This is my little explanation about why the fourth and fifth seasons of Angel were what they were. All characters belong to Joss Whedon, WB, and UPN. I am not making any money from this.

Back From Oz

By Marie Nomad

"Well, personally, I kind of want to slay that dragon." Angel said as he gazed out over the vast hordes of demons in the alley. He was drenched in rain as he, Spike, Gunn, and Illyria, the last of his friends get ready to fight. So many had died for him and he had sacrificed everything for this moment. They know that they will die; the odds are too great even for them. When he dies, he will end up in Hell or if he lives, he will be on the run, whatever happens, he won't regret it. "Let's get to work." He stepped forward and everything went black.

Angel snapped his eyes wide open as he looked around. He was in the Hyperion, in his old bedroom but it was padded with mattresses all over the walls and he could smell a vast array of food and incense. Something was very wrong. He tried to sit up but found himself shackled to his bed, again. His clothes was a worn out and bloodstained sweatsuit and his real clothes were nowhere near his sight. Was he captured or died and ended up in Hell? He looked around again and mused, "Well, it's a pretty boring Hell dimension."

The door opened and Buffy came in with a glass of blood and said, "Time for your dinner."

Angel's eyes widened as he tried to sit up. "Buffy?! What are you doing here?"

Buffy put the glass to the side and looked at Angel with anxious eyes. "Calm yourself…" She muttered to herself as she came forward. "Angel? Do you know where you're at?" Her voice was hopeful and pained as if she was scared to ask.

"The Hyperion, chained to my bed, again." Angel said as he stared at Buffy. "But, what are you doing here? I thought you were in Rome."

The woman's eyes watered up as she rushed to his side and hugged his head. "You're back! You're really back. I missed you so much."

"Was I gone?" Angel said confused as Buffy stepped back. "Why am I chained to the bed?" He paled, "Was it Angelus? Did I lose my soul again? But, I should've remembered."

"You did but you were chained the entire time." Buffy said as she shook her head. "I'll go and get Wes, don't go anywhere!" She rushed out of the door and Angel stared at it.

"Don't go anywhere, no problem." The vampire muttered when he laid his head back on his pillow.

He could hear Buffy pulling Wes through the hall and into the room. "I'm telling you, he's lucid." Buffy said as she yanked the Englishman forward. Wes looked down at Angel who was staring back.

"Wesley, you're alive." He said stunned as he lifted his head.

"Yes, I am." Wesley stepped forward and held up his hand. "How many fingers am I holding up?"

"Three."

"What is your name?"

"Angel."

"What is my name?"

"Wesley."

"Do you know where you're at?"

"In the Hyperion, chained in my bed right now. Look, what is going on? Where are the demons? Did I kill the dragon?" Angel asked as he was getting tired of the questions.

Wesley shook his head. "Well, you certainly seem lucid enough but there are no dragons and there are no demons in this hotel, present company excluded of course."

"Of course. Can you untie me now?" Angel asked as he pulled at his chains, "I promise I won't bite."

"Not yet. I need to make sure of something. Just hang on." Wesley got out his cell phone and said, "Lorne, this is Wesley, I believe that Angel has become lucid. Yes, he was talking in a rational way but I need to be sure. Can you confirm it?"

"Hey! I'm not crazy!" Angel yelled, "Let me out please!"

"It's okay." Buffy said as she stroked his head. "Lorne will get here as soon as he could."

Angel calmed at the feel of her nice warm hands over his head. He was dead so he didn't have any itches or anything else to keep him annoyed. "Just don't leave me alone."

"Never."

Wesley coughed to interrupt them and he said, "Would you like something to drink?"

"Some pig's blood would be nice." Angel replied as he lifted his head. "Is Gunn okay? He was hurt in the fight."

"He's fine." The former watcher said confused. "I… I better go and get the others. They will be most happy to see you finally up and about." Wesley said as he walked out of the room.

"What was that about?" Angel asked as he tried to make himself comfortable in his strange restraints. It wasn't like that he hadn't been chained before. He had been chained twice in his bed by his own friends. However, this time felt different. "And what are you doing here in LA?"

"I live here." Buffy answered as she watched him. "I've been living here for the past year after Sunnydale went boom. Don't you remember anything?"

"Yeah, after Sunnydale, I went back to LA and became CEO of Wolfram and Hart!" Angel exclaimed feeling more confused than ever. He could hear Buffy's heart race as she stared at him. "What?"

