Spoilers: Set the summer after season 1
Word Count: 481
Summary: This is what it's like to begin.
Author's Note: For sunshine_queen, who keeps on giving me a lovely excuse to go back to my G/J roots. :D And for some bizarre reason, it is entirely part of my personal canon that Ms. Calendar moved to a new apartment at the beginning of the summer after "Prophecy Girl," and Giles, Xander, and Willow helped her move. It's popped up in two fics now!
It’s only the two of them here in her new apartment, standing in the clean bare kitchen as sunlight streams in through the half-open window. Willow and Xander have gone and it feels so strangely personal, to be surrounded by dozens of unpacked boxes labeled in her loose, lovely handwriting. Here is her life, he thinks (stupidly), ready to be taken out and put back together again, and he is here standing with her. This is what it’s like to begin.
“So, um, can I get you anything?” she asks, her voice brighter than usual. It occurs to him that perhaps she’s nervous, and the idea is, in an odd way, heartening. “Coffee, tea?”
“Um, tea would be very nice,” he answers by default. “Thank you.”
“Great!” She shuffles through the box labeled ‘kitchen.’ He watches the way her hair falls around her face and wonders, only fleetingly, what it might be like to brush it back.
“So,” she asks, friendly small talk, not facing him, “do you have any plans for the summer?”
“I thought that perhaps I would –” He falls silent as she pulls out a box of Lipton tea. “Ah.”
“What?” she asks, her expression only blank for a moment before it’s replaced by a wry, knowing smile that’s far lovelier than anything else he’s seen in recent memory. “Oh, right. You probably don’t do the whole teabag thing, huh?”
It is one of those times when he wishes he weren’t so horribly British. “What? No. No, it’s – it’s perfectly all right.”
She smirks. “You sure?”
“Quite,” he says; it is not remotely convincing.
For an excruciatingly long moment, she scrutinizes him, dark eyes flashing, and he knows that she is teasing him and cannot bring himself to be remotely offended.
“Okay, Snobby,” she finally relents, lifts her hands in an act of graceful surrender. “If you say so.”
And perhaps it’s the boldness of summer – of having survived until this moment, of having found this small unanticipated happiness in the midst of duty and the vain unrelenting battle to which he’s given his life. In any case, she’s smiling at him now, and it’s very easy to forget about things like destiny.
He feels ridiculously brave, undeniably reckless, and says, “Of course, I suppose this means I shall have to have you over someday. S— so that I might show you how to prepare a proper cup of tea.”
And mercifully, she doesn’t leave the words to hang, awkward, in the air; her smile brightens even more and she says, “Okay, it’s a date” and naturally, he can’t help but smile back.
She can’t find the kettle and heats the water in the microwave; the tea is weak and lukewarm and near-unparalleled in its repulsiveness. All of this is made suspiciously tolerable by the fact that, as she hands him the mug, her fingers brush his.