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18 October 2006 @ 09:47 pm
Walking In My Shoes (28/?) (NC-17)  

Title: Walking In My Shoes (28/?)
Author: Kelly and Mike (collaborative writing team)
Posted: 10/18/06
Rating: Chapters range from PG to NC-17
Chapter: Chapter Twenty-Eight rated NC-17ish (to cover our tushes, just in case)
Email: jjsoapchat AT yahoo DOT com
Content: Action, romance, the dreaded hurt/comfort
Scenes include: Cordelia, Angel, and some random demons
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 stepped out of the hotel room with one last wave to the kids. She hoped they had a good time tonight. She went to the end of the hall, calling for the elevator. She looked at the numbers as she waited for the carriage to come. When the elevator doors opened they stepped in and rode it on up. They didn't have to wait to get in; Angel had put them on the guest list. After shown to a table, he pulled out a chair for her.

She sat down at the table once Angel pulled the chair out for her. She took a moment to do the subtle glance around the room. She could feel it, the way the energy in here was so different. It was rich, vibrant, celebrity energy. She acted cool because she was supposed to be here. She knew that with every fiber of her being

Angel took his seat, unbuttoning the top button of his suit jacket. "I'll have whiskey, Irish," he said and looked to Cordy.

"Just some mineral water, twist of lime." Cordelia knew better than to go about drinking. Every time she drank, she ended up in trouble. She had learned her lesson one too many times. She waited for the waiter to leave them. "I don't like the way you ambushed me downstairs."

"I just thought... I wanted you to feel like the center of the universe for a little while," he told her. "I wanted you to feel beautiful, like you really are. I just wanted you to have the attention for a bit." He played with the napkin a little as he spoke.

"I wish you would have just told me at the hotel. I could have prepared. I could have done my hair better, my makeup better." She paused for a moment. "Thank you for the thought though. But next time, a little warning, appreciated." It wasn't so much a request as she was telling him that the next time he did something like this, she was going to be warned ahead of time.

"Cordy, everything was perfect," Angel spoke softly. "And I won't set something up like that again without... Though I'm surprised Ian didn't spill it all out." The waitress came back with the drinks. Angel paid her then took his up and sipped from it.

"I know I always maintain a constant level of fabulous but I could buff it up to near epic proportions." She gave Angel a grin as she reached for her water. She took a small sip from it before she set it right back down. She took a moment to look around once more, checking out who was here.

He glanced around then he looked out at the view: L.A., the lights sparkled like diamonds in the night. Taking another drink, he watched her. "Anybody interesting?"

"Usual group I expected. Socialites, drunk action stars, and some models so pumped full of Botox, they can't move their faces." She looked back to Angel now that she was done doing the rounds. "Bet not a one of them has ever had to search the sewers for a Sabrak demon."

Putting his glass down, Angel stood. He held out his hand to her. "And not one of them is with as beautiful a lady as I am. Both on the inside and out."

He was really putting the lines on but then again; the Angel she knew used to do that too. At least after everything was stable, where he could be happy. She got up and took his hand. She wasn't quite sure what he had in store for her now.

The slow music started. Of all things, it was Mandy. He led her out on the dance floor then turned to her and pulled her to him. Slow dancing was something he could handle. It was the quick modern dance that he always looked like a fool doing.

She laughed just a bit when she heard the song. "I think you must have a friend in the DJ or something." She let him lead her as well as pull her close to him. For a brief moment, she was thinking about how this could be her husband.

Moving slowly, he smiled at her. "More like Luck o' the Irish," he said. Having her like this in his arms felt good. It felt right. Angel was so hoping this could be a start in the path to getting their family back. He knew it was hard for her to understand. But it was him. When the soul had been anchored and the memories restored he was Angel now.

She did enjoy dancing with him, well, slow dancing at any rate. Angel dancing to a fast song was sort of like watching him having a seizure. She relaxed in his arms, even moving a little closer to him. She turned her head to rest to her cheek against his shoulder and chest.

"Remember the first time," he spoke softly. "I asked you to dance and you're eyes got so big? I thought they were going to pop out of your head." He gave a light chuckle.

