Title: Sacrifice and Heartache

Author: Aimee

Beta: Dev

Rating: PG-13

Spoilers: Minor references to season 5.

Pairing: Angel/Cordelia, Gunn/Samantha, Wes/Fred

Summary: What a difference a year makes. This is set a year after Welcome Home.

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

Cordy opened the french doors and stepped out onto the balcony. She walked out into the cold December night and looked out across the city she loved. She smiled as she thought about her life. She had friends who cared about her, a man who adored her and a child she felt blessed to call her own.

A year ago she would have thought you crazy if you had told her she'd have so much. Then again, a year ago she was lying in a coma with no hope of ever waking. She shivered, but she didn't know if it was from the cold or the thought of how bleak her life had been before she'd regained consciousness.

A lot had happened in the last year. They'd fought the apocolypse, took down the Senior Partners and the Black Thorn and won. And in the midst of all that, Gunn had found love in Samantha and Wes had asked for Fred's hand in marriage. Cordelia had been a little jealous, if she were honest with herself. She and Angel had finally revealed their love to one another when she woke from her coma, but they both knew they could never have a normal relationship, not while he had his curse hanging over his head. Then, a funny thing happened. After they took down the Senior Partners and won, the Powers decided Angel had helped enough people, had finally deserved a chance at happiness himself. They gave him his humanity back. On that very day, with tears streaming down his face, he'd told of a love he didn't want to live without and had dropped to one knee. They'd married just a month later. Just two months ago, Aidan Cordelia Angel was born. She was the light of both her and Angel's eyes. Cordelia smiled as she thought of her husband and little girl. Aidan was going to be daddy's little girl.

Cordelia looked up into the sky, surprised to see snowflakes gently falling. She could only remember that happening once before.

Cordy felt strong arms encircle her waist, pulling her to him. "Hey," Angel whispered, warming her with his embrace.

"Hey, yourself. How's Aidan?"

"Tucked in with her bunny and sleeping peacefully," he told her.

Cordy laughed quietly. Aidan was only eight week old, but she already couldn't fall asleep without her floppy-eared bunny.

"What are you doing out here?" he asked softly.

"Just thinking how lucky I am," she told him, turning and laying her head on his chest and slipping her arms around him. "It's amazing what a year will do."

Angel nodded his head in agreement. "I can't imagine my life without either of you. I used to wake up and wonder what the whole point of my existence was. Now, I look at our little girl and I know: this is the reason it was all worth it. She is worth all the sacrifice and heartache."

Cordy nodded. "Yes, she is. You both are."

Angel looked down at the woman in his arms, feeling like the luckiest man on the planet. Not only did he have the love of this amazing woman, whom he loved more than he ever thought possible, but he was also the father of an incredible little girl. Somehow, in the space of a year, he'd been given his very heart's desire. He had never been happier. If he had still been a vampire, he would have been worried about releasing Angelus on the world. As it was, he was just a man. An incredibly lucky man.

Angel leaned down and gently brushed his lips across Cordy's in a sweet, tender kiss. While it started out sweet, it didn't stay that way; it soon turned passionate. "Let's go inside where it's warm," he told her huskily, leading her to their bed.

Inside, Angel kissed Cordy passionately, showing her just how much he loved her. Cordy slowly began to unbutton his blue shirt while Angel lifted her red one over her head and tossed it onto the floor. He gently lay her on their bed, slowly kissing her in all the places he knew she liked. Slipping between her legs, he let out a soft moan and heard her own quiet moan in response.

***

"My God, you're amazing," she told him as she lay wrapped in his arms, listening to the sound of his heart. It was a sound she never got tired of hearing.

Angel smiled and kissed the top of her head. "So are you, Cordy," he told her, pulling a blanket over them and turning out the light. He knew Aidan would wake them in just a few hours for a bottle and a fresh diaper.

They'd been the stereotypical sleep-deprived new parents for the first couple of weeks after bringing Aidan home from the hospital. Now, they could go for long periods of time with little sleep. They did, however, try to sneak in an afternoon nap when they could. That thought made Angel smile, remembering the first nap after their daughter's birth. Aidan had been nestled inside her bassinette downstairs while he and Cordy had been sleeping on the sofa outside his office. She'd cried, wanting to be fed when a gentle hand had stopped them. Fred had told them to sleep, that she'd take care of their daughter for a few hours. It had been the best gift she could give the new parents. Fred had an uncanny sense about what they needed. She always had, he realized, remembering their first night home after Cordy had been released from the hospital after she'd woken from her coma. They'd come home to fresh blankets on the bed and towels in the bathroom. While the rest of the hotel was still dusty from not being used, this room had been cleaned, letting them know she cared about them. A note had told them that she had wanted their first night home to be peaceful. She'd even left a framed photo of the two of them on the nightstand. It had been just what they needed.

Snapping out of his thoughts, he looked at the woman in his arms and smiled. "I love you so much, Cordy," he told her, pulling her closer and kissing her softly.

"I love you, too, Angel," she told him before closing her eyes and snuggling into his arms, content.