A Moment For Goodbye - #2 in the 'Shadows in Time' series

by Isis FG

Feedback: vagabond_angel@comcast.net

Disclaimer: must this be stated every time? But to answer the question, not I don't own them.I'm borrowing them because certain writers are cruel and heartless.

Rating: R-ish
Pairing: B/A, as always
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: Angel tries to move on with his life, but his thoughts keep drifting back to Buffy.
Spoilers: The first fic in this series 'A Far Cry From Yesterday', and anything through the end of s3 of BTVS, but mostly the end of s3.

Distribution: my site (Vagabond Soul), and if you already have any of my fics, you may take this one, if not, please ask first.

Author's Notes: This is sort of a companion piece to 'A Far Cry From Yesterday' and catches up with what has been going on with Angel. Initially, this was going to just be a short songfic, but then I got the idea for the series and it got turned into the second fic in the series.

AN2: The song is "Good Night Sweet Girl" by Ghost of the Robot...for those of you who don't know, that is James Marsters' band.and uh, yeah I'm aware of the serious irony caused by using a song of theirs in a B/A fic. The lyrics may not be perfect, I got them off the net and then re-transcribed them.

AN3: Much thanks to my beta *Stars* whose help was invaluable.

Warnings: Angst, adult situations (sex)


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Part 1
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Angel's heavy, booted foot kicked the door closed after entering the room. His nose wrinkled in disgust as he took in the interior of the room. He quietly smirked at the thought of how only a few years ago this place would have looked like Heaven to him. Now it only looked like the cheap, dingy motel room that it was. It didn't really matter, though, he was only going to be staying there one night.

Dropping his overnight bag on top of the tiny, lopsided dresser, Angel shrugged out of his coat and placed it on the back of the only chair in the room. He glanced at the small, single bed covered by a threadbare, large print comforter and frowned at its size. The bed did not look the least bit comfortable. Still, it was better than dozing in the back seat of his car, again.

He crossed the small room and kicked off his shoes before flopping down onto the tiny bed. Grimacing, Angel rolled over onto the opposite side after a metal coil from one of the springs poked him in the back. He shifted around until he was able to lay without being jabbed by anything. At least the springs weren't made of wood.

As he lay there staring up at the water stained ceiling, pangs of hunger rippled through his body. He knew he'd have to feed soon. He could only hold off so long before the need for sustenance became too much, but the thought of ingesting blood disgusted him. It reminded him of what he truly was which then reminded him of why he'd been forced to leave Buffy.

Her image eased its way into his mind at that moment. It has been two months since he's seen her, but he could still picture her perfectly. Every detail of her was permanently etched in his memory. From her soft, golden blonde hair, to her heart-warming smile, to her ability to see him for more than the demon he was. She made him feel like a man. For a short while, she'd given him hope that he could be more than just a demon.

The reality of it all, though, was that he was a demon. And not just a demon. A vampire, forever forced to stalk in the shadows of the night, and to consume the very essence of life in order to survive. Nothing could, or would ever, change the barest truths of his existence. He'd known that, and for so long tried to push it to the farthest realms of his conscience, but it had been bluntly pointed out to him one morning months ago and he'd finally had to face what his heart hadn't wanted to. He was no good for her.

Buffy had been his savior, his guiding light. She'd, unknowingly, set him on a path of redemption. Everything that he'd become was due to her, but she deserved more than what he could ever give her. She was forced, by destiny, to bare the weight of the world on her shoulders. So much of her life had been taken from her, and he couldn't be responsible for her losing out on more of it.

If he had stayed, she would have been forced into the darkness with him. He'd never be able to take her to the beach, or for a picnic in the park, or do anything that required the light of day. She'd have to watch while he guzzled bags of blood in order to survive. He couldn't even express his love to her, worship her body as she rightly deserved, without the fear of unleashing the demon within him. And even if he could make love to her, his barren, dead seed would never produce children.

There was nothing he could give her. Nothing at all, except for a few moonlit strolls and hesitant hugs and kisses that could never lead anywhere. He couldn't take the small semblance of a normal life away from her that she should have. Her destiny had taken enough, he couldn't take the rest. She deserved everything, sunlight, nights of passion, a family...all things he couldn't give her.

