Title: The Napa River Inn

Author: Misty Flores

Email: mistiec_flores@yahoo.com

Rating: PG

Category: AU, Humor, Romance

Content: C/A,

Summary: Only Angel would accidentally book their romantic getaway at a haunted hotel.

Spoilers: S5 - I'm ignoring a lot.

Disclaimer: The characters in the Angelverse were created by Joss Whedon & David Greenwalt. No infringement is intended, no profit is made.

Notes: I took the inspiration for this fic from an actual haunted hotel in Napa Valley. Apologies to the ghosts. Also – I'm out of practice for this couple. It's just a short, silly fic. Please don’t expect too much.

Thanks: Thanks to Jewelianna who provided the prompt: Angel and Cordelia book a getaway to wine country to enjoy the fall weather, but not realizing it was Halloween weekend get stuck in a haunted hotel.

--

"Of course. Only you. Only you would manage to pick the ONE hotel in the entire Napa Valley-" Cordelia Chase, frustrated beyond measure, clamped her mouth shut, and resumed her pacing. "-'the most ROMANTIC place in California', you said. 'Wine and cheese', you said. 'No monsters or ghosts in Napa Valley', you said. 'I checked this place out', you said. And I listened to you! I listened to you!"

Sucking in a pained, unneeded breath, Angel leaned against the silver counter. "At least the bread smells nice," he mumbled sheepishly, brushing his palm against the smooth, cool texture of the metal.

He received a burst of hazel heat in his direction as a result, and Angel shut his mouth, staring at the ceiling. Better to allow her to get the rant out and get it over with. Angel had learned from experience that just allowing Cordelia to talk it all out was the best course of action.

Cordelia had a lot to complain about.

Not that he blamed her - what with the demon possessions and mind-numbing visions and ending up in comas and dying and then coming back to save him from certain Apocalypses and all.

"This is my fault," his girlfriend said finally, throwing her hands up in surrender, sinking down onto the stairs that led down into the pantry. "I should have learned not to let you plan an outing. You'd think 'Giselle' would have taught me a lesson but ... noooo."

She was losing steam. Time to make his move.

"Cordelia, I realize that getting stuck in a haunted hotel at Halloween may not be the ideal way to spend an anniversary-"

Perfectly arched brows nearly disappeared into Cordelia's forehead, before she rolled her eyes and 'pfft'ed him.

"But let's try to think of the bright side of all this. These are just ghosts."

"Just ghosts?" she repeated. "My, we're jaded, aren't we?"

"Well, I am a vampire." He shrugged. "I think it's safe to say that trumps ghost."

"A vampire with a soul, Angel. That's like... a tomcat whose been neutered."

He winced. "I hate that analogy. I'm just saying that as far as ghosts go, these seem fairly harmless." When Cordelia's eyes narrowed, he continued quickly. "There's just been some wailing."

"And the elevators going up and down."

"Right, and our door slamming open and closed."

"And if you think you're getting lucky while our door is on auto-pilot, you've got another thing coming," Cordelia confirmed with a sharp snap. "And there's also that other thing." Without preamble, she pointed the ceiling.

Dual pairs of eyes glanced up at the apparition swinging from the noose, feet dangling two feet above Angel's head. The ghost of a middle aged man, eyes bugged out oxygen deprivation, looked lost and miserable, hanging around. Literally.

Angel clucked his tongue, crossing his arms as his eyes connected with their new friend.

"Right..."

"So, now - instead of having a nice and romantic anniversary, we're stuck on Halloween in a haunted hotel. This is great. Can we get a refund?"

When the ghost choked and gagged and caused a fearful chill in the room, the third time since they had been dragged from their bed into the hotel bakery, Cordelia shot him a scathing glare.

"Look, Mister. My old roommate was buried alive by his bitch of a poltergeist mother. I gave birth to demon spawn. Angel worked for lawyers. We've been through worse than this, so stop being such a pussy and let us think."

The ghost looked affronted, and when Angel shrugged in commiseration, he stuck out a blue tongue.

