Author: Katharine (email@example.com)
Spoilage: None specifically. Just general season 2 Angel
Disclaimer: My overactive imagination strikes again. They're really not mine. I wish they were, but no such luck. I'm open to offers of ownership, though, David...
Distribution: Want, take have... Just let me know.
Summary: Cordy's parents decide to visit, causing a chain of events that somehow seem to involve wedding plans.
Notes: More fluff. I'm stressed, it happens. I haven't named Cordy's parents, since I don't like doing that. The show just goes and proves me wrong. But, if her mother was English, I totally imagine her being played by Jennifer Saunders. You'll see what I mean.
Feedback: Is one of my favourite things. The inner writer likes to know she's not totally rubbish. If I am, though, tell me. Just be gentle :-) This one's for the people who almost always feed me back, and archive my fics. To name a few: Kylie, Stef, Dianna, (aww, me!) Anne, [please don't be offended if I left you out! My inbox is a mess] and also all the people on the boards who consistently feedback.
There was something wrong. He could sense it. Cordelia was unhappy
about something, and it irritated to him no end that he couldn't
think what. Angel had repeatedly thought over the last couple of
days - no, he hadn't done anything horrible, she hadn't had any bad
auditions; in fact, everything had been fine until that morning.
He'd left the office for maybe ten minutes to mollify his demon with a liquid breakfast. When he'd got back, Cordelia was sitting at her desk, staring blankly at the computer. As soon as he'd gone to her, worried that she'd had a vision, or negative audition feedback, or, well, something, she had perked up, telling him in a bouncy, beauty queen tone that she was absolutely fantastic. But she hadn't said it sarcastically. Which troubled him. She never behaved like an airhead without some sarcasm, but her demeanour and tone had been worthy of Harmony.
So maybe it wasn't all his own finely attuned intuition that told him that something wasn't right. He winced as the music continued to pound away, echoing around the hotel. She had started off by playing slightly mopey country ballads, but it had turned into full-fledged Garbage angry chick music with lyrics like 'Choke on guilt it's far too good for you, say one word I'll laugh and bury you in the place where you left me.' Angel would never understand modern music. Sometimes he wondered if the singers were actually rage demons on the warpath. Even so, the volume and the bass were tearing his eardrums to shreds and jarring his brain.
He decided that he'd had enough when, standing in the Hotel's lobby, he looked over to Cordy's desk and saw her just sitting and staring into space, apparently on the verge of tears. Even the angry chick music had turned into sad, suicidal chick music. Something tore at his very soul when he saw her like that. It made him miserable too. As he walked over to her, she looked up, and quickly blinked back the tears.
"Ahem, Angel, hi!" she said in that overly perky voice. "I was just doing some research on that demon you mentioned, and boy, is it one ugly..."
"No, you weren't." He looked her in the eyes, and she avoided his gaze. She thought that if she looked into his caring, warm, concerned eyes, she would just break down. "Cordy, what's happened? Did someone hurt you?" Cordy sniffed, and smiled weakly.
"God, I'm so pathetic!" she said in a strained voice. "You'd think the world was ending, or someone died, or something." Okay, two things he could cross off his list. "It was... they rang." Angel was confused. Who could have called, and what did they tell her that made her so... "My parents." Oh. He should have guessed. He'd never met her parents, and she almost never talked about them. He wasn't sure why not, but it must be something that she was still delicate over. "Oh, god, Angel," she said in a choked voice, then burst into tears. Gathering her up in his arms, he stroked her hair, and let her cry. He still had no clue as to what was so terrible, but he much preferred to hold her and try and make her feel better than to stand back and watch her suffer.
"Shh, 's okay, Cordy," he murmured. "It's alright, I've got you." Almost ten minutes later, she stopped sobbing hysterically, and pulled back a little, only sniffing occasionally. "If you don't want to, you don't have to tell me, but..." He knew she would; they always confided in each other. Cordelia thought that she was dying inside in the time that she'd lost Angel. After the initial hostility and bitterness she'd felt towards him, their friendship had healed, and even become stronger because of it. She smiled wryly, feeling a little embarrassed, and looked back up at him.
"You are going to think that I'm so far beyond pathetic. Like, a total headcase. I mean, I've probably got racoon eyes, and I'm bawling my guts out over such a stupid, insignificant little..." she sniffed again.
"Cordy, I won't judge you. I promise. Now, please, tell me? Did something happen to them?" She attempted a smile, which threatened to dissolve into tears. He was still holding her to him, and she made no effort to pull away.
"It's... they're coming. They're coming here. To see me. What am I going to do?" Angel wasn't sure what to make of this. Was she ashamed... his dejection must have showed on his face, because she quickly smiled reassuringly at him, as best she could, and went on: "And no, it's not anything to do with you, or Gunn, or even Wesley. They'd probably like him - they always did try to suck up to people who sounded cultured, and a British accent?- But that's not the point." She extracted herself from Angel's grip, and sat back at her desk. He pulled up a nearby chair, and sat opposite her. "It's not because I'm ashamed of you. I'm ashamed of me."
Angel was astonished. "Cordelia, you have nothing to be ashamed of. You're an intelligent, independent, beautiful young woman, and your parents will be proud of you." She gave him a sad smile.
