Mistletoe Mansion. 5

Part 5

10.30am, Christmas Day, 1998…

Linking her fingers together above her head, Cordelia stretched, working out the kinks in her pleasantly aching muscles. She had woken a few minutes earlier to find herself alone in Angel’s king-size bed. The vampire was nowhere to be seen but, as she could hear the faint sound of classical music drifting up from downstairs, she wasn’t worried by his absence.

Pulling back the covers, she swung her feet over the edge of the bed and padded barefoot into the bathroom, where she pinned her hair messily atop her head and took a quick but invigorating shower. After drying herself off, she brushed her teeth and pulled on her silk robe, before finally making her way downstairs to join her boyfriend.

Angel was seated in an armchair, his bare feet propped up on a small footstool, and his head bent over the sketchpad in his lap. He looked up with a warm smile when he heard her footsteps on the stairs. “Hey sleepyhead,” he greeted her. “Merry Christmas.”

“Merry Christmas to you too,” Cordelia said, perching on the arm of his chair. She bent to kiss him. “Why didn’t you wake me?”

“I wanted a few hours peace and quiet,” the vampire replied, perfectly straight-faced until his girlfriend punched him in the chest with an indignant “Hey!”

“Relax – I was joking!” he said, wrapping his big hand around the nape of her neck and drawing her down for another kiss.

“So – can I open my present now?” the seer asked excitedly as soon as they drew apart.

Angel laughed at her childlike enthusiasm. “You were one of those kids who got up at the crack of dawn every Christmas morning, weren’t you?”

Cordelia nodded, her hazel eyes shining with eager anticipation. “So – can I?” she repeated her question.

“I don’t know – have you been a good girl this year?” he teased.

“Angel…” she whined, her bottom lip jutting out into an exaggerated pout.

The vampire caved in. “Go on then – I put them under the tree.”

With a girlish squeal, Cordelia scampered over to the small Christmas tree to retrieve the two brightly wrapped packages. With her treasures clutched tightly in her hands, she quickly rejoined him on the other side of the room and climbed into his lap.

After handing him one of the boxes, she began to tear the paper off her own present with undisguised relish, finally revealing a square cardboard box filled to the brim with tissue paper. Reaching inside, she carefully removed the spherical object that it contained and lifted it up in front of her face to study it.

It was a Christmas bauble – made entirely of wood and hand-painted with an old-fashioned Christmas scene. A red velvet ribbon was secured to the top, while the surface was heavily varnished to seal in and protect the picture from damage.

“It’s beautiful,” she breathed. “It looks really old.”

“It is – my mother painted it.”

“So that’s where you got your artistic talent from, huh?”

“Yeah, I guess it is. I took it from the house after…,” Angel broke off, unable to say the words. “It was a trophy back then, I suppose, but now… I want you to have it.”

“Are you sure? I mean, it’s like a family heirloom or something. You should keep it.”

“No. I always loved it as a child – I remember watching my mother paint it, seeing the scene come to life before my eyes. It was something that brought me real joy.”

“Those memories were pretty much destroyed by what I did after Darla turned me though. I can never forgive myself for that but I want this…” the vampire tapped the bauble, making it slowly spin, “To have the right kind of memories associated with it again. Giving it to you seems like the perfect way to do that.”

Cordelia nodded, her eyes misty with emotion. “I’ll treasure it, I promise,” she said solemnly, cupping the side of his face in her hand.

“I know you will,” Angel replied, and then turned his attention to his own present. “Now what do we have here?”

In contrast to Cordelia’s enthusiastic unveiling of her present, Angel unwrapped his with slow, deliberate precision, taking care not to tear the paper too much. Inside he found a tin of coloured pencils, containing every shade you could possibly think of. He recognised the brand name – he used their products on a regular basis because they were quality art suppliers.

“I bought you some art stuff before,” Cordelia explained. “But I never got to give it to you.”

“You didn’t?”

“No – courtesy of Vocah and the never-ending vision.”

Angel’s expression immediately darkened as he remembered that bleak time, and Cordelia reached out to smooth out his furrowed brow with two gentle fingers.

“Hey! None of that, Broody faces are not allowed – it’s Christmas.”

