Sunnydale Heights

by Maureen "The Brontë Sisters are gunning for me now" Wynn
Copyright © 1997

This is positively the last one. No, I say, no more! Well, all right, I might finish up something with Willow Eyre, but I am not, not I say, doing Northanger Abby, so don't even ask!

I gave up on the book — the text was just too dense (and too depressing!), and it took too long to get to the point, so this is Wuthering-lite: The Hollywood version. Although not too lite. This is fairly long — I tried to trim it, but just couldn't bear to cut any more out! Angst, and love, and betrayal... sigh! They don't write 'em like they used to.

On the barren western moors in California, a hundred years ago, stood a house as bleak and desolate as the wastes around it. Only a stranger lost in a storm would have dared to knock at the door of Sunnydale Heights.

During a raging blizzard, a bitterly cold, snowy night on the moors, a solitary traveler staggers for refuge toward Sunnydale Heights. In the dark, mysterious house, Mr. Lockwood, a "new tenant at the Grange," announces to his landlord Angel (the master of the house) that he is lost and must stay the night for shelter. Although given a cold reception, Lockwood is begrudgingly given a room. He is led by candlelight to a drafty, depressing, upstairs "bridal chamber" guest room by Willow, where he is told: "Nobody slept here for years."

Lockwood cannot sleep, for the wind blows the shutter against the window all through the night. When he rises from his dusty bed to close the shutter, he hears a strange, ghostly, female voice, desperately crying: "Angel." He shouts downstairs to Angel: "Help, help, Mr. Angel, Mr. Angel, there's someone here." He draws his hand back in from the window, after appearing to have had someone clutch his hand in an icy grasp.

After throwing Lockwood out of the room, Angel flings open the window, and cries out for his long-lost love:

Angel: Buffy, Buffy, come in, Buffy come back to me... Oh my heart's darling. Buffy. My own, my Buffy.

Lockwood asks the housekeeper, Willow, where Angel is going:

Willow: She calls him, and he follows her out to the moor.

Lockwood: I don't believe that life comes back, once it's died, and calls again to the living. No, I don't.

Willow: Maybe if I told you a story, you'd change your mind about the dead coming back. Maybe you'd know, as I do, that there is a force that brings them back, if their hearts were wild enough in life.

Seated in front of the fireplace with him, she begins to tell the story, in flashback, of the tragic love between Angel and Buffy forty years earlier...

Buffy and Angel playfully run into the cemetery to meet in their make-believe castle high above Sunnydale Heights, far away from the misery of the town. Their affection has fully ripened into romance. Angel's love for Buffy prevents him from leaving and seeking his fortune elsewhere when she urges him to escape from Sunnydale Heights:

Buffy: Did Giles see which way you came?

Angel: What does it matter? Nothing's real down there. Our life is here.

Buffy: Yes, my Angel.

Angel: The clouds are lowering... see how the light of the moon is changing?

Buffy: It would be dreadful if Giles ever found out.

Angel: Found out what? Can't you talk to me once in a while?

Buffy: Shouldn't talk to you at all. Look at you. You get worse every day. Why aren't you a man? Angel, why can't you rescue me?

Angel: Buffy, come with me now.

Buffy: Where?

Angel: Anywhere.

Buffy: And live in haystacks and steal our food from the marketplaces? No, Angel, that's not what I want.

Angel: You just want to send me off. That won't do. I've stayed here and been beaten like a dog, abused and cursed and driven mad, but I stayed just to be near you, even as a dog. And I'll stay 'til the end. I'll live here forever.

Although strongly attracted to him and possessing some of his wild spirit, she is also interested in a safe and secure life that he cannot provide:

Buffy: That's what I want. Dancing and singing in a pretty world. And I'm going to have it.

Buffy meets the mild-tempered Xander Harris, who introduces her to a world of fashion and fun, far removed from the wild world she shared with Angel. When she returns, Angel confronts her with her changed behavior:

Buffy: Angel, is he here?

Willow: Oh yes, he came back one night last week with great talk of lying in a lake of fire without you. How he had to see you to live. He's unbearable. I wonder where he could be? Angel?

Angel: Buffy!

Buffy: Angel!

Angel: Why did you stay so long in that house? Why did you stay so long?

Buffy: Why? Because I was having a wonderful time. A delightful, fascinating, wonderful time. Among human beings. Go and wash your face and hands. And comb your hair so that I needn't be ashamed of you in front of a guest.

