Waiting for the Miracle


Author: starlet2367
Feedback: starlet2367@home.com
Rating: PG-13
Summary: Post-ep for "Lullaby"
Spoilers: Through "Lullaby"
Disclaimer: Too bad I don't own these characters. I think about `em enough.
Note: This story was written the night that Lullaby aired. It's a traditional post-ep, done quickly and without beta, as an emotional response to what we saw on-screen. I posted this to several other lists, but wasn't a member of ST at the time. Even though it's already been made obselete by the eps that followed, I wanted to share this story with you. I hope you enjoy it. Feedback is gratefully accepted and promptly replied to at the above address

 

 

"Get in the car. Get in the car!" It was Angel, his voice trembling with urgency, who pressed Fred into the back seat. She slid across, leaving a wet trail on the leather. Angel followed her in, slamming the door behind him and cocooning them in darkness. Rain pelted the windshield like silver bullets.

"Go!" Angel barked.

Wes hit the gas and the tires screamed on the wet pavement.

"Angel, what is it? Where's Darla?" Cordy asked. She was sandwiched between Wes and Gunn in the front seat and all Fred could see of her face were her eyes, reflected in the rearview mirror. But that was enough for Fred to read uncertainty. And concern.

"Dead," he gritted, drawing the baby into his chest like a life preserver. When he didn't elaborate and the silence stretched thin, Fred finished the story for him.

"She staked herself," she said quietly. "Her labor stopped. She knew the baby was going to die. She staked herself so it could live."

Angel's arms jerked reflexively and the baby wailed. Everyone else was almost reverently silent.

Fred's teeth chattered, not so much from cold as from the shock of what she'd just witnessed: Darla, ramming a stake into her own chest, and leaving behind her child--Angel's child--on the wet pavement.

Her hair dripped down her back, leaving a line of dampness that felt like it trailed all the way into her shoes. She shuddered.

"Oh, my God," Cordy finally whispered. She twisted her body around and leaned over the front seat to look at the squalling infant, still wrapped in Angel's coat. Angel held him to his chest so tightly that all that showed was the quarter moon of his tiny, pale head. "Is it.is he.?"

"He's fine," Angel said tersely. "As far as I can tell."

"What do we do now?" Wes asked, his voice quiet. The rain-damp streets shushed beneath the tires and the wet road reflected the orange glow of the street lamps like a mirror in purgatory.

After a moment, Fred took a deep breath. "Well, we should probably take him to the hospital, right? I mean, they'll need to check him out and.."

"No," Angel said, his voice like cut steel. "No hospitals. No doctors."

"But, Angel," Cordy said, as if she were going to try and reason with him.

Angel's big body was strung as tightly as barbed wire. "They'll take him from me," he said, his voice a terrified growl.

"We could tell them the truth," Wes said.

Angel laughed, a harsh, grating sound. "Right."

"No, that his mother is dead."

"Angel's right," Cordy said. "We'd have a hard time proving the baby is his."

"I could pretend to be his mother," Fred said.

Angel looked at her, his eyes like black mud after a rainstorm. "Thanks, Fred. But they'd want to check you out, too."

"Yeah, and no way you look like you just had a baby," Gunn put in.

Cordy, still perched over the edge of the seat, looked at Angel, taking in the wet clothes, the clenched hands, the desperate eyes. "Right," she finally said. "No hospital. So, what, then?"

"We have to get away. He let us go once, but.." Angel looked reflexively over his shoulder.

"Who let you go? Holtz?" Gunn finally spoke up. "That the guy you was telling us about? The one who hunted you and Darla?"

The baby screamed louder as Angel clutched him tighter.

"Here, Angel, you're hurting him," Fred said soothingly. "Like this. Hold him like this." She readjusted Angel's arms so the baby was cradled gently between them. "Does anyone have a towel?"

Gunn rummaged around in the front seat and came up with nothing. "Angel's got a blanket in the back. Should be dry," he reminded them.

"Let me just pull over here and.."

"No! You can't stop!" His voice was a loud, desperate demand.

"Angel, calm down," Cordy said. "Wes, first things first. If we're not going to the hospital, we have to stop and get some.baby stuff. Does anyone here know what we need?"

"I do," Fred said quietly. She reached out and put her hand on the baby's head, cupping it gently. His cries dropped to whimpers. "I used to work in the nursery at church."

"I can help, too." Gunn nodded solemnly. "I raised my baby sister."

Angel laid his head back on the car seat. "I don't believe this is happening," he said.

"Well, believe it," Cordy said matter-of-factly. "So, guys, what do we need? Diapers? Formula?"

