Word Count: 4,799
"I think I'm going to be sick," Kylie said, meeting Claire's eyes in the mirror. Xander was late. Not worrisome late, but past the time he said he'd be here.
"You are not! I didn't go to my prom so that means you have to go for both of us and have a great time."
"You've been so nice to me."
"Not really," she said with a shrug. "I mean, I haven't done anything special."
"You have, too. Taking me to get the dress and shoes, doing my hair."
"It was fun. I don't have anyone to do girlie things with. I got stuck with a little brother, so you got to be my guinea pig."
"It's just nice of you."
"It's not like I think of you as a charity case, Kylie. You're beautiful, and the dress makes you look gorgeous. I'm glad you were willing to try it on."
"I second that," Bill said, though his eyes were more on Claire just then. "I don't think I can recall ever seeing you in a dress before."
"Church," Kylie said.
"Well, besides that, and this ain't that type of dress," he said as Claire fixed one of the bobby pins in Kylie's hair. She'd straightened it and then curled it. Nothing too drastic. She'd insisted she wanted to look at the pictures years from now and not wonder who the girl in the pictures was. A few of the curls had gotten a little unruly once she'd slid the dress on, thus the bobby pins.
"He'll be here," Claire said.
"If not, I'll string him up and maybe after the varmints are done with him I'll shoot him."
"There will be no stringing or shooting. He's not going to stand her up," Claire said.
"You got the money and stuff I gave ya?" Bill asked.
"Yes," Kylie said with a roll of her eyes.
"I saw that. Not much sense doing something like that when you're facing me."
"I wanted you to see it. We're going to be fine. His car isn't going to die or anything."
"Just in case."
"I suspect he has money, too."
"Just in case," Bill repeated through clenched teeth.
"Ignore him," Claire said, stepping away from Kylie and looked her over thoroughly. Kylie felt a little strange. More than a little. The dress was beautiful, nothing she'd ever imagined herself wearing. "You go, have a good time. You deserve it."
Claire had taken her to Charleston to ensure that she got a dress that no one else would have. Not able to decide on whether she wanted a floor-length gown or a shorter one, she'd fallen in love with the high-low hem immediately. And when Claire said they'd make sure she had shoes dyed to match, Kylie had known it was the dress for her. She tugged a little at the top of her strapless bra. She'd never worn one before and it was a little uncomfortable but necessary since the dress was strapless.
Her friend had thought she was nuts to buy a blue velvet prom dress. They were far enough south there was no telling how warm it would be in May. She'd had to explain that it was just the color, though she'd kind of wondered herself why it had to be named that instead of just blue.
"Just making sure she's got everything I'm sending her out with."
"I do," Kylie said, opening the little blue purse that she and Claire had found at a thrift store. It wasn't the exact same shade as the dress but it was darned close. It was barely big enough for Kylie to fit the lipstick Claire lent her, the money Bill had given her, her keys, and her cell phone. She'd debated about bringing a comb or brush, but the chance of her hair coming down was pretty slim after the amount of hairspray Claire put in it.
"You need something, anything…"
"I know, I know, call," she said, glancing at the clock again.
"He'll be here," Bill said confidently.
"Did you threaten him?" Kylie asked.
He chuckled. "No, haven't seen him, wouldn't have anyway. He just seems like a decent enough guy he wouldn't leave a girl in the lurch is all. 'sides, he'd have to be a fool to pass up seeing how pretty you look. I know I'd be curious if I was him."
Kylie stared at him for a minute. It was the first positive thing he'd said about Xander since the first time he'd come to Wheelsy. He hadn't had many negative things to say necessarily, he just didn't say anything nice about him either. And, well, Kylie knew one huge thing that Bill didn't. Xander had left someone in the lurch on a bigger day than her prom. She tried not to let those thoughts fill her head. This was one evening not the rest of his life, so surely he wouldn't do that to her. It wasn't as if they were having a shitty time she'd make him stay until the very end or anything.
Besides, this was totally his idea. She might have gone with someone else if he hadn't asked, but there was no one she really wanted to go with. Except for him. She hadn't said anything, though, not even realizing it was a possibility. So, would he blow her off after coming up with the idea to begin with?
She wasn't doing a great job of convincing herself. She tried to picture what his ex must have felt like. Here she was all dressed for prom. She couldn't imagine what it would have been like to be in her wedding dress, guests there and everything.
