What was lost...

Phade goes home to find what they lost only to have it returned and an apology.

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Damn! Why did I bother going there in the first place? Its not like we even speak anymore besides why would he help us- me? Just cuz I practically nursed him back to fucking the lawyer bitch and cooked and cleaned-! Aah!

Just thinking about it made me mad all over again. I found myself loosing my temper a lot since I got 'home' and easily too.

I struggled with Ryan's bike as I parked it inside the Hyperion's enclosed front yard right between the fountain and the garden wall. My hair fell out of the helmet and I was more than grateful to let it out since it was very warm.

"Summer. Had to be summer when all this goes down and me not here. Like I could've done anything." I scoffed because really. What was I going to do? Beat up on people? Because that's about all I was good at now. I turned pulling the gloves off my hands. Summer was practically over, you'd think the weather would change accordingly but nooo! Its still fucking hot!

And what made me think I would have any better a chance of convincing Wesley to help us find Angel than the others?

"Not a damn thing that's what." Then I looked up at the sound and stopped in the middle of the path. "Shit."

"Thought I deserved worse." Wesley said as he slowly walked towards me. How was I supposed to answer that? I mean here he was all I had to do was open my mouth and ask for help- wait. No-no. Why was he here? Who called him? Did anyone call him? Maybe the confusion showed on my face because he glanced over his shoulder before approaching me.

"I-." Wesley stopped in front of me and I had to look up. I took a good long look at the man he was now and I cant say he looked bad. Actually, the five o' clock shadow made him that much more handsome than I had first thought and he really did have gorgeous eyes. There was something in them that made you want to hold him and give him comfort because you knew, just knew he'd gone through something awful to make him look that sad.

I knew better though.

Of course he had gone through a tragedy and he'd alienated me, the only one who hadn't left him to the wolves so to speak but he'd made a huge mistake that rode his conscience like a- shit! I just realized, there's nothing here. I mean there's a gorgeous man in front of me but no tingling, no funny tummy shocks, no nervous twitch of the hands or body temperature rising, nothing!

'What the hell's wrong with me? am I getting sick?' I wondered rubbing at my forehead with a frown. I should at least feel a twinge of appreciation for the pretty picture he presented.

"Wes-." I began thinking I might as well get it over with and go upstairs.

"Phade, I-." here we both stopped. He took a deep breath and let it out looking at me again with those brown eyes and I could tell, this was going to be uncomfortable.

"I never showed my appreciation for what you did." He said and I was completely shocked. That was not what I thought he was going to say then again what the hell did I think he was going to say?

'You know exactly what you thought he was going to say.'

"There's an awful word somewhere to describe my behavior towards you, unfortunately I don't know it." He shrugged giving me a lopsided smile which I thought was kind of sweet. That brought me to the realization that I wasn't mad anymore. Shit happened, that's how it was supposed to be and I'm not complaining.

Kinda like where I'm at right now.

Wes placed a gentle hand on my leather clad shoulder and leaned down towards me. I froze, more than surprised and was about to let him know I wasn't-.

"Thank you." He said lightly kissing my cheek.

"Oh."

Well then.

Guess I didn't have to say any thing after all.

I had a little smile on my face as he walked away. It was nice to be appreciated. I was still basking in my appreciated-ness when I walked into the Hyperion lobby. And what I saw was…

"Holy krap!" I jumped down those steps and ran towards the couch where Fred and Gunn had Angel. "Wha-?"

Angel was back!!

"He needs more blood!" Fred sounded more than a bit frazzled and Gunn was no better. I have to say Angel didn't look so hot either.

"Look, just calm down. Gunn. Get him some blood-." I said trying to keep myself calm though I was immensely happy to have Angel back. Maybe now things would start to feel sorta normal again. At least our normal.

"We don't have any." Gunn said.

Well shit that's a real problem now huh?

"Wes said that if he doesn't get more blood he could be permanently damaged. Brain wise." Fred said looking at us with big round eyes. She was definitely worried.

"Then go buy some. You know where to go. Move!" I had to raise my voice at Gunn which I knew he didn't like but how's he going to argue when I'm right?

