Title: Damned Inferno
Author: Jade
Rating: R
Pairings: Buffy/Angel Buffy/Gunn
Spoilers: All Buffy and Angel
Disclaimer: Don't own anything.
Summary: A year or so after the battle at the end of Not Fade Away.
Warnings: Much character death. Written for bashipforever as part of the B/A Angst-a-thon hosted by me. Requirements at the end.
Feedback: or leave a comment here please, I beg you.
Thanks: Many thanks to fishsanwitt and darkrhiannon for their comments on this story at concritique. It was much appreciated.

The wail of a police siren filtered through Buffy's dreams, startling her awake in the insufferably hot air. She sat up and pushed the thin, slightly stained sheet from her body and stood, stretching her tired muscles. The window, which was thick with dirt, was wide open and the curtains wafted listlessly in the humid breeze.

Buffy walked over and sat down on the cracked window sill, once white and now a murky brown, staring out into the night. The sun had set long ago leaving the narrow road dimly lit by three streetlights. Enveloped around each streetlamp was a choking haze of yellow pollution, making Buffy wistful for the clear Sunnydale evenings.

A blinking neon light was directly opposite her window, proclaiming Murphy's bar underneath. It was supposed to have closed hours ago, but people still staggered out of it every few minutes. What was left of the police, were always visiting them to calm down the rough crowd they attracted and try and get them to leave at the time they were supposed to. In the two years Buffy had been there it hadn't closed on time once.

Two groups of girls stood on the corner of the road, dressed in skirts that were the size of belts and tight halter tops. They talked loudly, their conversation loud enough for Buffy to hear a snatched word every now and then. A red BMW pulled up at the curb and a dark haired girl climbed in to greet the person waiting inside. The car reminded Buffy of Giles's and she felt a pang at the thought of him, then couldn't help a small smile at the idea of Giles picking up a prostitute.

The apartment door opened with a bang and Buffy jumped. A man lurched in to sprawl across the floor, his empty glass smashing on the worn tiles. Pity warred with revulsion in Buffy's gut at the sight. He was decaying further and she felt more desperate and alone every day.

"Hello," Buffy greeted quietly, before looking back out again. The putrid smell of rotting food filtered through from the doorstep of the building, where people put their rubbish out, but was never collected, mixing with stale human sweat.

The man lifted his foot and kicked the door shut before promptly passing out. Sighing, Buffy knelt down and began to pick up the sharp fragments of the glass. When it was all cleared away, she put her arms around his waist.

"Don't sleep on the floor again," she pleaded, trying to heft the dead weight onto his feet. "Wake up,"

She pushed him back onto the bed where he fell with a thud. Buffy was about to go back to her seat at the window when she noticed a small patch of blood forming on the sheet where his hand was and realised he had cut himself with the glass, Buffy fetched some band aids and sat down next to him to clean it up and wrapped a bright blue band aid around his hand, knowing it would embarrass him. She tenderly caressed her finger along his jaw line.

"Gunn, stop doing this to yourself, I know you miss them, but it won't get any easier this way." He grunted in his sleep and she lifted up his useless arm and put it around her, curled up next to him and lay her head down on his stomach before drifting off to sleep.

"Morning," Gunn greeted as she blinked her eyes sleepily. The warm aroma of bacon hit her senses and she smiled, sitting up in the double bed.

Gunn was sitting grilling bacon over the tiny gas camping stove on the floor. "Bacon and egg okay?" he asked, cracking an egg open awkwardly with one hand into the pan he had placed on the hob.

"I didn't think you knew how to use that thing," Buffy said, nodding at his question and crawling down the bed with the sheet wrapped around her.

He grinned, "Fried or scrambled?"

"Scrambled please," Buffy replied.

A few minutes later Gunn handed her a plate which she accepted gratefully. "Breakfast in bed, for the first time ever," she said, using a slightly rusty fork as a knife as well as for its intended use.

"Breakfast, lunch and dinner," Gunn said worriedly, "Unless we pilfer some from the market."

Buffy raised her eyebrows at him, "We aren't gonna steal."

"Getting kinda desperate…" he pointed out, "Plus the water got cut off."

