“I'm a higher being.”
Cordelia tried to grasp everything that was happening. The traffic jam, glowing, time stopping, seeing Skip again – what had started out to be a scary and potentially wonderful evening had taken a very bizarre turn. And now, her demon guide was telling her that she was a higher being, with a higher calling.
“But I'm in love,” she said. “With Angel.”
Skip stood before her, waiting for her to make the decision he knew she would. The decision he'd worked very hard to bring her to.
“Wait a minute,” she exclaimed.
“I've seen this before. Me, standing here, saying these words. Talking myself into embracing this destiny you're talking about.”
“You had a vision,” he said, a bit impatiently. “You have visions. That's why we made you part demon.”
“But it wasn't like a vision. When I have a vision, it fills my head. Even though I don't get the headaches anymore, it's still pretty mind-blowing. This was like looking at myself in a mirror. Or a big screen TV.”
“The Powers must be changing things up. Getting you ready for your ascension.”
“Or...” Cordy looked Skip in the eye, “You did it. You wanted me to convince myself that I loved Angel, but I should give him up and be all self-sacrificial. What's going on here, bub?”
“Look, Cordelia. You're on to me. Whatever. But you're coming with me, up, up and away. We've been working on this way too long to let a little bimbo like you screw it up.”
“Bimbo!” Cordelia could feel the her feet start to lift away from the ground. “Stop that!” It was rising within her, the warmth that started deep inside her heart, radiating out until her body gave out a warm yellow glow. But this time, the feeling was explosive, and so were the results. Skip flew backwards, his body crashing into the side of an eighteen-wheeler. And Cordy...
Angel fought the son he loved more than life. He could barely register what was happening. Waiting for Cordelia, to finally tell her how he felt, Connor had surprised him. For some reason, the son with whom he had only hours before bonded was now trying to kill him.
Angel struggled against him, trying not to hurt his son while defending himself. They struggled at the top of the small cliff, plummeting off the edge and falling together onto the beach below. Connor pulled something out of his pocket and thrust it at his father. The vampire spasmed at the jolt of the taser. Connor pulled back his arm and prepared to shock him again. But something was holding on to him.
“Stop that this instant!”
“Cordelia?” Connor dropped the taser to the sand. “Stay out of this.” He pushed her aside and lunged back towards Angel.
Angel, disoriented from the taser jolt, struck out and his fist connected with Connor's jaw. The young man went flying into the water. “Connor!” He waded out into the ocean, but Connor was gone. He jumped in and swam further out, plunging down as the water grew deeper, but he couldn't find his son.
He finally surfaced, looked towards the beach and saw Cordelia collapse. He swam back to the beach. She lay on the sand, sprawled with her long white jacket splayed around her. He ran to her, cradling her head on his lap. She opened her eyes and looked up at him. “Connor?” she asked.
“He's gone.” His voice cracked. “Gone.”
If he had looked in the other direction, back out towards the sea, he would have seen a dark figure climbing up from the water and onto the deck of a trawler.
Angel gently carried Cordelia back to his car and laid her on the seat beside him. He stroked her forehead with his fingertips as she again regained consciousness. “What happened?” he asked.
“It's too strange. I was there, then I was here. It just wiped me out.” She sat up in the seat. “I'm feeling better. I'm okay.” She took his hand and entwined her fingers with his. “Oh, my God, Angel. I'm so sorry. Are you sure...?”
“I couldn't find him.” He squeezed her fingers. “I don't understand. You were where?”
“I was driving here, running late. Skip showed up.”
“Big grey demon. Ring through his chin. My guide from the Powers.”
“I know him.”
“Really? Small world. Anyway, he told me that I'm a higher power. That I should ascend to heaven, or wherever higher powers go. And I almost bought it. But I'm sure he was lying.” She leaned against Angel's shoulder. “That doesn't matter. Connor...”
“Tried to kill me. I don't understand.” He closed his eyes. “All that happened. Darla, Holtz, losing him, getting him back. How could he just drown?”
“Can you drive?” she asked.
“Let's go home.”
Angel started to turn towards Cordy's neighbourhood. “No,” she said. “To the hotel.”
“Are you sure?” he asked.
“If you think I'm leaving you alone tonight, you're crazy.”
The lobby was empty when they came in. They walked up the stairs to the door of Angel's room. “I'll be okay,” he said. “You can take any room you want.”
She opened his door. “I'll take this one.”
She pushed past him and sat on the edge of his bed. “I know this is a crappy time for that talk. That whatever tonight was, the last thing it was was a date. But I want you to know something I realized tonight. Something I think I've known for a long time but just didn't face. Angel, I....”
“I love you too.” He knelt down beside her. “I have for a long time.”
She stood up and dropped her jacket to the floor.
He looked up at the woman he loved, illuminated by the light from the hall. “I don't think... Cordy, it's dangerous.”
She took his hand and pulled him to his feet. Bent his head to hers. “The good things always are.” She kissed him, soft and warm against his cool lips. Without another word, she closed the door.
Throughout the night she comforted him with kisses. She took him into herself with a grief-tinged joy that was far from perfect.
When they woke in the morning, his bare arm across her naked breast, he was still her Angel.
On a boat off Point Dume, a bitter woman explained to a broken young man what she and his father had conspired.
On a higher plane, a being without a mouth shrieked in frustration at the loss of a life it would never live.
And a beautiful half-demon, wrapped in the arms of her love, dared to dream of their future.