Disclaimer: Still not Joss. Still not mine.
A/N: This was supposed to be a series type thing, but my efforts at more chapters came out badly. I might try again later.
She stood alone in the room with the casket. It was the same funeral parlor they had used when her mom died. There were just a few differences. For one, her mom's showing had been crowded with friends, relatives and associates, but now the room was empty. The other difference was that her mother's body had looked like she did when she died, while Angel's coffin held nothing but bones.
She ran her thumb over the smoothness of his skull down from the crown and along the jawline. She crossed his hands over each other at his waist. She leaned down and whispered to where his ear used to be "I didn't think you were old enough to leave bones."
"I wasn't," came a man's voice from behind her, "You have to be at least five or six hundred to get rate more than just dust. I was barely half of that, because apparently years in hell don't count."
She turned to see Angelus leaning against the door frame. The complete blackness of his clothes was a startling contrast to the classic reception room peach and tan of the viewing room. He strode towards her and rubbed his hands up and down her arms. As he did, she realized that she was chilled.
"You made the bones yourselves," he continued. She recalled that they had. She could picture the moment in her head: the sterile white coldness of the lab with its metal stools and long jet colored table; Giles reading directions, showing pictures of the skeletal system; Xander rolling thick clay tubes, covering them with plaster and painting them white, his tongue poking out of the corner of his mouth the whole time; Willow sitting with a tiny instrument, shaping the curves and dips in the precise factually correct way. And what had Buffy done? She had added the personal touched: the sword charm on a chain that dangled through the bones of his rib cage, the red silk lining of the casket and the Claddagh ring on the bottom knuckle bone of his left ring finger, heart facing in.
"Sometimes you need to trust what you know, not what you see. You've never followed rules or logic, Buffy. Don't start now."
And she woke up.
She called Giles as she was packing her suitcase.
"I'm approving an expenditure," she informed him.
"Buffy," his crackling voice admonished, "Shoes or clothes or-or whatever are not a valid use of Council money."
"It's not that. I'm buying a plane ticket to LA and renting an apartment there for a while."
Silence from the other end. For a moment she thought that the call had been lost in the unreliability that is phone lines in the remote English countryside. But she finally heard light breathing, so she supposed Giles was thinking. Her lips quirked into a remembering smile as she thought of him cleaning his glasses while doing so. "Did you get a call from an informant?" He asked eventually, butterfly-toeing around the words.
"Not exactly," she hedged, pausing to tuck the phone more firmly beneath her ear before she folded a t-shirt with three practiced movements.
"From Angel?" He said, more carefully still, unsure of how to react, for himself and for her.
"No." She gusted a sigh. "I had a dream, Giles, and I know there's no evidence except my gut on this, but he is alive."
His sigh was a teakettle whistle over the phone line. "Buffy-"
"Everything destroyed, blast radius, no chance of survival, blah, blah, blah," she cut him off as she dropped the last sandal into the case and zipped it up. "I know it defies logic, but you know Angel and me. I assumed he was dead, but he's not, Giles, I can still feel him and he's not. I'll use my own savings if I have to but I really wanted to get your backing on this!"
She could hear the heel of his hand rubbing the phone as he rubbed it over his face. It made a sawing sort of sandpaper sound. "I trust you, Buffy," he told her after a long minute. I'll make the arrangements and call you back."
"Thanks, Giles," she said, dropping the large suitcase by the bed and beginning to pack up her carry-on. She did not mention that she had been terrified that this would be another thing she would have to do on her own. Even though she was the first Slayer with a support team, it often felt like she was still alone. "I'll talk to you later."
Angel was playing piano in an auditorium with a slanting roof. The sound echoed around the room, unnaturally loudly. She mused that the room must have very good acoustics. A spotlight beamed light only on him, leaving the rest of the room in shadows. Her seat was in the very back row, a straight-backed metal chair with a navy and white flecked cushion that felt like a stack of cardboard. She got up, stretching her limbs, and made her way up the aisle. She got to the stage as he finished the last notes of Pachelbel's Canon. He spun around on the piano bench and moved over to one side. Her footsteps echoed at she crossed the empty stage and sat down next to him.
