Series: Peppermint Sprinkles, FFA 2004
Pairing: Buffy Summers/Charlie Weasley - friendship (66)
Disclaimer: Owned by Whedon and Rowling, and not me.
Spoilers: Probably none. Set probably 6 years post 'Chosen'.
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Despite the heat in the small British shop, Buffy was focused on one thing alone. It was a stunning shade of green and would be a stunning addition to her collection. Ever since she'd started slaying, leather had been essential. It was tough, stylish and virtually indestructable, unless someone had something equally pointy.
She saw someone else admiring the display and huddled closer to the jacket, pulling it off the plastic model. Slipping it over her shoulders, she pushed her way through the vast crowds to the three-way mirror and stared at her reflection, admiring the way the fabric seemed to enhance her stature.
"That's the best quality dragon-skin there," a voice said behind her. Buffy lifted her gaze and met a pair of blue eyes in the mirror before turning to look at the man who had spoken.
"Dragon skin?" she asked, running a hand down the sleeve of the coat. "It feels like good old leather to me."
"Come here," he said, and she obliged, feeling slightly lost. "Take it off."
Now she was getting suspicious. After three hours of shopping in London for one tiny thing for herself, she was ready to throw punches at whoever was trying to deprive her of the one gift she even considered for herself.
And yet he seemed friendly enough.
She shrugged off the coat and he took it, turned it inside-out and showed her the label inside. "See?"
She stared at it. Dragon skin. Huh.
"You know about dragons?" she asked him, taking the coat back a little too quickly.
"I've worked with them for the past ten years," the man said with a grin.
"Really?" she asked, interested. The most she'd heard of dragons was that beast Angel had fought five years back. "Are you a dragon hunter or just someone who really, really likes getting burned?"
He laughed then. He had a pleasant laugh. It didn't take her by surprise. He was quite appealing to the eye, which was not something she'd found a lot of nowadays. He was shorter than most of the men, or evil undead, she had dated in the past. He had a head of shocking red hair and those cerulean eyes. Not to mention arms that looked both warm and secure. A tiny scar stretched the length of his left cheek, and judging by the way it shone under the light, it was a burn-mark.
"They're fascinating creatures, once you get to know them," he replied easily, extending his hand. "Charlie Weasley."
She took his offered hand. "Buffy Summers." Smiling and tucking the coat more securely under her arm, she cocked her head towards the mad array of shoppers still storming around the shop. "Do you normally enjoy shopping in overheated, crowded stores?"
"I have a lot of people on the Christmas list," Charlie replied. "A lot of them like dragon skin, and this is one of the only Muggle stores in London that sells it. I imagine the other stores are probably as busy as this, or worse."
"There are other stores?" she asked, feeling the weight of the shopping bags full of previous purchases starting to make her arms ache. She had a feeling she'd better buy herself the jacket now and get outside before the air in the store became unbearable. She gestured towards the cashier's counter and the man seemed to understand and followed at a close clip behind her to answer her question.
At least he wasn't ignoring her, as her previous ex had done whenever she'd found something other than evil and darkness to talk about.
He shrugged good-naturedly. "There are always other stores," he said, a mysterious sparkle in his eyes.
Buffy paid for the coat and pushed her way through the store, listening as other people complained about the young American blonde taking the 'very last one'.
"I need to get out of here," she said, waving her hand as a fan in front of her face. "I can't breathe in here!"
"Let's get you outside," he said, gently leading her through the crowd and finally past the two glass doors and into the cold London morning. "You are obviously not used to Christmas shopping in London, are you?"
"Where I come from, people don't kill for their purchases," she said, taking several deep breaths. She was starting to feel better and felt her pulse slow slightly. She walked over the sidewalk and stood on the edge of the road, glancing left and right.
"Well, maybe they don't here," Charlie said, watching her with amusement. "Are you looking for something? You look a little lost."
"I'm just... needing water," she said quickly, not wanting to give her true agenda away.
"There's a cafe down at the end of the street," he offered, coming up beside her. "I'll show you where it is."
"In that case, why don't you tell me why you like dragons so much, Charlie Weasley," she said, joining him as they walked down a crowded street.
Somehow, Christmas shopping in an unfamiliar city became a whole lot easier when there was someone around as strange as her.