For the purposes of this story, the Buffy cast is Post-Chosen, but the Angel cast has just found Fred. No Connor.

It should not have to be said, but I own nothing. All praise Joss.

Chapter One

i got all confused today.

The doctors dont like it when i roam around. They try to keep me in my room, but i hate it. The only other option is to sit out in the game room with the mental patients and i hate that. Theyre all so quiet, i can never tell what's going on.

im not a mental patient. Everyone else here is suicidal or schizo. im not like that. im only here cause i started puking up my medication yesterday. They thought i took too many pills, but i didnt. Why would i want to do that?

But i guess its alright: Dr. G admitted, 'Maybe the new medication is making you sick,' and also, 'We'll switch you to something else.'

im so tired of switching around, though. The medication always makes me sick but they say, 'its only in your head.' 'Why you got to be so stubborn, Galen?'

i dont like being told things are in my head, so i stopped complaining about it. Even though i still get real bad headaches and sometimes i feel like im going to hurl, i just sit it out, and they like that, cause im quiet and good.

i wish i could do more than i do, but i cant. No one talks to me much; they usually have bad attitudes around her or theyre out pretty soon anyway. ive been here so long, there are only a couple other people that have been here this long. Why am i still here? i didnt hit anybody or nothing. ive been real good.

Its this medication that makes me all sick. Maybe thats why I'm here. i cant remember.

The old medication was okay, but it gave me nightmares a lot and made my skin crawl. im glad i got off of it, but now i cant remember things so good.

i need to remember things. Its so important. i need to know how many steps up the stairs, how far to the bathroom, where the light switch is, where I set my book, which cabinet keeps the pudding, whose voice that is. Its not so easy when I can't see nothing.

They promised me they could get my sight better, but it didn't work. They promised me id be in a world of blackness, but even that isn't true. All around me its dull blue or teal. i can see light come through those colors like sunlight through thick clouds.

i know colors, i know things. im not stupid They treat me like im stupid.

i remember colors, cause i know i wasn't always blind. Thats all i know. i remember red, yellow, green, black and white. i know oceans and sand, i know trees and mountains, i know the cars and the buildings. i dream these things every night - how they looked and how they felt and smell. i told Dr. G but he says, 'No one dreams in color, Galen.'

These things arent just in my head.

i remember how to write words. That hurts me most of all. They want me to learn to read Braille and write it. But it's so stupid. i know the words, i know poetry but i can't grasp it enough in my head to make it known. i don't want to relearn how to write.

i used to grab pieces of paper and write things down (with the crayons that they keep for the coloring books). Things like, "not so bad" and "12 steps" but im too afraid to write down what these things really mean and id get too confused trying to write and end up throwing the paper away.

It was probably just scribbles anyway, because t cant see where I wrote before. The only thing good about crayons is, sometimes you can feel the wax where you wrote. Its good for drawing pictures. i wish i could see what colors i wrote in, so i could draw a picture with all the right colors. i could show them, i know how the world is. i'm not just stupid. Please help me.

If only i could just see… even if it werent perfect vision, i'd be happy. i just want to be able to write and read normal books - whatever books i want, not first grade Braille books that i don't understand. It takes so long, trying to remember what the bumps mean. i know the words already in my head, and what they are. i'm not stupid.

i used to get so upset over all of this, i'd end up crying. But the doctors found out and they said, 'Galen, theres no reason to get upset over this,' and, 'Were not going to help you if all youre going to do is cry over it.'

Its too unbearable to think that they wont help me, so i stopped crying, and even if i do get upset sometimes i dont tell them cause i don't want them to think im ungrateful. i really am happy that they care enough to help me, but it gets so hard and sometimes im too sick to figure things out.

i wish my head wasnt so foggy. i dont… i cant remember… but i don't think it used to be this hard to think things.

If they keep changing my medication, ill never remember what i got to take. i need to memorize important things, like how many steps up the stairs.

In an apartment in LA, Buffy Summers was awake once again from a restless dream. She laid in bed for a long time, staring blankly at the ceiling. Her skin was flush with cooling sweat, and she was starting to shiver.

No thoughts would come to her, and she was getting more confused as her mind slowly started to function. Why was she awake?