"Hey," he said.
"Hey," she responded. "How are you?"
His jaw tightened and then loosened, one corner of his mouth flickering up for a second. "Not so good."
She nodded. There was nothing she could do except what she was already doing. She ran a hand over the polished black surface of the piano. "I didn't know you played." She tapped a couple of random notes.
"I don't really. My father thought piano playing was too feminine. He never let me play, although I always wanted to. Angelus was too busy with the killing, maiming and torturing parts of life to take lessons."
She nodded again and they fell silent. Buffy rubbed her hands against the grain of her black velvet skirt before she looked up at him again.
"What happened to you?"
He looked surprised that she had to ask. "You already knew most of it. Except that I survived." The thought seemed to create something hard and cold and heavy in his chest and he sagged, his forehead resting on his hands, his elbows pressing into his knees. After a short eternity he looked up and rested his chin on folded knuckles. "I survived," he repeated flatly, eyes straight ahead.
"I'm sorry," she whispered, her hand fluttering by his shoulder, a shaving away, before she dropped it. "But I'm looking for you. I promise, I will find you."
It surprised her that her that she had so much hope now. A month ago she was in Rome, making empty, witty quips, slaying every night even though she didn't have to, going home with new men to see if someone would fit just the right way. They never did, just like her life didn't seem to fit anymore. It should have been strange, but it wasn't, that she felt more absolutely herself then she had in years while she was sitting in a random, strange, echoing room, on a slippery piano bench next to Angel.
"I have something for you," he said, turning halfway around. He grabbed a manilla folder that was resting on one side of the piano. "I know what happened last time there was you and me and folder, but this isn't from Wolfram and Hart. This is mine. My will, personal papers, letters..." He handed it to her. Their hands brushed. His skin was feverishly hot and vibrating ever so slightly.
He jerked up, backing away. "I have to go," he said, his voice overly steady.
"Why?" She asked, standing as well. As she walked towards him, she felt her face breaking and reforming into faultlines that were both crisp and familiar. "What's wrong, Angel? Don't you love me?"
She woke up with her breath clotting in her throat. She wasn't sure whether her being a vampire was Angel's fearful addition to the dream or her own. She forced herself to take deep breaths and turned on the 7 AM news on the radio. The weather report predicted the hottest day of the year (impossible to judge, in her opinion, seeing as it was only June) which seemed pretty close to the mark because her unfamiliar rental apartment was equipped only with a group of fans beating the hot air around to each other. Her pajamas had absorbed too much sweat to be comfortable anymore, so she banged open her drawers, pulling out a fresh white tank top and a tiny pair of shorts. Normally she would have been tinglingly uncomfortable with exposing nearly 90% of her body, but she knew that she wouldn't be alone in her choice of clothing today. She shut off her radio and made her way to the kitchen.
Once there, she opened one of her nearly empty cupboards and pulled a box of oatmeal, frowned at the very thought of eating something hot and put it back. Instead, she went to the refrigerator and pulled out a yogurt. The label informed her that it was blueberry. She grabbed a spoon that she believed was clean, considered running it under the tap to be sure, shrugged and poked it into the cup. She turned on the kitchen radio to the local soft rock station (what the apartment lacked in cooling technology it made up with radios in every room. Then again, the ad had said "state of the art entertainment system" so she supposed it all evened out) and grabbed yesterday's newspaper. She sat down with her food and her paper, scanning for any news. Out of habit, she went straight to the obituaries, looking for any mysterious or anomalous deaths. Three old ladies, an old man, a young mother dead of a car accident and a tragic story involving cancer and a young man in love; nothing worth checking out. She had turned to the city news bits, just inches that often held whole plots within their words, when Angel shuffled sleepily out of the bedroom, dressed only in a pair of black boxers.
"Morning," she greeted.
He grunted in response. She gave a razor wire smile and went back to her paper. He walked to the fridge and grabbed a bottle of grapefruit juice, taking a long guzzle from it.
