the bunny warren v. Faith

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The Hope Chronicles - Chapter 5
Last Hope

Author: Venus Blue
Series: The Hope Chronicles
Written: 2001
Summary: Hope is dying. Angel is out of his mind trying to find a cure. Willow and Tara find it in mutual friends. {Crossover surprise}
Rating: PG
Spoilers: None
Disclaimer: I’m not saying it! I’m not!! ::grumble grumble:: Okay, fine…Joss owns the Scoobies…like I care…I don’t want your stinkin’ scoobies anyway…

"She is NOT going to die!" I screamed, flinging a book across the room.

The gang got very quiet, looking at me like I’d just grown horns. We were in the magic shop, closed for the day, piles of books surrounding us.

"Everyone listen to me! Hope is not going to die, I don’t care what I have to do. Now find me a Lithfar demon. I don’t care if it’s in Antarctica, I’m going to kill it, and bring its saliva to save Hope."

"Angel-" Giles started to say.

"NO! I am NOT losing her. We are going to save her!"

"Listen to me!" Giles yelled, standing up. "I do not want her to die anymore than you do, but unless you think rationally and behave in a civilized manner, nothing is going to get done!"

Everyone was taken aback by Giles’ ouburst. I looked at him, and saw the fire in his eyes, and knew he still loved her.

"Angel, the last Lithfar demon was killed in the fourteenth century," Willow said gently. "We’ve got to find another way."

"Is there another way?" Tara asked. "I mean, we’ve been researching, and I haven’t found anything-"

"What about magic?" Xander asked. "Will, maybe you and Tara can find some…I don’t know, anti-Quarvak spell?"

"Well, we’ve been looking in the books, but most of the spells require something we’ve never heard of. A creature of pure light. I’ve never heard of that."

"Creature of pure light," Tara said, almost to herself. "I’ve heard that somewhere-"

She stood suddenly and walked to the counter, picking up the phone.

I turned back to Giles and said, "The poison…how long do we have?"

"Um, according to legend, the bite of a Quarvak could kill a mortal in a matter of days. The last known account, the victim suffered for a week straight, excruciating pain and mental anguish. The day of his death, he was completely insane, babbling about spirits under the skin."

"Oh, god," I said, reaching for my jacket.

"Angel, where are you-" Buffy started, standing up.

"I have to see Hope. I have to see how she is."

"Maybe you should-"

"I’m going."

I looked at her, and the look in her eyes forced me to turn away.

"Call if there’s news."

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

"Hope?"

I slowly opened the door to her hospital room and entered. She lay on her hospital bed, her head turned toward the far wall. She was pale, and it was obvious she had been crying.

I quietly made my way to the chair beside the bed, and sat down. Hope never turned her head, and I gently put my hand on hers. She raised her hand, and I thought she was going to take it away, but instead, she put it back, over mine, and entwined her fingers through mine, gently stroking my hand.

"Angel, I don’t want to die."

I gently stroked her hair, and she turned her face toward me.

"Hope, I am NOT going to let you die. No matter what happens, I will give my life before I let anyone take yours."

She started crying anew, and I gently kissed her lips, still stroking her hair and forehead.

"Angel, I can’t…you can’t…I…"

She could barely speak, and I longed to hold her, but I knew I would hurt her horribly if I tried.

"Giles and the gang are still looking for your cure. I think Tara knew something, but I left before she could tell me what it was. I wanted to check on you."

"How long do I have?"

"Well, I mean, you-"

"Angel."

"A few days. Possibly a week."

"Oh, god," she sobbed, burying her face in her hands, wincing in pain as she brought her arms up.

"Shh," I said, resting my forehead against hers. "We’re going to cure you. We will."

The tears flowed freely from her eyes, and she turned her head, capturing my lips with her own.

"Angel, if I die-"

"Hey! You’re not going to die, do you hear me?"

"Angel, please listen to me. If I die, you have to give something to Faith. Please."

I turned my head, unable to look her in the eye. She raised a hand and gently turned my head to face hers.

