Category: Angst, friendship, family, budding romance
Content: B/R, X/Anya, W/T, eventual C/A, C/A/G/W family
Summary: After a fight he nearly loses, Angel finds himself deeply injured and unable to recover from the brutal attack, as his wounds steadily got worse.
Spoilers: Season 2, Episode 8 of AtS and Season 5, Episode 8 of BtVS
Disclaimer: Not mine. Don't claim them...anymore.
Distribution: Want some? Hit me up.
Notes: I was seriously sleep deprived when I came up with this so bear with me.
Thanks/Dedication: My loyal readers/commenters. Thanks for the support and the e-mails.
Feedback: Hell yeah.
To Angel, it seemed like he had been fighting this demon for ages. For every punch he threw, the damn thing countered. And it didn't seem to be tiring. Angel's adrenaline was pumping as he got his second wind and hurled himself at the demon, finally landing enough force to drive it back a couple of steps. Angel pressed the attack, driving his fists into the demon's torso repeatedly.
The demon tore into Angel with his claws, snapped at him with his teeth, but the vampire ignored the pain. He pounded the demon, driving him back. The demon howled, spittle strung between his teeth, fists raining on Angel's back and head. But Angel was in another place, oblivious to the injuries being inflicted on him.
Angel doubled his fists and swung his arms like a club, slamming them into the demon's head. Angel took the demon's head in both hands and twisted hard, snapping it's neck. The demon fell to the floor, lifeless.
Angel fell to the floor soon after, weak and in pain. His body had taken a beating. Now that his adrenaline rush was over, he felt every bite, every scratch, every stab. His side was pounding with pain and he took in a shaky breath, willing it away.
"Angel. Angel man! Where you at?" Gunn called, looking for the vampire. "There you are. Shit man, this ain't no time for a nap." Off the vampire's glare. "Sorry. Just messin' around. Come on. Get up."
"Give me a second."
"We gotta bounce man."
"Just let my incredible pain lessen just a little bit before I'm forced to get up, okay?"
"Barbie's right. You are melodramatic."
"Shut up, and help me up." Gunn offered a hand, helping pull Angel to his feet, elicting a growl of pain from the vampire.
"Suck it up. You're supervamp, remember?"
"Just get me to the hotel."
"For real? I can drive?"
"Yeah. But don't get used to it. And be careful with her." He said, leaning on Gunn as they made their way to the car.
"Just get me home."
One Week Later...
Angel stared down at his side, just emerging from the shower. It had been a week and that damn gash in his side had yet to heal, if he didn't know better, he'd say it was getting worse. He knew he should tell one of his friends, but he had a job. He was supposed to keep them safe.
"Angel?" Cordelia's voice floated from the other side of the door. Angel reached for his shirt, body twisting wrong and sending a very sharp pain coursing through his torso. He grabbed his side and tried to stop the cry of pain, but to no avail.
"Be right out!" His voice was strained, but he hoped she didn't notice. He pulled the shirt on with a grimace.
"Okay. I'm gonna go to get some coffee. The maker's busted. Want anything?"
"Coffee." She rolled her eyes.
"Duh. Want me to pick you up some O pos?"
"You don't have to."
"I'll get you some." She said and turned to leave. Angel heard her heart beat move farther and farther away, until even straining, he couldn't pick it up. He put on his pants, socks and shoes, then made his way downstairs. Every step he took resulted in more pain and wore him out. By the time he got downstairs, he felt like he could go back to bed...but he knew he couldn't make it upstairs.
"Hey Angel man. How's it hangin'?" Gunn asked cheerily, entering the hotel.
"A little to the left, you?"
"I'm cool. Waiting for my coffee. Damn coffee maker broke."
"I heard. Didn't even know you drank coffee."
"Never did 'til I started hangin' out with ya'll."
"Blame me for your caffeine addiction. Thanks."
"That's why I'm here man."
"Sometimes I can't tell if you two are fighting, or just having friendly conversation." Wesley said, walking in with a cup of tea.
"Look! It's English tea boy!" Wesley scowled at Gunn.
