Personal Website: Won't Pull Away
Fandom: Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Spoilers: Entire BtVS series & through A:tS S5 "You're Welcome"
Notes: This was due on the fourteenth, but then we had the LJ Blackout of '05, so that explains the lateness. Sorry!
In a world of vampires, demons, and the mouth of Hell, Cordelia/Xander is the best, if not only, example of a real, first love that viewers can relate to. Sure there are also couples like Buffy and Angel or Willow and Oz, but both of these relationships were tainted by the supernatural in one way or another. The Cordelia/Xander arc helped the audience see a new side to two of the oldest characters while portraying a story of the first love in high school.
In the early seasons, Cordelia is portrayed as the rich bitch, established right away when she gives Buffy a quiz to "test [her] coolness factor." Later she tells her friends that she "[has] to have the most expensive thing. Not because it's expensive, but because it costs more." The fact that her license plate is QUEEN C, sums Cordelia up perfectly. But while she keeps up the façade of the happy, popular girl, sometimes she actually feels "completely alone," which shows that she has more depth than people give her credit for.
Cordelia is not afraid to go after a guy she wants. The perfect example is in season one's episode Never Kill A Boy on The First Date, she relentlessly makes passes at Owen, despite the fact that he's interested in Buffy. Her taste can be described as tall, dark and handsome; Owen, Angel, Mitch, and Devon have all fit the bill. She doesn't take crap from guys, which is why she broke up with Devon and ultimately why she couldn't stay with Xander.
Alexander LaVelle Harris is the-guy-you-knew-in-high-school: the goofy kid who never quite fit in with a kind heart and dreams of popularity. This aspect of his personality always shines through; he was even outraged when he was passed over as Sunnydale High's Class Clown ("You know, none of the people who vote for these things are funny."). While sometimes he is completely oblivious (to Willow's feelings in seasons one and two and his obvious sexual tension with Cordy), Xander cares about his friends a lot. He's not necessarily the best student ("To read makes our speaking English good."), but, especially in later years, Xander is responsible when it comes to his profession, and when Giles leaves, he becomes the grown-up of the group.
His choice in friends may be smart, but his history with women is quite colorful. There's Willow, Xander's first girlfriend. Their relationship ended when Xander "stole her Barbie" (they were five.). Willow remained hopelessly in love with her best friend, even after Xander had fallen for the new girl, Buffy. Unfortunately for Xander, she was only interested in being friends. Xander crushed on Miss French, before finding out that she was a She-Mantis who wanted him for his
(Building Up A Relationship)
The Cordelia/Xander storyline started off as many often do: the popular girl and the geeky boy (or perhaps vice versa) who snark at each other day in and day out, who should never get together because it's oh-so-wrong. In the first season of the show we see Xander and Cordelia at opposite ends of the spectrum, and yet, more or less they are a match of wits. There are early signs of a bit of the love/hate relationship when, in Out of Mind, Out of Sight, Xander complains about having to research with Giles. Buffy tells him that if he wants her job, he'll have to "talk to [Mitch's] friends. Talk to Cordelia!" Xander promptly turns her down and enthusiastically agrees to help Giles. This dynamic continues into early season two where the couple is still taking cheap shots at each other (Cordelia: Oh, great, so now I'm your taxi *and* your punching bag. Xander: I like to think of you more as my witless foil, but have it your way.) .
Soon, however, their relationship starts to change. In What's My Line, Xander and Cordelia are forced to go to Buffy's house together to look for her. While there, Cordelia unknowingly lets in Norman Pfister ("I am the Bug Man, coo coo ca choo."), one of the assassins of The Order of Taraka. He quickly disperses into thousands of tiny worms. To escape, Xander and Cordelia seek refuge in Buffy's basement, taping up the door so that no bugs can come in. Angry about being trapped (and with the other as company), a screaming match ensues (Cordelia: Coward! Xander: Moron! Cordelia: I *hate* you! Xander: I HATE YOU!). And then the barrier is broken into a heated make out session. This could be chalked up to "strange things happen in life or death situations," but a real relationship begins to blossom.
After the basement incident, neither Xander nor Cordelia are sure what will happen next (Xander: Okay, uh-uh-uh... here's the deal. We don't have to run every time we see each other in the hall. Cordelia: Right. Okay. Why shouldn't we run? Xander: What happened, there's a total explanation for it. Cordelia: You're a pervert?). Mostly the next few episodes are filled with secret-closet-make-out sessions (Xander: You wanna go to the utility closet and make out? Cordelia: God! Is that all you ever think about? (considers the offer) Okay.). In Surprise, Xander wants to take Cordelia as his date to Buffy's birthday party. She turns him down, though, still wanting to hide what they have. But, as most things don't work out in the Buffyverse, they are discovered kissing in the next episode, Innocence, by Willow. Willow is broken having seen the adorable exchange between Cordelia and Xander where Cordelia exposes a lot of her fears of their relationship ("You were too busy rushing off to die for your beloved Buffy. You'd never die for me.") -- that she'll always be second place to Buffy (a theme which reappears in Homecoming). Willow runs off and Xander chases after her, leaving behind Cordelia, who genuinely looks concerned for Willow. Earlier, Cordelia wouldn't have cared what Willow thought, but after a few weeks of being with Xander and having her secret exposed, she is becoming more sympathetic and friendly to the Scooby Gang. Meanwhile in the hall, Xander is trying to explain to Willow that he and Cordelia were "just kissing" and that it "doesn't mean that much." Willow clearly doesn't buy it, and frankly, neither do I.
