The Ring Talks
Part 1: Taking Initiative
Chapter 10: Guiding Stars
Across the table at the Espresso Pump, Jonathan fidgets with my class ring on his finger. “Buffy, if there’s any part of you that’s blaming Riley for what happened, it seems like there’s a part of you that needs to forgive him.”
“Forgiveness, sure. I’m all on board the forgiveness train, chugging along as fast as I can. …Uphill.” I fall back in my chair with a sigh. “I’m trying, anyway.” I bite my lip. “Jonathan, the ugly truth is, I’m not even sure I want to forgive him. He should have been able to tell something wasn’t right.”
“Of course you want to. That’s what everyone’s after, right? A happy ending with someone they love? It’s not going to be easy Buffy, but you guys are very special together. That’s worth a little hard work.” He slips my ring off his finger and drops it into his pocket as a girl approaches to ask for his autograph.
Love. That’s an interesting question. Do I love Riley?
Before my thoughts can get too stuck on that, I realize something. Wasn’t our last talk a lot different? I could have sworn I was being nudged in the other direction. I furrow my brow as I watch Jonathan scribble his name on the flyleaf of his book. Why doesn’t this feel right? Jonathan is my ex-fiance-by-magic and secret friend, and has been for months. I’m wearing his class ring this very minute. But we’re in public together, wearing the rings. That’s not very secret.
I shake my head. “It doesn’t fit,” I murmur.
Jonathan says goodbye to his fan and turns back to face me. “What doesn’t fit?”
“Nothing. I just thought… Never mind, it’s stupid.”
He reaches across the table to take my hand. “Hey. You’re wearing my ring, remember?” He says with a laugh. “You can tell me anything.”
The warmth of his hand doesn’t feel right, either, and I have no idea why. I give him a smile, ignoring the feeling. “I know I can. That’s what’s great about us.”
He frowns, like he’s just figured something out. “Riley’s not the guy you open up to, is he?”
“No, silly. You are.”
Jonathan finally lifts his gaze from his shoes when I’m ready to walk away. “Buffy? You remember that talk we had? When you said it didn’t fit?”
“Yeah. And I guess I was right.”
“What does your real ring friend think about your situation?”
That I should consider the urge to dance in the living room as an important factor. But I’m not going to explain what that’s about to Jonathan. “In simple terms? That I should follow my instincts.”
“Do that. …But all of them, Buffy. It’s all starting to get a little blurry, but I remember us both saying you could be totally honest with me -your actual ring friend, I mean. That’s a really cool thing to have, and you acted like you really valued it, like it matters to you more than you want to say. Maybe you should. Say so, I mean.”
I can’t help but sigh. “It’s complicated, Jonathan. It wouldn’t… It wouldn’t be easy.”
“Yeah, well, that’s what you just said about my life.” He shrugs as he turns to walk away. “Maybe that’s the relationship that’s worth some hard work.”
I watch him cross the quad, his head bowed in guilt, his steps almost shuffling through the grass. I pull my keychain out of my pocket just far enough to look at the carabiner. The ring on it is a silver skull, slightly tarnished. “Just checking,” I whisper before pushing the keychain back into my pocket.
I really want to go have a talk with Spike, but I take off in the other direction. I need to find Riley.
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March 7, 2022 14:32
I love how much this chapter says about the relationship between Buffy and Spike without Spike even being in it. Excellently done.