First Day Jitters
Title: Approaching Normal
Author: Restive Nature
Disclaimer: I do not own the rights to BtVS or Supernatural. They are owned respectively by Whedon & Mutant Enemy and by Eric Kripke. No infringement is intended. This fiction is intended for private enjoyment only.
Type: Friendship/ Romance
Pairing: Buffy/ Sam Winchester
Summary: At last they got the chance at a normal life that they thought they always wanted.
Spoilers/ Time line: Season 5 of Buffy (of sorts) and Pre Series for Supernatural.
Feedback: Always welcome!
Distribution: Ask first please.
A/N: This is written for the Jess? Who's Jess? challenge from the Twisting The Hellmouth site.
A/N2: Please note for any of you that are familiar with the Stanford campus, that I am only using the school as a whole in this fiction, but not any of the specifics about the separate buildings, dorms or the layout of Palo Alto. I will try to keep things generic enough that it's not a glaring problem.
First Day Jitters
Buffy Summers glanced at herself in the mirror. She smoothed back the few tiny hairs that had escaped from the ponytail that she had put her hair up in that morning. Her make-up was flawless, and the outfit she had chosen was casual but chic. She grabbed up her sunglasses from the vanity table where she had chucked them yesterday when she got back to her dorm room.
She grinned at herself, once again relieved that she had gotten a room to herself this year. Last year had been a revolving door of nasty roommates. The first, Kathy the demon from another dimension had not even been the worst. Although Buffy still couldn't listen to Cher or Celine Dion without wanting to go a little postal. Mostly it had been the strain of trying to hide who she was from said roommates.
And who she was, was the Slayer. A Vampire Slayer to be more precise. And trying to keep that a secret had been one of the most difficult things she had done when she had first started college last year. But thankfully, slaying in Palo Alto, California was a lot more of a light load than it was in Sunnydale. For one, there was no Hellmouth in Palo Alto. That cut out almost seventy-five percent of the trouble right there. And so far, over the course of the previous college year, Buffy had mainly found a few stray Vampires working their way through the populace and the odd demon or two passing through.
Picking up her messenger bag, already stuffed with the paraphernalia she would need for her classes today, she shivered with the happiness thrumming through her. Stanford! Sometimes she still wanted to pinch herself that she had been accepted to such a prestigious school. She had taken her watcher's advice last year and tried out a variety of courses in her freshman year. She had done well in history, surprisingly and really well in the pop culture symbolism class. But what had really surprised her was how much she had enjoyed her psychology course. Thankfully, it was nothing like the one that Willow and Oz were enrolled in. Their psych teacher turning out to be a secret government agent bent on experimenting on the demon populace of Sunnydale was just weird.
Putting Maggie Walsh and the resulting mess that Buffy had helped clean up just a few months previously, out of her mind, she made sure she had her keys and her cash. A quick stop at the coffee kiosk a few blocks over and she would be ready for her first class of her sophomore year of college.
It wasn't really a surprise as she was heading down the stairs, when her cell phone chirped, letting her know that her mother was calling. Willow had spent a lot of time helping her download different tunes to assign to the special people in her life. That it was an old seventies tune that her mother had used to sing to her when she was little, bothered Buffy not one bit. Mostly because people didn't automatically recognize the tune. Pulling her cell phone out of her pocket and flipping it open with practiced ease, she didn't even break stride.
“Hey Mom,” she greeted cheerfully. It didn't matter that she had just seen Joyce just yesterday when they had finished unpacking Buffy's dorm room. She knew her mother wouldn't be able to resist calling today.
“Hey sweetie,” Joyce's voice was just as perky and excited sounding as Buffy herself felt. “Just wanted to call and wish you luck today.”
“Thanks mom,” Buffy chuckled. “But about the only trouble I'm thinking is going to happen today is if all the jittery, nervous freshmen clean out the coffee carts before I get there.”
“Hopefully that will be all,” Joyce agreed mildly. But then her attention was pulled away and her voice was muffled slightly and distorted, but Buffy still got the gist. “No Dawn honey, there's already an open box in the cupboard.” A slight pause and then her mother continued. “Well honey, I really don't think you need to eat any more sugary cereal. I didn't buy any.”
“Dawn looking for the crunchy goodness of the captain variety?” Buffy teasingly asked. She was well aware of her fourteen year old sister's predilections in the food area of her life.
“As usual,” Joyce agreed with a long suffering sigh. “Oh, she wants to talk to you dear.”
