Title: Picture Perfect
Spoilers: Season 4
Summary: Connor comes home. This follows She Said Yes.
Disclaimer: If you recognize them, they belong to Joss Whedon and David Greenwalt. Otherwise, they're mine.
Author's Note: Thanks to Dev for the beta. You're very much appreciated. :)
Connor had been wandering the streets of Los Angeles for the past week and a half. He didn't have a home to go back to. It had been destroyed when the Beast had attacked. He knew he probably wasn't welcome back at the hotel, either—not after everything he had done and said. Even knowing how much his father loved Cordy, he had still slept with her. He had always talked about how bad Angelus was, but was he any better? After all, he went after the woman his dad loved. And he did love Cordy, of that he had no doubt. He could see it in his father's eyes, in the way he spoke to her, in his touch. He may be a vampire, but he was also a man deeply in love.
Connor sighed and looked around. Somehow, he found himself across the street from the Hyperion. He wanted so much to go inside, to apologize for the pain he'd caused. He shook his head and sat down, thinking of the people inside. The last week and a half without them had given him a new perspective of their place in his life. Somehow, after he destroyed Jasmine, he had finally realized the truth about his father, about Cordy, about the people his dad called his family. With her destruction, he knew that what they had been telling him all along was the truth—that what Holtz had told him was a lie, that Angel was his true father and he loved him.
"Hey, Angel," Gunn called, looking out the window of they Hyperion's front doors.
Angel looked up from where he sat with Cordy on the sofa, reading. "Yeah?"
"Come here and look who's outside," Gunn told him.
"Who?" Angel asked, closing his book.
Angel and Cordy rushed over to where their friend was standing and looked outside to where Connor still sat across the street. "He looks lost," Cordy said.
"What should we do?" Angel asked.
"I think you need to go talk to him," she told him, squeezing his hand.
Angel closed the doors of the Hyperion softly behind him. He quickly crossed the deserted street and sat down beside his son. Connor didn't even notice him at first. "Hey," Angel greeted his only child softly.
Connor looked up at the sound of his father's voice. "Hey."
"How are you doing?" Angel asked.
Connor shrugged. "I'm not sure," he admitted.
"Do you want to tell me what's bothering you?" Angel asked softly.
"I don't know where to start," Connor told his father.
"I find the beginning to be appropriate," Angel said with a grin.
Connor smiled slightly in spite of himself, but got serious again. "I'm so sorry I didn't believe you."
"Believe me about what?"
"That what Holtz told me was a lie, that you are my true father." He paused, looking down. "That you love me," he finished softly, so softly that only Angel's vampire hearing allowed him to hear it.
"Connor, you were raised by a man who claimed to love you, but in reality the only thing that mattered to him was seeking his revenge on me. The fact that he used you to exact that revenge hurts me even now. He denied you the things you needed most, the things every child needs. Love and affection, hugs, kisses, kindness—a father, a mother, a family who loves you. But know this, Connor—I never stopped loving you."
"A mother?" Connor asked. "But you said my mother sacrificed herself so that I could be born."
"Your birth mother did," Angel told him. "Connor, the truth is, Cordelia has always been your mother. When you were a baby, she clothed, fed and changed you. In every way that matters, she was your mother."
Angel put his arm around his son, pulling him close to his side. In the eyes of the world, Connor was 16, but he'd been through so much in his short life. Even a 16-year-old boy needed to feel that his father loved him. And in that moment, it became too much for him. He broke down in his father's arms.
When the emotions of the moment finally subsided, Connor pulled away and wiped his eyes. He looked into his father's eyes and spoke a truth he had known since the destruction of Jasmine. "I love you, Dad," he whispered.
"Oh, Connor," Angel started, but Connor stopped him.
"I do. I just wish I'd known the truth when I came back. If I had, none of this would've happened."
Angel smiled. "It's over now. That's what matters now."
Angel looked across the street of the Hyperion, noticing the lone figure standing there. He smiled. Cordy. Turning back to his son, he asked, "Do you want to come inside?"
Connor nodded, a ghost of a smile on his face. "Yeah. I'd like that."
"What's going on, kids?" Lorne asked as he descended the stairs, a trademark sea breeze in his hand.
