Joss Whedon owns "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" and related characters; Patricia Briggs owns "The Mercedes Thompson Series" and related characters; I own nothing.Author's Notes:
Written for akat24 for the 2012 Wishlist Fic challenge. She requested Buffy/Samuel, with the prompt of "Ho Hey" by The Lumineers. Title comes from the song lyrics.~*~*~
Normally, San Francisco would have obliged Samuel’s melancholy mood, with its cold weather and ocean fog blanketing the city and obscuring its edges. Instead, today the city refused to cooperate with its October summer-like weather, putting him further out of sorts.
He’d been like this ever since Mercy officially mated with Adam several weeks ago. Slowly, she was starting to integrate herself into Adam’s pack, leaving him behind. Samuel was happy for her, he truly was. She was his pack, and he wanted her to find her place, even if it wasn’t with him. He understood that she was moving forward with her life, in a way he seemed unable to do.
He found himself feeling his age more and more. Mercy’s loss, on top of everything else, only accentuated the sense of loneliness already pervading his spirit. There were days when he felt it would be easier to slip away, to have the pain end, than to keep enduring day after day of emptiness. Those days were starting to become much too numerous.
So here he was, a state and a half away, at a medical conference he had no real interest in, trying to find something
that would catch his attention. Something that would convince him to stay a little while longer. What, he didn’t know, but at this point he would accept anything.
While checking into his room at Hotel Union Square, only a short walk away from the Moscone Center, he paused, catching a trace of a faint scent from years ago. Samuel took another deep breath but the scent didn’t change. The mix of dust and vanilla only belonged to one person in his experience. But given his state of mind and how faint it was, Samuel was probably imagining that Buffy Summers was here. Just another reminder of someone that had left his life.
The conference didn’t start until tomorrow, leaving Samuel at loose ends for the evening. After unpacking, he went back downstairs to find something to eat when he caught sight of her standing by the door with another young woman.
“...you’re nuts. There isn’t any such thing as too much cheesecake,” he overheard Buffy telling her companion as he stood frozen.
“Say the one with the crazy-ass metabolism,” the other woman groaned and dramatically clutched her stomach. “I feel like I can sleep for a week.”
“But then you’ll miss...” Buffy’s voice trailed off when she caught sight of Samuel across the lobby.
“Buffy?” her friend asked, looking between the two of them. “Is everything OK? Who’s that guy?”
“That would be Samuel,” Buffy answered, her mouth quirking almost imperceptibly. “He’s somebody that I used to know.”
“Know as is know or as in know
Before Buffy could answer, Samuel made his way towards the two women. “Hello, Buffy,” he greeted her with a small smile.
“Samuel,” she replied, although from her tone of voice it was hard to tell if she was happy or nervous or unhappy to see him. She’d always been difficult to read. “This is my sister, Dawn. Dawnie, this is Samuel Cornick.”
“As in the Montana Cornicks?” Dawn asked with an arched eyebrow, extending her hand for him to shake.
“It’s good to finally meet you,” he said instead, returning her handshake. “Buffy mentioned you a few times.”
“That’s funny, she never mentioned you,” she retorted, giving her sister a sidelong look. “When did you two meet?”
“Before...” Buffy began before pausing and looking away. “Before that mess down in Los Angeles the year after Sunnydale.”
“Oh.” Before the pause that followed Dawn’s statement became too long, she smiled at Samuel and turned to her sister. “So, about that nap lasting a week, I think I’ll take it now. Have fun.” With that, she gave them a little wave and darted toward the elevator’s alcove, leaving Samuel and Buffy alone.
“So... how are you?” Samuel asked awkwardly, trying to fill the silence left behind by Dawn’s exit. He felt off-balance seeing her again after everything that had happened since they parted. It was a surprise to find her here, but when he thought about it, maybe it shouldn’t have been. He’d forgotten that when Buffy was involved, it paid to expect the unexpected.
“Better,” she answered after a moment’s hesitation. “It took some time, but things have gotten better. Better-ish, anyway.”
“Good.” Samuel couldn’t discern if Buffy was telling the full truth, but she looked healthier at least. The hollowness in her gaze had faded, and there were curves to her body that hadn’t been there before. The last few years had treated her well.
“The same,” Samuel lied.
From the way she was looking at him, Buffy didn’t believe him. “That’s good to hear,” she answered pointedly. She paused, taking a deep breath before continuing. “It really is nice to see you again,” she admitted quietly, “even how we left things.”
“You’re the one that left,” Samuel said, almost without thinking. He remembered that night, coming home from the hospital to Buffy frantically packing to help with the Wolfram and Hart incident in Los Angeles. She never came back, instead sending for her few belongings to be shipped to Cleveland after the dust settled. Samuel had relocated back to Montana shortly thereafter.
“If I remember correctly, you’re the one who didn’t ask me to stay,” Buffy replied softly, meeting his eyes with a challenging tilt of her chin.
Samuel did remember. He had been too much of a coward to ask her to stay, when he knew what her answer would be. After that first time with Mercy, after Theresa, after everything
, the last thing he had wanted was letting another person into his life who would inevitably go away and leave a gaping hole behind. His and Buffy’s relationship had been unexpected, and after the first month had passed, he’d allowed himself to tentatively hope that maybe it would work despite the fact he was immortal and her calling as the Slayer meant that she was essentially living on borrowed time. Maybe the universe would allow him to be happy.
And then the phone call from a woman named Faith shattered his carefully constructed illusions.
“I should get going,” Buffy said when Samuel didn’t reply, adjusting the bag on her shoulder. “Make sure nobody kidnapped Dawnie. It is a Thursday, after all, and some old habits are hard dying.” Her smile was strained, and even though she was hiding it, he could see the regret in her face before she brushed past him. “Have a good night.”
“Do you want to have dinner with me?” Samuel asked before she took more than two steps past him. “For old times sakes?”
“Not tonight,” Buffy answered, turning around to face him. “But ask me again tomorrow, and I might say yes.”
“Is that an acceptance?”
“What do you think?” Buffy countered, a playful glint in her eye.
“I think,” Samuel said, giving her his most roguish smile, the one that Mercy rolled her eyes at constantly, “I think I’ll be seeing you tomorrow.”
“Like I said. Ask me again tomorrow and see what happens. I’ll be around.”
Samuel watched Buffy make her way to the elevator, feeling the knot in his chest loosen slightly. Maybe this trip had been worth the effort after all. He didn’t know for sure, but he couldn’t help but feel a little more hopeful than he had before.
Whistling softly, Samuel walked outside into the warm San Francisco afternoon and welcomed the brief reprieve from the fog.