Title: Alone I Break
Author: Isis (aka FlyerGirl)
Started: June 6, 2004
Disclaimer: Not, Joss, don't work for WB, UPN, FOX, etc...which translates to them not being mine.
Rating: R (some language, implied sex)
Summary: total AU – Tragedy strikes Buffy Summers' life, for a second time, sending her spiraling out of control.
Main Characters: Buffy, Oz, Angel, Xander
Supporting Cast: Giles, Lorne, Gunn, Willow
Spoilers: none, other than little tid bits here and there inserted into a human AU.
Distribution: my site (Vagabond Soul), and if you already have any of my fics, you may take this one, if not, please ask first.
Author's Notes: Written for Kristi (bashipforever) for the Whedonverse AU Ficathon (run by myself and Stars). The request will come at the end of the fic.AN2: There are some medical and psychological aspects in this fic. They are likely not entirely accurate because I'm not a doctor, or psychiatrist, so please excuse any errors.
Thank you: to Wendy, who beta'd this fic, and to Roz, my favorite test reader.
Warnings: rather angsty, character death (not Buffy or Angel), a bad word or two, implied sex.
Startled, nineteen year old Buffy Summers turned away from the sink where she was washing the dishes from dinner and walked toward the foyer. Reaching the doorway leading out of the kitchen, her steps halted as she spied a small duffle bag resting at the foot of the stairs. One eyebrow rose as she glanced upwards and saw Oz rushing down the stairs as he put on his coat.
"Normally people carry things down stairs, not just toss them down," she said, chuckling slightly.
"I dropped it," he replied, not bothering to look up from where he was now kneeling, digging around in the aforementioned bag.
Buffy shook her head as she watched her older, half-brother's frazzled movements. It was a little unusual for him to be so animated, but sometimes before his band had a gig a crack showed in his carefully constructed carefree façade. Considering it was five minutes to seven, and he was supposed to be at the club at seven, she could understand his rushing.
"What's up with the bag anyway?" she asked curiously. Oz never usually took anything with him to gigs except for his bass and amp, which normally never left his van except for sporadic practice sessions.
"Huh? Oh! It's just some stuff of Devon's that he left here last weekend," Oz answered distractedly, referring to his friend and the lead singer of their band Dingoes Ate My Baby.
Thinking of Devon, Buffy laughed out loud. She had first hand knowledge of the strangeness that was Oz's close friend. Hearing that he'd left stuff at their house was nothing new. He was one of those people who'd forget his own head if it wasn't attached.
"You're gonna be late if you don't hurry it up," she pointed out, stating what was glaringly obvious.
Oz looked up at her with a scowl on his face but said nothing, even as Buffy walked over and bumped her hip into his.
"I'm just teasin' ya," she told him, ignoring his annoyed countenance.
"I know," he said simply, then looked Buffy up and down, taking in her clothes which consisted of a pair of track pants and an old tank top. "Aren't you going out tonight?"
"Huh?" Buffy grunted.
"I thought you had a date," he explained quickly, picking up his bag and walking to the door.
"A date? Where the hell did you get that idea?" she questioned in confusion. "I can't even remember the last time I had a date."
"I thought you...never mind. I gotta run," he said in a rush.
"Okay. Good luck tonight," her cheery voice chirped as she trotted over to hold the door open.
"Thanks. Have fun with the TV," he teased, knowing his sister would spend the evening watching sappy chick flicks. Reaching over, Oz gave her a quick hug before scurrying out the door.
Buffy watched him leave, smiling as he peeled away from the curb in his rush to get to the club at least remotely close to the time he was supposed to have been there. Once his battered van was out of sight, she closed the front door and headed toward the living room.
The old clock in the corner of the living room chimed once, signaling that it was one in the morning. Buffy groggily opened her eyes, letting out a small yawn as she sat up on the couch. Rubbing a hand over her face, she realized that she must have fallen asleep while watching her second movie of the night. The TV was still on, some lame infomercial now playing on its screen.
Stretching slightly, Buffy rose from the couch and walked over to the bank of windows at the front of the room. She pulled back the curtain, glancing outside to see if Oz's van was there. The driveway was empty so she figured Oz hadn't gotten back from his gig yet. With another yawn, she let the curtain fall shut before deciding to head to the kitchen.
Moments later, she returned with a glass of milk in one hand and a plate of fat-free cookies in the other. Buffy was normally in bed by this time, but whenever Oz was out she always waited for him to get home so he could tell her about his gig or the sporadic dates he went on. It was tradition and she had no intention of breaking it.
Settled on the couch with an old afghan tucked around her legs, Buffy picked up the remote control and flipped through the channels looking for something vaguely interesting to watch. There wasn't much on, but she eventually found reruns of a sitcom on one channel.
Halfway through the show, Buffy was idly munching on the cookies, laughing at the comedic antics of the program, when suddenly the room went pitch black. The TV and all the lights had gone off. Buffy froze, a shiver running down her spine at the odd occurrence.
When the lights did not come back on after several seconds, she stood, opting to go to the kitchen to find some candles and matches. As she tried to take a step away from the couch, she howled, having stubbed her toe on the coffee table. Cursing, and hopping on one foot, she carefully maneuvered around the room and toward the kitchen.
She groped around the cabinets for a few minutes until she finally found some old candles, and thankfully, a pack of matches with them. Lighting one, she glanced around the darkened room, then at the back door. The utter blackness was giving her the creeps. Why had the lights gone out? It wasn't storming or anything. She wondered if maybe they had forgotten to pay the electric bill, but no, if that was the case the company wouldn't have turned off the power in the middle of the night.
