“Angel, for the last time. I’m fine. I’ve never felt better. This is good.”
Angel pushed Cordelia back on the bed. “Cordy, you’re part demon. How’s that good?”
“Head won’t explode, duh.” She scooted up the headboard, glaring as she crossed her arms.
“Of course, that’s good. But, you said that the side effects are unknown, that’s not good.”
“But it doesn’t necessarily mean bad, Angel.” Cordelia reasoned, pulling her knees to her chest. “The floating thing is pretty neat and I didn’t turn green or grow horns, which would been…not so great. But, I get to keep the visions and stay alive. That’s really good.”
“You gave up your dream for me.” Angel shook his head. “You shouldn’t have done that.”
“Uh, Angel, reality check,” she waved her hand in front of his face. “I explained- you didn’t do the visions very well. You couldn’t keep them. And what dream? I distinctly remembering getting tired of being a TV star.”
Angel sat back in his chair, the doubt apparent on his face.
“Really, Angel.” She rolled her eyes at the vampire.
Angel slowly nodded, accepting her statement for the moment. “You still haven’t explained everything though. What are you leaving out?”
“I told you everything- told you about Skip telling me that human’s weren’t meant to be seers, that the Powers offered to re-write history so I wouldn’t get the visions from Doyle.”
“Yes, and you explained that you were a TV Star, Angel Investigation existed, without Fred, but existed. Explained that I got the visions from Doyle and that you took them back. How?”
“How did you take the visions back?”
“Geez, Angel what does it matter?”
“Doyle kissed you before he died.. So…was I dying and I kissed you? Or…Hey does that mean Doyle kissed ME before he died. That would be really kind of ….odd.”
“Not in California.”
“Duh, Geez, I don’t know how Doyle gave you the visions- but Skip told me that Doyle was able to pass on the visions because of his ‘feelings’ for me….so maybe you and he, you know were more than…”
“Doubtful, Cordelia.” Angel gave her a hard look.
“I don’t know, Angel. I do remember some longing glances across the office.”
“Cordelia, the only glances then were Doyle trying to look down your shirt.”
“Angel,” smacking him.
“Pfft, never you though, uh.” She leaned back.
“Of course not.” Angel coated his lie with the proper offended expression and tone. Though, actually it wasn’t really a lie; that particular habit hadn’t become full blown until more recently. Angel felt a little less guilty. He sort of told the truth.
“Yeah, I could’ve walked around stark naked and you wouldn’t have blinked.” Cordelia hid her pout. She didn’t understand why this Angel was so oblivious to her and the other one definitely noticed her physical attributes.
Angel just decided to ignore that statement as he valiantly tried to ignore the images it created.
“Any way, I did tell you everything.” Cordelia shrugged, hoping that would end Angel’s questions. The less thinking of the alternative universe would minimize the thinking of all the different ways the alternate Angel touched her various physical attributes….and that was really for the best. She couldn’t be screwing up and jumping her best friend.
Angel shook his head. She hadn’t told him everything. Cordelia had gone on and on describing her alternate house, Wesley’s one arm, Gunn being pretty much the same, the lack of Fred, Lindsay and Lilah being evil, but, him…she barely said anything about Angel. Well, except that he had to be chained up when he had a vision. Why didn’t she go on and on about him. Had Angel really been that bad? Though, he guessed he had been- having to be chained wasn’t good. But, Cordelia did say Angel helped Wesley and Gunn protect her. So, he couldn’t have been crazy all the time.
It was just that Angel knew how he had been when he first got to LA- that and Doyle’s death without Cordelia in his life to give him hope, plus the craziness of the visions- he couldn’t imagine him being anyway other than extremely anti-social, rude and quietly obnoxious in a very broody suicidal way.
What if he said or did something to hurt Cordelia. Had he? Was that why she wasn’t describing his alternate self more? Angel had to know. He knew it wasn’t him, but it in a weird way he also knew it was. Cordelia’s description of alternate Wesley, Gunn, Lilah, Lindsay, even herself were different than their true selves but only in experiences, the substance of the individuals had been the same. So, where did that leave him?
