Alternate ending to "Anne" -Instead of returning to Sunnydale after Anne, Buffy stays in L.A. where she meets up with Angel mid season 1.

I don't own the characters of Angel and Buffy . Joss Whedon and Mutant Enemy does. I'm just one their countless fans.

Prologue: part 1

As soon as Buffy and Lilly crawled out of the baptismal pit, the portal closed behind them.

Staring at the gray tile, Lilly whispered, "is it over?"

Buffy looked around at the other who escaped. "Depends on what you mean."

None of the kids seemed eager to leave even if they had somewhere they could go. There was a reason they were here in the first place. No one was expecting or awaiting their return. These kids exchanged one hell for another: one more familiar, but no less daunting.

She made her way to the middle of the group. Some were huddled together, while others stood alone holding themselves; they all focused on Buffy as she addressed them.

"I know you guys are probably totally wigged right now - okay, understatement, but everything is going to be fine now. You guys are free." Lilly slowly walked through the group until she stood at her side.

She whispered to her, "What do we do now?"

Buffy looked around with a furrowed brow. Glancing at the kids, she turned to take in the building they ended up in. She quickly realized that the demons actually ran this place as a shelter. All the kids wound up in a hell dimension, but apparently some of them went there well fed, well-rested, and clothed first. She saw open cabinets full of supplies, piles of folded clothes, and a neighboring room full of beds. As she took in her surroundings, she realized the kids were looking at her -to her. . . for answers, guidance, protection . . . she really didn't know, but in that moment, Buffy accepted the responsibility - just like she had so many others.

But this time was a bit different. She could walk from it. No one would condemn her or blame her for it. This wasn't a destiny thing, she wasn't the only one who could help these kids, but at the moment, she was the only one who wanted to. . . and that was enough.

"You're free to leave, if you have a place to go. But those things weren't entirely lying when they said you could stay here. This place looks pretty well stocked. It could even pass for a shelter-except for, ya' know, the portal to hell, which is totally closed by the way. I would let you guys stay at my place, but it's barely big enough for me let alone anyone bigger than me," Buffy gave a small smile at the group. She glanced at Lilly and saw her smiling back in support.

"Anyways, if any of you want to stay here, I will too. I may not look it, but I'm strong, like really strong. Demons, burglars, snotty nurses -you name it, I can fight it. You'll be safe here . . . I promise. Whatever you decide to do, clothes are probably a good thing to do it in," Buffy went over to one of the dressers and opened up a drawer.

"You can find some real clothes in one of these piles - maybe even the ones you came with and then either leave or make yourselves at home. The shelves and cabinets are full of food - the non-perishable variety; there are beds in the other room, and I'm sure there are showers somewhere. I'll be around if you need anything and can fix up whatever injuries you have." with that, Buffy turned to Lilly.

"After you find some clothes, do you mind helping me scout out some medical supplies?" She nodded before joining the others around the piles.

Anticipating the kids' shyness, Buffy gathered some food from the shelves and cabinets and placed it on the table in the middle of the room. Then she went over and checked the phone on the wall. After hearing the dial tone, she replaced the receiver and went in search of a first aid kit.

She found what she was looking forward in one of the hall closets but not after coming across a communal bathroom and another bedroom. When she returned to the front room, she saw that the group was about the same size. No one had left. She shouldn't have been surprised, but she was. The kids were pretty quiet save for the occasional whisper. However, they had been brave enough -or hungry enough- to start nibbling on the food she had set on the table. Most of them were in regular clothes, but for some reason they looked less scared and uncomfortable in the rags. The jeans brought an expectation of normalcy that these kids couldn't meet yet.

She headed for the first injury she spotted. The young girl was sitting at the table eating a few pieces of cereal while keeping a bloody arm around her waist.

Buffy knelt down beside her and quietly asked if she could take a look at it.

"My name's Anne. What's yours?" Buffy started to gently clean her wound.

With eyes downcast, she replied,"I'm no one."

It took her a moment to get over the shock. When She did, Buffy made sure to keep her voice low, reassuring voice, "You're someone. You have a past, and a personality, and a name you probably hated as a kid. No one can take that away from you." She wrapped her arm in gauze whispering, "no matter what happens you'll always be you." The girl lifted her head and looked at Buffy with glistening eyes and the beginnings of a smile.

"I. . . I'm Al-alice" She stammered.

Buffy gently squeezed her hand, "It's nice to meet you Alice." The girl squeezed back.

A few of the other kids overheard the exchange and were looking at her with tears in their eyes. She felt the weight of their trust as she moved on to the next injured teen. She asked Lilly to order in some pizza as she continued tending to the kids. She examined all of their cuts and bruises, no matter how small while talking to them and asking their names, assuring each that they had one, and promising that everything was going to be okay now.

After thinking she had met everyone and giving a quick silent prayer that she remembered all of their names, she spotted one in the corner she hadn't met. He had a large gash on his side which he was holding and poorly trying to conceal. For a brief instant she had a vision of a Angel - of him standing in her kitchen with a large gash across his ribs. Her throat began to constrict and she quickly tried to squelch the image. That's not him. He's gone. But I'm is still here, and right now that boy needs my help.

