Angel slowly pulled the truck to a stop on a small clearing atop Friar’s Point. From their spot on the ridge, Angel could look down at the entire town of Sunnydale. Off in the distance was the hospital.
To the right was the university. Near that was the suburbia section of the town. Hundreds of lights twinkled in the conservative homes. Angel wondered idly how many of them knew about the evil that lurked in their leafy little hamlet.
“It’s strange how such a pretty little town can rest atop the mouth to Hell,” Cordelia observed.
Angel leaned back in his seat and nodded quietly. Yeah, it was strange. He continued to stare off at the distant lights and smiled slightly at the baby’s soft snores. He glanced over and watched Cordelia adjust the child in her arms. It was a beautiful sight. He watched as she licked her lips slightly and prepared to speak.
“In the past few weeks, I’ve dreamed a hundred different scenarios about what it would be like when I saw you again. Funny. I don’t recall imagining this.”
“Neither did I.”
Silence, then, “I’ve missed you. It’s been lonely without you.” Angel just nodded. “I’ve missed having my friend around.”
“Is that what I am?” Angel questioned. He turned and fixed Cordelia with a sad gaze. “Are we even friends? Have we ever been? After I returned from my whole Darla obsession trip, you made it quite clear that we weren’t. Then you almost died when you didn’t tell me the visions were killing you. Friends don’t keep those kind of secrets. Then Groo arrived, and by the time he left and we started to come together, you were gone. And when you came back…were we ever really friends?” Cordelia was silent.
“That’s what I was thinking, too.”
The two looked off into the night. Cordelia watched an airplane as it made its decent to Sunnydale Airport. Angel focused on the faint wail of a police siren. It was Cordelia who spoke first.
“We’ve both fucked up a whole bunch, haven’t we?” Angel nodded in agreement. “We’ve both done things we can’t be forgiven for, right?” Angel nodded again. “I don’t suppose we could both say ‘sorry’ and call it a night, could we?”
Pause. “I’m sorry anyway.”
Pause. “So am I.”
Pause. “I guess that’s a start, right?”
Angel nodded. “It is.” He sighed heavily and fiddled with the car keys in the ignition. “Whether we were ever friends is questionable. But I do know that I loved you.”
“I loved you, too.” Cordelia gently stroked the baby’s cheek as Angel watched. “Things will never be the same with us. Wherever we were, no matter how good it was becoming, we can’t be there again.”
“You’re right. That’s because we’re different people now. Different experiences. Different reactions. For all I know, different dreams. What I think what we need to do is decide what those dreams are. Where do we go from here?”
Cordelia was silent for a moment as she considered what to say. Finally, she gazed at him and said, “I still love you. I need you in my life.”
“And I still love you. And I want you in my life.”
“So what do we do now?”
“We do it right,” Angel said with certainty. “We take it slow and we go through the steps.”
“And the first step would be?”
“We become friends. We know each other…inside and out. So,” Angel drawled, “got any brothers or sisters?”
Cordelia barely slapped a hand over her mouth before she ripped out in laughter. Angel thoroughly enjoyed the twinkle in her eye. It allowed him to believe that everything might be okay.
“This could get very interesting,” Cordelia decided. “But before I tell you anything, there is one thing I have to know from you.”
“What was the deal with those three mystical gals that did the protection spell on Caritas? You know, the ‘Mmm Angel’ groupies.”
Angel chuckled. “That is an interesting story. You see, it goes back to St. Louis at the end of the war. The second war, that is. I went down to the riverfront and…”
Angel and Cordelia arrived at the Summers’ house minutes before the first rays of light peaked over the horizon. They pushed aside a piece of blue tarp that now covered the front door and entered.
In the living room was the entire group, eating breakfast and sipping coffee, and generally recovering from the previous day’s battle. They couldn’t help from noticing the way Angel gently held onto Cordelia’s hand.
“Why don’t you go on up to my room?” Angel suggested softly. “You must be exhausted.”
“What are you going to do?” Cordelia asked curiously.
“I’m going to congratulate the group on a job well done. I’ll be up there in a minute. I’m tired as hell.”
“Okay,” Cordelia smiled. Mother and child headed up the stairs to get some rest and wait for daddy. Angel watched them head up the stairs for a moment before turning back to the living room. He walked in and noticed that Hannah was conspicuously missing.
”How is everyone feeling?”
“Like we were hit by several large and massive objects traveling at an incredible velocity,” Xander answered. The others agreed. He then raised a coffee mug up in salute. “But hot cocoa makes everything better. Except for this Grade Two concussion. Vicodin helps for that.”
