Title: A double heart for my single one.
Summary: Alt season 3. Angel comes back considerably more traumatized than in cannon. Angry that Angel is back and feeling Buffy is to blame Spike picks up on the mind games where Angelus left off. Can a young Buffy deal with so much pain, or will she eventually take the out that is offered to her?
Disclaimer: I forgot t his on the previous chapter but it applies there too; these characters, settings, histories, mythologies, and some of the dialogue do not belong to me. They belong ot Mr. Whedon and his writers. Please don't sue me, I have no money.
A/N: As always, all comments and criticisms are wanted, encouraged, and welcomed.
It was some time before Buffy realized that she, too, was crying and longer still until she realized Angel was speaking and that what he was speaking was her name.
“Buffy, Buffy, Buffy…” whispered into the fabric over her stomach, like a talisman or a wish. As Buffy regained her senses and wiped at her tearstained face she realized that he was trembling deeply. Apparently collapsing to his knees had been as much about exhaustion as anything else, and now that the adrenaline had gone out of him he seemed near passing out. It was mere moments before she knew that she had to get him out of there. Her friends would be coming to find her soon, and Giles. They would want her to-to… oh god, yes, she had to get him out of there.
Carefully she helped him to his feet and began the long trek to the mansion, deeply aware that if it weren’t for her Slayer strength and his emaciated state she wouldn’t have been able to achieve such a feat. Nearly all his weight was on her and several times she caught him as his legs gave out entirely. To make matters worse he whimpered the entire time, a sad animalistic sound, so like most of the sounds he’d been making recently, the only variation being her occasionally whispered name, and Buffy knew he had to be in horrible pain. Pain from Hell. Hundreds of years of torment and it was her fault. She’d made the choice and followed her duty. She saved the world. It was little consolation.
She sent him there.
As they took the final steps into the mansion Buffy took a moment to wipe the tears that had clouded her vision. She managed to stifle them but the horrible weight of guilt still remained. Was this how Angel felt about those he killed? Did he live with it ever day? He had been a pillar and she had hardly known it.
Gently she laid him down on the floor, wishing she could put him somewhere else, but already too physically and emotionally tired to even look. Instead she focused on him, still only half dressed, still half crazed. Did he know where he was? Did he really know who she was? He’d said nothing but her name since his return. Where was her ring? He stank. This thought was late in arriving but as potent as it ever could have been. Angel did stink, he smelled of soot and seared flesh, shit and old blood, and Buffy knew that if she could smell it than it must be absolutely horrible for Angel’s sensitive nose.
As he lay there, his head resting on her knees his trembling hands clinging to her legs she took some time to look him over. She’d been so scared and confused before she’d hardly taken the time she needed. Now she saw that he was thin, too thin, and every angle and curve of his heavy bone structure was easily visible. Burns and lashmarks covered his entire body and his skin was dark from several unknown substances. She needed to clean him up, patch up his…his many many wounds. Totally, she could do that. Energized by the thought that she could somehow begin to make this right she lifted her hand from where it had rested on Angel’s trembling side and began to stand, but she stopped immediately as he let out a choked cry followed by a sad keening wale.
She crouched down again, shocked, her heart breaking anew as she again rested her hand on him.
“It’s ok,” she whispered, trying to speak through a knotted throat, “It’s ok. I’m here. I’m not going anywhere. It’s ok…” But it wasn’t ok. Buffy didn’t know if it ever would be. She was 16, stuff like this wasn’t supposed to happen to her, or to people she loved. She was supposed to be invincible, life was supposed to be good. She shouldn’t have had to send her boyfriend to Hades so the world could go on sucking. Everything, everything was wrong.
She waited there, her Slayer strength coming in handy for the time when other people’s legs would have cramped badly from crouching so long, and rubbed Angel’s side, whispering gently to him until he finally fell into a fitful sleep. She stood up and moved back, taking a minute to watch him as he began to twitch in the throes of a night- no, in the throes of a memory. She needed to get him things, real things, and even in all her youthful anxt she understood she didn’t have the option of being afraid anymore.
Quietly she left the mansion, making sure the jam the door shut so no one could come in, praying to whatever god might be out there that her vampire stayed safe for just a while longer. She almost laughed at that. Safe. Right.
Once in the house, sneaking quietly past her mother’s room, she gathered up the required items, water, rubbing alcohol, wash clothes, anticeptic, cotton balls, bandages, numbing cream, and several other things, though she knew she would eventually need more, and stuffed them all into a bag. Sighing she sat down on her bed, pulling Mr.Gordo to her and hugging him tightly. At least the pig wouldn’t judge her, wouldn’t point out the dried blood on her shirt, or the unidentifiable smudges on her pants.
There in the middle of the night the darkness seemed to consume her. Angel was back but he wasn’t back, and she was responsible, responsible for everything. She tried to choke back the sob but it didn’t work and there in her room she finally broke down, deep sobs wracking her body, because she was alone.