So he left, tearing both their hearts to shreds in the process. It was the only thing he could do. The only thing he could give her; the chance for a normal life. Without him there, she could move on, find someone to love who could give her all that he could not. That's why he'd left. It didn't matter that his soul cried out constantly for her. It didn't matter that his worthless life was worth nothing without her. The only thing that mattered was knowing that she would have the chance to be happy without him there.

Even after two months his cold, unbeating heart still ached with a depressing constancy. It seemed as if the more distance he put between them, the more he thought about her. He'd spent the last two months slowly traveling east, farther and farther from Sunnydale and California. With each new day, he found himself somewhere new, but mentally and emotionally, he was still in Sunnydale. He knew, with an agonizing certainty, that it wouldn't matter where he went. She would always be a part of him whether he was in the same room as her or thousands of miles away.

His eyes flickered toward the closed curtains on the windows. He could feel the pull of the sun rising over the horizon. It would be so easy to fling back the curtains and wait for the harsh light of day to end his useless existence, but he couldn't do it. She'd told him, not so long ago, that it was the coward's way out, and she was right. So he'd go on, find some way to continue his miserable existence. There was still evil to fight and demons to slay.

With that in mind, he drifted off into another day of sleep filled with dreams of the tiny blonde who'd captured his heart, never realizing that it was his own demons that he should have been worrying about conquering.

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

~the next night~

Angel slumped back against the dirty brick wall in the alley near the butcher shop he'd managed to find. In his hand he clutched a now empty container of blood that, once procured, he couldn't help but quickly ingest. His body had been starved of sustenance for so long that the mere smell of the thick liquid had sent him spiraling into full-blown blood lust that even he couldn't overcome. So he'd left the shop hurriedly and found the nearest dark alley before slurping down the viscous fluid, not caring that some of it had spilled out of his mouth and down his chin.

The meager container had done little to satisfy his needs, but it was enough to curb the unbearable thirst. He was tempted to pull another container out of the bag containing a large stock of blood, but he didn't. The supply he'd bought was going to be needed for the coming weeks when he wouldn't be able to get more.

Instead, he fought back his hunger as he did on a daily basis, which, really, wasn't as hard as it should have been. The packaged animal blood held even less appeal than it had before. Ever since that night, the one where Buffy had offered her life's blood to heal him, everything else seemed like a cheap, paltry imitation. Not even two months time could dull her unique taste to his senses.

He hated himself for having drank from her, for having almost killed her. At the same time, he was humbled by her unselfish gift. She had gone against her very nature and offered herself to save him. It only made him love her more, and yet it gave him one more reason to get himself as far away from her as possible. She shouldn't have had to do what she did, but she'd had to because of who he was; a vampire.

Shaking himself out of his thoughts, Angel dropped the empty container into the bag in his other hand. As much as he wanted to crawl into a dark hole and forever brood over his lost love, he had things to do. There were several more stops he had to make before his plans were set.

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A few hours later, Angel found himself standing on a walkway next to the water's edge, staring out at the soft, moonlit waves of the ocean. He had taken care of everything necessary for what he planned to do: purchased a supply of blood, a cooler to store it in, retrieved the few bags he'd taken with him from Sunnydale, and parked his beloved convertible in a long-term storage facility. Everything was set. Now he just had to wait.

His eyes drifted over to the larger freighter docked nearby. He'd had to pull quite a few strings to get passage aboard the ship, but thankfully he'd managed to secure a small corner below deck in the cargo hold. There were a few perks to having lived so long and having the reputation he had, this was one of them. Soon, he'd be on that ship, headed to Europe, and farther away from the only woman he'd ever love and could never have.

"Nice view" a familiar voice spoke from behind him.

Angel whirled around to face the speaker, shock clearly written on his face. "Whistler?"

"Aww, I'm touched! You remember me," the demon mocked with a hand over his chest.

"What are you doing here?" Angel questioned with narrowed eyes, wanting to know why he'd been sought out.

"So much for pleasantries," mumbled Whistler with a shake of his head. His eyes shifted to the large ship nearby and then back to Angel. "Going somewhere?"

