So, okay, they went to New York and Willow met her twin sister and Faith had a one night stand with a pretty preppy guy and Buffy herself had another one night stand that had somehow turned into a three day date but it didn’t really mean anything. They had responsibilities back in Cleveland, mini-slayers to train, the world to keep running and a whole bunch of other things that took precedence over the fact that Buffy had laughed more in the last week than she had in the previous year and that she had stolen two of Barney’s shirts when he was asleep- Buffy still wasn’t sure why.
They had to come back though, the world waited for no man and an apocalypse was probably their best option when Giles had started calling and demanding answers on where the spare chocolates were kept and why the patrol schedule hadn’t been updated and when they were coming home
because he was getting too old to deal with a house full of superpowered teenage girls…
The ranting had gone on for a full ten minutes before Giles broke for breath and in the next second, there was a mild explosion that came through a line and a bigger explosion of female voice yelling something about the Jonas brothers and then Giles sighed and told Buffy to come home please
and then wandered off to deal with the results of whatever the latest disaster was in the Cleveland School for Gifted Girls.
Buffy had hung up with a sick feeling in her stomach, letting the noise of the restaurant wash over her again as she looked up into Faith’s unsmiling face.
“It’s time?” Faith grimaced and when Buffy had nodded, the dark haired slayer pulled a truly disturbing face that was as far as one could get from commiseration and slid over a glass of something brown and alcohole-y.
“It’s time for what?” Barney grinned from where he was engaged in a verbal equivalent of a slapfight with Ted. Something about ewoks and gold bikinis.
“We have to go home,” Buffy shrugged and tried for a smile, “time to face the music.”
Ted stopped laughing and the grin slid off Barney’s face but they said nothing and so Faith sighed and Buffy hardened against the lost look in Barney’s eyes and began making their arrangements to come back home.
It was time to get back to the real world.
The first person that Sam sees when she makes it through airport security is Willow standing beside a woman that looks exactly
like her, except more tan and with dark brown hair. It’s weird, seeing the two of them together- and Sam’s smart enough to realize that this must be Lily of course
“Sam!” Willow spots her and begins making her way through the crowd, her sister following her a trifle more sedately. It’s a testament to how weird her life is and how used to it she’s become that Sam doesn’t even blink at the fact that the crowd parts before Willow, subconsciously moving away from her force of nature stride.
“Hi Willow,” Sam bends slightly and gives Willow a hug, mindful of the fact that she’s six feet tall and everyone else is tiny
compared to her. “You look good,” Sam smiles and straightens up, “it’s been too long.”
look good, a hell of a lot better than she did the last time Sam saw her- right after Kennedy’s death. She looks healthy and glowing, like a light switch’s been flipped on from the inside and Sam’s not sure whether that’s from the magic or what- but she’s happy for the other woman.
“Thanks Sam,” Willow grins blindingly and steps aside, waving her sister over, “here, this is my sister- Lily. You guys haven’t met yet, but you’re both awesome and I’m sure you’ll get along great
Sam grins at the un-Willow like usage of the word ‘awesome’ but gamely steps forward and shakes Lily’s hand. “It’s great to meet you,” she smiles and means it- seeing the differences and similarities between the two women and the easy affection they have for each other.
It’s strange, knowing that they’ve only known about one another for three years but seeing the closeness of them, how they stand next to each other- in each other’s personal space, without thinking about it, interacting easily and freely and maybe Sam misses her own family a little more than she thought she did but seeing Willow and Lily?
It makes something pang inside of her.
“Come on,” Lily finally beckons her over, “let’s get the car, we have to stop by the bakery on our way and the last time I saw her- Buffy was having a mini freakout over some slayer’s weapons being left lying around all willy nilly.” She gives a laugh, “Like she isn’t used to it by now.”
Willow slings her arm through her sisters and with her other, she tugs Sam closer who shuffles forward feeling like a giant but nevertheless grinning at this little show of inclusion- “Well yeah
, but not today. Today has to be perfect.”
Buffy stared at the white expanse of bristle board on the kitchen table. A stack of colored highlighters lay haphazardly on the side and she clutched at a pencil tightly and tried to think of the Easter Bunny and Santa Claus and not about how she was going to kill each and every one of the minis for putting her through this yet again
But first, she was going to murder her friends. Xander had made some lame excuse about spending quality time with Renee and skipped out on their weekly date, whistling merrily in his slightly off-tune voice. Buffy was happy for him, she really was- but did he have to flaunt
his newly non-single status in front of all of them who were so very much single?
Well, that was except for Willow but her and Kennedy were going through one of their weird ‘off’ patches and though nobody wanted to say it- everyone was expecting them to break up any day now.
Buffy sighed and shoved the chair back as she shuffled towards the fridge for some mucho needed Ben and Jerry’s, who through no fault of their own were the most loyal men in the Cleveland School’s household. She dug the little spoon deep into the heavenly concoction and tried to justify this little episode of pity wallowage. She frowned, was that even a word?