"Angel, you don't know my parents. Until my dear father was caught for making a little, uh, mistake, on our taxes for, well, ever, and they ran off to Barbados as tax exiles, I had a bright future ahead of me. They still expect me to. Even though the tax men took all my things away, and left me to live with my elderly grandmother, my parents still thought I should go onto great things. In other words, I should have a high paid job, a condo, and a fiancé. At the moment I'm scoring pretty low on all three."
"But you're doing a great job here. I couldn't do without you - I think I've proved that already."
"Not exactly Wall Street, is it? And how will I explain to my ever loving parents that I work for a vampire, who, at times, has a rather tenuous grip on his soul, and has a history of being evil and staging massacres, but is now killing demons and saving souls? Oh, and also that I get skull splitting pain-o-rama visions quite frequently, which have me sprawling about the floor and drooling. Yuh, not going to go down well. They'll have me committed!"
"So, maybe you don't need to go into that much detail. But, you have a pretty nice apartment-"
"And a phantom roommate. I have, like, almost no friends, and a few of the ones I do have don't have a pulse. Don't get me wrong, I'm glad I came here when my grandmother died and left me nothing, but - oh god, I'm going to have to tell them that she's dead, as well!" Cordy buried her head in her hands, and Angel pulled her towards him, embracing her again.
"When are they coming?"
"Tomorrow morning. My father's secretary called, and said that since they were in town, they might as well pay their daughter a visit. I mean, that's just so fair, isn't it? They don't contact me for nearly two years, then just suddenly arrive on the doorstep. I don't even have anywhere for them to stay!" Angel was thinking over the options very quickly. He hated to see Cordelia this down, and was thinking of all the ways he could possibly fix it.
"Well, I can't do much about the lack of fiancé. But, for the next couple of days, you're living here with me, and your parents can stay as well. You can tell them we're having the place done up. And, since you're definitely not just a secretary anyway, I don't think we need to mention that, either. Or probably the vampire situation. It's alright, Cor, I'll help you get through it. But, I maintain that I think they'd be proud of you anyway."
"Aww, that's really sweet! But you obviously do not know my parents. Are you sure we have enough rooms already liveable for them to stay?" he nodded. "Good. Thank you so much, you are the best friend ever! Thank you thank you thank you!" She was actually genuinely smiling, which, Angel decided, was a vast improvement. "I'd better go get some of my stuff, make it look like I actually live here. And, hide the blood, okay? Because that would be really hard to explain." He watched her walk away, thinking how much happier she looked. And he had done that. He smiled to himself as he came up with another thing he could fix. He wasn't going to tell her - maybe it would be better as a surprise...
* * *
Cordelia looked around her newly acquired room. She was pleased. It hadn't needed much work, just a few personal items here and there; a woman's touch. She'd set another suite up for her parents, and locked all the doors near it so that they wouldn't see what a wreck the rest of the hotel was. It was lucky that they'd gradually been fixing up all the rooms, or there'd be nowhere for anyone to stay.
Giving the room one final glance with a critical eye, she decided that she was satisfied, and headed downstairs. Her parents were supposed to be arriving in ten minutes. She was still horribly nervous; all she wanted was for them to know that she was doing well for herself, that she could manage on her own, and that she had a good life here. It was just a shame that she had to pretend to have all the material trappings that went with it, because otherwise she really was doing well. Her parents just wouldn't understand that, and props always helped.
Sitting in the foyer, she kept her eyes fixed on the door. She'd called the secretary back, and given her the new address. They were supposed to arrive at eleven o'clock. Cordelia was a little put out by the fact that Angel wasn't there. After all, he had promised to help her through it. He was probably still asleep. Just as she had decided to go and wake him up, she heard the heavy door swing open, and a cry of: "Cordelia, darling!" echo around the hall.
"Mom! Dad!" she cried back, in semi-false enthusiasm. After all, she was a little excited to see them, it had been so long. Her mother rushed up to her and airkissed her on both cheeks.
"How is my beautiful little Delia?" her mother gushed. "This is a lovely little place you have for yourself!" Cordy tried not to laugh at her mother's description of the 200 room hotel.
"Well, the business operates from downstairs, and I live above." Meanwhile, her father had been bribing the taxi driver to carry their two large suitcases into the lobby. Having eventually succeeded, he walked up to her and hugged her. Taken by surprise, she hugged him back, then backed up and smiled.
"We've both missed you, Cordelia." I'm sure you did, she thought, all that time you spent soaking up the sun in Barbados. "And your mother and I are thrilled that you've started a business, just as we thought you would. What exactly is it that you do?" he asked. She decided not to correct him as to the ownership of the agency.
"Um, well, we... we're a detective agency," she said quickly, unable to think of another accurate description. "We help people."
"We?" asked her mother.
"Oh, my associates and I. Uh, I set up the agency with one of them, Angel. Hence the name, 'Angel Investigations'!"
"Well, I must say I was surprised to see that the business was not registered under your own name. It was very gracious of you to name it after a colleague," her father said, a little disparagingly. It took all of Cordelia's restraint not to physically attack him. He'd been there for all of five minutes, and was already surreptitiously criticising her.
