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12 October 2006 @ 05:31 pm
Walking In My Shoes (27/?)  

Title: Walking In My Shoes (27/?)
Author: Kelly and Mike (collaborative writing team)
Posted: 10/12/06
Rating: Chapters range from PG to NC-17
Chapter: Chapter Twenty-Seven rated PG
Email: jjsoapchat AT yahoo DOT com
Content: Some angst, mostly fluff, romance, family bonding
Scenes include: Cordelia, Angel, Kat, Ian, Connor, Lillian
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: Cast List: Kelly writes for Cordelia, Gunn, Lorne, Lillian, Kat, Ian, Illyria/Fred,
Lilah, Eve, Faith, Gwen, Harmony, Vail, random shop owners/demons. Mike writes for
Angel(us), Connor, Wes, random filler chars.
Feedback: Yes, please. Tell us how we are doing!

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Cordelia sat silently in the GTX as Angel drove. She had reached over and at least turned
on the radio so they wouldn't have to make conversation. When she felt this way, she
usually used to go shopping. After the IRS took everything, she had to placate herself
with walking Rodeo and dreaming of her other life. She rarely did it anymore since the
twins took up so much of her time outside of saving the world. She needed it tonight; she
needed new shoes or a new dress or something to distract her from forcing Wes to admit
his big secret.

Angel kept his eyes on the street as they drove. He had a lot to process, to think of what
Wes had done to give him the ability to be happy for the first time in over 250 years
without the danger of him losing his soul. If he'd only knew Wes was going to do this, he
would have stopped him. He couldn't concentrate anymore to drive. He pulled the
Plymouth over quickly to the curb and sat there. If the vampire's heart could beat, it
would have been tripping like a jackhammer now with the range of emotions coursing
through him.

The silence in the car was not only deafening but it also felt like it was closing in around
her. Cordelia opened her door and got out of the car. She stepped up on the sidewalk and
then began to walk. She wasn't sure where she was going but all she knew was that she
needed to get out of that car with Angel.

It took a second but then he realized she had gotten out. Angel got out and caught up to
her easily. He pulled her around to face him. He looked at her face, his eyes shifting back
and forth. "Did you know," he asked her. "Did you know Wes had done this?"

Being grabbed and turned like that, he was quick with it so Cordelia didn't realize what
he had done until she was looking into his eyes. "I had a vision. I rushed over to his
apartment to stop him but by the time I got there, it was already done. The Powers sent it
to me too late. So Wes asked me not to tell anyone. After what he did, I couldn't really
betray him like that and blab to everyone."

Angel wasn't holding her tight; he'd never do that. When she said what she did he looked
down from her eyes. What Wes had done, he still couldn’t comprehend it. He dropped his
hands from her. Turning to his right, he walked over to the concrete block wall of the old
building. Suddenly, he drew back his fist and started hitting. Each blow was hard and
hurt. He kept hitting until the block started to crack. This wasn't right. His friend wasn't
supposed to make a sacrifice like this.

Who knew if it was concern for the building or concern for Angel but she went quickly to
his side. She reached for his fist, keeping him from hitting the wall again. "Angel...Don't.
It was Wes' choice. You would have done the same in his place, we all would have.
We've all been making sacrifices since we came to L.A."

His hand was bloody and it hurt. He meant it to hurt. He shook his head. "No... He can't
do this," Angel said, his voice cracking. "We'll find a way..." His body trembled with his
rage.

"Well, beating up on a defenseless building isn't going to change that. And I've been
looking for a way but really...It’s not our decision." She reached into her jeans to pull out
a small packet of wet wipes. It was a necessity to always have them on hand with a kid
like Ian. She took one out and started to clean Angel's hand.

He looked down at her hand taking his. It stung as she wiped it but he didn't show it.
Then he looked back to her face as best he could. He took his hand from hers and raised
her chin with a finger.

She let him pull his hand away even if she wasn't done cleaning it. But then she felt the
cool fingers under her chin, tilting her head up to look at him. She let the look linger for a
moment before pulling her chin off his fingers. "I am going to find a trashcan for this. I
don't want to carry around a bloody wipe all night."

"There's the travel bag in the car," Angel said. He walked over to the GTX and opened
the door for her. "Let's just...Do something."

Cordelia didn’t get into the GTX just yet. She looked at him. "Do what?" She told Wes
that she would give Angel a chance, she didn't tell Wes she wasn't going to be skeptical.

"I'll buy you some dinner," he said as he still held the door of the car, "even a movie,
your choice. Just something to escape for a couple hours everything that seems to want to
turn our lives over and inside out."

"I already ate with the twins and if it’s all the same to you, I don't really want to go to the
movies. I was thinking about walking Rodeo, that always seems to clear my head." If it
had only been a few days ago, she would have told Angel where to put his dinner and a
movie. But she did offer a suggestion, a peace offering of sorts, to him.

When she said this he indicated for her to get back into the car with a bow and a
sweeping gesture with his hand. He glanced up at her from that bow.

She just raised a brow with the bow. That was just...Well, that was Angel. He was a huge
dork at times. She slipped back into the GTX, waiting for him to close her door and get in
himself.

Closing the door, he walked around and got in. Starting the engine, he then pulled back
out in traffic. The lights of the streets and buildings reflected off the shiny black hood of
the old car. "Rodeo," he said. "I always liked Rodeo." He's trying here, god knows he is.

"Me too. Though now I feel like I am just visiting clothes I can never have. Its like the
zoo, I get to see them in captivity, admire them from afar." She chuckled but she kept her
face turned to look out the window of the car as they passed scenery.

After twenty minutes, Angel was parking the car. Putting the top up, he got out and
waited for her to slide on out so he could lock the GTX up. "Friday night, most the shops
should keep open a bit later."

She got out of the car and waited on the sidewalk for him. "I hate going in just to look at
things I can't have. At least behind the glass, I can't always muse about 'oh, what if they
were open'. Sometimes, I just like to visit my old life."

Stepping up on the sidewalk, he put his hands in his pockets. "Old lives," he said as he
took a step. "What if we focused on, well, future lives. Things that are just on that
horizon for all of us."

