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Innocence in Your Arms
by Jennifer-Oksana (
rating: PG
spoilers: Lullaby, Wrecked
archive: lists, others ask permission.
summary: Cordelia and Xander dance. (X/A, Wes/Fred, S/B, C/X pastness)
disclaimer: Whedon/ME/FOX/WB/UPN own. Not me.

"throw me tomorrow
seeing my past to let it go--" --David Bowie

Cordelia had to hand it to Anya: she'd chosen a truly beautiful day for her wedding. There wasn't a cloud in the sky and the blue/pale yellow/white theming went very well with a beach reception. The DJ was high quality, too, even if Gunn kept trying to get a little funkier than the guy wanted to go.

A beautiful day--and miracle of miracles, nobody had decided to throw down in a Scooby Gang vs. Fang Gang confrontation. The baby had definitely helped--Dawn had swooped down on Jackson with a squeal and he was currently being baby-talked and smooched on by Jonathan and Amy Madison. But the ringer was the nauseating cuteness of Wesley and Fred. Something about seeing the couple in love was winning over even Buffy, who had smiled when she saw Wes give Fred a little kiss on the cheek when he brought her a glass of champagne and said, "Cute. Very cute."

It was probably just as well that it was a daytime wedding and reception after all, even if it meant that she was sort of a fifth wheel. It might not have been so cute with Spike and Angel going for undead dominance.

Cordelia was settling in for another long round of watching people dance when Xander sat down next to her.

"Hey, Cordy, why aren't you out there dancing up a storm?" he asked, eyes gleaming. She could tell he was a little drunk and a lot happy and that was really a good thing.

"Aren't you the guest of honor?" she asked, smiling a little. "For once, this is your turn to shine, Xander. Live it up, why don't you?"

"Nah," he said, giving her one of those goofy grins that used to make her glad that she was the only one that understood there was more to him than the dork. "This is Anya's day, from the wedding decorations to the champagne. I'm just the life-sized Cracker-Jack prize."

"I was wondering why the centerpieces were white roses wrapped in barbed wire and hung with--um, I don't want to know what, do I?" she asked, that smile still there. She could tell he felt a little bad for planning the reception to be in full sunlight, even if he had done it on purpose to keep undead boyfriends away.

Cordelia laughed a little and let the question go unasked.

"Wesley's new girlfriend is cute as hell," Xander said, changing the subject as fast as he could. "I don't get why British Dork Guy gets the best girls."

"Wes is the kind of guy that girls are lucky to get," she said with a pragmatic shrug. "Of course, he's not my kind of guy, but he's good stuff once you peel away a couple of layers. So seriously, why aren't you dancing?"

"I wanted to talk to you," he said. "See how you were doing--I mean, we don't--we're--"

"Friends, Xander," she said. "We're friends. Even if you were afraid to tell me you were marrying the vengeance demon I accidentally brought to town after you cheated on me and I fell through a flight of stairs."

Well, there was the moment he'd been waiting for. It was a lot less angry and bitter than he'd expected. In fact, there was no bitter or angry about it.

"Yeah," he said, everything dawning on him a little slower than it should have. "Really? Friends?"

"Really," she said, and the smile was genuine this time. "Though it was really twelve of you to set your reception on the beach in the middle of the afternoon just to spite Angel."

"Oh, I didn't do it just to spite Angel," Xander said, winking at her. "There's that whole Spike factor to be considered as well."

She smacked him on the arm, but he'd expected as much.

"You're such a butthole," Cordelia said. "Dead Boy is totally not scamming on your woman. He's a dad now and all."

"No, but I still don't like him," Xander replied. "So where's your date, anyway?"

"I don't date," she said. "Too many guys in L.A. are into one thing: impregnating a girl for their demon master. I decided it was a little much."

"You should try it again," he said, and she could tell he was drunk on happiness as much as champagne. "It's not good, you know, to be alone in this world. It's a dark place--"

"You don't need to tell me," she said dryly. "You're not the one babysitting the spawn of two vamps with a side of crippling visions."

