Disclaimer: I do not own any of these wonderful characters or the places they exist, Joss Whedon does. He is god.
A/N: Okay everyone I would like to apologize for the caps lock on the first chapter. I wrote this story at work and I was a little too lazy on the first chapter, so I am going to go ahead and repost the entire first chapter, with the proper capitalization. Having said that, I would also like to apologize for the mistake I made in the first chapter with Merrick's death date (thank you mmooch for pointing that out for me), I got distracted while I was confusing myself trying to figure out what the date would have been and how old I was going to make Merrick. It should have said 1996 instead of 1997, making it 1999 season 3.
I would also like to thank those who review: mmooch, AshDawnSoulmates, and Jeremy Shane (it makes my day every time I see you review )
Without further ado, chapter two. Not in all caps.
Mom was pacing the living room with Giles watching her walk back and forth when Pike and I walk through the front door. Mom pounces immediately, not taking any notice to Pike standing behind me. "Buffy! Where have you been? You know you can't leave without telling us after what you did last summer!"
I open my mouth to apologize, but Pike speaks up before I can. "What did you do last summer Buffster?"
I turn to glare at him before I look back to my Mom. "I'm sorry Mom; I just needed to get out of Sunnydale for the night."
"But why Buff…" she trails off as she finally notices Pike standing behind me. "Pike?" she asks him, not believe what she's seeing. "What are you…" she shakes her head before remembering her manners and smiles brightly at him. My indiscretion momentarily forgotten. "How are you dear?" she asks him, moving me aside to pull the tall man into a hug.
"I'm good Mrs. Summers." Pike answers her politely, grinning from ear to ear at her affections.
She stands back, holding him at arm's length checking him out. "My, you have grown haven't you?"
"To be fair, it's been three years." He tells her, still grinning.
"True, true." She nods. "Have you had breakfast yet? You must be starving. Come into the kitchen and I'll whip you up something." She grabs his arm and starts leading him into the kitchen, not that Pike would have put up a fight when it came to Mom's cooking. He looks back at me over his shoulder, his grin somehow even bigger than it was a minute ago and then they disappear through the doorway and I can hear mom asking Pike questions while she shuffles around the kitchen.
Chuckling to myself I shake my head and turn to acknowledge Giles, still standing in front of the couch. My smile drops at the look of worry that is written in all of his features. "I'm sorry Giles." I tell him, shamefully looking down at my now twisting hands. "I shouldn't have left like that. With someone none of the gang knew, without at least calling you." I glance up to look him in the eye. "You deserve better than that."
"Yes well, you had us all worried." Giles says, removing his glasses and cleaning them. "The way Xander tells it, you ran off with a gang of demon bikers."
I laugh a little at Xander and his over active imagination. "No gang of demon bikers." I tell him. "Just one Pike on a bike."
"That may be," he says, chastising me. "But I do wish you would have called or something to let us know that you hadn't in fact been kidnapped by a man dressed all in black with horns and a tail."
"I'm sorry." I apologize again, not trying to defend myself. "I wasn't thinking clearly last night to begin with and then I didn't have any access to a phone until we were on our way back home this morning."
"Where were you Buffy?" he asks me, dropping the authority in his voice and letting his full worry show through.
I open my mouth to answer him, but the doorbell rings before I can. With an apologetic smile, I move to answer the door. Willow and Xander throw themselves at me before I can even get it fully open. "We were so worried. You just left with that stranger and you were acting weird all night and you didn't tell Angel goodbye and you tried to just leave. Where did you go? Who were you with? What happened?"
"Wil." I say, trying to get her attention when she pauses to take a breath. "Calm down. I'll tell you what happened in a minute. Just breathe."
She takes a couple of breaths and I move us into the living room, where they see Giles still standing in the middle of the room. "Hey G-Man." Xander greets him, earning himself a glare.
"Good morning Xander, Willow." He nods his head in greeting at the still flushed Willow. Before they can launch into anymore questions, Pikes voice floats in from where he and Mom are still in the kitchen. "I forgot how amazing you Mom's cooking was Buff." I smile when I hear Mom laugh at Pikes flattery. Even when she thought I was crazy and put me in the hospital, she still loved Pike. For some reason, of all my friends, he was the one she'd decided was the best for me. Even after I disappeared with him for a couple of weeks when they finally let me out, she never once blamed him. Just grounded me and gave him a couple of cookies to eat on his way home.
