Archive Date: April 29, 2000

Five Days of Darkness

Author: Christie
Rating: PG-13
Content: Angst, Friendship
Spoilers: Hero
Summary: Cordelia keeps vigil after Angel is nearly killed by a mysterious demon.  First in the WH, WH series.
Disclaimer: The characters in the Angelverse were created by Joss Whedon and David Greenwalt, and belong to Twentieth Century Fox, all rights reserved. This story is not for profit.

Note: This story takes place roughly 3 years after City Of...

*

Day One

This demon, Angel decided, was not from this realm. It's hands were unlike anything the 248 year old vampire had ever seen. And he'd seen more than his share. Razor-sharp talons flung wildly in the air around him, one catching the flap of his coat and snapping it open. The other claw took hold, sinking tips deep into Angel's flesh, through his shirt. The fabric protested then finally gave as it was severed down his body. The appearance of blood on his chest made Angel's head spin.

He felt the demon within him struggle, then show itself as his face shifted into the rigid planes of its vampire visage.

The creature's bright green eyes focused on Angel's new face, then released a piercing scream. It extended long arms once more, talons stripping twin elongated tears in the fabric of Angel's shirt to mirror the first. The vampire felt another puncture in his chest, and the heat of the claw as it drug itself through his flesh, clear from collar to belly.

Damn, it hurt.

Angel felt his strength weakening as borrowed blood poured from gaping wounds. It dripped from his torso and pooled at his feet, and he struggled to ignore it's scent. Fuzziness invaded his mind, but still he fought.

Swinging a knife in the general vicinity of the raging creature, Angel grunted, feeling another, more blunt object strike his ribcage. The demon was punching at him, dancing around the normally agile vampire and avoiding blow after blow.

This thing was pissing Angel off.

Struggling to keep up, Angel side-stepped another talon arching down across his right, and collided with claws waiting for him on his left. He emitted a loud wail as they this time ran cross-wise through his belly, slicing the skin open and allowing a fresh torrent of blood from his wearying body.

Legs became a hindrance, and Angel sunk to his knees, blinking up at the demon in sheer surprise. He felt his mind going blissfully silent, and his eyes closed of their own will. Slouching against the sewer wall, the vampire said a silent goodbye to those who had dared to love him and fell into darkness.

*

Day Two

Cordelia felt a frown tugging down the corners of her mouth. She tried to push it away as she gathered her things together, but the feeling of uneasiness would not subside. Looking curiously at Wesley, who was crouched in the corner poring over an ancient book, she sighed loudly.

"I'm going home, Wes," she announced, hoping her voice didn't betray the trepidation she felt. "If you see Angel tell him thanks a bunch for coming upstairs to check in with us today."

She frowned again, this time feeling worry lines crease her forehead. This was not good for the complexion. It was her mention of Angel that started the butterflies in her stomach all over again. It was unusual that he hadn't come up in the morning. Often he spent most of the day downstairs, doing whatever it was that vampires did when the rest of the world played in the sun, but he usually checked in in the morning; at the very least to report of his patrolling the night before.

He should know Cordelia worried about him each night. It was kind of nice to see his unsmiling broody face in the morning. At least to know the dark cloud still had a head over which to hang.

"On second thought," she mused, mostly to herself, since Wesley didn't seem to be paying much attention, "I'm gonna go wake broody boy myself."

Bypassing the front door, she wound her way through the office and started down the stairs that led to Angel's apartment. The feeling of dread crept back into her, weighing down her legs as she descended the steps, one by one, into the darkness below.

*

Nothing seemed amiss, but Cordelia trusted her instincts more than she trusted normalcy. It was near pitch black in the lower living quarters, and she fumbled for a few moments before finally locating the lamp nearest the stairs and flipping it on. It's shade, apparently Angel's retro nod to the 60's, cast an eerie orange glow over most of the living room and parts of the kitchen.

Stepping further into the apartment, Cordelia dropped her purse near the couch and looked around, satisfied that the vampire wasn't going to jump out at her from the shadows at any moment. He had a bad habit of skulking, and usually scared her half to death when he began speaking after slipping unnoticed into a room. He had to be in his bedroom then. Probably asleep.

Cordelia walked the few yards to the door of the bedroom and pushed it further open. In the half-light of the lamp, the bed appeared made. It definitely hadn't been slept in. His clothing from two nights before last still lay atop it in a crumpled heap. Cordelia remembered Angel saying something about having her take them to the dry cleaners today. He'd never brought them up. He'd never even picked them up from where he'd left them.

