Buffy came back from heaven remembering everything, but no one remembers Dawn. She goes to see Angel and based on their meeting decides not to return to Sunnydale.Disclaimer:
All things BtVS/AtS belong to Joss Whedon, et al. Any real people mentioned in this story used only as comparison, the "actors" created by me to adhere to the site rules.Pairings:
Buffy/Connor, Angel/Cordelia, Connor/Cordelia, Gunn/FredAuthor's Notes:
AU after Buffy's meeting with Angel. Angel Season 3 remains pretty much the same, with the exception of Jasmine's appearance. Connor returned from Quartoth fully grown, rather than the petulant teen portrayed on TV, roughly twenty-two or so. Please note, this isn't a Buffy/Angel story, nor will it portray Cordelia in a good light. Some Scoobies will come out unscathed, while others won't. If this offends you, please don't read this story. Remember, I warned you, so read at your own risk.Special Notes:
Connor looks different than he appeared on the show. The idea for this story came from a picture of SMG with Freddy called the Princess and her Prinze. Quite frankly, I couldn't write a romantic story if I left him as the same character, because the scenes with Cordelia kinda freaked me out
She was on her way to see Angel. They had met at their special place throughout the years. It was a little hotel about an hour away from town. Funny she never realized it was exactly halfway between Sunnydale and LA.
had ripped her from heaven, and for what? It was Willow's idea to rescue her from that Hell
dimension. She proudly told her how she had found the spell, and then convinced the others to help her cast it. She smiled her proud Willow smile, and waited for Buffy to praise her. It took all she had not to let her inner bitch have free reign on the witch. Willow didn't even try to find out where I was. Why would I go to hell? I died to save the Earth, to save Dawn. Dawnie, my Dawnie, it was all for her, to keep her safe and in this world.
Now, I'm back in this hell and Dawn went back to wherever the monks stole her from. They took her the same way they gave her. How could they do that?
She was real, she was mine, made from me, from Summers' blood. I want to scream and yell and hit something, someone. If I had to come back, couldn't I have at least come back to Dawn?
Angel will understand. He'll take me in his arms, like he used to and it will somehow be all right. He held me when I lost Mommy. He was there for me then and he'll help through this too. I won't have to explain about – Heaven. Even thinking about it hurt. Angel will understand once he sees me. He always knows by just looking at me what I need the most.
Buffy pulled up to the small hotel, and got out of her mom's SUV. She smiled remembering finally getting her license. Joyce, Dawn and Buffy had celebrated. Dawn made jokes that at least they would die with full bellies. She shook her head to clear away the memories overloading her mind. Buffy smiled when she saw Angel's car was already there.
She walked up and knocked on door #7 - lucky #7. She smiled when Angel opened the door to let her into the room. He quickly moved to the other side to stare at her from afar. Buffy shut the door with confusion written on her face.
"You look well," he said politely.
Her head jerked as if he had slapped her. It was as if he was talking to a stranger. Why is he way over there? Why aren't his arms around me, holding me?
"That's a nice lie, Angel. I look awful but I'm getting better. Takes a lot out of a girl to come back after four months, plus, it's hard on the hair and nails," Buffy joked not knowing how to take this Angel.
"Buffy! Don't make jokes. I know what it's like in Hell. What it does to you, you can talk to me if you want. You know I'll understand."
She heard pity in his voice, and something unspoken filled his eyes. Understanding dawned on Buffy, and she wasn't sure whether to laugh or cry. He didn't want to be here. Angel was doing his duty by her. He would decide what he thought was right for her, regardless of what she wanted.
"Like you said, Angel; you know what it's like, no reason to talk about it. I want to leave it all behind me. I'm glad you called and wanted to see me. I'm sure you wanted to make sure it wasn't a hoax. So, how is everyone else? Is Cordelia still working for you?"
"Yes, Cordy's a great help. Her visions guide us to who needs our help. Then, we go and help them. I have a great team with Wes, Gunn, Lorne and, I guess, Fred now. I rescued her from Pylea, where Lorne comes from. A portal opened in the middle of Caritas, and pulled Cordy inside it, and we had to go get her. I had to fight their champion for her, some dork named Groo. Isn't that a stupid name? Anyway, Cor, um, Cordy was their princess. You should have seen her outfit. It was some kind of metal bikini thing."
He stopped talking for a minute remembering the skimpy outfit. Buffy swallowed, trying hard to speak around the large lump in her throat.
