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29 June 2006 @ 04:27 pm
Walking In My Shoes (13/?)  
Title: Walking In My Shoes (13/?)
Author: Kelly and Mike (collaborative writing team)
Rating: Chapters range from PG-15 to NC-17
Chapter: Chapter Thirteen rated PG-15
Email: jjsoapchat AT yahoo DOT com
Scenes include: Cordelia, Wesley, Angel, Angelus, Connor, Ian.
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.
Notes: Cast List: Kelly writes for Cordelia, Gunn, Lorne, Lillian, Kat, Ian, Illyria/Fred, Lilah, Eve, Faith, Gwen. Mike writes for Angel(us), Connor, Wes, random filler chars.
Feedback: Yes, please. Tell us how we are doing!

Cordelia had to make one more phone call before she went to see Wes. Since Lillian was a student at the school, the school was not only her contact information but also her medical proxy. Cordelia needed to arrange for home care for Lillian. The Slayer-in-training needed to be back here, at the hotel, where there was an antiviolence spell. And with Lillian here, Connor would stay rather than go out hunting Angelus. It only took but fifteen minutes before it was all arranged. It wasn't the first time Lillian had been in the hospital. It wouldn't be the last since she was a Slayer. She hung her cellphone up and finally went to Wes' room. She knocked on the door, waiting for him to answer.

Wesley was up now and able to function for the most part. He had a pretty good black eye and cut lip. His arm was in a sling. He answered the door to see Cordelia. "I was just going to come speak to you."

She wasn't in the mood for any sort of light heartedness. She had come here to talk plans. She came into the room and closed the door behind her. "It IS Angelus. Angel, from another dimension. Connor just called me to tell me. I don't know how he knows but Angelus attacked Lillian."

Wesley sighed and indicated a chair for her. "If we only knew why and how he came to be here." He was ever the curious mind. "Fred and I will mix up the tranquilizers. Its past dawn, he'll be looking for someplace to hold up for the day. It shan't be far from the hospital."

Cordelia took the offered seat. She needed it. She hadn't slept all night. She looked bone weary with dark circles around her eyes, puffy from having cried all night over the loss of her husband. Now though, was not the time to mourn. They had a battle to deal with. "I have to take the twins to the safehouse. I am betting that since this Angel is from another dimension, he doesn't know about it. That explains the memory loss though."

"Actually there would be no memory loss because he didn't have those memories to start with," Wesley reminded her in that annoying way of his. "I just hope he can't sense them like their real father could. Tea?"

Her jaw tightened. She wasn't in the mood for Wesley correcting her. She just found out she lost her husband and Angelus was loose all in the same hour. "I meant that when this other dimension Angel showed up, we all thought he had memory loss. It turns out he never had the memories."

"Yes. Now the question is, what do we do about him?" He looked at Cordy, waiting for her answer.

That was when she realized it. With Angel gone, she was in charge now. They were going by seniority rules. She was the one who had been here the longest. She straightened up. "I want to know why. I want answers, Wes. So we tranq him, we resoul him, we get our answers, and then we send him back to wherever the hell he is from."

"I will have to find another orb," he nodded. "We'll have to fix something we can contain him in or with. I'm sure you remember how strong and crafty Angelus is.

"We still have the cage. We might have to check it for rust. I am glad now Angel thought to keep it around in case we came across werewolves." There was a tinge of sadness that entered her voice as she mentioned her now dead husband. "Lorne will be at LAX tonight. If anyone can find one, he can. Who can say no to a worldwide singing sensation?" She smiled but it was forced. Her attempt at lightening the mood was no attempt at all.

Wes nodded once more. "Then we will do a live capture," he said. "After all it probably isn't any fault of his own that he is here. You did say he seemed so much like our Angel before Angelus took over. Poor bastard having to still live in that fear..." He paused, realizing just now how it was Angelus came to be here. He poured his cup of tea.

As Wes paused, she felt a knot grow in her stomach. The need to defend herself was rising up in her. "You can blame me all you want. But I thought he was my Angel. Or maybe...maybe I just wanted it to be." She looked down now at her hands in her lap. Her eyes drawn to the wedding ring on her finger.

"I'm not assigning blame," he told Cordelia.

"You might not be saying these things but I can tell it in your eyes. Asking yourself how could I not know?" She was tired and it was making her snap. Or more so, it was the accusation in Connor's voice. It was so hard to get him to trust and now, now she had ruined the delicate balance they had achieved. She took in a breath and looked up at Wes. "I want to know what happened." Cordelia had an odd sense of deja vu when she said that. It had been so long ago that she was poised outside of his apartment door, waiting for him to answer the door.

