Title: Gentlemanly Behavior
Sequel to: Lies of the Moment
Fandoms: BtVS/Ocean's Eleven
Pairings: Danny/Tess, mentions Danny/Joyce, pre-Buffy/Rusty
Summary: Buffy runs into someone she never expected to see again on her way home from work. (Set in Rome.)
Disclaimer: I own nothing and seek no profit from this story. No copyright infringement intended.
Distribution: Emerald Illusions and Twisting the Hellmouth
Feedback would be fantastic.
A/N: Please note now that I have not seen Ocean's Twelve
yet, and as such, nothing that happens in that movie will influence anything I write. Well okay, except that the characters are in Rome and Tess is pregnant ... I got that from interviews and the previews. Please don't flame me over the fact that I've not had time to go see the movie. Just consider this an AU. =)
It was summer in Italy and the weather was beautiful. Buffy loved it, loved the people, loved the places, loved it all. Rome was her favorite city in Italy and it was where she spent the most time. The city was romantic by its very nature and laced with a history even she could appreciate. It was a city she could get lost in, a city she could be herself in, and a city where she could live
. She still did her duty, still slayed vampires as needed, still killed the evil demons she came across, but for the most part, she was enjoying life as a retired Slayer. She even had a part-time job at a local coffee shop and was beginning to not only speak the language fluently, but read and write it as well. Buffy liked to think she was growing up. Finally.
She was alone, for the moment, as Dawn had gone to England to spend the summer with Giles. Her sister was occupying herself learning yet another ancient language that would help prepare her for a life as a Watcher. Buffy missed her, of course, but understood the need to stay active. Life since Sunnydale had been kinda ... boring at times, though the Slayer could not honestly say she truly minded. All in all, she was glad for the break, but she did understand Dawn's desire to keep busy.
On the personal front, Buffy was single, though many would say differently, she was sure. Buffy would, on occasion, entertain the Immortal, or let him entertain her ... or at least she had when she'd first arrived in Italy. That had changed once he discovered she would not flaunt their relationship in front of Angel or Spike. He seemed to simply lose interest after that. She did her best not to let that bother her, and managed to occupy herself easily enough.
Shopping, for instance, was always fun. She had believed that her entire life, but now she had the money to act on her belief. Or rather, the Council did. Buffy still had a hard time believing that Giles was actually paying her for being a Slayer ... and giving her back-pay for all of her years on the Hellmouth. She knew Faith got the same treatment for the services she rendered in the line of duty, as did all the Potentials who fought in Sunnydale, but it was still hard to believe that so many years of tradition had been changed by an explosion and one little spell. But her mild disbelief didn't stop her from enjoying her new life. Buffy didn't think anything could stop her from doing that. She'd worked too long, too hard, and lost too much to let anything stop her now that she had the chance to actually live.
That particular sunny day had found her browsing through a few shops after her shift at the coffee house and then picking up her mail at the post office before heading home with her purchases. Buffy strolled through the courtyard of a hotel, taking a familiar shortcut as the day's light slipped away, a bag in each of her hands. Her Slayer senses picked up danger, so she paid little attention to the people around her, other than to notice that a few of the tourists were taking their dinner on the outdoor pavilion, while others were enjoying drinks at the tables scattered about.
A fleeting thought of what life must be like, staying at such a nice hotel, floated through her mind as she walked, but her step did not falter until she heard her name being called out amidst the chattering visitors and soft dinner music. Turning, Buffy looked around and blinked in confusion as she saw a stranger, a man, standing up and waving her over to a table. She struggled to place him as he said her name again, even as she started walking toward him. Moving closer, his features became clearer and her eyes widened as she reached the table and realized with a start who he was. This was the man her mother had gone out with the night before she...
"It is Buffy, right?" he asked.
Pushing her thoughts away, she nodded. "Yeah, it is, and you're ... um, Bri--"
Buffy shook her head, blinking rapidly. "I'm sorry, what?"
"My name is Danny Ocean."
She looked at him for a long moment, processing what he was saying and had to refrain herself from kicking him in the shins. "But you said your name was ... you told us your name was Brian."
Anger flared through Buffy as his words settled into her brain. He'd lied to her Mom. He'd lied to her Mom the day before she died. "Did you tell her the truth about anything?"
"About everything but that."
"Oh." Buffy didn't know what else to say. She was still angry, but ... if he had told her the truth about everything but his name, what else could
she say? She knew she could call him a bastard, knew she could hit him, but that wouldn't accomplish anything. That
she also knew. It would just embarrass them both by causing a scene.