"You weren't really known for your dancing, Angel. Killing things, yes. Going all grrr, yes. Being a huge dork, yes. You aren't going to get invited to teach at any Arthur Murray studios, that is for sure." She laughed softly but she doesn't move away from her spot against him. She was going to have to pull away soon because the song was coming to an end.

"Well, yeah, I don't do these new fast things, but I can waltz and I do a mean minuet," he said in his defense. He didn’t want the song to end. His favorite song, his favorite lady... No, he didn't want this moment to stop.

"I am not sure you want to be bragging about that." As the song ended, she pulled away from him just enough so that she could look up at him. She held his eyes for a moment without speaking.

Angel looked into her eyes. He was searching for anything... Just something that would tell him everything was going to be okay.

In her eyes was a real sense of fear though. She wasn't looking at Angel; she was looking through him. Her body went stiff as a board in his arms.

"Cordy," he said as he increased his support of her. He knew what was going on. It was a vision. Pulling her to him, he walked her to their table. To just an onlooker, it looked like to lovers coming off the floor. "Cordy." he sat her down.

She was living out the vision right now. The pain of it was gone but the sights, smells, even taste of them was not. Her nose crinkled up as the stench of urine slammed her senses. She sat there after Angel put her down and watched the movie-like vision unfold in front of her. "Alley... Close to here. I can feel it. It smells like... Eww... Pee and... Fried rice. Not a good combo, let me tell you. Three big demons and they are... Oh great, slimy. They are leaving a slime trail up the alley. They are going after a group at the restaurant. Coming in from the back door. They are speaking... Sounds like German?"

He grabbed her wrap and put it on her. "I know the alley," he said. "I should be back shortly."

She shook herself out of the vision and looked at Angel like he was crazy. "You aren't going without me." She started to get up from the chair. She could still smell everything though, feel the air from the alley on her skin. She always felt a little after effect until they took care of the problem.

Angel started to say something but then realized telling her not wouldn't work. Cordy never listened to him in matters like this. "Okay, any signs, landmarks?"

"Well, I know Chinese food restaurant doesn't really help. It’s near here. I saw... A bank, across the street. One of those credit union things." She was already making her way out of SkyBar and to the elevator so they could go downstairs to get the car.

He stopped her. “Take the car. Meet me there. I know the alley. I can get there faster my way." He turned from the elevator.

She reached into his pocket to pull out the valet ticket herself. She was quick in her movements before she sprinted to the elevator. She took it down and then moved just as quickly out the front door. The only lag in her time was when the valet went to retrieve the car. It wasn't long before she was driving, being guided by her vision to the location.

Angel had found a window out to the roof. He ran and leaped from the ledge to the next building. Inside the bar a drunk looked out and saw the man leap. He blinked. He looked at his glass then back out the window at nothing but the building across.

The vampire was at the alley in no time. He looked down and saw two of the demons. He dropped down silently behind them. He was on the first one, grabbing its head and twisting. There is a sound that almost sounds like the shot from a .22 pistol as its neck broke. That got the other's attention from up the alley.

Cordelia pulled the GTX into the alley. Nothing like the element of surprise to get the drop on some demons. She left her wrap and purse in the car but she was smart enough to grab a sword from the foot space in the backseat of the car. Turned around, she didn't see Angel kill the first demon nor his battle with the second. She also didn't notice the third that was coming out of the shadows, his eyes trained on her.

The other one had gotten to Angel from behind and jumped him. The slime that coated the thing was now on him and his new clothes. He reached back over his head to try and get a grasp on the thing but couldn't. It made a noise almost like a Wookiee underwater. Angel couldn't tell if it was from its mouth or any other orifice it might have.

Cordelia had barely stepped one high heel clad shoe out of the car before the demon that was coming out of the shadows sent her flying with a swing of its huge arm. She was knocked back into the car, dazed for a moment. "Didn't your mother teach you any manners?" She kicked at the demon as it came closer, her foot connecting with its middle and effectively ruining her shoe with its slime. Now that just pissed her off.