She remained puzzled for a long time before she finally remembered what the hell she was doing.

She'd had that dream again, the one where she's down in the Hellmouth with Spike and everything starts to crumble.

This time, however, she didn't run away. Even when Spike told her to go, she refused.

"I belong here with you," she'd said in her dream, still grabbing his hand even as the flames spread.

Something along the lines of panic and regret tore at Buffy as the memory of the dream gripped her again.

Buffy quickly threw off the covers and got out of bed to escape.

It was only a dream. I need a shower. Who cares if it's only four in the morning?

"Are you quite alright by yourself?" Wesley questioned, helping with the books.

"I'm fine, Wes," Willow smiled, brushing red hair from her face and tightening her grip on the stack of books. "I was possessed by the evil spirit of a fifteenth century witch; I didn't have a heart attack."

"I think it was the cackling that did him in, baby," her girlfriend, Kennedy, replied.

"Mm," they smiled at each other and went to bring the books to their car.

"Thanks, Kennedy," the redhead plopped the books into the backseat while the brunette held the door for her. Willow picked up a pink book and looked at the couple embracing each other on the cover. "Danielle Steele? Um, what does a romance novel have to do with research on witches?"

"Oh, that was mine," Kennedy replied. "I'm all done with it, so we can take it back to the library with the rest."

"You're very sneaky."

"Not really," Kennedy replied playfully. "I don't mind if you know about it. After all, I've seen you naked before. Not much further to go after that."

"You've seen me fully charged with magic before. That goes beyond nakedness, you know. That's totally different."

"And I shared that with you," Kennedy grinned triumphantly. "So a romance novel can't hurt. Why don't we take out some new ones when we return those?"

"A romance book?" Willow frowned. "I don't know. Why don't I just pretend to be Scarlett O'Hara?"

"Don't even tempt me," Kennedy laughed. "I'm serious, though; it'll be fun. Maybe we can find a book that involves two lesbian witches. And if the library doesn't have it we can always go to an adult bookstore."

"You make it sound like that's a good thing."

"It'd be more interesting than those dull books," Kennedy shrugged. "But it's only a suggestion. If you're not comfortable, there's no way in hell we'll do it. I'll stick to the kissy groping stories for life."

Willow shut the car door. "I just think that those places are a little unclean."

"They're meant to be dirty," Kennedy misunderstood Willow intentionally. "Have you ever been to one? They're just like any other store except they sell naughty, fun things."

"I'm not saying yes but I'm not saying no either."

"So you're saying…?"

"I'm saying let's wait another night and you can try to talk me into it."

"I'll agree to that," Kennedy cupped Willow's cheek and stole a kiss. "As long as my baby's happy, so am I."

"You're too sweet."

"I know," Kennedy pulled away slightly and sighed dramatically. "You're rubbing off on me."

"Hey Wil! Kennedy!" Buffy jogged over to her friends, trying to catch an annoying strand of blonde hair that had escaped her short ponytail. She looked rushed, and excited. It'd taken her a while, but Buffy seemed to have gotten a new livelieness back.

"Where's Angel?"

"Inside somewhere," Kennedy replied vaguely.

"Possibly brooding," Willow added with a nod. "Or polishing something sharp and dangerous."

"Right," Buffy held back an unimpressed smile. "Again, it's amazing how little vampires change."

"I know," Willow sympathized, and then made her classic 'ooh!' face as she remembered something important to ask. "Did Dawn bring in her report card yet?"

"Ooh! Yeah," Buffy grinned suddenly, mimicking Willow's expression. "I almost forgot about that. Shame on me."

"How'd she do?" Willow asked expectantly.

"Did you guys realize Dawn is a little genius?" Buffy snorted. "A's and B's. It's a miracle."

"Our Dawn? Are we sure it's not a robot?" Kennedy asked.

"Don't get me started on robots," Buffy sighed.

"I think the lack of constant death has had a good effect on her," Willow offered.

"Yeah, but she told me she's been having some trouble with a girl in her class. Apparently she's a real bitch."

Kennedy looked unfazed. "Who's the bitch? Dawn or the girl?"

