Full Of Grace

By Maquis Leader

 

 

 

 

 

Rated: PG

Author’s note: Immediately after Becoming Part 2

 

 

 

 

 

The silence hurt her ears, ringing inside her skull. Moments before there had been the roar and fire of Hell, so close she could touch it and feel the heat burn her skin. Now there was nothing. Worse than nothing. The absence of everything.

 

Angel was gone. Vanished as if he’d never been.

 

Buffy stared at the granite monster before her. Acathla was silent, mouth closed, as though he’d never awakened. Sword jutting from his chest just as it had for centuries.

 

She walked to it, stumbling as if her feet were anchored to the floor and not meant to move. There was no blood on the sword, nothing to show the sacrifice that had just been made. Putting her hand on the sword, Buffy pulled. Nothing happened.

 

How had Angelus gotten it to come out? Playing back over the last several minutes, she remembered. Blood. The thing required blood. Blood she had plenty of. Buffy slid her palm along the blade, watching numbly as blood gushed from the cut she didn’t feel.

 

Gripping the hilt again, Buffy pulled. Nothing happened. She pulled harder, using both hands, pulled until she heard tendons and muscles tear and pop in protest. Nothing happened.

 

“Angel…” She collapsed to her knees in front of Acathla, as though praying to the stone demon. “Oh God, Angel…”

 

Tears raced down her cheeks as the enormity of what she’d done crashed down onto her. She’d sent Angel to Hell. Sent him there with no way to bring him back.

 

He’d trusted her. Closed his eyes and trusted her. He hadn’t asked why she had a sword in her hand or what was happening. He’d trusted her. She’d told him to close his eyes, and he had. He’d trusted her. “Angel…” She pressed her hand to her chest – the pain there was more than she could stand. He’d trusted her.

 

As much as she’d hurt when Angel – Angelus – had made her feel that their night together was a horrible experience, this was far worse. The pain was physical as well as mental, and she found herself gasping for breath as the agony threatened to crush her.

 

Pressing her hands to her chest, Buffy forced herself to think. There must be a way! Giles had books and – no, Giles would never help. No one would help. They’d never been able to see that Angelus wasn’t Angel.

 

Even though she was the one with the most to lose, she’d eventually come to see the truth. The only one to see the truth. Angelus was the demon, and Angel the soul.

 

The tears began to flow faster, sobs tearing out of her as Buffy realized how helpless she was. She was alone. No one would help her. They’d be glad Angel was gone. Even Willow – Buffy’s last hope that Angel’s soul could be restored – had sent the message to “kick his ass”. Curling up into a tight ball, Buffy let the sobs turn to cries of anguish and despair. She’d be the only one mourning for him.

 

Time slid by, shadows tracking across the room through the torn curtains and across her heaving body until eventually the tears ran dry and her cries became hoarse whimpers. Buffy sat up slowly, breathing in ragged, hitching gulps, her throat raw.

 

What was she going to do now? Her mother had made it clear that she couldn’t come home. Giles would take her in, he was still her Watcher, but how would he treat her after this? He blamed her for Jenny’s death; he’d never said it, but it was there. If she’d killed Angelus when she should have, Jenny would still be alive.

 

And Angel would still be gone. Or dead. Buffy rubbed at her aching forehead. Giles had said that Acathla was a portal to a Hell dimension. Hell was full of fire and demons, right? Would Angel even be alive anymore? He’d be outnumbered by thousands or millions of demons – a single soul against –

 

Buffy frowned. Why had Willow put Angel’s soul back? If she’d sent Angelus to Hell, he’d have fit right in. Her eyes widened at the thought that Willow had wanted Angel to be the one sent to Hell. That Willow had wanted Angel to suffer and die. A scream ripped from her. “Why?”

 

Her voice echoed in the empty room. Mocking her.  “Why? Why? Why?”

 

She couldn’t go home, she couldn’t go to Giles or her friends. A bitter laugh reminded Buffy that she had no friends. No life. What she had was time. Tears. Pain. And a choice to make.

 

For a moment Buffy relived the tender, loving kiss she’d shared with Angel before she’d murdered him. One last sweet kiss before the chocolate eyes had closed.

 

Turning, she walked out of the mansion and into the dying sunlight.

 

 

 

 

 

At home, she’d packed only the things she needed. Plain, ordinary clothes, a hairbrush, Mr. Gordo, Angel’s jacket, and the ring and necklace he’d given her. What little money she had. Without a twinge of guilt, Buffy had emptied her mother’s emergency fund into her bag. She’d saved the world, surely that had earned her a few bucks.