"I paid that bill yesterday!" Buffy exclaimed, getting up and putting her empty plate in the plastic bowl they used to wash items up.

"Mr Mage is just an asshole," Gunn complained, referring to their landlord. "I wish I could get a job,"

"You could always be a gigolo," Buffy joked; "I hear the demand has been going up recently,"

Gunn smiled at her, a real smile before he frowned and it vanished, as if he remembered he wasn't allowed to smile.

Buffy got up and pulled some clothes on that were folded neatly on the floor, "I'm going to find Mr Mage and remind him I paid for the water yesterday," The blonde leant forward and kissed him gently on the forehead, slipping a packet of painkillers into his hand, "Take these to relieve your head, I'll be back later than normal,"

Gunn nodded, "Take care,"

As Buffy left the room, she was careful not to breathe in through her nose as she jogged down the dingy stairs and reached Mr Mage's room. The door was slightly cleaner and painted a nicer shade of red than everyone else's Buffy noticed as she knocked on the door.

"What?" Her landlord greeted, as the door swung open, looking like he had just got out of bed.

"I paid the water yesterday, why is it cut off?" Buffy demanded.

"Don't remember you paying," he grunted. She fished in her jeans pocket and pulled out a scrap of paper.

"Receipt I got you to sign so you couldn't deny it," Buffy said calmly.

He snatched it from her and peered at it, "Fuck," he grunted, screwed it up in a ball, threw it towards her and slammed the door.

"I take it my water will be going back on?" Buffy called through the door.

"Whatever!" he yelled back.

Buffy picked up the paper, slipped it back in her pocket and carried on out the front door. The sun was now high up in the sky, beating down on her fair skin. Buffy was one of the lucky ones, she had managed to get a job making and packaging food to be delivered to the thousands of injured people who couldn't work and therefore afford to eat anymore.

It was monotonous and dull work, for very little money, but money was money and if kept them from joining the many that had lost their homes.

Her shift finished at eight o'clock and she walked the twelve blocks to get to the Los Angeles institution. It was a small, white building, with no signs to say it was there unless you knew. Buffy walked around the back and pressed the buzzer next to the door.

"State your name and the room number you wish to visit," the electronic sounding voice said through the intercom.

"Buffy Summers, room seven," There was a click and Buffy was able to open the door. She walked through the clean, clinical corridor which was a huge contrast to her own. Room seven was the last door; each shut and looked just like normal doors you would find in your home, except they each had a small window to see in.

Buffy didn't bother to look through the window; she just opened the door and went in quietly. The bed faced the large window, which had a view of the pretty garden out the back. A chair was placed next to it and Buffy sat down on it and folded her arms over her stomach.

She looked even paler than normal, Buffy noticed straight away; even her beautiful hair seemed to be fading. Reaching out, she placed her own hand onto the almost translucent one lying motionless on the bed.

"Hey Will," Buffy greeted. There was no answer from the woman who lay staring up at the ceiling with blank eyes.

"How are you today?" Buffy paused, knowing she would never get an answer, but feeling like she had to try anyway. "It's a hot day today, wish I could just go and sunbathe on the beach, but so many people live on the beach now, it's not really entertainment, plus you know, work."

"Gunn is still searching for a job, there are just none anymore, I'm so lucky I got one or we would probably have starved to death by now, even with the government funded meals." She glanced around the plain white room, "I wish I had some stuff to brighten this place up, pictures and things, but I don't own any myself. I'll have to remember to bring some flowers next time, even if I steal them from the garden. Wouldn't you like to go out there Willow?" She clenched her hand tighter over her friend's one, while still being careful not to hurt her, "You just have to say so, squeeze my hand, blink, do something."

She was filled with desperation as tears flooded her eyes, "Please Will," she begged, feeling the little energy she had drain out of her body as she slumped forward onto her hands and sobbed. "Just anything,"

Buffy sat in silence for awhile before wiping the tears away with the back of her hand and taking a deep breathe. She stood and gently kissed her friends forehead, "See you next week,"

She closed the door behind her and walked back along the corridor. If she had turned around and gone back into the room she would have seen a single, solitary tear slide out of her best friends green eye and snake down her cheek, without blinking.