"Cold…" Angel shivered and Fred quickly got up. "I'll bring some blankets. Everything's going to be fine Angel." She called over her shoulder as both Gunn and Fred went in different directions.

"You're home." I said trying to sound soothing but I wasn't sure Angel could hear me. He felt more than cold under my hand and he was mumbling incoherently. I glanced over my shoulder at the doors but I knew there was no way Gunn would make it back in 5minutes with that blood.

Could he survive…

"Shit." I sighed heavily already steeling myself for the stupid thing I was about to do. I mean who would do this?

"Angel." I grabbed his arm and put it over my shoulder. I scooted closer to him and wrapped his arm around my waist then pulled the jacket off my shoulder. "Angel, you're going to have to feed."

My hand slightly trembled as I pulled my hair away from my shoulder exposing my neck. I pulled on his arm to get him to straighten a bit more just so we weren't both leaning to the side then rested my free hand on the couch over his legs. I was the one keeping us on the couch instead of falling to the floor.

"Angel. I know you can hear me. My neck's right there just… you know… do your thing." I said swallowing the nervousness. This was the right thing to do and so long as I kept telling myself that I wouldn't bolt like a frightened rabbit.

He shifted behind me and I stiffened already imagining the bite. Instead I felt his lips on my neck and I giggled.

"Sorry, just tickles." I tried to keep still as his lips sort of sucked on my skin. It kinda felt like- well, it want like that but I could still feel the embarrassed flush fill my cheeks with a blush. I couldn't even blame it on the summer heat because the lobby was nice and cool.

"Um, Angel? Try not to kill me o-Ah!" he bit me! He really bit into me and it hurt!!

Suddenly his arm tightened around my waist and it felt as though I would suffocate. His other hand pulled my hair as he reached for my neck. His fingers slid around my throat and pulled my head back so that he could bite deeper and that's when I felt it.

I'm not sure how to describe being bitten by a vampire and having your lifeblood sucked out of you while you lie there completely useless. Your body sort of goes numb though it gets hot. Like you got little sparks of electricity shooting all over your skin. Then there's that dreamy sort of connection between you and the vampire. Yeah, sounds corny but I know first hand its true. You don't even want to move, your body sort of feels…relaxed, I guess though its still not the right description. It doesn't describe the weightless feeling in your limbs or the lack of fear that's in your mind. You're both connected to each other, each seeing through the others eyes so its kinda confusing about where and who you are at that moment. I mean, I wanted to bite down harder, to get more…

So warm, heart beating, chest rising with each breath, body soft and pliant in my hands….

"Angel…."

I pulled her-me closer, bit down deeper, wanted more…

Was it me?

Which one was I?

Where was I?

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"The Hyperion."

'Must be the place and there's my bike.'

Ryan smiled seeing the helmet sitting on the seat. She was definitely home. He made his way up the walk way seeing the bamboo hedge she 'hadn't' mentioned and the small flower pots around the entrance. He went up the stairs and hesitated by the door not sure if he was supposed to knock or just walk in.

"It's a damn hotel!" he muttered still he knocked before pushing the door open and stopped at the top of the stairs.

"Where's everyone?" he wondered out loud then he heard it, a sort of gasp. He dropped his duffel and pulled his gun searching for the source. Again the sound only this time it was towards his left and he noticed the big red round couch. Ryan rushed down the steps leaning to the side and stopping in mid stride at what he saw.

Sound dimmed so low the only thing he could hear was Phade's short gasp. The vampire sat holding her around the waist cupping her neck in a tender way though tender was the last way to describe the scene. He saw her limply raise a hand to her chest as if reaching for- what? What did she think that would do?

"GET YOUR FANGS OUTTA MY GIRL!!" he roared hearing the rush of sound come crashing around his ears. His arm was steady even if inside he felt completely undone. This fucking walking dead disease was draining her and here he was just aiming a gun.

"NO!"

Ryan flinched at the unexpected sound slightly altering his aim when his head was covered and something bony knocked into him. The gun went off seeming overly loud in the lobby.

"Angel!"

'It's a girl! Fucking girl knocks into me- Angel?'

