Rising Up
by Esperanza

Cordy's eyes blinked open and it took a moment to adjust to the brightness of her bedroom. She became aware of the person whose arm was wrapped around her waist, as the memories of the last couple days came back to her. Smiling, Cordelia looked down at Kate, her messy blonde hair covering part of her face. Last night had been amazing, to say the least. It was as if Kate could sense how nervous she was and did everything she could to make Cordelia more comfortable. Cordy never really thought that being with the right person made it better, but it did.

Cordy was craving a good cup of coffee, and although she was pretty much an idiot in the kitchen she had learned how to make coffee. Slipping out of Kate's arms and pulling on her robe, Cordy glanced at herself in the mirror, just to see if she looked any different. It wasn't her first time, exactly, but it was her first time with a woman so you never know.

"Cordy?" Kate's groggy voice interrupted her thoughts. "What are you doing?" Cordy turned back towards her lover, who was brushing the blonde strands off her face.

"I'm going to make coffee. You can stay here and I can bring it to you, or you can use my other robe and..." Cordelia broke off suddenly with a blush. She had never had a morning after and really didn't know how she was supposed to act.

"Okay, I'll be right there." Kate said softly, giving Cordy a little smile. Cordelia exhaled in relief and stared at Kate for a second, not quite believing the situation, before heading to the kitchen.

Cordelia was about halfway across the kitchen when she noticed that Dennis had changed his magnetic poetry message to her. Last night, it had been about planning their Christmas dinner with Angel and Doyle but today it said, "Go Cordy." Cordelia's mouth dropped open and she felt her face turn bright red.

"Dennis!" She said loudly, then slapped her hand over her mouth, remembering that Kate was awake. Forgetting about the coffee, she ran over and scrambled up the letters so Kate would never know they had been there. Turning around, she looked around the apartment for any other sign of Dennis. Now, that would be a tough one to explain your apartment being haunted by a friendly ghost and all. Then another thought entered her mind and she blushed even redder. "If you watched us, Dennis, I will kill you." She murmured, "And don't think I won't do it."

"Are you talking to someone?" Cordy jumped at the sound of Kate's voice and turned around to face a perplexed Kate. Cordy smiled a little and shook her head.

"Just myself," She said as she stepped over to Kate, wrapping her arms around Kate's waist and pulling her in for a kiss, totally forgetting Dennis for a moment. "Do you have to work today?"

"No, I have this weekend off. Would you like to spend the it with me?" Kate whispered as she nuzzled Cordy's neck. It was so amazing, to feel like this, to have Cordelia in her arms, and even though Kate's fears were still present, when she was with Cordy, she didn't care. Cordelia nodded slightly.

"Yeah," She said and then cringed, "But I have to go into work for a little while this morning."

"Then I'll come with you. I have to talk to Angel about that case file I gave him a few days ago. Is that okay?" Kate pulled back and looked in Cordy's eyes, running her fingers through her hair. Cordelia was about to say yes but suddenly thousands of doubts flooded her mind. Bringing Kate to the office meant telling Angel and Doyle the truth about her relationship with Kate. What would they think of her? She couldn't bear to lose Angel and Doyle; they were the closet thing to family she had. Bringing Kate to the office meant possibly having to tell Kate the truth about Angel, Doyle, and what their little agency really did? She had an awful vision of Kate walking away in horror.

Cordy shook her head. "You better not."

"Why, sweetie?" Kate's casual term of affection tugged at Cordy's heart.

"I'm just not ready." Cordelia admitted and she felt Kate stiffen in her arms. After their conversation last night, Cordy knew what Kate must have been thinking; that Cordy was ashamed, that this wasn't real, that she had no true feelings for Kate. It wasn't true but Cordy didn't know how to express that. She couldn't tell Kate the real reason she didn't want her at the office.

