"So where did Lindsey run off to?"
"I'm not sure," Buffy answered her mother. "He said he wanted us to have some time together since we haven't really seen each other since graduation. There aren't that many places in Sunnydale he could go, though. So probably the mall or something."
"You know, I had my doubts, some reservations, but he seems good for you. And to you."
"As long as you're still going to school."
"I'm not dropping out, Mom. I'll be back in a couple of weeks for registration."
"Good." Joyce put the last of the dinner dishes in the rack. That was Buffy's signal to start drying.
"Good. Busy. We're having a show later this week, so we're getting that ready."
"Neat." Buffy wasn't much into art, beyond noticing whether a painting was pretty or not.
"Have you seen your father?"
"Yes, a few times."
"How is he?"
"He's fine. He's Dad. You know, the same."
Buffy realized her parents probably didn't talk too much anymore. Now that Buffy was older and not getting into trouble, there wasn't much need. Especially now that her mother knew why Buffy was getting into trouble in the first place.
"It's almost like you're visiting. It seems so strange."
"Mom, this will always be home."
"I know. It's just that you'll leave when Lindsey comes to pick you up. You'll be starting college in a couple of weeks. Soon, you'll be gone."
"Mom. You're thinking way far ahead."
"It happens when your little girl grows up. You'll understand one day."
"Mm, I'm not sure I will."
"You don't think you'll have kids?"
"Not so much, Mom."
"It's too bad things didn't work out with Faith."
"Even if they had, I can't just walk away. It doesn't work that way."
"I know that, I do, but that doesn't mean I can't hope. Pray. Wish. I just want to know you're safe, Buffy. That's all any mother wants to know."
The dishes done, they sat down on the couch with some ice cream and old movies to pass the time until Lindsey came to pick her up for their date in LA with Willow and Oz.
"So, has Lindsey said anything about after this summer?"
"What's there to say? We'll do the long distance thing again."
"That's going to be hard, isn't it? After living with him for three months."
"You are. I should have had this conversation with you this spring. You are being careful?"
"Yes, Mom. No accidental grandbabies for you."
"Good. I mean, not that I wouldn't love it. I just want you to finish college. Have the chance at a life."
"Have you checked in with Mr. Giles?"
"Yes, pretty regularly. We have to be careful, you know. Lindsey doesn't want any calls going to Giles' house."
"I was wondering why you got a cell phone all of the sudden."
"Are you okay? I mean, are you in danger?"
"No more than usual, Mom. Things are going fine, I guess."
"Have you seen Angel?"
"No. And I'm sure I won't unless it's absolutely necessary. Like end of the world stuff."
"Mr. Giles and I worry about you."
"I know, but I'm okay. I don't know if this is a forever thing, but it's the only way we could find out. I mean, I couldn't date someone like that."
Her mom reached over and hugged her. Buffy didn't miss the tears in her eyes. "I know, honey. And it's clear he loves you."
"Yes. I remember people telling me how they could tell your father loved me. A look in his eyes. The way he looks at you. I could never see it, I was too personally involved. But I see it in Lindsey."
"Yes, and I see it in you, too."
"Well, I hope so. I wouldn't live with just anyone."
"I know that, which is why I didn't object more than I did."
There was a light knock on the door.
"I told him he could just come in."
"Don't complain about him being polite, Buffy. That's a good thing."
"I know. It's just. I'm living with him, he can walk into your house, too."
They both walked to the door. Lindsey's arrival meant Buffy's visit had come to an end. Buffy couldn't help but smile at him when she opened the door. It still amazed her that he was hers. That the cohabitating thing was working. He looked amazing just now. Better than usual. There was a glimmer in his eyes that told her he was very happy about something.
"Are you going to see Willow and Xander?"
"Xander isn't in town and Oz had a gig in LA. I didn't know that until we'd already planned to come down. We're going to go see it, though."
"Oh good. I was wondering why you were cutting the day so short."
"It's okay, honey. You'll be back down soon and I'll see more of you. Or not," she said with a light laugh. "I remember what it was like to be in college. The last thing I would have wanted was to hang out with my mother."
"But you're a cool mom."
"I'll remember that the next time you complain about my not giving you enough money for clothes."
"Very funny," Buffy said, kissing her mom. "We'll see you soon."
"Okay, Buffy. Bye, Lindsey, it was nice seeing you, too. You really didn't have to go anywhere."
"Thanks, Mrs. Summers, I just wanted you two to be able to catch up. I know it's a bit of an adjustment and you haven't seen her all summer."
