A Far Cry From Yesterday - #1 in the 'Shadows In Time' Series

by Isis FG

Feedback: vagabond_angel@comcast.net

Disclaimer: not mine, just borrowing them from all the people at ME, Fox, UPN, WB, etc.

Rating: R, for language
Pairing: B/A, minor use of other ships (W/O, X/C)
Series Summary: post-s3 (BTVS) AU.departs from canon after the s3 finale and jumps into my own universe. From there, almost everything will be different. A few characters and concepts will pop-up, but really, this doesn't relate at all to the seasons that followed s3.
Fic Summary: Buffy must face the consequences of something she did and finds her life drastically changing.
Spoilers: Anything through the end of s3 of BTVS, but mostly the end of s3.

Distribution: my site (Vagabond Soul), ff.net, Enchanting Place, CBAU, and LoD; & Starrkitty's Archive if they want it...and probably some other places I'm forgetting, anyone else, just ask first.

Author's Notes: Keep in mind that this jumps cannon at the very moment the episode ends, which is with the gang walking off into the night.

AN2: My apologies to the Xander fans for what is to follow...I love Xander, but he was a victim of my plot. Sorry! Also, I must warn all of you that there will be little B/A direct interaction for a while in this series, but the pair is still the focus.

AN3: My eternal thanks to *Stars*, my beta, who was wonderful in helping me get this fic fine-tuned!

Warnings: Angsty, depressing, crude/bad language


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Part 1
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Completely disinterested in the company she was with, or the conversation going on, Buffy sat quietly and absentmindedly pushed the pasta around her plate. She hoped the act would make it look like she had actually eaten some when really she'd only had about two bites. Just the thought of eating made her stomach churn violently.

Cautiously, Buffy lifted her eyes to take a peak at her mother and the guy who was supposed to be her 'date'. She released a small sigh when it became apparent that neither one was really paying any attention to her. Glancing across the table, she looked at the blonde haired, blue-eyed college student. She idly wondered if he knew he needed a haircut. Not like she really cared, though.

Her Mom had planned the whole evening, saying she was inviting over a 'nice young man named Riley' who helped out at the gallery doing heavy lifting and such for dinner. Her reasoning for inviting him was to thank him for being such a helpful employee, but Buffy knew it was because her mother wanted her to meet him. Joyce seemed only too happy to push her to date now that Angel was out of the picture.

There was only one problem with her mother's big plan...Angel was far from out of the picture. At least not in Buffy's mind. His hold was still firmly clenched around her heart. Not even his absence could weaken the love she felt for the souled vampire. Her mother didn't seem to understand that, though. Joyce was just happy that Angel was gone, and was determined to set her daughter up with a nice, 'normal' young man.

Buffy wondered if they even remembered she was sitting at the table with them. She wasn't particularly interested in talking to either one of them, but it still stung a bit to be virtually ignored. Unfortunately...or fortunately...she wasn't sure which, her roaming eyes seemed to attract Riley's attention.

"So Buffy, your Mother tells me you will be going to UC-Sunnydale this fall," Riley spoke up, drawing Buffy out of her thoughts.

She rolled her eyes at the statement. "Yeah."

"Maybe we'll have some classes together," he smiled a goofy little grin at her.

Oh yeah, that would just be lots of fun, Buffy thought to herself. "Yeah, maybe."

"You should take Pysch with Professor Walsh. She's my favorite," he told her while buttering a roll.

"I haven't decided what I'm taking yet," shrugged Buffy, making a mental note not to take Pysch. If Riley liked this professor, it was unlikely she would.

Joyce smiled at the conversation between the two. They were perfect for each other. "So Riley, have you decided what you major will be?" she asked politely.

Her Mother and Riley were soon engrossed in conversation, which Buffy eagerly tuned out. The rest of the dinner proceeded with the two chatting amicably, which was fine with Buffy. She had absolutely no interest in dating Riley, or anyone for that matter. There wasn't much she did have interest in these days. Everything seemed darker and hopeless since Angel had walked off into the darkness of night.

Everyone thought she was fine, but she wasn't. Not in the least little bit. Each day she hoped it would get easier. It never did. The simplest little things were a struggle to do, and no one seemed to particularly care that the moment Angel had walked away from her it had felt like half her being had been torn out of her. No, they didn't care about that.

"Well, I think dinner went very well. Don't you?" Joyce questioned after Riley had finally left.

"Yeah," Buffy shrugged, but couldn't have cared less about the stupid dinner.

"I like Riley. He's a ni-"

"Nice young man. I know," snapped Buffy, thoroughly sick of hearing her mother sing Riley's praises. "I have to go...promised the gang I'd stop by the Bronze and then I have to patrol."

Ignoring her mother's disapproving frown, Buffy grabbed her jacket and some stakes before quickly exiting the house. She didn't bother to tell her mom that Giles had given her the night off. If her mother had known that, she would have made her stay home and Buffy had no desire to listen to one more word about the farm boy with stupid hair.

That was what they wanted, though. All of them. Forget and move on. They just didn't understand that it wasn't possible. Nothing could ever make her forget her Angel.

^-^-^-^-^-^-^-^-^-^

"Hey Buffy!" Willow chirped happily from her spot at the table in the Bronze next to Oz and Xander.

"Hey guys," spoke Buffy solemnly. The last thing she wanted at the moment was to be around her giddy, ignorant friends.

"So...how was the big dinner?" asked Xander, wiggling his eyebrows suggestively.

Buffy groaned internally at the motion. "It was fine."

"When are you going to go out with him again? Ooooh! We could go on a double date. There's a really good movie playing at the cinema," babbled Willow with a grin, not noticing Buffy's lack of interest.

"I don't think I'll be seeing him again," answered Buffy, hoping they'd get the point that dating wasn't part of her plans now or in the near future.

Willow frowned slightly. "Why not? Your Mom said he was a really nice-"

"Nice guy. Yeah, I know. How could I not?" Buffy grumbled, wondering if it would be wrong for Mr. Nice and Perfect Normal Guy to have an unfortunate encounter with a vamp. "I gotta go guys...slayer...vamps...patrol."

"But you just..." started Xander, but before he even finished Buffy was gone. ".got here."

Buffy quickly exited the Bronze, wanting to get far away from the people inside. She collapsed against a nearby building, no longer able to hold back the tears that had been threatening to fall. Quiet sobs shook her tired body.

Why didn't they understand? Did they really think she could just go on like Angel had never been a part of her life? He was the one person who'd ever remotely understood her life and all the sacrifices she had to make. He was the one person who could make her smile with just a look. She couldn't just forget about those things.

Forcing herself to calm down, Buffy wiped the tears from her eyes. Slowly, she picked herself off the ground. She had no desire for any of her friends to find her like this. Pulling out a stake from her pocket, she wandered off to one of the graveyards hoping that she wouldn't run into any vamps since she wasn't in the best fighting condition.

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~later that night~

With a groan, Buffy eased herself through the window to her bedroom. She didn't know why she was using her window. It wasn't like her Mom didn't know that she'd been out. But it was familiar, and familiarity was something she desperately needed right now, especially after the forced dinner earlier where her Mother had completely disregarded her feelings toward Angel and pushed her toward another guy and then her friends had pretty much acted the same way. Buffy couldn't help but feel like her entire world was crashing down around her.

Numbly she limped into her room, carelessly dumping her stakes on to her desk. Her whole body ached, and not just because of the tough fight with an unusually strong vamp she'd had earlier. No, not just because of that. A lot of it was due to the fact that the past two months, since the day of her high school graduation, she'd hardly slept more than a few hours every couple days, and she seemed to eat even less. Her body just couldn't handle the concept of food. If it weren't for the fact that she was the Slayer she had no doubt that she'd be in the hospital right now.

Weak and exhausted, Buffy slumped to the floor against her bed. All she wanted was one night of peaceful sleep, but she knew it wouldn't happen. Sleep only ended up tormenting her whether it be by visions of the past, hopeless dreams of the future, or the worst. horrid nightmares of pain, torture and death. They were always there every time she closed her eyes.

In short, her life had pretty much gone to hell the last two months, all of which could be traced to the lingering pain in her heart caused by the absence of her soulmate. Tears formed in her eyes as she cast her memory back to the man who'd torn her heart out and ripped it to shreds.