Damn’t. Cordelia rolled her eyes. Angel was going into full brood mode. It couldn’t be over her teasing him about having a relationship with Doyle. What was the dork’s problem?
“Angel, what do you want to know?” She said resignedly.
Angel’s attention snapped back to the young woman. “I…I didn’t say or do anything to hurt you did I?”
“Angel, you…you were out of it, when you had the vision. Wesley said that you might strike out not knowing who I was, but you had been drugged…and talking- you didn’t make much sense. So, no, of course not.”
Angel winced at the thought of him being so helpless and out touch with reality. “I don’t mean, when I had the vision…before. You said I was able to help Wesley and Gunn. So, I couldn’t have been out of it all the time. Then…did I say or do anything to hurt you or upset you.”
“Angel, it wasn’t you. So don’t worry about it, and you sure and hell-don’t have anything to feel guilty about. There’s nothing to feel guilty about.”
“I did do something, didn’t I?”
“Damn’t. NO. Okay. Well…there was this morning but you were just being a jerk, but before that you were wonderful. You stayed with me to make sure I was safe, you were a great date for the premier, made me breakfast….well, except for this morning but I like I said you were a jerk….”
“What did I do this morning?” Angel liked hearing that he had been the one that stayed with her. And if he cooked her breakfast and went with her to a premier he couldn’t have been that bad. But that was the second time she said he had been a jerk.
“It’s nothing. I wasn’t hurt. Just mad. Go figure, you made be mad.” Cordelia waved the subject away. She really didn’t want to get into why she had been mad.
“Cordy.” Angel insisted.
“Fine, you broke all my living room windows. Okay. It wasn’t really your fault. Gunn had locked the place up. So, you broke them to get in. Glass and wood everywhere. It was a big mess.”
Angel considered her answer and didn’t buy any of it. “What does that have to do with me not cooking you breakfast or being a jerk in the morning. Or are you telling me that I broke the windows in the daylight.”
Cordelia glared, the diverted rant she had planned for alternate Angel bubbling to the surface once again. “You, you dumbass, left me all alone asleep unaware with those broken windows. Every and any creepy crawly wild animal type of thing could strolled in and eaten me AND I was starving when I woke up. You snuck out- all because you’re a big baby.”
Angel bought it. He just didn’t understand it. He waited though rather than ask questions. Cordelia was gearing up for a true Cordy rant. If he didn’t interrupt and listened very carefully, he might be able to figure it all out.
“You ran scared or just were being stupidly mean-all because I made some silly off the cuff remark after great sex. Geez, how old are you? People say things like that all the time after sex. It doesn’t mean anything. But nooooo, you snuck out while I was asleep like a big baby.”
Plan A just flew out the proverbial window. Angel had to interrupt, because if he just figured out why Cordelia was mad, he was crazy in this universe as well as the other one.
“SEX? WE MADE LOVE?”
Cordelia slumped back. “Geez, you don’t have to shout. The alternate ‘grr’ guy liked it just fine.” She huddled further into the headboard.
“Impossible.” Angel said in a slightly lower tone, his head moving frantically from side to side.
Cordelia blinked, opening and closing her mouth like a big stunned fish. “You DID TOO LIKE IT. And we had a lot of SEX, so there. Impossible my ass.”
“It is impossible. Unless, was my soul anchored? It’s that what you’re saying, my soul was anchored and then we made love.”
“No. Your soul…” Cordelia’s eyes widened, her hand flew to her mouth. “Angel, your soul, Skip…”
“WE RISKED ANGELUS. Were you nuts? Was I? Wait I was. But you, you had to know better. Even in re-written history you knew about the curse. What could you possibly be thinking? Were you just STUPID?”