"At least I'm not the one obsessing, waiting for a cup of Starbucks."
"If I remember, you shouted an order at Cordelia right before she left."
"Yes. Well, I...Cordelia! Thank God!" Both Wesley and Gunn rushed to the young woman.
"Yes. Thank you Cordelia." The two men went...somewhere. Angel wasn't sure where. It was out of his peripheral vision and he didn't bother turning his head. Cordelia stood in front of Angel.
"Yeah. Just...kind of tired."
"Is this about Darla cos if it is..."
"I think I know my own problems Cor."
"Soooorry. Here. Drink this. You're going through caffeine withdraws. It's making you grouchy." He didn't respond, just took the coffee and took a drink, then coughed and made a face.
"What's wrong with it?"
"Then what [I]is[/I] it?"
"Double chocolate mocha latte."
"Don't they sell regular coffee anymore?" Cordelia glared at him.
"You are so grumpy!" She said and smacked him on his side. Angel let out a loud cry of agony and fell on his opposite side, off the couch. The cry brought Wesley and Gunn running in.
"Angel. Quit acting like such a baby. I didn't even hit you that hard." She touched his side softly and he let out another cry. She backed away, holding her hands. "Angel. What's wrong?" She looked down and saw a thin layer of blood on her hands. "Oh God. Angel." She went to the vampire and tried to pull his shirt up. He fought with what little strength he had left, despite the pain. Fabric tore and Cordelia pulled the ripped material from his body, exposing the large gash that traveled up his side, nearly ten inches in length.
"Oh Dear Lord." Wesley said. "I'll get the first aid kit."
"Don't...bother." Angel said, voice thick with pain.
"You already...patched...it up." He told Cordelia. She looked at him, confused. Angel slowly sat back up, taking in breaths through his teeth, willing the pain away. After a few moments, he regained his composure. "This is the same one from last week." Cordelia stared at him. So did the rest of his friends, but his gaze was solely on Cordelia's face.
"You've had this for a week and didn't tell me?"
"I don't know."
"Don't even Angel. You hid this from me for a week. That I don't know bull shit isn't gonna work this time."
"I was afraid."
"I'm supposed to protect you guys. I'm supposed to keep you safe...but I can't even figure out why this isn't going away. How can I protect you when I can't even protect myself?"
"Angel. Sometimes you gotta let us help you."
"Good. This is one of those times. I think you should go lay down."
"You are so not on my good side right now mister so, just do what I say." Angel stared at her. He felt like a kid being punished. But he did as told and stood up, limping towards to staircase. Cordelia frowned. "Gunn."
"On it Barbie." Gunn helped Angel up the stairs, then jogged slowly back down. "Vamps tucked in." Cordelia looked at Wesley.
"This is bad, isn't it?" Wesley furrowed his brow and gave her a sad look.
"A vampire that can't heal...it isn't good." Cordelia nodded and pursed her lips together.
"We've all been going home at night so none of us knows how much pain he really is in. I'm guessing a lot considering that cut...we should research. Stay here day and night. Wes?"
"I'm up for it."
"Let's get to it."
A few hours later, Wesley had found that the only things that could possibly cause permanent damage to a vampire were the poison he was inflicted with years ago or a specific clan of demon.
Gunn and Wesley were sprawled in the living room, scanning through various books to find any specifics that could help them determine whether it was the poison or demon, since none of them actually witnessed the damage done to Angel those few years ago. Cordelia snuck away with the excuse of needing a lunch break. Neither said much of it, just grunted in agreement.
Cordelia picked up the phone and stared at it, hearing the dial tone. She took in a deep breath and dialed the number.
Buffy held her mother's hand. Joyce was lying in bed, face pale, lips white. She didn't look well and Buffy recognized it.
"She's going to be fine." The doctor said convincingly. "She just needs to rest here."
"Why so many machines?" Buffy asked, skeptical, but trying to put up a strong front for Dawn.
"Her body's trying to recover. In order to do that, to be able to fight this completely, it shuts down other systems. The machines keep those systems going so the body just has to worry about fighting the illness." Buffy nodded. "Any other questions I can answer for you?"