She just sighed because he wasn't going to understand. "Nevermind." She started to walk
towards all the little boutiques. She used to live here before the IRS took her money
away. Not much designer shopping to be found in Sunnyhell, that was for sure.

Stopping, he looked in a window. The dress in it was sleek and low cut with a slit up the
left leg. It had a handbag and shoes with it to match.

She was a few feet away from him when she saw this. She sighed again, rolling her eyes.
She went to him, grabbed his arm, and moved him to the side. "You have to look from
the side. Reflection, glass window, people walking by."

"Why don't you go try it on," he asked her as she pulled on him. "That outfit just was
made for you."

"That outfit was made for someone with a lot of money and not two kids to put through
college or a bank loan for a Slayer Academy to pay off." She glanced at the dress. It was
beautiful but beautiful meant it was probably a few thousand. That was a lot of groceries
and clothes for the twins.

Angel stopped, which probably nearly pulled her off her feet. Grabbing her hand, he
turned and headed back for the store. He entered. He started looking around for a sales
person. When one came from behind a rack, he nodded. "We'd like to see the dress that's
in the window," the vampire said.

Cordelia waited for the salesgirl to move away before she looked at Angel. "You
suddenly have unlimited funds? Or did you bring your big Wolfram and Hart bank
account over with you from your other dimension?" There wasn't malice to her voice this
time, the comment not meant to hurt. It was said more out of curiosity than anything else.

Leaning down, he sort of whispered to her. "As a matter of fact it was something that
Liliah reminded me of and put her own foot in her mouth about."

She snorted as they waited for the sales girl to get the dress for them. "Oh? And what
exactly did she say to you?" She didn't for one moment believe that Wolfram and Hart
was just going to sign over some big check to Angel because he ran one of them into the
ground in another dimension.

"As she said technically I was still an employee and I demanded my back pay, turned in
my resignation. With an interdimensional corporation, well, there weren’t many loop
holes and from the demands and contract that I had drawn up...Well, I have a bit of
money and I'm free of them. They aren't happy about it...But it frees any and all other
dimensional selves of me of any obligation to them also." Angel replied.

That absolved her of all the guilt she felt for spending money. She had no problem
spending Wolfram and Hart's money, Angel's ill-gotten gains. She did have a problem
splurging on things with Angel Investigations funds. She turned her head, speaking to the
sales girl. "And the shoes that were with it too."

Angel started walking around the shop looking at a few things here and there. This was
worth seeing the smile on her face and the old light back in her eyes. He remembered
when he bought her that wardrobe several years ago. Cordelia did love her designer
clothes.

When the girl brought her the dress, she didn't even bother to check the price tag. She
wasn't going to risk not getting the dress just because it was more than she made in a
month. She went into the dressing room, peeling off her street clothes. She did feel the
slightest pang of guilt for Wes but she was doing what he wanted. She was playing nice.
She looked over the door, calling to Angel. "Hey, hero. I need some help."

He walked over; carrying the silk scarf he'd been looking at that matched the shoes.
"That's me," he said with a grin. The sales girl just giving them that ‘oh please’ look.
"Really, it’s in my resume."

She opened the door and turned around. She pulled her hair up. "Big task for the night,
zip me up." She waited patiently for Angel, to feel his fingers against her skin as he
zipped the dress up.

Angel put the scarf on his own shoulder then zipped her. His hands lingered over her bare
shoulders a moment then he stepped back. "Here," he said, handing her the scarf from his
shoulder. "I just thought...It would look good with it."

She took the scarf from him. She glanced at it for a moment. "Gay man's taste." That was
all she said before she went back into the dressing room. She put the shoes on and then
put the scarf around her neck. She frowned though because it broke up the line of her skin
in the low cut dress. She brought the scarf up, instead, to pull her hair up and back. She
had a beautiful neck and great cleavage so no need to cover them up with a scarf. She
stepped out, waiting for Angel to say something.

He looked back at he sales girl. "I...I'm not...She just says that because...I'm not gay." He
turned back when he heard the door. He looked at Cordy in that dress and yes, her
neck...A vampire knows beautiful necks. "Ah, we'll take it."

"I have no idea where to even wear it. It’s a little too racy to be wearing to the inevitable
Connor and Lillian wedding." She stepped out further to go to the large bank of mirrors at
the end of the dressing room hall. She wanted to look at herself in the dress from all
angles.

"We could always go to the ballet," he said waiting for that reaction from her.

She laughed when he said that, really laughed. "That was the best nap I have had in
ages." She kept looking at herself in the mirror. "You don't think it’s too sexy for the
ballet?"

Walking up to her, he totally forgot about the mirrors she was standing before. He came
to stop very close to her. "What would you suggest," he asked.

The sales girl glanced up and she frowned. Blinking, she pulled her glasses off and
started cleaning them.

Cordelia turned her body just a bit but she saw the sales girl. She looked up to Angel. "I
suggest you get away from the mirrors before we have some serious explaining to do."
She whispered it to him, smiling softly as she said it.

Angel put his hands on her waist and backed up, taking her with him. "Doesn't matter,
only thing that needs to be seen is how beautiful you are." He stayed there close to her.
She didn't pull away as he put his hands on her hips and took her back with him. But once
they were in front of her dressing room door, she straightened up. Wes said give him a
chance, not jump his bones in a designer boutique dressing room. "I need to get changed.
The shop is going to close soon."

Nodding, he stepped back. "I'll go pay for the dress," he said turning to head to the
counter.

The girl cleared her throat and her eyes were big at his approach. Angel noticed this as
well as her increase in heart rate. He smiled at her as he pulled out his wallet. "I'm a
magician," he said. "All tricks."

Cordelia shook her head at him as she went inside. She was going to have to try to unzip
the thing herself. She reached up, trying to grab the back of the dress. Her fingers
fumbled as she tried to find the zipper.

He paid for the dress, handbag, shoes, and scarf. He recovered from the price shock then
turned back to the dressing rooms. "Cordy," he called, "everything okay?"

She lets out an exasperated sigh. "The zipper is too low for me to grab it. It’s as low-cut
in the back as it is in the front!" She was reaching up from both the bottom and top now,
fingers brushing the zipper now and again.