He gestured to an empty chair. "Do you want to sit down?"
She blinked again, the situation too unreal for words, and sighed. "Oh, what the hell. Sure."
Sitting down and placing her bags carefully at her feet, Buffy tried to gather her thoughts, tried to get a handle on the situation. She wondered suddenly if he knew about her Mom. She was about to blurt it out, about to ask when he said, "Oh, I've been rude. Miss Summers, this is Rusty Ryan. Rusty this is Buffy Summers."
Turning her head, Buffy could only hope she wasn't openly gaping. Or drooling. The man sitting with Danny had to be one of the most handsome men she'd ever seen. 'No,' she corrected. 'Prettiest. He's one of the prettiest men I've ever seen, and I've seen some damn pretty men.'
She felt her eyes widen when he smiled at her and struggled to regain control of her hormones. "Hi," she said.
"Hello," he answered. "Miss Summers."
"Buffy. Just Buffy."
"Is Rusty your real name?" She closed her eyes and pressed her lips together in embarrassment, wishing she'd learned to identify the things one just shouldn't say during her growing up stage.
She opened her eyes just in time to see him grin, and she wasn't sure if it was directed at her or Danny. He did meet her eyes, though, when he said, "As far as I know."
"Good," Buffy said softly. "Good."
She looked over at Danny then and tried to smile. "This is certainly a surprise."
"Yes, I suppose it is. I was surprised to see you, too. I hope you don't mind that I called you over."
Buffy shook her head. "No, it's all right. It was odd to hear an American calling my name ... that doesn't happen here very often."
"So you're not just visiting, then?" Rusty asked.
Buffy shook her head. "No, I've lived in Rome for a little over a year now. I don't know how long I'll end up staying, but for now, I like it."
"It is a beautiful city," the blond man said.
Buffy smiled, "Yes, it is."
Danny, Buffy could tell, was about to break into the conversation when a waiter walked up to their table and asked if they needed anything. At the mens' insistence, she ordered a glass of wine, but declined the dinner invitation. A woman walked up to the table as the waiter was about to walk away and added a glass of water and a bowl of chocolate ice cream to the order before sitting down in the last empty seat.
Buffy's eyes were instantly drawn to the woman's stomach and she couldn't help but smile as she realized she was pregnant. She watched as Danny leaned over and kissed her on the cheek and part of Buffy wondered, just for a second, what might have been ... had things gone differently between Danny and her Mom. 'If he hadn't lied to her,' the Slayer thought to herself. 'The whole lying thing would have put a huge damper on their entire relationship.'
"So," the woman began, "did Rusty finally find himself a girl?"
Buffy felt the blush spreading across her face and wished she had the wine to blame it on. Danny saved her from answering the woman's teasing question by saying, "Well, not that I'm aware of, no. This is Buffy Summers, originally from California. I recognized her and called her over."
"Ah. I'm Tess," she said. "Danny's wife."
Buffy smiled politely. "Nice to meet you."
The word 'wife' ringing in Buffy's ears, she was suddenly very uncomfortable and wanted nothing more than to get away. Quickly. She was sitting at a table full of strangers. One of them a man her mother had gone on a date with the day before she died, and he'd not even told her his real name. Danny, it seemed, had other ideas. He looked Buffy in the eye and asked the question she'd been quietly dreading since she recognized his face.
"Buffy, how's your Mom?"
Stalling, Buffy asked, "Are you sure you want me to answer? I mean ..." she trailed off, glancing at Tess. "I wouldn't want to cause any--"
"Summers," Tess said suddenly. "That was the woman you dated while we were separated, right? Her first name was Joyce?"
"Yes, and it was only one date," Danny looked at Buffy. "Tess knows everything. We don't have any secrets."
"Oh," Buffy said. "How nice for you. Very open."
"He told me your entire family is very nice, and if you're anything to judge by, I have to agree with him," Tess said, and Buffy could tell she was trying to put her at ease.
The Slayer smiled at the other woman and was about to thank her when Rusty suddenly asked, "And you lied to them about your name?"
Buffy's eyes narrowed. "Yeah ... what was that? Why would you lie about your name?"
Danny sighed. "I don't expect you to understand. Just know that I went into the situation thinking that I'd be in and out and wouldn't have any contact with anyone past an introduction. Turned out I was wrong. I'd already told your Mom my name was Brian when I found out I was going to be in town longer than I expected, and I didn't think she'd accept an invitation to dinner if I suddenly said my real name was Danny. So, I kept it up. But I meant it when I said that everything else I told her was true."
