Pretty Handsome Awkward
Disclaimer: Buffy still doesn't belong to me, and neither does True Blood or Southern Vampire Mysteries.
A/N: So I’ve had this chapter written for months, but I just couldn’t seem to get it right. I’ve finally decided to just throw caution to the wind, though, and post.
Oh, and for those readers who suggested pairings, I haven’t forgotten about them, I promise! +++
“This heat is killing me,” Buffy complained.
She and Dawn had just gotten out of their air-conditioned car, only to find the Louisiana humidity in full swing.
Dawn rolled her eyes. “Yeah, because you know, you’re only from California, the land of ice and snow,” she said dryly. “Besides, shouldn’t your Slayerness be able to regulate your body temperature or something?”
Buffy scowled. She wanted sympathy, not logic. “Well, it does nothing for the hair,” she sniffed.
She didn’t mean to be in such a bad mood – for the past year or so. But she just didn’t feel like she was a part of anything anymore, like there was a major disconnect between her and the mini-slayers, even with her friends, and it sucked. In fact, she was actually thinking of taking a break for awhile. And that brought on the guilt. Hence the crabbiness.
“You know, you didn’t have to come with,” Dawn pointed out. “This is just a simple assignment.”
At this remark, Buffy straightened up, her discomfort immediately forgotten. “Uh uh. You’re still just a teenager. Besides, there’s no such thing as ‘simple’, not when you’re involved. Remember Prague?”
Dawn let out a huff of frustration. “You’re never gonna let that drop, are you?” she muttered. “And for the record – so not my fault.”
Before Buffy could disagree – because of course she was going to – Dawn began walking toward Merlotte’s, determined to take the lead.
After all, this was her
assignment, whether her annoyingly overprotective sister wanted to admit it or not, and she would be damned if anyone but her was going to approach Sookie Stackhouse with the offer of a consulting gig.
Because really, there was a reason why Giles had asked her to go. When it came to bone breakage, there was no one better than Buffy. This, however, required a smoother – and less bloody – touch.
In other words, they needed someone who could totally sweet talk a telepath.
Oh yeah, they were bringing in the big guns. +++
They must’ve hit the lunch crowd, because there were tons of people inside the restaurant.
Buffy and Dawn exchanged glances. By unspoken agreement, they immediately headed for the bar, as it had the best vantage point of the whole area.
Though they knew Sookie worked there, they didn’t see her. Nope, all they saw so far was a bartender behind the counter on the far end, and a redheaded waitress on the side closer to them. She had just finished ringing up a customer and smiled at the girls as she made her way to them.
“Hello,” she greeted. “Can I get something for you girls?”
Buffy opened her mouth to order, but Dawn beat her to it. “My sister will have a Diet Coke, and I’ll have an orange juice with root beer,” she said with a bright smile.
To her credit, the waitress didn’t say anything about the unusual order, though she did look a little flustered as she walked away – and she continued to throw them looks at them over her shoulder as she filled the glasses behind the bar.
“So much for traveling incognito,” Buffy said dryly. “I’m pretty sure she’s going to remember you.”
Before Dawn could say anything, the waitress was setting their drinks down, so she just grinned in reply.
They both fell silent then as they picked up their glasses and drank, making sure to angle themselves so they could still see everyone. And yeah, Buffy was totally proud to see the way Dawn was seemingly sucking down her drink without a care in the world, all the while taking stock of the entire room. Maybe she didn’t really need to come, after all…
Just then, Dawn made a sound of contentment as she coaxed the last few drops from her glass. “Maybe we should just think
about finding her, see if she hears,” she suggested as she smacked her lips together. Then her eyes lit up mischievously. “Ooh, or we could think really dirty thoughts.”
Buffy made a face. “Do not toy with the telepath,” she ordered sternly.
As she spoke, Buffy thought she saw the bartender flinch – as if he heard them way at the other end of bar in the loud din. She gazed at him out of the corner of her eye.
