Disclaimer: All characters are owned by people that aren't me.
Author's Note: This story was written in response to a challenge at Jossverse_las on Livejournal. The challenge was "Frienemies."
Cordelia Chase dug through her closet. It was much smaller than her last one, but then again, so was her wardrobe. But at least she could be sure that she was moving out of the black pit of despair that was her parents' apartment in Sunnydale. She was off to Los Angeles, the bright lights and big city, and now she just had to pick out the outfits that would not travel well if they were packed too tightly in boxes or suitcases.
It took her ten minutes of digging before she realized that she now really only had one item that couldn't be stuffed in a suitcase. And how many times was she really going to wear her prom dress again, anyway?
A harsh knock hit her door. "You've got a visitor that wants to say his goodbyes," her father's gruff voice informed her.
She sighed, knowing exactly who it was. She didn't want to have this conversation now, or ever, but here he was, and the alternative was to run away. Cordelia had never run away from anything that wasn't actively trying to kill her, and she wasn't about to start now.
"Send him in, Dad."
The door opened, and Xander Harris walked in, his hands in his pockets, his eyes trying not to see the stains on the carpet. "Hey, Cordy."
"Shut the door behind you," she told him. The walls were paper thin anyway, but it couldn't hurt. Her parents didn't need to know that their perfect little princess couldn't even hold on to the school loser.
He closed the door, turning the lock because he always did so in his own room. "I just wanted to come say goodbye. I was hoping...you know, that we wouldn't lose touch. Do you have a number where you're going?"
Cordy shook her head. "No. Not yet."
"Well, when you do...you'll call me right? Make sure I know how to reach you? In case of...whatever."
'In case of whatever' could encompass so many things in their lives. In case of rabid zombies. In case of an army of vampires. In case of pending apocalypse. In case of a loved one's death, so much more likely in Sunnydale than anywhere else.
She didn't want to be called just in case, and definitely not by Xander. But she couldn't cut all ties with the whole group, so she said, "I'll make sure somebody has my number. Oz maybe. Or Giles."
She went to her dresser and started pulling out clothes and tossing them on the bed, where she would fold them again and pack them into suitcases. She was able to see the pain flash across her face in her mirror when Xander asked his next question.
"Are you gonna hate me forever?"
Her hands clenched around an orange halter top. "Yes." But when she thought about it for more than a second, she couldn't really decide. "No. Kind of. I guess."
Xander's lips curved up in a sad half-smile. "Well, that pretty much covers all the options. Care to translate that out of girl-speak?"
"Do you know why people cheat, Xander?" Cordelia asked, her voice hard. She didn't wait for a response before continuing. "They cheat because they're not happy or they're bored or the new person is just hotter than the old one."
He nodded, his eyes once again on the ground. "I get it. I cheated, and you've got every reason to never want to see me again. I just wish we could stay friends. You know, we save the world together, it creates a bond..."
"That's not why," she corrected him softly. "It's because I didn't cheat. Whichever one of those reasons was true for you, it wasn't true for me. I was happy, I wasn't bored, and even though there were more attractive guys out there begging me for a date, that didn't matter, maybe for the first time ever." She threw the orange halter top on the bed, then a few more tops and a pair of jeans before she spoke again. "But you're right. There is a bond. We'll be friends until the day we die. But that doesn't mean we have to like it, and it doesn't mean that we have to see each other."
Xander looked at her and drank in the sight, knowing it would be the last he saw of her for a long time. "I don't want to never see you again."
Cordelia smiled, and it was the smile of Queen C, the strong woman she'd been before she'd been dragged through the mud with Xander and the rest of the Scooby Gang. "Oh, you'll see me. I'll be up on a big screen, and you can pay eight bucks to sit in a dark room and watch me with a bunch of strangers. You can even throw popcorn at me if you really want to." She climbed onto her bed and sat cross-legged, beginning to fold the pile of clothes.
"I guess that's it, then," Xander said. "I guess it's time for me to say goodbye. And good luck. You know, in L.A."
She waited for him to leave, though he took his time about it, maybe hoping she would stop him, waited to hear the front door close behind him, before she let the defenses drop again. "Goodbye, Xander," she whispered, her eyes on the prom dress still hanging in her closet.