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The Hope Chronicles - Chapter 4
Visit to the 'Dale

Author: Venus Blue
Series: The Hope Chronicles
Written: 2001
Summary: The gang finds out about Angel and Hope, and unexpected events arise.
Rating: R for non graphic sex
Spoilers: Small ones for I Will Remember You, Crush, and Intervention.
Feedback: Gives me a happy
Disclaimer: Joss Whedon owns all rights to Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel. No copyright infringement intended. {There, happy?!}
AN: Angel and Hope have been dating for about six months.

"Angel, Iím scared."

As Angel and I packed up our suitcases, he looked at me questioningly.

"Of what?"

"Weíre going back to Sunnydale. Besides having to face a big ugly monster, both of us are going to meet up with our first real loves. I donít even want to imagine the types of problems we could face. Then, Buffy and Rupert donít know weíre together, and Buffy doesnít know about your soul."

"Okay, I can see why you would be afraid. But we can do it. I know we can. Together, we can do anything."

I frowned, then walked up to him and hugged him tightly.

"I love you so much, Angel."

"I love you, too."

********************

"You really used to live here?"

I looked around the huge mansion, and smiled. It was beautiful.

"Yeah. There are some bad memories in here."

I saw him look toward a large empty space near the mantel, and I remembered the story of Acathla.

I came up to him, and hugged him tightly.

"Then letís go make some new memories."

He smiled down at me, and lifted me up into his arms, kissing me deeply.

He carried me to the bedroom, where there was a large bed covered with a dusty comforter. He set me down, shook the dust off the soft blanket, and set me down gently on the bed. He slowly worked his way down my body, kissing my neck and collarbone, unbuttoning my shirt as he went down.

I ran my hair through his hair (gel-free, thanks to me), and wrapped my legs around his waist.

We made love passionately, our bodies becoming one as the ecstasy ripped through us, leaving me weak and motionless, and him panting for unnecessary air.

Afterwards, I lay beside him, playing with his hair.

He gently kissed my forehead, and said, "I love you so much."

I smiled up at him and said, "Itís still early. We should rest a little while beforeÖ"

"Agreed."

He pulled back the sheets and blankets, and we slid underneath. He wrapped his arms around my waist, and I rested my head on his chest. Soon, I was asleep.

********************

After learning from an old associate that Giles now owned the Magic Shop in town, Angel and I headed there. We were both very nervous.

"Should we walk in together?" I said, my voice shaky.

"IÖI guess so."

We stopped outside the door hesitantly, then walked in. The store was free of customers, with Anya behind the counter and the gang all seated around a circular table. They looked up when we walked in, their faces registering complete and utter shock.

"Angel?" Buffy said questioningly.

"Hope?" Rupert said, equally as confused.

I gave a small wave, and said, "Hey, guys."

They simply stared.

********************

"SoÖyou two are an item, are you?"

I gripped my cup of tea, and said, "You could say that, yes."

Buffy looked over at Angel, and I saw in her eyes that she was not terribly happy about this.

"Well, I think thatís great," Willow said, trying to relieve the tension.

"I donít understand," Rupert said. "Hope, forgive me, but youíre a vibrant young woman, and-well, there is no tactful way to say this-you have a strong sex drive."

I exchanged a look with Angel. Who was going to explain that one?

"Itís a long story, actually," Angel said, not sure how to explain something that Buffy would never remember. "ButÖwell, The Powers That Be informed me that my soul is permanent. Nothing will take it away."

This drew even more slack-jawed expressions. Buffyís face registered more pain than either Angel or I could bear. Rupertís face was near expressionless, but I knew he was also hurting.

"Well, I think itís best if Angel, you speak with Buffy in private, and Rupert, you and I should talk."

"Um, well, yes, I think that would be best. Um, you others will mind the store, yes?"

Anya called from the counter, "Got it under control."

Angel gripped my hand, then followed Buffy into a back room, and I followed Giles up a ladder to the second floor.

We sat down at a table in the center, and he loosened his tie, his face finally showing the pain he was feeling.

"Rupert-"

"No. Hope, let me speak first."

I got quiet, and waited for him to let loose.

"Letting go of you was the worse mistake I ever made. I acted rashly, and I awaited the day of your return anxiously. Now youíre here, and you tell me this. Well, the only word I can use to express my feelings is heartbroken. But I realize it is my fault. And Iím glad youíve moved on."

"Rupert, you know I never wanted to hurt you-"

He took my hand in his, and he said, "I realize that now. I canít stay angry with you anymore. I didnít hold a grudge all that long anyway. I realized why you kept it from me, and if I hadnít been so narrow minded to begin with, and if I had just sat down to think about it, I wouldnít have let you slip through my hands."

He looked down at my hand, encased in his own, and he sighed. As I looked at his beautiful features, I felt familiar feelings rise up in me, and I fought to keep them back.

"Does he make you happy?"

"Very much so."

Without looking up at me, he said, "Then Iím happy for you. I shanít begrudge you anything. I wish you and Angel the best."