He was cute, about average height with a lean frame. She watched as he gave a charming smile to one of his customers. She didn’t sense any demon in him, though, so she pushed it from her mind.
“Let’s get going. I don’t think she’s here,” she said, tossing some money on the counter – with a generous tip, of course, as she was pretty sure Dawn mentally scarred the woman a little with her disgusting drink.+++
Buffy and Dawn stood on the Stackhouse porch, seemingly striking out there as well. It wasn’t too surprising, seeing as there weren’t any cars in the driveway and the house was shut up tight.
After a few more minutes, they gave up.
They began to walk back to the car, both a little bummed by their stunning lack of success.
Dawn was unwilling to let this setback ruin a perfectly good trip, though. Just as they were about to get back in the car, she looked over the roof at her sister.
“Do you think this Sookie will want to help us?” she asked curiously, trying to draw her sister into a conversation.
Buffy shrugged. “Don’t know. It’s a lot to ask of someone, stopping apocalypses and all, even if we might be able to help her, too. And it’s not like we can hide-”
The words died on her lips as her eyes focused on something just beyond Dawn, toward the woods that lined the property.
Dawn turned around to see what had caught Buffy’s attention – only to see the cutest dog emerge just a few dozen feet from her, its nose to the ground as it happily investigated the area. When it saw them, it trotted over to them, complete with tail wagging and tongue lolling.
Grinning, Dawn immediately crossed onto the lawn and stooped down to pet the dog – a collie, by the looks of it.
“Aw, you’re so cute,” she cooed, holding out her hand to the animal. She looked over toward Buffy. “He doesn’t have a collar. Do you think he belongs to Sookie? Or maybe he’s a stray. Can we-”
“No, no, and an emphatic hell no,” Buffy declared, though a small smile tugged at the corners of her mouth, walking around the car to pet the dog, too.
Or at least, that’s what she wanted it to think.
In a burst of slayer speed, Buffy knocked Dawn away from the dog – and flat on her ass – while grabbing the animal by the scruff of its neck. She then quickly maneuvered so she had the dog in a chokehold of sorts. The poor animal let out a startled yip.
“Hey,” Dawn cried out indignantly. “You’re hurting him! Don’t make me go all PETA on you, Buffy!”
Buffy just ignored her, keeping her focus on the dog. She was inwardly cursing herself for being so lax and letting it get so close to Dawn.
But really, for as much as she was experienced in all things evil, danger had yet to approach her in the form of a cute collie in broad daylight. So even when she had sensed something… familiar
about the dog, she hesitated for the briefest moment.
She would never make that mistake again, that was for sure.
Scowling, she gave the animal a shake, ignoring its yelp. “Show yourself,” she demanded.
“What the hell, Buffy? Have you completely lost-”
Before Dawn could finish her sentence, however, something strange happened. The dog began to shift. Faster than either Buffy or Dawn could see, the cute animal had turned into a man. A naked man. The bartender from inside.
Dawn frowned, feeling very stupid. Of course the dog was a shapeshifter. This was her life, where someone’s pet rabbit Fluffy would probably go all Monty Python on her. But did it have to happen in front of her insanely overprotective sister?
She let out a huff of exasperation as she watched Buffy modify her hold on the guy, half-sitting on his back as she pinned him to the ground, seemingly unaffected by the man’s nakedness.
“Look, there’s been a misunderstanding,” he began, his voice slightly muffled in the grass.
“Oh really?” Buffy asked coolly. “Because the way I see it, you followed us here from the bar. And oh yeah, as a dog
The man looked up at her sheepishly – well, as best he could anyway. “Well, yeah. I’m a shapeshifter. But you ain’t exactly normal, either,” he mildly pointed out. He winced as Buffy tightened her grip. “As for following, I thought you were gonna bring trouble for Sookie and her family, but then I heard you talking…”
Buffy pursed her lips. He could just be lying – except that she really didn’t think he was. Plus, she was getting nothing in the way of an evil vibe off this guy. Not to mention the fact that he was still human.
“Just let me up, and we can work this out,” he promised.