----Summer 2002----

Cordelia had put off coming to see Wes for as long as possible. Her and Angel...they needed his help. There was no way around it. He was the best when it came to this sort of thing. And what Angel didn't know...She knocked again. She knew he was home, she could hear him moving around inside.

Wesley answered the door. He didn't look like the same person that she had seen weeks before. His eyes held a coldness to them as he looked at her.

"I want to know what happened." That is all she said as she stood there. No one had asked Wes why he had taken Connor. They had just pieced it together from his notes and made assumptions. She wanted to hear it straight from the horse's mouth. The answer didn't satisfy her, her and Angel would have to learn to enjoy being celibate.

"And now you care, why," he asked. They had all abandoned him when Angel had turned on him. He could get none of them to understand why he did it. He had tried. He turned and went back into his apartment, not closing the door. He sat and went back to loading the clips of for his guns.

She followed in to his apartment. She was glad right now that she didn't need an invitation. She wouldn’t have gotten one. She shut the door behind her. "Why else? I want something." She never was one for the lying. She was more adept at...creative subterfuge. She moved into his kitchen to put on a pot for tea.

Finishing a clip, he picked up the Glock and loaded it. He put it down and went to work on another. "I told Fred why," he said, not looking at her though he was totally aware of where she was at all times.

"I didn't say I wanted to hear it from Fred, did I? I came to you and I want you to tell me what happened." After the kettle was on, she came out of the kitchen. She didn't sit down but instead, stood there, looking at him.

"I read in the prophecy a passage in reference to the vampire with a soul and the son born to him. And the father will kill the son," he said. "I thought I was protecting both Connor and Angel. I was going to disappear with Connor and keep him safe."

"And what about all the secret meetings with Holtz? Come on, don't talk to me like I am some dumb high school cheerleader, which I never was. If I have to remind you from my SAT scores."

"At first it was to try and reason with him," Wes finished another clip. "I wanted him to stop what he was doing and see that Angel was not the same creature he'd hunted centuries ago."

She moved to sit next to him now. She reached for his hand to stop him. "Why didn't you call me? I left the number. Why didn't you talk to Gunn or Fred? Wes..." She let her voice trail off.

"The more that knew, the most likely it would get to Angel," he said and stopped, clip in on hand, bullet in the other. "If it got back to Angel he would have at the least disappeared with Connor out of fear. Connor is something he never thought he could have and I know this."

"Thanks for the vote of trust." She pulled her hand away from him. "You would have told me how scared you were that Angel really would have killed Connor, I would have helped you. We could have figured it out together. At what point did you decide your family wasn't worth trusting?"

"Prophecies have a way of coming true," he reminded her. "And if found out I wanted to protect everyone else and only have Angel's wrath fall on me. Even with a soul he can be rather brutal."

: "You might not be able to realize what you did...but you did exactly what Angel did when he fired us. You withdrew into yourself. You didn't come to any of us for help. And you went to a really dark place. All it would have took, in both cases, was for one of you to reach out."

"I am still there," is all he said and continued to load his clip then put it into the pistol as if to punctuate his statement.

"So...this is how you want it to be? Fine. Push away your family, Wes. And I am talking about your real family. We've all made mistakes. Angel firing us. Me not telling you all I was dying. You with Holtz and Connor. I am sure Gunn and Fred are real close to screwing up. But we always come back to each other."

He looked at her finally. "I had my throat slit then was almost murdered in my hospital bed." Wesley stood and took the guns. He put them in the holsters hanging close to the door.

"None of us slit your throat. Your newfound friend Holtz's bitch Justine did that. You know, the guy you trusted instead of your friends." She stood up now, heading for the door. "You know where we are...when you come to your senses."

"What is it you wanted," he asked, turning to her before she got to the door.

She debated for a moment of not even telling him. But what could it hurt? "Angel and I are together. Not together together. But he's suffered enough and we want to be able to be together in that perfect happiness way. Fred only went so far with your books about souling a vampire. And you have the contacts we need."

"Making his soul, permanent," Wesley said in that quiet tone of his. It was clear he was reflecting on this idea. "I broached him once about it, about the possibility. And I know some that might be able to help. But in doing that, it may ruin the Shanshu Prophecy. That was why he refused."

"Then I guess we just need to find a way so that it doesn't. Who knows when that is going to be. I am not going to wait around a century for the Apocalypse so Angel can be a real boy." She paused for a moment as she looked at Wesley. "This is...deeper than just the two of us getting laid. Angel said he wants to go beyond dating, for me to be his mate. And I know what that means. I've been doing my research."

"For a vampire, that is no small deal," he agreed. "It was why Darla was so adamant to get him back."

"Yeah...well...now you can see why we want to take care of this." She moved a little closer to Wesley now. "Wes, you are like my brother. Gunn too. And Fred is like my strange cousin. Lorne, our crazy uncle. We are a big dysfunctional family and it’s wonderful. Why don't you...come home?"

