Alrighty. So... As You Probably Know... They're Still Joss'. Boo! I Know, I Know. This Story Was Inspired By Watching SMG's 'The Return' A Few Dozen Times And Just Wanting To Use Her Darker Appearence For Some Inspiration. Also, Maybe Just A Tiny Bit Of Johnny Cash/June Carter In A Way I Suppose From Watching 'Walk The Line' A Bunch Of Times Too Around The Same Time Heh. And For The Record I Do Not Own Any Of Those Either. Or Any Bliss 66 Lyrics That May Pop Up Throughout The Story. Again, Boo!

On To The Story...

You Know I Never Wanted To Leave You This Way

It only took Buffy one quick glance up at the small screen behind her to know that this was definitely an 'off' night for him. At least, for her it was easy to tell. To the two small girls standing before her along with their mother though, that was a bit of a different story.

They didn't see him, their idol, as a drunk, miserable, stumbling mess. They didn't see him as a sad, pitiful image as he tried to make his way up the stage. To them, he wasn't a drunken fool, high off of whatever drug or drugs he'd gotten his hands on today. No, no... to them, he was without a doubt a symbol of perfection. He was the man of their childhood dreams, their handsome and dreamy celebrity crush. And boy, did it every shine just as clear as day as they stood there watching the television screen, eyes glued, purely mesmerized. The girls giggled with goofy grins on their face, exchanging whispers as they watched him attempt to get through an acceptance speech for the award he'd just been handed.

Buffy, in some part of her, wanted to knock those looks off the poor girls faces. Apparently, this was an 'off' night of her own. Sometimes the pain inside her own self wanted to lash out and grow onto others. But, taking a deep breath, Buffy did her best to ignore the commotion going on behind her, ignore the girls, and just concentrate on the task before her.

But, of course, he had to go and do that.

"Buffy," his voice rang out, sounding just as pitiful as he looked. "Buffy... Baby... I miss you. I miss you much. I'm sorry, so sorry... so... so sorry... Please... come back. Buffy, I need you..."

Even with knowing better, she stole another glance over her shoulder, just in time to see the handywork of the television crew as they cut to Cordelia Chase's face. The women of his lovelife sighed. Cordelia doing her best to recover quickly. Buffy shook her head thinking of how you just had to love the media today. How today's biggest rockstar, one Liam "Angel" Angelus, stands up on stage... along with the rest of his bandmates... publicly crying out for the girl he left his ex wife over, the girl who ended up leaving him after, and they just cannot wait to capture the actress' reaction. All so everyone has yet another thing to discuss and write about tomorrow.

Buffy quickly looked back away from the image of the woman she "stole" Angel away from and went back to ringing up the woman's items. She tried her best to drone him back out, though heard bits and pieces of what he continued to cry out. That followed by what sounded like a small scuffle as one of the guys tried to pull him away. Also, the unmistakeable noise of the award he'd been given moments ago crashing down to the ground... after having chucked it toward someone.

Yeah. This was one of those nights.

"Aww," one of the girls moaned. "Look at him, he's so sad! I miss Buffy, I wish she'd come back."

"Me too!" the other girl replied, nodding her head.

Buffy swallowed, pausing for just a moment before ringing up the next few items from the woman's cart. Again finding herself thankful for the steps she'd taken to conceal her identity since taking off from the public eye.

"I wonder where she ran off to."

"And why!"

Buffy stilled as the more talkative of the two gave her a closer look. "They were such the perfect couple, you know." She smiled, turning her attention back to the younger of the two. "Happy, and so in love," she said in a dreamy voice."


"Even if I wish Angel was mine," she said with a laugh, "They two of them..."

"Yeah," the other chimed in again, in her own dreamy sigh.

"And god, she was sooo much better than Cordelia."

"Oh yeah! Much better!"

Buffy said a silent prayer as she finished up the last bag and put it in the cart. "Thank you ma'am, here is your total..."

The woman let the girls run off to the quarter machines at the front of the store while she paid. Buffy also said a silent prayer of thanks for that one too. And with a smile, Buffy began handing the woman's change back to her.

After putting the money away, the woman put both hands on the cart but instead of moving away she looked her cashier over for a moment. "You're her, aren't you?" she finally asked.

Buffy found herself frozen again. Not a single person had put two and two together since she'd come here. She felt fear gripping at her.

Yeah, she was her alright. Buffy Summers, the love of Liam Angelus' life, America's latest sweetheart. Her blonde locks had been dyed black, cut differently, contacts slightly colored in her eyes. She had lost a goodamount of weight she hadn't needed to, become paler without all that sunshine weather. She stood in a bland outfit compared to all the high end outfits the world had been used to seeing her in. She was out ofthe public eye here, standing behind a dirty counter, wearing a nametag reading "Elizabeth." But she was her alright.

Here she was away from anything she'd ever known. From growing up just the sweet girl next door type to being on the cover of magazines... But yeah, she was still Buffy Sumers.

Seeing the pure terror on the girl's face, the woman smiled softly. "I won't say a word," she promised.


Sighing, Buffy slid her key into the door... and after a few tries she managed to enter the apartment with a groan.

She was tired, emotionally drained, and still stressed over being recognized earlier at work. She hurried her jacket off and tossed it to the side uncaring of where it landed then did the same with her shoes and began heading for the kitchen. A smiling face turned around to stop her in her tracks though.

"Damn B, you've taken over the news tonight," her roommate commented, throwing a handful of popcorn in her mouth with a laugh. "All I've heard about!"

Buffy groaned again. "How bad is it?"

Faith laughed again and crooked a finger at her.

She hesitated for a moment then went towards her, the television coming into focus for her more with every step. They were showing 'highlights' of the awards show from earlier, letting Angel's speech take up almost the whole montage, and then as she sat down it pulled out to them commentating. "God," she groaned some more.

"Oh, it gets better," Faith promised and flipped the channel, laughing some more.

And sure enough, station after station had Angel's speech on. There were pictures and short video clips of her shown on them as well, asking just where had she gone, there was even a commercial advertising a whole special that was to be dedicated to asking just that on tomorrow's show. Everyone tried to supply their takes, spoke of the many different rumors floating about, asked their questions, talked about her and her relationship with Angelus' lead singer...

"Just great."

It wasn't as though this was anything new. Every since she 'disappeared' this had been going on. It just tended to flare up whenever he lost his shit like he had earlier.

"It could be worse," Faith saidwith a shrug.

Buffy glared and pushed herself back off of the couch with some effort. "How could this get worse?"

Faith was silent for a moment. "They could get their answer."

Well okay, that was true.