The vampire smiled and Cordelia nodded in approval. “That’s better. I know you only usually draw in black and white, but I reckon it’s about time you created something with colour in it.”

Angel grinned. “You’re obsessed with bringing colour into my life, you know that?”

“And that’s a bad thing?”

“No – it’s a good thing. Just don’t expect me to start wearing white suits or something.”

“Eww no! That’s *so* 1970s. No, the black with colour look suits you just fine.”

“Glad to hear it.”

“Do you like them? The pencils, I mean. I guess they’re kind of a lame present compared to what you got for me.”

“No, no, they’re great. Honestly,” he added off Cordelia’s doubtful look. “You’re right; I should expand my repertoire a bit. Creativity gets stale if you don’t push your boundaries a little.”

The seer relaxed, reassured. “So when do I get breakfast?”

“There’s food in the kitchen. Go help yourself.”

“Nobody makes eggs and toast like you do,” Cordelia said hopefully, fluttering her eyelashes at him.

Angel rolled his eyes and stood up with his girlfriend nestled in his strong arms. “You’re going to be the death of me.”

“No – I think Darla was that,” Cordelia retorted, sticking her tongue out at him.

The vampire laughed. “I meant metaphorically speaking,” he said as he carried her through into the kitchen.

***

Buffy put the phone down with a worried frown.

“Are you okay honey?” her Mom asked, noticing the concerned look on her daughter’s face.

“That’s the second time I’ve called Angel to wish him Happy Christmas and there’s still no answer.”

“Maybe he’s sleeping. Vampires don’t keep the same hours as us, do they?”

“I guess but he should be awake by now.”

“Try again in another hour,” Joyce advised. “If he doesn’t answer then, you can go over to see if he’s all right. I wouldn’t worry too much – Angel seems perfectly capable of taking care of himself.”

“I suppose,” Buffy reluctantly conceded.

“So can I do anything to help?” she asked. At Joyce’s insistence, they were having all her friends over for dinner later on that day.

“You could peel those potatoes,” her Mom said, pointing to the mountain of vegetables on the counter-top.

Buffy wrinkled her nose in distaste, wishing she hadn’t volunteered. She *hated* peeling potatoes.

***

“Have you seen ‘Titanic’?”

Angel looked up at Cordelia’s question. “Yeah, I was in Southampton when she launched.”

“Not the ship, dumbass – the movie!”

“You know with Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet?” she asked impatiently.

Angel looked at her blankly and she sighed. “Never mind, it’s not important that you’ve seen it. They play two passengers on the Titanic – he’s a poor, struggling artist, and she’s a young woman of high society engaged to this – like – billionaire. Only she doesn’t love him.”

“Let me guess – they meet and fall in love across the class divide.”

“Pretty much, yeah.”

“Cliché-ridden pap then,” Angel decided.

“What and you and Buffy weren’t?”

The vampire looked at her reprovingly and she grinned cheekily. “Sorry, couldn’t resist. Anyway back to the point…”

“There’s a point? Well, I’ll be damned.”

“You’re so not funny, Mr Comedian. Anyway, there’s this scene, just before the ice-berg hits, when Rose…”

“Huh?”

“Kate Winslet.”

“Oh – right.”

“Asks Jack…”

“Leonardo Di-whatshisname.”

“Will you stop interrupting?”

Angel laughed. “Sorry – go on.”

“Thank-you. Anyhow, Rose asks Jack to draw her ‘like one of his French girls.’”

“A nude portrait.”

“Yes, apart from the ‘Heart of the Ocean’ – a supremely expensive diamond necklace.”

“Okaay…”

“Well, I don’t have a diamond necklace,” Cordelia said coyly. “But I can be a French girl.”

Angel’s eyes widened as he realised what she was hinting at. “You want me to draw you?”

“Uh-huh,” the seer nodded, lowering her eyelashes and toying with the tie on her robe. “Will you?”

Angel considered. Nobody had sat for him for years; he always drew from memory. The idea was tempting though, especially as it was obviously intended as foreplay. “You’ll have to stay still,” he warned.

“I can do that.”

