Summary: A season 6 fill in the blanks ficlet about Buffy’s meeting with Angel. Joss’s characters, my words about them.
She approached the diner hesitantly, not sure how she felt about seeing Angel again, but knowing he wouldn’t believe she was alive unless he saw it for himself. She flinched as she entered the building and saw him quickly shove a stake up his sleeve.
“Nice to know you trust us so much,” she said, rolling her eyes and sitting down to wait for him to notice her heartbeat. He shook his head, still frowning, but relaxing back into his seat. She couldn’t help comparing the wary look on his face to the sheer awe on Spike’s when he’d realized that it wasn’t the bot walking down the stairs toward him.
“I’m sorry, Buffy,” he said finally, reaching to cover her hand with his. “I just… it’s hard to believe, you know? I mean... I was there for the funeral. I saw you in that coffin.” He shook his head again. “How did this happen?”
She gave a shrug, twisting her mouth into a sardonic smile. “I think you can thank Willow for it. Seems she’s got depths none of us knew about.”
“I can’t believe Giles was stupid enough to let her go there. What made him think she could control those forces?” He glared at her as if it was her fault Willow had delved into black magic.
“What makes <i>you</i> think Willow was stupid enough to do it while Giles was around?” she shot back. “He went back to England. No slayer means nothing left to watch, right?” Buffy tried to keep the bitterness from her voice, that Giles had gone off and left Dawn... “He wasn’t there. And nobody asked Spi—”
“Spike! He came back? I told him to stay away from Sunnydale or I’d…” His eyes flickered yellow for just a second, long enough for Buffy to stiffen in her seat. When he did nothing but continue to growl and mutter, she relaxed again. “Oh, that idiot. It was his idea, wasn’t it? It’s just like him, never thinking about anybody but himself, using magic when he shouldn’t, running back to Sunnydale when he couldn’t cope with being by himself in the real world. Typical. What did he think? That you’d fall in his lap with gratitude? Using Willow like that… I’ll kill—” He paused to look at her hopefully. “Unless you already did? Did you dust him?”
Buffy flashed back to Dawn’s description of the one-sided fight between a furious Angel and a still-injured Spike over which one of them had a right to be at her burial. Apparently it had taken a combination of magic, Dawn’s tearful pleading, and Xander’s obvious willingness to stake him to pull Angel off the younger vampire. He’d never waited to hear any reasons for why Spike was present and so clearly a part of the small group of mourners, only listened to the explanation of why he wasn’t a danger to anyone before backing off and agreeing to leave. As he prepared to go back to LA, his snarled threats to his crippled grandchilde had Dawn putting her own body between Spike and Angel, clutching a stake in one hand and a cross in the other. The muttered “stupid child” that Dawn heard as he turned away had done nothing to endear him to the younger Summers, and Buffy had wondered how much of Dawn’s story about the drama at her burial was biased by her strong dislike of Angel. Now she was less sure that Dawn had exaggerated Angel’s behavior.
“Why would I do that?” she asked in reply to his question about dusting Spike. “Spike had nothing to do with bringing me back. Willow didn’t even tell him she was thinking about it. Probably because she knew he would try to stop her. Spike knows a lot about magic. I don’t think he would have let her try it. He would have known it was a bad idea…”
“Well,” Angel looked ashamed briefly. “I’m not saying it was a bad idea. I mean, you’re here, and that’s… that’s great. It’s just that a novice witch had no business trying something like that without supervision. Even Spike’s supervision would have been better than nothing.”
“It’s no big,” she said. “It worked. I’m here. There was some kind of magical hitchhiker that came with me, but I slayed it, so it’s all good. <i>We’re</i> all good.” She wondered why he smiled and nodded. Surely the man she’d thought was the love of her life – her soulmate – could see that she was lying?
“So, you’re all okay then? No aftereffects?”
“Not so you’d notice.” She waited quietly for him to notice that there was something to notice, but when he just continued to smile, she sighed. “Yes, Angel. I’m fine. A little stiff sometimes from the lack of activity for so long, but Spike and I—”
“Wait – he’s still there? He didn’t take off again when you told him to get lost?”
“He never left, Angel. He stayed. And no, I didn’t tell him to get lost. He’s the only one I— He kept his promise.”
“What promise?” Angel’s brows drew together. “What did he promise?”
“To take care of Dawn. I asked him to help me protect Dawn and he did. Even when I was gone – dead and buried – he never left. He kept her safe, he patrolled with my friends and backed them up; he did everything he could do to protect my sister and my friends. And he did it without having any idea that I would ever be back to thank him.”
Angel managed to look furious and ashamed at the same time. “I would have—Dawn could have come to me. I would have taken care of her. I just…”
“You’ve got a life in LA. I understand that. A business to run, all that stuff. It’s okay.” Buffy found that, to her surprise, it <i>was</i> okay. She had no expectations about Angel or his willingness to worry about anyone in Sunnydale.
He sighed and leaned forward. “Buffy… I just…” He shook his head. “We’ve grown apart, haven’t we? I know so little about your life for the past couple of years…”
She smiled sadly as she nodded. “That’s what you wanted, wasn’t it? For me to live my life without you? And I did okay. I mean, yeah, I died – but it was to save the world. It’s not like some grubby vamp had his one good day, or like that skanky hellgod actually won our last fight. I saved my sister, saved the world, and got to take a nice long rest.” She paused and waited for him to notice and think about her last remark, but he just smiled.
“And now you’re back.”
“And now I’m back. And I need to get home. I should try to get some patrolling in tonight before I go to bed.” She stood up and waited for him to join her. Angel threw some bills on the table, and they walked to the door. Buffy stopped him with a hand on his chest. “Let’s say good-bye here.”
He looked puzzled, but nodded and hugged her awkwardly. “I really am glad to have you back, Buffy. You’ll let me know if you need anything, won’t you?”
“Of course,” she said, giving him a brief hug back. “We’ll be fine, though. Don’t worry.”
“Oh I’m not,” he said quickly. “I’m sure you’ll be fine. I mean, at least you’re not dead anymore. Anything’s got to be better than that, right?” He grinned.
“Right. Bye, Angel.” She walked out the door and around the corner where the long black car was waiting for her. Sliding into the passenger seat, she put her head against the back of the seat, closed her eyes and said, “Let’s go home.
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