"Go on Angel, what happened next?" Buffy prompted as she watched this stranger before her.
"Oh yeah, anyway we came back by crashing my car into Lorne's club. Now, we are all back where we belong. Cordy will help Fred adjust to our world again."
Buffy watched his expression soften. Her heart stuttered seeing the same look he once had when he spoke about her high school nemesis.
"She's changed so much, Buffy. You wouldn't recognize her."
He finally realized he was rambling, and stopped. Angel wasn't exactly sure what to say to her. He struggled to answer her question, and not expound on his seer's virtues.
"Yes, uh, she is still working with me."
"And you charge people to help them?" Buffy asked quietly.
"Oh, just the ones who can afford it. It was Cordy's idea. She was right though, because we do have to make a living."
Buffy tried to hide her shock at his words. She breathed deeply, while trying to find something to say without choking.
"I'm happy for you, Angel. It's obvious whatever you're doing works for you. I'm glad you called but you had better head back before you get sunburned. Goodbye Angel."
Buffy turned and started walking toward the door.
"Buffy, wait, don't you want to talk, you know about Hell?"
She shook her head. Hysterical laughter fought to escape her lips, while her nails bit into her palms as she stared at the door. Her hand reached out to turn the knob, unsure she could respond if she turned to face him.
"No, I think we've talked enough for tonight. Maybe, I'll stop and say hi if I'm ever in LA."
Buffy continued out the door, and didn't stop until she reached her car. She quickly crawled behind the wheel and couldn't start the car fast enough. Angel followed her out the door, watching as she pulled away. She saw him wave but ignored the empty gesture.
Tears blinded her sight as the heart she wasn't sure still beat cracked a little more. She pulled into an all-night diner when she realized she had no idea where she was going. Wracking sobs shook her small body as she leaned her head against the steering wheel.
Nearly an hour later, Buffy walked into the diner. She quickly took the booth in the back corner facing the door. She called Giles, and asked him to meet her. Buffy ordered a pot of coffee and waited.
She replayed her meeting over in her mind. It was obvious her
Angel was gone. The one who had held her at her mother's funeral must have been all that remained of him. She didn't recognize the Angel she had met tonight. Not just his feelings for Cordelia but the way he led his life. He wasn't hers anymore, if he ever really was.
Tears ran down Buffy's face once more. She looked up to, when a linen handkerchief appeared in front of her face. She looked up to find Giles' kind face. He sat down and quietly waited for her to start talking. He nearly jumped to his feet when the waitress placed a pot of tea in front of him. Buffy thanked her by name. Her innate kindness toward others never ceased to surprise Giles.
"Please, let me get to the end before you ask any questions, okay?"
"As you wish, dear girl." He smiled, squeezing her hand.
Buffy explained everything, even every word said between her and Angel.
"Buffy, I'm so sorry. I knew they never should have done that spell. It was way beyond her range and control. I merely hoped it would turn out all right because you seemed to be adjusting. You were distant but I put it down to shock," he sighed heavily.
"Well, you were partly right. I was in shock just for different reasons. Giles, I can't go back, not now, maybe not ever. I don't feel right anymore. I don't fit in my own skin; it's too tight. I gave everything I had for over five years and lost everything in a single night. There's nothing left to give. If I don't go and find me again, you may as well just shoot me. It would be kinder than the hell I'm living. I'm sorry Giles for disappointing you. It must seem like I'm running away from my problems."
"Buffy," Giles tried to interrupt.
"Just let me finish please. I'm trying to run toward something but I won't know what until I find it. I just know it isn't in Sunnydale, not right now. I hope, in time I can come back to you, to the Scoobies, but not now."
"Can I speak now?"
She caught her breath. Buffy nodded steeling herself for his words of disappointment. Her shoulders relaxed some when he place his warm hand over her clasped fingers
"You have never disappointed me, and I will happily stay on as long as needed. You deserve this time. Take however long you need, just promise to keep in touch, so I know you're safe. Now, how much money will you need?"
His question confused Buffy and it showed on her face.
"None, Mom left me set financially. Since no one knows I died, the money is still in trust. I'll draw from that," she explained happy he was supporting her decisions.
"But, I thought Willow would have told you that you're all but broke. Tara and Willow have been living in the house to keep the bot going and used the household account money. It's almost gone," he told her, concern shining in his eyes.
