Once Upon A Time
Summary: Just another night at the Bronze?
Disclaimer: Buffy the Vampire Slayer and all her friends belong to someone other than me. Despite the fact that I firmly believe that I would be much nicer to them than their *cough* actual owner. ;)
Author's Notes: Just a little story I felt the need to write at this particular time. Hope you enjoy it! :) Feedback, as always, is ecstatically received.
Feedback: Thanks for reading! Feedback is, as always, appreciated :)
ONCE UPON A TIME...
There... there he was again. Fantastically gorgeous, she'd noticed him on her first night in the booming Southern California metropolis. She was a senior in high school, and he... well, he was a tall, cool drink of water to her parched eyes. He towered over most of the other patrons of the famous club, his body powerful beneath the black shirt he was wearing tonight. His dark hair was thick, and faintly spiked in the front - a style that was a bit retro... but good-looking enough on him that it would be excused. His eyes were his best quality by far, she reflected, seeing him prowl towards the bar for refreshment. The way he moved was almost sinful. She watched him order two drinks: a soda and a cup of tea. Intrigued, she didn't even bother hiding her interest from her group of friends who'd stopped talking and were staring at her inquisitively. "He's here again," she sighed, tracing patterns unconsciously in the condensation.
"Why don't you ask him to dance?" her best friend suggested, knowing the answer from the few other similar situations in which "he" had been present.
"Oh I couldn't! Besides, he's brought his grandmother again."
It was the most aberrant quality of a handsome, well dressed man in his twenties, that he appeared to squire his grandmother around constantly. She tracked him with her eyes as he carried the drinks back to the little table where she'd seen them sitting the night before. He set the cup of tea down carefully in front of her, then moved around the table to seat himself next to her, his broad, strong shoulders almost brushing the fragile ones of his petite, elderly grandmother. In the next moment they did brush as he leaned closer to her, mixing honey and milk into her tea for her.
"You know," one of her friends started conversationally, "I heard that he owns this place."
"Don't be silly," another replied. "He's not that much older than we are. Maybe granny owns it?"
He had finished stirring the tea, the spoon looking delicate in his large hands. Setting it down in the saucer, he appeared to wait anxiously, his dark, beautiful eyes - which had never strayed from his grandmother's face since he'd returned to the table - watching her pick up the cup and take a dainty sip. At the almost imperceptible nod of approval, followed by a murmured word, his face broke out in a completely unexpected smile.
"Oh God... he's smiling now... be still my beating heart," the friend who had brought up the ownership of the Bronze remarked.
Her eyes flicking from the object of her lust towards her friend, she nodded. "Oh yeah... he's incredible. Maybe..."
"Just ASK him already!" her best friend said in exasperation.
She slid off her barstool, making her decision. Receiving a few words of encouragement from each member of her party, she skirted the edge of the dance floor, a path that resulted in her approaching the man from the back. She was actually kind of hoping that she'd be able to overhear enough of his conversation with his grandmother to decide on a good time to intrude to ask him to dance.
She practically crept up to them, the other milling teenagers hiding her approach. She'd carried her drink with her, and she casually leaned up against the pool table, her eyes scanning the room vaguely as she pretended to just be pausing for a moment in her trek across the room. She'd placed herself perfectly - she was just close enough to hear their voices without being in sight. It was difficult to hear every word, but she was content for the moment. As she watched, he leaned over to his grandmother again, nudging the tea closer to her with two fingers. "Drink," he urged.
Sighing a little, the grandmother toyed with cup. "Don't pester," she reprimanded gently in a voice that was papery and a little tired. "I don't know why you insisted on me coming with you anyway."
He laughed softly. "Because I like spending time with you," he replied. "And you don't fool me at all - you're glad you came, aren't you?"
His grandmother nodded reluctantly. "You know me too well." She sipped from the teacup, then sighed, smiling gently at him.
The girl watched his answering grin become brilliant. "I'm happy," he told her softly.
"I know. So am I. But..."
At the change in the grandmother's voice, the man's own smile drooped. "What?"
"When I go on..."
"I'll come with you," he answered swiftly.
What? This gorgeous man was going to move away from Sunnydale with his grandmother? Incredulous, the girl stared openly at them, wondering if she were misinterpreting their conversation.
The grandmother was smiling again - but it was bittersweet. "Angel... nobody lives forever... you of all people know that."
Ohhh... moving ON. As in dying? And he'd offered to what? Kill himself when his grandmother died? Aware that the conversation was getting far too intense for her comfort, the girl shifted, thinking that perhaps... just perhaps... this guy had a bit too much emotional baggage. She stayed where she was, though, a perverse interest in the conversation keeping her motionless now.
"No," he said fiercely, blinking back what seemed to be tears. "No... no." Calming somewhat, he put his large, strong hand over her frail one. "Let's not talk about this now, Buffy - tomorrow is our fiftieth anniversary. Let's not ruin it, okay?" he pleaded.
WHOA!! Slam on the brakes, rewind the tapes. Anniversary? No longer able to come up with any plausible explanation for the grandson/grandmother scenario, the girl was forced to acknowledge that this was a couple. Harold and Maude-ish without a doubt, but a couple nonetheless. Shivering in distaste for a moment, her brain almost didn't process the other meaning of his words. Fiftieth? As in 50 years? He looked to be about twenty-seven - certainly not even thirty... but... he had no reason to LIE. He had no way of knowing that they were being eavesdropped upon.
Straining her ears to catch the grand... no, woman's response, she jumped in surprise when a hand came down on her shoulder. Spinning around quickly, she was shocked to see her own grandmother standing there. "Jenny - what are you doing out so late?" the elderly woman chided her gently, her wizened eyes looking past her granddaughter to the couple seated at the table beyond. "Leave them be, child," she said softly. "Leave them be."
"You know them?" Jenny Harris squeaked in disbelief, wondering how so many of her conceptions about the world could've been so completely and suddenly turned askew.
"I do," her grandmother replied, her shaking voice still strong enough apparently to alert the handsome man. His hand tightened on the other woman's as they turned together to smile and wave at her grandmother. They gestured for her to join them, but she shook her head. "I'll be there for the party tomorrow," she called with a smile.
"We'll look forward to seeing you there, Willow," the other woman replied in a strong voice that belied her earlier tone. As Jenny's grandmother nodded in acknowledgment, the woman - Buffy - raised her eyes to gaze lovingly at the man next to her.
Feeling her grandmother tugging on her wrist, Jenny ripped her gaze away from the couple, her eyes still stunned. "Who..."
As they walked out of the Bronze, now the center of the "better" side of Sunnydale, her grandmother chuckled. "Walk with me, Jenny. I have a story to tell you."
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