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22 June 2006 @ 10:06 pm
Walking In My Shoes (6/?)  
Title: Walking In My Shoes (6/?)
Author: Kelly and Mike (collaborative writing team)
Rating: Chapters range from PG-15 to NC-17
Chapter: Chapter Six rated PG
Email: jjsoapchat AT yahoo DOT com
Content: Angel/Connor bonding, Angel/Gunn friendship
Summary: Written for a challenge proposed on the Stranger Things message board. Challenge By rousedower. An AU/TT Challenge: Angel goes to another dimension, hence AU, somehow. And in this dimension he is married to Cordy and they have kids. But something happened to the other Angel (he's missing or dead), so there's mad tension and what not between this Angel and AU!Cordy. She knows he's not her Angel, but the kids (a boy and girl) are pretty young and think he's their father. I imagine a scene where their little daughter asks him to read her a bedtime story/tuck her in with Cordy trying to explain to her that he's not her father (really), and he does it.
Disclaimer: The characters in the Angelverse were created by Joss Whedon & David Greenwalt. No infringement is intended, no profit is made.
Distribution:
Notes: While it might appear at first reading that we haven’t met the challenge, I promise that in later chapters, it will all become quite clear.
Feedback: Yes, please. Tell us how we are doing!

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It was mid day when Angel left the apartment upstairs. Cordelia had taken the kids down long ago for breakfast and to start their lessons. She had explained that they started their schooling early because of the intelligence the twins showed. She also told him they had settled on home schooling, at least until they could be sure they wouldn’t tell the fanciful tales of demons and vampires at school, especially Ian who loved to re-enact the stories of the battles that his father and the others would tell. Cordelia said that that is all they would need would be to get called to the school for a psyche exam for the whole family by Child Services.

Angel stepped into the office and found the coffee maker with coffee already fixed in it. He poured himself a mug, even though he couldn’t taste it, the hot liquid felt good going down his throat. Well, he could taste it somewhat and he made a face. This was still the same. Cordelia still had the same talent for making coffee. Of all the things his taste buds could register was bad coffee. It made him chuckle and made things feel all the more right.

He needed to get down to the job of trying to find out a few things about his life here so he sat down at the desk and turned on the computer. He hated these things. He hated cell phones. However, while working at Wolfram & Hart, he had to pick up some of the modern skills. No more paper memos, it was all done electronically. Oh, he’d always knew how to do the simple things on one, but he kept that to himself and let the others go on about him and his techno-challenged self. Sensing something he looked up from the computer screen to the door of the office. Angel smiled, it was his son.

“Connor.” he said standing. What he remembered was Connor just regaining his memories and the day he spent with him before that final battle. It was nice. Then he showed up at the office to help fight.

“Dad,” he said as he stepped in with a raised brow. “Finally get up the nerve to touch the beast?”

Angel looked from Connor to the computer monitor then back. “Uh, yeah. Nobody was around so I thought I’d just…you know…”

“Don’t worry,” the young man said, “I won’t tell you’re hooked on Rebel Assault. Caught you playing it the other day.” Connor stepped on in. “Did you find what was attacking the school?”

Angel cut off the monitor so he could concentrate on talking to his son. “I…I’m not sure.” the vampire said. He swallowed as he walked around the desk to sit on the corner of it.

“You were gone a week” Connor replied with a bit of a frown. “What happened? We were worried you might have been killed. Something must have happened during that time.”

“Something did.” Angel acknowledged. He explained to Connor that his memories had been altered or something and where his memories seemed to start differing from everyone else’s. Of Cordelia never making their meeting place. Of Connor being there and sealing him into that metal coffin with the single window and being trapped at the bottom of the ocean for three months. Jasmine and her defeat and that of being offered Wolfram & Hart and taking it. Giving Connor the life he had never had, including taking away his memories of his real father, then of the final battle and finding himself here in the courtyard garden.

Connor listened to this. Whole ranges of emotions came over him as he heard his father re-account all this. When Angel had finished he remained silent for a long time absorbing all this. His first reaction was that his old man had finally went over the edge. That maybe with his years senility finally had set in.

“Yeah, well, that sinking you to the bottom of the ocean,” he finally spoke, “not one I thought about. Though I have thought about a few other devices of torture. Not normal teenage thoughts about parents and ways to make their lives miserable as possible. Most of them, I’ve found, are on the lines of just flat killing. However, when your father is already dead, you have to get creative.”

“I’m just sorry I don’t have anything useful.” Angel said. “Maybe whatever is doing this is what messed with my memories to throw us all off track. Maybe it was because I was getting too close?”

Connor shrugged. “Why go through this kind of trouble instead of just killing you?”

