As the others prepared to return to Sunnydale, Buffy approached Angel.
'Kathy's nice,' she told him. He nodded. 'I think she'll be good for you. Keep you on the path. She really cares, you know.'
'I know,' he replied, glancing over at her.
'You never told me about your sister,' she said. She had been hurt initially, but now she understood.
'Buffy, I ...'
'I'm not mad. Painful memories. I get it.' She sat down beside him. 'My point is, you need to start letting people in now. Like Cordy. And Wesley. You shouldn't ever shut them out. No matter how painful.'
'When did you get to be so wise?' he asked, looking at her. She had changed so much since the last time he had seen her. He sensed that a lot of pain had been the cause of that change.
'Grow and learn, learn and grow. That's been the theme of Buffy's life lately.'
She paused, and he sensed her taking a deep breath for what she was about to tell him.
'Riley's gone,' she finally said. 'He left because of me. Because I wouldn't let him in. Because I was afraid to get hurt again.'
'I'm sorry,' he told her, and meant it.
'So am I,' she replied quietly. She looked at him earnestly. 'Never let that happen. Don't push them away just 'cause it's scary to let them in. They care about you.'
He looked at them. His team. His family. And nodded.
Willow and Tara were with Kathy, saying goodbye.
'Thank you both, so much,' Kathy said.
'Are you kidding?' Willow told her. 'It was amazing. I've never felt such powerful magicks before.'
'How did you throw Drusilla like that?' Tara wanted to know.
'Can you teach us?' Willow asked.
'It just takes practice. And focus. It's the same as floating a pencil only, well, bigger.'
Buffy walked over to them. 'Time to go, guys.' She looked at Kathy, 'Look after him.'
Kathy nodded. 'Don't worry,' she told the Slayer.
They all said their goodbyes and Angel walked back inside with Cordelia. He put his hand on her shoulder.
'Cordy ...' he started.
'Angel, you don't have to say anything. You're totally forgiven,' she smiled at him. 'But if you ever go off like that again and get all obsessed, I'll stake you myself.'
'Point taken,' he smiled.
Glancing in Kathy's direction he saw the bite marks on her neck. Cordelia saw the look of guilt that crossed his face.
'She's not mad at you either, you know,' Cordy told him. 'When she was weak, after the bite, all she could think of was saving you.' She paused. 'She's your family.'
'So are you,' he told her.
'Enough with the sentiment already! Go talk to her,' she told him.
Kathy was packing up her gear as Angel approached. 'Hey,' he said.
'Hey. Can I get a lift back with all this stuff?' she asked. 'I don't think Cordy should be driving after that bump on the head.'
'Sure,' he replied. 'How are you feeling?'
'I'm a little worn out, but it's nothing that a good night's sleep won't cure.'
Angel was silent. He stood there, trying to find the words.
'What's wrong?' she asked, stopping what she was doing and looking at him.
'He's not gone, is he?' was all he said.
She shook her head. 'I'm afraid not. He should be quiet for a while, but he'll always be with you. Is that what you're afraid of?'
He sat down beside her and nodded. 'I got used to him being there, the demon in me. I never thought he could take over like that, and the thought of it happening again ... I don't want any of you to get hurt.' He looked at the marks on her neck.
'What, this little thing?' she quipped. 'I've had worse.' Then she got serious. 'I can't promise you anything, Angel. The First will try again, and when it does, I don't know what the outcome will be. What I can tell you is that your friends will all rally again and fight beside you. And so will I ... if you want me around.'
He took her hand and squeezed it gently.
'You helped me down there. Didn't you? When I was fighting Angelus,' he said.
'Whatever gave you that impression?'
'I was feet away from my sword, and then suddenly it was in my hand. Did you do that?'
'Absolutely not. That would have been cheating,' she replied, grinning.
Angel suddenly realised he was still wearing the amulet she had given him. He started to take it off when she stopped him.
'You keep that. It'll bring you luck.'
'Something I can always use.'
She smiled at her brother. 'Now how about that lift home?'