Word Count: 2,672
"Hello," Xander said gruffly into the cell phone. He'd forgotten to turn it off. No, wait, he'd left it on because he needed the alarm clock. He'd forgotten the travel-sized one he'd brought on the previous trips. He didn't keep much of a rigid schedule normally, but today he had to be sure to wake up at a normal hour. After those flights he felt like he could sleep for days, he didn't know how Buffy did it regularly. Maybe your body got used to it.
"My, long night?"
"Uh huh," he said. Jet lag combined with Claire and Kylie not leaving until almost one in the morning. He opened his one eye to glance at the clock on Claire's bedside table. "It's nine in the morning."
"I figured you'd be up, doing pre-prom stuff."
He groaned. "What are you talking about?"
He could hear the muffle sounds of Willow talking to Kennedy, which meant she'd covered the phone with her hand. Whatever she'd said was followed by female laughter. At his expense no less.
"What am I missing?" he asked.
"Well, you know, hair cut, shave, corsage, shoes polished, boutonniere, wash the car, and things like that."
"I can shave at home," he said, mentally going over his toiletry kit to be sure he had a razor in there. And shaving cream. He'd been known to get a little scruffy staying here in Wheelsy because he'd forgotten that two of the first three trips here. The hair cut? Well, he wasn't sure he wanted to get his hair cut. She seemed to like his hair longer. He remembered the feel of her fingers running through it last night while he kissed her. The safe thing would be to cut it. He just wasn't sure he wanted safe tonight.
"And the corsage?"
"The town's not that big, Willow. I ordered it a week ago and will pick it up later. And she's supposed to get me the boutonniere."
"What about your tux?"
"I was going to rent one, but Giles seemed to think I should own one. I have no idea what I'll ever need a tux for after this, but Giles hooked me up with a good deal."
"it's not a blue Armani is it?"
"Huh?" Xander said with a frown, wondering what she was talking about. And what joke he was missing. He did have one thing to do this morning. He'd called the cleaners before coming into town to make sure they'd be able to fit in pressing his shirt. No matter how he packed it there would be wrinkles.
"It's from Father of the Bride," she said. He had a vague recollection of Willow, Xander, and Buffy renting it once upon a time. It had Steve Martin in it, and while it was funny Xander had expected it to be funnier. Instead it was a family-type move, so he'd forgotten most of it.
"What about the bow tie?"
"She's picking that out, too, to match the color of her dress. She didn't want me to know what color it was before tonight."
"Oh, how fun," Willow said.
"If you say so."
"Oh come on, Xander. She's excited, that's great. This was your idea. Remember?"
"Never mind," Willow said followed by a soft laugh. "I wish I could see you. I know you'll look very handsome."
"Thanks, Wil," he said. He thought he'd looked pretty stylish in the tux Giles had helped him pick out. Giles had even commented on it, so Xander didn't think it was all in his imagination.
"You're welcome. I'm sorry I woke you. I really thought you'd be up for the day, ready to give 'em hell."
"Not yet, hell giving was scheduled for eleven o'clock. The only schedule I have to keep is getting my shirt to the cleaners by noon."
"Sort of. The guy she lives with, his girl friend is letting me stay at her place while I'm in town. I drove Kylie here with me last night and the two of them sat and talked to me for another two hours before heading out for the night."
"Nothing! I mean, it seemed like nothing. I don't know, maybe Claire was trying to feel me and my intentions out for Bill. I'm sure he'll have the house staked out all weekend."
Willow laughed at that. "You've never been there socially either to take her out."
"I know, Wil, I know. It's cool."
"You charmed her pants off, I'm sure."
"No, she left pants intact."
Willow laughed again. "That's probably best. Well, have fun, be safe, and if you haven't already go to a drug store and get some protection."
"Willow! I'm not going to sleep with her."
"And you and I planned on kissing?"
"That was different. That was you and me with eleven years of friendship and history."
"You like her, she likes you, and you're going to prom. It's a well known fact that sex and prom seem to go together. Archaic, but it's almost as if prom is some last rite in that bridge from childhood to adulthood or something. Sex helps them shed their youth."
