Live In Me by Wyoluvr
Summary: Living dreams.
Spoilers: Everything prior to Sleep Tight, Season Three.
Notes: Thanks to Kassie for the beta and Donna for the final read through.
"Doesn't it ever bother
He took her tiny hand in his, studying with fascination the translucence of her skin. Tiny blue lines snaking around her delicate fingers.
He smiled. Bothered by death.
"I mean it."
Compact in form and design, she twisted within his embrace to face him. Raised crisp hazel eyes to his brown.
"You work with humans. You save them. You go out and buy coffee and donuts from them. Doesn't it ever bother you?"
Oh. That's what she meant. He was never really sure. The words that came from the bow lips he knew so well were rarely things <she> would have said.
It didn't bother him so much as piss him off. Billions of human beings on this little planet and they wasted everything given to them.
"Yeah, it bothers me."
Past the desk where Cordelia sits with Connor on her lap, the sun burns bright. It's past noon when Angel finally stumbles out of his bed and downstairs.
Angel flaps his hand at Cordelia as he reaches for the small office fridge.
"Look, you've got to stop turning off my alarm. There's work to be done."
"Yeah, and if you keep going the way you've been going, you'll spontaneously combust and then we'll be left to raise Connor all on our own. Poor kid."
She twisted around to grab the baby's carrier and in several deft moves strapped it and the baby to her chest. The brunette stood, making goofy faces at a fascinated Connor.
"When I walked by your room this morning, I heard talking. Bad dream?" Intent concern on her beautiful face.
Yeah, bad dreams. The kind that just kept coming back to life.
"Not really. Just…" he stopped. This was Cordelia. A wealth of meaning in her name and Angel couldn't just claim friendship and tell this woman he loved that he dreamed nightly of a girl he was supposed to be over.
"Buffy." Her voice flattened the word into almost a curse.
"How did you know?" Angel studied the way the blood in his mug lapped at the white edges. Waves of rolling red liquid, always just about to run over.
"You have Buffy face." Cordelia began to move around the lobby, picking up stray pieces of paper from last night's research session. With a sheaf of notebook paper and priceless scrolls in one hand, she faced Angel. He saw the sharp 'v' of her legs, her slender tanned feet clad in strappy black sandals.
"Doesn't it bother you?"
"What?" His head snapped up. Cordelia didn't look angry. Disappointed. Resigned. Sad. Not at all like the woman he loved. Loved like a sister, loved like a friend, loved like safe words that didn't mean death.
"Her. Her hold over you. This stupid eternal star-crossed love crap."
His lips echoed the words in his dream as his mind watched the scene from a distance.
"Yeah, it bothers me. It's more than that. She's part of me. I loved… I love her. But I'm not going to break down and lose it over her. Not again. But it's not something I'll ever be 'over'."
She glared at him for a brief moment before taking a deep breath, straightening the papers in her hands, and placing them on the office counter.
"I guess if you ever were, you wouldn’t be the Angel I love. That we love." She quickly corrected herself, her eyes darting from Angel to Connor.
"No. Guess not."
Her slim hand caressed his son's soft, fragile skull.
"Just remember that this is a whole new world now."
Laughter and giggles crashed in through the front door, bringing sunlight on the backs of Fred, Wes, and Gunn, shop bags and grocery bags in hand. The day evolved into the usual mix of humor, demon research, and baby care.
Angel met Cordelia’s gaze as Fred whirled around the lobby, mimicking Wesley's attempts to evade an amorously intent woman in the grocery store. Don't think about it. He's hurt enough brave, beautiful women to last several lifetimes. Whole new worlds owe a debt to what has passed before. He owes the past remembrance.
He never forgets anything.
"Death isn't so bad. The living part is a lot harder."
She smiled, her hand tracing aimless designs on his arm.
"Figured that out, huh?"
"I think I'm getting smarter with age." His free hand tucked stray strands of hair behind her ear.
The night is a silent comfort around them. Always this for them, stars above and cold stone beneath. Familiar.
"Does this ever get easier?"
He met her eyes, again. Some elements were always the same.
"No. But it's worth it."
He liked to think he believed what he told the dream version of this woman he had loved. Did love.
"Is this a dream?"
Maybe this girl was the girl he'd loved. A shadow, a memory. Or maybe she was lying in her bed in her mother's house dreaming that she sat on her ex-boyfriend's lap, talking about life. Stranger things had been known to happen.
"Oh." Pause. "Will you remember me when you wake up?"
"Yeah. Oh yeah."