Forgifan by Shan
Summary: This is a 'Cordy Returns' fic. The word forgifan is derived from the old English spelling of the word forgiven.
Spoilers: Sleep Tight, Season Three.
She hitched the heavy
leather bag higher on her shoulder and slowly pushed opened the heavy glass
The familiar and well missed hotel lobby was dark, thick with silence.
Carelessly, she slid the heavier of her two bags to the floor with a dull thud. The other, packed with carefully selected trinkets, she cradled in preparation.
The smile, the one that had been missing for so many weeks, lit her face and chased away some of the gloom.
Her friends were waiting for her to say something, from behind the columns, the reception desk, the furniture. Party hats, noise makers, balloons ready to make her homecoming complete. All she had to do was say the magic words...
"Honey, I'm home!"
Her cheerful voice echoed and bounced back at her, a shade paler than before.
The vibrant smile faded as silence again overwhelmed.
Nothing. Confusion flitted across her pretty features. Didn't anyone get her message? She'd called yesterday and told them when she'd be arriving, albeit over the answering machine. But still...
Abandoning her bag on the floor, she walked, hearing only the scuffing her exensive new sandals made in the vast room, to the circular couch. She noticed a fine layer of dust had formed on the potted plants, the desk surface,...the bassinet.
Her smile completely gone, replaced with an expression of confusion and fright as she lowered herself.
"You fucking self-righteous bastard!" Angel shouted, spittle flying in his rage. "You took him from me! He was my son!"
The wrapped, damaged figure in the bed silently mouthed words the other man wouldn't listen to. Tears leaked unnoticed into the pristine white pillowcase.
His hand, hidden from the enraged man, frantically pressed a red button.
"I trusted you!" Angel's hands fisted then released. With each word he hovered closer, forcing venom into Wesley's pained face. "You were family, Wesley! I trusted you! We ALL trusted you"
Wesley tried desperately to tear his gaze away from his friend's anguish, fear and pain but wasn't able by force of will alone.
It became harder just to take a breath.
"Sir! Sir, I'm going to have to ask you to leave!" A quavering female voice finally broke Angel's visual stranglehold over Wesley.
Angel snarled at the intruder. "I'm not through with him yet."
"I'm afraid I'm going to have to ask you to leave. If you don't you will be forced to do so." The nurse pressed a button on her pager reserved for emergencies. Carefully, though her fear was obvious, she approached Wesley's frantic monitor. "Sir, you're killing him with this."
The responding laugh was deadly and laden with scorn. "He's not dead yet."
Wesley could see the rest of the threat in Angel's eyes. Everything inside him coward in fear and drenching guilt.
A strong masculine voice boomed into the room. "Sir. You have to leave now." Two powerful male bodies filled the small private room to capacity. "Now, sir." The other man insisted.
"In a second." Angel leaned closer until a bruising grip on his shoulder stopped him.
"No, sir. Now." Another pair of hands grabbed his arms.
Angel allowed himself to be pulled backwards, eyes still on Wesley's face, he delivered a final, parting shot to the already injured man. "You have no family now, watcher."
The door slammed shut in Angel's face and the orderlies released him. He straightened his jacket and walked down the darkened hallway. In the background came a commotion he found darkly satisfying.
"Code Blue! Code Blue! His heart's stopped! Crash Cart! Now!"
"Gunn? Yeah, it's Angel." Silence while Gunn spoke and Angel dug for his keys. "I'm back at the hotel. Yeah, I need you and Fred to meet me here A-Sap." The keys jangled loosely in the open lock. He beetled his brows. "Hey, Gunn, the lobby doors are unlocked. Were you guys just here?" He listened to the negative response, then nodded unseen at Fred's concerned chirp in the background urging Angel not to go inside, that it could be a trap.
Angel ignored her and opened the door. "What more do I have to lose? It's not a trap. There's no... one..." He trailed off as he saw a shadowed figure slowly take to it's feet.
"Cordy," he whispered. Numb fingers dropped the cell phone.
"Cordy..." His voice stronger.
She took a step forward into a faint wash of light reflected from outside. "Angel, what is going on here? Where is-"
Three bounds and she was wrapped tightly in his arms. Soft, light kisses rained over her surprised face. Small, shallow breaths were all she could manage between his firm chest and banded arms.
