Dropping to her knees, her hands shot to his neck and checked for a sign of life.
Relief flooded her when she felt the weak pulse tapping gently beneath her fingers. It was barely there, but there none the less.
Working quickly in-case more of the demons were roaming in the darkness; she half dragged half carried him into the relative safety of her house.
As Buffy pulled Angel's unconscious form onto the couch, Joyce's cries slowed upon seeing her mother.
She put her little arms out, a universal 'pick me up' gesture.
"Shh, baby. Mommy's here." She soothed, and quickly bend and kissed her daughters head, not wanting to touch the child with bloodied hands. "I'll pick you up in a few minutes, mommy needs to help…your da…uhh...Angel first, OK?"
Joy frowned and resumed her pout when she realized she wasn't getting her way; but at least she wasn't alone anymore. Although she was only 6 months old, she did understand her mother was scared, so Joy pouted silently and watched Buffy as she fussed over the stranger on the couch.
Buffy quickly grabbed the first aid kit from the kitchen cabinet then pulled out a wad of gauze to stem the bleeding. She was afraid to call an ambulance, if she did the cops would come, there would be questions.
If Angel died…what would she tell the cops? Oh yeah, some monster stabbed the guy that was stalking me. Slim chance they would believe that, she could be accused of murder, she could lose custody of her daughter.
"You better not die." She warned the pale unconscious man bleeding on her couch.
She pulled the gauze back to sew the wound shut, and discovered even though there was an entry and exit wound, his lung was undamaged.
Not to question it, she sewed the twin wounds shut and bandaged them tightly, also binding his cracked ribs as she worked.
When she finished she washed the blood and gore from her hands and picked up the cranky baby.
"Hey sweetheart." She said kissing the little girl, "I'm sorry, I didn't want to get you all dirty."
She held her daughter to her as the little girl wrapped her arms around her neck and held tight.
"Its ok honey, everything's going to be ok." She soothed rubbing the baby's back and looking down at her former lover lying prone on her couch. "He better be ok." She whispered.
Joyce had crawled away from Buffy as she washed blood from her and Angel's shirts in the kitchen sink. The young woman's mind occupied by wrestling with the confusing and conflicted feeling that Angel tended to arouse in her.
The baby wandered into the living room and pulled herself into a standing position against the couch and looked at the stranger in front of her, feeling strangely drawn to him.
Angel felt the world slowly drifting back to him, drowsily he opened his eyes; a pair of long lashed, big brown eyes came into focus, irises that mirrored his own.
A weak smile crept along his lips, "Hey beautiful." He whispered to the little girl staring at him.
A single toothed smile spread across her little face as she looked at him.
A few seconds later the moment was shattered as Buffy scooped the baby up into her arms.
"No honey, don't let that charming smile fool you. You give him your heart and he'll just rip it out."
The pain relieving antiseptic that baby's smile brought vanished and Angel felt full well the wound that had almost killed him.
Buffy's angry glare feeling like a slap. He winced and looked away, fully remembering her harsh words just moments before he was impaled by the demon.
"What are you?" the blond asked as she sat on the coffee table across from him, holding the squirming baby in her lap.
Angel gave her his most bland expression, "Scorpio, The goat in the Chinese version."
She rolled her eyes, "You know what I mean. That demon turned you into an Angel kebob, but you only had external injuries. How did you heal? I thought you were fully human."
"I am human." He replied vaguely.
Buffy sighed, "Then why aren't you dead?"
The anger in him at her heartless tone knocked off some of the pain for a moment; he shook his head, "Are you that disappointed I'm not?"
"I could throw you out on your ass right now." She warned, giving him her best 'go-ahead-and-say-I-won't' stare. She was the only one in the room that knew she wouldn't…couldn't?
"Fine." He surrendered, figuring he might as well take the opportunity to talk to her while he could. "I used a type of magic. Very old, very powerful. Very dangerous."
"Dangerous how?" she asked.
He looked up at her, unsure why she asked that. He sighed, "Did I say the last part out loud?"
She glared at him.
He looked away and brought his hand to his brow, feeling a miserable pounding like a drummer in his head rocking out a solo.
She caught the look of pain flash across his features.