She wanted to hate him for leaving her, for forcing her to bare the weight of her destiny alone, but she couldn't. It was impossible to hate him when the love she felt for him still scorched the very core of her being. So instead she wallowed in the misery his absence had heaped upon her.

She kept hoping that each day it would get a little easier, that her heart would ache a little less. But it seemed as if the opposite were true. Each day it all only seemed to get worse. Angel was the first thing she thought of when she awoke each day, and the last thing she thought of before the few hours of sleep she'd attempt to get each night. And even when she did sleep, he'd just dominate her dreams.

How had her life gotten so bad? Only a few months earlier she had been relatively happy. Things hadn't been perfect, but at least she'd had some peace now and then. She'd also had her Angel. He had been the one solid thing she could always count on. Now he was gone and she was alone.

Well, she wasn't quite alone, she still had her Mom, her friends, and Giles, but they seemed to be oblivious to the endless pain she was in. Her Mom, though she never said it aloud, was happy Angel was gone and kept trying to get her to go out and meet someone new. Giles was Giles, content to have her focus on her training and slaying. Xander was still finding ways to berate Angel and her past choices and didn't seem to care at all that her heart was dead and continuously aching. The only one who seemed to be aware of her emotional condition was Willow, but even she seemed more apt to push her to move on when she wasn't yet ready, if she ever would be at all.

So instead of being able to turn to her friends and family for support, Buffy found herself feeling more alone than she ever had in her whole life. The only thing she wanted was Angel. She missed his calming words, his soothing embrace, and most of all, she missed the loved feeling she got whenever he was near. Would she ever feel like that again? If the last two months were any indication.

Buffy's thoughts abruptly stopped at the seemingly innocuous internal statement.

Two months.

Two months.

It had been two months since Angel had left. Her eyes widened at that particular realization. Jumping up from her spot on the floor, Buffy dashed across her room and out the window. As she ran off into the night the words 'two months' continued to echo through her mind.

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Part 2
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~three days later~

"Angel! No!" Buffy screamed, her mind quickly waking from the fitful sleep she'd been in.

Disoriented, Buffy looked around her room and realized that she had been dreaming, that she hadn't been back in the mansion watching the swirling vortex swallow Angel. This particular dream was one of her most frequent. Her subconscious seemed to like to replay that horrible night over and over, sometimes verbatim, sometimes changing the events slightly.

Glancing at her clock, Buffy realized that she'd only been asleep for forty-five minutes. Frustrated tears clouded her vision as she ran a hand through her hair. She contemplated trying to go back to sleep, but it was likely that the dreams would only return. Plus, she had to get up early anyway.

Her eyes drifted over to look at the window near her bed. Vivid memories played in her mind of all the times Angel had snuck into her room. She smiled slightly as she remembered the time she'd found him holding Mr. Gordo. The smile quickly faded when reality pushed back into her mind reminding her that Angel was gone from her life.

Dragging her tired body out of her bed, Buffy walked across her room and grabbed some clean clothes. Quietly, so she wouldn't wake her Mother, she made her way to the bathroom. Maybe a hot bath would help release some of her stress. She frowned at the idea. There probably wasn't a bath soothing enough to get rid of all her stress. At least it would get her clean, though.

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~later that day~

Buffy nervously walked down the stairs toward Giles' apartment. She stopped at the bottom, her uncertainty over what she was about to do overwhelming her. The fact that she hadn't slept at all in the past three days wasn't helping either. It wasn't that she hadn't wanted to sleep. In fact, she was exhausted, but she just hadn't been able to. There were too many things going on in her mind to allow her any rest.

Attempting to gather her courage, Buffy looked toward the door to Giles' apartment. She knew they were all in there waiting for her. She had called them all an hour before asking them to meet her here. But now she wasn't so sure she was ready to do this.

Her eyes closed as she tried to block out the scenarios that had plagued her thoughts for the last three days. Unfortunately, though, she knew they probably weren't all that far-fetched. And that was what was scaring her the most. She knew that what was about to happen wasn't going to be pretty.

She had to do it though. She had to tell them. It wasn't like she could hide it forever. That was impossible. But she couldn't help but fear what would happen once she told them the reason for the meeting. They would all undoubtedly be angry with her. And honestly, there was no way she could blame them for that.

Taking a deep breath that didn't in the least calm her nerves, Buffy forced herself to walk toward the door. She paused momentarily when she reached it, trying to shake off the foreboding feeling suddenly assaulting her senses. Finally, she turned the knob and entered the apartment, inwardly praying to whatever higher being there was that everything would be all right.

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Entering the apartment, Buffy saw all of her friends waiting for her, Willow, Oz, Xander, and Giles. The only one missing was Cordelia, whom, even though they'd not been on particularly good terms, Buffy had tried to contact anyway. When she had tried to call her though, she'd found that the number was no longer in service. Not that it really mattered, Cordy probably wouldn't have cared anyway.

"Hey Buffy!" chirped Willow from her seat on the couch next to Oz.

"Hello, Buffy. How are you?" Giles questioned as he ignored the dark circles under his Slayers' eyes, and her overall gaunt, sickly look.

"Hey guys. I'm fine Giles," Buffy answered quietly as she tried to gather all her inner strength.

"Hey Buffster! So what's the what?" asked Xander in his typical goofy tone as he munched on a bag of potato chips.

"Um.. I.. Uh.. called you here because.. uh.. There's something that I.. uh.. need to tell all of you." Buffy stated without looking any of them in the eye.

Everyone in the room suddenly stopped the extraneous things they had been doing. The serious, nervous tone of Buffy's voice had taken them all by surprise. Each and every one of them were now staring at the Slayer who was fidgeting from their eyes all on her.

Looking down for an instant, Buffy closed her eyes and tried to calm herself. It's now or never, she spoke internally. Pulling her eyes back to her friends, she gazed around at each of them for a few seconds before speaking again.

"I'm pregnant," she finally blurted out.

Their initial reactions were about as expected. Giles sat harshly down in the chair he'd been standing next too. Xander nearly choked on the chips he had been stuffing into his mouth. Willow could only stare at her, mouth hanging open while Oz just looked curiously at her.

"You-you're.," Giles started to repeat, unable to finish the sentence. He knew he must have misheard her statement.

"Pregnant, yes," Buffy finished for him, knowing full well that her news was a big shock considering what had been going on in her life recently.

"But.but," Xander stuttered, but stopped not knowing what exactly to say.

"A-are you s-sure?" asked Giles, taking off his glasses and cleaning them with his handkerchief.

"Yes, I'm sure," Buffy replied. Sensing their need for more confirmation she explained further. "I took one of those home tests a few days ago, and this morning my doctor confirmed it."

Silence reigned in the room for a few minutes, everyone too shocked by the revelation to speak. Buffy remained standing next to the kitchen counter at the edge of the living room, nervously twining her fingers along the hem of her shirt. So far, so good, she thought to herself, but she knew the worse was yet to come.

Willow was the first one to find her voice and speak. "How far along are you," she questioned, a hurt expression on her face due to the fact that Buffy had obviously been with someone and hadn't told her best friend.

"A-about two months," Buffy stated softly, waiting for them to move on to the next question, which would undoubtedly be about who the father was.

Xander's brow scrunched at the revelation as he did the math in his head. It only took a moment for him to eye her suspiciously. "That would have been around graduation. We didn't know you were seeing anybody."

All eyes focused on Buffy causing her to squirm under their glares. This was the part she had been dreading. "I wasn't," she answered and then looked down at her feet.

"You had a one night stand?" Willow yelped in surprise. That was just not like Buffy at all, but it would have sort of explained why she hadn't told anyone.

"Um, n-not really," Buffy hedged, trying to avoid giving her friends the real answer to their question.

"Buffy, I think it would be best if you told us exactly what happened," prodded Giles a little more forcefully than intended. His mind was reeling from the news that his Slayer, the girl he considered to be his daughter in many ways, was with child.

"It happened the night of graduation," Buffy told them, still avoiding saying exactly what they wanted to hear.

