She wasn't sure what she wanted to do, where she wanted to go. She just knew that school and home were the two places she wanted to avoid. Her mother would be full of questions, and Buffy just didn't want to deal with answering them. At least not right now.
How humiliating! At least if she'd lost to Cordelia it would have been a decent way to lose. But to lose in a tie to two people she didn't even know, who wouldn't have stood a chance ordinarily.
"That's just crazy," she murmured, making her way in the all too familiar direction of The Bronze. No patrol tonight. She'd had her fill of playing her part of Slayer for the night. She could take the night off and if Giles didn't understand that. Well, tough. She was dressed for a good time, she was going to at least try to have one.
The fact she'd left the high school without her date hadn't really entered her mind until she paid the cover to get in.
"Way to go, Buffy," she whispered. Nothing like impressing your date by not just showing up late and looking trashed, but blowing him off in the process without even one dance out of the deal. She could probably kiss Scott Hope goodbye. It was too bad, too, she kind of liked him. Kind of. He was sweet and cute. It was certainly nice to be able to walk through school with him, hold his hand during the day, but there was just something missing.
She paused, letting her eyes adjust, straightening the straps of her dress. She winced with a frown, realizing there wasn't a whole lot she could do to improve the disheveled look she had going for her. Hopefully, no one would notice since it was rather dark in The Bronze.
She scanned the crowd, hoping against her better judgment that she'd see someone she knew. Except, everyone she knew was at the Homecoming dance so anyone here were just worse losers than she was. Since it was Homecoming and only a choice few were here, there were plenty of tables for Buffy to choose from.
"So, do I take a table and look like a loser who's dressed like this with no date?"
"I don't know, do you?"
She spun around, prepared to challenge him for invading her space and eavesdropping. She stopped short by how he looked, though. Well, what he was dressed like. He always looked good enough to stop her short. Tonight, though he was dressed in a formal suit complete with a tie the same color as her dress.
"How did you?" She frowned, glancing from the tie to her dress. There was no question they were the same shade red.
"I saw it in your closet."
"When were you in my room?"
He held up his hands, as if surrendering. "Just checking up on you. I thought we were friends."
"We are. I just," she shrugged. "I didn't know you'd been there."
"I didn't want you to know."
"Oh." Well, why not? That was weird. So, he was checking up on her, but she wasn't supposed to know about it? "What are you doing here? And why are you dressed like that?"
Oh my God, he's here on a date. He chose tonight knowing I wouldn't be here and now I look even more pathetic than when I left school by myself.
"I wanted to be here. For you. In case," he shrugged.
He reached for her then, brushing her cheek with the back of his hand and she turned into his touch. Instinct. Desire. Need. Love. Her eyes fell closed. She wanted to move on so badly. She'd tried to put him behind her.
"Well, I know from personal experience that things don't always go as you plan them. So, I figured if you came here that meant things at school didn't work out and I could stand in." He dropped his hand then, sliding it into the pocket of his trousers. "If you'll have me, I mean."
"I should say no."
"Because we both know this is bad."
"It's just a night of dancing, Buffy."
"Then I'm going to be right back where I started while you were┘"
"I was gone. I wasn't dead, just gone."
"I know. You think that makes it any easier? That I sent you to some hell dimension."
"You did it to save the world."
"When do I get to save me? To do something for me?"
"You can tonight."
He offered her his hand. She shouldn't. She'd taken huge steps forward, this was going to be one giant leap back. She couldn't stop herself, though. She didn't want to stop herself. She wanted to dance with him, to be in his arms, to be his.
She took his hand, not quite sure she'd ever stopped wanting those things. Just merely made herself think she didn't. There was something very appealing about the things Scott could offer her, she didn't deny that. They paled in comparison to what Angel gave her, though.
"You look nice," she said, rolling her eyes as she realized how lame that sounded.
"You think so?"
"Yeah. Where'd you get the suit?"
He shrugged, leading her out to the dance floor. "I figured it was time to expand my wardrobe a bit."
"It's a good choice."
"So the salesman told me."
She went into his arms easily. Too easily maybe. She fit there, comfortable. She remembered what it was like to be held by him, comforted by him. To talk to him about problems he probably could care less about. And yet, he'd sat there and held her. She did it again now, told him about her night and what led to her being here alone.
"Are you okay?" he asked once the song was over.
"Yeah. Just," she shrugged. "Feel like an idiot."
"You're not an idiot."
"You'd think one of these times I'd get it through my head that I just can't have those things."
"You were called into being the Slayer without any prior knowledge of what one was or what that meant." He slid an arm around her waist as he led her off the dance floor. "I don▓t think anyone can actually blame you for trying to have some semblance of your old life back."
"All I did was cause Cordelia to lose what was rightfully hers. At least in her eyes."
"Buffy, you're seventeen. There's nothing wrong with wanting those things."
"You don't think it's childish or silly?"
