Disclaimer: Not only was no fact checking done for this piece, I don't even own the facts that I would have had to check. (Was that a sentence?) Anyway, not mine.
"But there's no music." She looked up at him becomingly from beneath her lashes.
He knew that this was supposed to be a romantic moment. He should raise a hand to her heart and say something like "I hear music here." Or perhaps he should gaze at her adoringly and whisper "I didn't even notice." Instead he rolled his eyes surreptitiously and pulled out the CD player remote out of his pocket. Flipping on a jazz song he stated flatly, "Yes there is."
He peered down at the top of Cordelia's head and wondered at how the mighty have fallen. He had pondered over and over whether or not her condition was his fault. If she hadn't been working for him, she never would have ended up this way. Or perhaps the blame lay with Wesley. If his research skills had been a little better, he would have noticed the footnote at the bottom of the text regarding the fear demon at the Hyperion. But he had not noticed it and so they had gone into the hotel without the knowledge that the demon could possess a persons mind as it was being banished. Maybe if they had been more perceptive it would not have taken them a few months to notice that Cordelia was often literally sniffing around the victims when they went on cases. They were able to exorcise the demon, but Cordelia's mind was already broken. She had lived in an altered reality in her head for so long that it was impossible for her to separate what had happened from what she had imagined. The situations she believed had happened and were happening involved real people in her life but twisted into shadows of themselves and performed in completely uncharacteristic ways. Angel had put a great deal of money and had used all the connections he had to get Cordy the best care possible, but all the doctors said that the damage to her mind was irreversible. And when he came to visit and found Cordelia making up improbable stories about vampires having children and himself working for Wolfram and Hart, he was inclined to agree with them.
Still he came to visit dutifully every week. He would play along with her fantasies, acting out the parts she told him to, saying what she told him to say. She had a pad on which she would write down what he was supposed to do, rather like it was a television show and she was the director providing him with the script. He liked it best when her "episodes" involved her being in a coma. Then he could just talk about his life without having to interact with her and feel guilty as she behaved in a manner so different from the Cordelia he used to know. Lately the installments had leaned towards the romantic and even he found limits to the power guilt could have over a person. He was, after all, only human.
That's right, human. Shortly after Cordelia had been institutionalized, Buffy had called from Sunnydale requesting help battling a hell god named Glory who was after her monk-made sister Dawn. Angel had of course rushed off to help. Although in the end Buffy killed Glory, Dawn had to be sacrificed to close the portal to Glory's hell dimension. The monks who made her were not cruel, however. They knew that if the Slayer should fail in protecting their Key, she would feel terribly guilty about letting the girl she thought of as her sister die. Therefore after Dawn's "death," all memories of her were erased so that the barest pencil mark of the year she had been around remained.
The fight against Glory had been an important milestone in Angel's quest for redemption and soon afterwards he had received his Shanshu. Although initially disappointed that he had not retained his vampire strength, he later came to understand that he was blessed by his rebirth and he could compensate for his lack of physical strength. He trained his human body so he was in peak condition and able to fight even without supernatural power. He also used his long experience to help research whatever fiends LA and Sunnydale faced as well as opening a branch of Angel Investigations in Sunnydale. Mostly these days he helped the less supernaturally helpless, although he knew that he would have backup if he should happen upon a case involving magic or demons.
Cordelia's gentle sigh brought him back to the present and he gently detached himself from her before she got any ideas. Bringing her over to the bed as he prepared to go, she asked brightly, "How's Connor?" He knew from the out of order stories that she told him that Connor was supposed to be his son.
"He's fine," he told her politely. Seeing that he was not engaged in conversation, Cordelia screwed up her face in mock pain.
"Ugh, Angel, vision," she grunted, peering out from beneath her lids to see if he was buying it. Realizing that he wasn't, she elaborated. "People in trouble...um...near a bridge. Go help them!"
He bent to kiss her forehead. "I'll go deal with that. You rest. I'll be back later."
She snuggled into the bed and he let himself out of the room. He took a minute to breath as he leaned against the door, guilt burrowing into his stomach, before he headed back to the waiting room.
Buffy sat in a chair against one wall, a magazine balanced on her hugely pregnant stomach. She looked up as he walked in and sat down beside her.
"How was she today?" She asked, placing a comforting hand on his knee.
