And Then She LivedRating:
BTVS: Post Chosen. Twilight: Pre books.Disclaimer:
I own nothing. Buffy and Angel people belong to Joss and Mutant Enemy. Twilight characters belong to Stephenie MeyersAuthor's Note:
Written last year as the first chapter of a multi-chaptered fic in response to Challenge 5008: My Stepmother Is A Vampire Slayer
. However, I chose not to post it because I realised I couldn't possibly take on another multi-chaptered fic, so I have altered it so I can post it as a one-shot (the changes prevent me from linking this story to the challenge, so consider it inspired by the challenge). There may be a sequel considering that by posting this I can now use the 'verse in the Twisted Shorts August Challenge. Thanks to Joanne for the beta.
"I don't want this weekend to end."
Charlie Swan smiled at the whiney inflection in her voice. Normally when he heard that tone it was some kid trying to talk themselves out of trouble or it was one of the times his teenage daughter actually acted like a teenager. Usually that tone annoyed him, but coming from the beautiful woman in his arms Charlie found it... embarrassingly endearing.
Unable to help himself, Charlie leaned forward, into the shower spray, and pressed his lips to her forehead. "I don't want this to end either," he said, surprised not only by how much he really meant the words but also by the ache in his chest that began the moment she talked about their time together ending. This wasn't the first time his chest ached when he found himself thinking about Buffy Summers, but the thought of separation had never hurt this much before.
Buffy sighed and leaned into his arms, her body flush with his. "You know, I've been talking with Giles..."
He pulled back and looked at her, amused. "We're in the shower together and you want to talk about Giles?"
A look of horror crossed her face before she smacked his arm lightly, causing water to fly into his eyes. "Okay, firstly, ew! Secondly, I'm being serious."
"Okay, sorry." He kissed her forehead again before turning her around so he could wash her hair. He loved washing her hair. "So you've been talking to Giles..."
"I've been talking to Giles about maybe retiring."
He froze and spun her back around to face him. "Retiring? As in..."
"No more slayage."
Charlie's eyebrows shot up in shock and he stared at her for a full minute before a smile began to bloom on his face. Charlie had loved Buffy Summers from the moment he had met her almost two and a half years ago, but there was one aspect of Buffy's life that he didn't love – her job. In fact, he had learned to pretty much block it out most of the time, except when it came to taking the precautions Buffy told him about. Charlie had an open mind, really, but... he was also a simple man. To Charlie, there were some things people didn't need to know about, some things he didn't want
to know about, and vampires and demons fell into that category.
He knew it was slightly hypocritical of him to pretend that the supernatural world Buffy spent most of her time in didn't exist, especially considering how they met, but Charlie just found things simpler that way. When the two of them had become friends, real friends, Charlie had asked her not to tell him anything. Aside from what he had witnessed the first time they had met, Charlie knew next to nothing about the supernatural world. He knew it drove Buffy crazy, but he knew she also liked that they didn't spend their time talking about vampires and demons. She had confessed on their first date it was why she liked spending time with him. He made her feel normal. She wasn't the Slayer with him. She was Buffy.
The only information Buffy insisted he know was to never verbally invite people into his home and to always carry a cross and holy water with him. Anything beyond that he was to call Buffy or her friends Willow and Xander.
But if what she was saying was true he wouldn't have to avoid talking or thinking about slaying anymore. "You're thinking about giving up slaying?"
There was an emotion in her eyes Charlie couldn't identify as she shrugged. "I'm twenty-four and it's coming up to my tenth anniversary as a Slayer. With so many Slayers now Giles says that it's only fair that Slayers have a normal life when they reach a certain age. For me, that's now."
Buffy gave him a wary look. "Is that a good wow or a bad wow?"
Charlie's heart constricted at her wariness and, as much as he hated it, he understood the reasoning behind it. While the two of them had been friends for two years and a half years and lovers for a two... No one actually knew that they were lovers. Charlie couldn't remember whose idea it was, but somewhere along the line they had decided to keep their relationship a secret. Charlie had been worried about their sixteen year age difference and how his daughter would handle him being in love with a woman a little over seven years her senior. Buffy had been worried about exposing him and his daughter, Bella, to supernatural beings. She was convinced that as soon as her enemies discovered she was in love with him, he would be a target as well as anyone else near him.
It was no wonder that Buffy was nervous. No doubt she was worried he didn't want to 'go public', just like he was worried she didn't. After all, things were different now than they had been two years ago when things had been so new.
"It's a good wow," he reassured her. "I was..." He hesitated, unsure how to proceed. Not for the first time Charlie found himself wishing he was more romantic, more open. While he loved being with Buffy, he hated talking about his feelings. Okay, that wasn't quite true. He did hate talking about his feelings, but that wasn't why Charlie was struggling here. What was making him struggle was the fact that he hated – feared – putting his heart on the line. The last time he put his heart on the line it was ripped out when Renee had left with Bella six months before her second birthday. Charlie didn't think he could stand waiting another sixteen years to get over a woman.
"You were what?" Buffy prompted, looking worried.
Charlie sighed. "I was kind of hoping we would have this conversation, soon."
"Well, Bella is seventeen now and her mother is remarried, I was thinking that she wouldn't be too bothered by the fact that I'm in love with someone a little younger than me." She didn't seem to mind that her mother's new husband was younger than Renee. Although, their age difference wasn't as large as his and Buffy's. "Anyway, with Bella older, I figured that maybe it was time I told her about you." He had planned to tell Bella about during their time together last summer but, with Renee planning her wedding, the time just didn't seem right.
