Willow's plan had been a good one, brilliant really. He just did not realize he would be left in pain and feeling immensely weak as a result of it. Would he have done things any differently had he known? No, because Buffy was in danger.
He fell against the nearby wall, which was the only thing holding up at the moment. Distantly, he heard Buffy and her friends discussing what happened, but he could not get his mouth to move to talk to them. He needed help. There was no way he was going to be able to walk out of the building on his own but he could not ask Buffy for help in front of everyone else.
Without his having to ask Buffy was in front of him, like a true angel she offered him a shoulder to lean on.
"Thank you," he whispered.
"Shh," she said, placing a hand at his stomach, giving him a pat there. "Don't try and talk, I'm sure that was some battle inside of you."
"Yeah," he said simply. She seemed to know what he needed, just as he had a good idea of what she needed most of the time. She was still a teenager, so there were times it was difficult to discern just what she wanted.
She left the store with him walking close to her, using her for support. "We'll get you home so you can rest and get your strength back."
"You shouldn't come with me, Buffy. If Spike or one of his men see us, I'm a liability to you right now."
"Stop," she said adamantly.
Angel knew there was no arguing with her. But still, he had to try. "Let Giles take me home, Buffy."
"I'm taking you home, Angel, I'm not going to let something happen to anyone else tonight. Besides, I don't think Giles is in the frame of mind to be Mr. Helpful right now."
He nodded his head, realizing she was right. Willow would probably help but she was not strong enough to support him without some help and Harris would not help. "All right," he said simply.
"I can't believe Giles did this."
"Yes, this demon thing, he created it. Or helped. Or something. I'm not clear exactly."
"Buffy," he whispered.
"I mean, how watcher-like is that?"
"Buffy," he repeated.
"Miss Calendar could really have been hurt. Giles could have been hurt by Miss Calendar."
"Buffy," he said with more effort.
"Can we talk about this tomorrow?"
"I'm not sure that I'm clear on what all happened tonight and I'm not in a state to rehash it right now."
"Oh, right, sorry," she said.
"It's all right. I just need some blood."
"You have some, right?"
"Yeah, my stash is stocked."
"Okay," she said as she opened the door leading to the warehouse his apartment was in.
"Thanks," he said. He wanted to get her out of there as quickly as he could. He was glad they had made it this far without incident, he was not sure he wanted to push his luck tonight. "I can get there from here."
"What?" she said and her tone told him his words had hurt her.
"Buffy, I need to eat and I need to rest and you need to get home where I know you'll be safe for the night."
"Can I at least get a kiss?"
He smiled slightly, touched by her request. "I suppose I can summon the strength to do that much," he said before leaning in to kiss her lightly on the lips. "Good night, Buff," he said as he drew away before he succumbed to her desire to come inside. "Be careful getting home, I won't be out again until the sun sets tomorrow."
"You be careful, too," Buffy said.
Angel was touched by the emotion he heard in her words. There was a time he would not have been careful, would not have cared if he survived to see another night but that had changed over a year ago now. "Always," he said simply as he watched her walk out into the night.
Story ©Susan Falk/APCKRFAN/PhantomRoses.com