Back Where She Belongs by Christy Baird
Summary: Cordelia comes home after her tryst with You Know Who to a world of hurt.
Spoilers: Sleep Tight, Season Three.
Notes: To Tonya for writing something in the official discussion thread for Sleep Tight on ST that made me think of this fic.
"She should have been back by now." Said Fred, gently.
From his place on the floor in the lobby of the Hyperion, Gunn shook his head, "I hope she doesn't come back."
"CHARLES!" The indignant voice echoed through the quiet lobby, giving weight to the fact that it was silent. No baby babbles, no cooing over Angel's child, no laughter, nothing. The air was tinged with a sense of loss, a sense of mourning for a child that was as good as dead to them.
Gunn, looking up at Fred, sighed, "I didn't mean I don't want her to come back but... Look what she's gotta come back TO. Wesley's critical in hospital, Connor's gone, Angel's... I don't know what Angel is, he's shut us out. He won't let us back in again... Maybe it's best that she stays where she belongs... In the sunlight."
Fred's face turned pensive and she sighed, "Cordelia belongs in the sunlight, whereas we belong in the caves? I used to think so... I used to think that maybe I did belong in the darkness, but Angel helped me... Cordelia... You... Wesley. Cordelia's the sunlight to our darkness... Maybe her coming back is what we need."
"Maybe," Said Gunn quietly, "I just don't want to break the news to her when she comes back. She's had a great time and we drop this on her?" Gunn sighed, "Barbie's gotta come back to a world of hurt and I don't wanna be the one to tell her."
"There's only us though." Said Fred, "Angel won't leave the room... Wesley's..." Her voice tailed off and she sighed, picking up the phone again and dialling Cordelia's number, "Hi, this is Cordelia Chase. I'm not here right now, if you leave your name and number, I'll get back to you as soon as possible... Dennis, put the... BEEP."
The message was cut off and Fred couldn't help but smile at the warmth in Cordelia's voice, "Cordelia, it's Fred. Again. If you get this could you give me a call. I guess you know where I am." She said softly.
Turning back round, she looked at Gunn and sighed, "Ain't no sunshine when she's gone..." She whispered.
She hadn't wanted for anything in her life, not really. Her parents were rich, she always had the nicest clothes and cars and now she had the nicest friends, the nicest family. But, right now? Cordelia found herself wanting. She found herself wanting the simplicity of a conversation that didn't start with Princess.
And she found herself wanting the extremely sucky vision pain back. Skip had been right. The vision hangovers were like a walk in the park compared to this kind of pain. In Catalina, she'd screamed herself hoarse for a solid two days. Groo had kept his vigil at her bedside but in her feverish state, it was someone elses name she yelled.
Groo knew the reason, the reason why her heart remained locked away and in that moment, he made a decision. He wouldn't let his Princess settle for anything less than what she deserved. And what she deserved was the person she loved, not second best. Not him. She deserved the one her heart desired. It cut him up to see her in so much pain. She'd taken the prophylactic, with the intent of... Well, as his beautiful Princess would say, 'getting groiny with him' but... On the night they'd arrived she'd admitted that still, she wasn't ready.
And Groo had waited patiently, he'd waited a year, he'd wait another one if he had to - until finally he'd admitted it. Over the past three days she hadn't been well. The first, attacks of nausea - the second and third, pain like he'd never seen before, like she'd screamed she'd never felt before. This had worried him, greatly. He'd offered to call Angel, Cordelia had refused. He'd suggested a Doctor, she'd refused. Just asked him to stay.
Today, they'd flown back to Los Angeles, were now sitting in a yellow car, listening to a man with a strange accent sing a song Groo had never heard before. "How do you feel, Princess?"
"Peachy." She whispered, "Just peachy. Hey," Leaning forward, the brunette knocked on the window of the cab, "Can you take us to the Hyperion Hotel?"
When she settled back into her seat, Cordelia managed a smile to Groo, "Wesley can help..."
He'd expected a tan. A smile... Was a smile too much to ask? Turned out when Cordelia and the Groosalug got to the hotel, a smile and a tan were too much to ask. Instead, there were bags under red, puffy eyes.
"Cord?" Gunn stepped round the counter and looked up at her. She was practically being held up by Groo. "You alright?"