"Who?" Willow asked, looking strangely at her friend. She knew full well that that particular day had been tough on Buffy because it had been the last one that she'd seen Angel. What had she done that had led to her being pregnant?

Who? indeed thought Buffy. That was the question that she feared the most. Taking a deep breath, she looked up, tears glistening in her eyes, and studied each of her friends for a second before answering their question.

"Angel," she barely whispered, and then waited for the inevitable explosion that was to follow.

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Part 3
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AN:  MAJOR ANGST AHEAD!!!!!!

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"WHAT?!?!" Giles snapped at her while staring at her with angry eyes.

"You slept with him?" yelled Xander as he jumped out of his chair, eyeing her menacingly.

"Y-yes," Buffy choked out, taking a slight step backwards from the force of the fury radiating toward her. "I.w-we d-didn't intend for i-it t-to happen."

"Oh well that makes it okay then," Xander spoke sarcastically, his eyes blazing.

"What were you thinking, Buffy? You know full well the consequences of such actions," Giles chastised, his head shaking back and forth in disbelief.

"H-he.he." Buffy started before taking a moment to wipe at the tears threatening to fall. "He came to my room that night, after graduation.j-just to s-see me one m-more time...just t-to say g-goodbye." The last word was a mere whisper.

"Last time I checked, it took more than a few words to get someone pregnant," sneered Xander, clearly disgusted by the situation.

Buffy looked down, not able to see their disapproving faces any longer. "H-he kissed me-"

"What did he do? Force himself on you?" Xander screeched at her, already plotting the vampires dusty demise.

"NO! H-how could you even think that?" asked Buffy in shock that he could even suggest such a thing.

"Well, it is obvious Buffy that you did more than kiss," spoke Giles, his voice uncharacteristically cold and forceful.

"H-he went to l-leave...a-after he kissed m-me. I-I begged him to s-stay...n-not to leave me," sobbed Buffy, remembering the heartbreak of that night. "I-I kissed him, again. S-somehow we ended up in m-my b-bed."

She stopped speaking for a minute, feeling as if she were about to hyperventilate. Regaining some control, she went on, but still avoided looking at her friends. "I..I asked him to make love to me. I.I needed to be." Buffy paused for a moment, searching her heart for the right words to explain her actions.

"I had.. I had to know that he still loved me," she finished, her voice a mere whisper at the end.

Buffy finally gathered the nerve to lift her head and look at her friends. Willow was staring down at her hands. Giles was staring at her in complete disbelief, and Xander was pacing the room angrily. The shame she already felt for her actions seemed to increase drastically.

"I don't need to remind you what happened the last time you engaged in such activities with Angel," Giles spat out harshly.

"I know," Buffy whispered, averting her eyes once again. "B-but last time...we didn't know...about the curse. How could he have been perfectly h-happy when both of our hearts were being t-torn to shreds? H-How could either of use have found happiness knowing we would n-never see our soul mate again?" she questioned pleadingly.

"So you slept with him," Willow concluded in more of a statement than a question. Her mind was reeling from what she was hearing, and she didn't know how to feel about it all. Buffy had done something incredibly risky, but at the same time if she had been in that situation would she have done the same thing?

The group remained silent for a moment, but all eyes were still focused on Buffy, trying to let what she had done sink in. She knew they had every right to be angry and to yell at her. She *knew* she shouldn't have slept with Angel. If anyone *knew* what the repercussions of her actions could have been, it was her.

But she also *knew* that perfect happiness could not have been achieved that night.

Neither of them were able to find happiness in what they had done. It was an act of desperation and she'd spent the duration of their night together shedding silent tears, knowing it was likely the final time she would ever see her soulmate.

No, perfect happiness had definitely not been possible that night, but even so, she knew they would not understand that, and she couldn't blame them one bit. They didn't understand Angel or their relationship. She couldn't expect them to understand the intricacies of perfect happiness. She just hoped that in time they would forgive her for what she'd done.

"You disgust me!" Xander shouted at her, breaking the silence. "You put all of us, and the world, in danger just so you could screw your vampire lover!"

He stormed toward her, clearly not finished his with tirade. The others just watched, none of them making a move to stop him.

"Was it good? Huh? Did you *enjoy* yourself? I *really* hope you got your kicks out of it. Cuz if you didn't, you put me, and everyone else you supposedly care about in danger just so you could screw a dead body. Did you even think about the rest of us or were you just too desperate to get laid? If I'd known that, I would have taken you for a ride."

Tears flowed out of Buffy's eyes from one of her best friend's harsh words. She'd expected them to be angry, but she'd not expected this. Her eyes glanced to the others, almost as if they were pleading for help, but no one obliged.

Xander stepped right up in front of Buffy, staring her dead in the eyes. "I used to look up to you, admired you for everything you've done and sacrificed.but you're just a whore who can't keep her legs shut. You don't give a shit about the rest of us or the world as long as you can have your vampire lover!" he finished, his words biting and bitter.

After he'd finished yelling at her, Xander stared at her for a moment longer before turning and storming out the door, slamming it behind him.

Buffy flinched at the sound, salty tears steadily raining down her cheeks. She wanted to sink to the floor and sob. How could he say those things to her? She'd thought he was her friend.

Not bothering to wipe the tears from her face, Buffy looked to the remaining people in the room, hoping someone would refute Xander's claims. She found no solace, however. Willow refused to look at her and Oz was focused on Willow. Giles was staring at his hands, but when he finally looked up Buffy only saw disappointment and shame in his eyes.

"I-I'm sorry," she sobbed, wrapping her arms around herself.

"You're sorry?!?!" Giles all but screamed at her. He stood up and walked to within a foot of Buffy. When he spoke, his words were harsh and cold. "I thought you had better sense than to do this. You put yourself before others and put us all in incredible danger. Did you even take a moment to think before you acted?"

Buffy's shoulders sagged further under the stern words of the man she considered more of a father than her real one. She could accept Xander's tauntings to a certain degree but to have Giles say these things.it was taking all of her remaining internal strength not to crumble to the floor and curl up in a ball.

"To say I'm extremely disappointed and ashamed of your actions is an understatement," continued Giles, his voice carrying not an ounce of understanding or forgiveness. "You have ridiculed your Calling and my position as your Watcher. The Buffy I know would have never put the world in mortal danger like that. I do not think I know who you are anymore."

Once he'd stopped speaking, Giles turned and walked up the stairs to his bedroom, not even casting a backward glance at the sobbing girl trembling in his living room. Buffy stared at his back as he just walked away from her. Her eyes closed in imposed shame. She had hoped they would have at least tried to understand her actions, but obviously she'd been wrong. Terribly wrong. And now everyone was walking out on her.

Buffy took a step toward Willow, hoping that at least her best friend would offer some comfort. She didn't think she'd be able to take it if Willow pushed her away too.

Sensing Buffy's movements, Willow looked up briefly and started to speak. "Buffy, I-I.," she trailed off, not knowing what to say and cast her eyes back down to her lap as Oz put an arm around her.

Taking her friend's halted words as rejection, Buffy whispered another 'I'm sorry' before turning and dashing out of the room, her sobs echoing off the walls. She stumbled into the courtyard and up the stairs, her vision blurred by a torrent of tears. Tripping on the top step, she tumbled painfully to the ground. A loud whimper escaped her lips as a rough edge on the concrete tore into the flesh of her arm and her forehead thudded against the frame of the staircase

She tried to push herself up, but her already weak body failed to support her and she crumbled back down on to the cement. Just then she noticed a shadow looming over her. When she looked up, squinting against the glare of the sun, she saw Xander stalking toward her.

"What's the matter? Can't handle the truth?" he sneered harshly at her. When he got no answer he went on. "Poor little Buffy, the pride and joy of the Council, knocked up by a vampire. I hope you have a nice life with your demon spawn." With that, he turned and walked away, leaving no doubt in Buffy's mind exactly what he thought of her.

Unable to hold herself together any longer, Buffy pulled her knees up to her chin and let her head drop onto them, not caring that blood from a gash on her forehead was seeping into her pants. She sobbed violently at the rejection of everyone who was important to her.

They all hated her, she knew they did. Somehow she'd thought they'd be angry but eventually forgive her. But she didn't see how that was possible now. They'd all but said that they never wanted to see her again.

