"What can we do for her?"
Buffy smiled at the sincerity behind Angel's words. For a man who'd lived for over two centuries he wasn't overly bright when it came to things like this. Matters of the heart.
"There's got to be something."
"Just let her know we're here if she needs us, otherwise, she'll be fine."
"Buffy, she sits up in her room all day."
"She's probably talking to Peter online, Angel."
"Neither one of us really got to deal with the wonders of first loves without benefits of tragedy or trauma. It's normal, though. She misses him. He only left a couple of days ago. She'll be fine in a day or two. When Willow gets here especially."
"It doesn't help that I'm busy with Miesha. I thought for sure Giles was going to bring me another girl who didn't speak English."
"You lucked out."
"I did and it's a good thing, too, because I don't speak Russian. Well, I can say Vodka and Chekhov, but that's the extent of it."
"You know who Chekhov is?"
"Yes." She tried to be insulted that surprised him, but really it wasn't out of the realm of possibilities that she wouldn't. She couldn't even remember where or why she'd learned his name. "He was a writer or something."
"I just can't help but think I should be doing something. Take her out for a banana split or something."
"That couldn't hurt."
"Sure. Ice cream is like a girl's cure all. Heart break, cramps, failing a test, being stalked by the latest big bad."
He smirked at that and walked up behind her. "You're too darned cute sometimes. You know that?"
"No, I'm not trying to be cute here."
"And that's probably why you are. It's just some of the things you say."
"As long as you're laughing with me not at me we're okay."
"So, what's on the agenda for tonight?"
"Just the usual rounds."
"An early night then?"
She turned to face him once she'd finished with her hair. "Yes. Am I neglecting you?"
"No, I just like when you get done early because there's a chance we can watch the sunrise together."
She smiled at that. She placed a hand against his cheek. She knew how much he valued being able to stand outside and watch the sun appear. "I'll watch the sunrise with you anytime, Angel, you know that."
"I know it's just when you get in real late I hate waking you. You don't rest enough."
She snorted at that.
"Don't get huffy with me. You don't. I've been keeping track. You get by on four or five hours a night sometimes."
"That's not enough, Buffy."
"As soon as Miesha is trained I won't have to do late nights anymore."
"How much longer do you think it'll be?"
"Giles is going to come with tonight. I think she's pretty much capable of doing routine patrols on her own now."
"Well, she'd trained in Europe with Giles pretty extensively, so it was really just getting the lay of the land here. It would have been easier without Peter here, but I wasn't going to tell Dawn he couldn't stay here."
"And Willow will be here tomorrow?"
She slid her arms around her neck, drawing him to her for a kiss. "Yep. And then the house will be full of crazed women planning a wedding."
"Don't worry, I'm not going overboard. The important people will be here, that's all that matters."
"Giles said something about the other slayers."
She shrugged. "They weren't my friends. I mean, I have no idea how difficult it would be for them to all get here. So, no, I'm sticking with immediate friends and family. That should be more than enough. Speaking of, did you get a hold of Spike?"
"No. I put the word out I was looking for him, but I don't know if he stayed in LA."
"I'm not sure he'd even come."
"Maybe not, but at least he can't say we tried if he doesn't come and finds out later."
"You're right. It wouldn't be right not to try and invite him. And, hey, at least it's not Riley."
"Have you heard from your dad?"
"Nope, and I haven't even tried. As far as I'm concerned he doesn't deserve to be here. Giles is going to give me away and that's the way it should be."
"As long as you're happy."
"I'm marrying you. That's all I need."
"Okay then." She heard a door down the hall open and close, then another. This was followed by a light knock on her door.
"Buffy. Miesha and I are ready."
"I'll be right down, Giles."
"Okay, take your time."
Buffy rolled her eyes. "He's trying to seem so non-overbearing. He was never this nice when I was just starting out in Sunnydale."
"Things were a little different then. There weren't hundreds of you."
He kissed her before she could pull away from him. It wasn't a hugely romantic kiss, but it was good enough that it left her breathless for a second or two after he'd stopped. "You're still the Slayer to me I don't care how many others there are."
She rolled her eyes, but it made her feel good. She liked hearing that as much as she loved knowing she was no longer alone. "I'll see you when I get back. Have fun with Dawn."
"Thanks. I hope she wants to go."
"Who wouldn't want to go anywhere with you? You're the best looking guy this town has ever seen."
He scoffed but his smile grew bigger. "A little flattery will get you a long way, Buffy. I'll show you later just how far."