"How was she?" Gunn asked as Buffy got home that night.

"I didn't tell you I was visiting her," Buffy said, putting down the bag she had with her and placing four packets of food on the table.

"You didn't have to," Gunn pointed out, "Where did you get them from?"

"I…took them from work," Buffy said with some hesitation. She opened one took out the sandwich. "Help yourself,"

"Don't get fired," Gunn warned, shoving an entire sandwich in his mouth hungrily.

Buffy sat down tiredly on the bed and began to unlace her boots which were causing blisters to form, "What did you do today?"

"Searched for a job. Nothing out there," he said despondently.

"You will get one, just have to be in the right place at the right time," Buffy said, trying to be upbeat. The miserable look on her face took away the effect. Her boots now off; she finished the sandwich and lay back down.

Gunn crawled into bed next to her and wrapped his arms around her. "Is this what our life is always going to be like? Looking for a job, working all the hours I can, scrapping for crappy food, living in this place" she said in a quiet voice.

"It will get better," Gunn promised, "It has too,"

A piercing shriek sounded from Buffy's left and she tried to turn to see who it was, but a Turok-Han jumped into her path and she had to raise her sword to defend herself. In the corner of her eye she could see Willow chanting as fast as she could, with an ethereal glow around her.

Xander and Kennedy were brandishing weapons in front of Willow, trying desperately to protect her, as she worked to put a shield up against the demons, but they were vastly outnumbered.

The ub?r-vampire finally dispatched, she ran over to where she heard the scream. Dawn was sprawled on the floor, a large demon standing above her. Buffy raised her gun she had borrowed from the Initiative, although not a fan of guns it was all that would kill some of the larger ones, pulled the trigger and shot. It fell to the floor with a large groan and she knelt down next to her little sister.

Quickly feeling for her pulse, she breathed a sigh of relief when felt it going steady. Buffy put her arms around her and dragged her unconscious body towards a bush and covered her with leaves. It wasn't much, but it would have to do, Buffy thought as she ran back into the fray. It seemed to have doubled in size while she was gone.

Fighting desperately she began to get the feeling that this fight was it. The end. There were just too many demons pouring through, she stepped back and tripped over a body lying on the floor. Oh god, it was Giles. His glasses were smashed and his neck was at an inhuman angle. Fighting back bile and rising grief, she pushed herself back up, she had to keep fighting or she would lose everyone else.

Raising her gun while choking back a sob, she aimed and fired.

Buffy walked around the third burning shell of a car she had come across that night. She slipped her jacket off and folded it over her arm; it was more habit to wear one at night than actual necessity.

People lay at the sides of the street, some with sleeping bags, most without. The ones that were awake looked at her with cold, dead eyes, all eerily silent. She kept her own eyes averted to the floor, feeling so unusually helpless at their plight.

Buffy passed a big dump site at the end of the street, holding her breath to avoid the rancid smell. She could see the dark outlines of people crawling over it, rummaging through the garbage to find the treasure of left over food, usually mouldy. Much smaller shapes were swarming all over it and Buffy realised with sick fascination they were rats, looking for exactly the same thing.

Buffy saw a building burning in the distance; it was a regular occurrence since the war, usually starting with people starting small fires for warmth and them getting out of control. But what was new was the young woman standing outside screaming. Buffy sprinted over to her, "What's wrong?" she asked.

"My baby, she's stuck!" the woman cried through sobs. Buffy looked at the building at and back at the pale woman's frightened wide eyes. Without another thought, she ran over to the door and pushed through. Bright orange flames licked the wooden roof beams and Buffy quickly took off her coat and tried to use it as a shield. The flames had not yet reached the stairs and she went up three at a time.

"Hello?" she called, having no idea of the child's age and if she could call back. She stopped and strained trying to hear something and picked up some small whimpers from down the hall. Buffy yanked the door open and scanned the room. A tiny little girl, no more than a year old sat trapped in her cot.

"It's okay," Buffy whispered, picking her up and holding her close, "We'll get you out," When she reached the stairs, Buffy realised there was no way she could go down them, the blaze was already half way up and she could feel the intense white heat from the top.

