The Summers’ Riddle
Summary: Set post Prophecy Girl and Chamber of Secrets. Buffy spent the summer following her death at the hands of the Master with her father in LA. Upon her return, she seemed darker, colder… more distant. Was the reason behind this change in personality
‘just’ her inability to deal with what had happened? Or was there something more sinister driving and manipulating her actions?
Disclaimer: I don’t own any of the rights to Joss Whedon’s or JK Rowling’s works, ideas, or characters. I have merely borrowed them for an undisclosed amount of time and plan to return them all… even if just a ‘little’ worse for wear.
“You’re sure you’ll be alright for the day? I could always call in and let them know I won’t be able to make it…” Hank Summers trailed off uncertainly, the concern in the words he choose at odds with the indifferent tone of his voice and impatient expression.
“Dad, I’m sixteen, not six. I’m pretty sure I’ll be able to manage a day alone on my own. Besides, work is much more important. Go. I’ll be fine.”
If her Father had picked up on the muted sarcasm, he didn’t show it, instead leaning in to give her a peck on the cheek. “That’s my girl. I promise I’ll make it up to you. How does sushi sound for lunch tomorrow?”
He hated sushi. If he was offering, that meant he was feeling guilty. Good. He should be feeling guilty. Vindictive, but true. Buffy pretended to think about it. “Real sushi or Commercialized sushi?”
He looked lost for a moment. “Everybody raves about the place…I’m certain it has to be the real deal.”
“Totally certain or 99.999% certain?” She questioned.
He raised an eyebrow.
“Just ironing out any possible misconceptions. Good communication is the key to a successful dining experience.”
“Tell you what, you choose the restaurant, and I’ll bring the money bags.”
“Well, if you put it that way…” She pouted prettily with both hands on her hips. “Speaking of money bags, I feel I’m going to need to try to combat my loneliness with a detour through a few boutique shops today.” One hand left its perch at her side and hovered expectantly in front of her.
He cringed, knowing the damage his daughter could do to a bank account or a credit card with an excursion to a ‘few’ boutiques. Maybe he could pull some money out of an ATM for her and swing back by the house. “How much do you think you’ll need, Honey?”
Her features darkened momentarily, before a sunny smile re-established itself. So that’s the way he wanted to do this. He shouldn’t have even bothered. She was a master at the guilt trip. “Oh, I don’t know, Daddy …don’t even worry about it. I can just sit here and watch some TV or something. Take a nap. It’s no big…probably what I would have been doing if I was at home.” She sounded pitiful and she knew it. She focused her attention out the window, worrying her lip and waiting for her words to work their magic.
“No, no, Buffy… this is your summer vacation and if I can’t spend the day with you, I at least want you to be able to spend it in the way you’d like.”
He handed her the almighty piece of plastic and grinned. “Try to have mercy on your old Dad though, would you? Leave me enough to make the house payment?”
She giggled and reached up to wrap him in a hug. “Don’t be silly!”
He smoothed his tie down in the mirror, all the while frowning at her slightly ambiguous answer.
“You look handsome, Dad. Now get out of here before you’re late for your meeting.”
“Okay, okay…you seem awfully anxious to get me out of the house, young lady. You wouldn’t be planning some massive party, would you?
She nodded gravely. “Yes, you’ve worked out my dastardly plan. I was arranging a huge house party for the afternoon to which I would invite all of my now non-existent LA friends to share in the fun. I’ll have to reschedule.”
Hank chuckled, shaking his head as he picked up his keys and was ushered out of the house.
Buffy wandered around the house, re-familiarizing herself with her childhood home and idly cataloging all the changes it had gone through since she and her mom’s departure not even a year ago. She’d never realized what a big impact her mother had on simple decorating choices through the house, but now, the differences between her parent’s décor styles was glaringly obvious. She liked her mother’s much better. His was much too ‘middle-aged, mid-life crisis, white man without the calming influence of a female’ for her tastes.
She made herself a cup of coffee, extra sugar free vanilla coffee creamer, and wished, not the first or last time, that Starbucks would just get a move on it and begin making residential deliveries.
Back in her room, she finished what little unpacking she’d failed to complete yesterday, and settled comfortably onto the bed, studying the item she’d unpacked last.
She ran her hand down the spine of the book, momentarily enthralled by the roughened texture of aged leather. Just an ordinary journal, plain and unlined, though its pages seemed to be of a sturdier stock than what was standard.
She definitely wasn’t much of a book person –Cosmo held much more appeal, but something about it had called to her, made her take note, and fill her with the need to call it her own. Maybe it was the journal’s condition: torn, ripped, and seemingly impaled multiple times by a sharp object that made her feel a sense of kinship with it. A connection. They’d both obviously gone through hell and back and were still kicking, still here. She’d taken it to her mother, puppy dog eyes pleading to be given the small item.
Joyce was completely flabbergasted as to how it had come to end up in the overseas shipment to the gallery to begin with, haggard condition none withstanding, but after seeing daughter’s obvious interest, she’d had it restored as best as possible and surprised her with it on her on 16th Birthday earlier this winter.
Buffy secretly thought it was one of the better gifts she’d ever been given. Unfortunately, she’d been unable to begin writing in the journal as the events of her school year and Slaying had monopolized the majority of her time…plus, she’d been finishing her previous journal at the time.
She bit her lip and dated the top left corner.June 08 1996
She drummed her pen, the pink gel pen she’d picked up during back to school shopping nearly a year prior, that hadn’t seen much use due to most of her teacher being extreme sticklers about the whole ‘black, blue, or #2’ rule, and contemplated where to start. The whole introducing yourself to your journal was really a stupid Junior High kind of deal –best to just start out running. Two days in to my ‘fabulous’ summer vacation with Dad and he’s already been called in to ‘work’. I just love how he doesn’t think I’ll realize that it’s not exactly normal for a man to check himself out in the mirror three times in as many minutes or wear enough cologne to offend a French whore. Whatever. It’s not like I wasn’t expecting it. It just seems like it should be easier to deal with the more it happens. It’s not. Imagine that. Just for once it would be nice to be a priority in his life. A priority he’d place above work or meeting up with whatever type of thing he’s dating at the moment. That’s not asking too much, is it? No, of course it’s not. I’m his freaking daughter for Christ’s sake! The way I see it, that entitles me to a minimum 18 years of food, shelter, American express cards, time, and devotion.
On the bright side, I do get to go shopping and spend his money to my heart’s content. Shoes here I come. On second thought, I wonder if he’d gawk at a charge to Medieval Weaponry R’S? I need a new crossbow. Look at me, Giles would be so proud: thinking about work while I’m vacation-gal. Sometimes I amaze even myself.
She sighed, capping the pen and pulling her small frame up off the bed. She may not like the direction the day had turned, but she was going to have to make the best of it, and shopping really would ease her pain and suffering. “Time to get a head start on the day,” She glanced at the clock and cringed. “Or afternoon.”
She closed the journal and slipped it into the top drawer on her night stand before gathering the supplies she’d need for her shower.
Had she waited but a few more minutes, she would have seen the shiny pink gel ink slowly vanish into the wizened pages….