As I Wander

by Mary Beth Nielsen
Copyright 1997

Disclaimer: Buffy's not mine. She just shared her thoughts with me late at night after Part 1 of What's My Line. BtVS and its characters belong to Joss Whedon, WB, and blah blah biddy blah I'm so poor, trying to sue me would be like trying to squeeze water out of a staked vampire.

This vignette takes place during What's My Line. You'll recognize it. I just sort of followed Buffy while she wandered her way to Angel's place. Count on Buffy to find a way to distract me from my own Angel angst.

Very very much thanks to Celli & Maureen & Roomie.

Feedback *very* welcome.

I don't even know where I'm going. I just know I had to get out of there.

As much as the library is a safe haven for me, sometimes it feels like the walls are closing in. And Giles means well, but his prophecies of doom and gloom really don't do much for the self-confidence.

So here I am, wandering the halls, filled with a paranoia I've never experienced before.

"You won't know who they are until they strike" That's what Giles had said. So it could be anyone. Could it even be someone I see everyday? Suddenly, everyone looks suspicious. Once innocent glances seem threatening. What if it's that kinda cute senior I've seen Cordelia flirting with, or one of her snotty friends? Or what if it's someone new like the people visiting for career week? It could even be Mr. Handy, the math teacher. Eww. Does he ever go anywhere without that oily old comb? Get that man some Head & Shoulders.

What if it's him? Or her? If it really could be anyone, I'll have to be ready. Even more on guard than usual. I hear someone approach from behind and my instincts take over.

I twirl and grab him by the neck, throwing him up against a locker.

"Try it."

"Try what?" He seems genuinely perplexed. Wait. I've seen him before. Bronze. Band.

"Ah... I'm sorry." I let go--shocked by my own actions.

"Still not clear what I'm supposed to try." He's definitely looking for a way out.

"Nothing. God, I'm sorry." Am I going to alienate this entire school? I've got to get a grip. I've got to get out of here. I bolt.


I pretty much wander my way home. I've gotten used to doing a lot of my thinking while on patrol--it gets lonely enough sometimes. I even catch myself talking to myself. If Angel ever sees that, he'll really think I'm whacked... or maybe he has seen it and he's just been polite.

Angel. He's definitely freaked over this Order of Taraka thing. And if Angel's freaked it's got to be bad. Giles, he goes parental over tardiness. But Angel.... Why is it always just when we seem to take a few steps forward that something has to try and knock us light years back? Kissing him earlier, holding him and touching him when he was vamped out, I had the most exhilarating and powerful feelings. He actually made my toes tingle. And it wasn't just the cold. I should have been scared, but it's like I see right through that demon mask to the wonderful soul that makes him so very special. I know that what we have is so strong it transcends our ... unusual... circumstances. When I look in his eyes, I truly believe that we can overcome anything. But when reality comes crashing in..... it scares us both.

It's like I said to him in my room, "Sometimes I just wish...."

At least I have the guys. As much as I worry about them, I'd be lost without them. Their support is everything to me. They keep me grounded. But sometimes, times like this, they just don't *get* what it's like to be told that yet another bad guy wants my head in his trophy case. It's times like this when I'm loneliest. And most scared.

I haven't felt fear like this since the Master. And I thought it would be so much easier the next time. Ha. I'm not less scared. Just better at hiding it.

I've been wandering for hours avoiding people as much as possible. The paranoia is really starting to wear me down. I've started jumping at the least little sound--cars a block a way, leaves scraping the sidewalk in the breeze. The gang's probably worried, but I'm just not ready to deal with this yet. I'm so tired.

I've finally reached the home front, and it's dark. Too dark. Someone could be waiting for me. Why does mom always seem to take business trips at the worst times? Or is it the best times? She probably has some kind of karmic mom calendar. Gotta get one of those.

I stare at the darkened house. It looks so much more sinister now. I can't go in. Something tells me that elsewhere is the better place to be. After one last look, I move on.


It's the only place I can think to go. The only place I really want to be. The place that's always safest in my dreams. But is he here?

I move carefully down the stairs. My knee still hurts from the fall on the ice. Who am I kidding? All of me still hurts from the fight with the one-eyed guy. Besides that, now I'm nervous all of a sudden. I've walked Angel home before, but I've never been in his place. Does this mean something? Man. Wacky teen-age angst kicks in at the most inopportune moments.

I knock softly. Silence.

"Angel?" Again, it's quiet.

I try the door. Locked. Of course. He did say he was going to see what he could find out about the assassins after he dropped me off at the school. He must still be out looking. Unless he's sleeping.

I try the door again, this time turning the knob a little harder. Oh look. It's open. Note to self: get Angel new lock.

I open the door slowly, not sure if its hinges squeak, worried I might startle him if he is here. The lights are out. It's quiet. I'm certain he's not here. Still, the silence is so peaceful. So inviting. So safe.

I close the door softly behind me and turn on the lights. A cursory look tells me it's sparse, but functional. Definitely not a candidate for *In Style* magazine, but he's no slob either.

My feet feel heavy and my knee aches as I move through his place. Nothing about it really surprises me, but I'm too tired to do more than take note of the many pictures on the wall. I touch the display case containing a rather interesting statue. I'll have to ask him to tell me about it sometime.

I move past his kitchen and around the curtain to his bedroom. The bed's not made. I like that for some reason. It makes the place seem lived in. More real.

I move to the bed and slowly, carefully sit on the edge, feeling the crisp sheets with my hands on either side of me. It's soft. Comforting. I close my eyes and breathe deeply as I feel sleep begin to tug at me. I can smell him here. I can picture him here.

I feel safe here.

I slowly, carefully lay my head on his pillow and pull my knees up to my chest. I'll just rest here awhile and wait for him to come back. As I give in to the exhaustion, I have one last thought as I fall asleep.

*Maybe I'll dream of him.*


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