A Little Bit of Heaven
Summary: Set after This Old Gang of Mine, just before Carpe Nocteum. Angel fighting a demon, near death and dreams of Buffy.
Author Notes: First time author, do not know to access beat readers, hope this story benefits from your appraisal.
Story Notes: No Spoilers really.
Disclaimer: Usual disclaimer, I wish I owned them but do not, so do not sue me.
The lobby was relatively quiet, only the occasional rustle of pages being turned broke the silence. Wesley looked up from his book on Daemons and glanced over to see Cordelia engrossed with her computer screen. Perhaps the answers they sought were by chance out on the World Wide Web after all.
"Not holding much hope there," he thought.
Over on the couch sat Gunn, a large tome open on his lap. Fred was at his feet seemingly more comfortable on the floor than a chair, several books arrayed around her lithe form. Wesley brought his gaze back to Gunn, catching him studying the dark figure in the corner of the room. On turning his head a little Wesley was able to make out Angel reading in the shadows. His dark head bent over the several books that weren't written in English. His vast knowledge of demonic and human languages meant that Angel and Wesley (whose own knowledge was no small matter) always scored the non-English books when research was required, like now. Angel seemed to be unaware of the scrutiny of others, but Wesley thought it highly unlikely. Vampire senses and all.
Angel was unaware of the scrutiny from the others in the room, his mind caught up in a vision of golden hair, and hazel eyes. Eyes that had looked at him with so much.... A stab of pain shot through his un-beating heart and he took a breath, the first in several minutes and looked up. He had to get out; he needed to kill something, anything to get his mind of ...
When Angel looked up in that moment, Wesley could see his gaze was distant and saw the unneeded breath. Angel had been subdued since his return, a return to his earlier days of brooding. Wesley looked over to Gunn and saw that he had turned his eyes downward to his own book.
After the club debacle of the previous day Gunn was understandably uncomfortable. Nervous. He was deeply sorry about Fred being shot at and the danger everyone had been put in. But he was especially nervous around Angel and even though the two had had words, Gunn still felt as if it was not enough. He was worried that he had let the team down and now felt it had made his position shaky to say the least. Angel had not spoken of the matter again, but his being quiet was in no way indicative of how he felt. Angel was always quiet. Gunn wanted to make things right, but did not know how to go about it.
It was late afternoon, Angel had joined them a couple of hours before, since rising. The demon they were researching had attacked people downtown, and only a scanty eyewitness report gave them any clue other than it was big. This particular demon could any one of the myriads of beings that frequented L.A. but tracking it down on paper was proving to be a task harder than previously thought.
Wesley looked back to Angel but he was no longer in his seat. He looked about to catch sight of him and saw Gunn had noticed too. Angel was no longer in the lobby, which gave Wesley a slight start as Angel's silent movements still had that affect on him.
"Angel?" he called.
"Yeah?" came the reply from behind him.
Wesley's heart tripped in fright for a brief second as he turned to see Angel shrugging on his coat.
"Where are you going?"
"I thought that I would check out the area once again and I also heard of this nest...." He broke off at Wesley's look. "What?"
"Do you want some...?" Wesley was interrupted by Angel's "no." as he swept by to the weapons cabinet.
Wesley stood and followed saying, "I suggest you take Gunn as backup just in case." He glanced to the window at the late afternoon sun.
Angel had the cabinet open and his favourite sword was in his hand. Presumably stakes had been hidden in the pockets of his coat. He turned back to Wesley and Gunn who had come up behind Wesley and simply nodded. His dark eyes looked at Gunn and an eyebrow arched.
Gunn was eager, "I'm cool. Let's go. I'm getting cramp sitting still all day long."
Without another word Angel headed for the basement. Fred and Cordelia called out "Be Careful." Gunn waved back to his co workers, his axe in his hand and followed.
They made their way through the sewers in silence. Gunn kept glancing ahead in the gloom to the dark figure before him continually amazed at his proximity to the very thing he had sworn to kill. Angel made very little sound, no breathing to betray his presence, footsteps silent, avoiding the puddles and slime in the tunnels. Usually the group would have flashlights to guide them, but with Angel on the prowl, his keen night vision led them, his senses on alert for any danger. Gunn was a veteran and was nearly as silent, as silent as a human could be anyway. He was sure footed as well and kept up with his dark guide.
