It was, by Sunnydale's standards, a far grander apartment than one would expect for such a young couple. But there it was. They owned two full floors at the very top of the town's tallest apartment building. A ten floor building (a one-Starbucks town remember?) and they owned, rather than rented, the 9th and 10th floors. The décor was a brilliant blend of a woman's taste for antiquity and elegance with a man's craving for solidarity and strength in features. It was perfection. And they adored it.
Caitlin opened the door with a quick flick of her fingers and entered quickly with her arms full of grocery bags. Yes she was an all-powerful fan fiction writer but food shopping is so much more enjoyable when it's not a necessity. The door closed behind her as though it had an automatic switch.
"I'm back!" she yelled to an empty apartment. No one answered. She dropped the groceries on the marble-top island and flicked her fingers again. The groceries disappeared and found their rightfully places within the kitchen. Puzzled by a lack of response, she yelled again. "Max?" still no answer. Then she spied a note with his handwriting on it stuck to the fridge
Went with Willow to pick up some magic supplies for her. Be home around 5. Want to go out for dinner tonight? I'm in a Mexicano mood!
She laughed softly and rolled her eyes. Glancing at the clock she saw that it was only 3:30. She put the note down and shrugged.
At least I get clicker control for a few hours!
Excited by the prospect she raced out of the kitchen and past the large, handcrafted, dark stained wooden dining room table with matching antique chairs. Down the hall, past the exquisite portraits from the 16th century, past the upscale bathroom, past 3 fully decorated guest rooms, down the winding staircase with a wrought iron railing, past the enormous master bedroom, past the fully equipped training room/gym and into the den where she plopped down on the dark brown leather couch and turned on the TV. She started flipping through the channels. Martha, cop show, soap, soap, soap, another cop show, law & order, autopsy, court-TV, Ellen, infomercial with Susan Lucci trying to sell a silver and gold duck for your dining room table, another cop show, and just as the girl was about to give up and smash the remote control into the HD plasma TV that Max had begged her to let him get, FUSE came on. There was a new My Chemical Romance video playing, "Disenchanted." Anger and disappointment swelled in her and she immediately turned the TV off and tossed the remote to the other side of the room.
It had been a year since she moved out of the mansion and 10 months since she last saw/talked to her ex-friend otherwise known as Tiffany. How did things get to be so profoundly skewed? It wasn't that long ago that Caitlin remembered them being happy and carefree. She and Tiffany burst in on the Sunnydale scene 5 years ago. They were gifted fan fiction writers that had the power to do anything they could possibly want to do in the world. It made their lives significantly easier and yet twice as difficult. 5 years ago they created Max and Jaden, Angel look-alikes with completely separate personalities and uniqueness was awarded to both. Max became Caitlin's lover and Jaden became Tiffany's. Both couples moved into the mansion that Angel shared with Buffy. There was more than enough room for all of them to live peacefully without feeling overcrowded.
Caitlin and Max had turned out to be two-halves of a whole, one not being able to exist happily without the other. Jaden and Tiffany were assumed to be the same by the rest of the Scooby Gang (which consisted of Buffy, Angel, Willow, Xander, Faith, and Giles). Caitlin had known better however. Jaden had been hopelessly infatuated with Tiffany. But she always had her eye on someone else, anyone else really. She tried to be faithful to her boyfriend but in the end it never worked out. And in trying to deny her true feelings, she destroyed him…literally. She had a dangerous affair with Angelus that ended in the monster being banished to hell for eternity once more. She then moved on to Lestat, a supposedly fictional character that had passed through Sunnydale out of curiosity. There was no doubt of an extreme attraction between them. Nothing physical ever occurred between them but the emotional betrayal was undeniable. Jaden had discovered her feelings for Lestat and it nearly ended their relationship forever. After a devastating fight, he severed all ties with her. A few months later she begged his forgiveness and he took her back. Caitlin was furious with Tiffany for her constant disregard of Jaden's feelings. Tiffany always went crawling back to Jaden after each affair ended badly. Tiffany didn't love Jaden and she never had. He had been her safety net. Caitlin couldn't stand the callousness (however unknowing it was) that existed inside of her friend. The last straw had been Tiffany's affair with Gerard Way, the lead singer of a popular band called My Chemical Romance. Jaden had been at the opposite end of the world when it occurred. Tiffany fell in love with Gerard and after she and Caitlin had helped the man destroy their demonic manager that had been controlling his band, she decided once and for all to be done with Jaden. And Caitlin had decided once and for all to be done with Tiffany. Jaden had been wiped off the earth. She had created him and so she could destroy him. In order to prevent any messy transition and, in her opinion, to make things better for everyone, Tiffany erased all traces of Jaden's existence from the world and from her friends' minds. After it had been done, she thought that no one would know who Jaden had been and what she had done to him, therefore freeing her to be with Gerard. But what she hadn't realized was that her power did not work on her friend, another all powerful fan fiction writer. Caitlin remembered every second of it. She never let on to Tiffany that she remembered. Instead, she moved out of the mansion and into the apartment she now shared with Max. She avoided all contact with Tiffany for 2 months. Then one day Tiffany had shown up on her doorstep. Their conversation was the briefest they had ever had in their 15 year long friendship. Caitlin remembered every word of it.