The feckless Xander utters his contempt for Angel in Buffy's presence, and she vehemently defends her friendship for him. Xander cannot understand the bond between Buffy and Angel:

Xander: I simply cannot understand how you can allow that beast to have the run of the house.

Buffy: Don't talk about him.

Xander: Buffy, how can you, a gentle-woman, tolerate him under your roof? A vampire giving himself airs of equality, as if he were a man. How can you?

Buffy: What do you know about Angel?

Xander: All I need or want to know.

Buffy: He's my friend.

Xander: That blaggard!

Buffy: Blaggard and all. He belongs under this roof and you speak well of him or get out.

Xander: Are you out of your senses?

Buffy: Get out I said, or stop calling those I love names.

Xander: 'Those you love?'

Buffy: Yes! Yes!

Xander: Buffy, what possesses you? Do you realize the things you're saying?

Buffy: I see that I hate you. I hate the look of your milk-white face, I hate the touch of your soft, foolish hands.

Xander: Some of that vampire's evil soul has gone into you, I think.

Buffy: Yes, it's true!

Xander: So his dirt is on you?

Buffy: Yes, yes! Now get out!

In her room in front of her full-length mirror, Buffy forcefully strips off her fine dress and changes into her own clothes, and then runs across the moors to find Angel at Sunnydale Crag.

After a long pause, they rush into each other's arms:

Buffy: Forgive me, Angel. Forgive me.

Angel: Make the world stop right here. Make everything stop and stand still and never move again. Make the California moors never change, and you and I never change.

Yet as time went by, Buffy again was torn between her wild, uncontrollable passion for Angel and the new life she had found that she could not forget. Buffy's strong, passionate love for Angel is counterbalanced by her yearning for Xander and earthly things. Angel derides Buffy for having Xander call on her, and for changing so drastically from her mood on the moors:

Angel: You're not gonna sit all evening, simpering in front of him again, listening to his silly talk.

Buffy: Oh, I'm not!

Angel: No.

Buffy: Well, Angel, I am. It's much more entertaining than listening to you.

Angel: Buffy. Don't you talk like that.

Buffy: I will. Go away. This is my room. It's a ladies room. Not a room for vampires with bloody hands to come into with their insulting complaints. Now let me alone.

Angel: Yes. Yes. Tell the dirty vampire to let go of you. He soiled your pretty dress. But who soiled your heart? Not me. Who turns you into a vain, cheap, worldly fool? Xander does. You'll never love him, but you'll let yourself be loved because it pleases your stupid, greedy vanity. Loved by that milksop...

Buffy: Stop it. Stop it and get out. You had your chance to be something else.

Angel: That's all I've become to you. A pair of dirty hands. Well, have them then. Have them where they belong! (He grabs her arms, pulling her towards him, shaking her) It doesn't help to strike you.

After their violent quarrel and misunderstanding, Angel leaves the house and goes out, just as Xander arrives to call on Buffy. After Xander has left, Angel expresses his love for Buffy:

Angel: I want to crawl to her feet, whimper to be forgiven, for loving me, for needing her more than my own life, for belonging to her more than my own soul.

In the kitchen without her knowledge, Angel overhears Buffy telling Willow that she is considering Xander's proposal of marriage:

Buffy: Willow, can you keep a secret? Willow, Xander's asked me to marry him.

Willow: What did you tell him?

Buffy: I told him I'd give him my answer tomorrow.

Willow: Well, do you love him, Buffy?

Buffy: Yes, of course.

Willow: Why?

Buffy: Why? That's a silly question isn't it?

Willow: No, not so silly. Why do you love him?

Buffy: Because he's handsome and pleasant to be with.

Willow: That's not enough.

Buffy: Because he'll be rich someday, and I'll be the finest lady in the county.

Willow: Oh. Now tell me how you love him.

Buffy: I love the ground under his feet, the air above his head, and everything he touches.

Willow: What about Angel?

Buffy: Oh, Angel. He gets worse everyday. It would degrade me to marry him. I wish he hadn't come back. (Dejected, Angel turns away from what he hears) Oh it would be Heaven to escape from this disorderly, comfortless place. (Angel departs in a rage)

Willow: Well, if Xander and his charms and money and parties mean Heaven to you, what's to keep you from taking your place there?

Buffy: If I were in heaven, Willow, I should be exteremely miserable. I don't think I belong in Heaven, Willow. I dreamt once that I was there. I dreamt I went to Heaven, and that Heaven didn't seem to be my home. And I broke my heart with weeping to come back to Earth. And the angels were so angry they flung me out into the middle of the heap, on top of Sunnydale Heights. And I woke up sobbing with joy. That's it, Willow. I have no more business marrying Xander Harris than I have of being in Heaven. But Willow, Willow, what can I do?

