Title: Aspen

Author: Aimee

Beta: Dev

Rating: PG-13

Spoilers: Are You Now or Have You Ever Been, That Vision Thing, Carpe Noctem

Pairing: Angel/Cordelia

Summary: Angel and Cordelia go on vacation. This follows Moving On.

Disclaimer: If you recognize them, they belong to Joss Whedon and David Greenwalt. Otherwise, they're mine.

Two days and 902 miles later, Angel and Cordelia finally arrived at their destination--the beautiful Aspen Ski Resort. After checking in and dragging their luggage and supplies inside, they collapsed on the sofa with a sigh, closing their eyes collectively. "God, I'm tired," Cordelia told him. "Maybe it's because its--," she paused, opening her eyes and glancing at the clock on the wall. "2 in the morning."

He opened one eye."That could be it," he told her, dryly.

"I'm sleeping till 3 in the afternoon," she informed him.

"Uh huh," he said, knowing she'd be up by 10.

"I'm hungry," she declared suddenly.

"What do you want?"

She thought for a moment. "Eggs," she decided. "Scrambled."

"Good thing we stopped at the grocery store on the way," he said, grinning.

She stood up. "Come on," she said, pulling on his arm, "let's get everything put away and then you can make me your famous eggs."

"Lucky me," he muttered, but he was smiling.

Cordelia grinned as she pulled him into the kitchen.

Angel put their groceries away, while Cordelia unpacked their clothes in the bedroom. Walking back into the kitchen, she saw Angel begin to crack eggs into a pan.

"Hey," she said, sitting down at the table.

He looked up with a soft smile. "Hey."

"Did you unpack the cooler?" she asked as he pushed the eggs around in the pan.

He nodded. "Yeah. Good thing we got here when we did. The ice was nearly melted."

"Yeah. I'd hate to have to find somewhere that sells pig's blood," she told him, smiling.

He just grinned as he put her eggs on a plate. "Juice?" he asked, already knowing the answer.

She nodded. "Please."

Angel poured a glass of orange juice for Cordelia and sat it in front of her. Pouring himself a glass of blood, he sat down beside her and shook his head, smiling. "What?' she asked, around a mouthful of completely delicious eggs.

"You are the only person who makes me feel completely at ease when I drink a glass of blood."

"Well, you gotta eat, don't you?"

"Yes, but most people would be repulsed at the thought. Instead, we're sitting here at 2:30 in the morning enjoying both the food and each other's company on the first day of our two-week vacation."

"I'm not most people."

Angel shook his head. "No, you most certainly are not," he told her, smiling. "And I am very grateful for that fact each and every day."

Cordelia smiled at him. "I love you, Angel."

"And I love you, Cordy."

They ate the rest of their meal in comfortable silence, both lost in thought.

"Ready for bed?" Cordy asked as they loaded the last of their dishes into the dishwasher.

"God, yes," Angel told her, turning out the kitchen light. "Let's go to bed."

***

"Good morning," a soft voice whispered in his ear.

"Is it 3 in the afternoon already?" he asked, biting down on his lip to keep from laughing.

"Three?" Cordelia asked, confused.

"Sure. Last night, you said you were going to sleep till three," he told her, chuckling.

"Funny, Angel. Very funny."

"So how do you want to spend our first day of vacation?" he asked.

"Honestly, I just want to spend some uninterrupted time with the man I love more than I ever thought possible."

"Sounds like the perfect start to our vacation."

Cordy nodded her head in agreement. "Are you hungry?"

Angel nodded his own head, a glint in his brown eyes. "For you," he whispered before lowering his lips hungrily toward hers.

An hour later, the only sound was of a softly snoring vampire and his lover, fast asleep in each other's arms.

***

Angel watched as the woman in his arms slept, oblivious to his scrutiny. He didn't think he'd ever seen another woman quite so lovely as she. The soft brown hair that felt like silk when he ran his fingers through it. The hands that had always had a gentle touch. Those gorgeous hazel eyes that sparkled with laughter when he said something crazy or softened with love when she looked at him. God, she was beautiful.

"What are you thinking about?" a soft voice asked.

Looking at her now, those hazel eyes held an expression of such tenderness, of such love that it would have taken his breath away if he'd had one.

"You," he whispered. "You're beautiful."

The tenderness with which he spoke and the love shining in his eyes told her without words just how much he adored her. Her only response was to kiss him, all the love she felt for him clearly evident in that kiss.

***

Later that afternoon, Cordelia sat on the sofa, writing in her journal, a soft smile upon her face. Angel walked up behind her and dropped a kiss on the top of her head before joining her on the cushions. "What are you writing about?" he asked.

Cordy moved so that she was curled up beside him. His arm quickly went around her shoulder. "You," she told him.

"Me?"

She nodded and began to read. "I have never met anyone like Angel before. He has the biggest and best heart of anyone I have ever known. He makes me feel like the luckiest woman alive. The gift of his love is something I will cherish for the rest of my life. I love him with a ferocity I have never known before. For the first time in a very long time, I am completely happy and he is the reason. He is my one true love," she finished softly.

"And you are mine," he told her, kissing her softly.

***

"Let's go out tomorrow," she told him the next day.

"Okay. Where do you want to go?"

"Hmm," she said, thinking. "Angel, can you dance?"

He smiled and nodded. "Yeah. I haven't in a long time, but I can, yes. To slow music anyway."

"Slow dancing is the only kind worth doing anyway," Cordelia told him with a smile.

***

"What are you doing?" she asked later that day as he stared forlornly into the closet.