There was more muffling and then her sister's voice came on the line. “Can I borrow your blue sweater with the lace sleeves for school today? Please, please, please?”
“Dawn?” Buffy managed to keep her voice stern, even though she wanted to giggle. Straight to the whining with not even a greeting to her older sister. Dawn just wouldn't learn. “What did I say about the touching of the cashmere?” She heard the huff, loud and clear.
“That you would rip out my spinal cord and beat me over the head with it if I did,” Dawn dutifully repeated.
“No Dawn, that's for the leather,” Buffy teased. “Though still a good idea.”
“But Buffy-!” her sister's rant was abruptly cut off by whatever their mother said and Buffy chuckled. There had to be a good reason for Dawn to want to borrow Buffy's clothes when said older sister wasn't there to pull it off under older sister's nose.
“What's the what Dawn?” she demanded, catching her sister's attention back to herself. “Why the need for the wardrobe change?” She was pretty sure it had to be something major, since Dawn had had her first day of school outfit picked out for two weeks. Something that she and Joyce had picked out on their back to school shopping spree. Buffy had missed it due to some slayage she was helping Giles and Faith with. But the outfit was cute. A jean skirt, of decent length, at least as decent as they could get on Dawn's coltish legs. Paired with a pink sweater, it was good.
“Ohmigod,” the words ran together as her sister responded immediately to the query. “Janice just found out last night that Brian Masterson transferred to our school and he is sooooo cute Buffy. And if I have a class with him, I can't look like a baby. I need that sweater!”
“Uh huh,” Buffy returned dryly. She well understood her sister's dilemma, even as she felt light years removed from it. Thank goodness she had gotten over that gawky phase a long time ago. But she knew, still, that this was important to Dawn, even if it wasn't to the universe at large. She thought quickly, how she could smooth this over. That cashmere sweater would not stand up to Dawn, the stain magnet. Which admittedly, was a better type of magnet than say, their friend Xander, who still attracted demon like flies to honey.
“Actually Dawn, I think that if you were really, and I mean really,” she stressed, “careful with it, you could borrow my shiny blue shirt that is still in my closet upstairs.” She rapidly reviewed the thought. Yes, it was pretty, yes, it would be mom approved as it covered the essentials, such as chest, shoulders and stomach and most importantly, it was dry cleanable. That was something she had discovered after a bad night at the Bronze.
“You mean the one with the white piping?” Dawn demanded, her excitement transmuting through the phone at a high pitch.
“That's the one,” Buffy agreed. “But seriously Dawn.”
“I know! I know!” Dawn hurried to say. “I spill something on it I die. I got it!”
“Well, I was gonna say that you have to pay for it to be dry cleaned first, but then, yeah, you die,” she laughed.
“Ohmigod Buffy!” her sister squealed again and Buffy had to pull the phone away from her ear if she wanted to retain use of her ears. “You are the best. I love you!” The phone was dropped as Dawn was obviously going to change before her sister could change her mind.
“I take it that you handled that crisis?” Joyce's voice returned and Buffy continued on to the building that housed her first class. “She's been talking about this Brian boy since we got home last night. Honestly Buffy,” her mother sighed. “I don't know if I'm ready to go through this again!”
After sharing a chuckle with her mother over the difficulties of normal teenage behavior, Buffy quickly informed her mother about what she was letting Dawn borrow, so that Dawn didn't try and pull one over on her mother. Then with another round of congratulations, still so proud, knock off their socks, they hung up. Which was just in time, when Buffy turned the corner to see a cup of coffee heading straight at her.
Just her luck that she would warn her sister, and then become a victim herself, she decided wryly.
Sam Winchester was having a bad morning. Not bad in the normal sense that his family would apply to the word. But still, not among his best days. Of course, receiving his acceptance letter to Stanford University and the scholarship that came with it was amazing. Disregarding all the crap that had fallen down around him following his decision to leave the family business to attend the prestigious school, he had been completely blown away by the experience so far. He had already checked out the campus in more ways than one. But since he had been concentrating on looking for anything out of the ordinary, which was not so surprising given the things he had faced in his life, he hadn't paid so much attention to where each building was situated in relation to his scholastic schedule. He realized now that he would have to learn quickly. His first class was starting in twenty minutes late and Sam just hated being late.
He had managed to find the coffee kiosk just outside the building that housed his dorm room by pure luck. He had ordered a grand, since he was sure that the excitement of actually being here would fade and he would need the caffeine once that wore off.
