A Different Road
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* After Effects * _______________
One year previously…
Buffy walked away from the burning school building oblivious to the chaos going on around her. She headed as quickly as possible to Angel’s place. She was extremely pissed off at him. His reasons for leaving were ludicrous and she wasn’t going to let him leave like that.
Buffy ran into his apartment and laid the neatly written letter on his bed. She knew she was making the right decision. Her next stop was home, she needed to see her Mother and explain things.
Joyce Summers was sitting in her daughter’s bedroom waiting for her to get home. She had found the note her daughter her left on her bed. It said she would be back to explain more and to get her things. This time Joyce was determined not to let her daughter run off. The last time was mostly her part for telling Buffy not to come back, but this time things would be different.
“Mom?” Buffy asked from the door of her room.
“Buffy, please don’t leave again.”
“I have to, Mom. Not forever, but just for a little while. I need to learn how to be me, by myself. I want to be able to make my own choices, without you or all my friends telling me how to live my life. The only times I make the decisions are when it comes to slaying. The rest of the time you all decide for me. Like you talking to Angel and the Scooby’s telling me whom I can and can’t date. I…I just want a chance when I’m on my own making all my own decisions.”
“You did that last summer!” Joyce yelled.
“Last summer I didn’t do anything. I worked at a diner and after shift I sat in my apartment and looked at the wall. I was…I was grieving, not living.”
“Oh, Buffy,” her mother said and pulled her in for a hug.
“Did you read the letter?” Joyce nodded affirmative. “So you’ll help, Faith?”
“Of course. I’ll start working on the guest room right away. Now, what was that bit about e-mail at the end of the letter?”
“Willow helped me. She’s setting up a Scooby website, e-mail addresses, and a few other things. It’s just so we can all stay connected and kept up to date. Xander is doing the road trip thing, Willow is going to Europe for the summer, and well I’m going somewhere too. I’m just not sure yet.”
“So, I’ll be able to stay in touch with you and you’ll let me know how you’re doing?”
“Of course. I’m going to miss you.”
Joyce and Buffy spent the next few minutes packing Buffy’s bags and talking about what Buffy thought she was going to do. They headed downstairs and towards the front door.
“Mom…I’m giving Faith a potion of sorts. It’s to help her out of her coma. I’m gonna talk to her. Please, go see her. I’ll call you if she’s still pissed…and well evil. Willow will be by soon with your e-mail address. I’m pretty sure it’s TheScoobyMom@theScoobys.com
Buffy hugged her Mom tightly.
“Don’t forget to write. I love you.”
“Love you, too. Oh, and don’t tell Dad I’m gone. I’ll probably need the five hundred bucks he deposits every month in my account.” Joyce gave her a watery smile.
*** *** ***
Buffy quietly walked into Faith’s hospital room. She sat next to her bed and held her hand. Buffy realized that she and the Scooby’s had handled Faith badly. It must have been very hard for Faith after killing a human, even though she pretended it didn’t.
Buffy uncapped the vial that Willow had given her the day before. Buffy smiled when she thought of her talk with Willow. Willow had been very supportive of Buffy decision, but would miss her. Buffy told Willow she would be back in time to start at Sunnydale University with her, but she wasn’t so sure she would be.
Buffy gently opened Faith’s mouth and poured the liquid in. She sat back down and held Faith’s hand again while she waited for her to wake up. A few moments’ later Faith’s eyes began to flutter and she tried to sit up.
“Faith, it’s okay. Don’t move you’re in the hospital.”
“Buffy?” Faith murmured.
“I…I put you in a coma.”
“Angel?” Faith asked quietly.
“Alive. But, he dumped me.”
“Yeah, well. You feel okay?”
“Yeah. How pissed are you?” Faith asked with a small smile.
“Not that much. I’m leaving town for a bit.”
“Want, take, have. I need to be myself and make my own kind of decisions.”
“I get that…my mouth tastes weird.”
“Sorry. I had to give you stuff to wake you from the coma.” Faith nodded. “Promise me something?”
“Stay with my Mom. Let her take care of you.”
“Okay. But, I’m not gonna get too goody-goody.”
“Deal,” Buffy said on a grin. “So how does LeatherLady@theScoobys.com
sound to you?”
“Pretty damn good.”
“Cool. Keep in touch. My Mom will be by tonight. Maybe you can go home then.”
“Okay. I’ll see ya, B.”
“Be good. Later, Faith.”
And then Buffy walked out the door to take a new path in life.
*** *** ***
Angel stepped into his apartment. He could smell her scent. He hoped she wasn’t still here. He had tried to explain things so that she would understand. She couldn’t have a normal with him there. He walked into the bedroom and saw the note on the bed. He sighed picked it up and read the front. To: Angel
With Love from Buffy
He wasn’t sure if he should read it or not. It was hard enough leaving her here, but it was even harder being close to her and not being with
He silently pulled the letter from the envelope and began to read. His heart broke at the words he read there. She was asking him to stay there, in Sunnydale, to help Faith protect the Hellmouth, while she went away…to find herself. He chuckled a bit at that thought, but if anyone could do it, Buffy could.
“I’ll do it, Buffy. It’s the only right thing I can do in this situation…” he whispered to himself.
*** *** ***
Joyce dropped off, Buffy, and all her stuff in front of Giles’ apartment. She kissed her daughter good-bye and wished her the best of luck. Buffy promised her Mom that she would write often and keep her in the loop.
Buffy headed up the walk towards the front door of Giles apartment, knowing that all the Scooby’s would be there, waiting for her. She knocked on the door softly, almost afraid, of what this last Scooby meeting would be like.
Giles answered and motioned her in. They headed into the living room where the entire gang was gathered. Buffy sat on the couch next to Willow, who was quickly typing away on the keyboard.
“Things all set up, Wills?” Buffy asked.
“Yeah, Buffy, we are good to go. Let me just show you all how the site works and then we can…”
“Say good-bye?” Xander said bitterly. He was the most upset about Buffy’s decision, even though he himself was planning on a short summer road trip.
“Yup,” Buffy said quietly. She quickly explained about Faith and how she had asked Angel to stay and help also, just until she could come back.
“Thank you, Buffy. Even though Angel isn’t my favorite person, it is comforting to know it just won’t be Faith here. I’m afraid too much stress on her could be bad. We’ll just have to support her in any way we can. We could have handled that situation in a much better way.”
All the Scooby’s agreed.
Willow spent the next hour going over the Scooby website set-up, how to access it, use it, and contact all the other Scooby members.
When everything was understood. There were hugs all around and Buffy promised to keep in touch. She told them she loved them and she would see them soon.
Then she walked out the door on a journey to try and figure out who and what she was.