Buffy couldn't remember when she'd had so much fun. She had fallen out of school spirit mode after Hemry. Being a little older than most of the students on campus she didn't have a lot of close friends to do stuff with. Taking in a football game by herself just didn't seem like much fun. It helped that her school's team was good.
The game was drawing to a close. She'd felt Seeley's eyes on her during much of it. It seemed he got as much enjoyment watching her as the game. She tried not to like that thought. It was strange to sit here in the daylight with a man who looked so much like Angel. It was one of those things her dreams had been comprised of years ago.
Only, he wasn't Angel. Looks aside they really weren't that similar. The atoning thing was a quirky coincidence. The fact that two people who looked identical could both have something they needed to make up for was just a fluke. Wasn't it? And she'd spent a lot of time last night and today looking at him to see if she could find any differences, no matter how subtle. So far she'd failed to spot one.
His personality, though, is what threw her. Seeley liked to laugh, didn't mind crowds of people, and didn't seem afraid to explore what his feelings for Buffy might be or where they might lead. Most importantly, he was human. He came with baggage. A son and a job that probably kept him from focusing on personal stuff.
She had baggage, too. Boy did she ever. And she was in the line of fire, too, just in a different way than Seeley was. And, granted, she was semi-retired.
Stop it, she chided herself. She was so getting ahead of herself. Just because he looked like Angel didn't mean they were going to pick up where she and Angel left off. Then why is he here? That was a good question and she didn't know the answer yet.
He put his arm around her as they left their seats in the stadium. She fit against him comfortably. She knew she would.
"Did you like it?"
"Yeah, it was fun."
"You looked like you were enjoying yourself."
"I'm not sure why I haven't gone to one before today."
"Oh, I don't know, I like knowing I took you to your first game."
"You do?" She looked up at him.
"Call me selfish or greedy."
Buffy glanced around at hearing her name. One thing about her name there weren't a lot of other women with it. So chances were pretty good whenever she heard it that it was for her. She spotted Todd with a few of his friends. She didn't know them well. She didn't really hang out with him much aside from their study sessions and the occasional movie night out.
"Hey. It is you. I didn't think you came to games."
"I don't usually. My friend," she said, gesturing to Seeley. She realized with his arm around her they looked like a couple. She saw the hurt in Todd's eyes. She'd been careful not to lead him on, to be as clear as she could be that she wasn't interested. That didn't stop him from holding out hope. "He got the tickets."
"Ah, you're the study partner."
"Yeah. That's me I guess. I've never seen you before."
"I don't live in Columbus, I'm just visiting for the weekend."
"Oh," he said, though he clearly didn't understand. Buffy had mentioned that she had friends that were out of town so it shouldn't have been that big of a surprise. She'd just never mentioned that one was as good looking as this one was. "Well, I'll see you in class Wednesday."
"Yeah, I'll be there. Maybe we can get together next weekend and go over the chapters for the test coming up."
"Sure, maybe. Gotta fly," he said and jogged to catch up to his friends who had continued without him.
"Yeah, he is."
"He has the hots for you."
"It's true. I don't know what's happening here, but he's here and will be when I can't be."
"He's three years younger than me."
"I'm ten years older than you."
"I've never dated someone younger than me."
"There's a first time for everything."
"No, not that."
"You never know, he could be the guy."
"I would know by now if he was. I've known him for two years."
They started walking toward the exit amidst the crowd of others. Buffy wasn't sure how many people the stadium seated but she was pretty sure three of Sunnydale would fit in the stadium. It baffled her that a football stadium could be that big.
"Where to now?"
"I don't know. This is your thing."
"Well, we can grab lunch or pick something up and take it back to your place."
"That sounds like a plan."
"I like the sound of it, too."
"We could get some movies if you want."
"You're in the mood for a night in then?"
"I guess I am. I don't go out much. I used to, but I'm quieter now. I don't have people around me that I like to go out with."
"You could take advantage of my being here if you want."
"Well, let's get the movies. We'll see what happens. There are a few bars with good dancing."
"I figured you for a dancer."
"You caught me."
They picked up subs after picking out three movies. Buffy figured if they didn't get to them tonight they'd get around to them sometime over the weekend. And they weren't due back until next week so it would work. And if they didn't get to them, so what.
"I like your kitchen."
"Do you eat outside?"
"I have. It's not much fun doing it alone, but once in a while."
"I hear that."
"Yeah, I guess you would understand. You get your son sometimes, though."
"I do. And I make up for the time we're apart. Or try to at least."
"I'm sure you do great." She tried to imagine what his son might look like. Handsome. That was not debatable.
"Tell me about these shifts in memory."
"That first night I came here last month. You mentioned altered memories."
"Ah, we're finally getting to why you're here."
"No, I'm here because I want to be here. I could have this conversation with you over the phone if I wanted to. Or I would have flown in and flown back out. I didn't have to make a weekend, take vacation."
"So tell me."
"Well." She ate a chip trying to organize her thoughts. "Three I experienced or saw first hand. The fourth I only heard about."
"Start with what you experienced."
She told him about Dawn. She told him about Glory and Ben's ability to fool everyone from realizing they shared a body. She told him about Willow's spell that had left them without memories of even who they were. And then she told him about Connor. She kept track of Connor. He didn't know who she was, but she figured the least she could do for Angel was make sure his son was all right. He'd do the same for her.