"Do I look alright?" She snapped and then sighed, "Look, I'm sorry, I just got this crappy transitiony demony type crap and I need to speak to Wes about it. Where is he?"
Gunn put his head down, shuffling on his feet. How was he supposed to tell her? What was he supposed to say? Cordy, Wes kidnapped the kid you look on as a son and handed him to Angel's worst enemy? Sure... Why not, hurt her more than she already HAD been.
Cordelia, instantly alert, looked at him, "Gunn? What's going on? Where's Wesley?" It was then that she noticed. No sounds in the hotel, no baby babbling... No Fred giggling... No turn of a page. Nothing.
"Where is everyone?"
Gunn sighed, "Listen, Cordy, I..."
"Charles, are we ready to go to the hospita - Cordelia!"
"Fred, what's wrong? Who's in the hospital?"
Fred was horrified, "Oh... I... It..." Sighing, she looked down, "It happened while you were away... It... Uhm..."
"I should have been here." Said Cordelia, quietly, her eyes blurred with tears. Groo had managed to get her down the steps and onto the couch where she sat, huddled over, staring blankly at the wall. "Maybe if I'd been here... Wesley could have told me or... Angel would have..."
"You couldn't have done anything, Princess." Said Groo, reassuringly.
"You can't know that." She whispered, "If I'd been here I could have stopped this whole thing and it would never have happened."
"Cordelia, Groo has a point." Fred spoke up from where she stood, Gunn's arm wrapped around her shoulder, "All of this happened without us knowing it was going on, you're not super-human, you can't know everything."
"But I... But I'm Vision Girl. Why wouldn't the Powers show me something like this? Why wouldn't they let us stop this?"
"Perhaps this was the Higher Powers stepping in," Offered Groo. "Perhaps this was their way of stopping the danger from coming, their part in doing what's right."
"By taking away my Son, tell me, how is that right?" She asked, painfully - her dark eyes angry. "They've split us apart in the worst way they knew how to do it. Betrayal hurts," She said quietly, "But this is... This is..."
Groo stood down from his opinion, acquiescing with a nod, "It's not right, but we'll fix it."
Cordelia looked at Gunn and Fred, "Where's Angel?"
"Same place he's been since last week." Said Gunn, quietly, "Just sitting there. He won't come out, won't talk to us."
"We've taken him blood," Said Fred softly, "He just won't drink it."
Cordelia got up from the chair, aided by Groo, "Stay here." She said, nodding to her friends.
"Princess, you are weak, you shouldn't..."
"I'll be fine." She said simply. "Stay here."
Gunn, Fred and Groo watched as Cordelia walked painstakingly up the stairs. "The Demon transition phase that Cordelia talked about, what was it?" Asked Fred, "Is that why she couldn't come home?"
"They wouldn't let her fly." Said Groo, "They said she was a danger to herself and other passengers. They wanted to put her in a... I believe the Princess called it a Nut House?"
Fred sighed and looked at Gunn, "Why do the bad things all come at once?"
"It was the way of the Pylean world," Observed Groo, "It seems things do not change inter-dimensionally."
"That they don't." Said Gunn, watching as Cordelia disappeared around the corner, "That they don't.
Before she got to Angel's bedroom, Cordelia leaned against the wall, breathlessly. It was hard, walking. Even harder trying to gauge what Angel's reaction would be, seeing her. Would he be mad? She hadn't been here. He'd have every right. Would he cry? Probably not, this was Angel.
Would he even notice she was there?
She stepped into the room. The heavy curtains were drawn across the windows, a flicker of sunlight trickling through and onto Angel.
"Angel!" Yelled the brunette, rushing to shut the curtains fully and turning back towards him, clutching at her side painfully, "What the hell were you doing?"
The anger abated as Cordelia looked at him. For the first time in his life, or at least since Cordelia had known him, he looked every year of his existence. Each of the 245 years he'd been undead had settled into his eyes, into his heart. He looked empty, hollow inside - like someone had sucked the life right out of him. He'd never looked like that. She'd never smelt death before... Not like now. He was a walking embodiment of what he truly was. Death in a nice outer shell. Only the shell was broken, as was the soul inside.