Pulling away, Kate nodded, "Well, give me a call later, if you want." She tried to smile but Cordy could see the hurt in her eyes. It wasn't twelve hours in to the relationship and Cordy had all ready hurt Kate. The only problem was, she had no idea how to fix it.


Cordy drummed her fingers on her desk, not listening at all to Angel and Doyle's conversation about some local vampire gang. Her mind was on Kate and what happened this morning. The more she thought about it, the more it didn't make any sense. Cordelia Chase always says what she means. It's like a fact, but around Kate Cordy felt a little bit lost. She didn't understand how she felt. On one hand, she was so happy about what had happened between them. On the other, she still wasn't sure how to go forward in this. Cordy was scared and it wasn't a feeling she was used to.

This wasn't like her relationship with Xander, where they both wanted to keep it a secret. Kate wasn't afraid of what people thought of her and all she wanted was a normal relationship. As much as Cordy wanted to give that to her, she wasn't sure she could.

"Princess, are you listening at all?" Doyle's voice interrupted her thoughts.

"Yes. Well, I heard some of it." Cordelia defended herself and rolled her eyes. She didn't need this right now. She had a major life crisis going on.

"What's going on, Cordy? You have barely said a word to either of us all morning." Angel said in that quiet, soothing voice that was always getting on her nerves.

Cordy froze at the question, going over her options. She could lie, which was pretty much the easy way out and she was never one for taking the easy route. Besides, could she do that to Kate? Keeping up this lie, all the time knowing that it was hurting her seemed cruel and unfair. Another option was telling the truth, a thought that frightened her greatly. What would Angel and Doyle say or do. She knew they were too nice to say anything outright but could she live with that tension in the air that came with disapproval? Then there was Kate to consider in all of this. Cordy wanted to be in this relationship without anything hanging over her head, especially not this. There was only one right choice.

"I went out on a date with someone last night." Cordelia started, debating about what the best way to approach this was. Angel and Doyle were both looking at her, ready with their questions as soon as she finished. "It was Kate."

There, she had said it. Angel and Doyle looked shocked for a moment, but Angel seemed to recover first. "I had no idea that you and Kate were interested in each other." He said as tactfully as possible. Cordelia smiled, knowing that he was really trying here.

"Well, it happened kind of suddenly." Cordy said, blushing slightly.

"I'll say." Doyle piped in. "How did it go?" He asked and Angel looked curious as well. Cordy couldn't believe she was sitting here talking about her date with Kate like it was just a normal date.

"It was perfect." Cordy said, blushing slightly again. "She spent the night." Cordelia could not believe she had just told them that. It was like her mouth was working without her permission. They did not need to know that! She glanced up at Doyle who was grinning and even Angel was smiling slightly.

"Well, that gives me fantasy material for the next year." Doyle joked and Cordy hit him.

"Leave it to you to turn something beautiful into whatever it was you were thinking." Cordy sighed. "Anyway, I think I need some advice." She was looking at Angel who seemed to understand that she was serious. Even Doyle stopped grinning.

"Okay, I wanted to spend the weekend with her but I had to come here. She offered to come with me and while I really, really wanted to say yes there were so many reasons why I had to say no. But I think I hurt her because now she thinks I'm ashamed of what happened between us." Cordelia said and Angel looked thoughtful for a moment, ready to impart his wisdom.

"I think you've proved you aren't ashamed by telling us. Why don't you call her? Tell her to come by." Angel said, nodding his head. Cordelia could tell he wanted to ask Kate his usual questions that he asked her dates when they picked her up at the office.

"Man, you realize she is going to have to find out about you." He said to Angel.

"If I invite her over, we tell her the truth today." Cordelia said, sounding firm. Inside though, she wasn't so sure. What if Kate wanted nothing to do with all this?

"Then we'll tell her. As much as she helps us out anyway, I think she deserves to know." Angel said. He looked at Doyle and they took that as their cue to retreat into Angel's office. Now all Cordy had to do was call Kate.