Leaning on by the door of the dressing room, he put the receipt in his coat pocket. "Why
don't you wear it," he asked.

"Because..." She gave another sigh like he was the most clueless man in the world.
"There are still tags on it and its too nice to wear for just driving around. Can you come
in here and unzip me, please?"

Stepping in, he stood behind her. He looked at her in the mirror, over her shoulder. "I
told you that was made for you."

"It does look really good on me. I will admit that." She put her arm across her chest so
she wouldn't be left naked once Angel unzipped the dress. She didn't want it to fall.
"Funny how you always manage to get closer to my forgiveness with a little bit of high
end shopping."

"I know your weakness," he told her. "Problem is, its mine too." His hand went up her
arms then her shoulders. He couldn’t resist her skin to his sensitive touch...And the scent
of her this close.

She didn't pull away from his touch but she didn't want to give him the impression there
was going to be some dressing room nookie. She had to resist the urge to lean against him
or make an appreciative noise as his touch. "Better unzip me before I spend anymore of
your money."

Angel paused a moment then reached down and pulled that zipper down. "I promise
you'll have a place to wear this."

"You don't have to promise me anything, Angel." She turned to look at him over her
shoulder. She held the dress to her body. "You want to go amuse yourself for a minute
while I get dressed again?"

"Huh, oh, yeah...Yeah...I'll just be, right out there," he said. He backed out feeling more
like a damn awkward teenager than a Champion vampire.

She shook her head as she pulled the door closed. She looked over the top of it at him.
"Maybe they have a Dungeons and Dragons set out there you can play with." She grinned
at him, all in good fun this time, before she ducked back down to finish getting changed
inside the dressing room.

When she said that he turned to the main door when he heard the chime sound at
somebody entering. He frowned because he knew the woman was a vampire. They would
often hit places like this that was ready to close. Kill the one(s) closing and help
themselves to the inventory. It was how most vampires lived.

At the same time the female vampire stopped her stalking of the clerk and turned seeing
Angel. "There's two in here, good lookin'," she said as she moved to meet his approach,
"we can share, but the clothes are mine." She giggled. "I don't think they have anything
your size here."

Cordelia frowned as she heard the voices just outside of the dressing room. Just what she
needed to ruin an otherwise good shopping experience was a vampire. You would think
that the whole demon half of her would grant her some protection but nope. They were
just as dumb as ever. In this life, one always had to be prepared as she pulled a stake out
of her jacket. If Angel could just turn the vampire, she was more than happy to stake her.

"Yeah, well, I never been much for sharing," he replied. He quickly grabbed the female
vamp to swing her around away from the clerk’s view. He already had to explain the
mirror thing, how do you explain a person exploding into dust?

Angel could have always used the magic line on the clerk again but with the vampire out
of view, Angel holding her, and now turned towards the dressing rooms, Cordelia saw
her chance. She shoved the door open, moving quickly to plant the stake right in the
female vampire's chest.

There's always that moment of realization on a vampire's face as the stake goes in of,
Oh shit, I'm screwed before they poof into dust. When she did Angel stood there
and then waved the air in front of his face.

"Why is it every time its you and me alone, it always ends in either one of us hurt or
having to kill something?" She shook her head, putting her stake back into her jacket. She
went back into the dressing room to grab her clothes. She took them up to the clerk so she
could remove the security tags.

"Let's just hope the girl didn't notice," he said as he walked Cordy up to the counter.
"Besides, I still have a bit more cash for you to blow this evening so don't need time for
explaining."

Once the girl took all the tags off and put everything into a bag, Cordelia took it off the
counter. She handed it to Angel for him to carry it. "This is already too much. Why don't
you save some of that money?" Now that was a phrase she never thought that she would
utter.

"I do have some put back. This was some I planned for a date night, but it came early,"
he told her as he walked her to the door after taking the bag.

"Date nights are usually Saturdays, Angel." She stepped out of the door and made her
way back to the GTX. She might just be trying to get out of this or she might be dangling
another chance in front of him.

"Yes, I know, why I said it came early," he replied walking with her. "Or we can still,
you know...Go out on Saturday. Its nice to get out away from the hotel."

"I've had a pretty long night already. The demon half, it helps with the visions but they
still leave me feeling less than Cordy. And then...Well..." She trailed off. She didn't want
to tell him that she was being nice to him because of what Wes had done. "I'd just like to
get home, maybe watch my show, and then go to bed."

"I think what you need is a hot bubble bath before bed," he told her as he unlocked the
car door and opened it for her to slide in on the driver's side.

"I think I know what is best for me right now, Angel." She didn't get into the car just yet.
She stood outside of the open door, looking at him. She didn't like the idea of him telling
her what she needed after she just told him.

"Sorry. I just know how much you like your bubble baths and well, how they always
relaxed you," he replied leaning just a little on the door, don't want to spring it.

"If I was in the mood for a bubble bath, I would have said I wanted to go home and take
one. What I want to do is go home, watch my show, maybe eat ice cream out of the
carton, and then go to bed." She got into the car and then slid over to the passenger's side.

Angel waited a moment then he got in. He lowered the top and when it was down, he
pulled on out into the traffic to drive back to the Hyperion.

She was quiet on the entire ride back to the hotel. She was thinking. They were mostly
thoughts of little consequence and hopes that Wes and Fred were gone from the lobby.
Once Angel parked in the garage, she opened her door to get out. She reached in the back
to get her bag. "Take it you are going out to kill things?" There was something in her
voice though, an invitation perhaps.

"No," he said. "I thought I'd go up, see that the twins are asleep...Katy always knows if I
haven't looked in on her at night. She gets that, well, broody look when she gets up in the
morning. I have no idea where that comes from."

"Yeah...Wonder that too." She smiled when she said it though. They both know where
the young girl got it from. She took the elevator upstairs, holding it for Angel to ride up
with her as well. She unlocked the door to the converted floor. She held it open for
Angel.