--

"'Nothing ever happens on Halloween', you said. 'This hotel isn't haunted', you said."

"CORDELIA." Losing patience, Angel's hands rose to his temples. "I get it, okay? I’m sorry I booked us a haunted hotel and a haunted room. But, you know, as far as things going wrong? This isn't that bad."

Glancing up from the laptop she was currently, Cordelia offered a suspicious glare.

"I'm just saying, we've had a lot of bad things happen to us, and haunted houses aren't really high up on the list. You lived with a ghost for years."

"Dennis was a nice ghost."

"And who says these people aren't nice?"

"Did you see what that guy was wearing?"

Rolling his eyes, Angel sighed, settling into a plush chair.

"Oh, wow – look. A minute of using google and I find out that the Napa River Inn is the most haunted hotel in Napa Valley. You'd think SOMEONE would have thought of that."

"Cordelia," he warned.

Cordelia's look was pointed before she hunched over, and read from the screen. "Mister Suicide's name is Albert Hatt Jr. He married Margaret Riley in 1889. They had five children, and then Margaret died in 1906."

"That explains the wailing," he admitted.

"Oh, it gets better. Or worse," she amended, apparently struck with a moment of sympathy. "At age 46, apparently overburdened with the responsibilities of caring for his five children, despondent at being sued over the ownership of a company steamboat and in poor health, Albert Jr., hung himself from a beam in the warehouse on April 1, 1912 in the area now occupied by Sweetie Pies Bakery." Cordelia sighed. "Wow."

He had to admit, the information was sobering.

"So this guy loses his wife, gets all depressed over playing Mr. Mom and he decides to orphan them instead? What a loser."

Startled, Angel glanced up at his unsympathetic partner. "Cordelia, the man lost the love of his life. He was thrust into the unknown, responsible for the lives of others when he had no idea who he was himself. That kind of desperation can lead to all sorts of bad decisions."

"Okay, no one told you to project, Angel." Snapping the laptop closed, Cordelia crossed her arms, thoughtful. "The website also said that there's a woman ghost running around here who seems to be trying to stop her husband from committing suicide."

"Margaret."

"In the undead flesh. So here's the plan. I go find this Margaret chick, you go down and talk to Albert, we hook them up, help them move on, and get some sleep. Ready? Break!"

"Cordelia!" Angel stood, unnaturally bewildered. "We're not marriage counselors!"

"So? We still save souls, right? Let's do this thing."

"Maybe they just want to rest in peace."

His girlfriend offered him a disbelieving snort. "Angel, this place has a lot of ghost stories, but no one has actually been treated to quite the night that we've had. These ghosts are obviously asking for help because they sense we've got the supernatural vibe. Go do your do-gooding thing, and then maybe you'll get lucky."

He narrowed his eyes dangerously. "You know, I used to be the Scourge of Europe."

"Uh-huh. Try that with the woman who hasn't seen you sing 'Mandy'." She clapped him companionably on the shoulder. "Go team!"

--

Venturing down the stairs of the haunted hotel in the middle of the night, Angel's thoughts were hardly of the supernatural variety.

He had lived plenty in his long, long life, and yet every day with Cordelia was a continuous surprise.

"I'm henpecked," he breathed, shaking his head in disbelief. "I'm a hen-pecked husband!"

He was a blood-drinking, soul-saving, hen-pecked husband with a partner who had been to heaven and hell and because of that seemed to have absolutely no fear of him at all.

It was humbling. And… domestic. And strange. And why wasn't he fighting this?

Pushing into the darkened bakery, Angel slowed his steps, dark eyes searching the shadows for any unwelcome guests before he looked up, and once again encountered Albert Hatt, staring at him mournfully from his noose.

"Hi," Angel ventured, unsure what else to do. "Mind if I sit?"

Albert regarded him suspiciously.

Pulling himself up on the counter, Angel felt immensely awkward. How exactly was he supposed to do here?

"So, here's the thing," he began finally. "I'm sure that's not a comfortable situation you've got going on up there. I mean, I know uncomfortable. I was stuck in a casket underwater for three months, so… and there was the time I was sent to hell – that sucked too…"

Albert's dark eyes blinked at him.