"I'm sorry, it's one of those things I think about sometimes."
"Apparently," he said with a frown. Did she really think about things like that? He supposed so. He hadn't had to worry about it. First, Faith had taken care of whether prom would be his first time. Secondly, you need something besides your hand to make it into sex.
"Have a good time. Don't do anything I wouldn't do."
He laughed at that. "I donít think you'll have to worry about that since we're not both women."
"Call me if you need anything, Buffy, too."
"You make it sound like I've never had a date before."
"Not this kind of date, Xander. A girl looks back on prom and wants to remember it fondly."
"Wow. No pressure or anything there. It's not like I wasn't already nervous or anything."
"Good luck," she said and just like that she was gone.
He closed the phone and set it on the night table by the bed. He still had an hour or so before he'd set the alarm to go off, but now he was awake. Was prom really that big of a deal? He glanced at himself stretched out on the bed in his boxers and a T-shirt. He was fit.
Buffy had said he was buffer than high school. Construction work had gotten him into taking care of his body and he continued a workout regiment when he could to maintain what he'd achieved. He was no Sly, but he knew heads turned when he walked the beach.
He reached to the night table for his patch, putting it on before turning onto his side. He wasn't ready to get out of bed yet, but it was second nature for him to wear it when he was awake. He'd tried sleeping with it, but it always came dislodged so he just took to removing it.
Claire was definitely getting used to waking up in Bill's bed. She'd spent one night at her house in the last month, because Bill's mother needed to stay at his place. She was having work done at her house and couldn't be there over night. It was a good thing her house was paid off or she'd question the logic in having it. It was too soon to think about selling it or anything. At least she had more than just one drawer at Bill's dedicated to her stuff. She did miss her yard, but sleeping next to Bill was worth the trade off.
It had been late when she and Kylie had gotten home. They'd stayed at her place talking with Xander for a while. She liked him. He seemed sincere and from what Claire could ascertain wasn't out to hurt Kylie or get her out of her dress tonight. He wasn't a Brody of the world. He was one of the nice ones who seemed to mention taking her to prom so the girl would get to go if she had no other options. She doubted he'd realized she didn't want another option. Claire knew of at least one guy Kylie had turned down. She wasn't sure Bill knew that and Claire wasn't going to tell him. Some secrets were better left kept between the two of them.
Claire recognized the in his eye of someone who'd seen things and lost a lot. Things and losses few others knew about. She recognized the look because it was familiar to her. It made her wonder about him, what he did. Beyond what Bill had told her. Did he know about her? Not that she could do anything if he did. As long as she was still safe here. He didn't strike her as the type to divulge information like that, if he did know it.
Of course, there was more to his taking Kylie to prom than merely doing a favor. They liked one another, that was pretty clear. There was nothing wrong with an older guy. As long as Kylie wasn't going to drop everything and chase after him, Claire didn't see the harm in the two of them talking.
She felt Bill's hand slide along her hip and then between her legs. He was one of the good guys of the world, too, and was currently waking up. If his hand touching her as if wanting to be sure even while was sleeping she was there for the taking wasn't evidence of that, feeling him hard against her was.
"I waited for you," he said, kissing her shoulder.
"Sorry. It got late and I didn't want to call and wake you just to tell you we were going to be late."
"It's okay. I missed you."
"Me, too," she said, turning onto her back. He moved on top of her. She wasn't sure she'd ever tire of waking up this way. Fingers found their way so he could touch her. She groaned breathlessly as he ensured she was ready for him. There was nothing like morning sex.
They finished with her on top, which is where she was currently. His arms were around her and she was snuggling against his chest, listening to his heart return to its normal rate.
"So, Xander made it to town I take it."
"And he's using your house?"
"Yup." She laughed, kissing his chest before looking at him. "And, no, I did not lie and tell him cameras had been installed in all of the rooms."
"Defiant. I see how it is"
"Mm hmm," she said with a smile.
"Good thing I like that in a woman."
"I guess so."