Stepping in, he glanced around then back to her. "I'll go see about them," he told Cordy.
He headed up the hall of the apartment suite to the twins' room. Opening the door, he
stepped in. Leaning down over Ian first, he kissed the boy on the forehead and looked
down. His stuffed toy was on the floor. Picking it up, he put it in the sleeping child's arms
then tucked the covers around him. He then turned to Katy. Angel sat on the side of her
bed for a moment. He looked down at her and gave a slight smile. Leaning over, he gave
her a light kiss on the forehead then stood to pull the covers up around her. It wouldn't be
long before they would have to be thinking about rooms of their own.

Cordelia headed back towards her bedroom to put the dress away and change into her
pajamas. She narrowly avoided Ian's dog, which still didn't have a name. She didn't
bother to look for Kat's little rescued cat since the creature seemed to get into the
smallest, tightest spaces possible to sleep. Once she was changed into her pajamas, she
went back to the living room. She had decided to skip the ice cream as she dropped down
onto the couch, grabbing the remote.

Leaving the twins' room, Angel made his way back to the living room. He walked
around to the back of the couch and looked at the TV. "What's on," he asked.
She didn't look up from the television as the beginning credits for her show started. "My
show." If this guy really did have all of Angel's memories, then he would already know.
He'd also want to know what storylines he had been missing. This was Cordelia's litmus
test for the new Angel.

"Yeah, yeah, Friday night," he said. "I haven't been keeping up with what's on and all the
past few weeks. New season started yet?" No, it wasn't hockey, basketball, or roller
derby...But it interested Cordy so he made sure it interested him.

"Last week. Dr. Ward got back the paternity results and it turns out, Dr. Solanus IS
Jeremy's father. She told Dr. Solanus but wasn't going to tell Jeremy. Jeremy just found
the results in her purse last week." Cordelia moved her feet off the couch as means of an
invitation for him to take a seat.

Leaping over, he landed lightly beside her. "I don't understand how they get such an A
list cast on a show. What about the vampire thing? The Morleys still causing trouble?" It
was clear that who ever wrote this show didn't know anything about vampires. It was
entertaining to make fun of it.

"If you could make a million dollars an episode, wouldn't you do small screen too?" She
glanced at him briefly before going back to the TV. "It’s been pretty quiet so far. Mostly
just ruling over the town with an iron fist, blah, blah, blah."

"I still think they need an advisor for that," he said and glanced over at her. "Want
anything to snack on? Popcorn?"

"I'm fine but thanks for asking." She turned her a little to give him a smile before she
looked back to the television. "But commercial is over so now you have to be quiet. I
want to find out what is going to happen when Dr. Ward tells Dr. Solanus that Jeremy
knows."

Putting his arms on the back of the couch, he leaned back. "I know," he leaned over and
whispered to her, "I've heard you and Fred giggling watching this wishing you could find
a doctor that looked like Solanus and a lawyer that looked like Lawson."

"I said...Shush..." She reached over and poked him in the side to get him to be quiet.
"Anyway, she likes the doctor. I like the dark haired dorky guys, remember?"

He flinched at her poke and grinned. "Okay, okay," he said. "Watching show now."

She sat quietly, her eyes glued to the television set. She sat up straighter when Dr. Ward
confronted Dr. Solanus and she gasped out loud when they ended up in bed together,
closing the episode. She reached for the remote to change the channel. "They will just
break them up. They always do that on these shows. They tempt you with a relationship
and then some tragedy breaks them apart."

"Yeah, well, Solanus is the tragic figure in the show. If he's happy ratings will sink, you
know," he replied with the tone of an expert of sorts. Well, he had seen over 250 years of
theater.

"No, I think the writers are just idiots and don't know how to write happy couples.
People will still tune in if he gets to be happy for a while. There are plenty of other tragic
figures on that show, like Zach." She pointed towards the TV with the remote as if that
would help her make her point.

"Is that the dark haired dork on there you like," he looked at her. "I don't know about
tragic...Though the guy did take on another person's identity to get away from his over
bearing father and in doing so, sort of turned into a monster."

"You know more about this show than most people who watch it religiously." She
chuckled. She passed him the remote so that he could pick what he wanted to watch. She
was tired but not enough to go to sleep just yet. She was still giving him a chance here.
This was nice; it was familiar to her.

He took it and flipped through to find, yes, Planet of the Apes, Charleton Heston version.
"Well, you know they run it on that one channel...Some," he said. "During the day if I'm
not sleeping."

She groaned as he put it on Planet of the Apes. "You have to be kidding me. That is why
I don't let you have the remote." She reached to try to take it back from him.
Angel pus it in his right hand and held it out, away from her. "Oh, no. You gave it to me
fair and square, no rules."

She frowned as she looked at him. She pulled away and went back to her corner of the
couch. "I am not going to wrestle the remote away from a vampire who is over 250 years
old."

"Oh," he said with a raised brow. "Afraid you can't take me? Huh?" He juggled the
remote from his right to left and again.

"I can take you. I am just too tired. Hasn't been the easiest month here." That was the
honest truth, not that she could really tell anything but that sometimes. She put a pillow
against the arm of the chair, laying against it. He watched her show; the least she could
do is watch his movie.

Sitting there a moment, he changed the channel and there was The Quiet Man with John
Wayne, Maureen O'Hara, Victor McLaglen, and Barry Fitzgerald, and directed by John
Ford. Glancing at her, he waited for just a little change in her.

"You didn't have to change the channel. I was just giving you a hard time. I gave the
remote to you so you could watch what you wanted." Now this was one that was
guaranteed to put her to sleep. She was not a fan of John Wayne. Give her Brad Pitt any
day of the week over that moldy oldie.

But this was an Irish movie. John Wayne going to Ireland to claim his inheritance after
his parents died while living in America. And in doing so he fell in love with the auburn
haired ball of Irish fury that was Maureen O'Hara.

It wasn't long before she was snoring softly. It was almost as if he had planned it, putting
that movie on to bore her into resting. She sat up in her sleep, as if she was shifting in
bed, and her head fell squarely in his lap.

When Cordy moved and settled her head in his lap, he looked down at her with a smile.
He brought his left hand down to pull the afghan off the back of the sofa to cover her.