The demon that Cordelia was fighting stumbled back as she kicked him in the middle. She was up out of the car as soon as it had given her space. She wasn't going to mess around as she swung her sword at it. She doubted Angel had a weapon so as soon as she struck the demon across the chest, she slid the sword along the concrete of the alley to Angel. "Angel!" She shouted, head turning. She thought she had dealt the creature a fatal blow.

When the demon saw the female turn her head, he knew he had his opportunity. The scratch across the chest had been nothing. He swung his arm back and caught the whole of her upper body with it. Cordelia went flying through the air, hitting the opposite wall from where she was standing and falling into a pile of alley trash.

Angel saw from his position what had happened with Cordy. He growled and brought his demon to surface as it had been begging. This wasn't a vampire but, still... He twisted his wrist and the stake snapped out of his sleeve. He brought his arm up and the stake impaled the demon in the head. It screamed and let go of the vampire.

When freed, Angel dove for the sword that lay near the car. He hit the ground, rolled and came up with it in hand. The demon that had attacked Cordy was right there and using his vampire speed Angel dispatched the thing's head and then it collapsed. To make sure it couldn't do something like put its head on again he grabbed it up and threw it. Where it landed he didn't know but the bum on up the alley will probably wake to quite a fright and totally commit himself to good works at the rescue mission.

Just as Angel turned to see about Cordelia the last demon was there again, stake in eye. Cordy hadn't moved and he wasn't going to mess around with this halfwit slimefest that didn't have the sense that it should run instead of coming back. He brought the sword down cutting the thing from left shoulder to right waist. He left the lower half and drug the upper half away to the dumpster. Then he moved quickly to Cordy. "Cordelia," he said as he started looking her over. "Cordy!"

Cordelia had been lucky that the trash and debris broke her fall. She was also lucky that she narrowly missed the broken piece of pallet that would have copied her injury in high school. Her face was swelling up where the demon had caught her with its arm but through a rapid closing eye, she was able to see Angel going crazy on the two demons. She tried to bring her hand up to wipe away the wet blood at the corner of her mouth but her arm was killing her.

Angel pulled out his handkerchief and wiped it for her. "Cordy, are you okay," he asked. He was about to go crazy right here.

"I ruined my shoes." She bemoaned to him. The fact that she couldn't feel her legs didn't quite matter. Or that she couldn't lift her arms without pain. She had ruined the new shoes he bought her when she kicked the demon away. She just wasn't thinking tonight. Normally, three demons wouldn't be a problem for her and Angel together. She was thrown off her game by too much thinking though, thinking about her husband, his missing ashes, the slow dance at SkyBar.

"Its okay," he said reaching to pick her up. "Its okay. Shoes can be replaced." He stood carefully with her. "I'll buy you ten pair just like them if that's what you want."

"Are they still on my feet? I can’t..." Cordelia paused because she realized what she had just said. "Angel... I can't feel my legs." She turned her head to look at him as best she could with the swelling on the side of her face.

Getting her to the car, he laid her down in the backseat. Looking down at her, he put his demon back and his human features came to surface. The worry on his face compounded. "Let's get you home, cleaned up and in bed."

"Good thing I got those pictures done before this then." She was trying to keep it all light hearted. It wasn't the first time that she had been injured on the job. The first time she was injured this badly though. She closed her eyes but she knew she couldn't fall asleep. She probably had a concussion.

Angel got behind the wheel of the Plymouth and then pulled on out and headed back for The Hyperion as fast as he could. This time of night the traffic was light.

"You have to keep talking to me, you know. That has to be horrible for you. But I hit my head pretty hard, was hit pretty hard. I am definitely feeling concussed." She said from the backseat. She was in an insane amount of pain but she was never one to admit that. She just needed some time to let her body heal itself. Though, by her injuries, that was going to take days.

"Uh, okay," he said. "You know the twins were really happy tonight. I was surprised at Ian sitting like he did."

"I am not sure who is in more pain right now, me or you. We never used to have any problem talking." She looked up at the sky and the passing streetlights because that is all she could do. The right side of her face had swollen up to the point where her eye was now shut tight so everything looked flat, without perspective.

