Dream The Second
Buffy was suddenly looking down at her younger self. ‘Wow, I sure had chubby cheeks,’ she thought.
Angel was on the ground looking up at Buffy, startled and a bit nervous. “Is there a problem, ma’am?”
‘I remember this,’ DreamBuffy thought, ‘this is the first time I ever saw Angel. He’d been following me. Gave me that cross and the first cryptic warning.’ She stood on the sidelines and watched the scene play out just as she remembered it.
As DreamAngel walked off and DreamBuffy opened the box with the cross, Buffy rolled her eyes in exasperation. “Good job, Angel. Vague things up much? Why not just tell me who you are, what I need to do to kill the Master? Hey, you’re all redempto-boy, why don’t YOU go down there and wipe out your vampire family like you did your human one? It would have saved me a whole lot of nightmares ifyou’d just taken them out instead of giving me half-assed warnings and a cheering section!”
The scene shifted and Buffy watched as DreamAngel crept up to DreamBuffy in the tunnels leading to the Master’s lair. “I knew you’d figure out this entryway sooner or later. Actually, I thought it was gonna be a little sooner,” DreamAngel was saying.
Buffy snorted at the pompous attitude. Really, Angel was acting like some instructor putting her through some sort of test. It reminded her of the time the Watchers Council sent their little band of losers to test her ability to follow commands in Japanese or Korean or whatever. “Again with the cryptic,” she muttered. “If you knew the entrance, Angel, why didn’t you just point it out? Were you playing ‘stump the Slayer’ those first few months?”
Buffy remembered that the next time she saw Angel that night had been at the Bronze when the group was battling the vampires and Xander had to watch his best friend Jesse dust. Angel hadn’t even helped in the fight, just stood by some crates and then acted impressed and surprised when Buffy won the day.
Buffy tried to remember the next meeting with the love of her life and finally remembered Angel giving her his jacket and offering another cryptic warning about a fork-handed vampire. He hadn’t said anything about the teacher from insect world who was about to introduce Xander to the wonderful worlds of sex and death. “It would have been better if you’d killed one of my problem demons for me instead of just giving me a jacket that was too big anyway,” she snarked as she watched the story unfold.
“Okay, okay, I’m seeing a theme here,” Buffy said aloud to whomever was giving her this walk down memory lane. “Next up is my weird date with Owen where Angel goes all clue boy again with the warnings about the Anointed One. Then no pop-in visits through the hyena mess, no sign of my assigned helper from the Powers until that fight in the alley. I remember the kiss…so dreamy until the bumpies came out.”
She watched as her dream self pushed the vampire away and screamed. She chuckled at Xander’s lame attempt to cover in front of Cordy when Queen C heard the word ‘vampire’ and Xander swore it was ‘umpire’. Xan had just asked her if she were in love with Angel and her dream self had turned away in confused embarrassment.
“You know,” Buffy thought to herself, “That was sorta from out of nowhere. I mean I’d hardly had a conversation with Angel up to that point. All he’d done was pop in after following me, drop some vague warnings and not tell me he was undead. Not the stuff to build a future on, I guess.” Buffy sighed and spoke again to the invisible orchestrater of her dreamlife. “I get it. But we had something real later on,” she challenged.
She heard her mother’s gentle voice ask, “When was that, dear? When Angel continued to lie to you? Told you half -truths? Made excuses to watch you die from drowning? Or was it that next year when his eagerness to consummate your relationship led to him losing his soul?”
Buffy was sputtering inarticulate denials about the great love story of her youth to her disembodied mother. “We were soul mates, Mom! It wasn’t his fault he lost his soul like that. I had to send him to hell! Do you have any idea how much that hurt me?”
“Yes, dear, I know maybe even better than you do,” Joyce answered sadly. “I saw the devastation that relationship left in its wake. Sweetheart, you have to look at it with the wisdom of maturity, the benefit of hindsight. All you got from that relationship was pain and some very bad emotional scars. You also started to close yourself off from the love that was real and waiting for you.”
“Yeah, yeah….the whole Prince from your fairy tale earlier…I get it,” Buffy said petulantly. “I know that all of that led to some problems for me. I know that everyone, even Angel, tried to make me see that I should be with a normal guy. I got it! I get it!”
“Well, sweetie, maybe we had the wrong idea and you had the wrong guy,” Joyce suggested. “Maybe it’s time you find out the biggest lie of all from Angel.”
The scene that played out in front of Buffy was mostly unfamiliar. Buffy remembered that trip to L.A. to call Angel on his ‘secret’ trip to Sunnydale over Thanksgiving. They had fought this demon with a weird jewel and then she had gone home. That wasn’t what she was seeing though. She was seeing a whole day with Angel in the sun and her in his bed. A day when he was human, the ‘normal’ guy he said she should have. She watched, her stomach roiling as she saw Angel give up his humanity, his ‘normal life’, because he wasn’t as good a fighter. She screamed inside as she heard him explain to her in those last precious moments how she would never remember that day.
“Damn it,” Buffy spat, “Why is it always YOU who gets to make those decisions? It’s my life, too!”
She thought over the scenes she had been shown and remembered the reason Angel had given the odd, gold-skinned couple. He said that he had to be a vampire again so he could protect her from the coming evil. “If it was so important for you to protect me that you gave up our future for it, why didn’t you?” Buffy was talking to DreamAngel even though he clearly couldn’t even sense her presence. “I mean you didn’t show up again until it was to check out Riley. You didn’t stay to fight Adam. You came for Mom’s funeral and even though I sat there all night and told you about Glory, you left anyway. I could’ve used your help with that one! Maybe I wouldn’t have had to jump off that tower if you’d been there to work with us against that hell bitch.”
Buffy started to cry as she continued to berate the image of her lost love. “What did you do with your ‘gift’ of being able to protect me? You saw what bad shape I was in after I came back from the dead. I don’t think we even talked for a solid hour that night. You didn’t even come to Sunnydale, just met me halfway. Maybe if you’d been here, I wouldn’t have messed up last year so bad. If you gave up being my ‘normal guy’ so you could protect me and fight alongside me, why didn’t you?”
Buffy watched that last meeting play out in front of her. That quick trip into the desert, the awkward greetings and stifled conversation. Buffy wondered when it became so hard to think of things to say to Angel.
“It’s like all of it was a dream, not real at all,” Buffy sobbed to herself. “We could have had the life Angel said I should have and he gave it away for no reason. No reason. He could have been my normal guy and he gave it all away.” She sniffed back her tears and felt something break in the region of her heart.
“Obviously, that whole ‘normal life’ bullshit was just an excuse. You left me because you didn’t want a future with me.” Buffy turned her back on DreamAngel and crossed into an area of light within the darkness surrounding her.
Originally posted at http://seasonal-spuffy.livejournal.com/114695.html