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Part One


Willow set the duffel bag on the counter in the kitchen. Reaching into her jacket pockets she pulled out an envelope then checked again to make sure the stake, cross, and holy water were there. Can’t travel at night in Sunnydale without them, she thought feeling the objects. Sighing she looked at the envelope addressed to Giles.



She hated doing this. Leaving in the middle of the night, but if she didn’t her friends wouldn’t let her leave. She didn’t understand why they wanted her to stay but they did. They should hate her right now, but they didn’t. Problem was she hated herself, she didn’t want their forgiveness, she wanted them to be angry. She glanced at her watch once again then set the letter in front of the coffee maker knowing Giles would find it in the morning, he would read it and explain to the others.



She was leaving the note for Giles, who hadn’t returned to England yet, because he was the one that would understand why she had to leave, why she couldn’t stay. Giles wouldn’t let the others come looking for her, at least until she was ready.



Looking around the room one last time she grabbed her bag and headed out the door. She had to hurry or she would miss her bus.

~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!



Taking his seat on the plane headed for California Spike closed his eyes. How the hell had this happened, he had a soul. He wanted the chip out, that’s why he had sought out the bloody demon, why he had gone through all the tests. But what does he get, a soul, he didn’t need or want a soul, he wanted to be a real demon again.



The memories of his past were starting to return. The memories of all the pain he had caused over the years. So many deaths, so much pain and torture. The things he did to people, he had enjoyed killing, had taken pleasure in it. Worst of all, the memories of what he had done to Buffy. He had tried to rape her. How could he have done that. He loved her. How could he hurt someone he loved so much. He wasn’t going back to Sunnydale, not yet anyway, he needed to find a way to deal with all of these feelings first.





Part Two


Angel paced the length of the bus depot. She should have let him come and get her. The bus in the middle of the night was dangerous, and late. Glancing at his watch he looked out the window again. He had been surprised when she called. He kept contact with the people in Sunnydale, mostly through Cordy, but rarely did Willow ever call him. None of them called him really. Buffy did once in a while, because she needed someone to talk too, Willow e-mailed Cordiela pretty often but he rarely talked to her.



She hadn’t really told him why she was coming to L.A. She had said things had happened and she couldn’t stay in Sunnydale right now. She would explain when she got here. She had assured him that everyone was okay, at least physically. She wasn’t in trouble, not anymore anyway, was what she had said. She said she just needed a place to stay, with people that wouldn’t pressure her right now. She needed time.



He had told her she was always welcome to stay with him. The only stipulation was she couldn’t let her friends worry about her. She had to let them know where she was. He wouldn’t allow them to see her if that’s what she wanted but she had to tell them. She had promised to leave a note for Giles telling them she was okay, and she would call in a few days and tell them where she was. Now here he was at the bus station waiting for her to arrive.



He sighed with relief when the bus pulled up next to the building and he saw the familiar red head descend the stairs and walk toward the building. He moved toward the door to meet her. She looked so unhappy, so beaten down. He still didn’t know what happened to make her leave Sunnydale but it must have been bad. First thing tomorrow she was going to have to give him some answers.



“Angel.” Willow said approaching the vampire, pulling him from his thoughts. “Thanks for meeting me.”



“I would have come to Sunnydale for you.”



“I know, but this was fine. I needed the quiet time anyway.” Willow said quietly as Angel took her duffel bag from her hand.



“This all you brought?” He asked.



“Yeah. Couldn’t carry much more. I’ll have to buy some knew stuff.” She said, “Think I can talk Cordy into taking me shopping?”



“I’m sure she could be persuaded.” Angel said smiling at her.



“It’s all most dawn.” He said glancing at the sky, “We need to get going.”

!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~



Giles entered the kitchen just as the sun was rising, he enjoyed getting up early here. Before all the kids were up. It gave him time to think. Time to himself. He had been here nearly a week, he needed to leave but he was still worried about Willow. He wanted to be sure she was okay before he left. And no one knew where Spike was yet. That concerned him too. Buffy had finally told him what had happened the night Spike had left. He wasn’t sure why the vampire was gone but he was afraid it wasn’t good.



As he approached the coffee maker he saw the envelope sitting in front of it. It had his name on it. He picked it up instantly recognizing Willow’s writing he opened the envelope already dreading what was in it.



Giles,



I’m leaving this for you because I know you’ll understand.

You won’t come looking for me.

I had to leave. I know everyone says they’re okay with it.

With what I did. They say it wasn’t really me.

But it was. I did those things. I don’t want them to forgive me.

They should hate me, I tried to kill them.



What I’m saying is that I need time to forgive myself I guess.

I went away so I could do that. I went someplace safe.

I need you to explain to everyone why I left.

I don’t know when I’ll be back, but I’ll call and let

Everyone know where I am as long as they promise not

To come after me.



Tell everyone I love them.

I’ll call if a few days.



Willow.



Giles set the letter down. He had been afraid of this. Willow needed to forgive herself for what she did. He knew the others didn’t understand that. They were all convinced it wasn’t really Willow, it was the magic. Which it was, but the magic was a part of Willow. Until Willow could come to terms with what she did, she wasn’t going to be okay. For now he had to accept that she said she went someplace safe, and would call. He had an idea he knew where she would have gone, but he would respect her wish and not look. What he really dreaded was having to tell the others that she was gone and they weren’t to do anything to find her.



Sighing he started the coffee and thought about the fact that he wasn’t returning to England anytime soon.



Part Three


Willow glanced at the clock. She had been awake for almost two hours. She couldn’t continue hiding in here forever. Eventually someone would come looking for her. Angel had told her that Cordiela knew she was coming, so did Gunn and Fred. Odds were Gunn and Fred would leave her alone, she didn’t really know them so they wouldn’t be that eager to talk to her. Cordiela on the other hand wouldn’t be put off for long. Especially when Angel couldn’t give her any information about why she was here. Angel too would only be put off for so long. He’s more patient that Cordiela sure, but he wanted answers and he deserved to get them, since she was asking him to let her stay indefinitely.



Just as she was getting out of the bed she heard a knock on the door. Sighing she pulled a robe over her T-shirt and headed to the door. Opening it she was greeting by a worried looking Cordiela.



“Willow what the hell is going on?” Came Cordiela’s blunt greeting.



“Cordy hi.” Willow said. “I know I need to give you all some answers. Is Angel still here?”



“Yeah. Downstairs.” Cordiela responded, “He said I shouldn’t come up here. You would come down and talk to us when you were ready.”



“And of course you ignored him.”



“Well yeah.” Cordiela responded smiling.



“Let me shower and dress and I’ll come down and explain ‘kay.” Willow said smiling slightly.



“Half hour then I’m coming back.” Cordiela said giving her friend a quick hug.



“Promise I’ll be down.” Willow said turning back to the room and searching through the bag for something to wear.

~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!



Spike walked down the streets of L.A. not sure why he was here. He probably should have just gone away. Stayed in Africa or gone to Europe, but he came back to California. He couldn’t go to Sunnydale. Not now, Not after what he did to Buffy. He would have to face it eventually but right now there were so many things to face he didn’t know where to start.



He had considered going to England, finding the watcher. Maybe he would help him. Then he thought about the idea that Buffy may have already talked to Giles, in which case the only thing he would get in England was a stake through the heart.



Then he thought about coming here. He hated admitting that Angel could help, but he was the best choice. Assuming again that Buffy hadn’t talked to him. But at least he could defend himself against Angel, he was helpless against the watcher.



He had been hearing rumors since he arrived in L.A. about Sunnydale. Something had happened not long after he left. He still hadn’t gotten a clear idea of what it was, but it was bad. They had said it was even to much for the Slayer. Some very dark force had taken power. He heard that vengeance had taken control, demons were way to big and being vague, he thought. The mention of vengeance made him think that maybe the demon girl had finally decided to go after Harris. The boy deserved it after what he did.



He needed to find the hotel that Angel owned soon, he had no idea where to go in L.A. for blood when you couldn’t feed off of people, because he sure as hell wasn’t feeding off rats.

~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!



“Hi guys.” Willow said approaching the door to the office.



“Willow hi.” Angel said looking up from the desk to the girl standing in the door. “Feeling better.”



“Rested, not better.” Willow said, “But I’m ready to explain to you guys.”



“Cordiela’s in the kitchen getting sandwiches. She thought you might be hungry.”



“She’s right.” Willow said sitting across from Angel at the desk. “Thanks again for letting me come here Angel. And for not calling Buffy and Xander.”



“As long as you call them soon.” Angel said, “They must be worried.”



“Who’s worried?” Cordiela said entering the room with a tray of sandwiches and drinks.



“Xander and Buffy.” Angel said as Cordiela sat next to Willow.



“Oh, yeah. I’m sure they are.” Cordiela said, “Okay so what’s going on?”



“You guys know about the magic right?” Willow said quietly looking down at her hands, “That I was… That I was addicted.”



“Yeah, but that’s not why you left?” Cordiela asked, “That was months ago.”



“I hadn’t been using magic for months, you’re right.” Willow began, “Then Warren decided he, uh, was tired of dealing with the slayer I guess. He came to the house and… he shot her and Tara…”



“Are they okay?” Angel interrupted.



“Buffy’s fine. Tara’s dead.” Willow said simply, “I couldn’t save her. I tried, but I couldn’t. Then Xander told me who…” Willow stopped and wiped her eyes still not looking at her friends who were listening in silence now. “All I could think about was making him pay. I saved Buffy, with magic, then we went after… When they realized I wasn’t looking to take him to jail they tried to stop me but…”



“Willow it’s understandable that you wanted him dead, he took someone you loved from you.” Angel said quietly, understanding how her emotions would get away from her.



“I didn’t just want him dead Angel,” She replied looking at him for the first time since she started, “I found him, tortured him, and killed him.”



“Oh.” Angel said shocked by the red head’s confession.



“That wasn’t enough though. I wanted his little friends to pay. I wouldn’t listen to Buffy that they… Then I hurt everyone who tried to stop me, Buffy, Xander, Anya, Dawn, God I was ready to kill Dawn for the power the energy inside her would give me. And Giles, I almost did kill him.”



“Giles is in England right?” Cordiela asked.



“He heard about well, me and came back.” Willow answered, “I almost killed him. Then I was going to… When it was over they all said it was okay, it wasn’t me, it was the magic. But… I felt like it was me.”



“The magic was controlling you Willow.” Angel said trying to comfort the girl, “Just like last year when Darla and Dru…Angelus may have had too much control over me.”



“But they should be mad at me Angel. I don’t deserve their forgiveness. I tried to kill them. They should hate me.”



“Willow…” Cordiela began.



“You can stay her as long as you want.” Angel interrupted knowing that telling her what everyone in Sunnydale had already said wouldn’t change a thing, “But you do have to call them. They must be worried. Or I can call if you’d like.”



“Would you?” Willow said hesitantly, “And Angel…”



“I’ll make them understand they aren’t to come here. And if they do they won’t see you unless you want them too.”



“Thank you.” Willow whispered.



“Angel said you may need some clothes for a few days until you feel up to shopping.” Cordiela said, “Want to come to my apartment, meet Dennis and see what I have?”



“Dennis?”



“Long story.” Angel said, “But it’s a good idea. I’ll see you guys in the morning then, or are you coming back tonight?”



“Morning.” Cordiela said, “She can stay with me tonight then we’ll be back in the morning.”



“Okay, see you then.” Angel said watching as the two former enemy’s walked out the door.



Part Four



“I understand Buffy. But you need to understand…” Angel tried again to explain to the angry slayer why she couldn’t come to L.A.



“I know you’re her friend. Xander too. But right now what she needs and wants is to be alone.” Angel repeated for what seemed like the hundredth time since he called.



“Buffy, you don’t understand what she’s going through. None of you do. She has to deal with having something inside her that is strong enough to make her do things that are completely against everything she believes in. She took a life, and was going to take more. She needs to deal with that.” Angel explained again.



“Look Buffy if you come here you will leave without seeing her. I…” Angel was saying as he heard the door open and as he leaned over to look out of the office he heard a familiar voice coming from the doorway. “Buffy I gotta go.” He said hanging up the phone before she could respond.



“Angel!” Spike hollered from just inside the doorway. “Hey Peaches you here?”



“What the hell are you doing here?” Angel asked coming out of the office.



“Nice to see you too.”



“Spike it’s been a long day, I am not in the mood.” Angel said menacingly.



“Yeah tell me about it.” Spike mumbled, “I’m hungry.”



“You came here for dinner?” Angel asked, he knew the younger vampire had a chip in his head so his friends were safe but he had been away from Sunnydale for a while according to Buffy, he had left to do something but didn’t tell anyone what.



“Well, yeah. And…” Spike began then hesitated, asking Angel for help was not on his list of favorite things to do.



“And what?” Angel said impatiently, “I don’t have all night.”



“Right because of you’re busy social life.” Spike replied sarcastically. “I need your help okay. There is no one else that I could even go to with this.”



“With what?” Angel asked realizing for the first time that his grand childe was serious about why he was here. “Let’s get you something to eat and then we’ll talk.”



Angel led the younger vampire up to his room and pulled out a container of blood and began heating it as Spike wandered around the room, looking at the broken items that had yet to be cleaned up from the fire. After pouring the blood into mugs and handing one to Spike he motioned to the table and both sat down looking at each other warily.



“So what could make you possibly admit to needing my help?” Angel asked as Spike drank thirstily.



“I… have you talked to Buffy, uh, lately.” Spike asked slowly.



“Not about you. Why?”



“Right that would be why you didn’t stake me on sight.”



“Spike what did you do?” Angel asked quietly.



“Buffy and I were… we…”



“You were sleeping with her. I know.” Angel said quietly, still finding it hard to believe that Buffy had become involved with Spike.



“Right. Then she didn’t want to see me anymore. I… I went to her… to convince her that she… and I lost control and…” Spike stopped when he heard the growl come from the older vampire.



“Spike did you…did you hurt her…”



“No she… she stopped me.” Spike said standing up and moving away from the table. “ I didn’t want to hurt her that was why I… I love her. So I left, I couldn’t be like that anymore. The chip was making me crazy. I went to get it out. But…”



“You don’t have the chip?” Angel asked, and unchipped Spike was a dangerous Spike and he wasn’t going to put Fred in danger, and she was still living here.



“No I still have the bloody chip. Apparently I wasn’t specific enough about what I wanted. The demon gave me back my bloody soul.” Spike said angrily.



Angel stared at the vampire for a minute letting it register in his mind just what Spike was telling him. Then as the full impact of the statement hit him he burst out laughing, earning himself a very angry glare from Spike.



“It’s not funny.”



“It is.” Angel said trying to control his laughter. “ All the years you made fun of me. Calling me a poof. At least I didn’t inadvertently ask for my soul. Honestly Spike, you should know you need to be specific with demons.”



“Are you going to help me or not?” Spike asked.



“Help you with what exactly?” Angel asked knowing how much this was costing the younger vampire.



“Everything. I feel so…”



“Guilty?” Angel said quietly, “Like someone is pulling you apart from the inside, and it’s okay because you don’t deserve to live?”



“Yeah.” Spike said thankful that the older vampire understood what he couldn’t seem to put into words.



“I can’t really help with the pain Spike.” Angel said, “You have to deal with your past on your own. But you can stay here and try to… atone for what you did.”



“The only way to feel better is to be like you?” Spike asked not sure he liked this option.



“You’ll never be like me Spike. We have always been different. But I’m not asking you to do anything you haven’t been doing in Sunnydale. Only now it’ll be because you want to, not because you have no choice.”



“Fine. I guess I can live with that.” Spike said flopping down on the bed.



“Couple things though Spike. First try not to piss off Cordiela. She doesn’t like you and soul or no soul it won’t take a lot to make her stake you.” Angel said already dreading explaining the younger vampire’s presence to Cordiela.



“Right be nice to the cheerleader.” Spike sighed, there went the entertainment, he thought sulkily.