"No... But you're hurt... And I don't deal well with that." Angel pulled the car into the back alley of the hotel where they would be close to the entry. He got out and then got to the back to get her. "Tell me if it hurts much. I just want to be really careful moving you."

"I always tell you the truth." That, of course, came with conditions. She told him the truth but she also kept things from him. Sometimes, it was for his own good. The thought of her hurt or dying always turned him into a near psychopathic killer or really, a guy who didn't think rationally at all.

Lifting her carefully, he backed out of the car then turned for the garden gate. In moments he was in the hotel and heading up the stairs. "We'll get you up there and get you cleaned up and all... We'll get you there."

"Just no copping a feel when you put me in my pajamas." She tried for a smile but her face hurt so much that instead of it, a tear rolled out of the corner of her eye. She hadn't meant for it too as she was trying to be strong, like always. She wasn't just the heart, she was the rock.

Finally they entered the apartment. Angel took her to the bedroom and laid her on the bed. He went to her feet and pulled off her shoes. "I'm going to go get a pan of hot water, rag, towel, and soap to clean you up."

She hesitated for a moment. "Will you...Just keep talking so I can hear the sound of your voice?" That statement alone should have told him how serious it really was. After saving Connor in the hospital, she was ready to put him to the streets, now she wanted to hear his voice.

He headed for the bathroom but kept talking. "Remember when we brought the twins home? Remember when Connor met us with all those stuffed animals? Despite it all he really loves those two." The water was running in the bathroom.

"Connor just needed time to heal. The twins helped. Lillian helped a lot more. I think becoming a dad helped the most." She listened to him running the water. She closed her eye because the bright light in the bedroom was physically hurting her.

Angel came out and sat the pan at the bedside. "Grandparents," he said. "You ready for that?"

"No. Especially not when Angel and I were talking about going another round with the clinic. We tried and I didn't end up pregnant. Guess it wasn't in the cards that time. I feel weird if our kid is the same age as Connor's and yet, their aunt or uncle." She just laid there on the bed because she couldn't do much else. The beautiful dress that Angel had bought her was now filthy and ripped. In the light, her injuries were much more pronounced, from the bleeding at the back of her skull to the swelling of her face, to the way her legs were unmoving from the position she had been put in.

He folded a towel and put it behind her head then looked down at her body. "I'm sorry," he said as he reached down and started tearing the dress. He didn't want to move her up to pull it off and it was torn anyway.

‘Not the dress, please not the dress’ was the only thing that she could think right now. It was the first nice, designer thing that she had gotten in as long as she could remember. She shut her eye tighter as she heard the fabric ripping, wishing she could block that sound out of her mind forever.

After getting her undressed, Angel set to cleaning her wounds. He took care in being gentle over her bruises and cuts but he knew he had to get them cleaned. "There's some pain pills in the bathroom. Think you need one?"

"I just need to rest and let my body heal. So, I guess going to Pilates tomorrow is out." She forced a laugh but it came out sounding choked and pained. There was a wetness to it that spoke of all the tears she was holding in.

Finishing with the sponge bath, he stood and went to her dresser. Opening the drawer, he pulled out a nightshirt, one with that weird bunny on it. He sat back down and looked at her. He reached a hand to her face. "Its okay, Cordy," he said. "Its okay to let go."

He should know better than that. She didn't cry in front of people. It just wasn't her thing. She turned her face away from his hand when he touched her. "Angel, really... It’s okay. I don't need to 'let go'. I just need to rest."

"Let's get this on just incase we're barged in on," he said as he slid her arms into the sleeves.

"The last thing I need is Ian trying to use me as a human trampoline." She tried to help but when she tried to move, she found that she couldn't. She just took a very deep breath. It would be okay. Her body would heal itself. She just needed time, rest, and a lack of stress.

He managed to work it on her. "This is why I am staying right here while you sleep. I'll get a good book and keep any hyperactive children from doing just that."

She paused for a moment after Angel got the nightshirt on her. "I am really not suppose to sleep if I have a concussion. Maybe... You could put the TV and dvd player in here? We could watch a movie or like five, together? I don't take up THAT much of the bed."

"Yeah, I can do that," Angel replied. He went and got both the television and the DVD player. He set them down on the dresser after clearing it off. It took him a few moments to set them all up. "What movies you want?"