With his eyes shut for the moment, he didn't see the flash of concern in hers.
"Are you ok?" she asked, and then to cover the fear in her tone she added, "That's a fairly new couch; I'd appreciate it if you not die on it."
"No promises." He muttered weakly and brought his hand to rest over his wound.
His eyes remained shut, so she watched him awhile as Joy dozed in her arms.
He was still pale from blood loss, pain evident in his drawn features.
His breathing sounded clear, abet painful from the rib damage.
She placed her fingers lightly on his left wrist as it lay beside him on the couch, he didn't react and she figured he was either deeply asleep or possibly unconscious again.
His pulse was weaker than she hoped; too fast as his heart worked harder and quicker to pump less blood though his system.
His hand was cold, not like it used to be pre-Morah, but he was obviously suffering some ill effects from his wounds.
'I hope he's not in shock.' She knew he could die from that alone.
She carried Joy into the kitchen and placed her in the highchair, "Stay here for just a sec, ok love bug?" she kissed her daughter's forehead then grabbed a glass from the cabinet.
Buffy filled the glass with water and brought it into the living room, setting it down on the coffee table where Angel could reach it if he woke.
She then looked over his injuries, at least the front ones; she didn't want to move him to check the entry wound in his back. It seemed like most of the bleeding either stopped entirely or slowed to a miniscule trickle.
Satisfied for the moment he wasn't immediately dying, she pulled the light blue blanket off the back of the couch and spread it over him, hoping to warm him and help keep him from going into shock.
She almost bent and kissed his cheek, but stopped herself at the last second and righted.
A few seconds later she was walking her daughter upstairs to bathe her and get her settle into bed.
Joyce was sleeping peacefully, even at six weeks, the babe had been a great sleeper.
'Doesn't take after me.' Buffy thought tiredly.
After checking the windows were locked and the baby monitor was on and functional, she took the walkie across the hall into her bedroom.
With bloodstained cloths in the trash, and salvageable ones in the hamper, she changed into her nightgown and cleaned up in the bathroom.
Once all the blood and the scratches from the fight were gone, she brushed her teeth and went to bed.
Almost an hour after she went to bed, Buffy still lay awake, staring at the stubborn clock on the nightstand. The glowing red numbers refused to function as time should, progressively and in a 'timely' manner.
'Stupid clock, must be broken…it's read 2:14am for the least ten minutes now.'
Giving up for the moment, she sat up and slipped into her slippers.
'I'll just get some OJ from the fridge…maybe some warm milk? I'll either make me tired…or just have to pee.'
She shrugged and stepped into the hall. A quick glance into the nursery reveled nothing out of place, her daughter sleeping just as soundly as before.
With the monitor stuffed into her robe, she headed downstairs to the kitchen.
On her way past the couch, she heard Angel's voice, but she didn't understand the words.
"Angel?" she called, about to ask him to repeat what he'd said.
When she walked to the front of the couch she noticed there was sweat against his pale skin, his body restless and shaking slightly as if he were shivering and his breaths came in short hurried gasps.
He tossed and turned more, as if fighting a nightmare, his closed eyes dancing under the lids.
She bend forward and placed her hand along his brow and felt the heat irradiating from him.
He shifted again and mumbled something in another language, possibly Gaelic.
'Great, he had a fever, granted he was run though by a demon bone spear…that can't be sanitary. Can you say infection?.'
She frowned, not liking the direction his health was plummeting into.
As her hand brushed against his skin, he seemed to calm and still under her touch.
The glass of water she's left on the table was untouched, leading her to believe he hadn't awoke since their little chat over two hours ago.
'Not good.' She thought, and wondered if she should have called an ambulance after-all.
The bathroom light flicked on as Buffy lifted the switch. She shielded her eyes a moment from the sudden assault, and then when they were adjusted, she used them to scan the medicine cabinet.
Finding what she was looking for, a bottle of aspirin, she shook out two and replaced the childproof cap and set it back down where she got it.
She shut the mirrored door and was stuck by the reflection.
'You look absolutely exhausted' she thought as she saw the woman staring back at her. 'And sad…very sad.'
She shook the ideas from her head and flicked off the light, sending the kitchen back into total darkness.