Ryan pulled off the blanket already moving towards them and throwing it aside. He dropped down next to Phade were she lay on her side one arm stuck under her body.

"What's wrong with you?" the skinny girl asked as she held the vampire in her arms protectively.

"I'm not the one feeding off my employees." He ground out his eyes glaring.

"Angel-." She shook her head though she knew exactly what she'd seen. "There's an explanation for this-!"

"Fred?" the raspy voice emanating from the dead thing in her arms brought both sets of eyes to him.

"I'm here. You're gonna be fine-." She soothed gently running a hand down his face.

"Phade. Where-?"

"What the fuck do you want with her!" Ryan roared angrily, seeing that no one seemed to be concerned for Phade.

'She came back to this?'

"…not… you think…" startled by her low whisper Ryan quickly turned his attention on her. He slipped his arms under her back and raised her up. The move seemed to make it easier for her to breathe and once more her voice came out though a little stronger.

"I told him… needed blood."

"No." Ryan shook his head. "No. I saw him. No!" he refused to accept what she was saying. She didn't know what she was saying, yeah, that was it! She was delirious with loss of blood and she had no idea what she-.

"Ryan?" Phade looked up barely able to focus.

"I'm here." Ryan responded holding her closer but she didn't hear him.

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Ooow! My God! Why do I feel like I've been run over? And why is it so dark? Wait where am I? oh, right. Bedroom.

I looked around again just to make sure this was the right place and sat up. Not a good move considering my body was hurting and the room spun like crazy. I closed my eyes feeling it get worse and just flopped back onto the pillows. When things started to settled down I began to wonder just how I had come to wake up in my bedroom.

And in my nightclothes! Who the hell-?

Oh well this was just great! Come home to find an almost dead Angel then stupidly decide it's a good idea to feed him with my own blood no less and wake up here. I sighed wondering if anything else could go wrong.

"Yup, I'm home."

The sound of the door opening caught my attention though I assumed it was likely Fred coming to check on me.

"Nice to know what you left me for."

I sat up so fast I bit my lip at the pain that caused me. That wasn't Fred. And it so wasn't the tone I wanted to hear, not in his voice.

"Hi hun." I said overly cheery. At least I tried! Jeez you try looking up at a 6'4" angry looking Hercules guy obviously pissed off and let me know what you think!

The bed dipped with his weight as he sat next to me and gently pried my hand from my neck. He took my chin in his gently turning my face and I felt the skin pull as he lifted the bandage. After a second he pressed down and let go. I didn't even look at him, not when I knew he was angry and this was totally new to me!

"All I want to know is; are you coming or staying?"

I sucked in a sharp breath. This wasn't at all what I expected not that being bled by a vampire and having my angry boyfriend sitting next to me in a dark bedroom was something I had put on my goals list.

Fuck! I didn't have a goal list! I'm the type that avoids making plans because, hey! Guess what? Life doesn't work that way! Life just happens and sometimes you get to steer it where you wanna except for moments like this. Yeah, this was so not my steering.

"Ok. So maybe you should start by telling me why you're so upset…?"

"Really?" his voice was clipped and I knew this was gonna be bad. "You need to ask? Why don't you tell me why that walking ash isn't ash?"

"Uuh, who… ok. So, I came home and I beat up on Conner cuz you know he just-. Teenagers!" I shrugged still avoiding his eyes. I was nervous and I was trying to figure out why and explain what he'd probably seen to get him so upset. "Then I kinda went to ask Wes for help though he wasn't home then he was here and I totally forgot to ask him for help!" I realized belatedly that this wasn't the time to go off on a side trip cuz angry boyfriend still sitting right here! And we didn't need the helo anymore because Angel was home. Hell, Wes had delivered out souled vampire, I wonder if he was going to charge us?

I'd heard he was doing side jobs on his own-.

"Sorry, uh I came in and there's Angel. He sooo didn't look good and he needed blood but we didn't have any and Gunn went to get some but he wasn't gonna make it back soon and I didn't know what else to do cuz Wes said he could have brain damage and not a good thing brain damage hello vampire dozens of years old and then there's the whole Angelus thing inside and we don't know if that's gonna come out, so not a good thing to come out from what I've heard and well I…" I shrugged just a little afraid of the look on his face. I wasn't sure what it meant. Then-.