"I'm not sure the head of the family is quite ready for the prodigal black sheep to return."

She gave him the slightest hint of the smile. "We both know that Angel isn't the boss. He's never been the boss."

: "I will see what I can do," he told her.

"Thank you, Wesley." Her smile widened when he said that. What more could she ask? If he did this for Angel...well it would be redeeming. She'd just have to work on Angel too. She didn’t mind harassing him about those sorts of things. She eventually always got her way. And the making up was fun.

Cordelia shook her head, coming back to the present. She blinked away the memory and looked back at Wesley. "I want to know what happened...with Angel. I have a right."

Wesley sighed, this was not a story he liked to retell but she was right. Cordy had a right to know. "We found that nest of Viskel Dracanus demons that had been helping the others terrorize the Academy. But they were threatening a convalescent home. One was fixing to eviscerate a paraplegic girl..." He paused, waiting for her reaction.

She kept no expression on her face. They had already faced so much together. The thought of demons going after invalids wasn't that surprising. She just kept her eyes on Wesley as she waited for him to continue.

"Angel interceded," he finally added. "The demon decapitated him instead of going after the child. I grabbed girl up and got her out."

She was quiet for what seemed like hours before she finally spoke. Her voice was breaking as she did so. She was trying desperately to keep the emotions in check. "Then he died how he would have wanted to. Helping the helpless."

Wesley nodded. "And he took the demon out just at the same split instant. He was the Champion to the end, Cordelia."

She could take some comfort in that fact. That Angel had fought to the very last. She swallowed hard to push her emotions back to herself. "We should probably both get going. We have things to do. I am taking the twins to the safehouse so I will be back in a few hours. I assume you are going to be going to find some Shaman to help with the spell again? So at least let me heal you so you don't draw attention to yourself”

“No, I don't think this time I will need to. I do, however, need to find an Orb of Thesulah.”

"Still creeped out by the healing thing huh?" She could tell when he was making excuses. She got up though. There was too much that had to be done now for her to sit here and argue with Wes about this. "The Powers gave me powers for a reason."

"It’s just, the feeling," he didn't want to say what affect it had on him.

: "Oh, you mean the happy in your pants feeling? Yeah, I know. Only seems to happen to guys...and Faith. But let's face it, she enjoys it." She paused as she reached out to gently touch Wes' arm. With Wes, she wouldn't do it unless he wanted it. "Thank you." It was hard to tell what she was thanking him for. It could be because he told her. Or because he wasn't angry with her for thinking this other dimension Angel was her husband. Or it could go beyond that. Perhaps she was thanking him for just being. For him just being here was enough to warrant thanks.

Wes nodded to her again. "Just make sure the children are well safe," he said. "They would be what Angelus tries for first."

"Xander has never let us down before. Remember that troupe of demons with the whole hanging things out of their jaws." She moved her hand around her mouth. "He killed, what, three of them himself to keep them from getting to the twins. I have faith in him."

"Yes, and we know he only does that for you. He's not a big fan of either myself or Angel."

"What can I say? I am fabulous." She tried for a smile but it was so tinged with exhaustion and sadness, it could hardly be regarded as such. "I am not telling the twins until this is all over. I am just going to tell them that their father is Angelus on the drive up and to follow the rules. Thank the Powers we taught them a contingency plan”

"What you think is best," Wesley moved to get his jacket. "The sooner I get the orb the sooner we can resoul Angelus before he does much more damage."

"Hopefully this Angel doesn't have some walking in the sun secret." As he got his coat, she was already at the door. She held it open for both of them. "If you can't find it, Lorne will be in tonight. He knows where we can get an Orb."

"I'm sure I'll turn one up," he said. "People have been collecting them as paperweights."

She shook her head at Wes. She headed back down the hall towards the stairs so she could go downstairs. She had to wake to the children and get them packed up. They loved their Uncle Xander so it wouldn't be too hard.

Angelus had come put through the sewer access into the basement levels of the Hyperion. Where would the last place he'd be that the Crusaders would look. Often in plan sight was the best place to hide. He also thought with any luck one of them might wander down here and he could have a little fun and a mid day snack. Angelus grinned as he stood with his arms crossed and shoulder leaning on the wall by that air duct. It was like listening in on a phone conversation. "Taking the little ones to see Uncle Xander," he said. "How sweet is that?"

Angelus looked to the stairs. Damn antiviolence spell, they should be illegal. He could smell them up there, what a delicious treat the twins would be. More so making Cordelia watch as he made them squeal like piglets and beg daddy not to hurt them. Then there was that school full of slayers, which could offer entertainment. Pryce, that annoying twit would have to be dealt with before he could pull Angel's soul from the Ether. Yes, it was Angel's soul, not his. Disgusting thing, it was like a cancer inside him.

