You Hurt Me, But I'll Survive

Author: Nitrowugs

Rating: PG-13 (I'm not sure.)

Pairings: B/A sort of

Feedback: Please. Constructive criticism is always welcome.

Disclaimer: I do not own anything associated with BtVS and AtS. (Characters, plots, and dialogue from the shows are borrowed with no infringement intent whatsoever.)

Distribution: Please ask and let me know where it's going.

Written: 05/04/2009

Summary: Buffy Survives.

A/N1: I was on my way home today when 'I Will Survive', an oldie but goodie song by Gloria Gaynor, came on the car radio. The song reminded me of Buffy after Angel had left her standing on the street in front of her high school. It described what I feel should have been Buffy's reaction. The song lyrics are below and are borrowed for the sake of the story. No infringement is intended.

A/N2: This story starts at the end of Graduation Day II and veers off from there.

A/N3: Thoughts are in single quotes (' ')

Buffy felt like she was walking through mud. It took such effort to put one foot in front of the other as she trudged up the walkway and the steps leading to her front door. Her heart ached; she felt empty inside, as if she had been hollowed out and left raw and bleeding. She had stopped the ascension and, true to his word, Angel had left without so much as a goodbye.

She had kept a straight face and held back the tears as long as she could. Once she closed the front door she couldn't go any further; she collapsed on the floor, inconsolable. No one was around to see this total meltdown. Since she hadn't known what to expect at the ascension, she had convinced her mother to leave the city for her safety. Her mother had agreed, although reluctantly, and was currently in Los Angeles. Her friends and her watcher had returned to their respective homes to rest after the ascension experience.

The next morning the sound of the newspaper hitting the front porch awakened Buffy. She looked around disoriented. 'What am I doing on the floor?' Then it hit her. She had come home emotionally drained. She must have cried herself into an exhausted sleep and for the first time that she could remember she had slept for fourteen hours straight. She didn't feel at all rested; she still felt exhausted.

She remembered the reason for her current state. Angel. She dragged herself upstairs to her bedroom. The first thing she noticed was the sun glinting off the silver cross hanging on the mirror over her dresser. 'Oh, Angel', she cried and the tears started all over again.

'Where did I go wrong? How could he leave me after he promised me forever? When did forever become until? How can I go on without him? I once told him that he was all I wanted and he was all I saw when I looked into the future. He's gone. Where does that leave me now?'

Buffy walked through most of the summer like a zombie. Her friends walked on eggshells around her. She didn't even want to hear Angel's name. She felt that no one could help her get over a broken heart and she didn't want to hear their condolences, criticisms, or recommendations. She explained her feelings to her friends and left them to consider what she had said. They didn't like it, but as her friends they agreed to abide by her wishes.

In order for her to be whole again, she decided that she had to recover on her own. She had been knocked down but not out by love and life and just as she had faced her fears many times before and survived, she would face the devastating loss of Angel and survive. Losing him after everything they had been through together and everything she thought they meant to each other was hard and coming out on the other end of recovery would take more strength than she thought she had, but she had to do this, she had to do this for herself.

By the time she and her friends started college at UC Sunnydale in the Fall Buffy was still blue, but her friends had to admit, she was emotionally stronger and more confident than ever. She went home to visit her mother once a month and they spoke on the phone every week.

Buffy patrolled, attended classes, studied, and generally participated in college life. And surprise, surprise as she approached the end of her freshman year, she was content with herself and her surroundings and happy with her life.

Since Buffy had chosen art for her major, her mother came up with a recommendation that Buffy seemed more than excited about: She would intern in her mother's art gallery for the summer following her freshman year; she would intern in the gallery of her mother's friend in New York for the summer following her sophomore year; and if the prior two internships were successful, she could spend the summer following her junior year with her aunt and uncle in Paris.

Buffy thoroughly enjoyed her internship at her mother's gallery. She learned so much more than she expected from her mother and they grew closer than ever. So much of what she learned helped her during her sophomore studies and she made the Dean's List for the first time since she left Hemery High School.

Her mother was out of town on a buying trip the week before she was to leave for New York. Buffy arrived home from patrol excited about her up-coming trip. She had to finish shopping and pack while her mother was away. 'How am I going to get everything done in a week…' she stopped mid-thought as she climbed the stairs to her bedroom. 'It couldn't be; he would dare.' She withdrew a stake from her ankle-boot and approached her bedroom.

With her hand holding the stake behind her back, Buffy pushed open the door and faced the intruder. In an calm, cold voice she asked, "What are you doing here?"

Angel looked at her, lost in thought. 'She is more beautiful than ever. How could I have ever left her?'

"Well? I'm waiting."

"I.I missed you. I.I wanted to see you." Angel stammered.

"How dare you! You have some nerve. After more than two years you dare show up here because you missed me? What happened? Isn't life outside Sunnydale exciting enough for you?"

"Buffy. I thought you would be happy to see me. Don't you love me anymore?"

He said her name the way he always did. The only difference was the affect that it had on Buffy.

"Don't even try it. You know, at first I was afraid, I was petrified; I kept thinking I could never live without you. I spent so many nights grieving, trying to figure out what I had done wrong, what I could have done differently. Then I realized I hadn't done anything wrong. I loved you with all my heart and I don't regret it. I learned to live without you, to enjoy life in the sun the way you said you wanted me to. And I grew stronger and I learned how to get along without you. It took all the strength I had and then some not to fall apart, but eventually my broken heart started to mend. I spent so many nights crying for you and just feeling sorry for myself. Eventually I stopped. I don't know when, but somewhere along the way, I realized that I could survive without you. With you I learned how to really love someone and as long as I know how to love, I know I'll survive. I've got the rest of my life to live and I've got a lot of love in me and I know that some day I will find the right person to give that love. I wish you well, Angel, but you are not that person. You don't deserve my love."

Angel looked at Buffy. She had grown up while he was away and he had lost her. She was right. He didn't deserve her love and she would survive without him. The only question in his mind was, 'How am I going to survive without her?'

Song Title: I Will Survive

Artist: Gloria Gaynor

Album: Greatest Hits

At first I was afraid I was petrified
Kept thinking I could never live without you by my side
But then I spent so many nights thinking how you did me wrong
And I grew strong and I learned how to get along
And now your back, from outta space
I just walked in to find you here with that sad look upon your face
I should have changed that stupid lock I should have made you leave your key
If I'd have known for just one second you'd be back to bother me
Go on now go, walk out the door
Just turn around now cuz you're not welcome anymore
Weren't you the one who tried to hurt me with goodbye
Did ya think I'd crumble
Did ya think I'd crumble did ya think I'd lay down and die
Oh no not I, I will survive
Oh as long as I know how to love I know I'll stay alive
I've got all my life to live I've got all my love to give
I'll survive, I will survive hey hey
It took all the strength I had not to fall apart
And tried so hard to mend the pieces of my broken heart
And I spent oh so many nights just feeling sorry for myself
I used to cry, but now I hold my head up high
And you see me, somebody new,
I'm not that chained up little person still in love with you
And so you felt like dropping in and just expect me to be free
But now I'm saving all my loving for someone who's loving me
Go on now go, walk out the door
Just turn around now cuz you're not welcome anymore
Weren't you the one who tried to break me with goodbye
Did ya think I'd crumble, did ya think I'd lay down and die
Oh no not I, I will survive
Oh as long as I know how to love I know I'll stay alive
I've got all my life to live, I've got all my love to give
I'll survive, I will survive ohh go on now go
Walk out the door just turn around now cuz your not welcome anymore
...continuing chorus...