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27 September 2006 @ 12:59 pm
Walking In My Shoes (25/?)  
Title: Walking In My Shoes (25/?)
Author: Kelly and Mike (collaborative writing team)
Posted: 9/27/06
Rating: Chapters range from PG to NC-17
Chapter: Chapter Twenty-Five rated PG-15
Email: jjsoapchat AT yahoo DOT com
Content: Violence, Action, Angst
Scenes include: Cordelia, Angel, Wes, Fred, Connor
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.
Feedback: Yes, please. Tell us how we are doing!
Cordelia stood outside of Wesley’s apartment door. She hadn't bothered to call, hadn't bothered to alert him. She just showed up. She lifted a bandaged hand up and knocked on the apartment door. Impatient, she called out through the crack. "I know you are in there!"

Wesley made his way to the door, pulling on his pants as he did. When he opened it, his hair was mussed and he was shirtless. "Cordelia," he said.

She brought one of those bandaged hands up and turned her head away at the sight. "Oh, yeah...no. It’s bad enough when I have to see you in a Speedo. Whatever freaky freaky stuff you and Fred were doing can wait."

"Freaky, as in sleeping," he said. "Fred made me go to bed just a couple hours ago. I'd been up all night with my books."

"You better open them again then." She pushed Wesley back and went into his apartment. She turned so that she could look at him. She held her hands up. "I tried to heal Connor."

"You tried," he said and then looked at her hands. "What happened?"

"I don't know. I was doing my usual thing and then it was like I was in a trance. I couldn't even fell my hands burning up. Angel pulled me off and put my hands under cold water." She frowned as she looked around for the books. Spotting them on the table, she moved over to them so that she could start looking as well.

"Extraordinary," Wesley spoke and moved to the table. He turned on a small light there and sat.

"Have you found anything out at all? Angel is back at the hospital with Connor. So tell me everything you found." Cordelia gingerly reached for a book and pulled it closer to herself. She opened it up so that she could start searching.

"From what I can tell we have to heal the brands on him," Wesley told her. "The brands were, and still are, binding Connor to this creature. It’s drawing on Connor's...uniqueness and could possibly still reach through to our dimension. But healing him isn't going to happen with conventional medicine."

"Okay..." Cordelia took a moment to take this all in. Just for once couldn't demons leave Connor alone because he was unique and go after the normal people? "What do we do, Wes? I know this is a 'time is of the essence' situation."

Wesley sighed. "Legend has it there is a crystal with certain curative powers."

"You care to elaborate a little more on that? Like where this crystal is? Or what we need to do to get it?" Cordelia was getting a little impatient here. She knew Wes was trying his best but this was family, best was not good enough.

"Do you remember the key Angel found to take him to free Billy," he said leaning back and looking at Cordelia.

She just gave Wes a look. "I am sorry, Wes, I was kind of indisposed at the time considering I had boils, claw marks, and burns all over my body."

"Yes, well, " Wes went on, "it seems that key opens several other doorways and behind one of those is the crystal."

"So its like Price is Right for dimensions?" She rolled her eyes. "If I have to put on a chicken suit, I am so out of here."

"The doorway is through the Oracles' chamber," he said. "That means Angel has to go." He waited for her to protest this. He'd tried to find another way but there wasn't any.

Cordelia frowned when Wes said this. "First, the Oracles are dead so who knows if Angel can even get there. Second, I am not letting him go anywhere alone. He and I already had this conversation and I am not about to have it again with you."

"The Oracles maybe dead but the doorway is still there," Wesley told her. "If he can't open the chamber..." His voice trailed off.

"If he can't open the chamber, then what, Wes? I really don't have time for this beating around the bush, stiff upper lip thing that you have going on right now. Life has been pretty shitty for the past few weeks so you might as well put the cherry on the top of the sundae." Cordelia was quickly reaching the end of her rope. Between her husband dying, this new Angel with his memories, the school, the demon, Connor, she was worn out. She just wanted to know what needed to be done so she could do it

Wesley sighed. He stood and walked a few paces away from her. Keeping his back to Cordy, he finally spoke. "Connor must be..." he paused. Finally, after a moment, he continued. "Connor is going to have to be destroyed."

"Well, that just isn't going to happen." Cordelia said rather matter of factly. If she said it was going to be that way, it was going to be that way. "We aren't losing another member of this family, of this team. So give me all the information to give to Angel so he and I can go play Find The Magical Door."