Buffy was silent for a long moment, wondering what could have caused him to lie in the first place. Deciding to let the past remain in the past, she sighed and let it go. "Okay."
"I've always meant to set the record straight, you know," Danny continued. "I just never got back to Sunnydale before that big earthquake. After that, I didn't know how to find you all. But your Mom's a real nice lady, so tell me, Buffy, how is Joyce?"
Danny's words cut straight through her, and she hoped it didn't show as much as she felt it did. She believed him, she really did. She believed he cared, believed he thought her Mom was nice, and that is what hurt so bad. She closed her eyes and willed herself not to cry. "Um, Mom-"
"Here you are, refills on both of your drinks, gentlemen, a glass of the house Merlot for the lady, an ice water and a bowl of ice cream for the Mom-to-be. Will there be anything else?"
"No, thanks," Tess said, softly. "But we'll let you know if we need anything."
Buffy opened her eyes and watched the waiter walk away, acutely aware that everyone was watching her. As calmly as possible, she reached out and picked up the wine, sipping it slowly. After drinking down a couple of mouthfuls, she placed the glass back on the table and looked over at Danny, meeting his eyes. "I don't know how to say this nicely, or gently. I've never been good at gentle ... I'm usually just blunt. So I'm just going to say it. Mom died."
Tess automatically reached across the table and took Buffy's hand, and the Slayer let her, accepting the unexpected, but welcome, comfort. Danny was silent, but Buffy knew she couldn't just leave it at that announcement and let the subject rest. Her Mom deserved more than that.
Taking a deep breath, she said, "Mom had been diagnosed with a brain tumor. They operated and thought they got it all ... I think they got it all. Everything was fine for a while, life even got back to normal. Then something happened. The doctor said it was an aneurysm near the place where the tumor was. He said it happened sometimes, and that, um, it happened very quickly."
"Oh, sweetheart," Tess squeezed her hand. "That's just ... I'm so sorry."
Buffy smiled softly. "Thank you."
"When?" Danny asked suddenly.
Somehow, suddenly, this question was harder for Buffy to answer than telling him about her Mom's death. Buffy wasn't sure if the truth would be better or worse. It was one of those situations where that old saying, 'the truth hurts' rang very true. Deciding that, because she always wanted the truth, she would give him the same courtesy, she met his eyes. "She got your flowers and put them on display in the front hallway. They were the first thing I saw when I got home that day."
Danny was silent for a long time and Buffy knew he had understood what she was trying to tell him. Finally, he spoke, asking, "And you and your sister? You have everything you need?"
Buffy nodded slowly. "Well, I won't lie. Things were really hard for a while, but now ... now we're just fine. Dawn's in England this summer with a friend. She's taking a few classes at Oxford this summer."
"Oxford? That's a good school," Tess said with a smile.
Buffy smiled back, proudly. "Yes, Dawn is very smart."
"And you have everything here you need?" Danny asked.
"Yeah. I've got a job and a nice apartment. I'm set."
He nodded and got up, walking around the table. He kissed the top of Buffy's head as he reached into his pocket and pulled out a card. Bending over, he said, "I am very sorry for your loss. Your mother was a special woman. If you or your sister ever need anything at all, you call this number."
Buffy nodded and accepted the card. He didn't give her a chance to respond. He just walked away. Tess squeezed her hand once more. "It was really nice to meet you. I hope we see you again. Maybe meet this smart little sister of yours."
"That would be nice."
Tess smiled. "Rusty?"
"Yeah?" the other man asked.
"Walk this young woman back to her apartment, please?"
Buffy shook her head. "That's really not necessary."
"Oh, well, it is," Tess said with a huge smile. "And besides, Rusty may not know it, but he is a gentleman at heart. Where are you going, anyway?"
"Oh!" Buffy exclaimed. "Here ... let me give you my address and stuff."
She fished pen and paper out of her purse and wrote down her phone number, email and home addresses before handing it over to Tess. "Tell Danny that, for what it's worth, I'm glad we ran into each other."
Tess nodded. "I will."
She told them goodnight and Buffy found herself alone with Rusty. She licked her lips and picked up her wine glass, sipping the remaining liquid. The vintage was good, smooth, but she knew if she drank it too fast she'd get tipsy, and that was something she did not want. At all.
"I'm sorry about your Mom."
