Baby I’m Back. 11

“What?”

“The others? Why didn’t they return with Spike?”

“Because I sent them into hiding. Don’t look at me like that. I didn’t know what to expect. You disappeared.”

“They just left you here? Alone?”

“I wasn’t alone. I had Spike.” She pulled him with her as she sat on the edge of the bed. “They didn’t want to leave. Wes pretty much had to be dragged out, kicking and screaming. I reminded Gunn that Fred was the one he needed to protect. I think Lorne may be tired of getting knocked out.”

She squeezed his hand. “They left because I needed them safe.”

“And you didn’t want to be responsible for anything happening to them.”

“I promised Wes that either Spike or I would stay with you at all times. You hadn’t slept because you were watching me all night. I thought you’d be asleep for hours. I wasn’t gone for very long.”

Angel pulled her into his lap. “Not having you beside me woke me up.” He cupped her cheek. “I put you through so much. I’m sorry.”

“I have my best friend, my champion and my lover back. What more can a girl ask for?”

“A husband?”

“Mmmm I like the sound of that.” She kissed his cheek. “Well there is one thing I could ask for.”

“Anything”

“Let Dennis move in?”

He scowled at her grinning face. “Fine. Your pervert ghost can move in, but I think it’s totally unfair of you to use my guilt against me like this.”

“You’re right. I feel terrible about it.” She shrugged. “But I’ll get over it. I’ll ask Spike to call Willow. I know she was close to figuring it out before…everything happened.”

“Why don’t you want to call her? She didn’t say anything to you, did she?”

“No. She even called a few times to see how I was holding up. I just..she lives with..I’d rather not..Willow and Rupert were both supportive.”

“Giles called?”

“Yeah. He offered to fly in from England but I told him it was probably a bad idea. I didn’t think it would be safe for him to be near me.”

“You got that right. I mean now that I have my soul..I wouldn’t..but there’s no reason for him to come here now.”

“Angel”

“Unless you want him to come for a visit.”

“There’s my sweet manpire. Right now I think we should focus on our family. You didn’t do any taunting or play any mind games so there shouldn’t be any problems with welcoming you back. The lawyers were the ones that did the real damage.”

“Cor, I..”

“We are not going to start the blame game again nor will I allow you to apologize for what you did to protect me. I wish things hadn’t..gone like they did but Lilah is responsible for the choices she made. We need to put this behind us, all of us.”

She lifted his chin. “Unless you need to talk about it. I don’t know exactly what you had to do to rescue me from Wolfram and Hart and I don’t know what you did for blood until you reached Africa. I’m sure the trials were pretty harsh. You probably needed a lot of blood to heal afterward. I want you to know that I’m here for you if you need to talk about any of it. I don’t want you to hold it all in. I won’t judge you. We can take it slow if that’s what you need.”

“I’ve been here for less than an hour and you’re already trying to take care of me. I don’t want you to ignore what you’ve been through.”

“I’m not. I will deal with my baggage at my own pace. I would like to let myself be happy right now. Is there something wrong with that?”

“Of course not. I want you to be happy too.”

“Good. We’re agreed then and as I’ve told you many times, taking care of my family makes me happy. I have spent the last two weeks wallowing in self-pity and self-doubt. I’m ready to focus on someone else now.”

“OK. Have you called them yet?”

“I was just about to try Wes’s cell phone. Nobody answered at the apartment.”

“Whose apartment did you call?”

“We leased an apartment as a temporary office. We helped the owner out with a demon problem so he looks the other way while we operate a business out of a residential building.”

“An apartment?”

“Yeah. An office doesn’t require an invitation. I didn’t want them to use any of their apartments because…you could just set the building on fire to force them out. Plus they can live and work out of an apartment.”

“That makes sense in a frightening sort of way.” He tightened his arms around her waist. “I’m sorry I made you worry so much. If I had told you I was…”

“Stop. What if’s are pointless. We are focusing on the good right now. Let me up so I can call our family and tell them you’re back.”

***

“Summers’s residence”

“Hi Niblet”

“Spike!”

“Yeah. Is big sis around?”

“She’s upstairs. I miss you. How’s Cordy?”

“I miss you too. I need to talk to Buffy.”

“Is something wrong? Did something happen?”

“No and yes. Can you get her for me?”

“Is Cordy okay? Nobody’s hurt or dead, are they?”

“Cordy’s fine. Now let me talk to Buffy.”

“OK. BUFFY! SPIKE’S ON THE PHONE!”

He winced at the girl’s lung power. He could hear shuffling.

“What’s wrong? Did Angelus kill someone?”

“No. Everyone’s fine. I wanted to let you know that there’s nothing to worry about anymore.”

“He’s dust? Oh god! I knew..”

“No, Luv.” Spike cleared his throat. “I have great news. Peaches is back and he’s all soul-havin’ again.”