"I have nothing to wear tomorrow," he told her.

She smiled. "Well, the sun should be setting in about an hour. We can go shopping."

"You sure you don't mind?"

"Angel, did you forget who you were talking to? The queen of shopping, ring a bell? Just because I haven't had the chance to go since you rescued me from Connor and his minions doesn't mean I don't want to," she told him, shuddering at what she had endured those long months, trapped in a box prison with no way out.

Angel didn't miss her reaction to the mere mention of his son's name. He quickly pulled her into his arms. "Shh, it's okay. He'll never hurt you again, I promise," he whispered, holding her tight.

When Cordelia pulled away, there were tears in her eyes. "Do you want to talk about it?" he asked. "You've never talked about what happened. Not really. Maybe you'd feel better if you just told me."

Cordy sighed. "Okay," she whispered.

Angel led her to the bed and crawled in beside her. Once there, he pulled her into his arms, knowing she'd need him as close as possible as she told her story.

Cordelia took a deep breath and began. "I was on my way out the door to meet you when the phone rang," she remembered. "It was Connor saying you were in trouble. He asked if I'd meet him at that warehouse. He said he thought a bunch of demons had you there. I didn't think twice; I agreed," she told him.

"Once I was inside, I realized Connor had tricked me, but it was too late. I was trapped. The next thing I remember after that was being in that box."

She took a deep breath and continued. "He knocked me out and when I came to, he told me you were dead," she whispered as a tear fell down her face.

Angel held her closer as she continued on. "He told me what he'd done to you, and he was so proud of himself. I felt like my heart was breaking. When he walked away, he was laughing."

"The next time he came to see me, he told me in painstaking detail just exactly how he'd killed you. The first time he'd glossed over the details. Now, he wanted me to know how much you'd suffered."

"He tortured you. Emotionally," Angel whispered, his heart breaking.

She nodded as silent tears fell down her face. "Yeah. The last time he came to me, I tried to attack him, but he was too strong for me. He broke my leg. I started to slip in and out of consciousness after that, screaming out for you," she told him as her silent tears turned into heartbreaking sobs.

"Oh, Cordy," he whispered, holding on to her as she sobbed in his arms and wishing he could take her pain away. He knew there was nothing he could do except hold her so that's what he did.

They didn't move from the comfort of their embrace for almost an hour. Cordelia just needed to be held and Angel needed to hold her.

"Thank you," she finally said.

"For what?"

She smiled somewhat sadly and gently touched his face. "For being here. For being you."

He kissed her softly. "Come on. The sun has set and you promised to take me shopping."

Cordy laughed. "Okay. Let me go wash my face."

When she emerged from the bathroom ten minutes later, she felt like herself again. She walked out to the living room, where Angel was waiting and wrapped her arms around his neck, pulling him close. "What was that for?" he asked when she pulled away.

"For being you."

Angel smiled and took her hand. "Let's go."

***

Three hours, one mall and several outlet stores later, they finally arrived back at the resort. Angel was exhausted. He wanted a hot shower and a glass of blood before he collapsed into bed. He was more tired now than when he'd dealt with those Haklar demons last week. God, how that woman could shop, he thought, shaking his head.

Cordy hurried into the bedroom with the bags, pulling out garments and hanging them on hangers so as not to wrinkle them. She couldn't wait to see Angel in them tomorrow. She hung up her new dress and smiled. She couldn't wait to wear it for Angel.

"Cordy,you wanna order a pizza or something? You must be starving," he told her, walking into the bedroom.

"Yeah, that sounds good. Will you order it?"

"Sure," he told her, picking up the phone.

While they waited on her pizza to arrive, Angel took the opportunity to jump in the shower. Emerging just as Cordy sat the pizza on the coffee table, Angel felt much better, more like himself.

He sat down with a contented sigh as Cordy went into the kitchen for a plate and drinks. Returning to Angel and that delicious smelling pizza, she handed Angel his glass of blood with a smile.

"Thanks," he told her, taking a sip. She sat down beside him, taking a bite of the ham and green pepper slice on her plate.

***

The next evening, Cordelia made him get ready in the bathroom so she could have the bedroom all to herself, but wouldn't tell him why. Angel had shrugged and did as asked. Fresh from his shower, Angel had to hand it to Cordy; she had impeccable taste. He wore navy slacks and a soft creamy blue shirt that complemented the slacks perfectly. He knew he wouldn't have ever picked something like it out for himself, but it felt so good against his skin when he slid it on.

In the bedroom, Cordelia was just putting on the finishing touches when she heard Angel's shower turn off. She wore a thigh-length navy chiffon dress with spaghetti straps. She loved the way it felt when she moved. Her navy sandals were a perfect finishing touch.

When Angel opened the door to the bedroom five minutes later, it was a full minute before he could speak, which didn't go unnoticed by her.

"Wow. You look breathtaking," he told her when he regained the use of his voice.

She smiled. "Thank you. And you are the handsomest vampire I've ever seen."

"Shall we?" he asked, holding out his arm for her.

"Yes," she smiled, slipping her arm through his.

***

When Angel and Cordelia walked into the dance hall 2o minutes later, he could feel every man in the room look their way. It was all he could do to hold back the growl that wanted to be set free. Instead, he held her hand as they made their way to a table in the corner.

Angel and Cordy had just given their drink orders to their waitress when the first few notes of From This Moment began playing. "Come on, Cordy. Let's dance," he told her, pulling her onto the dance floor. Walking onto the dance floor, Angel wrapped his arms around her, pulling her close.