"We decided that 'Chase and Angel Investigations' didn't have the same ring to it. In fact, there were three of us at the start, and 'Doyle, Chase and Angel' didn't fit on the business card," she said in a strained voice, with a taut smile. Her father didn't seem to notice.
"And when are we going to meet these people?" her mother asked. Oh God, way to dredge up the pain.
"Uh, Doyle, he died," she said, trying not to let her already cracking demeanour completely fall apart. "And Angel... Angel is around, he'll be down soon..." her mother looked disapproving.
"Still in bed at eleven in the morning? Really, youngsters these days." Cordelia had to bite her lip to stop herself informing her mother that Angel was hardly a youngster; in fact, he was old enough to be her mother's great grandfather.
"Well, he's more of a night person. He was on a case all last night," she lied. He was actually up reassuring her all night.
"And how's your love-life, dear? Still single?" her mother asked, somewhat snidely. Better than yours, you jumped up old bat. There was no love lost between Cordelia and her parents - it was what years of being brought up by a nanny would do to a person. Maybe that was the stem of her bizarre yearning to impress them. To make them sorry that they hadn't been there for her more. Still, she was longing to tell her mother that, actually, her married lover had appeared last night wearing fishnet stockings and told her that he was gay/a sex addict/a narcotic addict/a commitment phobic. Unfortunately, her parents would probably take her deadly seriously and have her locked up.
"My love-life's fine," she replied. "I work hard, and it's hard to meet people, and..."
Angel had been listening to the whole conversation from upstairs. At first, he had wondered why Cordelia hated her parents so much - they seemed nice enough. Then the verbal flogging had started. He had stayed put for as long as possible, but after that barb, he decided to put his plan into action. Checking that there was no direct sunlight in the lobby, he swept down the stairs towards Cordy, who was still trying to stutter her way out of the question.
"Cordelia, honey. Where have you been? I woke up, and you were gone." Cordelia turned to him, her eyes wide with confusion. Just as she was about to ask him if he'd lost his mind, he pulled her into a passionate kiss. At first, she stood stock still. Then she relaxed into his kiss, returning it with just as much desire. Angel hadn't expected this. He'd meant to just kiss her lightly, and then introduce himself to her parents. But all of sudden, he'd found himself not wanting to stop, as soon as he felt the touch of her lips on his. They went on kissing, getting more and more amorous, as he kept one hand at the small of her back, pressing her against him, while the other crept up and down her thigh. Her hands were locked at the back of his neck. Just as they were getting to the point where he really wanted to move it into the bedroom-
"Ahem." Both of their eyes quickly opened, and, in complete horror, Cordelia broke away from him to look at her parents. Her father looked a little shocked, while her mother raised a perfectly shaped eyebrow. Cordelia didn't know what to say. She couldn't form any words; maybe as a result of such a perfect kiss...
Angel was a little shell shocked too, but realised that he really needed to explain himself.
"Mr and Mrs Chase? I'm pleased to meet you. My name is Angel. I'm Cordelia's business partner, and fiancé."
"My what?!" Cordelia hissed, then looked at her parents, then back at Angel, who was giving her a look that said 'just play along.' "Yes, of course, mom, dad, this is Angel. We're engaged!" she said mock joyfully, more incredulously.
"It's nice to meet you, Angel. I'm Cordelia's father. I must say, Cordelia hasn't said anything about you. Although, we haven't been in touch... how long have you been engaged?"
"Nearly three months now. We met back in Sunnydale, then ran into each other in Los Angeles afterwards." He put an arm around Cordy, and kissed her on the cheek. She couldn't decide whether to scream or laugh. She'd just had the most amazing kiss of her life, in front of her parents. From her boss. She decided that she would play along; he was obviously only doing it to help her out. Still, she was a little annoyed that he hadn't warned her first.
"Yes, love at first sight, wasn't it, sweetie?" she smiled up at him. Angel was sure that he momentarily saw something homicidal in her gaze, but chose to ignore it. Leaning in, she whispered into his ear: "whatever it is you're doing, buster, don't you dare embarrass me in front of them!" Angel smiled as she pulled away.
"So, Angel, I hope our little Delia hasn't been giving you too much trouble. She always was a difficult child." Like you'd know, Cordelia thought, wishing her mother dead at this point. Angel bristled slightly at the remark, but Mrs Chase just went on. "I'm glad she's managed to find herself such a handsome young man." Cordy could have sworn her mother was coming on to him. "Tell me, how did you know each other in Sunnydale? And why did we not meet then?"
"Uh, I was... Cordelia and I, we didn't... she wasn't Buffy's best friend, but..."
"Oh, that Angel! Of the legendary Buffy and Angel!" Her mother smirked at Cordelia. "I'm sorry, I didn't make that connection. Delia used to talk about you so much. What was it? 'Tall, dark, handsome, in serious need of a new girlfriend in the shape of me'. Wasn't that what you said, sweetheart?" Cordelia could feel herself turning bright red. She'd hoped her parents had forgotten her ranting about how cute that freak Buffy's boyfriend was. Obviously not. She wished a hellmouth would open in the lobby just beneath her and swallow her up. She had hardly spoken to her parents when she was in high school, but of the all the things she could have said when she did... smooth moves, Chase. Why don't we just get out the baby photos?