Angel froze. They had been walking for quite a while and Gunn was lost. He had been thinking about the night before and Angel getting ready to be staked when Angel froze. Gunn stood still his heart beginning to race. He hadn't noticed anything and he was annoyed at himself for being preoccupied while on the job.
"Nice way to get yourself killed," he reprimanded himself.
Gunn reached slowly for his stake in his waistband, his other hand gripping his axe. Gunn peered ahead of Angel into the blackness but couldn't make out anything. In a blur Angel swung around to face Gunn his sword seeming to jump into his hand from beneath his coat. Angel's sword came arcing towards Gunn, and instinctively, Gunn drove the stake he had been holding towards Angel's chest. Too late Gunn realised to his horror that the sword was moving past his head to behind but he was unable to pull his hand back and felt and heard the dull smack of wood piercing muscle. As if in slow motion he took in the fact that Angel had twisted his chest to deflect the stake, which was embedded in his ribs, and without stopping his turn, Angel pulled the stake out and plunged it into the vampire behind him in a sweeping arc. Gunn shook off his shock and turned with his axe to confront another vamp that had stepped in to replace the one Angel had beheaded. As Gunn fought his vamp he heard the sounds of fists and grunts and dusted vamps behind him. Finishing off his opponent Gunn turned to find Angel, who, after giving him an appraising glance, disappeared around the bend after the last vamp.
Gunn stood catching his breath then legged after the vampire. Round the bend there was nothing. An inky blackness loomed. Gunn walked cautiously forward but nothing.
"Angel?" he called softly realising he could be giving away his position, but no response.
Gunn decided to wait for a while. He was shaken. He had staked Angel. He had thought that Angel was still upset, even angry about what had happened at Caritas and had come after him. But all the while Angel had been saving his life, again. God, what if the stake had found his heart. Oh God! Angel had expected it. He had seen and twisted away from the fatal blow! Had used it as a weapon in a blink of an eye. All this time he had threatened that if Angel turned bad he would kill him. But it looked as if it would take more than Charles Gunn to do that. Angel was a master vampire. A lot older than the vamps he and his gang were used to dusting. He was faster, stronger, smarter, and wiser. No easy target. Realising that Angel was not coming back any time soon, Gunn decided to make his way back to the hotel. He had no idea in which direction Angel had gone but maybe he would go on to the crime scene and Gunn could get there faster above ground than under.
The sun had gone down by the time Gunn made it back to the Hyperion. The others were still at the research when he arrived.
"Hey Gunn. How did it go? Where's Angel?" Fred piped.
"Yeah. Did you lose tall dark and broody?" Cordy asked.
On seeing the look on Gunn's face Cordelia said, "That was a joke Gunn!"
"I....I...I can't believe I did it," Gunn choked out.
"What did you DO?" Cordelia asked her voice rising.
"Calm down," came Wesley. "Time to explain Charles. What happened?"
In a small voice Gunn replied, "I staked Angel. It. it was an accident. I didn't mean to..I mean...."
"OH MY GOD! YOU STAKED ANGEL?" screeched Cordelia. Tears beginning to pool in her eyes, shock written over her beautiful face.
Wesley felt his knees give. He sat down abruptly. Fred burst into tears. No! Not Angel, not this way, it couldn't be. After all they had been through.
"An accident? What do you mean?" he managed.
Cordelia marched over to Gunn grief and anger glaring out at him. "All right SPILL. WHAT HAPPENED?"
"Angel came at me with his sword, I thought he was going to kill me and before I realised he was attacking a vamp behind me I had all ready plunged a stake into his chest. He.. He saw it coming though and turned in time to stop it going in his heart. He then dusted a few more and the last I saw he was chasing after some one in the sewers."
There was a loud SLAP as Cordelia's palm connected with Gunn's face.
"That was for Angel, and for scaring the crap out of us all!" she said.
"So he is still alive, um undead then?" asked Fred.
Wesley breathed a sigh of relief. Shakily he asked, "Why did you think that he was going to kill you? Angel understands how you feel, he doesn't hold a grudge Gunn"
"Yeah I know... it's just, you know, HELL, I would!"
"But he isn't you."
Cordelia was at the phone beginning to punch in some numbers. Her hand was shaking and her face was pale.
"Why not Wes? I have to know if he is alright?"
"Because he is hunting and it may not be a good thing to announce his position in such cases."
