Vampire Stories, story 3
BtVS / Buffy/Willow/Xander
Summery: There are some who know what happened. There are some who have also been betrayed. Enter Giles, Jenny and Cordelia.
Don’t Sue Me- I did not create nor do I own the characters or their premise. Joss Whedon did and does. This is just Fan Fiction. All the fun and none of the profit. As for any original characters, please don’t use without my permission. And distribution: not without my explicit consent. Feel free to ask though.
Timeline/Pairings- Takes place post ‘Chosen’. The series centers around Buffy/Willow/Xander. ‘Pairings’ vary. Also now, Giles/Jenny.
Warnings (The Good Stuff)- This story is meant for Adults. The series is meant for Adults. Please notice the title of the series. Darker themes are explored without many apologies. The erotic is the beat, not the solo. If you like your good guys purely good, skip this story. If you’re underage, yes cocktail names can be fun. If this is illegal to read where you are, you probably need a cocktail or five yourself. I am not responsible for your actions. I’m in enough trouble just being responsible for my own.
Summery- Vampire Stories: story 3. There are some who know what happened. There are some who have also been betrayed. Enter Giles, Jenny and Cordelia.
One Last Thing- Whatever fictional original characters come and go, are just that- fictional. The town is real, but nothing is literal or exact. Characters move separately through the same nights. Also, time passes and skips through the story. (Which when taken literally is a silly image.) Oh, and there’s a scene dedicated to Susan. It was her idea after all. Hope I did alright.
By Crys Loch
"What do you think?" Willow asked suddenly. She rolled onto her side and tucked some strands of hair away from Buffy's face.
Buffy wondered at the question, confused. She continued to watch the TV. Her hand readjusted itself with Willow's movements and started to caress the small of Willow's back. "About the movie? Will, we've seen Blade Runner a million times. I don't have to think about it anymore."
Willow hadn't been paying attention to the movie for a while. Her mind drifted to thoughts and plans for a new start. It was daylight and they were still in the cheap motel room they had quickly found as they pulled into Bellingham, Washington. She spent some days arranging the money for a large purchase. Tonight, they were meeting with a realtor about buying a more permanent place to live. She'd been wondering, though, if this is where Buffy and Xander wanted to stop, or if they were resigned, apathetic, disaffected; the kind of dormant emotions that one of these days could erupt and maybe even tear them apart. They had a history with circumstances beyond their control. Could they even recognize that where they lived now was something they could control, for the first time, ever? Were they settling or settling down? Willow watched as Buffy absently watched the movie. Glancing over Buffy, she saw Xander doing only the same, his arm stretched over Buffy's back, his fingers playing with her hair.
These were their days now. A cheap VCR hooked to the small motel TV. The three of them laying on their stomachs at the foot of the bed, watching whatever movie sounded better than nothing. Tangled: their limbs always tangled into the others', their bodies always in contact, hands stroking, the touch moving; sexual, friendly, sub-textual. The intangible mysteries of their lives before, condensed now, into the texture of reality: life, death- the feel of blood across their lips; love- skin sliding across their own. Simpler now; needs easily sated, the void of a missing soul readily and constantly filled, conscience merely a play of memories, a trick of the mind. In the muted light behind the safety of a curtain, they spent the days adjusting to a life of sensation and texture. No one had asked any of the big questions in a long time.
Willow tried again. Snuggling closer to Buffy, Willow's hand joined Xander's in playing with Buffy's hair. "I mean, what do you think of this place?"
Buffy shrugged, her attention held by the slow violent hunt at the end of the movie. "It's a motel. I think the housekeeping lady doesn't like us. When I pass her in the evening, she always crosses herself over her chest. It sends a chill down my spine."
Willow smiled and glanced at the TV to see what was keeping Buffy's attention. She looked across Buffy's back and found Xander watching her, quietly listening. "Well, yes, I think we've overstayed our welcome here. She whispers the Lord's Prayer to herself every time she passes our door. But what I meant was what do you think of the town?"
Buffy rolled onto her back so she could focus. She smiled as she felt Xander roll onto his side in response and resettle his hand between her breasts. Willow's hand moved to her stomach and her own rested on her thighs. Buffy stared at the ceiling a moment, wondering why she was still getting all the questions. "I don't know. It seems like a nice enough place. Definitely more than one Starbucks. Of course, this close to Seattle, there's espresso at every corner. We've only been here, what, a week?"