Kat had woken when her father came in to kiss her goodnight. She heard the television
and her parents' voices. Curious, she made her way from her room to the living room,
watching the end of the scene unfold between her parents. She smiled when she saw her
mother's head fall in her father's lap. It was working. She peeked her head out so that she
could be seen by her father, giving him a big smile. "Are you going to go to bed in the
same bed tonight?"

Angel looked up to see Katy, then he looked down at Cordy. Very easily he lifted her
head then stood. He put his finger to his lips indicating for Katy to be quiet for the
moment. Angel turned back to Cordelia and then picked her up and carried her to the
bedroom. He put her to bed; tucking the covers around her and making sure her bunny
slippers were there so she could slip right into them when she got up. Hesitating for just a
moment, he leaned down and kissed her softly on the head. He left the room, closing the
door.

Moving to Katy, he picked her up. "I don't think it would be a good idea without
Mommy knowing. She's still hurting, sweetheart and she needs time," he told her.

"But...You were doing it before. And you kissed. Lots. What happened?" Kat frowned
because she couldn't understand that when her parents thought they were going to be
dead meat, they were affectionate. Now that the danger had passed, they weren't
anymore.

Angel was quiet for a moment as he carried her to the sofa and sat. "Its really hard to
explain," he said to her. "Actually I have a hard time understanding too...But I know I
have to wait until Mommy is feeling better. Adults are funny things, and nothing is really
simple when you're grown up."

"You have to do it like Rhett and Scarlett, daddy. Cause Scarlett, she was mean to Rhett
too but she loved him. He loved her too. Sometimes, they were mean but he did nice
things for her. He took her shopping." She looked up into her father's eyes, almost daring
him to tell her that her childhood interpretation of the classic was wrong.

"Since when have you started mind reading," he asked her with a chuckle. "I did take
your mom shopping this evening and bought her the prettiest dress, shoes, scarf, and
handbag."

"Daddy, you are doing it right!" Kat grinned wide and clapped her hands once again. She
giggled, reaching up to touch his face. "You just have to be like Rhett." She was putting
that suggestion to him again as she touched his face.

"Be like Rhett," he repeated with a nod. "I'm not doing the mustache and goatee thing. I
did once, not a good look for me."

She giggled again. Her small nose wrinkled up. Her hands were still touching his face.
"No. Hairy faces are weird. They feel funny. Like when Uncle Wes gets the scratchy face
and tries to hug me. It is itchy."

"What I need to do is think of someplace to take her so she can wear that dress," Angel
said out loud. "SkyBar?"

Kat slowly pulled her hands from her father's face. She sat there on his lap, doing her
best impression of The Thinker. She stroked her little chin. She didn't know what SkyBar
was. "Do they have dancing there? Slow dancing? She likes it when you slow dance with
her, I heard her tell Aunt Fred."

"Oh, she does," he replied with a raised brow. "Well, then, yeah, they have dancing."
Kat nodded her head. "Sometimes, her and Aunt Fred talk when they think I am not
listening. But I listen all the time. She also likes it when you bring her presents when you
come home."

Angel looked down at his daughter then wrapped his arms around her. "I know you want
us back together," he told her in a whisper. "I want us back. But we need to take it slow
and then maybe Mommy will realize that we need to be a family again. You know I like
buying her pretty things. I like it when she smiles when I do...And I will buy her all kinds
of presents...But presents are things...And this takes more then just things to fix."

She smiled as her father put his arms around him but she laughed at what she said.
"Daddy, you are silly. You don't have to buy her things. Cause when you find something
and you bring it home, it means you think about her. You told me. You said 'Katy, I saw
this and it made me think of you.' That is better than a thing."

"How in the world did I ever get such a daughter so wise beyond her years," he said. "I
think we need to get you your own advice column." Angel then stood holding her and
started walking back to her room.

She giggled at her father's words, burying her face into his shoulder when he picked her
up. She lifted her head from his shoulder. "Will you sleep here tonight and not upstairs?
Please? I can sleep on the floor and you can sleep in my bed. I will even tell Skittles to
sleep with you."

"Well, you know, I really don't sleep at night," he told her as they walked. "I'm usually
out working, after I've checked to make sure my wee ones are all snug and safe."

"I want you to stay here tonight. Like you did before. And you made us breakfast." Kat's
little nose wrinkled up, looking very much like her mother in that expression. "Mom can't
cook. I am sick of cereals. I want pancakes again!"

"And you want the animal shaped pancakes we would make with the cookie cutters, I
suppose." He paused outside the bedroom door. "With chocolate drop eyes. Or the
banana and strawberry ones?"

She put her mouth by his ear since they were by the bedroom and she didn't want to wake
Ian up. "Banana pancakes. With honey. Please." She used her best behaved and polite
voice now.

Angel entered the bedroom and carried Katy to her bed to lay her down. Glancing at Ian,
the boy was there with his butt up in the air. He couldn't help but chuckle. Even in his
sleep, Ian got attention.

Kat looked up at her father with big brown eyes, so much like the pair her father had.
"Will you stay here until I fall asleep?"

Katy and Angel were more alike. Though Liam had turned into a carousing womanizer
just before he was turned as a boy he was quiet and withdrawn from the mental abuse that
had been dealt by his father. Nothing Liam could do would ever get his father's approval.
But Angel had always let his children know just how important and special they were to
him. Each in their own way. He looked at Katy and nodded. "I will, Katy. I'll stay as long
as you need me."

Kat leaned up to put her arms around her father's neck. "I need you forever." She
whispered to him before she let him go. She turned on her side, curling up so that she
could fall into sleep. It wasn't long before her kitten found its way into her room and up
onto her bed. She fell asleep quickly as she cuddled the little rescued furball.


Cordelia stood in the bathroom, applying the last of her makeup. Just a quick brush of
mascara and she would be done. She pulled away so that she could look at herself. She
had to be honest, a week ago; she wouldn't have accepted Angel's date. But between her
promise to Wes to give him a chance, the way he was with the twins, the TV evening and
the subsequent breakfast in bed, she had a hard time saying no when he asked. Not to
mention the fortune he spent on the outfit for her. It looked a lot better now that she could
take time to make herself up. She left Lillian and Connor with the twins, preparing them
for their lives ahead. Now she was just waiting on Angel to show.

