Buffy relaxed on the couch, her feet propped up in her dad's lap while they watched a Dodgers game together. She could care less about baseball. To her it was a bunch of grown men chasing a ball around. She was just glad to have this time with her dad. She missed it. She'd always considered herself a bit of a daddy's girl. Just because she was sixteen didn't mean she wasn't still. Especially since the past couple of years they hadn't gotten many moments like this. There was too much going on. With her. With her parents.
"Aren't you going to get that?"
"It's probably for you, sweetie."
"Oh, right," she said, swinging her feet to the floor so she could get up and answer the phone. Buffy suspected her dad was seeing someone, but since she hadn't met anyone yet didn't know for sure. Her dad was discreet about it, which made Buffy wonder who he might be seeing. Or maybe he was just worried Buffy would overreact. Like she ever did that!
"Is Buffy home?"
"I thought so, but wasn't sure if you had a sister or your dad was remarried. This is Lindsey McDonald, from the beach the other day."
"I remember you."
As if she wouldn't! He'd spent the entire evening of the bonfire by her side. They'd talked, laughed, and even danced a little when the music moved them. It had been fun. He had been quick to pick up on the fact one of the guys in the crowd was her ex.
His whispered, "his loss," as together they watched Tyler and Cherri make out by the fire had made her smile. It wasn't so much that she was jealous or wanted Tyler back. It was that he represented her life before slaying. THAT she did want back. She was over Tyler, she was fifteen when they went out, just not the wanting of a normal life.
Lindsey had asked for her phone number, which she'd given him knowing full well he'd never call. So, she was more than surprised to hear his voice tonight. It had been a week. Not too soon, not too long. They'd had a nice time, at least Buffy believed he had despite hanging out with teenagers.
"How are you?"
"I'm good. You?"
"Good. Busy. I would have called sooner, but I've been kind of tied up."
"Understood. I didn't really think you'd call, so this is a surprise."
"A good surprise?"
"It's of the good," she said, moving to sit at the kitchen table. She rethought that, first getting herself a glass of milk.
"Did I interrupt something?"
"Only some father/daughter bonding."
"Oh, sorry. Really? Or are you trying to make me feel bad? Like I waited too long to call or something so you're getting back at me?"
"Really, but I'm not trying to make you feel bad. We were watching the Dodgers game."
"You're a Dodgers fan?"
"Um, I know who they are and that they're in LA. And they hit a ball around with a bat and catch it."
He laughed then. "Okay, so not a baseball fan."
"Not really. I just like hanging with my dad."
"Should I let you go?"
She glanced at her dad, who looked like he was about to fall asleep on the couch.
"Nah, I think Dad's had enough bonding for the night. It's late for him."
"Yes, we working stiffs have to get our rest."
"I can't wait to get old." She smiled, taking a sip of her milk.
"So, do you like baseball?"
"Yeah, it's all right. My firm has box seats so I get to go once in a while."
"That's good, right? I mean, I have this vision of a cardboard box with chairs in it, but that can't be right. Who'd brag about that?"
He laughed again. "Yes, that's good."
"Would you be interested in a game sometime?"
"No, the other Buffy I'm talking to."
"Oh, well, I heard the other Buffy is too busy for baseball."
"And this Buffy?"
"Not so much with the busy. I could probably squeeze in a baseball game. They sell hats, right? Could I get a hat?"
"You could get whatever you want."
"Well, that'd be cool."
"Hold on a minute, let me see when I can get tickets."
"It's kind of late to be calling someone about that, isn't it?"
"I'm at the office. There's usually a sheet floating around."
"You're working still?" She glanced at the clock. It was after ten. He really was hard working. Ambitious. She glanced at her dad who had drifted off by now. He would appreciate Buffy hanging around with someone who had ambition.
"Yeah. Let me put you on hold for a minute. I'll be right back."
She grabbed a chocolate chip cookie to go with her glass of milk while she was on hold. Hopefully, he wouldn't come back when she had her mouth full of cookie. She took small bites just in case.
"Well, what do you know? There are tickets for not just tomorrow's game but the next night's, too. Take your pick."
"You want to do both?"
"Do you have other plans?"
She should say she did. People always advised playing a little hard to get. But it would be fun. And how hard to get was he going to put up with? "Not really. Nothing noteworthy anyway. Just shopping. Maybe a movie or something with friends, but it's not like I don't have all summer to see them and catch up."
Not that any of them made any effort to keep in touch with her after she and her mom had moved. Oh, she got a few phone calls at first, a couple of letters even, but after the first couple of weeks nothing. She had expected it. Memories were pretty short at this age. She knew that. And people were busy with their own lives, the friends that were actually there. The friends their parents didn't forbid their kids to hang out with.
"Well, if you'd rather shop."
"And you don't have to work?"
"I can break away for a couple of evenings."
"Are you sure?"
She stood from the chair, walking further into the kitchen so she was away from the doorway leading to the living room. "You do remember I'm only sixteen, right?"
"Yes, I remember. Believe me."
"Okay, just making sure you like don't suffer from short term memory loss or something."
"No, I can't claim anything like that. I had fun the other night. Age is just a number, and you don't act sixteen."
"Not that I saw."
"And, hey, I'm just taking you to a baseball game. Or two. There's nothing wrong with that is there? I don't have too many friends that I couldn't use one more. Do you?"
"Well, since you put it like that."
"I'll get the tickets. I'll call you tomorrow if there's a problem with it. Otherwise, I'll pick you up around five."
"Okay." Her dad usually didn't get home until around six, so that would work. She wasn't sure he and her dad should meet yet. Her dad may not like the idea of her befriending someone in his twenties.
