Bring! The phone rang loudly, its shrill call piercing the silence that the rest of AI had been sitting in since Angel left. Wesley lunged for the phone before it could ring twice.
"Wes?" Angel's voice sounded strained.
"Angel? Did you find her?" The other three turned toward Wesley, hope in their eyes.
"Cordy" Angel's voice broke. "Cordy was hit by a car, Wes. We're at County."
"Oh, good Lord." Wes glanced at the others with a stricken look on his face. Fred's hand fluttered to her mouth, while Gunn stood up and began to pace.
"We'll be there as soon as possible." Wes hung up the phone and filled in the others. Wesley grabbed the spare set of keys and they went out to Angel's car. Wesley didn't stop once the entire drive to the hospital. It was a good thing no cops were around; he'd never see a driver's license again.
Parking in the closest available spot, they ran into the building and over to the receptionist's desk.
"Hello, can you tell us where Cordelia Chase is?"
"One moment…Room 319."
They stepped off the elevator and followed the signs to a small, private room – Angel must have put up some money to get her her own room.
Knocking, Wesley led the way in.
On the bed lay a pale, bruised Cordy. Her chest moved up and down rhythmically, helped by a tube down her throat. Various machines beeped loudly.
Angel sat at a chair next to her bed. He held her hand and never took his eyes off of her, even when the others came in. After a few seconds, Wes cleared his throat.
"She's still unconscious – critical but stable. The doctors said it's a miracle she pulled through. I figure it's because she's part demon." "That may be."
"I just don't understand. We've prepared every day for a monster attack. She knows how to stake. We never thought it would be something like this – something so mundane. It's not fair."
"Don't worry, Angel. It's not your fault. She'll be okay."
Angel didn't respond. Taking their cue from him, the rest remained silent as well. Sitting down in various corners of the room, the gang settled in for a long night. After a couple of hours, Lorne left with Conner to go back to the hotel. Fred and Wesley both nodded off shortly after he left; Gunn held out a little longer, but he soon succumbed to sleep, too.
Angel, however, was wide awake the whole night, never taking his eyes off the bruised, beautiful face. The rhythmic sounds of the ventilator were almost hypnotic. While the scene was almost peaceful despite the circumstances, inwardly Angel was feeling more guilt than he ever felt in his long, long life.
You failed her. You're supposed to protect her. But no, you just let her walk out. And now look at her. She's in so much pain. You don't deserve her. She should be with someone who can live up to their promises. You may love her, but how can you expect her to even consider loving you back? You, who she can't depend on. It's a good thing you were such a coward and never told her. Now she'll never have to be concerned about hurting your feelings. Obviously she would have been. Such a kind person – she wouldn't have wanted to hurt you, but she would have said she didn't love you…and never could. Why did you ever think she could love you? You're a monster! You can't be with her during the day, can't give her what she needs, can't grow old with her – unless you shansu, of course. But who knows when that will be? She might be an old woman by then – or dead and gone!
No, it's better that you never told her. It would've only hurt her in the long run. And you – you deserve to hurt.