After a moment, her night vision adjusted to the dim light from the glowing nightlight along the wall and the partial light from the street lamp outside the window.
She grabbed a bowl from the cabinet and a dishtowel from the drawer beside the sink. She filled the bowl with cold water and headed back into the living room.
She sat on the edge of the couch, Angel took up a majority of it, but she still found enough to sit.
She pulled the blanket back and as she did, she unconsciously looked him over; his body nearly unchanged still from the first time she saw him without a shirt. He had stood in her kitchen on Revello drive, a slight grin of his lips, and a decent gash along his well muscled ribs and she had looked up at him and had nearly melted into goop at the sight.
The only physical difference in that amazing body was the now tanned color of his once pale skin and the fact his chest moved with breath.
She tore her thought from their dreamy fantasy world when her eyes registered the new bloodstains in the bandage that was wrapped tightly around his ribcage.
'He's still bleeding? Ok, double not good…and this time two negatives defiantly don't equal a positive.'
"Angel?" she called again, this time running her fingers gently across his cheek, hoping the touch would rouse him.
Nothing but his heavy breathing followed.
"Angel, please, I need you to wake up." She tried again, this time putting a little more pressure when she called, her thumb rubbing against the pale flesh of his cheek, just under the dark circles beneath his eyes.
His eyes squeezed tighter shut, and then slowly opened.
His gaze was glassy and unfocused, the black pupils dilated unevenly between the two deep brown orbs.
'Great and a concussion to boot.' She thought dejected.
His eyes looked towards her, "You've been watching over me?" he asked roughly, throat dry.
Buffy nodded, "Yeah."
Angel took her hand and brought it too his lips and started kissing it as he layed his other hand on Buffy's right arm.
She's shocked a moment by his intimate actions, "Uh…"
Before she could say anything he continued, "I thought… - I thought I'd never see you again" Angel shook his head "I can't leave you. I was wrong. I need you."
She looked down at him, suddenly realizing he wasn't actually talking to her, at least not the her of here and now, but was clearly delusional, hallucinating from fever.
"Shh." She told him, laying a finger gently across his dry lips. "I know, I need you to drink this for me ok?" she leaned him up and brought the glass to his lips with her free hand. She figured he wouldn't be able to swallow the aspirin in this state, so she had dropped them into the water and hoped the dissolved pills were good enough.
'As long as he doesn't choke on the water…'
He took a few swallows and she pulled back the glass to pace him, "Slowly" she insisted, and then returned the vessel to his mouth.
The glass was nearly empty when he swallowed wrong and began choking.
Pain was obvious in his face as his ribs protested the violent spasms that resulted from coughing.
She put down the glass to free her other arm and wrapped it around him; she pressed his rigid body against her and rubbed his back as he coughed the water from his lungs.
She spoke soothing words into his ear and whispered apologies, after a minute he calmed, the spasms reseeding and he sagged weakly against her.
Her eyes closed as he seemed to nuzzle his face into the curve of her neck, right where her scar was...his scar. "Buffy" she thought she heard him sigh.
Slowly she lowered him back into the couch; he seemed to have lost consciousness again, or perhaps fallen asleep, she couldn't tell.
She wet the dishcloth in the bowl of water and then ran the towel across his brow, helping to fight the fever with cold water.
She stayed like that awhile, just letting the cloth cool the raging heat.
He didn't awaken, but the shakes and delusions seemed to have disappeared and he was now resting comfortably.
She changed his bandages, finding the bleeding she noticed earlier to be from a snapped stitch as he thrashed in the sleep before she came back downstairs.
His breathing was better, calmer and more even.
His pulse was still weak and rapid, but she had nothing to fix that. She would have to wait for his body to make more blood.
He was still pale, but less than earlier in he night, his body warmer from the blanket and his head cooler from the cloth.
She yawned and glanced out the window, it was still dark but she knew dawn wasn't far away.
'I don't really want to leave him alone, just in case…but if I stay down here any longer, I'm afraid I'll fall asleep on him.'
After a moment of debate, she figured he would be fine alone for a few hours, he was better than he was and she was too tired to keep nursing him.
This time when Buffy lay down in her bed and closed her eyes, she fell deeply asleep.