"Well, for one she didn't know about it. Another is why would they need to know what my mother left me? Mom only kept a certain amount in the household account. Her paychecks went there then split into different accounts. Since no new money was coming in and them spending it, I'm sure they put a dent in it. There should still be plenty available though."
Buffy's brow furrowed, and she whispered under her breath. Giles momentarily thought this latest news had broken her frazzled psyche.
"I don't understand. After Mom died, her insurance paid off the house and she never carried any balances on her credit cards. The only expenses I paid those last few months was for utilities and food.
Buffy shrugged her shoulders, not too worried about the household finances. She had to focus on getting her life together. Everything else would work itself out on its own.
"Oh well, it doesn't matter now. They can stay there and you can too. Just pay the utilities and keep the place up, no rent needed. I would hate to think of it sitting empty," she smiled sadly.
Giles worked hard to keep his emotions under control. He hated he had discovered yet another way he had failed his Slayer. Nothing could change the past, but he could certainly see that Buffy's future was brighter.
"I'll take care of everything, don't give it another thought. What about your clothes and things?"
"When I find a place, I'll send for the most important things. Thanks Giles; I knew I could count on you."
She squeezed his hand, and sent him a tremulous smile. It wasn't her usual blindingly bright smile he now realized he had taken for granted. It was certainly a start for getting his darling girl back on track.
"You always can Buffy. Please be careful and call me often for anything day or night, promise."
"I will Giles, promise, but only you…for now. I just can't talk to anyone else."
Buffy stood and walked him to his car. He drove away as she crawled into the SUV.
Buffy drove until she could barely see then found a hotel. The next day she bought enough necessities to get by until she found some place to settle. She spread a map across her hotel bed, closed her eyes and pointed. Her finger landed on Arizona. Buffy decided it was perfect for what she needed. It wasn't too far away but far enough. She hoped she could learn to breathe again there.
Buffy took her time driving, stopping each night to sleep peacefully. She finally drove into Scottsdale, several days later. It was a beautiful city. There was a little of everything Mountains and dessert lay off in the distance, with lots of resorts and an art community. She grabbed the paper, before sitting down to eat dinner. First thing on her list was to find an apartment. Someone was looking out for her, because the first one she visited was exactly what she wanted. It was a furnished studio owned by a nice older lady.
Her new landlady told her she could move in right away. Buffy decided to do just that, afraid to mess with the good mojo that had visited her today. She brought her things in from the car then sat down at her new table. Her table, hmm, she liked the sound of that. Buffy dug though her purse until she found pen and paper. She paused for several minutes then started listing things she needed to do and buy.I'll call Giles, later, once I pick up a phone.
At the top of her list was getting a job. Buffy knew she had plenty of money in the trust, but she needed something to keep her busy. She spread her "lucky" paper out on her new table. She was becoming a whole big grown up.
The next morning found her at the first job she thought she might be able to do. It was at a martial arts studio. Buffy thought it would be interesting to teach for a change.
She walked in to find a man standing behind the front desk. He had average looks at first glance until he smile. His face lit up, and his dark eyes sparkled with some inner peace that she desperately hoped to find.
"Hello, my name is Robert Simmons, the owner. Can I help you?"
"I'm here about the job," Buffy replied. She sent him what she hoped was a confidant smile.
"Seriously?" His eyebrows went up when Buffy nodded. "What kind of experience do you have?"
"I have reached expert level in T'ai chi, Tai Kwan Do, Karate, Judo, Jiujutsu, including swords, staffs, stick and nunchuks."
Buffy wrinkled her nose trying to think if she had left anything out.
"Okay, enough already."
Robert threw his hands up to stop her from continuing. He tilted his head to look at her, really look. Something told him to look harder than her outward appearance. This tiny girl had an air about her that reminded him of his squad.
"How about we spar? I'll evaluate you and go from there."
Buffy walked beside him looking at the dojo, which was set up very nice. There were four separate sections with one for the more experienced students. Different types of weapons covered the walls behind it. Robert stopped then pointed to an area not far away.
"You can leave your bag over there."
She returned and they bowed to each other. He started out with tai chi, Buffy moved with him easily letting the world fall away. Robert quickly changed to karate, throwing a right punch and round off kick at her. She blocked him as he flowed from one discipline to another. Moving them toward the wall, he grabbed a staff. Buffy jumped over his downward strike, flipping over him to kick a staff off the wall and into her hand.
