When Buffy woke up, it didn't take her very long to figure out where she was. Even before she was able to open her eyes she started honing in on the sounds, the smells, and knew she was in a hospital room. It didn't take long to remember why that was, either. All of the horrifying events came rushing back to her at once, forcing her eyes to pry their way open and she sat up with a start. This was neither an easy task to do, nor a pleasant one. Buffy winced in pain, squeezing her eyes back shut as her head pounded.

Buffy felt movement beside her and jumped when she felt someone touching her.

"Hey," she heard Angel's voice softly saying. His voice was rough, but soothed her over instantly. "You're okay."

Buffy gave it a few seconds, then she started opening her eyes back up. She hurt, there were wires coming out of everywhere, and everything around her was too bright. Her eyes falling onto Angel almost hurt the most as he looked like a trainwreck.

Buffy swallowed painfully and one of his large hands came up to cup the side of her face. His thumb traced along her eyebrow, then fell down her cheek. "I thought I lost you all over again," he whispered, his body nearly shaking.

"Wh-what happened?" she barely croaked out.

He stared at her so long that she didn't think he would answer, but when he did go to open his mouth to say something, she heard the door opening, footsteps, along with a few familiar voices and one that wasn't. Both looked over towards the door to see a nurse come in, followed by Hank and her step-mother Jenny.

Buffy felt a complete unease fall over her as she watched their shocked faces, their rushing over to her. Buffy looked downward, feeling Angel moving beside her again. He'd propped himself up beside her on the bed after she'd sat up and now was putting his arms around her waist, laying down beside her body.

Swallowing again, she did her best to remain calm, answer questions they were shooting at her. She sunk herself deeper again Angel. Her relationship with her father was already strained without this having happened. She could count on one hand for how many people had known the entire truth to what drove her out of North Carolina... Hank she'd skimmed over the details so much, Angel she'd never wanted to go into about with, but now here they all were.

In this moment she felt humiliated and ashamed. She knew better, but that didn't make it any less true.

Buffy wanted to ask them questions for what happened, how she got here, what all was wrong with her... she wanted to ask bout Riley... but she just did her best to keep her mouth shut.

In her head though, her thoughts were running a mile a minute.


"He's not left your side," Buffy heard Jenny say. She looked up at her step-mom then over at Angel. She didn't doubt it by the looks of him.

Buffy nodded, still mulling over everything.

They had filled her in on a few things by now. She knew the extent of her injuries and what had happened while she was out of it, how she'd been found, and what was going on with Riley at the moment. Honestly, she wanted to repeat what brought her here and just run from it but after this she knew that wouldn't be the smartest choice. Given the chance, Buffy was sure he'd always track her down and she'd spend her days always looking over her shoulder for him.

When she fled out of North Carolina she'd known she could have-should have-pressed charges against him then, but stupidity won over. She was pretty sure she'd been granted at least a temporary fix the night everything hit the fan while he was bleeding all over the place and acting like a psychopath. At the time she wasn't thinking about that though, only following the urge to get away, to take the first real chance she'd been given since meeting him to get away.


When a nurse finally came to check on her, Buffy was informed there would be police officers stopping by soon to speak with her. She nodded, swallowing down the nerves and shame coursing through her at the idea. This whole thing was just more than she'd ever wanted to deal with. She hated herself so much for letting it get this bad, for so long. She knew she should have cut ties with Riley forever ago, saved herself such trouble.

Hank and Jenny stayed for awhile before going back home, telling her to call them if she needed anything. Buffy nodded, thanking them. Jenny had done most of the talking, but Hank had gone out of his way to try and comfort her, which she could appreciate.

A nurse popped her head in to check on her, but then it was back to just her and Angel.

Buffy looked the room over, then herself again, then she let her eyes fall on Angel. She stared at the ugly markings adorning his hands. "What happened to you?" she asked.

Buffy's eyes looked for his. He looked confused for a moment then watched as she looked back down at his hands. He clenched them tightly. "Punched someone in the face a few good times," he told her. "And later, a wall."

From his tone that he tried and failed at hiding, she knew who that 'someone' was.

Buffy could only nod and look away. She didn't know what to say to him, didn't want to know what he might think of her now. One second everything was perfect, just starting to really happen for the two of them... and then all of this happened.

Buffy felt his arms tightening around her. She looked down and her heart nearly broke at the look on his face.

"I shouldn't have left," he strangled out. I knew that the whole time. I shouldn't have left," he repeated. "I turned around, Buffy... I was on my way back but by the time I got there... you were already gone."

Buffy felt her stomach wanting to give out.

Angel sat back up beside her, his hands both coming up to cup her face in them. Buffy felt tears spilling from her eyes, hitting his thumbs.

His head leaned forward, he kissed her softly. "I'm so sorry, baby," he whispered at her before kissing her gently once more.

Buffy shook her head. "You didn't know anything about it," she whispered. "And if it hadn't been then, it just would have been another day and time with him."

He shook his head, burying it into the crook of her neck. His arms fell back down to her waist, hers playing in his locks of hair.

"I thought I'd lost you," he whispered against her. "You weren't there, there was blood in the hall. We searched and searched, but nothing... Then we headed out to the cabins and missed you again," he rushed out. "Then you were lifeless in the river, being pulled out... we couldn't get you to come back to us. They worked on you for hours on the way here, then once they got you in... they told us you weren't going to make it, there was nothing they could do... then something changed and we've just been waiting..."

Buffy stroked his hair, letting him fall apart against her, feeling like she was about to do similar.

"For years you were the only thing in the world I wanted, but I was too shy-too scared to do anything about it. Years later, I still had that feeling about you, Buffy. I thought about you way more than I probably should have. Especially when I got back out this way, because it was all just a reminder at times. Then, you just show back up one day and turned everything upside down for me. It was like a second chance laid out in front of me. I just got the nerve to go after it. I just got everything I've wanted for so long. I can't lose you, Buffy."

Angel leaned his head back, meeting her eyes. His words sucker punched her in her very core.

He propped himself up on his elbow, using his other hand to bring her down to him, kissing her.


Speaking to the police answered more questions for her than anything else. She'd not wanted to go over all of the details with her father and especially not Angel just yet so she was grateful for their walk through, questions and answers. She told them she wanted to file multiple charges against Riley and they assured her they would help do just that, taking their time to speak over everything, and going out of their way to make sure she was feeling alright.

They'd let Angel stay in for most of the meeting, but eventually had asked him to step out. He wasn't happy about it-not then, not now. The entire time he was pacing in front of the door. Every so often they'd all stop what they were doing and look his way, his eyes always burning holes into the room.

"I think you got your hands full with that one."

Buffy looked up, smiling at the officer who was now standing.

"In a good way," he quickly added, looking embarrassed.

She could pretty much read his thoughts given all that was going on. She smiled again though, nodding at him.

While they gathered their things to go, Buffy let her mind wander to the very place she didn't want it to go. She let the thoughts cross through her mind for what was going to happen once she was released, the court involvements ahead of her, and wondered how she was going to be able to leave here, leave him, once everything was settled.