. Written for my 100 moods table.

Bad tidings we bring.

Angel and Wesley were settling the new girl into a room upstairs, Gunn had gone to check his crew had survived some trouble he'd been mixed up in right before the whole Pylea thing and so Cordelia was alone in the lobby when someone knocked on the front door.

She stopped in the act of tidying, well, shuffling, paperwork around the front desk and frowned.

She raised her voice loud enough to carry across the room and outside. "It's open."

A head poked in and glanced around.

A head she recognised.

"Xander Harris, what are you doing here?" She walked out from behind the desk to stand in the centre of the room, her hands going to her hips in the classic 'I'm dealing with a moron' pose.

His head swivelled her way as soon as she spoke. "Cordy." He sounded all scratchy, like he'd been choked again.

"What's wrong?" She softened her tone as concern drew her closer to the door.

"Can I come in?"

"I don't know." She stopped, frowning again, "Can you?"

Something wasn't right. Why would Xander Harris of all people be visiting her in the middle of the night in LA.? What were the odds that the 'Fools rush in' poster child had finally gotten himself Vamped and was doing what all good Vamps did best – obsess over their hot exes.

Sighing impatiently, Xander came the rest of the way in. "It's a hotel, Cor. Vampires don't need an invitation, not that I know that because I am one, it's just common sense."

"So if you're not here to kill me, why are you…?" Someone else had followed Xander in, someone else from Sunnydale High, but not someone she had expected to ever cross paths with again. "What's demon girl doing here?"

"Hey! Ex-demon girl if you don't mind, there is a distinction, you know?" Veiny-chick was standing close to Xander, looking around with an over bright smile. "You have a lovely home!"

"I don't live here, but thanks…Anyanka." The name came back to her as she remembered their brief friendship senior year. "I'll pass it along."

"She goes by Anya now," Xander bit out.

"Its okay honey, I was Anyanka for a long time and Cordelia hasn't…"

"Oh please – honey?" Cordelia cut her off, hands going back to their natural Xander position, her hips. "You two are together now? Really Xander: Insects, mummies and now evil wish fairies- what kind of lonely hearts page are you relying on to get girls?"

Cordelia stared at him, waiting for the comeback or the accusation of jealousy, which, of course, would so not be true. It was just annoying that Xander got to be all settled and happy, while the only guy who had been interested in her in forever lived in a different dimension and was called Groosalug.

Xander cleared his throat awkwardly, and judging by the look in his eyes, on his whole haggard face in fact, maybe happy wasn't the ideal word to describe him.

"What is it?" she asked, his demeanour worrying her now.

"It's…" He took a shaky breath and she stepped closer, almost reaching out to steady him in case he fell or something. "Willow was gonna… but she's taking it…" he swallowed, worked his jaw a few times.

"Oh God." Cordelia covered the quiet exclamation with her fingers. Only one thing could get all the Scoobies in such a state. "Oh God. Buffy?"

"She's dead." She jerked her head to demon girl's loud confirmation and saw Xander flinch. "And everyone's very sad about it. Especially Xander."

He would be, Cordelia thought. He'd been in love with her; the kind of love that didn't disappear even when you had a perfectly amazing girlfriend all of your very own. God, it had driven her mad to know he'd secretly wanted Buffy the whole time they were dating, even if he'd never said it in so many words.

"Are you okay?"

He seemed surprised by her delicate tone, but then they hadn't seen each other in two years, they hardly knew each other now.

He nodded, managed a smile that had a little of the boy she remembered in it. "Yeah, I'll be fine. It's just…" he gave a little shrug. "It's hard, for all of us, and then there's Dawn."

She didn't remember any Dawn. Maybe Buffy had followed in Willow's little gay footsteps and Dawn was the girlfriend. Cordelia had the grace not to smile, but she couldn't help thinking, 'Not surprised.'

"Anyway, we thought…" Xander hesitated over Angel's name and settled for "…you guys should know, and it's not really a thing you can say easy over the telephone, so… here I am."

"Thanks." She wished he had used the telephone, and that Gunn had picked up the call and taken the message. This was so not a message she wanted to have to deliver.

"Are you okay?" Xander made his first real attempt to look in her in the eye.

"Yeah," she shook her head, forced a smile onto her lips. "Of course. I'm fine. I mean, she was the Slayer, and slayer's…" Seeing Xander do his flinching thing again, she trailed off.

"Die." Anyanka finished for her. Xander looked at her, hurt. "Bravely," the weirdo added quickly. "They die bravely. She did it – the dying – while saving the world, so that's a good thing, right?"

"I guess," Cordelia smiled. "I mean, if your numbers up you might as well at least make it count, right?"

There was a heavy silence that lasted… and lasted. The years apart and the bad tidings not allowing for casual conversation. Her thoughts turned to Angel, upstairs and oblivious right now, and how he was going to handle it when she destroyed his blissful ignorance.

"Well, we should go. I promised Willow I'd help her move her stuff into Buffy's…" Xander's voice broke a little and he had to take a deep breath to continue. "…into the house in the morning."

Cordelia quirked an eyebrow, wondering why Willow was moving in if Buffy was… gone, but she didn't comment on it. She could get details some other time if she wanted.

"Okay."

Xander nodded, giving her a small smile. "Okay."

"I can email you with the arrangements if you like," Anyanka offered. "You know, for the funeral."

She wasn't sure if she would go or not, but Angel would want to know when it was, so she nodded, "Thanks."

"Right, see ya then." Xander turned to the door, one hand on girlfriend's shoulder to steer her away too.

Cordelia called out as he opened the door, "Xander." He looked back at her. "Take care okay. Sunnydale without… well, it's not gonna be the safest place in the world."

He gave her a grim smile, "The world's not the safest place in the world anymore either; so you take care too."

She nodded and they left, the door closing quietly behind them. The heavy silence came back, the LA traffic outside seeming more muted than usual. Cordelia stared into space for a long time, until footsteps on the stairs told her she was no longer alone.

"Fred's settled for now. Wesley's just tucking her in..." Angel stopped in the middle of the foyer, his nose twitching and a puzzled look replaced his 'happy to be home' smile. "Was Xander here?"

Cordelia closed her eyes briefly, praying to the powers for the strength to get through this, or for a skull-crunching vision to delay it.

"Uh, yeah. Let's go sit down, okay?"

The end