"What the hell is wrong with you!" he exploded.

"Wh-."

"NO! You actually let some fucking vampire suck on you!"

"He's not ju-."

"OH! I forgot! HE'S the almighty ANGEL! He's practically fucking GOD around here!" Ryan jumped up beginning to pace as he continued to yell at me. This was more than pissed off. Pissed off I could calm down but- this?

"Not a single one of them bothered to look for you when you left and you come back just to feed the GODDAMN BEAST YOU CALL A BOSS!"

"Hey! I did not-."

"Don't you fucking tell me you didn't! I saw you, Phade! Saw the-." Suddenly he stopped. He didn't say anything, didn't move, nothing and it was just a little bit more scary than before.

"I know what they might seem like." My voice was soft and I knew I was close to tears.

He was right.

They hadn't bothered looking for me. I could've died and no one would have known, not even a call… I shook my head. This wasn't the time to get into thoughts of how little I seemed to matter in this group. That would happen later, when things were calm and I could think about it.

"They needed me… I just couldn't-." I couldn't what? Just ignore them? Why not? Why the hell couldn't I ignore them when they had no trouble ignoring me.

I realized I wasn't just mad, I was also hurt by their disregard, how easily they seemed to forget I had even been part of AI.

"I need you." He said coming to kneel by me. He took my hands in his so gently-. I still hesitated, I couldn't really trust myself with Ryan. I kept my past from him, my family, the- about them though I was almost sure he would believe me. He'd seemed to get over me 'slaying' werewolves easily enough but in my personal life… could I trust him?

I pulled him up to avoid having to make a decision and when he was at eye level I threw my arms around his shoulders and hugged him. He hesitated before slipping his arms around me. Ryan let out a ragged breath and pulled me tightly to his chest.

This is what I had missed. It's what I'd been afraid of, getting to care for him…

"I need you." Though the words were muffled against his neck I know he heard me if anything the stiffening of his body and the sudden inhale reassured me.

It wasn't an 'I love you' but then again what was that? The only time I had ever even considered saying it the jerk turned out to be a… jerk. Even if Ryan was completely different in personality not to mention a different nationality he was still a man and men tended to be jerks, some more than others. This was unfortunate because like most women I still wished, deep down in the darkest corners of my being, that I would eventually find my knight or prince charming, whichever just so long as I get one.

The mood being what it was and me feeling how I did I figured it was good to change the subject so…

"How did I end up in this?" I asked plucking at the silky nightgown.

He pulled away only long enough to look down at what I wore and smiled with a slight shrug.

"It was just hanging there…"

I arched an eyebrow getting a real good idea of how.

««««« »»»»»»

I woke up feeling pleasantly tired though still a bit light headed, then again after last night… hmm.

"Mor-." I stopped seeing the bed was empty and the sheets were tucked in on me. I hadn't done that so it was safe to assume Ryan was here, just not in bed.

"Now why the hell isn't he in bed?" I wondered out loud already getting up. The cool draft kinda reminded me I wasn't wearing anything under the covers so I hastily grabbed the silk kimono looking robe at the foot of the bed and ache-ily made my way to the door.

"She's still sleeping."

That was Ryan but who was he talking to? Gunn? Fred?

I pulled open the door only wide enough so I could see into the living room. Just my luck I only caught a glimpse of Ryan's muscled shoulder and part of his back. I gazed for a second dreamily appreciating the male specimen in my living room then opened the door a little more, just enough to squeeze out. That's when I heard the rest of that conversation.

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"I came to see how she was doing." Angel spoke quietly feeling deep down guilty for what he did. He'd come to apologize but found the hulking angry giant instead. He wasn't sure what the guy was doing there but Phade hadn't let go of him. She'd passed out before she could tell any one who he was or why he had a gun not that seeing a vampire feeding off a human was normal but you didn't usually find a person with a gun either.

Fred had known him or of him. Not that the guy had been forthcoming with his name.

"She was gone all summer. You didn't bother finding out if she was ok then."