He turned back to the table and pulled out a piece of paper. He wrote down instructions, then handed it to her. "Angel has to open the door to the chamber," he told her. "Anybody else tries and it could be disastrous."

"I think I got it. Angel opening it, good. Anyone else, bad. That doesn't mean I can't go with him. I just can't open any doors." She took the paper from him. She folded it up and put it into her jeans. "Anything else? I love you and all, Wes, but we don't really have time for small talk and tea."

"Cordy, I don't know if you can go through or not," Wes told her. "Doyle couldn't even go through from my understanding."

"Doyle also took no for an answer. All the time." She looked right at Wes. "A Champion goes through, right? Well, just as much as Angel is a Champion, so am I. So are you. We all are. If The Powers don't get the team thing by now, they shouldn't be Powers."

"Just be careful," he said again. "As you said, we don't want to loose another member of this family."

Cordelia gave him a small smile. "When was the last time I wasn't careful? Careful is my middle name. Cordelia Careful Chase. See how it just rolls off the tongue?"

The ex-watcher just gave her a look with that statement. He didn’t need to say a word.

She moved towards Wes and gave him a hug. "Thanks for everything, Wes." She probably didn't say or do that enough. She knew what he had given up for Angel and her to be happy. She had yet to tell anyone what Wes had sacrificed. If the Powers hadn't shown her, she wouldn't have known.

He hugged her back. "You better go find that crystal before its too late. We don't have much time."

"I am moving...I am moving..." She let go of Wes and then made her way to the door. She let herself out. She pulled her cellphone from her other jeans pocket to dial Connor's hospital room. She only hoped that Angel would have the brains to answer it.

Cordelia was waiting outside of the dead letter office, checking her watch every few moments. The sun was down because it took her longer than she thought to find that stupid key. Wes' filing system of used artifacts made no sense to her what so ever. It was a key to get Billy, it should have been under B but no, it was under P for Portal Key. What kind of insanity was that?

The GTX pulled up and parked. Angel got out and came up the walk to the front of the office. "I'm here," he said. "You said there was a way to cure Connor in the chamber?"

Cordelia reached into her jeans to pull out the piece of paper Wes had given her. He did tell her the instructions were on there. She handed it to Angel. "I already picked up the key we needed from Wes' super secret storage, which is really just a custom built vault in the basement."

Taking the paper, he read it as he listened to her. "Yeah, I know. I remember Gunn and I building it for him," Angel said. "Okay, I can do this. I have to do this." He folded the paper and started around for the alley by the dead letter office.

She frowned as she followed him. "YOU and Gunn didn't build it for him. Angel and Gunn did. It’s not the same thing." She was never going to get used to this guy having her husband's memories. She couldn't be as easily accepting of him as everyone else seemed to be.

Stopping at a door, he glanced around to make sure nobody else was in the alley. Then he pulled out a small case, opening it with a set of lockpicks. He pulled one out. Inserting it in the lock, he worked it until it clicked. Pushing it open, he stepped in.

She just rolled her eyes at him. It wasn't only the whole spy thing but it was also the not addressing what she said thing. She didn't really like to be ignored. She still had the key in her pocket so it was her trump card. She stepped inside after him. She was serious about coming along, whether she could or not.

The vampire was in obsession mode now. His focus was on healing Connor. Coming to another door marked emergency exit, he opened it and there was a set of stairs that led down. It was starting to look more like a dungeon entry. "I don't know what's going to happen without the Oracles," he said in a hushed tone.

"I brought a weapon." She always had a weapon on her. Living in this world for so long, being a Champion alongside Angel, it was second nature. She had invested in a lot of long jackets to conceal swords and stakes. She just followed right behind Angel.

Angel came to the small alter with the firepot. He picked up the magic powders and herbs and started putting them into the pot. He started the spell that he remembered Doyle had said the first time he had brought him here. Then he pulled out a lighter and lit it. A smoke cloud burst from the pot.

Cordelia covered her mouth and nose with her hand because it didn't exactly smell that nice. She had to wonder how long those herbs had been sitting there and it they were any good anymore. She coughed as the smoke cloud burst out.

The door appeared and he turned to her, held out his hand. "The key, Cordy," he said to her.

