TITLE: Reflections
DISCLAIMER: Yadda, yadda, yadda.
TIMELINE: Set directly after 'Into the Woods' when Buffy was crying on the stairs after Riley left her. This is what I think that she was thinking about.

My eyesight is spinning and the world along with it. It's like my head. I don't know anything anymore. What I want, who I want.

I don't remember why anymore.

Why he left me. Why they both left me. I know the reason, but it doesn't make sense anymore. I open up my heart, and it gets broken. That is all I know.

My tears are salty hot and leave my skin burning as they go down my cheeks. I don't bother to wipe them away. I like the way they feel. Tears are good. They take the pain and wash it away. I taste them on my lips and in my mouth. They taste like salt water, and I hate that. But they also cleanse. Tears are my pain.

I don't even know what I'm crying over anymore. I'm numb; nothing else can hurt me anymore. The world could go to hell and for once I wouldn't stop it. I might even go along for the ride. Who knows? Hell might even be better. Better than this hurt show.

I feel a short bitter laugh come up my throat, but I manage to keep it down. I know that the short bitter laugh will turn into a long hysterical one. A never ending laugh. I remember when he said that to me almost two years ago. When he broke up with me. In a sewer. There's almost am ironic ring to that. Yeah, my first boyfriend broke up with me in the sewers and the second one was caught with a bunch of vampire whores. Ha, what a laugh.

I've finally stopped crying, and the tears have tried against my skin. My throat is patched and dry. My eyes are swollen and red. And yet I feel another sob take over my body as I remember what has happened. I'm alone. Again.

I remember my anger at catching Riley. I didn't understand how he could let those things touch him. He let them drink his blood. Just so he could get off. And then he blamed it on me. I wasn't opening up to him. I wasn't really there.

I didn't love him.

Then, he told me he was leaving. I was angry again. How could he be such a coward? To leave as soon as things got ruff. When Xander gave me that lecture he really opened my eyes.

I had been treating Riley as good old dependable guy. And always thought that he was. Dependable that is. I was secure in knowing that Riley would always be there for me when I needed him. It was kind of like this extra comfort system that I could live without, but was nice to have when I needed it. Like the sex. Riley and I knew how to fuck. And we did it a lot. There wasn't really much else we could do. I didn't open to him, but I did screw him.

Still, Riley really was once in a lifetime guy. He's the guy that every girl dreams about. Under the dictionary's definition of boy-next-door there is a picture of Riley. Or at least there should be.

But Riley was rebound guy for me.

I don't even remember why I ran after him. I wasn't even sure what I would do if I got there in time. I had no idea what I would have said, 'Riley, you were right. I didn't open up to you because you are rebound guy. Now, will you please stay honey?' probably wouldn't have worked all that well.

The reason I ran after him was because I am afraid of being alone. It isn't a great track record for me. The two people I ever really cared about left because the relationship wasn't working. I know that it was for two different reasons, but when it comes down to it it's the same problem. Me.

I ran after Riley, because I was afraid of myself. I was afraid that I couldn't have a normal relationship, and not because I was the slayer. It wasn't because I was in love with him. Strange isn't it that I didn't bother to run after the person that I did love?

When Angel left me, my world literally ended. I cried once to Willow right afterwards. Then, I picked myself up, and saved the world from being taken over by the mayor of Sunnydale. Buffy was the strong one. She didn't have time to cry over the love of her life. She is the slayer, people expect her to be strong. So I was. I pushed that part that loved Angel and needed him far down inside of me hoping that someday it would just disappear.

I went to college, and immediately slept with Parker, and made one of the worst mistakes of my life. I was hurt so bad that I clung to the one guy that seemed to take an interest in me. I was looking for that warm shelter that I always had with Angel.

I'm the strongest person on this Earth; physically speaking that is. I try to be strong mentally, but in truth I want someone to look after me. Make the hard decisions for me. Hold me by the hand and show me the right way. I want be cared for.

Angel did that, or at least tried to do that. Mostly, he kept me grounded. He was my rock in a very bad storm. God, I loved him so much. But our relationship was doomed. I think that it was always doomed. From the first time I threw him down on his ass in that alley. We were branded to each other. And that tore us apart.

After Angelus, things weren't the same. We both wanted each other so badly, and we couldn't have it. Still, I never expected him to leave me. That comes back to haunt me everyday in my dreams-looking Angel in the eye and telling him I wanted to spend the rest of my life with him. Hearing him say I don't.

I pushed that away. His voice continually telling me how he didn't want to spend the rest of his life with me. That went back down in that little place in me where I keep everything that hurts too much to think about.

When I found Riley. I clung to him. I hoped that he would give me what Angel did. I hoped that I would fall madly in love with him. And it could finally be right. I could have the normal life that Angel left me for.

So, I spent my days on picnics in the park listening to Riley go on and on about things, Iowa mostly. That was Riley the farmboy. One thing that I always liked about Riley was how different he was from Angel. Somehow that made the pain a little less. When we were making love, and I pretended I was in another man's arms, I didn't ever look into Riley's eyes and see Angel. Which is really good, because I think Riley would have left a lot sooner if I had called out Angel's name when I was supposed to be yelling Riley's.

I kept hoping that someday the adoration that I saw in Riley's eyes would be reflected in my own. Never happened. After Angel I think that I'm doomed to a life without another love. Somehow that doesn't really make me all that unhappy. If I can't have Angel, I don't really want anybody else either.

I realized a long time ago that I never loved Riley completely and utterly as I had loved Angel. Still, I kept in that relationship because I am so afraid of being alone. Now, he is gone too and I really am alone. And all I can think about is how much I miss Angel.

Riley just left me and I miss Angel. Another laughing moment. Maybe I should be on Americas Funniest Home Videos.

My sobs are finished. All that is left in me is a big gaping hole and a lot of hurt that I'm afraid will never stop. Eventually I will push it back down inside me. Right now I have to ignore the hurt and think of others. Mom, and Dawn especially. They need me. The strong slayer Buffy who doesn't need a boyfriend to feel safe.

My eyes fall on the phone. Maybe I could call him. Tell him that the normal guy he wanted me to have left because I was still in love with him. I wonder what he would say. Maybe he would comfort me and I would feel safe again knowing I had him. Maybe he would scream and yell at me and tell me I was a selfish bitch. Whatever he would do doesn't really matter. I'm not going to call him. I'm going to get up and take down Riley's pictures. I'm going to ignore the hurt. I'm going to check on Dawn to make sure I haven't woken her up.

I'm going to be that Buffy.