"The girl. She's been giving Dawn a hard time," Buffy explained. "As the story goes, this chick 'Monica' thinks Dawn is moving in on her boyfriend, and Dawn told me she doesn't even like the guy."

"Paranoid minds," Willow stated.

"Yup," Buffy rocked on her heels and then remembered that she hadn't asked her friends what was up with them. "Oh, right…How are you doing, Willow?"

"Good!" Willow beamed and then frowned. "Now that I'm not spewing curses and hurting my friends."

"What's a curse or two between friends? At least this time… Well, nothing really bad happened."

Willow pouted. "Buffy, I turned Xander into a frog."

"Yes, but then he turned right back," Buffy quickly added. "Look, it's all over so don't worry about it. All I had to do was give froggy Xander a kiss. Which was gross, by the way. And his skin was only green for a little while afterwards, right? I mean, I've been turned into a rat before. That's a little traumatizing, but I turned out fine. He loves you too much to hold any grudges and you know that. Now gimme a hug and then I have to go talk to Angel."

Willow hugged her friend quickly, always surprised by how hard Buffy could squeeze when she got excited, even though her girlfriend was also a slayer.

"What's the rush?"

"I got a job," Buffy blurted with a laugh. "Yup. I can work while Dawn is in school and be home a little while after she gets out of class, so she won't be alone all day."

"That's great, Buffy!"

"Yeah, I'm really glad that you've got things straightened out," Kennedy chipped in.

"Thanks guys," Buffy was positively glowing with happiness.

"So where are you working?" Willow asked, curious.

"I'm going to be a security guard," Buffy said proudly.

"That sounds exciting," Willow kept a smile, trying to be supportive. It didn't matter that she thought the job was dreadful; if Buffy was happy then it was the best job in the world.

"It will be," Buffy said, still giddy. "I'll get to protect people. But I bet it'll mostly be boring. It's going to be great! Anyway, I've got to go let the others know the good news. I'll let you guys go do the book thing."

"Okay," Willow let Buffy go by. "Take care."

"Caring," Buffy affirmed, turning on heel and entering the Hyperion. "Woo, knock-knock. Anybody home?"

"Ah, Miss Summers," Wesley stepped out of his office quickly, a book in hand and his glasses in the other. "What, uh, brings you to our offices?"

"Wes… I come here every other day."

"Right," Wesley sighed, deflated. "Angel is in his office."

"Brooding, huh?"

"That is the most suitable term that comes to mind, yes."

"Thanks, Wesley," Buffy walked through the lobby and rapped softly on Angel's
office door.

"I'm busy."

"You are?" Buffy raised an eyebrow at the door and glanced over at Wesley as the watcher left.

"I'm – I'm brooding."

"Uh-huh. It's Buffy. Can't I come in for a little while?"

"Uh… I don't know…"

Buffy opened the door anyway and entered Angel's office, greeted by a sheepish look. She looked at him and then across the room at a small television set.

"You're brooding but you're watching hockey?"

"My team's loosing," Angel explained with a hand gesture towards the TV.

"I liked the non-game-watching, non-television-owning Angel better," Buffy frowned. "Never should have let Cordelia talk you into buying one."

"It's good to be up to date," Angel shifted to sit upright in his chair. "And she's right, you know – apparently a lot of people watch television."

"Yeah, all of the kids are doing it," Buffy rolled her eyes and then laughed at him. "That stuff has been around for years, Angel."

"I'm slow to catch on to fads," Angel protested weakly.

"You do have a computer, so you get brownie points," Buffy shrugged, sitting down on the edge of his desk. "Aren't you going to ask me what's up?"

"But… my team is starting to score."


"Right," Angel muted the TV and tried to look sincerely interested. "What's up?"

"Well, for starters I secured a job."

"That's great, Buffy. Uh, does it involve nudity?"

"No," Buffy shook her head quickly. "No nudity, or anything revealing. I'm actually going to be in uniform. A nice, respectable uniform. I'm going to become a security guard."


"At the hospital," Buffy looked somewhat embarrassed.

"The hospital," Angel repeated.