As the season goes on, their relationship progresses, and they become closer ("Besides, Cordy and I are really getting along. We're not fighting as much, and yesterday we just sat together, not even speakin'. You know, just, uh, enjoying comfortable silence. Man that was dull."). In Bewitched, Bothered, and Bewildered, one if not the most important C/X episode, Xander is excited about finally having a date for Valentine's Day ("…my Valentines are usually met with heartfelt restraining orders."). He buys her a silver heart necklace, a symbol which shows that he truly cares about her, and makes a beautiful speech. He tells her: "I've been thinking a lot about us lately... the why and the wherefore. You know, once, twice, a kissy here, a kissy there. And you can chalk it all up to hormones. A-and maybe that's all we have here. Tawdry teen lust. But maybe not. Maybe something in you sees something special inside me. And vice versa. I mean, I think I do. See something." To me, that explains their relationship perfectly, but Cordelia is thrown and breaks up with him because even though she feels the same way, she's being pressured by her friends out of the relationship. Xander is crushed by the news and can't understand she would do this to him, especially on Valentine's Day. You can see by her facial expressions that she knows it's a mistake, but she's blinded by a fear of not being accepted.
Xander vows to get Cordelia back so that he can break up with her to show her how much it hurts. He enlists the help of Witch Amy, and together they cast a love spell, but they need an item of Cordelia's. Xander goes to her to ask (quite rudely) for his necklace back. Cordelia is shocked, claiming that "it was a gift." Both hide their feelings behind snarky comments, and Cordelia tells him she'll get the pendant out of her locker. What we see is possibly the most heartbreaking Cordelia scene of the series: she had in fact been wearing the necklace and had to hide behind her locker to take it off so he wouldn't see.
The spell backfires and every girl in Sunnydale becomes viciously attracted to Xander except for Cordy. They wind up back in Buffy's basement where it all started, hiding from the crazed women. Xander confesses that he did the spell to get Cordelia back, and she is touched. By the end of the episode, Cordelia is back with Xander and even stands up to her friends for him ("I'll date whoever the hell I wanna date. No matter how lame he is.") in true Cordelia fashion. From that point on, they are closer than ever.
Between late season two and early season three, we get lots of little sweet moments between Cordelia and Xander. In Go Fish, Cordelia believes that Xander has been turned into a fish-monster and delivers a heartwarming (especially for Cordelia) speech about how they can still date ("And I want you to know that I still care about you, no matter what you look like. And... and we can still date. Or, or not. I mean... I understand if you wanna see other fish. I'll do everything I can to make your quality of life better. Whether that means little bath toys or whatever."). Once again, this shows how far she's come.
In Anne both character are shown nervously flitting around looking for each other on the first day of school after a long summer break. Both even share the same concern: "how's my hair?" They did not expect the awkward scene that played out when they finally did meet, but by the next episode, Dead Man's Party, they are back to their normal selves, kissing sweetly at Buffy's party.
The biggest, most revealing moment in the Cordelia/Xander romance occurred without the presence of Xander. When Buffy and Cordelia were stuck hiding in the log cabin in Breaker's Woods, Cordelia confessed that she was in love with Xander. Buffy was a bit shocked, and Cordelia reasoned that "he kinda grows on you, like a Chia Pet." This is the absolute moment when you realize that Cordy isn't always what she seems; underneath her bitchy exterior there is a girl with feelings who's in love, much the same love that Buffy felt for Angel and Willow felt for Oz.
But sadly, just as Cordelia makes it known that she is in fact in love with Xander, the bottom falls out. Xander and Willow's affair begins in Homecoming. It isn't discovered until later in Lovers Walk when Cordelia and Oz are searching frantically for Xander and Willow, who've been captured by Spike and locked in the factory. Cordy and Oz walk in on Xander and Willow kissing. Heartbroken, she runs up the stairs, but they give way, and she's impaled by a metal bar. The next day Xander comes to the hospital to visit her with a bouquet of flowers, hoping that she'll forgive him. Both look so sad. Xander tries to explain, and for a minute it looks like Cordelia might hear him out, but she tells him to "stay away from [her]," and she turns away. He doesn't want to leave, but he does, and she can't watch. Seeing Cordelia cry at the end of that scene just breaks my heart because I know how much she loves him and doesn't want to let him go. But, because she's Cordelia, she won't put up with anybody cheating on her, so she has no choice.