"Fine!" she slammed the phone down. "What do we do now then?"
Gunn spoke softly, "I was going to go to the crime scene to see if he turns up there."
"Where was this nest he mentioned?" Wesley inquired.
"I dunno, it was on the way downtown, he never said."
"Let's get Angel's car and go to the crime scene, then backtrack along the sewers."
"And if we still haven't found him...?" Fred asked.
"Then we ring his cell. Last resort."
Fred and Cordelia grabbed stakes while Wesley picked up a crossbow.
"Do you think one of us should stay here in case he comes back?"
Cordelia shot Fred a look "are you volunteering, cause I ain't staying!"
Fred stammered, "I..I..I will be OK here right? On my own?"
"Of course you will Fred. Just ring us the minute he shows up"
"OK. I can do that"
"Come on" Wesley urged and they were gone.
Angel followed the vampire at a distance. He had let him get ahead as if he had lost his pursuer and kept tracking him. He winced at the burning pain in his ribs. It would heal but it was still painful in more ways than one. He had smelt the fear on Gunn just a second before the stake hit home. He was saddened. He didn't blame Charles in the least, knowing it had been instinct and after recent events, understandable, but his heart was heavy.
The vamp ahead stooped low to a hole in the sewer wall and eased through. Angel waited a few moments then cautiously approached the opening. His senses on full alert he followed. There was no light on the other side of the opening; a narrow path ran away down to the left. Vamp night vision made out the pathway was empty, but Angel sensed the vamp ahead. He stood to one side of the opening, waiting, listening. There! He heard a faint scuff a long way down and silently stalked the pathway himself. His sword in his hand he wound his way down into the dark depths of the city. Several minutes later he was at what appeared the bottom, in front of a steel door.
Great. Just what he needed, some rusty door that would squeal when it opened. No, he remembered there had been no sound of a door opening and there was no sign of his prey. So breathing in an unnecessary breath he pushed against the door. It swung open noiselessly, and he stopped and listened. No sounds of alert, he then swung the door open further and stepped through.
The large room was empty of life or of the un-dead. Pieces of furniture and clothing littered the place, bedding lay on the floor but no sign of the occupants. A low grunt, followed by a growl came from his left. He paced over to the wall and listened. Yes there it was again but not from the wall. His eyes darting around he spied a trap door in the corner of the floor. Quickly he reached the opening and proceeded to cautiously descend. The stench hit him before he hit the ground. Rotted corpses, and blood. Old, stale blood but also fresh. His mouth watered at the smell of fresh blood, the bloodlust under control but always present. He shook himself, concentrate!
Carefully stepping around body parts Angel followed the grisly trail to another opening in the wall. He could hear a voice pleading, placating. Peering around he saw the vampire he had been trailing talking to something hidden behind a half wall. Part of the far wall to his right was missing, a beckoning emptiness in the surrounding dark. "I swear" the vampire was babbling. "There were too many. It was an ambush. I was lucky to get away..."
"STOP! FOOL!" a deep grating rumble reverberated around the room.
"You were followed!!!!"
"No! No I swear" came the reply
Angel saw the body of a little boy thrown away like a broken doll up against the wall. Another of a young woman, her throat ripped out sat upright seeming to look right at him. Angel felt sick at the way his mouth had watered at the smell of fresh blood.
He stepped forward and with one silent swift motion of his sword decapitated the vampire in front of him. As the dust settled he saw the owner of the rumbling voice. It was the demon they had been researching. And it was big. Hell it was big lying down!
Red eyes glaring at him, the thing hissed "What do you want...vampire?" It had guessed at what he was. It began uncoiling itself off the floor. Its scales scraped the cold stone with a hiss.
"What are you?"
"I am Azor! We are few but we are powerful." Came the boast. Its body now upright, towered above Angel.
"Now why is it that ugly demons such as yourself keep telling me that? Do you all come with a manual?" Angel kept his arms low, his sword held easily in his right hand.
"You will not leave here alive!" roared Azor.
"Nothing new there as wasn't alive when I got here. And I'm guessing you are the one who destroyed that little hotel on Maine St." Angel kept his eyes on the red eyes of his opponent, noting the talons at the end of his thick scaly arms and his long tail coiled around his hind legs. The creature wore a long vest of some kind across its chest which covered half of its' body.
