Angel and Spike dropped quietly to the floor of the ICU. They quickly hid from view and watched the scene unfold.
Joshua had a shotgun and stood in the doorway to Cordelia’s room. The young man spoke passionately about how Angel needed to suffer and die. Any other time Angel would be inclined to agree, but not when a very disturbed man was pointing a gun at Cordelia.
Jordan stood in the center of the main hallway. She held a pistol in shaky hands. It looked like she barely knew which end to point with. Not that it mattered to the doctors and nurses she held hostage behind the receptionist’ s counter. Whether she knew how to work the gun or not, it was still a gun and they would obey.
“What do you want to do?” Spike whispered.
“I’m going to grab Jordan,” Angel decided quickly. “When I do, I want you to get all the doctors and nurses away from here.”
“And then what?”
“Then I’ll have a little talk with Joshua. Alone.” Spike wanted to protest, but Angel silenced him quickly. “Just get the staff out of the building and stay out. I can take care of Joshua. You just make sure to get them out safe.”
Spike reluctantly agreed. If Angel was hell bent on being the hero, then Spike would let him have it. He murmured a ‘Yes sire’ before falling silent.
Angel waited as Jordan turned her head away for a moment. As soon as she did, Angel used his speed to pounce. He muffled her scream and disarmed the girl quickly. Somehow he managed to keep his hand over Jordan’s mouth and unload the gun without making a sound.
Spike was right on his heels and immediately began to silently usher the hospital staff away from the area. With a last glance, Spike mouthed ‘Good luck’ to Angel before herding the group to safety.
It was a minute later as Spike hoisted a nurse up into the ceiling that he heard the blast of a shotgun.
Joshua nearly pissed his pants when Angel pulled the trigger. Oh, he hadn’t counted on that. His first instinct had been to gaze down at his body. His eyes widened in realization as he noticed that there weren’t any streaming holes in his chest. A sly smirk crossed his face when it occurred to him that he never heard the gun go off.
“Forget to take the safety off?” Joshua asked.
“No. I didn’t.”
Angel dropped the pistol to the floor and released his grip on Jordan. The girl immediately rushed over and behind her brother, peering at Angel from over Joshua’s shoulder.
“I unloaded the gun,” Angel explained. “I didn’t want anyone getting hurt. Not even you.”
“How touching, but I hope that you don’t think that will prevent me from killing you.”
“You’re not going to get very far with a shotgun. I hope you know that.”
Joshua shrugged. “I know. I brought stakes to kill you. The shotgun is just so you hurt like a bitch before I destroy you.”
Buckshot ripped through Angel’s torso and sent the vampire flying against the wall. Angel gasped for unneeded breath as he tried to overcome the searing pain radiating from his body. He didn’t have much of a chance as Joshua unloaded another round into his chest.
“Hurts like hell, doesn’t it?” Joshua asked. “But it doesn’t hurt near as much as the pain Jordan and I feel everyday. The pain of knowing that the man, and I use that term loosely, our mother trusted was ultimately the reason she died.”
Joshua cracked open the shotgun and slid two fresh shells into the barrel. Even he was impressed that Angel managed to stagger to his feet. Blood soaked the front of Angel’s white t-shirt. The red fluid also stained the wall in a long trail that traced Angel’s accent back to a standing position.
“You promised no harm would come to her. But yet it did. Our father came into our home, pulled out a knife, and slit her throat. And what were you doing? Who knows? You fucking disappeared when we needed you!”
The last statement was emphasized by another blast of the shotgun. It felt like thousands of red hot needles sliced through his body when the small pieces of lead buckshot tore his intestines. Angel slid back to the ground as blood poured from his mouth.
“Want me to kill you yet? Too fucking bad.” A fourth round left Angel’s chest a bloody pulp. “You get to suffer for abandoning us.” Joshua cracked open the barrel again to load two more shells. As he did so, he glanced at Angel curiously. “So where were you that night? Not that it really matters. Were you out drinking someone’s blood? Were you out fucking some whore as mother was bleeding to death? Tell me.” The barrel clicked shut loudly. “I truly want to know what your excuse is.”
Angel’s first few attempts at speech came out as nothing more than a strangled gurgle. He coughed up blood onto the tile floor in an attempt to clear his mouth. “I was trying to find your father,” he finally slurred. “Your mother told me that Jeremy had been following her. I went to his apartment to confront him.”
