Dead of Night
Disclaimer: Characters and Premise are borrowed from the show "Buffy, the Vampire Slayer."
It happened in an instant, one minute Willow was chatting happily to Oz as he drove them toward home for the night, the next the van was on it's side, the window was covered in blood and Willow's legs were in horrible pain.
Willow couldn't get her seat belt unfastened, couldn't move far enough to touch him, couldn't move far enough to touch him, and couldn't determine how badly hurt he was.
She tried calling to him but he didn't respond. She tried a spell the pain in her body prevented her from maintaining the necessary concentration.
Willow saw the driver of the other car crawl out of his vehicle and stagger toward them.
"Get help!" She screamed, "We're trapped!" The man looked over in her direction blankly then disappeared from her field of view.
At first Willow told herself he'd gone to call for help but as the hours drug on, hope faded.
Angel glared at the overturned van; he could distinctly hear a single heartbeat coming from the twisted heap of metal. The night had been one delay after another.
He hated the summer. The long days cut down his prime hunting time. There were always the tunnels and sewers, but in the years since he had started hunting down there the other vamps had learned to be cautious.
Once he'd finally got out of the house, he'd run into the current Slayer, Jennifer. She was a real new comer to the game. So new Giles apparently hadn't had time to explain him to her yet, very careless of him. Angel reacted instinctively to being attacked and the night could easily have had a tragic outcome.
As it was she'd have a headache in the morning. He'd left her unconscious body on Giles' doorstep with a note detailing some weak points in her fighting style.
Now just when he'd gotten back to the hunt there was this wreck. Angel considered just ignoring it, but he knew Buffy would have disapproved and if Willow ever heard about this she'd be disappointed in him.
Irritably Angel climbed on to the upturned side of the van. The door handle had been crushed when the van had rolled; the window was obscured by dried blood. Angel realized the wreck must have occurred hours earlier. With almost disdainful ease he ripped the door from the twisted frame of the vehicle.
And froze. Angel's vampiric vision could easily pierce the shadowy interior of the van to identify the young woman in the passenger seat below him. Angel hadn't felt anything since killing Aurora after Buffy's death, yet that night terror filled him. The danger to Willow, his last tie to the mortal world and Buffy, breaking through the detachment that had possessed him for so long.
"A-Angel?" Willow whispered weakly.
"I'm here," he answered. "It's going to be okay."
Angel glanced past Willow to the still, utterly silent form in the driver's seat. He strained his senses, trying to detect some sign of life beyond Willow's. When he looked back at the pale redhead Angel's face was a mask. "I'm going to call an ambulance, they'll take care of you both," Angel said. "It will only take a few minutes, I'll come right back."
Angel raced to the nearest house, he hated to leave Willow alone, even for a few minutes, this was Sunnydale after all, and she was helpless. Still, the ambulance had to be summoned. Angel couldn't carry her without risking aggravating any spinal cord injuries she might have suffered.
The occupants of the house were sleeping when he arrived, fortunately when the man awakened he was too disoriented to wonder how Angel had reached the window of his second story bedroom. He listened dazedly as Angel explained about the wreck then invited the vampire in to use the phone.
Angel explained again to the 911 operator, then hastened back to the scene of the collision. As he passed the other car Angel paused, detecting the distinctive odor of alcohol emanating from the other vehicle. As Angel went to investigate his game face surfaced.
The window on the driver's side of the car was cracked and spattered with dried blood. Delicately Angel scrapped some of the blood off the window and tasted it. Angel began to growl softly as the taste of alcohol ladened blood filled his mouth.
"Not now," Angel muttered to himself as he returned to Oz's van his human seeming reluctantly sliding back in place.
He climbed easily back to the upturned passenger side of the van. "Willow, the ambulance is coming," he said.
"My legs hurt," Willow whimpered.
Angel leaned into the vehicle, trying to see if there was anything he could do to ease her pain. What he found was the dash broad pressing firmly against the edge of her seat; both Willow's legs were crushed between it and the metal frame of the seat.
Angel retreated to the side of the van, hiding shock as well as fury. "The ambulance is coming," he reiterated. "They'll take care of you."
Willow's green eyes were huge in her pale face. "We've been here forever," She whispered. "The other driver just walked off. I thought he was going for help, but it never came. Angel, he just left us here to die. Then night fell; all I could do was wait for the monsters to come for us. I haven't even been able to check on Oz, he hasn't woke-up, not even once, since the wreck." Her tears sparkled in the dim starlight.
Carefully Angel reached out and brushed them away. "I'm sorry Willow," he said after a long pause, "I should have gotten here sooner, I'm sorry you're hurt."
Willow reached up to clasp his hand.
Angel stalked around the perimeter of the activity, the cops and ambulance had arrived together, unfortunately the position of the van as well as it's crumpled frame made extracting Willow difficult, to say the least.
