To Absent Friends
Summary: Willow is missing, and two new characters arrive.
Disclaimer: Buffy and co. belongs to the WB, Aly and Sarah are fictional and are not based on SMG or Alyson.
"Gone. She's gone. Gone." Buffy repeated to herself. "But where could she be?" Buffy said to the empty air in front of her. Buffy collapsed in the nearest chair. "But doesn't anyone have a clue?"
"No one has seen her, Buffy," Xander said quietly, "Believe me, I've asked just about everyone." The distraught young man sat down in a chair next to his best friend, and now his only friend, Buffy. He fanned the air in front of him absently. "Its all my fault!," he said, "if only I haven't gone on vacation and left her here all alone. I mean, I knew about the risks and dangers about living on the Hellmouth and I still went and left her here all alone."
"Its not your fault Xander," Buffy said consolingly, "if its anyone's fault, its mine. I mean, I'm the Slayer and I know the trouble this place is capable of creating and instead of staying and getting rid of scum that harm innocent people I decided to go on vacation for two weeks!" Buffy felt herself getting hysterical. Calm down, she ordered herself, Xander's already going wacky as she looked over at Xander out of the corner of her eyes, the boy was shaking his head and mumbling to himself. "Xander! What are you doing?" Buffy asked worriedly. Her voice seemed to snap Xander out of whatever he was going through.
"Nothing, just thinking of places where Will might be" Xander shook his head and looked out in to the halls where a few students were still standing by their lockers talking even though it was almost dark.
"I know," Buffy said with a trace of optimism in her voice, "Why don't you go find Giles? We forgot to look there, I bet Willow is hiding there doing some research for Giles and since we just assumed that something bad has happened, we haven't been by the library to check in. Why don't you go and check in while I do a little patrolling."
"Yeah. Why didn't I think of this sooner?" Xander hit his head with his hand, "Duh! Of course Willow is with the G-Man, she's probably looking up something about possessed headless chickens or something like that." and so Xander took off towards the library mumbling to himself about shapeshifting bears and demon cats.
"Weird much?" Buffy said quietly to her self. As Buffy stretched and started to jog towards the Sunnydale Cemetery, she heard someone quietly call her.
"Buffy." Buffy spun around, her heart pounding, looking, but she did not see the person she was looking for.
"Angel? Angel, is that you?" As Angel walked out from the shadows that he was standing in Buffy felt her heart skip a beat. Oh god, she thought to her self, while trying to get her heart to stop pounding so hard, I've missed him so much.
"Angel!", Buffy ran to Angel, "I've missed you so much. At least you're still around." Angel's only response was to wrap his arms around her and hug her.
"I've missed you too Buffy." He then noticed the worry in her eyes, "What's wrong? Are you hurt?"
"Willow's gone, she wasn't in any of her classes today." Buffy was close to tears again. Just then Xander ran up. "Giles is gone too. I went to the library and it was closed so I thought they were in there doing some research so I went in and the place was deserted..."
Buffy who was leaning against Angel's chest looking pale and with her eyes shut, as if this whole thing was a nightmare and when she opened her eyes again everything would be all right, eyes flew open and the color drained from her face. "What??" "What do you mean he's gone?" "You mean he's not in the library right now right? Right?"
Xander, who only looked more distressed over Buffy's hysterical ranting, looks over at Angel and some sort of understanding pass between the two guys whose only thing in common was the fact that they both loved the same woman. Angel nods slightly and gently leads the sobbing Buffy over to a chair and sets her down. "I'll be right back Buffy, just stay here and relax." Angel follows Xander over in to the library. The library is a mess, toppled bookshelves, the books were tossed all over the place, the windows were broken, the chairs were overturned and most were broken, everything was tossed all over the place like a tornado touched down in midst of the library and left, leaving it behind and continuing on its path of destruction, wreaking havoc elsewhere.
Angel looks around and looks back at Xander. "How much do you know?" Xander looks around and picks up a chair that wasn't broken and wearily sat down. "One, I know that Willow didn't just decide to go on a vacation with Giles, two, I think you know more then you're letting on and three, I'm sure that Willow isn't dead or anything like that." Xander didn't know why he added that last part about Willow not dead and all, he just felt like saying that out loud. The grief stricken teenager takes a picture out of his wallet and looks at it, the picture was of him, Willow, Buffy and Cordelia, tears form in his eyes again and he angrily wipes them away. Angel looks at him, then down at the picture then he looks away.
"Well, you're right... except for that last part.".
Xander, who was staring at the picture suspiciously as if the people in the picture were going to come to life, jumped up when his brain finally processed what Angel was saying. "What do mean?? Are they dead?? What's wrong with Willow??" and just as suddenly as Xander sprang to life he collapsed back into the chair, as if the mere thought of Willow in any danger was just too much for him bear. "No. No. Wait, don't answer that, I don't want to know."
Xander was trying not to cry in front of Angel. He turned away and looked around the mess; as he was aimlessly walking around, occasionally kicking at stuff that was in his way, Angel intercepted him. "Wait. It won't help, believe me I know. Destroying things won't bring Willow back."
