Spoilers: Grad Day 2...minor for Becoming.
Summary: Buffy pov, post Graduation Day 2. It's an angst fic. Sigh. What else would you expect from me? It's also self-indulgent and fairly inane...but what the hell I felt the need to write it after Grad Day 2.
Disclaimer: None of the characters belong to me. They belong to Joss Whedon, the WB, and Fox. All of whom are big meanies.
by: Rebecca Carefoot
I guess the thing about it is that I never really, fully believed it. Do you know what I mean? I mean Angel and I had our rough patches and our smooth ones. We were on again, then we were off again, then on again. That's how it always was between us. One of us would pull back, usually me I'll admit it, and then after some time apart we'd both realize how much we needed each other. We couldn't stay away from each other for long. It was like a drug, or not even that... It wasn't an addiction you could break, it was like the air. We couldn't breathe, we couldn't live, when we were apart. The touch of his skin under my fingertips, the curve of his smile, the sound of his voice...all of them were things I felt like I needed to survive. Or if not to survive, then certainly to be happy. I think it was the same for him; I hope it was.
But Angel always felt like I could do better. And I always felt like if I let myself really love him, completely and unhesitatingly, I'd get hurt again. Of course I couldn't really stop myself, even though I did end up getting hurt again. And neither could he. I know he loved me, maybe too much. For a long time he loved being with me enough that he didn't act on the guilt I know he felt, the guilty suspicion that he was taking some sort of chance from me. For a long time he was what he would call selfish, reveling in his happiness, reveling in being with me, despite the fact that he felt it was wrong. I was selfish too in that way. But I guess in the end he was the stronger of the two of us, because he was the one who was able to pull away.
I thought I believed him when he said it was over. When he broke up with me before Prom I really did feel like if I stopped consciously trying to stay alive, I could easily die. Just close my eyes, and that would be it. I guess even the thought of losing of him was enough to do that to me. I had lost him twice before; I knew how much it hurt. And I knew something was different this time. I knew he had made up his mind in a way he could never quite bring himself to do before.
But I also knew he didn't mean it when he said he didn't want to be with me. I knew he still loved me because even when his mouth was telling me he was going to leave, his eyes were telling me he wanted to stay more than anything.
Deep down I didn't believe he would really go.
I didn't even realize this until after we blew up the school. I was standing in the parking lot. I vaguely remember the tightly rolled up piece of paper in my hands, tied with a ribbon. I talked to Xander and to Giles. I don't really remember what was said, only that both of them were kind and made me feel a little less anxious about him. I couldn't stop looking for him though. He had said he was going to leave without saying good-bye, so there was no rational reason for me to believe he would even be there. But somehow I believed he would come. Anticipation of his presence prickled across the back of my neck.
And he was there. His eyes locked with mine across the crowded parking lot, across a sea of sirens and screams and noise. All the confusion faded away. It's such a cliche, I know. But it's true. I felt like I was standing right next to him. I felt like his arm was wrapped around my body, like he was holding me close. I felt like, in that moment, we were one person.
And I was sure he wasn't going to leave. I was sure, beyond any shadow of a doubt, that he wouldn't be able to walk away from that look. In the back of my mind I thought that if he couldn't leave without saying good-bye, if he couldn't resist one last look, that if he just saw me and if we locked eyes like we were doing...he would stay. He wouldn't be able to leave, even if he wanted to.
Then it was like his eyes said good-bye. I could feel him gathering his strength. He turned on his heel and walked into the mist.
It was like I had been punched. Or like someone splashed a bucket of cold water on me. Or stabbed me in the stomach with a sword. I was shocked.
All the breath in my lungs disappeared as I watched him walk away. Because I really hadn't believed it until that moment. I couldn't believe it. I had cried and told myself, and told Will, that it was the right thing. That I understood. I thought I had come to terms with it. But I had never really believed it at all. And then when he turned away, I couldn't deny it anymore. I wanted to curl up into a little ball right there and just cry.
But I didn't. He may have been strong enough to leave, but I guess I was strong enough to let him.
We didn't say good-bye. We didn't speak. But everything was somehow said anyway, and I guess it will have to be enough. Because I don't think there will be any on again this time. Seeing him walk away, I knew this time he meant it. I still sort of hope. Until one of us is dead, I don't know if I'll ever be able to stop hoping completely. But the hope is so much smaller than it used to be. And there's nothing to fill its place.
Maybe he left because he loved me so much. He thought he was doing the right thing for me, and that was more important to him than his own pain. I know it hurt him too; I believe that of him. But sometimes I can't help feeling it was the weak thing. He hid behind the reasoning and broke both our hearts because it got too difficult for him. I know that it's unfair and most likely untrue, but I can't help feeling like he gave up on us.
Not that I would blame him if that WAS what he did. I mean, considering the number of breaks I made us take, considering the fact that I turned him evil, that I killed him. Who in their right mind would want to stay with me? I'm surprised he stayed as long as he did, really.
And I guess once I get a bit more numb, once the pain's a little older and duller, I'll be able to move on like he wants. I wonder if he really wants to see me with someone else. If I started dating someone, would it make him as unhappy as it would make me? I can't picture him seeing me with another man and not feeling something, something horrible and slimy inside. I wonder if I'm a fool for still not quite being able to make myself fully believe we've over.
I don't know. Maybe it was a fitting end. The love that burns most brightly dies soonest...or something like that. I think I can be philosophical about it. I've got college to go to...a whole new life. Even if he had stayed, things might not have worked. He was right to make it a clean break now before either of us got more deeply submerged in the other.
That's what I tell myself.
When I'm lying in my bed at night, in the dark, staring at the barely visible pictures on the wall because I can't sleep. When I'm patrolling, and I hear a twig snap, and for a second I think it's him, and I almost smile before I remember. When I'm at the Bronze and someone asks me to dance, and I try to say yes but it comes out no. Those times and hundreds of other times throughout my days and nights, the hundreds of times I'm reminded of him despite my best efforts to block out all thoughts of him, I tell myself it was fitting. It was for the best.
I tell myself lots of things. But I can't quite make myself believe any of them.
And I miss him so much I can't breathe.
I said it was like we were each other's air. But he doesn't breathe. He doesn't need air. I wonder why I never thought of that before.
Go on to the companion piece from Angel's POV... Not Fit