Veterans Day weekend, 2007
Seeley wasn't a nervous man by nature. He'd heard more than once that he came off as being too calm and collected at times. He supposed it came from seeing so much. He'd been on both sides of a gun. Felt the exhilaration of a kill and the repulsiveness at the evidence of what that kill shot could do to someone. Every coin had two sides. Seeley Booth's life was no different.
He hadn't told anyone where he was going other than out of town. He had nothing pending now that couldn't wait until the middle part of next week and he rarely took time off. He'd forgotten what it was like to pack with leisure rather than work in mind. There wasn't a suit or a dress shoe to be found in his bag.
He wasn't sure what to expect from the weekend. Her invitation for him to stay at her house was a generous one, but he didn't take it to mean anything more than an invitation. He was going to see her so she'd offered him a place to stay since she had the room. He wondered how she afforded the house. It was hers he'd discovered in addition to a nice car.
He pulled his rental onto her driveway, taking in the house for the first time as a casual observer. It was a two-story house, yellow with white trim kept up nicely. The lawn was brown now, but he had noticed the month before that it was in decent shape. She cared for her property. It was nice to see. It wasn't a large house, but he guessed there were three bedrooms upstairs and the two-car garage was nice.
He walked to the front door after grabbing his bag from the trunk and rang the bell. Other than the football game he wasn't sure what he planned to do with her for a weekend. He'd booked his return flight for Tuesday evening. If things got that bad he'd move to a hotel. When she answered the door with an enthusiastic smile he thought that probably wouldn't be necessary.
"Hi. You made it."
"I did." He slid his sunglasses off. He realized too late he didn't have a shirt pocket to slide them into and held them in the palm of his hand.
"Come on in. You probably think this is weird. Staying here, I mean. I shouldn't have insisted. If you'd rather stay at a hotel I understand."
"This is fine, Buffy."
"Okay. I mean, it's not like I made you say yes. So, I figured you were okay with it. I'll show you to your room. You can put your things away. You have your own bathroom, so spread your things out all you need to."
He followed her upstairs. He had a nice view to watch her walk. She was dressed casually nothing your typical college student wouldn't wear. He tried to envision her doing the things she did. Fight and kill. She seemed so small. She was fit. He noticed that without a problem. She just didn't seem capable of defending the world against evil. Good things came in small packages. Wasn't that a saying?
"This is nice."
"Thanks. It was a gift from the Council. We don't get paid. Slayers I mean. So, this is my income for saving the world."
"Not a bad deal I guess, though it doesn't seem fair."
"No, it's a pretty thankless gig. You're called when you're fourteen or fifteen and if you make it to see eighteen you're lucky."
"But you made it."
"I had help. I would have died ten years ago without it."
He set his bag on the bed. It was a typical guest bedroom. The floor like everywhere else he'd seen so far but the kitchen was hardwood. The bed was a full-sized and looked comfortable. He noticed there was a picture on the nightstand. He presumed it was Buffy and her mother. A pretty woman, he saw where Buffy got her looks. He'd noticed towels set out in the bathroom from the hall as they passed it. There was a third bedroom that looked like a study or office for her.
"This is nice."
"I get guests once in a while. It's easier for my friends to visit me when I'm in school."
"What's your major?"
"Sociology. I'm not sure what I'll do with it yet. Counseling or something."
"When are you done?"
"In May. I might have to go next summer, but I don't think so."
"Good. You've done well. I was thinking about what you were saying. Lots of people who have to leave school never go back."
"Well, I have to live. So, yeah, I mean, I don't have a choice. I think at one time I didn't think it was necessary. I wasn't expecting to see twenty-six."
She was so matter of fact about it. In a world where hitting ninety was fairly commonplace the idea of dying before she finished high school was sickening. No matter how just the reason was.
"I don't know what to say."
"It's okay. Thanks. Anyway, I was just putting some groceries away. Come on down when you're ready. Help yourself to the dresser and if you need anything let me know."
"I won't be long."
"Thanks, Buffy, for everything."
"You came here. I didn't do anything, but you're welcome."
He watched as she went downstairs until he couldn't see her anymore. He didn't have a lot, but he took his things out of his bag and placed them in the dresser. He took his toiletry kit to the bathroom. His room and the bathroom were done neutrally. Actually, the whole house was from what he'd seen so far. Things like curtains and knick-knacks made it obvious a woman lived here but it wasn't too feminine. A man could settle in here and be comfortable.
He made his way downstairs, taking advantage of the fact she didn't seem to notice he was there to watch her. She was humming softly, he didn't recognize the tune but that wasn't saying much. He wasn't much into modern music. He listened to it once in a while so he wasn't clueless, but that was about the extent of it.
"Oh, hi. I didn't hear you."
"Sorry. I was spying."
"Stealthy of you." He saw something flash in her eyes.
"No, tell me. You have this look in your eye."
"Nothing. It's nothing, Seeley, really." She turned her back to him and went to the refrigerator. "I've got beer if you want one. Otherwise, there's wine or soda."
"A beer would be good. Unless you wanted to go get something to eat."
"We could. It is a normal thing two people do when they're spending time together."
"Is that what we're doing?"
"I'm here, aren't I?"
"Yeah, you are. I've been trying to figure out why for the past few days."