Upon hearing the name of the girl that had his best friend for the past 16 years all of the guilt, anger, sadness and confusion that was swimming around in his head all turned into anger and he launched himself at Angel. He felt like if he didn't something, anything, he would finally realize that Willow was gone. He started swinging wildly.
With a growl Angel easily dodged most of the punches Xander was aiming at him except for a few lucky shots. Angel tackled him with a snarl, throwing him half way across the room. Xander landed on what was a table, the table collapsed under his weight. Xander bounced back up and picked up a table leg. "Damn you," Xander said furiously, " I've had enough of your crap, I should of killed you when I had the chance." Xander charged at Angel and swiped at him with the table leg.
Angel just seemed amused by Xander's angry words. "C'mon, stake me! Don't be such a chicken, I dare you to stake me. Buffy likes me, she chose me over you, so if you get me out of the way you'll have her all to your self. C'mon, kick my ass!"
At Angel's taunting words Xander charged Angel, brandishing the stake like it was a spear. Wordlessly he flung himself at Angel, only to have himself picked up by Angel and thrown across the room. His one way flight was abruptly halted when he collided with a bookshelf. As he lay on the ground, bruised and with the air knocked out of him, all he could do was stare at Angel with menace in his eyes. "I don't know what Buffy sees in you," he panted, "You're nothing but a snake, a cold hearted snake that killed his own family."
This has gone far enough, Angel decided, he's let off enough steam. Angel grabbed the Xander by the shirt and pulled him up, ducking another wild punch that was directed at his face. "Go sit down and shut up, Xander." But Xander was in no state to be ordered around, he swung again at Angel, this time connecting with Angel's jaw. Damn! That hurts like hell, I don't see how Buffy does it, Xander thought to himself. So Angel put him in a chokehold and dragged Xander over to a chair and forcefully pushed him down into it. "Now stay there and shut up before I shut you up." Angel threatened.
Xander half rose again. What does he know, he thought, he's only a vampire that killed his family and his family's friends and a whole lot of innocent people.
"Why should I listen to you? What do you know? Do you know how much it hurts to lose someone close to you? huh? Do you?" Xander was shouting now, he knew he was hysterical but he didn't care, he can't stop now, not even if he wanted to. "I loved her, she was my sister, my best friend, she was the only person that knew me as well as I knew myself, we grew up together, she is my other half, my better half." Xander continued his ranting again. "You can't even come close to know my pain..." Xander finally ran out of breath now, as he paused to take a gasp of air he noticed that Angel had an indescribable expression on his face. As Xander took a second look, he was shocked and surprised at all the sadness he could see in Angel's eyes.
Angel looked over and met Xander's eyes, "Don't you think I don't know what it feels like," Angel said quietly, yet with force behind each of his words, "All the things that are going through your mind? All the guilt, sadness, confusion and anger? How do you think I felt when I found Buffy's body after the Master killed her? Did you think I was happy? Do you think I'll be able to stand it if anything happened to her? I love her and I hope she loves me. Without her, who knows what I would be doing now. She..." Angel suddenly stopped talking when he saw Buffy walk in. "Buffy! Are you okay?" Angel asked anxiously as he went over to her side.
Buffy looked up at him and gave him a small, sad smile. "Yeah, I'm alright, I guess. Angel, have I told you lately how much I love you?"
Love flooded Angel's eyes. "No, you haven't, but its alright, you don't have to tell me, I know that you love me."
Buffy looked at Angel and smiled, this time not so sad. "Now, lets get down to business. First we have to figure out what happened we were gone." As Buffy was trying to sort everything out there was a soft, hesitant knocking at the library door.
Xander turned in annoyance, ready to tell off whoever that interrupted them . But his angry words never left his lips as two girls, who looked exactly like Buffy, walked in. "What the...?" Xander said, as soon as he could stop staring. I must be dreaming, he thought to himself, three Buffys in one room with me. No, stop it, he ordered himself as he shook his head, Willow is missing and all you can think about is your little fantasies? Some friend you are. I might as well introduce myself to them. "Hi, my name is Alexander Harris, my friends call me Xander. What're your names?"
The two girls looked at him then back at each other and shrugged. As they opened their mouths to reply Buffy quickly cut in. "Their names are Sarah Michelle and Alyson. They're sixteen, they live in L.A. with my Dad and they're my stepsisters. Sarah, Aly this is Xander," she pointed at Xander, "and this is Angel," she went over to Angel. Angel looked down at her and looked over to Sarah and Aly who were staring at him. Buffy followed his gaze and saw Sarah and Aly staring at him, geez, she didn't know that people could drool and stare at the same time. So she put her arm around Angel and hugged him then looked over at Sarah and Aly pointedly. "My boyfriend Angel." She said with a trace of feminine rivalry in her voice.
Aly looked down and turned red. "Sorry," she mumbled, "didn't mean it." She looked over and saw that Sarah was still staring. "Sarah!," she hissed and kicked her lightly, "Sarah! Stop staring at Buffy's boyfriend," and she kicked her again, this time, not so lightly.