"Something that won't make me fall asleep. So no romantic stuff or old movies. You could put in an action movie if you want. I can't see the screen anyway." Her eye was still closed against the harsh light of the bedroom. She didn't care what they watched as long as she stayed awake. That was Angel's job, to keep her awake for a few hours.

"You want the lights down low? You know that doesn't bother me. Night vision and all," he asked as he looked through the movies. "Hollywood Homicide? Fugitive? Madagascar? I know you like the penguins."

"Lights low would be a really good idea." She paused for a moment because despite the pain, her stomach was still growling. It was amazing that her body wanted food at a time like this. Then again, she needed fuel so her body could heal itself. "Could you maybe call the all night Chinese place and get me some soup too? I don't think I can chow down on an egg roll with half of my face smashed up."

Angel moved to the lights and dimmed them. "Yeah," he said, "maybe you could handle the steamed dumplings too?" Coming back to the bedside, he picked up the phone and started to dial.

"They are usually pretty soft. If I can't eat them, I am sure Connor will be happy to finish them off for breakfast." She turned her to look at him now that the lights were dimmed. The way he was acting, how crazy he got when that demon hurt her. She knew then and there, this was her Angel. You could fake a lot of thing but crazy killing sprees because the one you love is hurt, which was not something one could fake in her book. It was pure instinct. She had seen him just barely but more importantly, she heard him in the fight.

Dialing, he waited and when he got an answer he placed the order in Chinese. The two elderly that owned the place always treated him good on his orders since they found out he spoke their language. Then he put the phone down. "Lin said about 20 minutes."

She tried to turn her head quickly away so he wouldn't notice that she was looking at him. "Do you always have to show off with all your languages?" She said it with a teasing tone to her voice though.

"Hey, it gets you two free dumplings when I do it," he said with a chuckle. "And I still haven't been able to get you to use chopsticks." Angel then moved to the kitchen and got her a glass of ice water with a straw. Coming back, he put it down for her. "You probably could use a drink."

"I could probably use something that isn't water. And the only thing I use chopsticks for is holding my hair up." She leaned as best as she could towards the glass. She waited for him to put the straw to her lips so that she could drink from it. A glass of water never tasted so good in her entire life. After tonight, she was taking herself out of going out to kill things rotation for a good long while.

After she got a drink, he put the glass on the bedside table. "I better get down there and meet Lin's son."

"Do you really have to go? I am sure they can come up here, just this once." She wasn't going to beg him to stay but it was clear in her voice what she wanted. She didn't want to be alone, not even for a few moments.

Pulling up the chair, he sat and took her hand. "Okay, I'll listen then use the in-house phone with speaker on to tell them to come up." He smiled at her as he said it.

She tried for another smile but she fell short. "Okay then, no more smiling so no funny movies tonight. Just put in something that excites you and you will talk my ear off all night."

It had been a week since her accident and Cordelia's recovery was coming along slowly but surely. Her face had healed itself within three days and by the end of the week, she was able to get up to walk to the bathroom. She could even take a shower without too much pain. Wes had determined that she probably had broken back, which was something she could have told him without his examination. But through it all was Angel, there to take care of her. He dressed her, fed her, and helped her in every way possible without complaint or hesitation. She was appreciative of that and it only reinforced what was now her belief, he was her husband, back from the dead. When she had seen the way he acted in the alley, it chipped a huge hole in the wall she had erected after she found out the truth about this Angel. Now, the wall was completely fallen.

She had insisted on taking a shower herself, even if it caused her back to hurt her. She came out of the bathroom, trailed by steam and the scent of lavender soap. She sat on the edge of the bed so that she could recover. She never had any idea that taking something as simple as a shower would be such an ordeal. She figured that in another week or two, she would be mobile. In a month, she would be fully healed. For now, however, she was stuck resting between what used to be menial tasks.

Angel came from the kitchen where he had just finished feeding the twins. He carried a tray into the bedroom. It held his famous scrambled eggs, toast, juice and coffee and a single rose lay across the tray. "Now, eat this while its still hot," he said as he put the tray before her. He pulled the napkin from the tray and laid it on her lap.