"See," Bill said at the sound of a car door closing on the driveway.
Kylie let out a breath, feeling bad for doubting him. He'd told her about that day long before ever asking her to prom or he probably would never have told her about it. For just this reason.
"Told ya." He walked toward the door and Kylie felt like she was going to be sick all over again. What if he didn't like her dress? What if he didn't like her hair? What if…
As if she knew what Kylie'd been thinking, Claire came up and squeezed Kylie's hand. "You'll be fine."
"Oh god," she said, sliding a hand to her stomach. She was glad she hadn't eaten anything yet that day, because she was pretty sure at that moment it would have come back up. "I've never. I mean, I've never really had a date before."
"I know," Claire said as if she understood. Maybe she did, though Kylie had a hard time believing someone like Claire lacked for dates growing up. "And don't worry, we're not going to be waiting up for you."
"Are you sure?"
"I'm positive," Claire said, her voice barely a whisper. She leaned toward Kylie a bit, straightening her necklace. "I have a card or two up my sleeve to distract him."
Kylie smiled a little, feeling the heat of a blush on her cheeks. She knew they were having sex, it was just so weird to hear Claire say so out loud. Her parents certainly never announced they were going to their room for that reason.
"Have fun, be safe, and just remember that you don't have to do anything tonight you don't want to do."
"I know," Kylie said, glad it was Claire that said so not Bill. "I won't. I mean, I'm not even sure he's into me that way."
"He will be when he sees you. Now let's go take some more pictures and then you can go. Oh, and don't forget this," Claire said, holding up the bow tie they'd bought to match her dress.
"Thanks." She almost had, probably would have remembered seeing Xander without one, though.
"Was beginning to think you got lost," Bill said from the living room, judging by the exaggerated loudness to his tone, Kylie suspected it wasn't the first thing Bill had said to Xander.
"No, just haven't had much of a reason to worry about how well I shaved for a while now."
"I hear that," Bill said.
Xander gave a low whistle when she entered the room.
"Wow, you look great."
"Thank you," she said, offering him a smile. She thought he looked pretty good, too. "You look nice, too."
"A tux is a tux," he said with a shrug.
Claire used up another roll of film. Kylie had to admit it was nice, she wasn't sure Bill would have thought of it. He just wasn't that kind of guy. He'd had no reason to be until she'd come to live with him just recently.
Xander's boutonnière and bow tie in place and her corsage around her wrist, they left the house.
"They'll watch until we get out of the driveway, won't they," Xander asked once he'd started the car.
"He was better about it then I would probably be."
"I think he realizes there's not a lot he can say anyway."
"Well, I'm about to test that theory."
"Oh?" she asked.
He draped his arm around her headrest and leaned toward her, kissing her briefly. It didn't last long, something that probably wouldn't have mattered if he hadn't kissed her last night. He drew away almost immediately.
"No bullets zinging past us, so I guess that was okay."
"I guess so," she said, glancing in the direction of the front door. It was closed, so maybe Claire had dragged Bill away.
"You do look pretty," he said, putting the car into gear.
"Thank you, Claire took me to Charleston shopping. We spent the weekend."
"A weekend to find a dress?"
"Well, we did other stuff, too. It was kind of fun."
"If you say so. I'm not much on shopping. Giles took me shopping for this tux and I thought that was torture."
He shrugged. "I'm not much with suits or anything. Jeans, T-shirts, the occasional flannel shirt."
"Well, thank you then."
"You're welcome. So, where to?"
She gave him directions to the restaurant where they were meeting a group of her friends. Twelve of them all together. She hoped it wasn't too much for him, but she'd kind of wanted to show off that she had a date from out of town when she'd agreed to the idea of a group dinner. Coming from rather strict parents, she was always the one without a date.
He'd met four of the girls they had dinner with last night, Lindsay was the only one who hadn't seen him before. And their dates, of course. He sat, listening more often than contributing to the dinner conversation. She'd found out that he lived in London, which was something she'd never thought to ask. She just assumed he lived out west somewhere. It made her wonder what else she didn't know. She knew things he probably didn't tell others, but something as simple as where he lived she'd been clueless about.
