This hasn't been betaread, but I have to get this out before Buffy tells me version four. She's been jabbering about this for two days, but she can't make up her mind what to tell me. To save my sanity, I'm sending out. Warts and all. Comments are most welcome.
Here's how we may have gotten closure....
Buffy glanced at Kendra, who was supporting most of Angel's weight on her shoulders, as the three of them walked outside the burning church. Buffy was definitely grateful to Kendra for helping her save Angel, but now she wanted to help Angel herself. "I'll take him home."
"I...will help you," Kendra offered, meeting Buffy's eyes.
"No, we'll be fine," Buffy protested, taking Angel's free arm and wrapping it around her shoulders.
Buffy and Kendra stopped. Angel's half-whispered words surprised them both.
"Angel?" Buffy looked into his eyes, fearing that whatever ritual Spike had done had caused more damage than what she could see. Her fears settled some when he attempted a smile for her. She smiled back and stroked his cheek.
"Suit yeself," Kendra interjected and released Angel.
Buffy braced Angel against her, slipping her free arm around his waist. "Here let me --"
"Ahh..." Angel's pained sigh sent shivers through her.
"I'm sorry." She looked down at his bare chest, streaked with burns. "This looks pretty bad. Fire?"
He shook his head. "Holy water."
Angel didn't respond, but Buffy knew Drusilla was responsible for the burns. They would heal, she knew. She wondered about the emotional wounds, though. Angel had tortured Drusilla mercilessly when he became a vampire, and she was sure Dru tried to return the favor. She wanted to comfort Angel, but she didn't know how. Letting the silence consume the moment, she just held him close as she walked him home.
As they approached the door to his apartment, Angel slipped his arm from about Buffy's shoulders, turning to lean against the wall for support. "I don't have the key. My jacket?"
"That's okay. The lock's broken." Buffy half-winced waiting for the question.
She wasn't sure what to tell him. She'd invaded his privacy. Of course, he'd been doing the same thing when she found him in her room clutching Mr. Gordo. As she helped him into the apartment, she said flatly, "I broke it when I let myself in last night."
"You came here?" His voice was stronger, less raspy now, but still soft. He stopped just inside the apartment and surveyed the debris. "Looking to redecorate?"
She smiled at the thought. She rather liked his place just the way it was. "No. I wanted to be...someplace safe. I didn't want to go home. I was...I just didn't want to be alone."
"You were afraid?"
She walked him to the bed. He sat down slowly and waited for her to answer.
"Yes." She hadn't realized how hard it was to tell someone, to tell Angel, she was scared. She looked blindly at the debris, tempted to sit next to him and tempted to hold him in her arms until she cried. "I'm sorry about the table. Kendra showed up with an axe. We didn't exactly bond."
"It's okay. I can replace it." Taking her hand to turn her to him, he whispered, "I thought she'd kill you, and I can't replace you."
A deep sigh filled her lungs, and she released it as she bent to her knees beside him. "That works both ways." She cupped her hand around his chin before leaning in to kiss him. She wanted to warm those lips. She wanted to warm her own.
Reluctantly, she withdrew from the kiss. "Now, lie down. You definitely need sleep." She pushed the covers out of the way and helped him lower himself to the pillow. As he rested his head against the pillow, he smiled.
She saw a child-like wonderment in that smile. "What?"
"You slept here last night."
"Yes, I --"
Angel silenced her with a soft touch of his hand against her cheek. "I'm glad you felt safe here." Then he closed his eyes and lowered his hand. "You should go now," he said and, turning to the wall, added, "Your mom will be home tomorrow."
Ignoring him, she crawled into the bed beside him.
Sliding her hand over his shoulder, she whispered, "Just until you fall asleep." She nestled into his neck when he took her hand and cupped it under his arm close to his chest.
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