"Hot again today," she informed him, not bothering to look up.
"Hm," he agreed. He opened the freezer, letting the frigid air breeze over his body. He reached inside, rummaging past the frozen peas and low-fat ice cream. He pulled out an onyx and silver dagger and rested it flat against his forehead. He sat down across from Buffy, setting his juice on the table. He moved the knife to his right cheek, then his left. He wiped the sweat off the knife before he placed the blade on his left shoulder. He pushed hard enough for blood to well, and then dragged the knife in a waving line at the same depth from shoulder to wrist. He switched to his right arm, keeping the line unnaturally straight this time. He moved on to his legs, flicking his wrist to make spirals all around each one. He went to make zig-zags along the sides of his chest.
Buffy finally looked up at him. He was covered with gory dripping warpaint tattoos. He smiled at her, teeth bone white and sharp. The moment slowed to an hour per grain of hourglass sand, and before she could move to slide across the table, he had pushed the knife into his heart.
She froze, but the world around her had not stopped. The fridge made a clunking sound as it dropped fresh ice cubes into the dispenser. Cars drove outside. The radio still played in the background and the lyrics went over and over in her head.
Red red wine. Red red wine. Red red wine...red Angel wine snaking around his whole body in wavering, dead laces.
She woke up for real, still screaming. The rain that had been pounding the city for three days made rice-on-metal sounds against her window. She couldn't tell what time it was. She rolled over to look at the clock, which informed her that it was 5:30. She got up anyway, pushing herself off the bed on braced knuckles and stumbling around for clothes.
She had been here for three weeks. For the first nine days, she had looked around each building, each alley, each chink in each wall of the twelve block blast radius. There was no sign of Angel. Later, she had questioned victims, survivors, rescue workers, had delved into the demon community. There was no trace of him.
Every night she would return to her rundown apartment, call Giles and go to bed. She hated to admit that she felt compelled to come to the dreams. She was never sure if the ideas were from her mind or Angel's, if it was his mind pulling her or vice versa. She did know that he was in them, not an imaginary Angel. She could feel the rootedness of his presence when she dreamed. That was constant in every dream she had had since Angelus had appeared to tell her that his death was her construct. The subject matter ranged, so that she would wake up crying or screaming or flailing or numb. She loved it when she was numb.
She donned her raincoat and boots. She smiled limply, remembering that Giles would have called them a macintosh and wellies. She wished she could find the strength in her supernatural muscles to hug him again, or to tell Dawn that she loved her. But she felt hollow and cavernous inside, as if she were just skin wrapped around helium, ballooning her into life. It felt like this was her last mission: find Angel, and then it would somehow all be over. She trotted down the four flights of stairs, opened the streaky glass doors (Giles said that he would use Council money for her apartment. He never said that it would be much money, or a good apartment) and strode into the torrent.
She knew the way to the Hyperion by now. She was actually surprised sometimes that she didn't find her way there in her sleep, because the route was ingrained in her cells and in her soles. (She didn't bother to even begin listing sole/soul puns.) She had started her search at the hotel, and she began every day there as well. All of her contacts knew to reach her there.
Usually she began in the lobby, searching for clues or traces in Angel's former home. She had checked every room, picking up boxes and odds and ends. It bruised her further that she had no idea how Angel had used the pink paint she found in the basement, or how often he had used these pastels or what he had drawn with them. That was yet another reason to find Angel. She wanted to find out about his life, the one she knew so little about.
But today she went to the alley behind the hotel. She paced up and down the length the alley, placing a foot carefully on each stone. Angel had fought his last battle here. Spike had died here. She looked at the mud at her feet, trying to divine if there was anything left, any blood or ashes mixed in the dirt. Her eyes widened and she knelt. She pushed her hand through layers of water and dirt and grit to grab at the glinting silver underneath. She wondered if she could drink the water she was crouched in and taste the salt that dropped into it from her face. Angel's Claddagh was in her palm...God, please let this be a dream. Please let her wake up, please don't let this be happening, please don't let him be dead, please please please please please...