“And there’s a young woman living here.” Angel began then frowned at Spike’s suggestive leer, “You know what just don’t even speak to Fred okay.” He finished realizing his grand-childe would most likely have Fred cowering in her room again if Gunn didn’t dust him first.



“Don’t talk to the girl I don’t know. Got it.” Spike said, “Anything else?”



“Yeah. Willow’s here.” Angel said as he walked out of the room.



Part Five


Spike sat in the far corner of the lobby carefully avoiding the light coming through the large doors. What Angel was thinking with the very sunny lobby was beyond him. He was flipping pages of a magazine without really looking at the pictures. He had seen Gunn come in and talk to Angel in the office then leave again, just glancing his way without speaking, either he didn’t care who the new guest was or was told to stay away. Either way it didn’t matter much to Spike he needed the time alone right now.



“Hey you must be Spike.” A cheery sounding voice said pulling his attention back to the now.



“Yeah.” Spike said looking up at the small girl in front of him. “Wait are you Fred?”



“Yeah. How did…”



“Sorry Pet. Not supposed to talk to you.” Spike said before returning his attention to the magazine.



“What do you mean you aren’t supposed to talk to me?”



“Angel said not to talk to you. Thinks I’ll scare you or something.” Spike said not wanting to deal with this at the moment.



“ Scare me? I haven’t been like that in, well, a while.” Fred murmured before storming off to confront the dark vampire.



Spike smiled to himself, he might not be able to pick on the cheerleader but he could still make the poof crazy. He still didn’t know why the witch was here. Angel had said she had things to go through too, if he wanted know more he had to ask her. Smiling again as he heard a familiar voice entering the lobby, laughing quietly at something the cheerleader must have said. He looked up as they entered the lobby and waved to Cordiela as the two women noticed him in the lobby.



Cordiela froze as she saw the vampire sitting in the chair smiling and waving at her. She looked at Willow who had stopped right beside her and watched as the witch’s smile faded. Willow hadn’t wanted to see anyone from Sunnydale, this was so not a good thing, as far as she could tell.



“ANGEL!” Cordiela yelled as she made her way to the office without acknowledging the blonde vampire.



Willow stood staring at the vampire. What was he doing here, she thought. If Buffy sent him… No, that didn’t make sense at all. Buffy wasn’t even speaking to Spike anymore. Spike hated Angel what would make him come here of all places.



“Gonna say hi, Red?” Spike asked, after all Angel hadn’t said he had to be nice to Willow too, just Cordiela and not speaking to Fred at all.



“Hi Spike.” Willow said hesitantly, “Why are you…”



“I could ask you the same thing. But I’m guessing neither of us wants to talk about it right now.”



“Right.” Willow said, if Spike didn’t know why she was here, she didn’t want to repeat the story right now. Maybe he hadn’t been back to Sunnydale. Dawn had told her he left around the time Tara had died.

~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~



“What the hell is he doing here?” Cordiela asked slamming the office door as she went in.



“Uh, Cordy I don’t think Fred’s done yelling at me just yet.” Angel said, he knew this wasn’t going to be a good morning.



“What did the bleached moron do to you Fred. If he hurt you I’ll…”



“He didn’t do anything. Can’t, Angel told him he couldn’t speak to me. Might scare me.” Fred said angrily.



“ I didn’t say…”



“Oh then trust me. It’s better if he doesn’t speak to you.” Cordiela said, “He’s a jackass when he does talk.”



“Still it should be my decision.” Fred said.



“She’s right.” Cordiela said shrugging. “She has the right to find out Spike shouldn’t speak for herself. Go tell him I said he can talk to you.” Cordiela finished looking at Fred. “I’ll yell at Angel for both of us.”



Cordiela waited until Fred left the room before turning her attention back to the object of her anger. “ Why is he here?”



“He’s um, going through something. He wants my help.” Angel said not sure he should be telling Cordiela this much, it was Spike’s problem after all.



“Going through what?” Cordiela said, “Run out of bleach.”



“Cordy, I don’t think I…” Angel said then seeing that the girl wasn’t going anywhere without an explanation he said, “Spike left Sunnydale to have that chip removed. But uh, something went wrong and…”



“Angel if he had the chip removed…” Cordiela interrupted looking through the glass to be sure he wasn’t killing her friends as they spoke, but instead saw Spike at one end of the couch still flipping through a magazine, and Willow at the other her nose buried in a very large book.



“He didn’t Cordy.” Angel said biting back the laugh that still threatened to erupt at the thought, “He has a soul.”



“He as a what?” Cordiela said turning back to Angel sure she heard wrong. “Did you say he has a soul?”



“Yes.”



“So Willow’s here because you’re the only one that can understand her guilt. And Spike his here because you understand his having a soul suddenly.” Cordiela said, then at Angel nod of agreement, “So instead of an P.I. business you’re running what, Angel’s lessons in brooding.”



“Funny. Really Cordy.” Angel said even though the same basic thought had crossed his mind last night. “We’re kind of slow right now. Why don’t you take Fred and Willow shopping.” He said handing her a credit card. “Buy whatever Willow needs while she’s here. And if you and Fred want something…” Angel stopped realizing Cordiela had already snatched the credit card from his hand and was out of the office calling the other two women.



“Never mind.” Angel muttered.





Part Six


“Right the two languages are very similar.” Willow said pointing out words in two separate books.



“Great. Then this one should be kinda easy for me since I know that one.” Fred said smiling at her new friend.



Willow was happy to have Fred to talk to. They had become friends very quickly. Fred seemed to understand her need to be alone sometimes and not want to talk about what had happened in Sunnydale. It was also fun to be around someone who enjoyed books and learning new things as much as she did. It had been awhile since she had that. Giles loved books, but he already knew pretty much everything so it was different.



“Yeah. You should pick it up fast. Um, Angel wanted to me to see if I could find some information for him on the Internet so I’ll let you try translating that for him. It’ll speed things up. Just holler if you need help.” Willow said turning her attention back to the computer.



“Thanks again Willow. Wes was trying to teach me some of the new languages before…” Fred trailed off as Angel walked past the office.



“I still can’t believe that Wesley would…”



“He didn’t. I mean he did what he thought was best but I don’t think he ever meant for Holtz to…” Fred said quietly.



“So no one has actually asked him then?” Willow said, she had assumed that Angel had gotten Wesley’s side of events before trying to kill the ex-watcher.



“Well no.” Fred said, “Angel’s not exactly eager to have contact with Wes.”



“Can you get me his phone number?” Willow asked.



“Sure but he won’t talk to any of us.” Fred said sadly.



“I’m not one of you. Chances are he doesn’t know I’m here with you guys.” Willow said, “I can call from a pay phone or something, and tell him I’m in town and want to talk to him.”



“If Angel finds out…”



“He won’t if you don’t say anything.” Willow said smiling.

~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!



Spike dropped the ax as he watched the last demon fall. At least he could still be violent, his soul didn’t seem to have a problem with violence as long as humans weren’t the victims. With the exception of the guilt it wasn’t all that different from the chip really.



“Good fight Spike.” Gunn said returning the vampire’s side.



“Bloody right.” Spike said smirking at the man beside him.



“Don’t know why Angel never wants you with him for these battles. You’re good.”



“Peaches never wanted me around much. Says I’m annoying.” Spike said retrieving his ax and following the other man back to the truck.



“Can’t imagine why.” Gunn said smiling slightly, “Maybe because you call him peaches?”



“Not always, sometimes I call him Poof.” Spike said taking his seat on the passenger side.



“Sure he finds that better.” Gunn said trying to hide his smile. Despite himself he found he liked the blonde vampire. He was certainly more entertaining than Angel. And he was good in a fight. The vampire was viscous though, so he was very glad they were currently on the same side.



“What’s up?” Gunn said picking up the phone laying on the seat between them. “On the way back now. I don’t think it’s a good idea Willow.” Gunn listened for another moment, “Of course I won’t say anything.”



Gunn pressed the end button and set the phone next to him as he started the truck and pulled into traffic.



“What wasn’t a good idea?” Spike asked, curious as to what the witch could be up to.



“Willow wants you to take her on an errand I guess.” Gunn said, “She’ll explain it to you when we get there.”



Part Seven


“Red it’s going to piss off Angel.” Spike said again, not sure exactly how he felt about that. On the one hand irritating Angel was always fun, but on the other they both needed Angel’s help right now.



“Spike is right.” Gunn agreed, “You know how he is on this subject.” He finished looking at Fred.



“I know. But Willow’s right Charles.” Fred said, “None of us ever heard Wesley’s side. And Connor is back so things are kind of better so…”



“Can’t talk you out of it can I?” Spike said noticing Willow’s resolve face and knowing any further discussion would be useless so he might as well go with her to keep her safe.



“Not really.” Willow said, “So you coming?”



“Yeah.” Spike said then turning to Fred, “If the poof asked just say we went out. You don’t know where.”



“Got it.” Fred said smiling as the couple left the hotel.

~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!



“So Red, ever going to tell me why you’re here?” Spike asked as he pulled the car away from the curb.



“I want to get Wes and Angel speaking again. Didn’t we cover that already.” Willow said fastening her seat belt.



“Not in this car. In L.A. why aren’t you in Sunnydale with you’re little friends.” Spike said.



“I really don’t want to talk about it.” Willow said quietly, she had assumed Angel had already told the vampire the story, but if he didn’t she wasn’t in the mood to talk about it right now.



“Not fair Pet. You know why I’m here.” Spike whined.



“Not going to leave me alone unless I tell you are you?” Willow asked quietly.



“Not likely.”



“Fine Right after you left town Warren came to the house.” Willow began, this wasn’t a story she felt like going over again but Spike was right. She knew why he was here. He deserved the truth.



Spike listened to Willow’s story of what happened in Sunnydale. He knew the witch was powerful but he didn’t realize she was that powerful. Part of him was impressed by the chaos and panic she caused. Part of him was shocked that she could do that. He also knew he probably would have reacted violently if someone had killed Dru that way. He couldn’t believe the blonde witch was gone. He knew everyone thought he didn’t like her, that wasn’t really true though, sure they would never have been friends but he respected her. Most people would have caved when Glory attacked them but she didn’t. She knew what the hell god could do to her, but she protected Dawn anyway. She had the strength to walk away from Willow when she wasn’t listening to reason, hell she even tried to stand up to him, in a way, to protect Buffy. He would definitely miss the girl.



“So do you hate me now?” Willow was asking him, looking expectantly at him.



“Do you want me too?” Spike asked, “Maybe the power got too strong for you. I mean did you really have any control over what you were doing.”



“Yes. Well at least at first.”



“Fine but after that. Not when you killed Warren he deserved it. But with Buffy, and the others” Spike clarified.



“No I mean, part of me wanted to do it. But a part of me didn’t, it wanted to stop but couldn’t stop the stronger part that did.”



“Then I think you just need time to get used to having the side of you that did want to kill.” Spike said then “There’s a pay phone.”
~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~



“Hello.” Wesley said into the receiver.



“Hi Wesley it’s Willow.” Willow replied cheerfully.



“Willow?”



“Yeah. From Sunnydale.”



“Right. Can I help you with something.” Wesley asked not sure why the girl was calling him.



“Yeah. Actually I’m in L.A. and kind of wanted to see you. You know to talk.”



“Willow. I don’t…” Wesley began. Hadn’t she talked to Angel, or Cordiela, surely if she had she wouldn’t want to visit him.



“Don’t what? I just want to talk.” When she received no reply she tried again. “Look Wesley I know what happened with Connor, well Angel’s side anyway, and I just don’t think it sounds right. I want to hear your side ‘kay.”



“No one’s interested in my side.” Wesley said angrily.



“I am.” Willow said, “Look, Angel isn’t happy, you’re not happy. You can’t talk to Angel to explain yourself because he’ll kill you. He won’t kill me. But I can’t help if I don’t know what happened that night. And look I’m just asking you to meet me for coffee okay. You don’t want me to talk to Angel fine. But I know that Fred wants to know what happened but is afraid of angering Angel.”



“All right.” Wesley finally said and gave her the name and directions to a café near his apartment.



Part Eight


Connor slipped into the small café a few seconds after watching the vampire and witch take their seats in a small booth. He quickly found a seat a few booths away from them. There were people sitting at each of the booths, effectively blocking Willow’s view of him. He wanted to know what had happened to his father, Holtz, Angel had insisted that he had kidnapped him as an infant. That Holtz had taken him out of revenge not love. He knew that someone Angel trusted had helped his father to take him, no one would talk about the events leading up to the kidnapping though. Fred had told him that a fake prophecy had been the ultimate cause but he still didn’t understand what had happened. When he overheard Willow and Fred today he knew this was his chance to find out. They wouldn’t be able to see him from here, but thanks to the vampire senses he seemed to have inherited he could here them just fine.



He had been biding his time for weeks waiting for a chance at revenge against Angel, for killing his father. Problem was the more he was around the people in the hotel the harder it was to believe that Angel had murdered his father. But he had seen the marks, and Justine had said it was Angelus. If Angel had killed Holtz he would gladly kill the vampire, but he needed to be sure, Angel seemed to do a lot to help the world he now found himself in, he didn’t want to destroy a champion instead of a demon.

~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!



Spike sat across from Willow wondering if she knew that Connor was there. Probably not, he decided, the kid was staying hidden. Spike had sensed his presence as soon as he entered the small coffee shop, probably because of the family bonds between Angel and himself. Didn’t really matter much to him, the kid wanted to know what they were doing fine, let him see.



“Hello Miss Rosenberg.” An English voice said from beside Spike.



“Hi Wesley.” Willow said, “Oh, sorry this is Spike.” She said catching his glance at the vampire.



“Spike?” Wesley said, “As in William the Bloody?”



“Yeah. Well but not anymore. Long story.” Willow said then seeing Spike flinch at the reminder, “He’s still a big bad vampire though.” She said smiling.



“Makes me feel lots better Red.” Spike muttered.



A waitress appeared at the table and quickly took their orders. The trio made small talk for a few minutes waiting for their order to arrive before getting into the real topic. After the waitress left the table a second time Willow finally decided to broach the subject that had all of them gathered there.



“Wesley I need to know what happened. I can’t believe you would take Angel’s child and give him to Holtz. Hell I can’t believe you would take Angel’s child period without a damn good reason.” She said bluntly.



“Wow Pet. Too much time with the demon girl.” Spike said amazed at her unusual bluntness.



“Spike nothing constructive to say then just sit there ‘kay.” Willow said glaring at the vampire.



“I didn’t give the child to Holtz. He took him. He set me up. Beat up his little friend and sent her too me. When I stopped to help her, she slit my throat.” Wesley said motioning to the healing scar across his neck. “She took Connor and left me to die. Next thing I remember is being in the hospital and Angel trying to kill me.”



“Okay that makes sense. I knew you wouldn’t give…” Willow said then stopped, “Why did you try to take Connor though?”



“Yeah. Little fuzzy on that myself.” Spike said looking at the watcher.



“Well obviously the fact that Connor existed at all suggested a prophecy of some sort should exist. When I started to investigate I found one. It said a child would be born to the vampire with a soul. And it also said that the father would kill the son.”



“So you took him to keep him safe.” Willow said quietly.



“Yes. Turns out the prophecy was false though. Time traveling demon went back in time and changed it. What it originally read was that the child of the vampire with a soul would kill that species of demon.” Wesley said, “I took Connor because I saw no other way to save him. I didn’t want him hurt. I certainly didn’t want Angel hurt. But it would hurt Angel more to be responsible for his child’s death than to have his child taken or so I thought.”



“So this is all because Peaches doesn’t know about the prophecy?” Spike asked.



“No he knows about the prophecy from what I understand, they all do. They just believe I gave the child to Holtz.” Wesley said bitterly.



“I don’t think they believe that Wes. I know Fred doesn’t.” Willow said softly, “Maybe I can…”



“Make Angel listen to you. I doubt it.” Spike said.



“So what do you suggest Spike. Letting Angel go on being miserable because he’s too stubborn and angry to listen to reason.” Willow said becoming angry at the blonde vampire.



