Starting Over
By Tango

DISTRIBUTION: Please ask. Thanks.

****SUMMARY: Buffy is HIV positive. CONTROVERSIAL TOPIC. If the subject of HIV/AIDS bothers you, please do not read this fic. WARNING: Some parts WILL be DARK.

AUTHOR’S NOTES: This fic is a very radical interpretation of Pearl Cleage’s book, What Looks Like Crazy On An Ordinary Day. I used a portion of her plotline for this fic.


Buffy’s rental car was making a very frightening, not to mention loud and obnoxious, rattling noise. She was thirty miles from Sunnydale when it started to get really bad. Momentarily, she envisioned herself losing control of the vehicle and flying off the side of the road. A year ago that sort of vision would have scared her and made her slow down. Now, she wondered if it wouldn’t be better all around if she just died now and saved herself the trouble later.

She thought about suicide for the first couple of months after she found out that she was HIV positive. The idea of living long enough to waste away was almost more than she could stand. Now a year had passed by and some days she still thought of it. Her mother had died the year before from an aneurism. It was as if the fates were making sure she would never find peace and contentment. As hard as it was to think about it, she was glad that her mother wouldn’t have to watch her die.

She pulled into Sunnydale, following closely the directions Willow had emailed her. She couldn’t imagine that she would want to live in such a small town when UCLA seemed to suffocate her. Willow, of course, convinced her that Sunnydale was the place to live. Buffy remained wary of the idea. Willow was always a bit on the strange side.

Wickedly smart to the point of genius, Willow had been accepted to every college with a stamp by the beginning of her senior year. She was brilliant with her whole career ahead of her. No one could have been more shocked when Willow announced she was following Oz to the sleepy town of Sunnydale, California.

She was happy there and boasted that while UC Sunnydale certainly wasn’t Oxford, it did have a very competitive academic reputation and she could get the education she wanted anywhere. Willow really didn’t need teachers. All she needed was a large library with an extensive inter-library loan program. She was blissfully happy. By the end of her freshman year, Oz had slipped a rock on her finger the size of a whole year of Dingoes Ate My Baby concert tours.

Three months later, he was heading home from a gig when his van was hit head on by a speeding drunk driver. Oz died on impact and Willow’s life was forever changed.

Maybe it was because Oz had died so suddenly, but Willow was focused on the living part of Buffy’s sickness. HIV is not the same as AIDS. People with HIV can live long, healthy lives without having to suffer from the ugliness and death brought by AIDS. Willow spouted documented facts to Buffy on an almost daily basis over the phone and through email in the beginning. Willow had read every piece of literature posted and published on the topic, about LIVING and being safe, instead of the depressing literature on how to not die more quickly. She told her friend about the future she might have.

It was the “might” that got Buffy. She knew the truth, no matter how many booklets talked about what was possible. She had a terminal illness. She was going to die and it wasn’t going to be pretty. One day she would wake up and healthy, pretty Buffy would be gone and a horror covered with lesions and drenched in sweat would remain. She wondered if she would have the nerve to kill herself then.

She wasn’t sure.

She wouldn’t have lasted through the year without Willow, who had arrived at her doorstep two and a half hours after she got the dreadful news. Buffy had been dating Riley Finn then - tall, handsome Riley with all his country boy charm and good looks. They had talked about sex for months. They shared their sexual history. Buffy had only been with one boy one time - Parker Abrams. They dated for a month and thinking she was the last living virgin in the college world, thinking that this handsome, interesting boy cared about her, she gave him her virginity. The next morning he gave her coffee and a leisurely, but permanent exit.

She didn’t tell Riley all that. A part of her still feared there was something wrong with her, that there was a reason Parker just left her like that. Willow explained the Poophead Principal and of course it made sense, but a small part of her still wondered if it wasn’t her all along.

What she actually told Riley was that it was a one night stand and that in the heat of the moment, he hadn’t used protection. Her good natured boyfriend said that although he trusted her, he thought they should both get tested, just to be safe.

He came back with a sparkling clean bill of health, of course. Buffy wasn’t nervous at all. She had only had sex once. She was a good girl with a whole life ahead of her. There was no way anything would come up in her results that would stop her from having a healthy relationship and she was anxious to take the next step. When the news came back she was stunned. Riley was there with her when it happened and was gone ten minutes later.

He didn’t say goodbye or what can we do or how can I help make this easier for you. He didn’t hug her when tears welled up in her eyes and began falling in streams down her cheeks. He never said, Gee, that’s a shame, baby. No, he stood up, slung his bookbag over his broad shoulder and walked out of the door.

Almost as if her life depended on it, Buffy tried everything to talk to Parker, to let him know that he needed to get tested and make sure he didn’t pass the disease onto any other unsuspecting girls, but he wouldn’t return her calls, he walked away from her when she tried to approach him on campus. She finally sat down and wrote him a letter as a last option. He was a walking time bomb, a womanizer who had probably infected dozens of women by now.