Buffy yawned and sat up, it was morning, the sun was shining, the birds were singing, and a little voice was yelling thought the walkie to come feed me.
Buffy got out of bed, shrugged on her robe and slippers, pulled her hair back in a quick ponytail, then headed across the hall to collect her little monster.
Joy was standing in the crib, holding herself up by the handle bars and screaming as babies do.
Anything for attention.
Buffy scooped her up and kissed her good morning.
"How's my little pumpkin belly today." She said as she held her daughter, tickling her belly. The baby squealed in delight.
After changing a very unattractive diaper, Buffy carried her little bundle of energy down the stairs towards the kitchen, where she usually nursed her over a cup of steaming hot coffee.
On her way to the kitchen she detoured and looked over her couch at Angel, he seemed to be sleeping still, breathing slow and even, and undisturbed by Joy vocalizing her hunger.
'Must be unconscious, no one could sleep though this racket.'
After making coffee she figured she would sit in the living room to nurse, it was more comfortable and she could keep an eye on her patient.
Once Joy was comfortable and suckling, she took a few sips of coffee and relaxed.
After a moment she picked up the remote and turned on the news, wondering what natural events had happened in the world overnight.
The weatherman was just saying that it would be another beautiful day when Angel stirred.
He groaned and slowly opened his eyes; it took a moment for them to adjust to the morning light.
He glanced around the room a moment, confused and not knowing where he was.
Recognition returned as he focused on Buffy sitting across from him.
His cheeks bloomed a pale red as he realized what she was doing.
"Sorry" he mumbled and turned away, giving her some privacy to nurse Joyce.
"It's fine." She said, after a moment, 'Nothing he haven't seen before.' She thought, remember how his lips had felt on her nipples.
Pushing that very unneeded thought aside, "How are you feeling?" he asked him, trying to get her head back to reality.
"Miserable. You?" he replied with obvious discomfort.
"Like a milk cow." She replied looking down at her daughter.
He actually grinned at that, but Buffy's death glare made him lose it before she smacked it off him.
Silence fell between them a moment, neither knowing what to say to the other.
Angel took a chance and began his story of after he left, "When I got to Ireland I wandered for a few weeks, tried to act like I did when I was Liam. I drank a lot, one morning I found myself in some woman's bed, her angry husband found me and nearly took off my head."
"Not really needing to hear about that…" Buffy said with just a touch of jealousy, but mostly it was hurt in her voice since she had been pregnant with his child at the time.
"Not something I care to remember either. I knew I didn't want to be Liam anymore; he was nothing but a worthless drunk. I thought about you a lot, I wanted to write you, or call…but I wouldn't let myself. One year on my own, no contact with anyone I once knew, that was the promise I made to myself." He paused, noticing her looking away from him.
"I can't really recall how it happened, but I found myself facing a vampire, I…I was helpless against him, I had no strength, no power…He bit me…I remembered feeling my life being drained from me, horrified I would become one of the undead again."
Buffy was watching him intently, trying to remember if she invited him inside or not, but then remembering she felt his heartbeat earlier, he couldn't be dead…or undead.
"What happened? How did you get away?" she asked, her curiosity overpowering anger.
He unconsciously rubbed the spot in his neck where the vamp's teeth had sunken though his flesh, there was a slight scar but his mind still remembered it vividly.
"A Druid." He answered.
"Druid?" she echoed. "I didn't think they were real."
Angel grinned, "That's what they want people to think. There is a reason there is almost nothing mentioned about them in history, they like to hide."
"So this Druid did some mojo and killed the vamp?" she questioned.
Angel shrugged, "I'm not really sure what happened, I was kind of unconscious at the time. They told me I was dying, that they used their magic to heal me. When I came to I was offered sanctuary. They said I was special, that I had the potential to become a Druid. So I stayed, learned how to harness the power of nature."
"Wow." Buffy said, "If you've only been at this a few months I can't imagine what the ones practicing for decades can do."
Angel chuckled, and then stopped abruptly as his ribs protested in near blinding pain; he swallowed a groan then continued as the pain subsided.
"That's the funny part." He mentioned, "Turns out, I'm the strongest Druid they've ever seen."