“Okay then,” he said, reaching for his sketchpad and the tin of coloured pencils that Cordelia had given him earlier.

He looked up at her expectantly, and she smiled rather shyly as she slowly untied the belt of her robe. Shrugging her shoulders, she let the silk garment slither off her body so that she was standing completely nude before him.

“Lie on the couch,” he instructed softly.

Cordelia did as asked, arranging herself with her left arm bent over her head and her right hand next to her cheek. Unbeknownst to Angel, it was the pose in the movie. It worked for him though, so he didn’t question it. Picking up a grey pencil, he flipped open his sketchpad and set to work, nibbling on his lower lip as his eyes intently studied every dip and curve of her naked body.

The whole procedure was conducted in absolute silence, a state of affairs that only added to the eroticism of the moment. Angel suppressed a smile as Cordelia’s raggedy breathing filled his ears, delighted with how much this was turning her on. Her cheeks were flushed pink, her pupils dilated and her moist lips parted in arousal. As his gaze travelled over her nude form, she shifted slightly, rubbing her thighs together in an obvious attempt to quell the growing ache at her centre.

It took him nearly an hour to complete the picture and, by that time, his own body was buzzing with arousal that desperately needed to be assuaged. Setting his sketchpad aside, he crossed to the couch and held out his hand to help Cordelia to her feet. Cupping her face in his palms, he bent and kissed her upturned lips, and then took her hand and led her up the stairs…

***

“Buffy, maybe this isn’t such a good idea,” Giles said worriedly as he drew his car to a stop outside Angel’s mansion.

“Giles! You know what he just went through with the First. He hasn’t been answering my calls – I’m worried about him.”

Since Christmas Eve, Giles had been debating whether or not to tell Buffy what Sarah had said about Angel and Cordelia. On the one hand, he figured she had a right to know, but on the other, he knew it wasn’t right to break her heart without being sure of his facts. He hardly approved of his slayer’s choice of boyfriend, but he was simply incapable of causing her unnecessary pain.

Now though, he was beginning to wish that he’d said something because he had the horrible feeling that they were about to walk in on Buffy’s worst nightmare. To make matters worse, they had brought an audience to witness the whole event – Willow and Xander had come along for the ride. Other than be there to support her though, there was nothing much he could do to avert the impending disaster.

“Hello!” Buffy called as she pushed open the door to the mansion. There was no answer.

The downstairs living space was deserted, although there was evidence of recent inhabitation. “I’m going to see if he’s upstairs in his room,” Buffy said. “Wait here,” she instructed her friends.

Giles wandered into the lounge area and absently picked up the sketchpad that lay on a small table by the armchair. The first two pages contained portraits of a woman and a man that he didn’t recognise.

The woman was young – in her early twenties – with long hair falling to just below her shoulders. She was wearing glasses, which made her look overly studious and partially hid her pretty features from view. The man was older but not by much, and he held himself with a certain stiffness. It was as if he was wearing an invisible suit of armour, which protected him from the unseen foes out to get him.

The pictures were drawn with obvious affection, so Giles figured they must have been friends of Angel at some point in his life. He turned to the next page and his eyes nearly fell out of his head. “Oh my!” he murmured, blushing profusely and quickly snapping the pad shut, hiding the forbidden image from view.

Through his shocked surprise, it gradually dawned what his discovery meant. Cordelia Chase – in all her womanly glory – drawn by a man, who obviously knew every inch of the nude, female body that he had so lovingly recreated on paper. And Buffy was on her way to check whether Angel was in his room…

***

Upstairs…

Buffy frowned at the faint sounds emanating from the master bedroom at the end of the corridor. She could have sworn she heard Angel groan a moment ago – was he in pain? A higher feminine moan reached her ears then and she stiffened in shock. What the hell?

Her heart thumping inside her chest, she slowly pushed the door to the bedroom open, revealing the two figures on the bed. From her vantage point in the doorway, about all she could tell was that one was female and the other male.
The mystery female was straddling the man, who sat with his back against the headboard and his hands spanning his partner’s waist. The woman had her back to the door such that her naked body obscured the man from view. Her dark hair was long and cascaded in a mass of wavy curls down her back, while a tribal sun tattoo decorated the golden skin at the base of her spine.