"I need your address."
"Oh, right." She gave it to him.
"I'll talk to you tomorrow then."
"Okay. See you then."
"Good night, Buffy."
"Night, Lindsey. Uh, don't work too hard."
He chuckled. "I'll do my best."
She hung up, finishing her milk with a big smile on her face. It wasn't a date, at least not formally or officially. But he'd called. And he'd asked her to do something. That was definitely of the good. Two nights of keeping busy, even if it was something mindless like baseball. Two nights she wouldn't have to sit here at the house thinking about stuff that she'd rather not deal with. At least she wasn't having dreams at the moment so she was sleeping decently.
Lindsey hung up the phone, spinning the pen he'd just used to write her address down with around on the top of his desk. He shouldn't have called her. Every part of him told him he was getting involved with something, someone, he should stay far away from. The odd thing was, though, that he liked her. It didn't take him but a few minutes of watching the others in her group of friends to realize she was different.
He wasn't sure what it was, but she didn't act like a sixteen year old girl. She had a way of carrying herself. And her eyes. They told him that she'd seen way too much. He'd never really put much stock in the whole windows to your soul thing, but he had to wonder what was in her soul for her eyes to look like that.
So, what was he doing inviting a good looking sixteen year old to not just one Dodgers game in his law firm's box, but two? He wasn't sure. He wasn't doing anything wrong spending time with her. There were people he knew with an age difference with one being a minor. As long as they didn't have sex, which he wasn't planning on doing anyway, he was within the letter of the law.
He had seen something in her that he could identify with. She looked at her friends as if she wasn't sure she belonged. Not on the outside, but not overly certain she was happy where she was. Lindsey knew that feeling well. He'd worked his ass off and there were times he wondered if working himself to an early grave was worth it. That was what had made him call her, he realized. He'd given up his life for the most part to the firm. He was entitled to a little bit of fun.
One thing he did know was someone who was hiding something. Buffy looked to Lindsey like a person who was hurting. Big time. He had picked up on the hot shot pawing a girl at the bonfire being someone she'd gone with. He didn't get the feeling he was the one who'd hurt her though. It was something more than that. A girl didn't get that look over a guy.
He'd watched her briefly while the sun had set that night. He'd seen the effect the sunset had on some of his clients. Those that revered it. Buffy's face was almost a polar opposite to that look. If he didn't know better he'd think she knew what the sunset meant, who it called to. It was impossible. He'd yet to encounter anyone outside his firm who understood things like that. He wished he knew her better to ask.
He still wasn't sure why he'd called. He'd thought about it over the week, but had always been able to talk himself out of it. Tonight, though, he'd given in. He just wanted to hear her voice, make sure she was okay. It was an odd thing for him. Lindsey had never cared much for anyone but himself. He remembered the look in her eyes, though. Haunted.
Maybe he could clear away some of the cobwebs in her head that made things seem scary. There was nothing a baseball game couldn't cure. He usually took clients to the games. He didn't really have friends. No one he'd call up and ask to go to a ballgame with him anyway. Buffy was the first.
He slid the sign-out sheet into the box, and through some process he didn't understand once he'd put in his code, the tickets for the games were administered. There were powers at work at Wolfram & Hart he didn't begin to understand.
There was a chance they wouldn't be alone at the games since he'd only signed out two tickets. He wasn't too worried about it, though. Midweek games were not overly popular. And if they had to share the box, so be it. He looked forward to seeing her face when she took in the view, though. It was impressive. Wolfram & Hart didn't do anything second class. He took a few minutes to put in a food order for some things he thought Buffy might like. It wasn't easy to do considering he didn't know her that well.
She seemed pretty open to anything, and what was the point of having access to a luxury suite and the catering if he didn't go out of his way to try and impress her at least a little. Just why he was trying to impress her he couldn't be sure. This couldn't go anywhere. She was a junior in high school. He could just imagine bringing her as a date to some corporate party. He'd look like a deviant and a letch, even if they weren't doing anything wrong or illegal.
His food and drink requests taken care of, he decided it was time to go home. Home was a long way from what he'd come from. It wasn't the mansion-like place his boss, Holland, had. He did well for himself. Sitting in his second garage stall was his ancient pickup truck. His baby. It ran like a dream and was more reliable than most anything on the road these days.
He couldn't drive it to work, though. It didn't fit the image. And Wolfram & Hart was all about image. So, his car to get around town in was a Saab. He took a minute to check under the tarp, running his hand along the cab's frame. He wondered what Buffy would think if he showed up in this baby. The friends she had were pretty superficial. He didn't get that vibe about her, though.
Oh, she had some of it. What sixteen year old didn't? His drive landed him where he was today. He went inside to his empty house. It was kind of depressing, which was part of the reason he'd taken to working late. If he came home exhausted he didn't notice the foreboding quiet he came home to every night and woke to every morning. A house like this deserved a family. It was too much for just him. There were rooms he had never used. They were furnished, stylishly, but he kept to his room and the office just off it for the most part.
He poured himself a glass of scotch and went to his desk. He wasn't sure what it said about himself that the most used thing in his house was his desk and the things on or around it. With that thought, he decided that maybe that was why he had called her. He couldn't keep driving himself like he was, but he wasn't in the market yet for anything serious. He needed to focus his attention on work, he was on track to make junior partner soon. Unheard of for someone his age. He was going to do it. He just wanted to have some mindless fun while he was at it. Escorting a pretty blonde who wouldn't expect a damned thing from him wasn't a bad way to pass some down time.
Story ©Susan Falk/APCKRFAN/PhantomRoses.com