No, this was definitely not right. It looked like Angel hadn't been back to his apartment since patrolling the night before.

A loud thumping noise made it's way into Cordelia's conscience, and she realized it was her own heart, pounding relentlessly against her chest. She was scared. Angel wouldn't stay away all day without calling. Ever. Something had to be wrong. The possibilities began rushing at her like a pack of wild dogs. The image of Angel as a pile of dust in the dank, dark sewers caused her to hunch over, heaving.

No. Nothing could happen to him. She counted on that. Nothing could *ever* happen to Angel. If he was gone, she might as well be too.

A few more moments of staring into the empty room ticked by before Cordelia felt her adrenaline surge, and she pounded her way back through the apartment and up the stairs.

"Wesley! Wes!"

The Englishman looked up from the book he'd been engrossed in earlier and pulled his glasses down his nose. "What is it, Cordelia? You're screaming like a banshee."

"It's Angel?" her words came in breathless tumbles. "He's ? not ? there."

Wesley furrowed his brow. "What do you mean he's not there? Did he go somewhere?"

Cordelia tossed her hair back. She managed to throw the rogue demon hunter an exasperated look, despite the feeling of sheer panic that was threatening to reduce her to a mass of hysterics beyond reason. "He hasn't been there. All day. He didn't come back from patrol last night. We have to go down and look for him!"

Arguing was not going to help at this point, Wesley decided. Cordelia was already pulling her hair back into a ponytail and collecting weapons from the bottom drawer of her desk. She put them into a small backpack and slung it over her shoulder.

As she started toward the door that would lead them to the street, she turned back, arching an eyebrow at Wesley. "Could use your help," she deadpanned, whirling back around and exiting the office, slamming the door behind her.

*

Despite the importance of their mission, Cordelia couldn't suppress a small noise of disgust as she stepped in her third pile of who-knows-what. They'd been roaming the stink-halls for nearly twenty minutes now, and so far no sign of anything that was remotely close to being alive.

Not that Angel was close to being alive...but, in a remote sort of way he was. He walked around and talked, which had grown to be enough for Cordelia in the last few years. She'd found herself thinking of him as human more and more. Just, a human with a very special gift. Like Superman.

Angel used to laugh when she told him that. He said it was nothing the same. But Cordelia didn't care. Secretly, she relished the fact that she had a real live superhero for a boss and best friend.

The beam of the flashlight Wesley held in his hand swept through the small juncture where the tunnel they were in broke off in three separate directions. A shadow in the northwest corner made Cordelia's heart stop. She said nothing, only put a hand on Wesley's arm and directed the beam back to where it had come from.

"Angel."

Someone said it, and Cordelia was pretty sure it wasn't her, though she sprung into action first, not bothering to sidestep a puddle of muck to make it to the vampire's side. He wasn't dead, she knew that, but he looked like it, and she'd have thought it if not for the requisite dust thing. She knelt next to him, reaching one hand tentatively out to touch his face.

He didn't stir.

Wesley crouched at the other side and pulled the flap of Angel's coat open. His shirt was torn, nearly to shreds, and long, neat claw marks adorned his chest from pectoral to belly button. Three lines of them, Cordelia counted. They were not healing, but not bloody, save for the deep red crust that framed the edges of each individual wound. Across his stomach was another gash, this one aligned perpendicular to the others. It too was gaping without blood.

Cordelia recoiled. "Oh, god."

Swallowing hard, Wesley closed the flap of Angel's coat and put his free hand on Cordelia's arm. He spoke softly. "We need to get him back to his apartment," he instructed. "He'll die if we don't get him some blood, quickly."

Blinking up at him with wide eyes, Cordelia nodded. "Then he'll be okay? That's all he needs right, just a little transfusion?" She felt a gnawing in the pit of her stomach, and a lump forming in her throat. It surprised her to realize she was dangerously close to tears.

Wesley shrugged, beginning to move Angel's weight into him in order to get the vampire upright. "I don't know, Cordelia," he said honestly, grunting softly at the intrusion of Angel's mass. "Now help me lift him. We must hurry."

*

Cordelia did not allow the tears to fall until Wesley had left her alone. They'd gotten Angel back to his apartment in a little over two hours. Not bad considering he was a dead weight, and Cordelia felt as weak as a kitten. She'd forced Wesley to stop every few yards so she could shift her grip on the vampire.