"I'm sure she's missed having you eat everything in sight." I yell back at him.
"It's not my fault I have to eat so much." I can hear the pout in his voice, even from across the house. "I have to make up for you, Miss. Eats-Absolutely-Nothing-Ever." He pauses and then continues. "Except after patrol. You can eat like a freaking pig after you patrol. Especially if you get a couple of really good slays in." his voice is getting closer and I can see him making his way back into the living room. "I remember after you burned down the gym, we went to an all you can eat buffet and they kicked us out cause you ate too much."
"Hey!" I protest, grinning widely at him as he strolls into the room. "They didn't kick us out cause I ate too much. They kicked us out cause you were complaining to loudly about how much I was eating after I stole the last of the banana pudding pie."
"I complained because you ate your weight in deserts!" he says, coming to stand in front of me, munching on what looks like a pancake and egg sandwich.
"Okay, what about the time you got us kicked out of the movie?" I say, grabbing his hand to pull his sandwich to my mouth and take a bite.
"Hey." He pouts. "That's my sandwich." I just shrug up at him as I chew. "And I didn't get us kicked out. You were the one that was throwing popcorn at the screen."
"No I wasn't!" My voice raises an octave in objection. "You were the throwing the popcorn!"
He thinks for a minute. "Oh yeah. That was me huh?" he says, shrugging and finishing off his sandwich.
I just smile at him and shake my head. From behind me I hear Giles clear his throat and I remember my friends are still waiting for an explanation. With a sigh I turn to face them. "Guys, this is my bestest friend in the whole wide world." I hear him choke a little at the way my voice drops back into its once native valley girl voice. "Pike."
"Don't you ever introduce me in that tone of voice again." He says sternly from behind me. "I had flashbacks to the night we met."
"You mean the night you and Benny were so broke you snuck into a movie you didn't want to see, tormented me and my friends through the entire thing and then followed us to the club we ate dinner at and could only order a hot dog, that the two of you had to share?"
"Yeah, that night." He confirms. "I still have nightmares about that night." He shudders dramatically. "And they have nothing to do with that being the last time I saw Benny alive either."
"Uh, Buff?" Xander cuts in, getting my attention back on him. "Little bit of elaboration please."
"Well, I met Pike shortly after I was called. My watcher, Merrick." My voice catches slightly at the mention of him and there's a sudden look of realization in Giles eyes. "Saved him from being dinner for the vampires that got his friend Benny. Later I rescued him from the same vamps, only for him to pass out on me. I had to carry him all the way back to Merrick's loft."
"You could have left that part out Buff." Pike stage whispers at me. "Not my manliest moment."
"At least I left out the part where you passed out on Merrick and the old man had to carry your heavy behind to his car." I say, smiling innocently at him over my shoulder.
"Yeah, thanks for that." He says sarcastically, glaring at me jokingly.
"Any time bestest friend." He shudders at the valley voice again and I smile evilly up at him.
"So, Buffy. Where were you last night?" Xander asks, pulling my attention back to him again. I don't think he liked that I wasn't giving him the full amount of my concentration. "I'm assuming Pike is the guy on the bike?" I nod at him. "Okay, wanna tell us what happened next?"
I shrug and walk to sit on the couch, Pike following close behind me. He sits next to me and pulls me into his side, his arm around me, lending me strength from his infinite well. "Pike picked me up and we drove to Sun Valley Cemetery."
"Okay…" Xander's confusion is almost comical. "Why?"
I take a deep breath and Pike squeezes my shoulder for reassurance. "Because that's where Merrick is buried."
"But why did you go there? Why did you leave at all? What was wrong?" Willow says, throwing questions at me again.
"I went there because I needed to mourn for him. He died three years ago yesterday and I've never been to his gravesite." I tell her, tears threatening to fall from where they've pooled in my eyes. "I didn't even go to the funeral."
Giles comes to sit on my other side as Willow and Xander stand in shock, trying to process the idea of me having another watcher that I cared about. "I am so sorry I didn't realize, that I've never realized. I should have known that his anniversary would be hard on you, I never once took into consideration that you would need to grieve." He apologizes profusely to me and I turn my head to offer him a slightly watery smile.