"Over two weeks now," Willow corrected.
"Well then, there you are." Buffy concluded. "Time flying means having fun, right?"
Willow was distracted for a moment, tracing patterns over Buffy's skin. They had stopped wearing clothes in the day time. She couldn't remember when in the past two weeks this had started, only that Xander had started it. Shaking the thought from her head, Willow kept probing. "Well, this isn't the most romantic city in the world. Do you realize we could live anywhere we wanted to? Anywhere in the world, we could settle there. Or never settle at all and explore. I just want us to be sure before we buy a house."
Buffy closed her eyes and pictured the world, all the places and people in the world. She opened her eyes and shook the images from her head. "Willow, I've had to carry the world on my shoulders for years now. I've finally shrugged it off. I'm more tired than restless. You know, someday, yeah. But hey, this is a place, right? In the world?" Buffy looked up at Xander. She brought her hand up and started stroking his hair. "You've been quiet since we've been here. What do you think?"
Xander looked down into Buffy's eyes then up and across to Willow's. His gaze dropped to their bodies, stretched out against each other and before him; breasts, stomachs, thighs touching, the bend of their knees. His days were very different than the nights. Day time was filled with these two women; with their scent, their voices, the curves and form of their bodies, the softness of their skin. The memories of everything they have been through wrapped around them and kept them near each other. The experiences they shared now burned like a hearth fire; sometimes cracking, popping, sparking into sudden flame, but always the embers of desire providing a warmth one associates with living, with being alive. Walls collapsed at his turning and pieces of his life were ripped asunder and he knew there were parts of himself, subtle parts he never bothered to name, that were now just missing. He guessed it was the same with them, because there was an openness now between them without the walls and he felt something within that gap that he had never felt before: permission. He spent the days experiencing them, exploring all that was once inaccessible. Bringing his thoughts back to the present, he made a mental note to not limit the discoveries to their bodies, but to start searching their minds as well.
Xander considered his own dilemma, question. His nights, so different from the days, held wondrous experiences as well. He heard in the night a howl, the sound carrying past his ears to vibrate down his spine. Something deep, eternal and unknown called to him. He felt the connection each time his fangs slipped past his victim's skin and reached for the darkest part of them, a part that was in everyone. It pulled at him easily past the rubble of his life before, reaching through these non-existent walls to beg him join, release, destroy. He ached each night to shake off this pretense of human existence and stretch out beyond it, above humanity and reign his rage upon it. Instead, they hunted discreetly on the college campus while they did their laundry. And now, they were going to buy a house. Xander watched Willow's fingers start to run along the inside of Buffy's thighs and smiled to himself. The answer was an easy one. He loved them. The grip of Buffy's hand stroking his cock pulled him suddenly from his thoughts and startled, he looked into her eyes before sensation closed his own.
Buffy smirked as Xander's eye fluttered shut and his jaw slacked open, his hips rocking in time with her hand. She stilled her movement but kept her hand loosely around him, her thumb slowly stroking the underside of his cock. His eye opened and she held his gaze, making sure she had all his attention. "When I asked you what you thought, I didn't think it would lead to thinking."
Xander smiled and tried to restart her hand with insistent thrusts. He glanced over to find Willow intently watching them. His cock twitched as she licked her lips. He noticed Willow's hand move up Buffy's thigh to her center. His own hand crossed to one of Buffy's breasts, roughly kneading it, pinching the nipple between his fingers. The sun was setting soon. Each day as they felt it fall, their hunger grew.
Buffy's mouth opened and partly smiled in response. She opened her thighs to Willow's touch and felt sure fingers slip through her folds. Still, her hand remained motionless. "Not until you answer the question."
Xander paused and looked each in the eye in turn. "As long as I'm with you both, I'm where I belong."
Buffy held his gaze and stayed still, considering his answer. She could feel their connection, yet had no clue as to the thoughts that had preoccupied his mind. She wanted to know. He had remained so quiet these last weeks here, so reserved since those first two nights. Buffy felt Willow's fingers penetrate her and her concentration was broken. She arched her hips and looked over at her smirking friend. "You're making this hard, Willow."
"No," Willow countered as she continued to thrust her fingers and pressed her thumb to Buffy's clit, "he's hard, I'm helping." She cut off anything Buffy might say in response by leaning over and kissing her.
