On Connor's second birthday, Angel ran everyone ragged putting together a birthday party. Cordelia pointed out that it wasn't like Connor was old enough to understand what was going on, and Wesley pointed out that Connor probably couldn't tell the difference between buttercream and cream cheese frosting so really was there any point in sending the cake back because the bakery had gotten the order wrong? Gunn was the most sympathetic; Gunn said in a deceptively offhanded tone that he remembered putting together birthday parties for his sister. Angel wanted the birthday to be perfect. It wasn't as if Connor was ever going to have a second birthday again, ever.
Angel had to blow out the candles for Connor--ironic, for someone who didn't have to breathe--but it came out all right, and everyone assured him the cake was good, and Connor only threw one tantrum and was happy to toddle into empty boxes afterward.
The light hurt Angel's eyes when he was raised from the ocean floor. He couldn't really see clearly, and all he was aware of was thirst, overwhelming thirst, despite having been surrounded by water. He could hear Wesley's pulse, smell his sweat. He clutched greedily at the bottled blood and drank. It was foul and cold and sluggish, and it was the best thing he had ever tasted (don't think about the gypsy girl's hot terror, don't think about Buffy's frantic pulse as, fever-struck, he sank his fangs into her). Then Wesley cut his wrist open. The desire to drag him closer was overwhelming.
"No," Angel said. He might be a monster, but he didn't have to make monstrous choices.
Wesley did not insist, but Angel could smell--that couldn't be disappointment.
"I need you, Lindsey," Angel said.
"Back at you," Lindsey drawled back. At his side, Eve did not look amused.
"No, I'm serious," Angel said. Why did Lindsey always have to make things difficult? "We have to throw a wrench in the works. Both of you know what Wolfram & Hart is, what it does to people. I want you at my back when things go down."
"That sounds like it could be a little bit fatal," Lindsey said.
"That sounds like it could be a lot fatal," Eve said.
"Stand with me or stand against me," Angel said. "There comes a time when you have to decide--are you going to do what's right?"
Angel didn't shed any tears for Lindsey or Eve when they died in the alley, fighting at his side. Eve had never been much of a fighter anyway. But it mattered that they had tried, and he added them to the long list of names never to forget.
"I'm very sorry, Lilah," Angel said. For once he was sincere. There was a kind of intimacy that came with talking to an old and familiar enemy. "I can't make decisions for other people. But I'm not taking the deal."
She showed him the bombs. She showed him Connor. "One phone call," Lilah said. "That's all it would take. We can make things right for your son, boss."
What was it like to have a human heart, to have a pulse, to look at your son and know he was going to commit suicide and commit murder in one untidy package? He didn't know anymore.
"You love him, don't you?" Lilah was looking at him strangely.
He wasn't even sure Lilah was capable of comprehending his answer. "Of course I do," Angel said. "That's why I have to let him go."
"By the time you get there, it'll be too late," Lilah called after him as he loped out of the room.
He knew that; Wolfram & Hart wouldn't have set it up otherwise. He wasn't going there to save Connor, although if by some miracle it were possible, he would. He was going there to mourn him, and to help the survivors.
Angel looked down at Cordelia. "Goodbye," he said in his head, because it would have taken too agonizingly long to say it aloud, and brought the sword crashing down.
He heard a scream, but it wasn't in Cordelia's voice, and it hit notes that a human voice shouldn't even have been able to produce.
Then he sat down and cradled Cordelia's head. There was a greenish light, and then the smell of jasmine, and then nothing at all. She didn't look pregnant anymore, didn't look like much of anything at all but a corpse. Dead people were just meat. He should know.
He would have cried, but tears were for people who remembered tenderness, who hesitated before killing those they loved.