"Possibly," Angel replied warily and growing more worried by the demon's sudden appearance. "Is something wrong?"

"Wrong? No...I wouldn't say wrong. Unless of course you're referring to someone abandoning the destiny they were chosen for," Whistler replied in his usual crypticness.

Angel stared at him in confusion. "What are you talking about?"

"You, my friend. Or have you forgotten what you were hand picked to do?" the demon spoke with more than just a little venom in his voice. His bosses were not happy with the current situation, but unfortunately there was little they could do without directly interfering.

A pained looked crossed Angel's face at the reminder of his duty to the Slayer. "It's not that simple anymore," his voice answered in a harsh whisper.

"I imagine not," snorted Whistler. "None of us expected what we got from you two."

Sighing tiredly, Angel ran a hand through his hair and faced the demon who had sent him on the path to his soulmate. "Why are you here, Whistler?"

"Just making sure you know what you're doing," he nodded toward the ship that now had crewman boarding.

"Yes, I do," Angel stated, his voice lacking the conviction he'd meant to convey.

Whistler frowned at him and fought the urge to shake his head. There were so many things wrong with this situation, and so many things he knew that, unfortunately, he couldn't reveal. He was well aware of the Slayer's pregnancy, and it's impact, but it had been made clear to him that he was not to use that as a bargaining tool to get the ensouled vampire to stay. If Angel were to return, it had to be of his own free will, and not out of a sense of obligation.

"So you're just going to abandon her?" he questioned, hoping to play on the vampire's already heavy guilt.

"You don't understand," Angel bit out, turning away from the demon and leaning against the railing of the walkway.

"I understand perfectly, old friend," the demon sighed dejectedly. He'd done all he was allowed to do. The rest was up to Angel.

When Angel turned around a few minutes later, the demon was gone, leaving him to wonder why he'd been there at all and if what he was doing was right or not.

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Part 2
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A crisp ocean breeze lapped at Angel's skin as he stood on the deck of the freighter, staring out at the disappearing coastline. He could still make out the outlines of the buildings and the twinkling of the city lights, but they were becoming fainter with each passing minute. Soon there would be nothing left to see except endless miles of salt water and maybe an occasional sea creature. It would be weeks until he again set foot on dry land.

Long after Whistler had left him alone with his thoughts, Angel stood there, staring out at the gentle ocean waves, and debated the choices he had made. Was he doing the right thing? Was he abandoning his destiny? And there was also this feeling he'd had recently, a deep grinding pull within his gut that lagged constantly in his thoughts. It unsettled him in ways he couldn't describe, but he pushed away his worries and blamed them on missing his soulmate.

Buffy.

She was his entire reason for being, his greatest happiness, and his fiercest heartache. Nothing meant anything to him until she came into his life. It was wrong to love her. He knew that. They were born enemies, meant to fight and extinguish each other. But fate had twisted in ways that had thrown them together, breeding love in the place of hate.

They had been shown, though, that not even the greatest love could surmount the steepest of odds. That not so small fact had been pointed out cruelly. One single night when they had joined in the most primal of all dances had brought forth the demon that forever damned his existence. The havoc he had wreaked and the pain he had caused her would always haunt him.

He should have left as soon as he was strong enough after his return from Hell. He should have walked away. It would have saved them both so much heartbreak, but he'd naively thought that they could make it work, at first as friends, then later as a sexually inactive couple. But he'd been kidding himself.

Spike had said it best when he told them that they could never be friends. As much as they didn't' want to hear it, it had been the truth. There was too much between them, too much passion and love, to ever be just friends. They could also never be lovers. Not just because of the curse, but also because of everything standing between them and everything he was and was not.

He was just a demon, sullied and worn, bound by a vengeance curse to never forget the death and pain he had caused. There was a certain irony in trying to amend for his sins using the same bloodied hands that had committed them in the first place. Angel knew, though, that redemption was a pipe dream. His sins were too heinous to ever be fully amended for.

He was not a righteous man.

He was not a thing worth saving.

He was just a demon, not deserving of the love she'd bestowed upon him. He would only ever drag her down; keep her from living the life she'd rightfully earned. She deserved everything, and he had nothing to offer her except a muted life in the shadows with him. He just couldn't do that to her. That was why he'd left, and that was why he had boarded the boat despite Whistler's words of challenge.