They began a series of blows that were so quick the wood rang. She stayed on the defense of each of his blows. She twisted low and under to come in close to his body. With a downward strike of the staff, she disarmed him as the other end rested under his chin.
"Very good." He smiled up at her. "What's your name and when can you start?"
"I'm Elizabeth Anne Summers but go by Liz. And, is tomorrow too soon? What time should I be here? How many classes would I be teaching? What are their ages and levels of experience?"
He smiled at her enthusiasm. "Don't you want to know how much?"
Buffy blushed then smiled back at him. "Oh yeah, how much does it pay?"
He laughed at the tiny blond. "You teach two classes a day, three times a week, morning and evening. There will be two classes of each level to start. Maybe more if needed in the future and each class pays $100. The students vary in age. Sound okay?"
"Yep, can do, what time is the first class?"
"Ten o'clock." Robert smiled at her when she sighed.
"Oh good, I was afraid you would say something crazy like 7 or 8. See ya tomorrow, boss."
Buffy waved, as she all but skipped out of the building. She stopped to buy comfortable clothes for work. Buffy was giddy at the prospect of her first 'real' job.
She called Giles as soon as she got home. He had barely answered the phone, when she started rambling about her day.
"It's so cool, Giles. Can you imagine me teaching people martial arts? Robert is nice and I don't even work more than three days a week. How is everything there? I'm sorry, I should have asked that first, my bad."
"Everything is fine here, dear. I think you'll make a fine instructor. We miss you though. I'm so glad that you're doing so well."
Giles slowly lowered the phone receiver. His lips still turned upward in a smile. Buffy sounded more like herself than she had in a long time.
The smile quickly faded. Just as he hung up the phone, he realized Willow had overheard the end of his conversation. Everything wasn't fine in Sunnydale but Buffy didn't need to know that.
"Was that Buffy? Is she coming home now?"
Her eye bright with hope that everything Giles had told her was untrue.
"No Willow, she isn't. Buffy may never come home. If she chooses to return I promise to tell you."
Giles tried to convince the red headed witch about the seriousness of the issue.
"You probably told her to stay away to punish me more," she grumbled.
"Willow, I did no such thing," he scolded.
"Right, I know she was in heaven and I ripped her out. Bad Willow, mean Willow. I thought she was in HELL, so did you," she yelled at him.
"No Willow, I didn't. Had you asked me, I would have told you. You weren't prepared for the magic you called; magic you had no business doing, which no one should ever do. I blame myself partially. Knowing your curiosity and thirst for knowledge, I should have worked harder to give or get you proper training. I just never presumed of anyone that you, of all people, would go so far. I expected better from you. I'm happy to start your training so nothing like this should ever occur in the future."
"I don't need training Giles. I already know magic, lots of it. What could you teach me?"
He looked at her incredulously. "Control and discipline, Willow! Talk to Tara and see if she doesn't feel the same way. Her mother taught her. Please consider it." Giles walked up the stairs leaving her in the kitchen.
Willow waved her hand, opening the refrigerator door and a coke flew into it. She wasn't even looking as she grabbed it from the air.
"I have control and discipline. I go to school, patrol, and help everyone all the time. So, I use magic sometimes. It's not like I can't do without it," she muttered to herself.
She unconsciously waved her hand again. The empty coke can flew into the recycle bin as she left the room. Willow was still angry with Giles for yelling at her about using up the household money. He told her and Tara they had to start paying toward the upkeep of the house. Anger filled her when she thought about Buffy putting the household finances under Giles' control. Why should we have to pay?
The more she thought about it the angrier she got. They had taken care of the bot, and the house while Buffy was gone. Willow wouldn't even admit in her thoughts that Buffy was in Heaven. Buffy had returned thanks to her, and then ran away – again. Now, Giles had the nerve to accuse them of squandering Buffy's money. She had already heard enough about it from Anya's constant harping they were squandering money with no visible way to replace it. Stupid Anya all she cares about is money. Its not like we spent all the money. There's enough for a few months. Plus, I only used it for the house. If I didn't take care of everything the way I did, Buffy wouldn't even have a home when she returned. But, noo – no one thinks about that. Buffy will come home and see I didn't waste the money, and then she can take over responsibility for the house.
Willow made her way up the stairs. She smiled when she entered the room she shared with Tara. There was no way she would live there with her sweetie with furnishings belonging to a dead woman. Willow had redecorated the entire room: new bedding, curtains, paint, pictures and accessories. Then of course, she had to do the bathroom because it didn't match. When she was almost finished, she realized the tiles didn't match her color scheme, and had them changed. Xander got her great a deal on the beautiful marble tiles.
