Title: Bands of Eternity
Word Count: 1555
Spoilers: Tomorrow, Season 4
Summary: A reward in the midst of battle.
Disclaimer: If you recognize them, they belong to Joss Whedon and David Greenwalt. Otherwise, they're mine.
Author's Note: Cordelia has woken up from her coma for real.
Tears silently made their way down Cordy's face as she thought about what the imposter had done and said to the man she loved more than she ever thought possible. Jasmine had used her face to pit father against son. Angel had thought she could no longer love him because of the things in his past. Her words, but an ugly, horrible lie. Nothing could have been further from the truth. As her thoughts remembered memories that were not her own, her silent tears turned into heartbreaking sobs.
As Angel stepped off of his privale elevator, he heard the television in the bedroom playing Steel Magnolias. He smiled. Cordy loved that movie and had made him watch it with her on many an occasion. He slipped out of his shoes and jacket and continued in that direction.
When he stepped inside the bedroom, his smile faded. The movie was but background music to the muffled sobs that came from the woman on the bed. Cordy held Angel's pillow, hugging it to her as if it were her lifeline. Tears spilled onto the cotton fabric of the blue pillowcase. His heart broke instantly.
Angel crossed the room and gently extracted the pillow from her fingers. Easing into the bed beside her, he pulled her into his embrace, wrapping both arms around her. His tender touch only caused her to cry harder. "What is it, Cordy? What's wrong?" he asked softly. Then a dawning realization hit. He suddenly knew exactly what she was thinking about. Jasmine and the events of the past year. "None of that was your fault," he told her softly.
She finally lifted her head from his chest. "I slept with our son and made you believe I could never love you because of things you'd done as Angelus. How can you say it wasn't my fault?"
"Because it wasn't you," he told her as if it was the most obvious thing in the world. And to him, it was.
"Buf if I hadn't made the choice to become a higher being-"
Angel placed a finger over her lips, silencing her. "Cordy, that wasn't you," he reiterated. "And it wouldn't matter anyway."
Cordy looked at him, a confused expression on her face. "Why not?"
Angel smiled softly and brushed her tears away with the tips of his fingers. "Because I love you."
"Oh, Angel," she whispered.
"These last six months without you have been hell," he told her, closing his eyes as he remembered the pain. "I got up every morning, wanting nothing more than a stake through the heart. Nothing could be worse than the misery of life without you. The only thing that stopped me was knowing you were counting on me to be there when you woke from your coma."
"And you were," she told him softly.
He nodded. "I was," he agreed.
"Angel," she spoke his name, tenderly stroking his cheek. Her gentle stroking caused dark eyes to meet hazel as he slowly opened his eyes. "I love you so much."
Five little words, but the effect they had was wondrous. Eyes that had been filled with pain and remembered despair now lit up from the happiness her words caused. She didn't think she'd ever seen him so happy. The fact that it was she that caused that look lit up her own eyes.
Angel pushed a stray tendril of hair behind her ear. He caressed the soft skin of her cheek with a smile. He lightly touched his lips to hers in a gente kiss. Cordy smiled into his eyes and lay her head on his chest, content for the first time since she'd woken from her coma. Angel wrapped his arms around her and closed his eyes.
As the vampire with the soul and his love drifted off to sleep, the Powers That Be looked down and smiled, deciding it was time they got their happily ever after. As a flash of blue light encompassed the room in which they slept, a beautiful thing was happening. The vampire with the soul was being given a small token of appreciation. Though it was technically his, they would both reap the benefits when they learned of it. When that flash of blue disappeared a moment later, Angel's soul had become permanent. Their only clue lay in the twin diamond bands that now adorned their left hands, binding them for life.
Three hours later, Cordy's stomach woke her, reminding her that she'd missed dinner. She softly brushed her lips across Angel's. His eyes slowly slid open, revealing a peaceful Angel. Cordy smiled and placed her hand on Angel's cheek. And that's when she noticed it.