She frowned at him because she had a feeling she was being left behind. "No way. I am going through that door with you. Wes said it was in the chamber. Once we are in the chamber, then you get the key." Wes had said only Angel could go through that key's door. But they weren't even to the chamber yet.

"Cordelia, I don't know what's on the other side now," he pleaded with her. "I can't risk losing you...again. That's not an option for me."

"And it’s not an option for me to let you go through there and face what is on that other side, alone. Whatever is on the other side of that door, we are facing it together. " The tone of her voice was perfectly clear that she was not going to budge on this. Deep down, she didn't want to lose him, for a myriad of reasons.

Angel looked at her for a moment. Then he reached for her hand and held it as he turned for that door to step on through. On the other side was another room. It was big and empty. The long corridor seemed to go on for eternity on the far side. He still held Cordy's hand as he looked around waiting for something to come out at them.

Cordelia allowed herself to be lead for this portion of the tour. She looked around, taking in the big and the empty. "Seems like the Powers didn't bother to replace the Oracles after they got killed." No visions yet and she assumed that the Powers would send her one if they were going where they weren't suppose to.

"I guess when you got your demon thing going they decided they didn't need these liaisons anymore," he said moving to one side and looking over the wall and the inscriptions. He ran his long fingers over the glyphs, as a blind man would read Braille. His hand stopped then turned back to Cordy with his hand out. "Its here," Angel said. "The key."

"They really need to get an efficiency expert up there then. It takes them almost two years before the demon thing happened. And that wasn't them. Though at least they warned us what was coming." She stopped when he did. She didn't like this at all. She didn't want him to go in there alone. She reached into her jeans, pulling out the two pieces of the key to give to him.

Angel took the key. He slid it together and instead of the same notch he used to go find Billy with he slipped it all the way up. He inserted it into the hole in the glyph then turned the disk, locking it in. A low hum sounded and then the key began to glow and the glow spread. He backed away watching.

Cordelia stepped back as well. She had this feeling in the pit of her stomach that something was going to blow up or cause them harm. She knew that things like this were never just as easy as putting a key into a lock. "You know, by this point, the light shows just don't impress me anymore."

"Yeah," he replied still watching. "I know what you..." Suddenly, it burst bright. When it did he fell back with a scream, and then quickly covered himself with his coat. The pain shot through him like fire and the smell of singed flesh hung in the air around him.

That was the last thing they needed, for this door to open up to some dimension on the surface of the sun. When he fell back, she was right there to catch him. The irony of the metaphor wasn't lost on her for the moment. She moved quickly so that she was covering him from the light. "Okay, dimension of sunlight. I don't think you are going through those doors."

Angel started to try and move to the corner where the light wasn't hitting. Even under the coat and Cordelia blocking he could tell where safety was. With each movement the pain hit him. This wasn't supposed to be. He was supposed to go get that crystal. The vampire's body started to tremble from burned, exposed nerves.

Cordelia moved with him so that she could try to keep as much of him blocked as possible. He had his coat so that was some more protection. She moved him to a darkened corner before looking back to the light streaming out from the door. "Why can't it ever be easy?"

He pulled down his coat and the left side of his head and face was burned. His left hand also. He looked to that entry. "It’s not Pylea," his voice was raspy. He tried to pull himself up to stand.

"I would say not." She moved so that she could help him up. "Angel, you can't go in there. You will be burnt to a crisp. And I don't know how to work these crazy demon powers without my hands. I haven't been able to heal myself yet."

Angel leaned against the wall. "Connor's cure is on the other side," he said. "He's lost to us without it."

"You can't get it back here if you are ash on the other side." Cordelia paused for a moment as she thought things out in her own mind. "Is the tent still in the trunk of the GTX?" Her and Angel had taken the twins camping months and months ago. How many times had she asked him to take the tent out of the trunk but for once, his so called forgetfulness might pay off.

He thought for a moment then shook his head. "Yeah, its there," he said to her. He didn't forget. It was just one of those might need it sometime type thing.

"That is pretty thick. We could wrap you in and unzip one of the windows so you can see. It has that protective netting. That should be enough. Right?" She wasn't sure if this was a plan that was going to work or not. In her head, it made sense. They could mummy him up with the unpitched tent since it was made of heavy material.

"It'll have to be," he told her. "There's also a cooler in the back." He knew he didn't have to tell her why or what was in it.