He glared around at the scene surrounding him. There were people everywhere and the babble of voices was overwhelming and that wasn't even counting the people with bullhorns shouting for attention. He had found himself following one voice that had sounded very commanding, only to find that it was a student rallying other students to the cause of the 'in danger of dying out' wolves. He shook his head over that.
He really needed to get a map. And even that wasn't as easy as he had thought it would be. He had approached a young lady, holding a sheaf of papers. But when he approached, she had automatically shoved one in his hand and he was disappointed to see that the bright blue sheet was an invitation to a party at one of the frat houses for Friday night. He had seen then that there were people all over with these bundles of papers. He had cautiously approached the next, pink for a rally on breast cancer awareness, a yellow one that was another party, with the offer of free jello shooters to all freshmen girls that attended. He was thinking of finding the nearest trash can to dump them in.
He had tried asking for directions as well, but apparently, the college crowd was jut as self involved as the rest of the world. Finally Sam decided that he might just have more luck with the lecturers than the lecturees and decided to stop in one of the classrooms and see if a professor could give him directions. But as he moved to turn the corner of the closest building, to get to the front door, only his quick reflexes kept him from dropping his coffee on the short blond that was moving at a quick clip around the corner from the opposite direction.
He didn't drop the coffee cup, but it did tilt alarmingly while the girl dashed to the side to avoid hot drops of coffee. “Sorry!” he gasped out quickly, reaching with his other hand to steady the cup and then swore softly as the straight black coffee burned the back of said hand. He shook the coffee off and quickly dried the back of his hand on his jeans. “I'm sorry about that. I was a little distracted.” He made the apology softly even as he was sizing up this newcomer before him. Well, technically it was he that was the real newcomer.
The girl before him was short and blond, as he had noted before. Very much the quintessential California girl if he read her looks right, what with the tan and the outfit and the sunglasses perched on top of her head. She seemed to be carrying coffee as well, but she had it well in hand.
“First day on campus is usually disorienting,” she offered with a knowing smirk. It wasn't a hateful smirk, more like she was smiling at a private joke. Which she probably was.
“Especially when you have no idea where you are supposed to be going,” Sam sighed. He was extremely gratified when the smirk instantly faded into something akin to sympathy.
“Believe me,” the blond chuckled, “I well remember that sensation. Freshman?” She asked gently and Sam nodded.
“And feeling way out of my depths here,” he added. The blond chuckled, suddenly eying him from head to toe.
“Which would seem a little difficult,” she offered a comment on his height. Sam had to grin at that. He had to top her by almost a foot, maybe more, seeing that she was wearing heels. “So where did you need to be?” she asked politely.
“Ah, I have class with Professor Lau in the Sanson building,” he noted hopefully. Maybe she would just take pity on him and at least give him an idea where that was. But even better, she perked up immediately and gestured the way Sam had come from.
“That's where I was heading,” she informed him and tilted her head to the side. It was a clear invitation for him to join her. “I have class with Professor Coleman.”
“Thank goodness,” Sam heaved a relieved sigh as he turned himself around and stole a quick sip of coffee. “I had this vision of wandering the campus all day, lost and alone.”
“Didn't you get an orientation guide when you got here?” the blond asked, though her tone was still not at all accusatory, just curious.
“I did,” Sam told her, wondering where she was leading with that.
“Well there should be a campus map in there,” she told him. Sam stared at her for a moment, before coming to a dead stop and reaching for his backpack. The blond stopped as well and Sam hoped he wasn't going to make her late. He withdrew the book she had mentioned and started flipping through the pages. But to his relief, because the embarrassment would have been overwhelming, he wasn't finding the supposed map.
“I'm thinking maybe I got a misprint,” he chuckled. The girl was looking in his book as well and suddenly stopped his hands, still flipping through the pages.
“Look,” she pointed. “Looks like it might have been ripped out.” Sam could see, now that she pointed it out, he could see where a bit of the paper was caught in the spiral bound pages. The girl quickly pulled her messenger type bag around and unzipped an outside pocket. She pulled out her own book. She flipped through two pages and there was the map that should have been in Sam's book as well. She pulled it out and offered it to him.
“Oh no, I-!”
“Don't worry,” the blond offered dryly. “This is my second year here. I know the campus pretty well.”
“Well then, thanks for the rescue,” Sam grinned down at her. As one they started walking again as Sam tried to juggle the book with his cup of coffee. But the girl quickly took the hot cup from him and Sam flashed her another grateful smile as he tucked the orientation guide into his backpack, closed it up and readjusted it back over his shoulder. The map, he folded carefully and tucked into the front jean pocket. And then he was able to hold out his hand for his coffee, which the blond immediately handed over.
