Title: The Rest is Still Unwritten
Author: Jedi Buttercup
Disclaimer: The words are mine; the world is not.
Summary: Their second meeting started out a little on the distant side. 1200 words.
Spoilers: Post-series for Buffy; vaguely season six-ish for CSI.
Notes: Titled from the Natasha Bedingfield song. I may yet be inspired to write more vignettes in this universe... but at the same time, this feels like a fit conclusion to the arc. So.
Their second meeting started out a little on the distant side. They'd planned a stroll through an art exhibit, followed by lunch at a restaurant, where Ms. Sidle was going to join them- probably on a girlfriend basis; that theory was looking stronger all the time. Public spaces, carefully chosen for neutral appeal; he obviously remembered her mother's major, and the subject of the exhibit jived with what her mom had told her about him. But Buffy had an unexpectedly difficult time finding things to say to him.
Actually meeting her bio-dad was supposed to have been a positive thing, but it was having the opposite effect on her nerves. Especially after the previous day's unexpected revelations about her Slayerhood. She'd been happier with the idea of presenting herself as a slightly ditzy college student; you couldn't disappoint someone who had good reason not to expect anything, after all.
Instead, things had fallen into that uncertain, stomach churny zone where her feelings for both her other father figures had drifted since her eighteenth birthday. Though interestingly enough, aside from that, the brown hair and the fact that they'd all slept with her mom seemed to be the only things the three men had in common. If Hank Summers belonged to the Cordelia Chase demographic, and Giles was kind of an older, wiser Willow, then Gil Grissom seemed to be the Oz of bugs and crime.
Buffy ran with that comparison for a moment as the impression settled: the way he seemed so solid and self-contained, the way he'd taken her crazy in stride when they ran into each other looking for a lost baby Slayer, and how he carefully measured his words even when talking about things that meant a lot to him. Very present in the moment- or focused might be a better word. She didn't know him well enough yet to tell how deep his emotions might run, but he seemed as receptive as he was reserved, taking her in just as she was instead of measuring her against some ideal daughter metric.
She could deal with that in an older guy-shaped friend, she decided. If she thought of him as Crime Lab Edition Oz rather than her mother's Parker or Riley, a lot of the subconscious squidginess faded.
"Look," she said, as they came to the end of a row of sketches featuring creepy crawlies with too many legs and eyes for her comfort. "I won't lie, I was a daddy's girl when I was little. But that was several years ago- before Hank got a shiny new girlfriend and dropped Dawn and I like yesterday's news. I don't need a new father. And I'd guess you don't really know what to do with a daughter, either, especially not a Slayer who comes with a dependent of her own. But- we're connected, whether we're really prepared for that or not. And you seem like a nice guy. I'd think I'd like to get to know you better, at least as a friend who happened to also know my mom."
Gil studied her expression, mouth curving in slight smile. "You're right; parenthood isn't something I'd been expecting to experience. Especially with your- challenges. But you seem like a perceptive, fascinating young woman- someone it would be a pleasure to get to know."
"Uh, good. Great!" Buffy replied, smiling awkwardly back at him. "This is all just so..." she added apologetically, waving a hand.
"I know," he agreed, then cleared his throat gently. "So. You're studying psychology in Cleveland...?"
She took a relieved breath and dove back into the conversation.
At second glance, Buffy Summers seemed exactly as blonde as advertised, both in appearance and personality; it was somewhat of a jarring shift from her command performance during the rescue of Kelly Williams. She reminded Gil a great deal of her mother, in fact, both in her good points and those less attractive, but as she rambled her way through a very pop-culture infused conversation it became clear that her 'Slayer' side was not a separately constructed mask. Just as her hair took its hue from a bottle, there was a firm secondary substrate beneath the façade of the California cheerleader.
Prior to her arrival in Vegas, he'd been concerned that they would have nothing in common. He'd taken comfort in Sara's reassurance that he never had to see his newly discovered daughter again if their meeting didn't go well; they came from different backgrounds, genetic contribution notwithstanding. But she listened with complete understanding when he talked about the reasons he had chosen his career, and when they made their way to the art exhibit, she seemed at least mildly interested in his commentary, though she did wrinkle her nose at some of the insects depicted. She even offered some observations of her own when they reached a sketch of a praying mantis mid-meal.
There were shadows in her green eyes, and a decisiveness to her movements that spoke of weighty experience and considerable training. More than a young woman in her twenties should have; he shuddered to think how early she must have begun her supernatural vigilantism. And yet, she seemed eager to present her best face; there was no hint of duplicity in her. Even if he hadn't known who she was when he ran across her investigating Ms. Williams, Gil would have been inclined to trust her word when she gave it- though perhaps slightly warier of her motives.
He hadn't felt any instantaneous connection, and he wasn't sure whether or not to be disappointed in that. Given that they pursued very different lives in different states, it seemed unlikely that they'd ever spend enough time together to make its lack at all meaningful. But he did find that he wouldn't be averse to getting to know her better. That was more than he'd expected.
He was unsurprised when she broke pattern to address him seriously along much the same lines. He might have no claim to pride- but he was pleased at her perceptiveness, all the same.
"I have to warn you, my mother will want to meet you," he added, some time later.
Buffy's eyes widened at that- but not in a displeased way; she seemed almost shocked. "I... have a grandmother?" she said. "That didn't. I mean; of course. I haven't heard from Dad's, I mean Hank's parents in ages, and Mom's family is... gone. "
This was something he could share with her, even if their relationship was destined to remain nonstandard. "Yes; and she'll be very pleased to claim a grandchild at last. Though- are you familiar with sign language?" His mother could lip read if necessary, but was more comfortable with ASL.
Buffy bit her lip and shook her head. "No; but I can register for a class in it, next semester. And, um. If you don't mind. I can bring Dawn with me, next time I visit? She's already fluent."
She still seemed a little anxious, but also hopeful; and Gil found himself hopeful as well, at that evidence of acceptance and planning for continued contact.
"Of course," he said. One step at a time; they could make this work.