There was a pregnant pause.
"Gerard is leaving on a world-wide tour for a year. He asked me to go with him."
They hadn't talked or seen each other since.
Growling, Caitlin stood up and stalked over to the computer. She needed to rid herself of the angry memories she was reliving. She opened up a file that contained a story she had written, or rather chronicled, a few years back. When she and Tiffany had begun to interfere directly with the lives of the Scoobies, the two of them had sent the group to Romania. So much wacky chaos ensued, including the violent deaths of Spike and Riley. She giggled as she read her description of Riley the Corn Demon and Spike being dusted. Continuing on through her chronicles of their earlier escapades she read her graphic description of how the two of them tortured Darla and Kate mercilessly in the basement of the mansion. Broken limbs and much blood involving evil people equaled a much lightened Caitlin.
She only wished that they could return to those days again. But that Tiffany was gone, replaced with one whom Caitlin barely knew, much less liked and trusted.
Life really sucks sometimes.
Max walked through the door in a nervous hurry. He threw his jacket on the couch and took a deep breath. He had no idea how she was going to react to the news he had for her.
"Caitlin?" he called.
How could he tell her this? What would she do to him? She could be extremely violent when angered. She could fly into a rage. She could damage his manly apparatus! She had never agreed with the saying "Don't shoot the messenger". She could shoot him!
CALM DOWN! He chided himself for being so jumpy. Take it like a man!
"Coming" she called back.
He sighed deeply and steeled himself when he heard her footsteps on the stairs. How was he going to tell her that Tiffany was coming back to Sunnydale?
Tiffany looked around nervously, as she stood outside the mansion. She had been back for a few hours, but she'd been at Gerard's apartment helping him settle in. The guys hadn't meant to return two months early but since Gerard suffered a freak accident (breaking his leg after tripping over his own mic chord) while performing at the Starland Ballroom, they had been forced to do so. Tiffany would have healed it and things would have continued as planned, but since he'd been injured in front of roughly twenty thousand people it would have been a bit suspicious to do so. The band deciding to postpone the rest of the tour, had decided that Sunnydale was the best option, since it was pretty much the non-center of the universe, and Tiffany's home town.
Deciding to take advantage of them laying low for a while (since Tiffany had healed her boyfriend's leg upon returning to Sunnydale), the band had decided to record during their time off. They had been writing and planning out their songs, but hadn't had a change to record while touring until now. Luckily, Tiffany had pulled some strings and there was state of the art studio in the town. Her friend, Suzy, worked there, running the place and directors from all over the country where flown in to do the production for the bands.
Sighing, she looked back at the mansion door, the sight of it bringing her back to the harsh reality that she was home. The reality where things with Caitlin were no better than they had been almost a year ago when she'd left.
She walked through the door and threw her luggage down. With a wave of her hand, the luggage was teleported to her room. Buffy and Angel weren't home yet, as she had expected. She called Angel about a week ago and told him when she was coming home. Buffy and Angel had taken a short vacation to Bora Bora and were planning to return before Tiffany was home. But the band ended up arriving two days earlier than Tiffany had specified to Angel.
