Title: When Good Spells Go Bad
Posted: May 5, 2003
Category: C/A angst and romance
Content: C/A and B/A break-up
Spoilers: Season 3 Buffy and Season 3 ATS
Disclaimer: The characters in the Angelverse were created by Joss Whedon & David Greenwalt. No infringement is intended, no profit is made.
Notes: am probably the worst writer on this board and this is the first challenge that I have ever taken but I just couldn’t pass up this great sounding idea. I hope I do it at least a minute amount of justice Luckylyn.
Summary: Luckylyn’s Bad Spell Challenge After the prom in Season 3 of Buffy, Buffy convinces Willow to perform a spell to make Angel realize they belong together and of course it all goes wrong. Past Angel goes to bed at his mansion in Sunnydale and then wakes up with Cordy and Connor in LA (this is the morning after Provider). While future Angel goes to bed with Cordy and Connor and wakes up in past Sunnydale. He enlists the help of the Scoobies so he can return to his family.
1) Angel and Cordy romance
2) Future Angel jealous of the whole Cordelia Wesley thing
3) Past Angel coping with baby Connor
4) Buffy coping with an Angel she doesn't understand
Angel sniffed his tuxedo before hanging it back in place. Buffy had changed her perfume. It was nice. Different, but still nice.
Angel walked to the broken window of the mansion and looked out at the night. A pang of guilt hit him as he wondered if Buffy had made it home yet. He should have stayed. No, he should have never gone in the first place. He knew that the moment he saw her, standing there with Giles. Looking so young and innocent, like she belonged. Like a normal girl. That’s what she wanted. To be just a girl. That’s what he had tried to give her tonight and for that one moment, with his arms wrapped around her in their first dance, he thought he had succeeded. Until the music ended and he saw that look in her eye. The one that said ‘Let’s talk’. Why couldn’t she just let it be. He had told her that it wouldn’t change anything. Didn’t she know how hard this was for him? He closed his eyes at the thought of the tears she had shed outside of the school gym, trying to persuade him to change his mind. “Angel, you don‘t have to go. I will be fine with the way our relationship has been. I love you so much. Please don’t try and make some dramatic sacrifice for me because you think my life will be better without you. You don’t have to do that for me.” His guilt deepened at the thought of how he had just walked away, leaving her there alone with a simple “I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have come.” But how was he supposed to respond. She never once thought that maybe leaving Sunnydale was not only for her own good but for his as well. Things had been so different since he had been brought back. Before, he had only existed to help the Slayer, to love her and keep her safe. Now, he felt there had to be more. He still loved Buffy. There was no doubt of that. But something pulled at him, whispered of a greater purpose. A life outside of the shadows where he waited. An identity. A mission.
Deciding to stay in the mansion for the rest of the night, Angel turned from the window and headed back inside, his decision never wavering. He could brood and she could cry, but soon he would leave and they both would be the better for it.
Buffy buried her head in her crumpled pink dress and sobbed. Willow had to say yes. After all, they were best friends and she had talked herself blue in the face trying to convince her best friend and witch to help her make Angel see just where he belonged. Not to mention that she would die if Angel left her.
Buffy raised her head and wiped the mascara from her cheeks when she heard Willow return to the room. “Okay, I’ll do it,” the nervous redhead began. “I mean, it actually is very simple in theory.”
“I thought you said love spells were complicated and often ended in disaster and chaos,” Buffy sniffled.
“Yeah, they do. But this won’t be a love spell. We don’t need that because, hey, already got that goin’ for ya’. We just need a spell that will make things a little clearer for Angel. Show him exactly where he is needed and belongs.”
Buffy could feel the relief starting to bubble inside. “Thanks Will. What can I do to help?”
Angel stared at the two most important beings in his life as they drooled all over his bed. How had he gotten so lucky? He should be afraid of the happiness that filled him as he watched Cordy and Connor sleep, but somehow he couldn’t. For the first time in his life, he belonged. He belonged here with the two souls that slept peacefully beside him, just as much as they belonged here with him.
He smiled to himself as Cordelia mumbled about new snow boots in her sleep. This incredible woman had shown him how it felt not only to have a friend but to be one. She had shown him what true devotion to the mission meant and how to become more than a dark shadow in the world. His smile grew even wider as he remembered something she said a few days ago. “Just because you’re dead, doesn’t mean you can’t live a little big guy.” God he loved this woman. This woman who had stood beside him as he found his purpose, his mission. They had been through so much together. He had thought that his time in Sunnydale was what Whistler meant by becoming somebody. That that was what his purpose in life was. He had been so wrong. Sunnydale had simply been a warm-up for what his life would become. In Sunnydale, he had been a brooding monster, grabbing at the few crumbs of the first real affection he had been shown in centuries. Someone who’s only identity came via the Slayer. Here, in L.A., he had become so much more. A friend, a father, and … He slowly reached his hand across Connor to touch Cordelia’s hair. What would she think if he told her? Would she love him back the way he wanted her to? Angel’s eyes drifted closed as he thought of a hundred ways to tell Cordy that he was in love with her.
