Author's Name: Marvin K. Mooney
Email Address: Marvink.firstname.lastname@example.org
Rating : PG
Disclaimer: Don’t own them. Nope. Not even one little iota of own. The characters contained within (with the exception of the narrator) are the property of Mutant Enemy, LazyDave and all the Geniuses employed by Joss Whedon.
Spoilers: Heartthrob, That Vision-Thing
Summary: Imagine being raised in a hotel by the Fang Gang - Angel’s equally contemplative teenage daughter muses
I love watching them. Together. Apart. With the others. Even fighting whatever evil has seemed to pop up this week. Each covertly watching the other out of the corner of their eye; an unspoken self imposed guard duty of sorts undertaken with great care as not to be caught by the other. Daddy watches Cordy . Cordy watches daddy. Now, everyone watches everyone else’s back here - it’s kind of a necessity when you make your living fighting evil and working for the powers that be - but daddy and Cordy, those looks are almost as much about admiration as they are guarding. Ditto for Uncle Gunn and Aunt Freddie. Uncle Wesley mostly looks amused, with an occasional wink for me when he sees me watching what the others don’t seem to realize is so obvious.
I was six months old when I came to live here - saved from Darla by my dad and the rest of the fang gang. Cordelia, despite the fact she was still really hurt and angry with my dad for sleeping with Darla and risking his soul and then lying to her about it, stayed that first night to help (daddy was convinced that I was in as much danger of him dropping me as I was from my evil vampire mother using me to cause an apocalypse). Within the week Uncle Wesley and Uncle Gunn moved her stuff and her ghost into the room next to mine and her and Uncle Lorne were talking furniture arrangements. Less than a month later my uncles moved into their own rooms on either side of Aunt Fred’s on the second floor guaranteeing that I was effectively flanked by two sides and one floor from attack or the ever fearful unheard cry of wet diaper. One big happy family in one big old hotel. I know it probably seems a weird place to live, but I can’t even imagine living anywhere else. I mean, I was way too little to remember Wolfram and Harts big play to take the hotel when Uncle Gunn and Aunt Fred temporarily lived with Uncle Wesley and me and dad lived with Cordy and I definitely don’t remember living with Darla, so as far as I’m concerned, this has always been our home.
And they have always been my family. It doesn’t matter that we are black, white, human, demon and vampire, English and American or even that only two of us are genetically related - we are all family. It’s not something we sat down and decided, it’s just something we’ve always been. When I was five Cordelia, Uncle Lorne and Uncle Gunn convinced the others that I should go to kindergarten in hope that the contact with children my own age would make me less reserved and more carefree.
On the first day of school they made us draw a picture of our family standing outside of our home. While all the other little kids drew themselves with a mom, dad and sibling or just one parent or grandparent and siblings standing next to their house or apartment building under a bright yellow sun, mine was of a tall handsome black stick figure, two brunette female stick figures, two brunette male stick figures, one with glasses, a ghost and a green demon stick figure standing next to a huge hotel under a moon and stars. It took an hour phone conversation with my teacher for my dad to convince her we weren’t part of a cult and that the ghost and green demon were just the product of an active imagination. By the time parent/teacher conference day came around, day being the important word, and Cordy had to spend half of the conversation trying to explain to my teacher why my father wasn’t there and the other half using all her acting skills to play off my comment that my daddy couldn’t go out in the sun because he would catch on fire as a small child’s way of saying daddy sunburns easily, I had pretty much figured out my family was unique. We weren’t bound by law or nature, obligation or, in most cases, relation, we were a family because we chose to be, because our hearts made it so and that’s all that really matters.