Angel clenched his jaw but kept his retort civil. "Things weren't exactly calm when she left."

"Don't tell me the sun was shining too brightly for you. Oh, wait. You're like what, 300 hundred? Haven't learned to use a phone yet, hmm?"

"Voicemail." Angel replied knowing this was pushing it.

"What?"

"I don't know how to get my voicemail." Angel replied. He saw the blood rush to Ryan's face and his shoulders tense. He pulled the door open wider and Angel caught the light scent of Phade. She was awake.

"Listen-. You ever come near her again… keep those fangs away from her or I will." Ryan after a beat. "Permanently."

There was no mistaking the tone of his voice and Angel though angry had to give the human some respect. Had it been him wanting to protect B-.

Angel inclined his head slightly in acknowledgment of the threat.

"Let her know we'll be out for of couple of hours. When she feels up for it we have work to do. If she still wants to work for me…" Angel noticed the tightening of Ryan's jaw and left it alone. Phade had heard him of that he was sure so he turned away going down the hall. The sound of the closing door echoing behind him.

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"Goddamn nerve of that bastard!" Ryan hissed under his breath. He pushed on the door though what he really wanted was to put his fist in that vampires face! The urge was so bad he almost opened the door to go after him. Instead, he turned going back into the living room, where he had left the envelopes he had been looking at when the knock had called him to the door. What had made him look he didn't know but he had and now he had questions. Like who's Sebastian? And why was this kid writing to Phade because the writing looked like a kids unless the fucker had awful penmanship… then there was that other bedroom?

"Who was that?"

"Huh?!" Ryan looked up more than startled to find the object of his thoughts standing in her bedroom doorway. Then he noticed the crossed arms and though she seemed to be leaning lazily against the door frame the look on her face wasn't at all relaxed.

"Uuh…"

"Try a little harder." She said knowing he was thinking of lying. You didn't sleep with someone for almost a year, eat and fight alongside them without getting to know them pretty good. Unless you didn't want to.

"Who's this?" Ryan asked instead. He held up the envelopes and seeing them Phade pushed away from the door frame.

"What the hell are you doing with those?" Phade snatched them out of his hands turned to the wall opposite them and threw them in a small drawer.

"They were in plain sight." Ryan said standing way too close for his own good.

"Don't go through my things!" her voice rose as she turned. Phade pushed past him heading to the bedroom Ryan close behind her.

"Your things? What the hell-! HEY!" Ryan shoved the door open and stomped in after her. "You get letters from some guy and I cant ask who the fuck he is because I'm going through your things? And what-?" Ryan waved his arms up throwing them towards the door. "That room. Whose is it?"

"Aah!" Phade screamed at him throwing the first thing that came into her hands. Ryan stumbled back clutching at the fluffy pillow and yanking it off his face.

"Don't you FUCKING go in there!" she threw another one at him which he managed to avoid with his face. "A closed door means STAY OUT!!" she threw another pillow and Ryan knew she was going to run out of them pretty soon then God only knew what she was going to throw. "Don't you know what a FUCKING closed door means? Why the HELL were you in there? What could you possibly need from there?"

"I wasn't snooping!" Ryan protested feeling just a little guilty because he actually had been though not on purpose. "Phade! I swear I didn't mean any harm! Goddamn it!!" Ryan shoved the pillows at her pushing her onto the bed where she kicked and had he been any where near her right his leg would definitely be broken as it was he lost all feeling in it and was ready to sit down only Phade wasn't about to let him.

"GET OUT!!" she yelled already sitting up.

"What?"

Phade got up her hands balled and he wondered if this was bad?

"GET OUT!!!"

"Where the hell am I supposed to go?" he asked standing. Ryan towered over her but even then she didn't back away or stop the yelling.

"It's a big fucking hotel!! You'll have no trouble finding a room. Now get the HELL OUT!" she shoved him and Ryan felt his leg give then suddenly the air warmed uncomfortably and he was on fire.

"AAh!" he flailed feeling as if his skin were melting then he was suspended in the air. His feet dangled above the lobby floor for a second then someone let go and he dropped.

His sore leg bounced off the couch and he fell backwards arms flailing.

