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15 September 2006 @ 11:37 am
Walking In My Shoes (23/?)  
Title: Walking In My Shoes (23/?)
Author: Kelly and Mike (collaborative writing team)
Posted: 9/15/06
Rating: Chapters range from PG to NC-17
Chapter: Chapter Twenty-Three rated PG
Email: jjsoapchat AT yahoo DOT com
Content: The cuteness! The cuteness! Oh, this is such fun fluff
Scenes include: Cordelia, Angel, Ian, Kat
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, Harmony, Vail, random shop owners/demons. Mike writes for Angel(us), Connor, Wes, random filler chars. But for this one, Mike wrote for Ian.
Feedback: Yes, please. Tell us how we are doing!
The twins were already awake. They were both seated in front of the television in the living room. They appeared to be the picture perfect of two angels as they lay on the carpet watching Sesame Street. Ian was actually quiet, transfixed on the screen. Kat hit his shoulder lightly when she heard their father coming.

Ian looked at his sister then looked back seeing Da. The boy grinned. "Did you and Mom make with the hugs?"

Kat kept her eyes towards the television. She knew that if mom and dad were back together, they would have been there for a lot longer than they were. Their plan hadn’t worked at all.

Angel only glanced at the two and shook his head. "Breakfast will be ready in about 20 minutes. In just a little bit, I want you both to go wash and get to the table." He moved on to the kitchen.

"Did you kiss like Rhett and Scarlett?" Kat asked innocently enough. Coming from such a small child, yes, it was innocent.

Stopping, Angel turned back to look at the two. "You're sliding this time," he told them. "Do it again and we will make a punishment for what you did."

Kat frowned. She turned so that she could fully face Angel. She even got up so she could follow him into the kitchen. "How come? We were trying to help."

Getting the milk, eggs, and butter from the fridge, he put them on the counter. He broke open the eggs in a bowl, added milk and started to beat them. "Katy, we know what you thought you two were doing," he said as he put the bowl aside to get a pan, put some butter in it and then put it on the stove top to melt. "But sometimes you have to let Mom and me work things out between us."

"Did she yell at you?" Kat knew the answer. She opened the fridge up so that she could help him. She got out some peppers, mushrooms, and ham and used a chair to get high enough to put them on the counter.

"Thank you," he told his daughter and then started cutting up the ingredients to put them in the eggs. "No. She didn't yell. But Katy it’s not that simple. Mommy and Da have a lot of things to work out. She's been hurt and well," he paused. "Well, she's not ready to accept that I'm here."

"She didn't yell. That is a good thing. I know she is hurting but she needs you. You make the hurt go away. You make her feel better." She reached in and stole a piece of green pepper for her brother and a mushroom for herself. She handed the stolen veggie piece to Ian.

Ian had gotten up and followed but he was standing there just watching. In matters like this, Katy was better. Ian took the pepper and nibbled on it. He then walked to the table and climbed up onto a chair.

Angel paused a moment then he picked up the bowl and poured the eggs in the hot pan. "No, she didn't yell," he nodded in reply, "but Katy, things are a little more complicated then they look. The best thing to do is just give Mommy time. It’s a lot to think that I died and yet I'm back. Well, yeah, I've done it before but that was different and it wasn't your mother and she didn't have a couple kids to worry about." He turned to look at her. "Now, are you going to stir the pancake batter for me like always?"

Kat grinned at him. "Yes. Are you making enough for Connor and Lillian too?" Then again, Connor could probably eat everything in the fridge and still be hungry for more.

"I can," he said to her as he put everything out for her to mix, "but I doubt Connor will be joining us to eat. He's not happy with me here and he doesn't know its me back...if you know what I mean."

"Me and Ian can take it up to him when we are done eating." Ian was being oddly silent. Which meant either that he wasn't awake yet or that he was plotting something. Kat looked back to him to see which one it was.

Ian was playing with a napkin, seemingly not paying attention as his sister and father talked.

Kat got down from where she was stirring and went over to her brother. She sat down next to him. She spoke to him in their special twin language. "Ian, what's wrong?"

Angel pulled out the cookie cutters then heated up the griddle. There was a dinosaur, unicorn, and a cat among the shapes.

Ian looked over at Katy, "Adults are stupid," was all he said. He didn't understand what the deal was. Da loved Mom and Mom loved Da. Simple and fixed in his book.

Kat frowned at Ian. She felt bad too because what they did hadn't fixed things entirely. "We can come up with a new plan."

Then the two had their plates in front of them along with two glasses of milk. "Better cut down on the secret language stuff, kiddos. I hear your mother." Yes, he heard but that didn't mean he understood. He knew several languages but all of them were known and face it, the romance languages. It used to come in handy with giggly meals.

Kat just gave Ian a look before she patted the pocket of her pajamas. He was in a brooding mood. She knew the one surefire way to get him out of a brooding mood. "Da... When we are done with breakfast and we do the dishes, can we train with you today?" She knew that would perk Ian right up. He would probably get so insistent, Angel would have to say yes.

"We'll see," Angel told them. "I have to see what Connor, Uncle Gunn and the others found out last night." He turned and started fixing Cordy's breakfast.

Kat elbowed Ian to get him to speak up. What was wrong with him? Was he getting sick? He was usually bouncing off the walls by this point. He was suppose to be the loud one and she was suppose to be the quiet one. "Just for an hour. Please, Da. Pleeeeease."

Ian shifted with the nudge from his sister. He was too busy stuffing his face with breakfast to be asking about anything. The dinosaur lost its head right off the bat. Finally, the boy looked up. "We could be the monster hunters and you hide," he said with a mouth still full. "That's always fun down in the tunnels."

Kat waited to see what Angel would say. She was a slow eater. She didn't inhale her food like Ian did. She looked at Angel with those big brown eyes of hers, holding off eating any more until she got a satisfactory answer.

Angel turned and looked at the twins. "Ask your mother. If she says its okay then we will for a couple hours."