At the high school, she put her hand over his wrist to stop him from moving once he'd stopped the car. She wasn't ready to go inside yet. She was a little nervous and felt a little foolish. Dinner had gone fine and everything, but this was different.
"You never told me you lived in London."
He shrugged. "You never asked."
"Does it make some sort of difference?"
"Other than I can imagine a plane ticket wasn't cheap, I guess not."
"I offered I wouldn't have if coming up with enough to pay for airfare was an issue."
"I didn't tell you because you already know so much about Buffy and what we do."
"You weren't sure you could trust me," she said, surprised at how much that hurt. She thought he liked her and with that trusted her. She turned to look out her window then, watching as other couples were making their way to the school. "I didn't realize that was an issue. I told you about me, about Claire."
"I know that, Kylie, I do, but there are a few hundred girls who I could put the safety of in jeopardy if I walked around saying where we were. And besides, had you actually asked, I would have told the truth, you just never did."
"I just assumed…"
"I lived out west?"
"Yeah," she said, giving a soft laugh. How embarrassing.
"Does it matter, Kylie? I'm not sure what the big deal is."
"I just realized there are things I don't know about you."
"There are lots of them, the same is true for me concerning you."
"And you don't plan on that changing, do you?"
He dropped his hand then, she let him not that she could have really stopped him. He opened his door, causing her to blink at the brightness of the dome light. He was at her door in a matter of seconds, opening it for her. She took his offered hand and let him help her out of the car. He placed his hands at the roof of the car, boxing her in. Not that she felt particularly threatened or trapped.
"Kylie, I don't know what I'm doing. I haven't had a date in years, truthfully, I probably haven't ever had what normal people would consider a real date. I was broke all the time so dates weren't exactly an option. Cordelia and I hung out more than anything. I mentioned taking you to prom because I realized you wanted to go and it didn't sound like you thought you'd be going."
"That's the only reason?"
He cupped her cheek and she tried not to let that affect her, feeling him touch her. He had to know she hadn't been touched like that often.
"I saw my chance at going to prom with a date, how could I resist."
She gave a soft laugh, glancing over his shoulder.
He was handling this all wrong, he knew that. There was an answer he should have given, but it wasn't in him to be dishonest or to mislead her. He guessed there was nothing behind him she was looking at, more she was avoiding looking at him for whatever reason. Her eyes would probably tell him too much, and he kind of wished just then she would look at him.
He didn't think too much about it when he let go of the top of the car with one hand. He slid a fingertip along her collarbone, stopping before he got to the dip. He had her attention now. She didn't have to be looking at him to tell him that. She'd stopped breathing for a second and he'd bet a million dollars that her heart was going a mile a minute now.
He slid his hand to her shoulder, cupping it as he brought his mouth to hers. Her skin was so soft and smooth and this close to her with her shoulders bare like they were tonight he realized it was simply baby oil that she used that he thought smelled so good. He hesitated before kissing her. "How else would I get to see you in a dress like this?" he asked in a whisper.
He kissed her then, hoping that would give her his answer. He wasn't good at this, whatever it was. He knew that, or he'd probably be married by now. There was something kind of perverse - and maybe fitting - that the first person since Anya to catch his eye lived across the ocean from him.
"We'd better get inside," he said after breaking the kiss. He had to smile because the look on her face told him she wasn't thinking about the prom just then.
"I guess. If you think it's lame you'll tell me, right?"
"Definitely," he said, though he wouldn't and she probably knew that. It wasn't in him to do that to her because she so clearly cared about tonight.
He'd forgotten what a high school gym looked like. Flashes of rainy days and dodge ball ran through his mind, one day in particular when he'd been possessed by a hyena. Then there was Buffy's cheerleading tryouts with cheerleaders catching on fire. Yeah, not much normal happened in the Sunnydale gymnasium.
Dinner hadn't been as bad as he thought when she'd mentioned they were meeting some of her friends. He wasn't embarrassed or anything, but sitting around talking with a bunch of high school seniors just wasn't something he did every day. Or if he did, it was with slayer stuff as the focal point of conversations. She hadn't seemed mad that he didn't talk much, but he knew when the subject of where he lived had come up that he should have told her before then. It just hadn't seemed to matter until this visit.
He wasn't much of a dancer, but he'd asked her so he would go out on a limb and make a fool of himself for her sake as far as that went.