Buffy's hand started stroking Xander's cock again as her other hand tangled in Willow's hair, pulling her closer. She pulled Xander almost gently over her, spreading her legs wide to accept him and guided him to her center. Buffy felt Willow slip out to allow him in, the fingers repositioning themselves over her clit and stoking. Xander thrust into her as Willow's tongue slipped into her mouth and any questions were pushed aside by the overwhelming sensations.
Xander braced himself above them on one arm. He caressed Willow's ass before sliding two fingers into her center, matching his rhythm with Buffy, smiling when he felt her thrust back in response. He remembered dreams, he remembered fantasies; each time this happened he couldn't remember anything comparing to this. He watched Willow kissing Buffy and Buffy responding. He smiled.
Buffy opened her eyes as Willow moved her hungry mouth to her breasts. She almost laughed at the expression on Xander's face. "You look like you have us right where you want us."
Xander openly allowed the hunger to show in his gaze. "I do. And whatever town, whatever condition, it doesn't matter."
Buffy ran her hand through his hair and raked her nails down his back. She closed her eyes again and let herself get lost in the feel of her friends over, in and around her body. She lay back and relaxed; smiling as their hunger ravaged her, opening and accepting their desire, touch, connection. She remembered the times, over years, she had tried to push them away; from the danger that was her life and from the darkness she hid in her psyche. But the world had tilted and everything shifted, and now, instead of finding the balance, she let passion propel her. She felt her friends' passion devour her, and it was thrilling and freeing and right.
* * * * * * * * *
Deep in the center of the Sunnydale crater, a small group of people stood in a circle. Around them, trees lay under boulders and shards of earth stuck skyward at odd angles. Bits of broken tombstones littered the uneven ground and the debris of collapsed buildings surrounded the small barren clearing. They stood, patiently waiting for the sun to fully set; men, women, all wearing black clothing as if gathering for a funeral. Everything here was already buried and gone, though. Some held candles, others gently swung small hanging cauldrons of burning herbs. A couple of men began to circle the others, tossing salt and water around them and dropping gold coins into the center, then a stake, a lit torch, a human heart, and finally, the picture of a beautiful young woman. The men returned to their places in the circle as the sun's light left the crater, a full moon started its rise and night entered. An old woman sat down on a fallen tombstone. A clear globe rested in front of her and darkened inside with her chanted words. The others stood silent and still and waited.
The evening had passed into true night when the old woman collapsed and the globe shattered. The others jumped, startled, then started as one voice to chant. All eyes focused on the ground at the center of their circle. They chanted and waited. Finally, there was movement; pebbles rolled aside as first fingers, then a hand, burst through the dry earth. Still, they chanted and watched. A second hand pushed up and through, and they clawed at the dirt around them, frantically digging and tossing the hard, dry earth aside. Only when the head of the young woman in the picture appeared, followed by her torso as she pulled herself up and out, did the chanting stop. No one moved to help her past the remains of her grave. No one knelt by her side as she lay stunned on the ground. One did break from the circle to go to the side of the fallen old woman, offering her water and helping her up.
A man stepped forward then and addressed the young woman prone on the ground. "Janna, of the Kalderash Tribe, you are summoned."
Jenny Calendar rose onto her elbows and twisted to look up at the man. Tears ran freely and streaked the dirt on her face.
* * * * * * * * *
Rupert Giles sat alone at the bar of the quiet pub. Over this past week, the American interpretation of an English staple had quickly become his reclusive hide-away. The owner didn't quite get it right and he was all the more grateful for it. The pub remained quiet, perhaps dangerously low of customers, and provided him the perfect place to drink and think in peace. The American tint, or taint as Spencer would call it, insured that the pretentious, young, old Council survivor would never wander inside. The nature of the place gave him confidence that the not too young slayers would not stumble across him here as well. He took some pains to keep his patronage of the pub unknown to any others. He could, or even should, drink alone in his apartment; and his apartment was nice enough, but any and all could reach him there. Only Faith had bothered and managed to follow him here. And thankfully, her only reaction had been to drink quietly along side.
Giles smiled to himself when he remembered that night and signaled the bartender for a refill. The Guinness was bottled in deference to the local microbrew on tap, but the scotch was good quality and what he preferred anyway. Tonight, he would pace himself; merely sip. He had a lot to think about and think through and felt confident that the very bulk of it ensured he would still stumble and weave himself back to his apartment after last call.