"I want to go where we did before. The one with two levels," Ian said. Then he shoveled some eggs in his mouth. After that, he took a big drink of milk.

Speaking of their mother, Cordelia had finally made her way into the kitchen. Her hair was still wet from her shower and she was still in her pajamas. She didn't look Angel in the eye as she sat down at the table. She was still feeling pretty guilty that she woke up with her tongue shoved down his throat. She was also trying to figure out why that niggling feeling from before wasn't bothering her this time.

Ian jumped up to give her a hug. That's Mommy and he is Mommy's boy as most boys are. "Morning, Mom," he said as he gave her a big kiss on her cheek.

"Hey kiddo. How is my big boy this morning?" She pulled Ian up into her lap. She could see that his plate was already empty. She should have named him Hoover. It reminded her of Connor, just a vacuum with a mouth. "Morning, Kat."

Kat went quiet now that her mother was here. She would let Ian handle their mother in regards to going to the basement to train. "Morning." She said softly before she went back to picking at her breakfast.

Angel sat a plate in front of her. The pancake looked like a daisy. The eggs were around the edges for the petals.

She glanced up at Angel quickly. "Thanks. Did you make enough for the kids upstairs?" She broke off a piece of the pancake with her fingers and put it to Ian's mouth. He was a bottomless pit and there was no way she would eat all this food. "Open sesame."

Ian giggled and opened up. Angel turned back to the counter. "Yes, more then enough. Katy said she and Ian would take it up to them." He then poured two cups of coffee. He put one down for Cordy and he got one for himself. He also got his breakfast and put it in the microwave.

Cordelia made a zooming noise before she put the piece of pancake in Ian's mouth. She tore off a piece of pancake for herself before she got another piece for Ian. "I think today, we should go to the beach. What do you two say?" She glanced up at Angel. There was something in her eyes there. She had gotten a phone call after her shower. That is why it took her so long.

Ian closed his mouth and frowned. "But we were going to play Monster Hunters. We can go to the beach anytime," he said as he picked at his mother's shirt.

She leaned down to rest her forehead against Ian's. She smiled at him. "You can play Monster Hunters anytime. Mom really wants to go to the beach today. We can see who can get the most sandcrabs."

Angel sat and took a drink of his breakfast. "Ian, we can play Monster Hunter tomorrow. I think a day at the beach would be better for you and your sister."

The boy looked from his mother to his father he started shaking his head. "No... No.." Then he started jibbing in twin speak to his sister. "Da is gonna go fight the bad things again!" Ian didn't like this because he was afraid of loosing his father again.

"Hey now...I thought we had a little talk about the twin language thing. You guys promised me." Cordelia frowned and made an attempt to eat her breakfast while Ian freaked out on her lap.

Kat looked at Ian for a moment and then she looked back to Angel. "He doesn't want you to go fight the bad things again. He doesn't want you to go to Heaven again."

Angel lowered his mug and looked over at Cordelia. This was going to be an issue and he was afraid of that. He wished he could promise his kids that it wouldn't happen again, he couldn't.

Cordelia figured that distraction was going to be her best course of action in this kind of situation. She wanted to get the kids' minds off it. "I know. How about after our beach day, we go down to the pet shop, and we get a puppy?" She looked hopeful. The kids were razor sharp so it might not be enough.

Angel grinned. "Wow, puppy," he said. "Hey, you never let me have a puppy when I asked."

Kat knew exactly what her parents were trying to do. She got up from the table and went to put her plate in the sink. She had to stand on her tiptoes to get it in there but she did. But, like most children, she could seize the moment. "If Ian gets a puppy, I want a kitty then." She stood in the kitchen, arms over her chest, waiting on an answer.

"I want a parrot too," Ian jumped off mom's lap. "I want a parrot that talks like a pirate."

Angel shook his head. "No birds," the vampire said. "And I think the puppy was meant for both of you, not just one."

"I don't like puppies." Kat stood firm. If her father was about to go into battle with demons again, she was going to get her kitty.

"No parrots, Ian. No birds, period." Cordelia looked over at Angel at Kat's demands for a cat. What could it hurt? The hotel was big and Kat was responsible. She shrugged her shoulders. She didn't realize then that she was making decisions with this man like he was her husband or that she had even allowed him a say in this conversation.

"If you're both done," Angel said to the children, "you need to go to your rooms and get ready. Mom and I will be in there in a minute." He looked at those children and it gave him a feeling like no other. They were gifts and very precious ones and he was going to do his best to keep them safe. Safe meant to take care of this evil because after the Slayers its next target could very well be his children. "And take Connor and Lillian their breakfast before it gets cold."

Kat looked completely crushed that the discussion was over. She wasn't going to be getting a kitty anytime soon. She just nodded her head and went to take the plates. She handed one to Ian and she took the second one. She tugged on his shirt and then left their parents to talk.

Angel finished his breakfast and got up and washed his mug. He never expected any of them to was his mugs and always did them quickly so they wouldn't sit. He turned back to Cordy. "News?"

Cordelia finished her breakfast and then got up from the table. She cleared the table and then moved to the sink so she could wash the dishes before she put them in the dishwasher. "I talked to Fred and Faith this morning. Faith said recon went to be expected. Something is down there but they didn't go down to check it out fully. Connor, Faith, and Lillian all felt something, big something. Wesley thinks he knows how to weaken it and then kill it. They are all going to be here after dark. Everyone was up until about dawn and they need their sleep."

Stepping over to help, Angel filled the sink with hot water. He placed the dishes in it to rinse them good then to the drainer to cool where Cordy could load the dishwasher. "I'll head down there through the tunnels. Take out any perimeter guards."

"This isn't a solo mission, Angel. We are going to meet. We will discuss plans. And we will go in as a team. I already have two of the girls coming over to watch Ian and Kat." Cordelia said in a tone that left no room for any other suggestion.