"Buffy, wake up!"
"Wh?!" Her voice sounds as if her throat has been Novocained. She feels strong, warm arms, around her, tugging her into a strong, warm, living chest.
"Bad dream?" Angel asks, his chin resting in her nest of hair.
"Mmmm," she mumbles, pressing her cheek to his left pectoral.
"Want to tell me about it?"
"I don't really remember." It is true. Here, now, in her and Angel's bed, the dream that so terrified her is fading. She remembers the terror vividly, the ghost of it still tingling through her, but the exact plot of the dream evades her.
For long moments, they lie double-helixed in their bed, breathing in tandem. Eventually Angel leans down to her ear. He gifts tiny kisses in a spiral around the edge, until finally he reaches the center hollow.
"Tell me a secret," he whispers.
She fights the urge to giggle, not at the words, but at the idea that she has any more secrets left to tell him. He knows everything about her, all her memories, her preferences, everything that she knows about herself. She knows him the same way. Sometimes she finds herself knowing what a particular anecdote or moment will remind him of. When that happens, she will look up and they will trade knowing glances. She loves those moments when she knows that no one in the entire world knows Angel the way she does. When she was younger, there had been so much she did not know about him. She had lived in constant fear that he would leave her for someone more interesting, someone who he had met who knew more about him. But now she knows that she is the first one to have Angel's whole story, not just the pieces that were locked in different beings across history. She knows this because he told her.
She pulls her head off of Angel's chest to glance around the room. When they had first moved in, she had been nervous that using this bedroom would remind them of an awful past. There had been blood spilled in this bedroom, her blood and Angel's. She remembers vividly when Willow had shoved her into the bedroom where Angel had been pacing restlessly. Connor had been six months old when Angel had become human. After another month during which he had not called Buffy, Cordelia took charge. She took Connor to her apartment and locked the door, poking her nose out only to order him to Sunnydale. There, Buffy's friends had joined in the plot, eager to make up for taking her out of heaven. They had locked the two in this very room for two days, during which long-held secrets had been released from creaky, protesting chests. When Buffy and Angel had emerged, they were cleansed of the past and ready to start a new relationship.
Still, Buffy had been anxious that choosing this room as their bedroom was a mistake. Perhaps it would simply remind them of incendiary issues that had been spoken of. But now, seeing the walls they had spent a weekend painting Luck of the Irish green, she realizes that it was a good choice. Here was where they overcame their issues and had been made stronger for it. They had erased the old, brittle memories and made fresh ones.
A soft kiss to her hair breaks off her musings, reminding her that she is supposed to be thinking of a secret. She composes her face and finally comes up with one.
"Yesterday I stole some of your cookie dough when you went to answer the phone."
"I know," he grins. She bites her lip because he is so unburdened and so happy and so satisfied with himself, and a part of her is still unused to it after all this time. "I tasted it when I came back." He leans over and kisses her, reminding her exactly how he tasted it.
They are lucky that they were only on the 'lightly kissing' portion of the morning, because at that moment, their bedroom door opens slightly. Both Buffy and Angel sit up.
"Connor," Buffy admonishes at the same time Angel says "Aisling! What have we told you about coming into Mommy and Daddy's room so early?"
"We know," six year old Connor says, "But we heard voices, and Ash needs breakfast and Scruff has to go out." Seeing that they are not yelling, he pushes the door open all the way and comes into the room, their mutt Scruff held sloppily in his arms. His little sister follows behind him, sucking on her right pointer and middle fingers. Connor hefts Scruff up onto the bed, and he and Aisling climb in after, both bouncing a little.
"Ash needs breakfast, huh?" Buffy raises an eyebrow at Angel over their children's heads.
"The mutt needs to go out again, huh?" Angel rejoinders. He never wanted the dog, but (as he predicted) he seems to take it out most of the time.
"You do both," Buffy barters, stretching a leg to touch her husband's beneath the covers, "And I'll make it up to you."