The slayer walked up and hugged him again. "I missed you so much. I… I knew you would come back."

"Come back from where? Was I held captive by Wolfram and Hart or what?" Angel asked as he felt helpless. Never in his life had he seen Buffy like this. She had always been so strong, so defiant, it's like she had collapsed. Tears came out of her eyes as she put her head on his shoulder. "It's okay. I won't leave again. I promise."

"Angel! You're sane!" A familiar voice echoed and Angel turned his head to see Fred alive and human with no traces of Illyria anywhere.

"Fred! You're alive!" Angel felt Fred hugging him from the other side of the bed along with Buffy who was still holding him. He felt like a vampire sandwich.

Fred let go and stepped back. "I can't believe this. We were afraid we had to stake you just to get you of your misery but you're awake and sane."

"Hey! Angel!" Gunn came in looking normal except for the fact that he had a goatee. He saw how clear Angel's eyes were. "You're not crazy any more!"

"That's what they told me." Angel stared at him. "When did you grow a goatee?"

"Six months ago. You like it? Makes me like Shaft, modern version of course." Gunn said as he grinned. "Sorry about you having to wait but we gotta make sure that you won't go nuts again. It's going to be great having you back."

"Me too, as soon as you can tell me where I'm back from." Angel said as he looked around, "I don't remember going crazy or losing my soul, except when I had to become Angelus to fight the Beast."

"Beast? Is that why you lost your soul that time?" Wesley asked, "Never mind. How are you feeling Angel?"

"Confused." The vampire replied as he sighed in exasperation. "Why do you have to keep me like this? I'm not Angelus and I'm not crazy. At least, I know that I'm not crazy."

"We know that you're not Angelus but we just have to make sure not just for our sakes but yours as well." Wesley explained as he sat down in a chair. "Don't worry, as soon as Lorne can confirm that you're stable, we will let you out."

"Don't worry, we will keep you comfortable until then." Buffy promised as she kept by his side. "You just have to hold on."

"I will but first, what happened to my room?" Angel said as he looked up at the mattresses. "It looks like a nut house."

"Just to keep you from hurting yourself." Fred replied, "But don't worry, we'll get those mattresses off as soon as we know for sure that you're mentally sane."

"I am mentally sane and how did you come back? I thought your soul was destroyed by Illyria?"

"Who?" Fred asked as she looked at Wesley.

"Never mind." Angel said as he looked away.

"I'm here." Lorne said as he came in dressed in his bright suit with matching hat. He grinned when he saw Angel still in his chains. "Angelcakes! You look like you're finally back from la la land! At least, I hope you are."

Angel stared at him. Lorne was the same as before he joined Wolfram and Hart. The last time he saw the empath, he hated him for making him kill Lindsey. When Lorne left him, he was bitter and broken and now he seemed unchanged. "You're not mad at me?"

"For what?" Lorne asked, "You better give me a quick look. This is going to be painful for me but sing a quick tune."

"Oh no." Wesley said as he prepared himself.

Angel ignored the man and quickly sang out the first couple of verses of 'Mandy'. After that, he stopped and Lorne shook his head. "Well?" Angel asked.

"Oh my. All that time being insane actually made your singing tolerable but you seem very sane now. Get those chains off of him before he goes back again."

"Oh, right." Wesley fumbled with the keys and quickly got the stupid shackles off. "Angel, I'm so sorry for causing this mess."

"What do you mean?" Angel asked as he stretched out and rubbed his wrists, "How did you make me insane?" He got out of his bed and nearly fell over.

Buffy caught him. "You don't remember?"

"How long have you been in that coffin under the sea?" The empath asked.

"Three months and Wesley, Justine, and you got me out. No wait, you were another hallucination. I had hallucinations so it was a little hard to keep track." Angel replied and then looked at him. For once, they were talking about something he experienced. Something was wrong. "How long was I really gone?"

"Six months." Wesley said as he wiped his eyes. "We looked everywhere for you and we found you starved for blood and comatose. We fed you as much as we could and you got better but you were ranting and raving about someone named Jasmine and the Beast. Angel, I'm sorry. I really tried my best to help you and I hope you forgave me for kidnapping your son."

"I already did, last year." Angel said as he nodded at him. "I don't believe it. What I experienced for the past two years had been a hallucination? It feels too real. Where's Cordy and Spike?"