"No. I think we'd just like some alone time with Mom." The doctor nodded in understanding and walked out.
"She's going to be fine." Riley said, his arms had been around Buffy the entire time.
"I know. I just needed to hear it from someone who knows what he's doing."
"See Mom? I knew you'd be okay." Dawn had kept hope when Buffy couldn't. So now the four were scattered around the room, with Xander, Willow, Anya, Tara and Giles as well. They all just stayed quiet for a few moments, all relieved to hear that Joyce would recover. The calm quiet was broken when the sound of a phone rang loud in the room, making everyone jump.
"Hello...Cordelia?" Willow's voice rose in surprise. Everyone turned to her, in either confusion or shock, Xander in both and a bit of anticipation and anxiety. The mention of his ex brought up very conflicting emotions. "What's up? Cordelia...What's wrong?" Buffy tensed at her friend's question. "The poison? Killer of the dead?" Willow asked.
"Angel." Buffy said, breaking from Riley's hold. Riley frowned, hurt by Buffy's loyalty to her ex even after all this time. "What's wrong? Is he okay?" Willow held up her hand to silence Buffy so she could hear Cordelia.
"Symptoms? Um...the arrow shot. Yeah...the wound stayed. I remember a fever. He was delirious. Poison lines coming out from the wound...he was sweaty. You're welcome. What's wr...Cordelia?" She looked at the phone then shrugged. "She hung up."
"What's going on?"
"She wouldn't tell me. Just wanted to know if I remembered the symptoms Angel had when he was poisoned by Faith."
"Is Angel poisoned?"
"I don't know."
"How can you not know? You talked to her."
"She didn't say anything else. Just wanted to know. I told her. Then she said thank you and hung up. That was it."
"She sound okay?" Xander asked and received a few confused looks and a glare from Anya.
"She sounded panicky, and like she was in a hurry."
"Give me the phone." Buffy said. Willow handed it to her. "I'm calling back. I'm gonna find out what's going on."
Cordelia walked back into the room where Wesley and Gunn were stretching their limps.
"Wes. I remember a talk Angel and I had a long time ago. A really long time ago. Anyway, he mentioned he was delirious, sweating, had a fever. And the wound had these...like, lines. Where the poison was spreading. He doesn't have that so it's gotta be the demon." Wesley looked at Cordelia suspiciously. He'd find out where she got her information later. Right now, it wasn't important.
"Very well." Wesley picked up the book to his left and read through it. "Venarzous demon. Nasty creatures. It's said that...victims of their bites would use Holy water to stop the infection from spreading." They all grimaced.
"It's gotta be done. We have some?"
"Lower drawer compartment of the weapons cabinet." Cordelia got the Holy water and walked upstairs, Gunn and Wes in tow. As they entered the room, the phone rang.
"I'll get it. Cordelia, you do the Holy water. Angel won't hit you." She nodded and walked in behind Gunn. Wesley ran down the stairs and picked up the cordless phone.
"Angel Investigations. Wesley speaking."
"Yes. I just said that. Is this important?" Wesley made his way back up the stairs, phone in hand.
"Buffy. Can you call back another time? I have something-"
"Well, then, to what do we owe this phone call?"
"I could ask you the same question. Cordelia called us less than five minutes ago."
"Oh, she did, did she?" Wesley looked in and saw Cordelia trying desperately to convince a terrified Angel why it was okay for her to douse him with Holy water. Wesley smirked as Gunn just looked on, not sure what to do.
"Yeah. She called Will asking about the killer of the dead poison. What's going on?"
"Buffy, you really don't need to be involved in this."
"Wesley. It's Angel."
"Which is exactly why you shouldn't be involved."
"Wesley. Please. If I could help him-"
"Buffy, you don't help. You hurt him." Buffy was taken aback.
"I don't..." Wesley sighed.
"Angel was injured in a fight with a demon. Pretty normal stuff."
"So, why are we getting calls from Cordelia? Frantic calls?"
"You aren't just going to let me hang up, are you?"