Back down the hallway she went and into the child's room again. Buffy put the girl down as she forced open the window and peered out. "Could do with being Spiderman right now," she muttered to herself, seeing that the only way down was through a rickety looking drainpipe at the end of the building. Picking up the girl once more, she climbed out onto the side of the building and edged herself along, holding the child's face towards her so she didn't see the long drop and panic. Buffy reached the end and lowered herself onto the pipe with one arm. It was a difficult process climbing down with one arm, sliding and trying to find places to put her feet.

The girl seemed to scared to do anything but stare at Buffy as sweat beaded slightly on her forehead as she stopped for a second to get the next foothold. The drainpipe was shaking violently. Please don't give way, Buffy begged in her mind.

Finally her feet found solid ground and Buffy breathed a sigh of relief as she walked around to the front of the burning building to where the mother was waiting. The look of joy on her face as she ran to her and grabbed her baby was to be something remembered forever.

"Thank you," the young mother whispered, clinging on to the now crying child.

"No problem," Buffy said, turning around and continuing her walk. She had woken up in the middle of the night and was unable to get back to sleep. Gunn was lying next to her, smelling strongly of vodka, so she had gone out to walk off the pent up energy.

Buffy turned back to look at the building, it was going to be totally destroyed, there was no fire brigade anymore, what people they had left had joined up with the police and hospitals to try and keep things calmer. Luckily there was no building next to it, or it could end up a whole row being burnt down and the lucky people that had homes all left stranded. She turned back just in time to see a dark shape smack into her. Buffy fell to the floor with a thud.

"I'm sorry, I wasn't looking where I was…" she trailed off, realising who was looking down at her with a shocked expression on his face.

"I kept hoping," he mumbled, looking dazed, "I couldn't find you when I found Giles and Xander's…" he stopped without finishing. He held out his hand to help her, she took it and stood up.

"I thought you were dead," Buffy finally said, shaking her head slightly in disbelief. They stood looking at each other in the middle of the street. It was as if the world had melted away and it was just Buffy and Angel. Buffy and Angel alone.

Buffy suddenly flung her arms around him, he in return pulled her tightly to him, burying his nose into her hair and breathing in the scent he had been denied for so long. "Oh god," he moaned. "I thought you were gone and you were here all along," They broke the embrace and Angel reached out and brushed away the tears that Buffy hadn't realised were streaking down her cheek. She smiled softly, the tenderness she had craved for so long from him filling her with an indescribable emotion.

"What happened? After the fight, were did you go?" Buffy asked, "I looked for you, but I couldn't find you anywhere. I found Gunn and…"

"Gunn's alive?" Angel interrupted.

"Yeah, he was knocked unconscious and fell down some kind of ditch, where he remained, luckily. He lost the use of one arm, but otherwise is fine," she said with a slight shrug of her shoulders.

Angel nodded dumbly, "I didn't know…we just kept finding bodies, Giles, Illyria, Xander, Lorne – and he wasn't even fighting."

"We?" Buffy had stiffened once again at the sounding of Xander and Giles' names. She wasn't that used to hearing their names anymore and every time she did, it was like someone stabbed her in the heart.

"Spike survived, he's in England now, decided to go back to his roots, nowhere else to go really. I think…I think he lost the hope that you were alive," Angel explained, he paused while thinking for a minute, "So that's everyone but Dawn and Willow, did they make it?"

Buffy glanced to her left and saw a blue bubble forming around her red headed friend. Xander was fighting as best he could with a large scaly looking demon, the demon hit his hand and Buffy could have sworn she heard a cracking noise, Xander cried out and thrust the long sword he had upwards and caught the demon in the stomach, with a satisfying thud. The demon toppled over and lay unmoving on the floor.

Xander dropped the sword from his injured hand and gave Buffy a wry grin.

"You're doing well, Xand," she praised. She gently took his hand, "It's broken," Buffy commented after a second.

"Jeeze, the Hellmouth battle was nothing compared to this," Kennedy shouted, "They just keep coming!"