In the span of a few minutes she'd lost everyone. Angel was already gone, and now the others were too. She was alone. Truly and utterly alone. That thought only served to increase her sobs. Her body shook under the force as she sat there rocking back and forth on the stairs as one word continued to echo through her mind.. alone.

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Part 4
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Nearly an hour later, Buffy slowly walked up the stairs to her house. It had taken all of her strength to pull herself together enough to get off the ground and walk home. Her tears had finally ceased and a numbing coldness had settled throughout her body. And along with that coldness was a burgeoning anger.

She was angry with them. With all of them. In a time when she needed them most, they'd berated her and shut her out. Yes, she'd made a mistake that could have proven deadly, but she was only human. She knew she shouldn't have begged Angel to make love to her, but at the time all she could feel was a dire need to be with him. Didn't they understand how badly she was hurting because of Angel leaving?

Obviously not. They all expected her to just push his memory aside and go on with her happy life, but that wasn't possible. How could it be when her soulmate had just up and left her life? They could have tried to understand. They could have comforted her and given her time to, in a sense, grieve for her loss. Instead they expected her to be a robot, to push her emotions aside.

Well fuck them! She wasn't perfect. And if they couldn't accept it then fuck them! But despite her building rage, she still felt a deep sting in her heart at the loss of the people she loved. They were her world, they'd been like a family for over two years, and now they'd no longer be there. Who would she turn to now?

Dejectedly she walked into her house and slumped back against the now closed door. As she was trying to push aside the painful memories of the confrontation with her friends she heard a noise from the kitchen. She suddenly realized her Mother was home, and more importantly that her Mother had no idea what was going on.

The thought hadn't even occurred to her to tell her Mom. They weren't exactly close. The fact that her Mom hated Angel didn't help either, but she was all that Buffy had left now. And she was really going to need her Mom to help her get through the pregnancy. After all, she was only eighteen. What did she know about having a baby?

"Buffy? Honey? Are you hungry? I was thinking that we cou-.Oh my God! What happened?" shrieked Joyce when she entered the hallway and took in Buffy's puffy red eyes, and the gashes on her forehead and arm.

"I-I'm fine," Buffy answered, her voice hoarse from crying.

"Sweetie, you don't look fine. Was there trouble with your slaying?" questioned Joyce worriedly.

"No, it wasn't anything with slaying," Buffy replied, her mind flashing back to what had happened in Giles' apartment.

"Here," Joyce took Buffy's arm. "Come sit down on the couch and I'll go get something to clean those cuts up with."

Buffy followed and sat down on the sofa, curling her feet underneath her. She stared down at the no longer bleeding cuts on her arm that her Mother was referring to, idly wondering when she had gotten them. She realized they must have come from when she fell on the stairs.

In her daze she didn't even notice her Mom scurry out of the room and then come back again with a first aid kit. She didn't even flinch when the disinfectant touched the broken skin. The numbness that had taken over her body seemed to have deadened the sensation.

Joyce cleaned and bandaged the cuts quickly. Her worry increased with each passing second from her daughter's reaction, or lack there of. Finally finished, she set the kit on the coffee table and turned to face Buffy.

"Honey? What's wrong? Please, talk to me," pleaded Joyce, smoothing the hair off of Buffy's face.

Looking at her Mom, Buffy spoke the first thing that came to mind. "I'm pregnant."

Joyce stared at her, mouth agape in shock. "Y-you're what?"

"Pregnant," repeated Buffy softly, no longer able to look at her Mom.

"I heard you the first time," Joyce snapped causing Buffy to flinch from the sharpness in her voice. "I'm sorry. It.It's just a shock."

"I know." Buffy whispered as she tried to stave off the trembles she could feel starting up again.

"How did this happen?" Joyce tried to demand gently but came off forcefully anyways.

Before explaining, Buffy wrapped her arms around herself, her hands rubbing up and down them to try and cease the coldness settling in her body. Finally, she looked up at her Mom and began telling her about what had happened with Angel.

Through the rather short explanation, Joyce remained silent, emitting only a few shocked gasps as well as throwing a couple accusatory glares at her daughter. Buffy had just finished recounting the night with Angel and was about to relay the events at Giles' and how her friends had abandoned her when her Mom interrupted.

"How could you be so irresponsible and careless?!?!" Joyce yelled at her daughter. To say she was angry was an understatement. She was furious. Not only had her daughter gotten pregnant at eighteen, but she'd gotten pregnant by that vile, useless creature.

"I'm sorry," Buffy stated for what seemed like the hundredth time that day.

"You better be sorry, young lady!" spoke Joyce hotly. "Did you even think about the consequences of your actions?"

Buffy hung her head in shame. She knew her Mom, as well as everyone else, was right. She'd been irresponsible, but she couldn't help but wish that they'd comfort her and tell her that everything was going to be all right.

"I-I.," began Buffy, but was cut off by her Mom.

"Well, you obviously didn't. I'm so disappointed in you," said Joyce with a demeaning shake of her head. Jumping up off the couch, her Mother began pacing the room. "Didn't I teach you anything? I mean, I read all the parenting books. I told you about safe sex."

Still pacing, Joyce continued her ramble. "And Angel? Don't even get me started on him. He should have left when I told him too."

"What?" Buffy's head snapped up at her Mother's last statement. "What did you do?"

"I told him to leave. He was no good for you," she told Buffy proudly.

"I can't believe...no actually I can...how could you do that to me?" Buffy cried out in disgust.

"Well, you obviously weren't thinking logically about the situation and neither was he, so somebody had to." Joyce explained, not feeling the least bit of regret.

"And that somebody was you, right?" Buffy replied sarcastically, growing more furious by the minute.

"Yes, and obviously he didn't listen to me or you wouldn't be in this situation," she shook her head in disappointment. "But don't worry, we'll get this taken care of."

Buffy's eyes widened at her Mother's words. "W-what do you mean 'taken care of'?"

"There's a clinic in the next town over. One of the women who works at the gallery told me about it." Joyce explained, already making plans about how to make things right again.

"Clinic? What are you talking about?" Buffy asked, although she knew somewhere inside what her Mother was suggesting.

"I will call them tomorrow and set up a consultation appointment," continued Joyce, ignoring Buffy's previous question.

"You want me to get an abortion?" Buffy shrieked as she jumped up off the sofa, her arms moving to wrap protectively around her still flat abdomen.

"Why, yes, of course. You certainly cannot have this baby," Joyce stated matter-of-factly. "Now, I'll make the appointment. I'll have to borrow money from the gallery to pay for it. And we certainly can't tell your fath-"

"NO!" Buffy interrupted her Mother's rambling loudly.

"No what?" Joyce questioned, confused at her daughter's statement.

"No, I'm not getting an abortion," Buffy answered forcefully. There was no way in Hell she was going to abort her baby.

"You can't be serious," her Mother argued, moving to stand directly in front of her daughter.

"I'm dead serious. I'm keeping this baby," Buffy repeated, looking her Mother straight in the eyes.

"Oh, no you're not, young lady. You will do as I tell you to!" demanded Joyce, wondering how her daughter could even contemplate having a baby at such a young age and a baby fathered by a low-life demon, no less.

"I'm eighteen years old, Mom! You can't tell me what to do!" Buffy yelled back.

"If you plan on keeping this baby then you can find yourself somewhere else to live." stated Joyce, not feeling an ounce of shame at the ultimatum. She had to get Buffy to cave in to her demands.

"What?" said Buffy, almost whispering. This couldn't be happening. Her Mother couldn't be doing this to her.

"If you want to ruin your life by having this baby, a *vampire's* baby, you can do it somewhere else and without my help." Joyce stated, leaving no room for argument.

Buffy stared at her in wide-eyed shock. At a time when she needed her Mom the most she was being turned away and kicked out. Not only had she lost her friends, now she'd lost her Mother, too. There was no way, though, she was going to give up her baby.

"Well?" asked Joyce, fully believing her daughter would yield to her ultimatum.

"I'm not going to get an abortion," Buffy answered softly, her arms tightening around her belly.

Joyce stared at her for a minute, honestly surprised that Buffy would go against her, before speaking again. "Fine. I expect you to be out of this house before I get back," she ordered and then stormed out of the room and out of the house.