He smiled at the excitement in her eyes. "Really."
"I was thinking about telling Dawn about you too. And Giles, Willow, Xander, Kennedy, Andrew, Faith, Robin, Vi..."
He chuckled. "Actually, I was thinking about more than telling Bells about you."
Her eyes widened. "You want me to meet her?" The words were a terrified whisper.
Charlie swallowed nervously and hesitated before asking the next question. "I..." Damn it
, he silently cursed as the words lodged in his throat.
"Charlie, are you all right?" Buffy asked, worried.
He took a deep breath. "Look, Buffy, you know I'm not good at this kind of thing, right?"
"What kind of thing?"
"Relationships, feelings... I'm not good at talking about it and, well, it's been a long time since..." He didn't finish the sentence because he didn't need to. Buffy knew how much he had been hurt by Bella's mother and that he had still been in love with her when they first met. "Anyway, what I'm trying to say is that now you're giving up slaying, I was hoping you would become a more permanent fixture in my life. In Bella's and mine." He inwardly groaned. That wasn't the most romantic way to articulate his point. In fact, he wasn't even sure Buffy knew what he was asking if the confusion on her face was anything to go by.
"Well, I kind of thought we were permanent. I mean, I haven't been with a man as long as I've been with you... Unless, you, um, are you trying to ask me to move to Forks?" She blushed as she asked the question, but Charlie didn't miss the hopeful look in her eyes.
It was the hopeful look in her eyes that gave him the courage to utter his next words. "Actually, I was hoping for something more permanent than just moving in together."
Buffy's eyes went impossibly wide and then she froze.
Charlie's courage plummeted down the shower drain.
"Oh my God."
He didn't like how pale she was.
"Are you asking me to..." She closed her eyes and took a deep breath before opening them again. "Are you asking me to marry
Charlie had no idea what she was thinking right now and that terrified him. "Yeah."
He watched as the emotions flittered across her face – joy, excitement... and then horror. Her mouth dropped open and then Buffy did something he hadn't been expecting.
She hit him.
"Oh God! How could you do this!"
"Ow!" He clutched his arm, sure it would bruise. Although, that wasn't what was hurting him the most right now. Buffy's reaction had pierced his heart in a way reminiscent of Renee. Suddenly, he found it impossible to look at her. He studied the floor. "You know Buffy, most people say no when they don't want to marry someone."
"No!" Buffy screamed, grabbing onto his arm. Her grip so tight he was certain he'd have another bruise. "No! I'm not... No. That's not what I meant."
His head snapped up and he look into her eyes. She looked happy. Far too happy for someone refusing a proposal. His heart began pounding. "It's not?"
"No." She smiled.
He frowned, confused. "So why did you hit me?"
She rolled her eyes, but she was still smiling. Beaming, actually. "You really weren't lying when you told me you know nothing about women." She nudged him good naturedly. "When a girl gets engaged, the first question out of everyone's mouth, after asking to look at the ring, is how did the man – or woman – proposed."
"Okay..." He didn't get it.
"So, how am I going to answer Dawn when she asks me to describe in graphic detail every single detail of your proposal?"
Buffy nodded. "I'm sure you won't mind describing to Bella how you proposed... Naked and in the shower after a marathon session of –"
"Okay, okay..."he cut her off, laughing. "I get it. Well, you could say no and I could wait until we're both dressed before asking you again."
Her expression became serious. "I don't want to say no."
"You don't?" When Buffy shook her head he wrapped his arms around her and crushed her to his chest. "So that's a yes?"
He closed his eyes and rested his chin on top of her head. "When do you plan on giving up slaying?" Now that she had said yes, he was impatient.
"Well, it's not like I have to give notice or anything," she told him, pulling away. "I'll probably still help every now again, especially with end of the world stuff, but for day to day slaying they don't need me."
"So you can stop now?"
She smiled at the excitement in his voice. "Impatient are we?"
He nodded. "If I had my way, I'd turn off this shower, get dressed and take you down to the local court house." He knew it wouldn't be that easy, but they were in California and there was no waiting period.
He studied her, wanting once again to know what she was thinking. "I'm not a big wedding kind of person. Does that bother you?"
"But I don't mind if that's what you want. I mean, I'm sure you want to have a big white wedding." He cringed at the thought, although it would be worth the look on Bella's face if she had to dress up for it. Bella hated parties and big weddings just as much as he did. "You can have any kind of wedding you want."
She smiled. "I'm pretty sure Dawn's going to kill me for saying this, but... What if I want to do it your way?"
Was she serious?
"I don't think I want to wait. Waiting leads to missed opportunity and I've had far too many of those already. I want this, I want to be the 'and then she lived' girl."
"You want to be the 'and then she lived' girl?" he repeated, confused.
"You know, the one in the fairytale at the end... 'and then she lived happily ever after'
Charlie cupped Buffy's face with his hands. "Buffy, you know that living with me won't be a fairytale, right? I'm a quiet man and I live in a quiet town where nothing much happens. There will be no vampires or werewolves or demons to slay. It will be just me, you and Bella and Dawn whenever they come to visit. Are you sure this is what you want? That you won't be bored?"
Buffy shook her head. "I'm tired of fighting and I'm tired of death. I don't want a fairytale. I want the quiet. I want to be your wife and I want you to have your way."
"You want me to turn off this shower, get dressed and take you down to the local court house?"
Charlie turned off the shower.