He yet again, as has become habit, put off thinking about the center and cause of his current state of mind: the disappearance of Buffy, Willow and Xander. Instead, he resolutely focused on the everything else that brought the glass to his lips each night. They had set east to settle in Cleveland. He swore he had been half joking at the suggestion, but still, there was a Hellmouth here, so it made sense for the present, for the reconstruction of a Watchers Council. It had turned out to be simply a matter of a carefully named website and mailing list; something of Dawn's doing. Only five Watchers were known to have survived and make the pilgrimage to another mouth of hell. He thought perhaps there were others who were too frightened or had too much sense. His old friend Robson was of the second variety. Robson had agreed to keep in touch and continue in an informal capacity in Europe, but he expressed reluctance at the idea of a formal reformation of the Watchers Council and Giles couldn't help but agree with his concern.
The castaways of the old regime that have joined them are young and were too insignificant to have been assigned a potential or been called to the Watchers' headquarters when it was destroyed. Spencer had proclaimed that he was a rising golden child and had been out on assignment when the Council perished. Indeed, the man had ambition, confidence, charm, and no small amount of inside information. To be fair, Giles also detected a strong intellect, a large cache of knowledge and a well honed ability to research. What set off Giles' own well honed warning bells was Spencer's constant reference to 'an army of slayers'. It was a phrase that had almost caused Faith to snap his neck more than once. Still, he was more asset than threat.
Giles sipped his drink and considered Faith. She had become the leader again, though reluctantly. She often sought counsel from Robin and himself before major decisions, though the decisions remained clearly hers. Giles smiled at what the last couple of weeks, and the necessities of surviving the year of the last apocalypse, had brought to light. Perhaps this is how it should have been all along: watchers as valued tools of the Slayer. Faith knew a little of his relationship over the years with Buffy, and what she didn't know, he believed she idealized. Not such a bad thing he reasoned. He had always valued ideals in a leader. He watched and supported Faith as she tried to transform herself from her past towards her own personal ideal; and negotiate a new relationship between the traditions of the Council and the novelty of thousands of slayers. He trusted her as well. Giles toasted the air slightly and tossed the remaining scotch down his throat when he realized and accepted the irony that it was Faith who he trusted most at the moment and for this task and period of readjustment. Shivering through the welcome burn of the liquor, he signaled the bartender for another.
As it turned out, the first priority wasn't the Council at all, but the slayers. Just as they settled in, they started to reach out and find their newly awakened sisters. With the help of the Coven in Devon and the fact that the Council's bank accounts didn't collapse with their building, this was happening at an ever increasing and organized level and pace. Not all, indeed, very few new slayers were joining them in Cleveland. This was the first major point of contention between watcher and slayer. The slayers insisted that their sisters be warned and informed first, invited second. Spencer, of course, was adamant that they be recruited. Faith nearly settled the matter with violence. He supposed it was obvious and inevitable, these reactions. He was certain there would be more power struggles along these lines in the future. On the other side of this same coin, some of the Sunnydale Slayers as they were now called were choosing to leave. Rona was the first to go. She left a pager number with instructions to find her if the world was ending again and later joined the mailing list, providing an email address where she could be reached. With heartfelt hugs of goodbye from the slayers and mutterings of 'traitor' from Spencer, Rona returned to her own life. Only a couple of the others followed. Most, Giles imagined, knowing what they know now and having seen and experienced what lies in this world, are unable to go it alone, and so they have stayed.
Giles remained on the sidelines, though at Faith's side, through all of this. He felt here by default and envied Robson his semi involvement from home. He was really here for Dawn, though 'here' could have been anywhere Dawn chose to be. Giles was cornered now by his own thoughts into considering the notes left and subsequent disappearance of Buffy, Willow and Xander. He allowed the pace of his drinking to increase. Something, and he had become very good at telling this, something wasn't right. Kennedy had accepted her note with some heartbreak, but no real surprise. She didn't know Willow, or any of them, well enough to have any idea how out of character this was. In her mind, Willow had run off with Buffy. While Giles thought that maybe Willow would indeed do that, he knew that when Buffy ran, she ran alone. Andrew, the insufferable, romantic sap, was actually happy to have received a note at all. Giles wasn't sure how Faith had taken all this. He only heard her speak of it once, the night she found him and joined him at the bar. She raised her glass and spoke a simple toast, "To B; selfish, deserving and damn lucky." He hadn't responded, merely sipped at his own drink, and she hadn't elaborated, only quietly matched him through the night. He guessed her own past wouldn't allow her to blame them. The others followed Faith's lead and were probably relieved to no longer have Buffy around.