Angel shook his head. “I don’t know. Maybe it wants to mess with us first.” he said remembering how he used to love to do just that. Angelus had considered this type of torture an art form to be both enjoyed and admired.

“Well, its just good to have you back, no matter how mental you are.” Connor said and started back for the door. “I’ve got to get back to the school.”

Angel tried to think a moment even for one small memory. “Connor, just…just what is this school exactly? Have you kind of developed a new Watcher’s Council?”

Connor paused. “You just really don’t remember a thing, do you?” the young man said. “When Willow woke all these slayers they had no place to go. Giles was overwhelmed. You and him talked and decided to open this school. Giles now heads the New Watchers’ Academy. I was put in charge of the Slayer Academy. I mean whom better to learn from then the son of two vampires? You, mom, Gunn…you all help. Help teach them their skills and the skills of vampires.” Connor chuckled, “Though I admit the first time you came over those girls went crazy with their spidy senses because a vampire was in the house. But now that they’ve learned to control it…not so bad.”

“Yeah,” he replied, “I imagine I set off a few inner alarms and probably not a picnic for me either, being in a school full of slayers. I am still what I am.”

Connor nodded and gave his father a slight smile. “Yeah, you are. And sometimes that means you’re a real jackass.”

With that he left. Angel stood there a moment after Connor’s departure. Though his son acted pleasant he still got that underlying feeling of blame and hostility from him. The vampire stood and went back to his chair to continue trying to piece together what had happened.

Charles Gunn had left the Academy after teaching his class about urban warfare. Those girls had to learn to survive in the big city. And survive if shit ever hit the fan. They might get stuck underground with no food or no water. It was something that he knew all too well. Most of the girls seemed to be taking well to the classes. There were troublemakers, always were, but he had his favorites. Just like everyone else that was teaching there. Gwen was busying teaching her class about breaking into corporation offices, which came in handy when they needed information on Wolfram and Hart. And Faith had her group doing slayer training. Without his two ladies, he was left to amuse himself. He figured he might stop by the office, see if Fred and Wesley were back yet. He poked his head into Wes' office, giving pause as he saw Angel at the computer. "Hey man. Playing Rebel Assault again?"

Angel glanced up at Gunn. Gunn alive. He had to take a moment because the man before him had died in his arms. Finally he blinked and looked at the computer then back at Gunn. "Uh, no," he said as he turned off the monitor. "I was just looking at a few files. Nothing big just refreshing myself." This from the guy with the photographic memory.

"Since when do you have to do any refreshing?" Gunn had no idea about the memory loss. He knew Angel had been missing for near a week. No one had bothered to call him to tell him that the vampire had returned to the offices.

"Since is seems a part of my life is missing or screwed up." he replied. He picked up a pencil and played with it. "Including the part where...you're still alive."

Gunn raised a brow as he looked at Angel. "Do I look like some kind of ghost to you?" He patted his chest, as if to emphasize the point that he was here and he was alive. Someone put the whammy to Angel. Again. Seemed to happen at least once every couple of months so he wasn’t surprised.

The vampire stood up and gave a bit of a shrug. "I'm sure it will all pass. Its weird, you know." he said, "I don't even remember having any kids but Connor and here he's running a school for slayers instead of trying to kill me. Well, he did get over that, though."

"We all want to forgot Barbie being pregnant. You are lucky you don't remember, man. She got mad if we breathed too loud." Gunn paused for a moment as he saw Angel stand. "You call Wes yet? He put your memories back in before."

"No. I've not talked to him. I thought if he'd come in today..." Angel replied. "It seems things take a fork in the road around the time Holtz and Wolfram & Hart were chasing us for Connor. In my memory, Holtz got him and disappeared into a Hell dimension.

Gunn nodded his head. "Yeah. That is what happened. Then he came back a few weeks later, all grown up. Tried to kill all of us. Cordy calmed him down. You remember that?"

Angel nodded. “And then some. The some I haven't told Cordelia about.”

"I don't want to be around when she finds out you are keeping things from her. I am just glad the girls don't mind if I keep some things on the downlow." Gunn pointed out to the lobby. "Coffee fresh or is that the stuff from last night?"

"Fresh," he said with a nod. "Some things don't change and it seems Cordelia's coffee is one." Angel turned and poured Gunn a mug and handed it to him. "So, tell me about this school of Connor's. Slayers, huh? If anyone can train them its him. Best of all worlds wrapped up in that kid."

He took the mug from Angel and leaned back. Cordelia made horrible coffee but you put enough sugar and creamer in it, it was tolerable. He wondered sometimes if she used more grounds than water. Either way, it kept them all awake. "Just one of a few popping up. One over in Cleveland. One in New York. One in London. Rome." He took a drink from the coffee. He hid the distaste on his face well. "More of an effort on everyone's part. All those new slayers out there that didn't know jack. Someone had to teach them."

