Pictures and a Picnic
Summary: The gang reflects on their summer adventures.
Part of The Half A Chance Series
Disclaimer: I don't own any of the BtVS characters. They belong to Joss Whedon, WB, etc. I'm not making any money, so please don't sue.
Author's Notes: You want me to write enough stories to fill up the summer? I don't think so. This is the 6th in the Half a Chance series and gets us through the summer and back to school and familiar territory. With this series I suggest you read them in order, so if you've never heard of the Half a Chance series you might want to go back and read Happy ReBirthday, Angel first.
Feedback: I love feedback, even flames as long as they're constructive. PLEASE send feedback to lalaland(at)3n.net
Special Thanks: Special thanks to my beta-reader Juliet.
Xander and Angel spread out the blanket on the grass in the park, while Oz and Buffy were carrying the first load of food out. "How much food did you bring, Willow?" Buffy asked as she began unpacking the first basket.
"Not much," Willow replied as she and Cordelia brought two more baskets out of Oz's van. The three couples sat down on the blanket. They unpacked the food and passed around sandwiches and vegetables. "So when should we look at the pictures," Willow asked between bites.
"Anytime I guess," Buffy said.
"Let's eat first," Xander said around a mouthful of food.
"Xander, didn't you learned any manners while I was away?" Cordelia asked in disgust.
"Yup," Xander said swallowing, "I just don't bother using 'em around you."
Cordelia looked away in disgust, and Xander just grinned impishly.
"There's no reason we can't open them while we're eating," Oz said.
"Sounds good to me," Buffy replied.
Buffy opened up the first of her envelopes and found a picture of herself on top. Her mother had surprised her the first day of summer vacation. She'd said she wanted to get a picture of her on her first day as a senior. That picture had given Buffy the idea to save all the pictures this summer and get them developed all at once. Then have a day to remember the summer with all the pictures just before school starts.
It had been a busy summer for Buffy. Spike and Drusilla decided that the last thing they needed was a Slayer on vacation to bother them, so they had left within a few days of school ending. With Spike and Drusilla gone, Buffy had very little to do in Sunnydale, so Giles had started sending her places that had a demon or a vampire infestation as part of her "summer program." Buffy began flipping through the pictures of all the places she had been while Angel looked over her shoulder.
"That's Lake Michigan in the background," Buffy murmured, looking at a picture of herself standing on a beach, "I'd never seen it before I went to Chicago."
"Isn't that where you killed some wacko fish?" Cordelia asked.
"Yeah!" Buffy said flipping to the next few pictures, which were pictures she had taken of the mutant fish she'd slain. "Giles will be sure to want to see a few of these," she said handing Cordelia a few of the ones that weren't as gross.
Seeing that Buffy was looking at the pictures, Willow also opened up one of her envelopes, although she didn't have nearly as many. The first was a picture of Oz playing his guitar. He had been practicing on his porch and she'd taken a picture before he even knew she was there. He had just look so sweet and intent. "Look," Willow said before handing Oz the picture. He smiled and kissed her on the cheek, before picking up a envelope of the pictures he had taken. Oz had liked to stay behind the camera and had probably taken more pictures than anyone else, although a great deal of them were of Willow.
"Hey look," Willow said holding another picture, "That's from when we went with Buffy to kill the demon near Phoenix." Willow passed around a picture of Xander and a demon. He had one foot on top of the fallen demon and was taking the stance of an explorer.
"Oh yeah, Xander the demon killer," Buffy said sarcastically, remembering how hard it had been for her to slay that demon.
"Look at these," Oz said. Angel took the pictures and started laughing, causing Buffy to look up at the picture and start laughing as well. Both pictures had been taken at the same time as Willow's, but they showed a rather different view. One was of a battered and dirty Buffy with a stick poised like a baseball bat ready to swing. She seemed to be walking towards Xander, who was posing over the demon facing in the opposite direction. The second was of Buffy looking at a pair of empty hands, and Angel standing behind her, holding the stick, with Xander of course still oblivious in the background.
Cordelia giggled, when she saw the picture, and Xander made an offended noise.
