Author: Fluffernutter8 PM
"When will it be enough?" she asks, but there is no reply, and she stands alone amongst the stars." Half a decade after Chosen, Buffy risks everything to protect the thing she loves most.Rated: Fiction K+ - English - Buffy S. - Chapters: 13 - Words: 14,927 - Reviews: 13 - Favs: 4 - Follows: 9 - Updated: 01-28-13 - Published: 11-06-12 - Status: Complete - id: 8680975
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
"Mommy, someone's knocking." Ren looked up from her coloring.
Buffy raised a waspish eyebrow at her daughter. Ren had been told many times not to open the door, but it would be nice if she disobeyed just this once as her mother tried to type out an email, butter toast and blow dry her hair. But it was better this way. Vampires might not be able to come in without an invitation, but not everything that had ill intentions towards Ren was supernatural.
Maneuvering her way around the crayons scattered around the floor (Ren had been getting very touchy when she broke them), Buffy went to look through the peephole. It was only her neighbor, Evelyn. She opened the door.
"Hello!" Evelyn breezed in despite the noticeable lack of invitation. "Good afternoon, Miss Ren." She gave the girl a little curtsy, carefully balancing a box in her arms.
"Here, I'll take that," Buffy offered, good manners breaking through her dislike of Evelyn.
"Well thank you, dear," Evelyn handed over the box. "But that cake is not for you!" She waggled a finger annoyingly at Buffy who was suddenly reminded of the reasons other than Ren's safety that she did not associate with her neighbors.
"Would you mind terribly if I asked you to go to the new tenant in 4E? He helped me change some light bulbs yesterday, so I thought I would make him one of my famous pineapple upside-down cakes." Evelyn could evidently read Buffy's desire to stay in her apartment because she rushed on. "I would do it myself but I have an appointment. My arthritis is acting up from all this rain we've been having." She massaged her wrists exaggeratedly.
"Sure, Evelyn." Buffy forced a smile.
"Lovely. Now, I would take Ren with you. He might invite you in for tea. He's very polite. And very good-looking," Evelyn sing-songed, adding a huge wink.
Buffy gritted her teeth. If she could hold out for another minute, Evelyn and her irritating matchmaking ways would disappear. "I'll be sure to do that, Evelyn. We'll go over in just a few minutes."
"Excellent, dear. Goodbye." Evelyn wafted out, her cropped gray hair stirring slightly as she shut the door behind her.
Buffy slumped into her chair and finished drying her hair. Talking with Evelyn always tired her out. Ren boosted herself onto the chair facing her mother.
"Can we go to the park?"
"It's still raining out, you can see that."
"Can we go somewhere?" Ren gusted a sigh, her head flopping on to her arms. Buffy smothered the grin that only her daughter seemed to bring to her face now.
"Why don't we go give this cake to Mr. Next Door?"
Ren jumped up and slipped on her shoes. She started to tie the laces and paused. "That's not his real name, is it?"
"Maybe it is," her mother said mysteriously. She mimed shaking someone's hand. "Hello, Mr. Next Door, how do you do? Is there a Mrs. Next Door? What about some little Next Doors? Oh, a baby Next Door on the way? Congratulation." Buffy dropped the charade as Ren's giggles squealed out.
Buffy put on her own shoes and helped her daughter up. Once they were in the narrow, windowless hallway, she locked all three locks on their apartment. She would be able to see her door the whole time (under no circumstances would she be accepting an invitation for tea) but she could never be too careful. She couldn't go zero to sixty in front of Ren, after all.
"Okay, knock," Buffy instructed. Ren tapped firmly on the door. There was no answer. Buffy shifted the cake to one arm and knocked harder.
"Hello? I have a cake for you from Evelyn in 3C. I live next door. My name is-"
The door swung open. "I know your name. Hello, Buffy."