V-day! Sorry, POV went wonky in this episode, and this chapter was supposed to be a human POV. But for part of it, I needed it to be a neutral POV. Schmoop ahoy!
Sidebar: I'm surprised nobody pointed out that Adam Busch did a cameo in T:SCC as a younger version of a Gray. I win!-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-
"Are you sure this an appropriate gift?" Cameron asked Buffy and Willow as they sat at their table in the Bronze.
Buffy smiled brightly. "Of course it is! Willow, tell her."
Willow nodded enthusiastically while keeping one eye carefully on Oz, playing with the band on stage. "If there's anything I know, it's the things that Xander Harris likes. And that?" She pointed at the wrapped gift in Cameron's hand. "That is one of the things that Xander likes."
"But is it appropriate for the holiday?" Cameron seemed to frown, while Dingoes wound down the song they were playing. "It's my understanding that gifts during this holiday are supposed to have personal significance."
"Cam, Valentine's Day presents are meaningful if you make 'em that way," Buffy propped her elbows on the table. "It doesn't have to be poignant like a great huge ol' romance. It can just be something like, 'I know you like this, so I wanted to get it for you'."
"The gift only needs to be personal, not extravagant." Cameron reasoned.
"Exactly!" Buffy smiled fondly at Cameron. "Can I ask you something?"
"Have you, y'know, started experiencing emotions yet?" Buffy asked delicately.
"Not that I'm aware of." Cameron shook her head.
"Are you sure?" Buffy's brow wrinkled in friendly concern.
"What do you mean?"
Buffy glanced at Willow, who was lost in watching Oz play. "Well. I'm not trying to be mean by saying this, but you know how you've been going back and asking us more than once if the present is right for Xander?"
"If you were a human girl, I'd say you were worried that he won't like your present," Buffy stated plainly.
Cameron paused. "I had not considered that."
Buffy wrapped her fingers around Cameron's wrist. "Do you think that's possible?"
Cameron took more time than she usually did to answer a question. "I don't know."
"I think you're about to find out." Buffy looked over Cameron's shoulder with a secretive smile. "By the way - you totally made the right call in coming to me for advice on how to dress for the occasion."
Cameron looked over her shoulder and stood when she saw Xander. "Thank you for helping."
Buffy stood as well and whispered in Cameron's ear. "Go greet him, give him a good, solid hug and a kiss, and say 'Happy Valentine's Day'. And make sure you compliment his outfit - he looks like he went out of his way to look nice for you."
"Thank you again."-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-
Xander spotted Cameron and was profoundly thankful that he didn't have to say anything yet. She was dressed up more than he'd expected her to. And he was more than a little glad that he'd thought to make sure he'd taken the time to clean up. Cameron looked amazing to him.
If he didn't know better, he'd swear that she'd changed the way she walked. She seemed to all but glide up to him and loop her arms around his neck. Cameron buried her nose against his jacket and gave him a gentle squeeze before pulling back to brush a lingering kiss across his lips. When Xander was positive he was seeing the room spin, she pulled back enough to murmur softly, "Happy Valentine's Day, Xander."
It took him a few moments before he could find the breath to respond. "Happy Valentine's Day, Cam." Then, before he could school himself to silence, he blurted, "You look incredible."
"You're looking very nice as well." She pulled back to arms length to look him over. Xander had tried to dress himself in a way that would be at least remotely acceptable and a departure from his normal ComfyWear.
"Thanks." For a bit, he forgot what he was supposed to do next. Intellectually, he knew that Cameron was trying to learn how to be human from him. But he couldn't help himself - for all he knew that Cameron was an artificial life form, he was quite thoroughly smitten.
She saved him from his fumbling by speaking up first. "I have a present for you."
"Yeah? Sweet! This'll mark the first Valentine's present I ever got from someone that wasn't Willow." Xander couldn't help himself - he was excited.
"You have been friends with Willow a long time," Cameron noted.
"Couple minutes before forever, yeah."
"It's nice. To have a friend that you've known for so long and can count on." Cameron smiled placidly.
Xander paused, surprised at the insight. "It is, actually."
She gave him that same smile. "Open your present."
He'd nearly forgotten in all of the hormonal uproar. He had a present to open! It was flat and rectangular, perhaps an inch or more thick, but he couldn't begin to guess what a cyborg girl would give him.
Obediently, he unwrapped his present until he spotted what was on the front of it. Xander boggled. "This is a compilation of the first issues of Batman."
"I love Batman."
"So I've seen from your collection in your room."
Xander had to focus to ensure there was no drool running down his chin. "This is the most awesome present ever."
Cameron smiled. "I'm glad you like it."
He had to forcibly restrain himself from opening the thing and reading it right there and then. "Your turn." Xander produced a small flat box from his jacket pocket along with an envelope.
"Thank you." Cameron accepted the present and card from him and started to open the box.
Xander reached out and stopped her. "When a card comes with it, it's customary to open the card first."
"Gift giving protocol? Thank you for explaining." Cameron shifted tracks and opened her card. Xander watched as she was confronted with a Wizard of Oz themed greeting card. The front was a picture of Dorothy and her friends traveling the yellow brick road, and inside it had a picture of the tin man with a caption that said simply, 'You have a heart. Share it with me.'
Cameron smiled her secretive smile again and opened the box. Inside was a necklace with a heart pendant threaded through the fine silver chain.
Cameron studied the pendant for an uncomfortably long time by Xander's reckoning. Finally, she looked at him and smiled. "It's beautiful. I like it very much."
Xander let out a breath that he was unaware he'd been holding. "Can I help you put it on?"
She held still while he affixed the clasp behind her neck. He smiled. He knew that the possibility of this becoming real was hit-and-miss at best, but he looked on it as if it were real. She'd asked, and he couldn't do anything less than treat her like a regular girl, except for the times where he had to switch to sci-fi nerd mode to explain something she didn't grasp.
Cameron adjusted the pendant so that it nestled in the hollow of her throat and held her arms out. "Does it look good on me?"
Xander nodded, hoping he wasn't acting like a complete feeb. "It really does. Dance with me?"
When Cameron nodded, Xander forgot about anything but making sure he showed her how to dance properly. And avoid having his toes smushed by a girl whose endoskeleton was significantly heavier than his own regular skeleton. But that concern was a distant second.