"No better, no worse," he replied, thankful once again that she was here. Buffy joined him every time he visited. She had stopped coming into the room with him once Cordy had very adamantly stated that she and Angel were possessed by the spirits of old lovers and had to act accordingly. The next week she was reminding Angel that none of it was real after Cordelia had blithely told him that Buffy was involved in a relationship with Spike.
The two had gotten together again shortly after Angel had become human. In a long talk they revealed everything that had happened since they had been apart. With no secrets between them, they had started a new relationship and were married eighteen months later. A year later, Buffy announced that she was three months pregnant. Angel couldn't have been happier.
"How is the little one?" He asked, placing a hand on her stomach.
"Swimming laps today," Buffy sighed contentedly. She had to admit that Angel had been right all those years ago. She couldn't wait to have her baby, and not just because she wanted to be back in her regular jeans.
Angel helped Buffy to her feet and the two made their way to the door. As they passed to nurse's desk, the couple acknowledged the friends they had made on their weekly visits. One, Shanna, an Australian woman spotted Angel and made her way over. She seemed to Angel to be a mix of Willow, who had grown more confident in herself since high school and her partner, Tara who was one of the kindest and most gentle people Angel had ever met.
"Mr. O'Connor, I just wanted to mention how nice it was that Miss Chase had another visitor this week. Poor dear, such good friends, but no family until now."
"Family?" Angel asked, "Cordy doesn't have family that I know of."
"But a man came in on Wednesday, said he was her cousin. Josh something, maybe? Josh Wedow?"
"Right," Angel told her, making a mental note to check it out. "Right, I remember now."
"Well, tell him it was a nice thing he did," Shanna said warmly, "And Mrs. O'Connor, bring us pictures of the little one soon, alright?"
As they headed down to the car, Buffy linked her arm with Angel's. "If we have a boy, promise we won't name him Connor."
Angel shuddered. "Connor O'Connor? The kid would be teased for the rest of his life."
"Every time he saw Xander he'd probably say something like 'Jolly good day to you, Connor O'Connor'," Buffy giggled, imagining her friend greeting her son in a fake British accent.
Angel rolled his eyes. "He still doesn't get that I'm Irish, not English does he?"
"Nope. Anya's trying to teach him to be more worldly."
"Well good luck to her," Angel snorted. Although his dislike of Xander had been tempered over the years, he still didn't believe that they boy had a fully functioning brain. He didn't envy his wife Anya, or any children that the two would happen to have. And if they had sex as often as Anya claimed, it would happen soon enough.
Buffy snuggled against Angel as they drove home. She couldn't believe that her life had become this great. Although she was still the Slayer, Faith had been released from jail early. Originally Buffy had only agreed to the plan because the gang needed someone to pick up the slack while she was pregnant. But after spending time with Faith and realizing that she had changed, Buffy relaxed her opinion of the other Slayer and they had become friends of a sort.
"C'mon, love, we're home." Buffy hadn't even realized she had fallen asleep until Angel nudged her gently to wake her. Together they climbed the stairs and got into bed.
Life is perfect, they each thought drowsily as they fell asleep.
In case you were wondering:
Angel missed his visit with Cordelia the next week when Buffy went into labor. She gave birth to a beautiful baby girl. Named Margaret Hope, she was destined to become spoiled rotten by her entire extended family, especially her father. Four years later she was joined by a little sister, Zarah Katherine (called Kathy), and after that, a little brother, Ryan Neil.
Soon after Kathy's birth, Anya and Xander had a son who they named Justin Michael. Around this same time, Willow and Tara adopted five year old Indira from Bangladesh. Being very close in age, Kathy and Justin became best friends who looked up to the older duo of Indira and Margaret, or Dira and Maggie, as they were nicknamed.
Wesley eventually found a brilliant girl named Deanna who overlooked his initial stuttering and found the strong soul within.
Giles returned to England for a while, feeling slightly useless. He returned a few months later with all his belongings that he had stored in London as well as a new girlfriend, Caroline. She had the same mischievous nature that Jenny had had, but she also had a great deal of common sense and a love of antiquity that she shared with the man who eventually became her husband. Although the two never had children, she accepted and loved his adopted brood as if they were her own, delighting in their children and all the ensuing joys.
Gunn and Spike, although they never became great friends, bonded over their shared status as the last single holdouts among their groups.
And they all lived as happily as possible for as long as possible.