The couple were entirely focused on each other, oblivious to everything else around them as they made love with passionate intensity. Frozen to the spot, Buffy couldn’t tear her eyes away from the erotic scene, and watched as the man’s hands began to wander, first sweeping over the curve of his lover’s bottom and then rising to tangle in her hair.

The woman suddenly let out a harsh whimper, while her back arched and her movements quickened. “Oh, oh God Angel! So close, so close!”

The slayer gasped, her brain finally making the connection as she recognised the woman’s voice. Unable to move, she watched in fascinated horror as her nemesis and her boyfriend reached the culmination of their shared pleasure. The declaration that Angel gasped out as he lost control, shattered her heart into a million pieces.

“Oh God Cordy! I love you so much.”

While Angel and Cordelia kissed and cuddled as they slowly recovered from their high, Buffy finally regained the use of her paralysed limbs. Letting out a harsh sob, she backed out of the room, her hands rising to cover her mouth. The couple on the bed finally realised they were not alone and froze in horror.

“Oh, oh shit!” Angel cursed as Buffy fled and Cordelia scrambled off him in a blind panic.

“I thought you said she didn’t come round till after Christmas!” she practically screeched.

“She didn’t, I swear!”

“Oh, oh – this is so not good. What’s going to happen to the future now they know?”

“Nothing! Because we’re not going to let it. We’re just going to have to talk to Giles and persuade him to do something to make them forget we were ever here,” Angel said as he hastily pulled on his pants and threw her robe at her. “Come on, we need to stop her from leaving.”

***

Downstairs…

Giles looked up as Buffy hurriedly descended the stairs, tears streaming down her face.

“Buffy – what’s wrong?” Willow asked concerned.

“Angel and… and Cordelia!” Buffy choked out and fell into her best friend’s arms, her sobs overwhelming her.

Xander looked confused for a moment and then his eyes widened as the truth dawned. “No, no way.”

“Yes way,” Willow murmured as a half-dressed Angel and Cordelia appeared at the top of the staircase.

Giles felt his anger boil over. “You, you bastard! Is it really that hard to keep it in your pants?”

“Giles wait – you don’t understand,” Angel said, as calmly as he could under the circumstances. “This is not what it looks like.”

“Not what is looks like!” Buffy cried out, whirling around to face him, her blue eyes shooting fire and ice. “I saw you! Both of you! How could you? And with *her*”

“Buffy please! I’m sorry that you had to see that, I really am. The last thing I would ever want is to hurt you. In this time and place, I loved you. I would have never cheated on you in a million years – you have to believe that.”

The vampire briefly broke off his narrative, and then continued with his explanation. “Only the thing is I’m not from this time. Cordy and me, we got caught up in this crazy spell that put our minds in our past bodies. We’re from 2001.”

“You’re lying!”

“No, I’m not. I swear.”

“What kind of spell?” Giles asked.

“Giles!” Buffy glared at her watcher.

“Buffy – if what he’s saying is true, we can’t afford to ignore it. This could change the future in unexpected ways, and that’s not at all advisable, believe me.”

“It was Fred,” Cordelia explained. “She gave us some enchanted mistletoe and we sorta ended up back in Sunnydale.”

“The book in the Library – it was you,” Giles realised.

Angel nodded. “The effects only last 72 hours – that’s why we were hiding out here. I wasn’t expecting any visitors, it didn’t happen before.”

“Buffy tried to call you but she couldn’t get through,” Giles explained, walking across the room. “I’m guessing this is why,” he said, holding up the disconnected phone-cord.

Angel and Cordelia exchanged a telling look. “Oops!” the seer said, her face turning the shade of a ripe tomato.

“Uh-oh – bad thoughts, bad thoughts,” Xander mumbled under his breath.

“Shut up Xander,” Buffy hissed furiously and then turned to Angel. “Okay, so say I believe you. That still doesn’t explain her,” she said, pointing an accusing finger at Cordelia.

Angel sighed and ran his hands through his hair. “Buffy – we split up before you graduate. I moved to LA shortly afterwards.”