They were all waiting in the office when Kate arrived. Cordy was sitting behind the desk, nervously shuffling papers and checking the clock. Doyle was sitting on the edge of the desk, watching Cordelia and noticing the slight trembling in her hands. Angel leaned against the wall, still and silent. Cordy still didn't know how he could stay in one place for so long without moving. They stayed in those positions for twenty minutes after Cordy made the quick phone call to Kate. The tension was thick and they were all a little grateful when Kate finally stepped through the door.

"Wow. Looks like I have a welcoming party." Kate said, trying to hide her nervousness. Years as a cop made her good at hiding her emotions, not to mention years of living with her father.

"I told them." Cordy came right out and said it. Kate looked surprised and took a breath in.

"Cordy, you didn't have to," Kate started.

"I wanted to. I wouldn't have done it if it were not what I wanted. You know that." Cordy interrupted her.

"I know." Kate said softly and Cordy smiled. Angel and Doyle exchanged a grin as the two women stared at each other. It was as if the stupid misunderstanding that morning just melted away. Cordy glanced at Angel, who nodded almost imperceptibly.

"There is something else you need to know." Cordy took a deep breath, "You need to know why I didn't want you to come to the office this morning. You need to know the truth." Kate looked confused and Cordy looked scared. Angel looked at the frightened brunette and took pity on her.

"I know you have a lot of questions about me," Angel started, pulling Kate's focus to him, "And our little 'detective' agency. I think it's time you knew what we are really all about." Angel finished and Kate nodded, still confused but willing to hear what they had to say. She sunk down in a chair across from Cordelia, who finally gathered her courage to talk.

"I was afraid you wouldn't understand. You see, we deal with, well, let's just say most of our cases aren't normal. In fact, they're more of the abnormal and supernatural." Cordy said. Kate's eyebrows shot up and Cordy nodded.

"Supernatural?" Kate's voice was obviously disbelieving.

"Yeah, vampires, demons, ghosts, and the occasional warlock bent on destruction." Doyle replied.

"Okay." Kate sounded like she thought they were all out of their minds.

Angel looked at Kate, knowing she wasn't going to just believe them. She was a cop; a detective and she had a mind like one. What she needed was evidence, proof that something was going on. He reached for a stack of files on top of the file cabinet, dropping the first one down in front of Kate. She picked it up and started to thumb through it.

"This is the nightclub serial killer case." Kate said, "The one you helped me on."

"Think about that case, Kate." Angel started talking. "Remember how there were so many different victims, their bodies completely destroyed. I know you didn't really believe it was the bartender." Angel said. Kate thought about his words, the facts coming together in her mind.

"What are you saying?"

"It was a demon. He was a burrower, going from one body to another, trying to find a home." Angel explained, before tossing another file on the desk. "The woman who was being stalked, saying he was everywhere at once. That's because he was."

Kate nodded numbly as Angel threw yet another file down on the desk. "The multiple suicides in Cordelia's apartment? It was a ghost, driving the girls to kill themselves."

"Actually, I had two ghosts. The evil little old lady ghost is gone now, and I just have Dennis. He's friendly." Cordy said.

"That's who you were talking to this morning?" Kate suddenly said and Cordy nodded. Kate's thoughts were a mess but certain things were clear: something was going on, something that she didn't want to admit to. But here was an explanation, a crazy one for sure, but an explanation that was starting to make sense. One she was starting to believe.

"Finally, remember what happened the night of your father's retirement party?" Angel said, dropping the last file on her desk. Kate looked up at him before taking the file to look through it. No one missed the slight tremble that was starting in her hands. The proof was right here, no matter how much she wanted to deny it.

"Someone spiked the drinks." Kate replied, sounding more like she was trying to convince herself more than she was trying to convince anyone else.

"It was a spell." Cordelia said gently. "We think that mobster hired someone to do it."

"That makes sense." Kate said, still flipping through the file. As if she just realized what she said, she dropped the file and quickly stood up. "This is crazy. You are crazy." Kate said, starting to back. Doyle reached out and touched her arm.