“So, you got a name for me to call you?” she asked in a perky manner as they continued walking. Sam noticed that he had shortened his stride by quite a wide margin. Wouldn't do to make her run to keep up with him, especially as he still didn't quite know where they were going. “Can't keep calling you new boy in my head.”
“Name's Sam,” he offered quickly. Her attitude this morning was very refreshing to him. Not a lot of people in his life were just plain happy to see him or be around him, aside from his brother that had been left behind in this quest for normal joe college life. “Sam Winchester.”
“Buffy Summers,” the blond, now named, held out her hand and Sam, grimaced, but still took her hand to shake.
“Sorry,” he realized, once she had given him a raised brow and mocking, knowing, almost challenging look, how that must have appeared to her. “Is it, like, short for something?”
“It is,” Buffy nodded. “Short for my mother must have been coming off the massive high of the seventies to pick that out.”
Sam chuckled, especially as her voice had no rancor. She'd probably been fielding skeptical looks and jokes all her life. “You know,” he grinned, a useless until know bit of trivia made it's presence known in his brain, “I think there was a pop singer in the seventies that went by the name of Buffy.”
“Oh please let that be true,” Buffy grunted out with a small laugh. “I would so hate to think that I was named after a star of a different sort.”
“Oh?” Sam queried, not keeping up with her line of thought. “What do you mean?”
“Well,” Buffy drawled, ducking her head as he bangs came down to partially covered what Sam was sure was a slight blush. “I've had more than one person ask if I was interested in being... a star.”
It quickly dawned on Sam what she was referring to, not that he had intimate knowledge of what she was meaning. No, that purvue fell to his brother's tastes and it struck him suddenly funny how close that was to perv. “No, no,” he shook his head. “I'm definitely thinking disco diva.”
“Thank God,” Buffy giggled. “Well, at least now I have some sort of answer.”
“Didn't you ever ask your parents?” Sam asked and then grimaced. That was a little personal. But it seemed not to bother Buffy.
“Eh, by the time I got to an age to care, my parents were divorced and it didn't seem to top the list of questions,” she explained with a flippant air, but Sam could just sense that there was more to the story. But he knew that he had already pushed her boundaries quite enough, especially for someone she had just met and was kindly helping out. “Of course, living in LA most of my life, wasn't quite the strangest name out there.”
And just like that, they were back on a good footing. “I can only imagine,” Sam chuckled. They had to pause in their walk as a large group of students went barreling by, carrying signs, bullhorns and all wearing the same god-awful shade of neon orange t-shirt. “Man,” he sighed, as he watched the students progress past them. “Is first day always this...?”
“No Sam,” Buffy grinned up at him and he found it infectious. “They created this mayhem just for you. You should feel special.”
“Oh if that's the case, then I should fit right in, and yet somehow I don't,” he quipped back. Buffy's grin widened and she glanced to her left before shifting to move forward again. Sam saw that she seemed to be cautious. Probably making sure there wasn't another herd of protesting elephants heading their way.
“Actually, my first day last year was pretty bad,” she confided in him as he followed after her. “It was a lot like you see today,” she continued. “All flyer-y and loud and I had forgotten to get my student ID, I was lost even with the map and a prime target for all of the senior boys to come to their keggers.”
“That doesn't surprise me,” Sam commented immediately on the last bit of information. He could see immediately why males of all sorts and ages would want to be around this lovely young woman.
“Yeah, except for the fact that me and beer are very non mixy things,” Buffy snorted delicately. She gestured with her coffee cup to the right and Sam automatically switched directions. He had to smile at her manipulation of the verbs she was using. It was a unique process that he'd never heard an adult use before. She glanced up at him and he could see a delicate blush creeping over the apples of her cheeks. “Got drunk in high school, partying with a bunch of the frat boys and ended up being tied up in the basement with another two girls.”
“What!?” Sam felt his eyes grow large and was completely stupefied. He had heard rumors. Everyone heard rumors about scary things going on at college campuses. But to actually meet someone who had lived through something like that.
“Oh don't worry, that was back in Sunnydale,” she continued. “Anyways, I had told my best friend, Willow, where I was going and she was terrible at keeping secrets and she ended up spilling everything to my other best friend, Xander, and our librarian, Giles, who was like a mentor to us and they raced in and saved the day.” She concluded her story with a little nod as if she was very satisfied with the way things had turned out. But Sam wasn't as blasé about it. This was the kind of thing his family would be very freaked out about, if his father and Dean had even gone there when they had made obvious their discontent about Sam coming to Stanford. But he didn't really want to go there and kill the happy buzz that was filling his brain at finally having a normal life.