"Do you remember what it was like without her?"
"Yeah. I mean sort of. It's kind of like they're layered in there. If you peel it, like an onion, you see that it's only on the surface. The memories don't go to the core. The recent memories are clear and detailed, but when I go deeper into my past they're not as much. Fuzzier. But if I wasn't looking for it I wouldn't notice it. How many really remember their childhood vividly? I didn't question who she was or anything until I did a spell."
"You've led an interesting life."
"If you call freakiness interesting I guess I have. Why are you asking?"
"Just trying to figure some things out."
"You're starting to wonder who you are? What you believe to be true?"
"The thing is I don't know what to do about it. I mean, how do I find out?"
"I don't know. I could ask some people who might know. But you need to decide if you really want to know the truth."
"Buffy, I'm thirty-five years old and the fact I have a child aside I've never been one for relationships. Certainly not a long-distance relationship. Yet, the first time I saw you. The first time you touched me. Do you remember?"
"It sounds like a line, doesn't it? A come on? To tell you that I haven't felt that before. And I can't help but wonder."
"Our paths were probably never supposed to cross."
"Or maybe these Powers That Be you mentioned were letting us make a decision without souls and immortality being a part of the equation."
"What are you saying?"
"I don't know. Is there such a thing as fate?"
"I stopped thinking so."
"You did at one time, though? You believed?"
"Yes. I don't think it's all fate. I think we do have decisions to make, but I do believe there are some things that no matter what we do or say are meant to happen. I'm living proof of that. I was fated to be a slayer."
"Good point," he said. He stood from the table and walked to the sliding door that led from her kitchen to the balcony out back. He looked larger than life standing there in her kitchen.
"You're a good man."
"How can you say that? You don't know me. I'm not sure I know me."
"I saw how hard you worked when you were here last month. And like I said on the phone the other day you're not the only one capable of research."
"What are you saying?"
"I'm saying I'm not sure it matters if you're Seeley or Angel."
"You mean if you had a chance to get him back."
"I've lived this long without him. I love him, will always love him."
"And you could look at me knowing I have his face?"
"I'm looking at you now, aren't I?"
"Yeah, you are. For a while I thought I was being selfish. That I just wanted to see the look in your eyes directed at me. Not a ghost."
"You're not a ghost."
"I may not be Seeley Booth either."
"You're who you want to be. Are you good at your job?"
"Are you happy doing it?"
"You have a son you're proud of."
"What are you saying?"
"That you have a good life. Does it really matter?"
"Yes, yes it does. If I've been around for over two hundred years I'd like to know it. If I only loved one woman I want to know why that was taken from me."
"I told you why he left."
"Yes, you did, but I've never experienced it. I've never been willing to give up anything for anyone."
"Wouldn't you like to know? Wouldn't you rather have him here?"
"What do you mean no?"
"You seem so happy. If you're him. Whatever the reason it was done. The only time I ever saw him as happy, as at ease with who and what he was is when he'd lost his soul."
He turned then to face her, looking or searching for something. She wasn't sure what he wanted her to do or say.
"I'm sorry I ever showed you the picture."
"I'm not. If someone's fucking with me I want to know."
"But you're happy. You like your life. Why does it matter?"
"Because it does damn it."
"You can't undo it."
"So I should just go on like I don't know something's wrong?"
"Oh God, I don't know, Seeley. What do you want me to say?"
"There is no answer I guess."
"Is this why you came here? If it is, maybe this isn't a good idea. I don't have answers for you. Maybe I shouldn't have shown you that picture, I don't know. But you wouldn't be here now if I hadn't."
"No, no, I wouldn't."
"So, I guess I'm glad I did. I had a nice time today. Last night. My heart is getting involved here. And it has nothing to do with who or what you look like. So, if I'm just answer-girl, I can't do this."
He surprised her then by laughing.
"I'm an idiot."
He took the few steps it took to get to her across the room and took her into his arms. He kissed her then. She thought the kiss last night in his car had been something. It hadn't prepared her for this one at all. Her arms went around him as she gave in and rode the tide of his kiss. A hand slid along the length of her spine, cupping her bottom and urging her closer. She couldn't get much closer but she pressed against him just the same. If he wanted full body contact she wasn't going to complain.
"Uh," she murmured when he broke the kiss. "Was that supposed to explain why you called yourself an idiot?"
"Yes, it was."
"Okay. I guess I'm dumb then. I don't get it."
He laughed again. It was a nice laugh, deep and throaty. He slid his hands along her arms. "I shouldn't be dwelling on it. I guess you're better at handling this because you're used to it."
"I'm not used to it."
"More accustomed to odd things than I am then. Does that sound right?"
"I'm here with you, someone who I want to spend my time with. I should just enjoy it. I'm not using you for answers, Buffy. I wouldn't have accepted your offer to stay here if all I wanted was answers or information."
"Let's go out."
She blinked, certain she'd heard him wrong.
"You want to go out?"
Her lips were still on fire from that kiss and he wanted to go out?
"Yes, a movie, dancing. Whatever you want."
"I came here to have fun. You and I can watch movies any time. I want to give you a weekend you'll remember so you want more of them."
"Really. I can't get you out of my head. I need to see this through."
"Well, that sounds romantic."
"I guess it doesn't, but it's the truth."
"All right. This time you have to let me change."
Story ©Susan Falk/APCKRFAN/PhantomRoses.com