Joshua almost looked impressed. “Wow. Maybe you actually did try to save mom. Course, you didn’t, so you’re still an asshole.” He cocked the rifle and prepared to fire again.
“Wait! Wait!” Angel pleaded. “No more! Just let me speak before you kill me, please?” Joshua desperately wanted to blow his head off, but something made him stop. He looked over to his sister and saw that she was curious as well.
“Okay,” Joshua shrugged. “But a word of warning: I won’t like what you say, so I’ll kill you for it.” When Joshua pulled a stake from his belt, Angel had the audacity to chuckle. At least Joshua thought it was a chuckle. With the blood flowing from his mouth, it could have been a wheeze or something.
“I can see you’re a smart boy,” Angel started. “You know what I am.” The vampire fell silent as he tried to reach past the fog of pain and grasp at memories. “I suppose I did leave enough clues about that. You know, expect for the one in the bathroom, your mom removed all the mirrors from the house. That was sweet of her.
“Lana was an extraordinary woman. In the century that I’ve had a soul, I can count the number of people that have truly given a damn about me on two hands. I think Lana was one of them.
“Lana deserved the world. With a beauty like hers, both internal and external, she should have shined with the brightest stars in the heavens. Instead, she had a shitty clerical job, bills out the ass, and an ex-husband that was a blemish to society.
“You have every reason to hate me Joshua. I swore that no harm would come to Lana, but I obviously didn’t keep my word.” A beat of silence. “Like I said, you’re a smart boy. You know what I am and you must know of the things I’ve done. I’ve caused so much pain in my existence. Scores of good people have died because I was feeling hungry, or playful, or spiteful. But many good people have died just because I fucked up. Lana was one of those.
“Nothing I can say to you can ever take away the pain of losing her. I know, because nothing I tell myself keeps me from feeling the guilt and pain of knowing that I’m the reason she died. All I can do is say that I’m sorry and honestly mean it. But if killing me is what you need to bring you peace, then go ahead and destroy me. But don’t let any more innocents die. Just kill the one being that deserves death.”
Joshua let the shotgun drop to the ground with a loud thud. For the briefest of moments, Angel thought that perhaps he had said the right words and that no one, including himself, would have to die. He was mistaken.
“I take that back. You did say something I wanted to hear. Kill the being that deserves death. Marvelous idea.”
Joshua raised the stake high and sauntered towards Angel. He was disappointed at the choice Joshua was about to make, but was infinitely proud of the choice Jordan made.
“Joshua, no,” Jordan spoke softly. Joshua turned and stared at his sister in disbelief and confusion. “Don’t kill him, Joshua. It isn’t right. None of this is.”
“Jordy,” Joshua tried to reason, “this is the man that is responsible for mom’s death. He’s a monster, a self professed one at that.”
“But we loved him once,” Jordan said. She cried softly as that truth resounded in her mind. “Dad is the one who killed mommy.” She pointed at Angel with a shaking hand. “He’s the one that used to give us tickle attacks. He’s the one that used to play dolls with me when mommy was too tired. He was the one who taught you how to swing a baseball bat. And, and remember when the three of us used to watch Capitols games on TV? He loved us more than daddy. He loved mommy, too. You did love mommy, didn’t you, Angel?”
“I did,” Angel agreed. The vampire continued to gasp for breath as the buckshot grated against his insides.
Meanwhile, Joshua was torn. He wanted so badly to end Angel’s existence. But the emotion that was in Jordan’s voice when she regarded the vampire was clear. She didn’t want him to die. She would even be sad if he were to kill Angel. There seemed to be only one thing he could do.
The sound of wood echoed loudly when the stake fell to the ground.
The reporters were quick to announce the ending of the episode dubbed ‘Siege at Sunnydale‘. Within minutes of the surrender, the entire state of California knew the faces that had caused such a ruckus.
The police were perplexed when the hospital staff spoke of two men in dark trench coats invading the ICU and saving their lives. The police didn’t know of anyone besides SWAT members that entered the building. The fact that Joshua and Jordan Tyler admitted to surrendering on their own only increased the confusion.
“What happened in there?” Buffy demanded when the two vampires finally appeared. “The police reported gunshots. Tell us what happened.”