Shocked, it took her a moment to think. "Angel."
The kisses ceased, the arms loosened slightly at her urging, but he cradled her close and filled his dead lungs with the scent of her hair. "Oh god, Cordy... you're back... you're back..."
She laughed, somewhat uncomfortably. "I missed you too, Angel."
He didn't let her go, only breathed of her.
"Okay. Angel? As wonderful as this is, let go now?"
He mumbled against her hair.
He stiffened at her tone. Straightened his back and stepped away, arms falling uselessly to his sides. "Um, sorry Cordy." He turned to get her luggage, fingers raking through his tousled dark hair.
Watching him, his every movement screaming anguish, she suddenly regretted forcing him to release her.
"Angel," she started once he set her bag out of the way. "What happened here?"
He hesitated, unsure where to begin. Fingers returned to his hair, tousling it even more, then he began pacing.
Cordelia sat on the couch and patted the seat next to her. Angel reluctantly sat, perched at the edge ready to spring back into pattern.
Her hand touched his, then threaded fingers in support. She smiled at him when he met her eyes, and he relaxed. Still hurting, still unsure where to start, but knowing she would be there for him no matter what. He still had her.
Angel took a deep breath, squeezed her fingers and started. "Right after you left wi... left, Holtz sent a spy to us and gave her the story of her son being turned vamp down by the Ferris wheel. Gunn and Fred went to-"
"Didn't anyone ever tell you, Angel, it ain't polite to be talkin' 'bout someone when they ain't around to gloat?" Gunn's distinctive voice rang through the lobby. Followed by a surprised, "Hey Barbie!" when he saw who Angel was talking to.
Fred jumped in front of the street fighter. "Cordy!"
Cordelia stood and opened her arms for the second hug of the night, only this one couldn't do any physical damage. "Happy to see you too, Fred. You look good!"
"So do you! Vacation agrees with you."
Cordelia smiled and looked at Gunn. "I suppose you want a hug too?"
"Nope. Just gifts." He grinned.
"Ahh... a man after my own heart." Cordelia turned to retrieve the carefully stowed bag when arms wrapped around her from behind. With a feminine shriek that had Fred giggling and Angel's lips twitching in amusement, Gunn swung Cordelia around several times then landed her, breathlessly on her feet.
"We missed ya, Barbie."
"I missed you all too, Gunn. Okay, fun and games are over, let's get serious." She turned up the wattage of her grin. "Present time! I had money to spend this trip, thanks to Angel here, and I spent it well!" She pulled small, matching, beautifully wrapped boxes from her bag. "One for Angel. One for Gunn. One for my girl, Fred. And one- Uh, where's Wesley? Didn't anyone call him? Go call, tell him to bring Connor, and fast!"
The room fell deathly silent again.
Angel pulled Cordelia back to the couch next to him, took her hand, but didn't say a word, wouldn't meet her confused looks.
Gunn noticed Fred's eyes beginning to brim. So he knelt in front of Cordelia to get her attention. "I guess it's up to me. Angel?" At Angel's nod, Gunn sighed, not wanting this job. "Uh, Cordy girl, there's something we need to tell you."
----- His hand, weak and trembling, reached towards the small hospital issue table. Clumsy fingers grasped the pad of paper with the small attached pen and drew both carefully to the bed.
A painful sigh, Wesley settled the pad against his chest. His mind focused, his thoughts clear and in order, even if his body wasn't. He started to write.
Cordelia, Life, sometimes, takes an unusual twist and a decision must be made. I only hope you will understand my decision and why it was chosen. When a beloved family member is threatened, you do whatever it takes to keep them safe. When that threat comes from another beloved family member, drastic steps must be taken to keep them both safe, even if you must in turn sacrifice yourself. You have been there, Cordelia. You, alone, may understand why. This started with the discovery of another prophesy. When translated it read; 'The Father will kill the Son'....
"No... No!" Cordelia violently shook her head. "I can't believe you are telling me this! No! Now tell me the truth, Dammit!"
Angel stood abruptly to pace again. He knew it was going to be difficult telling her, probably the hardest thing he'd ever done. Wesley was like a brother... Connor, a son.
"Where is he!? I want to talk to him! TELL ME WHERE HE IS!"