The demon that was lying on the floor suddenly leapt up, with Xander's sword in its hand. He lurched towards Buffy, who tried to raise her gun, but it was too late. Buffy suddenly felt a hard shove and she found herself lying on the floor, someone fell next to her and she turned over.

"No, Xander," she cried out. Her beloved friend had his own sword sticking out of his heart, his eyes wide open. She leapt to her feet.

The demon was now battling with Kennedy, who had a determined look on her face. The crusty demon grabbed hold of her axe and shoved upwards, catching her throat.

"You son of a bitch," Buffy growled at the demon. She jumped up, grabbed its head and twisted as hard as she could.

Willow took that moment to open her eyes, she looked at Xander and then at Kennedy in horror.

"Noooooo," she screamed, power shooting out of her, the bubble suddenly expanded and whizzed pass Buffy, knocking her back down.

Buffy slowly came too a few hours later, she guessed, by someone gently shaking her. "Buffy?" she heard the deep voice say again.

The Slayer opened her eyes, "Gunn?" she asked, recognising Angel's friend from when they had all met earlier. "What happened?"

"This blue thing rushed by and any demon it hit was dragged along with it." Gunn said, explaining what he had heard from people that were wandering around dazed. "They all apparently vaporised as it hit them,"

She went cold at his words, "Angel, did he? Is he alive?" Buffy queried, "And Spike? Oh god...""

"I have no idea," Gunn replied honestly. He put his good arm under hers and dragged her to her feet. Buffy looked around, the damage was massive. Bodies were littered everywhere, trees scorched in the distance, cars on fire, buildings rubble.

She spotted Xander and walked over to him, falling to her knees next to him. "Oh Xander," Buffy pulled the sword out of him and threw it away and with her other hand, closed his unseeing eyes.

"Hey, isn't this your friend? The witch?" Gunn asked, looking at her sprawled form. "She's still breathing."

Buffy jumped to her feet and ran to her, "Willow?" she called, pulling her up into her arms, hugging her tightly. She looked back up at Gunn, "Have you seen my sister Dawn anywhere? I left her just behind that building over there,"

He shook his head, "I'll go look,"

"Willow can you hear me?" Buffy begged, "Please say something,"

Gunn returned a few hours later, to tell her he had had no luck. "We should take Willow some place safe then can go search properly,"

"…so that's what we did, we searched all of LA for her and we kept looking until the lists of identified bodies were released three months later. She wasn't on them, she wasn't in any of the hospitals, my baby sister was just gone," Buffy said, her voice breaking slightly before she shook her head as if to clear her head.

"I'm sorry," Angel said simply, "Willow's okay as well?"

Buffy looked up at him, pain evident in her mossy green eyes, "She's insane, Angel. When she saw Xander and her girlfriend die, the spell which should have taken a few hours was done in a few seconds, leaving her as pretty much a shell, as far as we know. She doesn't respond to anything, just lies there. Giles left some money to me in his will, in an overseas account so I used that to fund her being put in an institution. I didn't want to, but I couldn't look after her where I live."

Angel reached out and took her hand in his. They were now sitting on a pile of crates, a few blocks from burning building. She looked up at him and smiled gratefully, leaning in closer. Angel wrapped his arm around her, taking comfort in her warmth.

"What happened to you?" Buffy asked.

Angel shifted, looking slightly uncomfortable, "Well, see…" he began, "The reason we were okay is, well, we were riding a dragon."

Buffy glanced up at him, "I thought you had already killed that dragon a few days before we all got to LA? Spike said you were all…giddy," she finished quickly, not wanting to say what he had really said.

"There was another," Angel explained, "and I was killing it, but Spike had to come and stick his nose in where it didn't belong and it suddenly flew up with us on it. That bubble spell suddenly happened, and we couldn't get back down,"

Buffy couldn't resist a slight smirk, "So while America was being practically destroyed, you were off gallivanting in the air?"