"There's something else." Doyle said. " I know you have a lot of questions about our boy Angel over there. The truth is he's a vampire with a soul, the only one in the world. He's a fighter of evil and defender of the innocent." Doyle said and Kate turned to Angel. "Angel, go into your vamp face, man. Show her." Angel sighed and vamped out for a second causing Kate to gasp.

"My god." She whispered. It made sense. It all made sense and Kate knew in her heart, it was true. "I'm sorry. I have to think." Kate said and with that, she turned and fled. Cordy just covered her face with her hands and tried not to cry.


Kate climbed into the driver's seat of her car, fumbling with her keys. She couldn't believe what had just happened in that office, what she had seen and what it meant. Memories assaulted her of Angel's vamp face, the night of her father's party, the way she had acted, the nightclub. Her mind started to piece things together against her will; it was the curse of being a good detective. She wanted to pretend that it hadn't just happened, that she didn't believe them. She wanted to be able to say they were crazy, just plain crazy and she would never believe anything like that.

But she couldn't. To do that would be to deny what she knew in her gut was true, what all the evidence seemed to support, and what she had seen. Kate couldn't do that; it wasn't her nature. She was a detective and had been raised to be one, seeking the truth and the evidence to back it up. She couldn't just pretend that it didn't happen.

Kate just drove around aimlessly for a while, not knowing what she was supposed to do next.


"It could have been worse." Doyle finally broke the thick silence that had descended over the office after Kate had left. Angel just stared at his feet and Cordy finally lifted her face from her hands and shot him one of her looks of death that she had perfected in high school. Doyle shut up.

"I think she'll be back." Angel said softly. Cordy looked over at him, the question in her eyes. Angel nodded and continued, "I know Kate and it takes a lot to throw her off."

"I hope you are right." Cordy replied, standing to look out the window. Kate's car was all ready gone and Cordy felt her tears well up in eyes. Keeping her back to Angel and Doyle so they wouldn't see her crying, she let them fall silently.

Angel and Doyle saw Cordelia's shoulders shaking slightly and they both knew she was crying, even if she didn't want them to know. Looking at each other, they both said a quick prayer to God that Kate would indeed come back.


Kate knew exactly where she was going, although she hadn't meant to end up on this street. Slowing to a stop in front of the house that she called home for so long, she climbed out and just stared at it. Dad and her mother had bought the tiny house after they got married, planning to move into a bigger one when they had children. Kate was born not long after that but her Mom died before they could have any more children. Kate and her dad just stayed, although it took her a long time to understand why. It took her a long time to realize Dad was trying to hold on to her in his own way.

She had moved out when turned eighteen and had only been back a few times since then, choosing instead to visit her dad at the station, a kind of neutral territory they had both been comfortable with. Kate walked up the driveway, pulling her key out. No one was home, her dad having still working, despite his promise to retire. Slipping the key in the lock, Kate let herself back home.

It looked exactly how she remembered it, but that wasn't surprising. Kate knew her dad probably hadn't changed the house in twenty years, and she suspected her old room was just the same, down to the stacks of old magazines she always had all over her room. Taking the short trip up the stairs, Kate looked into her dad's room first. It was the same, clean and uncluttered, reminding her vaguely of a hospital room. Kate finally peeked into her room and smiled when her guess had been right. The room was unchanged. Kate knew her dad so well.

Kate went into her room, inspecting her things before catching site of the small-framed picture of her mother that she always kept by her bed. They looked so much alike; the only difference was that Kate always thought her mother had a sparkle that she didn't have. She never had.

Her mother was the big question mark in Kate's life. She only had vague, blurry memories of being in her arms, being sung to, being kissed and hugged. Despite having almost no memories of her, Kate had always missed her mother with all her heart. There were nights growing up that she would lie in bed and cry softly, wishing she had her mommy. The fact her dad refused to talk about it only made the ache more intense until Kate made herself stop feeling it.