"No." Wesley looked in as Cordelia was now pleading with Angel, who was giving in to the hazel eyed seer. When it came to Cordelia, Angel couldn't resist.
"Fine. Last week, Angel was fighting a Venarzous demon. During the battle, Angel received a nasty wound. Well, since the fight, Angel's been recovering with the resilience...or lack there of, of an average human."
"Angel no get better." He said in a tone as if he were speaking to a two year old. She scowled on the other end, but continued.
"So, why call now? Why not a week ago?"
"He was reluctant to confide in us. He's socially inept that way. So, we just found out about his injury."
"Is he going to recover?"
"We're not sure." Wes said, voice the saddest Buffy had ever heard it.
"Oh." Buffy was stunned into silence. Angel couldn't die. Not again. Last time was hard enough. But if Angel died and she didn't do anything to help him...she wouldn't be able to live with herself. "How bad is he?"
"We're not completely sure." At that time, Cordelia must've poured the holy water because a loud, anguished, angry sound echoed throughout the hotel, making Wesley wince.
"Ahh shit. It's bubbling. Cordelia, you poured too much!"
"I didn't mean to! Oh no...oh sh-Welsey!"
"English! Get in here before Barbie kills Irish!"
"I have to go Buffy."
"Wesley wait..." The line went dead. "Hello?"
"What's up?" Willow asked.
"Not sure exactly. Angel's sick. Really sick."
"How? He's a vampire. He doesn't get sick. Except for that poison thing. But it's not that." Willow said positively.
"Demon fight. I think I heard him. It was a yell or...something. He sounded like he was in a lot of pain."
"Oh no." Xander said. "I know that tone look thing you're doing and no. No LA road trip. I'm not looking to get my ass kicked by sick or healthy Angel."
"Xander. You're pathetic."
"I don't like loud, angry giants threatening me with violence. How is that pathetic?"
"He's dying Xander." Willow blurted before she could stop herself, then looked to Buffy. "Sorry."
"He's a vampire. He's not supposed to die."
"He did before." Willow looked to Buffy again. "Sorry, again."
"I'm just saying-"
"Just shut up Xander." Anya scolded.
"Look, I'm going. If you don't want to come Xander, that's fine. But I'm going. With Angel not healthy, anything could happen to him or any of the others." Buffy turned to Joyce. "Mom."
"Oh, honey, I'll be fine. As soon as you all leave, I'm going to sleep. Go to LA. They need your help more than I do right now." Buffy gave her mom a kiss on the cheek.
"Thanks mom. I should go pack." She walked out. The group said their goodbyes and walked out, ever loyal to the Slayer and ready to follow her to LA.
The hotel had a melancholy atmosphere as the Scoobies entered.
"You sure this is it?"
"No. The furniture's new. I think. And the weapons cabinet...I recognize that sword." Buffy's affirmation was further confirmed when a loud cry of pain echoed throughout the hotel. "Angel." Buffy's voice was a whisper, then she ran up the stairs, Riley close behind her, the rest of the group behind him. They stopped outside the door.
"Oh my God." Riley muttered. They all stared at the scene before them. Cordelia was lying on the bed. Angel was next to her, facing her, hands gripping and pulling her shirt, head buried against her abdomen. She looked like she was about to burst into tears as she held him to her, hands caressing, trying to soothe him as Gunn held Angel down on the bed and Wesley poured the colorless liquid on the gigantic gash in Angel's side. With every drop, Angel let out another animalistic sound and held Cordelia closer to him.
"Holy water." Spike said, sensing his grandsire's pain and noting the smoke coming off of Angel's skin.
"It's okay Angel. He's almost done." Wesley finished and Gunn released Angel, backing out of arm distance just in case the angry, hurt vampire took a swing. Instead, the vampire just held on to Cordelia, eyes slammed shut, tears falling from the corners, lips pursed together. Sweat dampened his hair and glistened on his distraught face as he took in deep breaths, willing the pain away.
