Buffy Anne Summers (to_save_the_day) wrote in thefinalehour,
Buffy Anne Summers
to_save_the_day
thefinalehour

Where: A cafe in L.A., dusk
Who: Buffy and ?

There were few problems in Buffy's life that were not marginally eased by a fresh latte. She has long ago given up any of the valley girl characteristics of her early adolescence, but a fondness for overpriced and overly caffeinated beverages lingered on. It was strange sitting here alone, Buffy mused to herself, taking a tentative sip of the hot drink as she studied the busy cafe's other occupants. She was so rarely by herself these days, always busy with the other Slayers or Giles. While she enjoyed the unusual peacefulness of her situation, Buffy found solitude inevitably led to contemplations of subjects that were best avoided.

A couple attempted to pass by her small table, hitting her bag in the process. A wooden stake and a crossbow appeared from its depths and Buffy hastily pulled the bag underneath her chair, smiling up in what she hoped was a reassuring fashion at the clearly disturbed couple. It was impossible to travel light when she felt the need for a mini arsenal of weapons on hand, Buffy thought dryly. Without even looking down at the open bag, her hand reached downwards and carefully zipped it closed over the telltale contents. No use scaring the tourists, afterall. Going through security at the airport had been more than enough of a challenge for the week.
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Jason sighed, apparently no one in this God forsaken town had heard of an Irish Coffee. Coffee, whiskey, cream and sugar if you prefer and ta-da! But all the coffee shops he'd been to within walking distance of the hotel, didn't serve them. And the one who did, wanted to see his ID. Really, like a sixty-seven, twenty-two year old carried around a valid ID?

Sighing again, he opened the door to this new coffee shop and walked in. The onslaught of souls crying out was almost deafening. For a city called "The City of Angels" there sure weren't enough angels to help all the souls that were lost.

Among the chaos in his brain, one soul in particular was familiar. He looked around the room to find it's source and spotted Buffy, sitting at a table sipping her drink.

Oh just wonderful Jason thought to himself. It wasn't that he had anything against the Buffy, but if he were to sit down and count just how many cracks there were in her soul, it would take an eternity. Maybe even two.
Having self-consciously stashed her weapons properly this time, Buffy had resumed her careless study of the other customers. She traced the rim of the mug with her index finger leisurely, finally relaxing for what felt like the first time in weeks. Perhaps it was, come to think of it. The jet lag had been particularly brutal; it had been strange being in her home state while her body was still on Italian time. Disorienting, even.

Leaning back in her chair, Buffy gave her jumbled thoughts free rein. They veered haphazardly between the gravely important to those so superficial as to be ridiculous, ranging from Angel's request to Dawn and finally back to a mental debate on whether she could permit herself a lemon poppyseed scone with icing.

It was in the midst of this debate that she caught Jason's eye, having just entered into the busy cafe. Realizing with a start that the man's gaze was on her, Buffy responded by lifting her cup to him in a jaunty salute. She smiled slightly, pretended to clink an imaginary glass with the earthenware mug and then promptly took another sip of her drink, luxuriating in the taste. The expression on his face as he looked at her displeased Buffy somehow, for reasons she could not quite put her finger on at the moment.
Shaking his head slightly, Jason headed for the line at the counter. She was an odd one, no doubt about it, but then again, so were he friends, he had noticed in the short time he'd been around them. He'd also noticed, how closely they all were and seemed to protect each other. Further reason why he didn't understand TPTB's bright idea to him here. It wasn't like any of them didn't have someone to look after.

Lost in his thoughts, he hadn't realized it was his turn at the counter until someone nudged him from behind. Of course they didn't have Irish Coffee here either, so he settled for a large black coffee to go. The barista looked at him for for a second, before putting in his order. Another one of the many random things Jason didn't understand is why people had to have all these weird names for coffee, it's just a bean after all.

He took and paid for his drink, then turned around to head out, but glanced back over at Buffy. He knew that it would be awkward later at the hotel if he didn't go over and at least say something to her. And besides, up close he could better guage her "condition" so to speak. Might as well get started with that one he thought, and headed over to her table.