She frowned just a bit when he mentioned the cooler. A small cooler wouldn't be able to hold enough pig's blood to heal his burns or his eye. "You have to come with me. You are the only one that knows how to get back in here." Cordelia started to look around to see if there was a way to avoid the sunlight.

Angel looked at the light from the doorway. It went from the door to the wall and was about five feet wide. To anyone else it might seem like nothing but to a vampire...it might as well been the Grand Canyon.

Cordelia was seeing it too. She was quick witted though. She thought of the tent, she could think of a solution to this. It only took about thirty seconds before she was shrugging her coat off. She handed it to Angel. "Put this over your head and then give me your hands."

He took her coat and put it over his head then held up his hands to her. He waited to see what she was going to do.

She turned so that his front was facing her back. She lowered his hands. She looked at her jeans. Her pockets were too tight for that. So against her better judgement, she slipped his hands under her shirt. "Just follow me and don't pull your hands out and don't lower that jacket. And keep your hands above the equator but below 45 degrees. Stay in the tropics."

This was interesting. It almost made him forget the pain. He had to lean down and he put the right side of his head against hers. His thumb did brush up under her breast as they walked. He had long fingers, accidents happen.

"I said tropics." Cordelia said, turning her head just enough to say it back to his coat covered face. She faced forward again. "I am starting to walk now." She put her hands over his to keep him against her as she started to walk. She went slowly at first so he could get used to her rhythm.

"Sorry," he said as they walked. "Its just...well, a bit taller here." He winced talking as it did hurt. But then being this close to her he could push the pain away, mostly.

"We are almost past the sunlight portion of our tour." Cordelia had to move slowly to get past the sunlit section. "You can't feel it, can you?" She just kept telling herself that without Angel, they couldn't save Connor. But deeper down, she knew she didn't want to see him hurt either.

"Yeah," Angel replied. "Well, feel it, sort of smell it. It’s hard to explain." His mission here was to save Connor, he had to tell himself. But being this close to Cordelia, touching her bare skin, smelling her scent. He winced with a bit of pain from his wounds that caused him to stiffen his posture just a bit. His hands moved under her shirt slipped upward again to her breasts.

She had to remind herself that they were here for Connor and that this was not her husband. Then again, if it walks like a duck, talks like a duck, but she had to push that train of thought of her mind. She moved his hands from under her shirt once they were safely past the sunlight. "I am going to grab that key. Who knows what kind of weird conditions we have on this whole crystal grabbing mission."

He pulled the coat off his head and leaned back against the wall. He nodded to her. "Turn the disk to the left," Angel told her and he swallowed. "It should release then."

Cordelia moved towards the sunlight. She had to shield her eyes and her fingers fumbled blindly for the key. She got her hands on it and turned it to the left. She pulled it free. She put it back in her pocket before going back to him. "Quick trip outside and we should be ready to go."

Angel turned for that door and headed out, slowly. He did his best to ignore the pain as he walked. He paused at the bottom of those stairs a moment then with his right hand reached for the rail.

She followed by him and when she saw she was having trouble, she couldn't help herself. She moved so that she could help him. "Don't bullshit me. Can you get up these stairs or not?"

"Well, maybe the first...couple..." he paused then sat down on the step. "Its never been this bad. I've been burned before."

She sat down on the step with him. The longer that it took, the longer Connor was going to suffer. She didn't want anything to happen to her "son". Biology didn't matter with this group. "And you won't be booking any Men's catalog covers soon with that scarface."

"That bad, huh," Angel said as he looked down at his hand. He knew it would heal, but it would take time. If his face was anything like his hand, it was a wonder he had a face at all.

She let the quiet settle over them for a few moments. "I feel fine. So don't make any excuses. My hands hurt but I can't fix that until Connor is better." She said as she pulled her hair away from her neck.

He turned and looked at her from his good eye. He watched as she pulled her hair back. "Cordy," Angel said looking back at her face. He knew what this offer meant and what it took for her to do it.

She didn't look at him. She kept her eyes forward and her hair pulled back. "That's my name. Just...make it quick. And none of the feel good kind of wiggins. Straight forward."

Angel knew her blood would heal him much faster then the pig's blood in the car and right now Connor was priority. He leaned to her and didn't let his demon surface until his face was pressed to her neck. With the burns, he probably would have looked hideous. He sank his fangs in gently and he did slip her a little of the feel goods so the pain wouldn't be there. Then her warm, rich blood flowed into his mouth and he swallowed. He felt it course through his body.