"I didn't say I was going in," he told her. "I'm just going to make going in easier."

"And I am telling you how it’s going to be." She started to take the dishes once they were cooled and loaded them into the dishwasher. "Going in balls out alone is what got you..." Cordelia caught herself. She almost said him, as in he was the one who died. She cleared her throat and continued. "Is what got Angel killed in the first place. We all make the plans and we all move in as a team. You don't like that, there's the door."

"Cordy, I know that plant and the tunnels leading to it," he said. "That's where...I've just fought there before." He grabbed a towel and dried his hands on it then handed it to her.

She took the towel from him and she looked him right in the eye. "I don't care if you know cold fusion. You aren't going alone. What part of there is no I in team, aren't you getting?"

"And the team is why I'd be doing it. The more that are sneaking around down there the better the chances of setting off alarms." Angel persisted.

She tossed the towel down. "You want to go get yourself killed, fine, there is the door. But before you go charging out of here to do something completely stupid, you go tell those two kids you are going out alone, again. Why is it that you can't see how incredibly stupid this is?" She shook her head, starting to walk away from him. "And Wes said this would be better because you could learn from past mistakes. Aren't doing any learning right now."

Just as she turned, he grabbed her arm and turned her back to face him. He locked his eyes with hers for a moment then not being able to help it any longer, he kissed her.

Her heart started to race when he grabbed her. She wasn't sure what he was going to do. To be honest, the kiss was more of a surprise than anything. Her eyes went wide as he kissed her. She could count off the seconds in her head, one, two, and then she turned her brain off. She let her heart guide her. Her heart was screaming to just relax and enjoy it, which is what she did.

Angel finally pulled back. His hand came up to the side of her face to run his long fingers in her hair. He swallowed hard looking down at her. He just wanted some of this tension to break. He wanted to just...he wanted her.

She looked up at him. "Promise me you won't go down there alone. I am serious." There was something in her eyes that said that if he did go at this alone, he was going to lose any chance with her. He might very well lose his life as well. She didn't have a vision, she just a feeling in her gut. She wished she got this feeling before, when Angel told her he was going out the night he was killed.

"I'll wait," he told her. His hold on her arm loosened. He could stand here the rest of the day and just look at her. "I'll probably go lay back down until then."

"Do you...I mean...there is a waterpark with an indoor wave pool. We've gone there before. You just come up in the service room from the sewers. It’s all concrete and fake sun. We could do that as a family instead of the beach." The words were out of her mouth before she realized that she was saying them.

"I remember," he said with a slight smile. "And I remember Wes showing up in a Speedo that time. That should be a sight nobody should be subject too." Wes had showed up in a red Speedo when the family called for family day at the waterpark.

Cordelia shivered and closed her eyes as the visual popped into her head. "Oh, why did you have to remind me? He might be British but that is no excuse for a Speedo." She faked a gag a few times before she gently pulled her arm out of his grip.

"Day with the kids and you sounds good," Angel agreed. "But if I fall asleep on the towel don't give Ian markers to color my tattoo again."

She just grinned at him. Because he told her not to, she was going to be doing it. It looked nice with all the colors. To be honest, if things didn't go well tonight, it could be their last day with the kids. She wanted to make sure that last day was a good one for the kids. "I am going to go get changed. When I am done, bathroom is all yours."

"Sounds good," he replied. "I'll pack some snacks then to keep the twins away from the snack bar as much as possible."

Cordelia headed out of the kitchen and back to the master bedroom so that she could get changed into some kind of swimwear. Really wasn't a good idea that all she had was bikinis with a vampire libido running around. Then again, she never expected this sort of a situation. She got dressed quickly and put a cover up on before calling to Angel. "All yours." She moved to go get the twins ready. It would take a bit to get them settled into the car.

Ian was in the bedroom already in his swim trunks and he was leaping from bed to bed while Katy was in the bathroom changing. "I'm the Dark Revenger," he said. His beach towel was tied around his neck like a cape.

"Well, kiddo, you are going to be happy." Cordelia grabbed him up from the bed and swung him around. "We are going to the waterpark. Angel included. And, if you are really good, maybe we will get In and Out for lunch." She tapped his nose lightly with her finger.

"Awriiiight," he said with a big grin. "We can play JAWS!"

Cordelia spun him around and put him down. "Go get your swim boards for me." Cordelia moved and tapped on the bathroom door. "Katharine, honey...did you hear that? We are having a family day. You almost done? Don't want Angel beating us there, do we?"

Kat came out of the bathroom after the knock. She looked mad, very mad. She was upset about not being allowed to have a kitten while Ian got his dog. She moved past Cordelia without a word to follow after her brother.

Ian ran to the room where they kept their outing things: toys, tents, water toys. He came back armed with all sorts of waterpark appropriate toys and some that weren’t. "Uncle Wes isn't coming is he," he asked.

Cordelia was the last one out of the room. She went to get some things out of the playroom. "No. Uncle Wes is sleeping. Did Connor and Lillian like their breakfast?"

"Yeah, until we told Connor that Da fixed it," Ian said. "He told me not to call that thing Da. Why does Connor hate Da so?"

Cordelia just sighed. She should have known. She grabbed the little hand pump to take care of the inflatable. She took Ian's hand and walked him downstairs. She knew Kat would already be down there, waiting. "He doesn't hate him, Ian. Connor is just hurting. He isn't dealing with it well."

"Why isn't he happy Da is back," the boy said. He got that same deep frown on his features as his father would. "Katy and I are happy and Katy knows its Da. If she says so, it is so."

"No frowns today, little man. We are going to the waterpark." She reached down so that she could tickle his sides. This wasn't the topic of conversation that she wanted to be having now. It wasn't the topic of conversation she wanted to have ever.

He laughed and ran on into the lobby to where Katy sat on the poof. "Its okay, Katy, Uncle Wes isn't coming," he assured her.