Angel’s senses were very acute. He could track a person for miles just on scent alone. Although in many instances he was thankful for such a keen sense of smell, there were times that he had smelled things that made him curse such a gift. This was one of those times. He reluctantly opened his eyes, wary of the type of demon that could emit such an offending odor. He focused , ready to face whatever fierce and vicious … bunny? Angel closed his eyes. He was dreaming.
“Uh-em,” a feminine voice floated to his ears, demanding attention. He opened his eyes again as the diapered baby’s bottom was removed from his sight and replaced by two hazel eyes that looked at him questioningly. “Well?” she demanded. What the hell was going on. “It’s your turn at poop patrol Angel.” Although understanding was still far from his reach, recognition finally hit.
Buffy had a lot on her plate. The Mayor’s ascension and Faith’s turn to the ‘dark side’ should be consuming her every thought, but somehow she just couldn’t be bothered with those things right now. She looked at her watch again as she paced her bedroom floor. Six hours. They had done the spell six hours ago and still no Angel rushing back into her arms. She walked to the window across the room and looked out at the beautiful spring morning, calming her anxiety by scolding herself mentally. ‘Okay Buffy. The town is bathed in morning sunlight. It’s not like he can just stroll right over.’
She left the window and began to pace again. Six hours, one and a half minutes. Oh this was ridiculous. Angel was probably suffering just as badly as she was. She smiled as she imagined him pacing the mansion floors like a caged panther, looking out at the morning and willing night to come. Everything would be alright now, she assured herself. Angel would know exactly where he belonged. More importantly he would truly understand that staying in Sunnydale was the best thing for her. After all, that is why he was leaving in the first place, to do what was best for her. She guessed that she should feel lucky to have a boyfriend who arranged his very existence to suit her wants, needs, and happiness. Now he would stay in Sunnydale, safely tucked away in his old mansion, waiting for the brief moments they were allowed together and the battles for which he would be needed.
Six hours, three minutes. Okay, now this was not so much ridiculous as it was unbearable. Buffy pulled on her sweater and headed for her bedroom door. Angel may not be able to walk out into the daylight, but she certainly could.
He couldn‘t hear anything. No cars on the busy L.A. street outside, no humans milling around downstairs, and most importantly, no hearts beating in a rhythmic slumber next to him. Anger stirred inside his body at the thought that Cordelia would purposely leave the warm and comfortable cocoon they had settled into the night before. Why would she purposely ruin his perfect mood by willingly taking Connor - and herself - away from his bed? Anger gave way to panic at the sudden thought that ‘willingly’ might not be the right word. As he jumped from the comfort of the bed, Angel’s eyes shot open, scanning the room for any sign of just where Cordy and Connor could have gone. “Cordy!“ Panic and anger completely fled as confusion now consumed him. His eyes darted from wall to wall of the old abandoned mansion. “Cordy?“
What the hell had happened to him? He was being punished that was what was happening to him. Of course, that had to be it because the whole world knows that Angel can never be happy. And now that the soul was bound, the powers, or fate, or Wolfram and Hart had found another way to inflict pain on him by trying to separate him from his family. Well, they had gone too far this time. In two hours he would be back in Los Angeles, finding Cordy and Connor, and making whatever ominous power that had caused this pay in a very painful and horrific way. Angel crossed the room in three long strides and opened the door without thinking. “Ugh!” He fell back into the shade of the room, kicking the door closed with his foot. Daylight. Scrambling back to his feet, he began to pace the mansion floor like a caged lion. Every minute that ticked by increased his agony. Each second was an eternity of not knowing if Cordy and Connor were safe. He had to get out of here and back to them.
On his third pass by the colossal stone fireplace, something caught the corner of his eye, something familiar. It was his sketchpad. The one he used for special drawings. The one with the soft leather binding. And most importantly, the one that was supposed to be inserted snuggly in the bookshelf in his suite at the hotel. Nausea crept over his body as he stared at the offending object. Unable to move, he tried to push a terrifying and impossible thought out of his mind. What if he hadn’t been simply sent back to Sunnydale, but BACK to Sunnydale. He picked up the sketch pad to find out.
Buffy stood outside of the mansion door. She had been so eager to burst in and have Angel tell her that he couldn’t leave, that everything would be alright; but the walk over had given her time to think, really think about what she - and Willow - had actually done. She had been responsible for using magic on Angel without his knowledge. She swallowed down her guilt and made sure her head was held high. She had done what needed to be done. After all, that was what part of being the Slayer meant, making tough decisions for the good of everyone. Hoping that by convincing herself that what she had done was right and that by believing that she could make everyone else believe it also, she slowly opened the door of the mansion. “Angel?”
