One Step At A Time

Part 2 of The Air We Breathe Series

Timeline: Takes place about a month or so after the events of One Door Closes. If you haven't read that yet, you should if you want to understand much of what's going on with this story.

Rating: Um, nothing major in this installment so I'm gonna go with PG-13.

Pairing: None yet.

Summary: Heartache is nothing new to Buffy, but can she find the strength to let go of the past, and move on? Pretty plot less. Just Buffy dealing with her issues.

Disclaimer: I don't own any characters from Btvs or Ats.

AN: Once again, NOT a Buffy/Connor story. Not a fan of that pairing although I love both characters very much. I just think Buffy with Connor is kinda creepy considering her past with Angel. Sorry to any Buffy/Connor fans.

And a big thanks to all my reviewers! Love you guys!

Buffy Summers. Vampire Slayer. Vampire Lover. Yeah a lot the latter got her.

Buffy sat in front of her mirror, listlessly brushing her hair. Her life had changed so much in the past 4 months, ever since that fateful day in Angel's office. Maybe her friends had been right, maybe she had been a fool to go to LA. No, she knew. They had told her not to go for their own reasons, not because of concern for her. Still… she couldn't help but wish she had listened. Then again if she had, she'd never have gotten to know Connor.

Connor. He was one of the few bright spots in her life lately. During the 4 months of her self-imposed exile, he'd never left her side. She'd been a bit skeptical about him going with her when she left LA for parts unknown, but she was immensely glad she had a friend.

Connor had told her how Angel had angrily questioned him about the content of their relationship. She'd smiled when he'd told her how he punched him in response. Hearing that Angel actually thought she'd sleep with his own son cut Buffy to the core… He really thought so little of her. Connor had been nothing but a friend to Buffy, a very close friend and one that she was very grateful to have, but still, just a friend. Not in a million years would she ever…!

Buffy angrily slammed down her brush. She was so tired of thinking about Angel! Shouldn't HE be the one brooding over her, not the other way around?

Buffy embraced her anger. It felt good to feel anything besides the bone deep agony she'd been feeling every day for the past 4 months.

Buffy walked to her closet, clutching her towel closed. She scrutinized her wardrobe. She'd been so depressed… and her clothes showed it. Sweat shirts, sweat pants, sweaters. Buffy shook her head. She ventured to the back of her closet, towards the stuff that never saw the light of day anymore. She smirked as her eyes settled on a short black dress. It was low cut and loose at the top but quickly became a lot more form fitting below the ribcage, and fell to about mid-thigh. Buffy spied her thigh high black high heeled boots in the corner. 'When did I buy those? Oh well.'

She was only 23 years old! Why should she be stuck in the apartment all day brooding over some asshole? She could find someone else that would want her.


Connor walked into the apartment around 6pm. He looked toward the couch where Buffy usually was. She wasn't. He shrugged. Maybe she was in the shower.

He walked to the bathroom door, knocking on it lightly.

"Hey Buffy? Want Chinese tonight? I figure you gotta be as sick of pizza as I am."

Suddenly the bathroom door opened and Connor's jaw dropped. Buffy stood there dressed in a revealing black dress and thigh high black boots that looked like they could stake a vampire, with a deep, rich, blood red lipstick on her pouty lips, and dark smoky eye shadow on her lids, with her mascara and eyeliner done to perfection.

"Chinese? Nah. I think we're going out tonight." She gave him a little push. "Go get ready."

Connor didn't know what was going on. One minute Buffy was almost catatonic, the next she looked like a woman on the prowl. He didn't know whether to be relieved or concerned. Either way, he wasn't about to make her wait.

He quickly buttoned up his black shirt, settling for a plain black on black look. Black dress shirt, black slacks, black boots and he was out the door.


About an hour into their night out Connor was definitely leaning more towards the side of concerned. Buffy had had 5 drinks, only one of which she paid for herself and she was headed full speed into tipsy status. Not that it slowed her down one bit. She was currently on the dance floor surrounded by a large group of men vying for her attention. Connor watched her like a hawk. He knew this was just another way of coping with her pain and he wasn't about to let anyone take advantage of her.

Connor sipped his own drink, one that Buffy had bought for him of course, since he was only 20. He glared at a blond man that was getting a bit too close to his inebriated friend. The man apparently hadn't gotten the message. Connor sat his drink down and stood up as he saw the blond man's hand come to rest on Buffy's ass, giving it a firm squeeze. He watched Buffy bat the man's hands away. She may be drunk but she wasn't about to let random men grope her. Another man, this one with a dark brown ponytail, decide the press his luck with Buffy as well, coming up behind her and gripping her waist. Connor was there in a flash, pushing the two men away from his friend.