"Angel?" Tentatively, the brunette stepped closer to him. He hadn't blinked, even when the burning sensation had left his arm. It was then, she noticed... The thing he clutched in his arms. Wrapped in a blanket. It wasn't a baby, she knew that... A toy. Angel had stopped rocking it when the sunlight had gone. He'd felt something. True, it was pain, but that was what he was supposed to feel. Holtz had seen to that. But it was something, at least. It was gone again.
"Angel, talk to me, please?" Begged the Seer, standing in front of him.
Cordelia went to kneel in front of him, to touch his arm. He didn't flinch, didn't blink - didn't move. He was looking right through her, to the crib, to the last place he'd seen his son. The place where he'd handed him to his best friend and asked him to take care of his son. He was vaguely aware of a voice, but didn't show it.
"I'm trying," She whispered, "I'm trying not to break down, I'm trying to be strong but I can't do this without you, Angel. Come back to me, please?"
"Angel, we have to do something. We can't just sit here. You need to snap out of it!" She yelled.
Reaching up, she touched his face, "Where are you?" She whispered. "Are you with him?"
"Are you mad at me? God, Angel, I should have been here. Why didn't you call or... Try and get in contact with me?"
Cordelia looked at him. His eyes had never seemed so empty. Not when Buffy had died, not even during his beige period. If she hadn't known what he was then, then she really didn't know what he was now. Or at least, where he was...
"Ssshhhh... Everything's going to be okay."
Cordelia's head snapped up, she'd gotten through to him.
"Daddy'll look after you. I'll never let anything hurt you."
He wasn't talking to her. He was talking to Connor... To his son.
"Angel, why was the curtain open?" She whispered, "Do you... Do you want to leave us? Is that it?" She asked, watching his eyes. Still empty. Cold, so cold. "Angel, you can't leave us. We need you, Angel. I need you. I've never needed anything, but I need you. I need you to come back to me so we can find our son... Angel, please... I can't do this by myself."
He's my redemption. Thought Angel, looking down at a toy. He's everything that's good about my life, my son, my friends. I might never Shanshu, but I have my son. I have my friends, my family. It's all I'll ever need.
"Can you hear me?"
A brief breeze lifted the curtains, catching Angel's rigid gaze, "I should shut that."
"Don't want Connor to get chesty."
The tears she'd been holding back, slid down her cheeks, "Angel, he's not HERE. He's GONE!" She said desperately, "And unless you snap out of it we're never going to get him back!"
Open windows and empty hallways
A pale lit moon in a sky streaked with grey
Human kindness is overflowing
And I think it's gonna rain today
In a place where there were no seasons. It didn't rain. Not too often anyway. But as the tears poured from Cordelia's eyes, the skies opened and the sun disappeared. Why? She wasn't sure. It didn't matter anyway. Rain wouldn't bring Connor back. Nor would tears. As the Seer rested her head on his knee, she cried. And after a second, soft, gentle fingers were stroking her cheek. She didn't speak, but she heard his words. "Daddy'll take care of you, I promise. I'll never let anything hurt you."
Scarecrows dressed in the latest styles
A frozen smile to chase love away
Human kindness is over flowing
And I think it's gonna rain today
When she looked up, he had a soft, serene smile frozen on his face. "Angel, please... Just let me in. Please?" She begged.
Bright before me, the signs implore me
Help the needy and show them the way
Human kindness is overflowing
And I think it's gonna rain today
Those words, he heard. Let her in? How could he? He'd let Connor into his heart, had believed that finally, he'd gotten somewhere. Like... If the Powers had blessed him with a son, then he couldn't be all that bad. Cordelia was like sunshine to his darkness, sunshine he didn't want. In sunshine, he'd burn. With her, he'd burn. It wasn't her, he knew that. It was him. He was a vampire, in sunshine, he'd burn.
With her light he'd learn to accept something he couldn't. He'd learn to accept that he deserved love, deserved friendship. He'd been accepting it - and he'd lost his son. He'd been accepting it and he'd done what was right, he'd sent Cordelia away with Groo - and in doing so, not only had he killed himself, but he'd killed her too. He'd killed everything she'd known. Family, friendship, everything.
