"So, I heard Faith hooked up with House?" Allison asked.
Buffy took a long, appreciative sip of her hot chocolate before she grinned at her friend. "Yeah. Or that's what they want everyone to think, anyway."
Allison raised her eyebrows. "That's not what I've heard. Kutner and Taub had a rather loud conversation on how they basically rubbed on each other in the conference room."
"Uh huh. Trust me, its all play. And as it shocks people, it's even more fun for both of them. Faith likes House and his ways – but that she isn't sleeping with him tells me more about her relationship with Robin than she probably realises. In the end, Faith needs to work this one out for herself. And her flirting with House is her way of doing so," Buffy said, leaning back in her chair.
"But what about House?" Allison asked curiously. "Wouldn't he see it differently?"
Buffy shrugged her shoulders. "Faith told me they have an understanding."
"I know. But there's something
going on between him and Lisa. I just can't put my finger on what exactly that something
is," Buffy said thoughtfully. Looking at Allison, she asked, "You know them much longer. Have you noticed any changes in their relationship?"
Allison snorted in reply. "I haven't even worked out just what their relationship is yet!"
Giggling, Buffy nodded her head. "I guess you're right."
"You could just ask your mom," Allison suggested between giggles. "Or even House!"
"Puh-lease!" Buffy scrunched up her nose in mock-horror. "I so don't need the visual House would most certainly give me!"
Laughing out loud, Allison asked, "Do you think they ever … you know?"
"Ugh! Bad, bad images." Buffy closed her eyes and covered her ears. "La, la, la, la, la. I can't hear you."
Allison tucked her feet under her and giggled at Buffy. As soon as Buffy opened one eye to look at Allison, Allison opened her mouth as if she was about to say something else. Instead of closing her eye again like Allison had expected, Buffy quickly lunged forward and pressed both her hands over Allison's mouth.
"Don't. Say. It."
Eyes twinkling with glee, Allison barely managed to nod because she was laughing so hard.
"Good," Buffy said with satisfaction, sitting back in her own corner of her couch, a smug expression on her face. "Ice-cream?"
House was nursing his beer, absently watching Faith flirt with every other male – and the odd female – in the bar. It looked like they'd make quite a bit of money playing billiard later on. However, unlike the other times they'd done it, he wasn't completely into it tonight.
The epiphany deciding to pay him a visit first in Cuddy's office and later on the hospital roof turned out to be harder to handle then he had thought.
Then again, he never thought he'd be in that particular situation in the first place. Early on in his life he had decided it was best this way. No chance of screwing up someone else's life.
Only now it was too late for this. Well, he hadn't screwed up. Yet. But he feared it was only a question of time. Worse, he actually cared
and didn't want to mess up to start with. Another thing he had promised himself would never happen … again.
Damn, his whole life was slipping out of his hands – he really must be getting soft and old! How else could he explain the number of people that had managed to pass his defences in the past few months?
Or maybe Cuddy, Wilson or, worse, both had slipped some drugs into his pain medication? Switched his Vicodin with something else? Though the shape and taste of the tablets hadn't changed. Then again, he first hadn't noticed but his Vicodin consumption was slowly but surely going down. Cuddy and Wilson would probably put it down to his regular physiotherapy sessions rather than to switching his medication, though.
House sighed deeply. It was time for some drastic measures. Most had to wait until he was back at work and he could start annoying people there, but there was one thing he could do now.
Grabbing Faith as she passed him, he pulled her onto his lap. Leaning closer, he whispered into her ear, "Can you keep a secret?"
Faith wriggled on his lap a bit, smirking as she could feel him react. "Sure. Why?"
Pushing her off his lap, he patted the seat next to him. "Because you're just as screwed up as I am?"
"Worse, actually," she said casually, waggling her eyebrows at him.
Smirking, he tilted his head in agreement.
"What about Wilson? I thought he's your best friend? And this sure sounds serious."
House snorted. "I know exactly what he'd say – and that's not going to help. Let's just say it's something only the screwed up will appreciate."
Faith pondered her answer as she watched Wilson finally getting through to the barman, ordering their next round of beer. "That something to do with Buffy?"
"Her mom? You're not going to mess with them, are you? 'Cause then I'd have to beat you up. Badly."
House kept his eyes locked on hers, then he sighed. "That's what I'm trying to avoid."
"Okay, I'm in. Let's forgo the billiard, ditch Wilson after this round and then you can tell good ol' Faith all of your problems."
House snorted but refrained from commenting as Wilson returned with their beer. Somehow he wasn't sure if he was about to get closer to solving his problems or if he was going to dig himself in even deeper.