Angel, with his back to the door and still unable to move, closed his eyes. That voice drifting in from the doorway sealed his fate, made his nightmare real. It wasn’t the voice of the woman he had met with just months ago, the one that had grown up and moved on. It was the voice of the little frightened and insecure girl he had left behind him for what seemed like a lifetime ago. He had to make sure this was real before he could confirm that he was literally in hell. His voice came out in a shocked whisper. “Buffy?”
Buffy smiled. It was just like when he came back from hell and realized that he had found her again. Any second he would rush to her feet, encircle her waist, and sob her name. She took a deep breath as Angel sat down the sketchpad and turned to face her ... Any second now.
Angel stared blankly at Cordelia, honing all of his senses in on the two beings in front of him and trying to assess the nightmare he had found himself in. “Angel?” Cordelia looked at him expectantly and was met with Angel’s continued blank stare. “Fine, I’ll change Mr. Super Duper Poop Producer here, but you owe me, I got last night’s too.” Angel watched as this beautiful and mature version of Cordelia Chase glided across the room and through a set of French doors to a basinet in the adjoining room, cooing and awing at the child she held in her arms. His eyes darted from wall to wall of the hotel suite. What the hell had happened to him?
“Angel, you can stop the silent treatment,” Cordelia called from the connecting room. “It worked, okay? I’m changing Connor now but you owe me big time mister since I changed and fed him all day yesterday while you were out on you quest for fortune. Oh, by the way, I hope the shirtless thing isn’t to prove me wrong about certain ‘comments’ you claim I’ve made about your weight lately. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I love a shirtless Angel as much as the next girl, but really.” Cordelia’s tone changed to that of playful babble as she began to direct the rest of her conversation to the baby in the crib. “That’s right. He owes me big time doesn’t he? Like a ski condo ..or a boat….”
Angel’s voice tried to catch up with the thoughts that were racing through his mind and the babble that was going on in the next room. “Mansion,” was all he managed to say, interrupting Cordelia’s one sided conversation.
“Mansion huh,” she answered. Finishing her task, she gave Connor his pacifier and left him to lay sleepily in the crib. “Well, I don’t think our share of the money would go quite that far. Maybe in your day but… “ Cordelia stopped short at the doors, really looking at Angel for the first time that morning. He looked so different, not just physically. His eyes, they looked so .. lost. “Angel?” Thoughts of last night’s battle flashed through her mind as she tried to remember if he had been hurt. She hesitantly closed the distance between them, worriedly reaching out to touch his chest. “Angel, are you al…” Angel felt like melting ice as soon as he felt her skin against his. Roughly grabbing her wrist, he removed the scorching palm from his body, never releasing his grip.
“I was in the mansion just last night. How did I get here?” he asked through gritted teeth.
Cordelia tried to soothe the tremble that was rising in her throat, taking control of it before she dared to speak. “Angel, your scaring me, and your hurting me. Your not acting like yourself. Your not …” Realization made Cordelia’s statement hang unfinished. Somehow she knew. It wasn‘t anything specific. She really didn’t understand how she knew. But what she did know was that the Angel she fell asleep with last night, was not the Angel in front of her. She wrenched her wrist from his easing grip and took a few steps back. “Your not yourself, are you? I mean your Angel, right?”
Cordelia swallowed hard before finishing the rest of her thought. “But your not Angel, Angel, are you? Not our Angel anyway.”
“No, I don’t think I am.”
“I need to see Giles.”
Okay not the response she was expecting. “Why do you need to see Giles?”
“You wouldn’t understand. I can’t .. I’m not ..” Angel ran a hand through his hair and tried to calm himself. He couldn’t panic. He needed to be focused if he was going to find a way back to Cordelia and Connor. A little more composed, he began again. “I need to ask him some specific questions about my curse,” he lied.
The spell hadn’t worked. Well, at least it hadn’t backfired and made anything worse than it already was. Besides, Angel said he wouldn’t leave until after the Mayor’s ascension and there were other ways to convince him to stay. “Okay, we’ll go over tonight and ..”
“Now? But Angel it can wait until ..” Buffy had never seen the look of determination that Angel was shooting at her. She decided not to try and convince him to wait. “Grab a blanket. We’ll take the sewers.”
Wesley looked through the office window, studying his friend who sat quietly on the hotel sofa. “It could be some type of amnesia.”
“It’s not Wes.”
“Cordelia how can you be sure?”
“I don’t know. I just ..know. That vampire sitting out there is not the Angel we know. Besides, I believe him.”
“Cordelia, what you are talking about is time travel or at least time exchange. Such things have only been discussed in theory. It’s just not a plausible explanation.”
