Xander visits her in the hospital. (He won’t call it a nursing home.) It’s a private facility of course, owned by Wolfram and Hart. He has to fight to get through the doors and to the third floor. He tells them he’s her cousin. They don’t believe him, he knows that, but eventually the nurse with the nice gray eyes feels sorry enough that she lets him up.
There are dead roses in her room and the smell is too sweet with rot rising from beneath. She’d hate it. She only tolerated flowers that were just picked or, occasionally, lifelike fakes. She looks older and younger at once, like she’s sleeping without her makeup, waiting for a prince to kiss her awake.
Xander has never been her prince. There’s a sad little wooden chair in the corner. It looks so unused and lonely that he doesn’t have the will to pull it out and sit in it. Instead, he perches on the side of her bed.
“Hey, Cordy,” he says. And there’s a part of him that expects her to open her eyes, smirk, say something snarky. But there’s only the sound of his heart beating and the beep-beep-beep of hers on the monitor to match. He can’t think of anything else to say. He wants to tell her the stories from his life these last ten years but he can’t bring himself to speak of death and maiming, vampires and demons and more despair. He would tell her a joke if he could remember any.
If she did wake up, would she even recognize him? The fine lines, the missing eye, the silences that have creeped into his once rapid speech: he is as changed as she is, as trapped in a world they never expected when they were children together. Even the hell mouth was no practice for this.
In the end, he just sits with her for an hour. He brushes her hair until it crackles. He strokes her hand. Cordelia’s nails are long, her hands dry and cracked. “Next time I come, I’ll bring some pretty polish. Give you a manicure,” he promises. When he gets up to leave and kisses her on the forehead, he knows that was a lie. There won’t be a next time.
As he drives away Xander wonders when they will check on her and realize that he pulled the plug.