There was a blonde girl, a small one, carrying a hefty duffle bag in the distance. She looked familiar. Xander looked closer and saw her turn his way slightly to wipe a lone tear. He sucked in some air and ran, to the rest of the gang's dismay.

"Xander?" Cordelia called after him, but it was too late, he was almost there. He put his hand gingerly onto her tender shoulder. She turned quietly and let a frail smile be shown.

"Xander."

"Where are you going? School starts in fifteen minutes."

"Wouldn't do me much good, I mean with the wrassling of the cops trying to get me off campus." She said comically.

"Huh?"

"Got expelled. Funny story, really..." Buffy paused and followed her last statement while looking at her feet "Well, actually not that funny, people died..."

"So, where're you going?"

"Away."

"Where're you going to stay, what about your mom?"

"Found out about the Slayer gig, had a big wig."

"I'm sure she'll let you bunk, you are her little girl after all."

"Told me if I left, which I had to, that I couldn't come back. Plus, with Angel..." She started to cry.

"What about dead boy?"

"Xander, I killed him... I killed Angel." She said almost to herself, unbelieving, she crumpled to the concrete sidewalk and hugged her knees.

"Is this bad or good?" He looked down at her fragile form.

"He was plain Angel again, the one I fell in love with, and then... I killed him." She barely whispered. She struggled to stand and then, at a brisk walk, walked away. "I have to leave. It's better this way."

He clenched his hand onto her shoulder. "Better how?"

She turned, her cheeks covered with tears "What do I have left, Xander? Really?"

"Us. And Giles, in case you haven't noticed, we love you, Buffy. We can help you get through this."

"I ... can't. It hurts too much."

"Buff, you're the Slayer, you know hurt everyday, physical, most recently emotional, but hurt all the same, you have to face it, it has to get worsebefore it can get better."

She thought for a moment and whispered hesitantly "O...okay."

"Good."

"What do I need to do first?"

"That's your decision."

That day after school...

Buffy wriggled as she walked nervously to the door.

Xander knocked for her.

The door unlocked with a soft slow click. It opened and she left her eyes open, lacking blinks.

"Bu-oh the heck with it." Her mother clutched her and wrapped her arms around her.

Buffy whispered into her mother's neck "I've missed you so much."