This left himself and Dawn as the two, the only ones, still concerned, angered and betrayed. Even that was tempered and confused by history and recent events. Dawn had become a young woman in the chaos of the apocalypse. A fact that almost, yet maybe not quite, had gone unnoticed. It was possible that the three that knew her best had felt her push for independence amidst the struggles of the last year, and so had granted it. It was not probable. The note to Dawn had been filled with just such sentiment, but deep inside Dawn was the pain of getting just what you wished for. What Dawn could not understand or accept with ever increasing anger and frustration at each dead end was the total severing of a connection. He knows she has tried and continues to try to find them. He knows she has great skill and experience with research and inquiry. They both know that her inability to locate them means a deliberate break on their part.
It is also this fact that leaves him with a bitter knot of anger mixed with a near panic helpless concern. They might do this but they wouldn't do that. As his thoughts spun around the churning in his gut, his hand sped the scotch ever faster into himself. The bartender, familiar now with his patron, set the bottle on the bar top nearby. While it was true he had been the first to leave. And also true, his return was only the result of dire need. He still could not help but feel hurt when the gesture was returned in kind and in this manner. What Buffy proposed, what the three of them accomplished in the end, had shocked him into stunning admiration for them all. He had quietly hoped for reconciliation, had intended reconnection. They had risked and shared everything they had and every part of themselves to win this last battle. He had... well, he still had guilt over how he reacted and behaved. And now, he was left with that. And the deep understanding that something wasn't right.
Giles was unable to explain or justify any of this to Dawn, however much he wished to. He could only try to comfort, console, encourage an attempt to move on. Test scores provided a graduation equivalent and an early admission into college. He could hardly deny her funds for such, over Spencer's objections and with Faith's approval. He couldn't offer her the answers she so desperately needed and it turned out, his influence over her was also severely limited. Against all his persuasions, she had chosen to enroll in Kent State University, a mere 30 miles or so from Cleveland and the Hellmouth. And he knew, she would never stop looking for Buffy and the others. She would always stay available to Faith and the slayers. She was, in the end, as destined as any of the chosen and old guard. And so, he remained here.
Giles kept steadily at the drink, kept toasting the remarkable courage and abilities he witnessed in these three young heroes, kept replaying his guilt at realizing it all too late, and kept his own pain and anger at bay. Maybe, someday, he would have his chance to convey to them how truly proud he is. Maybe, he reasoned through his dull, drunken state of mind, he got what he deserved; and Dawn was just an innocent victim. Wishing, at the point of the evening when his anger was blunted enough for such wishing, for just one more chance to talk with them, Giles finished the last of his drink and left enough bills on the bar top to cover his tab. With unsteady but practiced ease, he made his way out of the pub and the short distance to his apartment; a full moon his lone witness. Dawn's future and his slight hope of tomorrow, the only things leading him to this home each night.
* * * * * * * * *
Buffy, Willow and Xander, with secret glances and smirks to each other, stepped out of the realtor's car and reconvened in front of an old brick building.
"I knew we should have found a quick bite before meeting with her." Buffy whispered to her friends.
"It was hard enough to get her to meet us this late and after dark as it was." Willow shrugged as she eyed the young woman pausing to retrieve notes from her briefcase.
"Well, don't blame me if this ends poorly." Xander chuckled.
Willow slapped his arm. "Both of you can manage to hold it together for a little while I'm sure."
"Us?" Buffy protested and tried not to laugh. "You're the one that kept staring at her neck the ride over here."
"Do you think she noticed that she couldn't see us in the rear view mirror?" Xander wondered out loud.
Buffy shrugged. "She didn't say anything."
The hushed conversation stopped when the realtor walked up to the group. She offered them a dazzling smile and started her pitch. "When we talked on the phone, you mentioned wanting to find something large and spacious, with no immediate neighbors. Well, we certainly have a number of estates outside of the city that fit that. But when you also mentioned you wanted it close to downtown if possible, and given your age, I thought we'd start with something like this." She swept her arm towards the large two story building. "It used to be a garment factory of sorts. I believe the company made aprons and kitchen towels and the like. The building's been empty for a couple of years, but it is in great condition. This whole area of downtown has recently been rezoned to include residential complexes. Unfortunately for the owners, this building is located blocks away from where the condo renovations have been happening. The area here still houses active businesses. But you did say you didn't want any direct neighbors. Shall we look inside?"