"Right," he breathed, hopping off the counter. "Listen, guy. I know you're really tormented and all. I mean, it really sucks to lose the love of your life. I've lost mine… well…" he began to count with his fingers, ticking off the instances. "First there was Buffy… and … well that's two and Cordelia…" he squinted, trying to think, "Uh… heaven. Then the whole sleeping with Conor thing… then coma. Then heaven again…Six? Is it six times?" When Albert only stared at him, he continued quickly, "It was a lot of times. I've reached the point of desperation when you just don’t care about anything. I mean there was this time, with Darla- did I mention Darla?"

Albert looked ready to hang himself all over again.

"Umm… nevermind." Exhaling, he shoved his hands in his pockets and glanced up. "The point is, this isn't the way to honor your wife. You honor her by moving on. By becoming the man she saw in you, and then, if you're lucky, you meet up with her again." A small, grateful smile flitted on vampire lips. "And you take that chance. You take it to be happy. You want to see your wife again?"

Albert blinked.

"You gotta head toward that light, buddy. If not, you're gonna keep hanging around here, and …" he glanced around. "Has anyone actually told you you're dead?"

--

Pushing the door open to room 208, Angel discovered a brunette in a silk nightgown, lounging on the large four post bed and paging lazily through a pilfered Vogue magazine.

"Hi," Cordelia flashed him a gentle smile as she glanced up at him. "How'd it go?"

Crawling up on to the bed beside her, he settled against the pillows, to stare up at the ceiling.

"I never realized how ridiculous my life sounds until I have to relay it to a ghost hanging from a noose in a bakery," he drawled dryly. The corners of Cordelia's mouth pulled up in response. "He's gone."

A warm hand covered his own, and squeezed.

"I talked to the wifey. Found her wailing and slamming doors and bringing up elevators."

"Have a good talk?"

"We bonded. She wailed. I told her white after Labor Day was a no-no."

He smiled, despite his better judgment. "And?"

"And somewhere on the other side they're smooching and she's slapping his ass for committing suicide and orphaning her five kids."

That was his Cordelia. Only she would consider this man's sacrifice not a sacrifice at all, but a sign of weakness. A true love would live his life to his full potential.

The hand on his own smoothed over his wrist, and fingers entwined. "Angel. Thank you."

He glanced over, and discovered his lover, bright eyes shining. "For what?" he whispered, pulling their entwined hands over his stomach, so they lay on his chest.

"For being you. You do stupid things, like booking haunted hotels on Halloween, but when it comes to the important stuff… you're pretty damned honorable."

She said it in a low, throaty velvet infused tone, and the sound of it went deep inside of him. With a smile, he curled into her, feeling smug. "I am, aren't I?"

Nodding, Cordelia grinned, and snuggled into his shoulder. "Hell, I left heaven for you. You should feel special."

Untangling their fingers to thread digits through Cordelia's dark brown hair, Angel kept completely still, and considered his life until this point.

"Believe me," he finally breathed. "I do."

--

"Thank you so much for staying with us here at the Napa River Inn." The hostess shot them both a flashing grin before glancing back down at her computer. "Did you have a good evening?"

"You're hotel is haunted," Cordelia said flatly.

The hostess beamed. "Yes, we're very proud of our ghosts. We have a website where you can record your experiences…"

"Oh, you won't have any problem with them anymore," Angel fumbled with the luggage. "We took care of them."

"What?"

"Yeah, the white lady ghost and the husband who committed suicide? They're crossed over. They're gone."

The hostess went silent.

"You're welcome?" Cordelia tried.

"You… you … you got rid of the ghosts?" The lady's face seemed suddenly pale. "But… but… people … they come to see our ghosts! We're known for our ghosts! People pay to see our ghosts!"

Oh… Angel shot Cordelia a quick glance. "Were we not supposed to do that?"

"You got rid of our ghosts?!"

At the panicked look on the hostess's face, Cordelia seemed suddenly contrite. "Oops?"

FIN