Gunn lowered his eyes to the floor. Fred put her hand quietly on Cordelia's shoulder. "Wesley is at the hospital, Cordy. He was discovered by a woman walking her dog near his apartment. His throat cut."
Cordelia's face paled. "Is he...?"
Angel stopped. "No."
"But he should be." Gunn's voice came out hard, almost as hard as it had been when he'd first hooked up with them and had just lost his sister.
Cordelia looked at Gunn's ridged posture, then at the sad acceptance in Fred's blue eyes, to Angel.
Angel refused to meet her gaze. He continued pacing. "He had no right. No reason, Cordelia. He should be dead for what he did."
"No reason?" Cordelia stood and took slow steps away from the couch "Angel, Wesley never did anything without a reason. Did you find out-"
Angel turned, his face dark with anger and confronted her. "HE TOOK CONNOR! He took him away from me. I was supposed to stop and ask him WHY?!? CONNOR IS GONE, Cordelia! Why was not an issue!"
She stopped, tears brimmed over, streamed down her pale face. "Now it should be. We need to know why."
"Connor is gone. That is all that matters."
"No, not all. Wesley matters too."
"NO!" Angel shouted in her face. "Wesley no longer matters. He TOOK CONNOR! How can you act like that doesn't matter!"
Cordelia stood her ground and stared back hard and unblinking. "Does it look to you like he doesn't matter, Angel? Like Connor being gone isn't the most important thing? Like a part of me isn't missing because he's not here? Look at me!" He started to turn when she grabbed his arm. "Damn you, LOOK at me!"
He did. Everything inside him surged to his throat as his pained soul was reflected in her dark eyes. A wave of anguish and guilt swept over him. "Oh god, Cordy... I'm sorry..."
Cordelia fell forward and sobbed into his chest as cool arms surrounded her. Ice water tears dampened her neck as Angel buried his face into her hair. He whispered, as much to comfort her as himself, "We'll get him back... we'll get him back."
She stood to the side as a white clad nurse checked bags, bandages and charts quietly, as not to disturb the still figure in the bed.
Cordelia wasn't quite as courteous.
Once the nurse was through and gone, she approach the bed, her eyes never left the pale figure.
Wesley felt the weight of the stare and knew the owner even before opening his gritty eyes. Reluctantly he sighed and faced the music.
It wasn't the tune he was expecting.
Her face was hard, set and locked. Her eyes were a different story, they held all the pain of a mother, the anguish of a sister, and the faintest glimmer of hope as his friend.
He didn't think she was aware a person could read her every thought in those wondrous eyes. She'd deny it unto death if she was ever told.
"Cordelia." His voice a harsh rasp of it's usual British crispness.
"Wesley." She looked purposefully at the white bandage wrapped around his throat. "What's the verdict?"
He gestured towards the foot of the bed. Cordelia lifted the clipboard and read. Wesley's left Carotid artery had been sliced, his trachea opened allowing measurable amounts of blood and materials including rainwater and dirt into his lungs. He also required large amounts of blood to replenish his system. One of the last entries claimed his heart fluttered and stopped for a short amount of time. She didn't understand most of the medical jargon, but understood enough to know he went through hell and almost didn't make it.
She turned back to him and tried to be cold. "They told me you almost died. That we'd be better off." She watched him flinch but continued, "Because you took Connor, they want you dead. At least Angel and Gunn do."
Wesley's eyes closed briefly and he nodded, once. Then he lifted a hand to gesture her closer. His voice harsh and painful he asked, "What about you?"
Cordelia shook her head. "The jury is still out on that one, Wesley." She ignored the flare of hope in his eyes. "I want to know one thing before I decide. Why?"
She watched, expecting him to try and talk. Instead he pulled a notebook from beside him and pressed it into her hand. "Read," he urged.
She read. And sank into a nearby chair, her face a myriad of emotions as his heart spoke to her on paper.
She finished, read it a second time more slowly then lifted her gaze to meet Wesley's. She stood and took a step towards him, lips opened and closed soundlessly as she tried to find the words.