She wasn’t expecting him to storm up to her in the middle of a crowded hallway and toss the letter at her, screaming. She stared at him with hurt and confusion. He had destroyed her life and now he was blaming her?

“You’re the only one I’ve been with Parker,” she said, trying to keep her voice low. “You have to get tested.”

“You dirty whore!” he screamed in the middle of the hall. People stopped to gawk at them. He turned away from her and looked at the crowd. “She has AIDS!” he shouted in frustration. He moved back toward her but didn’t risk touching her.

“Don’t ever speak to me again,” he snarled in contempt. “You can’t blame this on me, you lying bitch.”

News travels faster on a college campus than she ever thought possible. One moment she was just an ordinary girl and the next everyone knew she was the one with the disease. She became this untouchable, dirty thing that no one could stand to be around. She was walking fear.

There were a couple organizations on campus that were very into media and tolerance and safe sex, but ten minutes with any of them made her feel like a scientific subject. The AIDS organization on campus should have been better, but they weren’t. Even if you knew that you can’t contract AIDS in basic, every day activities, there was still a no touching of The Dying Person policy. No one wanted to risk that the doctors were wrong.

Soon she couldn’t go anywhere without people staring at her, giving her those looks. Everyone assumed she got HIV through something Bad. She had been a slut, she did drugs or worse, she was selling herself for drugs. No one wanted to believe that anyone could get it; anyone could have made the same mistake she had.

Buffy spent days in her dorm room crying over what was lost. She never really thought too much about a family or kids in the future, but now the loss of those things were staggering. She wasted her virginity, her entire life, over one night with one boy who would probably never really be a man. She would never know love now, never make love. She wouldn’t be held every night or snuggled with in the mornings. She was untouchable. She was sick and it was only a matter of time before it started to show.


After a month, Buffy accepted Willow’s offer to be her roommate, packed up her stuff, rented a car and drove to Sunnydale. When she pulled into the driveway, Willow was already running down the steps to greet her.

“Buffy!” Willow shouted. She took Buffy into her arms, hugging her close. Despite every attempt to keep her cool, Buffy started sobbing immediately. No one who wasn’t a doctor or a nurse had touched her in a very long time.

“Are you okay?” Willow said, pulling away and looking over her friend cautiously. “Did I hurt you?”

“I really missed you, Will,” Buffy sniffled. Willow pulled her close again and hugged her harder this time.

“I really missed you too,” Willow whispered back.

When the haze of sniffles cleared, Buffy looked up to see a man standing on Willow’s porch. He had short, dark hair that stood in disarray all over his head in the sexiest way. His deeply muscled broad shoulders narrowed to a slim waist. He had deep brown eyes that seemed to dig right into a person.

Buffy nudged Willow in the side. “Did I interrupt something?”

“Oh yeah,” Willow said cheerfully. “Angel, this is my best friend, Buffy Summers. Buffy, this is my friend Angel Roarke. I sorta asked Angel to come over and hang out with you for a little while cause I have class and I don’t want you to be lonely. So he’s going to take you out to lunch and I’ll be back in a few hours.”

“Are you seeing him?” Buffy asked curiously, looking over him with obvious approval.

“No, of course not,” Willow scoffed, as if it was the strangest idea ever that she could be dating that gorgeous creature.

Buffy gritted her teeth and turned to look at her friend, “If you’re playing matchmaker, Will, I swear-“

“Buffy, he’s my friend. I promise. I wouldn’t do that to you even if you weren’t planning on crawling into a hole for the rest of your life and act like you’re all hideous or something and-“

“Yes, thank you, Will,” Buffy grouched. She opened the trunk and pulled out the first of her bags.


The first thing she noticed was that Angel was really quiet. He didn’t seem to feel the need to fill up the silence with idle chatter. At first, it made her a little nervous. At least when people were throwing insults at her, she knew what they were thinking. He didn’t give her a clue.

He helped her carry her bags upstairs and then locked up the house before opening the door of his sleek, black BMW for her. He took her to a little pub a mile away and she was happily munching on a burger and fries twenty minutes later.

“So what do you do, Angel?” Buffy asked as they sat there sipping beers together. “You go to school with Willow?”

“No, I finished undergraduate school and decided that was enough for me,” he answered. The man was incredibly sexy in a not so subtle way. The twinge between her thighs was a sign that she was not just attracted to the first man she had come in close proximity of in a while. Unfortunately, her first lover was also her last. Realizing she was leaning toward him across the table, she casually leaned back against her chair again.

“Ah, so you’re an international spy,” she joked with a twinkle in her eye.

“They call me 007 at headquarters,” he said, smiling a slightly crooked smile. “Actually, I’m an artist. I paint.”

