Best Laid Plans (Chapter Eighteeen - The Final Chapter)

"Willow? We're here."

"Almost, Angel. I'm almost there."

Laughter.

Uh oh. The dream was over and she suddenly realized that she wasn't really in bed having sex with Angel, but in the front seat of his car, which was now parked at the hotel. Oops.

Slowly, and with a face burning red with embarrassment, Willow opened her eyes. Angel was grinning from ear to ear.

"Guess there's no need to ask what you were dreaming about."

"Um...no, I guess not." Just when she thought her face couldn't get any redder...

"I had a hard time staying on the road. I'm going to have to hear about those dreams, because the way you smelled..."

Willow buried her face in her hands. Why did vampires have to have such heightened senses?

Angel tilted her chin up and Willow dropped her hands, though her face was still scarlet. "There's nothing to be embarrassed about, Willow."

"It's just...I think I still haven't gotten used to us or something, you know? It still feels like naughty thoughts I shouldn't be having."

"I know. This is still new to me, too. But a good new. A very good new."

How did he always know exactly the right thing to say? Was there a how-to book on this or something? Or maybe Angel would be willing to give her lessons. Hmm...

"We better get inside, huh?"

"There's still lots of time before sunrise, don't worry."

"Yeah, but, you know, it's been awhile since Connor's seen his daddy and..."

"You wanna see my son." He reached across and hugged her. Angel hug-gage was definitely of the good.

"Mm-hmm."

"You don't know..." For a moment Angel actually seemed at a loss for words. "I'm...it's such a...I'm glad you like my son." There were tears in his eyes as he let her go.

"Like him? Angel, I love your son. He's...he's adorable. And...I just love him."

Angel didn't answer, but the way he looked at her...well, that said everything Willow could ever have hoped to hear. She wondered if maybe she was still dreaming; it was hard to accept anyone loving her so much, as much as she loved them. But she'd try, because it was really very wonderful.

"Let's go, shall we." Angel had found his voice. And yeah, getting out of the car was a pretty good idea. After all, there was a cute little boy waiting upstairs for his daddy and his kinda-sorta-step-mom. Lorne and Fred had better have taken good care of him, that was all Willow had to say.

They exited the vehicle and Angel opened the trunk, hoisting both her bags and his before she could even try to grab them. The eyebrow went up again as she reached in vain to take one from him. She should have known that Angel was the old-fashioned gentleman type. She'd have to adjust to that. Being with Tara, she'd gotten used to opening her own doors and carrying in her own groceries and stuff. Yeah, guys were different. Not that it was a bad thing or anything - no, not at all.

Angel was quiet as they walked into the darkened building. Willow kind of expected there to be more activity or something, but she was actually grateful that it seemed nearly deserted. It meant no Cordelia for the time being and that suited her down to the ground. Unless Cordelia was hiding somewhere with a stake... Okay, maybe that was a bit melodramatic, especially since Cordelia had no way of knowing that Willow and Angel were now...well...Willow and Angel. Although, she was a seer...

Get a grip, girl. Anyone would think that you were terrified of a girl who thought that the "Del" button stood for "Deliver."

Alright, so what if she was?

She followed Angel up the stairs, noticing that he was staying silent and his tread seemed almost deliberately light, almost as if...he was just as desirous of avoiding his ever-so-very-different not-actually-a-girlfriend as Willow was. Ha! She knew it!

And now she was channeling Anya. Oh no.

The door to his room was slightly ajar. Willow was surprised at that. Hadn't Angel closed it before they left? Angel noticed too and he motioned for her not make a sound as he pushed it open, obviously reaching out with his senses for the presence of an intruder. A moment later he nodded to her. It was safe. That was a relief. Maybe Lorne or Wesley had gone in there for some reason and had just forgotten to close the door after they'd left or something. Or maybe the building was settling. There was no possible way Cordelia had gone in there and sprinkled holy water on the sheets or anything. And Willow really, really, really needed to stop being so paranoid and fixated on a girl who hadn't been her enemy since high school. Of course, she and Willow had barely seen each other since high school.

Enough! Let Angel stow that gear and then they could go visit the most loveable baby in the history of infancy. Think happy, loving thoughts. After all, she'd read that babies could pick up on negativity and she hardly wanted to poison the little guy's mind or traumatize him for life just because she had some residual issues from adolescence.

Angel seemed to be like-minded, setting down their bags with care and heading back for the door, taking her hand as he did so. Willow was near tears. The gesture showed her that he was seeing them as a couple, and her as (maybe?) a parent to his precious miracle of a son. Gosh.

She suddenly realized that Angel hadn't even mentioned Connor to Buffy and the others and she wondered when and how they were going to break the news. But perhaps now was not the best time to bring that topic up. With a relationship as drama-laden as theirs, Willow figured she really needed to start learning how to just live in the moment. Worrying probably wasn't going to be helpful, or particularly constructive. After all, if she fretted about every possible bump in their road, she would be nervous all the time and that wasn't very sexy or alluring. Why would Angel stay with a worrywart and an alarmist?