“No. He needs to figure it out himself.” Spike said, “That he’s being unreasonable that is. If you just tell him he’ll balk I’m sure of it.”



“You two don’t have to help me.” Wesley said, “I can move on with life without them.”



“Everyone is miserable about all of this. No one seems to know how to fix it though. Let us try.” Willow pleaded. “Please?”



“Fine. You know how to reach me.” Wesley said leaving the table.

~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!



Connor listened to the conversation at the other table. Holtz hadn’t taken him from danger. Angel was never really a danger to him. Holtz just wanted him to make Angel pay for taking his own family. He had known that before too, that Holtz had wanted vengeance, but he had also been told that Angelus would have killed him. Now he was beginning to think that too many people were worried about hurting the vampire for him to still be as evil as his father had implied.



Getting up from the table so he could leave before Willow and Spike he headed out the door. Things were becoming more and more confusing for him. He needed answers that he couldn’t get from these people or Angel. The only one’s with the answers he needed were Holtz, who he couldn’t question, and Justine, who was there at his kidnapping and at his father’s death. He knew he needed to find her and force her to give him the answers he needed.



Part Nine


“Where have you two been?” Angel asked from the couch the second Willow and Spike entered the hotel.



“Guess what Angel.” Spike said, “We’re adults. We can go out without your permission.”



“Willow?” Angel asked ignoring the younger vampire and looking at the witch.



“We went for coffee.” Willow said easily, she had never been good at lying, so going with an edited version of the truth would be safer. “I just needed to get out and Spike offered to take me. You were out and Gunn and Fred had plans so…”



“You know it’s not safe out there.” Angel said seriously concerned about the safety of both Spike and Willow neither had been themselves since arriving.



“That’s why I went.” Spike said, “Pay attention.”



“Fine. I was just worried.” Angel said, rationally he knew that Spike would keep the girl safe.

~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~



Connor walked into the small apartment quietly. Justine should be here by now. He knew it would have been easier to wait for morning but he wanted answers tonight. He moved into the shadows of the room when he heard someone approaching the door.



“How did my father die?” He asked as soon as Justine closed the door.



“Stephen?” Justine said startled by the voice coming from the darkness.



“Yes.” Connor said quietly stepping from the shadows. “I need answers. Truthful ones.”



“Of course.” Justine said relaxing when she saw the boy. “Why would I lie.”



“Because my father told you too.” Connor replied. “Why did he take me?”



“What? I thought he explained…”



“He said my father was an evil vampire out to destroy the world. He was taking me for my own safety.” Connor said quietly. “I know at least part of that is a lie. So now I’m questioning a lot. Why did he take me? Was I in danger or did he want revenge?”



“uh, I…” Justine began just before Connor grabbed her and forced her against the wall.



“No more lies.” He said close to her ear.



“Angelus, the vampire Angel used to be, before the soul, killed his family. He wanted to make him pay.” Justine said nervously.



“So he wanted me to make Angel suffer.” Connor said, “Next question, Did you try to kill Angel’s friend when you took me for my father?”



“I… yes.” Justine finally said, “I slit his throat.”



“You are no better than the demons you claim to despise.” Connor said releasing her and turning his back to her, “You were willing to kill an innocent man for the revenge my father sought. How did my father really die?”



“Angelus killed him.” Justine said simply.



“Are you sure of that?” Connor said quietly, “Because I’m not anymore.”



“Yes. I, your father…”



“The truth Justine.” Connor said simply, “Was my father’s death the truth, or did he give Angel that letter and watch Angel leave.” He turned back toward Justine forcing her against the wall again.



“He gave Angelus the letter and then he asked me to…” Justine began. “He asked me to…”



“You killed him didn’t you?” Connor said in disgust, “It was his final revenge against Angel. Making sure his own son hated him.”



“Yes.” Justine said.



“Leave.” Connor said softly, “Pack up your things, and your little army, and leave L.A. Stay away from me and my… my father. If I see you here again. I’ll kill you myself.”



Justine started to reply but was cut off by the door closing. She had ruined everything. Connor hated Holtz now. Hated her. Part of her wanted to stay and fight this. Another smarter part of her knew the kid wasn’t kidding he would kill her if he saw her again. And she didn’t want to think about what would happen if Stephen went back to the hotel and told Angel this story.



Part Ten


Willow was making her way back to her room. She had gone downstairs for something to drink. As she passed Spike’s room she heard a low shout come from the room, then she thought she heard crying. She hesitated hand on the door, she wanted to make sure Spike was okay, but she also knew if he was in there crying she might not be the person he wanted to see right now.



When she heard Spike shout again her decision was made. Spike was her friend, seemed odd in so many ways but he was, so she had to make sure he was okay. Opening the door quietly and slipping inside she made her way to the trembling figure on the bed. His face had vamped out, but he seemed to be asleep. Knowing what she had to do she took a deep breath and reached for him, hoping that the chip was still indeed active since no one had actually tested the theory.



“Spike.” She said touching his shoulder gently. “Spike?” She repeated when he didn’t respond, shaking him gently this time.



She waited patiently for him to show some sign that he heard her, when he started to sob quietly. “Spike wake up. You’re dreaming.” She said again trying to coax him awake.



“Go away witch.” Spike muttered coming awake.



“What’s wrong Spike?” Willow asked gently.



“Nothing leave me alone.”



“Not until you talk to me.” She said tugging his shoulder forcing him to face her. “Not leaving until you talk to me.” She said gently moving her hand over the tears on his face.



“There’s nothing to talk about.” Spike said pulling himself to a sitting position.



“Right so the Big Bad is just in his room crying over a dream for no reason.” Willow said, “Talk to me.”



“You wouldn’t understand.” Spike said softly looking down at his hands rather than the red head next to him. “You couldn’t understand.”



“What it’s like to kill innocent people?” Willow said, “Did you pay attention to my story earlier tonight.”



“Red. The things I did…” Spike said moving one hand to wipe his eyes.



“Were horrible Spike. But that’s not you now is it?” Willow said gently turning his head to face her, “The Spike of the past couple years wouldn’t do those things.”



“How do you know that.” Spike said, “I couldn’t do those things. I thought about it a lot though. I wanted to do them. God just a matter of weeks ago I tried to rape Buffy.”



“You thought about doing those things. Didn’t mean you would’ve. When Buffy died you could have left us. We couldn’t have handled everything without you. But you didn’t. Why because you made a promise to protect Dawn. Does that sound like the vampire who you’ve been dreaming about. And as far as Buffy. It was wrong. You shouldn’t have done it. But know what Spike. The only one’s saying you tried to rape her are you and Xander. Buffy doesn’t think so. She hates you again. But she says it wasn’t rape.” Willow said reassuring the vampire.



“Still, the things I did for over a hundred years. And I enjoyed it. I liked torturing and killing all those people.” Spike said, “Part of me still wants to be able to do it again.”



“The demon in you always will. But you’re more than the demon Spike. The man is still there too, you just need to listen to him a little more.”



“Right then. So why are you outside my room in the middle of the night?” Spike asked wanting to talk about anything but his past.



“Couldn’t sleep.” Willow said softly.



“Why?”



“Same reason you can’t.” Willow said.



“Little red headed girl woke you up?” Spike asked raising an eyebrow.



“Yep.” Willow said smiling, “like little leprechauns all over the hotel.”



“Sure. Now what’s the story.” Spike said reaching over to pull her closer to him.



“I can’t talk about it tonight Spike.” Willow said resting her head on the vampire. “I don’t even want to think about it anymore, maybe in a few days.”



“You made me talk about it.” Spike pointed out.



“And I will tell you soon.” Willow said, “Right now I just want to sleep.”



“Here?” Spike asked eyeing the girl curled up next to him.



“Is it okay.” Willow said softly, “Maybe it’ll keep the nightmares away. For both of us.”



“Sure.” Spike replied sliding them both down lower on the bed and pulling the blanket over their bodies.

~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!



Angel stood outside the door. He had been ready to go in and talk to Spike again. He had been having these nightmares since he arrived. Willow had already been in the room though, and Spike had told her more in a few minutes than he had told Angel in a week. He had stayed outside the door in case he was needed but realized quickly that maybe the two of them needed to talk to each other more than him.



Angel could relate to what they were going through but it had been a very long time. They were both experiencing the same thing right now. Hopefully they could help each other deal with their feelings.



Part Eleven


Connor slipped quietly into the hotel, he considered waiting until tomorrow before confronting his father, but decided that he wouldn’t sleep without answers. He had gotten answers from that Wesley guy, and answers from Justine, now he needed answers from the only other person that could give them, Angel.



He started to head up the stairs toward Angel’s room, when he saw him heading toward the steps himself on his way downstairs. Backing up off the stairs he moved into the shadows knowing he couldn’t really hide from the vampire but still moving out of instinct.



Angel stopped at the bottom of the stairs, hesitating for a minute. Moving into the center of the room he stopped again, turning slowly looking for his son.



“Connor?” Angel said softly, “I know you’re here.”



“I need to talk to you.” Connor said stepping out of the shadows.



“Okay.” Angel said, “Now?”



“Yes.” Connor replied moving closer to Angel. “I want to know why I’m here?”



“What?”



“Vampire’s can’t have children, but you did. How?”



“We don’t know.” Angel said, “There was a prophecy. I… Darla and I… once. Then she left. When she came back she was pregnant. With you.”



“And my mother where is she?” Connor asked. He knew the stories Holtz had told him but now he needed to hear it from Angel.



“You were… You couldn’t survive inside her. Vampires aren’t made to carry a child. She staked herself to save you.” Angel said quietly still somewhat amazed at his sire’s selflessness.



“And you brought me here.” Connor said.



“Yes. We took care of you. We were going to raise you. All of us.” Angel said, “Then you were taken from me.”



“By Wesley.” Connor stated.



“Yes. He took you and gave you to Holtz.” Angel said angrily.



“Are you sure.” Connor said, “Are you sure he gave me to him. That I wasn’t taken from him too.”



“Excuse me?” Angel said not sure what his son was implying.



“Gunn and Fred found Wesley with his throat slit.” Connor said quietly, “That doesn’t sound like he gave me away willingly. Did you ever ask him what happened father?”



“Of course I… No.” Angel said guiltily, “I guess I didn’t. I just assumed.”



“I think you should talk to him. The witch is right. You judged your friend unfairly.” Connor said simply. “How did Holtz die?”



“He isn’t dead Connor he left.” Angel said not understanding the question.



“No. I found him that night. He was dead Justine said that you…”



“That Bastard!” Angel said clenching his fists at his side, “I shouldn’t have trusted him. It was all a play for…”



“Revenge.” Connor said, “What better revenge could he have than you being killed by your own son.”



“If you believed I killed him why did you come back?” Angel asked, “Why didn’t you…”



“Kill you.” Connor finished, “I was going too. I had to come back to find a way to do that. If you were that easy to kill he would have done it two hundred years ago.”



“Know your enemy.” Angel said softly.



“Yes.” Connor said.



Connor sat down on the couch and watched his father pace the floor. He wasn’t ready to be a member of this family yet. He needed time. He hoped Angel would understand that. He was sure Angel needed time too. Time to adjust to a teen-age son, time to work out his problems with his friend. Time to help his other friends deal with their problems too.



“It’s late. We both need to get some sleep.” Angel said, “And to think.”



“Yes.” Connor agreed and followed his father up the stairway to the bedrooms.



Part Twelve


“I’m going to L.A. Giles.” Buffy said again.



“So am I.” Xander said just as angry as Buffy.



“No.” Giles said, “Neither of you are going anywhere.”



“She’s been gone two weeks Giles.” Buffy said, “And we haven’t heard a word from her.”



“But you’ve talked to Angel or Cordiela almost everyday.” Giles said patiently, “And they both say Willow’s fine. She just needs time.”



“How do we know they aren’t lying?” Xander asked.



“Why would they?” Dawn said from the corner of the room where she’d been listening to the conversation.



“What?” Buffy and Xander both asked.



“Why would they lie?” Dawn clarified, “Willow went to them because she believes Angel can understand what she’s going through. When she’s ready to come home or call she will.”



“Dawn’s right. If you two go out there you will only make things worse.” Giles said glad that someone was seeing reason.



“Fine.” Buffy consented. “One more week then I’m going after her.”

~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!



“Angel have you seen Willow?” Cordiela asked walking into the office.



“Did you check Spike’s room?” Angel said not looking up from his book.



“Did I check where?” Cordiela said grabbing the book from the vampire, “Did you say Spike’s room?”



“Yes.” Angel said, “That’s where she’s been most nights lately.”



“No. I mean, ewww.” Cordiela said, “I’ll swear I’ll… Wait she’s gay now.” Cordiela said both disgusted and confused.



“They aren’t… Well at least I don’t think they are.” Angel said not really wanting to consider the possibility right now, “They both were having nightmares. They seemed to have found that being close is comforting.”



“Oh. Then I’ll go check there I guess.” Cordiela said, “They so better have clothes on.” She muttered as she left the room and headed up the stairs.

~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~



Spike woke slowly not wanting to disturb Willow he tightened his arm around her pulling her closer. She sighed softly moving her body closer to the harder body next to her. Stroking her hair softly he murmured her name quietly.



“Red.” He whispered in her ear. “C’mon time to get up.”



“No. Wanna stay here.” She murmured without opening her eyes.



“Fine with me.” He teased but it’s getting late and the cheerleader is going to be looking for you.



“Want to stay in bed.” Willow said moving her head to a more comfortable position on his shoulder.



“Fine but I can think of more interesting…” Spike began sliding his hand down her back.



“Get your hands off her!” Cordiela said from the open doorway.



“Bloody hell.” Spike said moving to sit up as Willow pulled away from him.



“We let you stay here and you…” Cordiela said angrily.



“He wasn’t doing anything.” Willow said, “He was teasing me. It’s fine.”



“But he…”



“He nothing. I’m fine. He isn’t going to hurt me.” Willow said, “And I am an adult. If I want to do those more interesting things he was suggesting it’s my business ‘kay.”



“Willow.” Cordiela started.



“I’m fine. We will be down in a few minutes.” Willow said getting up and pushing Cordiela out the door.



Part thirteen


Angel sat in the office staring at the phone. Connor said he judged Wesley unfairly. Maybe he had, maybe it wasn’t right to not hear his side of the story. Gunn and Fred had found him nearly dead, now that the anger of his son being taken had began to lessen he could see that. He could see that maybe Wesley’s motives had been noble. Maybe he hadn’t planned on giving the baby to Holtz.



He reached for the phone and started to dial the number. Then he stopped as he thought that maybe Wesley didn’t want to talk to him. If Connor had been right and he had tried to kill the man who had been trying to save his son then Wesley had every right to be angry with him.



“Call him.”



“Cordy.” Angel said looking up at the woman standing in the doorway.



“Call him.” She repeated as she walked in the room and closed the door. “I didn’t say anything at first because your pain was my first concern. But Angel I can’t believe Wesley gave Connor to Holtz. I don’t know what happened that night. None of us do. But I know him. He wouldn’t do that.”



“I’ve been thinking the same thing.” Angel said quietly.



“I also know that everyone here is miserable because of this. Fred’s afraid to even say his name in front of you. I know you’re miserable because he was your best friend. I haven’t seen him but I’m sure he’s miserable too. Call him.” Cordiela said sitting down in the chair opposite him, having decided it was best to not tell him that Willow and Spike had already seen the ex-watcher and had confirmed his unhappiness. “We can’t move on with our lives until you deal with this part of yours.”



“I’ll call him.” Angel said picking up the phone and motioning for her to leave the room. “Alone.”



“What ever.” She said standing up and moving toward the door. “You’ll tell me later.” She said walking out the door and closing it behind her.



“He’s going to do it.” Cordiela said smiling as she ran across the lobby to the pair sitting on the couch. “He’s calling Wes.”



“It’s about time.” Willow said smiling, “What made him do it?”



“Don’t know.” Cordiela answered, “I know something happened with Connor that night you two went to see Wes. And I think it’s been in the back of his head since then.”



“I told you he needed to decide to do this on his own.” Spike said.