"Mind if I join you?"
her*
No, no scone, Buffy decided firmly, adding a quick shake of her head as if to convince herself that self denial was really the proper course. She wondered why such trivial thoughts seemed to consume her today and decided she could safely blame it on her surroundings. Compared to Rome, L.A. hardly inspired deep reflections or profound thoughts, Buffy decided, glancing again at Jason who was occupied with ordering a terribly unexciting black coffee. Perhaps her frivolous state of mind was due totally to her superficial surroundings. Honestly, she was half convinced that the couple at the small table to her left were pouring over one of those infamous "star maps" of L.A.

At the sound of Jason's voice, Buffy looked up suddenly, feeling slightly foolish at having been startled in the midst of such mindless thoughts. "Of course," she replied in an overly bright voice, trying to compensate for her moment of confusion. Hastily, she cleared a space for him, moving the morning newspaper that now bore stains from her latte off to the side. Buffy cast what she hoped was a friendly smile in his direction as she gestured to the seat beside her.

Glancing down again at her bag, now more or less safely stowed under the chair, Buffy added after a beat, "Careful of the umm, weapons."
Jason nodded at Buffy's comment, pulling out the chair, careful not to disturb Buffy's bag and sat down. That was another thing he wasn't used to; having to always carry around some sort of weapon.

"I suppose you get used to it, after a while?" He asked, curiously. When Angel had first told him he needed to carry some sort of protection, originally thought the vampire was talking about the sexual kind, until a knife and stake were shoved at him. Both of which were strapped to each of his legs, concealed in his baggy jeans and boots. And constantly itched.

"Honestly, I think it's pointless, at least for me. It's not like I'll be dying anytime soon, why bother defending myself?" Jason didn't mean for the comment to come out so discouraging, but it was true. He was more or less immortal. He could be hurt and in a lot of pain, but nothing that wouldn't heal up almost immediately. Which was one thing he was thankful for, out of this raw deal with The Powers. He didn't want to die without his soul.
Buffy cupped her chin in her open palm, considering Jason as he sat down beside her. He was a bit of an enigma to her and it seemed strange to be sitting here at this tiny table, sipping caffeinated beverages like they were the best of friends. She felt an absurd impulse to indulge in the sort of friendly, meaningless chatter that would occupy the time if it were Willow or Xander sitting across from her. Deciding silence was best for the moment, Buffy took an extra long sip of her drink, glancing at him over the white rim.

Setting down the heavy drink on the table again, Buffy considered his question and the less-than-heartening response which followed it. "Yes, I guess you do, it just becomes a habit," Buffy mused aloud, glancing down once more at the oddly shaped navy bag, the fabric bulging oddly over the end of her stake. Honestly, she was getting to the point where she felt naked--exposed--without at least one small weapon with her at all times.

Buffy considered his last remark for a second, fully prepared to launch into a speech that was equal parts encouragement and scolding for such unwarranted pessimism. The words died, however, before they ever left her mouth. This was not one of the new Slayers who sat beside her, she reminded herself, there was no need for platitudes; she didn't feel any duty to bolster his apparently low spirits.

"You might want to defend someone else," Buffy responded coolly, her nails clicking faintly on the table's surface as she met his gaze. "And anyways, aren't there other fates you'd like to avoid than death?"
Jason wanted to say a sarcastic comment, about losing your soul being one of those things, but didn't. Buffy had a point, needing to protect someone was a valid reason for carrying weapons around. Then again, Jason had no one to protect. No one close to him at least. True on occasion he grew close to a Charge, but after he helped them, he would dissapear and never see them again.

And all his family had long since died. At least his parents were and to his knowledge a few of his friends as well. With all the time jumping he had done over the past quarter of a century, he'd lost track of any releatives he might have had here in the present day. Which now, Jason realized bothered him more than he originally had though.

"I suppose." he said quietly, before taking a drink from his coffee.
Jason's temptation to sarcasm was lost on Buffy who continued to regard him with mild curiosity. She had gotten out of the habit of reading people, she realized, her friends were generally unguarded, rarely attempting to hide their emotions from her. Was it possible her throwaway comment had bothered him? Buffy wondered silently, trying to decide if she should feel guilty if it had. Deciding to attempt a lighter note, Buffy gave him a small smile, watching as he took a sip from his coffee.