And now here they were, at the door to the nursery. Willow made the effort to breathe (inhale-exhale-inhale-exhale, that's it) and was relieved to find that she recalled how. Silly, perhaps, but the past few days had taught her not to take breathing (or babbling) for granted. She looked at Angel and smiled. He opened the door.

Three people were asleep inside: Lorne, Fred, and Connor. Lorne, slumped in a very uncomfortable posture in a chair in the corner, was the first to awaken. "Hey there, Angelcakes, you're back awfully soon." His voice was quiet, and Willow appreciated him not wanting to wake Connor, who looked like a cherub curled up in his crib. Willow couldn't resist tip-toeing over to peek at the child.

Fred stirred in the rocking chair and the motion that caused woke her up next. "Mmph, hi." She, too, spoke softly and her drawl was prominent. It was an adorable drawl and Willow suddenly remembered that she wasn't the only woman in this room in love with Angel. Guilt reared its ugly and incredibly pushy head again. The geek girl code had been bent, folded, spindled, and mutilated, Willow was positive about that. Oh goddess.

But amazingly, Fred only smiled at them. Okay. Not that she was ungrateful or anything, but there was a "why?" in all of this and she'd kind of like it addressed.

"I see you two actually saw the light, and even quicker than I'd hoped for." Lorne was addressing them once more. Was it that obvious? Willow looked back at Angel, who was staring at her as she gazed into Connor's crib. Alright, yeah, it actually was that obvious. Fred was okay with this? Gosh. Then it occurred to her that based on Lorne's easy manner while mentioning it, he had clued Fred in ahead of time. Thank you, Lorne.

"Yeah, we did." Angel joined Willow by the crib, his arm around her shoulders as they gazed down at Connor, oblivious to everything going on around him as he slept.

"Well, the fact that she sang me a lullaby should have been your first clue."

Oh gosh. Willow had forgotten about that. Wow. That was pretty freaksome, now that she thought about it and darn near reeked of predestination and all. If her song choice hadn't been an omen, then she hadn't been born and raised on the Hellmouth.

"Maybe it was." Angel smiled fondly at Willow, who cheated a glance over at Fred. Angel was totally clueless that the girl he rescued had feelings for him. Figured. But Willow wasn't and she cared enough to worry that the PDA's might break the girl's resolute acceptance and calm.

They didn't and Willow was deeply impressed by Fred. You know, she'd be a really great girl for Tara, now that she thought about it and... Forget it, Willow. Fred seemed to be straight and anyway, Tara probably wouldn't take too kindly at this point to Willow's attempts at matchmaking. Oh well.

Back to the baby. As much as she wanted to hold him (and as much as she could feel that Angel wanted to as well) she didn't want to disturb him. He looked so peaceful and content. She wondered if he was dreaming. Did babies dream? Willow would have to look that up. Come to think of it, there was quite a lot of reading in her future if she was going to be the kind of mom Connor deserved. First thing tomorrow, she was off to the nearest bookstore to bolster any gaps in the research she was going to do online. After all, she didn't even know if babies dreamed, for pity's sake. She had a long way to go before she was fit to call herself a mom, or even a tante, for that matter.

"You both look like you need to follow the little guy's example and get some rest."

Lorne had a point. She was still pretty tired, maybe even more tired than she had been before her nap. Her dreams had not made her rest all that restful. Angel seemed to feel Lorne's idea had merit so, after she blew a little kiss to Connor, she let Angel lead her out of the room. She could hear the faintest murmur of voices as they walked away. Lorne must have been bolstering Fred's spirits and congratulating her on her unselfishness. At least she hoped that was the case. Because Fred deserved loads of bolstering and pats on the back and maybe even a cake and a gold watch or something. Hmm. Maybe she should buy Fred a gift at that...she'd think about it after she got some sleep.

It appeared, however, that once again there was no rest for the weary, because the moment they got back to Angel's room and shut the door, Willow found herself being pulled into a very passionate kiss - the kind of kiss that led inevitably to naughty, x-rated fun.

"Have I ever told you how much you turn me on?"

Oh goddess, she was definitely going to need to start taking vitamins or something to keep up with her new boyfriend. Not that she minded or anything.

He kissed her again, even more deeply, though Willow was surprised that was even possible considering how intense that first one was, and she found herself feeling ever more awake. Hmm...maybe vitamins wouldn't be needed after all. The need to breathe made itself known, but once again Angel seemed to sense it and moved his adept attentions to her neck. Oh yeah, that was really - really - really nice.

Not long after Angel started doing some really arousing things to her earlobe and her throat, Willow realized that her hands had, entirely of their own accord, begun unbuttoning his shirt. Gosh, how had that happened? Oh well, maybe she should just enjoy now, worry about body parts with independent thinking later. After all, men had appendages with separate brains and it didn't seem to bother them too much. Oh for heaven's sake; stop thinking, and just keep stripping Angel, okay? That's just what Willow did.