I stood up and said, "Come here, Rupert."

He slowly looked up at me, and I saw the tears glistening in his eyes. He stood up, and I came around the table, taking him in my arms.

"Iím so sorry."

He began to weep openly now, and I held him, stroking the back of his head.

When he finally got himself under control, he said, "I really do wish you the best of luck. Iím just sorry I let you go."

I gently kissed his cheek, and said, "I will never forget you, Rupert."

"Nor shall I."

********************

That night, Angel and I joined the Scooby Gang for dinner at Anya and Xanderís apartment. We shared stories, and made jokes, and got caught up on everything weíd missed.

Anya was a remarkably good cook for an ex-demon, and while we enjoyed the chicken cordon bleu she had prepared, Angel discreetly sipped the blood we had picked up from the butcherís earlier that night. He glanced over at me occasionally, and I smiled reassuringly at him. I could tell the talk with Buffy had thrown them both off. Willow had quietly informed me earlier when we were alone that they had heard Buffy yelling for quite some time, then there was a large amount of tears. I could wait until Angel and I were alone to learn what had happened.

"So," I said in a moment of silence, "Spike is in love with you, eh, Buffy?"

She glanced up at me, and I noticed her smile barely touched her eyes.

"Horrible, isnít it? Weíre kinda hoping itís just some sick phase that heíll get over soon."

I sipped my iced tea and said, "Well, Spikeís not exactly the most stable individual in town. Think heíll try anything funny?"

Xander said, "You mean besides building a Buffy bot? And tying her up and trying to feed her to Dru? Nah."

I smiled at Xander and said, "Good point."

Everyone fell into silence again, and I said, "Anya, this really is delicious."

She smiled brightly and said, "Thank you."

When we were all finished eating, I offered to help Anya clean up, which she graciously accepted. As I cleared the plates, Angel stood up and said, "Let me help."

I smiled over at him, and said, "Thank you, baÖAngel."

Buffyís look was anything but cheerful.

We went into the kitchen, where Anya had already started rinsing off the dishes.

"Oh, Anya, Iíll take care of the dishes. You go ahead back in there and be the gracious hostess."

More than willing to leave the chores to others, she thanked us and went back into the dining room.

"How are you?" Angel asked as I filled the sink with hot soapy water.

"Coping. Of course, Buffyís ĎDie, bitch, dieí looks arenít making me want to dance, butÖ"

"Yeah, she didnít take the news too well."

He fell into silence as I slid the dishes into the sink, and I turned to him and wrapped my arms around his waist.

"Look at me."

He looked into my eyes, and I said, "I love you, baby. Iím sorry you had to hurt Buffy."

He buried his face in the crook of my neck, and said, "Iím sorry you had to hurt Giles."

I nuzzled his cheek, and he turned, capturing my lips with his. We shared a soft kiss for a few seconds, then I heard footsteps entering the kitchen.

We looked up, and saw Buffy retreating from the kitchen as quickly as she had arrived.

I sighed and said, "Letís get these dishes done."

********************

When the kitchen and dining room were clean, Angel and I cut out early. I hugged everyone good-bye, including Buffy, who seemed a bit hesitant, and we headed out to Angelís car.

He opened the door for me, and I climbed in, casting one glance back in the direction of Xanderís apartment window. I saw a lone figure staring out from behind the curtains, and I knew it was Buffy.

As we drove through the streets of Sunnydale, I looked around at all the familiar buildings I hadnít seen in almost a year. A lot had changed.

"Angel?"

"Yeah, baby?"

"What did you and Buffy talk about?"

He sighed and said, "You donít want to know."

"No, I really do."

He wrapped one arm around my shoulder, and I moved closer to him, resting my head on his chest.

"She had some choice words for both you and I. I know she didnít mean them, she was just hurt, but I didnít appreciate some of the things she said about you, so we got into a fairly large argument. It ended up with her crying, and me trying to apologize. It wasnít pretty."

I nodded and said, "Iím sorry, Angel."

"Hey," he said, kissing my forehead, "stop apologizing. We came back to Sunnydale for a reason. Weíre going to fight this monster, and then go back to our real lives. You have closure in your relationship with Giles, and at least now they both know. No more worries."

I wrapped my arms around his waist, squeezing him tightly.

We got to the mansion, and I got out, grabbing the bags of groceries weíd bought earlier.

Angel took them from me, and we walked inside and headed for the kitchen. Setting the bags down on the table, he said, "Iím gonna call Cordy, see how things are in L.A."

"Iíll put these up."

He pulled out his cell phone and walked into the main foyer, and I started putting things into cabinets.

As I put a box of tea bags up, I lost my composure and began to cry. I fell into a crumpled heap on the floor, and curled my body up, resting my head on my arms as I sobbed.

Angel ran in, phone forgotten, and pulled me into his arms, stroking my hair and gently rubbing my back. I sobbed into his shoulder, my arms wrapped tightly around his neck.

"Oh, Angel, this is so hard."

"Shh, shh, I know."

He carried me upstairs, and sat down on the bed. I curled up in his lap, trying to regain my composure.