"Mom, I'm sure Angel's not that interested in..."
"No, Mrs Chase, please go on." Angel was fascinated. Maybe Cordelia had come onto him a few times in Sunnydale, but he had the impression that she was just doing it to irritate Buffy. This was interesting.
"Angel. Honey. Any more humiliation, and the wedding's off," she said in a dangerous tone. Since there wasn't a wedding in the first place, Angel had no idea what she might do to him.
"Well, you heard the girl!" Mr Chase said. "Wouldn't want to risk that happening. I've waited years for the day I could be father of the bride. Now, do you want to get married in a church, or how about coming to Barbados with us? Wedding on the beach, sunlight streaming down..." Cordelia tried to muffle a giggle at Angel's horrified expression. Both of those venues were out if there was to be a groom left unharmed. If there was really a wedding, that was. "Well, we can talk about it over dinner. Your mother and I are meeting with some friends for lunch, I hope you don't mind. We'll celebrate your engagement tonight!"
"That's very kind of you, Mr and Mrs Chase..."
"Oh, there'll be none of that. You're to call us mom and dad now!" her mother gushed, still sucking up to Angel. It made Cordy want to laugh and vomit at the same time.
"Okay. That would be great, dad." Angel said the word awkwardly. He hadn't had parents in centuries. Not that he really wanted a father who had been done for tax fraud and a mother who was blatantly coming onto him in front of his fiancée. But that wasn't an issue, since it was only pretend. Maybe this wasn't such a good idea; he liked the notion of being married to Cordelia far too much. "I'll take your suitcases upstairs to your room." With that, he lifted the two suitcases that had given the driver so much trouble as if they were as light as feathers, and deposited them at the bottom of the stairs.
"My, we are strong, aren't we?" Cordy could have sworn that her mother giggled. Ugh, great. Just perfect. Her mother was as smitten as she was. Well, it was obvious now to everyone that she'd had a crush on Angel forever, and that kiss had only increased the attraction. "We'll call later to tell you the time and the restaurant. Our treat!" With that, she flounced out, followed by her husband. Angel had already come to the conclusion that the woman was repulsive. For a start, she flirted with her daughter's future husband; she didn't know that it was fake. In fact, Angel forgot that it wasn't real for a minute there. Cordy's parents were obviously also highly critical of her, which explained her issues with them, and how vain she had been when she was in Sunnydale, and when they'd first moved to LA.
"Did you really say that, I mean, about me?"
"One more word, oh souled one, and you'll be trying to explain to my parents why you followed them out to demonstrate your human torch act." The look in her eyes warned him that the threat was by no means redundant. "So, before I get violent, what the hell just happened?" Angel looked a little sheepish.
"Well, you said that the three things your parents would want for you are a high paid job, a house, and a husband. We fixed two of those things, and I thought..."
"You should never be allowed to think. Ever! You really are the master of dumb planning. What am I going to tell them happened when they find there's no wedding? Huh? Ya think they wouldn't notice? Oh no, my parents see everything. I'm beginning to think they have their own set of oracles!"
"We could, uh, we could have a big fight the day they leave. You could call the wedding off," Angel said quickly. She was right. This really wasn't a good idea. Because suddenly, he wasn't wanting to break anything off.
"Fine," she said in an exasperated tone. "Angel, it was really sweet of you to do this. I really appreciate it. It's just, didn't you think that it might be a bit difficult to pull off? Particularly with the whole creature of the night angle." He felt even more stupid. She was right. This was going to be hard. Thank God they were only here for three days.
"I'm sorry, Cordy. But they seemed pleased, right? Although, your mother..."
"I know, she's such a tramp. She used to flirt with the pool guy, and the chauffeur, and the stable boy." Angel looked concerned, but she smiled back. "I know that she really does love my father, though. I don't think she's ever actually had an affair. Although, if she tries anything..."
"Don't worry, I won't let her."
"Good, because all we need to turn this thing into a total farce is our friend the oh-so-pleasant Angelus running about. Oh, and Angel?" She had started to walk towards the stairs, but turned around to look at him. "That was one hell of a kiss." He smiled to himself as he watched her leave. So maybe they had both enjoyed it.
* * *
They had spent the rest of the day researching. Wesley had come in to help them for a couple of hours, and had a good laugh on his behalf.
"Bloody hell, Angel, sometimes I do wonder what is going on inside your head. Did you think being engaged to Cordelia Chase would be that simple? You really will have to weave a tangled web of lies tonight."
As Angel sat at the dinner table, opposite Mr Chase, with Cordelia on one side and her mother opposite her, he knew that Wesley was right. They had gotten through the evening without too many hitches, explaining about the agency, talking business with her father. He had to hand it to him, Mr Chase was a shrewd businessman. He had hired some very good lawyers, no doubt an offshoot of Wolfram and Hart, and managed to get off the fraud charges with just a hefty fine, while keeping a good deal of his fortune in a Swiss bank account. Angel could see Cordelia simmering with rage that they'd just left her to starve in LA, while having a fantastic time in a mansion in the West Indies. Angel didn't understand it himself, but didn't want to push the issue, just because he didn't want to end up physically harming his new 'parents'.