"I'll hold you to that." She left the room then, not wanting to get distracted more than she already was. Angel's idea of showing her things was always of the good but definitely to be kept private.
"Yes, Buffy. Miesha and I have already glanced through the obituaries and the police reports. There are a couple of questionable deaths I noticed, so I thought we should start at the morgue."
"Okay. Good enough. I'm just along for the ride. Unless you run into trouble, Miesha, tonight you're on your own. And then hopefully tomorrow you won't need me anymore."
"What? I didn't mean it like that. I just know what it's like to have someone following you around, looking over your shoulder, critiquing your staking style. She came here to be a slayer not follow me around watching me be the slayer."
"True enough. Of course, you're right. It's difficult to tell with you sometimes."
She stood on her tiptoes and kissed Giles' cheek. "You're the best, Giles."
"I am. What?"
"You heard me." She smiled widely and walked toward the door, catching a glimpse of Giles removing his glasses and pulling out his handkerchief from the corner of her eye.
"He is good man, yes?"
"He's the best. Really. He's kind of stuffy, but sometimes I think he acts that way on purpose."
"Yeah. You know, uptight, conservative, tweed wearing book guy."
"So you're comfortable with this?"
Her words were stilted and jerky at times, but overall Buffy had no problem understanding Miesha. She knew from some of the potentials that had flocked to Sunnydale how difficult a language barrier could be.
"Come on, Giles," she called from the car when Giles finally came outside with his glasses back in place. Both of them laughed like a couple of schoolgirls. It was good to know some things were funny no matter where you were from.
"Very funny, girls."
Buffy was still adjusting to needing to take a car to patrol. There were a few cemeteries clumped together, but things were pretty spread out. And they weren't sure exactly where the hellmouth was to focus on one particular area. So, Buffy was covering all of Cleveland. She hoped once Miesha got the hang of things that Giles would send more slayers to help her. Hellmouths were tricky things and it would be better to have too many on the job than not enough.
They did the business at the morgue first before spending the rest of the night patrolling the cemeteries.
"She's adjusted very well, don't you think?"
"Yes. She's great. Her English is good and she doesn't seem to be suffering from culture shock."
"Willow and I both thought Cleveland would agree with her."
"You were right. I think this hellmouth has an official slayer to watch over it now."
"And you are positive this is acceptable to you, Buffy?"
"Yes, more than acceptable, Giles. Why?"
"Well, you're relatively young yet. You might not want to stop."
"No, I'm ready to stop, Giles. I've been ready to stop for years. I never did, other than, well, you know. But, no, I'm ready."
"I just needed to ask." He draped an arm around her shoulders and she rested her head there.
"I know. I have a chance at a normal life. Married, Giles, can you believe it? To Angel? A chance to finish college. To get a job that I won't get fired from because I'm unable to show up on time or stay a full shift."
"You did sacrifice a great deal. No one knows that more than I do. And I can believe it. If anyone deserves those things, dreams coming true, it's you."
She shifted her head to glance into his face. It was hard for her to know sometimes how sincere he was about being happy she was with Angel. He'd hurt Giles, physically, which was something he'd never really done to her. It had to be hard for him to see Angel, talk to Angel and have him wear the face of the madman who tortured him in his attempt to end the world.
"You're welcome, Buffy. And if I haven't said it before or often enough for you to know I mean it. Thank you. The world cannot thank you so you'll have to accept my thanks in lieu of that and know that the sentiment is there."
"And you're sure you don't want to contact your father?"
"Are you getting cold feet?"
"Not in the least, Buffy. It would be my honor, sincerely, to give you away."
"Me, too. That you're willing to do it."
"Now that that's settled." They sat in companionable silence for a while as Miesha made the rounds through the nearby cemeteries. They straggled behind, staying close enough to see if she got into trouble but far enough away so that she got the feeling of what it would be like alone.
Buffy had rarely had to patrol alone. She always had someone willing to go along whether it was Angel, Willow, Xander, Riley, or Spike. Even Oz had a time or two. Patrolling alone sucked. It could be very mundane and there was always the idea that if something happened she'd die alone. The thought had crossed her mind when she'd fought Sunday years ago. At the time, she was feeling sorry for herself and wondered if anyone would even notice she was gone.
It was a slayer's lot in life to stand alone. She wasn't sure if Xander, Willow or Dawn ever got that. Even when they were with her, she was still alone. The one girl in all of the world. Now, there were hundreds of slayers, but it was still just those girls with the power.