"Yes, and some clothes," Fred added. "That'll be a good start. Until then, we have to keep him warm. Angel, you need to give the baby to Cordy. She's dry. They can turn the heater on up front."

"There's a Walgreen's about a block up. Open all night," Gunn said quietly to Wes. Wes nodded and changed lanes.

Cordy reached out her hand and brushed Angel's arm. "Angel," she said quietly. "I know you don't want to let go of him, but he's already running a risk of coming down with something. Let me take
him, okay?"

Fred could see the anguish in his eyes. But then Cordy smiled at him and something passed between them, a look Fred didn't have a hard time defining. Trust. Implicit and pure. Angel unwrapped the baby from the wet coat and handed him to Cordy.

She took him as carefully as if she were handling a dozen uncrated eggs. Her face softened, taking on a sweet, sad look. "Hey, there," she soothed, when he started crying again. "It's all right. We're gonna get you warm. Shhhh. Gunn?" she asked quietly, slipping down into the seat and cupping the baby against her chest. "Shirt?"

The baby turned his head, instinctively nuzzling Cordy's breast. "Hey," she said, giving a startled laugh. "Oh, right. Sorry little guy. Nothing in there for you." There was an awkward silence as Gunn shrugged out of his over-shirt and helped Cordy wrap it around Angel's son. "We'll get you a bottle soon, I promise."

The baby quieted as the car heated up, and they all let out a breath of relief, except Angel, who kept looking over his shoulder as if Holtz would appear at any moment.

Cordy made a sound in the back of her throat, a little click that sounded like she was swallowing tears.

"We're here," Wes said, pulling the car to a halt in the Walgreen's parking lot. "Gunn, Fred, go get whatever we need. Hurry. While you're gone, we'll figure out what our next step is."

Angel peered out the window, watching as Fred and Gunn went into the store. "He could be following us," he said urgently. He leaned forward, fingers grasping the seat so tightly he dented the upholstery.

"I don't think he is," Wes said confidently. "If he were, we would have seen him by now. I think he let you go for a reason."

"He could have killed us," Angel said, face nearly in Cordy's hair. "Cordy, don't.."

"Hush," she said, jiggling the baby gently against her body. "I think he's starting to get sleepy."

"We have to find someplace to go," Angel said. "Someplace safe. Where Holtz and Wolfram & Hart can't find us."

"What, go on the run?" Cordy asked, shaking her head. "Angel, we can't."

"Probably not such a good idea with a baby," Wes agreed, looking down at the child cradled in Cordy's arms.

"Besides, we still don't know what he is," she said, patting the baby's bottom. "Do we?" she asked, rubbing her lips over the baby's downy head.

"No, we don't." Angel put his hand on her shoulder. "Cordy, don't get too attached to him. We may have to.."

"Too late. Already attached," she said, looking back at him. She reached up and took his hand. "Stand and deliver, Angel. No pun intended. We can't spend our lives running."

Wes nodded in agreement. "We're stronger here, on our own turf. With our own weapons."

"But we can't go back to the hotel. Not tonight," Angel said, thinking of the bodies littering the floor.

"Fine. We'll go to my place," Cordy said.

"They know that's the first place we'll go. If they want to take the baby.." Angel's voice rose.

"If they want to take the baby, they're going to take the baby," Wes said resolutely. "Going to Mexico--even going underground here--Angel, you know how far their contacts reach. It would be futile."

"Yeah, and if we go back to my place, we've got Dennis and some weapons. Not many, but some," Cordy said.

Angel sighed and rubbed his hands over his face in defeat. "Okay, we'll go back to Cordy's. We all need to rest. Regroup. Think about.things."

"Oh, jeez, Angel. Darla. She.." Cordy stopped mid-sentence.

Angel looked out the window. "Yeah. A noble death. For Darla, of all people." His voice was laced with irony and grief. "Before she staked herself, she told me that this baby was the only good thing we did together. She was right," he said, turning his gaze back to his friends in the front seat. "I'm going to take care of this baby. I'm going to do the right thing."

"Angel, we still don't know.." Wes said, his voice tight.

"Whatever that means, Wesley," Angel replied, clenching his hands in his lap.

Wes nodded. "Sacrifice the one to save the many. It's a terrible thought," he said sadly.

"Whoa," Cordy said, running her finger down the baby's velvety cheek. "No sacrificing until we know exactly what's going on. We need to get the scrolls, finish the research."

"The scrolls!" Wes exclaimed, suddenly realizing that Angel hadn't brought them back with him. "Where are the scrolls?"