I don’t ever remember a day were I didn’t know that my dad is a vampire with an soul who fights for the forces of good or that Cordy is a seer who gets visions for him or even that Uncle Lorne is a demon from a different dimension. I’ve always known what a watcher is and that Uncle Wesley used to be one and that Uncle Gunn, Aunt Freddie and him fight for good because they want to not because they have to. That Buffy and Faith are slayers, Spike a vamp, Willow a witch and Xander irreplaceable support. Most of all, I’ve always known that my birth mother, Darla, is a soulless vamp who would destroy the people I love most without a second thought just to take possession of me and my prophetic destiny. The last one was the easiest to figure out - she told me all of it herself when I was only seven and a half years old (although Cordy always jokes that I was born 80 years old). I’ve seen enough of good fighting evil to wonder why it is that evil feels compelled to spill their guts to you right before they intend to kill you. I would have died that particular time of Cordelia hadn’t thrown herself in front of me at the last moment and almost died herself instead. It still amazes me that she would be willing to do that for me, give up her life to save the bastard child of the man she loves and his psychotic evil sire. It’s kind of ironic, actually. Only a few days before Cordelia and I were laying in my bed, her reading me a some article about lipstick from a fashion magazine (Cordy’s version of a bedtime story) and I had asked her of she ever wished I didn’t exist, that Darla had never had me. She looked me and without hesitation said no; that from the first day she had set eyes on me she had spent all her wishes wishing I was hers and then, without another word, she resumed reading. I remember wanting to stop her and tell her that I already was but not doing it because I didn’t want her to feel any more obligated to me that she already did. Ironic indeed. I didn’t want her to feel more obligated and then there she was, laying in a pool of blood, dying. I remember everything else like it’s a movie I’ve seen and not a place I’ve been, an experience I had. Uncle Wesley says that’s what happens sometimes when the body goes into shock. Anyway, I began to cry and then kneeled down next to Cordy. Right at that moment there was a huge crash, it sounded almost like an explosion, and all the lights went out. Cordy grabbed my hand and pulled me closer to her and whispered, “run”. I looked at her for a second frozen and she smiled at me and said, “I love you. Run.” And I did what she said. I ran. I ran, in the dark until I slammed right into Daddy and Uncle Gunn, Uncle Wesley, Uncle Lorne and Aunt Fred - the crash I had heard before had been them driving the car and the truck right into the side of the building. Cordy had known that, she had known they would come for us, that’s why she had told me to run. The minute I saw it was them I became hysterical crying “You have to help mommy!”. A perplexed Uncle Gunn had asked, “Darla’s hurt?” just as daddy smelled Cordelia’s blood covering my hands and realized what I was saying. And with a “Not Darla, Cordelia! watch her”, daddy had turned and disappeared into the darkness to find his Cordy. Uncle Gunn and Uncle Wesley quickly followed, only stopping long enough to tell Uncle Lorne and Aunt Freddie to take me to the cars and to hear Aunt Freddie yell, “be careful” after them.
It felt like I had cried a and ocean and an eternity had passed before three dark figures outlined by the building burning behind them emerged, a terrified looking daddy carrying a limp Cordy. They were all bloody and beaten but, being warriors, they didn’t seem to know it. They just jumped into the cars and we sped off to the hospital, Uncle Gunn smartly dropping off Uncle Lorne the block before. (Explaining else was going to be hard enough without having to also explain a green demon.) It was 18 hours and a surgery later before I would get to see Cordy awake again. The nurses kept trying to send us all home but we wouldn’t move. Uncle Gunn slept sitting on the couch, Aunt Freddie’s sleeping head resting on his thigh, her legs draped over a dead to the world Uncle Wesley, me curled up on daddy’s lap, in his arms in the big lounge chair and daddy, well, daddy never slept a second. Occasionally I would feel him take a deep breath he didn’t need then hear him painfully release it in some sort of effort to calm himself down. If he had had a beating heart, it would have been stilled. As it was, it was definitely broken.