"I'll admit though, hauling them around does pose a few practical problems." She gave the bag under the chair a tiny, annoyed kick with the back of her heel. The noise of the stake hitting the crossbow was lost in the din of the cafe. "Fashion being only one of them."
Jason laughed, for the first time in what seemed like a decade. Despite everything Buffy had seen and been through, she still managed to make light of the situation and still remained very girly.

He watched her, over the rim of his coffee cup. From the stories he had heard and the breaks and mends in Buffy's soul, he could tell that for years she really did feel alone in the world and like the fate of everyone around her rested on her shoulders. Maybe that's why The Powers sent him here, maybe she was the one he needed to help.

But in the back of his mind, he doubted that. Sure, he would help her in anyway he could, but he knew that it wouldn't be that easy to find the one he was really sent for. The Powers were never that gracious.

As Jason glanced down, he caught the sight of something interesting, out of the corner of his eye, that he'd never seen before. There were several cracks in Buffy's soul where her heart was. That usually wasn't uncommon, but for her each previous break had healed and a new one had formed on top of it. And he could tell that they were all caused by seperate events in the young blonde's life.

When it came to the matters of the heart, generally faults meant lost loved ones. He wondered if she had loved and lost that many times in her life, or if there was something more to them. The lastest one, he could tell there was something different, a secret it seemed.

"I don't know how to tell you this without freaking you out, but your soul is showing."
Buffy didn't seem to mind the scrutiny, openly smiling back at Jason with far more enthusiasm after his laughter. It had always been nearly impossibly for her to remain aloof around someone who enjoyed her jokes. She felt instantly at ease with him, leaning forward slightly in her chair while before she had leaned back languorously. The moment only lasted for a second, however. A sudden, subtle change in his expression alerted Buffy that he had noticed something about her, and she absently touched her cheek, worried that a bit of foam was there left over from her latte.

Jason's words seemed to come from nowhere and they caught Buffy completely off guard. She blinked in utter astonishment for a moment, her lips parting slightly but no sound coming out. She knew Jason was... well, different and she had heard murmurs about his abilities but somehow she had never imagined they might be applied to her.

Buffy resisted the ridiculous impulse to glance down at her chest, as if the area had betrayed her somehow. "I don't..." She trailed off in indecision, a line of consternation appearing between her eyebrows. "I don't know what you're talking about."

This statement and the assumed neutral expression that accompanied it would have been far more convincing had Buffy not allowed a twinge of defensiveness to creep into her voice and refrained from crossing her arms over her chest.
Jason couldn't help but smile a bit at Buffy's sudden self-consciousness. He didn't bring up the fact that no matter how she tried to cover herself up, he could still see her soul, clear as day.

"I'm not trying to invade your privacy or anything," he offered, hoping that might help put her at ease a little. "I see almost everyone's to some extent, some better than others."

Jason thought carefully, as to whether he should continue or drop it. From past experiences most of his Charges tended to freak at first and run off. He knew that Buffy would have no problem believing him, and if she ran it would be for an entirely different reason. Like simply not wanting to deal. Which was something he'd also come across over the years. Many people just didn't want to deal with the healing process. A lot of the time it was painful, emotionally and on the very rare occasion even physically.

He decided that caution would be the best way to deal with this current situation. "If there's anything you want to talk about, I'll listen. Just think of me as your otherworldly shrink. And hey, I won't even charge you." He hoped that by trying to make light of the situation and put the offer out there, that Buffy would be more willing to open up. Which would make his job a hell of a lot easier.
Glancing down hard at her now almost empty drink, Buffy feigned an interest in the simple cup she did not feel. Slowly, almost reluctantly, she felt her body relax again as Jason spoke reassuringly, her arm coming to rest once more on the tabletop. Considering his words carefully, Buffy decided she could accept this odd ability of his. It wasn't his fault he possessed an ability she found decidedly disconcerting; it was like blaming Dawn for having been a tool for Glory-- Jason surely hadn't chosen this strange ability. Still, Buffy felt an odd reluctance to meet his gaze, deciding instead to study her nails carefully as he finished his little speech to her.