Cordelia took in a deep breath at that first bite. She just had to remind herself over and over that this was for Connor. She closed her eyes, listening to her own heartbeat, her breathing, anything so she wouldn't have to focus on the sounds of him feeding from her.

He pulled away from her after closing her wound. He felt himself getting stronger now. There were subtle signs even of his healing starting. He looked over at her. "Are you okay?"

"I just want to get that crystal so we can help Connor and I can get my hands back. I mean, what if I wanted to play the piano?" She pulled her hair back over her neck before getting up from the step.

Standing, he turned to her and reached down with his good arm to help her up. "I'll get you a baby grand then," Angel said with the best smile he could muster considering.

The fact that his face looked like melted plastic didn't phase her. She had seen a lot worse in her life. The smile was heartbreaking though. "We need to grab that tent." She moved away from him, going up the stairs to exit and go out to the GTX.

Back in the Oracles’ chamber, Angel stood there as Cordy worked on the tent, wrapping him in it. "I feel like I'm in a cocoon," he said, his voice muffled.

"You look like a cocoon too. Too bad I don't have a camera." She secured the tent around him with the tie-downs. She reached up and unzipped the window so she could see his face. "Is that dark enough?"

"Its good," he said. "I don't think its going to make the fashion shows in Milan."

"Are you kidding me? Once this is all over, I am starting my new line. Tent is the new black." She patted his chest gently. She pulled the key from her jeans pocket and handed it to him. "Can you grab this with your tent-hands?"

He took the key with a nod. "Now, let's save our son," he said as he turned for the wall and with difficulty moved to it. Putting the key back in the hole, he turned it and the door came open again.

Cordelia remembered Wes' words that she couldn't go through that doorway. She stood off to the side, just watching it. She called to Angel. "If you catch fire, just throw the crystal out. I will catch it."

Angel was moving through the bright light as she spoke. When on the other side he paused. He looked around. It looked like an alien landscape. Here it was dark so he ripped himself out of the tent cocooned around him. Now he knew why Cordy couldn't come, there was no oxygen on this side.

She didn't like the quiet or being left out of the loop. She started to move towards the door, calling out again. "You still alive?"

Angel couldn't hear her. He pulled out Wesley's instructions, read them over again then looked up and headed to the right. It only took a moment before he saw what he wanted The Crystal.

All Cordelia heard was silence. That wasn't a good sign. She didn't care what Wes said; she was going to do this. She took a deep breath and started walking into that sunlight. It was so bright; she had to shield her eyes against it.

Angel stood before it. It sat on what looked like a pedestal. Looking it over carefully he then reached for it, snatching it from where it rested quickly. As he did suddenly the ground rumbled. His eyes widened and he stumbled back. From the place where he took the crystal, the ground cracked. What he thought was a pedestal turned out to be like a horn on the end of a snout. It was a snout that had a big mouth under it with long sharp teeth. It looked like a dragon, or what he would call a dragon.

Cordelia was about halfway through the light, though she wouldn't have known it. She called out again; wondering if Angel was as lost as she was in this light. "ANGEL! ANGEL!" Her voice was leaning more towards the pissed off wife tone than the concerned escort tone.

The vampire stumbled back from the thing as it rose from the ground. Fighting wasn't an option now. Connor was what was important. He gathered his strength and ran for the portal, then his eyes saw a shadow in its frame. He wanted to yell at her to stop her but couldn't. There was no oxygen here to take in to speak so he sped up. He felt the creature behind him but as he passed the place where he stripped off the tent, he grabbed it up. Wrapping himself in it quickly he dove for Cordy to tackle her back into the chamber.

She was just about to set foot out of the light when something tackled her. She was about to start fighting back when she felt the tent material under her fingertips. It was just Angel tackling her. This was the second time since coming to this world he had done it. Before she knew it, his speed of tackle sent them both skidding along the ground and into the chamber. The only thing that stopped them was when they crashed into the wall.

"THE KEY," he yelled from under the tent. "PULL IT OUT! HURRY!"

"That is hard to do when you are on top of me!" She yelled right back at him as she shoved him off her. She scrambled to get up and run over to yank the key free of the glyph. The sunlight blinked out as if someone had merely turned a switch to flip it off. She slid down the wall, looking at him. She thought he might have bruised something in the tackle.