I do swear that I'll be there

I'd give anything and everything and I will always care

Through weakness and strength, happiness and sorrow

For better for worse, I will love you with

Every beat of my heart

From this moment life has begun

From this moment you are the one

Right beside you is where I belong

From this moment on," Angel softly sang into her ear.

Cordy looked at him in surprise. "I thought you couldn't sing," she told him, "but you have a nice voice."

He smiled. "Not many people have heard me really sing," he admitted. "I reserve it for people I love."

I give my hand to you with all my heart

Can't wait to live my life with you, can't wait to start

You and I will never be apart

My dreams come true because of you," he sang.

Don't stop," she told him.

From this moment as long as I live

I will love you, I promise you this

There is nothing I wouldn't give

From this moment on

You're the reason I believe in love

And you're the answer to my prayers from up above

All we need is just the two of us

My dreams came true because of you

From this moment as long as I live

I will love you, I promise you this

There is nothing I wouldn't give

From this moment

I will love you as long as I live

From this moment on," Angel finished softly.

"I love you so much," Cordy told him, kissing him softly.

The world around them ceased to exist. It was just the two of them, lost in each other. Song after song, they just held onto each other, slowly moving to the music that seemed to be playing just for them. What they didn't know was that it was. The DJ had noticed them, how in love they looked and continued playing slow, love songs, just for them.

***

"How about a game?" Cordy asked Angel the next day.

Angel looked up from his newspaper and smiled. "Sure. Sounds great. What games do we have?"

"We have Monopoly, cards and Aggravation. What do you want to play?"

Angel thought for a moment, considering. "Monopoly."

Cordy nodded. "Sounds good," she said, walking into the bedroom to get the game.

She came back with the aforementioned game and began to pull out the board and pieces. "When did we get games?" he asked, folding up his paper.

She smiled. "I got them when we went shopping the other day."

"How is it I didn't notice that?" he laughed.

"You were tired. I guess you had other things on your mind," she smiled.

Angel smiled, remembering. He had been exhausted. He had also been planning for the surprise he had planned for next week.

As Cordelia began counting out the Monopoly money, Angel pulled out the tokens they always used when they played. Cordy was always the dog and he was always the car. "You're first," Angel told her when she handed him his money.

Cordy rolled the dice, smiling when she got double sixes and picked up the electric company. Angel groaned. "Here we go again," he said as she rolled again.

"You're just jealous," she told him as she rolled again and picked up Pennsylvania Railroad.

Angel laughed and rolled the dice. He landed on Chance. "Advance token to nearest railroad and pay owner twice the rental," he read. Cordy grinned. The nearest railroad was Pennsylvania and it was hers. Angel sighed. "How much?"

"Fifty dollars."

He groaned as he handed over the money. "You know you love me," she told him.

Angel nodded. "I love you very much."

Cordy smiled. "And I love you," she told him, leaning in and kissing him sweetly.

An hour later, Cordy had won the game. "You won. Again. How do you win every time we play?" he asked as she began to clean up the game.

She shrugged. "I have no idea," she admitted. "Lucky?"

"I'm the lucky one," he told her, smiling softly.

She looked up at him, noting the way his eyes had gotten all soft. She sat down beside him on the sofa and held his face in her hands. She stroked the side of his face while she looked into his eyes. "I love you so much," she whispered.

"I love you, too."

With those simple words, she captured his mouth with her own, feeling like the luckiest woman in the world. After all, she had the love of this incredible man, the man who would do anything for her—and had, time after time.

***

The next afternoon, Cordelia was lying on the bed fast asleep when Angel heard her scream. He ran into the bedroom as fast as his legs would carry him. When he got there, he half-expected to see some demon in the room, but there was nothing there. Cordy was still asleep, screaming out in the midst of a nightmare.

"Angel!" she screamed as tears streamed down her face. His heart broke at the sight.

Angel sat down beside her, gently touching her shoulder. He hoped his touch would calm her down, but she continued to scream and cry. He pulled her into his arms and tried to wake her. "Cordy," he whispered. "Cordy, it's me."

The sound of his voice did indeed wake her. Her eyes snapped open and when she saw Angel, she burst into tears again. "Hey," he said softly. "Cordy, what is it? What's wrong?"

Cordy buried her face into his chest and sobbed. "I dreamed I was back in that box," she told him through her tears. "When he told me you were dead, I had never felt so alone."

Angel wrapped both of his arms around her, holding her close. "Shh, it's okay, Cordy. It's over and he can't hurt you anymore. I'm alive and so are you."

The tone of his voice, more than his words did wonders to calm her down. "Is there anything I can do?" he asked.

She looked up at him and smiled tearfully. "You're doing it," she told him. "Just holding me helps more than you know." She paused, taking a deep breath. "I had hoped it was all over, the nightmares."

Angel wiped the last of her tears away and smiled sadly. "Me too. But know this—we'll get through them together. You're not alone in dealing with them."

A small smile began to form on Cordy's face. "I love you, Angel."

"I love you, too, Cordy."

"Do you want to get up or do you want to try and sleep some more?" he asked.

Cordelia yawned. "I still feel tired," she admitted.

Angel slid down so he lay on the pillow. He drew Cordy to him, wrapping his arms around her as she lay her head on his chest. She closed her eyes and settled into Angel's embrace. Angel kissed the top of her head and closed his own eyes. This time there were no tears or screams. The loving arms of the man she loved kept the nightmares at bay.