“Umm,” Willow said, diffidently holding up her hand. “If you two are like – well, you know – shouldn’t we be worried about Angelus making an appearance?”

“Well *obviously* she doesn’t have what it takes to make him perfectly happy,” Buffy said cattily.

“I so do!” Cordelia stormed, her hazel eyes flashing. “I’ll have you know that he chose to be with me, not you when his soul became permanent.”

“So there!” she added, childishly sticking her tongue out at the furious slayer.

“Cordy, this isn’t helping,” Angel said, placing a gentling hand on his girlfriend’s arm.

“Your soul is permanent?” Giles asked incredulously.

Angel nodded. “Yes – as of two weeks ago anyway.”

“Wesley found a way to bypass the perfect happiness clause in his curse,” Cordelia explained.

“Wesley?”

“Oh, you’re gonna meet him very soon. He’s Buffy’s watcher for a little while. You get sacked for breaking the watcher’s code or something.”

“Wesley Wyndam-Pryce?” Giles asked, aghast.

“You already know him? You never acted like you did.”

“We’ve never met but I have heard of him,” Giles told her before turning back to Angel. “And now he’s helping you – a vampire?”

Angel nodded, his lips curling up into an ironic smile. “The world moves in mysterious ways, I guess. He’s one of my closest friends. He runs the detective agency I own.”

“Come again?”

“Angel Investigations,” Cordelia said proudly. “I designed the logo and everything. We deal with everything from demon infestations to deciphering prophecies, not to mention the cases sent to us from the Powers That Be.”

“You have a link to the Powers That Be?”

Angel nodded. “That’s what I do now. I met Doyle – a half-demon seer – a few months after I moved to LA. I ran into Cordy on the first vision quest that he sent me on.”

“He saved me from this creepy vamp, who wanted to make me his next meal,” Cordelia interjected. “Angel so kicked his ass.”

“After that, the three of us set up Angel Investigations. Wesley joined us several months later – a few weeks after Doyle died.”

“And now we have Gunn and Fred on the payroll too,” Cordelia added helpfully.

“And your link to the Powers That Be?”

Cordelia smiled and gave a little wave, causing Giles’ eyes to widen in amazement.

“Doyle decided to pass his visions onto her,” Angel explained. “It wasn’t exactly the best decision he ever made.”

“Hey!” Cordelia protested and punched him on the upper arm.

Angel laughed, and then his expression turned serious again. “Look – we’re getting off the point here. The mistletoe spell will reverse itself tomorrow morning. You cannot remember we were here – it would be a disaster.”

Giles nodded. “I agree – I think I know of a memory-altering spell we can use. Willow shouldn’t have any problems with it.”

Angel nodded, relieved. “Good, that’s settled then.”

“NO!” Buffy protested. She had been silent throughout the whole exchange but now decided to assert her authority. “You expect me to willingly forget that my boyfriend cheated on me with *her*”

“She has a name, Buffy,” Angel said sharply. “And I didn’t cheat on you.”

He reached out and caught her elbow in his right hand. “Come on – we need to talk.”

Not giving her a chance to object, he towed her across the room to the basement stairs and they disappeared from view, leaving the rest of them standing around in an awkward silence.

“Umm – I’m just going to change into something less comfortable,” Cordelia said with a blush. “You can make yourselves a drink if you want. We have coffee, tea or hot chocolate. I think there’s some soda too.”

“Got anything to eat?” Xander asked.

Cordelia smiled her wide beautiful smile. “You never change, do you Xander?”

The boy was startled to hear his ex-girlfriend’s voice vibrating with nostalgic affection, and he shifted uncomfortably. “Well, obviously you have.”

“Yeah, I have. Quite a bit actually.”

Xander nodded, not really knowing what to say. “I guess you do eventually forgive me then,” he ventured.

“Eventually. Oh and bucko? My face is up here, not at chest height,” she said, catching him ogling her breasts that were barely concealed by the thin robe she wore.

Xander’s eyes immediately snapped back up to her face and she raised her eyebrows at him, trying not to laugh.

“I think there are some cookies in the tin on the counter – help yourself,” she called over her shoulder as she started up the stairs.