He gave her a mock glare, "Anyway, we managed to land the dragon and kill it, somewhere in Mexico and hitchhiked to the border, by then the bubble was gone, so we…well, Spike, stole a car and we drove to LA. The damage was still huge then, I'd never seen anything like it and I've lived through more than a few wars," Angel stopped, looking guilty, "A couple I caused,"

He looked down and Buffy's finger which was slowly trailing up and down his much bigger hand in comfort. The muscle in his jaw twitched as he clenched his teeth. Angel had been starved of human contact, especially familiar friendly contact for so long, and of Buffy for even longer. The kiss they had shared before the battle in Sunnydale hadn't done much to ease his ever growing hunger for her and he felt the need escalating.

"Buffy," he murmured and she looked up at him, taking note of his expression.

She quickly moved away from him, misreading the look, her heart pounding in her chest. Buffy hadn't meant anything by it at first, just comfort, but the heavy feeling in the centre of her stomach that felt like it was growing all the time, threatening to burst out of her attested to it being much more. God, she had missed him. Not just over the past year when she thought he was dead, but since he had left her those years ago. She missed just laying in his arms after patrolling, him sometimes reading sweet prose to her and other times just in thoughtful silence. Had they grown that much apart that she couldn't offer him comfort? "Sorry,"

"What?" he asked, confused, "No…" he took her hand in his and pulled her closer, before he could think about what he was doing, his lips had found hers. His hand tangled in her hair as he drew her closer, the intense heat between them rising as they slowly lay back down on the crate.

"I love you," Angel murmured, kissing every exposed part of skin he could see. He realised she was almost as pale as he was, without the healthy Californian glow. Buffy suddenly stopped, her breath ragged.

"What?" he asked, confusion evident in his tone. She had been kissing him back, hadn't she?

"Love," she almost spat, "sometimes it's nice, but most of the time? It's just another way to bleed,"

"Not with us, Buffy," he promised, "Never with us," Angel began to kiss her again and she responded with fervour, clutching at him with desperation as salty tears slipping down her cheeks.

"Oh god," she moaned as his hands travelled up her shirt.

"We have to bury them," Buffy said, looking up at Gunn. Her face was white, although littered with cuts and bruises. Her eyes blank, as if in shock. "I can't just leave them there," Willow lay next to her, Buffy and Gunn's coats wrapped around her to keep her warm.

Gunn nodded and walked off, returning with a broken shovel and a plank of wood. "Use these to make some graves," he said.

They worked hard digging two holes in the middle of what looked like a park and finally gave up at around three and half feet. They moved Giles and Xander into the first and Kennedy, a few other Slayers and people they recognised into the second and poured the dirt back over them.

The sun had set by the time they had finished and goose pimples were beginning to appear on Buffy's arms.

"We need to find somewhere to stay the night," Gunn said, picking up Willow with his one arm as best he could and began to walk off. Buffy struggled after them, tripping over every now and then as her painful legs gave way.

They were silent for a long time after, before they broke it at the same time,

"I'm sorry," Buffy said.

"It was my fault, we shouldn't have…" Angel stopped with a small smile.

Buffy turned to look at him with her large haunted green eyes, that used to hold such wide-eyed innocence, that he prayed would never leave her. "Angelus?"

He took a deep unneeded breath, "I got the curse taken out at Wolfram and Hart, I wanted to tell you, but you said you needed to find yourself,"

Buffy nodded understandingly, "So we can…?"

"Yes. But there is still the fact you might want children and…"

"I can't," she interrupted, there was silence for a second before she continued, "A Slayer body is strong, but not that strong, too much abuse, too many hits to the stomach. My periods stopped just before Mom died and I went to see a doctor, I thought that I could be pregnant, he told me then."

"I'm sorry, Buffy," Angel said again, his comforting arm squeezing her even tighter to him. Too many sorry's, too many regrets,.

"I don't want to bring a child into this world anyway," Buffy whispered.
"Are you and Gunn together?" Angel asked, "You smell like him,"

"We live together, share a bed; we just don't…not that I need to explain things to you," she said defensively.

"I know," he replied, he watch beeped and he looked down, "It's five am, nearly sunrise,"

"I should go back home," Buffy said standing up, "Where are you staying?"

"I don't really have a place; I wasn't planning on staying so late," Angel said, relieved to get off the uncomfortable crate, even if he missed the feeling of Buffy in his arms already.

