Title: Welcome Home

Author: Aimee

Beta: Dev

Rating: PG

Spoilers: Parting Gifts, To Shanshu in L.A., Judgement, That Vision Thing, Tomorrow, Season 4

Pairing: Angel/Cordelia

Summary: Cordelia comes home. This follows Home.

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

Author's Note: Set in season 5, this happens around You're Welcome, but before the phone call that told Angel Cordelia was awake.

As Angel slowly regained consciousness, he couldn't remember ever sleeping so well. He opened his eyes and looked down at the beautiful brunette in his arms and smiled softly. He pulled her closer, relishing the feel of her body next to his, something he was beginning to wonder if he'd ever feel again. She was home now and he'd be damned if he'd let anything happen to her again.

Lost in thought, he didn't notice the four figures sitting in chairs to his right. It was only when Fred gently touched his arm that he noticed Wesley, Gunn, Fred and Lorne with smiles on their faces. A soft smile broke out over his face at the sight of their friends. "Hey, guys," he whispered, trying not to wake the sleeping woman in his arms.

"When did Barbie wake up?" Gunn asked the vampire.

"Charles Gunn, I heard that," Cordelia Chase told the black man before she opened her eyes and smiled.

"Damn, girl, you still got it," he told her with a smile.

Cordy rose from the bed and pulled on her robe. Walking to the other side, she pulled Gunn in for a hug. "I try," she told him. She hugged Wes, Fred and Lorne before sitting on the side of the bed beside Angel.

"How do you feel, princess?" Lorne asked.

"I feel good, but I am so ready to get out of here."

Angel laughed. Cordelia turned to look at him and smiled, laying a hand on his face. "That's nice to hear," she told him.

"What?"

"Your laugh. I'm guessing you haven't done much of it lately."

"Try not at all. Not since you went into your coma," Wes told the brunette.

"And you weren't very happy even before that. You'd been pretty miserable for the last year," Cordy told him.

"You remember?" Angel asked.

Cordelia hung her head, ashamed at what her doppelganger had done. "Yeah," she whispered. "I remember it all."

Angel lifted her head so her eyes met his. "You have nothing to be ashamed of," he told her, knowing what her change in demeanor meant. "That wasn't you."

"But the things she did, Angel, the things she made you believe. Making you believe that I could no longer love you because of the things in your past. Nothing could be further from the truth."

"But the horrors of my past--"

"Are just that. Your past. Angel, I already know about those things, have for quite some time. It doesn't matter. The monster that did those things isn't who you are anymore. You are the man I fell in love with, Angel," she told him, touching the skin where his unbeating heart lay.

"But he's still in there somewhere," Angel argued. "How can you even want to be anywhere near me?"

"Yes, he is," she agreed. "But one day, he won't be and on that day, you and I are going to dance in the sunshine. Angel, one day, you'll become human and I intend to be with you when that happens." She looked deep into his brown eyes. "After all, I promised to be with you till the end."

"But--"

"No buts, Angel. I love you and I'm never leaving you again," she told him softly.

"But how can you possibly love me after all the things I've done?"

She smiled and repeated the words she'd told him over a year earlier. "Because you have the biggest and best heart of anyone I have ever known." He smiled, remembering. "And it is with that heart, that you show me just how much I mean to you, how much you love me."

And with those words, Angel felt a lightness he hadn't in over 200 years. He felt free. Free to love this woman, who he loved more than life itself. Angel gently traced the curve of her jaw and kissed the woman he loved with such tenderness that it took her breath away. "I love you so much," he whispered.

"And I love you, Angel."

"It only took you two about two years, but you finally got there," Lorne chuckled.

Angel wrapped his arm around Cordelia, pulling her close to him as they looked up at their friend. "Two years?" Cordy asked.

Lorne nodded. "Yes. Since the ballet. Well, before the ballet, if you're both honest with yourselves."

"We gotta quit singing around him," Angel commented with a smile.

"Wouldn't matter," Fred told the vampire. "We could all see much you love each other. I've never seen two people more in love."

"But how?" Cordy asked.

"It's written all over your faces. It's always has been. Angel, when you start to brood and blame yourself for things that aren't your fault, who is the only one who can bring you out of it, make you feel better?" Wesley asked.

"Cordy," the vampire answered with a smile.

"And, Cordy, when you're having a bad day or when something is bothering you, who is the only one you want around?"

Cordy smiled. "Angel."

Wes smiled. "Exactly. When either of you is in pain, be it from those vision aftermaths you used to get, Cordy or the more emotional pain of losing Connor, of being lonely or any of the various other things that have happened over the past five years," Wesley told them. "The bottom line is that we've all known how in love you are for a very long time now." He paused, smiling at the couple. "And we couldn't be happier for you. You both deserve a little happiness."

***

Nurse McBride knocked on Cordelia's door and opened it, stepping inside. "How are you feeling?" the older woman asked.

