A/N: Written for the hc_bingo challenge on LiveJournal, with the prompt "unwanted superpower (sudden onset)".
"You're living in your parent's basement?"
Xander winced. He'd forgotten just how scathing she could sound. Or maybe he'd just suppressed it.
"Uh, yeah. Want to tell me why you're here? Not that it's not great to see you and everything, but I've got a girlfriend now, and seeing as she's an ex vengeance demon and kinda possessive, I really don't want to make her mad." He was leaning on the doorframe, trying desperately to block Cordelia's view of his room.
"I mean, honestly." She brushed past him, and headed down the stairs. Xander was suddenly acutely aware of the underwear scattered across the floor by the hamper, and the dirty dishes in the sink. Luckily, Cordelia didn't seem to notice them.
"Hey, I didn't invite you in!"
"So? I'm not a vampire. Really though, if you were still living upstairs it would just be sad, but down here, it's like you tried to get out and couldn't even make it past the sidewalk." She wrinkled her nose. "And that's just pathetic."
"I made it out! I spent the summer—" Actually, might be best not to tell Cordy that story.
"So you left and came back? Not helping your case."
"Whatever. So why are you here?" Xander crossed his arms defensively, then quickly un-crossed them. "You could have at least called."
To his surprise, Cordelia looked slightly ashamed. She sank down onto the bed, not meeting his eyes. "I needed to get out of LA for a while. Things have gotten…complicated…and for all your countless faults, you've always been honest with me." She paused considering. "Well, except for that thing with Willow. But in general."
"What, the wild life of an actress not suiting you? And aren't you fighting crime in your spare time now or something? Helping the helpless?"
"Yeah." She didn't sound happy about it though. Xander crossed to room and sat next to her on the bed. Close-up, Cordelia looked stunningly perfect, as she always did, but her eyes were red, and Xander had learned a long time ago that the more flawless Cordy's makeup and clothes were, the worse she was feeling. Right now, she looked like a Miss Universe contestant.
"Hey, are you okay?" He carefully touched her shoulder, and she flinched away from him. Xander was starting to worry; this wasn't like her. Cordelia had been the toughest, meanest, and most ruthless girl in high school. Now she looked like she was an inch away from shattering like spun sugar, and it scared him.
"It's just—" She took a ragged breath. "A friend of mine just died."
"No, you see, the worst bit is that he didn't even let me move on. He had this, this gift, and he gave it to me, and now I'm stuck."
"Oh. Was this—" Xander tried to remember what Buffy had said about Angel's little gang when she'd come back from LA. "Doyle?"
"And he had visions, didn't he?"
"So now you get—"
A small sob.
"Hey!" Xander wrapped his arm around her, and she leaned into the hug. "Okay, really hoping Anya doesn't come in," he muttered. "It's okay," he said louder. "You'll be fine." Stupid hollow promises.
"This isn't me. I'm not—vision-girl. I never asked to get the Amazing Technicolor Migraines."
"Uh, you don't think maybe they'll…get better?"
There was a long quiet moment that was actually kind of nice. Xander had forgotten how much he liked Cordelia when she wasn't insulting him. After a while, she pushed him away and stood up.
"I should get back to LA. Angel and Wesley probably need my help saving the world again. Honestly, I don't think they'd get anything done if I wasn't there."
"And that sounds like our Cordy again." There was an uncomfortable pause. "Um, would you like stay in town for a bit longer? I could call up the gang, we could all go to the Bronze—I'm sure Buffy would love to hear about Angel…"
"Tempting as hanging out with the 'gang' sounds, I should go." Cordelia smiled. "Thanks, Xander. You really helped."
She nodded brightly. "You reminded me just how much worse off I could be. I might have crippling headaches, not had a real job that doesn't involve demons and murder in months, and be living with a ghost, but at least I got out of Sunnydale."
Cordelia climbed the stairs, and let the door shut behind her. A few moments later, Xander heard a car start, and the roar of an engine as she pulled away.
He shook his head. He was glad he'd never made it as far as LA. Clearly something about that city made you insane.