^-^-^-^-^-^-^-^-^-^
Part 5
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For what seemed like hours, Buffy stood there and stared at the spot her Mother had vacated. Her mind was reeling from the fact that just about everyone she loved had walked out on her, most of them angrily voicing their displeasure with her beforehand. Losing her friends was bad enough, but now her Mother too.

Sure they'd never really been that close, but she was her Mom. She was supposed to be there for her always. Wasn't that a mother's job? Weren't they supposed to support their child no matter what? Maybe those stupid books she read forgot to mention that fact. None of that mattered, though. The only thing Buffy knew was that they had all abandoned her.

Somehow, after pulling herself out of her daze, Buffy had managed to make her way upstairs. She now found herself standing in the doorway to her room. But, in reality, it wasn't her room. Not anymore. This wasn't even her house any longer. Her Mother had made that perfectly clear.

So now not only was she alone, tossed aside by everyone that mattered, but she was also homeless, and pregnant. Her eyes moistened again with tears at those realizations. She had nowhere to go. No one to turn to.

A few long months ago, she would have run to Angel for comfort. Even he was gone now. She couldn't go to him and have him hold her in his strong arms, soothing her with whispered words. Never again would she be able to turn to him when the world was closing in on her.

Wiping at her tears, she tried to push thoughts of Angel out of her mind, though she knew that was impossible. Stepping into her room she walked toward her bed, each movement of her body lacking its usual grace and fluidity. Slowly, she sat down, her shoulders slumping under the weight of her current stresses. She gazed around as if trying to memorize each and every detail of the place she'd spent the last two and a half years of her life.

Her fingers shakily ran over the soft white comforter that covered her bed before moving up to rest over her abdomen. She stared down at her still flat stomach as her fingers gently caressed back and forth across the shirt covered skin. How could her Mother have even suggested she get an abortion? Didn't she understand that it was the only piece of her Angel that she had left? It was their baby, hers and Angel's. Nothing in this world could make her give up their baby. Nothing!

Tiredly, she lowered her body down onto the bed until her back was flat against the mattress, her legs hanging over the end. She lifted up her shirt enough to expose the taut skin of her belly and ran her fingers across the smooth expanse. It amazed her that there was a living being growing inside of her. One that she had created with Angel. The slightest hint of a smile graced her face as she thought about that.

No matter what, she would always have a piece of her Angel now. She would always have the life they created together. She wondered whether it would be a boy or a girl, but really, it didn't matter to her. Right now, that was an inconsequential detail.

Her fingers continued to stroke her abdomen as she pondered what she would look like a few months from now. She knew she should hate the fact that she would look like a beached whale, but instead she was filled with eagerness. Her soon-to-be swollen stomach would be a visible reminder of what she had growing inside of her. A small, tiny, helpless little baby that was the product of her and Angel's love.

At that moment, a sort a peace flowed through Buffy. It didn't ease the pain of all that had happened and been done to her, but it was enough to inject a renewed resiliency within her. They could all abandon her, curse her, banish her. They could leave her alone to fend for herself, but, as she just realized, she would never truly be alone again. She would have her precious little baby to take care of. And she vowed to herself that from this moment forward that she would do anything necessary to provide the best life possible for her son or daughter.

Yes, she would do anything to give her baby a happy life. Thoughts of her baby's future began racing through her mind. Her own happiness didn't matter, only that of her baby's. She would do anything to protect her child. With that in mind, it suddenly became clear to her what she needed to do.

She had to leave Sunnydale. There was no way in *Hell* she was going to raise her baby in this town. Not in a place where the people she considered family turned her away. She didn't want to have to take the chance that she would run into them and have to deal with their angry glares and whispers and who knows how they would treat her baby. She couldn't allow that to happen. She couldn't let them treat her and her baby like lepers.

Placing a kiss on her fingertips, she lowered them and placed them lovingly over the growing life inside her. 'I love you, my sweet little baby' she spoke softly before picking up her tired and aching body from the bed.

With a steadfast determination she retrieved several large duffel bags and began filling them with necessities such as clothes and toiletries. She stuffed as much as possible into two of the bags, amazed at how much they could hold. The third bag she filled with keepsakes she couldn't bare to part with: Mr. Gordo, a few photo albums, the book of poetry Angel had given her on her eighteenth birthday, and other such stuff. She also reluctantly put in items that reminded her of her friends and family. She just couldn't completely leave them behind.

When the three bags were finally full she searched around her room trying to make sure she hadn't forgotten anything of utmost importance. Her hand checked her neck to make sure she was wearing the silver cross from Angel and found it resting there. Seeing nothing she had missed, Buffy walked over to her jewelry box and picked it up.

Carefully she removed the items within to reveal a secret compartment beneath. Pulling it open she pulled out a wad of cash. It was the money she had received from various family members, and one father who thought money could buy her love, for her graduation from high school. She peered at the money gratefully. Almost two thousand dollars. That would definitely be enough to help her get buy until she figured out what she was going to do.

She said a silent thanks to her generous family members as she stuffed the money into her pocket. With one last look around her room she shouldered two of the duffel bags and picked up the third in her left hand. A few tears trailed down her cheeks as she walked out of her room for the final time. She had no regrets, however. How could she regret that she'd created a tiny life inside of her with her soulmate? No, there were no regrets.

Closing the front door behind her, Buffy stopped moving. It suddenly occurred to her that she had no idea where she was supposed to go. She had no desire to remain in Sunnydale for even a night longer, but it was growing late and she didn't want to travel at night. So as she picked up her bags again she decided that she would stay the night at a motel before leaving Sunnydale behind.

With her head held high, Buffy walked away from her home and the life that she use to live. She couldn't say she wouldn't miss everything because she would. She would miss her friends, her family, and the security of her home. It would be hard but she would find a way to start all over again. She had to. Not just for herself, but for her baby as well.

^-^-^-^-^-^-^-^-^-^
Part 6
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Buffy groaned as she tripped yet again, almost having a face-first meeting with the sidewalk. She internally cursed herself for thinking she could walk all the way across town carrying three huge duffle bags. Normally her Slayer strength would make the task a lot easier, but her physical weakness from lack of sleep and not eating properly was getting the best of her plus the added stresses of her pregnancy and the fall out with her friends and family.

Of course she'd made things worse, too, by opting to go to the motel on the farthest edge of town. It was the best way to avoid running into anyone she didn't want to see. Not that she expected them to be looking for her anyway, but she figured it was best to not take chances.

Feeling a little dizzy, Buffy found a tree to rest against. She let the bags on her shoulders fall to the ground as she leaned against the tree, panting slightly. For what seemed like the hundredth time that day she felt tears forming in her eyes. Taking a few deep breaths, the moisture slowly receded which Buffy was grateful for. She didn't want to be seen standing along the sidewalk sobbing.

After a few minutes had passed, Buffy bent over to pick up her bags. Her vision swirled slightly causing her to reach out and grasp the trunk of the tree. When the dizziness passed she shouldered the heavy bags once again and continued toward the motel.

^-^-^-^-^-^-^-^-^-^

Cordelia Chase angrily jiggled the key to her motel room, muttering under her breath about how the stupid key always got stuck. She wanted to get inside as quickly as possible before anyone saw her at such a low class place. But of course her room key had other ideas. She stomped a foot in fury, thinking about how this wouldn't have happened at the four-star hotels and resorts she was used to.

With a tug, she pulled the key out of the lock and then pushed it back in. Again trying to turn the key, she found it still wouldn't unlock. Flopping back against the uncooperative door, a slight movement in the corner of her eye caught her attention.

Turning, the brunette cheerleader stared across the darkening parking lot. She could barely make out the figure of a person walking in her direction. Taking a few steps toward the person, Cordelia found herself staring at an all too familiar female struggling to make her way across the parking lot. She gaped in shock at the site, wondering what the Hell Buffy was doing at a motel with what looked like bags hanging off her shoulders.

Nearly grunting from the physical exertion, Buffy shuffled off the sidewalk and toward the office of the motel. Her whole body ached from exhaustion. Everything seemed to be catching up with her at once: the lack of sleep, hardly eating, and the emotional strain of the day's events. All of it was taking a heavy toll on her mind and body. Trying to refocus herself, she pushed forward, knowing she had only a little more to go before she could rest.