"Great. When can I go home?"

Angel chuckled. She'd been awake only a few hours and was already asking about going home. That was his Cordy.

Nurse McBride smiled. "Well, your numbers look great, but we'll have to wait until the doctor gets here and see what he says. I would guess that he will release you either sometime tonight or tomorrow."

"Thank you," Angel said.

"You're welcome," she told him and left the room.

***

Wesley, Gunn, Fred and Lorne left around one, promising to return the next day if Cordy was still there. Otherwise, they'd see her at the hotel.

***

Doctor Evans knocked on Cordelia's door at three. "How are you feeling?" the middle-aged physician asked the brunette.

"I feel good. I just want to go home."

Doctor Evans smiled as he checked Cordy's heart, blood pressure and other vitals. It was always a good sign when patients wanted to go home. "Well, your numbers all look great so I'm releasing you tonight," the doctor told the young woman. "Nurse McBride will be in around five with release papers for you both to sign."

"Both?" Angel asked.

Doctor Evans nodded. "Yes. It's hospital policy that our patients be released into someone else's care. They can't be released by themselves."

Angel nodded. "I see. Okay. Thank you, Doctor."

Doctor Evans smiled. "You're welcome," he told the vampire, turning to go. The doctor had gotten to know Angel during the past six months. For instance, Doctor Evans knew that Angel's greatest wish in life was to tell Cordelia Chase that he loved her. Looking at them now, he knew the other man's wish had been granted. He also knew that Angel and Cordelia had a pure love, a love that was built on friendship, trust and affection. It was a love that would see them through life's greatest hurdles―even when the world around them was falling apart.

At the door he turned around. "As a side note, I don't think I've ever seen you look as happy as you do right now. I'm guessing it has to do with this young woman," he said, nodding at Cordelia.

Angel smiled. "Yeah, it has everything to do with her."

"Take care of each other. If it were under any other circumstances, I'd say it's been a pleasure," he told them before slipping out the door.

***

As they waited for Cordelia to be released, Angel told her about how they agreed to take over Wolfram & Hart. Cordelia listened with sadness as Angel told her about how Connor had tried to kill not only her, but a room full of mall customers. He told her about how he gave his son a new life with a new family. "Why wasn't I affected?" she asked. "Why can I remember who Connor is, but Wesley and the others can't?"

"Because I couldn't take that away from you," he admitted. "I couldn't take away the joy that he brought to your life—to both of our lives when he was a baby. You're his mother, Cordy. I couldn't take that away from you."

She tried to catch his eye, but he wouldn't look at her. She knew he was hurting. "Angel, look at me," she told him quietly.

When Angel met her eyes, her heart broke at all the pain she saw there. In that moment, she realized just how lonely he'd been the last six months. She'd been in a coma and his son didn't even remember who he was. "I miss him," he told her simply. "I miss him so much, Cordy."

"I know, baby. I know," she told him softly, pulling him into her arms and hugging him for all she was worth. Silent tears fell down both their faces as they desperately missed the boy they both loved.

Pulling apart, Cordelia gently brushed his tears away with the tips of her fingers. Angel did the same and then kissed her tenderly. "I love you, Cordy," he whispered.

"And I love you, Angel."

***

It was nearly 8 when Cordelia was finally released from the hospital. There had been an emergency down the hall, but it had worked out for the best anyway. This way, she and Angel could leave the hospital together without having to worry about him bursting into flames.

Hand-in-hand, Angel and Cordy made their way to his Plymouth convertible. Angel opened the door and held it for Cordy to slip inside before sliding in next to her. He smiled and put the key in the ignition. "Let's go home," he told her.

***

Arriving at the hotel a scant ten minutes later, Angel watched the look of wonder overtake Cordelia's face. "Come on," he told her, opening the door. He gave her a hand out and she smiled her thanks. Taking her hand in his, they made their way to the front door. Angel took out his keys and put the familiar key in the lock. It turned with a click and he pushed the door open.

Cordelia stepped inside the Hyperion's lobby, taking it all in. She knew no one had been living here for the past six months so it needed some clean-up, but it still felt good to be back. Angel came up behind her, slipping his arms around her waist. "Welcome home," he whispered. She leaned back into his embrace, savoring the moment.

***

"Are you hungry?" Angel asked an hour later as they sat on the sofa outside his office. She was snuggled up to him, her head on his chest. He had his arm around her, gently rubbing her back.

Cordy looked up at him and smiled. "Starved," she admitted.

"What do you want? I can either make you something or have something delivered."

"Is there even anything here to make?" Cordelia asked. "Do you have any blood?"

Angel smiled at her obvious concern for him. "Yeah, there's food. For both of us."

"I know you haven't been here in months so how is that possible?"

"I asked Wesley to go shopping for us," he told her. "He dropped everything off earlier this afternoon."