Cordelia shot up on the bed. “I WAS NOT NUTS OR STUPID. YOU HAD SEX AND DIDN’T LOSE YOUR SOUL—IT HAPPENS….DUH.” Cordelia flung herself back down. “Not talking Buffy love here.”
Angel really wanted to yell again. Angel really wanted to know how he could’ve made love to Cordelia and not lose his soul. He really wanted to remember any part of the act…acts. Angel groaned. His alternate-self made ‘lots’ of love with Cordelia.
Now, the picture of him hopeless and chained to the wall didn’t seem so horrible, not if he could make love to Cordelia on the good days. It’d be worth it.
“Cordelia, yes, I can have sex without losing my soul, that has been pretty much proven. But, I don’t see how it is possible that WE could’ve made love and I didn’t lose it. Even in that other place. I can’t imagine not being pretty FUCKING HAPPY buried inside you. I can’t believe you risked it.”
“You don’t…or…and… ERH,” Cordelia threw up her hands in frustration. Why couldn’t she keep her dumb mouth shut? She took a deep breath. “ The ‘alternate guy’ didn’t love me. So no risk.”
Angel sat on the edge of the bed and studied the agitated young woman. “What ‘off the cuff’ remark did you say that had my ‘alternate’ self running like a baby from your bed leaving you to fend off wild carnivorous animals by yourself.”
“Angel.” She tried to out stare him but failed miserably. Damn him. “Fine. I said I loved you. But…”
Angel nodded, finally understanding everything. “My ‘alternate’ self obviously didn’t believe that it was a meaningless statement or it probably didn’t matter even if he did. Tell me Cordelia, in this alternate universe, did you make me laugh.”
Cordelia scooted back. Angel was making her very nervous. There was something in his tone and the way he kept inching closer that shot tingles along her spine and let loose a thousands butterflies in her stomach. “Um, not really the laughing version. But almost, you smiled a few times.”
Angel nodded. “And I wanted to make sure you were safe- ignoring the wild animal threat for the moment.”
Cordelia nodded, no longer moving away. The vampire was holding her still with his intense gaze.
“And I cooked you breakfast, again ignoring the fact that I was a jerk this morning.”
“Dinner, too.” Cordelia nodded again, not at all sure where Angel was going.
“Of course I cooked you dinner.” Angel chuckled lowly. “What about my breakfast and dinner, did I run and hide my blood from you.”
Cordelia scrunched her brow. “You tried, but….well, you did eat my real Bloody Mary mixture. Said you would try the Thai, but I think you ran off to beat up Lilah and Lindsay on purpose just so you could avoid it.”
“You’re probably right.” Angel really smiled.
“It’s easy, Cordy,” Angel reached up to brush away a strand of hair that had fallen over Cordelia’s face. “You said you heard part of what I was saying to the Conduits, but you didn’t hear all of it. I told them that I was more scared of you dying than you were. I asked them what that meant. They didn’t answer. But, as I sat here and watched you lying on this bed so beautiful, so strong yet dying, I remembered every other time I almost lost you and I realized the answer. It’s more than just that I need you- I love you. And I imagine that’s what my other self realized, a lot quicker than I did and with the benefit of being able to hold and love you. I’m very jealous of that self. I imagine that at the moment you said that you loved him, he ran because he realized how so easy it would to get lost in your love. He was scared.”
“Oh,” Cordelia bit her lips, fighting the tears threatening to emerge. “Not such a jerk then, uh.”
“Oh, a jerk, I wouldn’t left you to face hordes of man-eating wild beasts.”
“Angel, there was no wild animals.”
“Duh.” He gently tapped her on the nose.
“I guess maybe it wasn’t so off the cuff, maybe I did or maybe I was falling in love, but I do know that I am in love with you.” She said softly, chancing a glance at the vampire.
Angel closed his eyes bringing her close, gently dropping his forehead to hers. “I know and I love you…and it scares the hell out me. But,” He lifted her face, vowing with his steady gaze. “I won’t run. I promise.”