They were left unspoken as the door opened and another nurse entered. "Oh, excuse me. I'm sorry. I didn't realize Mr. Pryce would have company. You do know it is after visiting hours, don't you? I'm afraid you will have to come back in the morning, miss." She prattled on and ushered a speechless Cordelia towards the door. "Miss, are you family?"
Cordelia, eyes filled with tears, looked at Wesley one last time before walking out. "Yes. We're family."
"Gunn? It's me. I need to talk to you."
"Oh man, Barbie, it's like 4am... can't this wait?" He sounded groggy and exhausted.
She hesitated. "Well... I-"
"It's okay, Fred. It's just Cordy... Lay back down. No, everything's alright. It is alright, isn't it?"
Cordelia realized he was talking to her again. "Oh. Well I guess that depends on your definition of 'all right'. Doesn't it?"
"Ouch. Yeah, it does. Bet you wish you were back with Slug in the Caribbean soakin' on the beach."
"That definitely had it's pluses. Home less than 24 hours..."
Gunn chucked humorlessly. "Welcome home. Speaking of Slug, where is the ole' boy?"
"Still soaking. Okay, that's not why I called. I need to talk to you." She paused. "About Wesley."
"Man, Barbie, you can pack a punch. And you're damn lucky Fred is here, or I'd be ripping into you right now."
Cordelia sighed. "I know, Gunn. That's why we need to talk. Are you and Fred up to coming over?"
There was a tussle then she heard Fred chirp and Gunn growl and she had to smile. Gunn came back, grumbling. "Yeah, we'll be there in 15."
"Good thanks. Oh, and Gunn?"
Gunn laughed, "That was Angel's idea."
Cordelia turned the key in her front door as she checked the time on the wall clock a few doors down. 3:35am. She yawned widely behind her hand and stepped into the lightless room. These last few days of late night visits to Wesley's bedside, going to work early in the mornings and spending the whole afternoon and evening in front of piles of books or the computer were beginning to draw on her reserves.
"Dennis? Lights please?"
She dropped her purse to the floor, her keys on the counter. Still shrouded in darkness. "Where's my ghost with the most? Hummm?"
She shrieked. "Angel! God!" The lights flicked and revealed that he stood only a few steps in front of her.
Her jacket slipped from her shoulder, removed by unseen hands. Quietly she whispered, "Thanks Dennis. You'll pay for this later." Forcing a bright smile she turned to Angel. "Hi there. It's kinda late, Angel."
She tried desperatly to avoid this conversation. She wasn't ready. "I'd really like to go to bed... unless you are giving me tomorrow off."
"Okay then. Goodnight!" She made to step past him but his arm shot out, barring her path. "What is it Angel?"
"We need to talk."
"Alright. We need to talk." She sighed and relented. "Care to start?"
Angel pulled back and walked into her living room. Lights blared. "Care to explain that?"
She looked at the hospital bed she'd had delivered that morning. It was set right in front of the television, with a small table close by.
She saw no point in making excuses. He already the answer. "Wesley is being released tomorrow. He's coming to stay here."
Angel just stood and stared at the arrangement. "Why?"
"The Doctor said he needed rest and someone to watch over him for a few days. I volunteered."
"What if I say no."
Cordelia planted both of her hands on her hips. "I'd say it's my damn apartment, and not your place to say yes or no."
Angel nodded, sadly and lowered his gaze to the floor. "What's what I figured." Slowly he turned to face her. "Cordy, I know you have to make your own decision about this, but I wish you'd reconsider letting him stay here."
"I won't, Angel. I can't."
His hands lifted to rest on her shoulders as he moved closer. "Do you understand why this scares me, Cordy? Why his being here with you terrifies me? I can't lose you too, Cordy."
Her own hands landed lightly on top of his. "You won't, Angel. It's only Wesley."
His fingers tightened, his eyes hardened and flashed dangerously. "Only Wesley. Only the man who took my son. Who betrayed his family. Who could take everything I love away from me. It's only Wesley." He released her and stalked through the living room, fingers plunging through his hair. "Dammit, Cordelia! I DON'T TRUST HIM!"
That stopped him cold. And he turned, very slowly, to look her straight in the eyes and test the truth behind her declaration. "Why?"
"Because what he did, he did out of love."
"Love." Angel spat out the word. "It was love that caused him to lie to us all. Love that made him conspire with Holtz. Love that drove him to take Connor and run."