"They're at the hotel," Angel said. "Holtz was there, with a bunch of his men. He tried to kill me." He smiled. "Didn't work. But I couldn't get the scrolls out."

"Right," Wes said. "We can go back for them tomorrow."

The baby stirred and opened his eyes, blinking owlishly. "Hey, there, little guy," Cordy crooned. "Do you have a name?"

Angel cleared his throat. "I hadn't, uh, actually.."

"You hadn't thought about it," Wes said quietly. "Because you didn't know.."

"Well, it's not like this happens every day," Angel said defensively.

"Well, fine, so you didn't think about it," Cordelia interjected. "That was then. This is now."

"Cordelia's right. We're going to have to put a name down on a birth certificate, Angel."

Angel was silent for several long moments. "Liam."

"Cool," Cordy said. "Like Liam Neeson?"

Wes shifted uncomfortably on the seat next to her. "No, Cordy, not like Liam Neeson. Angel, are you sure? You were the one who didn't want us to get too attached."

"I'm sure," Angel said, his voice firm.

"Why wouldn't he want to name him that? It's a great name," Cordy said.

Wes looked in the rearview mirror, though, of course, there was nothing there. "Because, Cordy, it was Angel's name. Before."

"Before what?" There was a humming silence. "Oh," Cordy said. "OH." She looked over her shoulder at Angel. "Your name was Liam?" she asked. "How come I didn't know that?" She turned to Wes. "And how come you did?"

"Most vampires take a new name when they're reborn into the family of the living dead," Wes said in a school-marmish tone.

"Right. I'm pretty sure I knew that, Wes. Grew up on the Hellmouth, remember?" Cordy replied, shifting the baby into a more comfortable position. "I just meant that I'd never heard *Angel's* name from before."

"I had to read Angel's history when I became a Watcher," Wes conceded.

"The Watchers know who I was?" Angel asked in disbelief.

"The Watcher's Council knows everything about you," Wes said. "Angel, I'll ask you again, are you sure? If something were to happen to the child.."

"He's my son, Wes. Whatever happens, he deserves to carry his family's name."

Wes sighed. "All right. Liam it is."

"Little Liam," Cordy said, kissing his forehead. "Welcome to our strange world."

The car doors opened and Fred and Gunn got in, loaded with bags. "We weren't sure what we'd need," Gunn said.

"So we got one of everything," Fred finished. She pulled a package out of a bag and ripped it open. "Here. A blanket," she said, handing a soft cotton baby blanket to Cordy. "We also got some formula, but we'll have to wait till we have some water and a place to mix it."

"Great," Cordy said, adding the blanket to the swaddling of Gunn's shirt. "Let's get out of here."

"Where are we heading?" Gunn asked, trying not to jostle the baby as he fastened his seatbelt.

"Cordy's," Wes said.

"But aren't we worried they'll find us there?"

"Some of us are," Angel replied.

"Angel, we talked about this," Wes said measuredly. "I thought you agreed."

"I did," he said resignedly. "You're right, I'm sorry. I'm just a little stressed. Stressed," he babbled. "What a strange word. In my day, people experienced stress, sure. I mean, think about it. War, famine, pestilence. But they didn't talk about it they way we do now. Every time some little thing happens, people complain about how stressed they are." He laughed, sounding slightly unhinged.

"Angel," Fred said, laying her hand on his arm. "We're almost to Cordy's. Just hang on, okay?"

"Man, he's about to lose it, ain't he?" Gunn whispered.

"Shhh," Cordy said.

Wes made the final turn and pulled into Cordy's parking lot. "Okay, we're here," he announced. "Gunn, come with me. We'll make sure the apartment is safe. Angel, you stay in the car with Cordy and Fred. I'll leave the ignition running. If anything happens, get out of here. We'll catch up."

Wes and Gunn exited the car and disappeared into the complex. Angel got into the front seat and slid behind the wheel. His body was tense, his face expressionless.

The baby was quiet in Cordy's arms.

"He seems okay," Fred commented from the back seat.

"Yeah, I think he is. Probably pretty hungry, though," Cordy nodded.

"God. Food," Fred said. "Don't get me started thinking about food."

"Oh, man, what I wouldn't give for a pizza," Cordy sighed.

"How can you think about food at a time like this?" Angel asked, looking at them as if they'd grown three heads.

"Oh, please, Angel. When else would we think about it? Right Fred?"

"Yes. It's the natural tendency of humans to.."

The baby whimpered and kicked restlessly.

"What's wrong?" Angel grabbed Cordy's arm. Liam let out a wail that pierced the car.

"Angel, quit. You're upsetting him." She shifted, sheltering the baby with her shoulders.