Angel followed her lead and began to untuck her t-shirt from her jeans. Their kissing became a bit more frantic, as did their attempts to undress each other. Willow almost fell over trying to get out of her jeans and it took several strong shakes of her leg to finish extricating herself from them. How came Angel was so much more graceful when being disrobed? Was it related to the eyebrow thing? Or were guys just better at this stuff?

Never mind. Because there were much more interesting things to think about (or rather, not think about) going on right now. Like the fact that she and Angel were now on his bed, naked and...oh. Angel was inside her again. Still a bit on the "gosh is he ever big" side, but Willow's body was adjusting and it felt nice sooner than it had before. Goody. Because she really wanted to be on top this time.

With one swift roll, largely achieved because she took Angel completely by surprise, Willow was astride him, a bit astonished at her daring and at the fact that she didn't have too hard a time finding a rhythm. Boy, this really was like riding a bike. A lot more fun, even, because riding a bike never felt like...ooh! Angel thrust up as she was moving down and...ow! But wow at the same time.

It kept getting better. Willow looked down into Angel's eyes and delighted in what she saw there. He was excited by the way she'd taken the initiative and it made her happy that he accepted her need to have some control in their sexual relationship. Ugh, stop thinking, Willow. Because you're so close...so close...almost there...

"Oh my God!"

Oh goddess. Not again. But yes, indeed, it was deja vu all over again.

Willow covered her breasts with her hands, looked over her shoulder, and there it was...like something out of a nightmare: the figure of Cordelia Chase, open-mouthed and shaking with fury, standing in the doorway.

What to do? Her first thought was to get off of Angel, but his hands were still on her hips and she figured maybe he didn't want to be completely exposed to Cordelia's gaze. A second or two later, however, he let go and she scrambled off the bed, desperately trying to cover herself. She tossed Angel his pants while she was at it and he threw them over his lap.

"Is there a reason you just had to barge into my bedroom, Cordelia?"

Come to think of it, why had Cordelia just waltzed into Angel's bedroom? Willow was interested in the answer to that one herself.

"I...I was just...don't change the subject, mister." She turned her death glare on Willow, who decided maybe some questions really didn't need answers after all. "And you! How could you do this to me? Again! Is this a jealousy thing? Have you decided to spend your whole life getting even with me for being more beautiful and popular than you? Because I think it's long past time you got over it and just accepted the fact that you're..."

"The woman I love. And you're the one who's going to have to face facts. Now could you please leave the room while Willow and I get dressed?"

There was a faint glimmer of tears in Cordelia's eyes and, gosh darn it, Willow found herself feeling just the barest (okay, more than just the barest) trace of sympathy for her longtime foe. For the first time, she thought maybe she understood why Cordelia acted the way she did and said the things she did. And why, oh why, did she have to have these insights now? She'd done just fine hating Cordelia's guts all these years and now...presto! Understanding. This empathy stuff ruined everything.

Not for the first time, Willow wished she really was evil. But in the absence of that, she was just going to have to deal with giving a darn about a girl who right now wanted her dead. Great.

The echo of the door slamming in the wake of Cordelia's departure still rang in her ears. She could only imagine what it must sound like to Angel, with his super vamp hearing and all. Figuring it was better not to add any more noise to the mix, she silently finished getting dressed. What were they going to do now? She sat on the edge of the bed and stared at the floor. What a mess.

"You can say it, you know." Angel's voice broke through the fog in Willow's head and she looked up. He was fully clothed once more. Darn. "I know what you're thinking."

"Huh?" What was he talking about?

"'I told you so'? You know you want to say it." His tone was light and teasing and it made Willow love him all the more.

"No. I mean, not that I'm not thinking it, but...nah. I won't say it." She tried to match him in the lighthearted banter department.

"I guess I underestimated how much she still resents you."

"And how much she feels for you. Not that it surprises me. You're a pretty loveable guy."

"You might be slightly prejudiced there." He sat down next to her and put his hand over hers.

"No way. I'm a completely objective and unbiased observer. You, my dear Angel, have major love mojo."

He chuckled, but this time Willow managed to keep her hormones safely in check. After all, they were going to have to go smooth some extremely ruffled feathers and do a whole lot of explaining in the next few minutes.

"Just as long as you love me, that's all I care about."

"I do."

"Then that's all I need. Because I love you, too, Willow."

"We better go downstairs and try to calm things down. I can hear Cordelia screaming from here." She could, too. She just hoped the seer hadn't visited the weapons cabinet.

"Yeah, sounds like a good idea."

Her hand stayed in Angel's as they got up and marched toward what looked to be one heck of a brouhaha. Just as they closed the door behind them, and with all the near-catastrophes of the past few days fresh in her mind, Willow turned to Angel and asked, "Is it always going to be like this?"

Angel just laughed.

That was so not an answer.

The End.