"Yes, mother." She looked up at him with a little bit of a smile. She reached for the flower. "I don't think this is quite edible, Angel." She brought the rose up to her face to smell it. She had to admit, she did miss these little things in the near month she had shunned him completely.

"Actually, there is a tea made from the rose hip," he said. "But, we'll pass on it." Pulling up the chair, he sat. "Connor and Lillian took the twins. Lillian has been giving them their lessons. She's turned into a really good teacher herself."

"That makes me feel less guilty about spending a week in bed to heal. I didn't want the kids to fall behind. We need to find some kind of supernatural daycare center for them so they can start to get socialized." She shifted on the bed so that she could pull herself up just a bit. She exchanged the rose out for a fork so she could eat her breakfast.

"I really think one of those will be hard to find," Angel said crossing his arms over his chest. "I don't think there are too many kids like those two... Not since Connor."

"Then Gunn needs to get with the baby making with Faith and Gwen. Fred and Wes need to do their part too. Besides, there has to be SOMETHING, Angel. Even the good demons of L.A. have to go to work and I assume they have kids. I will look into it once I am better." She said before she went back to her breakfast. It didn't take her long until she had finished most of it. She even drank both the juice and the coffee. She needed to keep her strength up.

A healing body burned calories fast; nobody knew this better then Angel. Where he had to have his blood, he knew she needed food. "I suppose it’s all how certain demons, you know, procreate. Hatch, spawn, birth, mitosis... Or any other way we don't know about and some we probably don't want to." He stood and cleared the tray from her and took it back to the kitchen. He stacked the dishes in the sink to wash as soon as made sure Cordelia comfortable or if she wanted to come into the living room to the couch while he cleaned the kitchen.

"We can't be the only demon or part demon couple in L.A. that needs reliable daycare." She called to him as he left to put the dishes into the sink. She tried to shift once more on the bed but drew a breath in instead. Some days were better than others were and she must have overdone it in the shower.

Angel paused at the counter in the kitchen when he heard her say couple. That sounded so good to his ears. He came back to the bedroom after a moment. "I suppose not," he agreed. "After all, Doyle, he was half human. What worries me is that Ian might decide to hunt the demon offspring, even in plaid." Angel said this with a chuckle.

"Then we just have to remind him where he comes from. I think he knows that not all demons are bad. And it will be good for him to learn that he can have friends who aren't human. Angel, you and both know the kids are... Special. We can't exactly drop them in public school. If Kat felt all those emotions around her, took them in, she would be drained before lunch. I don't want to put her through that. But I don't want them to be alone their whole lives, with just family around. You and both know better than anyone that family isn't about blood... Its about love." Cordelia reached up to try to take the towel off from around her hair.

"Yeah, I know," he said with a nod. "Nobody knows that better then I do, Cordy... Except maybe you." He reached over and helped her with the towel.

"We are all a bunch of misfits around here. What are you talking about?" She chuckled and leaned forward as best as she could so he could help her with the towel.

"Misfits," he said trying to look shocked and hurt. "Me? A misfit?"

She threw the wet towel at him, hitting him right in the face. When she drew her arm back though, she had a look of pain on her face. "No more doing that. I am going to have trouble brushing my hair, let alone getting dressed."

Pulling the towel down from his face, he took it to the bathroom then came back. "Why don't you let me," he asked her.

"You sure you are up to the task?" She chuckled and moved so that he could get behind her to brush her hair. She pulled out whatever hair fell into her bathrobe from when she took it out of the robe so he could get it all.

He took up the brush and kicked off his shoes then got on the bed behind her. "It will be my biggest challenge to date," Angel replied as he started to run the brush through her hair. He took care running it through... And his time. He allowed a hand to brush down over her shoulders.

Cordelia was quiet for a few moments. She closed her eyes as she felt the brush running through her hair. She didn't mention the hand on her shoulder but she could feel it. "I just wanted to say... Thank you for taking care of me this past week. I know you haven't been sleeping much. And trust me, I know how cranky you get without sleep."