Only a few more feet, she had told herself when suddenly her foot tripped over a large crack in the pavement. Frantically, she tried to rebalance her body, but under the weight of the bags she was carrying and her worn out body she was unsuccessful and soon went crashing to the ground. Her already throbbing head slammed into the ground for the second time that day.

"Oh my God! Buffy!" Cordelia shrieked as she watched the Slayer fall in a heap to the ground.

Rushing over to her sometimes-friend, Cordelia abruptly stopped when she saw the state of the blonde haired girl. She'd seen Buffy beaten up after a battle before, but what she saw now caused even her to cringe. An angry, three-inch gash was oozing blood on her forehead, but it was Buffy's eyes that caught Cordelia's attention the most. They were red, puffy and had a sunken look to them as well as having large, dark circles beneath.

Cordelia found herself only able to stare for a moment, completely shocked by the Slayer's obvious state of distress. She'd never seen Buffy look so bad. Finally, she snapped out her daze when she saw Buffy weakly attempting to pick herself up off the ground.

"Buffy?" she spoke hesitantly.

Buffy shook her head slightly, trying to pull herself together, but everything was spinning in her head. She faintly heard someone call her name and lifted her eyes to look toward the voice. The movement was too much for her over-stressed system and she fell back down to the ground, slipping into unconsciousness.

"Buffy!" Cordelia yelped when she saw Buffy fall again and make no effort to get back up.

Rushing over to the fallen girl, she realized the Buffy was no longer conscious. Her brow scrunched as she tried to figure out what to do. Should she call an ambulance? Her memory flashed back to a year earlier when Buffy had had the flu and been admitted to the hospital and had fought it every second. No, the hospital was probably not such a good idea.

She looked toward the still closed door to her room which was only about ten feet away. Her lips formed a frown as she considered the idea of carrying the Slayer the few feet. She looked back and forth between the unconscious girl and her door before sighing and bending over to pull one of Buffy's arms over her shoulder.

"Good thing you're so small," she grumbled as she struggled to pull Buffy up off the ground.

As she was attempting to lift Buffy's body, someone off to her right suddenly spoke up. "Do you need some help, miss?"

Cordelia looked over to see a man who appeared to be in his mid-twenties walking toward her. She studied him quickly, trying to decide if it was wise to accept his help. His clothing left something to be desired, but he didn't look like an axe murderer and since it was still somewhat light out he couldn't be a vamp so she opted to accept his offer. She hadn't really wanted to carry Buffy anyway.

"Umm, yeah. Could you help me get her to my room? It's right over there," she pointed to her door.

"She doesn't look okay. Maybe we should call an ambulance," he suggested helpfully.

"No! Uh, I mean, no, that's okay. She's just, uh, been sick and fainted. She'd hate it if we called an ambulance," Cordelia lied, although she was internally wondering if the man was right. Who was he anyway? His accent made it obvious that he wasn't from around here.

"Okay, if you say so. Why don't you go open your door and I'll bring her over." The man easily lifted Buffy up into his arms and followed Cordy to her room.

Thankfully, the door opened easily this time and they entered into the room. "Umm, just put her on the bed."

"Okay," he gently laid the unconscious girl down.

"Thank you so much," Cordy smiled slightly.

"No problem. Let's go out and get her bags before someone steals them," he recommended already walking out the door.

Following him out, Cordelia went to lift one of the bags only to find the action impossible. "Geez, what the hell does she have in these things," she muttered to no one in particular.

The man chuckled at the statement. "Yeah, they are pretty heavy."

Together, Cordelia and the good Samaritan managed to get all three bags into the room with only a little bit of struggled. The man glanced towards Buffy, frowning at the way the tiny girl looked.

"Are you sure she'll be all right?" he asked in concern.

"Yeah, she'll be okay," Cordelia shrugged, hoping she was right. "Thank you for helping me out."

"You're welcome," he nodded his head, staring at her for a moment before quietly exiting the room.

Closing the door behind him, Cordelia walked over to one of the grimy chairs and flopped down on it. She stared worriedly at Buffy's still figure on the bed. Millions of questions were running through her mind. First and foremost being what the Hell was going on? Buffy looked like shit. And why did she have so many bags and look like she was going to get a room at the motel?

And why did she care anyway? Her and Buffy had never really been friends. For some reason, though, she found herself feeling concerned for the unconscious girl on her bed. Buffy had always been so strong and vibrant. It had sometimes made her jealous of the girl. To see her now looking like, well, crap it was more than a little shocking. Whatever was going on must be really bad to have affected Buffy the way it did.

Realizing she wasn't going to get any answers at the moment, Cordelia slumped back in her chair and tried to figure out something to do. Propping her feet up on another chair she picked up the latest issue of Vogue magazine. Her eyes peaked over toward Buffy once more before she settled into reading the magazine.

^-^-^-^-^-^-^-^-^-^
Part 7
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Slowly, Buffy drifted back to consciousness. She felt like she'd been run over by an eighteen-wheeler. Her eyes remained closed as she tried to remember why she felt so utterly horrible. Hadn't she been walking to the motel? What had happened?

Searching her memory she remembered feeling exhausted.and then.she tripped. Hadn't she? Was she still lying on the pavement? No, she realized suddenly. She was lying on something soft. That little detail worried her. If she wasn't still on the pavement where the Hell was she? Growing worried, she swiftly shot up in the bed.

"Jesus Christ! Give me a fucking heart attack!" Buffy heard someone yelp to her right. When she looked in that direction she found herself in complete shock.

"Cordelia?" she yelped in surprise.

"The one and only," Cordelia answered, her hand clutching over her still pounding heart from Buffy's sudden movement.

"W-what's going on?" Buffy asked nervously as her eyes flittered around the room. What was she doing in what looked to be a motel room, with Cordelia, of all people?

"You decided it would be fun to pass out in the middle of a parking lot and I had to drag your ass in here," stated Cordelia exasperation, hiding the small detail that she'd had help carrying Buffy.

Buffy looked at her strangely. That was not the answer she'd been expecting. Since when did Cordelia Chase give a damn about her? They'd pretty much always hated each other. But she was immensely grateful that the obnoxious brunette had not just left her lying there.

"Umm, thanks," she spoke softly as her hand moved to rub her throbbing head. "How long was I out?"

"About two hours. Here," offered Cordelia, holding a hand out that contained two aspirin and in the other a glass of water.

"Thanks," Buffy mumbled as she took the pills and swallowed them down with the water.

"I was going to call an ambulance, but I didn't think you'd have liked that very much," she relayed, eyeing the blonde who looked like she might fall apart at any second.

Buffy shivered at the suggestion. The hospital was definitely somewhere she didn't want to go. "I'm glad you didn't."

"You look like Hell," Cordy stated in typical bluntness.

"Thanks, I hadn't noticed," Buffy snorted indignantly. Trust Cordy to point out the obvious.

Cordelia sighed and took a seat on the bed next to Buffy. "No, I'm serious. What's going on?" she questioned, her voice holding an unusual gentleness to it.

Buffy looked up at her, surprised at her concern. She considered the question, her mind flashing back to the horrible events of that day. Tears unwillingly welled in her eyes causing her to look away from Cordelia. The last thing that she wanted to think about was the rejection of her Mother and her friends. The memories were still too vivid in her mind.

The brunette frowned at the action. Something was seriously wrong, she was sure of that. The look in Buffy's eyes had made her shudder. She knew that look all too well. The look of feeling totally and utterly alone and lost. She saw it every time she looked at herself in the mirror these days.

Sensing that Buffy wasn't quite ready to spill her story, Cordelia changed the subject. "Why don't you go take a shower? You look like you could use one and it might make you feel better."

"Yeah, a shower sounds nice," Buffy answered absentmindedly, happy to avoid the subject of her current situation for the moment.

"I'll order a pizza while you do that. You look like you could use some food," Cordelia nodded at Buffy's gaunt body.

Buffy cringed at the thought of eating, but a little voice in the back of her head reminded her that she needed to eat, that her baby was depending on her. "Ok, thanks."