"It's okay Giles." I assure him. "I didn't want to. I didn't want to face the fact that he really was gone. I mean, I didn't mourn in the beginning because I kept telling myself I would after I avenged his death and killed Lothos, but then I had to deal with Mom thinking I was crazy and when I ran to Vegas with Pike I just wanted to forget everything. When I got back my parents were divorcing. Then I had to move and start all over again, I just never did." I shrug a little and place my head on Pike's shoulder.
"I still should have remembered Buffy." Giles continues. "Especially after I received and read his watchers diary. I should have known how close the two of you were."
I offer him another smile and close my eyes, trying to calm the storm that has started to rage inside of me again. I can't afford to let it take rein in front of my friends and Giles like I can with Pike. He is the only one I know that could keep me tethered when I needed to let go, he was the only one that I didn't have to constantly be the strong one with. He didn't turn to me for answers he knew I didn't have. He turned to me to help me find them. Willow and Xander looked to me as the leader, their superior, but Pike, he'd always looked at me as an equal. Just because I have the super powers, doesn't mean I know everything.
"Buff, why didn't you ever tell us?" Xander asks me after soaking up what I'd just told them for a minute. "Why couldn't you tell us last night, why'd you just bail on us?"
"Xander, as much as I love you guys, there's nothing you could do to help me last night. There was only one solution and Pike took care of it."
"So you just spent the night in L.A.?" Willow asks me. "Where did you sleep?"
I chuckle a little at her and grin up at Pike before I answer her. They weren't going to like my it. "We slept in the cemetery with Merrick."
"You what!" Xander exclaims loudly, glaring at me and Pike now. "Are you insane? You could have gotten yourself killed! What were you thinking?"
"Believe me Xander," I tell him. "Sun Valley is one of the safest cemeteries in L.A."
"Buffy." Giles' disapproval is evident in his voice. "There is no such thing when you are the slayer."
"Giles, there isn't a vampire within a hundred miles of L.A. that survives rising in that cemetery." I tell him, trying to reassure him. "And they sure as hell don't go hunting in it."
"How can you possibly know that Buffy?" This time it's Willows voice dripping with criticism.
"Cause, Pike hasn't let a vampire leave that cemetery undead since the day they buried Merrick." I answer her, smiling proudly up at Pike, who's looking a bit smug.
"What do you mean?" Giles asks, curiosity returning to his eyes.
"Well, since the day we buried him, I've patrolled that cemetery nightly." Pike answers him, finally joining in the conversation. "Merrick was one of three people who ever bothered to give a crap about me. Benny never got a burial so I vowed to make sure that Merrick would never be disturbed."
"I have a question." Willow says, raising her hand as if we're in class. I smile gently at her and nod my head. "How did you know where Buffy was?"
I grin up at Pike, waiting expectantly for his excuse. His face flushes slightly before he confesses. "Well, I've kind of been following her around for the last couple of years."
"What!" Xander and Giles both exclaim loudly.
"Not all the time." He says quickly, trying to defend himself. "Only for a couple of days before and after the anniversary. I just didn't want her to finally get around to dealing with what happened and me not be there." He shrugs as though it's not that big of a deal and to him, it really isn't. That's how our relationship has always been. Him taking care of me and always being there even when I didn't know I needed him. And me teaching him how to be more self-sufficient. Before me he barely knew how to tie his shoes without someone else around. He may have been on his own his he was 16, but he still hadn't learned how to take care of himself. That's why he'd been so lost without Benny.
"Huh." Xander states suspiciously, looking at Pike through slatted eyes for a moment before turning back to me. "So how come most girls don't get even one stalker and you get two?"
"Is he talking about Angel?" Pike asks me; his eyebrows rising comically, mocking me.
"He is." I answer, blushing slightly. "How do you know Angel?"
He shrugs before answering me. "Oh the brooding undead and I go way back. Met him the first time I came to town." I continue to stare at him as though he's an alien before he continues. "You can only follower a girl around for so long before you're gonna run into whoever else happens to be following said girl."
"Okayyy." I say, mostly to myself. Pike had run into Angel, following me, probably through a dark cemetery, and he'd let him live. What the heck? "Why is he still, ya know, walking around?"
"Ahh, well to be fair, I'd already heard of him. He left a trail of rats and good deeds behind him in L.A. I followed it for awhile while you were, you know, and eventually found out that there was a vampire out there that was fighting on the side of good. Needless to say, I was only a little surprised when I caught him following around my girl." He grins at me, looking satisfied. "You always have attracted the most hopeless cases."