Now, he was in bed, stripped of the ruined shirt. Wesley had poured three bags of blood down Angel's throat while Cordelia threw up in the bathroom. She'd told the Englishman it was the grossest thing she'd ever seen, but the truth was, she was scared. So scared, she'd made herself sick. The wounds were quickly cleaned and bandaged, and Wesley said there was nothing more to do but wait and see if the blood gave Angel enough strength to awaken.

Wesley was upstairs now, researching demons that left victims with the specific marks they'd found on Angel. Cordelia sat, a bag of blood in her hands, head bowed to her lap, waiting. Tears cascaded down her cheeks and dripped onto her fingers, snaking between them and wetting the opaque plastic of the bag that held Angel's necessary supplement.

She didn't even have sounds of breath to hold on to for hope. Nothing. Angel's chest didn't rise and fall, his heart didn't beat beneath his skin. He just lay there. Still. Cordelia had never felt so helpless in her life.

Time seemed to stand still in the apartment below the office. Cordelia had no idea how much time had passed before she heard Wesley's footsteps on the stairs. She sat up, wiping at her eyes, wondering why she gave a rats ass if Wesley saw her crying or not.

"It was a Shanshi demon. They're from a realm in which vampires don't exist," he reported. If he noticed her reddened, tear-stained face, he didn't let on.

"This one wasn't," Cordelia said bitterly, gesturing to the white gauze that wrapped around Angel's chest.

Wesley nodded. "Yes. They match vampires in strength and agility, usually outweighing them in size. They fight solely with their claws, no weapons of any kind. It would stand to reason that if one should ever meet up with a vampire," he gestured toward Angel as Cordelia had, "like this one did, the only way to kill the vampire would be to slice it open and drain it of its blood."

Cordelia shuddered, unsure if it was fear, anguish, or rage coursing through her at that particular moment. Most likely a mixture of all three, she supposed.

"Great," she muttered. "Mission accomplished."

Pulling another chair to the side of the bed and angling himself toward Cordelia, Wesley shook his head. "Not quite. Angel should have died in that sewer. From what I've read, most vampires would not be able to sustain that severe an injury without feeding again to replace the blood. Not for that amount of time anyway. Perhaps it happened in the early morning hours, and we'd arrived just in time."

"Or, Angel's just stronger than most," Cordelia whispered.

She leaned forward, running a gentle finger down Angel's cheek and to his collarbone. Wesley watched, closing the book silently and placing it on his lap. He allowed the moment to pass before speaking again.

"Regardless of how Angel survived, he did. Barely. We must continue to give him blood. I think a bag every six hours until he wakes up should be sufficient. I will go to the butcher in the morning."

At this, Cordelia drew her eyes away from the vampire and to the clock that sat on the night table opposite her. She hadn't remembered it was the middle of the night, and suddenly felt exhaustion claim her. Wesley stood, taking the bag of blood she held in her hand.

"I'm going to do this now," he warned, holding a pair of scissors to the top of the bag. "Then we'll wait six hours and see what happens. Why don't you go get some sleep?"

Cordelia shook her head. "No, I'm staying," she said resolutely, watching as Wesley punctured the bag and placed it between Angel's lips. She watched Wesley's hands knead the bag until it was near empty, and swallowed hard as it was pulled away and several lines of crimson liquid swam down the vampire's chin. With a washcloth, Wesley wiped the spill and stepped away.

He looked at Cordelia. "Are you alright?"

The girl nodded, moving to the opposite side of the bed and crawling onto it. She settled herself into a curled ball, knees drawn to chest, head resting lightly on Angel's crooked arm. She sighed softly as its coolness soothed the aching fire she'd felt in her head since discovering his battered body in the bowels of the sewer.

*

Day Three

Cordelia snapped the book shut and closed her eyes. She could feel the familiar pounding already beginning behind her right temple. The headache had been near constant for the past two days, but she didn't mind it. It kept her mind off every other pain that was creeping its way across her body and slowly taking up residence in the space where her heart used to be.

All she had done in the last forty-eight hours was feed Angel, dress Angel's wounds, cry for Angel, read to Angel, stroke Angel's hair, sleep next to Angel. Her life had suddenly become wrapped around Angel's in ways it never had been before.

And she'd never felt so purposeful.

Not that being Florence Nightingale was on her list of favorite things to do, but doing what Angel needed came naturally to her. She supposed it was the three years of practice she'd had; being Angel's "assistant" usually crossed the realm of assisting and jumped right into taking care of the souled vampire.