Having moved through business, his own (slightly fabricated) life story - He was 28 years old, born in Ireland, moved to America when he was 6, parents deceased (and in no way eaten), and he'd lived with wealthy relatives before getting a job with an agency in Sunnydale - and the last couple of years in LA, they'd finally got onto the inevitable subject that he was most worried about.
"So," Mrs Chase exclaimed, "I have decided that tomorrow, Delia and I are going on a little shopping spree. For wedding dresses!" Angel and Cordelia looked at each other, alarmed.
"No, mom, really, it's alright, we haven't even set a date yet, and..."
"Nonsense! We must get these things organised. I want your day to be absolutely perfect! I know these lovely caterers, and we really must start on a guest list."
"We'll pay for the whole day. Nothing is too good for our Cordelia!" Great time for her parents to start spending the cash. On her fake wedding. Angel and Cordelia looked on helplessly as her parents started to organise the whole day, and discuss dates, venues, times...
"Uh, I would really like an evening wedding," Cordy interjected at one point. She wasn't sure why she bothered, since there wasn't going to be one, but she felt she should say something before they decided on a ceremony that would result in her being married to an urn and some ashes. Not that they were actually getting married.
Angel took hold of her hand under the table, and squeezed it before entwining it with his. It felt good. They both knew it shouldn't, but it did.
After supper, and her parents insisting on footing the bill, they returned to the hotel. Cordelia led her parents up to their room, which her mother promptly criticised for being a little dingy. Then her parents insisted on getting a photo of the happy couple. Cordy knew that she shouldn't have let them drink all that champagne.
As she and Angel posed for the camera, he took her hand in his again. It really did feel comforting. Her mother started commanding them to kiss for the photo. Turning towards her, Angel gently cupped her face in his hand, and touched his lips to hers. Again, the sparks flew. Again, the kiss got far too passionate for the eyes of her parents. As he pulled away, she looked deep into his eyes, trying to see if she could find some sign that it really didn't mean anything to him. All she could see was a longing, and desire. For her. Cordelia felt elated. Just the thought that maybe she wasn't imagining the chemistry they shared made her ecstatic. Angel led her out of the bedroom, when her parents had decided that they'd run out of film.
"Good night," he whispered as he kissed her gently on the cheek. His gaze lingered, then he turned to walk towards his bedroom.
"Good night..." she whispered after him.
Throwing himself on his bed, Angel tried to process what was happening. It didn't seem to make any sense, but it felt damn good. He really hadn't thought it would be a problem, faking an engagement. He hadn't really thought of the possibility that the chemistry they shared would flare up, either. He was really very stupid. How could he not have guessed it might happen? He knew that there had been something between them before; just nothing this strong. All he wanted to do now was to take her in his arms, and make love to her. Unfortunately, with his curse, the results of that could be dire. Pushing all thoughts of Cordelia to the back of his head, he picked up his sketch pad. Drawing usually helped. It wasn't until he'd nearly completed the sketch until he realised that he'd drawn Cordelia, with the dazed, blissful look she had worn just after he kissed her the second time. Damn, now he was drawing her subconsciously? He really had to meditate on some of the evil he'd done.
Little did he know, Cordelia was having similar thoughts as she lay on her bed. She couldn't believe that the big doofus had gone and done this. She'd just managed to start thinking of him as her best friend, rather than this really hot guy that she wanted, then he went and kissed her senseless. Nothing could ever happen between them. It was an act. An act her best friend put on to help her survive the wrath of her parents. That didn't stop her wishing it was real. She stayed lying on her back, staring blankly at the ceiling, for a long time, thinking about it all. Those kisses had been good. Really good. And she wanted more. That was all she could think. But it wouldn't ever happen. The minute her parents left, it would all go back to normal. Which was a good thing. So why did it make her feel so bad?
* * *
"Are you sure you don't want the second fondue set?" Cordelia sighed in exasperation.
"Yes, mother, I am sure. He doesn't even eat!" Oh God, fix it, fix it... "fondue. Doesn't like it."
"Hmm," was her mother's only response as she pored over the list. "How about that set of decanters?"
Cordelia could not believe her bad luck. Not only was she pretend engaged to a man that she really did have feelings for, but she was now making a pretend gift list and buying a pretend wedding dress. It was every girl's nightmare.
"And you're sure this man is the one?" her mother asked, in the same tone she'd used earlier when she'd been discussing the benefits of silver versus stainless steel with the salesman.
"Mother! Don't you trust my judgement?"
"Just checking, dear. After all, it would be sacrilege to waste all these exquisite gifts." There was just something Cordelia didn't like about the way her mother questioned her future with Angel. Not that she had a future with Angel. Not like that. But still, it made her angry that anyone would question the match. Ugh, she needed therapy. Not only did she have the classic shrink's favourite, 'childhood issues', but also 'in love with co-worker.' Love, not love. Lust. That's right, Chase, keep saying it, it'll make it less true. What hurt the most was that her mother's offhand comment struck home. Angel couldn't be the one. They couldn't ever have anything, because of the soul issues. And even so, he would always love Buffy. 'Severe desire to cause pain to co-worker's ex' would give the shrink a field day.