***

Angel sat reading Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky when Cordelia came in with a book of her own. She sat down beside him and kissed him on the cheek before she opened her book. Angel smiled. She opened Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen and began to read.

Nearly an hour later and neither had spoken, both lost in their respective books. Angel looked up from Crime and Punishment and smiled. Cordy had twirled a strand of that beautiful brown hair of hers around a finger as she read.

Angel softly closed his book and made his way into the kitchen. It was nearing dinner time and he'd bet Cordy was getting hungry. As he stared at the contents of the refrigerator, he contemplated what he could make her. Hmm, a nice soup and sandwich might do the trick, he thought as he drummed his fingers on the refrigerator door. Coming to a decision, he closed the refrigerator and began pulling items out of the pantry.

Angel pulled a skillet from inside the cabinet and turned on the stove. He opened the refrigerator and retrieved the package of ground beef that lay inside. He slit the plastic that covered the meat and dropped it into the skillet. He took a wooden spoon from the drawer and broke it up into smaller pieces as he fried it. As the meat fried, he opened up the cans of kidney beans and tomato sauce. He removed a pot from inside the cabinet and threw the contents of the cans into it as he turned the burner on. The meat finished frying so he drained the fat off and added it to the pot, along with the seasoning packet. He gave it a quick stir before he opened the pantry for more supplies.

He picked up the bread and peanut butter and returned to the stove. He gave it a stir and opened the bag of bread. He drew out two slices and opened the peanut butter. He spread the creamy peanutty goodness on the bread and chuckled. Peanutty goodness. Yeah, she was definitely rubbing off on him. He gave the pot another stir and tested it. Perfect, he thought as he opened a cabinet for a bowl and two glasses.

He ladled it into her bowl and put it on the table, along with her sandwich. He put a spoon beside it and filled her glass with milk, which he placed beside her bowl. "Cordy," he called as he filled his own glass with blood.

"Yeah?" she asked as she walked into the kitchen. "What smells so good?"

"Dinner," he told her, smiling.

"Ooh, chili," she said, sitting down at the table and picking up her spoon. She took a bite and smiled. "Oh, Angel, this is wonderful."

Angel grinned, taking a sip of his blood. "I'm glad you like it."

"I love it. This is absolutely perfect on a day like today," she told him, taking a bite of her sandwich.

"How's the spiciness?"

"Perfect. You remembered that I don't like spicy chili."

"Or anything else spicy, for that matter," he laughed.

"True," she agreed, taking another bite.

He smiled in contentment as they ate their dinner. Their conversation was casual and warm. It washed over him like a ray of sunshine, if he'd had the luxury of standing in the sunshine.

***

Angel walked up behind Cordelia as she was getting ready for the day, brushing her hair. He wrapped his arms around her waist and kissed the back of her neck, causing a shiver to go down her spine. Angel smiled at her response.

"How about dinner out tonight?" he asked.

Cordy looked at him in the mirror and smiled. "Sounds great. Where?"

"It's a surprise."

She turned and looked into his eyes. "A surprise, huh? Okay. What kind of clothes should I wear? Should I dress casual or get dressed up?"

"Get dressed up. And that is all I am telling you," he told her, seeing another question in her eyes.

"But—"

"Nope. Telling you. I don't want to ruin the surprise."

"Fine," she pretended to pout. He could see the smile shining in her eyes, though.

The day passed by quietly as they enjoyed just being together. After lunch, they decided to watch a movie. Angel wanted to watch a comedy and Cordy wanted to watch something romantic so they compromised and watched a romantic comedy. Return To Me was a perfect happy medium.

Snuggled into Angel's arms, Cordy couldn't remember ever feeling so happy, so content. She didn't think she had ever heard Angel laugh so much, either. It was a memory she would always cherish. Even more than the sound of his laughter, she had never seen him so happy.

Before she knew it, it was time to get ready for dinner, wherever that was. While Cordelia showered, Angel wrapped a small package and left it on the bed for her to find. He smiled as he thought of her reaction.

Cordy emerged from her shower half an hour later, wrapped in her robe. She walked into the bedroom where Angel waited his turn in the shower.

"Your turn," she told him, turning toward the closet and wondering what she was going to wear.

"Thanks, my love," he told her, kissing her cheek before heading to the shower. She smiled in response.

Cordelia pulled out a black pencil skirt, examining it. Yes, that would work, she decided. Now, she needed a nice top. Turning back to the closet, she eyed her wardrobe with a critical eye. She spotted a cashmere v-neck sweater. It had rib trim at the neck, cuffs and hem and had three-quarter ragan sleeves. She paired it with a white cami. Her black strappy heels would be the perfect complement. She paused a moment, considering. She definitely needed earrings and a necklace. She shrugged and hung her clothes on the closet door. She turned in the direction of the dresser and that's when she noticed it. The beautifully wrapped package lying on the bed. She smiled as she glanced in the direction of the shower and picked up the box. She carefully tore off the wrapping to reveal a small box. Lifting the lid, she found princess cut diamond earrings and a necklace in the shape of a heart, a scattering of what had to be a carat's worth of diamonds inside. They were absolutely gorgeous. "Oh, Angel," she whispered.

"Like them?" a decidely masculine voice asked.

Cordy looked up to find Angel leaning on the doorjamb, a soft smile on his face. She quickly crossed the room and threw her arms around him, pulling him close. "Thank you. They're beautiful."