Before she could receive an answer, the realtor stepped up to a simple door near the side of the building and opening it, motioned the group inside. She turned on the large overhead lights and walking past the group, started to gesture around the room. "This was a small reception area for the business and just down that short hall is a bathroom facility, the elevator to the second floor and beside that, the emergency stairwell. It could become a dramatic entry foyer for your apartments. Through this other door, we have what used to be the shipping, receiving and storage area." She hurried the potential buyers through the door and turned on another set of lights. Before them was a vast, open and empty room. On the side facing the street was a large roll-up delivery door. The high ceiling was lined with large beams and vents for heat and air. Industrial shelves lined the walls and massive tables were spaced through the room. The floor was a dirt tinted concrete. Willow, Buffy and Xander started wandering around the space. There were few windows and plenty of dust.
The realtor patiently watched them as they started to take in the enormity of the space. She was trying to judge if any of them were creatively imagining the possibility of walls and rooms, if they were designing a living space in their minds or if she would have to start that process for them. She watched as they moved together into the center of the space then started to separate on their own.
Xander started to explore the back of the building. Large deep shelves covered the back wall. He arched his view up and over, through the space, noticing high brick outer walls, beamed towering ceiling and only a couple windows tucked up near the top above the shelves. In the far back corner he noticed a room breaking into the massive space. Finding the door almost hidden beside the shelves on the back wall, he let himself inside. It was a furnace room, darker and dustier than the rest of the space. In the center sat a large old furnace. He opened the large door at the front of the burning chamber, then eyed the corresponding network of pipes and smiled thoughtfully.
The realtor noticed Xander slipping away to the back and started again on her pitch to the two young woman who stayed nearer the center, circling with their heads tilted up, trying to take in the enormity of the space. "As you can see, even just this floor can be divided into at least two large apartments. You can easily split the whole of the building into three living spaces, or more, if you wish to rent some of it out. If you can find the creativity and imagination, this building can be a wonderful blank slate to dream up your perfect living space." Willow brought her head level and eyed the young woman, smiling.
Xander exited the furnace room and returned to the main space. "Does the furnace still work?"
The realtor quickly looked through her notes on the building for an answer. "It doesn't say. The building was updated years ago to a more efficient natural gas furnace. The entire building is equipped with a modern heating and cooling system. An inspector will be able to answer any further concerns you have about the structure or older systems."
Buffy eyed Xander suspiciously and he offered her only a shrug and smile in return.
"I think what you'll find even more interesting is the second floor." The realtor suggested as she lead them back through the door to the elevator on the other side of the hall. "How cool would it be to have an elevator in your home?" She quickly pressed the button to open the door and silently prayed that after all this time, the elevator didn't make too much noise in protest. Everyone entered the small elevator car.
Silently relieved the owners had kept their equipment to selling satisfaction and strangely uncomfortable at being in such a closed space with these three young people, the realtor stepped quickly out of the elevator and turned on the lights to the second floor.
Again, the group stepped forward and moved into one large, empty room. The whole of the building was mostly these two spaces; one above and one below. This one was cleaner than the one below, and emptier. There were no tables, no shelves, just a vast expanse of hardwood floor and brick walls. The ceiling was just as high as the room below and also lined with beams and vents. On the side facing the street was one very large window, taking up two-thirds of the wall, giving a view of the more industrial part of the city as it sank down the hill and towards the harbor. Further in the distance, the lights of ships could be seen. On the side wall, opposite the elevator, a set of stairs climbed up the side, an iron handrail the only break between it and the room. It led to a lofted room perched out and over the corner. The two inside walls defining the loft were not walls at all, but glass windows, letting the loft become part of the overall space. Buffy, Willow and Xander moved as a group to the center of the room and roamed their eyes over the space.
"This place is huge." Willow whispered to the others.
"And cool," Buffy added, "Don't forget cool."
The realtor smiled when she overheard those words and hung back, hoping they'd start to see what could be done on their own. She continued to listen though, ready to step in with ideas if need be.
"Explain cool." Xander prodded, his neck beginning to strain from looking up, over and around.