Kat didn't look up from her book. It wasn't as difficult as Great Expectations or Tale of Two Cities. She got off the poof and headed for the parking garage now that her mother and brother were here.

Ian just watched his sister then he looked up at Mom not saying anything but the question was there.

"If we don't get our butts moving, all the good spots on the fake beach are going to be taken." She tapped Ian gently on the behind to get him moving. It took them about a half-hour with traffic, which probably gave Angel more than enough time to come up through the service room and get them a good spot. She didn't expect it to be too crowded when people could go enjoy the real beach. She was right. Then again, she had a knack for being right. More people just needed to realize that. She ushered the twins inside after paying, looking for any sign of Angel.

When Angel saw her and the kids, he moved to them to help her with the things. He wore his dark trunks and had on a pair of sunglasses. "I was wondering if you had an accident or something."

"It was traffic. You wouldn't believe it if I told you." She pushed a lounge chair and an inflatable alligator at him. She lingered just a bit too long with her fingers against his chest. She turned to the kids. "Okay, which one are we making dad blow up first?" She was already pulling the small hand pump from the beach bag to give to Angel.

"I want Wally," Ian said, jumping up and down for the gator.

Kat took her little beach chair and set it up away from her family. She sat down and took her book out from her backpack. She didn't even acknowledge her family. She was still sore about the kitten and besides, Ian was being the star of the circus.

Angel took the pump and then the inflatable toy and pumped it up. When done, Ian grabbed the gator and ran for the water. He watched his son a moment then turned to Cordy. "I think we need to bottle that energy and sell it. End the need for dependence on fossil fuel."

Cordelia set up her lounge chair as Angel was pumping away. She shed her shirt and shorts quickly to reveal the bikini underneath. It might not have been sun but any UVA and UVB rays were good for her. She glanced over at Angel and then called to Ian. "Hey! You get back here, kiddo! You didn't put on your sunscreen!"

Ian stopped on the water's edge. "Awww, Mom," he whined.

"You want to look like a broiled lobster?" She reached into the beach bag to get the sunscreen spray. She moved it back and forth. "Even heroes need their sunscreen. Right, Angel?" She glanced over at him.

The vampire was caught for the moment by her in the bikini, probably a good thing he had on the sunglasses. "Huh? Oh, yeah, because you see, I'm going to have Mom put some on my back after she makes sure you're all protected."

Ian came back reluctantly. "But we're inside." He turned around for his mother to rub his back down.

Cordelia knelt in the sand and sprayed Ian's back before rubbing it in. "But these are tanning lamps. They will still crisp you right up." She turned Ian around and sprayed his chest next. Then came his arms and finally, she sprayed some on her hands to rub on his face.

"Are we done," he asked impatiently.

Cordelia rolled her eyes but it was all in good fun. "Yes, we are done." She smacked him gently on the butt so that he could get going. "Kat, honey...you want Angel to put some sunscreen on you?" Cordelia frowned as she was met with silence.

Running for the water, Ian suddenly stopped. He made a U-turn and ran for the restrooms.

Cordelia just shook her head. She held the bottle out for Angel to take. "I better go check on him. He will try to take the gator inside with him." She got up from where she was kneeling and headed off to the bathrooms, leaving Angel and Kat alone.

Angel walked over and sat in the sand next to Katy's seat. "We better get this on you before Mommy gets us both."

Kat remained quietly focused on her book but she held her arm out to be sunscreened and then stuck her legs out straight. She was mad at him too. She was mad at them both, for a lot of reasons

Rubbing it on her, he talked. "Katy, you know, stick that lip out any further and I'll use it for a beach chair."

Kat didn't even crack a smile. She turned her head to look at him. "Why does Ian always get everything he wants? Why does he get a puppy? I hate puppies. No one asked me what I wanted."

He stopped and put the sunscreen down. Taking her book, he reached for her to pull her down in his lap. "Nobody said you weren't going to get your kitty," he said. "But maybe do you think you can first help Ian with the puppy? It would really help your Mom and me with all that's going on right now. And I promise," he kissed her on the top of the head, "I promise we will get you the best kitty we can."

She wiggled out of his lap to get away from him. She could really hold a grudge for a little kid. "I don't like puppies. Why can't we get a kitty first? Just because Ian is the loudest doesn't mean he is the best."

Angel pulled off his sunglasses so he could look at her and let her see his eyes. "Katy, you both are the best. Connor is the best," he said. "And Ian doesn't have a puppy yet." He paused. "What if you come home with me through the tunnels? Just you and me."

Kat paused for a moment as she tried to decide. She didn't want to go with mom and Ian as they went to pick out Ian's dog. She just nodded her head to show her father that was fine with her.

"Just do me a favor, sweetheart," he said to her, "let's try and have a good time. Mommy is worried. She wants to just have a fun day for us.

Kat knew how to bargain. She looked at Angel for a moment, thinking it over. "Will you let me pick another book from your library to be our special book?" Which meant that they would have to sit down and decorate it for an hour together. That is, if he lived through the battle tonight.

"Another special book, huh," he said. "What if....what if we go to one of the old book stores find a book like one you want and then we make a scrap book. Put your favorite pages in and pictures and then we can make the book match it and we'll put them on the shelves side by side."

Kat was debating about this. That would take up more of her father's time. Time was what she really wanted, especially after already losing him once. "Okay, that sounds good." She put her arms around his neck, wiping most of her sunscreen onto him.

"Good," he said, hugging her back. He picked up the bottle of sunscreen and pulled back. He handed it to her. "Now, you have to put this on my back. You know how easy I burn."

Kat giggled when Angel said this. It was all just for appearances. Though the wave pool wasn't really crowded today. Most people had opted for the real beach. She sprayed Angel's back and rubbed the sunscreen in, still giggling.

"Not giggle monsters," he warned her. "I'll have to take care of giggle monsters."

Kat put a hand over her mouth so that could try to stop her giggling. It was no use, however. She was still giggling behind her hand. She scooted up on her little beach chair, trying to tuck her body into a little ball. "Nooooooo, daddy...noooooo!"

