Angel's whole world was dark and pain. The dark was good though, as long as he lingered in it, the pain was less... painful. But he couldn't stay there. Tthere was something about it that was... uncomfortable, something he was supposed to be doing... But the dark wouldn't let him remember.
Then came the voice.
"Angel? Can you hear me?"
It was familiar, rough with a touch of British and it sounded worried. It brought with it a memory to Angel's darkness -- a human man with dark hair and haunted blue eyes behind glasses. Images of books and shotguns floated through Angel's mind, along with a name.
The name brought more memories, of torture and pain, and of Wesley fighting, guns blazing, blades flashing. Fighting for him.
"Angel?" He heard Wesley sigh heavily. "You better wake up soon if you don't want me to improvise vampire first aid."
Wake up. Yes. That was why everything was so dark and distant, he wasn't awake. Although the fact that he was hearing Wesley and thinking about what he said certainly hinted to Angel that he would be before long.
All he needed to do was open his eyes.
It was far more difficult than it should have been; Angel's eyelids seemed far heavier than they had ever been before, and just the thought of opening them seemed to make everything ache all the more. But he perservered and eventually Angel found himself staring up into Wesley's worried face.
"Angel?" Wesley said again, this time with an undercurrent of hope in his voice.
Angel tried to nod in acknowledgement, but if his eyelids had been heavy, his entire head seemed to weigh the equivalent of a small mountain. Giving that up as a bad idea, he concentrated on getting his vocal chords working instead. It took more effort than he liked but finally he managed to produce a noise that had at least a passing resemblance to, "Yes."
The most wondrous look of relief passed over Wesley's face. "Oh thank god. I was beginning to think that... well it doesn't matter what I was thinking since you're awake now. Do you remember what happened?"
Now that he was awake, the fragments of memory had fallen into a cohesive whole. "Yes." It was still difficult to speak, but Angel managed to get the basics across. "Ambushed. Mage. Torture." He felt his gaze warm a little as he continued. "You. Insane. Attacked. Rescued. Insane."
Wesley seemed to understand what he was trying to say. "And what was I supposed to do? Just stand there and watch them torture you to death?" he asked, raising an eyebrow and crossing his arms over his chest, looking like nothing as much as a teacher deliveirng a lecture.
"Dangerous," Angel insisted. He wasn't able to manage more than one word at a time, but was starting to get the hang of talking like that. "You. Hurt. Killed."
"I could have been hurt or killed, yes, but I wasn't. In point of fact those terms apply more to you than me in this situation." Wesley's expression turned serious, competent. "I knew what I was doing Angel. And I succeeded in rescuing you, did I not?"
Angel had to concede that Wesley had. "Thanks," he said, not wanting Wesley to think he was ungrateful. He just hadn't wanted him to end up tied to the chair next to him.
The seemed to mollify Wesley a little bit, as Angel could see the tension ease in the human's shoulders. "You're welcome," he replied softly.
"Others?" Angel asked.
"All dead," Wesley assured him. "I did what I could to strengthen the wards that keep this place a safe house as well although I think the only reason they were able to get by them was because they had that mage, so we should be secure here."
For the first time Angel looked at his surroundings beyond Wesley. He was back in the suite, lying on the king sized bed. His clothing -- what had been left of it -- had been removed and a sheet had been pulled modestly up to his waist. His torso was covered in an impressive number of bandages. He had no idea how Wesley had managed to get him back up here and he wasn't sure he wanted to know.
Still, it was a relief to know that the breach in the wards had a logical explanation and that it was unlikely to happen again immediately. He summed all that up in the one word answer he could manage, "Good."
That pulled a brief smile from Wesley, but one that quickly disappeared back into a look of concern. "How are you feeling? I did my best to dress the wounds but..."
Angel would have waved that away if he'd been able to lift his arm. The physical damage was no big deal. It hurt, yeah, but it wouldn't kill him. And he was a vampire; in the normal course of things it would all heal. It was the damage that wasn't strictly physical that was the problem.
"Weak," he said, trying to explain the problem as best he could. "Mage. Leeched. Strength."
Wesley frowned. "So that's what he was doing," His frown deepened. "It'll come back though, right?"
"Yes," Angel quickly assured. He tried to move again, but gave it up after a moment. He did manage to curl the corner of his mouth up into a rueful smile. "Long. Time."
"There's got to be some way to speed it up," Wesley insisted. "Something we can do to get your strength back faster."
There was, but Angel wasn't prepared to ask that of Wesley. He wasn't prepared to ask that of anyone.
But somehow he must've given something away with his eyes -- as that was the only part of him that was really functional right then -- because Wesley leaned forward, an intense look on his face. "You know of a way."
Angel thought briefly of lying, but was fairly sure he wouldn't get away with it in this situation. "Yes," he finally admitted. "But."
"What is it?"
"Wes. Not. Good."
"You let me decide if it's a good idea or not. Just tell me what it is."
Defeated, Angel closed his eyes and whispered the answer.
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