Cordy smiled. "Remind me to thank him later."

"I already did," he told her. "So what would you like?"

Cordelia thought for a moment, considering. "Your scrambled eggs sound wonderful," she told him.

"You got it."

"Let's change into pajamas first," she told him. "I want to get comfy."

He nodded. "Sounds good."

Ten minutes later, Angel had changed into his navy blue pajama pants and a light blue t-shirt. He had just cracked the eggs into the skillet when Cordy walked into the kitchen. He looked up with a smile. "What?" she asked.

"You look cute," he told her, nodding at her attire. She was dressed very similar to how he himself was dressed. She wore magenta-colored pajama pants and a black t-shirt that he could have sworn was his. On her feet were her white fuzzy slippers. She had also pulled her hair back in a ponytail.

Angel pushed the eggs around in the skillet, adding the ham and green onion he knew she liked. "Toast?" he asked.

"Yes."

Angel dropped two slices of bread into the toaster, remembering the first time he'd made her breakfast. It seemed like a lifetime ago now. It had been back in the early days of Angel Investigations. After a late night of fighting demons, he'd asked if she was hungry. She was, she said. So he offered to make her eggs. It had all seemed so natural.

For her part, Cordelia leaned against the door frame, watching him. Watching the way his muscles moved underneath his shirt. Watching as his graceful movements belied the moments of dorkiness she knew he had. She smiled at the thought. Oh, but she loved the dorkiness. Always had.

"Almost ready," he told her, glancing her way.

"I'll get your blood," she told him, walking to the refrigerator and opening it. There, amidst the soda and orange juice, were bags of blood. It all looked so right, like it belonged. And to her, it did. For her, seeing bags of pig's blood was like another woman seeing her husband's energy drink next to her own water. She smiled and pulled out a bag of blood and the carton of orange juice.

Walking back to Angel, she saw he had already pulled out two glasses. She set the orange juice on the counter and sliced open the bag of blood with a knife. She poured it into the glass and tossed the bag into the trash can. Twisting the cap on the orange juice, she filled her own glass. Returning to the refrigerator, she placed the orange juice back inside beside Angel's blood.

Angel slid her eggs onto the blue and white plates she remembered from the time she'd made him waffles a couple of years ago. She smiled. Even though he didn't really need food, he'd still eaten them. "Come on," he told her, picking up her plate, fork and napkin. She grabbed his blood and her orange juice and followed him to the front counter, where he set everything down.

"Dinner is served," he told her with a smile. "Sit down and eat."

"You too," she told him, handing him his glass of blood. "It reminded him of the first time she'd given him blood. It was after he'd gotten her back after Vocah had given her the never-ending visions.

They ate in companionable silence, both hungrier than they'd first thought. He looked at her and smiled, feeling positive about the future for the first time in a long time.

Dinner finished, Angel gathered the dishes, taking them to the kitchen and loading them into the dishwasher. He made a mental note to buy some dishwasher tabs the following day. With that thought, he returned to Cordelia.

"Ready for bed?" he asked.

Cordy nodded. "Yes. I'm so tired," she yawned.

"Me too. Come on," he told her, holding out his hand. Taking his hand, Cordy and Angel made their way up the stairs. She smiled and pushed the door to room 217 open, answering his unspoken question of where she was sleeping. "Next to you, Angel. I'm always going to be by your side." Angel smiled.

Angel pulled the blankets down, noting the lack of dust from not being used. In fact, the room had a distinctly fresh smell to it. Like it had been cleaned recently. Odd, he thought, shrugging. Then he noticed a note on the nightstand. He picked it up and began to read aloud. "Dear Angel and Cordy," he read. "Welcome home. We wanted your first night home to be peaceful so I cleaned up a bit for you. There's fresh sheets and blankets on the bed and fresh towels in the bathroom. Enjoy. Love, Fred." Angel looked up at Cordy who was smiling and holding a picture frame in her hand. "Look," she whispered, holding out the frame. The frame held a photo of Angel and Cordy, taken at the hospital. In the picture, Angel held Cordy in his arms, her head resting on his chest. They were both fast asleep, peaceful. The picture was taken when Fred had arrived very early that morning with Wes, Gunn and Lorne. She had snapped it while they slept, oblivious to everyone but each other.

Angel smiled and placed it back on the nightstand. He slipped between the sheets and waited for Cordelia to join him. When she did, he pulled her to him and flipped the blankets over them both. "I love you, Cordelia Chase," he told her, kissing her sweetly on the lips.

"And I love you, Angel," she told him, returning his kiss.

Angel turned out the light, plunging the room into darkness. "Goodnight, my love," he told her as she lay her head on his chest, closing her eyes. "Welcome home."

"Goodnight, baby," she said as he wrapped his arms around her and closed his own eyes. Within minutes, they were both sleeping peacefully, knowing they were right where they belonged. With each other.