Angel smiled and stroked her jawline with one finger. "You're welcome." He lowered his face to hers and gently brushed her lips with his own. It started out soft and tender, but soon turned passionate. Cordelia wrapped her arms around Angel's neck, letting all the love she felt for him be felt in that kiss. Angel led her to the bed and pulled the tie of her robe loose. She let it fall to the floor with barely a thought. Cordy loosened the tie on Angel's robe, smiling as he let it fall to the floor to join hers.

Cordy lay back on the bed as Angel kissed her lips, then her neck. "Hmm, a vampire with a neck fetish. How original," she told him, tilting her head to allow him better access. Angel chuckled as he kissed his way down her body. She moaned as his lips found a sensitive spot.

As he slipped inside, she thanked whoever might be listening for giving her a man like Angel to love. She loved him so very much. "I love you so much," she whispered.

"And I love you, Cordy," he told her.

A little later, they both climaxed. Together, as always.

Angel rolled off of her and lay on the pillow beside her. He pulled the throw blanket over them both and closed his eyes. Cordelia kissed him softly and closed her own eyes.

Cordelia opened her eyes an hour later to find a softly snoring Angel. She looked at the clock. Only 8. Good, they still had time to make it to dinner. That is, if the cute vampire beside her woke up anytime soon. She decided to let him sleep a little longer while her mind took her back.

When Wolfram & Hart had hacked into her visions, she had felt so helpless, so powerless. Even when the pain became almost unbearable and the gang was looking for ways to help her, she remembered telling Angel, "Sure, I hate looking and feeling like this, but if I lose the visions, I wouldn't be able to help you anymore. You wouldn't need me."

He had responded with, "That's not why I need you. You're important. The visions are just after market extras like Hurst shift or Krager wheels."

She looked at the man in question and shook her head. He had compared her to a very nice car—or so he said. She should have known then it was love. She smiled. Looking back, she had been in love with him even then.

Suddenly, her eyes met with a pair of brown eyes. Angel was awake. "Hey," she told him.

"Hey. What were you thinking about?"

"I was remembering how you compared me to a car," she laughed.

Angel smiled. "Did we miss dinner?"

Cordelia shook her head. "No. We still have time. It's only 8:30."

"Good. I want to see you in those earrings and necklace," he said, getting out of bed and walking to the closet.

Cordy didn't say anything, just enjoyed the view of a naked Angel. Hmm, a girl could get used to this, she thought with a smile.

"Cordy, what am I going to wear?" he asked, turning around with a frown.

She laughed. "Wear your black pants and blue shirt. You look good in blue."

"I do?"

"Mmm hmm. You look good in just about anything, but you look really good in blue."

He smiled as he slipped his boxers and then his trousers on. He pulled on a white undershirt and then slid his arms through the sleeves of his blue shirt, his fingers nimbly fastening the buttons. He reached over on the dresser and picked up his necklace, the one Cordy had given him for his birthday only a few days ago. He fastened it behind his neck and slipped it under the white undershirt so that it lay over his heart as always.

Cordelia got up from bed and went to the dresser for her bra and panties. Slipping them on, she walked to the closet and removed the black skirt from the hanger. She unzipped it and pulled it over her slim body, zipping it up as she did so. Next, she slipped the white cami over her head and pulled the pink cashmere sweater on, smoothing it over her flat stomach. She returned to the dresser and reached for her earrings. She put them through the holes in her ears and fastened the backs. She was about to continue with the necklace when Angel's hands stopped her.

"Let me," he whispered, taking the piece from her. He lowered it over her head and secured it behind her neck.

Cordy slipped her black strappy heels on as Angel slid his own black shoes on.

"Ready?" he asked.

She leaned up and kissed him softly. "I am now."

He smiled and took her hand, leading her to his Plymouth convertible.

***

"So are you going to tell me where we're going?"

"You'll see."

"You know this is driving me crazy, right?"

Angel grinned. "Yep."

***

Twenty minutes later, Angel pulled up in front of Campo de Fiori, which was apparently the place to go for good Italian food in Aspen. "Oh, Angel. This looks expensive."

He nodded. "It is," he said, stepping out of the car and holding the door open for her. She slid out and he slipped his hand in hers. "And you're worth every penny," he told her as they walked to the door.

Reaching the heavy oak door that marked Campo de Fiori's entrance, Angel pullled it open and held it for Cordelia. She smiled her thanks and stepped inside.

Angel gave his name to the hostess and took Cordy's hand. He led her to one of the benches and sat down to wait for their table. Not ten minutes later, his name was being called and they were being led to their table.

They sat down at their table, Angel at Cordelia's left. He squeezed her hand and they opened their menus.

"Hi, I'm Adam and I'll be your waiter tonight. Can I get you something to drink?"

"We'll have a bottle of Sangiovese," Angel told him.

"Very nice choice. Can I get you an appetizer?"

"I'll have the Frutti di Mare alla Griglia," Angel told him, referring to the marinated grilled seafood salad.

"And what can I get for you?" Adam asked Cordelia.

"I'll have the same."

"I'll put your order in and return with your Sangiovese."

"Thank you."

Cordelia looked at Angel and smiled. "I didn't know you could speak Italian."

"Yeah, I picked it up around 1894. I don't get the chance to use it much."

"Were you living in Italy?"

"Yeah. I was there for about three years," he said as Adam returned with their wine and appetizers.

"Are you ready to order?"

"Yes."

"What can I get for you?"

"I'll have the Risotti ai Porcini and she'll have the Ravioli ai Funghi," Angel told the young waiter.

"Good choices. Thank you."

Angel poured Cordelia a glass of the Sangiovese as Cordelia discreetly pulled an insulated thermos out of her bag. She unscrewed the top and poured some of the liquid into Angel's cup.