One of Angel's eyebrows elevates up his forehead and he tries to hide a smile. He doesn't quite manage it. "You win," he acknowledges, and starts to feel around under the blankets for his boxers. He snags them with his toes and skillfully pulls them on under the bedclothes before swinging off the bed and walking towards the en-suite bathroom.
Aisling and Connor are completely unsurprised by this exchange, the likes of which have been going on their entire lives. Now that Angel is gone, the two of them burrow into his side of their parents bed.
"Mom, will you help me with my homework later?" Connor asks her.
"Sure, sweetie." She looks into his eyes and is surprised all over again that he is not her biological son. Sometimes she swears that she can remember him growing inside of her, her body nurturing his. But even when she recalls the fact, it never matters. It was love at first sight for the two of them, just as it was with his father, and now he is her son.
Aisling's fingers come out of her mouth. "Me too, Mommy. Want homework too."
"Okay," Buffy smiles. In ten years or so, she knows she'll be hearing a different tune, but she wants to savor this side of her daughter while she can.
She feels Angel's eyes on her and she looks up to see him leaning against the bathroom doorway, brushing his teeth. Their eyes meet, and hers fill. She looks over at their children, thumb wrestling in the space next to her. It is sometimes still hard to believe that this life- this perfect, wonderful, 2-kids-and-a-dog life- is hers. Last year at Connor's kindergarten Thanksgiving play she had looked beside her at Angel and then past him to see her family taking up two rows of the auditorium. Then she had looked up on the stage where her baby was playing a turkey in the costume she and Angel had stayed up until 2:30 to make and she had gotten so sniffly that she had to go outside for a few minutes. She had sat in the cold on the steps in front of the school and Angel had come out and sat next to her and wrapped his arm around her shoulders, but then had changed his mind and secured his arm around her waist instead. He had placed a very deliberate kiss on the top of her head and then one on her forehead. He had looked up at the sky with her. "I know. I love this too," he had whispered.
And now she is in their bedroom with their children and their dog. They have a picket fence outside. All the other houses on the street are white with blue shutters or red shutters and one house has bright pink shutters, but their house is a blinding sunshine yellow and they removed all the shutters so the light can come in and wash everything clean. It is completely unreal that this bright and beautiful home is hers, that after all the pain she has this miracle. It is almost ridiculous how full she feels; she at last feels as if her self fills her skin all the way. At twenty-eight, she finally knows herself. On her side of the bed, she put up the framed quote that she saw in the Matrix: "Temet Nosce," Latin for "Know Thyself". Angel says that the grammar isn't proper, but she doesn't care. "It's the thought that counts," she reminds him, half teasing, half serious. After all this time, she finally know who Buffy is and she likes herself.
Angel comes over to his side of the bed and she looks up at him, standing strong and powerful over them. He kept enough strength to come on patrol with her, but he's equally happy to stay home with the kids and do research. She loves him for both. He leans over Ash and Connor and kisses her with such gentleness that she can't believe he is even breathing because that would be more pressure than there is on her lips.
"Good morning," he says, their ritual.
"Good morning," she agrees, her chest expanding and contracting at the same time with the force of her emotions.
"Daddy!" Aisling shrieks, holding her arms up to him.
"Hey, baby girl," he smiles at her, swinging her into the air and giving her a little toss. He shifts her to one side and picks up Connor too, giving him a tiny squeeze. Their heads bend in together and only the realization that she is wearing just a t-shirt keeps her from joining them.
"Hey," Angel says from the doorway, "Stay there, okay? I'm bringing you breakfast in bed. I'll be right back."
Waking up from this dream was not just disorienting, it was cruel and painful. It actually hurt her she opened her eyes; her body burned and her mind felt like an overused stress ball. It took her a moment to realize that she did not live that perfect life in the mansion she and Angel owned, she had never borne children, she did not know every detail of his existence and she didn't even know herself.