He entered the apartment having gone and changed in his room. He wore that same black
on black but it was all tailored. He might be dead but he could look good at the same
time. "Cordelia," he called from the living room standing close to the door.

She heard Angel calling. She came out of the bathroom, grabbing her handbag and a
wrap off the bed. She went out the living room, giving him a quick once over. She
couldn't help it. He looked really good. In that moment, he could have been her Angel,
getting her for their standing date night. In that moment, she wanted it to be her Angel, so
badly.

When Angel saw her he thought she was more beautiful now then ever before. He
swallowed hard. That dress was so worth it.

She looked down at herself in the dress, smoothing the material out. "It looks bad,
doesn't it? I really am not liking these new post-twins hips. So much for my modeling
career, right?" She looked up at him with a small smile. Sometimes, a girl just needs a
little validation and compliments. In Cordelia's case, she might not have needed them but
damned if she didn’t want them.

"Oh, it looks...It looks wonderful and those post twin hips are beautiful," he said. "I'm
going to be the envy of L.A. tonight."

Cordelia held back the snort when he said that. His rambling start was cute though. It
reminded her of her Angel, how he was king of the dorks sometimes. "Well, thank you.
You look really good too. Is that new?"

The vampire looked down at himself. He was busted. "Ah, yeah. I just...I was told it
looked good," he replied. "No mirrors and all." He looked back up at her. "Thanks." He
felt like the first time he had escorted a girl to the church fair when he was a teenager.

"You take Connor with you shopping?" It was hard not to note how much time Angel
and his son were spending together. She thought it was good though because Connor
needed it, especially now. She moved to Angel so that she could take his arm.

After offering his arm, he walked her on out to the elevator. "Trust Connor to help pick
out clothes?" he chuckled. "He'd have me in baggy cargos and a ball cap."

She paused for a moment as she got into the elevator once the carriage arrived. "So, how
is Wes doing?" She figured that with Connor out of the picture, that is who Angel would
have taken. She loved Gunn like a brother but he wasn't the one to take to pick out fancy
clothes.

"Wes is...Hey, you're maneuvering me here," he said with a chuckle. "Okay, Wes and I
went out and, well, did you know the clerk thought we were gay?"

"Well, gay, British, people get those confused a lot of the time." She tried for a smile but
her concern for Wes was evident. "Is he really doing okay? Did he mention Fred at all?"

Looking to Cordy, he spoke, "He said he thinks Fred is trying to block it all." Angel hated
his family to be hurting and Fred, despite it all, was pretty fragile in many ways.

"That is how she deals though. She probably just needs some time. For all we know, we
might all be dead by the time Wes has to go work for Bernie. I am all for thinking of the
future but they need to focus on now. Anything this life has taught me, you really just
have to live for now." She stepped off the elevator once it opened in the parking garage.
She made her way to the GTX, assuming that was the car they were taking for the
evening.

Shame he didn't have his fleet of cars he had in the other dimension but then there was
something comforting about the old Plymouth. Those other cars were wonderful but the
GTX, hands down, was The Angelmobile as it had been fondly nicknamed. He opened
the door for her to slide in. "I know. The thing is any of us could...Well, it’s the nature of
the job."

He also had to ask himself which was better, a fleet or cars or a family with children that
were biologically his, that he got to watch grow up. When happiness was pitted against a
fleet of cars, it didn't compare. She got into the GTX, sliding over as best she could in the
dress. She was trying to keep it from sliding up, from that slit revealing too much thigh.
"Its not a job anymore, Angel. It’s a life. It never was a job for you, it’s not a job for us
anymore."

Angel got in the car and closed the door. He looked over at her. "It was never a choice for
me, either. All of you could have walked any time. You, Wes, and Gunn could have not
taken me back those years ago. You guys actually didn't do to bad for yourselves."

"Didn't do too bad?" She raised a brow as she looked over at him. "We did way better
than you did, buster. We got a big paying case right off the bat. That is money. Green
stuff. And we had a party. When was the last time you had a party?"

"You also got a third eye in the back of your head," he replied with a grin. "Though I bet
with the twins that would come in handy now."

"It would help with Ian, that is for sure. I caught him climbing up the drainpipe the other
day and..." She stopped herself when she realized what she was doing. She was getting
too comfortable with this Angel. She had done it before, when she thought she was going
to die. Now, she was fine, no threats. She couldn't help it though, as she fell into the
normal conversation routine with Angel. She cleared her throat, shifting on her seat.
"Where to?"

Starting the car, he put it in gear and headed on out of the parking garage. "I thought
maybe an evening of dancing, slow dancing.... And a surprise."

"You hate dancing...I am assuming. Angel hated dancing. I think he would have rather
faced an entire vampire nest than have to spend five minutes dancing." She looked over
at him; waiting for him to either agree with her or flat out lie to her that he liked to dance.

"Well, yeah, I don't like a lot of dancing, you know. But sometimes a something you
don't like is a good thing for you." He kept his eyes on the road. "The twins don't like
broccoli but you still make them eat it."

"Because broccoli prevents cancer. Dancing doesn't. I would just rather not spend my
night away from the twins with an uncomfortable mess of vampire. We can just go to the
movies like always, if you want." She was more concerned with her own well being. She
didn't want to have to deal with a broody vampire because they went dancing and she
didn't want her toes smashed because he couldn't dance.

He turned the car onto Sunset and kept going. "I'm not uncomfortable," he replied. "I've
relaxed and the perfect picture of comfortable."

"You aren't a very good liar, Angel." She turned her head to watch the scenery pass. If he
wanted to make this night harder on himself, then she wasn't going to try to stop him
anymore. If she hadn't made that promise to Wes, she could have made this night really
horrible for him.

He pulled the car up at the Mondrian Hotel then got out and waited for her to slide on out.
He held out his hand to help her. A valet came around the car and stood waiting.

She let the valet open her door to step out. She learned her lesson from sliding into the
car. She wasn't sliding out of it. She looked over at Angel. "What? Sliding in this dress
puts my underwear in regions left best to the imagination."

"Not something to say around someone like me that has a very vivid imagination," He
said as he moved around and paid the valet then offered his arm to Cordy.