 

Before she’d left, Buffy had left her mother a note. “You wanted me to stop being the Slayer. So I’ve stopped.” Maybe not the coolest or most memorable words ever written, but it was enough.

 

Now she stood at the door of Angel’s apartment. She hadn’t been back here since the morning after. There’d been no reason to come back. Angelus had broken her heart, and later, when she’d finally realized he wasn’t Angel – there'd been even less reason to come back. She’d hoped that Angel’s soul would be restored and they’d be able to come back together, give her a chance to try again, to learn how to make love to him. But it would never happen.

 

Buffy didn't want to be here now, but the money she’d taken from her mother wasn’t enough to get her very far. She wanted to get out of Sunnydale and never come back, and she couldn’t do that on what she had. Angel had money in his apartment, if Angelus hadn’t taken it.

 

Taking a deep breath, Buffy turned the knob and pushed the door open. It hadn’t been locked. Angelus hadn’t cared if Angel’s things were stolen. Luckily, it seemed Angel’s reputation was enough to keep people away, and his possessions hadn’t been touched.

 

The pictures and artwork were all there. And the bed was just as she’d left it.

 

Drawn to it, Buffy ran her fingers over the velvet comforter, remembering being tucked under the safe warmth against Angel’s cool skin. Lifting the comforter back, she stared at the splotches of blood on the sheets. Proof that she’d given Angel the only real gift she had.

 

They’d made love – no matter what Angelus had said – it was love and it was perfect. So perfect that Angel had lost his soul. Maybe she hadn’t known how to please him sexually, but that would have come in time.

 

But there was no time. Not for the two of them.

 

Sighing, Buffy turned away from the bed. She had all the time in the world – alone.

 

She went to the cabinet beneath the bookshelf, opening the doors and pulling out a small box. Angel had taken money from it one night, giving her enough to have Eyghon’s tattoo removed. It was way beyond what her allowance would cover; she couldn’t have asked her mom for that much money – not without an explanation she couldn’t risk – and Giles hadn’t offered. She’d been left on her own. Maybe she had always been on her own.

 

Opening the box, Buffy gasped at the stacks of bills. Neat piles from ones to fifties, all looking used but not ragged. There was probably a reason why Angel’s money looked the way it did, anyone who lived as long – she crumpled the bills she’d picked up at the sudden stab of pain to her heart. Anyone who had lived that long.

 

She tucked the money carefully inside her bag. There was a lot – she didn’t know how much, but she knew it would last her a while. Hopefully until she could figure out what to do with the rest of her life. The rest of her life without Angel.

 

Glancing around the small apartment, Buffy committed it all to memory. For the rest of her life, she’d remember Angel and the sacrifice he’d been forced to make. She was through with slaying, and with love. No one could ever replace Angel, and she would never try.

 

Until she died, she’d exist and remember how she’d betrayed Angel’s love and trust. Remember the bewilderment and fear in the beautiful chocolate eyes as he reached out to her for help. As she let him die.

 

As she closed the door, Buffy caught herself before she turned the lock. Why bother? Angel was never coming back, and neither was she.

 

 

 

 

 

**Author’s note 2:  Whenever Full of Grace comes on the radio, or plays on one of my CD’s, I can see the end of Becoming Part 2. Buffy and Angel’s kiss, her asking him to close his eyes –  which he does with such trust and without question, and then of course the sword in the gut and being sucked into Hell. Buffy on the bus leaving Sunnydale. Very, very vivid images associated with this song.

 

The other day when I heard the song, I started wondering what happened after Acathla sucked Angel into Hell. What did Buffy feel and what did she do? And so I wrote this. I thought at first there was more story, maybe all the way to the beginning of Anne, but there was only this scene. Thanks for reading it.

 

 

 

 

Full Of Grace

the winter here's cold, and bitter
it's chilled us to the bone
we haven't seen the sun for weeks
to long too far from home
I feel just like I'm sinking
and I claw for solid ground
I'm pulled down by the undertow
I never thought I could feel so low
oh darkness I feel like letting go

if all of the strength and all of the courage
come and lift me from this place
I know I could love you much better than this
full of grace
full of grace
my love

so it's better this way, I said
having seen this place before
where everything we said and did
hurts us all the more
its just that we stayed, too long
in the same old sickly skin
I'm pulled down by the undertow
I never thought I could feel so low
oh darkness I feel like letting go

if all of the strength
and all of the courage
come and lift me from this place
I know I could love you much better than this
full of grace
full of grace
my love

 

Sarah McLachlan (writer/singer)

 

 

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maquisleader@maquisleader.com

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