“What? You guys found a curse that worked? That’s great! I want to see him. He’s gotta be broken up about what Cordelia did. I’m sure he could use a friend right about now.”

“Slow down, Pet. Take a breath.” Spike took a deep breath as well. “We didn’t curse him. He just returned from Africa.”

“I don’t understand.”

“Angelus did the same thing I did.”

“But why?”

Spike took another deep breath. “For Cordy. He knew it was the only way they could be together.”

“I don’t understand. If he got his soul then Angelus wouldn’t really get to be with Cordelia. Angel would and why would he think Angel would still want Cordelia after she cheated on him?”

“I tried to tell you before. Angel is Angelus.”

“That’s not true.”

“I know it’s hard to accept. The whole thing is complicated and pretty damn confusing.”

“How is he?”

“He’s…Luv, he’s angry about..”

“I’m sure he is but don’t worry. He won’t hurt Cordelia. He’s got his soul now. Betrayal isn’t easy to get over but he’ll..”

“Buffy, he isn’t angry at Cordy. Angelus got his soul for her.” He decided to be blunt. “Angel asked Cordy to marry him and she’s accepted.”

“You mean he’s already forgiven her? Maybe he doesn’t remember. It takes a little time for everything to come back.”

“There’s nothing to forgive. Well except for the part where he left without sayin’ anything.”

“But she cheated on him with Angelus.”

“Pet, having a soul doesn’t mean I’m no longer Spike. I’m still a demon but now my soul controls that demon. It’s the same for Angel. He’s still Angelus, only now his demon doesn’t make all his decisions. Cordy didn’t cheat on Angel. She was with Angelus because he is a part of Angel and she loves Angel completely.”

Spike took another deep breath. “Angel knows how lucky he is to have a woman that loves every part of him and so does Angelus. Angelus chose to accept his soul so he could be what Cordy needs him to be. It’s hard to explain. Basically Angel can be Angelus because he is Angelus but Angelus can only try to be Angel.”

“So you’re saying that Angel isn’t mad at Cordelia for sleeping with Angelus?”

“Exactly. He never dreamed it was possible for her to love that part of him.”

“But isn’t that part..I don’t know..gone now?”

“No. Angelus isn’t another person. He’s the demon, the vampire. Angel may have a soul now but he’s still that same vampire.”

“So you’re saying that he’s the same vampire who killed Miss Calendar and tortured Giles?”

“Yes and no. He is the same vampire but not. His soul would never allow him to do those things. Well…let’s just say, soul or no soul, it’s a good thing Rupert stayed in England.”

“I don’t understand. If Angel is Angelus then why did I get sick games and Cordy got…why didn’t Angelus love me? Angel loved me.”

“Angel is Angelus but Angelus is only a part of Angel. Angel’s soul was very much in love with you. The demon..wasn’t.” He could hear her sniffling. “I’m sorry, Luv.”

“I don’t know what to think.”

“Look at it this way. I tried to be the man you needed but I failed because I wasn’t a man. I was a demon. Loving you, made my demon want to be a man so I got my soul. Angelus went through the same thing.”

“I don’t..”

“I know. The fact that Peaches likes to use two different versions of the same name doesn’t help.”

“Wait. You said Angel is angry. If he isn’t angry at Cordelia then who’s he mad at?”

“Oh..um..Luv, he’s angry about what you said to Cordy while he was in Africa.”

“I’m sure she didn’t waste any time telling him.”

“Actually she didn’t say anything.” He cleared his throat. “Angel said something that gave me the impression he knew so I started to defend you. By the time I realized my mistake, it was too late. He demanded to know what happened. I’m sorry.”

“So Cordelia slept with Angelus and he’s mad at me?”

He shook his head. The slayer still didn’t understand. “Yes”

“Maybe I should talk to him. I could be there in a couple of hours. He just doesn’t understand.”

“Pet, I don’t…he asked me..it would be best if you gave him some time to cool off.”

“No. We need to clear the air. Once I explain, he’ll..”

“Buffy, he said you’re not welcome in his home.”

“What?”

“Give him some time. I’ll talk to him. So much has happened. He just..needs some time. It will give you an opportunity to work out the whole Angel/Angelus thing.”

“I can’t believe he’s mad at me.”

“It’ll be okay.”

“I have to go.”

“Buffy”

“I’ll talk to you later. I need to patrol. I suddenly feel the need to kill something.”

“Ask yourself this. If Angel isn’t Angelus, if he isn’t the vampire who killed Miss Calendar and tortured Giles, then what’s the point of his mission for redemption? According to your philosophy, he isn’t guilty of any of Angelus’s crimes.”

“Good bye”

He heard the phone cut off. “That went well.”

***

“Stop that!”