Currently the paramedics were securing Willow so she wouldn't fall when the van's dashboard was dislodged and the seatbelt cut. They'd also given her medication for the pain. Angel wished they'd hurry. He'd told them he could take care of the van's frame once Willow was prepared. They didn't believe him, they thought they need to wait for mechanical assistance to arrive. Angel resisted the temptation to go game face on them; the last thing he needed was to have them run off without caring for Willow.
Angel had also eavesdropped on the police while they had run the registry of the second vehicle. Now he knew the name of the person responsible for Willow's pain, and his address.
He hoped the individual would be able to evade the police until he had time to deal with him. It would be so much neater if the man were dead before entering police custody.
He watched the rescue workers pull back from the van, they were just waiting for their "Jaws of Live" thing to arrive. Angel grabbed the first paramedic handy. "What needs to be done?" he demanded.
"We need more equipment before we can extricate her from the vehicle," The man replied.
"Why?" Angel growled.
"The van's frame can't be forced off her without assistance," The man explained.
"I'll move it," Angel said.
"That's not possible," the paramedic argued. "No human could move that."
"I guess we're lucky I'm not human," Angel snarled, finally allowing his true features to surface.
The paramedic remained frozen as Angel dragged him to the wreck.
Five years ago Angel doubted he'd have been able to force the twisted metal holding Willow prisoner back to a rough approximation of it's original shape, he certainly wouldn't have tried it with over twenty curious on lookers watching. Right now it was easy, and Angel could care less about what the watchers thought so long as they didn't panic.
Minutes later the paramedics were placing Willow's unconscious body in the ambulance while the remainder of the team turned their attention to removing Oz's body from the wreckage. Angel rode to the hospital in the ambulance with Willow.
"Giles, Willow's hurt, she's at the Sunnydale general hospital," Angel announced abruptly as soon as Giles answered his phone.
"How?" Giles asked. "I'll be there shortly. Who is this?"
Without replying Angel hung up the phone. Except for brief phone calls and emails to Willow, Angel had broken all contact with the mortal world over four years ago. Whistler had told him that living in the world would hurt when he'd first started preparing Angel to help Buffy. He'd been right; everything reminded Angel that he wasn't human any more. Everything from Xander's annoying nickname to the simple fact that everyone around him had a heartbeat while he didn't. Still it had been worth the pain to be near Buffy.
After her death he could stand it. Angel took out vampires before they could even approach their victims. That way he rarely even saw humans, let alone put himself into situations where he had to pretend to be one.
Reluctantly Angel picked up the phone again and had the operator find Xander and Cordelia's numbers for him.
Giles was the first of Willow's friends to arrive at the hospital. The first thing he noticed was that the people in the waiting room were all huddled together near the door. As he stepped into the room Giles realized why that was. A tall dark haired man paced across the far end of the room, radiating tension, anger, and raw power. The black clad individual's movements were forceful and purely predatory. Even after he turned toward Giles it took several minutes for the Watcher to identify Angel.
It wasn't that he had changed physically, time had lost its hold on the vampire two and half centuries earlier. Still the quiet brooding individual Giles had known was gone, and despite the predator clearly visible in Angel's movements he didn't remind Giles of Angelus either.
Dressed in black jeans and a turtle neck shirt of the same color, Angel's pale skin looked almost unreal. Then there was the power, when Angel had first arrived in Sunnydale he had been able to hide what he was from the Slayer for months. Now even normal humans, completely unaware of the existence of creatures like Angel could sense the power rolling off the agitated vampire. As Giles approached him the sensation got worse, it felt like ants crawling all over his skin.
When Angel noticed the watcher he stopped his pacing and watched as Giles approached him. The man's discomfort was apparent, even to a casual observer.
"H-How is Willow?" Giles asked.
"They're still operating," Angel replied harshly.
"A drunk driver," Angel's voice turned even darker with fury. "She survives growing up on the Hellmouth and fighting demons for years to get hit by a God damned drunk driver! I'm going to kill him."
"Angel?" Giles queried, uncertain that the vampire was serious.
Despite Angel's human feature his eyes were glowing yellow, convincing Giles that he meant every word he had said.
"If he's human, wouldn't it be better to allow the police to deal with this?"
"Willow's in the hospital, her legs are crushed, the doctors won't even say if she'd going to live. Oz is already dead. Because some idiot didn't call a cab. After the wreck he walked away, he didn't get help or even check on Willow and Oz's condition, he left. They were there for hours before I found them, because of him! Willow was conscious that whole time, trapped in that van, hurt and scared and he didn't care. I'm going to kill him," Angel said coldly.
Giles knew he should argue. He shouldn't condone murder, even by silence, but during the course of Angel's monologue his desire to defend the other human withered and died. A Ripper-like corner of his mind suggested that it might be satisfying to go along and help when Angel killed the bastard.
A tired, grim looking doctor approached Giles and Angel almost an hour later, "You're with Ms. Rosenburgh?" He asked.
"Yes," Giles answered, "How is she?"
"Stable, we believe she has a good chance of surviving," the doctor replied.
"Except?" Angel asked, almost growling.