"Cordelia is a higher power like you thought." Lorne answered, "Spike is still ashes. Angel pie, can you tell our friends what you experienced while you were off in Never Never Land?"

"Well… I came back and Wesley gave me blood…" Angel started out as he went into a long story about what happened.

One hour later…

"A lawyer… I WAS A LAWYER FOR AN EVIL LAW FIRM?!" Gunn screamed as he and the others tried to figure out what happened.

"Well, you were the best lawyer." Angel comforted.

"That's just nuts."

"I get to be head entertainment director. Top A list." Lorne said amused. "I even got to host my own party there. Although, I'm surprised you knew about pop culture."

"Me too." Angel admitted.

"And I was killed hosting an ancient god?" Fred guessed as she looked uncomfortable.

"We were all miserable."

"And I was in Rome with the Immortal." Buffy said looking somewhat mad.

"I hated it as much as you did."

"And I had become dark." Wesley muttered.

"I blamed it on the company."

"I see." Wesley nodded, "It makes sense. We talked to you while you were… indisposed about what happened hoping that it might snap you out of it. You somehow take all of the stories we told you and all the things you experienced and incorporate them into a fake reality to cope with your insanity. You had even accidentally lost your soul when you thought you had to fight the Beast. Incredible."

"Some of the stuff that happened did feel far fetched. Like when your father came by and it turned out to be a cyborg." Angel recalled.

"My father really did come but he refused to help you."

"You killed the cyborg thinking that he was your father."

"… Oh."

"And Buffy being in Rome?"

"I was talking about taking a vacation in Rome." Buffy answered.

"But, what would happen to make me dream that I was a puppet?" Angel asked.

Fred blushed. "That was me. I thought some happy show could help you so we played 'Smile Time'. But, you started to scream about murdering puppets."

Angel argued, "They were evil demons sucking the lifeforce out of kids. At least, in my dream. Wait a second, what about Conner? Is he okay?"

"He's fine. He's serving with Riley on his squad." Buffy replied, "He's doing better now. He'll be glad to know that you're not crazy."

"Riley, of course. The Rileys and Riley…" Angel held his head. "What about Nina?"

"Nina? Well, we don't know any Nina. You probably made her up." Wesley said confused, "Or perhaps she was based on a dead friend from your past."

"Great." Angel couldn't help but mourn. Nina, his girlfriend, was just a figment of his overactive imagination. It did seem strange that Nina would show up and seem so right for him and yet didn't make him loose his soul. "I was insane for two years and I didn't know it. How did I come back? People don't just snap out of their insanity."

Wesley came up. "We tried everything to get you back to normal. We consulted many witches, mages, and even demons but nothing. We did put you on a constant diet of human and slayer blood in hopes that would speed up the healing process."

"That explains the 'otter' blood." Angel said as he thought. "I knew that blood tasted different. In my dream, I drank Hamilton's immortal blood and got a power boost just before I woke up. Did you give me anything?"

"Just the normal blood." Buffy said as she looked down.

"Maybe you just fought back to control." Lorne said, "I 'saw' what you were doing. The metaphors are as clear as crystal. Losing your destiny twice. Losing control of yourself. Your insecurities. Feeling lost in the world. Being a puppet. You decided to fight the Senior Partners with a clear conscience and bam you regained your sanity and came back from over the rainbow. Kinda like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz willing herself back home only without the ruby slippers."

"Good." Angel sighed in relief. "I need to think about this. This is a lot to take, even for me."

"Of course. What will you do now?" Wesley asked.

Angel paused and replied, "Go back to helping the hopeless after I get caught up in the real world… is George W. Bush still president?"

"Yes."

"And the Red Sox won the World Series."

"Yes."

"Okay, just checking." Angel paused as he looked at his blood stained sweatshirt. "First, I need a shower. Where's my clothes?"

XXX

Angel sighed in relief as he sat on the rooftop with Wesley's journal in his hand. He had showered and gotten dressed in a dark shirt and jeans with his familiar duster on. He really didn't care what he wore as long as it wasn't blood stained and it wasn't a suit. He didn't want to think about spending another night inside. He missed the warm air and the dark sky. Thankfully, the former watcher still kept meticulous notes about everything that happened. He had to keep on skipping the parts of feeling guilt for what happened to him. He didn't blame him, he was hurt and mad but he had gotten through it in what Gunn called 'The Twilight Zone'.

