“I’m heading out, Daddy.”
“Wait a minute, Buffy. Where are you off to?”
“I’m not sure. A movie probably. Dinner.”
“All right. Tell him to have you home at a reasonable hour.”
“All right. I won’t wait up, you know that so be sure you have your key.” He folded his Wall Street Journal and set it down, walking to her. He gave her a kiss on the forehead. “You’ve been good so far. I trust you, Buffy.”
“Thanks.” She felt like a dog, receiving praise from its master. Oh well. At least her mom understood why she was the way she was. “See you tomorrow.”
“Okay. Have fun.”
“Good night,” she called out, closing the front door behind her as she went out to meet Charles. He took her into his arms and gave her a big kiss. Neither was too concerned with whether her dad was watching. She was no longer overly concerned about Riley either. Charles had met her dad a time or two, so he no longer came to the door every time. Buffy didn’t really see the sense in it, since he was just going to turn around and walk back out again.
She’d spent every night the past three weeks with him. And most of the days, too. She’d put off her return to Sunnydale. Giles had indicated that there was nothing going on. She let Willow know, but that was it. Well, besides her mom. She was here indefinitely, maybe the whole summer. She deserved it, Giles agreed.
“Hey, baby, you’re looking fine tonight.”
“Thanks.” He said that every night, but it was still nice to hear.
“It’s too bad we’re hunting big bad vampires.”
“Yes. The way you dress sometimes gives me ideas.”
“As if you didn’t know.”
“I had no idea.”
“Right,” he said, opening her door for her. They’d fooled around some since that one night, but not to that point. She wasn’t sure why, it just hadn’t happened. Maybe they were both just seeing where this went. And she definitely wasn’t complaining. She liked knowing he liked her not her body. Or her blow job abilities as the case was since they hadn’t gotten to sex that night. He seemed to understand that wasn’t how she typically went about things.
The uncertainty of what would happen after summer was probably a part of it, too. She wasn’t sure about Charles, but she wasn’t sure how she felt about going back to Sunnydale with a boyfriend in LA. It wasn’t like their respective lives allowed them to visit one another frequently. As it was, they saw one another every day now because they both hunted the same things. And, even if she had already formed conclusions, there was still Riley to contend with. Her dad posted messages on the refrigerator from him once in a while. Buffy rarely called back, and if she did she made sure to do it at times she knew Riley was likely gone.
Avoidy, that was Buffy for the summer.
“So, tonight, we’re doing something different.”
“Oh?” That piqued her interest.
“Yes. There’s a guy I help out once in a while. He called looking for some assistance with a nest. I told him I’d be bringing along some extra muscle.”
“And he was okay with that?”
“I told him I wanted to show my girl how the real demon hunters handled things.”
Buffy laughed lightly at that. He still had no idea who she was. It was kind of nice to be treated like any other woman would be treated. She’d have to tell him eventually if they were going to see this past the summer. Until then, she wasn’t going to reveal her secret. Giles would be proud of her.
“I’m not sure what you’re laughing at? The my girl part?”
“No. There’s nothing funny about that.”
“So, that’s okay?”
“That I told him you were my girl?”
“Sure.” Buffy shrugged. “As long as you don’t call me the ball and chain or something else equally as objectionable.”
“All right. So then it was the real demon hunters part?”
“Yeah. You don’t think I’m a real demon hunter?”
“Sweetness, you know I do. I’ve been telling you for over three weeks I’ve never seen anything like you. Not even this dude we’re meeting tonight. I just have to talk big, you know.”
“Aww, don’t pout. As cute as you are when you do that thing with your lower lip and those eyes of yours I like you far better when you’re perky and upbeat.”
She snorted again.
“All right, that was a little thick.”
“Just a little.”
“I’ll shut up now, lest I back myself into a corner where I end the night with no Buffy loving whatsoever.”
“Yeah, you better.”
“Don’t be so agreeable.” He slid his hand over hers, lacing his fingers in between hers. “Buffy loving is the highlight of my day.”
“Mine, too. I mean, the Charles loving.”
“Right. I get it.”
“All righty. Let’s go kill us some vampires.”
“Sounds like a plan to me. I’d still like to know how you managed to hide the chest of deadly weapons from your dad.”
“Parents only see what they want to. I don’t have to hide it from my mom. She knows. Dad doesn’t. But now, I just leave it in your trunk so I don’t need to worry about him finding it.”
Buffy didn’t recognize the area Charles drove to at all. That didn’t surprise her. There were aspects to LA Buffy was sure she’d never had reason to see until getting her calling. Her time had been cut short here, otherwise Charles probably would know who she was because their paths would have crossed.
“He must not be here yet. We’ll just get our things together so we’re ready when he does get here. He comes already prepared for the most part. He’s got some pretty impressive goodies. Nothing compared to your arsenal, but some tricky stuff. Stakes in his sleeve, stuff like that.”
“Cool,” Buffy said, getting out of the car. “Any idea where it is?”
“Not for sure, no. He just told us to meet him here.”
“And the three of us are going to take out a nest?”
“I think he’ll be bringing some help, too.”
“All right then,” Buffy said, scrounging through her weapons chest once Charles popped the trunk for her.