"Yes! I know what you're thinking, but it's not that bad. I figure I'll only have to wrassle some crazies once in a while," Buffy explained. "Plus, it's a really quick drive."

"Right. Only about four miles from here."

"Yup," Buffy nodded. "It's almost scary to be so close. But on the bright side, I'll know the ins and outs of the place. I'll be the first to find out if there's an evil doctor sharing bodies with a hell bitch, or a demon murdering children. Plus, if there's ever an emergency I'll get there wicked fast. But I'm hoping the only thing I'll be doing is running out for some doughnuts."

"I thought you hated hospitals."

"I really do," Buffy sighed. "But after getting turned down everywhere else, I can deal. At least I can try it until some tragedy forces me to turn in my badge. I get a badge."

Cordelia tapped on the doorway and came inside with a cup of something. "Oh, it's you," her cheery smile fell when she saw the other woman. "Hi, Buffy, I didn't see you walk in."

"I got here while Willow and Kennedy were leaving."

"Can't a guy brood in privacy anymore?" Angel sighed, shutting off his game.

"Of course you can't, especially when you have a girlfriend like me," Cordelia smiled. "A fantastic, beautiful girlfriend, in case you need to be reminded. One who snaps you out of your moody broods and bribes you with steamy hot cups of blood to get your vampire ass out there and making me some money. I mean… saving innocents and the rest of mankind. I'm sorry, did you want something, Buffy?"

"You're proud enough, aren't you?" Buffy snorted with a pout. "You can't even be modest about stealing my ex."

"Nope," Cordelia gave a cheeky grin and Angel hesitantly drank the contents of the mug.

"I don't mean to be a bitch, but I'm not going to pity you because you're stupid enough to let Angel go. Well, I do pity you for dating that asshole, Ray. You didn't deserve that crud. Just remember that Angel is mine, so keep your soul-snatching paws away from him."

"Yeesh," Buffy held up her hands. "Paws way over here, not touching nor stealing souls. I just wanted to share the joy with Angel, seeing as he is my platonic male friend."

"What joy?"

"So very true," Buffy snorted, untying her short blonde hair and shaking it out sos he could fix it. "I finally got a job."

"Ooh, that's great! Burger hell again?"

"Nope. I'm going to be enforcing the law and protecting innocents from the hands of ailing psychotics."

"That sounds cool," Cordelia offered.

"Eh. I'm going to be a security guard at a hospital," Buffy started to tie her hair back into a neat ponytail. "Picture me restraining belligerent elderly women who refuse to take their medication."

"Oh. Now it sounds kind of icky. But hey, anything beats the grease pit."

"My thoughts exactly," Buffy nodded.

"Except I can't picture you in a uniform. Only ugly chicks wear uniforms. I mean, for a living."

"I can be pretty and safety-enforcing at the same time," Buffy scowled, offended. "Everyone says I'd make a good cop, anyway. Giles has been supportive and Dawn sure seems to think so, and Spi-" Buffy hesitated at the pain that deadened Angel's eyes, causing the older vampire to frown slightly. "Well… he was on the same page with Dawn. Everyone thinks I can be a strict bitch so why not roll with it? I'm surprised you haven't looked toward law enforcement."

"Do you get a handgun?" Cordelia questioned.

"Uh, I don't think so. Even if I did, I doubt I'd use it."

"Taser at least?"


"Well, your job sucks."

"I haven't been into training yet," Buffy shrugged helplessly. "But it can't be so hard. They said they'd let me have a few days to get used to it and show me the ropes. They almost laughed me off until I showed them how much I could bench press."

Cordelia sighed. "Exceptions are always made for a slayer and her freakish strenghth. I guess you can't always get by on brains like the rest of us."

Buffy watched Cordelia walk out of the office, mouth gaping. "Did she just insult me?"

Angel sighed and fidgeted. "She does that."

"Some girlfriend!"

"I'm sorry. Look, Buffy, if you needed a job I would have been willing to hire you even part-time as part of the team."