"There’s a box. I keep it on the shelf in my closet, in the very back. It’s locked, and the key is in the pocket of my rabbit fur jacket. You know, the one you asked me about that I never wear? I need you to give the box and the key to Faith. I want her to have it. Please? And…and tell her…"

She broke down again, and I gently wrapped my arms around her, pulling her to me without hurting her wound.

She buried her face in my neck, sobbing openly.

I held her, not saying anything, just stroking her back and her hair, letting her cry it out.

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

"How can people watch this crap?"

After Hope had calmed down, she and I called a nurse about getting her some food, and turned the TV on.

"I love this show," she said. "It’s been far too long since I watched it."

"But it’s so unrealistic. Like anyone talks that way in real life. And that girl? Look at her. Like she could really do any damage. She must way about 85 pounds soaking wet."

She looked over at me, smiling. I kissed her gently, and said, "Are you eating, or what?"

"I’m eating, I’m eating."

She took a small bite of carrots, and grimaced. She reached for the packet of salt on the side of the tray, and I grabbed it and tore it open for her, sprinkling a little on the vegetables. She mixed it up, and took another bite.

"Well, not home-cooking, but it’ll do."

As she ate, I picked up the phone and called the Magic Shop. The line was still busy, as it had been for the past twenty minutes.

"Dammit," I muttered, slamming the phone down.

She looked over at me and said, "Still busy?"

"Yeah. What the hell are they doing over there?"

"Well, maybe you should go see."

"No, I don’t want to leave you."

"I’m…"

She fell silent, and I looked over at her. Her face was contorted with pain, and she dropped her fork.

"Hope? Baby?"

"Oh, god…Angel…"

She flew back against the pillow, her body writhing in agony.

I slammed the nurse button down severely, and grabbed Hope’s shoulder, trying to hold her still.

"Hope, calm down. Hope? Can you hear me?"

"It hurts! Oh, god, it hurts!"

"Yes?" a nurse said over the intercom.

"Something’s wrong. She’s freaking out. Please…help her!"

"Oh, god, make it stop!" she screamed, fighting my hold on her.

A nurse and doctor flew in, took one look at the situation, and said, "Move."

"I can’t-"

"I need you to get out of the way. We can’t help her if you’re holding her."

The doctor pulled a syringe out of his pocket, and the nurse grabbed her arm, looking for the vein.

"Please! Please help me! Oh, god, it hurts!"

"It’s okay, Ms. Anders, we’re going to help you. Just calm down."

He looked over at me and said, "What started this?"

"I don’t know. She was eating, and then all of a sudden-"

"We’re going to give her something for the pain, and a mild sedative, just to calm her down."

"Will she…is she going to be okay?"

He injected the medicine into her veins, then raised up the hospital gown.

"Okay, she’s popped some stitches. We’re going to have to bring her back into the OR."

The nurse left the room quickly, and the doctor said, "Sir, she’ll be out cold in a few minutes, and probably the rest of the night. You might as well go home."

"But-"

"There’s nothing you can do."

Two orderlies came in and began to push the bed out. She looked up at me, her eyes filled with pain, and whispered, "Angel."

"I’m here, baby. It’s going to be okay."

"I love you, Angel."

I kissed her forehead as they came to the doors, and the orderlies said, "You can’t come any further. I’m sorry, but she will be okay."

"Hope? I’ll be here when you wake up. I promise."

She kissed my hand, and I watched as they wheeled her into the OR.

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

"What do we know?" I asked, throwing off the blanket as I came into the Magic Shop.

"Plenty," Willow said. "Tara figured out how to cure her."

I spun around to look at the lovely blonde Wiccan, and said, "You did?"

She nodded shyly, and I rushed to her, hugging her tightly. Startled, she stood there for a second, then hesitantly patted my back.

"Sorry," I said, pulling away. She smiled up at me and said, "Well, Willow and I know these people. They’re in San Francisco, but I explained the situation to them, and they’re on their way here. They’re very powerful witches, and they have a friend who can cure anyone hurt by evil."

"Great. How soon can they get here?"

"They’ll be here tomorrow morning."

I sighed and ran my hands through my hair.

"Thank you so much, Tara. I can’t thank you enough, really."

