See the Prologue - I still don't own anything, more's the pityAN: Sorry if everything's bit a bit talky ... just trying to give Sam a head's up before Sookie reads Buffy's mind. Also I welcome constructive criticism. I make my living working with numbers not words - so any help is appreciated
“Whoa there skippy!” Buffy threw up a halting hand. “Let’s try the clothed side of the street first.”
Sam chuckled at Buffy’s wide-eyed look and shook his head. “You say you fight monsters, get beat all the hell up, and you’re worried about a shirt?” He grinned. “Don’t worry about the clothes. If you don’t want to watch, you can close your eyes or turn your head … but I havta’ lose these jeans. They’re my favorite pair and I don’t want to break in a new set just yet.” Buffy’s eyes narrowed in suspicion as he added, “Some truth’s are better seen than heard.” With that cryptic statement Sam pulled his shirt off.
Buffy shifted on the bed and crossed her arms. She didn’t close her eyes as Sam pulled the shirt off and she lifted an admiring eyebrow as she took in his well-toned body. He wasn’t overly muscled … just muscled in all the right places. He wasn’t whipcord muscles over bone like Spike and he wasn’t corn-fed like Riley, but damn if he didn’t make her want to channel her inner Faith. She started studying the overhead ceiling fan as Sam made short work of removing his favorite jeans, but managed to get an appreciative eyeful of the ‘full monty.’
Sam, unexpectedly, seemed to be turning a slightly rosier shade of tan as he coughed and muttered, “Just watch.” The change happened suddenly, no slow metamorphosis, just Sam one minute and then a cute collie the next. Sam looked up expectantly at Buffy and cocked his canine head slightly to the left.
Buffy let out a breath and swung her legs off the bed to the floor. She knelt beside the dog in one smooth motion, caught his head in one hand and looked into his eyes, “You’d better not be evil, cuz’ you are too cute!” She laughed weakly and stood back up. “You’re right; some things have to be seen. Vampires? Check. Demons? No big. Werewolves? Best friend dated one. Cute little shapeshifty collies? Must be in an alternate universe … and how glad am I Andrew isn’t here to hear me say that.” She turned her back to the waiting dog and muttered, “Whenever you’re ready to change back ….” She heard Sam pull his jeans back on and turned back to face him as he grabbed his shirt. Buffy nodded her head, gave a half smile and said, “So you found me in the woods all broken and bleeding and you just brought me home?”
“Well, when you put it that way...” Sam looked abashed. “I was going to take you to a hospital, but then I saw how quick you were healing and I thought you might not be the hospital type ...” he let the sentence trail to an awkward end. “See, there ain't that many true shifters out there and you didn't feel
like one, but I thought maybe you might be somethin' different that I didn't know about ...”
Buffy gently interrupted, “...and you thought maybe you had someone who would understand what it's like to be a little more or less than human? Maybe someone who can know all about you and not get wigged out?” Sam gave a half shrug, but he didn't deny her. Her hazel eyes stared intently into his blue eyes. “I'm not a shifter, but I totally get the 'living on the outside looking in' vibe. Before I was Called, I was just a normal girl. I was a cheerleader whose biggest worry was whether I should add highlights or undertones. I was spoiled and I loved it. Then Merrick showed up, and my world turned upside down.” Buffy shook her head in regret and flashed a self-deprecating half smile, “I didn't make it easy on him or Giles. I fought my destiny at every turn. I didn't want to be the 'one girl', I just wanted to be a girl.” She shrugged, “I had to get over myself, but it still left me always on the outside.”
Sam nodded in understanding. “Doesn't look like you gave up though. Woman doesn't get as battered as you were by standing on the sidelines.” A perfectly trimmed eyebrow arched in agreement. “So, what happens next? You staying for a spell? Or do you have some magical way back home?”
Buffy sat back down on the bed and sagged. “I don't know. I don't even know where here is. I don't have a 'get back home for free' card if that's what you mean. Although if you have witches here, maybe I can get someone to mix up some major mojo and send me back home. I want to get back, 'cause my sister and my friends are there. But ...” she stopped and turned her head, blonde hair falling forward and partially covering her troubled face. She started to take a deep breath and paused for pain. Ribs still not 100%.
“Remember when I said things went really bad?” Sam nodded, but Buffy's eyes didn't lift from watching her hands flexing and unflexing across the top of her thighs. “I've been fighting since I was 15. My friends have been with me through so much that I started to think maybe I wasn't alone. But despite everything …” she hesitated as though the words were being pulled from her. “They threw me out. All of them. Giles, who was the closest thing to a father I had. Willow, who judged me even after all the crazy 'Bad Willow' nightmare. Xander, who was supposed to be 'the one who sees', he couldn't see how much it cost me.” Buffy took another ragged breath and briefly wondered how she could talk so openly with Sam – but the wounds were still so fresh. “Even Dawn, my sister. I wanted to give her everything, but it wasn't enough. I was never enough. The only person who accepted me, who didn't turn from me was a freakin' vampire.”
She finally looked up at Sam with tears welling up in her eyes. “Seriously, how screwed up is it that the only person who I could count on was a monster? He got his soul back, but still … hello, vampire. What does that make me? And then we just had to shrug it all off and move on. 'Cause world endage doesn't exactly wait till you get emotional crap together.” Buffy blinked tears from her eyes and continued, “Now? I'm pretty sure it worked. Spike sacrificed himself and all of the potentials were fighting like full-fledged Slayers. Even if it isn't permanent, Faith – she's a Slayer, like me – she has the Scythe and she can do what needs to be done. They don't need me and I'm so tired.” She slumped a little further into herself.
Sam looked at the tiny blonde and gingerly sat down next to her. She was so young to look that worn. She reminded him of a picture he had seen once of a war refugee – old eyes in a young face. He tentatively snaked an arm around her shoulders and gently eased her into a loose one-armed hug, ready to let go if she pulled away. The dam broke. Buffy began to sob, her body shaking from the force of her repressed grief and rage. Sam rocked slowly and murmured soft words of comfort. He let her cry herself out until her face was red and blotchy, and the flood of tears reduced to an occasional snuffle. Finally, he carefully disengaged himself and stood up. Sam patted Buffy's knee and then walked to the hall closet, got out a towel and a washcloth and handed them to her wordlessly.
“It ain't much, but you're welcome to stay here until you get your bearings, “ he gestured vaguely around the trailer. “Shower's there in the back and I've got lots of hot water.” Sam shrugged as he stated, “Everything seems a mite easier after a good, long, hot shower. It'll ease up those muscles too.” He added apologetically, “I've got clean shirts and some sweat pants that'll probably swallow you, but that's about the only clothes I've got that you could wear. I'd take you shopping, but I need to open up.” Buffy shot him a confused glance.
“I run a place here, Merlotte's, it's mostly a bar with a couple of pool tables, but we serve up lunch and dinner too.” He hesitated and then asked, “You'll be alright?” At Buffy's nod and grimace, Sam seemed satisfied. He slapped his hands together and said, “Good, after you've gotten a shower and maybe a little more rest, c'mon on over. I figure you'll be feeling a bit peckish by then and we can try to a little meat on those skinny bones of yours.” He shook his head in mock disapproval. “Don't make no sense little bitty thing like you fighting monsters, you look like you'd blow away in a stiff wind.” He turned and quickly stepped out of the trailer leaving the indignant blonde alone.