the bunny warren v. Faith

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The Hope Chronicles - Chapter 6
Healing

Author: Venus Blue
Series: The Hope Chronicles
Written: 2001
Summary: Hope is healing nicely from her injury. But she and Angel both have a lot of healing to do before they can return to L.A.
Rating: PG-13
Spoilers: None
Disclaimer: Why do I add this?! Itís not like Joss is going to see my fic and go, "Hey! Those arenít hers to play with! Give Ďem back!" {You think he ever watched the Sesame Street where they taught sharing?} But, yeah, he owns Ďem allÖexcept my gal. I think heís tryiní to steal her though. The squirrels told me. Alison Kraus and union station, and Kim Richey own the rights to these beautiful song lyrics.

"Hope? Baby, IímÖwhat the hell are you doing?!"

Angel entered the mansion, and found Hope seated by the fireplace, legs curled up under her, watching the fire burn.

"Hey, handsome," she said with a smile. "I woke up and saw you werenít there, and I was worried, so I came downstairs and started a fire. The sunís almost up."

"I know, Iím sorry. I didnít mean to worry you. I figured you were still sleeping, so Iíve been at Gilesí all night, helping with research."

She looked over at him, a surprised look on her face.

"Youíve been at Rupertís all night?"

He nodded, and she said, "Howíd it go?"

"Well, better than I had expected."

She slowly stood up, and he saw her falter, and was immediately by her side. He held her up and said, "Baby, howíd you make it all the way down the stairs?"

She smiled and said, "I half crawled, half walked. Iím getting stronger."

He scooped her up in his arms and said, "You are never going to get stronger if you donít rest. You have to heal, baby."

She nodded, tears forming in her eyes, and he carried her upstairs to the bedroom, laying her gently on the bed and kissing her forehead.

"Why are you crying?"

"Because Iím tired of being weak!" she yelled, throwing her head back against the pillow. "Iím tired of being this invalid who lays in bed all day. Iím sick of it."

Angel held her in his arms, rocking her and humming softly.

"Iím tired of not being able to make love to you."

At this, he pulled back, and looked into her eyes.

"That doesnít matter to me, baby. I went a long time without being able to make love to anyone, and you know what? Now that I found you, I can wait forever. As long as I can hold you in my arms, and look at that beautiful face, thatís all I want from life. I donít want sex."

She shuddered against his chest, and curled up in a ball in his lap. She was soon asleep.

Gently, he lay her down, and pulled the comforter over her. He pulled off his shirt and trousers, and slid in beside her, wrapping his arms around her prone figure. He watched her sleep for a long time, listening to her even breathing. He thought about the confrontation with Giles, and the things he would never be able to tell her.

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

Earlier that night:

"Need any help?"

Angel walked into the magic shop, where the gang was gathered around the center table. They looked up at him, and Giles motioned him inside.

"Angel, yes, of course, your help is always appreciated."

Angel pulled up a chair, and Willow asked, "Howís Hope?"

"Sheís still pretty weak, but I think sheís healing nicely."

Willow smiled reassuringly at him, and said, "Giles found an ancient text that may be prophetic."

"Ah, prophecies, my favorite."

Xander handed him a book, and Giles said, "See if you can find anything about a demon uprising on the 19th rotation of Venus through the Moon of the falling suns."

"Sure."

Three hours, later, Angel was on his seventh book, and still there was no word on the uprising.

Angel was just about to call to check on Hope when Willow cried, "Ah-ha!"

"I love it when she does that," Buffy said, coming around behind Willowís chair and looking over her shoulder.

"But waitÖthis says that thatís scheduled to happen in 2058."

"But I was certainÖ" Giles said, standing up to grab the ancient text that had fallen into his hands earlier that day. "Oh, well, of course. I swear, the writings on this parchment are so fadedÖ"

Xander slammed his book shut and said, "Well, that was a bracing waste of time."

"Yes, very," Anya said. "Can we go home?"

Still absorbed in the book, Giles dismissed them with a wave of his hand.

"Yes, please. Feel free to go."

The gang bolted from the shop, and as Angel slowly stood to go, Giles said, "Angel? Might I have a word?"

Turning, he said, "Sure. What is it?"

Closing the book, he took his glasses off, and there was a look of fierce determination to say his piece in his eyes. Angel had been dreading this conversation since they had arrived. He sat back down at the table, and Giles sat across from him, watching him closely.

"Now, Angel, I know you are aware of how deeply I loved Hope. Still do."

"Yes, I am-"

"And you also know that I will protect her no matter what the cost.

"Now, Iím not honestly sure what it is that draws young women to you. You may be handsome, but that does not change the fact that you are dead. Thereís no way around that. You have no beating heart. You are a demon in a human shell. Your soul may keep you from feeding on human life, but that doesnít make you any less a vampire."

Biting his bottom lip, Angel refused to let the biting comeback that rose in his throat come out.

"Now, I know Hope is a big girl who can make decisions on her own, but I also know that she left Sunnydale in a very frazzled state, and I donít believe she was thinking clearly when you met up with her. I believe you swooped in and rescued her, and she felt she needed someone to cling on, and you were there. Nothing more than that."