Cordelia smiled, chewing on her bottom lip. “You don’t have to. I started to tell you, but you kept shouting. Skip, or rather the Powers, what-whoever, anchored your soul right before I was demonized. Skip said he had to fix it before it blew up in our faces.”
Angel pulled away, clutching her firmly by the shoulders. “My soul is bound?”
Cordelia shrugged. “Skip said so. I know the Powers haven’t been the most helpful at times and almost always vague and misleading, but why lie about this. I’m part demon and you’ve got your soul for good.”
“You’re going to live, we love each other, and we can make love, why do I feel like it’s my birthday.” Angel pulled her back for a hug, only to be shoved away.
“BIRTHDAY. That’s right. I never got to open my presents. Where’s yours? You gave it to me then….Where is it? Whatcha get me?” Cordelia piercing gaze searched the bedroom trying to zero in on a small box that screamed birthday present.
“Cordy, …it’s somewhere down stairs. You dropped it when you….when you had the vision.” And flew up against the glass cabinet shattering it. Angel winced at the memory.
“Well, let’s go find it.” She tugged at the vampire to get off the bed.
“Whoops. Run.” Fred pulled at Wesley and Gunn.
“We’ve every right to be here. They were yelling.” Wesley said firmly, but his feet quickly following Fred down the hall- away from the door to Angel’s suite and the couple inside.
“Yeah, and there was all that evil ass Angelus talk, had to know.” Gunn justified their eavesdroping as he quickly followed.
“Yeah,” Fred looked up from the bottom step. “Then there was all that love and soul bound stuff.” She sighed. “I think I really like this Skip demon guy.”
“Fred, do I have to remind you, his alternate life version- had you still in Plyea.” Wesley said.
“Okay, so maybe, I only like him some. I bet, they’re up there for a long time.” She sighed again and returned her gaze up the stairs.
“Not taking it.” Gunn shook his head.
“Not a prudent bet. How about though, we all leave.”
“Wait, I’ll get Connor. Don’t want to take a chance of the baby waking and ruining the mood.
Angel pulled against Cordelia’s tug. “Presents can wait.” He yanked her back on the bed. “I didn’t have a last night or the night before.”
“There were the mornings too. Didn’t even have to go to the living room once the I bought curtains for the bedroom.”
“You bought curtains for me.”
“Couldn’t be searching for you on the carpet. Once was enough.”
“You can tell me that story later.” He moved closer, his body almost covering Cordelia’s.
Angel growled, pulling back at the knocking on the door.
“Angel, Cordy.” Fred called through the wood.
“What.” Angel grumbled opening the door.
“Sorry,” she poked her head in. “We were just wondering if we could borrow Connor for the day. It’s sunny out and we thought we’d spend it outdoors, if you don’t mind.”
Angel glanced at the bassinet, suddenly remembering the baby, wondering how in the world the small infant had slept through all the yelling. Angel then looked at Cordelia still sitting on the bed. Angel wasn’t willing to take the chance. “Sure, have fun. Here.” Angel quickly grabbed the baby bottles and tote bag. “He’ll be hungry soon.”
Fred nodded. “See ya later,” she nodded, her arms full with the baby and his necessities.
“Angel,” Cordelia narrowed her eyes. “I haven’t gotten my proper baby snuggles yet and you just sent Connor off.”
“Later, I haven’t gotten my proper snuggles at all.” He stalked back to the bed.
Cordelia scooted back, suddenly nervous again. It was Angel. She’d made love to Angel before, she remembered every touch and kiss, but it wasn’t that Angel that was stalking towards her, his eyes dark with an aching need, almost vulnerable, definitely intense, and most assuredly causing the flock of butterflies in her stomach to melt and make her squirm.
Would it be different, would it be the same, did it matter?
Cordelia’s thoughts scattered as Angel took possession of her lips and body. It was the same, it was different and it did matter. Because this time, she knew Angel loved her and he knew she loved him.
She definitely chose the better life.