"How about you don't think about it and I won't have to stake you?" She said as she took
his arm. She was very serious about that. She didn't exactly like the idea of this Angel
thinking about what he had seen and what they had done.

Walking her to the elevator, he punched the button for the car and waited. When it
opened he let her step in then he did. He turned to the panel and punched a button but it
was for a floor of the hotel and not for SkyBar.

She raised a brow when she saw him push that button. She glanced over to him before
looking forward. "If you think I am going to have expensive hotel sex with you, you are
wrong." She wanted to make sure that was right out there on the table, first thing.

"I told you I had a surprise and its not just for you tonight," he glanced over at her.
"After this then we'll go up to SkyBar," he said and leaned over to her. "If you are a good
girl." Then he winked and smiled at her.

Now that remark just put her all off tilt but she wasn't about to show Angel that. What
was the good girl remark supposed to mean? He also had a twinkle in his eye that her
husband used to get before he did something devious. She looked back to the elevator
doors and then to the numbers without saying a word.

When they opened he stepped out and led her to a room. Unlocking the door he reached
in and flipped on the light. As it came on Ian jumped up and yelled "SURPRISE!"
Standing there were also Katy, Connor, and Lillian.

She smiled when she saw everyone there. She stepped into the room and then crouched
down, holding her arms open for Ian "Oh, you sneaky little thing. Come over here so I
can give you a kiss." She was speaking to Ian, naturally, not so much Angel.

Angel stood there a moment, waiting. He glanced to Connor and he nodded to his father.
Angel cleared his throat.

Ian ran to his mother, nearly tripping and falling in the process. Cordelia scooped him up
and then stood after giving him several kisses on his neck. He squealed with delight at the
attention. He was the center of the room now, even with his father clearing his throat.
"Mom! Mom! Mom!" Ian said quickly and firmly, pointing to something in the room.
"We got sundaes. I ate mine real fast and then my head started to hurt." Ian put both
hands to his forehead to emphasize his point.

Angel came up to Cordelia. "Everyone is here because we all decided something.
Something you are going to have to do for us." He looked to each of his children then
back to Cordelia.

Cordelia looked back to Angel for a moment and then to the rest of the kids. She still was
holding Ian. She didn’t like where this was going. She didn't like being cornered like this.
She was instantly on the defensive. She was so ready to rip Angel a new one but the kids
were here. "What?" She said tersely.

Angel took Ian. The boy grinned. "Me too! Me too," he squealed. Angel put the boy
down and indicated for Cordelia to follow him to a door that led to the second room.
When he opened it there was a man with cameras and lighting equipment. If anyone
would recognize the man it probably would be Cordy. It was fashion photographer
Christopher Zellor.

Now she did really not like this. There was a reason she had complained about her hips
earlier. This was just another painful reminder of a career she could have had. She wasn't
disappointed with her path but at times, she did miss the could have been, the visions of
her alternate life. "I am not comfortable right now. I want to go home. Now."

"Cordy, we...We thought...The kids wanted a portrait done," Angel said as he tried to
convince her.

Connor stepped forward. "Mom, we just thought...It would be nice. Mr. Zellor offered
since we saved his son from that vampire last month."

Cordelia looked back over her shoulder for Connor. She had a hard time telling him no
because every time she did, she was reminded of what a horrible life he had growing up.
Her heart rate though was giving away her discomfort at being ambushed like this.
"Connor, I just really don't think this is a good idea is all. We have plenty of pictures,
family stuff."

Connor sighed. "It wasn't family photos." He looked to Lillian. "Let's get the twins and
head back home." Disappointment filled his voice.

That disappointment broke her heart. She reached out and touched his arm to stop him.
"I will do it, okay? But how about we get everyone in the photo?" She normally wasn't
one to compromise but where the kids were concerned, she actually pushed all the selfish
aside. All her childhood issues just came rearing up and she swore to be better to her kids
than her parents were to her.

Angel had moved across the room just to look out the window at the lights of
Hollywood. He could hear the music from the bar if nobody else could and feel all the
humans. He just wanted this to be special this evening and it seems he fell short on that.

Connor nodded. "Yeah, that's good." But his gaze went to his father.

Her eyes went to Angel at the window. This was exactly what she didn't want to happen,
the full brood. She sighed softly. "Angel, are you going to come be in the picture or not?"

Kat moved away from Lillian then and went to her father. She looked up at him. She
didn't say a word to him but simply looked at him. She had wisdom in her eyes,
something reassuring. He might have thought he did the wrong thing but she knew better.

Angel looked down at his daughter. He reached out a hand down to her. He gave her a
smile then reached down and picked her up. He had wanted this to be something for
everyone but mostly for Cordelia to let her know how special she was to everyone, not
just him.

Ian, on the other hand, was far too excited about the prospect of a picture. He was
reaching up, pulling on the bottom of Connor's shirt. "We get to be in the picture too! I
want to be in the front. Connor, will you be in the front with me?"

Connor ruffled his little brother's hair. "Oh, man, if you're in it you'll break the camera,"
he said. This had originally been meant for just Cordy but she had worked it into a family
affair and Ian was ever ready to take center stage.

Ian looked up at Connor and pushed the hands away as he messed up his hair. He
stepped away, smoothing his hair back down. "Not the hair." He stuck his tongue out the
side of his mouth as he fixed his hair with his hands.

Cordelia did smile just the smallest bit watching this whole interaction between
everyone. It was good to see Connor in a good mood. "Well, are we going to do this
thing?"

Angel turned and carried Katy back to the group. "I think a family portrait is a great
idea," he said putting Katy down beside her mother. He then looked to each of his kids
then to Cordy.

Cordelia kneeled down to look at Kat. She gave her a smile. "I take it you want to sit on
Angel's lap instead of mine?" She was hoping that she could use this to connect with the
little girl, if only for a brief moment.

Kat looked at her mother for a moment, as if she was studying her. Then she smiled. "I
will sit with you, mommy. Ian can sit with daddy." Kat held her hand out to her mother
for her to take.

Zellor came to them now. "So, is our family discourse in harmony now so we can create
something for lasting memories?"

Angel glanced at the photographer. "I've got a photographic memory. They all last for
me."

