BY: Alex Queirolo


Takes place during one of the diary entrees mentioned in Laure's TEAOW&S series. More specifically Bitter Suite: Downward Spiral. This is the one where after brutalizing and binding Buffy, Angelus calls Willow and tells her to come untie her before Joyce gets home.

"What if I stumble and what if I fall
What if I lose my step(faith)
and make fools of us all
Will the love continue
when my walk becomes a crawl
What if I stumble and what if I fall?"

It was just after eleven when Willow Rosenberg very quietly let herself into the Summers' house. The walk from her place to Buffy's had been filled with trepidation and fear. What if Buffy were seriously wounded.. what if Buffy's mom was already home..what if what Angel had done to her had finally sent her friend over the edge..what if..

Well all of the what if's didn't seem to be meaning much anymore. Everything seemed to be up in the air as of late and very few things were making a hell of a lot of sense. She was falling for Spike despite every part of her screaming to resist. It was insanity. Sheer lunacy. And as if that weren't enough, the one couple that she'd fallen in love with was nothing more than a sick mockery of what it had been.

It'd been a little over a year and a half since she'd met the chipper petite blonde Slayer and her life had changed radically since then. Every thing she had come to know and respect as truth had been called into question and suddenly the monsters that had been figments of her childhood had become the reality of her life. She was the best friend of the Slayer and the lover of a vicious murderer.

It got worse. Even through all the changes in her life, she'd had one thing. One universal truth to cling to; love. Buffy and Angel's. Buffy had fallen head over heels for Angel, whom when they had met had been a beautiful man with a tormented soul. Now he was a monster who seemed to derive sadistic pleasure from destroying the woman he knew would always love him.

And she would. Until the day she died. And that was a horrifying truth that nearly brought Willow to tears. Her best friend, the one girl who had showed her that she could do anything, be anything and hope for anything was being torn apart emotionally and physically day in and day out by a man she could never stop loving. Angel was the other part of Buffy's soul and because of that, the little Slayer could never let go, could never kill the rabid demon that had perverted the love that she had truly and completely shared with Angel.

And eventually that same inability would kill her. Buffy was already weakening. The soft glow that had always been around her was fading and the sparkle in her blue-green eyes was dulling. Buffy was accepting what was happening to her, giving in without a fight. Dying because it was better than living.

"Buffy?" Willow called out as she slowly climbed the stairs, her left hand moving up to brush away a stray tear of pity and sorrow for her friend. It was the last thing Buffy needed to see. "Buffy?" she called out again when she was met by silence. Nervously she wound her hand up to her hair and pulled it back into a ponytail before realizing that she'd left her scrunchie on the nightstand. Sighing dramatically she let the hair sweep back around her shoulders. "Buff?"

"In here," a very quiet and dull voice said from the bedroom. Willow lifted an eyebrow in concern but followed the voice into the room. And then she gasped.

"Oh Buff.."

"Don't," the little Slayer whispered hoarsely. "Just release me and go away."

Willow blinked and then allowed her eyes to slip downwards across her friend's bruised and battered body. Large red welts spotted the golden flesh, some looking very close to bleeding. She was pale and trembling, goose flesh rising on her arms. And there was dried liquid across her cheeks and breasts. It didn't take a lot of thinking to figure out what that was. Angel's seed. But of course. He was marking her. Announcing to everyone that this was his woman. She was his to fuck with. His to hurt. His to control. And even though she could never claim him, she could also never be free of him. The hell of it was, Willow rather doubted that Buffy really wanted to be free of her demonic lover.

"You're hurt," Willow said simply as she sat down on the bed. Reaching over to the nightstand, she picked up the key and twirled it between her fingers.

"I'm fine. Get me out of these." Buffy replied, her face red with humilation and shame.

"So you can just roll over and pretend it didn't happen?" Willow snapped out. And she knew instantly that she should be sorry for her harshness. Her friend was in pain and could use a shoulder to cry on. But she also knew at that moment that she didn't really care to be that shoulder. Not just yet.

"Spare me. Let me out of these. They're chaffing my wrists and I need to shower," Buffy replied dully, her eyes skirting over towards the window.

"Wondering if he'll return for an encore performance?" Willow asked, anger dripping from her voice as she unsnapped the metal cuff around Buffy's left wrist and then moved to the right one.

"He won't," Buffy said simply. Then she sighed deeply and glanced up at Willow through blood- shot blue eyes. That was when Willow noticed that Angel had left more than just his semen on her face; he'd left tears. A lot of them. Her entire beautiful visage was streaked with the wake of tears shed in pain and heartache.