"What?" Angel asked.
She turned her left hand around to show him. When he reached out to pull it closer, he noticed the matching one on his own hand. "I have one, too."
"What are they? Besides beautiful, I mean."
Angel smiled. Cordy loved her jewelry. She was, however, completely right. They were spectacular. "I don't know," he admitted.
"What should we do?" she asked.
Angel reached for his cell phone. "I'll call Wes and the others."
Cordy nodded, still admiring her newly acquired ring.
When Wes, Fred, Gunn and Lorne arrived 45 minutes later, their curiosity was overwhelming. They still had no clue as to what it meant.
Cordy opened the door to let their friends in. "Hey, guys. Come in," she told them, stepping aside so the could enter.
"How are you doing, Princess?" Lorne asked the question that was on all their minds as they took their seats.
Cordy smiled her trademark Cordelia Chase smile. "I'm doing great. Wonderful, in fact," she told them, leaning into Angel and threading her fingers through his.
"Angel, you were rather vague on the phone," Wes told the vampire. "What exactly do you need help with?"
Angel held out his left hand as Cordy did the same. "These. What are they?"
"Gorgeous," Fred admired the matching bands.
"Completely," Cordy agreed. "But what do they mean?"
Wes examined the rings and called up the text he needed from within the book he carried in his hands. He flipped pages for nearly ten minutes before he looked up. "Here it is."
"What?" Angel asked.
Wes smiled, thrilled to be able to give this news to them. "They're called bands of eternity. They bind the people wearing them for life."
"But we're already bound," Cordy told him.
Soft smiles spread across all their friends' faces at the tender declaration. "Yes," Wes agreed. "But these will also bind you in death. They are rarely seen and can only be given by The Powers That Be."
"The Powers did this?" Angel asked, incredulous. "Why?"
"They only do it when they want to reward two people with a little happiness in the midst of battle."
"Battle?" Angel asked.
"Look around, Angel," Gunn told him. "We're working for Wolfram & Hart. If that's not battle, I don't know what is."
Cordy looked at Wes. "Bands of Eternity. Like a marriage?" she asked.
Cordy looked up at Angel, smiling. "We're married," she whispered.
"My dreams come true," he told her softly.
Cordy looked to Wes. "What about his soul?"
Wes smiled. "It's permanent now."
"Permanent?" Angel asked in disbelief.
Wes nodded. "Permanent."
Angel's expression went from disbelief to utter joy in the span of ten seconds. A single tear slipped down his face. "Thank you," he whispered to no one in particular, though everyone in the room knew he was talking to the Powers, hoping they'd hear. They did.
Cordy brushed that tear away and lowered her mouth to his in a gentle kiss. "I love you, Angel."
"I love you, too, Cordy. So very much."
Their friends decided it was time to make their exit. It was time to let the newlyweds be alone. When they reached the door, Wes turned back. "Angel, I know you're the boss" he told the other man. "But don't come into work tomorrow. In fact, don't come in all week."
Angel smiled at their friend. "Thanks, Wes." Wes nodded and closed the door softly behind him.
Angel stood and pulled Cordy to her feet. Angel framed her face in the palm of his hands, gazing at her with eyes so full of love. He tenderly lowered his mouth to hers and wrapped his arms around her, kissing his bride. His hands tangled in her dark hair while hers encircled his neck.
Pulling apart, Angel smiled and took his wife's hand, leading her to their bedroom, fully intent on showing her how much he adored her. At the threshold, he surprised her by picking her up in his arms, crossing it with a kiss to her lips. Laughing, he put her down on their bed as her giggles lit up his heart. He closed the distance between their lips once again as they shut out the rest of the world on their first day of eternity, knowing bliss would be theirs from this day forward for the rest of their lives.
And somewhere in the Los Angeles night, four friends were celebrating the union of a vampire and his lover with a drink and a song in a bar across town, thankful that a little happiness had finally returned to their little corner of the world.