Forgive me, Cordelia. He thought, looking down on her, crying. Forgive me for taking what you knew and killing it. Everything I touch, dies. I won't let that happen to you. I can't.
"Angel. Please? I need you."
I wish that I could cry
Fall upon my knees
It may sound absurd
But don't be naive
Even heroes have the right to bleed
I may be disturbed
But won't you conceive
Even heroes have the right to dream
And it's not easy
After a while of just lying there, her head on his knee, the tears dried into her cheeks. Cordelia pulled back from him. Watching him for a second, she sighed, then reached up, "It'll be okay," She whispered, "It'll be okay." With that, she kissed him. Cupped his face in her hands and pressed her lips gently down on his. In her creepy-alternate world, it had made everything better.
It only served here to make one solitary tear track down his cheek.
He realised how far he'd come. How far they had come. And how much they'd lost.
Pulling back, she watched his eyes. Still blank, there wasn't a spark of recognition in them. Sighing, her hands left his cheeks and she sighed, walking away from him and to the door, finally admitting defeat. Faltering at the door, Cordelia turned and looked back at him, "Angel, I don't know if you can hear me. I don't know if I'm getting through or... I'll get him back, I promise, Angel."
Angel closed weary eyes and listened as her hushed voice drifted towards him, "I love you, Angel. Please, don't leave me."
He never moved.
Slowly, Cordelia made her way back down the stairs to where her friends were, clutching her side.
Fred truly believed that if someone could get through to Angel, it was Cordelia. She was his sunlight. Fred may be a little crazy, or at least a little off the cosmological map, but she wasn't stupid. Kye-rumption. She knew it when she saw it. And she'd seen it with Angel and Cordelia.
Slowly, the Seer shook her head, sadly. "He didn't even know I was there." She said quietly. "I don't even think *he* was there."
Fred crossed the room and did the thing she'd been wanting to do since the start. She grabbed Cordelia and pulled her closer for her a hug. "I'm sorry." She whispered, "I'm sorry we couldn't stop this..."
Cordelia closed her eyes and shook her head, "Fred, it wasn't your fault and we will get Connor back. Have I ever lied to you before?"
Fred smiled, thumbed away the tears that had slid down her cheeks, "Nope, you've never lied to me."
Groo stepped forward, "Princess, I'll do everything within my power to help."
"Well, y'are a Champion." Said Fred, nodding.
"In my world, perhaps. But in this one, the true Champion is upstairs." Said Groo.
Cordelia smiled at him, before turning back to her friends. "I want to go see Wesley."
"Cordy, he's not awake." Said Gunn, shaking his head, "And I'm thinkin'..."
"I want to see Wesley." Said Cordelia, firmly. "Now. And if you don't take me, I'll damned well go myself."
"Maybe I should stay with Angel." Said Fred, gently, "If he comes downstairs or..."
"I don't think he will." Said Cordelia, softly. "But you can stay, if you want..." She understood that Fred wanted to stay in case some news of Connor turned up. "Be careful though. And if Angel gets..."
"I know." Said Fred, "Knock him out if I feel the slightest bit threatened."
Groo glanced up, "I shall stay here, in case Angel appears. Is there anything else you require of me, Princess?"
Cordelia shook her head, "No. Just... Be careful, okay?"
Gunn kissed Fred lightly and said the same to her, before guiding Cordelia up the steps to his truck. "Are you sure you're ready for this, Cordelia? I mean..."
"I'm ready." Said Cordelia softly.
Gunn nodded, watching her closely for a second, "Cordy, how bad was it? And don't lie to me, we've had enough of that round here lately."
"How bad was what?"
"You know what I'm talking about." He said softly.
"The demon transition thing?"
Gunn nodded again, "Yeah."
"Bad. They wouldn't let me come home, a danger to other passengers, they said." She said gently, "But I made my choice, I'll live with it."
Gunn sighed, "That's what I'm worried about."
"Wes." Said Gunn quietly, "Not being able to live with his choice."
"I can't believe how fast it changed." Said Cordelia, quietly. She watched as the city lights sped by, shrouded by the downpour that had started with Cordelia's tears, her hands twisting nervously in her lap as pain coursed through her body. Unbelievably, this was one of her 'better' days. A day when she wasn't screaming... "I mean, one minute, we're all happy and the next... We've done the whole 'Wes laying critical in hospital and losing Angel' thing - it's getting old."