Angel narrowed his eyes at him and he quickly went on, "Donít worry, I wonít be saying any of this to her. Itís not my place. But I felt I should tell you, that young lady still has feelings for me. It was more than apparent to me during our conversation the first day that this was so. Just felt you should know."

"I knew that."

He was taken aback by this and said, "Oh?"

"Rupert, Iím not naÔve. I know you two have history. I know she still has feelings for you. I also know that you threw her out like a bad puppy when you found out that she refused to tell you something very painful and very personal. In my book, that makes YOU the bad guy, NOT me. Weíve discussed it, and even though we do have feelings for our exes, weíve decided itís more important to love each other than moon over what could have been. As for the relationship between us being no more than a Ďflingí or a Ďwhim,í youíre very wrong. Iím sorry you canít accept that Hope has moved on, but she has. If you try to steal her from me, weíre going to have problems. As of right now, everythingís fine between us. Donít ruin that."

With that, Angel stood up and left the magic shop, more than a little peeved.

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

When Angel woke, Hope wasnít in bed beside him. Alarmed, he rose from the bed, pulling his pants on quickly and heading downstairs.

"Look, Hope, I know you think Angel loves you, but youíre wrong."

Stopped by Buffyís voice, he crept down the stairs, listening to the conversation downstairs.

"Heíll always love me. We have a serious history together, and there is nothing anyone can do to stop that. He was hurting, and you came along, with your check-out-my-ass pants, and he wanted the companionship. Itís to be expected."

Angel peered into the living room, where Hope sat on the sofa, with Buffy pacing in front of her. Hopeís face remained non-expressive, but Angel knew she was livid at being talked to like a child.

"This Ďrelationshipí you think you have with him? It isnít real. He told me one time that in all of his years, he had only loved one person, and you know who that was? It was me. Just because you came along flaunting your wares, it doesnít change anything. Heíll always love me. You were just a means to help him try and forget about me. Itís only a matter of time before-"

"Be quiet."

Stopped by the calm, yet deadly sounding tone of her voice, Buffy paused in her pacing and looked down at Hope.

"You think youíre so smart? You think you can come into this house and tell me that my relationship with Angel means nothing? Well, thatís where youíre wrong, HONEY."

She said the term with such disgust that Buffy actually winced.

"Angel and I have nothing BUT love for each other. Just like I loved Rupert. But you know what? Itís different now. Angel and I tell each other everything. Iíve told him every aspect of my life, including my painful growing up years, and my search for Faith, and my time here with Rupert. Just as he has told everything of his almost 250 years on Earth. Most of the stuff weíve told each other is highly painful, and Iím sure both of us have learned things we didnít care to know. But because we LOVE each other, it was to be expected."

"Just as he told me everything when-"

"Did he tell you about the Ambassador to Egypt and his pregnant wife and three-year-old son? Did he tell you what he did to them?"

Taken aback at this, Buffy said, "Well, no, but-"

"Did he tell you about going back to Darla even AFTER he lost his soul? Begging her to take him back, telling her he would ignore the soul heíd gained just so they could stay together?"

"That doesnít mean-"

"I can keep going. Iím sure Iíve got more than enough information stored in my photographic memory to keep your mouth hung agape, and leave your mind reeling from some of the brutal torture heís inflicted on people."

Angel winced, wishing Hope didnít have to live with the knowledge of how cold-blooded her lover had once been.

"But I donít care about any of that. If Angel had told you, how would you have reacted? I donít imagine you would have been to big on the forgiveness thing, would you have?"

"Of course I-"

"Get out of our home, Buffy. Youíre not welcome here. Iím not about to tell Angel about this, because I am aware that he does still hold a place for you in his heart, just as I will always hold a place in mine for Rupert. Thatís understood. People in love understand these things. And I know it would hurt him deeply to know what a BITCH youíre being. Which is why I think it would be best if you left before he woke up."

Grabbing her jacket and bag, Buffy stormed out, never looking back. Following her out with her eyes, Hope waited until she was sure she was gone, then stood up uneasily, testing her legs for strength.

Angel came downstairs then, and took Hopeís arm from behind, causing her to jump.

"Oh, Angel. You startled me. I was justÖI woke up, and couldnít go back to sleep, so I came down to fix myself a cup of tea-"

Pulling her tightly to him, Angel kissed her passionately, and they sat down on the sofa, wrapped in each otherís arms.

Let the sun fall down all around you
Let the night surround you in a blanket of starlight
Iíll whisper you a lullaby
Let the sun fall down

"Listen to me," Angel said after a few minutes, pulling her face up so that he looked directly into her eyes. "Donít listen to what Buffy said. I love you more than anything else in this god-forsaken world. You are the ray of sunlight when Iím cold, the gentle sea breeze when Iím hot. When Iím thirsty, youíre my fresh drink of water, the last bite of food when Iím hungry. I love you more than I loved Buffy. That is something I never thought Iíd say to another person ever. Thank you for giving that to me."

She stared at him for a moment, adoration etched on her face, then whispered, "I donít know what to say. Anything I could say to you would be pointless compared to what you just said. That was the most beautiful thing anyone has ever said to me. I will love you forever just for that."