"Call me Joyce," she said, giving Lindsey a hug. "Drive safe."
"I always do with Buffy with me."
Joyce walked to the driveway with them, waving as Lindsey pulled the car onto the street.
"How was your visit?"
"It was nice. What did you do?"
"Went to that magic shop downtown. It looked interesting."
"Oh, okay. Just call me clueless girl."
"Well, I know your mom wanted some time alone with you, no matter what she said. It passed the time"
"You were gone for quite a while just to visit a magic shop."
They were talking in riddles on purpose. Lindsey admitted he wasn't sure if his paranoia was warranted, but they were always careful.
He chuckled. "Not when I'm there to buy my girlfriend a gift."
"Like there aren't stores in LA?"
"Mm. Well, I was there. So, why not? I never get tired of buying you things."
"Ah, I see."
"So, you ready to see Willow and Oz?"
"Yes, I've been ready since I found out. Thank you for letting them stay the night."
"Your friends are my friends and they're both good people."
"Yeah, they are."
She tried not to beam at his casually mention her mother was going to be his future mother-in-law. They'd been together long enough now the thought had crossed her mind. She just wasn't sure about him. Some might say he was her first real boyfriend and she shouldn't count on it lasting. She liked to think they would be the exception to the rule. Otherwise, he'd have risked his life and a pretty lucrative career for nothing.
They got to the club where the Dingo's were playing. Buffy had to laugh when Lindsey of all people had presented her with a fake ID when she'd first come up for the summer. It seemed just wrong that an attorney would engage in illegal behavior. It was nice not getting a stamp on the hand, though.
"There's Willow," Buffy said, having spotted Willow immediately. She was with a group sitting right up in front like a good loyal groupie. She waved with her free hand, her other one clutching Lindsey's to keep him close. The Dingo's were opening for an up and coming band. Most of the audience was here for them, Buffy hoped that meant good things for the Dingo's.
They made their way through the crowd to the table where Willow was working diligently at keeping others away from the chairs reserved for Buffy and Lindsey.
"Hi, Wil," she said, giving her friend a hug. It hadn't been that long since she'd seen her, but it seemed like it for some reason.
"Hi, Buffy, Lindsey. How was dinner at your mom's?"
"She was okay with you leaving early?"
"Yes, she understood."
That was about all the chance they had to talk. Apparently, she and Lindsey had gotten there in the nick of time. The Dingo's took the stage within minutes of them taking their seats. They played great. They always did.
"Looks like that Devon dude's going to get lucky," Lindsey whispered in Buffy's ear.
"Huh?" She caught where Lindsey was looking. Sure enough, someone had stars in their eyes and they were directed at Devon. The Dingo's were busy breaking down their equipment so the main band of the night could take over.
"He's a pretty good guy," Buffy said.
"I think you'd say that about most people who don't have fangs, but that's one thing I love about you. You see good in people. It's a lost art and I've found it's kind of contagious having you around me all of the time." Lindsey kissed her, then turned his attention to Willow. "You guys know how to get back to our house, right?"
"Yup. Oz has the directions written down."
"Okay. Just in case we get separated."
"You guys don't have to stay all night either," Willow said.
"No, Wil, we want to stay. I haven't seen you since graduation. We're not bailing. I promise."
It was well after three in the morning by the time they made it back to Lindsey's house.
"So, what did you tell your mom?"
"That I was staying with you."
"And you left out the part that I'm not staying with my dad this summer?"
"Don't you know it? I'm not dumb."
"Good, I'm glad you wanted to stay here. I know it might be weird."
"Not at all. I think it's great what you're doing, that you can do it. I wish I was brave enough. Not yet, though."
"You will, one day. I think Mom's a lot cooler because of everything else she knows about me. Living with my boyfriend doesn't seem so monumental when compared to the rest."
"I suppose not. It's just too bad it's only temporary."
"What's temporary?" Lindsey asked, joining them in the living room.
"Oh," Willow said.
"We were talking about our living arrangement. And how things will go back to the status quo when I go back in a couple of weeks for school."
"Ah," he said, taking a sip of his water. "Well, I was planning on waiting until later to tell you, but I may as well now since it's the current subject of discussion."
"Tell me what?"
"I'm moving to Sunnydale with you."
"I am. Out of this house, out of this town. I'm going to turn in my notice at Wolfram & Hart Monday."
"Can you do that?"
He chuckled. Buffy realized too late what she'd said. They were very careful of saying much of anything in his house, not sure if anyone was listening. Lindsey had claimed he wouldn't put it past them. Buffy had been creeped out by that thought at first, especially when they were in bed together.