“Ever sell anything?” Buffy probed.

“Nope,” he answered, chuckling. “But in my defense, I’ve never really tried that hard to sell either.”

“Why not?” Buffy asked, taking a sip. “You don’t want to sell them?”

“It’s not about selling them,” he said quietly, looking off into the street through the window. “It’s about the creation itself. After you put the energy and emotion into it, it seems a shame that you could just put a price tag on it.”

“Oh,” Buffy said nodding. “So you’re rich.”

“What does that have to do with it?” Angel asked.

“Well besides the Beamer in the parking lot, poor people will gladly put a price on their art because they have to have support to do what they love. Only rich people can afford to make art for art’s sake,” Buffy said.

“Poor people have to put a price on their work but that doesn’t mean they want to,” Angel said thoughtfully. “Besides, I might sell one someday. Maybe I’ll paint you and it’ll become one of those pictures that people buy in print again and again.”

“Paint Willow,” Buffy said softly. “She has that light inside, you know? She glows when everyone else is bumping around in the dark.”

“Yeah, she does,” Angel agreed.


Angel had lunch with Willow every Wednesday at noon when her schedule left her too much study time in his opinion. Since Oz had died, he made sure to take care of her, to watch out for her, to make sure no one hurt her. Too much study time for Will made her turn into herself for too long, so Angel always pried her out of her shell to make time for him.

“So, how long have you known Buffy?” Angel asked not so casually over turkey sandwiches in the quad.

“Seems like always,” Willow said. “We went to high school together in LA. She was the May Queen and the Prom Queen and every other Queen there was and I was this little nerd, but she liked me, so we became friends. Along with Xander we were inseparable.”

“Xander,” he grunted. He went too long without hearing that name and enjoyed it. He knew it was only a matter of time before he moved there too. They could be one, big annoying family. “You aren’t going to tell me anything about her, are you?”

“If you wanna know you have to ask her,” Willow said smugly. “Get to know her yourself.”

“You didn’t…”

“No,” she said, shaking her head. “I wouldn’t tell her your secrets. That’s for you to share if you want.”

“You’re good people, Will.”

“Don’t try to butter me up,” she laughed. “I won’t tell you squat.”


Buffy sat on the front porch with a cup of coffee and looked out into the tree lined street. Revello Drive was nothing like the concrete paradise she had grown up in. It was more peaceful here. Quieter.

As she sipped her coffee, she couldn’t help but wonder if Angel and Willow were lovers. They seemed to know each other really well. Willow didn’t say much about him. He was Oz’s best friend. After Oz died, Angel started stopping by a lot and never stopped. In fact, after the first week, Buffy found that Angel stopped every day, sometimes more than once.

Willow and Angel had sort of a routine that was actually pretty cute, though Buffy did find it a bit strange. Every morning Angel jogged two miles from his house over to their house at 7 AM. He had a key – and managed to scare the living shit out of Buffy the first day – and just let himself into the house. He seemed fine with not turning on lights and was making his way to the kitchen to start the coffee when a half asleep Buffy was doing the same thing.

When she bumped into a person three times bigger than Willow in the dark living room, she jumped away from him, screaming and was about to fall on her ass when he caught her. The contact only made her more nervous and she damn near fell over again.

“Buffy, it’s Angel,” he said, steadying her.

“Are we being robbed?” Willow asked with a yawn as she trudged down the steps and into the kitchen. She wearing bright yellow pajama bottoms with sheep all over them and a t-shirt that Buffy was certain had once belonged to Oz. She trudged back out and scratched her head looking at Angel suspiciously. “Did they steal the coffee?”

Laughing, Buffy and Angel headed into the kitchen together.

Now it was a routine for Buffy too. Every morning, Angel jogged over and made coffee, Willow trudged sleepily down the stairs, usually followed by Buffy. They sipped coffee from their mugs and chatted together for the first hour of every day. It was a cool way to start the mornings.

After a while, she came to love those mornings surrounded by her best friend in all the world and a man she was really starting to like and respect. It almost felt like she had a family for the first time in a long time.

That, of course, was when she started to be afraid. She liked Angel. She even trusted him, which is more than she could say about the rest of the male species. In fact, she wished more than anything that she could even allow herself to daydream about being with him. She started waking up in the middle of the night so hot and wet that her hand would already be between her thighs before she realized what she was doing. She would writhe in the bedclothes, her nipples aching to be touched and silently shuddering in the dark.

The more she thought about not having Angel, the more she wanted him. Every morning he jogged into her house covered in a fine sheen of sweat. She loved the part of the morning when he would lift his t-shirt up to wipe his face and bare his tight, muscled abs for her to see.

He was definitely going to be a major problem. Now she was wondering why she hadn’t just moved to San Francisco or New York where she could more easily blend into a crowd and disappear if she wanted to. Sunnydale was going to be way too small before this was all over.

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