Looking around the empty mansion, she couldn't shake the feeling of loneliness. So she turned on the TV and put the volume as loud as her ears could take and immersed herself in FUSE.
Angel had called Max earlier that day and told him what happened on the tour, how Gerard broke his leg and that Tiffany was coming home in 2 days with My Chemical Romance in tow. Caitlin's reaction to the news was surprisingly better than Max had expected it to be. Only half a dozen dishes were broken. He managed to escape with a tiny gash on his forehead from the pot she had thrown. Just one office chair was blasted out the window and only 4 neighbors called the police. It could have been so much worse. He thanked his lucky stars. Now Caitlin was on a "drink 'till your falling off your ass drunk" mission. She was already on her second bottle of Johnny Walker Red Label. Fortunately the first one was only half full and Max had taken the opportunity to fill the rest up with water. She never noticed. He was going to indulge her by letting her drink half of this one and then he was throwing all the alcohol in the house away, but he never got the chance. As soon as Caitlin had taken her third swig from the new bottle, she smashed it against the wall and stood up. Well…she attempted to stand up; she actually just ended up rolling off the couch and onto the floor. Max rolled his eyes and helped her stand.
"I ish gonna be the mansion" she slurred.
"You're going to be the mansion?" Max repeated questioningly.
She huffed and stamped her foot. "Noooooo!" she slapped him on the shoulder "I want a Snapple. Mansion is Snapple"
Max struggled to understand "We have Snapple here honey"
"But I wanna go them!" she whined.
"You want to go to the mansion you mean?"
"Yesh! God what ish wrong ith ya?"
Max shook his head exasperatingly. "Okay, okay. We'll go to the mansion"
Anything to keep the very drunk, very uninhibited, very powerful girl happy.
On the ride over she had, much to Max's relief, sobered up a little bit. She wasn't slurring as much now and was able to keep herself up straight. They pulled up to the driveway and Max saw the other car. It wasn't one he had seen before. Wary of who might be in the house, Max led Caitlin up the walkway to the door.
"See we're here" he said soothingly.
"Don't treat me like a baby Max. I'm perfectly fine" she snapped at him.
Max shrugged and let go of her waist as he searched for the keys in his pocket. Without Max's arm to steady her, Caitlin took a step to the side and ended up falling into the bushes with a yelp of surprise.
Max quickly helped her back up and she brushed the leaves off her clothes.
"Easy mistake!" she protested.
Max rolled his eyes and let it go. He got the key in the door and swung it open. They were greeted with the blaring music of Taking Back Sunday.
They both cried out in pain and covered their ears to muffle the sound. It didn't work very well. Hurrying into the mansion, they found Tiffany jumping on the couch, dancing. Max came up from behind Tiffany and shoved her down on the couch. She went down with an "oof!". He then turned off the TV and the two of them sighed in relief while Tiffany pouted.
"What are you doing here?" Max shouted, his ears still ringing.
"What?" Tiffany shouted back, not being able to hear anything.
"WHAT ARE YOU DOING HERE?" he repeated again more loudly this time.
"I came back early!" Tiffany yelled.
"Why?" he said again, louder.
"I can't hear you!"
"WHY?" Caitlin broke in with a bellow "HE'S ASKING WHY YOU CAME BACK SO EARLY!" she gritted her teeth in exasperation.
"Oh" was all Tiffany said when she saw the girl standing there. She snapped her fingers and returned her hearing to normal. "Sorry about that"
"It's fine" Max said when he saw that Caitlin wasn't going to answer.
The ringing of the doorbell was heard, and Tiffany immediately headed towards the door. "I'll get it," she informed.
Opening the door, her eyes widened as she spotted the short young woman standing on her doorstep.
"EMILY!" she squeaked, giving the girl a huge hug, "What are you doing in here? I thought you were living in England!" She was both confused and deeply excited.
"I was but I moved her with Giles…" Emily said.
"You moved here?" Tiffany yelped, oblivious to the next half of the sentence.
