Take Me
by Hayley

Chapter Fifteen - Original Ending

Three days later, two lone figures stood in the dark of the cemetery. They stood side by side next to a fresh grave not moving, both staring at it like they were waiting for the person to rise. Sadly, both knew no one would be rising out of this particular grave but neither one could come to that realization. Both wanted to stay in denial of everything that happened three days before.

Buffy stared down at the ground, hoping this was a dream and she would wake up in Faith's arms. That had happened so many times during their weeks together that her mind kept giving her the hope it would happen again. She wanted that feeling so badly now and thinking about it made her start to cry again. She'd been crying nonstop for three days.

Angel stood beside her, a pained look on his face as he tried to remember the last time he had been at a grave under this circumstance. He couldn't and now had no idea how to feel at the moment, his mood shifting from sadness to anger and back again every few minutes. He wanted to hurt everyone responsible for this but he knew Buffy had staked the vamp so there wasn't a need, no one else to hurt. Now, he just wanted to hit something.

"How did you know her birthday?" Buffy asked, not looking up at her once boyfriend. She couldn't bring herself to look at anything but the gravestone that read: 'Faith Lehane, December 11, 1981 - November 20, 2001. She was loved and will be missed.'

The vampire had paid for everything to be done quickly, sparing no expense. Angel wanted the best for Faith, even in death. That was the reason she already had a gravestone and all the arrangements completed. Both he and Buffy wanted everything perfect for the woman they both loved.

"She told me once when I visited her in prison," Angel answered, not looking at Buffy either. He could barely stand to see the grief on her face. It only made his own hurt that much worse. "It had been her cellmate's birthday that day."

"Why didn't she ever tell me?" Buffy sniffled, trying not to cry. She knew if she started, she wouldn't be able to stop. "I loved her so much and now it feels like I never even knew her. She could have told me anything and I would have just listened. I would have wanted to know everything about her. Why didn't she know that?"

"She didn't like to talk about herself, Buffy, at least, nothing very personal. You knew that," Angel said, finally looking over at her. "Both of us knew not to push. We both trusted she'd open up in time, that she'd tell us everything about herself."

"Now I'll never know." Tears started to roll down her face. "I was so awful to her for so long, Angel. She didn't deserve this." Buffy began to cry and Angel put his arms around her carefully, trying not to cry himself. "I deserved that more than she ever did."

"Buffy, from what I can tell, she died happy," Angel said quietly, trying his best to comfort the mourning slayer. "For the first time in her life, she had the one thing she wanted most: someone who loved her. I think that was all she really longed for in life, especially since that someone was you. You had to have known how crazy she was about you."

"I never showed her how much just how much I loved her." Buffy moved out of Angel's arms and looked at him. "I used her to get better, to love being alive again, and she didn't ask for anything in return. I really didn't even think about all the things in her past she was trying to overcome until it was too late. Even when I finally asked her about it, she didn't really want to tell me. She just said I was already helping her and wouldn't say much else. She didn't tell me about what she was going through."

"I don't think she wanted everyone to know about her struggles," Angel said. "I think she thought it was better to fight those alone. Faith and I had a lot in common, I guess. We both thought redemption should be painful. She wanted to feel the pain of what she'd done wrong so she could do better."

"It shouldn't have to be like that," Buffy sniffled. She looked down at the ground again, trying to hold herself together as much as possible. She didn't want to completely break down. She still wanted to be strong for Faith. "Why couldn't I save her?"

"Things like this happen, Buffy." Angel put a hand her shoulder, still trying his best to comfort her. "You can't save everyone."

"You don't understand." Buffy shook off his hand and turned to him almost angrily, a scowl on her face and her eyes threatening to tear up. "She was all I had, Angel. Faith was the only good thing left in my life. I lost everything else."

"Your friends will help you get through this, Buffy. Willow, Xander, your sister . . . they'll be there for you."

"They don't even care she's dead," Buffy said bitterly and with a touch of anger. "They don't know why I'm so . . . broken because of it either. They don't understand. We had such a falling out because I was with her." She paused. "Angel, they made me choose."

"And you chose Faith?"

Buffy nodded sadly. "I think Faith wanted me to choose them at one point, or at least expected me to, but I couldn't do that . . . I wouldn't. I had to choose her. She did everything she could to help me." She sighed. "I fell in love with her and she never asked for anything. How could I not choose her?" She started to cry, losing her control over her emotions. "What am I going to do without her?"