She thought about his offer for a moment, almost rueful. How many times had those closest to her made a similar offer? How many people had resented her for being too guarded, wanted nothing more than that she would share more of herself? Willow and Xander of course... and Dawn... and Spike... the list seemed to stretch backwards in time as she mused for a pace. Why was it that a relative stranger's similar offer should seem so much more appealing? The thought made her uneasy somehow, and Buffy's hesitance war mirrored on her face as she finally glanced up at Jason.

"It's nice of you to offer," Buffy began, tracing meaningless patterns on the table with her index finger. She gave him a ghost of a smile, almost amused by the image of him as an otherworldly Freud. "I suppose it's just kind of... odd, being back in L.A. again after so many years. I don't feel like I've got my footing yet." Lame, Buffy thought at her tepid response, groaning silently. Maybe this was why she didn't try to express her feelings more readily.

He studied her carefuly, not just her movement and bodylanguage, but her soul as well. If someone had ever asked him to describe it, he would probably say it was very similar to watching the aurora borealis, different colours moving and interlinking themselves with others. Each soul had different colours of course, unique to that persons. Buffy's was a mixture of various blues, greens, some purples and a few yellows.

Jason was sure that if Buffy hadn't had so much on her soul her colours would be much brighter. If he had to guess he would say bright greens, yellows, reds and even some organges. Most souls tended to be bright by nature, and because dark over time. Only the truely tortured souls were dark to begin with. Greys, blacks, deep purples and the like.

When Buffy said LA, there was a flare in her soul. One of the cracks over her heart brightened and then dimmed again. It was an old one, so he wasn't too concerned about it but still. This palce is special to her, but also troubles her he thought.

"Didn't you live here before?" He knew that she was originally from LA, from what he'd heard, and also a peice of her considered it home. Even if she conciously didn't know it.
Buffy wished she had decided differently about that scone, if only because it would now provide some distraction from Jason's scrutiny. Having finished her drink, she could only stare back at him, playing idly with the silver bracelet on her wrist. His careful considering expression bothered her more than it should have, but Buffy was determined not to cower before his very reasonable question. It wasn't as if he had asked her anything particularly personal, it was the type of question any acquaintance might inquire about. She was being skittish and overly sensitive, Buffy told herself sternly, feeling uncomfortable simply because of his abilities. It was unfair to him and made her seem ridiculous, it wasn't as if she did not deal with people with unusual skills all of the time. Her best friend was one of them.

"Yeah, I grew up here," Buffy said simply, still toying with the bracelet. "I haven't been back for any real time here in years, though... it's changed a lot." She paused for a moment before opening her mouth to add her own question, partly out of manners and partly out of her own genuine curiosity. "Is this your first time here?"
Jason was quiet for a moment, unsure how to answer Buffy's question. It was only right that he answer back, since she had him. But the last time he had been to LA was probably the hardest times and try as he might, he just couldn't block it out. That was the first and only year he'd lost a Charge. A young man named David. If Jason could feel, it would have torn him up inside. He was almost thankful to be numb, but more felt like he should've at least felt bad for not grieving.

Finally, he nodded slowly. "This is the first time I've been back since 1969."
Now it was Buffy's turn to puzzle over his response. She noted the silence that immediately greeted her comment and the thought that seemed to go into formulating his simple answer. Her mind reflected on what Angel had revealed to her and she was suddenly filled with gratitude towards him. She would have been hopelessly lost in this conversation without his having taken her aside and told her about Jason.

"Oh?" Buffy murmured softly, her voice and tone neutral. She tried to convey her empathy in her expression, knowing all too well that questions about the past were not always welcomed. "I feel like it's changed a lot in the few years I've been away, it must be bewildering for you."
Jason just shrugged, but didn't say anything. Sometimes it was confusing, but it didn't really bother him as much as he thought it should. Since he was never really in one time period for too long, he had to essentailly learn everything he could about a culture. And he'd been time-jumping enough to learn almost everything.

Like there were things about the not too distant future, he could probably tell Buffy about that would amaze her. But of course he wouldn't. It kind of wen't against "the rules" to disclose anything about the future. Even parts of the past and present he was supposed to keep to himself.

"Sometimes I turn a corner and expect to see a store or buliding I saw before. Most of the time things aren't there anymore. Or the buldings that are, have long since been run down."