It seemed like forever until the doctor came to update us, and even longer from the time he walked in the room until he told us how she was. We had all anxiously stood up when he walked in, daddy holding me, my back pressed to him, Aunt Freddie, Uncle Wesley and Uncle Gunn lined up behind us. I’ve never told anyone this before but when daddy was standing there, waiting for that doctor to tell us if Cordy was dead or alive, his hands were shaking, really shaking. The shaking didn’t stop until the doctor said the words we all had been waiting to hear - it was a close call, but she was going to fine. It didn’t matter that she was still unconscious, daddy wanted to see her, needed to see, and be there when she woke up. Dr. Matai said that it would be alright for two people at a time to sit with her but that hospital policy prohibited children under 12. My face must have said it all because daddy promised me it would be alright, that as soon as Cordy was up to it she would call me. The others quickly jumped in, Uncle Wesley saying he would call and update Uncle Lorne then stay with daddy while Uncle Gunn and Aunt Freddie offered to take me back to the hotel and make me a big breakfast. As sweet as they were, as they always are to me, it wasn’t enough. I had to see her. I broke my 12 hours silence with an almost whispered request of the doctor, “Can’t I just look at her for a minute?” Four sets of pleading eyes followed mine to the doctor’s face. He must have had children of his own because he just smiled and nodded and I was quietly shepherded down a long corridor, daddy holding my hand reassuring, until I was standing in front of a large window. On the other side of the glass was Cordy, pale and still, laying in a sterile room, attached to all kinds of machines. Without a word I just watched her, her chest rising and falling, even her hand twitching ever so slightly. And that’s when I realized, not only was I already hers, she was mine.
When Cordelia finally woke up 6 hours later, she opened her eyes to find Uncle Wesley and Daddy keeping vigil, daddy clutching her hand like a dying man holding onto a lifeboat, uncle Wesley watching her as though she would disappear if he looked away. And, as only Cordelia can, she flashed one of her famous smiles at them. Then, before anyone had a chance to say a word, her face turned to terror and she started crying. It took15 minutes and a big dose of sedatives to convince her I was alright, that the only reason I wasn’t there was because under hospital policy small children weren’t allowed. One dispensation, one phone call and twenty minutes later, I was back at the hospital getting ready to see Cordy, my emotions flashing between excited and terrified. Because as much as I wanted to talk to Cordy, I was equally as scared she would be mad it me for being the reason she was hurt. Maybe even mad at me for being a product of Darla, for being one more reason her life was hard. A million reasons for her to hate me flew my head as Uncle Gunn and Aunt Freddie took me up the elevator. “Are you ok, baby?” I lied and answered Uncle Gunn’s question with a nod, afraid that if I opened my mouth I wouldn’t be able to stop what would come out. Of course they saw right through me. I never could hide anything from any of them. Aunt Freddie and Uncle Gunn just flashed a look at each other and Uncle Gunn hit the ‘stop elevator button’. Aunt Freddie took my hand and looked me straight in the eye, her face so gentle and understanding.
“It’s ok if you’re scared, you know. Are you? Scared I mean?”
It’s impossible to lie to her - she’s too sweet and innocent and good - her heart so pure - so I nodded.
Uncle Gunn gently brushed a piece of hair off my face, “whatcha scared of, sweetpea?”
Before I could think, before I could stop myself, my mouth betrayed me. “That she’ll be mad of me. I didn’t mean to get her hurt - I didn’t mean it! I’m not like Darla, I swear. I, I…”
Before I could say another word or cry another tear, I was in Uncle Gunn’s arms, my feet no where near the ground, his tight arms around me and my face buried in his shoulder with Aunt Freddie pressed against his back one arm wrapped around me as well, the other stroking my hair.
“Cordy doesn’t blame you, baby, cause you’re not to blame. You are not Darla. She may have given birth to you but that’s the only thing you share with her. Cordy knows that better than anyone”.
“Gunn’s right - Cordy loves you - we all do. Besides, Cordy wouldn’t have wanted to see you so badly if she was mad, right?”
Looking down at the my head resting on his shoulder, “She’s got a point - (motioning to the elevator control panel) what do you say?”