Gunn sighed, "Tell me about it... Wes and I were friends, right? Did the whole Fred thing really split us apart that much? He couldn't even come to me when he needed someone..."
"I wasn't even here..." Whispered Cordelia, "I was off on the holiday of a lifetime with..."
"You deserved a break, Cordy." Said Gunn, gently.
"And what about Angel? Or Wesley? When do they get a break?"
Gunn sighed and glanced up at the building before them, "We're here."
"You said that already." She whispered. "Remember? When we came to visit Wes last time?"
"I know. Okay? I know. This isn't the last time. This isn't the time where something's going to just happen and make everything alright again. Nothing we do can make this better and this time..." Her voice tapered off, making Gunn glance up at his friend, worriedly. She'd seen better days, that much was obvious. Her eyes were red and puffy, they'd been like that since she'd come home. But now... There was a pain behind her eyes that he hadn't seen in a while, not since the visions, anyway.
"Are you okay?"
Cordelia smiled, "I will be. Look, I need to see Wesley and Angel's not... I don't want to leave him on his own again."
Together, they walked up to Wes' room, not saying anything, observing the silence they'd each known was needed to process their thoughts. This was Wesley, lying in a hospital bed... Again. He'd made a choice. He could die. Did he deserve it?
"Cordy, you get that... You get that I'm not sure where I stand on this one?" He asked, "This is Wes. And sure, he's one of my friends but... He took Angel's SON... And if Connor were mine then I'm pretty sure I'd want him dead." He said quietly, "But then... There's the flip side of the coin. Angel and I... We may never get on and maybe I think that for Wesley to do this kind of thing? It had to be some pretty scary stuff we were messed up in. I guess the man himself was right when he said the pull of divided loyalties was never easy. He had to choose. He made a choice. Now we all gotta live with it the best way we can."
"Y'know?" Said Cordelia softly, "Sometimes you even surprise me with how sensible you can be. I'm glad that you're not just seeing this from Wesley's point of view. I'm glad that you're not just seeing it from Angel's..."
"Which point are you seeing it from?"
"The middle." Said the Seer, "I'm seeing it from the middle because someone has to. Someone has to bring the group back together..."
"And who better to do it than the heart?" Asked Gunn, gently.
"It's not going to be easy, there's a world of hurt to work through from all directions. Why Wes couldn't come to us, why he did what he did, why I wasn't here," Knowing he'd protest, she held up a hand to stop him, "No, listen. We've all got room for regret. But we'll bounce back, we always do. We have to. United we stand, Charles." She whispered softly, "Divided we fall. We got separated. One by one, we'll start returning and then we'll get Connor back."
"How can you be so sure?"
"I'm not," Said Cordelia, "I'm just afraid that walking into this with anything less than as much confidence I sound like I have will get us nowhere. Everything's been stripped away, Gunn. I have to have something left to believe in."
"Duh," She said with a small smile. Then, she pushed open the door to Wesley's room, stepping closer to the bed. Gunn heard her breath quicken, watched her clutch at her side then wince.
"Cor - "
"I'm okay." Gently, Cordelia picked up Wesley's hand in hers. "Y'do know you've gotta pull through this, right Wesley?" She asked, "I mean, you're the brains of our group... How can we do without the brains?" Tears slid down her cheeks and she sighed, "I'll never know why. I'll never know what you were feeling or what was going through your mind, but I do know you, Wesley Wyndham-Pryce and you're a good, decent person. Whatever happens, we can get through it." Leaning forward, Cordelia gently kissed his forehead, before sitting down on a chair next to his bed, still squeezing his hand.
* * * * *
~Two Hours Later~
The first thing she felt was a twinge, and at first, Cordelia winced, thinking the transitiony-demon crap was starting up again. But when she looked down, her friend was blinking, disoriented. "Wesley?" She whispered, getting up immediately.
He clawed at the oxygen mask over his mouth and met her eyes, "T-t..."
"You shouldn't talk." Said Cordelia, shaking her head, "Wesley, it's okay..."