"Come back to mine, you will need a place to stay during the day anyway," Buffy insisted.

"Would you like a drink?" Buffy asked in a hushed tone as she closed the door behind her, "I'm going to work soon and Gunn will be out all day, so you can have the bed."

"Please." Angel answered, "You haven't slept, how can you go to work?"

She shot him a look as she boiled the pan of water, "If you miss a day for any reason, you lose it, it's not like we have rights anymore,"

"Gunn doesn't have a job?"

"No, he couldn't get one, he looks every day though. I'll wake him up, he'd be mad if I didn't," she said, walking over to him.

"Gunn?" she said, shaking him gently. Angel suddenly looked up sharply, realising he couldn't detect a second heartbeat.

"Buffy," he began, staring at the still form of his friend.

"Oh my god," Buffy suddenly cried out as she looked at his face. "No!"

"There isn't anywhere," Buffy said hoarsely, after what seemed like hours of looking. Gunn's good arm was beginning to ache.

He lay Willow down on some grass and began to hunt for something to keep themselves warm. He finally found some newspapers and returned to Buffy who was sitting next to Willow, her knees drawn under her chin and a distant expression on her face.

Gunn threw the papers down, "I don't know if you want to make a bed with them or something," he said.

"Thanks," Buffy replied, her voice emotionless.

"No problem," Gunn glanced at her again, before arranging the papers himself. "Lay down," he said gently, and she did so without argument and he covered her with a sack he had found. She looked at him gratefully, words still failing her. They barely knew each other, spoken just a few words when Buffy had arrived in Los Angeles from Australia, where she had been looking for Slayers they had yet to find. Willow, Dawn and Xander had arrived just minutes after her and they had met up with Angel, Spike, Gunn and some weird chick with blue hair. Riley, Sam and the Initiative brought the assembled people weapons, before going on to fight the demons that got past them and out of Los Angeles. Giles had turned up just as they were going out to battle, looking flustered in a car Buffy knew he had hot wired. He hugged Buffy and she smiled at him, although things were not the same between her and the man she thought of as her father, it would be just a little bit easier for awhile.

Buffy's eyes fluttered shut, as she succumbed to sleep.

Angel looked worriedly at Buffy; she hadn't said anything for three hours. She hadn't cried, shown any emotion at all except the initial shock. She just sat where they had found him, clean sheets now on the bed, looking very pale.

Angel had taken him to the hospital, knowing damn well he was dead. He had drunk too much and choked on his own vomit in his sleep. The hospital could give the proper burial that they couldn't.

Now he sat keeping a watchful eye on her, listening to her strong, steady heartbeat.

"He was all I had," she whispered brokenly.

"I'm here," Angel replied, gently pushing a loose strand of hair out of her eyes.

"You're gonna leave me," she said morosely.

"I won't," Angel said, "I promise." He took her hand, "We have to get out of here, leave America, go somewhere that wasn't so damaged, make a life,"

"Willow?" Buffy pointed out.

"We can transfer her, put her somewhere better,"

Buffy looked up, "Can we go now? I don't want to sleep in this bed anymore," Tears filled her eyes, "Please,"

"Of course," Angel said, getting up and pulling a bag he spotted out from under the bed, "Put your clothes in here,"

"I don't have many, they got destroyed in Sunnydale," Buffy said, putting the few she had in there. It barely filled the bottom of the bag. She picked up one of Gunn's shirts and slipped it in.

"We'll get you more, as many as you want," Angel promised, grabbing her hand and leading her out the room.

As Angel led her down those horrible stairs she would never have to see again, out onto the cold street, she was filled with a warmth.

For the first time, in a very long time, Buffy Summers didn't feel alone.

Pairing: Start off unhappy Buffy/Other (please not Spuffy anyone but that) Please end BA not necessarily fluffy but maybe hopeful.
Requests: Several years into the future and the quote "Love sometimes its nice but most of the time it's just another way to bleed" (preferably Buffy saying this)
Restrictions: No smut fade to black scenes are great (think of a movie and you know how sometimes the sex scenes fade to black just before they get to the actual sex)