She gave me a small half-smile and said, "It’s my pleasure."

"So how is she?" Xander asked, walking up behind Willow.

I sat down shakily in a chair, and said, "She freaked out. She was in so much pain, she was screaming and just…anyway, she popped some stitches, so the doctor’s took her back to the OR to check her out."

Giles frowned and said, "She was hurting terribly?"

I looked over at him, saying nothing. He nodded and removed his glasses to clean them.

A customer came into the newly-opened shop, and Anya rushed to help him. The gang went about making themselves look busy, and Buffy walked up to me.

"Angel? Are you okay?"

I looked up at her and said, "Yeah, I guess. I’ll be fine as soon as Tara’s friends get her."

She nodded and said, "Yeah. It’ll be better."

My stomach began to hurt, and I knew if I didn’t eat something soon, I’d be in no shape to help Hope.

"Giles?" I asked, looking over at him as he stood behind the counter.

"Yes, Angel?"

"Um…I need… to eat something soon."

"Oh, um, yes, well, we have nothing here, but I can send someone-"

"I’ll go get it," Buffy said, grabbing her coat. "Ten minutes."

She looked back at me, then walked through the door.

Willow came over and sat at the table with me.

"Hope’s gonna be fine, Angel, you know that, right?"

I nodded, trying to keep the emotions from playing out on my face.

She put her hand on mine and said, "We won’t let anything happen to her. I promise."

I smiled at her and said, "Thank you, Willow."

"Willow? Can you come help me with this?"

She looked over at Giles, then said, "Coming."

I sighed and made my way to the bathroom, closing the door behind me. I looked at my non-reflection, then turned on the faucet and splashed water on my face. I sat down on the closed toilet seat, and let the tears flow. I couldn’t stop them, so I left the faucet running and sobbed.

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

With instructions to come immediately to the hospital as soon as their friends arrived, I left early the next morning to go to the hospital.

When I got there, Hope was still asleep, but the doctor informed me that she was resting, not sedated.

I sat by her bedside, watching her sleep peacefully for about an hour before she opened her eyes and looked up at me.

"Angel," she said, smiling at me.

"Hey, beautiful."

I leaned down and kissed her gently, and she stroked my unshaven cheek with her fingertips.

"Did you get any sleep last night?"

"A little."

Her head lay lazily against the pillow, her eyes heavy from sleep.

"Mm. I freaked out yesterday. Pulled my tummy open."

I grimaced and said, "I know, baby. It’s okay."

"Angel…there’s something…"

"What?" I asked, stroking her forehead.

"There’s something wrong in my head. I don’t…I don’t know what it is, but it’s like…it’s like something crawled in there and it’s trying to hurt me."

I frowned and said, "There’s nothing in your head baby, I promise. Nothing’s going to hurt you."

"No, really, I think there is something in there. It’s trying to tell me the most awful things."

It’s progressing faster than we expected, I thought to myself. Aloud I said, "It’ll be okay, honey. There are people on the way that are going to make those awful creatures in your head go away, I promise."

She whimpered and said, "It hurts my head. It’s like…it’s like it’s clawing at my brain, trying to tear out my thoughts and-"

"Shh," I soothed, taking her gently in my arms and holding her to my chest. "It won’t hurt you for long. I promise."

I kissed the top of her head, smelling her still-flower-scented hair, and feeling the silkiness on my face.

The door opened, and Willow quietly stuck her head in.

"Angel? Is she awake?"

"Yeah. Are your friends here?"

"Yeah," she said, moving out of the doorframe. The entirety of the gang came in, followed by three young women and a tall man. I sensed immediately that the man was more than mere mortal.

"Angel, this is the Halliwell sisters, Prue, Piper, and Phoebe, and their friend Leo. They’re here to help."

"Hey," the man said. "How is she?"

"It’s progressing quickly," I said, still stroking the back of her head. "She’s already starting to have the mental dillusions."

Giles frowned and removed his glasses, and Phoebe came around to the other side of the bed.

"She…she was hurt by a demon?" she asked quietly.

"Yeah," I said, nodding. "It-it attacked her while she was trying to rescue some victims. She…she didn’t even see it coming."