"Can you stand?" Willow asked, not knowing what else to say. She felt her anger slipping a bit as she glanced at the hell that Buffy was existing within. The hell she'd chosen for herself.

Buffy nodded slowly, her pride taking over. Placing a trembling hand against the thick comforter, she tried to push herself to her feet. All she managed to do was collapse. Just moments before she hit the rough carpet, Willow's arms wrapped around her waist and pulled her to her feet. "Easy. I got you."

"Go." Buffy whispered, looking away. Hot shame flooded her face with red colouring and a tear slipped down and across her ashy cheeks. "I don't need you."

"No, I guess not. You're pretty comfortable in your hell all by yourself aren't you?" Willow retorted as she brought Buffy over to the bed.

"Fuck off."

"Thanks. I'll leave that to Angel. He seems to be doing a fine job of that."

Buffy's eyes snapped up and for the briefest of moments, an icy blue spark lit in them and the Slayer looked like she was about to lose her temper. And then she shifted and the pain moving through and across her small body killed the fight. Looking away she mumbled, "Whatever. You can go now."

"Why? You don't want me to see you like this? God forbid I see that the Almighty Slayer ain't so.." she stopped for a moment and stumbled with her words, a bit of her old uncertainity surfacing. "Almighty.." she finished weakly.

Buffy shook her head, "I need a shower.."

"Yes, you do. Because a shower might make the welts less noticable. Oh wait..I guess you'll just wear a sweatshirt tommorow and heavy pants, huh?"

Buffy's eyes widened in shock and pain as she looked up at her best friend. "Why are you attacking me?"

"Because I don't know how else to get through to you and I am sick and tired of being the one that has to hold you and be there for you after he brutalizes you. After you let him brutalize you!"

"Then don't be here," Buffy snapped back. "I won't come to you anymore. Problem solved. I didn't ask you to butt into my relationship with Angel."

"What relationship?" Willow retorted nastily. A part of her recoiled in shock at the way she was treating her friend who very obviously needed her, but it wasn't like she wasn't going through things of her own. She had her own troublesome and changing romance with Spike to be concerned about. "Oh wait..I guess now fucking you into oblivion and beating you to a bloody pulp is a relationship. Great, well it's my dream come true."

"Go away," Buffy hissed bitterly, her hand once again reaching out to stabilize herself.

"So that's what a relationship is to you nowadays. Well at least now I know. Okay," Willow replied, placing a palm flat against Buffy's chest and shoving the naked girl back onto the bed. Climbing on top of the shocked blonde Slayer, Willow straddled her hips. "You like it rough and painful right? You like to feel like you're nothing but a piece of used ass right? Well I can do that." Leaning forward, she crushed her lips to Buffy's and forced them apart. Buffy just gasped.

"Will, please.."

"Oh you like to beg too, huh? I bet Angel taught you that.." Willow ground out, her hands roughly kneeding the stunned Slayer's bruised breasts.

"Will.." Buffy began to thrash beneath her friend but the pain coursing through her ass and across her flesh was slowing her. And it wasn't helping that Willow's hand was pressing up against one of the welts, causing it to sear with agonizing intensity.

"Should I recuff you? Would you like that? Of course I can't come on your face or down your throat but I'm sure you still have that strap-on somewhere so I can still fuck you that way..and then we can have the relationship you have with everyone you 'love', right?" Willow said sharply. She bit down on the raging guilt and anger that was moving through her like fire. This feeling that was taking over was something more intense. This was despair and helplessness. Frustration and fear.

"Will...God..stop..." Buffy whimpered, trying to turn her head away. The next thing she felt was a sharp crack across her face. Recoiling in shock and pain, the Slayer looked up with wide but desperate blue eyes and a trembling lip. "Will.."

Willow just stared back at her. Shocked by her actions. Frightened by the powerful feelings that were overtaking her and scared by the lack of resistance coming from her best friend. Buffy wasn't fighting back. She was cracking. Numbly, feeling as if the words weren't really leaving lips that were her own, Willow whispered, "Go take a shower. You disgust me." And then she climbed off of Buffy and stood above her. After a long moment of tension, she dropped a hand down to help Buffy up.