"I wanted to see you. Is that reason enough?"
"I guess it has to be."
"Let's go. I'll drive."
"Let me change."
"You look fine the way you are."
"Buffy, you look good. Better than good."
Whatever he had said or done earlier to make her look sad was gone now. She looked excited. He much preferred this look. He had no doubt that she'd seen a lot and probably dealt with a ghost or two.
At dinner, they talked about her classes, his work, and other basic things. It had been a while since he'd socialized with someone he didn't know through work. It was odd not to have the conversation stray to Bureau or Jeffersonian Institute business. It was a nice change of pace. And despite the age difference he felt comfortable with her. She'd lived a full life and it showed. She was confident without being rough or unapproachable. When she laughed it was sincere. She seemed comfortable with who and what she was. Seeley found that he liked that.
Dinner turned into drinks at a local sports bar, full of talk about the big game the following day. He was able to get decent seats and hoped they'd be lucky and the weather would hold out for another day.
It was late, the crowd was starting to thin. She didn't seem to be in a hurry to leave any more than he did. He was pretty good at spotting when a woman was ready to call it a night or move on. She placed her hand over the top of her glass, running a fingertip over the edge. He was so busy watching her hand he didn't realize that she was looking at him.
"So are you going to tell me why you really came here?"
"We have all weekend for that."
"Is there something wrong?"
She placed her hand over his. It wasn't a huge surprise when she touched him. He lifted his hand and laced his fingers through hers, offering her a smile. Thoughts of whether his life was one complete lie didn't seem to matter so much when she touched him.
"You ready to go?"
"Yeah, I guess I am. I'm not a big beer drinker."
"I had a bad experience once. Actually, pretty much any time I've had more than a glass of wine bad things have happened."
"Good reason to stay away from it then."
"I agree completely."
He'd already paid their tab so they stood from their table. She slid her hands into his as they walked out. He couldn't remember the last time he'd held someone's hand. It wasn't something he did. He thought briefly on Cam. Was he betraying her? They hadn't voiced any desire for a commitment from one another. And if they had, he wasn't sure that would stop him from being drawn to Buffy. And that's what it felt like. He was drawn to her. He'd been in his share of relationships and he couldn't recall feeling similarly.
"It's a nice night."
"It is. Hard to believe winter will be here soon."
"Bite your tongue. I'm not ready for winter."
"It's a big change from California."
"I like it, though. I never realized what I'd missed out on not having four seasons."
He opened the car door for her. When he got in on the driver's side she was sitting closer to him than the door. He had to mentally count how many beers she'd had. He didn't think she had more than two, but if she wasn't used to drinking that could be enough.
"I had fun."
"I don't do that very often. I'm on a pretty tight budget and most of the people I know around here are, too. There's a guy I go out with once a term or so. Not like dates, we study together."
"You don't have to explain yourself." He turned slightly to face her, brushing her hair from her face with his fingertips. It was soft to the touch. "You're allowed to have fun. And to have it with whoever you want."
"Okay. Anyway, thank you."
"You're welcome, Buffy."
He kissed her. He hadn't planned to do it. The thought had crossed his mind. A dead man would be tempted. She was there, her eyes wide with something akin to wonder as she looked at him. Him. Seeley Booth. It was light at first, but her mouth slanted just perfectly into his and he couldn't help himself. He slid his hand to her shoulder and around her, drawing her closer. He heard her soft moan of pleasure and made one of his own. He could get lost in her. Buffy. He drew away and cleared his throat as he sat straight ahead again.
"It's okay. I kissed you, too."
Boy, did she. "I just don't want you thinking that's what I came here for."
"I don't. I mean, there have to be women you could call closer to home if that's what you wanted."
He started the car and drove to her house. They were pretty quiet most of the way. His mind was going over that kiss.
"Wait," she said when he pulled into her driveway, stopping him before he shut off the engine. She got out and walked to the garage, entering a code on a keypad he hadn't noticed until now. The garage door opened and he pulled inside.
She stood with her back against the door leading from the garage inside. She watched him as he walked toward her. She smiled, tucking some hair behind her ear.
"It's late," he said. What a stupid thing to say. As if she didn't know it was late.
"Yeah, it is. Tomorrow's Saturday, though."
"We've got the game."
"Oh right. Okay," she led him inside, locking the door behind them. He watched approvingly as she walked through the house, checking windows and the front door.
"You have everything you need?" They were at the top of the stairs now.
"Yeah, I'm fine."
"I didn't kiss you to make you uncomfortable. It was impulsive. You're safe, Buffy."
"I know that. I do, really, and it's not because I can defend myself."
"You're welcome." She stood on her tiptoes and kissed him lightly on the cheek. "Good night, Seeley."
"Good night, Buffy."
She walked the rest of the way to her bedroom. Their eyes met just before the door clicked shut closing her in and him out.
"Well, damn," he whispered, raking his hand through his hair before going into his bathroom. He hadn't counted on liking her, having a good time. He had sort of figured he'd come here, have a shitty time, and he'd finally be able to put her out of his mind. With her out of his mind, questions about just who he really was would drift to the recesses of his mind. He'd never forget, but he could push past it and move forward.
Story ©Susan Falk/APCKRFAN/PhantomRoses.com