Azor chuckled, the sound harsh in Angel's ears. "My vampires were not keeping up my supply of food. I had to teach them a lesson in how to fill my larder."
"Well, kitchens closed." Angel began as he pirouetted and sliced into the demon.
With a roar it reacted far more quickly than he had anticipated and swiped at Angel with his tail, sending the vampire flying into the wall. He rolled as Azor stomped over to him and he leapt up and over the shoulder of the beast slicing into it with his sword again as he did so. It roared again and turned in the suddenly too small space. Its tail thrashed against the wall in anger resulting in crumbling concrete.
Moving faster than humanly possible, Angel darted in and drove his sword into Azor's belly. It glanced off but wicked talons caught Angel in his chest and he spun away in pain. Angel vamped out and kicked out at the thing's leg where a knee joint appeared to be. His leg felt as if he had kicked the wall but Azor's bellow brought a wicked grin through a mouthful of fangs.
Gripping his sword tighter he swung around to deliver another blow when he went flying back against the wall. Hard. Dazed, he realised he had forgotten the tail again. Shaking his head he darted around the demon towards the back of the room. Azor shouted at him, but Angel had noticed an opening behind the half wall. He darted through into another space. He continued his run, hearing the demon following.
"No. NO!" it was screaming at him.
He looked around and saw the demon had stopped his attack.
Angel looked down and saw the remains of more bodies, many more bodies and shards of shells. There was a skittering and the clatter of many claws. He noticed the bodies had been chewed. People had been going missing and no one had been aware. If vampires had killed them, their bodies would've been found. But these people had met a more grisly fate. Trying to see into the mess that was the floor he taunted his opponent.
"Well, what do we have here? Looks like someone needs a cleaner hmm? Or maybe a nanny?"
Azor edged closer and roared at him, "Big mistake Vampire! My family will eat you alive as I watch and enjoy the sound of your screams."
He leapt at Azor trying to edge him back to the opening. Both feet hit his chest and Azor rocked back, but kept upright and grabbed Angel by a leg and hefted him towards his razor like fangs.
"Oh no you don't" Angel muttered as he brought his sword up and attempted to slice off the demon's head. Claws pierced his leg and raked his back. He was thrown back into the cavern. Bouncing hard he rose to his feet. He had to destroy Azor and his brood; if they grew to full size then many more people will die. He couldn't allow that.
Looking about he saw movement on the walls and floor and hoped that they wouldn't attack him before he had killed the parent.
Blood loss was making him weak and this had to end now. Limping towards the demon that was watching him with some amusement, he asked "What?"
"You're plucky! I have to give you that. Most vampires would have been dust by now. Why interfere in my business? What's it to you?"
"It's MY business and besides, I just don't like your face."
As he spoke Angel had his lighter out and he threw it behind him into the dark. Then he attacked again, leaping high, somersaulting over Azor's head and landing on his back. Dropping his sword he grabbed the creature's throat and drove a stake into the back of its neck. It was roaring now, its tail swiping the walls, cracks appearing, snaking up into the ceiling. The demon's claws raked at Angel trying to dislodge him, and then it heaved its body against the wall. Grunting in pain, as he was jammed into the concrete he grabbed another stake and pounded it up and under the demon's chin. He let go as it staggered a few steps and ran for his sword. The world began to scream and he realised it was the creature's babies as the fire caught the rags littering the floor and bodies. Realising he had to stop the creatures from escaping, he swung up and once again hit the demon with both feet flying. It reeled and Angel's fists pounded into him and it toppled. As it fell Angel swept up the sword and brought it down on its neck. The demon was lying before the opening its bulk partially blocking it. Racing over for a burning rag, he threw it towards the door. Knowing he could be trapped himself he began to pull at the demon's body. Something landed on his back and teeth took a chunk out of him. He rolled onto the floor dislodging the fiend and another landed on his leg. He plucked that off and threw it into the fire. Its death squeal made the others fearful of him and the fire. Quickly he went back to dragging one big heavy carcass to the opening. Gasping in pain now and the exertion taking it's toll he managed to prop up the body. Crawling over it and squeezing out the door he looked around for a more permanent solution. Not willing to climb back upstairs and let some of the little demons escape he looked at the pillars that helped hold up the ceiling. At least part of one wall was already taken care of.