“You’ve got to be kidding me, right? After all of the things you have seen and experienced in this world, and in others, you’re telling me that you don’t believe in time travel.”
Wesley took a deep cleansing breath. “You do raise a valid point. But the question remains. If ‘our’ Angel isn’t sitting outside of this office, then where is he?”
“I don’t know.” Cordelia looked out into the lobby, catching Angel’s eyes and heading for the office door. “But we’re going to find out.”
“I don’t even know where to begin.” Angel leaned forward in the library office chair, hands clasped beneath his chin and staring off into the distance. Giles studied the vampire, quietly prepared to listen to whatever he had to say. Angel took an unnecessary breath and gathered his thoughts, hoping that the former watcher would believe and help him. “Last night I was peacefully sleeping two and a half years in the future…”
Cordelia glanced at Wesley, who remained at the hotel counter, and sat on the lobby sofa beside Angel. “I want to ask you some questions if that’s alright?” she asked cautiously.
Angel looked down at his feet and caught sight of the red and soon to be bruising ring around Cordelia’s wrist out of the corner of his eye. “Sorry, about earlier,” he said softly, nodding toward her wound.
Cordelia massaged the injury with her other hand. “That’s okay, you’ve done worse,” she said matter-of-factly.
“I’ve done …What did you want to ask me?”
“Well, Wesley says in order to find out just where Angel…”
“I am Angel.”
“Ookaay, if we’re to find out where L.A. Angel has gone and how to get him back, we need to know everything you can remember about last night.”
Angel stared for a moment and began in a very condescending tone. “Last night I met Buffy at the prom. We danced, I left, fell asleep, here I am.” He knew he was being an ass but this whole time travel shit was giving him an imaginary headache and Buffy’s lingering perfume on his skin from the night before was making him choke on several forms of guilt. Guilt for deciding to leave her, guilt for hurting her, but most of all guilt because that smell should make him want to move heaven and hell to get back to her side. And it didn’t. Worst of all, his skin still tingled from Cordelia’s touch this morning. He felt remorse for grabbing her the way he had. But it had startled him. The only person that he had had that kind of contact with in at least a hundred years had been Buffy. Why had she touched him like that anyway? And why couldn’t he stop thinking about it? He was a horrible man.
Even though he was being an asshole, Angel’s brief summation let Cordelia know just what Angel she was dealing with. She cocked an eyebrow and addressed him in her best parental tone. “Well, I’ll forgive the attitude for now since I now know just what version of the Sunnydale Angel I’m dealing with. But just know that if you want to get back, we’re your only hope. So it might pay to be just a little nicer.” Cordelia stood and headed back to the hotel office.
Standing quickly, Angel caught her attention before she and Wesley reached the door. “I wasn’t trying to be rude or difficult it’s just … what did you mean by ‘version of Sunnydale Angel’?” his train of thought shifted as he suddenly felt insulted.
Cordelia stopped short of entering the office and turned to face him. “You know, post-hell, early break-up, pre-ascension Angel.”
“Never mind. Listen,” she said a little quieter and somewhat sympathetically as she took a few steps back towards him. “Through that doorway there’s a kitchen with a microwave and blood in the frig. Why don’t you go in there and have a nice warm cup o’swine while I go and talk to Wesley here. Okay?”
“Cup o’…” Oh, pigs blood. “Actually, I really would like a shower. Do I have a room here?”
“The room you woke up in this morning is yours. You should have everything you need in there.”
Wesley stepped closer to Cordelia and whispered, “What about Connor?”
In a hushed tone that she knew could still be overheard she answered, “I put him in Fred’s room and I’ve got the baby monitor on. He’ll be fine.” She reassured her friend.
“The baby belongs to Fred then?” Angel asked about the friend he had yet to meet.
“No, the baby isn’t Fred’s. It’s … It’s …” Cordelia panicked. How could she explain to a Sunnydale version of Angel about Connor. The poor guy just woke up more than two years into what probably seemed like to him some bizarre future world. “He’s mine,” came the lie from her mouth so crisp and clear that it sounded like the truth to even her. Turning to Wesley just in time to see his disapproving look, she headed back to the office.
Buffy brushed a spec of lent from her jeans and nonchalantly tried to peek up at the closed library office again. Angel had barely spoken to her on the way over, and now she had been completely and literally shut out. Well, he may not want her to know what was bothering him but she knew that Giles would tell her…eventually.
Her ears strained to make out the muffled tones vibrating from the office. It wasn’t fair, she was a superhero. Shouldn’t she come with other powers besides superhuman strength. Some that would make eavesdropping a little easier. She stood and began to stealthily creep closer to the office door. Well, there was always the old fashioned way.
“Hey Buffy!” came the cheerful redhead’s voice from the swinging library doors, making Buffy step back from the office, embarrassed at her faux pas. “Watcha up to?”