Cordelia could not bring herself to walk out of his bedroom. Even to get herself something to eat. She was loathe to leave his side for a minute. It both thrilled and scared her.

He was her best friend. Of that, she was sure. But what had spurred the wild panic that had propelled her to scour the disgusting sewers for him that night? Oh, that night that seemed like forever ago. Or the complete feeling of loss and despair every time she thought about him never opening his eyes; one day waking up next to a pile of dust because he just couldn't make it through another night. Or the fierce protectiveness she felt over him in such a vulnerable state. She awoke at every noise, stood with stake in hand at every jumping shadow. She'd nearly clubbed Wesley on the head with a bat just the night before.

Cordelia knew the blurry line at which she was treading. Deep down, she knew she was allowing herself to care a little too deeply, to fall a little to hard. But if someone had the secret to not falling for someone when you knew it was doomed, no one had told it to her.

*

Day Four

Angel could taste the blood as it covered his lips and tongue, then ran down his throat. It was warm and slightly salty, not the best blood in the world, but right now, it would do. It wasn't human, humans were sweet, rich, and this was bitter, but he wanted to gnash his teeth together anyway and suckle at the welcome flow.

But he didn't. He couldn't. The tiny amount of strength one needed to do something as simple as open and close a mouth wasn't there. The vampire wanted to howl in frustration, but that wasn't going to happen anytime soon either. So he just lay there.

Occasionally, he heard voices. Cordelia. Wesley. They spoke softly, as though fearful of waking him, but still he heard. Sometimes, he heard sniffles. Once, he'd heard sobs. It was Cordelia, and he'd wanted to reach out to her in the worst way. He hadn't heard her cry like that in over two years. Since Doyle died. And he wanted to help her. Didn't he always help her? Wasn't that his job?

Mostly though, it was silent.

And every once in a while, blood. The tangy taste of it was heaven, its aroma intoxicating. After each feeding, he felt better. Stronger. After each feeding, he tried to open his eyes. If he couldn't do that, he tried to speak. If he couldn't do that, he tried to move. Even just a little. Even a finger. He hadn't been successful yet. It felt like a granite slab was weighing him down, preventing him from seeing, from speaking, from moving. All he could do was listen. Listen, and not help his grieving best friend.

It seemed like hours after that last feeding, though it could have been minutes, when he heard voices. Two of them again. He hadn't heard two of them in a long time.

"Cordelia, you must go upstairs. Get freshened up, get some sunshine, something to eat."

"I'm not leaving, Wesley."

"It's not healthy for you, Cordelia. It's been three days. You haven't moved from this room."

"I'm fine, Wesley."

Cordelia. Her voice sounded dead. Angel wanted to tell her Wesley was right. He couldn't say a word.

"You must not be fine, Cordelia," Wesley continued. "For goodness sake, you're pale as a ghost, your hair is hanging limply about your face, and your cheekbones are sticking out a mile!"

"Well thanks, glad to know I shouldn't submit my entry for the Miss America pageant until tomorrow. Today just ain't my day."

"You mustn't make light of this. You will make yourself ill, and not be much help to Angel then!"

"Doesn't seem like I'm much help to Angel now, does it, Wes?" Her voice took on a panicked tone, and Angel knew what was about to come. The tantrum. She hated when he called them that, but essentially, that's what they were. Normally, Angel laughed at her, which made her even more mad. This time, Angel wanted to hug her, to tell her everything would be okay.

He couldn't do that. Cordelia was nearing hysteria.

"Why isn't he waking up?! We're feeding him like we're supposed to, he's warm ? you know, for him ? I've been changing the bandages every twelve hours, he's healing! I don't get it! Why isn't he coming back to us?!"

She was crying now, and Angel felt his heart break. He concentrated as hard as he could, forcing his eyelids to open.

No light shone through. Nothing. It was him that was causing her heartache, and he couldn't have that. Angel vowed to himself to stop floating in oblivious darkness and join the world of the living again. Surely the Powers would be looking out for him on this one? Surely they'd help him awaken?

Doubt plagued his mind on that point. He was a warrior, not a higher being. There were other warriors, those that weren't vampires. They were of importance, not him. But damn it, he serviced them every day. It was during that service that he'd fallen hurt. Surely they could spare him this one, tiny miracle.

Wesley's voice broke Angel out of his silent prayer. "I don't know, Cordelia." He spoke softly, and Cordelia's sobs were muffled. Wesley was holding her. At least someone was. "I don't know."