Cordelia's eyes wandered and her eyes met Buffy's. There was something the slayer couldn't comprehend in the brunette's eyes. Cordelia turned to Wesley and tilted her head slightly so Angel wouldn't notice the movement. Wesley and Gunn looked at Buffy and the two walked out of the room, closing the door behind them, keeping the Scoobies from being noticed by Angel.
"Who are you?" Gunn asked, arms crossed, standing in front of the door.
"Gunn. These are, um, [I]friends[/I] from Sunnydale." Wesley used the term loosely and Gunn understood. Wes introduced everyone, but small talk and greetings were quickly over.
"Wesley. What's wrong with him?"
"Same thing I told you when we were on the phone."
"You didn't say it was this bad."
"Because I didn't want you all rushing down here."
"We came to help. With Angel hurt, you can use all the help you can get. And things have been slow on the Hellmouth so,"
"You decided to rush down here and play super Buffy?"
"You sound like Cordelia."
"Well, we all spend a lot of time together."
"Can we see him?" Wesley and Gunn exchanged a look and what seemed to be a mental conversation as they looked at one another. Wesley nodded and Gunn returned it, then stepped into the room.
"Cordelia?" Angel had released his iron grip on Cordelia, though he still held on to her. His composure had returned, though he was still obviously in pain. But from the looks of it, the wound wasn't going to spread. The edges were hard, like they were scabbing over. Angel's eyes were still closed, but fluttered every now and then.
"Hold on." She went to move but his grip on her tightened once again. She let out a soft chuckle. "Angel. I'll be right back, okay?" He let go of her and she went to Gunn, whispering as low as she could. "What is it?"
"The ex from Hell is here."
"Wants to see Angel. Wes wanted me to take it up with you." She looked back to Angel, he looked well enough for the time being.
"Yeah. Sure. He already knows they're here, anyway." She went back to the bed and sat down. A strong arm wrapped around her and pulled her down gently beside him, resting himself comfortably against her. "Angel."
"Angel. We have company." Angel's swollen eyes opened and he looked at Cordelia, then to the people just inside the door way. Buffy stood in front of them all.
"Buffy?" She gasped at the sound of her name coming from his mouth. It wasn't his voice, it was different. It was so scary. Scratchy, raw, weak as it had never been before.
"Angel." She moved to the other side of the bed, where Cordelia was not laying. "What happened to you?" He faced her as he spoke.
"Long ass story." He said. He blinked for a long moment, giving Buffy just enough time to look down at Cordelia. His left arm was wrapped tightly around her waist, holding her closely to him.
"Brought the whole gang?" Angel said as he noticed the other people in the room. He let out a groan as he noticed Riley, Spike and Xander all standing by one another. "Oh great. The trifecta from hell." Riley glared, Spike snorted, and Xander looked on confused.
"What's a trifecta?"
"So, what brings you here?" Angel asked, ignoring Xander.
"We thought you might need some help. We brought Willow and Giles in case you guys need extra research people. And if you need some extra help fighting-"
"I don't. I'm fine. I can handle it. If these people would just let me get out of bed."
"And what? Fall down the stairs?" Angel glared at Wesley, then tried to get up to show his wellness, only to let out a groan of pain. Cordelia rolled her eyes.
"Smart one, Ace." He glared at her. "Oooh. Real scary Mr. Injured-Grrr-Guy-With-A-Soul."
"You're a bitch, you know that?"
"Thought that's why you hired me." He smiled, then grimaced.
"Why did we do the Holy water thing again?"
"I'm sorry, but until we figure out a way to keep this thing from spreading, that's our only resort." Wesley said sadly. Angel just sighed, then settled back into his original position.
"Sorry guys. But it's been a long week. It's catching up with me. I think I just need some sleep." Wesley and Gunn directed everyone out. Buffy turned as she was leaving and took one last look at the dozing Angel. He looked so weak and helpless. It reminded her of when he came back from hell, when he was still recovering. She took a deep breath and walked out of the room.
"Why's he so sleepy?"
"The pain was getting to be too much for him. We've given him some pain killers. They make him drowsy." Willow nodded. Wesley and Gunn directed the group downstairs.