"Well, you know I don't need as much sleep as a human," he said as he kept brushing. "And taking care of you... I wouldn't have dreamed of not doing it." That hand moved up to her neck and his fingertips lightly touched her skin.

"You are so full of it. If you don't get your eight hours a night, you turn into the crankiest manpire on the planet." She tilted her head just a little bit when he touched her neck. She was speaking of him now not in a sense that she might have known how he might have been but rather that she knew how he was, that she knew him.

Finishing her hair, he put the brush aside then placed both hands on her shoulders. He started to massage her. "I drank a lot of coffee," he countered. He worked his fingers over her muscles feeling the tightness in them.

"Just let me win, Angel. Its better for everyone in the long run." She wasn't protesting the massage in any way, shape, or form. She dipped her chin down, giving him greater access to her neck and shoulders. She was tense because she was in pain and still healing. It caused a lot of stress in her.

Angel kept working her muscles moving his hands down her back. His long fingers seemingly able to find those places that needed their attention. He leaned down to her ear. "If I made things easy for you, you never would have paid attention to me."

"Now that isn't true. All I had to do was watch you dance or hear you talk about Manilow, I would have been hooked then and there. Like I said... Like the dorky guys." She leaned forward just slightly as his fingers worked along her back. She let out a happy sounding sigh, soft and barely there.

"How's that feel," he asked, his thumbs worked one her spine. He made circular motions, working his way back up.

"It feels really good actually. I can't remember the last time you gave me a massage like this. I think it was back when I was pregnant and my back was killing me." She leaned back this time, into his fingers. Her back brushed against his chest.

"Well, all you have to do is ask," Angel spoke then leaned down and kissed her shoulder as he kept working up her spine.

When she felt the coolness of his lips against her skin, she couldn't help but shiver slightly. "I will keep that in mind." She said but her voice was softer this time. She didn't want him to stop, not with the massaging and not with the kissing.

Working his hands on back up, he pulled up from her shoulder and worked her neck. He then leaned over to her right and kissed that shoulder. The vampire trailed his hands then down to her waist and rubbed her hips. His lips then moved up to her neck.

Cordelia slid her body back to settle against him now. She didn't say a word as she felt his hands move over her nor when he kissed her shoulder. It wasn't until she realized how close she was to him that she spoke. "Is my wet hair bothering you?" She wasn't sure if the wetness of her hair pressed against his shirt would be uncomfortable enough for him to stop.

"Not at all," Angel spoke into her ear then nuzzled her. His hands moved around to her stomach showing her he didn't mind.

She leaned her head back to rest on his shoulder. She tilted her head up as he nuzzled against her. She moved her hands over his but stopped. She ran her fingers against his ring finger. She wasn't too surprised that his wedding ring was absent. "Where is your ring?"

Taking one hand, Angel put it in his pocket and pulled out his key ring. There on it was his wedding band in place of honor, next to the key to the GTX.

She turned her head so that she could look at him. "Here... Let me have it." She held her hand out, palm flat, waiting for him to put it in her hand.

He took it off the key ring and placed that gold band in her hand. He looked at it over her shoulder how it reflected the bedside light.

She reached down and took his hand off her stomach. She used her own hand to slide the ring back onto his proper finger. Once that was done, she put his hand back to rest against her stomach. She didn't need to say a word; her actions spoke louder than any words ever could.

Watching her do this, he had a welling of emotions. "Cordelia," his said in a hoarse, cracking whisper, "I love you." His hold on her was tighter yet gentle. He kissed her neck again and his hand slipped up to her breast.

"I know." She wasn't quite sure if she could say those three words out loud just as of yet. She had showed him better than words ever could have said. She laid back against him once more, settling into him.

His hand cupped over her breast, then slipping off to untie the belt of her robe. He brought his hands up to slip her robe off her and as he did he kissed the bare skin on her shoulder blades.

She did her best to help him as he got her robe off her. But a turn in the wrong direction sent a shock of pain along her spine. She tried not to wince at the pain of it, tried to tell her body not to stiffen up. Her body, though, most times, had a mind of its own.

Angel stopped, sensitive to her change. Concern crossed his features. "What is it," he asked. "Something wrong?"