"Oh she's got a live one."
"In a manner of speaking."
"Yeah, yeah," she said with a roll of her eyes. They dropped back a bit, watching as Miesha went through the motions. She wasn't overly graceful, more down and dirty, right to the point. That was fine, especially considering she got the job done and didn't seem to get hurt in the process.
"And Angel, he's content with Cleveland?"
"Yeah, I guess. I can't leave here. I wouldn't do that to you. Even if Miesha and five other slayers are here. I've survived life on a hellmouth. I get that I'm resource girl."
"Yes, well, I do appreciate your willingness to continue serving the cause."
"Hey, the new council, well probably it was you, picked up the house and a car for me. I'm sure you've got something to do with Dawn's school being paid for, too. It's the least I can do."
"No, you don't owe us anything else, Buffy. You've given more than enough for this cause. I'd say dying twice is payment enough."
"Yeah, well, you know I couldn't turn my back on it. Walk away."
"No, you don't have it in you. Nevertheless, if the day should come, please let me know. I can understand why Cleveland might not be considered a hotspot to newlyweds."
"I'm happy wherever Angel is and I can still be close to Dawn. I do think you're going to need more than just Miesha until we get some indication where the actual hellmouth is."
"I agree and I'm working on it. Miesha was the most promising and her English skills were good enough that she could get by here. We're working with a couple of others, but the language barrier has to be rectified first."
"Good, because Cleveland is bigger and more city-like than Sunnydale so I don't think just one will do."
"You're right. We'd thought of that, but thank you for bringing it to my attention."
They grew quiet as Miesha walked toward them.
"How did I do?"
"You did great. And we're done for the night. I think you can handle yourself on your own. Do you?"
"It feels comfortable. I might get lost but I'll find way."
Buffy smiled. She'd let Miesha drive the past few days so that she'd get used to the way Buffy did rounds.
"Do you want me to come with you a few more days?"
"No, no. I made directions."
"Okay. If you're sure. I don't mind. Really. I've been doing this for ten years, a few days or a couple more weeks won't hurt anything."
"I'm sure. Thank you."
"You'll stay with Buffy until the end of summer and then once we know for certain it's working out we'll arrange for permanent accommodations. Buffy and I were just discussing having more join you here. We're working on that, but until then should you need help you can call on Buffy. That's what she's here for and she is a good source for information. As is Angel."
"And of course I'll be here a few more days and am just a phone call or email away. Willow and Dawn are both excellent with research, though, so when I leave you'll be in very capable hands."
Buffy was more than relieved to end a night of patrolling without a shower and clean clothes being a part of her plan. Meisha, on the other hand, headed upstairs to clean up as soon as they walked through the door. She didn't look that bad, but trips to the morgue took a while to get used to.
Angel and Dawn were on the couch, both laughing like a couple of kids at whatever they were watching. Angel held a huge bowl of popcorn Buffy noticed was almost empty when she got close enough to see.
"Oh, hey, Buffy. Angel and I rented some movies. Um, The Pink Panther, the new one and Failure to Launch with Matthew McConaughey."
"Oh geez," Buffy said, turning her eyes when she saw a guy older than Giles naked on the screen. "What are you letting Dawn watch?"
"It doesn't show anything, Buffy."
"But he's naked!"
"Buffy," Dawn said with a roll of her eyes. "Would you just watch? It's funny."
Giles sat with them for a little while but having packing to do went to his room fairly early. Buffy and Angel were taking him to the airport and Willow would be there waiting for them. It worked out very well.
Buffy had to admit even though she missed the first part of the movie, it was funny. And the scene with the naked father wasn't as bad as it could have been. Other than having to look at an old guy's butt. Buffy glanced over at Dawn who was drifting in and out with her head resting on Angel's shoulder. She got a little teary-eyed looking at the two of them together like that especially since Angel was doing everything he could not to disturb her.
"You're a good man."
He sounded clueless as to what she was talking about. "Just thought I'd say it."
"Thanks." His brow furrowed, thinking about what brought the compliment on she imagined.
"I'm going to get ready for bed."
"Okay. Should I just cover her up here on the couch?"
"Yeah, that's fine. She'll probably wake up during the night at some point, but let her rest."
She kissed Angel's cheek before heading upstairs. She wiped away the tears in her eyes. She'd forgotten what it felt like to be a family, and it got to her seeing such a touching scene between the two most important people in her life.
Story ©Susan Falk/APCKRFAN/PhantomRoses.com