"Well, we're not talking about me." His lips lifted into a smile and he chuckled lightly. "You're talking to the wrong person about that kind of stuff. We didn't have things like that when I was your age."
"No, I suppose not. And I doubt you would have been too worried about the same things I am anyway."
"Probably not. So, I was thinking."
"That could be dangerous," she said teasingly.
"Why don't we get out of here?"
"And go where?"
"It's your night, Buffy. I just want to make it special."
"Because I had a date! A boyfriend."
"Who you didn't come here with."
She sighed heavily, not wanting to tell him he was right. "I know."
"We can go back to the way things were tomorrow."
He didn't understand. She was afraid that she wouldn't want to go back to the way things were currently. If she spent the night with him, she'd be tempted to go back. To before. Before before. And that just had badness written all over it. She'd already read the ending, lived it, but there was still a part of her that wanted it so badly.
He was apparently growing impatient because he leaned down and kissed her. Not just a friendly peck either, because they were friends and he was being nice so that would have been all right. Her arms went around his neck, drawing him to her. Instinct won out it seemed, because just like that she knew she couldn't go back to the way things were.
She drew away, pressing her face against his neck. She fought the tears. Tears both because it was so tragic they loved one another and couldn't be together. And so sad that she couldn't get over him. She was seventeen years old. She wasn't supposed to meet her one and only yet.
"Is that a yes?"
She nodded against his neck, not ready to look at him. She let him lead her outside. He seemed to sense her mind was trying to catch up to her heart.
"Are you okay to walk?"
"Oh, yeah, I took them off on my way here," she said, stopping to remove them for the second time. "You know we can't go back."
"Why do you say that?" He took her hand, drawing her closer as they walked away from The Bronze.
"I can't spend the night with you and wake up tomorrow morning pretending it didn't happen."
"So, don't pretend."
She stopped walking, pulling away from him until just their fingertips touched.
"I know it won't be easy and it more than likely will mean some difficult days ahead for both of us."
"I don't know what to tell Scott."
"Tell him the truth."
"Okay, a layman's version of the truth. I was out of town, we broke up because we thought it would be permanent, but I'm back and we want to make another go of it."
"That could work."
"I've thought about this a time or two."
"I can tell."
"Does that bother you?"
"What would you have done if I wouldn't have danced with you tonight?"
He shrugged, gathering her to his side again. "I would have accepted that you'd moved on and gone about doing the same thing."
"That would hurt."
She glanced up at him. "I'm sorry if I hurt you, if it hurt."
He shrugged again. "You thought I was dead, even if you knew what had really happened there was no guarantee I'd ever come back. You're seventeen, you're a pretty girl, and smart when you let people see you well enough to know that. I couldn't, didn't, blame you for moving on."
"It was the second hardest thing I've had to do."
They were quiet the rest of the way to the mansion. There wasn't much left to say. There was plenty to talk about, but as Buffy woke the next morning to find him watching her she knew they had plenty of time to talk.
"Hi," he whispered, kneeling beside her on the bed. He brushed some hair away from her face and she shifted it so she was facing the pillow.
"I love watching you wake up."
"Why?" She peered at him from the pillow.
"Because it means I was here to watch you fall asleep, too."
"Yeah," she whispered, slowly sitting up. "Did you get any?"
"I meant sleep."
"I was going to say."
"Yes, I got some." He handed her a cup of coffee, which she took, gathering her knees to her chest. She didn't have anything here at the mansion, never having planned on staying the night here so she was wearing one of his shirts. She couldn't deny how much she liked that. It smelled like him.
"Your mother called."
"Yes. She wanted to be sure you were here."
"I should have called last night."
"I explained to her you had a rather rough one and said next time I'd be sure you called her if you were staying over here."
Buffy's lips quivered, not quite a smile. "You did, huh?"
"Yes. Best to smooth things over."
"I'm not sure that's possible."
"I'll try, and hope that time will make her forget."
"Forget that you told her how I lost my virginity to you?"
"Yeah, that," he said, sliding next to her on the bed. She shivered as he ran a fingertip along her bare thigh.
"She'll be worried, especially if she finds out we're doing this."
"She just wants to protect you from getting hurt further."
"What are your plans for today?"
He took the coffee cup from her hands, setting it on the bedside table. He gathered her to him, lifting her up so she straddled him.
"What did you have in mind?" He quirked a brow at her and she giggled softly. "Besides the obvious, which," she tapped him on the lips. "We cannot do."
"Months I've gone without holding you, without having you close. And I thought I'd never get to again."
"That's what I want to do today."
"I think I can fill that order."
"I have to warn you."
"Just today may not be enough."
She leaned down and kissed him. "Well, I guess that's a risk we'll have to take. I'm willing to pay the consequences."
His arms went around her waist and she settled on top of him, snuggling against him. "Me, too," he whispered, kissing the top of her head. "Me, too."