Three weeks had gone by since the night he first kissed her. They'd talked somewhat regularly, always him calling her. She still wasn't sure exactly what he wanted from her and her heart was still pretty raw from Angel. She wasn't willing to go out on a limb for someone who was just looking to hang out for the summer.
They'd seen one another a couple of times since the game, but it was usually a pretty quick visit. He stopped to say hi and they'd sit in her dad's backyard talking for a little while. He didn't touch her, didn't make any moves to either. He hadn't kissed her again. And for some reason that bothered her.
She was putting the finishing touches on a grilled cheese sandwich by adding some Fritos to the plate when the phone rang.
"Hi, Lindsey. How are you?"
"I've been better."
"I screwed up. Big time."
"What? I can't believe that."
The reason their time together had been so minimal the past few weeks was that he'd been working a big case. One he'd hoped he could push paperwork through to make it so his client didn't have to go to trial. She knew how hard he worked. If something had gone wrong, it wasn't because of anything he'd done.
"God, I am so stupid."
"Lindsey, you're not stupid. Tell me what happened."
"I can't over the phone."
"Okay. Come over then."
"I'm too upset."
"Then I'll come to you."
"Are you sure?"
"Lindsey, you called me. It sounds like you need me."
"Yeah, I do."
"Then tell me how to get there." She glanced at the keys to her dad's second car. It was her car really, that was the reason he'd bought it. That had been before her parents got a divorce. Before she'd been carted off to Sunnydale like a degenerate. She wasn't real good with the driving, but if he needed her she'd do it. Her dad wouldn't mind as long as she left a note.
"If you were in the middle of something."
"Just lunch. And believe me, choosing you over grilled cheese is not a hardship."
He laughed then. She was glad to hear it. That meant things weren't that bad. If he was truly at the end of his rope he wouldn't be laughing. Right? She hoped so as she wrote the directions he gave her.
"I'll be there soon."
"Take your time. Be careful. I know you don't like to drive."
"Thanks, I will be. Don't do anything dumb before I get there."
She had already showered for the day, so all she needed to do was change and put on a little makeup. A little time on her hair and she was ready to go. She took one last glance at her bedroom, spotted the gym bag she carried with her to and from the Y. Unsure as to why, she grabbed it to take it with her.
She arrived within the hour. His directions were perfect. Other than a wrong turn on his street, she found the place just fine. The house her dad lived in was nice, but these houses in this neighborhood were beyond nice.
"He must be a really good lawyer." She pulled the car to a stop in front of his house, taking in the grounds before she got out. She grabbed the gym bag and walked to the door just as he opened it.
"You were waiting for me."
"Yes." He took in her appearance. She couldn't help but wonder if he liked what he saw. He'd said she was pretty, but since the night of the game he'd been kind of standoffish toward her. Keeping his distance, she imagined. "What's in the bag?"
"Well, I figured maybe you could just use a little physical exertion to take your mind off things."
"What did you have in mind?"
"You and me."
"Do I want to know what's in that bag, Buffy?"
She smirked at that. "Get your mind out of the gutter, lawyer man. You and me, hitting the mats. Or carpet if you don't have mats anywhere in this house of yours."
"You want to fight me?"
"Well, I was thinking more like sparring. But, yeah."
"Buffy, I don't know."
"You said you wanted to see me."
"Well, yeah, but I'm a guy."
"I could really hurt you."
"What?" He raked his hand through his hair, making it more disheveled looking than it already had. He looked a mess.
"Come on. You can't tell me the idea of letting off some steam doesn't appeal to you? You're pissed. You're madder than pissed. I can see it."
"I don't want to hurt you."
"It's my choice, and it's a chance I'm willing to take."
"Buffy. What type of guy would I be if I hit you?"
"You're not hitting me. We're sparring there's a difference. Pick a room, get changed and let's go."
"All right. Let me get changed. There's a room through here we can use. It's empty for the most part. You'll find the house isn't too lived in looking down here."
"There's one right here," he said stopping in front of a door before he continued upstairs.
Buffy wasn't sure she was doing the right thing. She always enjoyed a bit of physical exertion when things were going poorly. It cleared her head, made her think better. She changed in the bathroom and decided to take a seat on the stairs instead of appearing to poke around his house.
"You look too nice for me to hit."
"You've seen me in less than this." She wore a pair of biker shorts and a sports bra. The bikini she'd worn the first day they met showed way more.
"Oh yeah, just you look nice. Ready?"
"If you are."
"You're sure about this?"
"Positive, Lindsey. This is what I do to let off steam. Maybe it'll work for you."
She could tell he still wasn't too confident as he led her down a short hall to a room that was as he said, virtually empty. There was nothing on the walls at all. The floor was carpeted, which was good for their purposes. But otherwise, there was a lamp on a table and a chair. That was it.
"Did you just move in or something?"