“But he didn’t decide on his own.” Connor said coming down the stairs, he had heard the whole conversation from the landing. “I told him he judged his friend unfairly.”



“But did you tell him to call him or forgive him?” Spike asked knowing all too well how his grand-sire thought.



“No.”



“Then see you planted the suggestion but he thinks he decided on his own.” Spike said, “Always worked to get Angelus to do what you wanted, just had to let him think he was making all the choices.”



“Hate to say it but he’s right.” Cordiela said barely glancing at the vampire, “Angel’s much more cooperative if he thinks things are his idea. Most men are.”



“Hey.” Sounded from both Connor and Spike and also from Gunn who had just walked in.



“Don’t know what’s going on but I hear definite male-bashing.” Gunn said sitting down next to Spike, “Wanna go clean out a nest with me?”



“Sure.” Spike said, then turning to Willow, “Wanna come?”



“Don’t think that’s a good idea.” Willow muttered, “I’ll stay here.”



“See you in a few hours then.” Spike said grabbing his duster and following Gunn out the door.



“Connor want to come with?” Gunn said poking his head back in the door. The kid was good and getting better everyday.



“I guess.” Connor said following the two older men out.



“Want to get Fred and go out to dinner?” Cordiela asked when all the men had cleared out.



“Sure.” Willow agreed an night out sounded fun.



“You find Fred and I’ll let Angel know.” She said already moving toward the office.



Part Fourteen


Fred walked back to the table from the bar. She watched her two friends deep in conversation about the vampires in their respective lives. She knew Cordiela had admitted to herself at least that she loved Angel. She had been watching Willow over the last couple weeks and was sure that Willow was falling for Spike. She was also pretty confidant that the two vampire’s felt the same way. Gunn had told her to stay out of it and mind her own business. Problem was she wanted to see her friends all happy and they didn’t seem to know how to get there on their own.



“Thanks Fred.” Willow said as Fred handed them each their drinks.



“Whatcha talking about?” Fred asked as she sat down.



“Whether Will is in love with Spike or not.” Cordiela said smiling at the two women sitting across from her.



“No that discussion is over. I. Do. Not. Love. Spike.” Willow said once again slowly hoping to make the ex-cheerleader understand.



“Fine but you like him a lot.” Cordiela insisted.



“Yeah. I like him.” Willow conceded, “He’s a friend. Has been for a while now. But not like that. God Cordy Tara died a month ago.”



“That has to be bad Willow. I can’t even imagine. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t, you know, like Spike.” Fred said.



“You know what guys. It doesn’t even matter, I mean he loves Buffy anyway.” Willow said, “It’s not like he’s had all this time to get over her like say Angel.” Willow said glaring at her friend.



“No. I’m not going there.” Cordiela said, “He so doesn’t love me.”



“How do you know?” Willow asked, “He watches you all the time. He actually seems to stop brooding when you’re around.”



“He doesn’t…He watches me?” Cordiela said as Willow’s words sank in.



“Yep.” Both Willow and Fred responded immediately.



“You saw it too?” Cordiela asked looking at Fred who nodded her response. “Okay then why hasn’t he said anything?”



“Um well he’s a man.” Willow said, “I don’t know Cordiela, why not ask him.”



“Okay so I just go up to him and ask him why he doesn’t admit he love’s me?”



“No. Of course not, but you could show him how you feel.” Fred suggested.



“I’ll think about it.” Cordiela said.

~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!



Angel hung up the phone. He had been talking to Wesley for hours now. Wesley was angry, he felt betrayed. Problem was Angel knew his feelings were justified. Wesley had been his best friend, but when things looked bad Angel turned on him. Angel had believed Holtz and Lyla’s lies without hesitation.



Wesley had told Angel everything that had happened. From finding the prophecy to Justine slitting his throat. After that Angel knew what had happened. They had talked endlessly about the events of that night. Angel couldn’t express to Wesley how sorry he was for everything that had happened. He wanted Wesley to come back to work. Wesley said he wasn’t ready yet. He didn’t think he could work with people that had shown so little faith in him. Angel asked him to think about it. He wanted to try to rebuild the relationship they had, Wesley didn’t believe it could ever be the same for any of them but he would come by in a few days to talk to everyone.



Angel knew Wesley was right. To much damage had been done but he couldn’t let it end like this. He wanted his family together, and he would do whatever he had to do make that happen.



Part Fifteen


“Why haven’t you went back to Sunnydale?” Spike asked as Willow walked into his room, as had been the routine for almost a week now.



“Why haven’t you?” Willow asked sitting on the opposite side of the bed facing the vampire.



“Slayer’ll probably stake me on sight.” Spike suggested, “Hell I can’t fight back so Harris might even do it.”



“Buffy won’t stake you.” Willow said ignoring the comment about Xander since she wasn’t entirely sure that he wouldn’t stake the vampire.



“’Sides no turning this around. Answer the question.” Spike said not letting Willow distract him this time. “Your friends won’t kill you on sight. You said they weren’t even mad at you.”



“Why go back. Here there’s things I can do to help. Angel needs help running the office, and with the computer stuff. In Sunnydale I’m useless without magic.” Willow answered playing with a loose thread on the quilt covering the bed to avoid looking at Spike.



“Useless?” Spike replied, where had she gotten that idea, he thought, certainly not from her friends. “Why do you think that Red?”



“They don’t need me, not really. What can I do? Research, they can do that without me. ‘Sides with Giles gone Buffy’s more on the track of kill first ask questions later.” Willow said, “I can’t fight, not without magic, so all I do is get in the way.”



“Please Red.” Spike said lifting her chin with his thumb forcing her to look at him, “If the Slayer never considered Harris to be in the way she can’t think of you that way. And why can’t you fight?”



“Uh well, hello not the slayer.” Willow said sarcastically.



“Neither is Giles, but he still fights.” Spike said, “The cheerleader, and Gunn fight too, no super powers there either.”



“Yeah but me?” Willow said, “I can’t…”



“You can. With a little training I bet you could kick ass Red.”



“And Buffy has time between raising Dawn, working, and saving the world to train me.” Willow said knowing he was just trying to make her feel better.



Spike stared at the girl across from him in disbelief. He was sure if she asked Buffy would make time to train her. The watcher was back too, he would help her. She obviously didn’t want to ask them. “I’ll help you.” He finally said.



“What?” Willow asked sure she heard the vampire wrong.



“I’ll teach you to fight.” Spike stated again, “We can start tomorrow, Angel has every thing we need in the basement anyway.”



“Spike you don’t have to…”



“Want to Luv. It’ll give me something to do.” Spike said. It’ll let me spend more time with you, he thought to himself. Spending time with the red head was becoming more important to him everyday.



“I-if you’re sure.” Willow said quietly. She liked spending time with him. Despite what she had told Cordiela earlier she did really like Spike. Part of her always had a crush on him. She knew it was silly and she should get over it, he was still in love with Buffy, but another part of her knew that Buffy would never feel the same way so maybe he would realize it and decide to move on.



Spike reached out and pulled Willow up to the head of the bed so she was lying next to him, smiling when she squealed in surprise at being pulled from the thoughts and across the bed at the same time. Willow had instinctively grabbed onto his arm as he pulled causing him to fall over her as she hit the bed. Spike stared at Willow lying beneath him for a moment. “Uh sorry luv I…” He said watching as her breathing started to quicken.



“No it was uh, my fault I…” Willow said stuck for words, Spike was simply to close for her to be able to think, she thought, “We should, uh, sleep now.” She said nervously.



“Right sleep.” Spike said moving to lie next to her and pulling her against him as she grabbed the blankets covering them both.



Part Sixteen


Spike stood staring at the array of weapons Angel had lining the walls of the basement. He was lost in thought about last night. He had almost kissed Willow, how could he do that, he loved Buffy. He did right? He thought, he still loved Buffy that hadn’t changed. Even if it had, Tara had just died, Willow had been through a lot, he didn’t want to take advantage of that.



“Bloody hell,” Spike said to the empty room, “I’m really turning into a poof.”



Telling Willow he’d help her train probably wasn’t the smartest move he’d made, not after last night, but he had promised her. “Red you comin’?” He yelled up the stairs. “Don’t have all day.”



“Yes you do.” Came Cordiela’s reply.



“I’ll be right there.” Willow answered.

~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~



“You sure you want to do this?” Cordiela asked, “It’s not like your friends really care if you can fight or not Will.”



“I need to do this.” Willow said, “I’m not going back there to be useless. Learning to defend myself is the least I can do after what I did to them.”



“I’ll be right in there if you need me. Angel too.” Cordiela said.



“I’m sure I’ll be safe. I mean, he’s now chipped and souled.” Willow said glancing at the door leading to the basement.



“Whatever.” Cordiela said as she walked away, “Be careful.”



Willow turned to open the door hesitating for a minute. Last night she had almost kissed Spike. It was wrong, she knew that, she loved Tara, sure Tara was gone but that didn’t make the love just go away. And if she was trying to move on, which she wasn’t not yet, but Spike loved Buffy. He spent the last year trying to prove that, he ended up with a soul because of it. It had to be a mistake Spike hadn’t really wanted to kiss her.



“I’ll just act like nothing happened.” She whispered to herself as she heard Spike call her name once more.



“Coming.” She said pulling the door open and heading down the steps.

~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~



“Shit.” Dawn muttered again as she read the note sitting on the kitchen table.



Grabbing Buffy’s phone book and the phone she quickly located the number and dialed the L.A. number. They needed to be warned, she thought as she listened to the ringing, and God only knows how long ago they had left.



“Hi, um yeah is Angel there. Or Cordiela please.” Dawn said quickly, “Um yeah I’d say it might be an emergency.”



“Hi, Angel.” She said a minute later, “It’s Dawn.”



“No I’m not calling to talk to Willow. I know she’ll call when she wants to but uh, I kinda have bad news.”

!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!



“What kind of bad news?” Angel asked immediately worried, “Everyone okay?”



“Oh, sorry, yeah we’re fine.” Dawn assured him, “Buffy and Xander are on there way to L.A.” She said quickly.



“What?” Angel asked hoping he heard her wrong but knowing he probably hadn’t.



“I got home from school and found a note from Buffy. Her and Xander were going to L.A. to bring Willow home. I don’t know when they left so I don’t know how long you have before…”



“Damn it. I told her not to…” Angel said his voice trailing off as Cordiela walked in the room.



“Thanks for warning us Dawn.” Angel said, “I’ll have Buffy call you when I see her. Bye.” He finished hanging up the phone and turning to Cordiela.



“Buffy’s coming here?” Cordiela asked.



“Yeah. Xander too.”



“Why?” Cordiela said, nothing good could come from this, she knew that, and they didn’t know about Spike being here yet.



“To bring Willow home with them.”



“Don’t suppose it occurred to them that she can make her own decisions.” Cordiela said sitting in the chair across from the vampire.



She watched as Angel paced. He hadn’t seen Buffy in a long time, Cordiela knew that, she also knew that he said he wasn’t in love with her anymore. Cordiela didn’t however want to test the theory anymore than necessary. She loved Angel, and she was almost ready to admit that to him. If Willow and Fred were right she needed to tell him. But Buffy coming here could ruin everything.



Angel paced the floor, Buffy showing up here was not something he needed right now. Every time he saw her everything became so confusing again. He didn’t love her, not that way, not anymore, but part of him still did care for her. He cared about Cordiela now, he loved her, true he would never tell her that. Telling her would just cause more problems for them, besides she loved Groo, she still hadn’t told him why Groo left though. He didn’t want her to know he loved her anyway, they couldn’t be together it was too dangerous, and he wouldn’t ruin her life that way.



“Angel!” Cordiela and Angel both jumped when they heard the voice in the lobby.



“They’re here.” Cordiela said quietly, “Won’t telling them about Spike be fun.” She muttered.



“Buffy. Xander.” Angel said walking into the lobby.



“How nice to see you guys.” Cordiela said, “But hey, in some places it’s considered polite to call first.”



“Cordy.” Buffy said barely glancing at her, she came here for Willow not to fight with Cordiela.



“Where’s Willow?” Xander asked not wanting to be here any longer than he had to be.



“Basement but…” Angel began his words trailing off as Buffy and Xander disappeared toward the basement door.



Part Seventeen


“Try again Red.” Spike said, “When I get within reach just grab my arm and twist back.” They had been working on this for almost a half hour now and he was becoming impatient.



“I obviously don’t understand what you want me to do Spike.” Willow said sadly, “This isn’t going to work.”



Now he felt bad. He hadn’t wanted to hurt her feelings. “I’ve got an idea that might work.” Spike said sighing, “You attack me, Then you’ll have a better idea what the move should be.”



“Me. Attack. You.” Willow said slowly.



“Yep.” Spike said, “Ready?”



“”kay.” Willow said lunging for the vampire in front of her.



Spike reached out deftly grabbing Willow’s arm twisting it behind her and pulling her against him, lowering his head to her neck. “See not that hard right?” He whispered.



“Uh, no, it’s uh, easy.” Willow said turning her head to find Spike’s mouth now very close to hers. “Spike I…” She said quietly as he moved his lips closer to hers.



“Will!” Buffy said as her and Xander made their way down the basement steps ignoring the shouts to wait from Angel and Cordiela. “Will you down here?”



“Get the hell away from her.” Xander shouted as he made it to the bottom step just in front of Buffy and seeing Willow and Spike.



Spike let go of Willow at the sound of Xander’s voice. He was, however surprised when she didn’t move away from him.



“What are you doing here?” Willow asked glaring at her friends, not happy at all about the interruption.



“What are you doing here?” Buffy asked looking at Spike angrily reaching for her bag.



“More importantly what are you doing to Willow?” Xander asked.



“What’d it look like I was doing?” Spike said smirking at the other man.

~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!



“Should we go down there?” Cordiela asked at the top of the steps.



“Not a chance.” Angel replied, “Let them deal with it themselves.” He said pulling Cordiela away from the door.

~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!



“Oh I don’t know trying to rape another one of my friends.” Xander said silently wishing he had a stake right now. “Just another way to hurt Buffy right? Just like with Anya.”



“I… Buffy I didn’t….” Spike started to say knowing he had no right to even try to defend himself for what he did to her.



“Xander I told you…” Buffy began.



No one noticing how red Willow’s face was becoming. The anger at her friends for ignoring her wishes to be left alone, but even more so the anger that Xander would just assume that there was no way Spike could want her for any reason than to get to Buffy. It wasn’t like she was repulsive or anything.



“Why assume this has a damn thing to do with Buffy?” Willow finally shouted, “You never believed he loved her anyway right? So why would he want to get to her. He left Sunnydale, if he wanted to piss her off wouldn’t it make more sense to stay.” Willow said glaring at her friends.



“Will… I…” Xander began backing away from the very angry red head.



“He wasn’t going to rape me.” Willow said still angry, “Doesn’t have too.” She said turning toward Spike, grabbing his head and pulling him into a kiss.



Spike stood frozen for a second, not sure what was happening. One minute she’s yelling at her friends the next she’s kissing him. When the shock wore off he wrapped his arms around her pulling her closer to him, as he felt her trying to deepen the kiss. When she finally pulled away from him and turned back to her friends she did so by turning in his arms and leaning against him.



“I specifically said you guys shouldn’t come here remember.” Willow said, “Angel and Cordy told you to stay away. I think you need to leave.”



“Willow I… Spike…” Xander began left semi-speechless by the display his friend had just put on.



“Willow how could you… Spike… I…” Buffy said.



“We what Slayer?” Spike said still holding Willow with his arms around her stomach. “ We had sex. That’s all it was to you right? You told me often enough that you didn’t love me. You didn’t want me. It was wrong.”



“But I… You….” Buffy said still angry and shocked by what she had seen.



“You don’t want me fine.” He said calmly, “So I moved on. Isn’t that what you wanted me to do. That is what you said.”



“No what she wanted was for you to spend the rest of your unlife following her around.” Willow said, she was being cruel to her friends she knew that but her anger was overriding her sense of sympathy right now.