“So, I pretty much decided to stay away from the party scenes,” Buffy explained. “Or at least go with responsible friends who would happen to notice if I disappeared.” She chuckled then and shrugged one shoulder. “And so yeah, not much partying for Buffy.”
“I'll take that idea under advisement,” he grinned. “Although, I already knew that beer was bad.” At her interested look, he quickly explained. “My older brother got me drunk when I was fifteen.”
“Really?” it wasn't a question of surprise, but more amused, couldn't believe that a brother would do something like that. But Dean had.
“Uh yeah,” Sam snickered. “Of course, he had also invited some girls he knew from school over and uh, well, I was uh...” Oh lord, how had he gotten on this track of the story.
“Let me guess,” Buffy smirked. “He thought he was doing you a huge favor, setting you up with a “nice girl”” she made air quotes with the fingers on her free hand, “to uh, make a man out of you?”
“Pretty much,” Sam agreed, his head bobbing quickly. “Unfortunately, the beer really didn't agree with me,” he grimaced in remembrance. “I ended up throwing up on the girls, on my brother, myself and my father, it was not at all pleasant.”
“Urgh,” she laughed. “Yeah. Hopefully your brother was also responsible enough to teach you as many hangover remedies as he could. Or does he know them?”
“Ah, water, aspirin, more water,” Sam nodded.
“And the big one,” Buffy added. “Steak and fries.”
“Steak and fries will cure a hangover?” Sam shook his head. That was a new one.
“No, steak and fries will help prevent a hangover,” she instructed. “It just makes sense that if you're going out and planning to drink, eat a good meal that will soak up a lot of the alcohol in your system before you end up poisoning yourself. A good rare steak and thick fries works great for me.”
“It does sound good,” Sam agreed. He noticed that they had finally approached the building that they needed to be in. He surreptitiously checked his watch and found that they still had five minutes before class started.
“So, voila, the Sanson building,” Buffy gestured, like she was a co-host on those televised game shows. “Home of many varied professors who like to make you think that you know nothing, because you actually know nothing that they think is worth knowing.”
Sam blinked once as he processed that sentence and then chuckled. She was probably very correct in that. The professors probably wouldn't think too much of all the knowledge of things dark and supernatural in theme, if that was, they even believed in that.
“Well, thank you very much,” he smiled widely down at the petite blond. “I really do appreciate the help.”
“It was no problem whatsoever Sam,” Buffy waved away his thanks. She looked like she was about to head in and for some unidentified reason that Sam didn't look too closely at, he didn't want to let her go just yet.
“So, uh, do you have any other advice for a lost freshman?” he asked quickly before she got more than a step away. Buffy turned where she was and regarded him with a look that was part serious, part amused and the rest curious.
“Yup,” she nodded. “Tomorrow morning, go to the coffee kiosk on third and ask Brett how his cat is, you will thank me for it, the freshman fifteen really isn't a joke, so watch what you eat for the next few months and get a hobby.”
Sam processed that quickly, but stuck at the last one. “A hobby?” he queried. Buffy nodded.
“Yup, college classes can be stressful,” she explained quickly and without guile. “It's a good idea to have a fall back class that you don't need to be graded in, or a membership to a gym or a hobby that you can pick up whenever you need to to blow off steam.”
“That sounds like really smart advice,” Sam nodded. And it did make sense when she explained it like that.
“Stanford Sam,” she chuckled. “There is a reason we're attending.”
“Oh right,” Sam grimaced again, realizing how condescending he must sound. True, she may be blond, perky and a Valley girl, but Stanford surely wasn't giving away spots in their school just based on looks.
“All right, I gotta get to class,' Buffy grinned and waved as she headed into the building. “See you around Sam.”
“See ya Buffy,” he responded quickly, waving as well. The door swung shut behind her and Sam realized that he should have gone in as well. He finished the last few sips of his coffee and tossed the cup in the convenient trash bin beside the front door. True, he didn't know the professor's policy about food and drinks in the classroom, so better to be safe than sorry.
As he pulled open the door and entered into this, the first of the hallowed halls of learning that he would be partaking in four days a week, Sam breathed out a huge sigh of relief. In spite of all the arguments and fights with his family, despite his nervousness at the new experience, despite everything, he had made the right choice. He just knew it.