A/N: Thank you to Ruth for the wonderful beta-ing job you did. This chapter is betaed.

Chapter 1: Hiding

Buffy Summers just couldn't bear her life anymore. Her mom believed she was a killer and DIDN'T believe she was a vampire slayer.

Angel was gone and it was all thanks to her. Jenny Calendar had been murdered, and Kendra was dead all because she had slept with Angel. Willow had lost her fish, Giles had been kidnapped and tortured, and the world had almost been sucked into Hell all because she, Buffy Summers, was alive. She shook her head realizing that all that had happened in this one year.

The previous year had been no better. Her first watcher, Merrik sacrificed himself to save her. She destroyed her school's gym and if that wasn't enough, she might have been the one to cause her parents' divorce. Sure, they were already fighting up a storm before Buffy told her parents about being a vampire slayer; after her announcement, Hell really broke loose between them. The stay in a mental institution was the icing on the cake. She was barely 17 and had pretty much ruined every life she touched. She should have just stayed dead after the Master drowned her but no, stupid Xander just had to bring her back to life again.

Buffy sighed when the bus stopped in Los Angeles and she stepped off taking with her only the small bag full of the few clothes she had packed. She had wanted to leave everything behind and at last she was alone. Alone was the safest way to be - no one could be hurt if they weren't near her. She sighed again and went about finding a place to stay.

Luckily, her vamp tinglies led her to a small vampire nest and Buffy cleared them out of the run-down little house figuring this would be a perfect place for her to stay. It was dusty, dreary, and worn out, and that fit her life right about now. She wished it would fall down on top of her so she wouldn't have to deal with anything. In the next room she found a blanket that was almost clean to cover her for the night and she curled up in a tiny ball on the lumpy bed, crying herself to sleep.

She wept for everything she had lost everything she had done and everything she wished she wasn't but couldn't ever change. She was the Slayer and the saying was true, "In every generation, there is a chosen one. She alone will stand against the forces of vampires, the demons and the forces of darkness. She is the Slayer." The key word in that statement was ALONE and from now on, Buffy vowed as the tears still continued to fall, she would always be alone.

*}-'--, --'--, --'--, -{*

Spike drove all day and into the night. Dru had woken up three times and every time he knocked her back out in order to stop her excessive cries. He was getting annoyed. They were now in Las Vegas and he was frankly tired of driving. Surely Nevada was far enough away from the Slayer. He was aiming for the mountains though in Colorado but for now, Vegas would have to do.

He went into the motel office to grab a key off the rack and at the clerk's protest, promptly drained him dry dropping the body behind the desk. Spike then lifted his dark goddess out of the car and carried her into the hotel room while he got some much needed rest. He'd come up with a better plan after a good night's sleep.

*}-'--, --'--, --'--, -{*

Buffy woke up very hungry and since she was in an apartment she had taken over from the vampires, there was probably some food left. She dug in her pockets and found some money but not a whole lot. She knew she'd have to do something to survive but for now, she'd just see what was there. The date was still good on the bread she found on the counter, so the vampires couldn't have been here long. She opened the cabinets and found some soup cans, some crackers and a jar of peanut butter. She actually smiled at the peanut butter although it made her a bit homesick. She found a knife, spread some peanut butter on the bread thankful that the peanut butter sandwich meant she didn't have to spend her cash yet.

Noticing that at least the water was still turned on and she flipped a switch to discover the electricity worked too. Perhaps this wouldn't be such a bad place to stay after all. She walked around in the now lit house and braved opening the fridge, finding the contents untouched and still good. She helped herself to some juice and settled down in the living room to watch some television in an effort to get her mind off her horrible life.

*}-'--, --'--, --'--, -{*

This is so not how Spike had planned his time with Dru. Anytime she was awake, she cried continuously about her precious daddy who was now gone. She had wailed about her grand-mum, when Angel had killed Darla but this was worse. Dru would scream and cry and beat her fists on Spike bitterly blaming him for her daddy's death. She would babble about missing her precious Miss Edith who had been left back in the factory. She just wouldn't stop so Spike had to keep her unconscious just to think. He couldn't even get her to feed. It seemed hopeless.

Spike's mind just kept going back to the whole scene and it was replayed in his mind. Seeing the Slayer backed into a corner with Angelus standing over her ready to kill her. 'I wonder if the stupid bint lived or if Captain Forehead actually got to kill her.' Spike checked on Dru noticing she was still out and knew she would be out for a while. So he went out to find her a treat, perhaps a child or two, and someone for himself. Then after a good feeding, they could get out of Vegas and find someplace less sunny to live if only Dru would stop her bloody crying long enough.

*}-'--, --'--, --'--, -{*

Buffy wandered up and down the streets near her apartment. Well she called it her apartment but in reality it belonged to some dead person. She had spent some time cleaning up the place a bit to make it a bit more presentable but it would never be the same as home. She kicked a beer can that was on the sidewalk as she continued to walk. Gazing up at the moon that seemed so far away, Buffy longed for her family and friends and most of all, Angel. She couldn't get the memory of his haunting eyes out of her head looking at her so lost and confused and whispering, "Buffy, what's going on? Where are we? I don't remember." She'd had to kill the love of her life. She stopped and stepped into an alley where she collapsed to the floor and sobbed.

Still the scene played out in her head. "You're hurt…I feel like I haven't seen you in months. Everything is so muddled. Oh God..." She could still see the stone demon opening his eyes, can still feel Angel's arms around her, "What's happening?" She remembered touching his face, caressing his lips as she reassured, "Don't worry about it."

Buffy had known what she had to do at that moment and kissed him to take away her pain. Selfish as it was she couldn't help murmuring, "I love you." She could still hear him answer, "I love you too." She recalled how obediently he followed her instruction to "Close your eyes."

And then Oh God, the pain and horror on his face as she ran the sword through him! She was the sole cause of her whole life shattering, the sole reason she couldn't mourn properly! Her friends and watcher expected her to be strong, to save the world. She couldn't even seek the comfort of her home, of her mother's loving arms to hold her as she wept. She'd left that evening in spite of her mother's, "Don't even think about coming back!" She had no one. As she picked herself up off the floor, she thought for the second time in as many days that she was utterly alone. The Chosen One.

Buffy almost missed the soft growling deeper in the alley and she peered in that direction. There was a vampire staring at her, believing she was a poor lost girl. Well she WAS one but she didn't deserve to die, she deserved to stay alive and suffer and be tortured forever. Tempting as it was to just give up, she broke the leg off a chair from the garbage cans near her, and fired it into his chest, watching as he exploded into dust. Buffy felt a few more tears fall from her eyes and onto her cheeks as she thought about Angel. He didn't even get to explode into dust, but instead was sucked undead into Hell. Her soulmate, Angel, was suffering because of her. She walked home with her head down and her body shaking as she quietly sobbed. She stepped up the stairs and in the front door, collapsing in the entry and cried herself to sleep.