"You know," he said while they stood in line to get their picture taken.
"There's nothing saying you couldn't come to London sometime, on a break or something."
"Like I can afford that."
"Well, if you ever come into a windfall, the option's open."
"Thanks," she said, unable to hide the smile his words had brought out of her.
He knew the likelihood of that happening was pretty slim and unless Giles had to send him to Wheelsy for anything else, chances were this was the last time he'd see her. She'd move on to college, get out of Wheelsy and he'd no longer be so appealing. Not that he understood what she liked about him now. Image was everything at her age and the image he presented wasn't exactly the stuff fairy tales were made of.
Their picture taken, they scanned the room together. Kylie more than likely looking for her friends where Xander was checking things out.
"Why me?" he asked after a pretty thorough looking over of everyone in the gym that he could see amidst the decorations and dim light.
"Why not you?"
"You're telling me no one else asked you to prom?"
"No one else I wanted to go with," she said.
"That's honest at least."
"No one else saw what I saw, had to do what I did, Xander. I know I'm only seventeen, but I feel so much older than everyone else now. Different. I know I'm not the only who lost things and family or friends, but I'm the only one who lost everything."
"Right," she said softly.
"I can relate," Xander said.
"I know you can, and that's why I'm here with you. You haven't told me everything you went through and I don't pretend it's the same thing. We had one thing happen in Wheelsy, you've done that type of thing more than once."
"Well then," he said as the band started playing and couples took to the dance floor. "I guess we should make the most of the night and dance then."
He surprised her by dancing with her as much as he did. She could tell he wasn't entirely comfortable around her friends, but then she couldn't blame him really. They all wondered what had happened to his eye. And probably what he was doing here with her.
She might not understand what they were doing. Because, oh my God, he'd invited her to London. Hadn't he? It sounded that way to her. He had to be uncertain, too, but he didn't do anything to betray that. Not that she'd walked around telling everyone he was her boyfriend, but she hadn't debunked the idea when someone said that either.
While the night wasn't perfect. Jimmy Sanders must have had more than the punch to drink because he was obviously drunk about an hour into the dance and slugged Tom May for taking Becky Simms to the prom. Other than that, though, it was pretty uneventful. She could tell, though, that Xander was ready to call it a night.
So, when asked if they wanted to head out to a nearby lake for a few hours she initially said no.
"We can go if you want to," Xander said.
"No, it'll be boring. Even worse than this."
"I'm not bored, Kylie. And if you want to go we'll go. That's the point of tonight, my being here, giving you the night you want."
"Are you sure?"
"There'll be drinking."
"Suspected as much."
"Probably some drugs."
"Do you do them?"
"No, but they'll be around."
"Fair enough. I'm not there to be a cop or the responsible adult. Anything else?"
"I guess not," she said, smiling widely. She threw her arms around him. Bill hadn't really specified a time she needed to be home, seeming to understand this was one of those nights that a curfew wouldn't work anyway. She'd stayed out most of the night before once or twice, but it had been sneaking out of her house and always she had to be home before the rooster crowed it was time to wake up.
They stopped at Claire's on the way to change where she called Bill then to tell him where they were going. He didn't sound happy, but seemed grateful she'd at least called. It was something she was getting used to, being responsible to someone who wasn't her mom and dad. He was being generous, more than necessary, taking her in, making it so she wasn't a ward of the state and placed in a terrible home. Or having to spend the rest of her senior year at a different high school. She could report to him her comings and goings in exchange for his kindness.
She'd just brought a pair of jeans and a nicer shirt along as her change of clothes. She had no idea what anyone really wore to this type of thing. Not to mention she really hadn't been sure where they were going to go afterward. She knew that some would probably stay in their dresses and tuxes, but Kylie didn't see the point in that.
She paused in the doorway to the spare bedroom where Xander was staying and watched as he hung his tuxedo on a hanger. He'd put a shirt on, but hadn't buttoned it so she had a somewhat nice view of his chest when he turned and finally saw her standing there.
"Was I taking too long?" he asked.
"No, just came up to see what you were wearing and to tell you that I called Bill to tell him where we were going."
"Probably a wise move."
"Yeah, I guess," she said with a shrug. She knew what she wanted to do, but her feet seemed to pick that moment to stay rooted in place as if frozen.
