Force of Nature

Description: Hours after Angel leaves, Buffy runs into another ex and resolves some unfinished business.

Disclaimer: None of the characters appearing in this story belong to me, they belong to their owners/creators. I just wanted to sew up some loose ends.

Rating: PG, for general themes and intensity.

Time Frame: Immediately after GD2 (this is your spoiler warning, folks).

FORCE OF NATURE


Buffy walked down the hospital corridor, wishing that she were anywhere else. After Angel had left and the rest of her friends had called it a night, she was still restless, and found herself going to check on Faith again. Nothing had changed, of course: the dark bruises were already fading, but there was still no one home. Buffy had watched her for several minutes, then left with a great feeling of sadness.

As she walked down the corridor, Buffy saw several of her classmates walking in various directions with various bandages, casts, and slings; apparently, Sunnydale High's Last Stand would be changing some vacation plans. * At least we kept fatalities to a minimum * , she thought, sadly thinking of Larry. . .and even Snyder didn't deserve to go out the way he did. Abruptly, she recognized one of the injured graduates, and she tried to slip away unnoticed. * I can't deal with this. . .not tonight of all nights. *

"Buffy?" Scott Hope called out inquisitively, "Are you all right?" As she turned to face him, she saw his expression was concerned, though with a hint of the smile that she had always loved seeing during their involvement. His right arm was in a sling, and Buffy walked over and commented, "Looks like you got dinged up a bit."

Scott's smile became self-deprecating, and he replied, "Just a mild sprain. They don't teach you about vampires in wrestling class. . .and one of them gave my arm a good yank before one of the other guys staked him. . .it would be nice not to have to do that again any time soon."

Relieved that he was not seriously injured, Buffy nodded and was turning to go when she remembered something and turned back: "Uh, Scott? I should have said something sooner. . .but, thanks for the whole thing with the Class Protector award." Scott Hope had been one of the more active members of the Prom committee, and his signature had been the first one on the letter that Buffy received acknowledging the award.

Scott looked down at the ground, and replied, "It wasn't just me, Buffy. Everyone on the committee agreed that you deserved it. . .Jonathan was the most vocal, of course, but the others all had stories, too. . .except me. . .I had to go back and think about some things that I remembered from when we were together, and they started to make sense." He looked at her intensely and asked, "Buffy, it was you who stopped Pete after he. . . after he killed Debbie, right?"

Buffy nodded, saddened by the look on Scott's face as he remembered the deaths of his two best friends. "I'm sorry, Scott. He had killed her and was trying to kill me. . .I wish I hadn't had to. . ." She stopped and took a deep breath. There was no point in telling him that Angel had been the one who actually killed Pete. . .Angel was her responsibility anyway. She sighed and concluded, "I'm so sorry."

Scott nodded, and sank into one of the visitor chairs in the corridor: Buffy sat across from him, and they shared a long moment of silence before he spoke again: "Buffy, I owe you an apology for the way I handled our breakup. I was still hurting from Pete and Debbie dying, and I just wasn't up to being there for you with whatever problems you were having. . .I wish I could have known what you were going through. . .I'd like to think that I could have handled things better."

Buffy smiled softly and replied, "It's probably just as well, Scott. . .I was still hurting over the end of my last relationship. . .you were right, I just wasn't there half the time, and I couldn't tell you what was wrong." Scott looked puzzled, and Buffy elaborated, "Let's just say that I met my former honey. . .in the course of my professional duties."

Scott's eyes widened and he nodded in understanding, though Buffy suspected he didn't really completely understand and wouldn't ever do so. He looked at her ruefully and commented, "Buffy. . .if I had known what was really going on with you, I probably wouldn't have tried to get involved with you." Buffy looked a little hurt, and Scott quickly elaborated, "I didn't mean it that way, Buffy. It's just that, well, I'm a little old-fashioned, and even though I know that you can beat the hell out of anything that I might be able to help you with, I'd always have the impulse to dive in and save you. . .and, well, helping to save the graduating class today was one thing, but I don't want to have to deal with this kind of thing ever again. . .which is one of the many reasons why I'm glad I was accepted to Yale. . .about as far from Sunnydale as you can get without leaving the continent." He looked at her, smiled self-deprecatingly, and concluded, "Buffy, I said once that you seemed like a force of nature to me. . .it's what drew me to you, but I guess I was trying to play out of my league. . .you need someone who can keep up with you, and whoever he ends up being, he'll be lucky as hell."

Buffy sat for a moment and watched him thoughtfully. After a moment, she stood up, leaned over, and kissed him on the cheek. He looked up at her and asked, "What was that for?"

She smiled softly and replied, "For being brave, sweet. . .and honest. I wish you all the best at Yale, Scott." Without another word, she walked through the swinging doors at the end of the corridor, and Scott Hope was left to ponder what might have been.

As she left the hospital, Buffy thought of what she had just heard. * That's why I've been doing this. . .not just for my family and close friends, or for some holy abstraction forced on me by the Council. . .I've been doing it so that decent people, who aren't heroes but can rise to the occasion, can live reasonably normal lives. . .even if I can't * It didn't really make up for Angel being gone, or Faith lying in that hospital bed, or any of the other crap she'd had to deal with. . .but, for the moment, it felt pretty damned good. Longing for a soft pillow, she began the long walk home.



As always, comments are welcomed and desired