***

In the basement…

Angel sat down on the basement steps as Buffy paced up and down in front of him, making him dizzy.

“I can’t believe you would do something like this,” she suddenly burst out.

“I wouldn’t,” the vampire replied. “But it’s been three years, people move on.”

“You leave me?” the slayer’s voice was thick with tears.

“It was for the best. I still believe that. We couldn’t make it work. Deep down inside you already know there’s no future for us.”

Buffy shook her head in denial. “No, I don’t.”

“Yes, you do,” Angel insisted. “We both knew – we just didn’t want to accept it.”

“But you did?”

“Eventually yes. Don’t think that it wasn’t the hardest decision that I’ve ever had to make though. It took me a long time to get over you.”

“Until Cordelia made you forget what we meant to each other.”

Angel shook his head. “She didn’t make me forget – I just moved on.”

“Why her? Why Cordelia? It doesn’t make any sense.”

“That’s because you don’t really know her. She’s not the girl she used to be here in Sunnydale. She’s grown up, changed. She’s been my best friend for three years now. We’ve only recently become romantically involved though. Neither one of us planned on it happening, it just did – something changed while we were looking the other way.”

“And there’s a way to make your soul permanent?”

“Yes.”

“You could tell Giles and we could be properly together,” the slayer said desperately. “We don’t have to forget – so what if the future changes.”

“Buffy – there is a time and place for everything. This isn’t the right time for me to be given that gift. I’m not ready yet.”

“You want to go back to your future,” the slayer said; it was not a question.

“Yes. And, before you ask, it’s not just because of Cordelia, there’s so much more to it than that. My life has real purpose now. I have friends, family in LA. Here in Sunnydale, I was so directionless and I felt completely out of place. My whole existence revolved around you and that wasn’t a good thing. It made me kind of obsessive, not to mention seriously morose.”

Angel broke off with a wry smile. “There’s more to who I am than that.”

Buffy didn’t want to see it, but she couldn’t deny that he had changed. The relaxed man before her oozed confidence, power even. He seemed happy and it hurt that she wasn’t the one to give him that. Her shoulders slumped in defeat. “You did love me, didn’t you?”

“With everything in me,” Angel replied automatically, leaving her in no doubt of the sincerity of his words.

“And now you love Cordelia?”

“Yes,” the vampire admitted quietly, not wanting to hurt her more than he already had, but incapable of lying to her either.

Buffy sighed heavily. “I don’t pretend to understand that.”

“I’m not expecting you to.”

“I guess we should go and see if Giles needs any help with this forgetting spell then.”

Angel smiled. “I guess we should. Just one more thing…”

Buffy looked at him expectantly and he continued. “I’m really sorry about what you saw upstairs. I meant what I said – I would never do anything to deliberately hurt you.”

“Do I know? In the future, I mean – about you and Cordelia?”

“No, not yet. It’s only been two weeks. When I get back, I promise I’ll tell you at the first available opportunity, okay?”

Buffy nodded sadly. “Okay. Come on – I think it’s about time I returned to blissful ignorance. I don’t know how much more of this I can handle. I think I want to die.”

Angel watched her walk up the stairs ahead of him. He had forgotten how much of a drama queen she was as a teenager. Her hurt was genuine though, and he was the cause of it, so he bit his lip and didn’t comment. There was no sense in making things worse than they already were.

Cordelia was coming down the stairs as he re-entered the downstairs living space. She had changed into a pair of comfy sweatpants that she’d bought at the mall two days ago, while her hair was tied back off her face in a loose ponytail. She was also wearing one of his shirts, which swamped her slight form, making her look positively adorable. He crossed to stand by her side but resisted the urge to touch her, not wanting to rub Buffy’s nose in it.

“I think it’s about time we left,” Giles said, taking in his slayer’s pale and tear-stained face. “We’ll go to the Library, do the spell, and then go home.”

Angel nodded. “Sounds like a plan.”

“Perhaps you better plug that phone back in,” Giles suggested, one eyebrow raised.

“Will do.”

“Oh and I think you left this behind at the Library,” the watcher added, handing something to the vampire before ushering Buffy, Willow and Xander out of the door.