“There he is,” a man’s voice called out. He had a British accent, reminding her of Giles and Wesley. In fact, she mused he sounded a lot like Wesley. She wondered if they were from the same area then.
“How’s it going?” Charles asked. Buffy heard the sound of skin to skin contact and realized the two must be shaking hands.
“Glad you could make it.”
“Make it? We were here before you.”
Buffy froze, her mind processing what she was hearing. A Wesley sound-alike she could understand, but Wesley and Angel. What was this? Buffy hallucinating night? Her weapons chosen, she straightened from the trunk to close it.
“There’s my girl. This is the woman I was telling you guys about. You’d think she was born into it. She’s that smooth.”
Buffy wasn’t sure if it was her imagination, but the air just grew all kinds of thicker from tension. She saw the look of disbelief on Angel’s face, clouding even darker into what she was certain was jealousy when Charles draped an arm around her shoulders. What right did he have to be jealous?
“Hi,” she said simply. She would have preferred finding a hole in the ground about now but one of them had to speak. Wesley seemed just as surprised. “What the hell is Wesley doing here?” She hadn’t meant to say it out loud, but it slipped out before she could censure it.
“You know Wes, baby?”
“Uh yeah, Angel, too.”
Angel started to speak, but before he could say something that would tear her heart out again by lessening their relationship she spoke up first.
“He’s my ex.”
“Your what? You dated a vampire?”
“Well, a vampire with a soul.”
“How do you know the difference?”
She shrugged. “I’ve seen the difference up close and personal. Believe me, you’d know if Angel was soulless.”
“You never mentioned you knew the new girl in town, Angel.”
“I didn’t realize she was in town. Why aren’t you in Sunnydale? What happened to Riley?”
“I’m visiting my dad. You know that. And Riley,” she shrugged. “Too many differences to overcome.”
He snorted at that.
“Yeah, I know how to pick them, don’t I?” She glanced at Wesley who hadn’t said anything. “Hi, Wesley. Good to see you again.”
“Yes, of course. You as well, Buffy. I heard about the spell you and the others did to defeat Adam and The Initiative. Very impressive work.”
“Thanks. I’m just glad it worked. Too many died, though. I just hope the government learned their lesson.”
“It’s doubtful. You Americans.”
“Yeah, Giles said something similar. I’m surprised you knew about that.”
“I kept up. My father,” Wesley shrugged then, looking a little defeated. The confident way he’d stood and held himself up until a moment ago seemed to fade away.
“Don’t worry about it. Thanks for the congrats. I couldn’t have done it without the others, though. I could have done without the bizarre dreams I had afterward.”
“Yeah, actually, we all had them. Connecting with the First Slayer I guess. She didn’t like it.”
“The first what?” Charles asked.
“He doesn’t know what you are?” Angel asked.
“No, I haven’t told him.”
“Told me what?” Charles asked. She noticed his hold on her continued to increase, grow a little tighter, tugging her a little closer the more they talked and it was clear she and Angel really did know one another.
“Thanks a lot.”
“You can’t hide something like that from him, Buffy. He thinks you’re just a normal girl. He’s liable to get hurt thinking he needs to protect you.”
“I think he knows he doesn’t need to protect me. I usually end up with the tougher vamps anyway.” Oh shit. “Me and my big mouth,” she muttered under her breath.
Charles’s arm slid from around her, he stepped away. “Just who are you then? What do they know I don’t?”
“I’m the slayer.”
“You hunt vampires but don’t know what a slayer is?”
“Wesley, this is your territory,” she said, glancing at the former watcher. The confident man was back as he dived into his spiel about the slayer. Buffy felt the weight of Angel’s stare on her as Wesley prattled on, telling Charles more than he’d ever really need to know about the slayer. He even told him personal stuff about her, about her and Angel.
“So that scar on your neck is from him?” Charles asked, obviously processing all that Wesley had told him.
“I just assumed you’d gotten bit by a vamp at some point.”
“Well, I did, just not the way you thought.”
“Listen,” Buffy interrupted. “We came here to take out a vamp nest. Hate me, never see me again if that’s the way you want to play it, but I came here tonight to kill some things. So, let’s put the personal business on hold and go to work.”
“You heard the lady,” Wesley said, beaming as if he was a proud parent.
“Angel, fill us in.” His eyes snapped up to meet hers. She took him by surprise getting down to business, going into slayer mode on him. They usually, in the past anyway, worked together. There was no Buffy in charge. That was different. She wasn’t sure what it was, but ever since the spell they’d done to defeat Adam she’d felt more Slayery. For lack of any other way to describe it. Connected. Primal. She needed to hunt, which was why she’d been overjoyed at the idea of a vamp nest.
“All right,” he said, doing just that. Her eyes darted to Charles while Angel spoke. He was hurt. She didn’t need to hear what he had to say to know that much. Apparently, the idea of a secret identity staying that way didn’t register with him at the moment.
She just hoped she’d get a chance to explain, try and get him to understand later. At the moment, though, she was more concerned with ridding LA of some baddies. That was what she’d come here to do after all, and her staking hand was itching for some action.