"AAh! OOoph!" the floor felt cold, too cold but it wasn't like he could get up, yet. Ryan lay a moment trying to get his body to adjust and feeling the room spin slowly.

"What the hell was that?" he mumbled before closing his eyes.

««««« »»»»»»

"Aah!" I clutched my head feeling it burn, my eyes felt hot, too hot and I couldn't catch my breath. It was as if someone had thrown a ton of rocks on my chest, so bad was the pressure. Something wet trickled over my lips but I didn't care not when all I wanted was for the horrible flaming poker to be taken out of my head and the fire pulled away from my eyes.

I have no idea how long I was out because all I saw was the wooden floor. At first I didn't know what it was, the pictures in my head of that place just felt so normal, so natural. There were others too, women in certain color-. Why where they-? The images were fading and I pushed myself up. My eyes focused on the floor and I frowned at the stain. Was that…

"Blood?"

Whose? I touched my face remembering and found a bright red smear on my fingers. I was still bleeding!

"Ooh! Oh, God!" I grabbed my nose and tilted my head back as I scrambled to my feet. What the hell was this? I'd never had a bloody nose in my life!! Not that I hadn't when I was fighting but that's different, there was a reason, usually a wall or fist or something hard came in contact with it.

"Ryan!" I stopped looking in the mirror with horror. "What have I done?"

««««« »»»»»»

"What are you doing down there?" Angel stopped by the door frowning. He'd heard them fighting, it was hard not to what with preternatural hearing and all. But how 'he' had gotten down to the lobby before any of them was strange.

"I don't think he heard you…" Fred went down the steps and cautiously approached him. He stirred, barely opening his eyes and frowned up at the skinny girl.

"Hmm?" Ryan closed his eyes and started to sit up.

"Are you all right?" Fred asked just a little concerned and embarrassed to see a half naked man in the lobby.

'Now I get it.' She thought as Ryan stood to his full height even if he did wobble a bit.

"Uh-huh. Just peachy." He groaned arching his back tentatively.

"What happened?" Angel asked again this time coming closer. Ryan glared at him the vampire who walked around with a soul, like it made a difference.

"She told me to get out."

Angel arched an eyebrow. "Tsk, tsk. She likes her privacy." He said. Ryan's eyes narrowed wondering…

"Come on Fred."

They left, the door closing. In the silence that followed Ryan wondered just what the hell had happened. He glanced up the stairs already wincing at the sight because he was going to have to climb all of them on his way back to the suite.

"Fuck me…!"

««««« »»»»»»

The door was unlocked since I had forgotten to lock it after soulvamp left. That kind of thinking would have to wait because what I wanted right now was to find Phade. The living room was empty so was the kitchen when I glanced in there.

"Bedroom then." I sighed gathering my courage and pushing the recent image of me on fire out of my head.

I found her rocking herself on the bathroom floor. Her hair covered her face and her muffled voice… she was mumbling incoherently and crying.

"Phade." I wasn't sure if I should touch her or not. Considering… but I did.

She flinched from me waving a hand to push me away.

"What the hell?" I frowned seeing the red smudges. I grabbed her hand maybe a little too hard but she is stronger than any normal woman. As it was I had a little trouble holding her still.

"You're bleeding, Phade." I grabbed her upper arms and pulled her up. She couldn't even hold her own weight!

"Didn't mean to. Kill… murderer… kil-."

"Phade!" I shook her feeling a thread of anxiety creep up my spine. What the hell was wrong?

"Fire! They're all burning! I burned them!" she cried looking up. She was still bleeding, it trickled slowly out of her nose and her eyes? Oh my God. Her eyes seemed to be covered with a red shimmering mist.

"Phade, baby. What's wrong? Phade!" I held her in my arms feeling her tremble as she buried her face in my chest. I didn't know what to do. How was I supposed to help her? Then so softly I almost didn't hear her.

"I'm sorry… I didn't mean to…"

I shrugged feeling her begin to calm down and that just calmed me down as well.

"What the hell. It's not the first time we've had a fight. Won't be the last one."