Buffy shifted her attention back to the pictures in her hand. There were a few in a row of Angel, mostly while he was sleeping or studying although she had gotten him to pose for one of them. Angel looked over her shoulder and nuzzled her cheek. She looked up and kissed him. Angel hadn't taken many pictures of his own, though he had taken a few for other people. He had drawn a few pictures of Buffy though, which he had back at his apartment. Buffy knew about those, in fact she had insisted on seeing them when she found out they existed. He'd been worried that showing them to her would bring back bad memories for her, but she had loved them.
Willow reached for another envelope of pictures, but Oz put an already opened one in front of her and turned so that he could see her face. She looked at him for a moment before taking the package. He watched her face as it lit up in surprise and she began blushing slightly. That summer, Oz had convinced Willow to let him take a few pictures of her the day after a lengthy and rather silly argument about whether or not the camera liked her. Oz had spent the whole day taking pictures of Willow all over Sunnydale. For a while, Willow had been very nervous, but by lunchtime she was totally relaxed and started focusing on Oz instead of the camera. The pictures came out accordingly with the first few seeming like normal pictures, or even school pictures, while the rest showed the true Willow at her best. Willow had come alive under Oz's guidance. She shone and laughed despite her earlier proclamations that the camera didn't like her. They didn't look professional, but they were wonderful pictures. You could tell Willow really liked the cameraman. Willow smiled up at Oz and gave him a quick kiss before looking back in amazement at the pictures in her hands.
Cordelia looked at the many pictures that were being passed around. Most of them were of everyone just goofing off around here, while she had been away. This was the first summer she had really been disappointed that she and her family were going away for the summer. This year they had gone to San Diego, mostly because her father had some business there. The Slayerettes had come down to visit for two weeks during the summer, though. "Didn't you take any pictures, Xander?" Cordy asked.
"Sure," Xander said grabbing a envelope and opening it. Xander started looking through them his cheeks begin to turn red with embarrassment. Cordelia peered at the pictures and her mouth fell open in shock. There wasn't a single picture of him in the whole first envelope, nor were they of any one person. They were mostly pictures of either Willow and Oz or Angel and Buffy, although there were a few of Willow and Buffy, Giles and Buffy or everyone in the library. Most of the pictures looked as if the people had never known they were having their picture taken. There was one of Buffy and Angel just looking at each other. You could almost see the love like a visible thing in the picture. There were several of them kissing and there was also one of the two of them in the sun. Both Angel and Buffy had their eyes closed, and were just snuggling on a bench outside of the high school. It was sweet and touching.
Cordelia took the pictures out of Xander's hands who was blushing and starting to mumble. "How'd they turn out?" Buffy asked, noticing Cordelia's silence.
"They're beautiful... Well most of them." Cordelia put one away, where Xander had gotten a really bad angle, namely his forehead and one of his thumbs. There were a few of Willow and Oz, which they had posed for. Both Willow and Oz were dressed up. Cordelia looked at Xander questioningly.
"They made me take those before they went out for dinner one night. I think it was a six month anniversary or something," Xander said.
"Oh, are those in there?" Willow asked excitedly.
"Yeah," Cordelia said, handing them over, "I thought your six month was right around when school ended."
"Yeah, but it was also on the full moon, so it got put off until after the full moon and after finals."
Cordelia went back to looking at the pictures Xander had taken. There were several more of Willow and Oz. There was two of her and Oz snuggling on the couch at the Bronze. One before they knew he was taking their picture, and one after. Then there was one of Willow and Buffy posing for the camera one sunny afternoon. There was one of everyone gathered around the library table studying. Willow was at the computer with Oz looking over her shoulder, while Giles was standing over Buffy, reading out of book. There was another one of Giles and Buffy. Buffy had her back to Giles, but Giles had this fatherly look of affection on his face. There was another one of Willow sleeping peacefully next to the cage, and a werewolf sleeping beside her. The last was a picture of Giles after Xander had obviously made a bad joke.
"I had to work hard for that one," Xander said, pointing to the picture of the exasperated Giles.
"These are beautiful, Xander... Although I'm not sure whether it means you're a romantic or a pervert," Cordelia stated.
Xander sputtered, defensively. "I'm neither!"
"You are," Cordelia replied.
"Can I see," Buffy asked. Cordelia traded stacks with Buffy. "She's right."
"Romantic or pervert?" Cordelia asked.
"I'm not sure" Buffy picked out a picture of her and Angel on the bench outside of school and one of her and Angel lip-locked. "I think I'm leaning towards a mix of the two. I'm keeping these," she declared as she passed the stack onto Oz, "And I want one of Willow. I know you took one, so don't deny it." Oz smiled and nodded handing her a few of Willow to choose from.