"I can't stop her anyway, not that I really have a right to. She's practically an adult."
"And it's not like she's been living with me for years or anything."
"You've expressed your concerns, she listened. She's not dumb, she knows Xander isn't from here and he's not going to pick up and move here either."
"Get a feel for whether she has a desire to do that instead?"
"No, I don't think she does. And proof should be she's chosen a college."
He let out a deep breath then.
"You were really worried she'd do that?"
"The thought crossed my mind. You didn't know her before her folks died, Claire. She was wild. Not killing people or animals wild, but dye her hair different colors and paint her nails all various shades of black and piercings wild."
"You think that's wild?"
He arched an eyebrow. "You remember this is Wheelsy, right? She's not a small town girl, she just happens to be from one."
Claire laughed. "Yes."
"I'm not saying she was on the path to get knocked up or anything. Far as I know, she never really had boyfriends and as sheriff, I know she never crossed that line of violating the law. At least nothing she was caught for and I suspect it wasn't anything major, kid stuff, if she did. Putting pennies on the train tracks, taking a lipstick she couldn't afford, that sort of thing."
"So, why are you worried?"
"I don't know. It's got to be appealing, a chance to get out of here."
"So is college."
"Yeah, but my vision is a lot less work."
"She doesn't strike me as the type to be afraid of work. She tended to the cattle and other animals by herself a few times before you were able to sell them off."
"Oh, I know she's not afraid of work."
"You're just being fatherly."
He rolled his eyes. "I guess I am imagine that."
She leaned up and kissed him. "I like it. Now, no lectures today, no suspicious glances when Xander shows up in a tux, and just remember there'd be nothing stopping him from taking a hotel room despite staying at my house."
"That's supposed to ease my mind?"
"The fact I'm telling you I don't get that vibe off of him, yes, it should ease your mind. I like him. He seems respectable."
"I just hope she doesn't get laughed at or feel embarrassed."
"Well, you might have noticed he's wearing an eye patch."
"I have, yes."
"She doesn't seem to mind it or anything."
"But some of her friends might?"
"I'm sure she's thought of that, Bill. Girls aren't going to set themselves up to be ridiculed or embarrassed, especially at this age."
"Guess I have to trust you seeing as how I ain't ever been a girl."
"That is very good to know."
"Up for a shower?"
"Thought crossed my mind."
"You seen her dress?"
"Yes," she said, sliding off him and the bed as she spoke. "I took her to get it, remember?"
Claire laughed, shaking her head. "No way are you getting me to slip up today of all days."
"You going to cry?"
She ducked her head. "Yeah, probably."
"You didn't get a prom, did you?"
"Not really, moving around. I mean there was a prom at my school, but I didn't go."
She shrugged. "I'm not. I mean, I'm not scarred from it or anything."
"I didn't mean it like that. But, yes, I'll probably tear up. She's going to look beautiful and both you and Xander are going to really have your eyes opened."
"I don't want Xander's eye opened any more than it has to be."
"Like you said, you can't stop her even if you wanted to. Where there's a will there's a way. At least he likes her."
"You know something I don't?"
"No, I don't even think that's on either of their minds."
"He's a guy, darlin', it's on his mind. Believe you me."
"I suppose so, I just don't think that's the point of tonight for either of them. I mean, he's legal and all, if he just wanted that there are certainly easier girls to go after. The girl living with the sheriff wouldn't be my first choice if I was out to break hearts, whether she was his daughter for real or not."
"Point taken," he said, following her to the bathroom where she started the shower. One of these days she was going to convince him to invest in a tub made for two but until then this would have to do.
"I'm glad you're being reasonable."
"He hurts her, I'll hunt him down like a dog."
She glanced at him as she stepped over the edge of the tub and into the shower. "You don't think he knows that? Now quit fretting over things you can't do anything about and come wash my back.'
"That's an invitation I'd be insane to pass up."
"Glad you find it appealing."
"Everything about you is. I should know, I've conducted some very up close and personal surveillance."
Story ©Susan Falk/APCKRFAN/PhantomRoses.com