"I thoughtÖI really thought I was over Rupert. I love you so much, and you treat me so wonderfully, butÖ"

"Hey, hey. Come on. I know."

He gently kissed me, and I slipped a hand around his neck, cradling his head as the kiss grew more passionate.

"I do love you, Angel. More than anything."

"And I, you, Hope."

We made love, and all the pain Iíd felt all day washed away as I felt the familiar sensations rise and erupt throughout my body.

As we both recovered, he said, "Youíre my baby."

I nibbled on his earlobe and said, "Always."

He pulled the blanket over us, and I immediately rolled over and lay my head on his chest, my own heartbeat resounding through my ears.

I tapped his chest lightly and said, "It never ceases to amaze me."

"Whatís that?"

"How someone with no heartbeat can love so completely?"

I looked up at him, and he said, "No creature on earth could ever love you half-heartedly."

I kissed his chest and said, "I love you so much, Angel."

He stroked my back, and we fell asleep peacefully.

********************

The Quarvak demon was a hideous, 20-foot tall monster, with gray scales and four heads. The entire Scooby Gang fought it, Angel included, with Willow and Tara throwing magic spells at it from all directions.

While they fought the demon, I helped the hostages trapped in its lair get to freedom, a few at a time. It was tedious work, but as long as the Quarvak was distracted, it wasnít a horribly difficult job.

The almost-victims were very grateful. Some went as far as to hug me. I merely nodded and directed them to the opening of the cave, asking some to help others who were too weak to move.

As I was helping the last set of people out, I noticed a nest of huge bright yellow eggs, hidden from site by the huge bulk of the monster. I didnít know when they would hatch, but I imagined it wouldnít be good for them to be ready anytime soon.

After the last victim was safe, I shouted, "Guys! Thereís a nest!"

Angel looked over at me, and I motioned behind the monster. He nodded and yelled, "Hope, get out of here! Now!"

I bent to grab my pick ax, and felt a sharp, excructiating pain in my side. The Quarvak, apparently distracted by my shouting, had sunk one of its razor sharp, poison-tipped talons into my stomach, nearly slicing me in half.

"HOPE!" Angel screamed, running to me.

There was a huge tearing sound as the talon was retracted, and before I passed out, I saw Angel and Rupert run at full speed toward me, sheer panic etched on their faces.

********************

I woke up in a hospital bed with what felt like 100 IVís in my arms. I glanced around, and the room seemed very foggy. I wondered if someone had left a window open.

I lifted my arm to move the blanket, and slammed my teeth down on my bottom lip to keep from screaming as agony ripped through my side.

I noticed a call button built into the railing on my bed, and I pressed it demandingly.

A nurse came in moments later, and said, "Oh, Ms. Anders, donít try to sit up. You have to rest."

"What happened?"

"You donít remember?"

I searched my memory, but my brain was very tired and foggy.

"Well, youíre fiance and friends brought you in, with a very serious wound to your abdomen. I believe they said you were in a car wreck of some sort?"

The Quarvak, I thought to myself, remembering.

"AngelÖwhereís Angel?"

"Your fiance? Heís in the waiting room."

"I need to see him."

"Oh, I donít think thatís wise. You are still in ICU. Your condition is severe. If-"

"WHERE IS ANGEL?!" I screamed, then winced in pain.

Suddenly the door flew open, and Angel rushed in, immediately by my bedside.

"Hope, oh, god, I was so scared," he said, kissing my face over and over and over again. Quietly, Rupert and the rest of the gang followed, standing to one side in the room.

"Iím sorry, but this really isnít allowed-" the nurse began to say. Rupert took her out in the hallway, then a few minutes later he came in and nodded to Angel.

"Am I going to die?"

Angel took my hand in his, and said, "Well, you-"

I looked into his eyes, and said, "Donít lie to me, Angel."

"Itís possible," he said, his face strained with pain. "You just got out of surgery about two hours ago, and the doctors say they fixed all the internal damage, but they donít know about the poison. Giles researched and we found an antidote, but the creature we have to get the serum from is extinct."

I sat quietly for a moment, letting it settle in. Rupert quietly came to my other side, and after exchanging a look with Angel, took my other hand and gently kissed the back of it.

"Hope, weíre not going to let anything happen to you."

"Thereís not much you can do, right?" I asked quietly.

"Well, it seems that way now, but-"

"Iím going to die."

"No," Willow said. "Youíre not. Tara and I are looking into-"

"Iím going to die," I said again. "Thereís nothing you can do. Please leave."

My voice was calm and cool, and everyone exchanged glances.

"Please leave."

The gang quietly turned and left the room, and Angel and Rupert stayed by my sides.

"You guysÖgo ahead. I just want to be alone."

"Hope, I really wish youíd-"

"AngelÖif you love me, you will leave me alone. Go with Rupert. Iíll call you if I need you."

Rupert squeezed my hand, and Angel kissed my forehead, and they left.

When the door was closed, I buried my face in my hands, and began to sob.

~The End


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