A movement caught his eye and he saw a scaled baby demon climbing over its parent. Reaching in he grabbed it and threw it back into the flames. Crawling after it he grabbed another piece of burning debris, on closer look a piece of a corpse and, he retreated setting fire to Azor's clothing.
That ought to stop the critters for a while. He staggered over to the central pillar and started pounding it with his fists and feet. The already weakened ceiling cracked some more and slowly the pillar gave way.
Angel ran back to watch as the ceiling collapsed and fill the hole but he hadn't counted on the entire thing falling inwards and he was suddenly thrown into oblivion.
Gunn, Wesley and Cordelia, found no sign of Angel at the wreckage of the hotel on Maine St. Leaving Angel's car parked in the street it was decided to go down into the sewers and back track from there. Their torches threw eerie shadows ahead of them and Cordelia's "Eeww!" as she tried avoiding; disgusting, gross debris accompanied the three. Eventually Cordelia gave up and thanked her lucky stars she had on sensible demon hunting shoes and not her fashionable expensive ones.
"Call Fred to see if he has turned up," Cordelia began.
"I think Fred would have called us in that eventuality."
"Ring his phone then."
Wesley stopped to peer at Cordelia.
"He'll be fine."
"How do you know Wesley? Have you looked at him lately? Have you seen how he doesn't seem to care about getting hurt? How quiet he is since he came back? I mean he was always quiet but before this he had opened up more, laughed a little..," Cordelia sighed.
Gunn kept quiet, he didn't have anything to add. He found it odd that his friends cared so much for this vampire as if he was a real person and then remembered that he did on occasion too, when he forgot for a moment just what he was. That had been the whole problem. Denying he had any sort of feelings for Angel and trying hard to fit back into that black and white world of his crew. Because it was simple and straight forward that way.
"I'm not blind Cordelia, I had noticed but he will come through this. He has before." Wesley was replying, as he pulled out his phone.
"It seems his phone is either off or he is out of range.." began Wesley and Cordelia interrupted,
"Or he's hurt and cannot answer the thing."
Not answering her they continued on.
They came to an intersection in the tunnel system and decided to split up.
"Gunn you proceed to the left, Cordelia and I will go this way. Keep in touch if you can get a signal down here."
Cordelia added "And he had better be alive... no, un-dead when you find him." Gunn nodded and headed off.
30 minutes later he thought he smelt a faint whiff of smoke. Standing still he sniffed the air and shone the light over the walls. Stepping slowly forward he tried to catch another whiff but then began to suspect he had imagined it. His light hit a dark opening ahead of him to his left and he crouched down and peered through. The smoke smell was definitely stronger in here. Gunn carefully eased himself through and followed the narrow pathway down. A steel door stood open at the bottom and he stepped through axe ready.
The room beyond was a mess and part of the floor seemed to have given way. The far wall had crumbled too and there was a gaping hole. Gingerly testing the floor he reached the edge and looked over. The smell was gut wrenching and wisps of smoke clung to the air. Below him was a mass of stone, bricks, steel and wood. He played his light over the rubble not really expecting to find anything. Something glinted in the flashlight and he decided to go over to have a closer look. His breathing harsh in his own ears, but thankful for no other signs of life that might signal the presence of any possible enemy, Gunn climbed down into the pit. He clambered over to the spot where he had noticed a glint and found Angel's sword half buried.
"Man." He breathed.
He reached out and dislodged the sword from the stone and began to carefully search the rubble. Several minutes later he spied a shoe. Attached to the shoe was a black clad foot and Gunn knew he had found Angel. Or at least his leg as the rest of him was buried beneath the debris.
"Angel" he whispered.
Again louder, "Angel."
No movement, no reply.
"Hang in there, man."
He scrambled up out of the hole and ran all the way up to the sewer tunnel. He rang Wes's cell phone.
"I've found him. Head back and follow my path, there is a low opening in the tunnel wall about half an hour along. I'll leave my hat there. Hurry."
"Gunn, how is he?"
Gunn heard Cordelia speaking past Wesley. "I don't know. He's buried under a mass of rubble and he ain't moving or speaking, but he's not dust so that's something isn't it". He hung up before they could reply.
Gunn bent over the pile of rock he knew to be Angel and started to lift the smaller pieces out of the way. He estimated where his head should be and began to clear. He worked to torchlight, shadows leaping and diving, seeming to possess a life of their own. Gunn was sweating now. He had lost track of time, caught in the monotony of lifting rubble and throwing it away. He came upon a huge piece of concrete studded with steel in the way, and it was too heavy for one man.