Buffy slumped back down in her chair and pouted. “Shameless eavesdropping.”
“Oh,” Willow replied sympathetically at her friend’s obvious embarrassment. “Who’s in with Giles?” she asked as she slung her backpack onto the table and took the seat next to Buffy.
Buffy sighed, “Angel.”
“What are the two of you doing here? I thought you’d be at the mansion making with the smoochies now that he knows he can stay.”
“That’s just it Will. I don’t think the spell worked. At least not the way it was supposed to. He’s not acting like himself. I was alone with him for more than an hour this morning and he hardly said a word to me. Yet he seems to be carrying on the longest conversation I’ve every witnessed him have behind that door.”
“With Giles.” Buffy emphasized, a little aggravated that her friend was not more upset about the situation than she was.
Willow felt a small twinge of insecurity at the thought that the spell they had tried the night before had failed. Maybe it was the incantation. After all, her Latin wasn‘t exactly perfect. The look on Buffy‘s face broke her heart. If the spell had failed then she would just have to try again. “Don’t worry Buffy. We’ll figure it out. And when we do, we’ll fix it.”
“So,” Giles began while wiping his glasses. “You are Angel, but not the Angel that we have all known for the past three years.”
“You fell asleep last night, or should I say two and a half years from now, at the hotel you own in L.A. All the while unaware that an unknown enemy of yours had cast some sort of black magic spell to transport you back in time.”
“That pretty much covers it.”
“What did Buffy have to say about all of this?”
“You believe me?” Angel asked insecurely.
“Trust me, I’m as shocked as you are. But I’ve seen enough things during my time here at the Hellmouth to know that I shouldn’t risk not believing you.”
“I didn’t tell her. I thought I shouldn’t. I don’t know exactly how all of this works and I don’t want to mess with what happens to me in the future. I’m still afraid that just telling you might screw things up in some way.”
“I don’t think that is our biggest concern. From the little I have studied about time travel, the past, once set right again, remains the same as it always was. Meaning that if we succeed at returning you to your time, none of us will be any wiser about what has happened. Events, as you remember them, should not change.”
“And if we don’t succeed?”
Angel’s thoughts swarmed as he moved down the hotel hallway to his room. He wondered if his future self’s new friends knew that he had been here before and what he had done to the people here. Of course they didn’t. They still seemed to care about him. They only knew about the terrible things he was capable of as Angelus. If they knew the kind of cruelty he was capable of with his soul in place, they would never be his friends.
Angel stopped at the entrance of the room, taking inventory of its contents. If that baby down the hall was Cordelia’s, why did he have a nursery for it connected to his room? He didn’t enter. Instead he turned his attention to the soft heartbeat down the hall.
Angel didn‘t know exactly how long he had been staring at the child. He guessed it had been a while. “Why did you lie?” he questioned Cordelia, sensing her in the doorway of Fred’s room.
“Lie?” she asked innocently.
“About the baby,” he replied, a little annoyed. “He’s mine, isn’t he?”
Cordelia quietly closed the door behind her, leaving the room barely lit by the sun glowing through the curtained window. Crossing the room and sitting on Fred’s bed, she looked down into the basinet. “It was so hard for you to accept the first time around, I guess I just thought it would confuse this version of you even worse. And right now we need to concentrate on getting things back to normal. What tipped you off?”
“You mean besides the baby furniture in my room?” he whispered.
She looked up and weakly smiled at him, realizing just how ill thought out her lie had been.
“It wasn’t just that,” he continued. “Everyone has a unique sent. I can smell him. What he is. He’s me .. Part of him anyway.” Angel looked back down at the baby, a little disturbed.
“I know it’s a little shocking and a lot to take in,” Cordelia replied in a tone that seemed to soothe his soul.
“Actually, sensing myself in him is not the thing that’s bothering me. It’s the other part I sense. It’s familiar but it’s…”
“That’s not possible - as if any of this is - but Darla’s dead. I killed her myself.”
“Well, she came back courtesy of a local evil law firm and you two …”
“I wouldn’t do that.”
“Oh, but you did.”
Their rising voices made Connor stir in his sleep. Both stilling, they fell into silence for a moment.
Angel tried to process the fact that he would have done what Cordelia had said he had. Trying to find an answer as to why he would, one came to him. “Angelus.”
“No,” Cordelia whispered. “You didn’t need any assistance from him. You pulled off that stunt all by your lonesome … among other thing,” she ended in a sarcastic murmur.
Angel was disgusted. What had his future self become? Is this what he left Sunnydale for? “Why?”
“Oh, you were going through a ‘dark’ time,” she emphasized with hand quotations.
“Dead … again.”
Angel rubbed his face with both hands and quietly rounded the basinet, taking a seat next to Cordelia on the bed. “None of this makes any sense.”