Ian opened the door to the basement, calling back to his mother who just inside of the lobby. "I have to get Mr. Monster. I lefted him down here." Ian was humming with excitement. He always loved these trips to see Uncle Xander. He was so cool and he had a big wooden fort in his back yard and he let him play paintball, which he wasn't going to tell mom about cause then she would say no and the best thing was that always had cookies.

The vampire watched the boy from the shadows. This was too good, too sweet. "Peeky boo, I see you," he said in a singsong voice.

Hearing his father's voice, Ian broke out into a wide smile. He moved away from the door and crouched down. He grabbed the railing for the stairs with both hands so that he could peer down into the dark basement. His eyes searched all around for his father. He laughed wildly. "Where are you?"

"I thought you were a monster hunter, boyo," Angelus said like he was playing with the boy. Well, he was. He wasn't above playing with his food.

Ian looked back towards the door. He knew how his mom would be if he was even a half second late. He was suppose to come in, get his stuffed animal, and leave. But this...this was Da! "We can't play. We hafta go. You comin' with us?"

He stepped from the shadows. "Hey, if I say we can play then we can play," Angelus said.

He saw his father downstairs now, just a few feet from the big cage that was "not for playing in, Ian!". He grinned and stood up. He was slow going down the stairs. His coordination was not nearly as perfected as his sister. She had far more grace than he did.

Angelus stepped towards the stairs and the boy. He held out his hand so he could take hold of him as soon as he was in reach. "C'me on," he said, "let's surprise mom with a game."

Ian reached out for that hand, still a few steps away. But he stopped. He pulled his hand back quickly. He could hear his mother shouting for him. He turned his head to look back up the stairs, expecting her to come down.

"Ian, c'me on," he begged the child. "Let's play hide and seek from mommy. I'll even let you play in the sewer tunnel."

"She sounds really mad. And that means no ice cream on the way." He was already starting up the stairs. This kid was all stomach. The idea of playing in the sewers was fun but the lure of ice cream on the way to Uncle Xander's was by far, a more powerful force in the young boy's mind.

"I'll take you to Haagan Das."

Ian paused, halfway to the door, where his safety lay, and halfway to his certain death and defilement. Uncle Xander had paintball and a wood fort though. He was so torn. He heard his mother call for him once again. That was when the door opened, flooding the dimly lit basement with light from upstairs.

Angelus moved away from the stairs then. Damn the rug rat.

Cordelia had already stepped through the door and caught the movement of Angelus. That bastard had some brass balls. She looked at Ian with a frown. "Get up there and go find your Uncle Wes with Kat." The little boy scurried past her. The tone was enough to tell him that mom was mad. If only he knew it was at Angelus and not at him. She started to come down the stairs. "Kind of a bold move for a coward like you?"

"And you dare to step down in the den," he said watching her. He was so ready to have his way with this bitch.

"I am not the kind of girl that sits at home while you go around murdering all my friends and family." She knew there were plenty of weapons down here. What was the point of waiting and the plan when she could take Angelus on right now? She knocked him back into the cage and shut the door quickly, this would all be over and done with. She'd fought tougher than the so-called Scourge. Then again, different dimension. He might have different tricks. She was willing to run the risk.

"Then I'll just have to kill you first," he said as his true face appeared. "Or maybe there is a better torture for you." He leaped and then came down behind her.

He was a little too predictable for her taste. The Angelus that managed to get out here for a few days did almost the same thing. She was prepared. She spun around and already had her block prepared. Good thing Wes didn't want her to heal him. She would need all her strength for the fight.

He went for a fake left but at the last minute when down for a sweeping kick to take her legs out from under her.

She was prepared to block the left but the kick took her slightly by surprise. She was only able to dodge at the last moment. The Powers at least had given her a little bit of speed to go along with the demon powers. What good was a slow Seer? She stumbled back with the defensive move. The room was filled with weapons but her fingers couldn't seem to find one. "Have to say, kind of disappointed in alternate dimension you."

"Well, let me give you a kiss then you can tell me if you are," He said then decided to go right at her. He leaped on her to take her down to the floor. Those sharp fangs of his were bared now.

She wasn't able to dodge the tackle as she fell back hard against the concrete floor. That was going to leave a mark to be sure. When in doubt, always go for the most sensitive part. She brought her knee up to try to meet with his groin as her hands struggled to get something out of her jeans.

Those fangs were right at her neck. He was so ready to do the worse to her, turn her. Just as his fangs scathed her skin, he froze. He felt an unbelievable pain. He felt up all the way up in his throat. Why the hell do women do that? She got him right in the goods. He didn’t scream or make a noise of any kind.