"Only that you stopped." She turned her head to give him a small smile. She settled back into him, hoping that her body wouldn't give her any more problems. She was enjoying the feeling of his skin against her, his lips against her body. She didn't want it ruined by a little stabbing pain.

"Are you sure," he said as he moved down to her shoulders again and kissed her. His hands moved down her sides, back around to her stomach. He was letting his sensitive touch re-explore her. He was relearning her curves, the feel of her skin, her warmth.

"I am always sure. Its what I do." She sighed softly as she felt his hands move down along her sides. She could feel the warmth of her body moving through her skin and into his, warming his body as well.

Gently, he turned her to lay her down. He looked down into her eyes then lowered and kissed her lips. His hand moved over his hips then back of her leg.

As he moved her, even gently, she had another round of pain with her back. She didn't let her dissuade her though. She laid down without letting it show on her face. She lifted her head as best she could to meet his lips with her own.

Slowly, he deepened the kiss. Angel moved down to kiss her left breast, then slowly sucked the nipple into his mouth.

Cordelia went to arch her back when she felt his lips on her breast but that is when the real pain hit her. She let out a cry not of pleasure, but out of suffering. She reached under herself to put a hand to her back in a futile attempt to stop the shooting pain.

Angel stopped and quickly let go of her. "Cordy," his voice was shaky and worried. "Cordelia." His hand came up to her face.

She moved to sit up now, her hand still at her lower back. At least her body was giving her a warning not to go any further. She wasn't about to apologize to Angel for something she didn't have any control over. "I think the only thing in between my thighs for a while is going to be my old pregnancy pillow. Can you get it for me?" She slid off the bed to stand so she could try to stretch her back out some.

"Yeah," he got up and moved to the chair to get it. Coming back he looked her over with concern. "Laid back down and I'll get the heating pad for your back."

"I want to put some clothes on first." She kept a hand at her lower back as she went to her drawers. She hadn't had this kind of back pain since the twins and this was by far worse. She opened the drawer with one hand and got out a shorts and cami sleep set. She flicked her wrist to toss them to Angel. "I need some help to get these on, please."

He caught them easily and came to her. He held the cami up for her so he could slip her arms in it and work it over her head.

They had been doing this for the past week so it was old at this point. She got herself into the top and waited for him to put the shorts at her feet to step into before he pulled them up. When they were finally eye to eye, she gave him a bit of a smile. "I know this isn't how you wanted to spend your morning."

"There's a lot of ways I can spend this morning to make me happy. Just being with you is one," he said as he reached over and picked her up, carrying her back to the bed. Laying her down, he spoke, "Now I'll get that heating pad."

She nodded her head. She reached for her pregnancy pillow and laid on her side. She positioned it between her knees to help with her back. She finally got to a point where she was ready to accept this Angel as her husband and they couldn't even perform marital perks.

He placed that heat pad on her lower back then turned it on. "There," he said as he checked the settings. "Now you just rest and don't worry."

She turned so that she could look at him over her shoulder as he put the heating pad against her back. "Angel... Will you... Just stay here with me? I know you probably want to sleep but maybe you could hold me and we could fall asleep together?" This gesture on her part was probably more important than the sex. She was inviting him back into her bed, where he belonged; to sleep with her like they used to.

Angel stood there for a moment then he took off his shirt then pants. He got on his side of the bed, slipping behind her and then put his arm around her while fitting his body to hers in a spoon position. "How's this," he asked in a whisper.

"This is good. This is perfect." She allowed her body to settle and relax into the natural curve of his against her. She closed her eyes. They might not have been able to have sex but they had learned to be intimate in other ways. They had a few months between the declarations of love and Wes finding a cure for the curse.

Angel laid there, his arm around her. It was a comfort just to be like this and know she was welcoming him back. He gave her shoulder a kiss then nestled against her neck. She was right. He was tired. Soon his eyes closed and sleep came over him.

It wasn't long before the warm feeling of the heating pad pushed away Cordelia's pain. Only moments later, did she drift into sleep as well. This felt comfortable and it felt right. She went to sleep, secure in knowing that it would only take a little more time before things were back to normal.