Buffy looked at him. "Thanks."
"Do you want more wine when you finish that?"
"Oh no," Buffy said automatically. "I don't drink well. It goes straight to that part of my brain that turns me into a total ditz."
Rusty chuckled. "At least you're aware of the problem."
"This is true," Buffy said. "But between me and you, it took me a long time, and a lot of embarrassing moments to admit I had a problem."
He grinned. "I won't tell a soul, I swear."
"Good," Buffy smiled. "Um, you know you don't really have to walk me home, right?"
"Yes, I do know that, but I told Tess I would, so I'm going to, unless you really don't want me to, in which case, I'll call you a cab."
Buffy shook her head. "Nah. No cab. I live way too close for that. And it's not that I don't trust you or anything. I just didn't want you to feel obligated or anything."
"No obligation. Just my word to Tess. And ... you trust me? I've earned your trust?"
Buffy shrugged. "Well, you've not done anything to not earn my trust. And besides, I could take you."
He grinned again. "That a fact?"
"One of these days," Rusty said casually, "I might have to call you out, then, make you prove it in a fight. This is my manly pride we're talking about."
It was Buffy's turn to grin as she finished her wine. "Yeah? Well then, when that day rolls around, I will kick your ass and then you will take me out to dinner when I'm done. Where ever I wanna go."
Buffy blinked. 'What's he agreeing to? I was just smarting off! What'd I say?'
Her inner thoughts clouded as she backtracked over the conversation and realized that, essentially, she'd just asked him out, and somehow, she was okay with that. Even if she had just met him and was kinda intimidated by how good looking he was. There was something about him that just made her relax ... it was kinda weird, but cool.
"Well, all right then," she said, smiling.
He stood, holding out his hands. "Carry your bags for you?"
Well ... you can carry this one, the clothes. I'll carry the shoes. No one but me carries my shoes. Ever. I just kinda have this thing about them."
He grinned and took the bag she held out. "Yes. The mystery of why women love shoes so much has stumped many a man, myself included."
"Well, I could explain it to you, but then the other women would kick me out of the club."
"And we wouldn't want that."
"Nope," Buffy said. "Never."
In truth, there were no shoes. She had picked up a new shipment of weapons form the post office, craftily hidden inside the boxes, but she knew Rusty would be able to tell they weren't shoes by the weight difference. So, she really didn't want him to get his hands on that bag. It would just lead to questions she couldn't answer.
Sometimes Buffy hated having a secret identity.
Despite her slight worry over the hidden weapons, Buffy was pleased that their conversation continued to flow easily until they arrived outside of her building. Silently, the Slayer cursed how close she lived to the hotel and wished she had thought to conveniently 'forget' something as they left the table. That would have given her ten more minutes, at least.
"Well, here we are," she said, deciding to make the best of the situation.
"So it seems."
She looked up at him and was struck once again by exactly how handsome he was. She wanted to tell him so, but knew that would only serve to embarrass them both. Complimenting his good looks could come later, once she'd gotten to know him a little better, she decided, paying no attention to the part of her brain that insisted she might not get a chance to get to know him better. Pushing her insecurities aside, she said, "Thank you for walking me home."
"It was my pleasure, really."
She smiled. "So Tess didn't really make you?"
"No," he shook his head. "I don't do anything I don't want to do."
That made her smile. Throwing caution to the wind, Buffy asked, "And would you maybe, say, wanna see me again sometime?"
He smiled brilliantly and Buffy felt her knees weaken a bit. he stepped forward slightly and tilted her chin up. "Yes, I would like that very much."
She smiled then. "Good, 'cause I really would, too."
Rusty leaned down and Buffy was almost sure he was going to kiss her. She closed her eyes, licked her lips, and waited, ready. The sound of his voice at her ear caused her eyes to snap open as he said, "Besides, we've got that little matter of you being able to kick my ass to settle."
He reached out and placed the bag of clothes in her hand before turning and walking away. Buffy found her voice before he'd gotten more than five steps, and called out, "And dinner! Don't forget about dinner!"
He turned and grinned. "I know, I know. Anywhere you want to go."
Buffy smiled. "Goodnight, Rusty."
She watched him walk away before letting herself into the building and heading up to her apartment. She unlocked the door, dropped her bags on the floor, and hurried to the phone. She couldn't wait to tell Willow about this.
End fic.Okay. So the series feature says that the next story is Walk Away. But it's not. The next story is really Arm Wrestling. It's just a fun little interlude, really. :)