"Thanks," he told her, taking a sip of his blood.

"You're welcome," she told him, taking a sip of her own drink. She picked up her fork and took a bite of her grilled salad. "So tell me about when you got your soul."

He smiled. "The year was 1898. Darla had given me the favorite daughter of the Kalderash clan in Borsa, Romania as a gift. To avenge her death, they cursed me by restoring my human soul."

"What was it like? Getting your soul?"

Angel took a bite of his own salad. "Painful. The faces of everyone I killed, including that poor Gypsy girl, all came rushing in at once."

Cordelia rubbed the top of his right hand. "It must have hurt like hell."

Angel nodded. "It--" he started as Adam brought their dinner out to them.

When he left, Cordy took a bite of her pasta filled with mushrooms in a delicate porcini mushroom cream sauce. "Go on."

Angel took a bite of his own, a lightly sauteed porcini mushroom risotto scented with white truffle oil. "It hurt. The memories of what I'd done started eating away at me. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn't escape the truth of what I'd done."

She smiled sadly. "So what did you do?"

"At first, I tried to resume my life with Darla, but she wanted me to prove myself by killing an innocent child, a baby. I couldn't do it. I left."

"Where did you go?" she asked, taking a sip of wine.

Angel took a sip of his blood. "At first, I drifted, staying away from humans so as to avoid the temptation. By the turn of the century, I had arrived in the United States. In 1902, I went to New York. By the 1920's, I spent some time in Chicago, even saving a little dog from being run over by a car."

"More blood?" she asked as he finished his glass.

He nodded. "Please."

As Cordelia refilled his glass, he went on. "When I handed that dog to his owner, I was still tempted to feed on her and it scared me."

"But you didn't."

He shook his head. "No. During World War II, I was coerced into undertaking a secret mission by the Demon Research Initiative. They sent me to the bottom of the ocean to rescue an American submarine crew from three Nazi-captured vampires, one of which was Spike. After the American crew captured the German submarine, the vampires escaped their bonds and murdered most of the crew. Because of the extensive damage to the submarine from a depth charge, I sired a mortally wounded Ensign named Sam Lawson. He was the only person who could repair the damage," he said, looking away. He still felt guilty about it, all these years later. "He was the only human I turned after getting my soul back," he whispered.

"Angel, it doesn't sound like you had much of a choice," Cordy told him softly.

"I know, but--"

"It hurts," she finished.

Angel nodded. "Yeah."

"So then what?"

"Well, you already know about the Thesulac demon that took over the Hyperion in 1952 when I was staying there."

She nodded her agreement as she continued eating her ravioli.

"I was back in New York during the 1970's. I witnessed a robbery at a doughnut shop. The robber shot the employee and fled. I stayed with the man as he died, but I was unable to resist the sight and smell of the clerk's warm blood. I fed on him," he said, hanging his head.

"Hey," she said squeezing his hand. "Nobody's perfect, Angel. We all make mistakes."

Angel looked up at her and smiled, wondering for the ten millionth time how he was lucky enough to have a woman like Cordelia Chase to love. "After that, I fled the shop and stayed away from humans. I lived in alleyways and fed on rats."

"You were lost."

He nodded. "Yeah. Eventually, I was sought out by a demon of good, who persuaded me to join the fight against the evil that had corrupted me in the first place," he said, finishing his risotto. "You pretty much know what happened after that."

Cordelia finished the last of her ravioli and smiled. "Thank you...for sharing that with me. You've never told your story to anyone before this, have you?"

"No. Honestly, I never felt like I trusted anyone else enough to feel comfortable with doing that. I always felt like I would be ridiculed for all the awful things I've done."

"Angel, you were a different person back then."

He nodded. "I know, but others don't always see that. You do." He paused, smiling. "It's one of the many things I love about you."

She smiled, wrapping her hand around his. "I love you so much."

Angel softly brushed his lips across hers. "And I love you."

They sat in comfortable silence, finishing the last of their drinks. "Do you want dessert?" he asked.

Cordelia shook her head. "No. I couldn't eat another bite."

Angel laughed and took out his credit card to pay for their meal. Adam returned to take it from him, promising to bring it right back.

Angel signed the credit card slip and offered an after-dinner mint to Cordelia. He put the other in his own mouth. Angel put his credit card away and stood up. He took Cordy's hand as they slowly made their way to the front of the building.

Pushing the heavy door open, they made their way to his Plymouth convertible, hand in hand. Angel looked at the woman by his side and smiled. It had been a perfect night.

***

Angel held Cordy in his arms as they lay stretched out on the sofa, talking quietly. "Do you know how happy you make me?" he asked her softly.

Cordy reached up and gently touched his face, smiling. "You make me happy, too, Angel. So incredibly happy."

Angel smiled that soft little smile of his, the one that gently touched his face and finished in his eyes. She loved that smile.

***

"How about a walk?" Angel asked the next night.

"Sounds good."

They pulled on the jackets and stepped outside, drawing the door closed behind them. Cordelia slipped her hand in his as they made their way to the pond at the edge of the resort.

She stood staring across the water, her arm wrapped around Angel's waist. His own arm was draped across Cordy's shoulder. "It's so peaceful," she whispered.

"It's nice," he whispered, not wanting to break the spell of the moment by using the full volume of his voice.

They stood there for another minute before Angel took her hand and started walking around the pond. He looked up at the moonlit sky and sighed, content.

***

"We need to get the gang souvenirs," Cordelia told Angel.