"Come on Angel." He whispered. "Give us a hand."
Not able to lift the offending piece, he worked around it until he was rewarded with a glimpse of Angel's face. Grabbing the light, he played it over the still features. Blood marred the perfect face, its paleness hidden under the crimson tide. Dark lashes remained closed, the dark hair matted with blood also. There was no breath, no sign of life. To all intent and purposes Gunn was looking at a dead man. A corpse.
"Angel." He patted his cheek. No response.
He put down the torch and continued working around Angel trying to free his arms and legs. He then heard a noise and looked up to see more light moving towards him. "Here" he called as he lifted his light to show exactly where.
"Oh my God, Angel!" cried Cordelia as she scrambled down. Wesley not far behind cautioned "Careful." She crawled over to Gunn and shone her light down on Angel.
"Oh No! Angel! Wake up! Can you hear me? Angel!"
Wesley knelt beside her.
"Come on, help us free him."
"Why won't he wake up Wesley?" she asked as she lifted bricks off his legs.
"Let's just get him out of here, then we will worry about that. Hmm"
When Angel's limbs were free they each took hold of the large piece left and heaved. Panting, muscles straining, the rock began to move and so did Angel.
"Wesley! He moved." Came Cordelia's excited voice.
"Stop!" Gunn growled. They dropped the rock gently back and Gunn bent down.
"Angel! You awake man? Can you hear me?"
Angel was as still as death. Gunn looked him over.
"Cordelia, you have to pull Angel off this mother when Wes and I lift. Got that?"
"Wh..What do you mean? Pull him out?"
"No. Off. I think he is impaled on the steel rods that run through this thing. That's why he is not responding."
"Oh. Oh ..." trembling she bit back the tears. "O.K."
"Don't worry about hurting him Cordelia. You have to do this."
"I know Wes!!! Just get this done already!" she snapped.
"OK. One, two, three!"
Cordelia lay beside her friend and inched her arms under his body and placing both her hands on his shoulders, gently pulled.
"Cordelia! We haven't the strength to hold this for any extended amount of time. Please pull as hard as necessary!"
Cordelia closed her eyes and did as Wesley had asked. She yanked Angel's shoulders as hard as she could and he slid towards her.
"It's working" she gasped. "Just let me try again."
His shoulders free she worked her hands down his body until she felt his hips. Then she pulled again and Angel was free falling onto her arms.
Realising Gunn and Wesley couldn't hold up for much longer, she pulled Angel and herself away with difficulty, as he was a dead weight. Thankfully the men placed the rock back down. Ignoring the others, she picked up her torch and played it across her friend. Her hand flew to her mouth as she took in the ripped clothing and all the blood, which meant too many injuries. Angel didn't bleed a lot usually, so this meant he had to be seriously hurt.
"Cordelia, grab the other flashlights and proceed ahead."
Cordelia did as she was asked, Wesley and Gunn picking Angel up by feet and shoulders. She led the way up to the floor above and there they rested.
"Give us a hand Wes."
Wesley helped set Angel upright as Gunn boosted him over his shoulder in a fireman's lift.
"Man! You are heavy." He said to a silent Angel.
There was nothing. No light, no feeling, no form, just emptiness. Angel was unaware, no thought, no pain, non-existence.
Angel was on his bed in the Hyperion. They had all gasped at the extent of his injuries when they gingerly cut away his tattered shirt. Cordelia was in nurse mode and gave out orders thick and fast, sending Fred, Gunn and even Wesley scurrying for bandages, disinfectant, water and towels. After gently washing Angel and cleaning and bandaging his wounds, the four friends looked down at their exceptionally pale friend.
Wesley cleared his throat. "He needs blood."
"He'll be fine, won't he Wesley?" asked Cordelia. "I mean he's been through worse."
She reached down to touch his face. Concern etched her features.
"Why isn't he waking up?"
"Uh Fred. Yes. Well, I think it's to do with the healing. And to do that he needs blood." Wesley left to go to Angel's supply in his fridge.
"It's better that he is unconscious Fred, else he'd be in a world of pain about now," came Gunn.
"I'm glad you found him when you did. Vampires are quite hard to kill other than the staking and beheading, but with blood loss and the many wounds he has, I would hazard to guess how the outcome would have been, otherwise." Wesley came back with a warm mug of blood.