At that, Sarah stopped staring, turned and scowled at Aly. She turned to Buffy, "Sorry Buffy." she said politely. Still she couldn't understand what she was feeling.
Usually when she looked at someone it was like she became that person, she could *see* their soul. She, physically, was still whole, but part of her mind became that person, she saw what they saw, felt what they felt, heard what they heard, thought what they thought. She, literally became a part of that person. Like, when she looked at Aly she *saw* an endless thirst for knowledge, a peaceful gentle soul, fierce loyalty, understanding, kindness, she was wise- wiser than most people her age and she was strong- mentally and physically.
Or Buffy. When she looked at Buffy she strength, a neverending love for her friends, fierce loyalty-she'd rather die her self then to see anyone she cared about die, she was cautious about the whole love thing. But all Buffy thought about was Angel, Angel in her past and Angel in her future. And the only weakness Sarah could see in Buffy was her compassion for everyone else around her, everyone she cared about. Buffy would do anything to keep her friends from danger. Everything about Buffy seemed normal except for a part of her that was always on the alert; she seemed constantly in a hunter/prey state of mind taking in the information around her, calculating and processing it. Buffy radiated energy, she's like a ray of sunshine, an uncorrupted soul.
Everyone was just about the same, that is until Sarah saw Angel. Sarah saw a mixture of emotions, confusion, sadness, guilt and hatred to name a few. Angel seemed light but dark; mysterious even, a soul that has gone through alot. His heart controlled his actions, pulling him back and forth from good to bad, light to dark, But what he always thought about was Buffy. He was full of a love that controlled his passions, no matter what his mind told him. Like everyone, he had a good side and a dark side. Except his dark side was really dark, a whirlpool of colors, taunting her to come closer. Impusively Sarah went in. A chasm tore through her, it was ten times worse then her worst nightmare. At the edges of her perception, the world shifted and rolled; she was drowned in sounds and sights that could, or should exist in the natural world. She tried to cry out, but unseen hands closed her mouth. A sharp pain shot up her leg. She wrenched herself back from the whirling madness. It was her own hands that had closed her mouth.
Everyone was staring at her with funny looks on their faces. "Are you alright Sarah?", Aly asked, "Why are you staring at Angel, Buffy's boyfriend?"
"Oh, um, sorry Buffy. I didn't know he was yours, not like I'm searching for a boyfriend or anything. I already have one, in fact he's really nice and he's cute too. Not that I'm saying that Angel isn't nice or cute, I'm sure he's real nice and he's cute, but not as cute as my boy, who didn't come here with us because he had to work to pay for football camp. He wants to be a pro ball player, he's really good. His goal is too one day play for the Cowboys. He really..." Sarah trailed off when she saw everyone staring at her again, this time with amusement in their eyes. "Oh was I babbling again? I tend to do that alot. I don't mean it, its just a habit. I guess it was because of being a twin, you have to get attention somehow. Aly was the child genius, she learned to talk a whole 6 months before me, and she taught herself how to play the piano when she was 4 years old. The only good thing I could do at that age was look pretty, even though I was missing my two front teeth. I lost them when I fell from a tree. And I'll shut up now, excuse me while I dig a hole and bury my self in it."
Buffy looked at her with an understanding look on her face. "Its alright Sarah, you're not the only one that babbles around here. A certain someone in this room, who shall remain nameless, Xander."
Xader turned red and mumbled something under his breath about Buffy and a dead boy.
"Well, that's better then Cordy!" Buffy retorted. And with that they started teasing each other.
Sarah took advantage of that to check Angel again. Except this time she didn't go in over her head. She saw that he had a lot painful of secrets. There was a part of him that seemed to be locked away, buried deep. Most of his hatred was directed at this part. He was afraid that if he let his guard down, the darkness would escape and take over again. That was... is the one thing Angel feared the most, that the darkness he fought against constantly will one day over power him and take over and cause him to hurt those close to him. His mind was a strange and perilous world. A terribly frightening world, but one that was full of stark beauty. Everything was angles, as if she had fallen into the heart of a giant crystal. Everything glittered, cold and clear and sharp. There were flashes of color as light shimmered and reflected, but for the most part it was dazzling. Like a glacier. The spikes of the crystal around her had edges like swords. The place looked as if it had never known warmth. Things were changing around her. It was as if the glinting surfaces of the crystals were suddenly reflecting scenes, perfect little pictures with people moving in them.
She saw Buffy opening a jewelry box and lifting out a beautiful silver cross. She realized that it was the first time Angel saw her. Another scene flashed across the crystal, she saw Angel kissing Buffy for the first time in her room, by her window, in the moonlight. She felt his pain as he saw Buffy dancing sexily with Xander after blowing him off. Sarah realized that Buffy was the only person that Angel cared about. Buffy was all that mattered to him because she was the only person that accepted him as he is and didn't judge him. She loved him for who he is now, not who he was before, she forgave him for past misdeeds. She was his life, without Buffy, Angel would have no point to life. She helped him deal with all the pain in his life. He would rather die him self then to hurt her.
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