Frowning, she wondered back through the kitchen and into the foyer, deciding to look out the front windows to see if her neighbors lights were off as well. She reached the front door and peeked out one of the side windows. It was just as dark outside as it was inside. There wasn't a scrap of light to be seen because there was no moon out at all.
Buffy was just about to return to the living room to wait for Oz when she thought she saw something moving on the front porch. Leaning in closer, she pressed her face almost against the glass trying to see anything, but it was no use. The darkness hid everything. She shrugged, figuring it was Oz on his way into the house, or possibly her over active imagination.
The sudden knock on the door startled her and she let out a quiet scream. Clutching a hand over her chest, she wondered who the hell would be knocking at the door this late at night. Buffy took a step toward the door and was about to open it when common sense took over.
"Who is it?" she yelled loudly.
"Buff?" she heard a familiar voice answer. "It's Xander."
A cold chill encased her body, making her tremble slightly. She quickly unlocked the door and threw it open. It was so dark she could barely see him, but from the soft glow of the candle she could recognize the figure of Xander Harris, one of her brother's good friends, and also a member of the Sunnydale Police Force. It took her only a moment to see the candle's light reflect off his badge, telling her that he was in uniform and on duty.
"Xand?" she asked, her voice on, ya gotta come with me!" he answered in a rush, grabbing her hand and starting to pull her out the door.
Buffy pulled loose, her heart now pounding in her chest. "What's going on?"
"I-I...I can't explain now, but we have to go. Now!" Xander demanded, yanking her out the door and neglecting to notice that she wasn't even wearing shoes.
Shocked by his strange actions, Buffy could do nothing but stumble along behind him, wincing as the rough pavement of the walkway dug into her bare feet. Within seconds, they were at his squad car, though she really couldn't tell because of the overwhelming darkness. Xander said nothing as he opened the passenger door and shoved her inside.
Dread filled Buffy as Xander jumped into the car and took off down the road. She wanted to speak; to ask him why he'd come and dragged her out of her house, but she couldn't seem to make her self talk. Before she could force the words from her mouth, they turned a nearby corner and any thoughts she had died.
A block ahead, she could see it; see their destination without being told that was where they were headed. Flashing lights swirled all over the place; fire engines, ambulances, and police cars littering the road. Large spotlights lit up the area, illuminating the scene.
That was when she saw it; saw the telephone poll that was snapped half way up and now hanging precariously by the wires it served to hold up. Below that, Buffy could see a flash of battered blue metal.
"NO!" she howled, never realizing the anguished cry had come from her own lips as she jumped out of the car before it had even come to a stop.
"Buffy!" Xander yelled after her, but it was no use. She was already running full bore into a scene he knew she wasn't prepared to see.
Buffy sprinted as fast as she could, despite her bare feet, toward the group of vehicles and rushing people. Nausea rolled through her stomach as she pushed her way through the gathered onlookers and emergency workers. Once past the final line of people, she could see it. There in front of her was an old blue van; twisted and broken against the wood of the telephone poll. She stumbled to a halt, unable to move any further. Her eyes furiously searched for something, anything. A few feet to the left of the crushed van she noticed a group of paramedics huddled on the ground around something. She took a few steps toward them, then stopped as her heart shattered into a million pieces. There, at one end of the mass of people, she saw Adidas sneakers, the same sneakers she had given him for his birthday only four months earlier.
"No! Oz!" she screamed, her knees buckling.
Xander caught her before she could hit the ground. He held her trembling, sobbing body as they watched the paramedics scurry around the body of her brother. When he saw that they had loaded him onto a stretcher, Xander grabbed Buffy and quickly walked her toward the waiting ambulance.
"Sir, you'll have to back away from the vehicle," a paramedic said once they'd reached the back doors of the truck.
"She's his sister," Xander replied in an authoritative voice. He looked the man in the eye, hoping he would understand the importance of letting Buffy through.
The man glanced at Buffy, then at the stretcher approaching the ambulance. He quickly understood what Officer Harris was trying to tell him. "Okay, she can ride in the back, but she needs to stay out of their way."
Xander nodded, pulling Buffy out of the way as the stretcher with Oz was loaded into the back of the rig. The entire time, Buffy said nothing; her eyes completely focused on the bloody face of her brother. Her daze was broken when Xander gave her a push up into the ambulance.
She never heard the door slam shut, or the paramedic telling her where to sit. Her mind was only registering the fact that her much-loved brother was lying motionless on a stretcher right in front of her. A large gash on his forehead had covered his face with blood, and his left arm was jutting out at an unnatural angle. She winced when one of the paramedics jabbed a needle into his right arm in order to start an IV.
So lost in what had happened, Buffy almost didn't see his eyes flutter open. But she did see it, and when she gazed into his pain filled eyes the tears that she been holding back finally burst forth.
"Oz?" she whispered brokenly.
"Buffy?" The word was barely audible, but she heard it.
Crouching down next to the stretcher, she lightly grabbed his right hand. "I'm here, Oz. Hang on, you're gonna be fine."
"Buff...love....you," he managed to utter hoarsely before his eyes drifted closed again.
"Oz!" Buffy pleaded, wanting him to look at her again.
"Miss, you need to move out of the way!" one of the paramedics ordered.
Blindly, she stumbled backwards onto one of the benches and watched through tear-filled eyes as the paramedics worked to stabilize her brother while speaking rushed words into the portable radios clasped to their shirts. Her mind drifted back to earlier that night; watching Oz rush around getting ready for his gig, teasing him about being late, and the quick hug he gave her before he left. It was impossible for her to reconcile the image of her happy-go-lucky brother with the bleeding body before her.
The ride to the hospital passed in a flash. She hadn't even realized they were there until someone was shaking her to get her attention. All she could do was watch as they wheeled him out of the ambulance, down the hallway, and then into one of the trauma bays inside the emergency room.TBC!