Once she knew that she had him and he had paused, that is when she brings out the big guns. She got the small vial of holy water out from her jeans. With Angelus around, she could never be too prepared. She brought it up and splashed it in his face. With that, she shoved him hard in the chest to get him off her. The cage seemed so far away.

Now that holy water brought him to, out of one haze of pain and into another. The smell of burning flesh filled his nostrils, his burning flesh! He screamed as he fell back. "YOU MOTHER FUCKIN' BITCH!" His hand was over the side of his face that Cordelia had hit with the holy water.

"Thanks for the compliment." She was at her feet in an instant. She figured if she kicked him enough, he might go tumbling back into the cage. She brought her leg back and kicked him under the chin with one of those deadly pointed Manolos.

When Cordy brought that leg up he caught her foot then twisted it. As he did that, he shoved hard to send her flying back. "That so wasn't very nice."

He didn't break her ankle, of which she was thankful. He merely sprained it. Shoved back with his vampire strength, she goes flying. She would have kept going if the wall hadn't been there to stop her. She hit it, falling forward against the concrete. She puts her hands on the concrete, struggling to get to her feet again. She was not going to let him get away.

"But I've got places to be and people to do." Angelus had made his way right to where the open sewer grate was. Once again, he was going to have to feed to heal, not just for fun.

She got to her feet just in time to see him at that sewer grate. She had one shot. She yanked a throwing axe off the wall and hurled it at him. She had aimed for his shoulder and chest on the side opposite his heart. She didn't want to kill him. Just make him hurt really badly.

Angelus dropped down into the sewers. The ax embedded itself in a support. From the grate, his laugh could be heard be heard and then silence.

She leaned back against the wall and closed her eyes. Her ankle was throbbing. The rest of her didn't feel so good either. She needed to heal. And then call Connor to come seal off all underground access to the hotel. And then take the twins to the safehouse. Hopefully by tonight when she returned, Wes would have some good news about the Orb.

Connor entered the hotel as he saw Cordelia come up from the basement. He just looked at her, no emotion on his face then he moved to the weapons cabinet. Pulling off his jacket, he put on the retractable stakes. He put his coat back on. He started grabbing stakes and a few other things. No, this wasn't going to be a quick death for Angelus. It was going to be slow and painful. He pulled out a large bottle of holy water. Ever see what happens to a vampire when tortured with the stuff? When carefully measured and used it could bring torment for the undead thing for hours.

She came up the basement stairs after healing herself, looking worse for wear. She made a mental note to get the guys to hose that place down. There was dust everyplace. At least the twins had done as she asked, gone to find Wesley. She looked at Connor with a frown. "I know what you are planning and don't." She still hadn't told Connor about Angel. Their relationship was finally getting to some even ground and now this. She only hoped this imposter wasn't going to taint his memory of his father.

"Oh, I don't think you even begin to have a clue as to what I'm going to do," he said as he closed the doors of the cabinet.

"Connor...come here..." She moved closer to him. She was very careful in taking his elbow to lead him over to the couch. She wasn't frightened of him. She just didn't want to make him even more jumpy than he already was.

"I really don't think we have much of anything to discuss," Connor moved with her but it was clear he wasn’t going to be very receptive to whatever she had to say. "There is a depraved demon on the loose and needs to be dealt with."

She waited for him to sit down, turning to him. "I am more than aware of that. He and I just had a great date downstairs. But he isn't from this world. Wes and I agreed that the best thing to do is a live capture, resoul him, and send him back to whereever he came from. Now, you aren't going after him to kill him. We are running the same plan we did the last time Angelus got loose. Understood?" She knew the best way to deal with Connor was not ask him politely. He was like a young lion. You had to show dominance.

"I was so planning on capturing him alive if possible." His posture was straight, not relaxed. He had slipped back into his defiant and deadly “Destroyer mode”. He would need his head clear to be able to take down Angelus.

"Capturing him and torturing him. This isn't a solo mission and it’s not up for discussion. You need to stay here with your girlfriend. I already arranged for home care and they should be here soon to set things up. Do you want her to wake up alone here?"

"What, are you afraid I'll prove who's son I really am?" he asked, looking at her. "Afraid to find out that Angelus is my true father not Angel?"

"Oh honey, no..." She reached for his hands and looked into his eyes. "I know whose son you are. Angel's. Mine. Our family isn't about blood, it’s about love." She sighed softly. She was going to have to bite the bullet sooner or later here. "Wes...Wes saw Angel, our Angel, die. He died saving a girl from a demon. So now, it’s just us. And I need you to be on my side on this."

"So, why do you care what happens to this poser?" Connor just glances down at her hand then back at her face. “Who says he isn't some demon in glamour?" Connor still wasn't going with the idea of him not catching this creep and giving him a bit of his own medicine back.