"No, I don't spend much time here. Anyone who thinks being a lawyer is easy hasn't seen how hard we work to start off. I'm lucky to come home to sleep let alone socialize. So I haven't had much reason to decorate."
"That makes sense."
"It probably sounds lame. My room and my office upstairs are state of the art. I figure this way a burglar will see there's nothing here and move on."
"Right," she said with a laugh, sensing he was at least partially joking.
"So, how do we do this?"
"Well, since we've never done this before I'd say we should start with the basics until we get a feel for our styles. Do you do this at all?"
"I've done some fighting, but nothing organized or planned."
"Well, let's see what happens and you can tell me about your day while we're going if you want."
He was quiet at first, but it seemed once he realized she was actually a skilled fighter he eased into a routine with her. This was good for her, actually. Giles was too predictable, so a new sparring partner was good. Eventually, what was bothering him started to come out.
Buffy didn't understand it all. She wasn't a lawyer and there was a lot of legal speak in his rambling. She got, though, that something was supposed to have been filed. He insisted he had filed it in the allotted time yet it was nowhere to be found. Now his client was one-step closer to prison and Lindsey was one-step closer to being back in the mailroom. If Wolfram & Hart didn't kick him out on the street entirely.
It was about ninety minutes into their workout when they finally stopped. It was more of a workout than true sparring. Giles pushed her, tried to throw new things at her to prepare her for something she hadn't seen before. Lindsey, while accepting that she could fight – and he seemed to concede she could do it well – still seemed to go easy on her.
He was leaning against the wall. He was looking at her a little suspect given he was more winded than she was. Hopefully, he'd just chalk it up to her doing this regularly. "You know I think I might have a copy of my brief."
"I might have emailed it to me here. Well, to my personal account so I'd open it here to store on my computer."
"You didn't look?"
"No, I was mad and, all right, a lot scared that I'd done something to jeopardize my job."
"I wasn't thinking too clearly."
"So, my plan worked."
"It seems to have, yes. Come on, let's go check. If you want to clean up there's a shower in the bathroom you used to change in."
"Is that your way of saying I'm stinky?"
"Well, no," he pushed off from the wall and walked toward her. Her heart skipped a beat as he closed in on her. He brushed some hair from her face, wrapping a couple of strands around his index finger. "I think you look pretty hot actually. I just figured you might want a shower after a workout. I'd invite you to use mine, but I'm not sure that's a very good idea."
"So, clean up if you want. I'll do the same and then you can meet me in my office when you're done."
"I should be insulted you think I'll take longer."
"You're a woman."
"It's a given fact that women take longer to get ready. It's a hormonal thing or something."
"Is that your legal opinion?"
"No, it's a hypothesis of mine that I haven't talked about too much."
He was going to kiss her. She could tell by the look in his eyes that he was thinking about it. She decided to be daring. Instead of waiting for his kiss, which over the past few weeks had never come since their first couple of kisses, she kissed him. She wasn't real good at initiating, but he didn't seem to mind as her arms slid around his neck and she stepped closer to him.
His hands slid lower along her spine to the small of her back, a gentle brush of his fingertips along her skin there. She shivered, but deepened the kiss hoping he wouldn't mistake her shiver for being cold. She parted her lips, skimmed her tongue over his lower lip before finding the seam between his lips. He groaned softly into her kiss and she took the opportunity to dart her tongue into his warm mouth.
His tongue met hers and she tightened her grip around his neck. God, he tasted good. He drew her closer to him. She could feel what this was doing to him. That was good, because her body was quivering and tingling like a livewire. It was the oddest of feelings, and yet strangely provocative.
They parted at the same time, almost as if something chose that moment to separate them. He stepped away, his back flush against the wall where he had been standing before the kiss. His eyes met hers and held. She saw so much there. He wanted her but he knew they couldn't. Maybe coming here wasn't such a good idea. It had seemed like it at the time, and he'd gotten an idea about a copy of the brief.
"Should I go?"
"The logical part of me says yes."
"Is there a not so logical part of you?"
"Yes, and it wants you here with me."
"Which part wins?"
"I'll go take a shower, one on the cold side. Come up when you're ready."
She watched him go, calling to him just as he got out of the door. "I can go."
He turned to face her then. She had never really known what someone meant when they talked about feeling someone checking them out. She did now, though. There was no doubt that was what he was doing. And her body responded the way it should considering she was attracted to him, too. "No, Buffy, I don't want you to go. I really don't. We just might have to institute a personal space rule and adhere to it."
"Under penalty of death?"
"No, I don't think dying would be the penalty. If it was, though, I know every second would be worth it."
He turned and left then, leaving her stunned. Had he just said what she thought he did? It sure sounded like it. Wow. She had no idea words could affect her like that. Hot and fuzzy and sexy. All from just saying something. He didn't even need to be near her.
She found the bathroom again and took a quick shower, glad she had worn rather conservative clothes to come here. She suddenly felt like she needed to cover up. Too late for that, maybe, but she thought they were both safer that way.