Angel nodded once more. "Understandable. It wouldn't be good to have a bunch of rogue slayers running around." He paused then asked, "So, besides not being dead, how are things with you?"

He chuckled as Angel asked that. "You take a blow to the head too? Want me to get some cakes for our little tea party?" It just seemed so out of the ordinary for Angel to be asking him how things were with him. Kind of girly, actually.

Leaning back on the desk, he crossed his arms over his chest. "I'm just thinking that if I hear the right thing or get enough of it all in my head something might trigger everything else into place. Make sense?" He frowned a bit as he looked at Gunn.

"Unless someone put a mystical whammy to you. Then no matter what anybody says, it won't come back." He leaned back against the front desk. He took another sip from that god awful coffee. "Things are fine. I just got back from teaching my class at the school. Me and the girls are suppose to take the slayers out to a nest near Altadena. Just hope whatever attacked the school last week doesn't try to follow."

"A nest?" he straightened. This was good. This was something he did know and could do. "How about some help?"

Gunn raised a brow. He set his coffee cup down on the front desk. "See, now I know you have the memory loss. Because tonight is you and Barbie's special night away. Drop the twins with Connor and do whatever it is you two do. Which, I don't want to know." He held his hands up to emphasize his point.

The vampire leaned back on the desk again. "You don't want to know and I...I have no clue. I mean I do but," he paused his heavy brow furrowed. "I'm only confusing myself more here...and coming off...geeky. right?"

"Man, you always come off as a big geek." He reached over and patted Angel on the shoulder. "And the women hate it when you don't have something planned. Maybe she will cut you some slack. Or you can't lose with dinner, movie, and heading to the beach."

Angel rasied both his brows and got that ‘what the hell’ look. "Movies are always good. Dinner...last time she picked there were mirrors all around and I'm not big on mirrors." Angel then looked at Gunn. "I don't come off like a big geek. I mean, I can kick ass. Geeks can't do that."

"Sure they can. They just do it on Halo." He grinned at Angel. He crossed his arms over his chest.

"I guess I better find something to wear then if this is like date night," he said. He straightened and started for the door. "Flowers," he stopped and moved for the phone. "Flowers are always good."

"You are acting like this is your first date. This date, judging by how tense you are now, is going to go just as well." He paused for a moment to look at Angel. "You remember anything about you two getting together?"

"My last memory of us together was just before she died. She'd been in a coma..or rather was still in a coma and somehow came to me," he explained. "She helped me see where I was going wrong with running Wolfram & Hart."

Gunn just looked at Angel for a long minute. His head was really jacked up. "Angel, Cordy's never been in any coma. And you sure as hell didn't run Wolfram and Hart. Obviously, she ain't dead. Hell, Wolfram and Hart is the whole reason you two ended up together in the first place. Messed with her car."

"We found her Jeep stalled on the freeway. She was on her way to meet me but she wasn't there," he retold it to Gunn. "Come to find out she had become a higher power and was taken. When we got her back at first she had no memory of who she was or us. Then she got it back and..." His voice trailed and he looked away from Gunn. "Its not something I like to recount. But I was CEO of the L.A. offices of Wolfram & Hart. You were head of my legal department. Fred headed the science division. Wes, mystical research...and Connor...I made a deal with the Senior partners to take all memories of us from him and give him what he never had, a real family and a home. Nobody but me remembered Connor."

He just blinked before he started to laugh. "Me in the legal department? You are tripping." He shook his head. He moved over and put an arm around Angel's shoulder. "Man, you have to believe me here. None of that happened. Cordy hasn't had that Jeep since the night we went to the drive in and the Wolfram and Hart goons jumped us. Came back here, she called. She went to start her car, heard this clicking. They were trying to go old school mafia on her. She got out before it blew. Called you up, you went over there. Didn't see you two until the next evening and it was all cuddles and romantic comedy up in here."

"That is what everyone is telling me, Gunn," he said. "But I'm telling you I could take you to that building where Wolfram & Hart is and show you around it and the White Room."

"It sounds like you were in Hell. You sure you weren't having some Hell flashback or something? Or get some demon blood in you that is messing with your head? Cause I know I am real. I know everybody else here is real. What proof do you have all these other memories are real?"

Angel shook his head. "I don't but what I do know is if I don't get ready for this date night it won't matter if my memories are correct or not.”

Gunn nodded his head. "I got to go get the van ready for tonight. Catch you later, bro." He took Angel's hand in his, hitting it with his other hand as he lurched forward. Usual between brothers sort of hand shake before he left Angel to plan for his big date night.

-TBC-