He was tall, black, and muscular, but he kept his face down so she couldn't see it. Not wanting to scare him, she made sure not to touch him as she angled her head in an attempt to make eyes contact.

"Do you mind if I look at your cut? I'm not going to hurt you, I just want to know how bad it is and see if maybe you need a doctor."

He gave her a silent nod but didn't move his arm. However, he did loosen it, so she gently pulled it away. Blood. Lots of Blood. And if she looked closely, more blood. She found the hem of his long-sleeved t-shirt and started pulling it up, but he grabbed her wrist hard. Gasping, she looked up and was about to pull away when he growled in a low voice, "no doctors." She could finally see his eyes which were large, dark, and penetrating. He tightened his grip. "No doctors."

She placed her free hand over his. "Okay, no doctors." Then she gently pushed his bloody arm aside. As soon as he heard her, his grip loosened and he slowly brought his other hand to his side still wary of her actions but willing to trust her word.

After cleaning the area around the gash with a warm towel and cleaning his wound as best as she could, she attempted to butterfly it closed. It probably should have been stitched, but he was against doctors and she didn't have the tools to do it herself. He might have an ugly scar later, but he would live.

"Mind telling me your name?" She ventured. He had kept his head down and avoided making eye contact since his outburst. She kept quiet while tending to him just glad he was allowed it. But given that she was almost finished, and he hadn't resisted any, she decided now was as good of time as any to talk to him.

When he didn't respond she continued, "Well, since I've already decided that 'no one' or 'no name' doesn't cut it, I will just have to give you a name myself so I at least have something to call you." Still no response.

"You're really not gonna help me out here are you?" She paused then continued in a lighthearted tone, "Very well but if you don't like the name I pick, you will have no one to blame but yourself later." She began studying him as if trying to figure out which name would suit him best. Then she read t-shirt: Welcome to Sunny California. She had to grin at the irony of his picking that t-shirt given the circumstances. "Well since my imagination is out of gas, and your sense of irony is in high gear, I'm gonna call you Sunny." Even with his face turned away from her, she could tell his brow was furrowing. She chuckled, "Hey, no one said letting me pick your name was a good idea; any time you want to switch it out for your real one is good with me." he shook his head. "Okay then."

She finished taping a bandage over the cut and pulled down his shirt. He finally looked at her and she kept a small grin on her lips, "I'm Anne by the way." Just then she heard a knock on the door and saw Lilly answer it. "That must be pizza, just in time too, will you excuse me for a minute." He looked at her with a bit of curiosity as if she was a rubix cube that he couldn't figure out but kept changing before he had a chance work on. His eyes followed her as she walked across the room and paid the delivery man.

She asked Lilly to bring in a roll of paper towels and set the boxes of pizza on the table by the rest of the food. By this time a few of the kids had decided to go to sleep -some on the bed in the neighboring room and some huddled in the corners of the main room, but when the pizza came everyone gathered around - everyone except Sunny that is. After she helped set the pizza up she placed two slices on a paper towel and walked over. Neither his facial expression nor his eye's focus had changed.

She held out the pizza but when he didn't take it she picked up one of him arms by the sleeve and tried to get him hold it. "I'm getting that cooperation is not your thing, but Sunny, considering your human, food has got to be. Besides its pizza, the universal food of goodwill and deliciousness." His lips held only a hint of a smile. but he finally took the pizza earning a big smile in return. "While you finish that I'm gonna go see if I can dig up some pain killers to cure what pizza can't."

She started to turn when she felt his free hand lightly reach out for hers. He kept his head down as he mumbled thank you. After giving it a gentle squeeze, she released it to fetch those pain killers she promised.

A few hours later most of the kids were asleep. Buffy even cajoled Sunny out of his corner and into a bed. The place was bigger than she had anticipated and she quickly gathered that there were plenty of beds to go around - especially since some of the kids had paired off and wanted to share. From talking to them earlier she knew none of them were related or even knew each other well. But their recent experiences had lead to some close bonds between them. She didn't fully understand it, but she was thankful nonetheless. The less alone they felt the better. Loneliness that's what is truly unbearable . . .

"What now?" Lilly asked breaking Buffy out of her reverie.

"Huh?" Searching for Lilly's boyfriend, getting sent to hell, and taking care of a group of kids had all begun to take a toll on her. If her busy mind would let her sleep, she would definitely be napping by now.

"What happens now? Tomorrow, I mean." Lilly sat down on the couch next to her.

She sighed, "I don't know. Honestly, I'm not really thinking that far ahead. . . . I get that they need a place to stay. I just don't know if I have a place to give them. This," she said glancing around the room and the rooms beyond, "is just temporary. I don't know about tomorrow, or the day after that. I'm kinda just going from moment to moment."

"That works," Lilly laid her head on her shoulder and relaxed into the couch.

Buffy relaxed too and leaned her head on Lilly's, "I sure hope so."