The bleak clouds drifting over the Crawford mansion today suited the occupants' mood entirely. Angel watched heartbroken as his little girl, his baby, sat at the window bench morosely tracing the raindrops as they fell across the glass. She wasn't supposed to know this type of grief at five years old; but Angel could blame no one but himself for putting his darling girl in this situation.

Oh wait a second, he could – he could blame Darla.

Just thinking of her made the vein in his neck pulsate. God he was angry! He could feel the rage bubbling up inside of him, just waiting for the chance to take control and let rip – tearing into anyone that crossed his path, regardless of how innocent they were.

The hollowing pain of grief and remorse were there also but the rage was so much easier to handle right now– because Angel knew if he let loose on those emotions, he wouldn't make it through the day. And he needed to make it through the day, if only for Izzie's sake.

The front door slammed again signalling more mourning guests arriving; some family and friends, others probably there just to get a look at the inside of one of the nicest homes in the sleepy town of Sunnydale. Vultures. Probably just wanted to be a witness to the scandal first hand. Tell all their friends when they meet at Starbucks over the weekend, 'Oh yes, I was at the funeral. Terrible tragedy wasn't it, Marge can you pass the sugar dear, and the little girl so young. Probably never get over that one will she, poor little dear.'

Whoever they were, Angel didn't really care as long as they kept their distance from himself and Izzie. They didn't need people like them today.

"Hey man, How ya holdin' up?" Doyle said, interrupting Angel's previous thoughts. Doyle was fully clad in a suit, like all of the other men in attendance – okay the shirt had mustard stains on the collar but its Doyle, shouldn't expect miracles.

At any other day Angel would have laughed at his cousin and best friends serious face – but today all his thoughts centred on his daughter.

"Ugh" he grunted, not yet feeling ready to answer that question. I mean, how do you answer a question like that on a day like this one – he wasn't sure that a simple 'I'm fine' is gonna cut it.

"How's the Munchkin doin'? Has she spoken to anyone yet?"

Both men looked through the crowds of mourning people to the little girl lost in her own world clutching her little teddy bear to her chest and staring outside at the passing world.

"Not a word. Doyle I'm getting worried; she eats barely anything and when she sleeps… she has these nightmares that wake her up screaming and I-I…" Sighing and running a hand frustratedly through his already-rumpled hair; in a weak voice that Doyle had to strain to hear he said,

"I don't know how to help her." Angel looked down at the floor, unable to show even his closest friend the agony he felt at not being able to help his only daughter. "She's so lost and looks so alone, I just ca-…" Angel gave up and slumped into the chair next to him.

Doyle didn't have a clue how to comfort his friend, how do you comfort someone in his situation? Slumping into the chair next to Angel, he lent forward resting his hands on his knees as he asked,

"Have you thought about getting professional help?"

"You mean like a shrink? Yes, but if she's not comfortable talking around loved ones yet I'm not going to put her through some college graduate trying to poke holes in her head. When she starts talking again I'll take her, just to make sure she's okay after…everything." Angel said, staring straight ahead with blank eyes.

"I didn't mean dat type of professional. More in the means of a–a nanny type woman, you know, to look after the Munchkin."

Angel looked up at Doyle with a slightly confused expression, " A nanny? That's a pretty random thing to suggest on a day like today."

Doyle sheepishly glanced about the room to avoid Angels stare, "It's not the first time I thought a nanny would be good for the mite. Even wit' Darla 'round…"

'I will not speak ill of the dead'

Doyle reconsidered his words, "All's I'm sayin' is I think it would do Izzie good to have a permanent woman around to be there for her at all times."

When Doyle finished his little speech, he was shocked to look up and see a hurt expression on Angel's face.

"And you don't think I'll be there for her?" Angel voiced quietly.

"O' course you'll be there for 'er" He quickly corrected, "But we both know how much you have to work at dat firm o' yours, doesn't really leave a lot o' time left in the day for Izzie is all I'm sayin'. A nanny could fill in all the blanks and really help the girl"

Angel looked to be considering it for a moment before shaking his head 'no'.

"I don't think so Doyle. Bringing someone new in now when… she needs time to adjust, to get into a routine again. Not to be shoved into new situations with new people straight away. For now, I'll cut down more hours and ask Magdalena to look after Izzie while I'm at work. Just until we sort something more permanent out." He said, nodding his head in affirmation of what he had decided.

"The maid Angel? It's not really her forte to be looking aft-"

"Doyle, enough! I don't wanna talk about this anymore. Magdalena will look after Isabella until I can figure something out at work and that's it. I will not bring a nanny in here until I see fit, and that's the end of it."

"Alright man, jus' makin' a suggestion." Doyle said, backing away with his hands up.

Sighing, Angel warily rubbed his hands over his face, "No, I'm sorry Doyle. It's just… everything is so crazy right now. I feel like, if I don't do everything myself and arrange everything myself, it's all just gonna come crumbling down on me, you know? And that's the last thing I need right now. It's the last thing Isabella needs, so that immediately makes me crazed man. I'm sorry for taking it out on you."

Doyle had never seen his cousin so defeated an it tore him up inside, "Don't worry Angel, little Izzie is gonna be fine. We'll all be there for 'er. You'll see her laughin' and smilin' afore you know it. She'll be fine"

The wariness Angel had been feeling before left him immediately after hearing his cousin's choice of words.

"Fine?" Angel stood up, "FINE!" People in the room turned around to see their levelheaded businessman boss lose his cool, something that was normally an alien concept for him. Aware of all of the attention he was getting, Angel leaned in to Doyle to whisper in his ear through gritted teeth.

"Doyle, she witnessed her mother being brutally murdered! If you wanna live in denial then that's your choice; but don't try to delude me in to believing for one second that she will ever get past this because you pity me having to live with the guilt of letting my daughter watch her mother get killed!"

Angel glared into Doyle's eyes and tried to catch his breath, deciding he couldn't take the situation anymore her turned on his heel and headed over to the window to see the one person he could stand at this moment – Isabella.

Doyle looked at Angel crouched down beside his daughter at the window, saddened by the desolate image their grief presented and decided he would do something to change it – even if Angel was mad, he didn't care. Doyle was going to get them what they needed even if they didn't want it, 'Whether you like it or not Angel, and that's a promise.'


At that moment a young woman 2 miles away in Los Angeles named Buffy, stopped what she was doing in the kitchen and wrinkled her brow, confused – she gave up trying to think of what she had forgotten and went back to preparing dinner.