She rested her head on his chest, and he rested his cheek on her head, smelling her hair and feeling the warmth of her body against his.

"HopeÖthereís something I need to tell you."

"What is it, baby?"

"You know how I went to Gilesí last night?"

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

It doesnít matter what I want, it doesnít matter what I need
It doesnít matter if I cry, donít matter if I bleed
Feel the sting of tears falling on this face
You loved for years

Hope stormed into the Magic Shop, leaning heavily on an intricately carved wooden cane.

Giles looked up from his spot behind the counter, and said, "Hope! What are you doing up and about?"

Walking up to him, she slapped him across the face with all her might. She was still a little weak, but the force of the blow wasnít what made him put his hand to his cheek and stare at her in horror.

"EveryoneÖOUT!" Hope said, never taking her eyes away from his.

Anya glanced over at Giles, and he nodded. The customers scurried out quickly, and Anya headed out the side door.

"How dare youÖ" Hope said, a murderous look in her eyes.

"Hope, whatever Angelís told you-"

"It doesnít matter WHAT Angel told me!" she yelled. "You had NO right saying ANYTHING to Angel about my relationship with him. YOU threw me out, remember?! With no chance to justify my actions, or explain myself! Now, when I came back, you said you were FINE with that, and as long as I was HAPPY, you were happy for me. How DARE you go behind my back and treat Angel like you did?!"

"I was only doing what I thought was-"

"No! Donít even try to tell me you were trying to help me when you did that! If you cared even a tiny bit for me, you would have stayed OUT of our relationship! Who the hell do you think you are? Huh?" she exclaimed, punctuating each sentence with a jab to Gilesí chest. "What about when we first announced we were a couple? Huh? Do you remember how much flack we got for being together? Because I was so young, and you were so Ďoldí?" she said, holding up her hands to show quotation marks. "We got so pissed off, we actually stayed holed up in my apartment for weeks, only coming out occasionally when we didnít think weíd be seen. You remember why?! Because we didnít want to hear anyoneís MOUTH because we fucking loved each other!"

Giles winced, not just because of her harsh tone and language, but more because he knew, in a way, she was right.

"I did it because I love you," he said quietly.

"Yeah, well, you lost me, didnít you? And whoís fault was that, incidentally?"

Defeated, Giles sunk into one of the chairís that surrounded the research table.

"Donít come near me or Angel again. Weíll help with research, more out of love and respect for the Scoobies than anything else. Donít try to communicate with us like weíre friends, or see us socially. Youíve lost us forever. Nothing else you do will win our trust back. Iím sorry."

And with that, she turned and left the Magic Shop, Angelís leather jacket twirling around her.

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

Meanwhile:

Buffy was fixing herself a cup of tea in the kitchen when she heard the knock on her back door.

Looking out the window, she saw Angel, and smiled a little to herself. Then she unlocked and opened the door, letting him in.

"Buffy, we need to talk."

"Sure. What is it?"

"I understand you came to see Hope today."

Angel watched the look of confusion cross her face, and he was immediately irritated. He knew she was going to try to deny it.

"I donít-"

"Donít," he spat. "I was standing on the stairwell the entire time you were talking. Donít try to deny it, or cover it up, or say she started it. Who the hell do you think you are talking to her like that?"

A look of determination crossed her face, and she said, "I did what I thought was right."

"Coming into my house and speaking to my girlfriend that way? That was right?"

"Why not?!" she exploded. "You donít love her. Sheís just a new toy for you to play with. What you have with her is not real. Youíll-"

"Stop right there. Buffy, I have never wanted to hit a woman like I want to hit you right now. You back off now. I love Hope more than I have ever loved anyone in my life. She fills the emptiness inside me like no other creature ever has. Not even YOU."

"A year ago, you-"

"-wouldnít have said that," Angel finished for her. "Youíre right. I wouldnít have. That was because I didnít know that I could ever hold such deep adoration for someone, and be able to fully express that. I am able to love Hope in every way a man should. I didnít have that with you, and I can never again have that with you. I think itís time you learned to accept that. Now, when I first arrived in Sunnydale, we talked, and after the first set of harsh words, I told you that I understood you were hurt, and I wouldnít hold them against you. Now I will. You ever come near Hope again in anger, and we will fight. Iím telling you this NOW. We will still help with research when we can, and we will always be willing to help fight the big uglies, but you and I? We will never be friends again, but I respect your friends too much to simply abandon them over YOUR pettiness, are we clear?"

"Very," Buffy said with equal anger.

With that, Angel left. Buffy slammed the door behind him, then leaned against the counter, crying.

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

When Angel got back to the mansion, he went upstairs to the bedroom, where Hope was slowly undressing.

"Hey, gorgeous," he said, walking up to her and pulling her to him. She kissed him passionately, her arms sliding around his neck as he scooped her up in his arms.

"Hey, yourself. How did it go?"

"Gut wrenchingly. How about you?"

"The same. But at least itís over now, right?"

"Absolutely. And we can move on with our lives."

She smiled up at him.

"And we can heal."

~The End


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