“I’m sorry you all got sucked into all this,” Angel apologized. “But I can’t say enough how thankful I am for all of you. You’re brave. You’re strong. And you don’t back down from a challenge. I appreciate everything you have done. Even the Boy Dunder over there.”
“Hey!” Xander shouted.
“Just kidding. I thank you all.”
“No problem, mate,” Spike drawled. “We love a good fight.”
“And cookies,” Willow added. “We love cookies, too.” The others shot her strange looks. “What? I’ve had a hankering for those Elfudge cookies all night. Do we have any?”
“No,” Buffy answered. “Spike ate them all.”
“Lying sack of dust. I bought a pack last Tuesday. The three of us were gone all day and you were the only one home.”
“Maybe it was the dog.”
“We don’t have a dog!”
Angel desperately tried to interrupt the argument. “Where is Hannah? I’d like to talk to her.”
“In the kitchen,” Kayla pointed.
Angel stuck around for a moment to watch Buffy, Spike, Dawn, and Willow get into a heated battle over who ate the cookies. He soon grew bored and headed to the kitchen. He found Hannah sitting at the island counter sipping on a cup of coffee. She looked worn and tired and beaten. But she was alive. That had to be a plus. He mentioned that to her.
“I guess so.” She watched as Angel took a seat next to her. “Any day you don’t get brutally raped and the power of an entire race of people isn’t absorbed by a diabolical demon is always a good day. How are you?”
“Well, considering. I’m just glad it’s over.”
“So am I.” She set the cup aside. “I heard that your girl saved the day last night.” Angel nodded. “Lucky for us. It must have been pretty bad.”
Hannah fingered the rim of the coffee cup for a moment. “I never stood a chance, did I?” Angel looked at her curiously. “When she appeared. Your heart belongs to her. Am I wrong?”
Angel smiled sadly. “No. You’re not. I’m sorry about that. You’re a beautiful girl.”
“I’m sorry too. And thanks for the compliment. Sucks that your heart belongs to another, but hey, the whole ‘saving my life from previously mentioned diabolical demon’ is an act that will always keep you in my heart.”
“Glad to hear it.” Pause. “So where will you go?”
“Probably Washington. A group of our clan has settled in a town east of Olympia. They should welcome us with open arms especially since we’ll have a new tale about the clan savior to tell. But now we have to add in a section about a Slayer and a tall brunette.”
“Don’t forget about an annoying bleach blonde vampire. No story is complete without that.”
Hannah managed a small laugh. “I will. And thank you. For everything.” She swatted his hand playfully. “Now go to her. Don’t be stupid and hang around here. Go to your family.”
Angel smiled slightly and leaned across the table. He gently kissed her cheek. “If you’re ever in danger, you know where to turn, right?”
“To the Knight in Black Armor. My own personal Angel. I hope I won’t be needing this kind of help again, but still, thank you. Now am I gonna have to drag you back to her?”
Angel chuckled a soft “No” before standing up and limping from the kitchen. He smiled to the gang who watched as he took the turn to the stairwell and went up.
Lilah pulled a folded bill from her pocket and said, “Ten says they get groiny.”
“I’ll take that bet,” Wesley said.
“So will I,” Spike announced.
“Me three,” Dawn added.
“Dawn!” Buffy scolded. “I don’t want you gambling.” She then pulled a bill from her pocket and said, “I’ll take it, too.”
Angel knocked gently on the door before entering. What he saw warmed his soul. There on the bed rested Cordelia, still clad in jeans and t-shirt, her body spooned protectively around the baby. Her hazel eyes opened when she felt his presence. She shot him a radiant smile.
“You’re back,” she said.
“I’m back,” he agreed. “Were you worried that I would take off?”
“Nope. You said you’d be up shortly. Why wouldn’t I believe you?”
“I could give a million reasons, but why get into a long debate?”
Angel crossed over to the bed and gently climbed on. He delicately wrapped himself around the baby so as not to disturb its slumber. From that position, he could look across the seven-inch gap and stare into Cordelia’s eyes.
“So,” Cordelia began. “The battle is won. The damsel has been saved. What now, Gary Cooper?”
“I was thinking about riding into the sunset with Grace Kelly.”
“Sounds nice. Has the role been cast yet?”
“I have a girl in mind. I hope she accepts. It’ll be a major part for her. Longtime commitment.”
“You won’t know until you ask. Worst she can say is no.”
“True. So…you want the part?”
“I think I can swing it.”
“Good. Because the role was written with you in mind.”
“How’s the pay?”
“Could be better, but the benefits package is admirable.”
“Sound intriguing.” Pause. “I love you, Angel.”
“I love you, Cordelia.”
Within moments, both were sound asleep.