She did not even remember getting home after finding Angel's ring. Her eyes ached from crying and her hair was stiff and crackly from salty tears and snot. She wished she had a rope to pull her to the shower. She had to sit down in the stall when she finally dragged herself there; she didn't have the strength to stand. The water shot down around her and she was so numb that she wasn't sure whether or not she had started crying again. She rested her head on her knees.
"I hate this," she muffled against her waterlogged skin and stood to wash her hair.
Her coffee was growing cold and she was just staring at the mug. It was plain white (plain Jane, plain vanilla, plain snowy, plain unbroken white) with just a chip by the handle as a distinguishing mark.
Think, she thought, unaware of the redundancy, You've searched everywhere in the immediate vicinity of the blast, so he didn't just to collapse somewhere. He chose a place to die. Where would he go? There must be something that you remember.
She didn't know Angel. She knew nothing about his life. But she still needed to find him. Despite all the evidence to the contrary, she was still positive that he was alive. She thought of anything she remembered of Angel's life in LA. She had only visited him twice, once to yell at him after Thanksgiving and once to yell at him about Faith. God, me and Angel and the yelling. She grimaced because she had been immature, with clouded thinking and he had been in the right. Her head shot up suddenly. Both meetings had taken place at Angel's old office. She practically leapt over the table to get to the drawer by the sink. It was stuck and she pulled too hard to compensate, ripping it right out. She ignored it and just rifled through for a phone book. Thank God this horrible apartment had a phone book that was five years old. She tore through the pages and found the address listing. Then she ran outside and hailed a cab.
By the time she got to the address, she was shaking. This could be it. She was crossing her fingers so tightly she thought they were fused together. But then she looked out the window at a burned building. This can't be it! This isn't what it looked like.
In a haze she paid the cabbie and got out. She tripped on a crack in the sidewalk. She looked up at the place. It was completely destroyed, like 'bomb got dropped on it' destroyed. She is too stunned even to cry. She was sure that this was it. When she had thought of this place, something had clicked. How could this not be it?
She felt exhausted and dizzy. She looked for a place to sit down, but there were no benches. In the end she found herself on sitting on a tin garbage can tipped sideways, her head supported by the bricks of an alley. She took a few slow, meditative breaths because if she didn't concentrate on breathing, she didn't know if she was breathing at all. As she drew her third breath in Angel's voice in her head, in through the nose, out through the mouth she became aware of it: the Angel tingle was there. He was somewhere around here, alive. But the structure of the building was definitely not stable enough for him to be in there. And the windows were all blown out, so he had no protection from sunlight.
She could have struck herself. Angel couldn't go into the sunlight, so his apartment had been in the basement. How could she get down there without going into the building? Her head thrashed either way and finally she noticed a door in the alley. It was painted a moldy green; where it was peeling, she could see the rust of the original metal. She pulled it open, taking care not to rip the door off its hinges. This doorway needed to be covered for the remainder of the daylight hours until she could get Angel out. She placed her foot gently on the first step. It was sound and she used it to spring down the whole staircase. The place was dark Of course it is, no windows and he probably wasn't up to turning on some tasteful Tiffany lamps and she took a moment to let her vision adapt. When it did, she could make out the basic layout of the place: hallway, bedroom, bathroom, sitting area, kitchen. As her gaze ticked to the last, she saw a boot. On predator's feet, she ran towards it. Once there she closed her eyes in thanks. The boot was attached to Angel, who lay on his back under the kitchen table as if dead.
But it was just barely attached. Her relief was short lived as she took in the extent of his injuries. The skin around his ankle was severed through on either side, exposing the bone. She could have taken a slice of it without cutting away any more skin. His shirt was torn off so she could see the cuts and slashes that made a Picasso out of his chest. His middle three fingers on his right hand were so broken that they flopped sideways. The worst of it was on his head and neck. They were burned horribly, except for his left ear. The burned skin reminded her of a marshmallow left to roast too long: puckered and waving and shriveled. She shivered.
