She grabs the bar to hide the fact that she's falling. Has fallen. He grabs her arm, but it's much too late.
Came looking for you, he says. They couldn't tell me where you were, he says. You don't answer your phone, he says.
She doesn't tell him that she left it in the room of a German boy whose name probably wasn't Diesel. Just doesn't seem important any more.
She's rehearsed this. She knows how it's supposed to go. There are awkward-but-brief explanations and tearful apologies, some declarations to set things straight, and then they fall into bed. It's romantic and passionate and beautiful, everything they should have been. The script in her head has been worked over in detail. Just in case. Against the day she needs it. You never know.
What comes to mind when she looks at him, though, is the fact that he saved the world and turned her down in almost the same breath. And there don't seem to be any words at all.
"Now would be the time to say hello," he says. His voice sounds like the rush of blood in her ears.
"How did you find me?"
"Or we could skip straight to the interrogation." He frowns, runs a hand through thoroughly rumpled hair. "Buffy, I-"
He holds up his hand as if to hold her off or hold her back, or maybe as if to explain something, but it doesn't matter because she meets his eyes and that's when the floor lurches sideways.
It seems like a suggestion, so she grabs his hand, and this time she doesn't let go.
An earthquake. A small one, but an earthquake all the same. The fire alarms chase them onto the street and instead of a conversation or an alley tryst or whatever the hell it was that she was expecting, they find themselves running down dark sidewalks, hand in hand.
Not much damage, just a few stones dislodged from ancient buildings, but there are people everywhere shouting words she doesn't understand. It all seems oddly appropriate.
By the time they come to a stop they're collapsing against a wall themselves, falling into each other like stone houses, foundations subsiding in new earth.
He speaks more Italian than she does, which means very little and is no help at all in finding their way back. They stumble through the doorway of an unfamiliar hotel just ahead of the oncoming dawn, and the rest is just exactly like falling.
There are so many things to say, but there's going to be time, now. His fingertips curve silent initials against the top of her thigh, and she hears her own voice crack against his chest. Cradled in a nest of foreign sheets, she can taste the salt spray of unfamiliar tears.
And it's a start.
the floor tiles buckle
and you grab for the counter
like someone on a small ship
in a big ocean.