To get through it without snapping, I learned to focus on something else. I imagined you. I talked to you the entire time. - Angel

"So, did you - ow, goddamn it - like the present I got for you? I don't think I - ah, ah! - saw you open it."

The salve seared his flesh, and for one second he regretted putting that much amount on his leg. The instruction said something like 'a smidgen of' - but who had time to read instructions anyway? He needed his leg to heal, and heal quickly - and for that to happen, he scooped a lot of the stuff with his fingers and--

"I was... walking down this street one night. And I, I saw that thing. It was on display. There were lights. And lots of zeroes at the end, so I… know you'll like it." He paused, trying to catch his breath. Huh. Breath. It was unnecessary before, but now...

"And I thought to myself, well, it was either get her this one, or a dinner for two at Bellissima, but that would've been too... I don't want to say obvious, but--"

He hissed. The salve was slowly penetrating his skin, and he could feel it working - like a seamstress sewing cloth, there were needles tugging and pricking and god he had to grind his teeth for several terse seconds, his fingers finding the ground and digging themselves their own little graves.

Breathe. In, out. Spasm a bit, but in a manly way. Breathe. in, out.

He felt a warm breeze. It came out of nowhere, very much like the comfort that it brought. He felt eyes watching him as he laid there, and it made him feel better - that he wasn't alone. That if he were to die now, from the cure and not from the injuries - ironically enough - then at least there would be a witness.

'Here lies the champion - it was a cream that did him in.'

"I... didn't know if you like ballet or not," he continued, his lips and throat so very dry. He was hungry, but getting food meant moving, and moving meant tearing up wounds. Not worth it. "And Gunn wanted... Mahta Hari tickets, but--"

He groaned, as deep, lancing pain shot up his leg straight into his brain, making him see white and black spots that danced and mocked him even after he had already closed his eyes. Breathe. Breathe. Breathe. He opened his mouth and greedily sucked in air, making him feel like he had just eaten a serving of sand topped with cotton and sprinkled with dust. He would kill for a drop of water.

You know, if he didn't die first.

"I gave it up because I thought you were happy there. Maybe I should've sold it - I mean, if you were there you would have convinced me to sell it before Gwen did, but that's just it, isn't it? You weren't. There. You were some place else and--"

His leg was now not-so-broken. He felt it. No, actually he heard it, like a snapping of a twig. There was still the case of the large, open wound of course but the salve, at least, had done its job. Now all he needed was to put some on his other leg, and then he should be able to stand and--

He felt the breeze again, and the eyes that watched him. Someone was listening, and despite everything he felt his lips twitch. Despite the damn pain - his lips still twitched.

"Cordelia..."

Opening his eyes, he saw the dragon that guarded him. Mouth too close, teeth too pointed, breath too stinky - and the wing that it fluttered, creating warm gusts each time it moved. It regarded him with huge, sharp eyes, and it cared for him as though he was its hatchling. Or something. At the name, it bobbed its head, as though acknowledging that it heard.

"That's... heh. That's a good boy, Cordelia."