Wesley wheezed and coughed, choking out a sob of pain.
"Don't, please don't..." She whispered, "Write it down." He didn't deserve this. He truly didn't and she couldn't abide standing by and watching it.
Gunn stepped forward, "Wes, just... Don't talk, okay?"
"I... I'm so-sorry..." He rasped, wincing as the back of his throat burned. Cordelia and Gunn both watched as the Watcher slipped into unconsciousness again.
<< BEEP >>
Both Gunn and Cordelia jumped from their vigil next to Wesley's bed as Gunn's pager resounded through the room. "What?" Said Cordelia, watching as dread suffused Gunn's face.
"A 911... From the Hotel." Said Gunn, jumping from his seat and going to the nearest phone.
"C'mon, c'mon, pick up..." He murmured, relief flooding him, albeit briefly, when a shaky Fred's voice spoke up, "Charles? It's Angel... He escaped..." She said tentatively, "Groo tried to stop him but... He was too mad, he just tossed him across the room like a rag doll... He took a couple of weapons, uhm... I don't know what. Wesley would..."
Gunn frowned, "I'll call back, be careful, okay?"
"It's Angel." Said Cordelia, from standing behind him, "It's okay, he can't have got too far, we've still got a couple of hours until sunset..."
"I'll go, you stay here with Wes..." Said Gunn, hanging up the phone.
"But... Gunn, it's sunny outside. It's not like he's..."
"Cordelia." Gunn pointed to a window, the sky was streaked with grey, no sunlight at all.
"Find Angel..." She said, solemnly, "Take him back to the hotel..."
Gunn nodded and ran down the hall, while Cordelia went back to Wesley's room.
It was the blue that caught his eye.
The blue blanket...
I dropped the baby.
Wrapped around a toy...
I hurt my child.
Gunn was too far away. The toy, wrapped up in the babies blanket, was Connor's... And Gunn ran.
Who knew what was going through Angel's mind right now?
I'll save you, you're my sister.
Who he could hurt?
I'll never let anything hurt you.
Cordelia watched, stunned, from the floor, her eyes wide, her head dripping blood onto the tiled floor of the hospital where Angel had knocked her across the room. "Angel, NO!" She cried.
Perhaps it was lucky, as Angel squeezed the life from Wesley, that he believed it was Holtz...
I avenge with the hand that killed my child. My own.
Perhaps it was luckier because... If he knew who it truly was... It might have been a lot more painful...
A man possessed, not by rage, but a demon... The demon that killed his child.
Just as his friend was about to take his last breath, Angel saw red.
Not just anyone's blood...
And it was then, that Angel saw. Angel saw the toy in Gunn's hand... The blanket...
Confused, he turned to Wesley... Saw his best friend lying there... Just lying there...
He turned to Cordelia, who'd stumbled to her feet, her hand wet against the blood on her head...
Angel fell to his knees.
I avenge with the hand that killed my child... My own...
Thoughts of a crazed demon? Perhaps.
I avenge with the hand that killed my child... My own...
Thoughts of a crazed demon? Perhaps not.
I avenge with the hand that killed my child... My own...
Thoughts of a man, betrayed by another... Thoughts of a man without a son. Thoughts of a man without a sliver of hope...
I avenge with the hand that killed my child... My own...
"I killed my child..." Whispered Angel, brokenly. "I killed my son."
"You're hurt." Whispered Angel numbly as he watched Cordelia clutch at her side.
"I'm not. I'm... Fine. I just..."
"Was it me? Did I do... That to you?"
Cordelia shook her head, "No, Angel. You didn't. It's... Not you, it's something else."
"The demon in you," Intoned the vampire, "It's coming through."
His voice was tinged with a sense of numbness, one Cordelia wished wasn't there. He not only thought he'd hurt her but... He thought he'd killed Wesley, and what scared Cordelia the most was that he hadn't felt remorse in doing it. "I understand why," Said Angel, "I understand why he thought he had to protect Connor but... Why did he take my son?"
It was a question that Cordelia might never be able to answer. What should she say? It was for the best... Because he had to? Sighing, she shook her head, "I don't understand either, but I do understand that Wesley wouldn't act rashly for no reason at all, he..." Cordelia stopped when she noticed him clutching something in his hand, "Angel?"
