Remember to Breathe


Disclaimers:  I don't own them.  You did know that, right?  The song "Breathe" is by Faith Hill.

Spoilers:  Surprise, it's another IWRY fic!  Sigh…someday I'm going to run out of ideas.  Takes place at the end of "Superstar" and "Eternity."

Notes:  Someone suggested a challenge a while ago that I didn't save and no one actually answered it.  But the basic plot idea was interesting, so that's where this is from.  I started writing this after a couple of days of mostly depressing fics.  Therapeutic fluff!  Oh, and I loaned the tape with "Superstar" and "Eternity" on it to NutMeg and don't have it back yet, so I'm just going from what I remember.

Special thanks to my brother for buying me the CD.  :)


Part One

"I remember," Buffy said softly.  She watched as Jonathan nodded and walked away.  The last couple of days felt like a very strange dream that she was just waking up from.  The false memories were fading quickly, but for the moment she remembered what Jonathan said.  She tried to grasp that memory and keep it from slipping away before she had a chance to really think bout it.

/I'll never forget.  I'll never forget…/

Buffy jumped.  She had no idea where that had come from.  There was more going on here….  She shook it off and turned to look at her friends.  Somehow she was unable to concentrate on what they were saying.  She was hearing what Jonathan had said about her and Riley….

Something about an incredible connection?  That she felt he should have known the difference between her and Faith.  It was vague now, but she remembered that much.

Joining her friends, she forced a smile.  Was Jonathan right about them?  Maybe.  So she met their greetings, smiling, fighting off the unease creeping into her soul.

The unease caused by the knowledge that there was someone out there who'd know the difference between her and Faith no matter what face she wore.

The unease of memory sneaking up one her.


Returning to her dorm room some hours later, Buffy fought the feelings that had been appearing out of no where, sweeping up on her without warning.  She had tried to take Jonathan's advice to heart, tried to speak with Riley, tried to come to a reconciliation…and then it came again.

/I'll never forget.  I'll never forget.  I'll never forget…/

This time it had been more than just the words, her own voice choked with tears sounding in her mind.  This time there had been sensation too; tears running down her cheeks, strong and familiar arms around her, breath stirring her hair, their tears mingling…  Buffy had bolted from Riley's room without an explanation.

It was overwhelming her.

Buffy was shaking slightly when she opened the door to her dorm room.  Completely oblivious to her entrance, Willow was folding laundry and singing loudly with the stereo.

"…the slow and steady rush.  And baby isn't that the way love's supposed to be?  I can feel you breathe.  Just breathe!"

/Their tears mingling, his breath whispering in her ear…  "Please, please…"/

Buffy sat down heavily, making her bed squeak, and Willow jumped.  She spun in surprise, then smiled sheepishly as she turned off the radio.

"Hey.  I didn't hear you come in."

"I noticed."

Buffy tried to keep her voice neutral, but some of her emotional state must have leaked through, because Willow stopped folding laundry and sat across from her.

"What's wrong?"

Buffy sighed.  She didn't know what was wrong.  She didn't know how to explain it.  "Have you suddenly ever had…a flash of memory in the middle of the day that is completely disjointed from everything else?  Like a dream that you don't remember when you first wake up but suddenly comes back to you in pieces?"

"The whole Jonathan thing is confusing to everyone," Willow said in understanding.

"No, it's not that…at least, I don't think it has any connection…" Buffy tried to explain, but she knew from Willow's face that she wouldn't be able to explain what she didn't understand herself.  Was it just a dream?  Was it from the Jonathan-verse?  Or was it something else entirely?  She changed the subject instead.  "That song you were singing when I came in.  What is it?"

Willow didn't comment on the abrupt subject change.  She'd noticed it, certainly, but if Buffy didn't want to talk about it she wouldn't press.  "Oh, I *love* that song!  You've never heard it?  They play it on the soft rock stations a lot."

"I stopped listening to the soft rock stations after Kathy," Buffy said wryly, referring to her demon roommate and her love for Cher and Celine Dion.

Willow laughed.  "Gotcha.  Well, it's Faith Hill…and I don't usually like country, but the song is so pretty, so I recorded it off the radio.  It's called 'Breathe.'"

"I like it," Buffy said with a smile.  "Well, the little bit I heard.  It reminds me of…"  She stopped then.  What exactly did it remind her of?

"I'm glad you and Riley worked things out," Willow said with a grin, jumping to conclusions.  After all, who else could the song remind her of?  The other…made no sense.

"Yeah," Buffy said, and this time Willow didn't notice her distracted tone of voice.

Willow was in motion again, folding the last of her laundry and putting it away.  "I've got class," she said shortly.  She looked back at Buffy again, and something in her gaze must have warned Willow there was something wrong.  Or maybe it was her shaking hands.  "Are you sure you're okay?"

Buffy nodded.  "I'm fine.  Go &endash; you don't want to be late to class."

With one last look of concern and a nod, Willow walked from the room.

Buffy sighed and lay down heavily on her bed.  The truth was, she wasn't okay.  There was something very wrong…she just couldn't figure out what it was.  It wasn't something new, either.  Or it was, just…like an old injury whose discomfort she'd just been made aware of again.

And that song…the little bit she'd heard…it hadn't reminded her of Riley, not at all.  Not that it didn't fit…or maybe that was exactly it.  It didn't fit him.  Ignoring the whole "breathe" thing, there was an…Angel-ness to the song.

There, she'd said it.  Or thought it.  She'd thought his name.  That wasn't so hard, was it?

/"If we let something happen here, we'd want more.  And nothing's changed.  We'd only end up having to leave each other again."/

Buffy sat up with a noise of frustration.  She felt…antsy.  Like she wanted to crawl out of her own skin.  What the *hell* was this?  If it was nighttime she'd go out and slay to get this feeling out of her system, but she couldn't.  Not right now.  All she could do was pace the room, her nervous energy building instead of leaving her.  She certainly didn't have the presence of mind at the moment to get any school work done.

Buffy stopped her pacing in front of the stereo.  Part of her stilled for the moment.  What had it been about that song?  What about it had set this off?  No, it wasn't the song &endash; she'd been feeling like this ever since she had spoken to Jonathan and tried to hold on to the memories of that other world.  But what was bothering her had nothing to do with Jonathan.

Was it Angel?  After the months had gone by, why had she suddenly thought of him again?  Nothing good ever came of it, after all.  So why did that song seem to fit so well?  Why had it made her think of him?

Almost without thinking about it, Buffy reached out to press rewind on the tape that Willow had left.  Perhaps…there were some answers here.  Somehow she knew…she couldn't explain it.  The answers were here.  Or maybe they were inside, they just needed this to come out.