With a deep sigh, Angel gazed at the now empty horizon. The coastline was no longer visible, but he could now see the shifting colors signifying the coming of a new day. The sun would soon be rising so he pushed away from the ship's railing and headed below deck to the small room he'd been able to secure.

Once in his room, Angel shed his coat, followed by his shirt and pants, which he neatly folded and placed on the top of a crate. Hesitating only a moment, Angel flopped down on the narrow mattress that lay carelessly on the dirty floor. It could have been a bed of nails for all he cared. Nothing could hurt more than the pain in his heart and soul.

Reaching across to the small box that served as a table, Angel picked up the picture frame that sat upon it. His chest tightened as the woman came into view. Tears welled in his eyes as he stared at the smiling face of his beloved. His fingers trailed across her cheek over the protective glass. He didn't need a picture to remember her radiant beauty, but he was glad that he had one.

Turning onto his side, he placed the picture onto the pillow next to him. Her innocent eyes and happy grin gazed back at him as a solitary tear cascaded down his cheek and onto the pillow beneath him. Soon, he lapsed into a dream filled slumber, memories of a night that should have never been echoing through his mind.

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~dream~

From the window he watched. He just couldn't leave Sunnydale without seeing her beautiful face one last time. His heart broke further at that thought. How was he going to do it? How was he going to go on, knowing that she'd no longer be there everyday?

Raising his hand, his fingers traced the outline of her face on the glass of the upper portion of the window. A tear streaked down his cheek as he studied each and every feature lit by the pale moonlight. He longed to be in there with her, to tell her he loved her.

Are we done for now?
Or is this for good?

He fought the need to enter her room, to take her in his arms. What good would it do? It would only make it harder. And he couldn't risk waking her. She didn't need to know he was there. He didn't know if he would have the strength to walk away if he had to look into her eyes and see the pain that he had caused her.

Even though his head was telling him to leave, his heart was urging him to enter the room, to let her presence envelop him one last time. Before he even realized it, his body was carefully climbing through the window and into her bedroom. Soon, he found himself standing mere feet from her bed, inhaling the unique scent of everything Buffy.

Will there be something in time with us?
There should.

His soul was screaming inside of him, screaming to take her in his arms, to soothe the wounds on her heart that he had caused. His hands clenched at his sides, desperately trying to resist the need to touch her, to feel the silky warmth of her skin beneath his fingers. He wanted so badly to crawl into the bed beside her and cradle her body against his. It was wrong, he knew it was, but he didn't know if he could stop himself.

Ever so slowly, he lowered his body to sit on the edge of the bed. For long moments he only stared at the face of the only girl who had ever captured his heart. He remembered the first time he had seen her, sitting on the steps in front of her school, sucking on a red lollipop. Without knowing anything else about her, she had stolen his heart, and he was sure that he'd never get it back. It would be hers, forever and always.

Only girl for me is you.
There can be no other one.

She shifted slightly in her sleep causing a few strands of her golden blonde hair to fall across her face. Knowing he shouldn't, but doing it anyway, he reached a hand up and tucked the wayward strands behind her ear. His fingers lingered longer than necessary almost as if they were held there by some magnetic force. They trailed slowly down her cheek, barely touching the skin beneath.

Her lips opened slightly, emitting a silent sigh as her sleep rendered body recognized the faint touch of her mate. Feeling the shift in her consciousness, he quickly pulled his hand away, chastising himself for having the self-restraint of a four year old. He had to leave, and quickly. The temptation was too great to stay, and he couldn't risk waking her up.

If I didn't have faith, I would come undone.
So much promise in your eyes,

Rising from the bed, he turned to face her one last time. His eyes stared at her soft pink lips that were parted minutely. Memories of passionate kisses flashed through his mind. He could almost feel the warmth of her lips pressed against his. What he wouldn't give to feel them once again.

He backed away a few steps, his eyes still focused solely on her. Only a few more feet and he'd be able to escape her innocently seductive lure. But instead of moving backwards, he was going forward. Not even his strongest resolve could stop him from getting closer and closer until his lips hovered centimeters from hers. His eyes remained open as he placed one last kiss on her lips.