"Just what I was afraid of," Angel got up and turned. He grabbed her up out of the chair and started for the water. "Here we go. I'm going to beat the giggle monster!"

"DADDY!" She shrieked as she was picked up taken to the water. She was no longer giggling but laughing hysterically now. She was wiggling around in his arms, trying to get away but not trying too hard. She didn't fancy accidentally being dropped.

When he got deep enough, he fell back, letting her grab around his neck. He swam on his back. He looked up at her grinning.

Ian came out of the bathroom, his trunks still not pulled up over his butt. He saw what Katy and Da were doing. "HEY! Katy can have Wally!"

Cordelia was running after Ian, trying to pull his trunks up as she held the inflatable alligator under one arm. "Ian! Let me pull your pants up. You want everyone to know your religion?" A phrase that would be lost on the little boy but Angel might get a chuckle out of it.

Kat held tight around her dad's neck as he fell over onto his back. Ian had his own floaty with Wally. He should have held out for the dad float. Sometimes, being so anxious, he missed out on a lot of fun stuff.

"MOOOOOOM," he said, jumping up and down at the water's edge and pointing.

Cordelia finally caught up to Ian and pulled his pants up. "Well, hurry up and go catch up with them. Maybe if you ask nicely, Kat will trade you. And don't hit her." Cordelia pointed a finger at him and she was damn serious about that.

Fat chance that Katy would give up Da, he knew this. Ian looked up at his mother. "You come swim too."

"I am just going to watch you guys for a little bit. You go have fun." She pushed Ian gently towards the water. She made sure that at least his feet were in before she went back to her lounger. A little bit of fake sun, a new book, and the kids having fun, she really couldn't ask for much else.

The boy got on Wally and paddled out to his sister and father. "The Wally Gator is gonna get you!"

Kat was still tired from manipulating her parents in their sleep state. She didn't recover from it as well as Ian did. She was laying on Angel, using him as a float, her eyes closed. She opened them barely to regard her brother. "I bet you can't swim out to the side wall and back! I bet you a dollar!" She knew how to easily get rid of Ian.

"Can too," he said. He jumped from Wally and off he went. Sometimes Ian's attention span was about like a moth's.

Angel chuckled. "That was mean, Katy," he said but not scolding because he was still chuckling.

Kat settled back on Angel. She knew that at least here, she was safe. If something happened, he would wake her up and keep her from drowning in the wave pool. "Not mean. It’s worth a dollar to me." Kat gave just the smallest hint of a smile.

After about an hour of play, Angel got the kids out of the water to go rest and drink some water. As they approached they saw Cordelia. Angel could tell she had fallen asleep and a grin spread on his lips. He knelt down and pulled the kids to him. "You guys want to play a joke on Mommy?"

Kat looked over at the sleeping Cordelia and then back to her father. She was timid in the nodding of her head. She had seen mom mad and it was not something she was looking forward to repeating.

Ian grinned and nodded. Angel put his finger to his lips for them to be quiet. "Okay, go get your drinks and I'll get busy."

Kat nodded once more and moved over to the cooler. She opened it up and got a juice box for herself and Ian. She passed him his but kept her eyes on Angel to see what he was doing.

The vampire started digging a shallow trench. When done he moved to Cordelia and picked her up carefully. Laying her down in the trench it went from her waist down. Then he looked up at the kids and indicated for them to come help him cover her legs and waist with the sand.

Ian giggled and was there in a moment helping his father.

Kat didn't hesitate either. She was soon on the other side so that she could help as well. She pushed the sand with both hands up and over her mother's legs.

"Okay," Angel whispered, "What do we do? Mermaid? Hula girl? Ideas?" He looked from Katy to Ian for what they thought.

"Oh, a snake," Ian said. "A snake!"

"Um, I don't think that would be good," Angel said. "Especially since she almost got ate by a big snake demon one time."

"Lets do a mermaid." Kat said. She couldn't believe her brother and the mention of the snake. She was going to have to punch him in the shoulder for that later.

"Okay, now I'm going to need a couple buckets of water," he told them. He started building up more sand down where the bases of her feet were.

Kat got up from where she was kneeling in the fake indoor beach. She grabbed her little bucket and went running to the edge of the wave pool. She knew better than to go in too deep. She crouched down and filled her pail with water.

Ian grabbed his own pail and went with his sister. He bent down and scooped up some water.

Both of the children came running back only moments later, holding the pails of water out for Angel to take from them.

Angel took the buckets and wetted the sand as he worked and in about 30 minutes Cordy had a mermaid tail. The end came down to a curl and then the fin. He looked at the kids. "So, what do you think?"

"We need to take a picture!" Kat squealed. She went to the beach bag and rummaged until she found the camera. She held it up for Angel to take so that he could take the pictures. Kat grabbed her brother to put him on one side of their mother, Kat taking the other side.

Angel took the camera and shot the picture. "Now we might need to wake Mommy so she can see the surprise. Do it easy, don't want to make her move real sudden."

Ian leaned down to his mother's ear. “Mommy....Moooommy..."

Kat gently shook their mother as Ian spoke in her ear. She didn't want to jolt her awake and have her break the tail before she saw it.

Cordelia didn't budge at all from her deep sleep. All the late nights spent worrying about the Slayer Academy were finally catching up with her.

"Mommy, Da has pineapple and Canadian bacon pizza," Ian whispered to her.

Kat tried to shake Cordelia a little harder. She sighed and looked at Angel. "She is like Sleeping Beauty." She turned her head back towards his brother, giving him a sly looking smile.

Ian looked up at his sister. "Eewww, " he said, "I'm not kissing her like the prince. Mom is a girl!"

Kat rolled her eyes at her brother. He could be so dense sometimes. "Not you. Daddy has to kiss her. That is the way the story goes."

"Oh," Ian said, "but Da isn't a prince either."

