A Christmas Wish

A/N Just a little look into what Christmas would've been like in S3 of Angel. Placed between S3E10 and S3E11 this is probably my favourite place in the whole series: Connor had just been born, Wesley and Gunn were still pining after Fred and Cordy and Angel were a little in love with each other but didn't know it. So this is actually canon, with some possible stuff that may have happened in the middle. Pre-WWS for this chapter but may extend to other Christmases later on in the timeline.

Los Angeles, the world without shrimp 2001 Christmas Day

Once upon a time in Los Angeles, the weather was growing mildly colder than usual and every store on Sunset was stocking plastic snowmen and less-than-real reindeer. Cordelia was cooking (much to Wesley's dismay) and Connor was sleeping in the corner by the fire. Wesley had insisted on a proper fireplace for the hotel now that it was their second winter in the hotel and the first had been so freezing they'd run out of money for the expanding heating bill. So now there was a stack of logs neatly piling at its side.

Lorne was sitting in front of the thing with his olive palms outstretched and a piece of bread on a toasting fork. As Gunn and Fred came in from the yard carrying piles of wood in their opposing arms and flirting about something Wesley hadn't quite caught. He gave them a jealous glance but switched to a smile as Fred noticed his watchful eye.

"Food's nearly ready!" Came Cordy's shout from the kitchen - it was a refurbished room now with slightly nicer tile and as big an oven as they could afford. Angel and Cordelia stood side by side; even though he didn't eat the food, helping to prepare came with its perks. He got to stand next to Cordy for most of the night, and boom his already blossoming feelings. Gradually his crush was growing - it had been for some while. But since Connor was born, with the late nights and the midnight feeds, Cordelia often spent the would wake with their heads against each other and their lips so close he could kiss her in a single breath.

Angel covered his ears with the back of his hand (as he was trying to simultaneously peel half a dozen carrots) squinting over at her. As she gave him a shrug he chuckled a dropped his fingers back to the peeler. "Do you have to shout that loud?" He asked, it was rhetorical really, but she just smirked and nudged a well aimed elbow into his side. She grabbed the ruddy pair of oven gloves and pulled a steaming tray of roast potatoes out of the oven.

In the lobby, nerves were coming off of Wesley in waves, he'd gotten Fred a present for secret Santa after they had all decided no one had enough money to buy each other separate gifts. Lorne could sense his anxiety and pulled him off to the side - he didn't need a song for this one. "Wes, crumb cakes, what's going on?" He said, gripping Wesley's sweating palm - he hadn't told anyone apart from Cordy about his intense crush on the cute physics geek, but he knew Lorne must know, he was an empath demon after all.

"I bought a gift for Fred, and I don't know whether she's going to like it or not, or whether she'll think it's completely stupid." He replied, peeling his eyes away from the green man and towards the rest of the room, seeking Fred's friendly face and curly brown hair. As his hands grew clammier still Lorne offered some advice that may help and his awaiting toast began to burn. The smell wrapping around the room like cotton candy round a little wooden stick. As Connor began to cry Angel came rushing in from the kitchen to pick him up and comfort him as Cordy brought the food out to a table they'd somehow found and fitted into the lobby space.

Everybody munched away - except of course, Angel who fed Connor his bottle and lay him to sleep in his arms. After dinner came presents and much to Wesley's wiles, Fred loved his gift - a copy of some physic-sy book Gunn had never heard of but clearly the nerd squad next to him had. Laughs were had and chestnuts were roasted by the fire, followed by badly mad eggnog and exhausted/drunk patrons falling into beds in the spare hotel rooms. Leaving Cordelia to deal with the cleanup and Angel asleep on the couch.

As the middle of the night loomed and Cordy was tidying away the last of the trays and cutlery, Angel's head came round to him and the alcohol threatened a hideous headache. He'd only woken because he was having a dream about Connor crying and then somehow the noise had managed to force his brain into an automatic bottle making mode - his fingers fiddling with the muscle memory. As he soon realised Connor was sound asleep and not making a peep at all, he crept through the lobby and peaked around the door of the kitchen. Watching Cordelia move gracefully he just stopped and stared for a while, even though his eyelids were drooping and his head was thumping he knew he could stand there and watch her for hours.

Cordy jumped as she saw him standing there in the doorway - looking like he could drop to the floor asleep at any moment, but with a cheeky grin on his face that made her think that someday there could be more between them than best friendship. "Hi lurker," she said quietly, turning off the light in the kitchen, letting the soft firelight shine their way as she close herself in on him. Oblivious to her motions, Angel looked down at his awkward feet, his heart thumping with warmth the nearer she got to him. "Connor was crying a little while ago but I gave him a bottle and a cuddle and he dozed off, you were out for the count and I didn't wanna disturb on Christmas." She said, leaning a little into his side as he took in every feature of her face, every crease and crevice, the tired lines under her eyes and the cute hair curling by her eye - even after an hour's battle with the straighteners.

"Oh, so that's what that was." Angel mumbled to himself, but Cordy caught the edge of his words.

"What was what?" She whispered, glancing upwards just past his sticking-up hair to the mistletoe that was hung in the doorway they were standing under.

"Oh-" he caught the moment, and perhaps the small glint in the corner of her eye and gave the room a quick scan to check no one else was around - which being the middle of the night, they weren't. "I was just..." he mumbled on slowly, pausing between each phrase and lowering his face inch by inch. "Dreaming..." He finished, feeling like this could be a dream. His mouth dropped for the last ten percent of space between them, his lips fitting around hers in an emotion instead of pointlessness. She was warm and soft, and for a second he was convinced he was in a dream and tried to wake himself up, Cordy would never kiss him in her right mind, but here she was and here it was happening. He left it at gentle, not deepening the kiss for fear she was doing it out of pity, but still let through the smile that was sneaking onto his lips and let his fingers linger at her ear before they broke apart. It was a short and sweet kiss, and maybe it was a dream, maybe it was Christmas magic, or maybe, just maybe it was the power of a wish on a shooting star.

Either way, as she left the room for bed she kissed him on the cheek and said, "it is Christmas after all."