Spike watched as Angel focused his entire attention on the police cruiser that Joshua and Jordan were loaded into. “Now isn’t a good time, love,” Spike spoke softly. Buffy opened her mouth to argue further.
“Not now,” Spike repeated. His tone left no room for argument. He continued to watch Angel. The elder vampire continued to stare out into the distance long after the cruiser containing the kids had left.
Two days later
Cordelia sat quietly in a wicker chair just outside the hotel room Angel had purchased for the night. The black and blue bruises that had marred her face were already beginning to turn green and yellow. The cuts and gashes that littered her body had started to scab over. She was healing.
At least on the outside.
The Chase/Marks family had held the funeral service for Peter that afternoon. Angel had wished the day hadn’t been so bright so he could have stood by Cordelia when Peter’s ashes had been scattered. Cordelia had said it was for the best.
She needed some time alone to deal with the loss of family.
Now here they sat in silence, a three-quarters moon shining in the sky. A soft breeze ruffled Cordelia’s simple black funeral dress. Angel waited patiently as she formulated her thoughts. He knew eventually Cordelia would speak. She didn’t disappoint.
“You loved them, didn’t you?”
A beat of silence. “Does it make me a bad person for hating them?”
Another beat of silence. “I won’t forgive them for what they did to Peter.”
“I know. You don’t have to.”
Silence lasted for several minutes. “I’m sorry, Angel.”
“So am I.”
The pair stared at the moon and listened to the sound of crickets chirping in the distance. Finally, Cordelia reached down and retrieved the cane she would be stuck with for the next few weeks. “I’m going inside to rest.”
“Okay. I have someone I need to talk to anyway.”
“I know.” Cordelia gingerly stood up and went inside. Angel watched to make sure she didn’t fall before turning back to the night.
“You can come out now,” he called out. From the shadows behind a vending machine stepped Spike. The blonde vampire pulled a pack of sunflower seeds from his pocket and popped a handful into his mouth.
“How’d you know I was there?” he asked after spitting out a husk. Spike sat in the chair the Cordelia just vacated.
“I could smell you.” He watched as Spike spit out a few more husks. “Why are you eating those?” Spike pulled the pack of seeds from his pocket and handed them to Angel. The elder vampire accepted and tossed some into his mouth.
“Decided it was time to quit smoking,” Spike answered. Angel looked surprised. “Have you seen how much they’ve raised the price on a pack of smokes? I tell you, Angelus, taxes are a killer.” Angel actually snorted in laughter. It was quite a while before either calmed down enough to speak.
“How’s the chit?”
“Physically she’s healing, but mentally, I don’t know.”
“She just needs some time,” Spike assured. Angel nodded his agreement. “When are you two heading out?”
“Tomorrow night. I think she wants out of this town even more than I do.” Silence. “How’s Buffy?”
“Still pissed at the both of us, but more on principle by now. She was shocked at your new attitude. Hell, so was I. I like it, but Buffy.”
“Doesn’t,” Angel finished. “Too bad.”
Spike snorted in amusement. “I think she’s adjusting to it. She has had time to reflect and all. Between you and me, I think she’s actually amused by the whole Willow thing now.”
Angel cringed. Willow. He had done a number on her. In the past two days, he’d received a dozen Hallmark cards from the redhead and nearly as many flower bouquets.
“I don’t suppose it would help to say I was just using her for her computer?”
“Probably not. But hey, who doesn’t want groupies?” True, Angel thought. Of course, Dawn was a little young for him though. “Well,” Spike sighed, “I ‘ll leave you and your girl alone.” Spike stood up and spat another husk as he watched a car drive by. “Take care, Mate.” Moments later, Spike disappeared back into the shadows.
Angel sat alone for the next ten minutes, silently thinking about the events of the past few days. So many bad things had happened to people that he loved. How the hell would they get past it all? The hotel door opened with a creak.
Angel turned to find Cordelia leaning on her cane.
“Come inside,” she said. “AMC is showing ‘My Fair Lady’ in five minutes.”
“Okay,” Angel smiled slightly. He stood and stretched. As he watched Cordelia retreat back inside, he couldn’t help but realize once more how beautiful she was. They always got through the roughest times. As long as they stayed together.
And Angel sure wasn’t going anywhere