Disclaimer: Anything recognizable from Buffy the Vampire Slayer and/or Angel belongs to the creators of the shows and not me. The song "Before the Worst" belongs to The Script.

A/N: AU, BA one-shot. "Spike told me she came back wrong. Not wrong, I had decided. Just different." Angel's POV on Buffy's resurrection.

Before The Worst

It's been a while since the two of us talked
About a week since the day that you walked
Knowing things would never be the same
With your empty heart and mine full of pain

So explain to me, how it came to this
Take it back to the night we kissed
It was Dublin city on a Friday night
You were vodkas and Coke, I was Guinness all night

Spike told me she came back wrong.

I tried as hard as I could to push his blunt words out of my head. But as I held her frail body, I couldn't keep his voice from cutting though the deafening silence of my thoughts. I suddenly realized that as soon as I saw her I had been unconsciously comparing the feel of her in my arms now to how it felt to hold her…before, and I wanted to stake myself for it. But as hard as I tried to tell myself that she was the same Buffy, I couldn't help but seeing the truth in Spike's words. Hell knows we've seen enough messed up shit and done some messed up shit to know that raising the dead can have some heavy consequences. It's just not natural to be holding a living, breathing person in your arms whose goddamn funeral you went to a few months earlier. The last time I had seen her was when she was lying in her own coffin, at her own wake. And now she was here. With me. It's crazy how one minute you can hate this world more than anything and the next minute you're on your knees thanking it, feeling guilty the entire time because you know she was happy wherever she was, and now she's not. But she's here to be unhappy which takes you back to cursing this world and thanking it at the same time. What a vicious fucking circle.

"Hey," I whisper huskily to her. I look down at her face buried in my chest and bring her face up to look at me. I bring a hand up to push her blonde hair off her tear soaked cheeks and say, "You wanna get out of here?"

She doesn't ask where, just nods and grasps my hand, letting me take the lead.

We were sitting with our backs against the world
Saying things that we thought but never heard
Who would have thought it would end up like this?

Where everything we talked about is gone
And the only chance we have of moving on
Is trying to take it back before it all went wrong

Before the worst, before we met
Before our hearts decide it's time to love again
Before too late, before too long
Let's try to take it back before it all went wrong

Let me take you back to before it all went wrong.

A few days after that cold day in November that never really happened, I decided that what little dignity I had left was shit and I called Buffy and told her everything. I told her about the perfect day we never really had, how stupid I was for breaking up with her, and that I still loved her. By the end of the call we were both in tears and vowed to make this work somehow. Willow did some research and found a way to remove the happiness clause in my curse so I could have all the happiness I wanted. So Buffy came to LA on the weekends and attended college in Sunnydale during the week before she transferred to UCLA for the spring semester of her freshman year. We spent an amazing two years together, probably the best of my excruciatingly long life. When Joyce got sick at the end of Buffy's sophomore year, she decided that Sunnydale was where she should be for a while until things got better. We kept up the long distance thing for a while and Buffy promised to move back to LA when things quieted down. But then Joyce passed away and things with Glory heated up. Buffy forced me to stay in LA, saying that I had my own things to worry about, like Cordy getting sucked into damn Pylea. That was the last time I talked to her before she died.

We came back from Pylea to find Willow waiting for us in the lobby. I knew the second I saw the expression on her face that it was Buffy. It's always Buffy.

There was a time, that we'd stay up all night
Best friends talking till the daylight
Took the joys alongside the pain
With not much to lose, but so much to gain

So I bailed. What else could I have done? I couldn't stay in LA, in that big empty hotel alone, with ghosts of Buffy around every corner, in every room. I couldn't sleep in the bed that we had shared for the past year, in the home we built together. And I sure as hell couldn't go to Sunnydale. I never wanted to go back to the place that killed her. The few hours I was there for the funeral were bad enough, and I left for Sri Lanka right after.

I came back to LA, wanting more than nothing to get back to work. Anything that would keep me busy and keep me from dwelling on how I should have been there to save her, to die with her, as Cordy said.

Are hearing me? Cause I don't want to miss,
Set you a drift on memory bliss
It was Grafton Street on a rainy night
I was down on one knee and you were mine for life

I sped back to Sunnydale as soon as I talked to Willow and found out they brought her back. They brought her fucking back. I couldn't decide if I wanted to kiss Willow or rip her head off for taking away Buffy's gift. Of course I knew it was her gift, how could I not? As much as it was killing me that she was gone, I took some peace in knowing that she was somewhere better, somewhere away from all the darkness and demons. Isn't that all I ever wanted for her? But not like this. I never wanted her to have to die to be happy.