Just as that door shut, something big hit it from the other side. The wall shook but it held. Angel came out from under the canvas of the tent.

Cordelia winced as whatever it was hit the wall behind her. She moved with the wall as it shook. She was not getting up for a little wall shaking, not until she got her breath back. She looked at Angel. "What did you do that for?!"

"I assumed you like breathing," he said as he stood. Yeah, there was pain, but not as much as there could have been. Pain was good, sometimes.

"And broken ribs are so much better." She got up slowly, wincing. They had to take care of Connor so she could take care of her injuries. "I thought something happened to you. I was going to make sure you were okay."

Angel moved over to her. "You stepped over there you would have died, Cordy. There was no atmosphere.”

"It takes a lot more than a lack of atmosphere to kill me, Champ." Cordelia straightened up and looked at him. "You get the crystal?" She had her priorities and while she might have given Angel a tingle of hope with her comment, now she destroyed it in revealing it was all about the crystal.

Reaching for her with his right hand, he helped her up. "Yeah, well, if the lack of breathing didn't get you, what hit that wall might have," he said, nodding. "Yeah. Reddish thing that sparkles with purple?"

"Wes didn't tell me what it looked like or what we have to do with it." She took his help just because it was easier and faster if she didn't argue. "I will call him on the way to the hospital."

Angel followed her on out of the chamber and onto the car so they could get to the hospital.

Most of the gang was gathered around Connor's hospital bed. He was still out, only breathing thanks to the machines he was on. On one side of the bed stood Wes with Fred, both looking exhausted from not only the fight only twenty four hours earlier but also from the research to try to save Connor's life. On the other side were Cordelia and Angel, both looking like they had been through hell and back. Angel's face and hand were still burned from retrieving the crystal while Cordelia suffered from the pain in bandaged hands and some bruised ribs. They all had enough sense to send Lillian out of the room. None of them knew exactly what was going to happen. Cordelia's eyes went from Wes and then back to Connor. They were here, they had the crystal, the curtains were drawn, and the door was closed. "What's the hold up, Wes?" Cordelia finally said, her thoughts now spoken aloud. They were all thinking it, she knew that.

Wesley looked over at Angel and Cordelia. He held out his hand to them. "Crystal," he said in that soft tone of his.

Angel pulled it out of his pocket. It seemed to glow with a life of its own. It was translucent red and seemed to give off a purple glow from within. He handed it to Wesley, trusting his friend could save his son.

Cordelia watched carefully as Angel handed over the crystal. She only hoped that what had taken them a while and a lot of trouble to retrieve was going to be the answer to their problems. "Now what?" She asked, rather impatiently.

Wes pulled back Connor's sheet to expose his chest. He placed the crystal on the unconscious boy's chest. He looked up at both Cordy and Angel. "You both need to stand on either side of the bed," he said. He stepped back as Angel stepped around to where Wes had been.

"Now, you are his parents, therefore the ones closest to him. Reach over and each place one hand to cover the stone then hold hands." Wes told them.

"If you make me sing Kumbaya, Wes..." Cordelia trailed off. She would do it for Connor, even if she didn't want to. No one wanted her to sing. She took a breath and put a bandaged hand over the crystal. She reached out to offer the other to Angel. "Don't hold it too hard. It still hurts."

When the two had done what he instructed, Wes pulled out a parchment and unrolled it. He started speaking in a demon tongue.

Soon after Wes spoke Angel started feeling the crystal grow warm. He looked across to Cordelia.

Her eyes weren't directed to Angel. They were directed down towards Connor. She watched him for any sign that he was getting better. She wanted this stupid crystal thing to work and for him to wake up the same surlypants young man that he had always been. She was holding her breath too, as if that would help things along.

Wes continued his spell casting. He looked from the scroll to Connor's chest. He could see the crystal's glow intensify under Cordy and Angel's hand. He laid the scroll down. "The rest is up to the three of you," he told them. "Divided you can't save him."

"Wes, really don't have the time of the patience to go around playing riddle me this. Just tell me what to do and I'll do it." Cordelia said as she briefly pulled her eyes away from Connor to look at Wes now. Why couldn't this be one of those easy missions where you staked a few vamps and went home?