Willow: You're thinking of Angel.

Buffy: Who else? He's sunk so low. He seems to take pleasure in being mean and brutal. And yet, he's more myself than I am. Whatever our souls are made of, his and mine are the same. And Xander's is as different as frost from fire...Willow, I am Angel. Everything he's suffered, I've suffered. The little happiness he's ever known I've had too. Oh, Willow, if everything in the world died and Angel remained, life would still be full for me.

She is startled to hear horse's hoofbeats and Giles's voice calling after Angel to stop. Willow tells Buffy, to her dismay: "He must have been listening," overhearing their conversation up to the point at which Buffy stated that she wouldn't marry him because of his vampiric state — it would degrade her. She runs outside into the driving rainstorm, hoping to tell him of her long-repressed feelings and love, but Angel has already disappeared. Buffy calls after him, and then makes the difficult ascent on foot to Sunnydale Crag, but he is nowhere to be seen. There, she collapses as the rain beats down on her.

The next morning, Buffy is found by Xander "near one of the rocks on Sunnydale Crag, the life almost out of her," and brought home. As she is revived, she deliriously murmurs the name: "Angel," but apparently, Angel has "disappeared into thin air."

As Buffy is convalescing from pneumonia, an overly-attentive, well-meaning Xander promises life-long caring, and she quickly forgets her love and memories of Angel, consenting to Xander's flattering proposal of marriage:

Xander: Darling, let me take care of you forever. Let me guard you and love you always.

Buffy: Would you love me always?

Xander: Yes. It's so easy to love you.

Buffy: Cause I'm no longer wild and black-hearted? Of course you were right, Xander. What you said long ago was true. There was a strange curse on me, something that kept me from being myself, or at least from being what I wanted to be.

Xander: How sweet you are!

Buffy: No one will ever kiss me again but you. No one. I'll be your wife and be proud of being your wife...And I'll be good to you and love you truly, always.

With a troubled look on her face after the marriage ceremony, Buffy feels Angel's cold and dark presence: "A cold wind went across my heart just then. A feeling of doom. (To Xander) You touched me and it was gone." As Xander's carriage takes Buffy away, we see the teary-eyed, worried countenance of Willow, the Sunnydale Heights housekeeper:

Willow: And I too felt a cold wind across my heart as they rode away together. But as the years went on, they were really in possession of a deep and growing happiness. I wish you could have seen Buffy then. She became quite the lady of the manor, and seemed almost overfond of Xander.

A distinguished, sophisticated Angel returns after amassing a considerable fortune, with a polished manner and a persistent interest in reviving Buffy's love. After seeing him again, Buffy resists the inner awakenings of her feelings for him:

Buffy: You're very grand, Angel, so handsome. Looking at you tonight, I could not help but remember how things used to be.

Angel: They used to be better.

Buffy: Don't pretend life hasn't improved for you.

Angel: Life has ended for me. How can you stand here beside me and pretend not to remember? Not to know that my heart is breaking for you. That your face is the wonderful light burning in all this darkness.

Buffy: Angel, no, I forbid it.

Angel: Do you forbid what your heart is saying to me now?

Buffy: It's saying nothing.

Angel: It 'tis. I can hear the love of the music. Oh Buffy, Buffy.

Buffy: I'm not the Buffy that was. Can you understand that? I'm somebody else. I'm another man's wife and he loves me. And I love him.

Angel: If he loved you with all the power of his soul for the whole lifetime, he couldn't love you as much as I do in a single day. Not he, not the world. Not even you, Buffy, can come between us.

Buffy: Angel, you must go away. You must leave this house and never come back to it. I never want to see your face again or listen to your voice again as long as I live.

Angel: You lie. I did come here tonight because you willed it. You willed me here to cross the sea.

Angel challenges Buffy with what he knows of her heart:

Angel: If you ever looked at me once with what I know is in you, I would be your slave. Buffy, if your heart were only stronger than your dull fear of God and the world, I would live silently contented in your shadow. But no, you must destroy us both with that weakness you call virtue. You must keep me tormented with that cruelty you think so pious. You've been smug and pleased with my vile love of you, haven't you? Haven't you? (Buffy turns to leave) Well, after this, you can think of me as something else than Buffy's foolish and despairing lover.

Willow returns to the Grange to care for Buffy, because Buffy is "gravely ill." In fact, Buffy is dying of a broken heart, lacking the will to live.