She took her cell phone from her pocket to call Giles. The call didn't go through and she held the phone to her face to see what was wrong with it. No service flashed across the screen in passive blue letters. She cursed. She searched through Angel's pockets to see if he had a phone. She tried not to jostle him, but she was sure she had heard a couple of arm bones rub together, making a sound like cheese squeaking in someone's teeth. It worried her that the pain didn't shock him awake. There was nothing she could check to see how he was; all the normal indicators of life were of no help, for obvious reasons. She glanced down and saw with a faint nausea that the middle finger of his right hand was twitching, obviously trying to heal itself. Without blood, it would take a long time and would be extremely painful for him. It was likely he would be in a coma for months to repair all the damage.
She stopped her search for the cell phone and just looked at him. Objectively, his features were destroyed. But she placed a hand on his chest as lightly as she could, and she could feel his soul inside.
"Hi," she said stupidly and flopped back in shock. Angel's chest had hitched slightly under her hand. She had to be imagining this. But she could never have imagined the sound of his lungs toiling to take in air through his burned throat; it was like wet shoes squeaking on the floor and two stones crashing together and the sound a bird makes when its babies are killed, all in one.
"How are you alive?" She breathed, taking a moment before she realized that she didn't have to call Giles, she could call a real hospital to come help now. She ran up the stairs and outside, leaving the door open because the sun couldn't hurt him anymore, he was somehow magically human and the sun didn't burn him anymore. Tears came unbidden, so she didn't have to fake them when the operator picked up and asked her emergency. She was just able to stutter the address and let them come and help Angel.
She stayed by him until the last minute and then hid in the shadows to avoid awkward questions. She watched the paramedics take him to their ambulance and then hailed a cab and told it to follow.
She ran in a full seventeen minutes behind the emergency vehicle. She gasped out a story that she assumed sounded plausible (husband in a fire maybe?) because she was allowed up to the emergency waiting room. She waited for hours, taking a minute to call Giles and tell him to prepare a bed at the school in England because she was moving Angel there. Then she called Willow and told her to get to the hospital NOW because Angel might need her and there was no way to get him to England without magic.
"Buffy, what hospital are you at?" Willow asked with forced calm.
"I don't know," Buffy growled, almost prepared to lean away from the phone and shout the question into the ER before she spotted a tiny notepad on a desk. "Oh, I'm at St. Peter's." She lowered her voice, curving her body inward to make a shield. "Get here fast. He's human now, and I don't know if he's going to survive. It would have taken him forever to heal before and now...just get here, Will. Please."
Angel's doctor was a tiny woman, shorter than Buffy herself, with a very faint Indian accent and a demeanor that was the perfect mixture of clinical and compassionate.
"Your husband was extremely lucky," she started, and Buffy remembered what breathing was like. "The cuts on his chest managed to miss all the vital organs. We've set his fingers. His leg is going to be a problem. There is no break to set, so all we can do is try to regrow the tissue around the bone." She looked at Buffy seriously. "He might have to use a cane for the rest of his life. Be prepared for that." The doctor sighed. "But what we're really worried about is the damage to his face and neck. I have the plastic surgery team coming up to take a look, but the burns are very severe. If it were anywhere else on his body, I would just cut off the skin and let it regrow by itself, but since it's in such a delicate area..."
"I understand," Buffy croaked. "Can I go see him?"
The doctor nodded. "You have about ten minutes until we have to start doing more tests and procedures. You can sit with him until then. But, just a warning, he won't wake up. He's on a morphine drip, and besides, he's slipped into a coma."
"How bad is that? What does that mean for him?"
"It's actually better in the long run. His body will have a chance to heal with minimal pain. The only problem will come if he doesn't wake up. But we'll cross that bridge when we come to it. If you'll excuse me, I have to get to another patient." She strode away, pausing only to call over her shoulder, "You can leave your insurance information at the desk."
"Crap," Buffy whispered. Technically Angel wasn't even alive; how could he have insurance? She shrugged it off and started off towards his room at a run. She would fix it. As long as he was alive, she could fix it.
A/N2: I might have a part 2 for this in me, if you review hard enough. ;) Seriously, though, I need to know if anyone wants another part.