“Willow I…” Buffy said, “That is not what I wanted. I just… you and Spike?” She asked.



“I can’t do this.” Xander said storming up the steps. “I’ll be in the car.”



“Why is he here anyway?” Buffy asked still angry but confused now, going to Angel was the last thing she expected from Spike.



Willow turned to look at the vampire waiting for him to answer. It wasn’t her place to tell Buffy why Spike had sought out Angel.



“Followed the witch here.” Spike said simply before lowering his head and placing tiny kisses along Willow’s neck.



“What?” Buffy asked.



“Buffy go home.” Willow said, “I’m not leaving right now. I’ll come home when I’m ready.”



“Willow I think you should…”



“No. I’m staying here.” Willow said, “Maybe in a few weeks, I’ll come and visit.”



“Willow.”



“Just go.” Willow said quietly. “I can’t come home right now.”



“Call okay.” Buffy said, “We worry.”



“I don’t think Xander…” Willow said moving away from Spike to hug her friend. She had been angry, she felt like her friends didn’t respect her, if they had they wouldn’t have come. She was also sorry she had worried them though.



“He’ll deal.” Buffy said, “Please call. I guess I can understand why you want to be here. Be able to deal without all of us to… But we just need to talk to you to know you’re okay.”



“I call in a few days.” Willow said hugging her friend again. “I promise.”



“Bye.” Buffy said returning the hug then facing Spike. “What Xander said, I told him you didn’t… But….”



“I did Buffy.” Spike said facing her, “What I did to you… I had no right. But I didn’t mean…”



“I know.” She said hugging him quickly, “Don’t hurt her.” She whispered in his ear before moving away.

~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!



“What happened to Xander?” Cordiela asked as Buffy walked into the lobby. “He just stormed out without a word.”



“He’s pissed that Spike is here.” Buffy said sure the former cheerleader already knew what was going on in the basement. “You should have told us.”



“He didn’t want you to know.” Angel said.



“What ever.” Buffy said, angry that Angel had kept something like that from her. “We’re just going to drive back tonight since Willow doesn’t want to leave.”



“Fine. I’ll call Dawn and tell her you’re heading back.” Cordiela said anxious for the blonde to leave.



“Bye.” Angel said as he watched her leave.





Part Eighteen


God he must really hate me now, Willow thought as she heard the door slam as Buffy left the basement, she had pretty effectively ruined any chance he may have still had with Buffy now. Taking a deep breath she turned to face the vampire behind her. “I’m sorry Spike.” She said without really looking at him.



“For what?” Spike asked.



“For uh, attacking you like that.” She said still embarrassed by what she had done, she had once again let her anger get away from her.



“Attack me?” Spike asked, “Luv, I can’t say that having a pretty girl kissing me is the kind of attack I expect an apology for.”



“But Buffy… and now she’ll never…” Willow said tears forming in her eyes. She really hadn’t meant to hurt her friends anymore, and not only did she hurt Xander and Buffy again but now Spike too.



“Never what?” Spike said, “Love me. She wouldn’t have anyway.”



“Maybe now with a soul she… And I ruined it.”



“I’ve had a lot of time lately to think about things like Buffy loving me, Red.” Spike said lifting her chin so she would look at him, “And what I decided was that I don’t want her love if she can’t love me for me. Having a soul may have made a difference to her but it shouldn’t. I’m the same as I was before.”



“But still, you loved her.” Willow said quietly.



“Loved. Past tense.” Spike said, “Not even sure it was love anymore. It was a challenge. She was something I couldn’t have.”



“Spike…”



Spike watched the pain in the red head’s eyes. She was going to blame herself for his screwed up relationship with Buffy, he could see that. Yeah that kiss ruined his chances with the slayer, but he hadn’t given that a lot of thought until she mentioned it. Hell it wasn’t like he was fighting her off, he also could have put an end to the whole thing but didn’t.



“Look Red, all I’m saying is feel free to attack me anytime you want ‘kay.” Spike said, “Now should we pick up where we left off?”



“’kay.” Willow said feeling a little better but still anxious that she might have hurt Spike.

~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!



“Where’s Will?” Xander asked as soon as Buffy closed the car door.



“She’s not coming.” Buffy said simply.



“What?”



“She wants to stay.” Buffy explained.



“But Spike…”



“Yes she wants to stay here. With Spike.” Buffy said still trying to deal with the situation herself. “She’s an adult. What do you want me to do, pick her up and carry her out? ‘Cause guessing Spike isn’t going to like that.”



“Yeah but…” Xander said angrily.



“Before you say it. You’re right I could probably take Spike.” Buffy said holding up her hand to stop his argument. “ But Cordy and Angel haven’t even let us speak to her on the phone, do you really think they’ll let us take her out.”



“Buffy.” Xander said trying to stay calm.



“I can fight any one of them separately but not together.” Buffy said. “’Sides we have to let Willow do what she wants.”



“But Spike.” Xander said completely baffled by what the women in his life saw in the blond vampire.



“Get over it.” Buffy said, “Lets get home.”

~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~



“What the hell went on down there?” Angel asked Cordiela. The anger had been stifling in the room as first Xander then Buffy had gone through. “It was sure as hell more than them finding out Spike was here.”





“Not sure.” Cordiela said as she watched the vampire pace, “Maybe they were doing more than training down there.” She suggested.



“What?” Angel said turning to look at her, “Willow and Spike don’t…” he said his voice trailing off at the disbelieving look on his seer’s face.



“Willow so likes him Angel.” Cordiela said, “You are completely blind aren’t you.”



“Willow… Spike…. Are you sure?” He said trying his best to register the information in his mind.



“Willow I’m sure of.” Cordiela said, “She’s had a crush on him for a long time.” Cordiela said smiling, “Spike I don’t know. Not like I talk to him much.”



“He does.” Gunn said letting the door close behind him as he walked into the lobby. “I assume we’re talking about him and Willow.”



“He does?” Cordiela said slightly surprised, “You’re sure. I mean what about Buffy?”



“Don’t really know. He’s angry with himself for hurting her. But I don’t think he loves her.” Gunn said, “What is it about you vampires and this Slayer anyway. Aren’t you supposed to avoid them?”



At that comment Cordiela started laughing. She tried to stop at the glare she received from Angel. “What? Well he’s right.” She said pointing at Gunn.



“So you know about this too.” Angel said looking between his two friends. “How long has this been going on?”



“Nothings going on.” Cordiela and Gunn both said.



“Spike hasn’t really said anything yet.” Gunn explained, “You can just tell. He wants to include her in everything. He talks about her all the time. He…”



“Kind of like my dad with Cordiela?” Connor said coming down the steps.



“I…I…What?” Angel stuttered, how had this all turned to him.



“You do.” Connor said, “You care very much for her, and she for you what I don’t understand is why you don’t admit it to each other.”



Angel stared first at his son, then to the girl beside him who was turning an interesting shade of red, then to his laughing friend.



“Connor you don’t understand. My soul… I can’t ever….” Angel began, not wanting to explain this to his son right now. Right now he wanted to kick everyone out of the room and try to work this out with his seer before any more damage could be done.



“He has to be miserable for the rest of eternity or else the soul goes and psycho vampire from hell comes back.” Cordiela said quietly.



“Yeah that part not so funny.” Gunn said his smile fading.



“And you’ve never seen it.” Cordy said. “Relax Angel, I know that we can never… But you should have told me…”



“So you could be miserable too?” Angel said facing her.



“No so we could…” Cordiela said, “Oh hell I don’t know. Maybe there’s a way.”



“I don’t see how, but we could try I guess.” Angel said. “We could look into it.”



“Oh boy research.” Cordiela muttered.



Part Nineteen



“Where’s Willow?” Giles said as Buffy entered the Magic Shop followed by Xander.



“L.A.” Was Buffy’s short response.



“I thought you went to force her back here?” Anya asked glancing at them from behind the counter.



“Not force Anya,” Buffy explained, “Just encourage.”



“Right.” Dawn said looking up from her school book, “You just wanted to encourage her that’s why you left without saying anything.”



“Dawn.” Buffy said, “Not now.”



“She’s right.” Giles interrupted, “You snuck out while we were gone because you planned on strong arming her into returning. So what happened?”



“She didn’t want to come back.” Buffy said quietly.



“Of course she didn’t.” Anya said, “She knew we wanted her to come home. If she wanted to come back she would have.”



“It’s not just that she didn’t want to come back its that…” Buffy said not anxious to talk about this.



“She’s sleeping with Spike.” Xander blurted out angrily.



“Xander.” Buffy warned glancing at Dawn.



“Spike’s in L.A. ?” Giles asked surprised, after the events here in Sunnydale he wouldn’t have expected Spike to head to L.A..



“Yeah. Living with Angel I guess.” Buffy said.



“Why?” Dawn asked.



“What?” Xander said, “Does it even matter?”



“Well yeah kinda. Think about it for a minute Xander.” Dawn said, “If you had almost raped Buffy would you head to Angel? That would be the one place outside of Sunnydale where he was likely to get staked on sight.”



“She has a point.” Anya said coming around the counter and joining the group.



“Yes. There was a lot of risk in going to Angel. He couldn’t know if any of us had talked to Angel or Cordiela.” Giles said thoughtfully.



“Right. So why would he go there?” Dawn asked again, “This never occurred to either of you?”



Buffy and Xander looked at each other then back to the others, “No.”



“So how do we find out why he’s there?” Xander asked still not seeing the importance in anything other than Willow sleeping with Spike.



“Well we could…” Giles began not sure where to start with this.



“Ask.” Dawn said simply.



“What?” The adults said as one.



“Ask him.” Dawn said again, when still faced with the blank stares she said more slowly, “Pick up the phone and call him, then ask.”



“Sure and he’ll just tell us.” Xander said.



“Well not you.” Dawn said, “Maybe he’d tell me.”



“I don’t think…” Buffy began.



“Maybe that’s part of the problem.” Anya said, then continuing when everyone turned to look at her. “You and Xander both. You don’t think. You knew Spike loved you and yet you played with him, with his heart, then dumped him. Then it’s some big surprise when he hurts you. But you know that don’t you? That’s why you keep telling Xander it wasn’t rape. And you,” She said turning to face her ex-fiancee, “You didn’t give any thought to how walking out on our wedding day would hurt me. You were scared so you left. You didn’t want to deal with it. You’ve both been so wrapped up in yourselves that you ignored what was happening to Willow.”



“We didn’t ignore…” Buffy and Xander both began at the same time.



“You did. You were concerned at first. When Dawn was hurt. But when she started to move on, you both went back to your own problems. God, you two didn’t even have the sense to realize how bad it was at the hospital when she saved Buffy. You went with her, you were helping her. She was way past help by the time you two realized anything was wrong.”



“But…” Buffy said quietly.



“Dawn is right. Let her try asking Spike. What can it hurt?” Anya said, “There must be a reason he’s there. And as far as Willow and Spike are concerned, it’s none of your business. You don’t love him, you said so.” She said looking at Buffy. “So what she does with her life is up to her.”



Part Twenty




“He said he loves you?” Fred asked again not surprised so much by the feelings, as by the admission of them.



“Not in so many words.” Cordiela said curling her legs under her on the couch. “But he didn’t deny it either.”



“So what are you going to do?” Fred said.



“Well we talked, and he doesn’t think its fair to me because we can’t ever…” Cordiela said.



“The curse.” Willow said having been pulled out of her own thoughts of the day’s events by the conversation, “That’s why he hasn’t said anything?”



“Yep.” Cordiela said, “He can’t really be with me because happiness equals Angelus.”



“Isn’t there a way around that?” Fred asked, “Spike doesn’t have the happiness clause right?”



Cordiela and Fred both turned to look at Willow, who immediately blushed at their looks.



“Well it’s not like it’s been tested but I don’t think so.” Willow said, “I mean, his soul wasn’t a curse so why would it have…”



“Uh oh.” Cordiela said as Willow’s voice trailed off as her eyes stared into space obviously lost in her own thoughts. “Willow’s getting an idea.”



“Is that bad?” Fred asked still amazed at how well the other two women seemed to know each other.



“Depends.” Cordiela said, “Will?”



“Oh, uh, thinking.” She muttered.



“About?” Cordiela asked.



“The soul restoration spell.” Willow said still distracted by her own thoughts.



“What about it?” Fred asked.



“Miss Calander wanted to restore Angel’s soul right?” Willow said looking at Cordiela again, “But she didn’t want him to suffer. She liked Angel.”



“Yeah, so?” Cordiela asked.



“You know what I don’t want to say anymore tonight.” Willow said getting up, “I need to make some calls in the morning. Look into some stuff and I’ll get back to you when I know more ‘kay.”



“Guess so.” Both Fred and Cordy said as they watched Willow head up the stairs.



Part Twenty-one


Willow flopped across her bed. So much had happened today, Buffy and Xander showing up, then kissing Spike, now Angel and Cordy. All of these things were pulling at her mind, so she did her best to concentrate on the one she might have an answer to.



She was sorry she had hurt Buffy and Xander again, but if they had respected her wishes it wouldn’t have happened. She was still angry at Xander for assuming that Spike couldn’t possibly be interested in her for her. She would call tomorrow and try to talk to Xander though, she didn’t like him being so angry with her. But that wasn’t something she could deal with tonight.



She had kissed Spike. She had ruined his chances with Buffy at the same time. She felt horrible about that. He loved Buffy and with a soul may have stood a chance of her loving him and she destroyed that because she was angry. Spike said he wasn’t angry, that it didn’t matter but still she felt like she had to make it up to him. So she would stay in her own room tonight and try to talk to him again tomorrow.



Angel’s curse. Now that was something she might be able to fix. Angel loved Cordy, granted not something she expected before coming here but it wasn’t a bad thing. The only reason he hadn’t said anything before was the curse. He wanted her to have a relationship that wouldn’t endanger the rest of the world. The more she thought about it the more she thought that she could be right. She needed to translate that spell, she wasn’t sure she would be able to but she needed to try. She would need the spell, she hadn’t brought it with her. She would need Giles to send it, but she needed him to do it without telling anyone. Knowing why she wanted it would just bring back Buffy and Xander. Which also meant she couldn’t get Giles to help with the translating, couldn’t ask Angel for help either, maybe Fred could help or…



“Willow?” She heard Spike say as he tapped on the door.



“Come in Spike.” Willow answered sitting up and facing the door.



“Something wrong Pet?” Spike asked coming into the room and closing the door behind him.



“Wrong? No just thinking.” She said smiling at him.



“Aren’t you coming to bed?” He asked wondering silently if he had hurt her during their workout earlier.



“I… I was going to sleep in here.”



“Why?” Spike asked, “Did I do something?”



“You? No.” Willow said quickly, “I figured you wouldn’t want me too… after this afternoon…”



“I told you before I wasn’t angry. Don’t worry about Buffy.” Spike said taking her chin in his hand and forcing her to look at him.



“But you loved her.”



“Loved.” Spike said, “Not anymore.”



“But…” Willow began only to be cut off when Spike lowered his face and kissed her.



Spike groaned when Willow wrapped her arms around his neck and pulled him down as she lay back on the bed. Pulling his head away from her, and smiling.



“No more buts. Buffy’s in the past okay.” He said placing several small kisses against her lips. “And like I said earlier attack me any time Luv.” Sliding his hands to her hips and pulling her against him.



“Spike I don’t…” Willow said pushing at his chest. When he sat up pulling her up at the same time she continued, “I’m not ready for… Tara just died and…”



“No pressure Red.” Spike said smiling at her, “I know you’re going to need time and well hey, I live forever so I have plenty of time to wait.”



“Thank you.” Willow said kissing his cheek.



“Now ready for bed.” Spike said pulling her with him. “And you can tell me what you were thinking of earlier.”



“Yeah.” She said following him.