Angel couldn't help but chuckle at the two. Sometimes Ian was too literal and Katy was the little romantic.

"He is the Champion. The hero always comes to save the Princess and give her a kiss to wake her up." Kat put her hands on her hips, ready for a full-blown argument with her twin.

Ian stood and his hands were on his hips just above his drooping swim trunks. The boy had no butt to keep pants up. "The story says a Prince. Besides they used to call Mom Queen, not Princess."

Kat glared at her brother for a moment before she slipped into the twin speak to try to make him understand. "Doofus, we want mom and daddy back. So that means lots of kisses. So shut up and let Daddy kiss her already."

Ian looked to his father. "Katy says you have to kiss mom," he said as he moved. He still thought that his logic was the right one.

Kat gave her father an innocently sweet smile as she moved out of the way. She stood next to Ian and punched him lightly in the arm. "It’s the way they do it in the stories."

Ian frowned and looked at Katy. "Stop it!"

Angel looked at the two. "Are you sure this is what I have to do? Positive?"

"Yes, this is the way they always do it in the movies. Snow White, Sleeping Beauty. You have to kiss her for her to wake up, Daddy." Kat just shot a glare at Ian. He was going to ruin everything if he didn't hush up.

Angel moved around and knelt down by Cordy. "Okay, let's hope it works," he said as he lowered and kissed her.

Ian covered his eyes. He knew moms and dads did this but it still didn't make it not gross.

Kat grinned as Angel leaned down to kiss Cordelia. She reached out, out of sight, and pinched her mother light enough for Cordelia to feel it and wake.

Cordelia started to stir, more from the pinch then from the kiss. She opened her eyes slowly to find that Angel was kissing her once again. She gently pushed on his shoulder though. She still wasn't completely certain of how she felt. She was a bundle of conflicting emotions, which was something wholly new for Cordelia.

"Um, I was told to wake the princess...," Angel said with a slight smile. "And finding a mermaid, I couldn't help it."

"Finding a what?" She then woke up enough to feel that her legs were heavy, weighted down with something. She sat up enough to see exactly was on there. She thought for a moment that it was the twins but no. She saw the tail and shook her head. "Guess that will teach me to fall asleep...."

"Yeah, fall asleep on a beach and you get a tail." He was working so hard here at not breaking up at that. "But you know it was all their idea," he said pointing to the twins. "Yeah, it was their fault."

"Daddy, you lie!" Kat pointed right at him. She wasn't going to miss dessert because it was his idea. "He told us to help and he dug and he made it. All Ian and I did was get the water."

"We did help put the sand on your legs," Ian spoke up. Probably something he shouldn't have. It'll earn him another pinch.

"Lie," Angel said looking hurt. "Your father doing that? I can't believe...oh, drive a stake in me."

Kat pinched Ian for what he said but her jaw dropped when she heard Angel. "You are the liar! You started digging the hole and told us to help!" Kat looked desperately at her mother.

Cordelia raised a brow as she watched the back and forth. She resisted the urge to correct Angel that he was not their father. "Well, since you two are working it out among yourselves, you mind if I get up? I am getting sand in my butt. And other not really fun places here."

Angel fell over on his back with his hands over his chest at Kat’s words.

Kat ran over to him and she jumped on him. She started to tickle right where his neck meets his shoulder. She called to Ian. "Come help me. He lies!"

Ian couldn't help it. He dove on the sand tail to help dig his mother out. He stood over it and started tossing sand out between his legs, probably hitting his sister.

Cordelia grinned at the little boy. "Faster Ian...I think I feel my legs starting to die. You have to save me." Cordelia tried to move her legs a little bit to get more of the sand off herself. But she really wanted to let Ian feel like he was saving her.

Angel tried to keep from laughing. Finally, he came up fast with a roar and started tickling Katy.

Kat squealed out with laughter as her father started to tickle her. She didn't even mind that Ian was hitting her with big, wet clumps of sand. She tried to wiggle away from Angel. "Daddy! Stop it! I will pee!" She drew the last word out as if to emphasize her point.

Ian worked harder to rescue his mother. "I'm the Champion! I will save you!"

Angel let Katy get away. He'd play stalking beast with her if she was fibbing about going pee. Then suddenly, he got hit upside the head with a big clump of wet sand.

When her legs were free, Cordelia leaned forward and scooped Ian up into her arms. "My Champion." She gave him a kiss on the cheek before she let him go. "You two go to the bathroom while we clean up. Its almost time for your afternoon nap."

Angel watched the two kids head off. He smiled then he stood and started picking up things. "They are something else.”

Cordelia stood up and started brushing the rest of the sand off her legs. She was trying to be discrete as she removed the sand out of her bikini bottoms. She reached for her clothes to get covered up again. "You should have been carrying them. Party in my womb every night. I thought they formed a frat and invited other fetuses over for a kegger."

Angel stopped and put down their things in a neat pile. He reached over and stopped her from dressing. "Not yet," he said.

"What? I can't take the kids out to pick out a dog in a bikini, Angel." She just looked at him like he was completely insane. Did he want her to stand around, half dressed?

Picking her up, he carried her to the water. "I'm taking Katy with me home," he said as he walked. "And I got the sand on you, I need to help you get it off."

"Hey...with the carrying here...I can walk! I have two legs that work." Now that she was more awake, she was fully aware that this Angel was still the one that sold his family out to Wolfram and Hart. "And anything happens to Katy...” Her voice trailed but the threat was there. She didn’t want to deny Kat any time or experience in the rare case that she and Angel didn’t make it out alive tonight. The child was happy spending time with this Angel but Cordelia was going to make sure it was still done cautiously.

When he was waist deep, Angel lowered her into the water. He kept hold of her to make sure she was steady.

When they came out of the changing room, Ian stopped. He got Katy's attention, pointing to Mom and Dad out in the water together.

