"Welcome back Miss," Jeeves said

Coming Back

"Welcome back Miss," Jeeves said.

"What? … I'm not dead? I really thought I was going to be dead somehow. Wait… If I'm not dead are the dimensional walls still down?"

"All is well. You were brought back. He passed all our challenges and thus you were made alive again."

"Who? Angel, of course, it was Angel. Is he okay?" Buffy asked.

"He is well," Jeeves told her. "In fact, that was the last challenge set before him. To continue, to face your loss with no hope of altering that and not loose himself to his pain."

"He did that? Angel's okay with me being dead?" Buffy asked uncertainly.

Jeeves rolled his eyes. "You want him to be well and yet you also want him to hurt for you, to suffer. He has. It has been ten months in your world and it has only just been concluded that he had passed the test."

"Oh," Buffy said in a small voice. "Well um, I'll go now… Where can I find Angel?"

"You might try the Hyperion Hotel, he does both work and live there," Jeeves commented.

"Right, the hotel. It's still standing? It hasn't been blown up or burned down yet? We're hard on buildings that way, or maybe it's just me."

"You were going?" Jeeves asked.

"Yeah, I guess I'm nervous," Buffy said. "Which is silly, ridiculous really, so bye."

"You don't even want to tell Angel you're alive?" Willow asked in disbelief.

"I was going to. It was the first thing I was going to do, but I couldn't," Buffy said. "I mean they were having a some kind of party and I was standing outside trying to think of a way to say 'Hi I'm back. Sorry you got put through hell again', when he sensed me. You know how we are, the whole vampire/slayer recognition thing going wonky so that all it says is 'love's here'. Angel freaked Wills. He practically ran out of that room. And the girl he'd been talking with, she got this confused/hurt/worried expression. When Angel came back a little later he was still all tense and off. Then she went to him. She touched his arm and talked to him for a little and he relaxed, smiled even, you know how rare that is. She led him back to the group, kept him a part of it."

"I still don't understand why you didn't tell him," Willow said. "Angel was really broken when I told him about you…"

"It's okay to say the 'd' word," Buffy interjected when Willow paused uncertainly.

"We thought he was going to kill himself for a while or do something really awful to get you back," Willow finished.

"He did get me back Wills, by giving me up," Buffy replied a little sadly. "He's okay now, if he knew I was back it would just confuse things."

"Because of some girl? You know Angel can't, remember the curse? She's gotta be just a friend."

"No, you didn't see them. I don't know how Angel got around the curse, but they're together. And they're so comfortable with each other. There none of the playing-with-fire vibe that was always between Angel and I."

"Wasn't no fire the problem with you and Riley?" Willow asked skeptically.

"It's not that," Buffy sighed. "When Angel and I touched it burned. With Riley it was just skin. Between them it's something else, a connection. That's something special."

"I used to want to have Riley for all the normal boyfriend/girlfriend things and still have Angel loving me forever, no matter what that did to him. I guess I've grown up since then, cause now I understand why Angel left; he wanted me to be happy, even if I couldn't be with him. Now I want the same for him too, and I think he is. So I'm going to do the graceful thing and let him go."