Both Cordelia and Angel stared at the crib in front of them for several minutes. One afraid to ask another question, the other afraid to answer it. Finally Angel broke the silence. “There’s more isn’t there? To this ‘dark’ period of mine. I did more than just sleep with Darla didn’t I?”
“Believe me. You don’t wanna know.”
“Why are you all still here, you, Wesley, and the other two.”
“Gunn and Fred.”
“Right. I mean, I must have done some unspeakable things but you all obviously stayed, or let me stay. I don’t understand why.”
Cordelia turned and looked at him with sadness. “No, I guess you wouldn’t.”
“What do you mean by that?”
“Well, here in L.A. we’re all like a family. And you can get mad at family, you can not speak to them for a while, or not agree with decisions that they make, but in the end your there for them no matter what. You love them and you never give up on them. L.A. Angel knows what that feels like but you’ve never had that. Have you?”
“Well, now that I know why I woke up with a baby in my face, I have just one more question about this morning.”
“Why did I wake up with you in my bed?”
Cordelia’s throat suddenly felt dry. She could feel her pulse pounding in her neck. Clumsily she stood. “First of all. I prefer on top ..the word. I mean on top of your bed as apposed to in it.” Oh this was terrible. “I wasn’t IN your bed,” Cordelia stated defensively.
Shocked by the sudden nervous and angry reaction his question had caused, Angel mimicked her action, clumsily standing to face her as she continued her rambling explanation.
“It had been a long day. Connor was cranky and it was late. We simply happened to fall asleep at the same time and in the same place. Fully clothed I might add.” Remembering the sight of Angel’s muscular bare chest she added, “Well at least we fell asleep fully clothed. Besides, I’ve done it with you before. The sleeping I mean. I’ve slept at your place, you’ve slept at mine.” This was getting worse. She knew these things had happened, but it just seemed different voicing them. Made them sound not as innocent as they were. And they were innocent. Even if talking about them now, made the events almost feel intimate to her.
Cordelia’s dazed eyes now focused from her thoughts to Angel’s face. He looked shocked. She decided to take a deep breath, quit rambling like a school girl, and give him the short answer. “Don’t worry. We’re not intimate or anything. Just good friends. Nothing more. Now, let’s get out of here before we wake Connor.” There that should calm him. The truth is always the best way to go … even when it feels like a lie.
“Okay.” Angel followed Cordelia from the room, wondering why explaining their friendship had made her breath short and her pulse quicken. So they were friends. That was a good thing. Right? So, why did he feel disappointed?
Angel stood, arms folded, leaning against the wall beside the library office. It had taken Buffy and Willow approximately twenty minutes to find and bring in Oz and Xander. He glanced at Buffy and her friends before quickly returning his eyes to the two men engaged in a heated but whispered debate on the best course of action to take regarding his situation. His eyes shifted and his focus changed to the scuffed library floor as he drifted off into deep thought. This is what his future, his family, and all that he loved had to rely on? Three high school student, two bickering watchers, and a lovesick slayer. He shifted his feet and continued to stare at the floor, all too aware but unable to look at the lovelorn face he could see with his peripheral vision. What would she say when she found out what had happened to him, the him she knew? An old familiar feeling began to take up residence inside, making him want to disappear into the shadowed corners of the room. She would be distraught and it would be all because of him. As he remembered, she was already going through the torment of their breakup and now this. He was afraid that it might be too much for her to handle. But he needed as much help as he could get to find out how to return home, and the guilt he felt creeping up on him at being the cause of more pain in her life was overshadowed by the urgency to get back to his life, his son, and Cordy.
One glance. That’s all he had graced her with since she had returned. It had been twenty minutes since Giles emerged from the library office and asked she and Willow to gather the group together. When they came back with Oz and Xander in tow, Wesley was already there, standing in front of the office door, whispering to Giles. She was furious that they were treating her like all of the others. As if she was simply some research study buddy. She was the Slayer. She shouldn’t be out of the loop on this one, but her fear that they would possibly find out what she and Willow had done kept her silent. She sat quietly continuing her task of staring a hole in the side of Angel’s head, who was now leaning against the wall close to where Giles and Wesley stood. Silently she begged him to glance her way again so that she could give him some kind of look that would signal all she was feeling. She shifted in her seat at the table, trying to draw attention to herself by allowing her chair to creak. No luck.
A horrifying thought that had been circling around inside her head tried to push its way to the front of her mind. What if the spell had hurt him in some way? Caused him pain. She would eventually have to tell Giles what she and Willow had done. It would be easy to just stand up and tell him now, here in the library, in front of all her friend, and in front of Angel. She thought about the shame and embarrassment that such a confession would cause. Not to mention the hurt and possible anger from Angel. She made a decision. She couldn’t risk it. She couldn’t have him hurt and angry at her while she was trying to convince him to stay. She looked at him closely. Except for the extra effort at avoidance toward her, which could be explained due to their fight the previous night, he looked fine. Giles would figure it out, whatever it was, and they would fix it. No one would know what she had done because she sure as hell wasn’t telling, and Willow, who always followed her lead, wouldn’t breathe a word to anyone without first checking with her.