She got up and rustled through her bags, looking for her shower items. Once she retrieved them, she mumbled a 'be right back' to Cordelia before making her way to the bathroom.

Once inside, she slumped against the sink and looked at herself in the mirror. Cordy was right, she did look like shit. Turning on the shower, she climbed underneath the hot water. She wished the pounding spray would wash away her recent horrors, but she knew it wouldn't. Nothing would ever make her forget what had happened.

^-^-^-^-^-^-^-^-^-^

An hour later, Buffy sat on the bed wrapped up in her terrycloth robe, her hair still wet. A half empty pizza box sat between her and Cordelia. As they'd eaten, she'd just told the brunette everything that had transpired that had caused her to be trekking across town with all of her belongings in duffel bags. It was strange, but somehow she felt better talking to someone who wasn't so close to the situation. And Cordelia, for her part, seemed to be truly shocked about the others actions.

"I'm sorry," Cordy blurted out after a minute of silence.

Whatever she'd expected Buffy to tell her, this was definitely not it. She could understand the other's anger, but at the same time, she couldn't help but feel sorry for Buffy. She knew all too well what it was like to be abandoned and to lose everything. Yes, that was definitely something she was familiar with.

"Thanks," Buffy replied, staring down at her hands.

"I just.wow. I can't believe they'd all do that. I can understand being angry but to do.that.it's just.," she trailed off, having no idea what to say. She wasn't used to feeling so concerned for someone else.

"I know," Buffy whispered softly as she willed herself not to start crying again. Not wanting to talk about herself anymore, she quickly changed the subject. "So, umm, what are you doing.well.here?"

Cordelia's eyes flashed with emotion for a second, the look not lost on Buffy, before she answered. "I've been here since graduation."

"What? Why?" Buffy asked in surprise. Why on earth was Queen C, the rich bitch of Sunnydale High, living in a ratty motel?

"I, umm, well it turns out that Daddy had this little problem with his taxes, as in he didn't pay them.ever," she answered, no longer able to make eye contact with Buffy. She knew what people thought of her now, and she hated it.

"So.," Buffy started, trying to figure out what that meant.

"The government took everything. The money, the house.everything. And wouldn't ya know, Daddy decided he'd rather run than go to jail. Unfortunately, he thought it would be too much of a hassle to take his daughter with him," Cordelia tried to joke, but the hurt was evident in her voice.

Buffy stared at her in shock. At one point she might have found Cordy's situation funny considering how much they tended to hate each other, but after what she had been through that day.well, it wasn't the least bit funny. She knew just what it felt like to suddenly have nothing.

"I'm sorry, Cordy. That must have been awful for you," Buffy said genuinely. She just couldn't help but feel sorry for Cordelia despite how horrible she'd always been to her.

"Yeah, well.," Cordy said, trying to brush off the concern. She hated feeling, and seeming, weak.

For a few minutes, both girls just sat there having no idea what to say to the other. The situations they were in were entirely strange to both. Almost since day one when Buffy had arrived in Sunnydale, they'd hated each other. Now, suddenly, they were finding that they were in almost exactly the same boat...with no oars...and water rapidly leaking in.

"So, uh, what are you going to do now?" asked Buffy, breaking the uncomfortable silence.

"I plan on getting out of this Hell-hole town, probably in a day or two. I can't stand being here any longer. Harmony and everyone won't even talk to me because I'm not rich anymore, and my family could care less about me. So I figure, why stay?" Cordy explained with a shrug.

"Makes sense," Buffy agreed, understanding the need to leave all to well.

"What about you?" the brunette asked.

"Same. No one wants me around. They made that perfectly clear. And I don't want to raise my baby anywhere near them." told Buffy, her hand unconsciously moving to her abdomen.

"Yeah, I think that's probably smart. I mean it sounds like Xander's totally lost it." conceded Cordy as she internally wondered what she'd ever seen in that moron.

Buffy only shrugged in response, not really wanting to talk about Xander. "Thought about where you are going to go?" she questioned curiously.

"I was originally thinking LA, but I decided that's still too close to Sunnydale," Cordelia answered.

"Yeah, I don't think I even want to be in the state of California," agreed Buffy, taking a sip of her Sprite that had been sitting on the table.

"Where did you want to go?" Cordy asked, wondering why exactly she cared.

"Dunno. Hadn't really thought about it. I was thinking about places on my way to the motel. I always wanted to go to Seattle," she stated, the idea gaining credence in her head.

"Hmm, Seattle. Crappy weather, but doesn't sound like a bad place," pondered Cordy, thinking about the possibilities.

"Huh?" Buffy mumbled, confused at the statement.

"Well, I mean, we both want to get out of here. We could, ya know, leave together, or something," she replied, surprising herself at the offer. Maybe all this time she'd spent by herself for the last two months was getting to her.

Buffy stared at her, mouth hanging open. Her first instinct was to say 'Hell no', but then as she thought about it, it didn't sounds quite so horrible. Maybe it wasn't such a bad idea. After all, she was pregnant and she was the Slayer. It would probably be smart to not travel alone. And really, Buffy didn't know if she wanted to be completely alone, even if it meant she had to be with Cordelia.

Buffy thought about the offer for another minute before answering. "So I guess we're going to Seattle."

^-^-^-^-^-^-^-^-^-^
Part 8
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~two days later~

For nearly an hour Buffy had wandered around Sunnydale, seeing everything one last time: the charred remains of the high school, The Bronze, Giles' apartment, and of course, her house. She hadn't even realized she was walking there until she found herself standing there on the sidewalk staring at what used to be her home.

Part of her wanted to go inside, but she knew it was useless. It wouldn't change anything. Her Mother had made her feelings perfectly clear, as had everyone else. She hadn't seen any of them since their falling out. And, really, that was fine with her. She had no desire to listen to their cruel words anymore.

The only person she'd been around the last two days had been Cordelia. The concept was still mind-boggling. Of all the people she could have considered as someone who would stick by her, Cordelia would never have been one of them. But life tended to have a strange way of working things out from time to time. The fact that she would soon be heading to Seattle with Cordy was proof of that.

Strangely enough, Buffy found that Cordelia wasn't quite as bad as she had thought she was. Well, at least the new, marginally humble Cordelia. In the last two days she'd learned more about the former cheerleader than she'd found out during the previous two and a half years. Cordy was still her typical tactless, blunt self, but there was also something different about her. It showed in her eyes, and she was a bit more considerate of others than before.

That, of course, was most likely due to what she, herself, had been through. Buffy could only imagine what it was like to one day have everything: cars, a huge house, designer clothes.and anything else she could have possibly ever wanted...and then the next day, have it all vanish along with your family. Actually, Buffy didn't really have to imagine it. In fact, she knew only too well what that felt like.

Only three days ago, she'd had her friends, Giles, her Mother, a home, a life...even if it had been an unhappy one. And today, she had none of it. It had certainly made her see the world differently, and she'd only been dealing with it for two days. Cordy had been on her own for over two months. So, really, it wasn't all that strange to accept the change in Cordy's demeanor.

But it was still weird to think about how she was leaving behind her whole world and going somewhere else with Cordelia. She was happy, though, that she wouldn't be completely alone, at least for the trip to Seattle. Who knew what would happen once they got there.

With a last look at her house, Buffy turned and walked away, for the final time. She needed to get back to the motel soon since Cordy was waiting for her. First, though she had two more stops to make before leaving Sunnydale behind her.

^-^-^-^-^-^-^-^-^-^

The moment she stepped inside the large, open room, Buffy wondered if it had been a mistake to come here. Memories, good and bad, fought for dominance in her mind and she found herself only able to stand there, shivering slightly. So much had happened in this room, so many bittersweet and agonizing moments that would forever linger deep within her soul.

A few unbidden tears trickled out from beneath her now closed eyes as she vividly recalled her final battle with Angelus. There had been a moment, one single frantic moment, during that fight that she'd almost welcomed death, wanted to be free of the endless tormenting pain. She'd stared eye to eye with him, his sword pointed directly at her, and realized that she couldn't let him win, couldn't fail Angel by giving up. Looking back, maybe she should have let him kill her. Anything would have been better than gutting her Angel, condemning him to eternal damnation.

