Dedication: For the Watcher's Council. You guys are the best.
This is pure, undiluted sentimentality. I can blame the writing of it on the fact that I'm mentally unbalanced because of excessive final exams. What's your excuse for reading it?
Song lyrics are taken from "I Still Believe". (Miss Saigon, for the Broadway uniformed)
Note to self: Never watch the ending to "Faith, Hope, Trick" while listening to the Miss Saigon soundtrack.
For the record: I retain my hatred of Angel. IMHO, he is the clinging growth that is attached to Buffy's arm. This sappy and sentimental story changes nothing. Do you hear me? NOTHING!!!
I still believe
You will return
I know you will
I told them. I could see the guilt in Willow's eyes, and the compassion in Giles' eyes. That burning pain in my heart had only increased when I told them, when I brought the pain into the light instead of keeping it hidden like I had all summer. But that means that it's healing, right? It means I'm letting go, right?
No. It doesn't. Because no matter how many times I tell myself that he's gone, that he isn't coming back, I feel as though I'm just waiting. Not moving forward, or even backwards. Just waiting.
Against all odds
"Okay. You know what, I thought about it, and I'm in. When do you want to go?"
Scott was doing his best to conceal his eagerness, but it wasn't working very well. He looked like an excited puppy. It was pretty cute. But then, that was a pretty good description of everything he did.
He was sweet. He was nice. He used the word 'mosey'. He was a guy who I could introduce to my Mom and not hear any complaints. My friends had not a single disapproving vote. Had I tried, I could not have created a more perfect high school boy.
But looking into his open brown eyes, why did I feel the urge to run?
I still believe
I know as long
As I can keep believing, I'll live
I hid for two months. Those days and weeks are still a gray haze to me, that time I spent in a limbo, waiting to heal. I never stayed anywhere very long. I found jobs that would pay me under the counter, from people who wouldn't ask me for anything more than my first name, people who only cared that there was one more body to show up for work on Monday morning.
I waited tables, I worked in a few bars, I swept floors. Whenever I started to care about anyone too much, whether it was my co-workers, the old woman in the apartment next to mine, or once even a stray cat who used to sit on the dumpster in the alley behind the laundromat, I would start running again. I was sure that if I just ran long enough, the nightmares wouldn't start again.
Late in the summer, when I met Lily, I had started packing to leave again. One of the cooks was a sweet guy, kinda like Scott, actually. He talked to me a few times, even covered for me once when I was late. It was when I realized that I knew his work schedule better than mine, and that I had started timing my breaks to match his, that the fear came back. The dreams returned.
But then, they always did.
Coming home hadn't helped. If anything, the dreams were worse. During the summer, I worked all day, making sure that when I got home I was so exhausted that all I could do was stumble to my bed and fall into sweet oblivion.
Nothing worked. His face haunted my dreams, the warmth in them when he recognized me, the feeling of his arms around me.
His gasp of agony when the sword pierced him.
I still believe
As long as I can keep believing
For my own sanity, I have to get beyond this. The pain is tearing me apart. People just can't live like this.
After the portal closed, taking Angel away from me forever, I just knelt there for several hours. Then I walked home, packed, and left. I bought the first bus-ticket out of Sunnydale, got off hours later, and then just walked.
I'm still not sure just how long I walked. I was just so gone in my grief and self-hatred that I didn't realize what I was doing until I actually felt the blood running down my arm.
I was in a park - I can't remember the name of the city it was in - and there were a lot of joggers around. One woman found me, just lying on my side, watching in vague interest as my blood stained the ground. She took me to a free clinic a few blocks down. The doctor stitched up my arm neatly, and with his quick work combined with a Slayer healing metabolism, you can barely see the scar, and then only if you know where to look.
But the scar is still there. It serves as a very nice visual warning. The next time I fall that far, there might not be a jogger named Kathie and a doctor named Rudy to save me. Or I might do a better job.
And for all my pain, I don't want to die.
This isn't just emotional healing anymore. This is survival.
You will return
Such a simple word. But it will serve its purpose. The Claddagh ring became a sort of symbol over the long months that Angelus roamed, and again over the long summer. As long as I kept it, it meant that I hadn't given up. Hope remained. Love could conquer all.
But now I'm not sure it can.
Kneeling in the long hallway, I gently laid the ring down on the very spot where I had saved the world, and in the process destroyed the one I loved more than anyone else.
There is only one word in the English language to define the most complex emotion in existence. Others had more.
Filio - The love towards friends and family
Agapae - A love that transcends all else. You would die for this love
Dying would've been easy. I would willingly have died to save the world. After all, I've done it before.
But I made a greater sacrifice this time. I killed to save the world.
Another thing that love has never been is rational. I saved the world, but I still hated myself for what I had to do.
Laying the ring down, I gave it all up. Love, hope, and self-hatred were bound for now. Quieted.
But that night, when I returned from the Buster Keaten nightmare, I found myself standing at my window, head cocked and listening with all of my being.
And that night, I dreamed.
And I know why
Until we die