Xander shook his head. "Cordy, you can't make it all dark," he said. "I mean, you know what I mean. It's easier to face the all-apocalypse all-the-time world if you're waking up with someone."

He looked so serious and earnest and sweet, his big dark eyes fastened on hers and his hair slicked back with too much gel. Xander's ears were just too damn big, and for a second Cordelia wished--

Just for a second. Because he was Xander and he was happy with Anya and really, the idea of commitment and Xander was scary in a way that came close to Prada knock-offs and Joan Rivers in fishnet.

"I'll think about it," she said, feeling a million years old.

"Do more than think," he said. "Cordy, look at this. We're still here. Tomorrow, the evil baby may try to eat Wesley's brain, or the Hellmouth might bust open, or Anya might run away with Giles, or Spike and Buffy might announce they're going to start a chain of Cajun restaurants--but we're still here. We're alive and hell, you're still gorgeous."

She shook her head and paused.

"Giles?" Cordelia said.

"She's got a jones," he said. "Not a massive jones, but enough to make me go away when he gets his dirty old man-paws on her."

Cordelia laughed. Giles and Anya? Maybe in an insane alternate universe where she was in love with Angel and DKNY grew on trees.

"You're nuts, Xander," she said decisively. "You're completely nuts."

Xander laughed, too, bouncing to his feet suddenly and holding out his hands.

"Dance with me, Cordy," he said. "I'm the guest of honor, so you have to do it."

"I don't have to do anything," Cordelia replied, standing up with another one of her weird, almost sad smiles. "But I will dance with you--because you haven't asked me yet."

She took his hand and they blended into the couples dancing and not dancing. Cordelia eased herself back into an old friend kind of stance, watching as all of these people she knew so well swirled by, just as the DJ kicked up some serious old-school tuneage.

"The Beatles?" she asked Xander. "Where did you find this guy? Planet KPOP?"

"Super Wedding Service Emporium," Xander said, twirling her with moderately impressive suaveness. "You're not dissing on the Beatles, are you? Because I think that's un-American."

Cordelia swirled around, watching people pass by. Buffy was dancing with Giles, who looked strangely younger and older than he usually did. Anya was playing with Jackson and talking to Willow. Gunn had taken Dawn out for a spin and Wesley and Fred were lost in that funny bliss mode that was just love. She was so amazed at the way everyone was so weirdly perfect right at the moment that she didn't realize that Xander was singing along quietly to the song.

"Hey Jude, you'll do--the movement you need is on your shoulder--Hey Jude, don't make it bad--take a sad song and make it better--remember to let her under your skin, then you begin to make it better--nah nah nah nah nah nah nah--"

Dear God, the ways he couldn't sing. Cordelia almost started to cry--but let him twirl her back into his arms instead. She put her head on his shoulder, singing along with him.

For the rest of the song--two minutes, twenty minutes, twenty years--it was freeze frame, the way Oz described Willow kissage, the way she'd felt when Xander had given her that necklace, the way she'd felt when she realized they had all survived high school, when she realized that Angel and Wes would be there with her until the end.

"Nah nah nah nah nah nah," she whispered, glad that she'd come to Xander's wedding. "Hey Jude."

The song ended and the DJ announced the next song was for the bride and groom, congratulations, love Willow--and "Material Girl" kicked into high gear.

Cordelia let him go, giving Xander a kiss good-bye and watching him drag Anya onto the dance floor. Then she turned around and noticed Devon was sitting in the sand, looked as stoned as ever.

Cordelia laughed and walked over to him. Devon. Freaking Devon. Man, this was just old home week in Sunnydale, wasn't it?

"Cordelia Chase," he said, nodding slightly. She grabbed his hand and pulled him to his feet. "Hey--"

"Come on, Devon," she said. "Let's dance."

The End

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