Seems that I can only see
It always makes me wonder if you save it all for me.

Pulling away after the merest of touches, he licked his lips, savoring the faintest essence of her on his lips. Desire wove its way through his body, the borrowed blood within him racing through his veins. It only took the slightest of contact to set him on fire when it came to her. Reigning in his need, he again backed away, determined to leave before it was too late.

He had just reached the window when the gentle song of her voice reached his ears.

"Angel?"

Maybe you do
maybe you don't,

His body froze mid-step, torn between leaping through the window, and racing to comfort her. He knew he shouldn't have even entered her bedroom. He should have never come at all. But he had come, and now he had to face her. Pivoting his body, he turned only to find her no longer in her bed, but standing right in front of him.

"Buffy," he whispered softly, his voice caressing her name as only he ever seemed to do.

They stood there staring at each other, speaking through their eyes what their voices could not bare to enunciate. He knew she understood why he was there. He knew she wasn't expecting him to say he'd changed his mind and wasn't going to leave even though he knew she longed to hear it.

maybe you should
probably won't.
'Cause there will be.......

He flinched slightly at the touch of her warm palm against his cheek, and nearly groaned as her thumb slid across his lips. Every ounce of sanity left within him was screaming at him to leave before things got even worse, but he couldn't find the will power to make his body move. Instead, he helplessly stood there and allowed her hand to guide his head down to hers until he was leaning over her.

Their lips met in a sorrowful, gentle kiss that lacked the usual fervor of their past entanglings. Tears streamed steadily from both, intermingling on the plains of their cheeks as their hearts and souls wept over the inevitable loss of their mates. His hand glided lightly through her hair, relishing in its softness one last time

There will be other guys.
Who will whisper in your ear.

So lost in her embrace he didn't notice her moving them toward the bed, or that her hands had snuck between their bodies. It wasn't until her hands touched the bare skin of his chest that he realized she'd unbuttoned his shirt without him feeling it. He pulled away harshly, gasping for breath he didn't need.

"Buffy, no, we can't," he spoke hoarsely, battling the emotions within him to feel her body pressed against his.

"Please?" she begged in desperation, her composure slipping at the knowledge that he would soon be gone.

"The curse...we...we can't," he sighed heavily, damning his very existence for the hurt he was once again causing her.

Say they'll take away your sadness and your fear,
They may be kind and true,

"Please, Angel?" she pleaded in a whisper, moving closer to him. "Could you be happy? Could you forget about everything that's happened and will happen? I...I can't....not when I know that you will be gone afterwards, not when my heart is breaking."

Angel struggled to fight the pull of her desperate cry. He couldn't do it, couldn't give in. There was too much at risk. "Buffy, baby. I can't. I wish I could...," he trailed off, lost in the misery her eyes held.

"Please! J-Just give me s-something to remember you by," she sobbed, knowing full well that she shouldn't be asking him to make love to her, but unable to banish the aching need inside her to be close to him one last time.

Angel opened his mouth to deny her request before forcing himself to finally leave, but he somehow found himself with Buffy in his arms, her lips pressed against his. Any reservations he had flew from his mind the moment she pressed herself against him. The heat of her body seeped into his skin as their tongues stroked and caressed within their mouths.

they may be good to you.
But they'll never care for you more than I do....

He tried to fight, tried to remember why he couldn't do this, but no amount of logical reasoning could make him pull away from her. And even though he reveled in the feel of her intimately touching him, there was no joy in his heart. She was right, there was no happiness to be found in this moment. Their shattered hearts could only find the slightest of absolution in their joining.

So he gave in, unable to fight the call of her soul to his. Instinct took over, conscious action falling into the background, as he backed them up and slowly lowered her to the bed. Their mouths fused, desperately seeking to draw the other into themselves. Their movements were hurried, but not careless, driven by the underlying need to ease the aches in their hearts.

I'll be always there, there to the end.
I can't do much to but be your one true friend

At any other moment, in any other situation, they would have taken the time to savor the lingering kisses, to build the passion induced haze surrounding them, but foreplay was a luxury they could not afford. Their actions were aimed with one goal in mind; the melding of their bodies into one, a physical farewell for the words that could not, and would not, be said.