"Oh, Cordelia! Would you just look at these dresses! Aren't they darling?" Cordelia sighed as her mother rushed over to the personal shopper. This was just getting more and more painful.
* * *
Angel, meanwhile, had spent the day discussing business strategy with Mr Chase and Wesley. He hated to admit it, but he actually kind of like the man. It seemed that his wife was the domineering one. He didn't like her. The number of times she'd tried to press her thigh up against his last night, he'd almost growled at her. Although, her husband was less than perfect, with the tax issues-
"You see, it really wasn't my fault. My lawyers assured me I could quite legally adjust certain figures..."
"I have the greatest sympathy. My experience with lawyers hasn't been the best, isn't that right, Angel?" It seemed that Wesley was getting along well with Cordelia's father as well. Although, he should do after Angel threatened to package him off to Sunnydale in small boxes if he let slip that the engagement was a hoax.
"Hmm? Oh, yeah. Never liked lawyers. I would even go as far as to describe them as evil," he said, all the while thinking of Holland, Lindsey and Lilah. Very evil.
"So, Angel, I feel that I ought to speak to you about your intentions towards my daughter." Angel looked a little nervous, while Wesley tried not to laugh. "You are marrying her out of love, are you not?" Angel looked very seriously at Mr Chase.
"My intentions towards Cordelia have been nothing but good. I love your daughter, Mr Chase, and intend to make her happy." Wesley nearly choked. He had never seen anyone be so earnest about anything in his life. He was beginning to think that either the engagement was not as false as the two people involved would like to think, or that Angel should have won several academy awards by now.
"Good. That said, I want you to have this." Mr Chase reached inside his coat, and passed Angel a small box. His eyes widened as he opened it. For there was a beautiful platinum. In the centre was set a large blue diamond, which was surrounded by smaller diamonds. In his whole, unnaturally long existence, he had never seen such an expensive looking piece of jewellery. "This ring is a bit of an heirloom, really. It's been handed down several generations of Chases. I always swore that the day my Delia got engaged, it was hers. And so it shall be."
"I... I can't take this, I..."
"Son, I would be hurt and angry if you didn't. Just see to it that you make my Cordelia happy." Wesley gawked at the ring.
"Oh my... I think..." Wesley looked at the clock, "I really have to go. I'm sorry, but I have to meet someone. I would love to stay and discuss this, but..." and there was a Wesley shaped blur heading out the door. Just as Cordelia and her mother walked back in. That was when Angel realised that the sun had almost set, it was so late.
"I apologise for my associate. He's a little strange, quite occasionally," Angel started, before he saw Cordelia.
"What is with Wesley? He just nearly fell off the sidewalk, he was going so fast."
"He has a date," Angel said. Cordy nodded.
"Ahh, good explanation. He looked particularly jumpy though; any reason? He's not about to propose or something, is he?"
"No, nothing like that, I don't think," Angel didn't want to go on in case her father started dropping hints about the ring.
"So, how did you propose, Angel?" He really did dislike her mother intensely. Cordy shot him a panicked look, and he thought fast.
"We were at our favourite restaurant. I looked at Cordelia, and I just realised that I wanted to spend the rest of my life with her. To forget our pasts, and live the future together. She's the most incredible, amazing, beautiful human being I've ever met, and I just said it. 'Marry me'. And she said yes," Cordy was doing her very best not to cry. No-one had ever said so many nice things about her in her life. So he was making up a proposal; he didn't have to go into so much detail. She just had this feeling that he might be sincere. The way he was gazing into her eyes made her even more sure. She walked over to him, and kissed him gently and lingeringly.
"Wow. I never knew you could be so sappy!" she managed through the tears that were threatening to fall.
"You bring it out in me."
"Isn't that a lovely story? Ours isn't half as romantic, is it, darling? You see, I was already three months pregnant when we were married, and my father..." Cordelia really didn't want to hear this story. Her mother's annoying voice cut through the romance of the situation, and she remembered that she had to talk to Angel. "You and Angel aren't sleeping together, are you, sweetheart? Because there's nothing worse than trying to find a wedding dress when you're as big as a house. I suppose you are, this being the twenty first century, and all. If you are, I hope you're using protection..." Cordy really wanted to scream. This was just classic- her mother giving a 200 odd year old vampire the sex talk, when he really shouldn't sleep with anyone. Ever. Not with Angelus still simmering away under there.
"Angel, darling! A word, in private?" Cordelia all but spat at him. He nodded, and followed her into a side room. "Okay, this has gotten way out of hand!" she hissed. "Today, my mother took me shopping for wedding dresses! She made me start a wedding list at Bloomingdales, and she wants us to set a date! I mean, this whole thing seemed like a good idea at first, but we have to stop it, before she starts sending out invites!"
"Okay, Cordy, breathe," he said, and she started to take deep breaths. "They're only here for another day, and we can pretend to have a big fight, and call the whole thing off. Simple."