She stuck out her tongue, and huffed, "So there, Giles. I only used the money on the house. You don't know what you're talking about; you're just a poophead!"
When the basement flooded, Xander knew someone. It saved them lots of money. Willow split the difference with him, and used her portion to buy her and Tara a huge tub. She smiled thinking of the baths they had taken in it. That was where she was going now. Maybe if I'm lucky my honey will come home and join me.
Buffy had been at the dojo for about three months now, and was thoroughly enjoying her job. Giles mailed her some clothes, Mr. Gordo and pictures from around the house. She panicked when the small picture from her mom's room didn't arrive. It was the first art piece her mother ever owned. Buffy remembered Joyce telling her how she saved for two years to buy some real art.
She called Giles at the Magic Shop and Anya answered. "Can I speak to Giles please?"
Buffy closed her eyes, and hoped Anya wouldn't recognize her voice. Her luck didn't hold.
"Buffy, is that you?...Hey, everyone Buffy is on the phone...Giles' right here...Hold on...Just don't talk too long...We're running a business here."
"Anya, do hand me the phone...Hello dear, did you get your things?...What?...No, I asked and Tara didn't know where to find it?...Let me ask Willow, hold on a minute...Willow, there was a small picture on the wall in Joyce's room by the windows. Do you know where it is?"
"When I redid the bedroom I put all her stuff in the basement," Willow answered.
"She put everything of your mother's in the basement...Buffy, please calm down...I'll find out and call you back...I'm sure it will turn out fine," Giles tried to reassure her as he hung up the phone. He turned to the redheaded wiccan, and knew he wasn't going to like what he heard.
"Willow, did you pack Joyce's things properly?"
She looked away before answering. Her eyes skittered toward Tara and wanted to scream when she saw the concern there. It wasn't concern for her, but for Joyce's property.
"Well, not really. We just kinda put it wherever it would fit in the empty space."
He walked over to stand in front of her. Giles face remained neutral as he looked down at her.
"Now, let me get this straight in my mind. You moved into Buffy's home, into her mother's room. You then proceeded to strip the room bare and refurbish it. I'm guessing from the household accounts. Then you took Joyce's personal belongings and rather than packing them up properly. You dumped them on the floor, which has since flooded ruining everything, which by the way was not yours to do with as you pleased," he roared at her.
Willow nodded as Tara glared at her. When Tara moved in the room had already been redone; she had offered to help pay. Willow told her it was already taken care of. It was a gift for her, for them. When the pipes broke and Xander helped fix them, Tara was thrilled with the new tub. Buffy had thanked them for their help. She had asked if anything had gotten ruined. Willow and Xander told her only some old junk, nothing of any importance. Buffy never went into the their room, while she was still in Sunnydale. She told Tara she just couldn't face it, yet.
"Don't yell at her Giles, it was an accident. What's the big deal about the picture?" Xander defended his friend. He moved away from Anya to stand beside Willow.
"It was priceless to Buffy, and the first art Joyce ever purchased. From my understanding, it was also worth quite a bit of money."
"Oh, then I know how to fix this. All you have to do is file an addendum with the insurance company, and they'll pay you. I'm sure Buffy would rather have a nice big check than some old picture." Anya grinned happy to help resolve the issue.
"What's wrong with you people? Didn't you hear me? It's priceless to Buffy, irreplaceable. And, no Anya, she doesn't want a check. She wanted something that meant a great deal to her mother."
Ripper peered out from his eyes at pale green eyes as his anger nearly boiled over at their attitude.
"I don't know how I'll tell her. It will break her heart."
"I'll tell her, Giles. I'm the one that threw it out, so I should tell her…"
She would finally get a chance to speak with Buffy. Willow knew the absent Slayer would come home if she could just talk to her.
"I'm sorry, Willow. I promised not to give her number to anyone. She'll contact you when she's ready to talk."
Giles marched out of the store slamming the door.
"Of course she doesn't want to talk to us. We'd tell her to quit feeling sorry for herself, and come home," Xander complained.
"Xander, you shouldn't talk about her that way. She left because of what we did. Buffy isn't to blame we are," Tara said firmly.
Xander and Willow looked at each other, almost reading the other's minds. Buffy would come home soon; she needed them.