With an ok from me and a nod from Uncle Gunn, Aunt Freddie started the elevator again and away we went me still in Uncle Gunn's arms. Before I knew it, Aunt Freddie was gently knocking on Cordy’s room door and Uncle Wesley was calling for us to come in. Aunt Freddie went in the room for a moment, leaving Uncle Gunn with me still in his arms in the hall. A few minutes later the door opened again and in we went. As we entered I buried my face deeper into Uncle Gunn’s shoulder - I couldn’t look at Cordy, too afraid of seeing disappointment or hate staring back. I felt myself being passed from Uncle Gunn’s arms to daddy’s, Uncle Gunn’s anointing the transfer with a kind kiss to my head and one more fix of my hair by Aunt Freddie before they walked out the door. Uncle Wesley, stopping to touch my shoulder and kiss my head as well before he followed, soon closed the door behind him leaving me alone with daddy and Cordy and no place to run. That’s when the day that changed everything really changed everything.
“Hey there.” I heard her say as daddy sat us down on the chair next to the bed, me on his lap, face buried in his shoulder. Her voice sounded so much different than usual, softer, weaker, more tired, sure. but it was the insecurity trickling through the cheerfulness that made me unbury my face, though my eyes still diverted downward.
“I hear Gunn and Fred cooked you breakfast. Now that had to be twice as scary as being kidnapped anyday of the week.” She joked, attempting to make me smile. Daddy looked down at me smiling hoping id do the same. I didn’t. “Uh oh, Angel. I think she’s trying to give you a run as brooding champion. What do you think?” She teased.
“We don’t brood - we contemplate, right?”
Despite my best efforts, their banter, as always, made me crack a smile and I shook my head.
With a big smile of her own and one of her patented looks she annouced to daddy, “See, she may have her father’s smile, but she’s got her very young and extremely attractive, although probably not at this moment, mother’s panache for honesty.” A combination of my surprise at her referring to herself as my mother and the pride in her voice made me look up searchingly into her eyes.
Daddy teased back “Maybe but luckily she also got my manners and tact.”
With a smile and wink to me then a huge smile to him she plainly responded, “Totally overrated. Now charm… she totally had it made.”
“After all, we are both incredibly charming.”
“Incredibly.“ The more they talked the bigger my smile got.
“And looks, it may be your DNA but I definitely think she looks like me. Maybe it’s the unquestionable fashion taste...”
“Hey, I have taste. You even told me I had gay man taste once.”
“Yeah, but even gay man taste is trumped by pure fashionista flair like ours. It could just be our really good, shiny brown hair.”
With unfettered vanity in his eyes daddy quickly turned to me and asked, “I have good hair, don’t I?”
With a dramatic roll of the eyes at his vanity, Cordy had reassured him “You have good hair, Angel. (Seeing his continuing concern) Ok, Great hair. For a guy. We have great girl hair. Speaking of girls…we need a little girl time so shoo.” With a flash of the big smile Cordelia seems born to illicit from him, he brought us both to our feet, kissed me on the cheek and gave Cordy a lingering kiss on the lips and disappeared out the door, leaving me standing three feet away from her bed and more nervous than I had ever been before.
“Come here.” She had gently commanded, patting a spot on the side of her bed. “Come sit with me for a while so we can talk.”
Seemingly suddenly fascinating by my own feet I had slowly covered the distance and perched myself on the bed's edge. My hands twisting nervously in my lap, her fingers gently and inconspicuously playing with a piece of my hair, it seemed like a year of silence before Cordelia took a deep breath and spoke.