His hand fell slowly open and she sighed. "I bought it because... If ever... If ever I wasn't here, it would keep you safe. I know it's lame." She whispered, "I just thought that..."
"It's nice." In his hand, he held a tiny Angel - a pin bought for him by Cordelia, he understood why she'd bought it and the gesture was nice but...
"I'm sorry." She said quietly, "I'm so sorry you had to go through this."
"We. We all have to. Like it or not, we're in this together."
"Wh-what about... What about..."
Angel's eyes darkened, "I don't want him here. I don't want him anywhere near. He took my son away and for that.. He'll pay."
Her gaze drifted to the crib in the middle of the room, empty. They'd left the hospital a while ago, Wesley would be okay. Gunn had stayed behind with him, Fred and Groo were downstairs. "Angel, we'll get him back." She said softly, "We'll..."
"No." Said Angel, shaking his head, "Connor's gone. We need to... We need to just... Start picking up the pieces. It's what happens, Cordelia, in this lifetime, in 250 years of life, all I've done is lose. I watched as Angelus killed people, powerless to stop it and just as soon as I think I'm getting somewhere, he does it again."
"Angel, Angelus had nothing to do with this, this wasn't your fault."
"It wasn't Angelus directly, it was the threat. The Father will kill the Son. Don't you think if Wesley actually trusted me, he'd have come to me with this, told me what was going on? It happened with Buffy - after that, there was something in her eyes that I couldn't shift. She didn't blame me for what happened, but she couldn't forgive me either. Wesley's just the same."
Cordelia sighed, "Then why isn't it in my eyes? I was on first wave of the clean up crew after he came back, why isn't it in my eyes?"
Slowly, Angel's hand came up to touch her cheek and he looked down, "Because you're different." He said sadly, "Because you trust me and in the end? It'll get you killed too. Connor trusted me, look where it got him."
"You have to stop this," Said Cordelia, shaking her head, "You have to stop blaming yourself. Put the blame where it belongs."
"Sahjhan." Said Cordelia, "You know why he did what he did - Connor would destroy him. We'll find something to kill him and we'll get Connor back." Her voice was laced with a confidence she didn't quite feel but it was there nonetheless.
"I can't." Said Angel quietly.
"Do it again. Can't hope that maybe I'm... Maybe I'm atoning for my sins... Can't hope that somehow, I'll get him back. I can't."
"B-but you have to..." She whispered, "Angel, Connor needs us." Instead of confidence, it was now desperation that tinged her voice, "He needs... He needs the Fang Gang to ride in on the white horse and save him... He needs to be picked up in his Daddy's arms and hugged and his Mo - his Aunty Cordy to be standing by and grinning. He needs his Aunty Fred ready with the diapers and his Uncles ready with the funnies... Angel you can't give up. We're going to give him what he needs Angel, whatever it takes."
"We're going to!" Said Cordelia, her voice cracking, "Angel he's not just your baby, he's my baby too! I fed him, clothed him... Bathed him... Did everything a mother could for him except the actual giving birth part. I'm not giving up on him now."
A solitary tear ran down Angel's cheek and he looked at his Seer, "You think I like this, the giving up part?" He asked, "I don't... I just..."
"Then don't give up. Angel, I don't know how hard it is for you - as much as I like to pretend that Connor was my son and maybe in some ways he was for me, for you - he simply was your son. I don't know what to do here, I've never done this before... All I know is, I can't do this alone. I can't go out there and get him back by myself. I need you. I need you to hope, I need you to cling to the fact that we are going to get him back."
Angel fell silent, didn't speak again for a while, just clenched the Angel Cordelia had given him in his hand until blood began to trickle down his wrist.
Sighing, Cordelia pulled back, "I can't sit here and do nothing." She whispered quietly. Her heels clicked on the floor of Angel's room until at the door, she paused. "Are you coming?" He never answered.
Ten minutes later, when Cordelia stood at the counter of the lobby, pouring through Wesley's notes, she felt a hand slip into hers and a kiss placed on the top of her head, "Let's get our son back." It wasn't much, he wasn't saying that what was happening could truly be fixed but there, was a spark of hope, something. At that point, it was all she needed.