Angel knew what was coming and braced himself for the inevitable. "We're going shopping, aren't we?"

Cordy nodded. "Yeah."

"When?"

She looked out the window, noting the sun had set. "Now."

Angel nodded. "Okay."

***

Five hours later, Angel carried their bags in and collapsed onto the sofa with a sigh. "I'm exhausted," he told her, closing his eyes.

Cordelia looked at him and giggled. "Oh, my poor worn-out vampire. You have no problem with demons, but shopping wears you out?"

He nodded his head in response. "If there were a shopping Olympics, you'd win the gold medal, hands down."

She grinned and kissed him. "Come on, Soul Boy. Time for bed."

He grunted as he rose and followed Cordy into the bedroom.

***

Do you want to go see a movie tonight?" Cordelia asked.

Angel nodded. "Sure. Sounds like fun."

What movie?"

There's a drive-in theater just down the street that plays classics," she told him, smiling. "Just your style."

What about you? Last time I wanted to see Soylent Green and The Omega Man in the double feature at the Nu-art with Charlton Heston, you didn't want to go. I had to take Fred," he remembered. "I don't want to go to something you're not going to enjoy."

I'll enjoy it," she assured him. "Last time, I just wasn't in the mood for a movie. I actually do enjoy all those old movies."

Cordelia Chase, you've been holding out on me. All this time, we could have been enjoying all those old films, but I didn't bring it up because I didn't think you'd enjoy them."

Well, now you know," she grinned.

So what's playing?" he asked.

Let's see," Cordelia said as she picked up the copy of Aspen Times that she had picked up that morning and turned to the entertainment section. "They're playing Bad for Each Other and The Best Years Of Our Lives tonight."

Those sound good to me," he said. "What do you think?"

Sounds good to me, too."

***

Angel and Cordelia arrived at the Aspen Drive-In about half an hour before Bad for Each Other was supposed to start. It gave Angel plenty of time to find the perfect parking spot.

Angel parked and turned to Cordelia. "Snacks?" he asked, already knowing the answer.

Cordelia smiled and nodded. "Yes. You can't watch movies without snacks."

Popcorn?"

Yes. Lots of butter. Don't forget drinks," she told him as he opened the door and got out.

Angel returned ten minutes later with a jumbo size popcorn with lots of butter, lots of napkins and Pepsi for Cordelia. Angel's blood was resting safely at Cordelia's feet in a cooler.

Blood?" she asked.

Angel nodded. "Please."

Cordelia slid the lid off the cooler and pulled the container of Angel's blood from within the depths of the ice that covered it. She popped off the lid and poured it into a travel mug and handed it to Angel with a smile. "Here you go."

Thanks," he said, taking it from her.

As the movie's opening credits began, Cordy slid closer to Angel and lay her head on his chest as she stared up at the screen. Angel slid his arm around her and held her close.

Four hours later, both the movies as well as the popcorn, soda and blood were finished. Angel kissed Cordy and started the engine. He pulled out into traffic and pointed the car in the direction of the resort and their bed.

***

Angel placed candles all around the living room and lit them. They cast a soft glow over the room. In front of the gently glowing fireplace, he had laid out a blanket, a picnic basket waiting patiently upon it. Soft music played quietly in the background, projecting the romantic mood he wanted.

Angel took a deep breath he didn't need. He was nervous, more nervous than he could ever remember feeling. Cordelia would be back anytime now. He had sent her out shopping so he could prepare this little surprise for her.

Angel took the small box out of his pocket and looked at it, hoping she'd love it. Angel quickly put it back in his pocket as he heard the telltale sounds of the Plymouth outside. Cordelia was back.

A moment later, she was opening the door. "Angel, I'm back," she said, opening the door.

She stood staring at the room for a moment. "Wow, this is beautiful."

Angel walked over to her, taking her coat from her. "Come on," he told her, taking her hand in his and leading her to the blanket in front of the fireplace. She slipped her shoes off and sat down.

What's all this?" she asked.

I just wanted to show you how much I love you."

Oh, Angel."

Angel smiled and started removing food from the picnic basket. There was strawberries, cold cuts, pickles, cheese, crackers, water and blood, of course.

Hungry?" he asked.

Cordelia nodded. "Yes," she said, biting into the cheese and pickle she had put onto a cracker. She took a sip of her water and smiled. Angel smiled in response and opened his blood.

As they ate, Angel tried to calm his nerves, but it wasn't working.

After Cordy swallowed the last of her water, Angel knew it was time. He took her hand in his, looked deep into her hazel eyes and began to speak.

Cordy, I love you so much. There was a time when I didn't think I'd ever be happy again. You changed all of that. You showed me that love didn't have to hurt, that it could be this wonderfully exciting, yet comfortable thing. I love so much about you. I love your smile. It's like sunshine in my life. I love your laugh. It lights up the room and my heart. I love how even when you don't agree with me, you still listen to my point of view. I love that soft little smile you get when you look at me. I love how much you've grown as a person since Sunnydale, how amazing of a woman you've become. I love how my mission has become ours. I love knowing that you're not only the woman I love, but my dearest friend and that's something I will always cherish. You have my heart, my body and my soul," he said, reaching into his pocket and producing a small box. Opening it, he revealed a one and a half carat princess-cut Leo diamond set in a 14 karat yellow gold cathedral setting. "Cordelia Chase, will you marry me?"

Cordy couldn't believe what was happening. With tears streaming down her face, she nodded. "Yes. Yes, I will marry you, Angel."