Finally free from his heated argument with Wesley, Giles began to address the students. “I’m glad you could all make it. I realize that we are all engrossed in an enormous amount of study and planning due to the Mayor’s ascension, but we have a major predicament that begs our attention.”
“There you are!” came an exclamation from the swinging library door.
“Cordelia,” Angel whispered to himself. He’d been so concerned about getting home to the Cordy he knew, that he had almost forgotten that she was here too. He looked at her as she seductively walked across the library. A smile almost reached his face when he saw the sparkle of her beautiful hazel eyes, heard the familiar rhythm of her heartbeat, and inhaled that unique scent that smelled like home. Except this wasn’t home and that wasn’t his Cordelia. The smile faded away before it even appeared. This was a Cordelia unknown to him. One that he had barely even noticed much less had had any great feelings for. How had he missed her? His eyes were transfixed as he watched her walk in his direction. Staring at her face, he could almost imagine that this was his Cordy and that her coy smile was for him and not the man she was approaching. His jaw uncontrollably tensed as he watched her bat her eyelashes at Wesley and flirtatiously touch his arm.
“I thought we had a date for cappuccino this morning,” Cordelia pouted.
“Yes, I do apologize. I hope you didn’t wait a terribly long time for me. Mr. Giles required my guidance and approval on a pressing matter that could not be delayed. May I request a rain check?” Wesley asked, ignoring the indignant whispers and annoyed huffs emanating from the other occupants of the room.
“Well, I’ll let you off the hook this time. Maybe you could make it up to me at dinner tonight. Say eight-ish?” Cordelia offered silkily before turning to look for a vacant seat.
Angel tried to will his fist to unclench as he watched the scene in front of him. He tried reminding himself that this Cordelia was not his. This was not the exciting, breathtaking, mature woman who had secured a permanent place in his heart and soul. This was prevision, pre-mission, and pre-L.A. Cordelia. A young, beautiful, naïve girl simply experimenting with a crush on an authority figure. An authority figure who should be discouraging such a crush instead of ogling her backside as she walked to take a seat beside Willow.
Giles leaned in to Wesley’s ear, rousing him from his lascivious thoughts. “Good lord man, keep it in your pants. She’s barely legal.”
‘And completely off limits,’ Angel mentally added, pressing down a rising growl.
“Now, if we’re all quite through with social hour,” Giles began again with a disapproving look thrown between Wesley and Cordelia. “I was just about to explain our current dilemma.”
“If you don’t mind Mr. Giles, I will explain.” Wesley puffed out his chest, squared his shoulders and glanced toward Cordelia, ready to impress her with his knowledge and expertise. “As you know there are great powers in this world. Powers that even you who dwell atop the hell mouth could not imagine.”
Angel cringed as Wesley clasped his hands behind his back and began to pace in front of his captured audience. This was going to take forever. Wesley jumped and squealed at the cold touch of Angel’s hand on his shoulder. “Short story,” Angel began. “An enemy of mine has sent me two and a half years into the past, here. For what reason I’m not sure nor do I care. The only thing that matters to me right now is getting back. Giles here believes that the me you know, the one that belongs here, was sent to the future in my place. He has agreed to offer his help as long as I continue to do what I can to help prevent the Mayor’s ascension. I know that you all have a lot going on but I need all the help I can get. I hope that I can count on each of you to do what you can.”
Buffy tried to process what Angel had just revealed. It was so much worse than she had thought.
Wesley began to circle Angel, studying him as if he were a specimen in a science lab. “It truly is fascinating. I mean it is understandable, after all you are a vampire, but two and a half years and you look exactly the same.”
Buffy disagreed. She had never seen this Angel before in her life. The Angel she knew skulked in the shadows, barely uttering a word in front of others. This Angel that stood before her now was verbal, authoritative, and completely in control. It scared and excited her at the same time.
“Actually he looks a little puffy and he’s dressing way better than before,” came Cordelia’s bored comment.
Willow could barely contain herself. She fidgeted with the sleeve of her sweater, avoiding any direct eye contact with anyone in the room. She wouldn’t break. She had promised Buffy that she wouldn’t tell a soul what they had done last night and she intended to keep her promise.
“I suggest we identify the source of such a spell,” Wesley directed. “That way we will have more luck counteracting it.”
“I disagree. Researching everything we can about time travel will give us better odds at finding out how to send him back,” Giles argued.