Buffy was sitting on the patio of her mother's house, watching the sun slowly vanish behind the horizon, well, fence around the backyard. She had pulled her legs onto the lawn-chair and was loosely hugging them to her chest. A blanket around her shoulders was keeping the cool November air away.
Earlier in the day she had talked to Linda again. Well, she'd just asked her to tell Heather that she needed some time. She'd also asked Linda to refrain from mentioning her name – and given her a short explanation as to the why. Though she'd arranged herself with – and actually liked – her name, it was still uncommon enough to be remembered. And the last thing Buffy wanted was Heather remembering they've met before. Not before she had made up her mind, anyway.
Even though it had been a few days since that first phone call from Linda, Buffy had yet to talk to her mom about it. Or anyone else for that matter.
"Penny for your thoughts?" Lisa asked as she pushed herself off the patio door. She had been watching Buffy for a couple of minutes now and was worried that she hadn't noticed her. Something she usually did as soon as Lisa entered the same room.
"Heather wants to meet me," Buffy replied in a spur of the moment decision.
"Yep," Buffy said. "That's the one."
Pulling a chair close to Buffy's, Cuddy sat down next to her daughter. "How? Why?"
Buffy played with the border of her blanket for a long time. When she finally started talking, she told Lisa everything Linda had told her. She also added her own thoughts of the situation, her uncertainty on how to handle it. Once she was finished, silence descended upon the patio again, leaving each of the two women to their own thoughts. It was the timer of the oven that finally broke the silence.
"Food?" Buffy asked hopefully just as her stomach rumbled in agreement.
Laughing, Lisa nodded and stood up. Holding out her hand, she pulled Buffy up and shooed her into the kitchen. "Yes. Lots of it." Closing the patio door behind her, Lisa added, "And Buffy, take all the time you need with your decision. Don't rush it. And if you need to talk again, you know where to find me, okay?"
Smiling, Buffy nodded. "Thanks."
"Giles, you can't do that!" Dawn whined, walking up and down in front of Giles' desk.
Ignoring Dawn's pacing, Giles shuffled through some papers. "And why, pray tell, can't I do this?"
"Because … just because!" Dawn grumbled.
Sighing, Giles finally put the papers down and leaned back in his chair. Taking off his glasses, he started to clean them while looking at Dawn. "And here I thought you would enjoy spending Thanksgiving with Buffy."
"I will! I mean, I do. But you can't, you can't just all come unannounced as well," Dawn said, lifting her arms to her side and letting them fall down again. "She's … there's not enough space in her apartment. Yeah. You'd have no place to sleep," she added triumphantly.
Giles put his glasses back on. "Then we shall simply book ourselves into a nearby hotel."
"They're all booked out. Yep." Dawn nodded enthusiastically, pleased with her idea. "Princeton-Plainsboro is the
new trendy to go to area during the Thanksgiving holidays. It's booked out way
"That is quite ridiculous."
"Nope. I just talked to Buffy yesterday and she told me all
about it. Honestly."
The phone chose that moment to ring and Giles threw another glance at Dawn before answering it. He kept all emotions off his face as he talked to his secretary. After he hung up again, he looked back at Dawn who was now sitting in one of the chairs opposite him.
"It must have been our lucky day, then," he said with raised eyebrows.
"Why?" Dawn asked cautiously.
"My secretary just booked our flights – and hotel rooms."
Dawn's face fell. "Oh."
Sighing, Giles interlaced his fingers and leaned forward onto his desk. "Dawn, what is going on?"
"Nothing? Really. Absolutely nothing. Nope. Everything is fine."
"That is quite obvious."
"Yup. Uh, I'll be off then. Homework, you know," Dawn said before quickly making her way to the door. She's almost reached it before Giles spoke up again.
Damn, she'd almost made it. "Yeah?" she asked innocently.
"Come back, please," Giles said, pointing at the chair Dawn had just vacated. "Have a seat."
Head hung low, she dragged her herself back and fell into the chair. "What?"
"What is going on?"
Sighing theatrically, Giles got up and walked around his desk. "Buffy isn't in any trouble, is she?"
Eyes opening comically wide, Dawn shook her head. "No! She's great, really! I mean, she's still missing Mark, obviously, but having Lisa really helps. Then there are her friends from work too. And Faith. They really get along well. Buffy's … she's starting to live again. Even be happy again. I think moving there was the best thing she could have done."
Leaning against his table, he took Dawn's hands in his. "Then what's so wrong with Willow, Xander and I coming to visit?"