"Think about it." Buffy became more animated as she tried to explain what she could suddenly see, drawing the focus of her friends. "We live here, together, on this floor. A nice big open space to spend the days in, instead of small divided rooms. No walls. We just spread our stuff to be around. Like have the plasma TV and stereo over there by the window with furniture in front of it. And, I don't know, put the kitchen there against the back wall. And a table kinda in front of that."
Willow laughed. "Plasma TV? Someone's already been thinking about shopping." Willow looked around the space, picturing what Buffy was seeing. "Oh, I could have an office in this corner next to the window at the end of the stairs, open to the living room part but facing the corner."
"Okay, I'm starting to see the cool myself." Xander joined in, turning slowly around the space and not minding the image of a plasma TV on the wall at all. "But a kitchen? Buffy, we don't need a kitchen."
"Yes we do." Buffy insisted. "For popcorn, and..." Her mind raced for a suggestion and reason Xander might share. "And pizza."
"Don't you mean pizza delivery boys?" Xander pointed out and countered.
"We'll argue about it later." Buffy looked over the open room again, seeing the immense space as inviting. "Can't you see it, guys?"
The realtor was surprised and pleased at the turn in the conversation. She was glad she answered the initial call and not one of her older colleagues. The possibilities of what she overheard intrigued her and she let her mind wander to images of the three young friends together. She enjoyed this subtle side benefit of the job, this eavesdropping, overhearing, and learning little details of how her clients might live their private lives. She let herself picture it only a moment, closing her eyes and smiling. She decided to abandon any further suggestions of splitting the building into apartments, but reminded herself not to make assumptions. Besides, the suggestion that they did not need a kitchen didn't make any sense. Maybe she was not understanding what they needed at all. Hearing her name, she shook the thoughts from her head and refocused on the sale, whatever their intentions.
Finally receiving the realtor's attention, Willow tried her question again. "What's the story with the glass room?"
"Oh, I believe that was an office space." The realtor walked over to the group, ready to recount what she knew of the building's history. "This floor was where they actually made their products. There used to be tables and sewing equipment all through here. And the room upstairs was office space for the owner and his secretary. He liked to watch over everything I guess." She watched as the three of them followed each other up the stairs. Overhearing Willow mention that it could be their bedroom, she smirked and crossed over to the window, letting the view distract her thoughts before she was caught.
When they had all entered the loft room, Buffy turned to Willow, a smile that threatened to turn to laughter on her face. "Okay, you know she heard that last comment, right?"
"Well, I had to distract her from the no kitchen talk before." Willow defended with a shrug and a smile. "You know she's been listening to us the whole time."
"I don't care what she's thinking." Xander wandered over to one of the inside windows and looked down. "She's looking like dinner more and more."
Willow walked over to him and slapped his shoulder. "Don't make me find another realtor." Turning away from the window, she glanced around. "Seriously, what do you guys think? This really could be the bedroom. And the rest of the room looks so cool from up here."
"I love it." Buffy joined them at the window. "We could have the bed right here by the windows." Looking past the realtor and through the large window below, she stared out at the night and the city lights beyond. "That window has a great view of the city."
"And it'll just be loads of flammable fun during the day." Xander looked over the whole of the room below, admitting at least to himself that the idea of an open space did appeal.
This time Buffy slapped his shoulder. "I know you can manage to hang curtains and shades. Come on, Xander, make us a home like you've always done."
Xander turned to Buffy, caught a little off guard by her words. He smiled and gave her a quick kiss before wandering around the room, considering. "Well, other than the one big window, there aren't that many to brick in, so that's no problem."
Willow and Buffy turned to Xander. Leaning beside each other and against the window wall, they watched and waited expectantly. There was a small walled off section of the room at the inside back corner. Xander crossed over to it and peeked inside its door.
"Bathroom?" Buffy guessed.
"Bathroom." Xander confirmed. "No need for that either."
"Oh, yes there is." Willow protested.
"Shower." Buffy elaborated and stressed for them both.
"Okay," Xander conceded, "I can replace the toilet with a shower. A very big shower. With two shower heads." Xander wiggled his eyebrows unnecessarily.
"But no bathroom mirror." Willow adamantly announced, her hands waving for emphasis. "It wigs me out the no reflection thing."
"Check," Xander started counting on his fingers as he repeated off the features of what was apparently to be their new home. "No windows, save the heavily, heavily curtained big one; a large shower in the see-through bedroom's bathroom; no neighbors to notice our comings and goings; in the city, so easy hunting; no mirrors," he paused to nod towards Willow, "and please, no unnecessary kitchen."