"I'm keeping this one," Cordelia said, upon receiving the picture of Xander the demon killer.
"Look at these," Willow said, looking at a couple of Oz's pictures.
"What are they of?" Angel asked.
"My birthday party." Willow looked at the assemblage of pictures of her friends. They had all gone to Buffy's house for her party, so Willow wouldn't have to clean up afterwards and because Buffy's mom wasn't home. Oz had caught her opening presents and having fun with her friends.
"Ooo. I've got a good one from your birthday party," Xander said handing Willow a picture. Willow turned as red as her hair as she looked at picture of her and Oz kissing. Oz looked rather surprised and a little off balance. She even remembered that kiss. Oz had given her the most beautiful necklace. She had gotten all teary eyed and then she'd decided that it was her birthday, so she had kissed Oz soundly in thanks. Considering Willow didn't usually do such public displays of affection, it's easy to see why Oz might have been startled. Oz looked over her shoulder and smiled, intertwining his hand with hers.
"Here's a good one," Buffy said, passing the picture around, "It was just before the food fight."
"Oh, I almost forgot about the food fight," Willow said.
"Don't worry. I got proof," Oz said, handing Willow some pictures. Willow giggled before passing them on to Buffy and Angel. There were several pictures of the Buffy and the Slayerettes throwing food at each other or covered in food, with Angel standing inconspicuous and clean in the back corner. Then there was one of Buffy nailing Angel with a piece of cake, from close range. There was another of them wrestling, when Buffy tried to avoid the piece of cake Angel was determined to get her with. There was even an interesting picture near the end, where the camera had got creamed, although it was under debate whether it was with ice cream or cake.
"How are you going to explain this one," Cordelia asked, holding up a picture of Buffy and Angel kissing with their cake covered faces.
"Cake is good," Buffy said with a smile. Angel laughed as he looked at the picture and took that one to keep for himself.
"Buffy? Where was this one taken?" Willow asked, holding up a picture of boats on a river.
"That was taken in St. Louis... I think. Yeah, I'm pretty sure that's St. Louis."
"Isn't St. Louis where you sprained your wrist?" Xander asked.
"Yup. Giles let me stay there longer, because of my injury. Hence, lots of pictures."
"Who went with you on that trip?" Willow asked.
"Angel," Buffy said.
"Oh, I get it. Yeah, injured wrist," Xander said with an over-exaggerated wink.
Buffy rolled her eyes. "I think I'm going to make that pervert," Buffy told Cordelia.
"Yeah. That's what I was afraid of," Cordelia said shaking her head woefully. Willow nodded her head in agreement.
"No way! I just have an interesting taste in pictures," Xander said.
"Hhmmm," the girls replied, obviously unconvinced. Xander let out an exasperated sigh, which set Cordelia giggling and soon had them all laughing.
"Hey, what about you Cordy? You haven't opened any of your pictures yet," Xander said.
"Well, mine are only from those two weeks everyone came to San Diego, so I was saving them until some other people had opened theirs."
"I haven't opened the ones from San Diego either," Oz said.
"Me neither," Buffy said, "But I better soon, since I don't have any other unopened ones."
Cordelia opened up her pictures and smiled. The first place they had gone in San Diego was the zoo. Right on top was a picture of both Willow and Buffy resolutely pushing Xander away from the hyena enclosure. Cordelia laughed and passed the picture around as the others began to open their envelopes.
"What?" Xander exclaimed, as Cordy passed the picture on and continued laughing, "I don't see why I couldn't see the hyenas. I like hyenas. Oz got to see the wolves."
Buffy just groaned and rolled her eyes when she saw the picture.
Willow passed around a picture of Oz looking down at his furry counterparts. There was a picture of Cordelia and Xander going on a ride over the zoo, with Cordelia burying her head in Xander's shoulder, clearly scared to death. There was even a picture of Giles studiously taking notes on one of the rarer animals. There were pictures of Balboa Park and all the museums. There was a picture of Xander sleeping on a bench in the art museum and one of him posing dramatically next to an Egyptian mummy. The only reason Cordy had let him do that picture in the first place was because it was an Egyptian mummy, not an Incan mummy and she claimed that there was a whole hemisphere of difference.