She nodded and said, "Leo is a white-lighter. He…well, he can save any mortal being who was hurt by a force of darkness."

I looked up at him and said, "Please. Please help her."

"Angel?" Hope said suddenly, her body tensing.

"What is it, baby?" I said, gently pulling her back from my body.

"They’re here."

"Who’s here, honey?" "The squirrels. They’re here. They know…they know! They’re going to hurt me! They want to-

"Shh," I said, looking up urgently at Leo. "It’s okay, baby. This man is here to help you. He’s going to make it all better. He’s going to make the squirrels go away."

Leo grimaced as he walked over to the side of the bed. The three sisters stood behind him, their faces determined.

"Lay her down, Angel," Leo said softly.

I gently lay Hope down on her back, and she moaned as she lost contact with me. She opened her eyes and looked up at me, her eyes full of sorrow.

"Angel?"

"Shh, baby, it’s okay," I said, picking up her hand and kissing it. "He’s going to help you."

Leo placed his hands on her stomach, right above the wound, and a white light flashed through the room. Hope arched her back, crying out, and then lay flat, her chest rising and falling rapidly.

He pulled his hands away, took a breath, and said, "She’s going to be fine. Stronger than ever."

I looked over at him and said, "You’re sure?"

"Absolutely. All the poisons are gone, and her wound is healed. Not even a scar."

I gently pulled her hospital gown to the side, and was amazed to see her soft skin unmarred by the fatal talon.

"You are amazing," I said, hugging him over the bed. I felt his body tense up and he said, "Uh…no problem, really."

"Sorry," I said, coughing and stepping back.

Hope slowly opened her eyes, and said, "Angel?"

I looked down at her and said, "Hey, baby. How are you feeling?"

"I don’t…I don’t…what…"

I smiled and said, "You’re cured, Hope. We found your cure, baby."

"Really?" she said, looking up and seeing Leo and the sisters. He nodded, and she began to cry.

"Oh, thank you. Thank you so much!"

She sat up slowly, and Leo said, "Be careful, you’re still going to be pretty weak."

She threw her arms around his stomach, hugging him tightly. He smiled and said, "You people like to hug, don’t you?"

"Thank you so much," she said. "I can’t even thank you enough."

"Don’t. It was my pleasure."

Willow walked over and said, "Thanks, to all of you. We couldn’t have done this without you."

"No problem," Prue said. "It was our pleasure as well. Anything to help out a fellow witch."

"Oh, about that," Tara said, pulling them to one side. "Willow and I were working on this spell-"

Leo smiled over at them and said, "This is obviously going to take some time, and since my job here is done…" He placed a hand on Hope’s shoulder and said, "I’m glad you’re alright. You’re going to be weak for awhile, but you’ll regain your strength soon."

"Thank you," she said again. "So very much."

He smiled at her, then with a flash of white light, he was gone.

The gang looked around, mildly shocked, and Piper said, "Oh, he does that."

I stood up, walked over to Willow and Tara and said, "Thank you so much. We couldn’t have done this without you."

Tara smiled and said, "We wanted to do it. To help Hope."

Hope, still fairly weak, managed, "I owe my life to you. All of you. I won’t ever forget that."

Willow and Tara hugged her, then they left the room with the sisters in tow. Giles gave her a quick hug and kiss on the cheek, then he and Buffy also departed. Xander hugged her, while Anya made some strange remark about her not dying, then they left as well.

I sat beside her bed and said, "I’m so proud of you, Hope. You held out well."

"Yeah. I held out really well. Crying like a baby and ranting about squirrels in my head. I was-"

I covered her mouth with mine, cutting off her last words. She raised her hands slowly, placing them around my neck, and kissed me passionately.

"I love you so much, Angel. So very much."

I held her tightly in my arms, kissing with her with all the passion my soul could manage.

"I love you, too. And nothing is ever going to change that. Ever."

She rested her head against my chest, with me leaning slightly over to keep her comfortable, and we sat there like that, in a lover’s embrace that meant more to me than any other I’d ever had in my life.

~The End


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