"Hey! If she wanted your hands on her, she'd let you know. Back off!"

"Connor!" Buffy squealed. She giggled, dragging Connor to dance with her.

"Connor?" Buffy asked, hiding her face in the front of his shirt. "Do they like me Connor?"

"Does who like you Buffy? The guys around us?"

She nodded.

"Yes Buffy they like you, but they only like you for your outsides. Not the person you are inside. They don't know you." He said sadly. So that's what this was about. Buffy felt unwanted. He knew she had abandonment issues, he just never realized they made her insecure.

"That's good." She said. "Once they know me they leave. " The look in her eyes as she said this was one Connor would never forget. She looked so broken. Tears leaked out of the corners of her eyes. "Can we go home now?" She pleaded.

"Of course." Connor put an arm around her shoulder and led her out of the club.

"Buffy?" Connor knocked softly on her door, not sure if she was awake yet, despite it being 2pm.

"Yeah?" Was the weary reply.

"Can I talk to you?"

There was silence for a moment. Then, "Sure. Come in."

Connor walked into her room and saw her laying back against her pillows. He sat down at the foot of her bed and turned to face her, folding his legs in front of him.

"Look I'm sorry about last night… I wasn't really in the best mindset." Buffy began.

Connor waved off the apology. "Nothing to be sorry for. But Buffy… I want you to know something." He looked into her eyes. "You're an amazing person." He lifted his hand to stop whatever comment she'd been about to make. "You are. And just because he hurt you… doesn't take away from that. You were still a light in his dark world. He fucked up Buffy, not you. You have to stop beating yourself up over this. Any guy in the world would be lucky to have you. And now Angel knows the truth about what happened, and he has to live with what he did. That doesn't mean you can't move on with your life. By wallowing in your pain you're cheating yourself out of the life you fought so hard for. And that's not right." Connor told her seriously.

"I don't know what to do…" Buffy said sadly. "He was all I knew for so long. I mean yeah I was with other people but he was always there at the back of my mind. That hope was always there, you know? That one day, somehow it'd all work out and we could finally… But I should have known better. After all these years of nothing but heartache… I should have known."

"Buffy having hope is never a bad thing… but you can't let this destroy you. You're better than that. I know it hurts, but it won't always be that way. You just have to be willing to get up and move on. You've done it before and you can do it again. I know you Buffy. Better than a lot of people. You're not done. And neither is your heart." Connor pulled her into a hug. "I just want you to be happy." He held her closer as he felt tears running down her face. He soothingly stroked her hair, praying his words had done something for her.

"You're right." She mumbled into his shirt. "I thought Angel was it… but I was wrong. But I'm not done." She pulled back from the hug and looked at him, with a sad smile. "I'm not done. I don't want to give up. I want to find someone; I want to fall in love again… I want to find my real soulmate. I thought for so long that it was Angel, but it wasn't. Obviously." She said with a slight laugh. "But I'm not gonna look for whoever it is."

Connor looked at her, confused. "What do you mean?"

"I'm going to live my life, I'm going to be who I am, and let whoever Mr. Right is find me." Buffy smiled then. Her first true smile in the 4 long months they'd been in Denver since they left LA and Connor was elated to see it.

"That sounds like a good plan." He replied.

"Yeah, one you should probably follow too." Buffy said giggling at the look on his face.

"Um… me and girls… we don't generally mix well. I don't think that whole soulmate thing is in the running for me." Connor said, shaking his head.

"Oh that's crap. You're quite the young hottie. One lucky girl is going to knock you off your feet one day and you'll be a goner." Buffy said, laughing at the blush that appeared on Connor's cheeks.

"Yeah… I don't know about that." Connor said, running a hand through his hair.

"So," Buffy said, standing up. "What do you say we get out of Denver? I feel like I've been here way too long."

Connor looked at her in surprise. "Sure. Where do you wanna go?"

"I don't know. Anywhere. Maybe out of the country? Not Rome though." Buffy made a face at the thought.

"Course. No Rome. Got it." Connor thought for a minute. There was one place he'd always wanted to see. "What about Japan?"

Buffy's eyes widened. "Japan? Never thought of that. Could be fun. I like sushi." Buffy moved to her laptop to look up flights. "Where in Japan?"

"How about Tokyo?"

"Tokyo it is."

Buahahaha. So this installment is out of the way. Next up: Buffy and Connor in Tokyo. I've already started writing it and I'm having a blast. Hint: It WILL be a crossover. So stick around.