The Wish is also an important episode. At the very beginning we see Cordelia cutting up a picture of her, Xander, Willow and Buffy while listening to Xander's thousands of messages that he has left her. When she shows up at school the next day, back and better than ever, she sets out to show Xander what he was missing. Then she meets Anya, the vengeance demon, and without knowing it, wishes herself and everyone else into "Bizarro World," the version of Sunnydale sans Buffy. But as she points out, Willow and Xander "are still together" and "[she] just cannot win." By the end of the episode, Cordelia feels a little bit better, as if making fake wishes has consoled her ("And I wish that Xander Harris never again knows the touch of a woman. *And* that Willow wakes up tomorrow covered in monkey hair. In fact, I wish all men except maybe the dumb and the really agreeable kind... disappear off the face of the earth. That would be *so* cool!").
After The Wish, Cordelia and Xander's dynamic returns to what it used to be before they started going out. But the fact still remains that Cordelia knows exactly who Xander is. She makes it a point, especially in The Zeppo when she plays off their relationship to get Xander worked up and doubting himself (Xander: You think you know everything. Cordelia: I think I know you. Xander: That's a laugh. Cordelia: Oh, what, you got a shiny car, and now you're someone new?).
At the end of season three, both characters go through some big changes. Everything Cordelia owned has been taken away, due to her father cheating on his taxes. Now she's essentially homeless and broke. Xander has decided that he's not going to go to college but instead take a road trip over the summer to see America. During The Prom (my personal favorite C/X episode), Xander catches Cordelia inside April Fools while shopping for a tuxedo. She bitterly confides in him what has happened to her and believes that he'll make fun of her. I don't think he would have, judging by the look on his face and their history together, but he doesn't actually get the chance to decide before a demon comes crashing through the window.
Cordelia had been working at April Fools in order to buy her prom dress, which Xander found out on his visit ("But don't you already have all the dresses?"). As she was leaving work on Prom Night, a coworker stopped her and told her she was forgetting her dress (Salesgirl: Hey! Don't forget your dress. Aren't you wearing it tonight? Cordelia: As much as I hate to admit it, I haven't finished paying for it yet. Salesgirl: Well somebody did.). I think this is my absolute favorite C/X moment because it shows that even though they were broken up, both still love and care about each other. When she catches up with Xander later at the dance, they share a very special moment (Cordelia: Yes, thank you. Xander: It looks good on you.).
After Prom, Xander and Cordelia reached a mutual understanding knowing that they cared about the other and were able to talk again comfortably (Xander: The Mayor is going to kill us all during graduation. Cordelia: Oh. Are you going to go to fifth period? Xander: I'm thinking I might skip it. Cordelia: Me too.). They both survive high school (not to mention, the Ascension) and end their relationship on a good note: friendship. Because they were the story of first love, though, Cordelia and Xander how a special place in each other's heart, and given the chance, I think they might have been able to rekindle what they once had.
After graduation, Cordelia moved to L.A. to pursue her acting career. On the way she met up with Angel, and her priorities shifted. After Xander she's had relationships with Wesley, Doyle, Groo, and Angel, but none of these relationships are on the same level as hers and Xander's.
Xander, too, moved on from Cordy, his most significant relationship being with Anya. IMO, Anya and Xander's relationship was the closest thing to C/X, but still, nothing can touch the first love.
Of course now that both series have ended, there are some canonical problems that occur with shipping Cordelia/Xander. But I do believe that Xander would show up to Cordelia's funeral (if ME had given her one ::grumble::) to pay his respects, no question. And although Cordelia/Xander never got a mention past Graduation Day Part II, the love is still there; you never forget your first love.
(Why I Ship C/X)
The reason why I ship Cordelia/Xander is simple: it just fits. Both characters were much more enjoyable to watch when they were around each other. Cordelia wasn't the bitch anymore; she had a softer side that humanized her and made me feel for her more. We got to see how vulnerable she could be because she was in love with him. I've never claimed to be a huge fan of Xander's, but I love him in that relationship (well, until everything with Willow starts). I also adore the fact that it's a story about first love. A part of me knows that Cordelia would never take Xander back because of what he did to her, but I honestly believe that there were moments when she would have given in because he was her first love.
The Cordelia/Xander relationship is a beautiful story about first love. It proves that yes, sometimes opposites do attract. But throughout the series, more and more similarities were drawn between the two characters: they were both seeking something more, and they found that in each other.
Something Special -- The Cordelia/Xander fanlisting
Old School -- A Cordelia/Xander fanfiction archive
Old School Cordy Ficathon Masterlist -- Cordy-centric fic, several of which are C/X.
Other C/X fans -- Other people who ship C/X on livejournal.