"Is he okay?" he asked.

Cordy sighed. "Angel, he seems fine," she said, studying Liam carefully. "Fred?"

"Rock him, Cordy. He just wants to know you're there."

"Right," Cordy said. She began moving back and forth, instinctively setting a rhythm that had a soothing effect on the baby.

After a moment, the car was quiet. "You guys really don't know anything about kids, do you?" Fred asked incredulously. "Didn't you ever baby-sit?"

Cordy laughed. "As if."

"The things I know about babies don't tend to focus on keeping them alive," Angel admitted quietly. He looked out the window. "This is insane."

"Angel, no," Cordy said, looking up from the dozing infant. "There's a reason he's here. We just have to figure out what it is."

"Really, Angel, we can do this," Fred encouraged.

"If I can learn to fight, you can learn to change a diaper," Cordy said, humor and challenge in her voice. "Now that's something I'd pay to see."

"Right," Angel said, chuffing out a laugh. "What's taking them so long?" he asked, tapping his fingers on the steering wheel nervously.

"Probably just being extra careful. You know Wes," Cordy said. "Mr. Careful Guy."

"Yeah," Fred said.

The door opened and the three of them jumped. "Whoa, good thing y'all are paying attention," Gunn said.

"Shut up, Gunn," Cordy replied. "Is everything okay?"

"Right as rain," he said.

Fred grimaced. "Whatever that means."

"So we can go on up?" Angel asked.

"Uh huh. Come on. Wes is up there now doing a protection spell. Dennis is helping."

"Good old Dennis," Cordy said. "Here, Gunn, help me out."

"No, I'll do it," Angel said, rushing around the side of the car and pulling Cordy to her feet. Again, a look flashed between them, and Fred thought of warriors, evenly matched.

"C'mon, Fred," Gunn said, stepping aside so Angel and Cordy could move around him. "Let's get the bags."

Angel put his arm around Cordy, holding her tightly against his side. "Let's get upstairs. We're not protected enough down here," he said, looking over his shoulder.

They went as quickly as they could up the back stairs and into Cordy's apartment. The air was perfumed with the scent of burnt herbs and candle wax.

"Spell about finished?" Gunn asked. Wes nodded from his position at the dining room table, then went back to chanting.

"Um, Angel?" Cordy said, looking at him pointedly. "Time to relearn that concept of personal space."

Angel dropped his arm, but he hovered over her like a big, black shadow. "Okay, what now?" he asked nervously.

"Well, how about a name?" Fred asked.

"Been there, done that," Cordy replied.

"It's Liam," Angel said, shooting Cordy an exasperated look.

"Liam. I like it," Fred said. She stepped forward and held out her arms so Cordy could hand her the sleeping bundle. She took Liam with an easy confidence that had Angel's shoulders relaxing slightly.

"I think the first item on the agenda is to take care of Liam. We need to make sure his vitals check out okay. Then I'll give him a bath," Fred said authoritatively. "After that, it's food for all of
us."

"Sounds good," Gunn said. "How about I order a couple of pizzas?" He went to the kitchen for the phone book.

"See? Pizza. Crisis food," Cordy said, arching an eyebrow at Angel. "Fred, there's a first aid kit under the sink. In the meantime, Wes and I will figure out where everyone is going to sleep."

"Sounds good. Angel, come on. Let's go bathe your son."

Angel smiled, a bittersweet half-smile. "Never thought I'd hear that," he said, shaking his head and following Fred to the kitchen.

"Okay," Cordy said once he was out of earshot. "This is weirder than crap. Is he gonna be okay?"

"I think he just needs time to process," Wes said as they made their way back to the linen closet for sheets and pillows.

"Well, yeah. But what if.?"

"What if we have to kill the baby?" Wes shuddered. "I don't even want to think about it."

"But of course we do. Have to think about it, I mean," Cordy said, loading Wes up with linens.

"Yes, but there's nothing we can do about it tonight, anyway. The scrolls and all our books are back at the hotel. I think, as Angel said, we should just rest. There will be plenty of time tomorrow to
research and plan."

Cordy nodded and followed him into the living room. She dropped the pillows on the couch and pointed Wes toward the chair. "Just stick 'em there for now," she said. "No one's gonna be sleeping for several hours, anyway."

"Okay, pizza's on its way," Gunn said, rubbing his hands together in anticipation. "Guess all we gotta do now is wait."

From the kitchen a newborn baby's cries rang out over the cozy sound of quiet voices and splashing water.

"Yeah," Cordy replied, looking at Wes and Gunn. "Now all we have to do is wait."

END

 



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