"That's not true." I tell him. "What about that guy we met in Vegas. Dean. He wasn't hopeless."
"Oh come on!" Pike exclaims, raising his eyebrows at me. "Dean Winchester does not count!"
"And why not?" I ask him, crossing my arms over my chest and turning sideways on the couch to look at him.
"Because, he was a hunter." He tells me his voice unsure, sounding almost like he's searching for a reason for Winchester to not count. "Hunters undoubtedly always have some messed up reason for why they're hunting to begin with."
"Oh please." I wave him off. "We both know why he's a hunter and we both know the only reason you don't want Dean to count is because you didn't like having to share me after going so long without your Buffy fix." I stick my tongue out at him and he moves as if to grab it. Laughing I return to his side.
"Alright." He sighs dramatically. "I'll concede. Winchester wasn't a hopeless case. Just obsessed with the job."
"Umm. Excuse me." My mom says, joining the group in the living room. "When were you in Vegas and who is this Dean guy you're talking about."
I duck my head in embarrassment as my cheeks start to burn red. I didn't exactly want to go over who Dean was with my mom. "Well," I start, raising my still blushing cheeks to look at my mom. "We were in Vegas for those couple of weeks I disappeared before we moved here and Dean is what we in the biz like to call a Hunter." At everyone's questioning look, I explain. "A Hunter is someone who gets into demon hunting on their own. Usually because of something that happened in their past. Dean for example, his mom was killed by a demon when he was about seven, so he, his brother and their dad started hunting."
"We ran into a vamp nest our first night in Vegas." Pike continues. "And Dean happened to randomly show up and help with the assist. He was on vacation, something about getting away from his squabbling brother and dad. We just hung out for the next couple of weeks, until Buff decided it was time to return to the real world, and Dean went back to his dad." He suddenly looks down at me. "Ya know, I heard from him about a week ago. Said Sam got into Stanford and left him and his dad. Apparently the two of them are hunting separately now, hasn't seen his dad in like a week."
"Hmm." I say, mostly to myself. That must be hard on Dean, he was pretty family oriented.
"Buffy?" Xander says, and I look up at him. "Why haven't Will and I heard about any of this? Why did you disappear? Why didn't you tell us about Hunters? What else are you keeping from us?"
I sigh and close my eyes briefly. Pike kisses the top of my head in a comforting gesture and I open my eyes, glancing at Mom for a second before I look at Xander. "Xander, the time before I moved here, was really rough. A lot of stuff happened that some people aren't proud of. It's taken me a long time to forgive and forget, sorry I haven't felt the need to share." I feel bad at the look of hurt in his eyes before I continue. "After I killed Lothos and burnt down the gym, I tried to tell Mom and Dad what was happening. Tried to explain to them that I was the slayer and that vampires were real. They of course thought I was insane so they put into a psychiatric hospital for about a month, until I recanted everything. The day I was released, I went home, packed a bag, slipped out my bedroom window and Pike and I headed anywhere but there, we just happened to end up in Vegas, where we ran into Dean. And I never told you about Hunters because they don't venture to Sunnydale. They have enough evil to worry about everywhere else, they don't have to bother with a Hellmouth that has a slayer protecting it. "
Mom stands at the back of the group, shame in her eyes, looking anywhere but at me while Xander, Willow and Giles look at me flabbergasted. "Buffy, I had no idea." Giles says, looking at me with something new shining in his eyes.
I simply shrug and curl my feet up under myself on the couch, leaning more fully into Pike. "Didn't want you to and I no longer have a Watcher to record my every move." I tell him simply. "I forgave Mom and the only things I felt the need to remember about that time period where Pike and Dean, and I wanted to keep them to myself; I wanted to protect those memories. Especially after everything that happened with Ford." I smile sadly at everyone in the room, hoping that I managed to ease some of the guilt I know that she still feels about what happened.
After another minute or two of slightly tense silence, Mom clears her throat, effectively getting everyone's attention. "Would any of you like some breakfast? I was making eggs and pancakes when everyone showed up." I smile at her, good ole' Mom. When in doubt, feed them.
"I would never turn down a home cooked meal." Xander answers her, causing a smile to return to her face. "Lead the way Mrs. S." He gestures towards the kitchen before he and Willow follow her in; talking good naturedly about some school assignment they had together. Giles hesitates for moment, looking worriedly at me but decides to follow them into the kitchen after I offer him a soft smile; one I hope reassures him some.