At Buffy's confused look he explained, "I was told a Druid gains their power as they age, unlike conventional magic, a young Druid can't harness the same power as an elder. They did some sort of magic math and…well turns out I'm actually 375 years old, currently the oldest Druid ever."
Buffy looked at him with a cocked eyebrow, "And you told me you were 251. It's usually the girl that lies about her age."
He shook his head, "I only counted the years I was a vampire, the Druids counted my actual time in existence, which included my birth, life, unlife and a century in Hell."
Buffy nodded, not really wanting to remember that particularly heart-retching episode in the famous Buffy and Angel show.
Joyce, who had finished nursing, suddenly started garbling in baby speech, wanting to copy the two adults as they spoke.
Buffy smiled down at her daughter, "You want to talk too honey?" she asked bouncing the baby on her knee.
The child laughed and stuck her thumb in her mouth and began to suck, not bothered by the drool it was causing. "Oh boy." Buffy grimaced at the drool, picking up the little blond bundle and walking her into the kitchen to get a spit rag.
When she came back Angel's eyes had closed, she figured he still needed to rest and recoup from the extreme magic use and his near fatal injuries.
She went upstairs to get herself and the baby dressed for the day.
She had taken a quick shower, done her hair and makeup and got Joy dressed in a cute little red polka-dot dress, complete with matching polka-dot bow in her dirty blond curls.
'She totally has her namesakes hair.' She thought with a sad smile knowing that her mother would never meet her granddaughter.
Shaking off her sadness, she kissed her perfect baby and headed back downstairs.
As she descended the stairs she noticed Angel wasn't on the couch.
'Where the hell did he go now? I'm going to nail his feet to the floor.'
"Angel?" she called, wondering if he took off again, 'Wouldn't put it past him.'
A second later she walked into the kitchen, and saw him standing at the table. She could hear the toilet refilling in the background.
"Sorry, nature called. Actually it was screaming." He tried to joke.
He obviously wasn't ready to be walking around; he was pale and hunched slightly, as to not pull at the stitched in his chest and back. One hand was clamped tightly over the wound in his ribs, signaling it was causing him pain, the other hand was clutching at the table for support.
She quickly put Joy into the highchair and pulled a kitchen chair out for him, "Sit before you fall please." She urged and against his will helped him into the chair.
Once seated he seemed a little better, at least he wouldn't collapse.
"Little cold in here," He mumbled, a slight shiver running up his arms.
"That's because you're shirtless." she said obviously.
He rolled his eyes, "Noticed."
"Well your last shirt got kinda holey, and a little redder than is acceptable in society." After a moment she added, "I'll try and find you one."
"Thanks." he muttered, looking ill.
She went to grab Joy to bring her upstairs with her but he interrupted, "I can watch her." He offered.
She eyed him a moment, wondering how good an idea that was.
"I'm not going to pass out, and I helped my mother raise my baby sister, she'll be fine for a few minutes. I promise. Besides, not like I can run off with her or anything right now."
She waited a moment longer, than without really knowing why, agreed. "I'll be back in a minute, anything happened to her, I'm staking you." She threatened.
"I believe you." He nodded.
When she left he turned to his daughter, "Hi." he said, waving.
Joy just blinked a few times, then smiled. Mimicking his wave with a giggle.
The little wave brought a smile to his lips, "You're going to look just like your mom, except with your grandmothers hair and my eyes. Men will be falling over you...and your mom will be beating them off with a stake."
True to her word, Buffy was back in almost exactly one minute. "Here" she said, handing him a long sleeve button down black shirt that was obviously his.
"You kept my clothes?" he asked, wondering if there was a deeper meaning.
"Was going to use it as a rag." She said casually. There was no way in hell she was telling him she sometimes used it as a pillowcase.
"Hungry?" she asked to change the subject, not knowing the last time he ate, and figuring with all the healing he needed to keep his strength up.
Before he could rely his stomach made an unsavory noise, vocalizing it indeed was empty and needed filling.
Joy turned at the sound, then giggled thinking it was funny.
His cheeks reddened, "Yeah, I guess I could use something to quiet that up."
She found herself grinning too, but had her back to him to hide it. She didn't want to give him any reason to think she still didn't want to beat him over the head with a frying pan for what he did to her.