««««« »»»»»»

"What's this about an Axis?" I asked already getting myself into work mode. Angel had said there was work to be done and even if Ryan didn't like it this was my job and my home. The only thing left to discuss now was whether or not he wanted me this way because I wasn't about to run away again.

"The Axis of Pythia. Its supposed to help us find Cordy." Fred said from her seat.

"Oh." I took a deep breath and went to my desk. "Anything I can do to help?"

"Yes." The look on Fred's face was more than relieved which just affirmed my prior thought. She'd been doing a lot since everyone had left. So what if I couldn't find most of the cases I'd been working on or figure out what we'd been paid for and what was still unpaid. She'd done her best, now it was my turn to get our office in order and up to speed.

"I'm sorry." Fred whispered.

"No. Don't worry about it." I reassured her though I had to shove down my dismay at all the work I had to do. "You did great considering… I didn't know things were… Lorne didn't say anything."

"Lorne. He left too. He didn't know, too busy to call us or take our calls." Fred grumbled looking more than ever like a little girl. "Phade?"

"Yeah, sweetie?"

"I'm sorry."

"Fred I tol-."

"No. I mean about not calling you after you-. Well, it just wasn't right and I'm sorry."

She left then, a little smile on her face and I just wondered what the hell was this? She apologized and it wasn't even her fault nor was she the one I would've expected to- then again Fred is the noblest of them all.

More so than I am.

"Phade?"

I looked up startled to see that time had gone by so fast and I still hadn't managed to make a dent in all the paperwork on my desk.

"Phade." I stood up and slowly made my way around the reception counter feeling nervous, anxious and scared. He had his bag with him, not a good sign and I had to take a breath to steady myself for what was coming.

"I asked you before… if you were coming or staying." He said coming down the stairs and towards me. "After seeing-. What you do here? This is your job, I get that. I have mine too."

He was leaving.

"Uh-huh." I nodded feeling my insides twisting. I couldn't believe this hurt so bad!

"Phade-."

"No-. You're right." I cleared my throat before saying what I obviously had to. "This is my place and you have yours. No reason you should stay. I guess… well, it was fun."

"Fun?" he asked. There it was. That tone and more than ever I felt myself flinch. I was hurting him and I knew it but did he know how much I was hurting?

"That's it? Just fun?" he asked quietly. I shook my head knowing it wasn't just fun not for me.

"Look at me!" he yelled and I took an involuntary step backwards.

"Oh no! You're not running away from me." he said taking my arms in a firm grip. "Tell me right now if you want me to go. Tell me!"

"Go? You're the one leaving not me!" I yelled back.

"You could come with me. You don't have to stay here."

"I'm not running anymore, Ryan." I shook my head. "When I left things were bad, for me, for them. Angel helped me when I needed it now its time I did the same."

"You're gonna choose them over me." he stated flatly dropping my arms and standing apart.

"No. I'm done choosing." I shook my head. "I wan-. I want you to stay. But I won't force you."

She looked vulnerable and tired. I wondered if this was normal, to feel like my insides were in a knot that no one would untangle in a million years. How could she tell me she didn't want me to go and then tell me she wouldn't force me to stay?

But she said it didn't she? She said she doesn't want you to go. That means she wants you to stay. Are you?

Was I?

"What is it between us?" he asked. "What is it that makes it so hard to stay angry at you and want you more every time?"

I shook my head unable to answer and watched as he moved closer.

"I cant stay." He said and my heart seemed to crumble with those words. I nodded refusing to let him see the pain but when he took me in his arms I hid my face in his chest. I hadn't done a good job of keeping myself detached. The past year had been- it was too much time spent with him not to feel this heartache at his leaving. But I had always known it wouldn't last.

It couldn't last.

"But I'll come back." He whispered to the top of my head as he held me closely. I stiffened slightly before slipping my arms around his waist and holding on to him.

He was coming back?

Maybe I was stupid to hope it was true but hope is the one thing that you can never really seem to loose.

"I love you."

Those three words left my lips with out a second thought and instantly knew it was right. I love her. Love everything about her. Love watching her sleep because she looks so peaceful. Love to watch her fight because it was just- beautiful. The way she moves… mostly I love fighting with her because then we could make up and the making up…