Angel put his arm around her, trying his best to be strong for her. The only other time he'd seen Buffy this devastated was when her mother died. The death had been such a shock and he didn't even think Buffy was truly over that yet. He had no idea what to do to even attempt to make this one better. He knew there was no way he could.

"It will get better, get easier to deal with in time." Angel kept looking at the gravestone, his brain still trying not to register the name on it. "Have you talked with everyone about this?"

Buffy nodded again. "They didn't want to talk about how I was feeling or anything. Willow and Xander thought everything would go back to normal . . . or what they thought was normal anyway. They didn't like the fact I couldn't do that. I can't just forget about Faith. I never will." She paused. "I don't think I can ever get over this. I mean, it hurts so much and it won't stop." She continued to cry, not knowing if she could stop this time.

She had never felt so lost before. She got over Angel leaving and her mother's death mostly with help from her friends. They had always been her entire support system and she had relied fully on them to get through every struggle. Now that she didn't have any of that, she didn't know what to do. The only person who shared in her grief now was Angel and she knew she couldn't rely fully on him. He had his own life. She didn't know where to go now.

"You will get through this," Angel said strongly, a few stray tears running down his cheeks, showing he was hurting from the loss, too. "Maybe everyone will come around and help you get through this. If they love you, they'll help you even if they had issues with Faith."

"It doesn't matter," Buffy said, wiping her eyes. "I can't go back there. If anyone said one bad word about Faith, I'd lose it and say or do something that I wouldn't feel sorry for and they wouldn't understand that. I don't want to live around people who hate the person I love."

Angel looked at her cautiously, not knowing exactly what he should be saying or even what Buffy was implying. He didn't want her to make any hasty decisions because she was grieving. "What do you mean?"

"I think I'm gonna leave," she answered, looking down. "I don't think I'm needed here anymore and it's the last place I wanna be right now."

"Buffy, you're the slayer. You need to be on the hellmouth. People rely on you to be here."

Buffy sniffled, finally able to control some of her emotions. "Faith's dead . . . a new slayer will be called and if she's needed, she'll come here. Everyone else can take care of themselves." She looked up at Angel. "I don't want to live in Sunnydale anymore."

"Where will you go?"

"Don't know," Buffy mumbled. "Don't really care. Maybe I'll just travel around for a while."

Angel gave her a concerned look. "Do you think that's a good idea right now? Maybe you should wait to make these decisions." He paused, trying to think of the right thing to say. "You shouldn't make decisions when you're like this. You should clear your head first."

"You won't change my mind, Angel."

"Okay." Angel turned to face her and put a hand on her shoulder, making sure he was looking her in the eye. "Can you promise me this? Go to LA, to the hotel for a few days and think about this before you do anything. You can be in a safe place with friends, not need to worry about anything. I can tell everyone what's going on and get some of your things from the house."

"Everything I need is at Faith's," Buffy said sadly. "I was gonna go there before I leave to get some things."

"They should know you're leaving," he said, looking at Buffy sadly. "Promise me we'll meet in LA, that you'll go to the hotel. I don't want you going anywhere else when you're like this."

Buffy thought for a moment, thinking about what Faith would want her to do. She had always seemed to know exactly what was best for her, even when Buffy didn't want her to be right. "Okay, I'll go to the hotel."

Angel nodded and gave Buffy a quick hug before turning away. Buffy did the same and they began to walk in separate directions. The vampire walked toward Revello Drive to let everyone know their friend and sister was not coming back, that she was leaving Sunnydale. He hoped he could figure out what to say by the time he got there.

Buffy walked toward Faith's apartment, wanting to get a few things to remind her of the only person she ever really loved. She started to cry again, hoping she could find enough strength to keep going. As she walked, the only thought in her head was of Faith.

The End

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Chapter One || Chapter Two || Chapter Three || Chapter Four || Chapter Five || Chapter Six || Chapter Seven || Chapter Eight || Chapter Nine || Chapter Ten || Chapter Eleven || Chapter Twelve || Chapter Thirteen || Chapter Fourteen || Chapter Fifteen (original) || Chapter Fifteen (alternate)

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