The only reminder she had of her mother was that picture she treasured with her soul. All of her mother's things had been packed away and put in the attic, where Kate was forbidden to go. Kate's gaze traveled to the ceiling and before she could think about what her dad might say, she was climbing the rickety ladder in to the attic.


Cordy's heart actually hurt. That had never happened before, not even when she had caught Xander kissing Willow and she had honestly thought she really loved Xander. This pain she was feeling over Kate was deeper, so far that it reached places that Cordy didn't even know she had. Memories of the night before seemed to be trying to kill her, thoughts of talking with Kate, hearing her soft laugh as they talked, those kisses that literally made Cordy breathless.

Cordy thought about making love to Kate, how gentle Kate had been when Cordy was scared about making love to a woman for the first time. She remembered the softness of Kate's skin, the little gasping noises Kate made when Cordy had put her mouth on her body, the feeling of Kate's mouth on Cordy's body. It seemed to run through her head, along with the fear that she had lost Kate forever. Never in a million years did Cordy ever think she'd feel this way about woman but she did.

Cordy was falling in love with Kate.


Kate reached up and pulled the light cord, the bulb dimly lighting the dusty, slightly dank room. She had never been up here and just stared at the boxes that were stacked everywhere. She had no idea her dad even owned this much stuff. She looked around, running her hands over the boxes; some covered in dust an inch thick. She wasn't sure what she was looking for but she would know when she found it. Spying a trunk pushed into the corner, Kate went over and wiped the thick pile of dust off of it. Gasping, she looked at initials that were engraved on the top.

"Mom." Kate whispered, her hands shaking as she undid the latch on the trunk and opened it up. An old musty smell filled the air as she lifted the lid. Lying on top was a white silk slip and Kate touched it carefully. This belonged to her mother; it was something she actually wore. Kate set it aside carefully and reached in to pull out the several books under the slip. There were old hardback copies of books that Kate had read years ago: Jane Eyre, Pride and Prejudice, and Emma. Kate smiled at her mom's reading choices. It just added another piece to the puzzle of her mother. It was a mystery she had always wanted to solve and this was the closest she had ever come.

She pulled out a thick photo album, and when she opened it she felt her breath catch in her throat: they were pictures of her Mom and dad's wedding day. Her mother looked so beautiful in a simple white dress and veil, but it wasn't the dress that did it. She was just glowing with happiness. Kate smiled at how young her dad looked and how so very happy. She had never seen him so happy. Kate's eyes started to water as she came across a picture of the two of them kissing, so in love.

She kept turning the pages as the album showed their first year of marriage, outside the house after buying it, and finally pictures of her mother pregnant with her. Kate's eyes started to water, a few tears escaping as she saw how happy her Mom was. As she turned the page, the pictures became pictures of her with her Mom after she been born, of her dad gingerly holding her, of all three of them as a family. Kate started openly crying at that picture. They were a family at one time.

The next thing she pulled out was a small book with no title on it. As she thumbed through it she realized it was her mother's, filled with poetry in her small, feminine handwriting. Kate randomly picked out a poem and started to read it.

I look to the heavens to find the truth,
Only to see the truth lies right here.
The questions will be answered one day,
But right now all I have is love.
Love is the greatest truth of all.

Kate smiled at the hopeful, sweet poem. It was a little sappy but Kate had a feeling that this what was really in her mom's heart. The most important thing in the world was love; it was the only thing that mattered. Suddenly Cordy's face flashed into Kate's mind and she knew. Her Mom was looking over her, trying to send her a message. She loved Cordelia; that she was sure of. The world was full of crazy, scary stuff that she wished she could pretend didn't exist. But it did exist, and her Mom was trying to tell her that it didn't matter. All that mattered was love.

"Thank you, Mommy. I love you." Kate whispered before closing the trunk and rushing out to her car, poetry book in hand. She had to see Cordy.

To Be Continued