I ran into Spike in her front yard before I was able to make it inside where I knew she was. That's when he told me that she came back wrong. If I wasn't so desperate to see Buffy I would have ripped his goddamn mouth off for saying something like that.

So that takes us back to the present, where I'm taking Buffy away as quickly as possible from the place that killed her. Vegas sounds like a good place as any.

We were thinking we would never be apart
With your name tattooed across my heart
Who would have thought it would end up like this?

We spent the days baking in the heat of the sun by the pool and I silently thanked Doyle for talking some sense into me and convincing me to keep the Gem of Amarra. Buffy looked as gorgeous as ever in the sun and I had to admit, this tan was looking pretty good on me. We would retreat into the shade of the poolside cabanas and sprawl out on the large cushions, drinking mimosas and champagne, taking naps but never saying much, just enjoying the feeling of being close to one another again. Some days we wouldn't even make it outside and would just spend the entire day in bed, ordering take out and watching bad daytime television.

During the day I would completely forget about what Spike had told me on Buffy's front lawn. Sure, Buffy was quieter, more thoughtful, but not wrong. But it was the nights that would cause Spike's words to come creeping back.

Where everything we talked about is gone
And the only chance we have of moving on
Is try to take it back before it all went wrong

Before the worst, before we met
Before our hearts decide it's time to love again
Before too late, before too long
Let's try to take it back before it all went wrong

Nights were spent under the hot lights of the Las Vegas Strip. Casinos, bars, anywhere where we could get lost in a crowd and escape from the harsh truths of our messed up lives. It was here where I saw how… different Buffy had become. I couldn't bring myself to say wrong. I watch her pound back shots, not even grimacing at the taste. Her eyes are dark with heavy makeup that she never wore before, and she wears tight black dresses that show off more of her toned, tan skin that I'd like people to see. I tear my eyes away from her killer legs when her tiny hand grabs my wrist and she squeezes a lime over it, allowing the juice to drizzle down my arm. She leans across the bar to grab a pinch of salt and I feel a growl rising in my throat as I notice the bartender's eyes are lingering where they shouldn't be. Buffy sprinkles the salt over the lime juice on my skin and before I can process what she's doing, she's downed the shot and is sucking and licking the salt and lime juice off my wrist. She raises an eyebrow at me and says, "Your turn," as she slides the lime my way, never breaking eye contact. I hear Spike's voice in the back of my head, telling me what I have already realized. Fuck you Spike.

If the clouds don't clear
Then we'll rise above it, we'll rise above it
Heaven's gate is so near
Come walk with me through
Just like we used to, just like we used to
Lets take it back before it all went wrong

Later that night, we lay in a tangle of sheets and limbs in bed, recovering from the pleasure we've both just had. Buffy is lying on her stomach, with her hands under her head and face turned towards me, eyes closed and mouth slightly parted. I turn towards her and prop myself up on my elbow. I tentatively reach out a hand and run it down her bare spine, and back up the entire length of her exposed back. I smirk as I see goose bumps rise in my fingers wake, glad I can still affect her like this. I try once again to convince myself that Spike was wrong, and I notice that everything on the outside is the same. Her skin feels the same, her eyes are the same haunting greenish gray, she smells the same, her hair is as silky as it's ever been. All her various little scars are still there. The tiny one on her lip from one of her crazy adventures as a child, the one that's barely visible above her right eyebrow from getting knocked out at some point, the white streak on the side of her ribs from a Kurata demon we fought together. Now that I think about it, it was the last time we patrolled together before she left for Sunnydale. Then there's the scar I gave her, that'll never fade. I try to ignore her most recent scars on her knuckles. God I really hope those go away. Even the tiny dolphin tattoo on her hip that she got when she turned eighteen is still exactly the same. Boy I was sure surprised when I saw that. Even more surprised when she got a tiny sparrow above the dolphin shortly after we got back together. "Now we both have birds," she explained, beaming at me. I didn't have the heart to tell her that mine wasn't really a bird.

Considering that I knew Buffy was famous for her impulse decisions, I should have seen it coming that she wanted to get another tattoo with me while we were here in Vegas. She got choíche, the Irish word for "always" in tiny script on the inside of her right wrist. I got the same thing on my left side, about halfway down the side of my ribcage.

Before the worst, before we met
Before our hearts decide it's time to love again
Before too late, before too long
Let's try to take it back before it all went wrong
Let's try to take it back before it all went wrong

Spike told me she came back wrong. Not wrong, I had decided. Just different.