Kat stopped right in her tracks to watch them out in the water. She grabbed her brother's arm. "I told you. He has to kiss her. They always kiss in the movies and everything is better." Kat looked excited at the prospect that her parents were going to finally get back together, the way they should be.

Cordelia frowned as Angel would not let go of her. She could struggle more to get out his arms but it would have been difficult. She most likely would have ended up flat on her butt. "I could have done this myself, you know."

"I know, but this is supposed to be a fun day," he said. He was to wrapped up in looking at her he didn't notice the wave machine had been kicked up some. That is until it was too late and the wave came down on them. He grabbed hold of Cordy and when the wave passed surfaced with her. He was holding her to him. "Are you okay?"

Cordelia spat out a mouthful of water, coughing and huffing it up. She yelled out to the lifeguard on the side. "A little warning next time! Ring a bell!" She wiped the hair away from her face and coughed again. "Yeah, just a little annoyed. What if the twins were in here?" She raised her voice once more. "Someone should sue them!"

"I think the twins had something to do with it," he looked back to the area where the wave machine was housed to see a figure in baggy swim trunks come running out.

"Between them turning up the wave machine and you digging up the fake beach, we aren't ever going to be able to come back here again." Cordelia managed to get herself out of Angel's arms. She stood and she headed for the shoreline, calling out. "Okay you two little troublemakers. Let's pack up and get out of here."

Angel followed her on up. He ran a hand through his hair to get the water out. "Katy, help your mother and brother before we go." He grabbed a towel to dry off quickly.

Cordelia rang the water out of her hair and then grabbed her own towel so that she could dry off. She looked at the twins as she did. "You two need to behave or we won't pick up burgers on the way home. And that means no chocolate shakes. What you did messing with the equipment was wrong. Someone could have gotten hurt. There were other kids in that wave pool."

Ian looked up at his mother. "But they weren’t deep," he said. "And even though you are a girl it looks nice when Da is holding you."

"Ian, that is no excuse to put lives in danger. Would a Champion do that? Would he risk the lives of others for something he wants?" She crouched down so that she was eye-level with the little boy.

Ian looked down now, not wanting to meet his mother's gaze. "No, Mommy. I'm sorry."

"Good. Now come here and give me a hug." She held her arms out for him so she could show him that everything was forgiven now and that she still thought he was a good boy. She'd been watching all those nanny shows since the moment she got pregnant. Cordelia Chase never did anything half-assed and motherhood was no exception.

Ian went to his mother's arms. Angel watched this a moment before he spoke. "I better go get changed. The tunnels really aren't the place to go wearing only this." He reached down for his duffle.

Cordelia gave the boy a kiss on the temple. "Okay, let's get these toys cleaned up. Kat is going to go with Daddy so it will just me you and me, big man." It seemed so natural just to call Angel, this new and perhaps improved Angel "daddy" instead of "other daddy" after the day that they had. She hadn't even noticed she did it.

Angel soon came out in his regular black on black. He waited for his family to finish loading the car. He would help but the parking was in broad sunlight.

Cordelia managed to get herself dressed and get everything in the car. Loading inflated Wally in was difficult but it was easier than deflating him here. With Kat not coming along, she could just put the gator in the back seat. She came back and scooped up Ian. "You ready to go, my hero?" Cordelia looked over to Kat. "No trouble for Angel, okay?"

Kat took her little backpack and pulled it onto her shoulders. She nodded in agreement with her mother. "No trouble, I promise." She went to Angel, looking up at him. "Can I have a piggy back ride?"

"PUPPY," Ian yelled. He was more then ready.

Angel nodded to Katy. "How about after we get down in the tunnels," he said. "And I bet we beat Mom and Ian back to the hotel, even after their stop. Though I think it would be better to go to a rescue then a pet shop."

"Yes, your puppy." She shifted Ian on her hip and looked over at Angel. "I was going to go to the No Kill Shelter on Cooper. I am not going to pay a thousand dollars for a designer puppy when I have to wear shoes from Payless."

Angel nodded. That was good. He looked to Katy and reached for her hand. "Are we ready then?"

Kat nodded her head and gave her dad a smile. She took his hand and waited for him to start walking. She barely looked back as her mother left with her twin brother. She was more than a little happy to be free of the puppy shopping.

Slipping on down to the service area, Angel glanced around before he opened the grate. He took Katy's backpack and climbed on down then waited for her at the bottom so he could help her off the ladder. When he did so, he went back up and close the grate. Dropping to the ground, he turned and knelt. "Still want the ride?"

"YES!" Kat was jumping up, waiting for her piggyback ride. She took her backpack from him and slipped it back onto her shoulders.

When she was on his back, he stood. They'd make better time this way anyway. "So, which way, kiddo," he said, "The easy way or the way by the tunnel waterfall where I have to jump a couple of water trenches?"

"We can jump the trenches. We have to beat Ian and Mom home. That way I can take a bath without him in there, playing battleships." She put her hands on either side of her dad's head to help keep her on.

"Okay, trenches it is," he said as he started off. He moved to a jogging pace so they could beat Cordy and Ian home by a long shot.

"I think you should take Mommy out for a nice dinner once you battle all the monsters." Kat said. She was trying to sound offhand about it but she was so young, she couldn't get the tone quite right.

"Oh," he said, "and just what kind of dinner should we go out to?"

"I think....you should take her to that romantical one. The one with all the pretty fishies in the tanks and the music. She likes that one. Or the one where you sit on the pillows and feed each other. You took her there before." Kat answered.

"Well, it was more like I fed her," he said with a chuckle as he remembered.

"You can pretend. Pretending is good. You can pretend to be Scarlett and Rhett. You can put on your nice clothes." Kat leaned forward and rested her chin on her father's head.

"I pretend, sometimes," he said but he knew she knew this. They came up to the first of a couple of the gutter trenches. For Angel the jump wasn't anything, a human would have a hard time. "Ready," he said.