Part Twenty-two


Wesley hung up the phone and sighed. Fred had called again. She thought he should come back to work. He had told her he wasn’t ready to work with people who’s trust in him was so fragile. That’s what he had told Gunn, Angel, Cordiela, and Willow when they all asked the same question. That was true, sort of, he was still angry that they so easily believed that he had helped Holtz take Connor. But if he was being honest with himself he was more angry at himself. He had betrayed Angel. He hadn’t meant to let Holtz take Connor, that was true, but he shouldn’t have gone to Holtz at all. By doing that he had revealed their weakness to him, and made it easier to get the child. If he couldn’t forgive himself for that how could expect Angel too. He still felt like he needed to do something to make up for what he had done.

~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~



Angel loves me, Cordiela thought as she got ready for bed. Okay so he hadn’t actually said it, but he didn’t deny it either. If Connor had been wrong, Angel would have said so. And true Angel wasn’t willing to be in a relationship with her because he thinks it’s unfair, but Willow seemed to have some thoughts about that as well. She didn’t know what Willow was up to, but she knew it had something to do with helping her and Angel.



Willow, there’s something else to think about, what the hell was going on with her and Spike. She knew Willow liked Spike, but was afraid Spike didn’t feel the same, but Gunn said he did. Now Cordiela just needed a way to get them both to admit it to each other. But there were other problems with that, for starters the Buffy thing, Willow seemed to think she had pretty much took care of that this afternoon, but Buffy being angry wouldn’t necessarily mean that Spike was ready to move on. And then, of course, was Willow ready to move on. It wasn’t like Tara had left her, she had been murdered. Willow wouldn’t want to jump into anything right now. This one, Cordiela thought, would definitely take some time.

~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!



Cordiela knew he loved her, Angel thought, not a bad thing really. She loved him too, well she hadn’t said it, but it seemed implied. He couldn’t do that to her though. That’s why he left Buffy, both women deserved a chance for a happy life, and a real relationship. He couldn’t give them that. But everyone had agreed to help research the curse see if there was some way around it, something that could anchor his soul.



Spike and Willow were in love, Angel thought still amazed at this idea. He never would have guessed that Spike could fall for Willow. But then the Spike he remembered seemed to be pretty much gone, replaced by a still obnoxious, but very different vampire. His main concern in this area was that Spike would try to push Willow too fast. She was still adjusting to Tara’s death, and to dealing with her new found power. She needed to deal with how to control that before anything else, and he hoped Spike realized that too.



Part Twenty-three


Willow took a deep breath and dialed the phone. She had a few minutes alone. Spike, Angel and Connor were downstairs, Cordiela and Fred were out picking up lunch, and Gunn had gone after some demon that had been causing trouble in his old neighborhood. So she figured now was her chance to make this call. Everyone had been asking her since last night what was going on, what had she been thinking about. They all knew it involved Angel and Cordy, but she didn’t want them to know anything more until she knew something for sure.



“Magic Shop.” She heard Anya’s voice say.



“Hi, Anya.”



“Willow. Hi.” Anya said, “Buffy and Xander are so angry. Did you really kiss Spike?”



Oh God, Willow thought, “Yeah. Uh, they kinda made me angry.”



“So you aren’t having sex with him.” Anya said, “Is he why you went to L.A.?”



“Okay kinda personal but no to both questions.” Willow said sighing, “Is Giles around?”



“No, he’s out for the day. Some kind of personal business.” Anya said.



Well, Willow thought, Anya was mad enough at Xander to help her without saying anything. “Anya I need you to do something for me, but you can’t tell anyone. Not even Giles.”



“What do you want? Will it make Xander and Buffy angry?” Anya replied, her relationship with the Slayer and her ex-fiancée wasn’t very good and she was willing to do pretty much anything to irritate them.



“Yeah. It probably will.” Willow said, “I need you to go to Buffy’s and get a disk out of my room and send it to me.”



“That’s sounds easy. What disk do you need?” Anya asked, not sure how this would irritate the other two or why it was a secret.



“It’s in my closet it. It says restoration spell on…”



“Willow I can’t give you a disk with a spell, not even to piss off…”



“I’m not doing the spell Anya. I just need to know what it says.” Willow explained.



“I don’t understand.”



“I know and I really can’t explain right now. But I promise I’m not going to use magic. I did that spell a long time ago, before I really knew what I was doing. Now I need to know what it says to help a friend okay.” Willow explained knowing she may have given Anya enough information to figure it out if she wanted to.



“You swear you won’t use the spell?” Anya asked not completely comfortable with possibly helping Willow with magic.



“I promise Anya.” Willow said, “If any magic needs to be done someone else will take care of it.”



“Okay. I can get the disk tonight. Buffy, Xander and Dawn are going to the Bronze. Do you want me to mail it or bring it?”



“Mail is fine. You don’t have time to drive all the way…”



“I can teleport there, it’ll just take minutes.” Anya offered. “Does this have something to do with Angel?” She asked finally realizing when Willow would have used that spell.



“Yeah. But I really don’t want anyone to know right now Okay.” Willow said sighing, “Not until I find out what I need to know.”



“Okay. Won’t say anything.” Anya said, “Customer just came in gotta go. See you tonight.”



“Bye Anya.”



“Who you talking to?” Angel asked walking into the office as Willow hung up the phone.



“Anya.” Willow said, “Figured after yesterday I’d better call and talk to someone in Sunnydale.”



“Everything okay?” Angel asked worried, knowing that she didn’t need anymore to worry about right now.



“Fine.” She said smiling, “Uh, Angel Anya might be stopping by tonight.”



“Okay. Will she be staying?”



“Doubt it. She’s just bringing me something I need.” Willow said, “You do know she’s a demon right?”



“Spike mentioned it.” Angel said smiling, “Why?”



“Well, she isn’t exactly adjusted to the human world. So she can be uh, blunt, at times.”



“I work with Cordiela. I think I can handle blunt.” Angel replied.



“She makes Cordy look subtle.” Willow said laughing at the vampire’s look of shock.





Part Twenty-four


Anya stood patiently for a moment waiting for one of the two men to notice her arrival. Realizing they were to deep in conversation to see her she finally spoke.



“Excuse me I need to talk to Willow.” She stated walking toward the men. One she now realized was Angel.



“Where the hell did you come from?” Gunn asked turning to face the sound of the voice coming from the opposite direction of the door.



“Sunnydale.” Anya said, “Is Willow here. I can’t stay long.”



“I meant where were you a minute ago. You didn’t come through the door.” Gunn explained.



“Sunnydale.” Anya repeated. “You’re Angel right?” She said facing the vampire.



“Yes. Anya?” Angel asked.



“Yeah. Is Willow here?” She asked becoming impatient.



“Is someone going to tell me where she came from?” Gunn asked becoming annoyed.



“I did tell you.” Anya said equally as annoyed.



“Anya’s a vengeance demon.” Angel explained, “Anya this is Gunn.”



“Nice to meet you.” Anya said impatiently.



“Yeah you too. Vengeance demon from Sunnydale?” Gunn asked, then at Anya and Angel’s nods, “Is anyone in Sunnydale human?”



“Hey I’m human.” Cordiela said coming out of the office. “Anya right?”



“Yes. I need to see Willow do you know where she is?” Anya said turning her attention to Cordiela, hoping the seer would be more helpful than the men.



“Basement. With Spike.” Cordiela said coming around the desk, “Follow me.”

~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~



“Hi Spike.” Anya said cheerfully coming down the steps. Unlike Buffy and Xander she didn’t care why Spike was in L.A. or what he was doing with Willow. Well she did care that it was making the other two angry, she did enjoy that part.



“Hi.” Spike and Willow both greeted her. Spike took the sword Willow had been using from her hand and replaced it along with his own on the wall while Willow went to speak to Anya.



“Did you find it okay?” Willow said, having been worrying that Buffy and Dawn may have moved her things while she was away.



“Yeah.” Anya said, “Angel doesn’t seem to have lost his soul.”



“I told you I don’t need to use the spell just translate it.” Willow said again. “You didn’t tell anyone upstairs why you were here did you?”



“No. I think I may have frightened that Gunn person though.” Anya said smiling.



“Spike, Dawn’s on the phone.” Cordiela yelled from the top of the steps. “She wants to talk to you.”



“Dawn?” Spike said in surprise.



“Everyone wants to know why you came here.” Anya said, “Dawn’s the only one smart enough to figure out that they need to ask you.”



“Go talk to her.” Willow encouraged. “If you don’t want her to tell anyone I’m sure she won’t.”



Willow and Anya waited until Spike was out of sight before speaking again.



“How long has he had a soul?” Anya asked.



“What?”



“Spike he has a soul now.” Anya said, “Could sense it as soon as I came down here.”



“Don’t say anything to anyone.” Willow said quietly.



“Won’t.” Anya said, “Will he tell Dawn?”



“Don’t know.” Willow said, “Maybe.”



“So why did you want the disk?” Anya asked.



“Angel loves Cordiela.” Willow said, “They can’t be together because of the…”



“That happiness clause thing.” Anya finished, “That’s why he left Buffy.”



“Right.” Willow said, “But when we redid the curse, I don’t know if the clause was there or not. There hadn’t been time to translate it before we used it. Don’t say anything though. Spike’s the only one that even knows what going on.”



“’Kay.” Anya said, “I really gotta go now. Before anyone realizes I left.”



“Bye.” Willow said hugging her quickly. “Thanks.”



“No problem.” Anya said returning the hug. “Good luck.”

~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!



“Hi Nibblet.” Spike said taking the phone from Cordiela.



“Hi Spike.”



“So obviously your Sis told you I was here.” Spike said hoping the girl didn’t really want to know why he was here.



“Yeah. She’s really pissed.” Dawn replied. “They were even more pissed when the realized they don’t know why you went to L.A.”



“Don’t suppose it occurred to them it’s none of their business.” Spike said.



“Buffy thinks everything is here business.” Dawn said, “Anyway they want to know why you’re there with Willow.”



“Do you?”



“Not really.” Dawn said, “You left Buffy. She didn’t want you. So what you do is none of her business. All I want to know is if you really love Willow or if this is a rebound thing. She doesn’t need that right now. So if you’re going to hurt her than leave now.”



“I don’t know if I love her Nibblet.” Spike responded, “But I don’t plan on hurting her either.”



“’Kay.” Dawn said, “You don’t have to tell me why you’re there but I’ll be in L.A. in a couple days to visit my dad. Can I come see you. I miss you and Willow.”



Spike turned when he felt a hand on his shoulder, seeing Willow he smiled. “Dawn wants to come visit in a couple days.”



“Sure.” Willow said, “It’ll be fun. Oh, Cordy and I can take her shopping.”



At the mention of her name and shopping Cordiela looked up from the computer. “Shopping?”



“Yeah. Dawn wants to visit.” Willow said.



“Sure.”



“Willow and Cordiela are planning a shopping trip for you as we speak Pet.” Spike said into the phone. “Call when you get to town.”



“Thanks.” Dawn said, “Gotta go, Buffy’s coming. Tell Will I said Hi.”



“Bye.” Spike said then when he heard the click on the other end replaced the receiver. “Anya leave?”



“Yeah.” Willow said, “Now all I have to do is hope I’m right… and learn Romanian.”



“Want help?” Spike said following her toward the steps.



“You speak Romanian?” Willow asked surprised.



“Nope.” Spike said, “Actually just planned on annoying you while you worked.”





Part Twenty-five


Willow stared at the words on the screen. None of it was making any sense to her, which probably had a lot to do with her lack of knowledge of the language. She could ask Fred for help, except she didn’t know if Fred spoke it either, and she didn’t want to let her in on this if she didn’t need to. She didn’t want Fred to be disappointed if her theory was wrong.



“Red, C’mon it’s been hours.” Spike whined from the bed. “How long are you going to look at that. You can’t read it. It isn’t suddenly going to appear in English because you’re looking at it.”



“Draw back to no magic.” Willow muttered. “So you don’t know Romanian, know anyone that does?”



“Angel.” Spike said, “Probably the watcher. There really are better things we could be doing right now.” Spike finished coming up behind her and rubbing her shoulders.



“I guess you’re right.” She said shutting down the computer and turning her chair toward him. As he lowered his head toward hers, she said, “Watcher that’s it.”



“You’re going to call Giles.” Spike said straightening. “Thought you didn’t want them to know.”



“I don’t” Willow said, “Not Giles. Wesley.”



“Can’t do that tonight right?” Spike said pulling her out of the chair.



“No why?”



“Then let’s go to bed.” Spike said tugging her toward the bed.

~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!



“So why was Anya here?” Gunn asked. “And why is a demon friends with Willow?”



“Willow asked her to bring her something. She won’t say what it was though.” Fred said sitting next to him and handing him a soda. “Anya had been human for a few years then Xander left her at the alter and she got her powers back.”



“Will is still friends with a Vengeance demon who was left by her best friend?” Gunn summarized.



“Yep.” Fred said nodding.



“Why did she lose her powers to begin with?” Gunn asked.



“Me.” Cordiela said coming in the room. “When Xander and I broke up I wanted vengeance. Wished for a Sunnydale without Buffy. Anya granted the wish. It wasn’t a fun place to be then Giles broke her amulet and everything returned to normal. Well you know normal for Sunnydale.” She finished sitting across from the couple. “So you guys don’t know what she was here for either?”



“Nope.” Both responded in unison.



“What ever Willow’s thinking I hope she’s right because I am so beyond tired of researching.” Cordiela said.



“Didn’t find anything?” Gunn asked knowing how much this would mean to both his friends.



“No.” Cordiela said, “Far as I can tell Angel was the one and only time a vampire’s soul was restored, well except for Spike now I guess, anyway there is no information on soul restoration.”



Part Twenty-six


Willow smiled as she opened her eyes and looked at the vampire next to her. He was being so kind about everything, which still seemed kind of odd to her, she wasn’t use to an understanding Spike. But he was willing to give her the time she needed to get over Tara. She supposed he needed time too, time to get over Buffy. Her smile grew when she felt his hand moving down her back, knowing he wasn’t sleeping any longer, and figuring she wouldn’t stop him if she thought he was sleeping.



“I know you’re awake.” She said raising her head to kiss him. “Now c’mon lots to do today.” She finished pulling him out of the bed.



“You have lots to do today.” Spike grumbled, “I on the other hand having nothing to do until dark but annoy the poof and the cheerleader.”



“You could try doing something constructive with your time.” Willow said, “You know instead of annoying people.”



“Was trying to.” Spike said grabbing her and pulling her back toward the bed. “Then you got up.”



“Spike.” Willow said pulling away, “I need to call Wesley.”



“Fine.” Spike said standing up, “Don’t blame me when you get back and the cheerleader’s in a bad mood.”



‘Why don’t you spend the time thinking of things to do with Dawn this weekend.” Willow suggested.



“Thought you were taking her shopping?”



“We’ll be back by dark.” Willow said heading out of the room, “Gonna go shower.”

~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~



“You don’t know if the clause was there when you performed the spell?” Wesley asked again unable to believe that Giles hadn’t translated the spell before letting the girl do it.



“There hadn’t been time. Acathla remember?” Willow said, “Anyway I want to know now. Can you help me?”



“Yes of course.” Wesley answered, “You want to come here?”



“Yeah. Um tonight okay?” Willow asked, “Not sure leaving Spike here alone with Cordy all day is a good idea. He’s made it his personal business to see how far she can be pushed before deciding the soul doesn’t matter and staking him.”



“That’s fine.” Wesley said and quickly gave her directions to his apartment.



“See you then.” Willow said hanging up the phone and heading back out to the lobby.



“You are not going with us Spike.” Cordiela said without looking up from the magazine she was reading.



“Am too. Red said I could.” He said smirking at the woman across from him.



“I said you could what?” Willow asked.



“Go shopping with us Saturday.” Cordiela said, “And I am not spending the whole day in the mall with him.” She finished throwing the magazine on the table.



“Either am I.” Willow said, “He’s just trying to piss you off.”



“Am not.” Spike said smiling, “You said think of things to do with Dawn. I thought of something, shopping with the three of you.”



“You don’t even like the mall.” Willow said, “And you can’t go during the day anyway.”