It wasn’t like she was broken hearted, or that upset
really. No, that wasn’t it. She was broken hearted over Angel, over Spike. She was upset over Riley. This thing, this weird three day hookup
that had happened with Barney- it wasn’t anything like her past relationships. It was fun and light, and nothing would come of it and Buffy was alright with it.
She was alright with it. With not seeing this great, successful, funny guy that got her unexpectedly dirty sense of humor and who was fantastic
in the sack and it was all probably hormones.
Buffy nodded decisively to herself, shoving another spoonful of Cherry Garcia into her mouth. It was just the fact that she hadn’t gotten laid in quite a while and he was her first sexual partner after that failed thing in Rome with that creep who turned out to be some kind of demon hybrid. That was it. Nothing more.
She swiveled the spoon and glared as she couldn’t find any more ice cream. Was there really that little left?
Buffy went back to the patrol schedule with a more or less full stomach, feeling marginally better about the fact that she couldn’t stop thinking about some New York playboy.
At least Willow had met her sister, making the trip more than worth it. The redheaded witch had taken to wandering around the house with her cellphone pressed tightly against her ear or texting Lily every new thing that had happened. It was understandable, they had missed out on so much of each other’s lives that they now tried as hard as they could to catch up.
She sighed and went back to the schedule but before she could start working on Rona and Caridad’s long standing dispute over who could lead the pre-dawn patrol, there was a knock on the door.
Buffy frowned and checked her watch, it was two a.m. and no squad was due back yet. She hadn’t received any panicked phone calls from slayers and no witchy alarms had been activated by their girls’ proximity to danger.
Just in case though, she checked the cupboard in the hall for an extra dagger and tucked a stake into the back of her jeans just in case.
The knock sounded again and Buffy opened the door with her eyebrow raised, preparing for the worst- like Clem needing help again with overzealous creditors hot on his trail or a slayer bleeding out or Xander-
She paused. It was Barney standing on her doorstep, wearing an immaculately cut black suit, hands shoved deeply into his pockets.
“Hey, um, can I come in?” Buffy twitched under her scrutiny and something tense and small and hard within her uncoiled at the look on his face, at the dark circles under his eyes.
She stepped away from the door, silently and watched him warily step in. Only then did she relax.
“Barney, what are you doing
here?” Buffy waved at the empty expanse of the hall and only then realized the mess that was her hair. She waited for him to pass her by, and then tried desperately to smooth out the tangles from where she had been absentmindedly sticking pens into the blonde tresses in frustration.
“Um,” Barney said looking uncomfortable and edgy, like his suit wasn’t enough to armor him anymore and he itched
to be back in familiar surroundings.
Buffy felt for him. She did, really. But, this was too important to just let go.
“Barney?” she prompted and he sighed, glancing down at his shoes for a long moment before looking up at her with those eyes of his, all pretenses gone and masks dropped as he stood in front of her- laid bare and vulnerable.
“Oh,” Buffy smiled and took a huge step towards him, “Barney
“It’s just,” Barney looked agitated, a little wild around the eyes as he gestured, “it’s insane
“What is?” Buffy lifted an eyebrow, gaze hungrily devouring every detail of the man standing in front of her. Standing so close to him, she could see the small wrinkles in his suit- how he must have sat on the plane, habitually straight backed with a glass of brandy that he would have swirled again and again. His eyes, a bright blue shade that contrasted with the almost white color of his hair, were flecked with small specks of gold.
Barney shifted in place, a flush working its way up his neck as he finally said, “how I’ve only known you for three days but already everything seems a little bit darker without you there.”
Buffy, who had dated two of the world’s most dangerous vampires, who had killed more supernatural creatures than any other slayer alive, who had gone up against gods
- Buffy smiled and she exhaled and took a step forward.
The air felt warmer beside him anyway.
The first thing that Sam sees as Lily drives them through the massive iron gates of Cleveland House, are the hundreds of white lightbulbs strewn around the trees on the front lawn. There’s a large, white tent set up towards the back of the house- where Xander had built an artificial pond last year as a present to Renee during her pregnancy.
Figures are darting back and forth, some are carrying chairs, little groups are carrying tables and other needed furniture while a bigger group of girls, all wearing Bluetooth headphones is gathered around the familiar figure of Andrew brandishing a clipboard and waving his arms around imperiously.
The second thing that Sam notices, snorting out a chuckle is the large banner, hung above the door, decorated artfully with smiley faces sticking their tongues out and dozens of handprints- ‘Congratulations on your impending ball and chainage! You know you’re old, not only because you’re Leader Dearest- but also because you’re about to become somebody’s wife. We love you!
She feels more relaxed already, loose and easy- like she’s at home with her own family, instead of her makeshift one that she had gotten in the divorce, once Riley had scampered off into parts unknown still yearning to earn his big boy badge.