Gunn looked up from the video game he was playing. "Not much. It's been quiet today."
"Where is everybody?" Lorne asked, looking around and noticing the lack of a few faces.
"Wes is in Angel's office backing up files on the computers. Fred is upstairs showering. Angel is across the street."
"Across the street? What's he doing?" Lorne asked. Then, noticing the brunette at the doors. "What's he doing, Cordy?"
Cordy glanced at her friend. "He's talking to Connor," she said, smiling. "Oh, I think they're coming in."
When Angel and Connor walked into the Hyperion, the whole gang was there. Wes had finally finished backing up the computer files and Fred had emerged from her shower, feeling refreshed.
"Hi, Connor," Cordy told him, looking up from her place on the sofa that she'd reclaimed as hers.
Connor looked up at her and went to her side. "Is it really you?" he asked, not believing that she was really okay, knowing that she'd only recently been in a coma.
Angel sat down on the other side of Cordy. "It's her, Connor."
Cordelia smiled at Angel. "They performed the Ceremony of the Eternally Bonded."
"What's that?" Connor asked.
"It's a ceremony that bonds two souls together for all eternity," Angel told his son.
"It sounds like—well, it sounds like a wedding ceremony."
Cordelia smiled at the young man. "It is. It's forever and cannot be undone."
"There's a catch, isn't there?"
Angel nodded. "Yes. We're both immortal now. We won't age, but can be killed. We won't die unless the other one is killed. If one of us dies, the other one will, too."
"Your soul?" Connor asked.
"My soul anchors his. It's impossible for him to lose it again. Angelus is gone for good," Cordy told him.
"But if you were in a coma, how could you even agree?"
"The acceptance isn't one that's spoken with words, but one that's spoken with the heart. The decision rested entirely with Cordy," Angel told him.
Connor looked from one to the other, taking it all in. Suddenly, he noticed how happy they looked. And he was happy for them. He really was.
"You're happy," he said, glancing from one to the other. It wasn't a question.
Angel smiled and took Cordy's hand in his. "Yes. We are."
"I'm glad. You deserve this. Both of you."
"Connor, where have you been staying?" Fred asked.
"Nowhere. Everywhere. Mostly I've been wandering the streets of L.A."
"Where did you sleep?" Wes inquired.
"Under bridges. In alleyways. In doorways. Wherever I could find," he admitted.
"No more of that," Angel told him. "From now on, you live here. This is your home now."
Connor looked at him in surprise. "After everything I did to you, you can still welcome me back into your home? How?"
Cordy smiled. "Because you're our son."
"Son?" he whispered.
Cordy nodded. "Yes. You're our son and we love you. Nothing you do will ever change that fact. Ever."
Connor took in a deep breath, trying to control his turbulent emotions.
"You know, the real Cordela is one hell of a woman. The fake one wouldn't have forgiven me," he said, smiling.
"Yes, she is," Angel agreed, smiling at his wife.
Cordy grinned. "The fake Cordelia wasn't a wife and mother," she said. "I am. And those are roles I will cherish for the rest of what will undoubtedly be a very long and eventful life."
"Smile," Fred told the happy family as she held the camera up.
"Fred, I look awful," Cordy complained with a smile.
"You look beautiful, Cordy," Angel told her. "How do you want us to position ourselves, Fred?" he asked, turning to face the young Texan.
"You and Cordy sit on the sofa. Connor, you stand behind them."
Connor nodded and quickly took his place behind his parents as Angel draped his arm around Cordelia's shoulders. For her part, Cordy tucked her arm around Angel's waist and leaned into him. It made for a heartwarming picture. The picture perfect family.
None of them noticed as Fred snapped not one, but several pictures. There were pictures of all three of them, there were some of only Connor and some of Angel and Cordelia separately. The ones that made Fred's breath catch, though, were the ones of Angel and Cordy. In one Angel and Cordy were kissing, oblivious to everyone but each other. In another, they were talking softly, their foreheads touching. The one that made Fred's heart ache from the tenderness was the one where Angel had her in his arms, her head on his chest. Their eyes had closed, relishing the feel of each other. That picture showed what they clearly were. A man and a woman so very deeply in love. A husband and wife.
Fred smiled through her tears. Happiness had finally returned to Angel Investigations.