Then, of course, Angel had come back, returned to the mortal coil in this very room. The blackened outline of his body had long since faded, but it was still present in her mind. And she'd certainly never forget the truly animalistic way he'd been after returning.

Those few things were only scratching the surface of all that had happened in not only this room, but the mansion as a whole. It was here that Angel had taught her Tai Chi, here that she had tried to break up with him, here that they had taken post-Slayage naps, here where she had offered herself to save his life, and it was up on the hill nearby where she persuaded Angel not to give up on living.

So many memories were tied to the old mansion, and all of them centered around the one man whom she was sure would ever hold her heart. Now he was gone. Where he'd gone, she had no idea. He hadn't exactly given her a travel itinerary. Instead, he'd just vanished without a trace, leaving her to forever wonder where he'd gone.

As she walked over to the large fireplace, Buffy mused if things would be different if she knew where he was. Would she contact him and tell him about her pregnancy? Yes, she probably would. Her first instinct after reading the positive symbol on the home pregnancy test had been to run to Angel. Of course, she couldn't do that. She had no idea where he was. So she'd had to resign herself to the fact that Angel would not know she was carrying his child. Maybe...someday...she'd be able to tell him.

Feeling her tears beginning to fall again, Buffy turned and quickly fled the mansion without a backward glance. The memories were just too strong to stay any longer.

^-^-^-^-^-^-^-^-^-^

Her steps faltered as she neared the door to her next destination. She didn't know if she really wanted to go through the door she was now standing in front of. The last time she'd been here had been the day after her seventeenth birthday. Instead of finding her Angel, she'd come face to face with Angelus, the demon who wore her lover's face.

Since that day, Buffy had not dared to return to the apartment. Honestly, she wasn't sure if she was ready to enter it now, but she felt as if she needed to see it one last time. Maybe it was because of some masochistic streak she had or maybe she just needed to put some closure on this part of her life.

Finally gathering up her nerve, she slowly opened the unlocked door. The room was almost pitch black even though it was early morning so Buffy flipped the switch near the door to turn on the overhead lights. Her heart constricted slightly at seeing the apartment almost exactly as it had looked years before.

The rooms were barer than they had been, and there was a heavy layer of dust covering all of the surfaces, but it still looked the same. Angel hadn't had much in the apartment, but the few pictures and personal effects that had been there were gone.

Buffy strolled further into the living room, her hand running over the back of a dusty chair. Her memory reminded her of the time Angel had sat in that same exact chair where she had bandaged his hand after Spike had used him to try and cure Druscilla. Then there had been the morning she'd come to Angel after her dream of Dru killing him.

Her most vivid memories of this place, though, were of the night of her birthday. That night had been so wonderful and so tragic at the same time. She couldn't help but feel guilt over what happened. If she hadn't of pushed Angel to make love to her, he wouldn't have lost his soul, but she couldn't change what had happened. It probably would have occurred sooner of later, anyway.

Unconsciously, her eyes drifted over to the corner of the room that the bed was tucked away in. The sheets still lay rumpled as they had the morning she'd awoken alone. Her gaze suddenly caught site of something resting on top of one of the pillows. She stumbled frantically toward the bed, dropping her purse without a second thought.

Upon reaching her destination, she stared wide-eyed at the object in question. There, nestled comfortably on top of one of the pillows was an antique white envelope with the name 'Buffy' scrawled across the front in flowing script. She inhaled a shuddering breath as her hand hesitantly reached for the paper.

With trembling hands, Buffy raised the envelope to her face, inhaling deeply in silent hopes that there would be some trace of Angel among the paper. But there was only the stale stench of dust. Tears blurred her vision as she shakily turned the envelope in her hand and pulled the out the sheet of paper from within.

Her heart thudded loudly inside her chest the moment the words came into view. She wiped at her tears, clearing her eyes, and took a deep breath before daring to read Angel's final words to her.

My Dearest Buffy,

I knew that sooner or later you would come here. I couldn't leave Sunnydale without one last look at this place; the source of my greatest happiness and my most torturous anguish.

No words can describe my sorrow at having broken your heart. Maybe you don't believe me, but it is the truth. I wish I could have stayed, but it would have led to repercussions that neither of us want to deal with. Please forgive me for all of the pain I have caused you. I only want the best possible life for you.

Even though I may be gone, never forget that I love you, and will always love you. You will forever be in my heart no matter how far apart I am from you.

Don't be afraid to open your heart again. Love is the greatest source of happiness. Find love again and be happy. You deserve everything that life can offer you.

Inside the envelope you will find something I want you to have. I found it at the mansion after I came back. I wanted so many times to return it to you, but the timing was never right. I couldn't leave without assuring that it would again belong to you.

Love eternally,

Angel

Through bleary eyes, Buffy slowly looked down at the envelope in her left hand. She knew in her heart what was inside. Her fingers slowly inched there way into the paper housing, both fearing and grateful for what Angel had left her. Sobs began to shake her body as she grasped the tiny object and pulled it into view. There, gleaming brightly even in the dull light of the apartment, was the Claddagh ring Angel had given her the night of her seventeenth birthday.

Tears flowed in heavy drops as she stared at the symbol of their love. Unable to stand any longer, she collapsed onto the bed, the tiny ring clutched in her hand against her heart. Releasing all of her pent up emotions, Buffy wept for love lost, and for her child who would never get to know his father.

^-^-^-^-^-^-^-^-^-^

Buffy sniffled slightly as she stuffed the first of her bags onto the back seat of Cordelia's car. Her detour through Sunnydale had taken much longer than expected, but if she hadn't of done it she would have never gotten Angel's letter. And she wouldn't have her Claddagh ring safely tucked away on the chain around her neck. The gift was a mixed blessing. It was a tangible memory to her relationship with Angel, but it was also a reminder that he had left her. Still, she was glad to have it back, and glad to have read Angel's final words to her.

Shoving the last of her bags into the car she groaned at the physical exertion. Thankfully, she was feeling much better than two days earlier, but still was not back to her old self. At least she had gotten a decent amount of sleep and eaten some food recently.

Even though she'd not quite been hungry, she'd forced herself to eat. Knowing that she was pregnant had made her realize that she needed to take better care of herself. There was no way she was going to hurt her baby by continuing to do what she had been doing which was hardly ever sleeping or eating.

"Is everything in the car?" Buffy questioned to Cordelia who was checking over the things she put in the trunk.

"Yup, there's nothing left in the room. I just checked." Cordy answered while checking her hair in her compact mirror. She turned to Buffy before speaking again. "Are you sure you want to do this?"

"Yeah, I can't say it's exactly what I wanted to do, or had planned on. But, yeah, I'm sure," replied Buffy, having no doubts about her decision to leave Sunnydale behind her.

"Ok, I just wanted to make sure," the brunette stated. She still wasn't sure why she was so concerned about Buffy, but for now she wouldn't question it. She was just happy to be getting out of Sunnydale after everything that had happened.

"I think we're ready. We've got the snacks, something to drink, and the maps. Anything else?" queried Buffy as she tried to think of anything they could be forgetting.

"Nope, I just need to turn in the key to the room and then we're ready to go," said Cordy before she went toward the office to hand in the key.

Five minutes later, the car with the two sort-of friends, both feeling as if they'd been exiled from their homes, headed out of Sunnydale. They were a mismatched pair, pulled together by the common feeling of being alone. But maybe together they'd be able to start new lives. Only time would tell.

As they passed the 'Now Leaving Sunnydale' sign, Buffy's hand moved to touch the glass of the window facing the sign. She said a silent goodbye to all that she'd once had. She would miss her former life, but she needed to do what was best for her baby. Maybe she was making the wrong decision, and maybe not. But she was determined to do whatever possible to give her unborn child a good life.

A few miles outside of Sunnydale, Cordelia turned to Buffy with a perplexed look on her face. In all the time that they'd spent together in the past couple of days, the thought had just now occurred to her, "I thought vampires couldn't have kids."

"So did I," Buffy mumbled in response, repeating it again in a mere whisper. "So did I."

^-^-^-^-^-^-^-^-^-^


THE END!

Next: 'A Moment For Goodbye' - #2 in the 'Shadows in Time' series:
We catch up with Angel...find out what he's doing, and what he's thinking about.