Dawn sighed. That was the problem. She couldn't really find anything other than Buffy having yet to tell them about her pregnancy. Then again, she was rather surprised it hadn't come up through any of the supernatural gossip channels. Sighing again, she said, "Okay. But, just between the two of us, I'm going to tell her."
"Just make sure you don't dump any war stories on Lisa," Dawn warned. "It's one of those topics they've both been tip-toeing around without delving in too deep yet, you know?"
Giles nodded. "Angel?"
Giggling, Dawn stood up and pulled Giles into a hug. "I'll convince Buffy that it will be a great Thanksgiving."
Blushing, Giles pulled back and took off his glasses again while he went back to his chair. "You do that."
"Guess what?" Dawn said excitedly, getting comfortable on her bed, her phone pressed to her ear.
On the other end, Buffy groaned as she shared a look with her mom. "What have you done now?"
"Nothing. In fact, I'm about to do you a favour!"
"Giving up men for another ten years or so?" Lisa asked, eyes twinkling with mischief as they met Buffy's.
"No! That's just … that's just so wrong!" Dawn said in horror.
Giggling, Buffy said, "One can always hope."
Sulking, Dawn said, "Fine. I'm not going to tell you about Giles', Willow's and Xander's surprise visit over Thanksgiving then."
? You're kidding, right?"
Rolling her eyes, Dawn shook her head, even thought Buffy couldn't see it. "Nope." Sighing, she added quietly, "Buffy, last time they actually saw you was at Mark's funeral. They are missing you, are worried about you."
"But we talk all the time! And email! And-"
Lisa moved next to her daughter, squeezing her hands. "And they miss you."
"Buffy, you have to tell them at some point," Dawn said. "I mean it's close to a miracle the demon grapevine hasn't picked up on the news yet."
Fiddling with the hem of her top, Buffy said, "I guess."
"Wait," Lisa said. "Demon grapevine? Why would they be interested in Buffy's pregnancy?"
"Uh, hel-lo! The longest living Slayer ever, one of the Chosen Two
, being pregnant? After having died a few times? That's as big as it gets in the demon world!" Dawn exclaimed.
a few times?" Lisa all but shouted in shock. "You're kidding, right?"
"Oops?" Dawn said sheepishly. "Ah, there's some homework I forgot about! Talk to you later!"
And with a quiet click, Dawn was gone.
"Coward," Buffy mumbled darkly at the phone.
"Buffy?" Lisa asked quietly. "What did Dawn mean with that? And with the Chosen Two?"
Looking her mom in the eyes, Buffy sighed, slumping back into the couch. She had always known the time would come where she'd have to tell her mom about her death. She'd just hoped she'd have more time to get to know her. Closing her eyes, she started to tell her life story; "I was barely sixteen the first time I died. It all started with this prophecy…"
Once she started, Buffy just kept talking. She omitted certain bits, like Angel being a vampire and hence the episode with Angelus and also Faith going down the dark side as it wasn't her story to tell, but in the end she told her mom almost everything. Including her dying in order to save Dawn – and her struggle to readjust to normal live afterwards. She told her about the fall of Sunnydale and just how the new order of many Slayers came about.
And then she was silent.
--A/N: Is it wrong to be scared by myself? Or, rather, by Muse? The way things seem to fall into place and make sense (at least to me) when I started with only a vague idea that could hardly be called an outline and lots of unexpected things started to pop up left and right? Anyway, enough pondering (I suppose enough sleep for 4 days in a row didn't help). Like it, don't like it?
On a complete different note, has anyone read Hugh Laurie's book "The Gun Seller"? I bought it when, after offering my mom to explain Amazon to her so she could get a gift voucher, she reminded me she'd actually given me one for my birthday. The birthday that had been several month earlier. As in many several month earlier. Anyway, I found it (a minor miracle in itself) – and still had a month left to use it! Somehow I stumbled over Hugh Laurie's book in my immediate quest for new reading materials and thought, what the hell, why not. Today I picked up the book from the ever growing 'to read pile' and started reading. Conclusion of the first chapter – hey, there's someone else who loves long sentences. Sentences that include the main character's quirky comments and insight on almost everything happening to him. Maybe a bit over the top at times, but okay. Then I went on to the second chapter and suddenly the mixture was just right! It's almost like someone forgot to edit the first chapter as thoroughly as the rest of the book (at least in my mind). Anyway, it's a great read and if you happen to pick it up, read at least the first two chapters before deciding 'yay' or 'nay'!