“It’s my shirt. I’m just taking it back.” She slapped his hands away. “It does look better on you though. Have you been sleeping in my shirts and boxers?”

“Yes” She struggled to keep said shirt closed and on her body. “They’ll be here soon.”

“I want to get some food in you so I asked them to stop and pick up a ham and pineapple pizza from Sal’s. We have some time.”

“Are you suggesting we have enough time for a quickie?”

“I’d rather not rush but waiting sounds like torture.” He gave up on the buttons and slipped a hand under her shirt.

“Angel, I want to make love too but our family will be here soon. Spike is downstairs. I’m sure he’ll be up here once he’s finished talking to Buffy. So unless you want an audience, I suggest we wait.”

He rolled onto his back and pulled her against his side. “Okay but waiting means our family gets five minutes to say ‘I’m so glad you’re back’ before I kick them out.”

“You’ll do no such thing. We are ALL going to celebrate. We’ve been through a lot. It’s time to be happy.”

“I’m trying but you won’t cooperate. Don’t forget my demon got to have you but the rest of me is still waiting.”

“Does that bother you?”

He thought a moment. “No. I remember every touch, every taste, every wonderful second. I look forward to doing it again and again.”

“So you’re not upset that our first time together was when you were soulless?”

“No. Were you worried I would be?”

“A little. Most of my decisions were based on assumptions and opinions. I was sure I understood..”

“And then I left?”

“Yeah. Even though I know why you left now, I can’t help second-guessing myself.”

“Well stop. If you hadn’t been the loving, accepting woman you are, I would still be soulless or dust.”

“That’s true. Okay so sex was of the good.”

“I’d say hell yes to that.”

“What about the biting? Are you mad about that?”

“What?” Angel turned and stroked his mark. “I didn’t exactly give you a choice.”

“Not that. My doubts about that disappeared the moment you said you were okay about it. I meant the other bitey sex.”

“That was definitely part of the good.”

“Really? You said you’re soul would be furious.”

“If the situation had been different, I would have.”

“You mean if you hadn’t been in love with me?”

“That too but I meant the whole glowy power. You weren’t really in any danger.”

“Yeah that really did make a difference. I wasn’t afraid of you but more importantly, I wasn’t afraid for our family. I knew I could protect them.”

“If you’d been completely human, I would’ve been furious with you for endangering yourself.”

“So now that you have your soul, will the sex still include biting?”

“Well…I don’t want you..I would hate…it doesn’t…if you..”

“I only ask ’cause you said the marking thing was what your demon wanted. I kinda liked the biting but if you don’t want to that’s..”

“Are you kidding?”

“So that’s a yes for biting?”

“That would be a hell yes but only if you’re really okay with it. I don’t want you to do anything you don’t want to do just for me.”

“Which part of ‘I kinda liked it’ was confusing?”

“It’s the kinda that concerns me.”

“Well it’s just..” She sat up to face him. “It’s going to effect my wardrobe.”

“I’m sorry. What?”

Cordy opened her shirt enough to reveal the curve of her breast. She smiled when he licked his lips. She pointed to the faded bite mark. “Not all of my shirts and dresses will cover these.”

His fingers lightly stroked the healed wound. “I would hate to prevent you from wearing what you want.” He cupped the once injured breast.

Her breathing grew heavy. “If you could bite like an inch this way..” She directed his fingers. “My wardrobe would be very grateful and so would your credit card.” His thumb teased the hardened nipple.

“I could do that.” His free hand finished unbuttoning her shirt.

She glanced down at his busy hands. “What about my neck?”

His hands stilled for a brief moment. “I don’t have to bite you there.”

Cordy cradled his face. “Yes you do.”

“Cor”

“It’s important to you so it’s important to me.”

“What about your wardrobe?”

“I don’t own any turtlenecks so we’re gonna have to come up with an answer to the inevitable questions. We can make the gang understand. I’m more worried about strangers asking why I have what looks like a bite mark on my neck. A faded white scar is one thing but that would mean you’d have to stop biting me there. We’ll figure it out later. Right now I want to make love.”

Angel pushed the material off her shoulders. “I thought you wanted to wait?”

“Patience is overrated, but if you’d rather wait then..” She giggled as Angel pulled her down and rolled her under him.

He whispered against her lips. “No more waiting.” He used her moan to invade her mouth.

Cordy yanked on the edge of his shirt, desperate to touch bare skin.

He pulled from the kiss to remove his shirt. “Don’t worry. I’ll go with the discreet bite this time.”

“No” Hazel eyes locked with warm brown ones. “I want you to claim me again.”

“Cor, you don’t have to prove anything to me.”

“I know that.” She cupped his cheek. “I want you to.”

“Are you sure?”

“Yes” She hooked her leg around his hip drawing him closer. “Now shut up and make love to me.”

“I can do that.”

Part 12

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