Angel: Almighty God, give me life. What is it but hunger and pain?

When Angel learns from Willow that Buffy is sick and dying, he rushes on horseback to the Grange. On her deathbed, Buffy and Angel pledge their enduring, undying love after so many years of mutual unhappiness:

Buffy: Angel, come here.

Angel: Buffy...

Buffy: I was dreaming that I wake up before I die, that you might come and scowl at me once more.

Angel: Buffy...

Buffy: Oh, Angel. Oh, how strong you look. How many years do you mean to live after I'm gone? (They passionately kiss each other, finally revealing their truest emotions to each other) Don't, don't let me go. If I could only hold you until we were both dead. Will you forget me when I'm in the earth?

Angel: I could as soon forget you with my own life, Buffy, if you die.

Buffy: Angel, let me feel how strong you are.

Angel: Strong enough to bring us both back to life, Buffy, if you want to live.

Buffy: No, Angel, I want to die.

Angel: Oh Buffy, why did you kill yourself?

Buffy: Hold me. Just hold me.

Angel: Oh, and love comfort you. My tears don't love you, Buffy. They blight and curse and damn you!

Buffy: Angel, don't break my heart.

Angel: Oh Buffy, I never broke your heart. You broke it! Buffy! Buffy! You loved me! What right to throw love away for the poor fancy thing you felt for him, for a handful of worthiness. Misery and death and all the evils that God and man could have ever done would never have parted us. You'd be better alone. You wandered off like a wanton, greedy child to break your heart and mine.

Buffy: Angel, forgive me. We've so little time.

When Willow warns that Xander is returning, Angel vows to stay with Buffy as her strength ebbs. He hears her claim that he was always the only man she ever loved:

Angel: I won't go, Buffy. I'm here. I'll never leave you again.

Buffy: I told you, Willow. When he went away that night in the rain, I told you I belonged to him, that he was my life, my being.

Willow: Don't listen to her ravings.

Buffy: It's true. It's true. I'm yours, Angel. I've never been anyone else's.

Willow: She doesn't know what she's saying. You can still get out. Go before they get here.

Buffy: Take me to the window. Let me look at the moors with you once more, my darling. Once more.

Angel carries her in his arms to the window, where they look out on the moors and Sunnydale Crag where they met together. Before slumping into his arms after breathing her last breath, she promises to wait for him there in death until they are reunited again one day:

Buffy: Angel, can you see the Crag over there? I'll wait for you til you come.

When Giles enters the bedroom with Xander, Angel tells them: "Leave her alone — she's mine." While they pray for Buffy's soul, a distraught Angel gives an impassioned plea to his deceased beloved to haunt him for the rest of his days, wishing that he won't have to suffer a long separation:

Willow: Oh my wild heart! Miss Buffy. She's gone! She's gone!

Giles: You've done your last black deed, Angel. Leave this house.

Xander: She's at peace now, in Heaven beyond us.

Angel: What do they know of Heaven or Hell, Buffy, who know nothing of life? Oh, they're praying for you, Buffy. I'll pray one prayer with them. I repeat 'til my tongue stiffens. Buffy Summers — may you not rest so long as I live on. I killed you. Haunt me then. Haunt your murderer. I know that ghosts have wandered on the Earth. Be with me always. Take any form. Drive me mad. Only do not leave me in this dark alone where I cannot find you. I cannot live without my life. I cannot die without my soul.

We return to the end of Willow's narration, told to Mr. Lockwood in front of the fireplace at Sunnydale Heights.

Willow: I can still see and hear that wild hour, with poor Angel trying to tear away the veil between death and life, crying out to Buffy's soul to haunt him and torment him 'til he died.

Lockwood: You say that was Buffy's ghost I heard at the window?

Willow: Not a ghost, but Buffy's love, stronger than time itself, still sobbing for its unlived days and uneaten bread.

Giles enters the room, claiming to have seen Angel walking the moors with a woman. After desperately searching for Buffy's ghost in the snowy cold storm, Angel freezes to death. His soul joins his love in death at their favorite place forevermore:

Giles: I tell you, I saw them both. He had his arm about her. So I climbed up after them. And I found him, only him, alone, with only his footprints in the snow.

Willow: Under a high rock on a ledge near Sunnydale Crag.

Giles: Yes.

Lockwood: Was he dead?

Willow: No, not dead, Giles. Not alone. He's with her. They've only just begun to live. Goodbye, Angel. Goodbye, my wild sweet Buffy.

Fade-out... The End!

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