They had driven around for over two hours, Riley had blown off his morning classes. There were no plantations around and Kincaide said nothing was familiar to him. He was left with one last option and it was with getting Kincaide back home where he belonged that he entered Stevenson Hall and made his way upstairs to Buffy's room.
"Riley, hi," she said after opening the door.
"Uh yeah, I am. Did you not want me to be?" Her eyes dropped to Kincaide standing next to him and she looked puzzled. "Who's this?"
He looked up and down her hall. "Can we come in?"
"You know Sunnydale and the area pretty well, right?"
"Sure, I've lived here four years now."
"Any plantations that you know of?"
She shook her head. "Not that I can think of, no. There might be some almond or walnut farms around. What are you looking for?"
"I'm trying to get Kincaide home."
"Kincaide," she said, her eyes dropping back to the boy. Kincaide was openly staring at Buffy now, but what was strange is Buffy was looking just as intently back.
"Do you know him?"
"I, uh, no. Do I? This is too weird."
"Sit down, Riley."
Kincaide went to sit next to Buffy instead of Riley, which confused him even more. What in the hell was going on? Buffy looked into the young boy's face.
"Mama," he whispered.
He expected Buffy to react, get offended, what twenty year old would have a boy this age? If that was true, his opinion of her just went downhill.
"Where do you live, Kincaide?"
Buffy's eyes fell closed and she turned away, walking toward the windows that overlooked campus. "What are you doing here?"
"I do not know. I woke up in Papa's bed, but he's not Papa. Just as you're not really Mama. This place, I do not recognize it. I'm far from home."
"I think you are, further than you think."
"What's going on, Buffy."
"I think he's ours."
"What?" Riley glanced from Kincaide to Buffy, certain the idea that he thought she was insane was written clearly on his face. "I think I'd know if I had a son, particularly with you, Buffy."
"No, not ours. Not Buffy Summers and Riley Finn. Does the name Daniel mean anything to you?"
"How about Caroline?"
"No. What's this about?" But as he made his denials, the dreams drifted into his mind. Wasn't the man's name he was dreaming about Daniel. And the woman, the object of his affections, she was Caroline.
"I heard you, the other night. You fell asleep during Caddyshack and you were dreaming. You thought I was her, Caroline. She had come to your room from what I gathered."
"It was just a dream."
"I don't think so."
"This is insane."
"You have no idea, Riley. If only you knew."
"If only I knew what?"
"Daniel's last name is Grant."
"How do you know that?"
"Because I've been having the same, or similar dreams. I think they were us."
"But it was like one hundred years ago."
"So you do remember?"
"Vaguely. And there was no boy in my dreams."
"He said his last name was Grant, so they must have gotten married."
"Buffy, this is crazy."
"It sounds that way, doesn't it? Unfortunately, my life has been full of crazy things."
"What is he doing here then?"
"I don't know," she turned around then and looked at Kincaide. "Do you know why you're here?"
He shook his head. He didn't seem frightened or anything, Riley gave the boy credit for that. If he was lost at that age he would have been a wreck.
"Why aren't you together?"
"We hardly know each other, Kincaide."
"But you do," he demanded. The tone sounded so strange coming from a boy his size. "I know you. You loved one another very much."
"Were we married?"
"Yes, though not at first. I read in a letter that I wasn't supposed to see that you eloped."
Riley's eyes fell closed. "Oh God," he muttered. Remembering thoughts of eloping due to impatience with his father's granting permission for Daniel and Caroline to marry.
"That means something to you?"
"I remember Daniel thinking about eloping, yes. I think she was already pregnant, though."
Riley watched as Buffy rubbed her temples. She was entirely too calm about this. It was bizarre. "She loved him."
"He loved her."
"It was an odd thing I got the impression. Marriages based on love."
"I don't think it happened commonly, no."
"And Shady Oaks?"
"It is where we lived."
"And it belonged to Caroline's family. His father must not have been happy."
"I got the feeling from the dreams that his father was dragging his feet about marriage."
"I wonder why."
"What are we supposed to do with him?" Riley asked.
"I don't know. I could bring him home to my mother."
"Would she go for that?"
"Probably, I don't know. Kincaide. That's kind of a stuffy sounding name. Maybe we can call you Kenny or Ken?"
"No calling me Mama. I'm Buffy. And this is Riley."
"I can come with you."
"No, I'll have to try and explain this to my mother. I mean, she knows I don't have any kids. How old are you?"
"Hmm, no, no seven year old children for sure."
Buffy offered him her hand, which he took. He looked up at her with such adoration that Riley felt a little jealous.
"You sure you don't want me to come with?"
"We'll be okay."
"But Buffy, he came to me."
"Trust me on this one, Riley, my mom will listen to me better if it's just me and Kenny."
Kincaide released Buffy's hand and ran to Riley, hugging him tightly. Riley couldn't stop from hugging the boy back. "It's okay, Kenny, we'll figure this all out somehow."
Kincaide drew away and Buffy did the most amazing thing. At least in Riley's eyes it was. She walked up to him and hugged him, too. She kissed him lightly, but it was a kiss full of promise. She touched his cheek lightly, looking into his eyes. She was intense, as if trying to see something. He wondered what she was looking for.
"All this time I thought it was Angel."
She shook her head. "Nothing. I'll see you later."
"Okay. Buffy, you're sure?"
"Yeah, we'll be fine."
They left Stevenson together, but once they got further onto campus Riley headed back to Lowell while Buffy headed toward town. If Buffy thought this was strange she didn't show it, or at least didn't seem to be upset by it. It made him wonder just who she was.
Story ©Susan Falk/APCKRFAN/PhantomRoses.com