"I want answers. And Angelus isn't exactly forthcoming unless he is lording over you. That is all I care about. Some kind of explanation. If we find out he is some evil demon in glamour, I promise you that you can do whatever you want to him. Bamboo under the fingernails, tying him to a cactus with wet leather, whatever you want. But I want my answers first and for that, he needs his soul back." Cordelia answered him. She was trying her best to convince him that this was the best way.

"And just what answers are you looking for?" Connor stood and paced away. "He comes from another dimension, what the hell does it matter? It has no baring here."

"I think I have a right to know why and how. This could have all been avoided if he had been honest in the first place. And if where he is from has mastered some kind of interdimensional travel, it could be useful for us in the future. If you get sucked into some portal and end up in Poodle Hell, don't you want us to get you out as soon as possible?"

"And how many times have I told you all magic isn't good? Every time all of you try it things blow up in our faces."

"You get sucked into a portal, I am not going to sit around going 'Oh well, we need magic to get him out and that's bad. Let's just leave him'. No, I am going to get in there and I am going to find you. There is always some bad with the good. It’s just life. Yes, when we souled Angel before, we had to take his soul out first. And yes, Angelus got out for a few days. But we got things righted and your father lived his last years happy. You can't hate him that much that you wanted both of us miserable? That you would take back that spell Wes used and the twins would disappear? It doesn't always have to be negative."

"And now he is out again. Killing and god knows what else," Connor said quietly. That coldness in his voice could freeze hot lava.

"You can blame me all you want. Fact of the matter is that with Angel gone, I am in charge now. And besides that, I am your mother. I really have half a mind here to take you over my knee." There was seriousness to her voice that she was really contemplating it.

"Like he was in charge before," Connor said. That statement wasn't a joke, it was a fact. Much the same way Nancy Reagan actually ran the country even though Ronnie was the President, Cordelia ran Angel Investigations even though Angel’s name was on the stationary.

"Yeah, well, I liked to let Angel think he was in charge. It made it a lot easier for everyone." She knew exactly what he meant. She gave him a little bit of a smile. "Come here." She gestured since he had stood while she remained on the couch.

Turning, Connor walked back to her and stood in front of her. He didn't say anything and he still had that look in his eyes, the one that wants blood. There was nothing she could say that would convince him that torturing Angelus slowly wasn’t the best thing to do in this situation.

She got up from the couch and she put her arms around him. She pulled him in for a hug. It was sneaky, yes, but she was going to calm him down. She had to do it so many times before, it was ingrained now. Seemed every time she hugged him, she slipped him some mojo to calm him down.

This was totally dirty pool and he fell for it every time. Suddenly, he felt warm all over as she hugged him and it was like his breath was being pulled from him and yet he could still breath. Connor blinked trying to gather himself.

Cordelia always felt that deep down, he knew she was going to do it and he wanted her to. One of these days, she found finally cleanse him of all that hate and resentment. One day, his first reaction wouldn't be violence. She just hoped that day was soon, especially since he found Lillian. She pulled away from him, skin still harboring a warm glow. "Hospital will be here soon with Lillian. You better get everything ready." She said quietly to him.

Connor only nodded then he turned to go up to his suite. The bloodlust was sated, for now. There was no telling, however, with Cordelia gone at the safehouse, if it wouldn’t creep back up again.

She sighed as she watched him go. Maybe now...FINALLY..she could get the twins and get out of here. She followed upstairs after him after a few minutes to gather them from Wes’ watchful eye.

Cordelia drove back from the safehouse, mostly Xander's house, after dropping the twins off. He was happy to see them but then again, he was always happy to see them. They were happy to see him too. They could rough house with him like they used to do with Angel. He didn't seem to mind. He encouraged it. The thought of Angel was bittersweet at its best. She had so many good memories but now he was gone. She had made so many excuses before. At the end of the day, she was the one that brought Angelus down on them now. Her hands tightened around the steering wheel. She didn't want to remember the last time he was out. She only hoped that the people of his world hadn't used this same plan to capture him.

No, she wasn't going to remember the bad times. Now that Angel was gone, she had to focus on the good. There were so many good ones. She smiled softly to herself as she thought of the twins, thought of when she first told Angel. She counted that among the happiest days of her life and she knew he did too She remembered that time so vividly, even now, all these years later.