"You both have to put aside everything between you," he said. He turned to Fred and took her by the hand and started for the door. "Stop hiding and denying." He opened the door for Fred.

Fred followed Wesley out. She paused though long enough to give them both a small smile. She only hoped that they could work it out, for Connor's sake. She pulled the door shut behind her.

"Wes...what the hell..." Cordelia didn't even finish before the door to the hospital room was shut. She yanked her hand out of Angel's. "This is stupid. What kind of crazy spell is this? I am trying again." She began to unwrap her hands as she looked at Connor.

"Cordy," Angel said to her, "Please, for Connor." He looked down at the crystal and its glow started to dim when she pulled her hand away.

"Please for Connor what? I can't change how I feel inside. I can't fake it, even if I wanted to so we could save Connor." Cordelia tossed her bandages aside. Her hands had gone from the angry red of her earlier burns to blackish blue dead flesh now.

"Our son needs us now, Cordy," the vampire said looking back up at her. "We can set everything aside for now for him." This was as close to pleading that Angel had ever come. The pain of possibly loosing Connor was worse then the pain Markus had inflicted on him several years ago.

"You don't think this mystical crystal thing is going to know we are lying?" Cordelia raised her brow at him. It wasn't just as easy as setting everything aside. She knew that. It was never that easy.

"What I think is," he said to her, "that it will know the truth, even if we don't. It was starting to do something, Cordelia, I felt it."

Cordelia sighed and moved to put her darkened hand over the crystal. It hurt like hell without the bandages when she took Angel's hand as well. She just stood there, weight resting on one hip, waiting for something.

Angel looked to his son when Cordelia came back. Soon the crystal started glowing brighter again and it became warm. He felt a tingle in his injured hand and he looked to it. The glow started to engulf his hand as well as Cordelia's. At the same time Connor's life signs started getting stronger. Angel didn't need the monitors to tell him this.

Cordelia could feel it working and to be frank, she didn't understand why. Wes said that they had to be united, not divided. And she certainly wasn't feeling united with this Angel right now. She took in a breath, hoping that Connor would open his eyes.

Connor's head started to move slightly, though any hope of him making a noise at present was impossible having a ventilator in him doing his breathing for him. He started to pull on his restraints just a tiny bit.

Angel noted this as he looked at Connor's face then he looked back to his and Cordelia's hand on the crystal. He could see new flesh growing an accelerated rate on their hands.

Cordelia kept one hand on the crystal but she reached down with the hand that was holding Angel's to start to help Connor with his restraints. "Angel, get a move on. Get the other one." Cordelia shook her head at him.

"Cordy, wait," he said. "He comes too with the ventilator and all in him, he's liable to try and pull it out. Just give it a few more moments and we'll call the nurse." He hoped she understood what he was saying. The restraints were there for Connor's safety so he didn't pull the hoses out along with his lungs.

Cordelia paused for a moment and looked at him. She didn't like the idea of Connor being strapped down. She just frowned but took her hand off the restraint. She did speak to Connor though. There was no harm in that. "Connor, listen, don't fight. I know you want to. You always want to jump right to the fighting. But you have to just stay calm."

"Connor," Angel spoke softly, "relax, let the machines breath for you until we can get a nurse in." He leaned down closer to his son. "You're coming back to us, but do it slowly. Relax. Center yourself."

Connor's eyes slowly opened. The moved from Cordy to Angel then closed again. Angel felt Connor's hand move, brushing up against him. He looked down and Connor's wrist was turned up. His hand in a fist but that middle finger was straight up. Angel couldn't help but grin.

Cordelia looked at that and she had to smile just a bit too. "Nice to see you are feeling well enough to make obscene gestures at people." She looked over to Angel. The crystal might have healed his hand but his face was still burned. Her hands, however, felt good as new. "So...we should probably hide this crystal before the nurses get here?" She was also asking if they were done here.

Angel pulled his hand from the crystal and it was now black as a piece of coal. He picked it up, looked at it a moment then slipped it back into this pocket to give to Wes.

"Connor, we are just going to step outside to let the nurses do their thing and get all those tubes out of you. Be back in when it’s done." She moved around Connor's hospital bed and grabbed Angel to drag him out. The nurses certainly didn't need two extra bodies in here while they helped the miracle kid.

Wes saw the two come out and he stood. His eyes asked it all, he didn't have to speak. He moved to them to meet them.