The other girl just stared back at her, tears lightly tracing their way down her cheeks as she tried to comprehend what had just happened to her. What was happening to them. None of it was making any sense. She wasn't sure if it was supposed to. "I can get to the shower myself," Buffy mumbled,a little bit of pride resurfacing. Brushing Willow's hand aside and ignoring the fierce bolts of pain rushing through her, the little Slayer pushed herself to her feet. "I don't need your help. You've made your point. I make you sick. I get it. Now go."

Willow's first instinct was to protest heatedly. To insist that that wasn't the point at all. And it wasn't. But she realized that in those few moments when she had allowed herself to become very close to the demon that was terrorizing her best friend, it had been the truth. She had been disgusted with Buffy and she had let the girl know. No matter who it hurt or if it was right or justified. "Buffy.."

"Just go!" Buffy screamed, spinning around, blue eyes blazing. "You made your point and now we understand each other so just leave me the hell alone, okay?" And then sniffling loudly she pushed away from the bed and stalked towards the bathroom leaving Willow standing in her room. A few moments later Willow heard the shower start up.

Falling to the bed with a dramatic sigh, she gazed over at the pillows. Sitting atop one of them was Buffy's stuffed pig, Mr.Gordo. Picking him up, she began to turn the pig over in her hands as she stared up at the ceiling. This wasn't what she'd had in mind when she'd left her house. She hadn't intended to make things worse, to make Buffy feel even lower. But she had. She'd let all of her anger, helplessness, frustration and fear out into the open air and it had gained claws and sharp teeth. Angel could only really hurt Buffy if the blonde Slayer closed her eyes and allowed the two men to merge. He could only destroy her if she forgot that the creature fucking her relentlessly wasn't the man she had fallen in love with. He could only terrorize her if she pretended that he was the man she loved instead of a vicious animal intent on destroying her. But Willow had no such alibi. No extenuating circumstances besides her realization that she could only help Buffy so much. That she would never really be the healing balm that Buffy needed.

Rising slowly to her feet but still clutching the pig to her, Willow crossed the room slowly. She stopped at the desk and placed the animal on it and then exited the room, shutting the door behind her. She slipped the cuffs into her pocket and began to walk towards the stairs. And then she stopped.

Standing very close to the top step, she thought she heard something coming from the bathroom. Something more than the simple sound of water striking flesh and tile. Something that sounded suspiciously like the sound of crying. Only it was more. There was crying and there was sobbing. And this was definately the latter. This was the sound of someone breaking into a million shards. So many pieces. So little chance of putting them all back together if they ever hit the ground.

Her body tensing fiercely, Willow narrowed her eyes. Angel was responsible for most of the damage and Buffy was certainly to blame also but she'd done her part too. And now it was time to ensure that that glass sheet never hit the floor. Ever.

Eyes closed tightly against the searing pain of her flesh, the little Slayer slumped brokenly against the tile wall of the shower and allowed the pain in her heart and soul to overtake her. Losing Angel had destroyed her, but Willow..that was more than she could take. Will had been her rock. The one constant that had made the pain somewhat tolerable. No longer apparently.

"Buffy.." And this was how it went. In the worst of times, when she couldn't bear the pain anymore. When the end seemed preferable, she pushed herself away into her mind and she brought him back to her. She brought her lover, her peaceful perfect lover..the one who would never hurt her..back. Sometimes to make love to her and make all of the dirty feelings disappear for just a few moments..or until reality caught up with her. And sometimes just to hold her and give her a few seconds of imaginary peace. Sometimes it was enough. Right now it had to be. And so she lifted her arms up and let him embrace her, let him lift her up and press her against his chest.

She opened her mouth to speak, to tell him that she'd lost her best friend. To tell him that she wasn't sure she could keep fighting like he begged her to. But he silenced her, placing a finger across her lips. "It's okay," he whispered softly, gently replacing his fingers with his soft lips.

She curled farther against him, trying to mold herself to him and yet the tears didn't stop and the pain continued to consume her even as he rocked her. Numbly she wondered why she could never force this Angel to come to the surface during her sessions with Angelus. And then she realized why..because this imaginary world..this ghostly figure that filled her dreams and thoughts was all she had left of him. And she wasn't willing to let Angelus take it from her. No matter how hard she had to hide it. It was the one true secret she held from him. The one part of her she'd never grant him access to. He might suspect that she was dreaming about her former passionate lover, about the man instead of the monster..but he would never be able to prove it. And therein lie her salvation.

The sobs continued to break and bend her, causing her to slip even farther down the wall, the water splashing over her skin. "Baby.." he whispered, his fingers tracing her jawline. "I'm going to go now.."