“You know, my whole life - it’s been about want. When I was little I thought I wanted was to be just like my mother when I grew up. Pretty, surrounded by beautiful and expensive clothes and jewelry, living in a big house and with a handsome husband on her arm, admired by all the ladies at the club, loved by everyone who meets you. It seemed so nice, so easy, just smile, look good, put on a happy face for the world and you get everything you want. But it wasn’t. Look good Cordy, smile Cordy, be popular Cordy, I tried so hard and I was pretty good at being just like her. I was the most popular girl in school, a cheerleader, a good student. I tortured the weak and geeky, especially Willow, like I thought I was supposed to, was elected the May Queen by an overwhelming margin. And everyday when I went home I found an increasingly frequently drunk mother, her expensive Chanel lipstick smudged across her face, her expensive clothes all crumpled, spouting about how rich she was and on the extremely rare occasion he was around and not off with one of his secretaries, calling me sweetheart so many times that I started to wonder if he even knew my name. Everyday I wanted to be her less and less until one morning not long after graduation I woke up and didn’t just not want to be her, I didn’t want to be me anymore either. so I left. Left Sunnydale and came out to LA to be a star. I didn’t really want to be a star; I just wanted to be someone that other people admired that other people loved. Then I met up Doyle and Angel and overtime I realized that they needed me and loved me and all I wanted to be was who they thought I already was. After Doyle died, it felt like I was right back where I was when I first moved here - lost. Overtime Wesley then Gunn then Fred became part of my life and I all I really wanted was for everyone to be ok, for me to be a good seer, for Angel to stay on the path to redemption. Between you and me, I was already in love with him, even if I wouldn’t even admit it to myself at the time and him going to that dark place and firing me not only hurt my heart, it took away everything and everyone I wanted. You cant be a good seer without a warrior and we couldn’t be ok unless we knew he was ok; most of all, you cant be loved if your not wanted. When he came back, when he came after me in Pylea, I thought I had everything I wanted - Angel back in my life, all of us safe, even Buffy was alive again - but that’s when Darla came back and we found out about you. I was so mad at Angel, so incredibly mad - not for making you - but for doing something he thought would strip him of his soul, for basically trying to commit suicide. But we had a mission, a mission to bring you home and no matter how mad I was at Angel, I wanted to bring you home more. Maybe it was the part of me that didn’t want you to have to go home to a crazy mother like I did or maybe it was something so much more selfish like wanting to take the part of Angel that Darla had back. I really don’t know. The one thing I am absolutely sure of, the one thing I’m more sure of than anything else in my life ever, is that from the moment I first saw you I never wanted anything as much as I want you in my life. If I gave birth you, if you 100% my DNA, I couldn’t possibly love you anymore than I already do. I don’t even think it’s humanly possible. You are everything I ever wanted, never expected plus three zillion things so good I couldn’t even imagine being so brazen as to want, all wrapped up in one shiny little package and delivered by the powers that be with a note that said, PS Please find enclosed perfect happiness but don’t worry - a shanshu isn’t a sudden thing, it’s a slow process of rewards. For saving the blessed child Angel’s soul is now anchored and can only be lost through artificial means. Enjoy. You’re not just a miracle because you’re a human born to two vampire or because you are so good or even because you fulfill some prophetic destiny. You are a miracle because you make Gunn and Fred and Wesley and especially Angel and I feel love like we have never felt love before. Even your name reminds us why we get up every morning and do what we do together. Don’t ever forget that, ok?”
In 5 minutes she had defined my world. What was there for me to say except to smile, shake off my shoes and gently climb under the covers with our exhausted Cordy, my mom, and wait for daddy to sneak in as scheduled and tuck us in. And as though cued, he did just that a few minutes later.
It’s funny - sometimes when I lay in bed at night or even when I’m just sitting here in the middle of the hotel my teenage mind wandering to the familiar sounds of bickering over who has the better (or worst) filing system like I have been today, I think about everything Cordy said to me then, everything that I ever known, and I wonder - did Darla have any idea that her little joke of a name for me would turn out define our mission? ‘Cause life might not always be easy for a vampire, a seer, a former watcher, a solider, a genius and a kid with a prophecy to live up to, but its not supposed to be when your business is one of the best concepts in the human language - hope.