I can't help but to smile lovingly at my friends, always so good with the distraction. I sigh in relief as we're left alone, trying to relax I close my eyes as Pike starts to tickle my arm in a familiar way. In a way he used to do when we would watch movies on nights I would bail on patrol. Merrick, unlike Giles, often would sit home and study old dusty books while Pike and I curled up on the couch together, surprisingly not lecturing me about my sacred duty. We'd order in Chinese and settle down for the night. I would often wake up the next morning snuggled on the couch with Pike, already running late for school because Merrick would have fallen asleep in his chair with a book in his lap and his glasses all askew. For as stuffy and all about tradition as he was, Merrick had a softer side to him. A side that sometimes let me slide when he knew I needed to relax. "How long are you gonna stay?" I ask Pike quietly.
"I should head back tonight." He answers me. "I have to get back to my shop."
I look up at him, raising my eyebrows in question. "Your shop?"
He smiles proudly at me, his chest puffing up under me. "Yep, I opened my own bike shop about a year ago."
"Pike!" I squeal loudly, pulling away to get a better look at him. "That's so amazing!" I throw myself at him in a bear hug, remembering to hold back on the strength. "I'm so proud of you!"
He chuckles into my hair before I pull back. "Thanks. I'm pretty proud of myself too." He's practically glowing and I can't help but feel better. "Guess what I named it."
"I have no clue" I tell him honestly.
"Merrick's" He tells me.
My eyes fill instantly with the tears I've been holding back since I walked through the front door. "Oh Pike." I say, emotion obstructing my throat.
He shrugs, his eyes shining as well. "Well, he saved me. In more ways than one, it's the least I can do. Plus I'm pretty sure he always had a secret thing for bikes." He smiles mischievously.
By now the tears have started to fall silently down my cheeks, my smile still in place. "Oh he did." I tell him, nodding my head. "He was just to British to admit it."
He chuckles again and I return to his side, wiping at the tears that are still falling freely from my eyes. "So." I say after the emotion has finally been swallowed, even if my eyes hadn't stopped. "I only get you for the day huh?"
"Unfortunately. I told Keith I'd be back tomorrow morning to open up."
"Well, then I guess I will just have to make the most of it." I tell him, nodding to myself. "I'm thinking movie marathon. It's been a while since I've had someone force me through 'Young Frankenstein'. I think I'm about due." I feel him chuckle and my smile grows a little bit more. It always felt good when I could make him laugh.
Just then everyone ambled back into the living room, Xander rubbing his stomach, I hadn't realized we'd been sitting there long enough for them to have eaten. "So, Buff, you ready to head to school?" Xander asks me
"Actually," I answer him, look to my mom. "I was hoping I could ditch today and spend some time with Pike before he goes home tonight."
"Of course you can." She answers me instantly. "You two should spend as much time together as you can."
"Thank you." I smile widely at her causing her to smile back at me. "Guess what Mom. Pike went and got all growd up. He opened up his own motorcycle repair shop."
"Pike that's wonderful." She tells him, her motherly pride showing on her every feature.
Pike blushes lightly under her congratulations. "Thank you Mrs. Summers."
"Okay, well." Mom says, clapping her hands together. "Now that you're home, I have to get back to the gallery. You two have a good day together, and do try to stay out of trouble." She looks at the two of us, sitting on the couch trying our hardest to look innocent. "Don't think I haven't forgotten how many time you two were brought home by some form of law enforcement."
"We'll be good Mom. I promise." I assure her, still trying for the innocent look. She just shakes her head before grabbing her purse and offering everyone a good bye and then she's out the door.
"I suggest we follow Joyce's example." Giles says. "And get ourselves to school before any of us are late. Heaven forbid we have to deal with Principal Snyder." Everyone who knows Snyder shuttered at the thought. "Come on, I'll give you two a ride." He tells Willow and Xander before turning to me. "Enjoy your day off, and don't worry about patrol tonight. I'll ask Angel to do a sweep." And then he to left through the front door with Willow and Xander following behind, waving over their shoulders and telling Pike it was nice to meet him. As the door closes behind them Pike and I are finally truly alone.
"You thinking what I'm thinking?" Pike asks me.
"I hope so." I answer him.
"Naptime." We say in unison. I pull the throw off the back of the couch and the two of us stretch out on it, Pike holding me to him, his chest acting as my pillow. We're asleep in minutes, both of us exhausted.