"I figured you'd take longer, having a dress and stuff to get out of."
"It didn't take that long. And I decided to leave my hair up. Claire went through a lot to put it up like this. I wasn't sure what you were going to wear."
"I didn't bring anything real nice but the tux, so I'm kind of limited." He paused, glancing at himself in the mirror. "Do I look all right?"
"It looks nice. Your hair, I mean. I paid more attention to the dress earlier."
"Thank you, I like it, too." Her feet finally got into sync with her brain and allowed her to enter the room.
"I, uh, well, am ready to go I guess."
She sat on the edge of the bed, which he'd taken the time to make she noticed. Bill didn't all of the time. Neither did she for that matter. What was the point? No one else saw it and she was just going to fall asleep in it again.
"Take your time."
"We should," he said, reaching for the bottom of his shirt and working the buttons. "Not be up here I'm guessing."
"Bill knows we're here, Xander."
"Not in my bedroom!"
She laughed. "No, probably not, but he knows we're both changing."
Xander chuckled softly with a shake of his head. "I be that went over well."
"What can he say?"
"Not much I suppose." She watched him as he turned away from her and tucked his shirt in. "I guess I'm set then. Are you going to be warm enough in that?"
"I'll be fine," she said with a little smirk. Chances were, yeah, she'd probably get a little cold considering she was just wearing a short sleeved shirt but she wasn't going to complain about that tonight. All the more reason to stay close to him. And she couldn't believe she was thinking like that.
It'd been a while since she'd been out here, so she almost missed the turn off to the road that led to the road. Xander slammed on his brakes, though, as soon as she told him to turn and they were there in no time at all.
She'd been right, there were people there still dressed for prom all the way down to some guys in just shorts and nothing else. She didn't get that exactly, but then she remembered seeing a little of Xander's chest and realizing she wouldn't mind seeing more of it.
She knew a few were staring at her. At Xander. She was used to it by now, though, and she didn't think Xander knew. Or cared if he did know. Rumors and exaggerated stories about the night her parents died had spread like wildfire. She knew there was one rumor that went around early on that she'd killed her parents and just used the creatures as a cover. She did little to correct anyone's misconceptions. Her friends knew the truth and those that didn't, probably couldn't handle it anyway.
She grabbed a cup from near the keg and filled it, only about half way. She wasn't a big beer drinker and she noticed Xander hadn't followed her to the keg. She slid her arm through his, trying to figure out what he was looking at. How he was seeing everything. This had to be so totally weird to him. A high school party when he'd been done with high school for a while.
"You can have some, you're the only one here actually old enough to drink it."
Xander glanced at her with a smile. "Nah, I'm okay."
"Okay. So, what are you thinking about?"
"Nothing really, I didn't know this was back here."
"Oh, yeah, it's a popular spot. Close enough to town that you can get to it easily but far enough away that you feel like even if it's only for a couple of hours you've gotten out of Wheelsy."
Xander chuckled. "I know the feeling well. There were times I wanted out of Sunnydale so bad when I was in high school. And then when I did get out," he shrugged, sliding his arm out from hers. She felt her heart drop to her stomach at that. He didn't want her to touch him.
And then he held her hand. He smiled a little, as if knowing what she'd just thought.
"So when you finally did get out?" she prompted.
"I went back. It was home and safe, which is strange considering all we'd been through there. I'm just a chicken when it gets down to it, I guess."
"You are not. Everything you've told me about what you've gone through and done. That's not someone afraid."
"How do you know I'm not exaggerating? Or that I'm even telling the truth?"
She shrugged, taking a sip of her beer and looking out over the lake. A few of her classmates had jumped into the water. It had to be freezing and it made her shiver just thinking about it. They were probably already well on their way to being drunk, though. A few hadn't been at the dance.
"Seems to me I asked if you were going to be warm enough."
"Maybe I just wanted an excuse to stay close to you."
"You don't want to move around and mingle?"
"Not really. I'll see them at school and everything's been said that needed to be said anyway. I got to talk to them all at dinner and the dance."
She slid her arms around him. "Positive. I don't get you for much longer."
"Well then, I guess I need to do the gentlemanly thing and see to it you don't freeze to death on my watch."
"I guess so."
Story ©Susan Falk/APCKRFAN/PhantomRoses.com