"Let's go to the PTB and tell them to fix this."

It was Cordelia, pulled together and talkin' tough. Angel would have smiled, had he the strength. That's my Cordelia.

"The Powers will not see us, Cordelia." Always the voice of reason, that Wesley.

"We'll force them to."

"They won't."

"Well, that's the only reason I'm leaving this room until Angel wakes up. If you're not taking me to the PTB, I'm not going anywhere."

Then a chair squeaked and the girl huffed. Angel knew Wesley would not be arguing this point any further.

*

Day Five

More blood. This time, it was sweet, and naturally warm. Not heated up in the microwave like the pigs blood they'd been feeding him, but something else...

Something human.

Angel struggled internally for a moment, vowing not to enjoy the taste; the coppery tang flowing down his tongue almost too much to bear. He felt himself spinning, dizzy, nearly euphoric, and fought against the sensation as he spiraled deeper and deeper into it.

And then, like the granting of a wish you weren't sure you should have made, the blood stopped, all at once drying up his tongue until he was left searching the caverns of his mouth for any last residue.

Numb of all reason, Angel blinked open his eyes, trying all at once to focus on the blurring shapes looming before him. He couldn't, grew frustrated, and shut himself off again.

"Angel?"

Her voice was soft, weak, but there nonetheless. It deemed another effort, Angel figured, and reopened his eyes, this time blinking several times in rapid succession until the shapes before him became less muddled.

It hurt more than he expected to murmur, "Cordelia?"

If he squinted, Angel could just make out a triumphant smile on her otherwise haggard face. "Angel, you're awake."

The vampire gave a non-committal "hrumph", disallowing himself to make any promises too soon, since it felt like he would pass out at any moment. His entire body felt heavy, legs and arms carrying a slightly numb tingly feeling he wasn't at all used to, or comfortable with.

Cordelia spoke again, and Angel found he liked it. It made him feel more in the moment, hearing her speak and feeling her unusually cool hand against his unusually warm forehead. "Angel, it's okay. You're okay. You just have to wake up now. Wesley said when your body is ready, you have to help it along."

When my body is ready I have to help it along?

It sounded hard to Angel. He wasn't exactly strong enough to focus his own mind, much less help his body come into wakefulness. But she said so, and so he tried. First moving toes, then legs, feeling the burning tingle settle even further into his limbs as he forced them into submission.

"Hurts," he muttered.

Cordelia's soft breath against his cheek, then a light kiss on his forehead. "It's okay," she murmured softly, stroking his hair away from his sweaty forehead with a trembling palm. "Don't force yourself. Rest. Wesley will be back soon."

No, don't want Wesley, Angel struggled to shout. Want you.

He only heard himself grunt as the bed shifted and Cordelia's weight was lifted from it.

*

Slipping from Angel's bedroom, Cordelia spared one last glance at him before she rushed into the bathroom and grabbed the roll of gauze from the medicine cabinet. Carefully wrapping a small piece around her wrist, she ventured up the stairs, wondering just where the hell Wesley was and who he thought he was to take so damn long in bringing Angel's blood back.

Her legs moved a bit quicker below her knowing that Angel was awake. So he wasn't exactly functional, but he was speaking. Monosyllabic or not, she was relieved.

Peering out the window and down to the street, Cordelia sighed audibly as she saw the black convertible pull up to the curb and Wesley jump out of the drivers seat. "Bout time," she muttered, tripping back down the stairs to wait with Angel until the ex-Watcher arrived.

He was still mumbling incoherently when she returned, and Cordelia smiled slightly at the fact that he was calling for her. Pulling a chair close to the edge of the bed, she perched in it and leaned forward, grasping his hand in hers.

"I'm here, Angel," she whispered, stroking her thumb down the outside of his hand. "Wesley's on his way with more blood. Can you help me get you sitting up?"

The vampire shook his head slowly, but Cordelia ignored the protest, reaching behind him and taking hold of both pale shoulders. They were clammy with sweat, but she grunted and pulled, urging him upward.

Reluctantly, he complied, using his now-mobile legs to propel himself further up against the headboard of the bed. Cordelia looked thankfully at Wesley as he entered the room, immediately dropping the bag of blood and moving to the other side of the bed, lifting pillows to their proper place to lean the heavy vampire against.

"When did he awaken?" Wesley asked, once they'd gotten Angel situated.

The vampire turned his head in the direction of the new voice. "Wesley."

"Yes, it's Wesley, Angel," the ex-Watcher reported, reaching for the bag he'd recently abandoned. "I've brought you more blood."