"How are you going to get that into him man?"
"With difficulty I should think. Normally the smell of blood would be enough for him to rouse himself to feed even when asleep, but as you see that isn't the case now." Wesley approached the bed, "You can leave if you will, this is not going to be pleasant."
"Give me the cup Wesley," Cordelia insisted and he did so before he sat on the edge of the bed beside Angel. He noticed that Gunn had pulled Fred gently out of the room. Carefully he lifted Angel's head and pulled him up against his chest. Cordelia sat on the other side and tried to pass him the mug.
"Just a moment."
Wesley cautiously opened Angel's mouth with one hand and reached for the mug. As he poured the life giving liquid, his other hand massaged Angel's throat forcing the blood down. Rivulets of blood ran down his chin and Cordelia leaned over to wipe it away. Soon the mug was finished and Wesley lay his friend gently back onto his pillow. Cordelia gave Angel's face one last loving wipe and ran her fingers through his hair.
"Wake up Angel." She whispered, as she pulled the blanket up over his still body.
Wesley was concerned.
There was sun and shade. Opening his eyes, Angel noted tree branches overhead. Sunlight sifted through, warmth hitting his face. Another shadow lowered towards him and he was lost. Lost in the beauty before him. Sunlight and hazel eyes gazed into his. A brilliant smile broke across that beloved face.
"Hey sleepyhead." She smiled again.
Speechless, he could only stare in wonder.
Her hand reached out to him and her warm fingers caressed his face.
"How?" he managed to croak.
"That doesn't matter. You are here with me now."
She bent her golden head and her lips met his.
This was real. She was real. It couldn't be, but it was. Buffy felt real, smelt real and tasted real. If she was here, did that mean he was finally..? He lost his train of thought as the kiss deepened and he was swept away with long suppressed emotion.
Wesley was more than concerned, he was worried. It was morning now and still Angel had not stirred. His wounds were healing, the blood doing its thing, supernaturally, but there had been no movement or breathing to indicate Angel was still in his body. All right the breathing was merely a habit, one Wesley would be glad to see Angel do right now. Gunn had left last night, but he and Cordelia had taken turns with Fred to sit beside Angel's bed throughout the night. He would have to feed him again to aid his recovery. The wounds had been varied and numerous. The most serious had been impalement on that concrete block, but no wooden objects, other than Gunn's stake, had touched him. Wesley needed to warm up some more blood.
Angel didn't know how long he had been with Buffy and he didn't care. She was here with him and that was all that mattered. They had kissed and talked and made love under the tree, in the sunlight. Oh, he was still a vampire, no heartbeat, but the sunlight did no harm. No happiness clause apparently for it would have been broken the moment he opened his eyes. For this to be heaven, he would have been human, and he wondered briefly at that. But then his beloved distracted him again and he forgot the question.
"Wesley! What's the matter with him? Why isn't he waking up?" Cordelia asked worriedly.
"For the hundredth time, Cordelia, I do not know. He will awake when the time comes."
"But it's been a day now and still he sleeps if you can call it that." Fred interjected.
Fred looked over to Angel's pale still form. Her hero wasn't waking up and she didn't know what to do. Wesley patted her arm.
"I know Fred. All we can do is wait. He usually sleeps to help the healing process; perhaps this is going to take a lot longer than normal. For him anyway."
Wesley wondered if Angel wanted to come back from where ever he was. He didn't know if Angel dreamed or was just unaware of his surroundings, only that life seemed to hold no interest for him and that he had no reason to come back. Yes, there were a multitude of reasons for him to return, but for Angel, his one reason for being in this world was not.
Angel sat, long legs crossed at the ankles, his back resting against a large rock, enjoying the view of the valley below, basking in the sun. Breathing in the scent of flowers and sunshine, his world was perfect. Two yellow daisies fell into his lap followed closely by the picker of same flowers. Buffy breathlessly claimed her lover with a kiss and snuggled into his embrace.
"It's so beautiful up here."
"Where ever you are is beautiful," he replied his chin resting on her head.
His inner self wanted to know why and where he was, but his heart was content to just be, it did not want this to end, and in the knowing, all could be lost. But to hold her in his arms again, to feel her heart beating against his chest, to taste her lips, to make love with his heart and soul to his beloved, was beyond compare. A miracle yes. One he did not wish to end.