"With GILES!" Caitlin asked, now confused by not only how Tiffany knew the girl on the steps, as well as why she was there with Giles of all people.
"Yes, with me," Giles stated, laughing a bit at their confused state, and stepping inside the foyer. Tiffany enveloped the British man in a hug, which he readily returned, "I've missed you, Giles, I'm sorry that I didn't get to stop by and see you when I was in England."
"It's okay," Giles assured her, "I suppose I should make introductions," he stated, as he and Emily stepped inside. This is Emily, my fiancé, whom you already know Tiffany. Emily, those lovely people are Caitlin and Max," he informed, gesturing to the pair.
"Your fiancé?" Caitlin yelped, her ocean blue eyes wide with disbelief, "She's a midget!" she looked at Tiffany accusingly, "You're always doing stuff like this! You did this didn't you! This story didn't need freakin' midget!" she yelled.
Tiffany frowned, wincing a bit at Caitlin's venomous accusation, "I didn't do this," she assured her, "and she's also an Indian! "
"An Indian? You're British, you can't marry an Indian!" Caitlin said.
"Come, come, Caitlin ,there's no reason to be rash. I know this comes as a bit of a surprise, but you could be a bit more civil." Giles said, a disapproving look overtaking his countenance.
"Indian like...wah-wah-wah," Tiffany clarified, covering her mouth with her hand to make the generic, "Indian" noise, "Not Indian like...dot on the forehead," she said, poking herself between the eyes.
"Tiffany, really must you boil every point down to it's most ridiculously blunt explanation?" Giles asked, pushing his glasses up on his nose. Tiffany just grinned.
Caitlin was still staring at Emily, intently, disbelief written all over her face. Max had yet to say anything.
"Let's just all go sit down and talk about this, shall we?" Giles coaxed, taking Emily's hand and leading the group to the couch across the room.
Caitlin opened her mouth, ready to explode when Max took her hand, "Just listen to what he has to say," he said, trying to coax her into submissiveness with (gasp!) logic.
Tiffany was already seated on the couch in front of Emily and Giles. Caitlin walked stiffly towards the couch, Max holding her hand as she went. They both sat down beside Tiffany, rather hesitantly on Caitlin's part, and waited for the inevitable insanity that was about to issue forth from Giles mouth.
Caitlin and Tiffany stared back at the pair with wide open mouths and blank expressions.
"You're kidding, right?" Tiffany asked, finally.
Giles shook his head, sipping on the cup of tea. Max had made it f or then hoping to relax the shocked girls while Giles had explained his situation with Emily.
"Okay, not to sound judgmental or anything-" Caitlin began, slowly, but Tiffany was quick to interrupt as she blurted, "Giles! She's 20 years your junior!"
"Well, yes, but Buffy and Angel are-" Giles stated, but now it was Caitlin's turn to interrupt.
"Buffy and Angel are soul mates, he's immortal and so their age difference doesn't count," she said, daring the former librarian to defy her statement.
"Caitlin," Giles removed a handkerchief from his pocket, and removing his glasses began to clean them meticulously. "Love has no age limit, you too should realize that, look at Max-"
"This isn't about us!" Caitlin defended, "This is about you dating-"
"We're engaged," Emily reminded.
"Dating a midget who's an Indian," Caitlin concluded, sitting back into the couch with a muffled thud.
"Now, wait just a minute, young lady. I won't let you talk to us that way. We're in love and that's final," Giles said, standing with his hands on his hips and looking at both Caitlin and Tiffany defiantly. Though Tiffany hadn't said anything.
"We're having a dinner to announce our engagement this evening at my home. It starts at six," Giles softened a bit, "I'd like to see you all there."
"Come, Emily, let's give them some time alone," Giles suggested.
Emily gave a nod of agreement.
"I'll see you later, Tiffany. Nice to meet all of you."
Tiffany nodded blankly, wondering once again when Gerard would be back home so she could vent a bit to him. Caitlin looked at Tiffany, "I'm not sure how, but I'm positive this is your fault." she growled, crossing her arms over her chest.
Tiffany gave a deep sigh, heading into the kitchen to fetch herself a diet coke.