'TIL THE NOISE HAS LONG SINCE PASSED.

"Angel, there are no people like us,"

Cordelia sort-of smiles at him, but there's something else behind it, regret maybe, Angel isn't all that sure. He could sketch every little detail of her face from memory - hell, he has done, several times over – but for some reason, seeing her in the flesh, awake at last, he can't quite read her face the way he used to. The thought disturbs him, and he sits back in his chair, looks away.

She stands then, walks over to him, and crouches so their eyes are level, cupping his cheek in the palm of her hand, and when she speaks again it's in that same soft voice he only ever hears her use when it's the two of them alone. The one she uses in his dreams; the one that whispers to him late at night, when the knowledge of how he's failed her keeps him tossing and turning but still the sound of her voice soothes him somehow, gets him through the long hours until work.

"We're one-of-a-kind, Champ. Which means when we're given the chance, we should get to decide what we can and can't have."

She leans in, so slowly and he can smell the fancy shampoo she made him buy earlier on their post-hospital shopping spree, but more than anything he smells Cordelia, her skin, and oh he's missed her so much. That one, simple thought - it's like something shattering, like there's been a wall that's stopped them from reconnecting and now the foundations are shaking and it's starting to crumble at their feet.

Angel closes the distance between their faces, kissing her urgently, finally, and for the first time it's them. It's Angel and Cordelia, and it's as though warm electric energy is pulsing through every inch of his cold body. He's home. 250 years and he's found home.

They're standing now, their kisses still urgent, passionate, claiming one another as their own. She has one hand on his neck and the other keeps running up and down his side, comforting him, anchoring him. He can hear her heart beating irregularly and he's too fascinated by it, by her, to be jealous.

Their lips break apart, Angel suddenly conscious of the fact that Cordelia might need to breathe, and he focuses on memorising the contours of her neck with his lips and tongue, listening to her moans and cataloguing them, another part of her he's never had a chance to see before.

"Oh, God – Angel..."
"I love you," he mumbles into her neck between kisses. "I love you so much, Cordelia."

She pulls his face up to hers and she's smiling that weird not-smile again, and her eyes are shining as though she's holding back tears.

"What's wrong?" he asks her, but she shakes her head and when she meets his eye again she's smiling properly, a real genuine Cordy-smile, and that joy, that feeling of home overwhelms him again.

"No, not tonight. Tomorrow. Tonight is for us."