"There will be a kitchen." Buffy announced with her slayer decisive voice. "Blame it on my history of needing normalcy if you have to, but there will be a kitchen. Again, we can argue about it later."
"No, I'll just save us some time and give in now." Xander walked up to the women and took each by the hand. "So?"
"Yes." Buffy took Willow's other hand with her free one and squeezed them both.
"Wait." Willow interrupted.
"What wait?" Buffy let go of Willow's hand and looking worriedly into Willow's eyes, stroked her cheek. "Big open space to spend the days in." Her voice softened with a pleading tone.
Willow's face softened with the gesture and she leaned over to give Buffy a quick reassuring kiss. "Not that wait. I mean let's just think it over for a night. This is cool, yeah. But we hardly know the city at all." Willow wrapped her arm around Buffy's waist and brought her closer, then squeezed Xander's hand and pulled him towards them. "I just want to be sure. We should explore the city tonight. Maybe even split up and really look around. All we know is the college campus."
"Okay, then we get it, right?" Buffy smiled at each of them, relieved and reassured when they laughed in return.
The realtor watched the display in the loft window. When they started towards the door, she quickly turned around towards the large window so she could casually turn to them as they made their way down the stairs. "Well, was I right? Isn't this the place?"
Buffy, Willow and Xander descended the stairs and Willow walked over to the realtor, hedging an answer for them. "It might be. We're going to think about it for a night and call you tomorrow."
The realtor tried not to show her excitement in her smile. She could read people of course and hear what they mean in their words. The wealthy were the most fun. These three friends were so young. She guessed only one had inherited the fortune and the others were the lucky along for the ride. When Willow was the one to speak, she was sure it was her. Feeling more relaxed now that the sale was done, she let her mind create a story of how all that came to be. She almost missed Xander's question.
"What's behind the doors on either side of the elevator?" He noticed them for the first time and started over to them.
The realtor quickly brought her mind back to business. There would be all night to imagine everything. "The door to the right is to the utility room. The newer gas furnace, in line hot water, industrial electrical service. You can certainly put in a washer and dryer. The one to the left leads to the emergency stairwell and beside that is storage space stretching the length of the wall." She waited patiently for any other questions. Searched her mind for anything she thought she should add. Nothing came. They didn't even look through the doors. When they gathered back at the elevator and pressed the button, she quickly followed, turning off the lights as she stepped in.
As soon as the elevator door opened, she quickly stepped out and moved away down the hall. She wasn't sure what made her so nervous about these clients. She thought maybe it was what she could now confirm about their sexuality, but such things had never made her nervous before. In fact, it had always been the opposite reaction. Something about these three set her on edge when they were near. She grew nervous again thinking about the car ride back.
"Hey guys," Buffy halted the progress to the door out. "What are we going to do with the space down here?"
"I don't know." Willow shrugged. They had all forgotten the rooms below. "You don't need a training room anymore. Too bad, it would have been perfect. I know, we can put in a jungle gym."
"A jungle gym?!" Buffy scoffed, then chuckled at the image.
"No," Xander entered into the conversation excitedly. "A play room." When the women, even the realtor, all turned to him with incredulous looks, he corrected their assumptions. "As in pool table, video games."
"Oh, I know!" Buffy joined in. "A spa." She looked at Xander as she elaborated. "As in a Jacuzzi, a sauna."
"We can put it all in." Willow offered as she started them moving towards the door out.
"We're not installing a jungle gym." Buffy laughed.
"No, not that part, the rest of it." Willow glanced one last time around the small entry space and followed the others out the door.
The realtor turned off the lights and locked the door behind her. Her nerves about the drive back were abated somewhat by the growing certainty of the sale. Taking a deep breath, she turned and made her way to her car.
Xander stepped in front of her before she reached the car. Smiling at her startled expression, he stepped closer. "We're going to walk back, take some time to check out the area, that kind of thing."
"You sure?" The realtor stepped back. "You know where you are and won't get lost?"
Buffy shook her head and grabbing Xander's hand, pulled him away and down the sidewalk. "We're sure." She called back over her shoulder. "We'll call you tomorrow."
The realtor watched them disappear into the shadows. There were some street lights, but for blocks around, everything was closed this time of night. She shook her head and started for her car again. Rich people sure were an odd type. Still, she had the sale and planned the rest of her night in celebration.