She made her way up the stairs after she was sure she'd given him ample time to get showered and dressed. She didn't think he'd chance her finding him naked or just out of the shower right now. They were dangerous to each other, but the danger wasn't of the bad variety.
She followed his voice and walked into what she assumed was his home office. He was right. Everything in here was state of the art. Huge TV, great stereo system with components she wasn't familiar with, and a computer that would make Willow envious.
"Yeah. Now you know what I spend all that hard-earned money on. Toys."
"Nothing wrong with a boy who likes toys."
"Baby, I'm no boy."
"Hmm, I think I discovered that already."
"Not yet you haven't."
"Oh boy," she whispered. "So, did you find it?"
"I'm checking now." She caught him checking her out and smiled. "You look refreshed."
"I feel good. You have great towels."
"That's good to know."
"I'm sure you've lost sleep over it."
"You'd be surprised what I lose sleep over."
"Are you sure about that?"
"Maybe not. Look around if you want. I'm just going to check my computer."
She left the office to check out the other rooms upstairs. Two bedrooms. One obviously his, the other a guestroom she guessed. His room was lived in. His closet was neat and orderly, not that she rifled through it or anything. His bathroom was still steamy from his shower. Evidently, he didn't do the cold shower routine. Neither had she. She found she kind of liked being in this state. She wondered how long that would last. How long they would last. Would she go back to Sunnydale and move on? Would he? Logic told her that would happen.
"Did you find anything incriminating?"
"Not at all. There wasn't even anything good under your bed."
"No missing socks or anything?"
"Not a one."
"Damn, I was hoping that's where those missing socks were."
She smiled and they both laughed. "Did you find the missing document?"
"I sure did. Not only that, but I still had the original email I sent so the time and date are there, too. There's no question it was done in time. I emailed it to my boss. Hopefully, he'll convince the judge it was an error on her office's part, not ours."
"Well, I owe it all to you."
"You would have thought of it eventually."
"I don't know. I was so worried about my job, I wasn't thinking straight. You took my mind off of it." He stood and walked to her, taking her in his arms. He kissed the top of her head. He lifted her up and spun her around. "Thank you."
She laughed as he set her back down. "You're welcome. Glad I could help."
"I owe you."
"You do not!"
"I do! My career. My life! Everything I've worked for, Buffy, could have been ruined just like that."
"I didn't do anything. You would have thought of it eventually. I know you would have, Lindsey. I mean, I'm glad I could help, but I really didn't do anything."
"Well, I owe you anyway."
"I'll take it in visits to Sunnydale."
She drew away, looked at him. "Really?"
"Really. Whenever I can. Even if it's just for dinner or lunch. How far of a drive is it? An hour or two?"
"I'll do it."
"You're not just saying that?"
"Okay. I believe you."
"I should hope so. This is going to come out sounding wrong, and I don't mean it to, but I need to be honest with you."
"I don't have to do this."
"Just let me say this."
"I don't have to do this. Subject myself to kissing you and being turned on knowing there's nothing I can do about it. And I do stop, so obviously I'm not trying to get you into my bed. I've pictured you there. Dreamed of you there. Woken up reaching for you only to find you not there. But if that's all I wanted, I don't need you."
"You're right that sounds bad."
"See, I knew it would. I'm just trying to say. I'm in this, Buffy. Whatever this is, I'm in. I'm not going to change my mind because you're in Sunnydale and I'm here. Besides, a couple years you'll have college, maybe you'll come up here for that."
"College." She hadn't thought of college. She wasn't sure she'd make it to college, though she couldn't tell him that.
"You said you were thinking of becoming a teacher."
"Oh right. It just seems kind of far away, that's all."
"It goes by so fast."
"I've heard. So, now what. You found your brief or whatever it was. Do you have to go back to work?"
"Okay. That's fine."
"You could stay here and wait for me."
"No, I'd feel too weird. This is your house."
"Yeah, but maybe some weekend instead of my coming to Sunnydale or you coming to LA to visit your dad you'll come to visit me instead. And then you'd have to be here."
"Well, yeah, but you'd be here."
"Good point. I'm going to change back into clothes for the office. I'll meet you downstairs. We can leave together then."
"Okay." It amazed her how he could change so fast. One minute he was Lindsey her boyfriend. If she could even call him that. The next minute he was Lindsey the professional. The lawyer. She took one final look as he walked to his closet. It was a walk-in, of course. He seemed to sense she was watching him so he turned at the closet door.
"You could stay and watch if you want."
"Huh?" Her mind had wandered, she wasn't really sure where. Picturing her here in his life. "I'll see you downstairs." She heard his laugh as she walked to the stairs at a record pace. Watching him change was a very tempting offer. She wondered what he would have done if she'd accepted. Next time maybe.
Story ©Susan Falk/APCKRFAN/PhantomRoses.com