She seemed to know his thoughts, and said, "All things come to an end."
"You are beautiful, I never told you how beautiful you are," she said rolling over until she looked up into his face.
"Are you happy here?" he asked.
"How not, with you?"
"Ssshhhh. Just enjoy. And yes, I miss my friends and family, but I love being here with you more. Don't worry about me. You always worry about me. Take care of yourself more." She closed her eyes.
Looking down at her tanned face, he reached around and stroked her hair. He closed his eyes.
It was a new day and they were lying facedown on grass looking down into the brook that babbled by. Birds sang, the sky was clear and the lovers had bathed in the water after their last love making and lay drying in the sun.
"I love seeing you in sunlight," he murmured.
"And I you," she sighed.
"You need to go back," she continued and his heart contracted.
"They need you back," she persisted turning her head and looked deep into his eyes.
"I need you back." She leaned over and kissed him softly.
"I want to stay here."
"You cannot," said she.
"Oh my love," she whispered, tears in her voice. "I wish with all my heart that we could stay here, but it's not to be."
"Why?" he repeated, his heart breaking.
"We were given this gift, a chance to be together. A time, just for us. Something we have been denied for so long. Ask not how." Again she kissed him.
It had been two days now and still no change. Cordelia was asleep on the lounge in Angel's rooms, not wishing to be far in the event of his awakening. Fred came and went whispering all the time to herself. Gunn had put in another appearance and tried not to show his concern for the vampire. Wesley tried to find reasons why, in his books, but he could not concentrate. He got up, stretched and went to make some coffee. Cordelia may need a cup and his coffee was far more palatable than hers.
Angel lay under the same tree he had first found himself. This small piece of heaven. In his arms lay the reason for his very being. Hazel eyes gazed into brown. Light and dark. She was golden, he, was not. But they became one, two halves into a whole.
"I love you," he whispered.
"Still my girl?"
"Will I see you again?" he asked.
"Here?" this hopefully.
"No. But we will meet again. Soon. I promise" A kiss.
He crushed her to him, imprinting her into himself.
"Close your eyes."
He did, recalling the last time he heard her say those words to him and knowing that he was once again being cast into hell. A life without her was hell. But trusting her and loving her, he could not do otherwise.
Wesley was standing by the bed, coffee in hand, Cordelia sitting drinking hers in the bedside chair, when Angel opened his eyes.
"Angel?" he whispered.
"What?" Cordelia gasped, looking over at her friend.
Angel closed his eyes, took a breath and opened them again.
"Angel? Do you know where you are?" Wesley asked.
Cordelia kneeled down beside him taking his hand in hers, "Angel."
"Oh boy! I'm so glad you're back. We've been worried." She cast a look at Wesley.
Angel was still to speak. His eyes, Wesley noticed seemed focused on somewhere else.
"Angel? Can you speak? Are you feeling alright?" Wesley inquired.
When Angel opened his eyes, he knew he had lost her. He heard his name and closed his eyes. It was not his beloved's voice. He took a breath. Opened his eyes again. If he tried hard enough, he could still see her smile, her eyes, her hair. A warm hand took his. Not her hand, never hers. But a friend's hand never the less. Reality set in and he knew he was back in his room. He heard voices but paid them no mind, still listening to the music of hers. Again, came his name. The spell broken, he tried to focus on the voices.
Two concerned faces came into view. He licked his lips.
"How long?" he barely whispered.
"Nearly three days. We were worried," Wesley admitted.
Angel closed his eyes again, dropped into sleep.
"Angel? Angel? Wake up. Talk to me!" Cordelia insisted.
"Leave him Cordelia."
"But? Why? I want to know what happened to him."
"As we all. Later, for now, he needs to rest."
"But that's all he's been doing for the last few days. Shouldn't he be staying awake?"
"He'll be fine. Now that he has come back to us, there is no need to concern yourself. I am sure when next he awakes, he will be a lot stronger. Come downstairs. Let's have something to eat, relax." Wesley gave Cordelia a pull on her arm.
Letting herself be tugged away from the bed, she tucked Angel's arm back under the covers as she turned away.
Angel felt, rather than heard their voices as he was spiralling down into sleep where dreams awaited of sunshine and love. He knew that it wasn't real, this time, but the promise of soon filled his heart and he was content.
| Fiction Index | Home Page | Back |