"No, please.." she whimpered, her words hacked apart by another vicious sob. "I need you. I need you so much." Absently it occured to her that she was talking aloud. She never did that and yet right now she really didn't care.

Leaning down he kissed her again, his tongue lightly delving between her lips and merging with hers. He teased her for a moment and then broke away. "I'm not the one you need right now, my love. But I will be back when you do." And then after kissing her again, he stepped away and simply vanished.


Trembling fiercely, the little Slayer looked up and into the concern-clouded eyes of her best friend. Or was it former? She opened her mouth to speak but all that came out was a broken sob.

"Don't say anything," Willow replied gently. She stepped into the shower, still fully clothed and wrapped her arms around the smaller girl's torso and pulled her to her chest. "It's okay.."

"It's not. It's not," Buffy whimpered.

"It is," Willow insisted. "It is." She brushed wet strands of hair away from Buffy's forehead and then placed her chin on the other girl'shead. "It'll be okay. I promise."


"No. No buts. We'll get through this. We're best buds. Buds of the bestest kind."

Buffy just looked up at her numbly, not seeming really to understand. And yet she allowed Willow to lift her. Eyes closing, she allowed herself to fade a bit as she felt Willow washing her, cleaning both her hair and flesh. The next thing she was really completely aware of was the feeling of a terrycloth bathrobe slipping around her and then Willow led her into her bedroom.

"I'm gonna stay with you tonight if you want me to," Willow said softly as she moved over to Buffy's dresser and pulled out two pairs of boxer shorts and a couple of tee-shirts. Removing her wet clothing, she dressed herself first and then helped Buffy, who still seemed to be lost in a daze. "Are you with me?"

"Yeah..why are you still.."

"Here? Because I want to be here," Willow replied. "Because we're supposed to tell each other what hurts and we're supposed to lean on each other and cry on each other and..well.. and I don't think I could handle it if we didn't." Reaching over to the dresser, she picked up Buffy's brush and began to slowly comb the Slayer's blonde strands of hair. "I'm sorry.." she said softly.

"Don't be. You had every right."

"No, I didn't. I'm not sure I can understand, Buff. I try to but I'm not sure I can ever really understand. Spike has never hurt me just to hurt me or just to control me. And I guess I'm still not totally sure why not , but I know he hasn't so I don't really understand. But I do know you're hurting. And I'm sorry that I added to it."

Buffy just nodded but remained silent. "It's okay. I'll be okay." Then she turned and smiled. "Tonight is probably not the best night for a sleepover, Will. I could.." She stopped for a few moments and her face became troubled. "I could use the time to think."

"Sometimes you think too much."

"Sometimes I don't think enough. If I thought with my head instead of my heart and my hormones, we wouldn't be having this conversation," Buffy replied bitterly. Then she sighed. "Go on, Will. I'll be okay." Then she looked up and uneasily stammered, "Are..are we okay?"

Willow nodded slowly, confidantly. She wasn't about to let her best friend slip through the cracks of her own despair. No way. "We're good. It's just hard to see you hurting because I love you so much. I respect you so much. It's hurts.."

Buffy just nodded and smiled, a tear winding its way across her cheek. "Thanks Will." Then she looked up. "Um, it's cold outside..why don't you change into some sweats? You can give them back later."

"Okay," Willow agreed as she changed rapidly into a pair of oversized gray sweats. Buffy had purchased them not long after the relationship with Angel had turned violent. No doubt to hide the bruises and to allow for extra padding. "Goodnight. If you need me.."

"I'll call. I'll see you in the morning, Will." Buffy said softly as she turned into her pillow and clutched it to her breast.

"Yeah," Willow murmured as she left the room, snapping off the light as she went. Head bowed she moved slowly down the steps.


Blinking she looked up. "Mrs. Summers? Oh hi."

"Hi," Joyce said with a slight smile. "Were you and Buffy studying?"

Willow nodded slowly, "Yeah, we were. We're done now."

"Are you going to spend the night? I'm sure Buffy would love to have your company. She's been so down lately.."

"I know," Willow replied with more than a hint of sadness. "No, not tonight. She was really tired..from..excessive studying that is.. and she just wanted to sleep. I kinda want to also."

"Well okay," Joyce said with a slight nod. "Goodnight then. And be careful. You never know what's lurking out there."

The red head laughed uneasily."I'll be careful, I promise." She waited for Joyce to acknowledge her comment and then she murmured a quick "Goodnight," before she turned and stepped out into the night.

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