Angel has left Sunnydale and Buffy. What happens when you divide two true soulmates? Can Angel undo what has been done to save his one true love?
Canon up to Season 3 Buffy. Set in Season 4 BtVS, Season 1 Angel. Please note, I have not seen any Angel episodes, except for IWRY. So, this story will be using characters mainly from BtVS, but will also feature Doyle and Wesley. In this fanfic, there is no Parker or Riley incidents. There will be several chapters to this story. Not sure how many yet. I will probably update every few days or so.
Disclaimer - I do not own BtVS/Angel or their characters. They belong to Joss Whedon and Mutant Enemy.
Empty. Nothing. Is it possible to be void of feelings and emotions altogether? Buffy is powerless, standing there feeling an overwhelming numbness like her very inner-being has left her. Well, that's not far from the truth. It just left her in the form of Angel, her dark and mysterious, creature-of-the-night, vampire boyfriend...errrr...ex-boyfriend now. Thinking hurts and certainly the mere thought or idea of even feeling any emotions is going to tip her over the edge. Sighing, Buffy is consumed by fear, knowing she can't go there right now. Right now, The Ascension is over and all she can think is nothing. Nothing.
Looking around her at the devastation, is this all her life will be? She looks down at her bruised and calloused hands and wipes some dust from her pants. Confusion. Where do you start, what do you do? No more Mayor or Ascension. No more high school. No more Snyder.
No more Angel.
Looking behind her, Buffy sees her family. Her 'scoobies' - thank god everyone made it through - there's Giles, Willow, Xander, Cordelia and Oz. She knows that they'll be needing her and the world will need her too. What more does a champion have to give? Tired of sacrificing everything she loves for this world and for everyone elses happiness. Slowly, Buffy makes her way to the others, trying to maintain a facade of normal Buffy. What is normal? What will they expect of her? The 'Buffy', Buffy, not the 'Slayer destiny girl' Buffy.
"Hey guys" she offers, sitting down next to Willow. "I think we've pretty much done everything we can. You guys wanna take off?"
As usual, not seeing the enormity of the situation or the full picture, Cordelia is the first to happily speak up.
"I'm for it" she smiles to the group. Smiling. Buffy need to do this, she knows she needs to appear okay. She needs to be happy for them. The last time Buffy couldn't cope with losing Angel, she left them all. She can't do that again to them, or to her Mom. She needs to keep it together.
"You okay?" Willow interrupts her reverie. Buffy, full well knowing the hidden question, knows Willow isn't wondering about the cuts and bruises inevitably to be found on Buffy's body after this battle. She's talking about the ones on Buffy's heart. How to answer though? How do you explain it is for certain, that she is a little less of herself than she was before Angel walked out of her life? How can anyone understand what is happening? How do you explain it? Taking a deep breath and closing her eyes, Buffy simply offers, "Yeah. I'm okay. I just..." just want to be nothing and no-one, nowhere right now. "I could use a little sleep." Knowing she can't tell the truth, she has to be the strong one. Yep, holding it together. Willow looks at Buffy questioningly , clearly expecting some more emotion. Knowing she isn't satisfied with Buffy's answer, but being the best friend she is, she accepts it nonetheless.
"Yeah..." Willow sighs.
"If somebody could just wake me up when it's time to go to college, that'd be great." And since the moment that she watched Angel disappear into the smoke, she's been able to voice an honest thought. Desperately wanting to be void of any thoughts, feelings and sense of time. Buffy hears them talking through the experience that was The Ascension - and also high school, not being able to muster the ability to really care. It's easier to appear part of this conversation, than actually participate in it.
Sighing in resignation, and wanting to just get away from this for now and try to deal, Buffy stands up and puts her hands in her pockets. With all the strength she has in her, she looks up and smiles at the group. "Look guys, I'm really beat. I'm just going to head on home...". Looking at their faces, a sense of expectation. "...And thanks. Thanks for everything, you guys were awesome." Gratitude. Strangely meaning it but yet, not feeling it. It's her Watcher, Giles who can see that, that special Buffy 'spark' isn't there. Looking deeper into Buffy's hazel eyes he offers gently, "yes, quite right Buffy. It was...ahem...'awesome'." Drawing a few stifled giggles from the teens. "Get some well-deserved rest Buffy. Please, do take care".
And with that, Buffy turns and opens her hardened eyes to the world ahead. What to expect and for the first time feeling like she genuinely doesn't care. She will be facing it alone. Surrounded by people and yet so incredibly lonely. For a brief second, feeling scared about this new revelation, she hesitates to take the first step into her future. Knowing she can't stand in limbo between living and existing forever, she determinedly puts one foot in front of the other. Though, not making a sound, the notion to her feeling nothing less than a meteor shattering into earth.
No going back now.