She grabbed a can of Campbell's chicken and stars soup from the cabinet and proceeded to prepare it. It wasn't lost on her she was once again making chicken soup for him while he was injured.
'From hearty homemade to watery Campbell's...talk about a downgrade.'
A she stirred the soup over the stove, she couldn't help but think back to that night she brought him home from the hospital.
How she fed him in bed and fell asleep to his breaths.
How she woke the next morning and they talked.
How each day he got a little stronger, while their touch lasted a little longer.
It had been two weeks since I brought him home, he was healing nicely and was nearly at full strength.
The flesh and muscles had come back together, but his rib bones would take a few more weeks to set completely.
I had just finished wrapping his ribs after changing the bandage, but even thought my task was done, my hand refused to leave his warm skin.
My fingers traced along his well defined abs, slowly lowering to his pant seam, when they hit the barrier I looked up, embarrassed at what I had been unconsciously doing.
I didn't get any farther in my sentence, his lips had descended over mine, consuming both my words and whatever else I have been thinking at the time.
I don't exactly remember how we got into the bedroom, I not sure he does either.
The next time my senses were fully mine again, we were both lying together in bed, the sheets were strewn about us, barely covering out naked bodies, and I felt I was in Heaven again.
He was half atop me, his head resting against my breast, sound asleep.
The poor guy, I wore him out.
He didn't seem to mind though; a smile adorned his sleeping features.
I had just laid there, so completely content. I had waited years to scratch that Angel itch, and I had just gotten what I wanted…and it was perfect.
The next two months were even better.
God, I can't even begin to think about how much sex we had following the breaking of the dam.
For two months, everything had been perfect, and then I found out I was pregnant.
It had to have happened some time around the forth week since the hospital, two weeks after our first mattress mambo.
I was beside myself, I hadn't even thought about pregnancy.
Having Angel be a vampire in my mind for so long the thought of him being able to impregnate me was unfathomable.
Not to mention the whole 'I'm the Slayer' thing. I hadn't heard of any Slayer ever having children.
Robin Wood's mother Nikki, the Slayer in the 70's had obviously given birth, but that was shortly before she was chosen.
I had snuck in some serious research for two weeks straight, making up excuses so Angel wouldn't have noticed my distraction.
It turned out he was distracted too, with his stupid 'I need to leave' ideas, so neither of us noticed the behavior change in the other.
I had to teach Angel everything about being alive again, when to eat, what to eat, using the restroom when appropriate. Sometime it had felt like having a toddler.
I had invested so much time and energy into him, and then just when I thought he was going to repay that debt, ask me to be his wife, he told me he wanted to leave me.
Yeah, I flipped. I could believe the nerve of him, that he could sleep with me for months, rely on me for everything, and then just say, 'I'm going now…bye.'
If I hadn't been pregnant…I just might have killed him.
'Now if I don't take this soup off the stove it's going to burn.'
Buffy pulled her thoughts back to reality and noticed Joy was strangely quiet; she turned and saw her daughter's big brown eyes watching in fascination as Angel spun a little ball of light from his palm.
'Ok, that's new.'
"That better not be radioactive" she said with a sarcastic tone.
His concentration seemed to have failed at her interruption and the light flickered and disappeared.
He sighed and shook his head. "It's perfectly safe." He assured, "I just pulled some of the light in the room into a ball." He gingerly sat back against the chair, and at her look of confusion he clarified, "it's kinda like building a sandcastle, you just move the sand into a shape, but you don't change what it is."
She nodded, "Ah huh. So is that what you do now, make mini disco balls for kids parties or something?"
He sighed again, "It was just a test, I need to wait until my willpower recharges so I can finish healing myself. Healing naturally take too long…and I can tell you want me gone a.s.a.p."
He looked over at her to gauge her reaction, she turned around, hiding a flash of hurt by reaching for a bowl to pour the soup in.
A moment later she placed the bowl in front of him with a spoon and a napkin. She poured a glass of water and a glass of OJ and put them within his reach, figuring he needed as much fluid as possible to make up for the blood-loss.
"Joy needs a diaper change." She said offhandedly and she grabbed Joy and exited the kitchen.
He was suddenly left alone in the kitchen, finding he really didn't have much of an appetite anymore.