Cordelia made a face at her friend. "Don't tell him, just give him," she said firmly, making a grab for one of the opaque plastic packets and cutting a small incision into it with a pair of scissors. She held it up to Angel's lips. "Drink this."

He did, stopping when the bag was half-empty. "No more," he groaned, wishing against his own better judgment for the sweetness of the human blood he'd been given just moments ago.

Cordelia complied, handing the bag gingerly back to Wesley. She made a face and used her sleeve to wipe away some blood that had dribbled down the vampire's chin.

"Tired," Angel murmured.

Angel didn't bother to try to move himself back into a more comfortable sleeping position, he simply laid his head back against the pillows and closed his eyes. Cordelia put her finger to her lips, shushing Wesley though the Englishman hadn't said a word. Carefully, both mortals rose and tiptoed out of the room.

*

When Angel awoke again, some of the pressure in his head had resided, and he definitely felt stronger than he remembered. His legs didn't tingle, though they ached slightly, as did his arms and torso.

Who was he kidding, his entire body ached a bit more than slightly. But at least he didn't feel like he was being poked by a thousand needles at one time. Ache, he could handle. Acupuncture, not so much.

A quick look around his room told him he was alone. Swinging his legs over the side of the bed he stepped down gingerly, wincing slightly at the pain that shot through his under-used muscles. It took a few moments to steady himself on his feet, and when he could walk without fear of stumbling, he went directly for his closet.

What he really needed was a shower, but he didn't trust himself to stand up on his own for that length of time. A change of pants would have to do. Pulling a new pair of black slacks up over his sore legs, Angel was surprised to see the just-healing wounds criss crossing his midsection.

"Oh god, Angel, what are you doing out of bed?!"

Cordelia's startled shriek nearly knocked the wavering vampire backward. He sat gingerly on the edge of the mattress, arms supporting the weight of his injured stomach as much as possible.

Cordelia was at his side in an instant. "What did you do? Why did you get up?" She reached out with both arms, bracing them on his biceps and helping to propel him backward. Angel scooted up the bed, groaning softly as he settled against the pillows once more.

"I changed into new pants," he told her, finally taking the time to look up into her face. He was startled at her appearance. Her hair looked like it hadn't been brushed for the entire day. It hung limply about a pale, drawn face, her normally vibrant eyes dull and distracted.

"Why do you look like that?" His eyes traveled down to her shoulders and finally settled on the stretch of white gauze adorning her wrist.

The taste of rich, sweet, pure human blood invaded his senses. Angel grimaced, trying to shake the memory from his head. Fury rose in the vampire and white flashes of light manifested behind his eyelids.

"You made me drink from you." The accusation came in a low, dangerous tone.

Cordelia lowered her eyes to her wrist, quickly releasing his biceps and dropping her hands to her sides. She didn't answer, but backed up slowly, recognizing the impetuosity in his voice.

Angel shook his head. "Cordelia." He struggled to keep his voice even. "Why did you do that?"

The girl shrugged. "I had to," she protested weakly, crossing her arms over her chest in silent defiance. "Wesley said because of the kind of demon that attacked you...we had to give you blood to make you stronger, and we ran out...he wasn't back yet..." She faltered, swallowing hard at the look of complete disbelief that passed over the vampire's face.

"That was earlier today!" he protested. "I was already healing!"

"And now you're awake," Cordelia yelled back, pacing with agitation. "I'm not sorry for what I did, Angel. I don't care how much you yell at me."

Angel opened his mouth to retort, then quickly shut it again. Instead, he sighed, reaching his hand out for hers. She complied, hesitantly placing her trembling hand in his.

"You've been taking care of me instead of yourself," he said softly.

Cordelia only smiled slightly and shrugged. "You almost died, Angel," she said, eyes wide. "What was I supposed to do?"

Angel dropped her hand. "Let Wesley take over," he suggested. He held his arms out. "Look, I'm fine now. Why don't you go home and get a shower and a nap."

Cordelia rolled her eyes and settled into a chair near the bed, picking up a book from the night stand table. "I'm not doing anything you wouldn't do," she chastised, curling her long legs under her and flipping the book open.

Angel smiled in reticence and settled back, closing his eyes and allowing a renewed sense of peace to settle over him.

"Okay," Cordelia said softly. "Here's your bedtime story. Required reading: The Legend of the Shanshi Demon. Chapter One."

END.

Christie?s site? ?

 



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