"I thought I would find you here." Buffy said as she walked up to the man. "Catching up on the 'real world'?"

"Yeah, it's strange. Seeing people I though were dead, Lorne who is still Lorne, and you living here. Not that it's bad or anything. Just…." Angel ran his hand through his hair.

"Overwhelming?"

"Yeah."

"I feel the same way when I first came back from the dead the second time. I was so messed up." Buffy confided, "Clawing my way out of the coffin… I have still nightmares about it."

"Try being trapped in that coffin for three- I mean six months. Damn, I can't get that out of my head." Angel said as he leaned back. He leaned forward again and asked, "Did you really sleep with Spike?"

Buffy nodded. She knew lying to Angel is impossible and she couldn't lie anyway. "I was confused and yeah, I did. But, I don't love him like I love you. How did you know?"

"Spike told me." Angel replied as he pointed up. "At least in my mind. Didn't you or one of the others told me?"

"No way. I couldn't tell you that I slept with one of my arch enemies and Wes, Gunn, and Fred didn't know either. If I told you, you might lose hope." Buffy took a deep breath. "Maybe, Spike somehow communicated with you from the dead."

"Maybe, he did come back as a ghost in my dream and he was bound to me and for some reason, he never told you that he was back… okay, now, I don't want to talk about that." Angel said as he held his head. "The last thing I want is to know that Spike had been in my mind."

"Me too."

Angel glanced at the journal and asked, "What was I like being insane and all? Was I dangerous?"

"You were. You should've seen yourself. At first, you were in a coma and we were hopeful when you woke up but you didn't know what was going on. You kept on… screaming that we are being controlled by Jasmine and we had to chain you up all the time." Buffy said as she held herself. "We had to keep someone at the hotel just to keep an eye on you."

"I see. Did I kill anyone?"

"No. You scared us and maybe give a few nasty cuts and bite marks but no, you didn't kill anyone." Buffy came up and hugged him again. "Oh god, I miss hearing you talk and making sense."

Angel chuckled as he held her. "I'm not going insane again. I won't. Now that I have a decent idea of what I had been doing for the past two years, what about you? What did you do after Sunnydale went 'boom'?"

"Oh, came back here, helped run Angel Investigations, and keep an eye on you. We all take part in running it. I'm the girl who gets to use her slayer power to fight demons and make coffee. Although, I stayed here to make sure you're okay since I can handle you better than anyone else."

"And you're sure that you're not dating the Immortal?"

"I had never met him." Buffy said exasperated, "And who is this Immortal?"

"A vampire Spike and I had run into in Rome over a hundred years ago. He slept with Drusilla and Darla at once just to get back at me and I was evil back then."

"Yuck. Okay, no more about the Immortal. I am not traditional but I don't want to think about threesomes." Buffy said as her face turned into a shade of green Lorne would've found attractive.

"Good." Angel stared out over the city again. "Buffy, did you give me your blood, the blood I had tasted like it now that I think about it."

"Yeah, I donated the blood but don't worry. I got the blood out by IV and my slayer healing made me better. We mixed it in with the normal human and pig blood. Just so it can be spread out more. We liked to call it a Slayers blood shake."

Buffy was willing to bleed for him over and over again just so he could have some hope of regaining his sanity. Then, he realized how much she had done for him even when he didn't know it. "I see. Thank you for being willing to stick with me while I was… insane."

"Hey, I'm stubborn. When I saw you all lost and confused, I couldn't leave you. I wouldn't. Fred, Gunn, and Wes had been working so hard and I was done with Sunnydale so I moved in and made myself at home. I knew that you would come back."

"I know that what I went through was some hallucination but I learned about myself. I love helping people. I love getting down there and beating down demons with my own fists. It gives people hope. I'm not going to fight just for the promise of humanity or for anything else except to help others."

"And what if you become human?" Buffy asked, "What would you do?"

"Then, I would still help the hopeless and… work out."

"Ah."

Angel stared out and said, "Buffy, what if this isn't real? All this could be another hallucination or hell dimension or whatever. I could still be asleep."

Buffy grabbed Angel by the head and kissed him long and hard. Angel remembered that kiss in his dreams when he was there with Buffy in the last Apocalypse. "Then, don't wake up." She urged. Angel grabbed her and kissed her again.

The End