Cordelia took Kat's hand and then stood up. She nodded to Zellor. "Where do you want
us?"

Zellor indicated the couch. "Mom, Dad, you should be center figure of all this since after
all, if not for you these lovelies wouldn't be."

Cordelia looked over to Connor and Lillian. "You kids need to be in the picture too." She
moved over to the couch. She still had Kat's hand in hers. Once she sat down on the
couch, she reached down to pick Kat up and put her into her lap.

Ian started to pull on his father's shirt just has he had done with Connor's moment earlier.
"Dad! Dad! We hafta go sit on the couch. All the guys together. Come ooooon." He drew
the last word out as if his dad was taking an eternity with this photograph thing.

"Okay...Okay," Angel said as he sat down and picked up Ian. This was going to be
interesting to see how long the boy could be still for this. Angel looked over at Cordelia
and Katy a moment.

Cordelia's head was down as she fixed Kat's clothing and got her situated on her lap. She
raised her head when she felt eyes on her, though. She raised a brow at Angel. "What?
Do I have something on my face?"

Zellor rolled his eyes. "This just not going to do," he said. "Mr. and Mrs., I never
caught a last name here...but Family...Family, now move closer and lean to her more."

Angel shook his head. "I was just thinking how this isn't turning out so bad after all." He
moved as the photographer directed which put Cordy's back to his left side with Ian on
his right leg.

Cordelia waited for Connor and Lillian to move behind herself and Angel in the picture.
She turned her attention back towards the camera, keeping Kat in her lap. She knew Kat
would stay still so she didn't need to hold her down. Ian was being oddly well behaved
for the time being. She had to wonder if Connor didn't bribe him with something.

Connor took Lillian's hand and brought her to behind the couch. "See, you've got no
choice. You're part of this circus of a family, like it or not and now will be immortalized
so you can't deny it in a family photo."

Lillian laughed as Connor took her hand and led her behind the couch. "Is this like the
initiation into the little family? You have to sit for family portraits? Or do we actually go
a more traditional route?"

"This is just proof so you can't deny it," he told her. "Oh, we got something special
planned for you my pretty...Mwahhaaaa." He leaned to her as he gave that evil laugh.

Lillian laughed again; turning away as Connor leaned towards her. She pushed gently on
his chest. "I don't think anyone wants a picture with you doing your evil laugh and
making THAT face." Lillian tried to straighten herself out but she was trying to hide
another burst of laughter. She finally cleared her throat, getting more of it out of her
system with a few escaped chuckles.

"Yes, yes," Zellor said and started snapping shots. When he finished, he switched out
lenses. "Now for Mother. Everyone out of the frame."

Cordelia had to admit that she was over her first bit of being uncomfortable at the
ambush. She was all for surprises but it would have been nice if someone had told her.
She would have worked a little harder on her makeup and her clothing. She hesitantly put
Kat off her lap. She would just do a few to please the kids and then that was it.

Angel pulled the children aside with him. This was what he had wanted, her to feel
special. He watched as Zellor set to work.

Zellor looked at Cordelia and smiled. "Why is it you haven't been discovered before,
dear? Those cheek bones and that smile...Now just be natural and make the love for the
lens." He readied his camera to start shooting.

Kat looked up at her father, giving him that same confident smile that she had before
when he was having his doubts. Ian was not nearly as calm. He was squirming around
after having been forced to sit still for so long. He looked up at Angel. "Can I pleeease go
play video games? Please?" He danced around almost like he had to pee.

Make the love for the lens, that was a phrase that Cordelia had never heard before in her
life. Something about the way Zellor said it. She knew he was about to shoot but she
burst out laughing. She covered her mouth, shaking her other hand. "Sorry. Sorry..."

Zellor took those shots of her laughing. "Good! That is great," he said. "Much better then
the frown from earlier." Zellor continued to direct her now as he snapped those shots.

"I wasn't frowning." She lowered her hand away from her face and moved her other one
down as well. She wasn't frowning...That much. She smiled for the family photos.

Angel nodded to Ian. "In the other room, and don't get noisy," he said. He turned back to
watch Cordelia and was hoping she'd start feeling more at ease and almost a little like the
old Cordelia...The self confident girl that, well, he had to admit now was part of what
drew him to her. She never sugar coated or glossed over anything with him. She was
never afraid of him. She had been through so much though so he could understand her
going from hesitant to the Ice Queen. She was just protecting herself from heartache
again.

Ian took his sister's hand and pulled her out of the room. "They got a game we can both
play." Ian took his sister mostly out of the room so that they could talk about this latest
little development. They needed to plot about what to do next for getting their parents
back together.

Cordelia had been far from sugar coating or glossing over anything for this Angel. Most
of what she said was out of pain over the loss of her husband though. The fact that his
ashes were missing had been bothering her for a few days now, since the discovery. As
the thought popped into her head, her face changed.

"Connor, I think its time to take the kids home," Angel said. Then he looked to Zellor. "I
think we got enough. Just bring the proofs by the hotel." He went and shook the man's
hand then moved back to Cordy. "Let's go on up and get something to eat and just relax
the rest the evening...If that's what you want."

Cordelia snapped out of her thoughts and looked at Angel. She nodded her head.
"Yeah...that sounds good." She got up from the couch before moving to give each of the
kids a hug and a kiss on the cheek. "If you rented the room, Angel, the kids could
probably stay here a bit longer. I know, we live in a hotel but this is one where they don't
have to clean it up when they leave."

"Shhh, don't let them know that," he whispered to her. He grabbed her wrap and purse
for her. "I was hoping you'd decide to go on up. That dress needs to be shown off, as well
as the lady in it."

She took the purse from him. "I figure this will probably be the only time I will get to
wear it out." She looked to the four kids, giving them all a smile. She had to admit to
herself that she did like this life. It might be filled with danger and death every day but
she had never felt more appreciated and loved. She had the best family, which was really
what she wanted. Comparing herself to the rest of the world, she was the ultimate
because of the people around her.

Walking her to the door after giving the twins a hug and Lillian a kiss on her cheek,
Angel waited for Cordy to step on out so they could take the elevator on up to SkyBar.

-TBC-