"Of course I can. I had an interview today with a private practice attorney who was more than happy to get someone with my courtroom experience. It seems there were quite a few deaths in the high school explosion. Law suits aplenty, more work than he can handle and some of them are above and beyond what he usually does."
"What about this house?"
"I'll sell it."
"But you can't buy a house in Sunnydale!" He'd never get his money back on a house in Sunnydale. He had to know that.
"No, we'll rent until you're done with college then decide where to go from there. I'll invest the money I get from this place so we'll have a nest egg to work with when you're done."
"Deadly. As Willow and Oz as my witnesses, Buffy, I'm in this. I don't know how else I can convince you of that. Until you decide you want to get rid of me anyway."
She threw her arms around him and kissed him, unable to restrain herself or cover up her excitement.
"I believe you."
"I can't believe this. It's amazing. You're sure you'll have enough work?"
"Positive. And, hey, there's always prosecuting if I get desperate."
"Are they going to let you go," she whispered in his ear.
"I'm allowed to quit," he whispered back. "As long as they see my reason for leaving is legitimate. I'll have to sign some papers. Basically, that I'll never talk about what I saw or worked on."
He didn't sound completely confident, but she had to believe he knew what he was doing. He was right, though, it was going to be too difficult to go back to seeing one another once a month.
"You really don't have to do this, Lindsey. I know you like your job and you have a chance for that promotion you've been telling me about."
"I know, but there comes a time when a man realizes work isn't all that matters. You matter. I want to be with you. You're in Sunnydale, so that's where I go, too."
"This is amazing. I thought you were too good to be true. Now, I know you are!"
"There's just one thing."
"You have to tell me where we should live. So, you know, we're close to campus and stuff."
"You want me to live with you?"
"Uh, yeah. What did you think I was suggesting?"
"I don't know."
"I said we'll rent."
"I guess I wasn't paying attention to the technicals, I was so busy being surprised."
"Ah yes, that you were. So, you can do that? Help me pick something out?"
"And then just one other thing."
"You have to wear this," he said, holding up a ring. He cleared his throat and she saw some tears in his eyes. "It's not much. It's my mama's. She gave it to me when I left Oklahoma, wanted me to have it. I think she knew I wouldn't be coming back. She wanted me to have something to remember her by. To pass on to the woman I want to be with. It's the only good thing my Pa ever did I think, bought her this. He loved her at the time. That was before he got lost in a bottle and thought the switch was the answer to his problems. Us kids being his problems."
"Lindsey," she said softly as he slid the ring onto her finger.
"I had it sized for you. Your mom helped me with that, so hopefully it'll," he paused as the ring caught at her knuckle. It went on, though. "Fit."
"It's perfect. It's beautiful."
"A beautiful ring for a beautiful woman."
"You want me to have it?"
"Well, yeah, until we get you a wedding band to replace it."
"A wedding band? Lindsey."
"In due time. Once you've finished school and we know where we're going to call home. Until then, I want every guy on campus to know you're well and truly off the market."
"Hmm, I've been off the market since the night of that bonfire." She kissed him, nuzzling against his neck.
"Uh, we're going to head to our room, leave you guys alone. All this romantic stuff, makes me want to make some time with my girl while I have the chance. Thanks for coming and thanks for the place to crash."
They all said their good nights. Buffy knew she and Willow would have a lot to talk about in the morning.
"I think that's the most I've ever heard him say," Lindsey said with a light laugh.
"Now, where were we?"
"My being off the market since the bonfire."
"Can we send that idiot an invitation?"
"Which idiot?" She knew who he was talking about.
"That guy, the one that let you get away."
"Mm, nope, I only need one guy there. And that's you."
"Oh, good, because if I wasn't included on the guest list."
She chuckled. "So, does this mean we're like officially engaged? Or is this unofficial?"
"It's as official as it gets if you'll have me."
"Now about this house we'll be renting in Sunnydale," he said, sliding his arm around her as he led her toward the stairs. It seemed Oz wasn't the only one with making time with his girl on his mind.
"We need a big bedroom. I don't care about any other room in the house, but we need room for our bed."
"Mm, definitely, baby, you've spoiled me but good in that department."
"You know what they say."
"Once you go king, baby, you never go back."
She slid her hand along his thigh. "King sized bed to match other king sized things."
"Oh wow, do you know a way to a man's heart."
"It wasn't your heart I was aiming for."
"That works, too."
"Mm, I thought it might."
"Let me show you how well."