"Simple..." she repeated, dubiously. "Okay, well, we'll have to get it over with soon. There's only so much a girl can take! I mean, kissing your best friend? Talk about awkward..." she said with a false smile. Even more awkward when one person felt something more than friendship. Or maybe both, she wasn't sure. Truth was, Cordelia was enjoying the pretence far too much. It was starting to make her wonder why they weren't really in that situation. But they never would be, because they were friends. Best friends. Totally platonic.
"Yeah, really strange..." Angel continued. He was starting to wish that they really were engaged. The few kisses they'd had had been amazing, and he was a little crushed to find that she didn't think so too.
"So, tomorrow morning, we end it? Big blow up?" she said, trying to conceal any true emotion.
"Tomorrow morning." Angel nodded, then started to walk back into the room where her parents were sitting.
"Um, Angel? Did you... did you mean what you said about... about me?"
He looked her in the eyes.
He continued to walk out of the room, over to her parents, where he struck up a lively conversation with them. Cordy watched, all the while trying not to cry. She didn't know why she felt like this. If she was really honest with herself, she never wanted this to end. She wanted to go on, being in love with Angel, being engaged to Angel, buying wedding dresses and choosing gifts. Before her parents had arrived, she would never have even though that the one person she could really see herself committed to forever was the vampire she'd been working for over the last couple of years. Of course, it would never work. He'd stay young forever, and she'd get old and wrinkly. A total disaster. Then why was some little part of her telling her that something so obviously wrong was so right?
* * *
Cordy stared at her reflection in the only mirror in the hotel. She hadn't got a whole lot of sleep the night before, and it was showing. Covering the dark rings under eyes with a ton of concealer, she took a deep breath, and headed downstairs. So, this shouldn't be so hard. Strike up a fake argument, call off a fake wedding. Problem was, she really didn't want to do it. They had agreed on what the argument would be about, and it was up to her to start it. She checked that her parents were with Angel in the dining room. Yup. She took another deep breath. Here's your chance, Chase, be an award winning actress. With that thought in her head, she stormed into the room.
"What the hell is this?" she screamed at him, waving a small piece of paper with a number on it. "'Call me, love Melissa'? Who the fuck is Melissa?"
"Cordy, it's not what you think..." Angel hadn't expected her to come in so soon, but joined in immediately. Her parents just sat and stared in amazement and disgust.
"Oh no? It's not what I think, that's funny. Because, when I called this number, guess who picked up? Melissa's roommate! And guess what she said? She said, if that's Angel's sister, Melissa said that she loves him, and can't wait to see him again tonight."
"Cordy, it meant nothing, I..."
"Oh, and I found the photo, as well. What is it with you and petite blondes? I mean, I finally think you're over one of them, and suddenly another pops up from nowhere for you to chase after! Last time, you abandoned me, just left me to die inside, fired me even! I love you, Angel, can't you see that? But every time, you just ignore me for the nearest psycho bitch!" Tears were streaming down her cheeks by now. Either those acting classes were really paying off, or there was something more to this than a fake argument. He wasn't sure where it had come from, but suddenly she was pouring out her heart.
"Cordelia, I'm so sorry. I love you too, I was just so blind. I don't love them, not Buffy, not Darla, I love you! Please, understand that?"
"I just don't trust you any more. Every time I think we're alright again, all of a sudden you leave and break my heart. And I don't know how much more I can take." It had started off fake. But as she'd got carried away, some other issues had seeped in, and all of a sudden it was really about them. All the things she'd wanted to tell him were suddenly just being screamed out. "I told you I'd be with you forever, but that meant nothing to you! And forever is a hell of a long time in your terms. Until you shanshued, that was the deal. Then along came Darla, and wrapped you back up into her web. And you didn't even kill her. You let her go. I know you slept with her, Angel, I worked it out, I'm not as stupid as you think."
"I don't think you're stupid..."
"Well, you sure had me fooled! You could have lost your soul, Angel! I tell you that I'd kill you if that happened, but I couldn't. I just love you too much." She was sobbing hard now. He walked over to her, and wrapped his arms around her.
"I love you too, Cordy. I love you so much it hurts sometimes. If you want, I'll track Darla down and kill her for you, but that would mean leaving, and I don't ever want to do that again." He kissed her gently, and wiped away the tears that were streaming from her eyes. "I really do want to be with you forever. I'll never abandon you again, I promise."
"Really?" she looked at him with tremendous hope, tears still in her eyes.
"Really. Cordelia Chase," he reached into his pocket for the small box, "will you marry me?" Cordy started to hyperventilate. For there was the most beautiful ring she had ever seen. It was so perfect.
"Yes," she whispered, as he slid the ring onto her finger. Laughing with total elation, she threw herself at him as he got to his feet. They kissed, then she twirled around to her parents, his arms still wrapped around her waist. "I'm engaged! I'm engaged!!"
Mr. Chase coughed, and looked at his wife. She looked just as confused as he did.
"Would anyone care to explain?" she asked, completely baffled.