---- Summer 2003 ---- 

Angel and the guys had gone up to Sunnydale to help close the Hellmouth. It had been a rough few weeks for all of them involved here. A particular nasty vision of a malevolent power trying to rise had left Cordelia in less than optimal shape for going to fight some huge evil in Sunnyhell. She had non-stop visions of that as well: one of them trying to steal an amulet from Wolfram and Hart, that had left Faith and Gunn both pretty battered, one of all the Slayers in the world being activated. That one really took its toll on her. But what really caused her exhaustion was the fact that every night she kept Fred company in the lab as Fred worked on a solution to her and Angel's mutual desire to have children. It was near a dream come true when Fred had finally told her. She was at the clinic doors as soon as they opened with her sample, ready to go. Who knew it would only take the once with Angel's enhanced super sperm. The phone call with the positive test results had come only hours earlier when she heard the GTX pull into the garage.

Cordelia was trying to make herself look busy but in actuality, she was surfing designer maternity sites on the web. There was no way that she wasn't going to look her best with this pregnancy. If Darla could pull off a skintight red dress and still look good at 8 months, then she was so going for Versace. She closed out her windows quickly, grabbing some files from her desk to pretend at working.

Angel came up from the garage level by stairs as usual. He carried his weapons to the cabinet and started putting them away thought he was so tired, he was about to drop. Sword, throwing knives, stars, stakes from pockets all went into the cabinet. He pulled off his coat and took the spring-loaded stakes from his arms.

She watched him out of the corner of her eye as he started to put the weapons away. She wanted to tell him right now but she could tell that he was tired. "Everyone make it back alive?" Except for Spike but then again, she knew that already from her vision. She had told them all so. She opened the file cabinet and rather than check her filing, she just haphazardly put the folders where ever. Then again, to an outsider, her system did look pretty random and insane.

Closing the doors of the cabinet, he turned and walked to one of the couches. He sat down heavily. "For the most part," he said. "The Hellmouth is no more." He laid his head back, eyes closed. He had a gash on his forehead. His shirt was for the ragbag, injuries of various kinds under what was left of it.

Once the folders were put away, albeit a mess, she moved to get him some blood. He needed it. And it was as fresh as she could have gotten. She put it in to the microwave and reached to get the first aid kit. "Everyone else at home recovering? Is Connor coming or did you drop him off at an all you can eat buffet with twenty bucks again?" That kid was as bad as a Slayer; fighting and eating. Or it was fighting and having sex. Connor hadn't been seeing any girls, at least not any that she knew.

"Hmmm, yes and yes," he said and sat on up as she approached. He looked up at her and gave her that little bit of a smile that was reserved only for her.

She handed him the warmed blood and returned his special smile with one of her own. "Sit up more so I can fix you up." She set the first aid kit down and then sat down on the couch. She was near bursting with this news and it was so difficult for her to shut up long enough to patch Angel up.

After taking a drink of the blood, he put it down and took his tattered shirt off. It'll make another good rag to polish the GTX with so he doesn't get in trouble for taking the hand towels. "They aren't as bad as they look."

"Good because they look pretty bad." She chuckled. She opened the first aid kit and took out cotton balls and iodine. She wetted the cotton ball first, then reached up to gently pat the gash on his forehead.

Angel winced slightly. "You should have seen them right after the fight. Scoobies tried to make me stay but I told them I had somebody important waiting on me."

"I wish you would have let me at least drive up there with you. I wasn't THAT tired from my parade of visions this past month." She took out the Neosporin, even if it didn't help things, she liked to put it on. She gently rubbed it into the gash before she bandaged it up. "Where else?"

He indicated the wound in his right shoulder. It was a puncture wound. "And I think I broke a rib or two." He paused. "There wasn't any need in you going. You were having that round of visions and I know when they hit you like that you really aren't that great afterward."

"Thought the whole being half demon thing was suppose to be helping. But I guess having them one after another...." She trailed off as she started to tend the puncture wound. She was biting her lower lip as she desperately tried not to just blurt it out. It was coming though. She could feel it. And..."Angel, I'm pregnant."

"Well, if you remember, Doyle didn't exactly have an easy time with..." His voice trailed as what she said finally sank in. "Pregnant," he repeated. "But..." How could she be pregnant? He got a knot in his stomach when he thought how she might have. Hopefully, it wasn't like that. Hopefully, she hadn’t already broken their marriage vows. He knew that she would never do that to him. So it was another possibility. "You went to a sperm bank?"

She grinned wide. She could see the expression on his face so she knew that she needed to explain as soon as possible. "It was Fred. Well, I helped. I kept her company."

"Okay, so Fred," again, he spoke softly. "Fred got you what you needed."

"Kind of...sort of..." She didn't look at him. She instead focused on getting him patched up. She wanted him to feel better so they could celebrate. "I had been talking to Fred about children, just wishful thinking. And she said she knew how to do it. Mohra blood. So...I have been kind of...sneaking with collection and she tried some things until she got just the right combination to bring your little guys to life. I took it to the clinic when you were busy a few weeks back when you guys were raiding Wolfram and Hart. And well...I'm pregnant now." She looked up at him finally. She hoped that she explained it well enough for him.