There is one thing she needs to do. Arriving home, she walks into the dark empty house. A small part of her, deep down in the recesses of her now dead-feeling heart, feeling grateful that her mother left town before the Ascension. Knowing that she needs to physically, emotionally and mentally 'pack away' the memories and feelings, Buffy walks up the stairs to her room. Looking straight to the window, the habit rings true. Though, she knows he isn't there, that feeling of hope still lingers. Closing her eyes and with steely determination, Buffy takes a hold of this feeling and quashes it. Shuts it into a memory box named 'Angel', not to be re-opened ever again. That part of her life died and a part of her soul died with it. Walking to her dresser, she packs away the necklace he gave her. Back when times were simpler. When she was innocent. No, that's a lie. Buffy was born a slayer and was never truly innocent. She knows that something inherently demon is coursing through her veins. Where else do her powers stem from?
Next she steps towards her wardrobe. A quick memory flashes before her. Angel spending the day in there after their first night together in her room. Automatically, she feels herself smiling. Again, taking that particular feeling and shutting it too, in that Angel-box. Knowing she can't survive the rest of her life on memories alone, she mentally prepares herself to be shutting these thoughts away constantly over the coming months...years even. This town is only full of the pain, happiness and passion that was her and Angel. Sucking in a breath and holding tears at bay with a force she didn't know she had, she looks forward and takes hold of Angel's leather duster. As a last final good bye, she breathes in the jacket's aroma. To anyone, the scent of the soft, supple leather would be dominant, yet, to Buffy...to Buffy, all she could smell was Angel. That undeniable fragrance that was distinctly Angel. Hesitating on what was happening to her, Buffy almost fights this, this...fate. Yet, deep down she knows she cannot undo this now. It has been decided and not by her hands. By her Angel. NO. No. Not, 'her' Angel anymore.
At that, she yanks the duster from the wardrobe with frustration. Scrunching it up into a messy bundle and with no emotion left in her, she dumps the jacket with the necklace into a box aptly titled 'Old Junk', in the bottom of her wardrobe. There was a time that no power on earth or the depths of hell could keep her away from Angel and these once special artifacts. Now, it was just a flimsy card-board box kept together with packing tape, closed behind a door that imitated her inner-self.
Closing the doors, she turns back to her bed. Wincing in pain, from both the past and also the physical pain in her abdomen, she decides to take care of the latter first. This particular hurt being more tangible than the other. Changing direction to the bathroom she switches the light on and catches her breath at the sight in the mirror. Who is that girl, no – woman, in front of her? Not recognizing herself and the look behind her eyes, she runs a timid hand down her cheek, flinching with the hurt behind her soft skin. She was going to have a mighty bruise there tomorrow. Ignoring this for now, she steps closer towards the mirror and stares into her eyes. The door to the soul. Only, hers appeared empty. Nothing to see but an emptiness, a blank and emotionless look, staring right back at her.
With nothing left to do, but get on with it, she undresses, taking particular care of her right side. Buffy peers down to inspect the damage and notices a deep wound from her right rib cage towards her belly button. Seeing the tell-tale signs of her slayer-healing already, she turns on the shower, to a scalding hot, which fills the room with steam in no time at all. Stepping into the shower, Buffy allows the water to wash away the grime and blood, along with the pain and the hurt that she is banishing away for the remainder of her existence. Not cheating herself from a moment of sensation, she allows a single tear to fall. Quickly, it becomes engulfed and washed away by the steaming jets of water from the shower head. Again, the symbolism is not lost on Buffy, her soul feeling the same way as that lonesome tear.
After a long time rinsing off the physical dirt, Buffy dries herself of and takes a look again in the mirror. Still, the same cold, no feeling eyes peek back at her. Not knowing what else she was expecting to see, she slowly makes her way back into the bedroom. Looking around the room, the same empty-feeling space she left behind not even 20 minutes ago. Breaking the uncomfortable silence, Buffy coughs awkwardly – reminding her of the gash across her torso. With the practiced ease of someone who has clearly done this before, Buffy sees to the wound with some dressing and tape. Looking down and nodding at her workmanship she dresses in her pajamas, taking great care to ignore any Angel-sized items that may yet be lingering in her dresser. She will deal with those in due time.
All that is left is to lay down on her bed and allow sleep to claim her. Although her dreams are not always particularly pleasant, she is unsure of what dreams may come from the subconscious mind of someone with a dying soul. And it hits her. Like a punch she has never felt before in the physical world, this one strikes to whatever is left inside her so hard, she lunges forward with confusion and surprise.
She knows what is happening.
Her soul is dying.
The Buffy part of herself takes a moment to digest this revelation. What can I do to fix it? Acknowledging that she is powerless to fix this, she already knows that there is only one way and the answer lies with her soulmate.
Pondering this for a further moment, she asks herself two things. Firstly, how is Angel coping with this? And secondly, how long does she have to live – no, exist – like this?
With the weight of the world on her shoulders and yet the burdens of her emotions and feelings now lifted, Buffy lays down on her bed and takes a firm hold of her pillow next to her. Staring blankly into the dark – avoiding looking in the direction of the window, Buffy allows sleep to claim her.