The clothes they'd been wearing fell to the floor in small heaps, abandoned in favor of the touch of skin on skin. They grasped at each other, forcing their bodies to meet wherever possible. Momentarily, the ill-fated lovers were content just to feel the heated caress of the others flesh, and the soothing familiarity of their sparring tongues. But the imperative need for more soon pushed them further, urging them on to the final step of their lovers tango.

To the end
To the end

They both gasped audibly at the consummation of their union. Tears leaked from Buffy's eyes at the feel of Angel cradled deep within her body after so long. Neither moved, fearing, and yet craving, the imminent ending that lay ahead. Finally, their lips touched again, breaking the stillness that had settled over them.

Slowly, their bodies moved against each other, stoking their internal fires. They stared into each other's eyes, memorizing the subtle shifts in color and relishing the emotions so easily recognizable. Both knew this was their final act, a fitting ending to a typical tragic love story.

Our lives to spend with each other to the end
Of time...

How much time had passed, neither could tell. The only thing they could focus on was each other and the moment they were sharing. Their souls sang at the feeling of completion by being joined with their other half. It was an experience they'd only had once before on the night of Buffy's seventeenth birthday. Nothing could compare to the intimate embrace of joining with your one true love.

They knew, though, that their time together wouldn't last, and as they reached their peaks in unison both cried out not from joy, but from sorrow. There was no happiness to be found, only sadness. Tears matted both their faces as they clung to each other, riding out the waves of their release. They should have felt peace, but, inside, they were both dying.

Stick to the promise in your eyes
I still wonder if it's for me

Angel immediately began regretting giving in to Buffy as he held her sobbing form in his arms, but not because of the risk to his soul. No, not because of that. He hadn't found perfect happiness no matter how much pleasure he found in making love to her. He regretted it because it was one more way to cause her pain. She was sobbing in his arms because he'd allowed himself to be close to her one last time and in the end it had upset her even more.

His actions couldn't be undone, though. So he just held her as she cried against him. He stroked her back soothingly and whispered endearments into her ear until her cries ceased. He continued to hold her long into the night, even after she'd finally drifted into a restless sleep.

But I know it's still there, even when you sleep.
So I say

It wasn't until nearly five in the morning that he realized he needed to leave. There was still time for him to drive at least an hour before the sun would rise. And he knew he needed to leave before she woke up. He hated the idea of not being there, again, the morning after, but it would only make things harder if he stayed.

With a heavy heart, he pried himself away from her warm body and dressed himself in his clothes that had been tossed to the floor. His eyes took in her form one last time, memorizing each and every detail to remember later. Carefully, he placed a gentle kiss on her forehead before turning and walking to the window. He didn't turn back for one last look after climbing out the window. He knew if he did, he may not have been able to leave. Instead, he just kept going, feeling his heart shatter more with each step that took him farther from his soulmate.

Good Night Sweet Girl

~end dream~

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

~several weeks later~

Wearily, Angel ambled down the walk leading away from the freighter. His body swayed slightly, unused to the feeling of solid ground beneath him. The weeks aboard the ship had been harder than he thought they would be. There'd been nothing for him to occupy his time which left him with endless hours to think about the girl he'd left behind. Even sleep provided no reprieve. He'd only dream about her then. At least now that he was on dry land he'd be able to find something, anything, to keep his mind busy.

First, though, he needed to find shelter. Dawn would soon be arriving and he needed to hurry if he wanted to avoid being charcoaled. Looking around, Angel studied the small French port the boat had docked in. He had no idea where he was, other than it was in France. It didn't matter, though, where he was. All he knew was that Buffy was thousands of miles away and that his heart was still there with her.

Shoulders slumped; Angel wandered in the direction of some warehouses. He'd be able to stay there at least for today. Where he would go after that and what he planned to do, he didn't know. He'd figure something out. Somehow, he would find a way to go on.

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


THE END!

Next: "A Chance to Survive Today" - #3 in the 'Shadows in Time' Series:
Buffy begins to build a new life for herself in Seattle with the help of some old, and some new, friends.

Previous:  A Far Cry From Yesterday