* * *
"So, let's see if I have this right," Cordelia's mother started. "You work for Angel. You're his... his secretary, and... seer?" Cordelia nodded. "Angel is a vampire." She had trouble with the word, as her entire values system was being reshuffled. Cordelia and Angel nodded. She believed them. He'd got a bit angry when they laughed and called Cordelia insane and Angel delusional, and gone into game face. Needless to say, Cordy's mother and father were now sitting a safe distance away. "He was evil, but now he's not."
"Unless he loses his soul," Cordy helped out.
"Yes, if he loses his soul because of perfect happiness. He's over two hundred years old, and you fight demons together. Along with that strange man Wesley. One day, Angel will 'shanshu' and become human. You weren't really engaged, and you don't really live her."
"Delia, sweetheart, we're incredibly proud of you, whatever you do," her father said. "You're the first Chase to ever really be independent, and what you're doing here in LA, fighting the... evil, well, it's not a job to be ashamed of, really."
"So, you and Angel have now decided that you really are in love, and want to get married." Cordelia nodded and played with the ring from where she was sitting in Angel's lap. He smiled down at her and kissed her forehead. "Angel doesn't have a surname. I must say, I'm finding this all a little hard to take in," Mrs Chase said.
"Well, that was a pretty accurate summary of our lives." Cordelia smiled at her mother. Suddenly, she wasn't hating her parents quite as much any more. She had Angel, and they were a good source of finance. "You know what this means? We still have a wedding to plan!" Grinning, she jumped up, only to suddenly look nauseous and grab her head. Angel caught her as she started to fall.
"It's okay, Cordy, what did you see?"
"Was that a vision?" her mother asked. "My, it was... unflattering," she said, her lip curling in distaste. Angel scowled at her, and she was suitably scared and backed off. The shrink would have a heart attack if she told him that she was going to have a vampire for a son- in-law. Then proclaim her certifiable.
"Angel?" Cordy whispered. "Oh, Angel!" she hugged him, thrilled instead of in pain. Taken aback, he hugged her. "Angel, it was a message, from the Powers!"
"What did they say?" he asked apprehensively.
"They said, congratulations! Your soul's here to stay! They like me," she said smugly, "so they said that as long as you were with me, it would be anchored. Ooh, also, I won't age either, until you shanshu, so we can grow old together! The Powers are very strange." He looked blankly at her, trying to work out if he was dreaming. When he realised he wasn't, he grinned, then swept her up into his arms, and headed upstairs as she shrieked. Leaving two very befuddled people standing in the lobby.
"Powers? What... Powers?"
* * *
The light of the nearly full moon lit up everything beautifully. Her dress was simply glowing. The couple standing in front of the crowd were gleaming, a mixture of their happiness and the light of the moon.
"You may kiss the bride."
As Angel leaned in and kissed Cordelia gently, there was a cheer from the congregation. All of their friends were there. Wesley, Gunn, the Host; even their friends from Sunnydale. Xander had been thrilled, which Cordy was glad about. She still cared about him, and it mattered to her that he was happy. Which he was. Extremely. He and Anya had announced their engagement about a month ago. It had been seven months since Cordelia and Angel had gotten engaged, and the passion hadn't worn off. It would never wear off.
There were Willow and Tara, as happy together as ever. Spike had been best man, and Giles and Wesley had helped out. Angel nearly groaned at the memory of Spike's overzealousness when it came to his duties, particularly the bachelor party. There was a night no-one was going to forget in a hurry. Spike had insisted that since he'd known Angel the longest, he should get to do it, no matter how much he hated the 'raving poofter.' And then there was the strangest thing of all. Buffy. The maid of honour. It was almost surreal; Cordy had called her, and she was so happy for them. It made Angel realise that they'd both moved on- way on- him with Cordelia, her with... Spike, of all unpeople. But it didn't bother him. They were obviously happy together, and Angel had never been happier. He was glad the perfect happiness clause wasn't in effect any more. Cordy had been wary of Buffy at first, but they had, strangely enough, ended up bonding. So much so that Cor had asked Buffy to be maid of honour.
Angel looked at his bride, then, to the crowd's amusement, scooped her up and carried her down the aisle. The ceremony had been held outside, close to midnight. It was the best way to have it. No holy objects, no sunshine. Cordy's parents had remained true to their word, and paid for the whole thing, including the Honeymoon in Hawaii. It seemed a little insane, going somewhere that was renowned for it's sunshine, but Angel could think of plenty of things they could do during the day.
He set her down at the end of the aisle, where they stood, his arm protectively around her waist, as everyone rushed up to them and hugged them. He looked down at Cordy, and she grinned back up.
"Well, this is the most realistic fake wedding I've ever been to," she said.
"There's nothing fake about it, Cordy. Nothing, and believe me, I'm glad," he said.
"Me too," she said, as she saw her parents bearing down on them. "Well, apart from one part... I swear, if she pinches your butt again, I'll..."
"I love you Cordy. And however tempting it is to succumb to your mother's subtle attempts at seduction, I won't." He smiled at her, and kissed her again.
"I love you too. And you know the policy on cheating, with anyone. Including my mother."
"Stake on sight," he repeated.
"Damn straight," she said, as he kissed her again. "How about we stake her too? I'm sure she's some kind of a blood sucker..." He kissed her one last time, before having to avoid her mother's advances. In-laws.