"Her lower legs weren't just broken, they were crushed, and the delay in treatment ended what little chance there was of repairing them, the blood supply was simply cut off for too long," the doctor stated.
Angel's low rumbling growl brought both Giles attention and the doctor's to the vampire. Angel was in game face; a faint aura flickering around his body, black flames tinged with crimson.
"A-Angel?" Giles asked.
Without a word the angry vampire stormed out of the hospital.
"Oh dear," Giles said.
The police had already picked up the owner of the car when Angel arrived. He shrugged slightly; this would make things somewhat messier.
Despite the fact that Mayer Wilkins was just a bad memory the Sunnydale police force was still renown only for its incompetence. Angel had little difficulty sneaking into the jail. Once there breaking into the drunk's cell was child's play.
"What do you want?" the man stammered.
Angel stalked toward him soundlessly, his aura strengthening with his anger.
"What are you?"
Effortlessly Angel cornered the mortal. Still without making a sound his hand snapped out, claws cutting the drunks cheek. Angel raised his blood stained hand to his lips.
"I wouldn't want to kill the wrong drunken lout," Angel said softly. "Just the one who crippled Willow."
"I don't know any Willow," the man protested.
"You wouldn't," Angel rumbled.
"You left her for dead," Angel continued.
"I didn't," the drunk stammered, "You can't know that."
"Yes, I can," Angel's voice turned low and silky, "Your blood on the windshield of the car that wrecked her life, same blood in your veins. Each person tastes unique, even through the alcohol I can still taste you."
Angel's movements were almost too sudden to be followed, less than a heartbeat later the drunk lay on the floor, dead of a broken neck.
Xander and Cordelia arrived at the hospital together early that morning after a long drive.
As soon as he saw Giles Xander broke into a spade of questions. "How's Will? What happened to her? Is she okay? Who called us?"
Giles took the last and easiest question first, "Angel was probably the one who called."
"Deadboy? It's been... well, forever since anyone has seen him. What's he got to do with this? He didn't hurt her did he? Where is he?" Xander babbled.
"Angel found her. Willow and Oz were in an accident. Oz was killed instantly. Angel left almost an hour ago, he's most likely killing the individual responsible," Giles answered.
"Good," Xander said. "If he needs help I'm available."
"No," Giles corrected. "They were hit by a drunk drier, not a demon. What Angel is going to do is murder."
"How is Willow?" Cordelia asked.
Giles hesitated, "Not good, the doctors don't believe that she'll be able to walk again."
"Okay, this guy murdered Oz and crippled Willow, I think Xander's right. If Angel wants to kill him, good," Cordelia said.
"Willow, how are you doing?" Giles asked.
"How is Oz?" Willow asked softly.
"Giles took her hand gently, "Willow, I'm so sorry…"
Angel stood, silent and unnoticed in the entryway of the waiting room listening to Cordelia and Xander discuss Willow's state, both physical and mental.
She had apparently kicked everyone out of her room earlier that day, after learning of Oz's death. Angel frowned, she needed her friends now, and she was pushing them away.
Using the shadows Angel crossed the waiting room without being noticed.
"Willow?" Angel asked softly.
The pale, tiny, redhead turned slowly to look at Angel. "You lied to me," She said. "Oz died before you found us, you didn't tell me."
Angel took a seat at Willow's side. "I did," he replied. "There was nothing I could do for Oz. All I could do was keep you focused on staying strong."
"You shouldn't have lied," Willow's voice was dull, a hollow parody of her normal self.
"Maybe not, I did my best to take care of you. I'm sorry if I was wrong," Angel stated.
"You were wrong, you lied, go away," Willow commanded.
"No," Angel replied. "When Buffy died you were there for me, now I'm going to be here for you."
Willow turned her face back to the wall. Angel settled in for a long wait.
During the weeks following Buffy and Aurora's deaths Willow had come to sit with him for hours everyday. He had ignored her, preferring to wallow in his misery, still her presence had been a comfort.
Four hours later Willow started talking. "The other driver walked away, he pulled into our lane, right in front of Oz, there was nothing we could have done to avoid him. It was his fault and he walked away, but Oz died. It's not fair!"
Angel took her hand silently.
"He left us you know," Willow continued. "After the accident he just walked off, he didn't care what he'd done to us. He wasn't a demon, he had a soul, he just didn't care. He destroyed our lives and we never even mattered to him. Spike, the Master, Mayor Wilkins, at least they were our enemies. They might have tried to destroy us but we mattered to them."
"The other driver was drunk," Angel said finally.
"That's a real comfort," Willow snarled.
"He's dead," Angel offered tentatively.
"He deserves to be, but he's not," Willow replied. "He walked away, he left us to die. He didn't even get hurt and it was all his fault."
"I know," Angel sighed. "I tracked him last night, when I found him, I killed him."
The silence stretched for several minutes. Willow stared blankly at Angel; he shifted his weight nervously.
"Oh," Willow said finally, her voice was empty of expression.
Silence descended again.