“He could take the tunnels.” Angel said coming down the steps not really sure what they were discussing but was reasonably sure Spike could get there in the tunnels. Then at Cordiela’s angry look, “Or maybe not.”



“See even the Poof thinks you should let me go.” Spike said enjoying his game, knowing that he had no desire at all to spend the afternoon carrying bags around the mall for the three women.



“I didn’t say that.” Angel countered. “I just said you could take the sewers but if they don’t want…”



“We don’t.” Cordiela said, “And I can’t believe you helped him come up with a way to annoy me.”



“Cordy I’m sure he not trying to…” Angel began then saw the smirk on the younger vampire’s face, “Okay who am I kidding he wants to annoy you.”



“I’m hurt.” Spike said frowning his hand over his heart. “You believe I would do that.”



“Yes.” All three of the others said in unison.



“Want to see a movie tonight?” Cordiela asked looking at Willow, “Gunn and Angel are going to be out on a case and Fred is working with Connor on building some kind of contraption.”



“Love too, but I have plans already, I’ll be gone most of the evening.” Willow apologized, “Maybe tomorrow.”



“Ooh, looks like it’s me and you tonight cheerleader.” Spike said grinning at her.



“No. Will you are not leaving me here alone all night with him. I swear I’ll…”



“He’s part of the plans.” Willow said.



“Oh, those kind of…” Cordiela said smiling.



“No not…” Willow said, “It’s not a date. I just figured it would be bad for Spike’s health if I left the two of you alone.”



“My…” Spike stuttered, “I’m a vampire.”



“Who is coming seriously close to being staked.” Willow said, “So you come with me.”



“Fine.” Spike muttered, “Remember though I’m not responsible for my actions if I get bored.”



“What ever.” Willow said.

!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~



Spike wandered around Wesley’s apartment while the other two poured over the sheets of paper in front of them. He’d heard parts of their conversation, it wasn’t going to be easy to translate. It was Romanian but a rather archaic version of it. The watcher said with enough time he could indeed translate it though.



He hated being ignored, especially when it was in favor of his Grand-sire. That’s what Dru had done, she said she loved him but he was always second to her Daddy. Buffy too, well Buffy never claimed to love him, but he never compared to Angel in her eyes. Now Willow was ignoring him because of Angel. He picked up a statue sitting on a table in the corner of the room, looking at it for a moment then returning it to it’s spot. The noise causing Willow to look up from her book.



“Spike..”



“I didn’t do anything.” Spike said, “But are you two almost done. I want to go out.”



“Willow I can keep working on this and call you if I find anything.” Wesley suggested, the hyper vampire making him very nervous. “I have some books in storage that may help and I couldn’t get those until tomorrow anyway. You two go out enjoy yourselves.”



“If you’re sure.” Willow said hesitantly, not wanting to dump the work off on Wesley.



“It’s fine. I’ll call you tomorrow if I haven’t found anything we can make arrangements to meet again.”



“You heard him Red.” Spike said, “Grabbing his duster and her jacket let’s go.”



“Call as soon as you find anything Wesley,” Willow said as Spike pulled her toward the door, “If not call tomorrow and I’ll come by and help some more.”



“Bye.” Wesley said, as Spike pulled the girl out the door.



Looking back down at the papers in front of him, he wanted Willow’s theory to be right. If she was it would mean so much to both Angel and Cordiela. He hadn’t hesitated to help the girl with this project because he knew he needed to find a way to make amends for what he had done to Angel, and this seemed like the perfect way to do that. To help Willow give Angel the happiness he so richly deserved. He would work on this as long as it took. He would try the other books he had mentioned to her tomorrow morning, if those were of no help he would approach Willow again about contacting Giles. He may have materials they didn’t.



Part Twenty-seven


“Dawn are you sure your friends won’t mind?” Hank Summers asked again as he stopped the car in front of the hotel. “It isn’t a problem for me to drive you back to Sunnydale and catch a plane from there.”



“I’m sure it’s fine Dad.” Dawn said getting out of the car and looking up at the huge building in front of her. “ A couple extra days won’t matter.”



“Well I want to come in with you to be sure.” He said getting out of the car and grabbing Dawn’s luggage from the trunk, “I don’t want to impose on them.”



“Whatever.” Dawn said grabbing a duffel bag from the back seat and heading toward the door, followed closely by her father.

~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~



“Damn it Spike you got blood all over the…” Cordelia yelled coming into the lobby, stopping short when she saw they had company, “Dawn, your uh, early and have company.”



“Yeah, Cordelia this is my…”



“Sure, must be my fault I’m not the only one here that…” Spike said coming down the stairs. “Dawn?” He said in surprise.



“Hi,” Dawn said, “Cordelia, Spike, this is my father. Dad this is Cordelia and Spike, friend’s of Buffy’s.” She finished.



“Don’t exaggerate.” Spike and Cordelia said in unison.



“Hello.” Hank said smiling at the pair across from him.



“Can you guys tell my Dad it’s okay for me to stay here until Sunday.” Dawn said deciding it was best to ignore the blood comments, since her dad hadn’t seemed to have noticed them.



“Of course you can.” Cordelia said immediately, “We’d love to have you.”



“Are you sure. As I told her I can take her back to…”



“We have plenty of room here. And I know Willow would love to spend a little extra time with her.” Spike assured the man.



“Well, if you’re sure.” Hank said reassured that it wouldn’t be a problem. “I’ll contact Buffy and tell her to make arrangements to get Dawn on Sunday so she’s back before school starts Monday.”



“Oh, don’t worry about that.” Cordelia said not interested in another Buffy, Xander confrontation, “We’ll get her back home, it’s not a problem.”



“Okay then have a good time Dawn.” Hank said hugging his daughter before leaving.

~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~



Wesley reread the words he had written on the legal pad, once again comparing them to the papers Willow had given him last night with the spell on it. There were still a few phrases he couldn’t translate at all, and a couple he wasn’t confident about, he needed someone with more knowledge of the language. Unfortunately the only people he could think of with that knowledge was Angel, who was out of the question, Giles, who Willow didn’t want contacted, and of course the Watcher’s Council, but there was little chance they would talk to him, and even less chance they would want to help a vampire. Setting the papers aside just as the phone rang he reached for the receiver.



“Hello.”



“Hi, Wesley.”



“Willow.” Wesley said surprised. “I was going to call you.”



“You found something!” Willow said excitedly.



“Well no.” Wesley said sadly, “I have translated most of the spell and I don’t see anything about the clause, but there are a few things I haven’t been able to translate.”



“Is there some other book you need. I can find it if that’s…”



“I don’t think another book will help Willow.” Wesley interrupted. “I need someone with knowledge of the language I don’t possess. That means…”



“Angel or Giles.” Willow finished for him with a sigh. “I don’t want Angel to know about this so he’s not an option. But I guess if you really need his help I can call Giles.”



“I can call him if you’d…”



“No I’ll do it.” Willow said, “I can’t hide from everyone forever. I’ll call the Magic Shop now. Buffy and Xander should both be at work.”



“I’ll wait to hear from you.” Wesley said.



“I’ll call as soon as I can.” Willow responded, “Bye.”



“Good bye.” Wesley said hanging up the phone.

~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!



“Oh my God!” Dawn said as the door closed behind her father. “I thought we were dead when you two came in arguing about blood.”



“Not like we were expecting company.” Spike said then turning her face Cordelia, “Which reminds me, why assume it’s my blood. Not like I’m the only one here that drinks it.”



“You are the sloppy one though.” Cordelia said facing the vampire. “Never had to clean up after Angel before.”



“What are you two fighting about…” Willow said coming out of the office, her sentence trailing off as spotted Dawn.



“Dawnie.” Willow said quickly moving to hug the teenager. “Your early.”



“Dad had to go out of town.” Dawn explained, “They’re fighting about Spike making a mess.” She said motioning to the pair arguing in front of them.



“Spike.” Willow said interrupting the argument. “Go clean up the mess. Please.”



“But…”



“If you do, I promise to make it up to you later.” She whispered in his ear as she hugged him.



“Not gonna forget that promise Pet.” Spike said pulling away from her and walking toward the kitchen.



“Dawn I need to talk to you about something.” Willow said facing the teenager, “Upstairs.” Pulling Dawn toward the stairs and away from Cordiela.



“I swear I’m gonna kill her if she doesn’t tell me what the hell is going on soon.” Cordelia muttered as she headed toward the office to catch up on the paperwork.





Part Twenty-eight


Willow pulled Dawn into the bedroom and closed the door behind her. “I need your help.” She said sitting on the bed next to where Dawn had sat down.



“’kay with what?”


“Couple things, I need to talk to Giles. He’s not angry with me for the Spike thing right?” Willow responded nervously. “I mean I know Buffy and Xander were but Giles he’s not…”



“He’s not mad. Surprised but he’s okay.” Dawn interrupted, “What do you want me to do though?”



“Call him for me. I really don’t want to risk Buffy or Xander answering right now.” Willow answered. “I don’t have the energy to fight with them today.”



“No problem. What do you need to talk to him about, I can have him call you back.” Dawn said wondering why Willow wanted to talk to him after avoiding everyone for so long.



“Can you keep a secret?” Willow asked standing up she began pacing the room, when Dawn nodded she continued, “Angel and Cordelia love each other.”



“Ookay.” Dawn said slowly, “How does this involve Giles?”



“The curse.” Willow responded, “Angel’s been avoiding even admitting his feelings because of the happiness clause.”



“You want Giles to remove the clause?” Dawn asked, “Wouldn’t he have done that a long time ago if he knew how?”



“Probably.” Willow said, “Actually I think there may not be a clause anymore. I have the spell I used here, but I can’t translate it. Wesley’s been working on it but he needs help.”



“So you’re saying that all this time Angel wasn’t in any danger of losing his soul, he’s been miserable for nothing?” Dawn said, “Oh, but Buffy will be so pissed.”



“That’s the bonus part of the whole thing.” Spike said coming in the room. “Though I still don’t think the Poof will know how to act if he doesn’t brood.”



“Spike…” Willow warned. “Which brings me to the other favor Dawn.”



“If I have to go to Wesley’s to help him and Giles can you keep Spike occupied.”



“Why?” Both Spike and Dawn said.



“Because I can’t take him with me during the day, and when left alone he does nothing but annoy Angel and Cordy.” Willow said glancing at the vampire behind her.



“’kay. Want me to call Giles now?” Dawn asked.



“Why don’t we get you settled in a room first.” Willow said.



“I put your bags in the next room Nibblet.” Spike said.



“Then I’ll go unpack and then call Giles.” Dawn said leaving the room.



“Now.” Spike said as the door closed behind Dawn. “About that promise.” He finished pulling Willow to him.

~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!



“What’s up?” Gunn asked walking into the lobby. “Where is everyone?”



“Fred went out to pick up lunch. Angel’s in the basement, and Willow, Spike and Dawn are upstairs talking about something they won’t tell me about.” Cordelia said.



“You sound annoyed.”



“Oh, I’m way passed annoyed Gunn.” Cordelia said, “Willow’s been up to something for days. Spike knows what it is and he won’t talk either. All I know is it has to do with Angel and me.”



“What has to do with me?” Angel asked coming up from basement.



“Whatever Willow’s been doing for the last few days. The reason Anya was here, the reason her and Spike went out last night.”



“I thought it was a date?” Angel asked.



“No.” Cordelia said becoming annoyed at how little Angel seemed to notice. “Spike didn’t even now about it until Willow told me. So it wasn’t a date.”



“Want me to ask her?” Angel said trying to pacify Cordelia.



“What the hell good will that do.” She asked, as Gunn decided to quietly slip out of the room and wait outside for Fred, “Think she’s just going to tell you. Whatever it is she doesn’t want us to know yet.”



Angel stood watching her pace for several minutes trying to decide if it would be better to ignore her comment or actually try to respond. Deciding it would be best to not fuel her anger anymore he tried changing the subject.



“Um Cordelia I was wondering, Fred said a carnival was opening tonight down the street and her and Gunn were going, I thought maybe you would like…”



Cordelia turned toward the vampire, smiling at his nervousness, “I’d love too Angel, Gunn and Fred are going?” At his nod she suggested, “Dawn came to visit early, and Connor has probably never been to one, why don’t we see if everyone would like to go?” She asked deciding Angel would be more relaxed if it seemed less like a date, and more like a family outing.



She smiled to herself at that thought. They had never dated, yet somehow were already arranging family outings. Their lives definitely were different than other peoples.



“Sounds great. I’ll go find Connor and ask him.” Angel said heading up the stairs.

~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~



“Magic Box.” Xander said picking up the phone behind the counter.



“Hi Xan. Giles there?” Dawn asked.



“Dawn Hi.” He said setting down the donut he had just grabbed, “What’s up?”



“Oh, nothing.” She said, “Giles just asked me to look for a book and I forgot the title he wanted.”



“Just a sec then.” Xander said then put his hand over the receiver, “Giles.” He shouted toward the back of the store. “Phone.”



“I’ll get it back here.” Giles responded before picking up the phone on the wall. “Hello.”



“Hi.” Dawn said then waited for Xander to hang up the phone. “Giles, Willow needs to talk to you.”



“Willow?” Giles questioned. “Is something wrong? I thought you weren’t going there till the weekend.”



“Yeah, well change in plans.” Dawn responded, “Anyway I’m at Angel’s now. Please don’t tell anyone, you know how they are right now. But Willow needs some help from you. She didn’t want to call because of Xander and Buffy so can you call her back when you’re alone.”



“What does she need?” Giles asked concerned about the girl, she was still adjusting to her non magical life. “Is something wrong?”



“No, everything’s fine.” Dawn explained, “But she can tell you what she wants herself okay.”



“Dawn…” Giles began.



“I’ve gotta go.” Dawn said at the knock on her door. “Bye.” She finished before hanging up.

~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!



“Willow!” Cordelia yelled from the bottom of the stairs. “Giles is on the phone.”



“Got it.” Willow yelled back, reaching for the phone. “Hello.”



“Willow.” Giles said at the sound of her voice, “Dawn asked me to call you. There isn’t a problem is there?”



“Oh, no.” Willow reassured him, “I mean there is, but not like you mean. I just wanted to know if you could maybe come up to L.A. this weekend. I, we, need your, uh, help.”



“Did Spike…”



“No.” She said glancing back at the vampire sleeping on the bed next to her. “Spike is fine. It’s kind of your language skills we need. Are you alone?”



“Yes. Why?”



“I don’t want Buffy or Xander to know about this yet. I didn’t want to tell anyone else, but it seems I have no choice.” Willow said quickly, “You know the spell to restore Angel’s soul, did you ever translate it?”



“No. Why Angel hasn’t….” Giles said, panic coming through in his voice.



“Would I be this calm if he had?” Willow retorted, “I was wondering if the happiness clause was there. I mean it probably wasn’t part of the original spell, it was something the gypsy’s added right? So then which version was it Miss. Calander found?”



“I never thought about that.” Giles said realizing Willow did have a point, they had all assumed the clause was still there. “I can get away this weekend.”



“Great. Actually that’ll solve another problem. Getting Dawn home Sunday.” Willow said smiling when she felt Spike roll over and reach for her, pulling her closer to him.



“I’ll be there Saturday afternoon, and I’ll take Dawn back with me on Sunday then.” Giles offered, “If it’s okay with Angel.”



“I’m sure it’ll be no problem.” Willow assured him, “But don’t tell Angel why you’re here okay. I don’t want him or Cordelia to know anything until we’re sure.”



“All right. Buffy’s here.” Giles said, “I’ll see you Saturday.”



Twenty-nine


Connor and Dawn walked through the masses of people lining up to go through the haunted house. After a lot of pleading and begging they had convinced Angel and Spike that they could make it through a carnival alone. It wasn’t like sixteen year olds didn’t go out by themselves all the time, and they had the advantage of Connor having the speed and strength of a vampire.



“Now why aren’t we going in this one?” Connor asked. They had been on almost every ride they passed so he couldn’t understand why she was skipping this one.



“It’s a haunted house.” Dawn explained, “But trust me, there is nothing in that building that’s as scary as the real demons and stuff you’ve already seen.”