Angel was trying to absorb all this. His face went through a whole range of expressions. He wasn't sure what to say. He wasn't sure what to do. But then he finally spoke, "My baby? A child...I know Connor but...that was...," he looked at her, "We're going to have a family?"

"That is what I have been trying to tell you, slowmo. Get on the train." She laughed as she threw her arms around his neck. She was mindful of his wounds though. "Yes, your baby. Our family. And we can have more. We can fill this hotel with our kids if you want."

His stunned expression became a big smile and he wrapped his arms around her and laughed. He buried his face in her shoulder trying to hide the face that he was also crying now.

She closed her eyes as he held her. She wanted so badly to give this to him. She wanted a family with him. They had a great family as it was but to give him this. It was a dream come true. And she knew The Powers had something to do with this. He had saved the world plenty of times. Now it was time for him to have some bit of a reward. She touched the back of his head softly. She had nothing to say. She just wanted to enjoy this moment.

Finally, he released her. "I just can't..." he said trying to find words and for a guy of few words, it was damn near impossible.

She reached up to wipe the tears away from his cheeks. "Shhhh, its okay. You'll have nine months to think of something to say." She chuckled, trying to break the strange tension that came up in the room. Either she could laugh or happy cry. "Good thing we took care of that curse already? Probably ranks up pretty high on the happiness list."

"My happiness scale has been in that perfect place since the day we got married," he told her.

She pulled away from him just enough so that she could take his hand and rest it against her stomach. "That is amazing considering the whole, stopping the end of the world twice thing." She smiled at him and then looked down at his hand. "Just a spot right now but its our spot."

Soon, he'd be able to sense that spot to be more. Soon, he would be able to feel his baby, hear its heartbeat, know if it was in trouble or happy or stressed. "So faint now," he said. "That's why I couldn't tell."

"I am glad you couldn't tell. I wanted this to be a surprise. So...you surprised?" She smiled at him as she waited on his answer. She could see the light in eyes. She knew how happy he was.

"It’s the best," he said then he frowned. "Schools. We have to look at schools or maybe home school would be best. Savings, another savings plan..."

"And we have to put an anti-violence spell on the hotel. Expand the upstairs. Make sure Wolfram and Hart doesn't find out until the last possible moment. I need a whole new wardrobe and we need baby stuff. Crib, blankets, diapers, bottles. We really have way too much to do."

"I'll fix another room for us so I can start work on our place," he said then he stood. "A baby...wow.."

She didn't get up from the couch, not yet anyway. There was just the smallest, tiniest hint that he might not have wanted this as badly as she did. It was just one of those what ifs. "Angel.." She laughed at him. "You just got home from closing the Hellmouth. It can wait one night."

"Names," he said. "I'll have to get some books. Names are really important..."

"Its bad luck to name a baby this soon. We don't even know what Spot is going to be. Could be a boy, could be a girl." She leaned forward some, sitting on her hands. "If I knew you were going to be like this, I wouldn't have told you."

The vampire had started pacing, he then stopped. "Like how?"

"Like this!" She pointed at him. "With the pacing and the freaking out and the Angel-ness." She gestured vaguely in the air as if that could better illustrate his Angel-ness more than her words could.

"I'm not freaking out," he protested. "I'm just making plans, you know. You need plans where kids are concerned."

"We have nine months to plan. I was hoping that we could go out, celebrate. The world is saved, we are happily married, and having a baby."

"Which will mean we have to fix you a diet that will be good for you and the baby," he said. "A baby," he said with a chuckle and that stupid Liam-like grin. "I can't believe, me, a dad again."

"For a guy who could barely hold his head up when he came in, you sure are looking fit as a fiddle. I think you were faking it before." She pointed a finger at him. He was pacing around, acting the nervous nelly, grinning like an idiot. She was sure now that he wanted this baby as much as she did. Since that was settled, now he could take her out or at the very least, cook her something.

"I heal fast, you know that," Angel replied. "But a baby..."

She shook her head at him. She moved her hand in front of her face, snapping her fingers to emphasize her point. "And the baby is hungry. Cordy is too. You think you could use some of that vampire skill to put a shirt on so we could get some dinner?"

"What," he questioned then looks down at himself. "Oh, I'll...I'll be right back," he told her as he turned to the stairs. He took them several at a time, like a young kid, to head upstairs to clean up.

Cordelia blinked back the tears as they started to blur her vision of the road. What happened? How did it go from such a happy time to Angel being dead? He was gone and she would never get to surprise him again with the news of a baby. She grabbed a tissue out of the console to dab her eyes as she saw the Los Angeles city limits.