Letting Go
By Criss Moody

Title: Letting Go
Author: Criss Moody
Date: April 23rd, 2000
Distribution: Archives of the lists that receive this, yes. Anyone else, ask.
Spoilers: Through the end of season two of BtVS and some for the beginning of season three.  Some of the events in Anne and Dead Man's Party are referred to, whereas others are just rewritten.
Rating: PG-13, if you watch the show, you can read this.
Pairing: Buffy/?, but only kinda <g>
Content Warning: this is a fairly depressed fic.but nothing too bad.
Feedback: Oh, yes please, I do adore it.
Summary:  One version of how and why Buffy comes back to
Sunnydale after her summer in LA.
Disclaimer: Joss Whedon and his pal own the characters and the concept.  I'm just taking them out for ice cream.
Notes:  This went from a short Buffy reflective piece to a certain pairing, to more than a certain pairing.  I hope you enjoy.  Title comes from "Full of Grace" by Sarah McLachlan.

If I could go home, if I could touch those faces one more time, smooth away the stream of tears, the wrinkles of fear and worry, I know I'd be okay.

But nothing is okay.

I wander in my mind, lost in the words I've said and the things I've done even as I stumble down dirty streets, oiled and stricken by pollution man and demon made.  I try to wiggle free from the restraints I've placed on myself, but I've put myself in my own hell.  I made it, I nurture it, it feeds me like a mother feeds her child, and I like it.  The terror in my mind crouches beneath a heavy feeling of being worthless.  I couldn't save my lover, I couldn't save myself, I'm not worthy of being a Slayer.

Everyday I go down to the bus station, I close my eyes to the vamps feeding on the homeless, on the pretty blonde girls arriving from points east, on anything.  All the things I'm supposed to be dedicated to destroying I let slide.  I feel at home, and welcome, in such filth and nastiness.  The station is awash in all the petty evils of humanity.  When I walk in, after my shift at the restaurant, the aura around the building seems to part to accept me.  The shifting swirls of dark emotion merge and mutate around the bodies, even on the walls.  Everything dark: greens, black, maroons, navy blue, even a sour orange.  They're all the colors no one likes because they always suck the energy and the joy out of a soul, so hard and so suddenly that a once vibrant being gets off the bus a normal human being and walks out of that station drenched in the misery feeding off the general horrors of the city.

An integral part of my flesh and soul howls each time that I stroll through the city streets, walking past winos, soot-smeared druggies, shattered addicts, people only able to see as far as their own personal hell.

It makes most of me feel good.  It makes me feel less alone.

I've reached a place I don't quite understand.  I never knew someone could get this low, scrape the bottom of their being so hard.  I thought that I'd seen a lot but compared to what I've seen now, killing the odd demon and staking vamps is nothing.  I made the plan, I executed the plan, I knew what to do.  Here, I'm no one.  I'm nobody.  If a switchblade found it's way into my ribs, slipping in softly, cool and hard, the dregs would continue to float past as the blood flowed out of my chest, making no visible stain on the gritty asphalt.

No destiny, no friends, no lovers, no mothers, no school, no Buffy.  I'm not even that.

Tonight, I'm reluctant to go into the station.  It's just a trick of the light, the sun hasn't quite set, but there's a disquieting blue light shooting through the sick mess of black, green, and red.  The blue glows, light and lovely. If I were still Buffy, if I still bothered to look good, to smile, to care about others, I would love that light.  But right now, it terrifies me.  Something that good can't exist here.  It doesn't belong.

Three steps into the station, my foot steps down on a candybar wrapper, and I freeze at the strangely loud crumple of the cellophane under my white tennis shoes.  In slow motion, I stop, look down at my foot, inch by inch rise back up, seeing loafers, a pair of crisp jeans, a white button up shirt, unbuttoned slightly to reveal a smooth chest, and a frighteningly familiar face.

Staring back at me, a mocking grin on his lean, too handsome face, Ethan Rayne crosses his arms and runs his hot gaze over my body.  I don't like it, I really don't like it.  He's looking at me like he knows something, like he knows me, like he wants something.  And his stare, intensely scary, glides over my skin like boiling wax over plastic covers.  Inside, I feel things shifting and moving, changing, barriers fragmenting under his eyes.

"Ms. Summers.  Believe me when I say that I had hoped finding you would be this easy.  Didn't think, however, that it would be merely a question of stepping off the bus and pausing for mere moment to breathe in the charming stench of the public bus station."  The tall man moves closer to me, just a bit, and I reflexively shift back. Something blue and golden nearly leaps off his body.  A discordant note in the jarring colors usually found here, the joyous haze floating around his body makes me queasy and anxious.  Those colors want to come into me.  They want to separate me from my terror, to melt my prison, to starve my fear.