As the door closed behind their unexpected visitors, Cordelia breathed a sigh of relief. “What did he give you?” she asked her boyfriend.

Angel held up her black silk panties on the end of his forefinger and she blushed furiously. “Oh. My. God.”

The vampire laughed and strode over to the far wall to plug the phone line back in. He then moved to stand behind her and wrapped his arms around her waist.

Nuzzling at her neck, he spoke in her ear. “Have you been following instructions?”

At first, Cordelia was confused until she felt his exploring fingers slip below the waistband of her sweatpants. He gently cupped her between her legs, satisfied to find her sans underwear.

“That’s my girl,” he said, nibbling on her earlobe.

Cordelia closed her eyes and surrendered to his touch…

***

December 26th 1998, 7am, Chase Household, Sunnydale…

Flushed and sweaty, Cordelia collapsed back against the pillows on her bed, breathing heavily as her heart raced ten to the dozen.

“You were supposed to just drop me off,” she accused, as Angel rose from between her legs and grinned at her, his expression full of satisfaction.

Not wanting to do anything to jeopardise their way back home, they had decided to return to the locations where they had first found themselves in Sunnydale, before the spell reversed itself.

The vampire laughed as he rolled off the bed and began to dress. “If that’s all I was planning to do, I wouldn’t have brought you here several hours early,” he said.

“You’re such a perv.”

“Quite possibly,” Angel agreed as he leant over to kiss her. “I’ll see you soon.”

Cordelia nodded. “What if…”

The vampire cut her off with a finger over her lips. “We’ll deal with that if it happens,” he said. “No sense in worrying about it now.”

“I want to go home.”

“Me too. We’ll make it back, I promise.”

He kissed her again and then left, leaving her to her own devices. She took a quick shower and then lay back down on her childhood bed, watching the clock as the minutes slowly ticked by.

It happened all at once, she suddenly felt dizzy and then everything went black…

***

December 23rd 2001, Hyperion Hotel, Los Angeles…

Cordelia gasped and jumped back in shock, opening her eyes to find Angel leaning over her with a gentle smile on his face. “Welcome home,” he murmured.

“We need to burn that,” Cordelia said, pointing to the piece of mistletoe in his hand.

“My thoughts exactly. It was fun, but not an experience I want to repeat in a hurry.”

“Well not in the past anyway,” he said as an afterthought, winking at her suggestively.

Cordelia giggled and blushed. “Are we back at exactly the time we left?”

“Seems so.”

“So our past selves won’t remember anything then.”

“I guess not.”

“So how do we know it really happened?”

Angel grinned and rose to his feet. Crossing to the other side of the room, he opened the closet doors and reached right to the back, pulling out a dust-covered wooden box.

“I brought this with me from Sunnydale,” he explained as Cordelia slipped out of bed to kneel beside him on the carpeted floor. “I haven’t opened it for at least five years – or at least I hadn’t before our time-travel trip.”

Undoing the rusty clasps and flipping open the lid, he drew out the bauble that he’d given her as a present and a flat oblong package covered in faded Christmas paper. He handed it to Cordelia who ripped off the wrapping with her usual impatience. Inside was the portrait that he’d painted of her on Christmas morning, 1998.

“The perfect mementos,” she said with a smile.

Angel leaned over and kissed her gently on the lips. “Yeah, it is,” he softly concurred. “I love you.”

“I love you too,” Cordelia returned with heartfelt emotion.

“So,” Angel said, getting to his feet and holding out his hand to help her up. “How about we go strangle Fred and then enjoy Christmas with our family?”

“Sounds like a plan to me.”

The End

P.S. I do actually like the movie Titanic; apart from I think the script is a little clunky in places! Oh and Angel probably wasn’t in Southampton in 1912 but what the hell!

Items used from the list:

Bed
A 200-year-old Christmas decoration – my idea actually but it fit my story,
Enchanted mistletoe
Hyperion
Shopping Mall (sort of!)
Silk stockings
A portrait painted by Angel

The Hotel
Sunnydale
The mansion
Cordy’s family home in Sunnydale
Library

Textures – silk

Scents – oranges – among others!

Flavours – Strawberry, orange

Becjane

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