Angel thought his heart would burst with happiness. He removed the ring from the box and slipped it onto the third finger of her left hand.

It's beautiful," she whispered.

Not nearly as beautiful as you are," he told her before lowering his lips to hers.

I love you so much, Angel. You have just made me the happiest woman alive."

These simple words bring a smile to his face. It's the smile that lights up his face, the one that starts with his mouth and finishes in his eyes. It's the smile she loves the best. When she sees it, it always brings a smile to her own face, just as it does now.

Dance with me," he whispered as the first strains of From This Moment began playing.

Cordelia smiled, standing as Angel pulled her into his arms. As the music played, she wrapped her arms around his neck and looked deep into his gorgeous eyes, eyes that truly were windows to his soul. God, how she loved this man.

She heard his soft voice begin singing in her ear.

I give my hand to you with all my heart

Can't wait to live my life with you, can't wait to start

You and I will never be apart

My dreams came true because of you

From this moment as long as I live

I will love you, I promise you this

There is nothing I wouldn't give

From this moment on"

As the rest of the song played, Cordelia held onto Angel, wrapped up in the moment and wanting to remember every second.

When the song ended, Angel took Cordy's face in his hands and kissed her softly. That kissed turned into another, more passionate one. Soon, he was slowly removing her clothing, discarding the barriers of cloth that separated his skin from hers. He gently laid her down on the blanket again and made love to the woman who would hold his heart for all eternity.

When they had achieved their zenith, Angel lay down beside Cordy and pulled her into his arms. She wrapped her arm across his waist as he draped his across her back. He pulled a throw blanket off a nearby chair and threw it over their bodies.

I love you, Angel," Cordy whispered, kissing him tenderly.

And I love you, Cordy."

***

Angel sat on the sofa, drawing pad in hand when Cordy came in with her journal. "What are you drawing?" she asked as she joined him.

He held up a detailed drawing of a smiling Cordelia, her head propped upon her left hand, which bore her recently aquired engagement ring. "You," he told her, smiling.

Angel, that's beautiful," she said, opening her own journal. His only response was that soft little smile he got when something she'd said touched his heart.

What are you writing about?" he asked a short time later as he turned the page of his drawing pad to begin a new drawing.

She stopped writing and looked up. "Last night," she said. "I don't want to forget about anything that happened."

***

Can you believe it's the last full day of our vacation?" she asked the next day.

Angel shook his head. "No, it went too fast."

What do you want to do today?" she asked him.

The same way we spent the first day of our vacation," he revealed. "I'd like to spend a quiet day with the woman I adore, a woman who has made me the happiest man in the world by agreeing to become my bride."

That sounds perfect," she told him, smiling.

Later that day, Angel watched as Cordy sat staring at her engagement ring, a bright smile on her face. "Happy?" he asked as he sat down beside her.

She looked up into his eyes and nodded. "More than I ever thought possible. I never thought I'd be able to have this," she admitted.

Angel smiled as pulled her back against his chest. "Me either," he agreed.

***

Cordelia came into the bedroom that night, dressed in nothing but Angel's black t-shirt, fresh from her shower. Angel was getting ready for bed, dressed in only his boxers when he noticed her and stopped what he was doing. "What? What are you looking at?" she asked.

You," he smiled. "You're beautiful." This simple statement brought a smile to her face and heart.

She walked over to where he sat on the bed and stood between his legs. She ran her hands up his strong chest and let them continue up until they reached his face, which she gently held in her hands. She leaned in and kissed him tenderly, wrapping her arms around his neck.

Angel wrapped his arms around her back, pulling her tightly against him. He slipped his hands underneath the black t-shirt and slowly drew the garment over her head, dropping it to the floor. Cordelia tugged his boxers down his hips and let them fall to the floor. He gently pushed her back onto the bed before lowering his mouth to hers, while his hands roamed over her body. While his kisses increased in intensity, his hands ignited the passion that burned inside of her. When he finally slipped inside, she felt complete, whole―and so very glad to be a woman.

Later, when it was over, Angel pulled the sheet up over and them and turned off the light. Cordy lay her head on Angel's chest and Angel wrapped his arm around her.

I love you, Angel," she told him, closing her eyes.

I love you, too, Cordy," he said as he closed his own eyes.

***

The next night, Cordelia packed their clothing and toiletries while Angel went to the store for ice, drinks and snacks for Cordelia. He still had enough blood until they got home.

Cordy, I'm back," he called as he walked into the resort.

I'm in the bedroom, Angel," she answered, folding the last of Angel's shirts and adding it to the suitcase.

Hey," he told her, walking into the room and giving her a sweet kiss.

Hey. Did you get everything?" she asked.

Angel nodded. "Yeah. Ice, Pepsi and water, plus a few snacks."

Good."

I'm going to fill the cooler while you finish up in here."

Sounds good."

Half an hour later, everything was packed. Angel carried the suitcase out to the car with a grunt. Cordelia shouldered the toiletries and the bag with their dress clothes in it and loaded them into the car. Angel grabbed the cooler while Cordy gathered the bag with all the souvenirs in it and took them to the car. Inside again, they took one last look around. Angel gave her a gentle kiss and took her hand, leading her to the car.

Angel opened the door for Cordy and slid in beside her. She looked back with a smile, remembering the great time they'd had and knowing there were many great times to be had in the future.

Angel pulled out into traffic, pointing the Plymouth toward Los Angeles and their life there. He knew Cordy couldn't wait to tell the gang about their engagement. He looked over at her and smiled. Yeah, life was good.