“Mr. Giles, as you well know, I am in charge of this operation. And this situation, which I might remind you plays second to the Mayor’s ascension, can only be solved by finding the malevolent force behind such a maniacal scheme.”
“Buffy and I cast a spell last night to make Angel stay in Sunnydale!”
The room plummeted into silence at the standing redheads proclamation. Buffy’s heart began to race as all eyes turned to a nervous and guilt ridden Willow in disbelief. All except for two dark brown ones full of hurt and betrayal. “You did this?” Angel asked in horror.
The shower had felt good and had managed to achieve one of its purposes. All traces of Buffy’s perfume were gone, but the tingle of his skin where Cordelia had touched him this morning still remained. He tried to think of something else, sure that the shock of her touch had kept it fresh in his mind. Angel moved to the dresser to find something clean to wear. Opening the top drawer, he found an array of underwear and grabbed the pair closest to the top. Now clad only in a pair of black sport boxers, Angel stared at the dresser, the wardrobe, then at the other pieces of furniture in the room one by one. In Sunnydale, all that he ever needed or wanted in his apartment or the mansion had been a comfortable bed and a place to put a few books and the handful of clothes he owned. This place had those things plus so much more. He eyed the dresser again and reached out to pick up a picture frame. He studied his image pictured beside Cordelia and Wesley. They all smiled back at him. He placed the picture back on the dresser. This wasn’t just a dwelling, a place to hide the day away until he could roam the night. This was a home. He looked at the picture on the dresser again. A happy one.
Going to the wardrobe, Angel found a pair of pants and a shirt and finished dressing. Furniture and accessories were not the only things he had a lot more of. He had a lot of clothes. Nice clothes. Some he wasn’t sure he would have picked out but nice all the same. Something in the wardrobe caught his eye and gave him pause to think. They weren’t intimate, just good friends. Yet, not only did she sometimes sleep in .. on his bed and take care of his son like it was the most natural thing in the world, but there in his wardrobe hung her dry cleaning right along with his. Angel closed the wardrobe, convincing himself to block out the questions he so badly wanted to ask and concentrate on the problem at hand. His eyes turned to the door seconds before he heard the knock.
“Hey,” Cordelia greeted as she stepped into the room. “I just wanted to make sure you were alright.”
“I’m fine,” Angel replied as he sat on the bed and pulled on his boots.
“I also came to tell you that Lorne is on his way over. He’s going to help with Connor while we try and figure this thing out. Okay?”
“Thanks.” He was glad that she had had the presence of mind to think of the baby. Earlier this morning as he stared down at the child, he had tried to elicit some sort of emotion from himself. He failed. The only thing that being close to the infant had brought out in him was a memory of a long ago nightmare that he and Darla had bestowed on an innocent family. He shook the memory from his mind and looked at the woman who now sat in the chair next to the bed. How did she get here, in his life? It bewildered him as to how he and Cordelia Chase of Sunnydale had become friends. Granted, as he looked at her seated comfortably in his chair, he could tell she was not the same spoiled, vain child he had know … last night. She appeared to be a caring, sensitive, not to mention extremely beautiful, woman. So why was she here with him? “Has Wesley found anything yet?”
“Not yet, but don’t worry. He will,” she smiled reassuringly at him.
“He’s kinda like our Giles. Ya know, without the whole ‘useful contacts and experience thing’.
“Angel he will find a way, I promise you.”
“Cordelia, why are here?”
“Oh, I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have just barged in on you like this. I’m just so used to …” Cordelia rose from the chair. “I’ll be downstairs.”
“No,” he said, stopping any further movements she made to leave the room. “I mean why are you here with me in L.A.. You said we were friends but you never explained how we got to this point in just two and half years.”
“Angel, a lot has happened since you left Sunnydale. And as much as I’d like to sit here and continue this heart-to-heart you seem to be starting, I don’t think we have time for a game of ‘This Is Your Life’.” Cordelia took in a deep breath of air and looked down at Angel, who was still seated on the bed. “It’s a long story Angel,” she said with quiet sincerity.
“Humor me. The others I can pretty much understand. I mean Wesley I get, ex-watcher and all. Once it’s in their blood they just can’t not try. And you said that Gunn was a self taught demon street fighter, Lorne a demon himself, and that I saved Fred from a five year captivity in an alternate universe. Seems they’ve all been living this lifestyle way before they hooked up with me. But what about you? Just last night I saw Cordelia, circa 1999, standard high school queen.”
“You know what I mean. Your human. You could live like the rest of the world, in denial. I guess I just can’t understand how a normal girl like you would be mixed up in all of this.”
“Oh crap.” Cordelia began to give off a soft glow as her body lifted slightly from the ground.
Angel quickly rose from the bed, his eyes wide with shock. “Okay, maybe ‘normal’ wasn’t quite the right word.”