She held tight to her father now. She didn't want to fall off and end up in the dirty water. "Ready!"

Angel leaped and landed lightly on the other side. He moved on and then suddenly stopped. He glanced around a moment.

"What's wrong?" She looked around but she didn't feel anything. She could usually feel when there was something bad around like a demon or a vampire.

"Shhh," he said softly then he reached up and put her down. "Wait right here." He waited to see if she would acknowledge what he told her.

Kat nodded. She pulled her backpack off her shoulders and pulled a stake from inside. She stood, ready for whatever was lurking down here. "Daddy..." She whispered to him. "Do you want a stake?"

"No," he said to her. "Stake won't take care of what I'm hearing." Angel vanished up a side tunnel and was gone for almost a minute then he reappeared in that main tunnel. His hand was behind his back.

Kat looked at him with wide eyes. "What was it? Was it a big bad? Did you scare it off?" She still stood there with her stake at the ready, her eyes looking around for any signs of danger.

From behind his back, he brought out something little and fuzzy. It looked around and it meowed a very hushed, hoarse sound.

Kat blinked when she saw the tiny kitten in her father's palm. She moved forward but stopped herself. She looked up at him. She spoke, her voice very soft. "Its a kitty...a baby..."

"Yes," he said, "it is and it needs a mommy. Its mommy and brothers and sisters were all dead." It had looked to Angel like somebody had thrown the cats down into the sewers from above. The fall injured and killed all of them but this kitten.

Kat's eyes welled with tears when he said that the kitten's family was dead. She was smart enough to draw the parallels between this kitten and her own family. "No. That is bad, daddy." She shook her head and then wrapped herself around his leg. She buried her face into his pants as she started to cry.

"I know, sweetheart, I know...and people do these things without thinking. But this baby is going to need to be taken care of now. Think you can do that?" His hand came up and stroked her hair. He never sheltered them from the truth of how things are in the world.

She shook her head against his pant leg. This was a little deeper than just a few dead cats, that was for sure. "No. Then I will be all alone too. Connor is going to die. I had a dream. And then you and mommy and Ian. I will be alone. Like the kitty."

Kneeling down, he wrapped his free arm around her. "Its going to take something really big to take me away from you and I don't think there's anything big enough that can do it."

"I don't want you to go to Heaven again." Kat turned her whole body into him so that she could cry. If she hadn't had the dream the previous night, she might not be as upset. It was something about it. It seemed so real to her.

"Shhh, sweetheart," he said softly. "I'm going to be around a very long time. I want to be around to scare the dickens out of your first boyfriend and annoy my grandkids."

Kat sniffled and hiccuped before she pulled away to look at her father. "Do you promise?"

Angel took her and sat down on a ledge of fallen concrete. He sat the kitten down knowing he could find it.  He loved all his children dearly but Katy was closest to him. She was special in a very unique way. "Sweetheart," Angel replied, "we can't make promises like that when we are doing what we are. But I will promise that the first thing I'll do when I get home will be to come to your room even if you are asleep to let you know I'm home."

Kat reached down and picked the kitten up. It was all alone now. She held it close to her chest. She brought the kitten up and she tried to snuggle it against her face. She pulled her legs up, trying to make herself smaller and into a ball. "I'm scared."

"Let's just get home," he told her. "When you get a bath and then tonight ready for bed I'll come and read you a story."

Kat nodded her head again and moved off the little piece of concrete. She kept the kitten close to her though. She moved over to Angel and held her arms up, wanting to be picked up.

Angel gathered his daughter up in his arms and they headed on for home. "So, what are you going to call that kitty," he asked to get her talking.

Kat looked down at the kitty in her arms. She held it up so that she could show Angel. "Is it a boy kitty or is it a girl kitty?" She was secretly hoping that it was a girl kitty.

He pulled his head back a bit because she had put the cat's ass in his face. He frowned. "I believe is a girl," he said and he sure as hell hoped he was right because the kitten was terribly young.

"What about Miss Muffins? Or Whiskers? Or Princess Puff?" Kat pulled the kitten back down to put it once more against her body. She looked down at the kitten, petting it. "Or Skittles, cause I like those. Or Stinky cause she smells bad."

"Skittles sounds good to me," he said as they walked. "Lady Skittles, Princess of Muffins and Duchess of Sandbox.”

Kat turned the kitten towards herself. She touched her nose with the kitten's nose. "Her name is Skittles then." She turned the cat, pushing its nose against Angel's nose now as well.

When Kat did that, the kitten spat. "Maybe we need to let her get used to me gradually," he said to his daughter. "Not many animals really take to vampires, Katy."

"She will love you. Just like we love you. She reminds me of mommy right now. She loves you deep down but she is scared and feels alone." Kat reached out to put her hand against her father's cheek. "You have to do something special. With dresses and food and kisses." Kat was pushing that hint of suggestion into his mind.

"Don't worry," he smiled at her. "I am going to do whatever I can to get your mother back." She didn't have to suggest too hard. He wanted Cordelia back and he wanted her to accept him as being back.

Kat pulled her hand away from her father's cheek. She was tired now due to the crying and then pushing that suggestion. She rested her head against her father's shoulder. It wasn't long before she was napping lightly.

Angel kept going at a steady pace and before long they were at the hotel. He took her up to her room and found a box for the kitten after laying Katy down. The kitten was going to need a bath, that was for certain.

Kat did stir when Angel came back. She looked at him. "You promise that you will read me a story when you get home tonight?"

"I promise," he said. "Now take a nap then you'll have to get a shower for dinner. Skittles is in a box until we give her a bath and get the sewer smell off her."

"Daddy..." Kat reached out to stop him from leaving. "Promise me one more thing. Promise me you will look out for Connor and mommy tonight. Please?"

"I promise," he said and then leaned down and gave her a kiss on her forehead.

Happy that her father had agreed to both of her promises, she finally settled into bed. She only hoped that she wouldn't have any more dreams of the battle that was coming.