Pictures of Sea World were up next, with some of the first ones being of everyone feeding the dolphins. Willow and Cordy stood side by side, happily petting the dolphins while Buffy had refused to go near them.
Xander smiled at another picture of Cordy near the shark tanks. Cordy had really loosened up over the summer. She had fun and had let herself shine through, as he knew she could. He smiled and wrapped his arm around her, pulling her closer. Cordy smiled and laid her head on his shoulder. She held up a picture for Xander to see. It was one of Xander waddling along beside the penguin exposure. Xander laughed at himself, completely happy.
All the Slayerettes time hadn't been spent at amusement parks, although most of it had. Oz passed around pictures of everyone playing on the sand and in the water, in one of the many times they had gone to the beach. Buffy looked at a picture of Angel studying on a towel. She had finally convinced him that black wasn't the color to wear to the beach, but the dark blue jeans and dark gray T-shirt weren't much better, especially since he had started wearing sunglasses so he could easily read and study. There was even a picture of Cordy asleep and buried in the sand. There were pictures of late night picnics huddled around huge braziers on the beach. There were also pictures of nights where they had gone out to restaurants and local clubs that Cordy had found.
They had gone to Disneyland and everyone had at least a couple of pictures from there. Most of them were taken by either Giles or Angel, since they had both been rather out of their element there. Buffy had been a little disappointed that she hadn't been able to get Angel to go on any of the major rollercoasters. He had gone on a few of the minor ones though. She remembered one ride he went on that was more storytelling than anything else, but at one point something had jumped out at her, and Angel had had to grab her arm or she would have jumped out of the car and slayed the thing. When she looked back on it, it was really quite silly. Too much instinct telling her to slay anything that jumped out of the dark at her, even if that thing happened to be an animatronic puppet or a flash of fire for effects. She looked at one that someone had taken of her and the Slayerettes as they rolled by on a rollercoaster.
"Which one is that?" Angel asked, looking over her shoulder.
"I'm not sure. One of the wet ones I think. Could be Splash Mountain."
"Hm... Which one had the killer puppets?" Angel teased, as if reading her earlier thoughts.
"I don't remember. Besides, I wouldn't have killed it," Buffy said indignantly.
"Only because it wasn't alive to kill," Angel replied, smiling down on her. Buffy tried unsuccessfully to scowl at him and finally laughed instead.
Willow gazed down at the pictures in her hands. Many of them were ones that Xander had taken and she had claimed for herself after a due amount of blushing. One of her favorites was one of herself, sleeping beside a sleeping were-Oz. As she looked through the pictures she could see nothing, but happiness, laughter, and a great deal of love. She looked around at her friends. Xander had his arms around Cordelia as they looked through pictures together. Buffy and Angel are sitting side by side. Even sitting, Angel was still taller than Buffy, but they seemed the perfect pair, happy and contented. Anyone that had ever met them knew they were together. One woman had even asked Buffy if she and Angel were going to be getting married soon. Willow had never seen Buffy so confused in her life.
Xander and Angel had become sociable over the summer by some miracle, while Cordy was away for the summer and Buffy was gone on one trip or another to slay evil. From what she'd seen in San Diego, Cordelia had also loosened up quite a bit. She looked over at Oz, and wondered at how much she felt for him. "What's the matter?" he asked, unable to interpret her daydreamy look.
"Everyone's just so happy," she said taking his hand.
He smiled and squeezed her hand before opening a can of soda and clearing his throat noisily. Four more heads looked up from the pictures in their hands. "Thank you Miss Summers for this wonderful idea," Oz said tipping his soda in Buffy's direction before taking a sip.
"You're most welcome," Buffy said with mock formality and a tip of her soda can.
"To our senior year," Xander said raising his soda can.
"To friends," Buffy said, raising hers as well.
"To love," Cordy said, raising her soda, as well as an eyebrow or two.
"In the hopes that all our summers may be as happy as this," Willow said chiming in and raising her soda.
"'Cause lord knows what are school years are like," Cordelia added, causing laughter from everyone.
"To pictures and memories," Oz said raising his soda can.
"To life," Angel said, raising his soda.
"To Sunnydale," Buffy said, "Where anything can happen."
The witch, the slayer, the half-vampire, the werewolf, the ex-snob, and the clown looked around at each other for a moment, and they all nodded in agreement.
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