“Spike is very protective of you.” Connor said changing the subject, as they moved into the line for the tilt-a-whirl. “Odd isn’t it for a vampire. I mean Angel’s different because I’m his child but…”



“Spike promised my sister to protect me before she died.” Dawn said, “He takes it very seriously.”



“Your sister’s dead?”



“Not anymore.” Dawn said smiling, “You don’t know any of this?”



“Guess not.” Connor said, “I left as an infant and showed up again like this.”



“Nice to talk to someone who’s life is as messed up as mine.” Dawn said laughing. “All right I’ll explain my messed up life if you tell me about yours.”



“Deal.” Connor said and handed the tickets to the man standing at the gate.

~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~



“You ever gonna tell me what’s going on?” Cordelia asked Willow as three women stood back and watched the men trying to pop balloons with little darts.



“Going on?” Willow asked trying to look innocent.



“Yes.” Cordelia said, “Going on. You’ve been keeping something from me ever since that night I told you about Angel.”



“I’m not keeping anything from you.” Willow said looking away from her friend.



“I have to agree with Cordy.” Fred said, “You’ve been acting weird.”



“I’ll tell all of you when it’s time okay.” Willow said then looking at Cordelia, “You have to trust me right now.”



“Can’t stand not knowing everything huh, Cheerleader?” Spike asked walking over to the women holding a large stuffed pink bear.



“Spike…” Cordelia said turning her attention to the vampire.



“Spike is that for me?” Willow said stepping between the two before a fight started.



“Like it?” Spike asked. “Angel’s still over there trying to win something.”



“Amazing isn’t it?” Gunn said walking up next to Fred, and handing her a giant dog, “If he saw a vamp he could throw a stake and hit from the other side of the other side of the street, but a dart at a balloon from five feet is too much.”



“It is kind of sad isn’t it?” Willow said shaking her head, “If I could still use magic I’d help him.”



Cordelia watched as Angel reached into his pocket for more money. He’s going to go broke at this game, she thought, “Angel, why don’t we try a different game?” She suggested, there had to be something here he was good at.



“One more try.” Angel said, “I think I’ve got it now.”



“Let’s go.” Cordelia said pulling him away. “You can try something else.”

~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!



“Why did we bring him again?” Cordelia asked tugging on the bottom of her shirt trying to wring the water out of it.



“It was an accident.” Fred and Willow both said, trying to not to laugh at their friend who was thoroughly soaked from the last game they had played.



“It was not. I can’t believe you brought him.”



“You did say everyone.” Willow said biting back the smile.



“Hey guys.” Dawn said when she spotted the rest of the group coming toward the parked car. “God where are we going to put all those stuffed animals?” She asked spotting Gunn and Spike each carrying an armful of large stuffed toys, and Angel carry several smaller toys.



“What happened to you?” Connor asked spotting Cordelia trying to shake some of the water from her hair.



“He tried to drown me.” She stated angrily staring at the blonde vampire.



“If I wanted to drowned you, you wouldn’t be here telling them about it.” Spike said throwing stuffed animals in the trunk that Angel had opened.



“You saw him right Angel?” Cordelia asked, “He did it on purpose right?”



“Cordy, I don’t…” Angel began knowing there was no way to be honest and not piss off his seer.



“That’s right Cheerleader.” Spike finally said turning back to her, “I knew that man would hit the water hard enough to splash massive amounts of water over the side of the tank to the exact spot you were standing.”



“I knew it.” Cordelia said ignoring the obvious sarcasm.



“Cordelia, If he knew the water would do that he was risking hitting Fred and Willow who were only like a foot away from you.” Angel pointed out. “And it was only water.”



“No Angel, I’ve been reading some of Red’s old books.” Spike said, “Practicing magic just to get the chance to splash the cheerleader at a carnival.”



“Spike you are not helping.” Willow and Dawn both said.



“I think maybe we should walk home.” Willow suggested pulling Spike away from the car, “Meet you guys there.”



“Want to walk with them?” Dawn asked Connor.



“Sure.” He said and the two of them followed after Willow and Spike.

~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~



“Do you have to do that?” Willow said as they walked down the street.



“Do what?” Spike asked innocently, “I didn’t get her wet on purpose.”



“Piss her off.” Willow, Dawn, and Connor all said at the same time.



“I don’t…” Spike started.



“I’ve only been here a day and I know you aggravate her on purpose.” Dawn said hitting his shoulder.



“Spike, I love you, but I really don’t want to have to avoid every friend I have because of you. Buffy, Xander, and Giles don’t like you. And you’re quickly wearing out your welcome here. So please, for me, try to be nice to Cordelia.”



“Everyone doesn’t hate me. Nibblet likes me. So does Fred.” Spike said.



“Anya likes him too.” Dawn offered.



“So does Gunn.” Connor added.



“Did you say you love me?” Spike said when her statement fully sank in.



“Uh, Yes.” Willow said blushing.



“I think we should go.” Dawn said smiling and pulling Connor away from the couple.



“I shouldn’t have…” Willow said, “I know you don’t… and it’s…”



“Red,” Spike said pulling her against him, “I love you too.”



“Really.” She said smiling and looking up at him.



“Yeah.” He said before lowering his head to kiss her.



Part Thirty


Giles walked through the door of the hotel, looking around for a sign of it’s inhabitants, finally spotting a girl in the office behind the desk. He set his bags down and moved closer to the desk hoping she would notice him, just as she looked up and smiled.



“Hi,” she said coming out of the office. “Your Giles right? I’m Fred.”



“Yes. And nice to meet you.” Giles said extending his hand to the girl. “Is uh, Willow or Spike around?”



“They’re at the mall with Cordelia.” She said smiling at his grimace. “I know probably not a good idea but Dawn really wanted Spike to go with them.”



“Yes, Well I can’t imagine what Willow was thinking.” Giles said, “I really can’t picture Spike behaving well in a mall.”



“Well, I can show you to the room Angel arranged for you.” Fred said quickly, “That is unless you want to tell me why Willow asked you to come here.”



“Sorry.” Giles replied smiling at the girls attempt to get information, “I promised Willow I wouldn’t say anything.”



“It was worth a try.” She said shrugging and moving toward the stairs.

~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~



“Red, isn’t the watcher arriving today?” Spike asked trailing behind the three women, and carrying several bags that Dawn had acquired in various stores. This had been by far the longest day of his life. He never should have let Dawn talk him in to coming, but it was another chance to spend time with Willow, plus the bonus of pissing off Cordelia.



“Why?” Willow said as they headed into another accessory store. “Miss him?” She finished turning to face the vampire.



“Not bloody likely.” Spike murmured. “Just thought it would be polite if you were there when your company arrives.”



“Translation.” Cordelia said, fed up with the vampire’s whining, “I’m bored and want to go home.”



“Or maybe, I’m tired of being a pack horse.” Spike suggested holding up his hands filled with bags.



“He’s right Will.” Dawn said not wanting to here another argument, “Giles should be here by now. Let’s just go.”



“’Kay.” Willow said following Spike out of the store.



“Gonna tell me why he’s here yet?” Cordelia asked catching up with the Red head.



“Spike?” Willow said feigning innocence. “Dawn wanted him to come.”



“Giles.” Cordelia said, “Why is he here today instead of tomorrow?”



“Can’t tell you yet.” Willow said, “Hopefully I can tell you by tomorrow.”

~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!



Giles quickly hung up the phone when he heard the door open. He had called Wesley to get as much information as he could before they went over there tonight. From what the other watcher had told him it sounded like Willow’s theory was right. The spell Jenny found didn’t seem to include the clause. He just needed to get a look at a few phrases that Wesley wasn’t sure of. This wasn’t something they wanted to risk making a mistake on.



“Giles.” Dawn said opening the office door. “You alone here?”



“Fred went out with Gunn to get lunch.” Giles said as Willow and Spike followed the teenager into the office.



“Hi.” Willow said quietly then moving to hug the watcher.



“Hello.” Giles said returning the hug, glad to see that Willow was looking and sounding better than before she left. “I talked to Wesley.”



“Good news I hope?” Willow said smiling.



“Yes. The guarantee of no repeat performances by Angelus would be nice.” Spike muttered.



“I think so yes.” Giles said, ignoring the vampire’s comment “I do need to go to Wesley’s though to look at the spell to be sure.”



“Dawn can you watch Spike?” Willow asked glancing at the vampire, she didn’t want to take him to Wesley’s again, he clearly made the ex-watcher nervous.



“I’m not a child.” Spike pouted. “I don’t need a baby-sitter.”



“Great then you wanna take me to a movie?” Dawn asked smiling at the vampire.



“Action Movie?”



“What ever.” Dawn agreed, knowing she just needed to keep the vampire busy.

~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~



Willow sat on the couch flipping through the channels on Wesley’s television, while the two watcher’s studied the spell, and muttering to each other and themselves, and occasionally consulting various books. She hoped this all worked out for Angel, he deserved to be happy, so did Cordelia. True, a few years ago she wouldn’t have believed there would be a day she would think Cordelia deserved happiness.



“Willow.” Giles said pulling her out of her thoughts.



“Yeah.” Willow said turning to face them, “Find something?”



“Actually yes.” Giles said, “It looks like you were right. There is no sign of the clause in this spell.”



“Oh, That’s great!” She said jumping up and hugging the two men. “Angel’s going to be so happy. Oh, and Wesley, you have to come with us to tell them.”



“I don’t think…” Wesley began nervously.



“You have to.” Willow said quickly. “I couldn’t have done this without you and you haven’t seen them in so long, and they miss you, and I know you miss them and…”



“I’ll go.” Wesley said, “But Giles and I would like to talk to talk to you about Spike.”



“What about him?” Willow asked becoming instantly defensive. “I’m not going to stop seeing…”



“Willow, you know that Spike is…” Giles began worried about how the vampire might affect the still vulnerable girl.



“He’s not dangerous anymore.” Willow said, “Hell, he’s less dangerous than Angel.”



“Willow the chip…” Wesley said, having discussed this at great length with Giles earlier in the day.



“Doesn’t really even matter anymore.” Willow said, angry that they were questioning her judgment like this, “He has… Giles Spike has a soul.” She said falling back onto the couch. “Damn it, that shouldn’t even matter.”



“Spike has a…” Giles said taking off his glasses rubbing the bridge of his nose, “Willow are you sure?”



“Yes.” Willow said, “When he left Sunnydale he went looking for a way to have the chip removed and ended up getting a soul.”



“Why didn’t he… Why didn’t you…” Wesley stuttered not sure exactly what to say at this news.



“Because it doesn’t change anything.” Willow said, “He hasn’t done anything really bad in a few years. Why should a soul make so much of a difference?”



“Willow you know that it does.” Giles said sitting next to the girl. “Do Buffy and Xander know?”



“No. And you can’t tell them. I shouldn’t have told you.” Willow said quickly, “Who knows and who doesn’t is Spike’s decision not ours.”



“Fine.” Giles agreed, “But if he’s going to return to Sunnydale…”



“Neither of us plan on returning anytime soon.” Willow said, “I’m sorry Giles. But we both know that Xander and Buffy won’t accept him even if they know about the soul.”



“Willow are you sure?” Giles asked knowing that she was right, and that if she stayed here with Angel she would be safe.



“Yes.” Willow said, “Giles I love him. And things are better here, everyone here doesn’t look at me with fear that one day I may go crazy again and try to kill them. Okay Cordy may one day stake Spike but we’re working on that.” She said smiling.



“If this is what you want. Just please don’t shut us all out Willow. Buffy and Xander love you, they will deal with this eventually.” Giles said hugging her then pulling back to look at her, “Shall we go tell Angel the news?”



“Lets go.” She said smiling and standing up.



Part thirty-one


Dawn and Fred were sitting on the couch, with Gunn and Connor on the floor in front of them watching a movie when the door opened and Willow walked through holding her lap top in one hand and a large stack of papers in the other. Giles followed closely behind her.



“Willow, Giles.” Dawn said grabbing the remote control and stopping the movie when she saw the smile on Willow’s face. “Back already?”



“Yeah. Angel and Cordy around?” Willow said glancing around the room.



“Oh, and you brought Wesley with you.” Fred said jumping up as she spotted the other man coming through the door.



“Hello.” Wesley said still uneasy about being here. He knew that he had made peace with these people and they had told him many times that he was welcome back but he wasn’t sure he was comfortable with it just yet.



“Angel and Cordy went to get snacks.” Gunn replied to Willow’s question. “Hey.” He said glancing at Wesley.



“Spike’s upstairs pouting over us renting a ‘Chick-flick’.” Dawn said anticipating Willow’s next question. “Sure you really love someone who pouts that much.”



“Spike.” Willow yelled. “Come down here please.” She finished ignoring the teenager’s comment.



“Back so soon?” Cordelia asked coming through the door carrying a large bag. “’Cause I don’t think we have enough snacks for…”



“Wesley!” She said dropping the bag and running to hug her friend. “This mean your back.”



“Well. Possibly.” Wesley said returning the hug, “But first we have something to discuss with you and Angel.”



“What?” Angel asked setting several more bags by the door and pushing it closed behind him.



Once everyone was in the room and seated Willow began to explain to everyone her theory about the spell she had used to restore Angel’s soul. “Anyway I never actually translated the spell, wouldn’t have known how even if there had been time, but when Cordy said that you had been afraid to, uh, have a relationship, with her because of the happiness thing I started thinking. The original spell could have been modified to include the clause, I mean after Spike was given his soul back without the clause so…”



“You have a soul?” Dawn asked slapping the vampire next to her in the chest. “Thanks for sharing.”



“Sorry Nibblet.” Spike said rubbing the spot where she had hit him.



“Okay, uh, back to Angel please.” Cordelia said impatient with change in the conversation.



“Okay. So I thought maybe what Ms. Calander and found may have been the original spell, not the modified one. That’s why Anya was here, I need the spell to translate it.” Willow said, “Unfortunately still don’t know ancient Romanian so that’s where Wesley came in.”



“Right and I was able to translate most of the spell but I couldn’t be sure about some phrases and considering the consequences of being wrong…” Wesley said hesitantly, “Which is why Mr. Giles is here. We needed his assistance to finish the translation.”



“Okay whatever.” Cordelia said bored with all the explanation and just wanting the outcome. “Was Willow right or not?”



“Yes.” Willow, Giles, and Wesley all responded at once.



“You’re serious right?” Cordelia said standing up and pacing the room in shock, “This isn’t some kind of really sick joke.”



“Right ‘cause they would risk him taking it seriously and bringing back Angelus.” Spike said to Cordelia, then raising an eyebrow at the vampire across from him who had yet to speak. “See told you he wouldn’t know what to do now that he doesn’t have to brood all the time.”



“Be nice.” Willow and Dawn both said.



“Angel, um, this is good right?” Willow asked hesitantly not sure what to make of the vampire’s silence.



“Yes. Good.” Angel said snapping out of his shock, “It’s great.” He stood and went to hug Cordelia. “My soul is permanent?” He asked once more, “You’re sure?”



“Yep.” Willow said, “And I realize you two really want out of here right now but before you go. Angel I would like to stay here if that’s okay.”



“You’re not returning to Sunnydale?” Cordelia asked surprised. She was glad to have her friend stay but had always assumed one day she would go back home.



“I love Spike.” Willow said smiling and taking the vampire’s hand. “He’s not really welcome there. So if it’s okay with you, maybe we could both stay here. I mean I love fighting evil and we can do that here too.”



“Spike has to stay too?” Cordelia asked in disappointment.



“Yep.” Willow said then looking at the vampire and smiling, “You do want too right?”



“I want to be where ever you are.” Spike answered.



“You are both welcome to stay here.” Angel assured Willow, “For as long as you like.”



“Now if you’ll excuse us.” Cordelia said grabbing the vampire’s hand and pulling him toward the door, “We really need to uh, be alone.”



The End.
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The authors own nothing. Joss, UPN, WB, etc. own Buffy, the show, the characters, the places, and the backstory. The authors own any original plots.