"No way," Buffy held up her hand, sliding off of his desk. "I don't want to do that anymore. My town is a crater and I have the right to choose if I want to be a slayer. I'm not going to refuse to help, but I don't want to do this for the rest of my life. The rest of you can do as you will but I'm trying to move on. I've told you before, Angel, I'm willing to help you when I'm needed but I don't feel comfortable being paid to do something like that. Besides, it always complicates things. I think Dawn is settling down, and she'd happy that I'm not risking my life anymore. Things are good this way."

"You're right," Angel agreed, leaning back in defeat. "But if you ever need help, I'm here for you. Remember that."

Buffy nodded, walking to the door. "I always do."

"I don't want any romance books," Willow hissed at her girlfriend.

"Well I do," Kennedy pouted innocently. "Please?"

"Kennedy," Willow fussed as the slayer started to walk away. She was next in line to renew a book she wanted on eighteenth century magic.

"I'll only be a minute," Kennedy replied with a deceitfully reassuring smile.

"Kennedy, don't…" Willow watched her girlfriend leave and sighed as the dark-haired girl happily wandered off into stacks and more stacks of books.

Kennedy browsed through the romance section, easily eliminating half of the shelf from the get-go. She picked through the books, wincing every time she pulled out a cover showing a man with long, flowing hair and 'perfect' muscles, usually well-tanned and foreign looking.

Even if she were straight, that type of a man wouldn't cut it for her. She preferred guys with shorter hair for sure, and that had nothing at all to do with being a military brat.

She glanced over at a man running his fingers over a row of magazines. Now there was a better looking guy. Short brown hair, handsome, and no Fabio at all. She only shrugged a little when the guy left to take his son out of the children's section. Whatever.

Kennedy pulled out a random book and seriously studied it, trying to figure out if she could overcome a weak plot for all of the underlying romance it claimed to hold. She didn't notice any other customers until someone brushed by her, another no-name tall, dark and handsome. Okay, so not so tall, but taller than her. Not so dark…at all. But still very handsome, and that compensated.

"Excuse me," he whispered, head down as if he was too bashful to look at her. He seemed familiar, but then, Kennedy had seen a lot of guys, even tried to date a few. The dating fiascos did nothing more than confirm that she was born to be a lesbian.

Mr. No-Name moved on until he made it to the audiotapes at the far end of the aisle.

Guys, it seemed, had it fairly well worked out. They could skip through over three fourths of the library by renting something which would free them from actually having to sit down and read a single word. Heaven forbid if they admitted they were literate, or if any of them actually liked words. Well, Wesley, Giles, and Angel did… but they didn't count.

Kennedy walked away to the other side of the shelf and chose a book that seemed to have intelligent characters and an unlikely Mr. Right that she made an exception for. She didn't realize how much time she spent standing there until Willow had located her girlfriend.

"What are you looking at?" Willow asked, peeking at the cover.

"I don't think they have anything our style," Kennedy told her girlfriend apologetically. "No lesbians and no ritual orgies."

"Darn," Willow smiled a little. "You'd think someone would get the hint. Well, are we still inviting the friends over for movie and an orgy later?"

"If you want to," Kennedy laughed, glancing towards the aisle, but the man had moved on.

"Well, let's go check that one out if you really want it."

"I really want it," Kennedy replied, following her girlfriend through the shelves towards the library checkout. "It's weird, actually. This guy bumped into me, and he was pretty cute."

"You're right, that is weird," Willow paused to hold Kennedy's hand. "First you check out straight romance novels, and now you're checking out guys…. Do I have to fight to keep you? Because I will, if that's what it takes."

"I'm not interested in him or anything," Kennedy snorted, smiling despite herself. "But he was a cute guy."

"Like George Clooney cute or the young Anakin Skywalker illegal-for-you-to-be-thinking-about cute?"

"Neither. I don't know. They say that women are attracted to men that resemble their father."

"Okay, that was a little creepy. Is there something you need to tell me?" Willow gave Kennedy a look.

"What? Er, no. I just mean, my father always kept a high-and-tight haircut and the guy I saw reminded me of that. I think shaved heads are pretty cool. That's all. Let's just check this book out."

"Okay," Willow agreed, bumping Kennedy teasingly as they walked. "If I shaved my head, would you find me attractive?"

"I'd lick you all over," Kennedy purred in return, nipping Willow's neck while the witch giggled.