“How do I know you won’t turn into a bear or something?” she countered.
He cocked his eye at her in amusement. “Don’t you think I would’ve done that already if that was my intention?”
Buffy frowned. Good point. Still, it wouldn’t hurt to be careful.
“Dawn, get back to the car,” she ordered, deciding that her first priority was keeping her sister safe.
Startled, it took Dawn a moment to glare at her sister. “You’ve got to be kidding me,” she exclaimed. “Because of Lassie?”
They were both too busy glowering at each other to notice the indignant snort that came from the guy.
“I don’t want you to be around if he decides to get in touch with his inner Cujo,” Buffy said in a clipped voice.
“Pfft. You just want to be alone with the hot, naked man. Who, I might add, you’re clinging to like some tawdry romance novel even though it’s so not necessary,” Dawn retorted, admittedly a bit petulantly and totally not true. But, hey, this was her assignment.
With a smirk of satisfaction, she watched as Buffy let out a very unslayery squeak as she immediately released the guy and took a huge step back, though she still kept herself between the other two.
Dawn glanced around her sister at the guy and saw that he looked embarrassed, too –
Her eyes widened as she barely suppressed a grin. “Buffy,” she said in a stage whisper. “He’s turning red – all the way down to-”
She was cut off as Buffy clamped her hand over her eyes. “Hey!” she protested.
“Do something about your nakedness!” Buffy demanded. “We’ve got underage eyes here.”
Dawn snorted in disbelief. “I’m not underage. And besides, it’s not like I’ve never seen-”
She felt Buffy’s hand tighten, and she wisely stopped talking.
“And just what would you like me to do?” the man retorted with more than a trace of exasperation in his voice. “I’m a shapeshifter, not a witch. And my clothes are back at the bar.”
Buffy scowled, but to her annoyance, he only grinned back. And yep, still naked. The cute guy was naked and grinning at her. Feeling more flustered than she should’ve been, Buffy floundered for a moment.
The grin disappeared from the guy’s face. “I can grab some of Jason’s clothes from inside,” he offered, gesturing toward the house.
Buffy hesitated for just a second before nodding. “Alright, clothes, then a nice non-naked talk on the porch,” she said briskly. “You first, then me, then Dawn.”
Dawn hid her smile, though she was ecstatic that Buffy didn’t try to stick her in the car again. She found herself being spun around toward the house as Buffy’s hand lifted from her face – and got a brief flash of the guy’s naked backside before Buffy stepped in front of her sister to block her view. Ugh.
She was about to remind her height challenged sister that she could so
look over her head when Buffy jerked her head sharply to the woods again before looking at the man’s retreating form.
“Who else do you have hiding out there?” she demanded.
The man stopped in his tracks and turned around, looking very confused by this. “No one. It’s just me,” he said.
He was telling the truth. Dawn and Buffy could both see that. Actually, they could see a lot. Again.
“Okay, okay,” Buffy said hastily, motioning for him to turn around.
Seeing her unease, the guy gave a small grin. He was clearly starting to enjoy this. “The name’s Sam, by the way.”
Then he turned, and he and Buffy began walking toward the house. Dawn, however, gave one last glance into the woods, wondering what her sister had sensed.
She made a squeak of surprise at what she saw.
There, behind a huge oak tree, was Coop. As she stared, he gave her a thumbs up. Then he disappeared.
“Dawn! Is everything okay?”
Dawn gave a slight jump and quickly turned around. She made sure to give Buffy her most reassuring smile. “Sorry, I was just spacing for a minute there.”
Buffy looked at her questioningly but said nothing. Giving one last glance back into the woods, she then resumed her walk back into the restaurant.
Dawn let out a sigh of relief – right before she stared at the space Coop had occupied just seconds ago with a deep frown.Note to self – never underestimate a cupid, the sneaky bastard.
Then she grinned. Maybe she should wait in the car, after all.+++
Thoughts? Pairing suggestions? I've already got some requests, but I'm open to any others, too!