TITLE: Two Seasons of Loneliness
AUTHOR: Goddess Isa
EMAIL: goddessisa@aol.com
SUMMARY: Buffy graduates high school and goes off to NYC for college. Becoming never happened. Explanations are included. The third season went on without Faith going nuts and Angel returning. Oh and Evil Watcher Man doesn't exist.
SPOILER: up to Gingerbread, I guess
DISTRIBUTION: Sure, just email me & lmk where it's going - I like seeing my name in print =)
FEEDBACK: Please, I'd hate to have to Slay for it. =P
RATING: TV-14
DISCLAIMER: I don't own these characters, Joss Whedon does. If he ever decides to give them to me, that would be nice. =)
***6/2/99***



"Your hair looks so pretty this way," Joyce said as she pinned a few more daisies into Buffy's curly mane. "Why don't you wear it like this more often?"
Buffy picked one of the flowers up off her dresser and began pulling at the petals, one at a time. "I guess I never really spend that much time thinking about my appearance anymore. The ascension, and graduation, and Angel....it's a lot to put on these shoulders."

Joyce kept pinning flowers into her daughter's hair.

"I was thinking the other day......abut what it would have been like to have a normal high school experience. You know, a prom without the chance of uncertain death, and boyfriends who are my age and where born the same year as me, and best friends that aren't Witches and werewolves....it was strange."

"I'm sorry Buffy."

"For what? You didn't make me a Slayer."

"I made you move to the Hellmouth."

"Mom--"

"Let me finish. This is something I've been meaning to get off my chest for over a year now. If I had known, if I had had even the slightest idea that Sunnydale would be dangerous for you--"

"You couldn't have known. No one knew."

Except maybe Giles, she thought. God, I'm going to miss him.

He'd been offered a job in the Watcher Archives in England and he was taking it. He said he needed to get back to home soil, get back to his roots. They would miss each other terribly, but sometimes that was the way things went.

"Even so, I still feel partially responsible. If I could've--"

"There was nothing anyone could've done. I'm the Slayer, well, was the Slayer, that was the destiny, I did it, it's over, I get my normal life now." she picked up another flower. "A little late if you ask me."

"It doesn't have to be Buffy. You can start over at college. A whole new world awaits you there."

"College." Buffy set a single flower next to a photo of herself with Angel. "It's funny, lately I hadn't even given it much thought."

"You should be thinking about it non stop Buffy. This is your future. September is only--"

"I know. Three months away. After staying one night at Willow's house with her mother it's like a broken record."

"I don't mean to hound you. I just don't want you to look back on this--"

"Like I look back on everything else?" she demanded. "Every test and every dance and every night when a Vampire got away. Every innocent person that died because I couldn't get there first." she wanted to add something about Angel, but she decided it would be best to leave him out of this. Since her mother had found out what had really been happening with him, it had become a touchy subject.

It was a touchy subject with everyone, really. No one could quite understand how he had disappeared the night he'd promised to conjure Acathla and destroy the world. Buffy had entered the old mansion to find the statue crushed into millions of pieces and Angel gone. A few feet away, they found Drusilla's badly beaten body. Spike had taken it hard and tried to kill himself, but Buffy had stopped him and he'd left for England, vowing never to return. She was sure there were few who would miss him, although she would be one of them.

"Buffy?" Joyce said. She snapped back to reality and looked at her mother, Angel's face once again gone from her mind. "None of that is your fault."

"No more than my being a Slayer is yours." Buffy pointed out.

"You've got me there," Joyce threw her hands in the air, shrugging. She checked her watch. "Oh, we've got to get going. I'll meet you downstairs." Joyce left and Buffy stared at her reflection for a moment. Eighteen years old. Graduation high school. Going to college.

All alone.

Willow had decided to go to Harvard and try out pre-med. Oz was trailing with her, to try out the Boston music scene without the Dingoes. Cordelia and Xander were both staying behind, Cordelia going to work in her mother's design office, Xander trying out community college "for lack of anything else to do with my mornings".

Everything in Sunnydale had changed since the Mayor's ascension the week before. The Council had been so impressed they'd granted Buffy leave from the Slayage. She was the first ever to receive the honor.

Faith had willingly taken over the Slayage gig. She embraced it far more than Buffy ever had, enjoying it for the power and the kill, not the true meaning which was to help others.

There was nothing tying Buffy to Sunnydale any longer. And that was her main reason for leaving.

New York University seemed like a good enough place to start. They had a good drama department, which was what Buffy was considering as a major, and it was miles and miles away from Sunnydale, the most important factor to the former Slayer.

She took one of the flowers out of her hair and pressed it hard into her journal. She reopened it and kissed the page, leaving an imprint of her purple lipstick next to the flower. She added the picture of herself with Angel that she kept on her dresser and closed the book again, returning it to its hiding spot under her bed. She sighed, telling herself she was going to have to tell her mother about New York sooner or later. After all, as she'd said, September was only three months away.


*****


9/1/99


New York University! Ahhh!


Dear Diary,

Willow said she read in one of her college guides that the best way for a student to keep a private journal is to do it on floppy disk on her laptop. Since I'm definitely one for keeping her journal private (even though I don't have a roommate, thank God), I decided to do the PC thing. Plus, I think I can write a lot more a lot faster than before. That's always a plus.

I still cannot believe I'm here. I've been here a whole week now. Mom's freaking out, she calls every day, at least once, and tells me silly little things, like what the secretary at the gallery had for lunch, or what Jay Leno's monologue was about the night before. I know she's lonely, and I do miss her, but I love the fact that I'm here, on my own. This is a decision I made for me. This is something I'm doing on my own, without Vampires or Watchers or parents, for that matter, telling me what to do. It's a nice feeling.

New York is kind of scary though. I met this girl - Felicity - she's a sophomore but she's really nice. We're going to have lunch tomorrow and then she's going to try and show me around campus. I'm so grateful for the help.

I had a dream about Angel last night. I hadn't had one in almost a year, you know. Not even on the anniversary.....which shocked me because I thought I would never get over it. I thought those nightmares would last forever.....I guess not.

I know that doesn't mean that I didn't love him, or that my feelings for him have lessened because I know they haven't. Angel was the greatest love of my life and I'll never care for anyone the way I care for him.

Still, I know that part of my life is completely over, and I thought I was past it. Or, at least, as past something like that as one can be. I guess not.

The dream was happy though. We were sailing in one of those paddle boats, the kind you have to make go. His feet kept slipping off the paddles and we were stop. Go. Stop. Go. It was like that the whole time.

As much as I like New York, and my room, and my classes, and even my new friends, I'd give it all up to have that last kiss again. It was so tender, so sweet.

So short.

Why is it that the best things are always the shortest? They never last like you want them to.

Sorry about that. Mom called again. She said I got a letter in the mail and that she's going to forward it to me. I'm so excited to see who it's from. She said it didn't have a return address, so I'm guessing Spike. Can you believe he and I are sort of still friends? He's the biggest asshole I've ever met, but he's a good friend, in a very odd way.


*****



***9/6/99***


Buffy carried her mail into her dorm room and sat on the bed to open it. She tossed all the letters from her friends, even the one from Giles, aside and went for the envelope that contained the letter her mother had forwarded to her.

She didn't recognize the handwriting. She opened the thin envelope, and her breath caught in her throat when she saw what was inside.

A piece of black paper with "I miss you - I see you - I love you" written in blood.