I can't let that happen.  I won't let that happen.

"Fuck off."  I walk past him, gripping my torso tightly, my fingers digging deeply into my ribcage.

"Tsk, tsk, what language!  Whatever would Rupert say?"

I nearly fall down at the sound of my Watcher's name.  No, I can't let  him do this to me.  He's evil, he's not evil, he's a bad man, he wants to get me out of here. 

"Like I said, fuck off."  I know, original, but I can't get anything else out of my tight throat.  Fuck off is easy and simple, and beautifully crude.

"Oh, but Slayer, I really can't do that.  You see, I've been lurking, as I'm wont to do, in the general Sunnydale area.  Ripper may not be mine anymore, but I do like to keep a bit of an eye on him."  I heard the traces of regret, love, and anger threaded through his crisp English.  Sharply bitter tears flooded my eyes.  I didn't even deserve Giles' hate.  At least Ethan had that.  "Ripper's been mightily upset by your abrupt departure.  He's traveled all over this godforsaken state, down to Mexico, and once or twice to this rathole of a city, all for you. His poor, wounded, weak little bird.  His charge, the one that must be taken care of and protected at all costs."  As he speaks, Ethan's words became harder, his teeth squeak as they grind together, and his lips are  held tightly together, barely opening as he speaks.

I turn back to Ethan, dispassionately viewing his tightly wound body, the entire package vibrating with something I don't want to name, or understand.  It has been obvious to me from the first time that I heard Giles speak Ethan's name that Giles loved him.  Giles would always love him. Some things never go away, like uranium, cockroaches, and first love.  Even though they most likely sliced each other to ribbons emotionally, and very nearly physically, they still love each other, just as much as they hate each other.

"Look, Ethan, do me a favor.  Crawl back under your rock and stop playing games with me.  Everything and everyone is fine without me.  I'm about as necessary as you in that town."  A small, fading part of me winces along with Ethan at my unnecessarily harsh words.

"Really, Buffy, do get over yourself.  Yes, you sent that handsome undead bloke you were so fond of straight to hell.  Yes, you burned a few bridges.  You're not the first you know.  As the Slayer, perhaps you're not so very needed. Perhaps Rupert and his passel of other brats can take care of things.  But you're forgetting one very, very important detail."

Ethan charges forward, straight into the center of my body.  He grabs my forearm in such a painful and sudden grip that I'm temporarily stunned.  His face thrusts into mine, so close I can see the light sheen of sweat on his tanned skin, and the tiny curved wrinkles around his eyes.   His touch burns me, and makes me feel.

"They need YOU, not the Slayer.  They need Buffy Anne Summers, their friend, their unrequited love, the figure that unites them and sometimes divides them.  They need the lover they can never have, but will always crave deep within their bodies.  I've never taken you for a stupid girl, don't make me start now.  I'm sick of watching Rupert hurt.that's my job and I'm not in the mood for him to hurt right now."

Part of me is listening, the other part is fixated on who wants me as their lover.  I'm used, I'm no good to anyone, I've fucked a vampire and if I could, I would again.  Who in their right mind would even touch me?   Ethan shakes me violently and I just snap.  A long, thin scream tears out of my entire body.  I grip his arm and throw him over my back so hard I hear his shoulder make a sickening popping noise as it flies out of its socket.  In the back of my mind, I hear his whimper, but I can't move.  I start to shake and shudder at what I just did.  For the first in almost three months, I hurt someone.  Technically, it was someone that a Slayer is pretty much allowed to hurt, if not kill, but still.I hurt him.

It felt good.

It felt righteous.  The blue and gold net around the building, weaving in and out of the air, falls into place around my body, molding itself to my form.  My eyes fly open as I see the muddled colors hugging my skin begin to dissipate.  Tears run freely down my face as I turn to Ethan and look down at his still form.  His eyes meet mine and I watch as one corner of his mouth turns up in a half-smile better known as a smirk.  He seems awfully happy for someone who just had their shoulder dislocated.  I shake my head slowly as I walk away.

I'm needed somewhere else.


The door is heavy and familiar.  The intricate designs, the heavy brass knocker.God, I should have went to Willow and Xander first.  They'd be angry and upset but they would have buried it under false teenage cheer.  Giles, though, would give it to me with both barrels.  Before I completely loose my nerve and sprint back to LA, I lift the knocker and slam it down just once, but so hard that the entire door shakes. I hear Giles' well-modulated voice call out his acknowledgement.  Footsteps, scuffing of the door against the floor, and then silence.  I try to raise my head and look at him, but there's this invisible weight pressing down on my neck.

Then, as quickly as I knocked on the door, my head is pressed so tightly against Giles' warm, firm chest that I'm not sure I can breathe.  And I don't really care.  Because I know what matters more than breathing.

He's not going to let go.