"He's awake," Angel said, that happy father tone. He pulled the crystal out and handed it to Wes. "I thought you might want this."

"He's fine. He flipped Angel off." Cordelia gestured back to Angel with a hook of her thumb. If anything, that should prove that Connor was completely fine.

Wes took the blackened stone and gave a tired smile. "Well, it he has enough facility about him to use sign language, it sounds like he should be on the road to recovery." He looked at the crystal. "I must dispose of this. That blackness is the essence of the demon. If it broke out, it would seek the nearest host."

"And here I was hoping we could mystical press it and make it into a really big diamond." Cordelia frowned as she looked at it in Wes' hand. That would have been nice. A huge diamond that harbored a demon, now that had to be something totally unique.

A voice from behind them spoke. "I think it would be good for all of you to go get some rest," it was Connor's doctor. He looked at Cordy and Angel. "He is resting now that we have taken out the ventilator. It is a trying experience." He looked at Angel. "I wish you would let us look at those burns."

Cordelia stepped in front of Angel and the doctor. "I don't think that will be necessary. He just got a bit too much sun. He has an all natural doctor that he sees." She was standing her ground because she knew that the moment that doctor even got close to Angel, the jig was up. They were going to have to either clock him over the head and steal Connor or explain why Angel was a walking corpse.

"Its okay, doc," Angel said as he took a step back. "I just forgot my sunblock and I'll see my doctor. It’s not as bad as it looks, really." He turned to Wesley and Fred. "I think we could all go home and clean up then come back.” Then he placed a hand on Cordy's shoulder.

She reached up to touch his hand and gave the doctor one of those sunny, winning smiles. It was enough to get the guy to back off. "Have I said lately how much I hate hospitals? And doctors. And the smell." Cordelia turned her head enough to look at the other three. Connor was on the mend, so they could all breathe easy. "You two have to be tired so totally understand if you just go home and sleep."

"Yes, yes," Wes said and looked at Fred. "Perhaps that would be a good idea, darling. We go and rest. Let Cordy and Angel go home then we can all come back here later."

Fred had been quiet this whole time but that was because she was observing what was going on between Angel and Cordy. She was making notes in her head. She was going to talk Wes' ear off once they got to the car. She was worried that if she said anything or pushed Cordelia, the other woman would just shut down. But they had gotten the crystal together and she did notice the fresh bitemark on Cordy's neck. Fred was picking up on the little details, like the body language. They weren't back together yet but they were getting there. They fought side by side, they saved Connor. Not to mention the fact that Cordelia had let Angel have a waterpark day with the twins. That was huge in Fred's book. Wes yanked her out of her thoughts. She gave him a small smile. "Picking up some food on the way home would be a good idea too. I don't know why but hospitals make me hungry. Well, everything makes me hungry. I am just lucky that I have such a good metabolism or I would have to develop a new diet pill with my lab."

Wes smiled again and took Fred by the arm and walked her for the elevator. "We'll pick up whatever you want on the way." He punched the button for the elevator car.

With the happy couple gone, Cordelia looked back to Angel. It wasn't her place to go ruining their happiness because of Wes' big secret sacrifice. "You drove so I am leaving with you. Unless you feel like raiding the blood bank and in that case, I still have a stake under my coat."

"Gee, and I thought we'd play Bonnie and Clyde," he said it with humor then indicated for her to head for the elevator. "I'll eat when we get home."

"Apparently, a bad sense of humor is universal to all Angels." When the elevator door opened, she stepped inside. She waited for him. "I'll take care of your face after I get something to eat and take a nap. Unless you want to wear it around like some kind of manly badge of courage."

Leaning back on the rail in the elevator he looked at her. "You've said that to me before about injuries," he said, "in both worlds. And who else gets away with calling a vampire a dork but Cordelia Chase."

"I don't get away with it. You just know that what I can do to you would hurt worse than any sunlight burn or crazy torturer." She reached over and pressed the button for the bottom floor. She kept her distance from him, staying in the opposite corner of the elevator. "Ian will tell you to keep it. You better get prepared to be steamrolled by him."

Angel nodded at her mentioning Ian. The boy will want every gory detail of what happened in the Chamber and then he'd probably find a blanket to use to wrap up in the re-enact the story. When they got to the GTX, he opened the door for her to get in and slide over so they could go home.