"Yes! It was love that caused him to hide the prophesy and spend every conscious minute searching for a way to stop it. It was love that made him face Holtz and risk his own life luring him away from Connor. It was love that drove him to take Connor away, make sure he was safe, and that you were safe as well!" Cordelia huffed out a breath. When Angel remained silent, she continued. "Angel, what do you think would have happened if he'd told you about the prophesy? Would you have even believed it? Probably not. Even though the signs were there you would have never believed you could kill your own child. Gunn wouldn't have believed it either. I wasn't there. Wesley did what he thought was best."
"And you bought all of this."
Cordelia growled and walked back into the kitchen for her purse. Angel followed then stopped, surprised as she shoved a folded paper into his hands.
"Read," she ordered, arms crossed not allowing for refusal.
So he read.
Cordelia, Life sometimes takes an unusual twist and a decision must be made. I only hope you will understand my decision and why it was chosen. When a beloved family member is threatened, you do whatever it takes to keep them safe. When that threat comes from another beloved family member, drastic steps must be taken to keep them both safe, even if you must in turn sacrifice yourself. You have been there, Cordelia. You, alone, may understand why. My path started with the discovery of another prophesy. When translated it read; 'The Father will kill the Son'. Understandably, Angel especially could not know about this. In hindsight I realize my foolishness in hiding this knowledge. I took great pains to learn more about the prophesy, and even greater pains to keep it a secret. Unfortunately us all I wasn't alone in my knowledge. Holtz had also learned, and somehow so had Wolfram and Hart. By now, I am sure Angel has filled you in on what transpired. But here is where I can explain my part to you, in hopes you will keep your beautiful mind and even more beautiful heart open to my side. In my desperation to stop this prophesy I searched for the Loa, a demon-god, for answers. Through it my fears were confirmed, that the father would kill the son was inevitable. I could only follow the signs; Earthquake, fire and blood. Almost immediately the signs were appearing before me. But, I was not the only one who saw them. Holtz made numerous attempts to persuade me to bring Connor to him. I purposefully lead them to believe I would, only to buy more time and freedom to complete my plan. To keep both Angel and Connor safe I was going to take Connor to England, to be in the safe keeping of the Watcher's Council, Giles in particular. If you call him, you can confirm. Two airline tickets were in my luggage, along with falsified paperwork for Connor and myself. The plan was to get Connor to safety and contact Angel with the information he needed, secure Connor, then return to aid in the fight against Holtz and the prophesy. Angel was not to know where Connor was located, only that he was safe, they both were. Unbeknownst to me, Justine, Holtz's assistant, discovered enough of my plans to lure me into a trap. She is who took Connor. She is who slit my throat. However, I am entirely to blame. As of the moment I write this, I do know Connor is gone and that Holtz took him. I suppose that is all that is needed to be known. Thank you, Cordelia. Thank you for having enough faith in me to take this letter and read it. God knows I don't deserve your faith, your compassion, or your understanding. Connor is as much your son as anyone's, and I took him from you. You and Angel. My payment will never be complete. A part of me lies in hopes that one day you will be able to forgive.
Angel gently refolded the paper. His voice calmer than he had been he asked, "You believe him." There was no question.
Cordelia nodded. "Yes, Angel. Completely. I even confirmed with Giles who'd had no idea about what had happened. All he knew was that Wesley wasn't there to meet him at the airport."
"Gunn? Fred? They've accepted this explanation as well?"
She took the letter before it was destroyed in his clenched fists. "Yes. They read the letter and once they both spoke to him they are willing to believe his side."
She set the letter aside and took both of his cold hands in hers. "Lorne too." She could feel him relenting.
His eyes lifted, washed in tears and uncertainty. "I don't know if I can, Cordy. He took Connor."
"Yes, he did." Gently she touched his cheek as a single solitary tear escaped. She felt her own throat close in response, her vision blurred. "And he wants to fix that by whatever means are needed."
He pulled her into his arms, breath rushing through his chest in sobs. "He took Connor. He took my son, Cordy. I can't forget that. No matter what happens, he took Connor."
She wrapped tight arms around him, seeking to comfort them both. "We're not meant to forget. Only to forgive."
Angel kissed the top of her head. "I'll try."