Disclaimer: I don't own Buffy, The Slayerettes, or any other of Joss's creations. They belong to Joss Whedon, the WB, Mutant Enemy, and other lucky folks, not me! The lyrics quoted belong to the song "Tear in Your Hand" by Tori Amos.

Author's Notes: This is a trip in the "way-back" machine for me. I wrote this in November of 1998, shortly after "Homecoming" aired. I was just starting to warm up to Cordelia when I wrote this little piece. It's what I thought Cordelia could be, if she'd just let herself. Back then, if this site existed, I didn't know about it, so I shared it on a couple of BtVS-specific archives; I thought I'd post it up now, seeing as it is still one of the few fanfics I wrote back then that I still like.


all the world just stopped now

so you say you don't wanna stay together anymore

let me take a deep breath babe

if you need me. me and neil'll be hanging out with the dream king

Oh. God. I knew this would happen if I actually let myself feel for him. Please, don't let this happen. I turn my head away from him so that he doesn't see the tear come down my cheek. Quickly, I wipe the tear away, pretending that I have something on my cheek. I never wanted to fall in love with him. When I told Buffy that I thought I did, it almost seemed surreal. I mean, I actually said it. I guess that's what jinxed it. Xander and I were doing so good, but…ever since THAT night, he's seemed different somehow.

Guilty.

It's been the little things, mostly. Whenever he and Willow were around one another, they would act strange, but I just passed it off as the two of them being…the two of them. I thought maybe that they were plotting a way to make Buffy cheer up, or something. I NEVER thought that they would do this to me. To Oz. I wonder if Oz knows.

Oh, God, what am I going to do without him?

"Cordelia?"

He's talking to me, and I can't hear him. I can't hear what he's going to say…been saying to me. I wish that I hadn't given him my heart. Right now Harmony and that group seem pretty inviting.

I don't believe your leaving cause me

and Charles Manson like the same ice cream

I think it's that girl

and I think there're pieces of me you've never seen

maybe she's just pieces of me you've never seen

But Willow? I trusted her. I knew that she liked Xander, and that she was upset that he was going out with me. To be honest, she was part of the reason I insisted that Xander and I keep it under wraps. But after she hooked up with Oz, I thought things were ok. They two of them seemed happy together. But then, I thought things between me and Xander were ok, too.

I know that I can be cold, but I can be caring, too. I just choose not to expose myself the way Willow does. I can't afford to get hurt. To hurt the way I'm hurting now. I've tried to change, for Xander, and the others. It's hard to be an uncaring bitch when people are dying all around you. I've helped to save people. My part in it hasn't been as big as the other's, but I've done things. I helped some when Buffy was in the hospital, I helped keep the demon population down when Buffy skipped town. I faced down that vampire. Face to face, and I stared him down. A year ago, that never would have happened. A year ago, I never would have let myself feel like this.

And now that I've found out who I can be, my reason for being leaves me for her.

well all the world is all I am

the black of the blackest ocean

and that tear in your hand

all the world is danglin'… danglin'

danglin' for me darlin'

I turn my head, trying to be brave, to look at him, and I decide that it doesn't matter anymore. Appearances don't matter anymore. For once, I want someone to see ME. Not Queen C, not the popular girl, me. Cordelia Chase. And so for the first time, I let myself go in front of another human. I let the facade fall, and the tears come coursing down.

For every tear, there is a shocked look on his face. Did he think I wouldn't care? Did he think that he doesn't mean anything to me? Have I really been that cold? I see concern on his face, and I feel badly for making him feel bad. I know that he cares about me, but why does he have to care more about her? Why does he have to leave me to be happy?

I don't know if I can do it. Can I let him go? I heard once that if you truly love someone, then you love them enough to let them go. And if they don't come back to you, then you never really had them.

But I would come back to Xander.

I think now I realize how much Willow must have loved him. She let him go, let him have the chance to find happiness, and she was rewarded. He came to her. I strengthen my will, and I resolve to be at least as strong as Willow was. I have to let him go, even though I know in my heart that he won't be coming back to me.

Why, why does doing the right thing have to hurt so very, very much?

you don't know the power that you have

with that tear in your hand

tear in your hand

maybe I ain't used to maybes

smashing in a cold room

cutting my hands up every time I touch you

maybe maybe it's time to wave goodbye now

time to wave goodbye now

I stand up, and I realize that he's worried. He has that cute look he gets when he is near a panic attack. I haven't said anything since he started, and that worries him. I've always had a smart comeback, something to deflect the seriousness. We're a lot alike, he and I. He uses wit to protect himself, and I use it to do the same thing. The only difference that he usually lightens the situation, and I usually hurt it. Well, not this time. This time I am going to do the right thing, say the right thing, and be the person he taught me to be.

I wish that I could hate him. I wish I could hate her. But they are just such wonderful people, I can't bring myself to hate them. How can you hate the people that taught you to be a better person? The only way to return the favor is to bow out gracefully.

The thing I'll really regret is that they never got to see the real me. The me that I've been hiding all these years, the me that they've brought out. The me that never showed herself until now. How ironic.

caught a ride with the moon

I know I know you well

well better than I used to

haze all clouded up my mind

in the daze of the why it could've never been

so you say and I say you're full of wish

and your "baby baby baby babies"

I tell you there're pieces of me you've never seen

maybe she's just pieces of me you've never seen

well…

I bend over and kiss him on the cheek. Our last kiss. He starts to speak, but I place my finger over his lips. "Shhh." I whisper. I stand there, memorizing his face, his eyes. Eyes I could get lost in. Eyes she'll get lost in, now. But I don't begrudge her that, not if it makes Xander happy. Please, let Xander be happy.

And then I leave, doing what I know is the right thing, but hating it. I wish that I had opened up to him earlier. It may not have made a difference in how he feels, but at least he would be breaking up with the better part of me.

The pieces of me that he's never seen come to the surface, and I vow to myself that these are the pieces that will have control more often. And maybe, one day, I'll find someone who knows the real me, and I'll be happy. Maybe one day.