Note: Thanks to my beta t_geyer for her unending patience, perseverance and support.
Monday, May 20th, 2002
Wes looked over to where the Bee was sitting, the blonde having recently finished reading the file he had given her.
"What do you think?"
Bee shrugged. "The life insurance could give him a motive. His wife was ten years younger than he was. It's possible that she was looking to trade up, but to be honest the pictures with the two of them and the kids, they look happy enough that I'm inclined to give him the benefit of the doubt, at least until we speak to him."
"Then, we follow the evidence..."
Wes looked vaguely uncomfortable but decided that if push came to shove it was better if he knew where he stood. "And if that evidence leads into a fight... Should I be trying to keep an eye out for you, or is that the other way round?"
"That would depend on a couple of things... Mainly whether we're in the sort of situation where the whole changing colour and growing horns is going to cause a problem. In human form, I'm stronger than I look, but since I look like a strong breeze could blow me over, that's not so hard. I guess in a fist fight I could cope with an average sized guy, unless I'm in stilettos. With the horns... I wouldn't care to go one on one with Spike or his girlfriend, but I'm stronger and faster than your average vamp newbie and when my social life doesn't get in the way I still manage to fit in Self Defence classes at the Y most weeks... which I guess doesn't actually say a hell of a lot for my social life. I'm not a black belt or anything, but I can probably hold my own against your average thug, human or demon. Someone brings a gun to the party and I end up just as dead as you do."
"Are you up for putting in some training between cases?"
"Since it looks like I might be actively putting my butt on the line, and since I'm pretty well attached to said butt, I think that'd be a yes."
"What about using guns?"
"I don't own one. I've never used one, but I don't have any massive moral objection to using them either. I doubt I would ever want to carry one all the time, but if you're telling me that there will be times when I need to use one, I suppose I better look into it 'cause the only thing I've heard of that'll get you up shit creek quicker than taking a knife to a gunfight, is taking a gun that you don't know how to use."
Wes smiled at her descriptive turn of phrase as he drew up to the prison gate. "That's one way to put it."
"And I get no say in the matter whatsoever?" Giles protested.
"Nope," Buffy told him. "Not if what she says about you frittering away time on chat shows is true. Helping me organise our wedding is far more important than Punch and Judy... And you can stay here, well, until you get your own place. Spike was saying the other week that he meant to offer after Wes moved out... Ooh, or I bet Spike would let you take over his lease if you liked it enough to want to stay 'cause with the getting married and all... Most of the furniture comes with the apartment. It's just the desks and the bookcases that're ours..."
"And the fact that this gives you an excuse to check up on me on a regular basis in no way has anything to do with your sudden need for my assistance?"
"Maybe... A little... What she said is kinda freaksome, and it seems like my bad that I never noticed."
"Buffy, I'm not convinced that there was anything to notice."
Buffy's mouth opened as if she meant to argue, but then closed again until she could think of how to put it. "I don't think even Jenny is saying that any of this was deliberate. I think she'd even admit to exaggerating a bit to get her point across and the way I see it, maybe it was kinda subconscious, but I should have known. I've just been-."
"Adjusting to being dragged out of heaven? Trying to take over Dawn's parenting and cope with the financial difficulties that your mother's medical bills caused?" Giles removed his glasses and raised an eyebrow. "I doubt anyone could hold you responsible for finding that sufficient to occupy you, even without slaying, planning a wedding and half a dozen emergencies of one sort or another."
"Have more to worry about than nursemaiding me.
Buffy, I will help out with such areas of the wedding preparations where I can be useful, but I need to go back to England first. I have to see Olivia for a start, not to mention all the packing and other bits and pieces. We have to come to a decision as to whether... Well, I suspect that it's highly unlikely that she would be willing to move half way across the planet, but I owe it to her to ask. I also suspect that when I do return, it would better behove me to research further on the subject of The First. Spike's hallucinations... your visions, in conjunction with the attacks on the slayers in training... It all tends to suggest that we've only just seen the first moves in a larger campaign."
Buffy shook her head. "Stop trying to distract me with slayer stuff. There's pretty much always slayer stuff of one kind or another. You think a woman would be willing to have mini-Gileses but that she wouldn't do it in California. Is this place that much of a culture shock?"
"No... no, it's just that, unlike myself, Olivia has family in England. A good career..."
"And if she's in love with you, none of that will mean more to her than you being happy, and if she isn't, then Jenny's right and you owe her the chance to find that with someone else." Buffy rose to her feet and pressed a kiss to Giles' forehead. "You're doing the right thing," she told him softly. She turned to face the kitchen area. "I better go see what our cooks are up to. They've been way too quiet."
Spike dried his hands as he retaliated. "Sounded like you pair were doin' just fine on your own without any help from us. Besides we've been throwin' around a couple of ideas between the two of us..."
"That's what I was afraid of..."
"So... What do you think?" Spike asked.
"I actually get asked my opinion this time, huh?" Buffy teased.
"It's not like it's our fault you weren't here the last time."
"I think it's nearly as ridiculous as the whole Jenny's soul in Spike's body idea."
"So that's a no, then?"
"I said nearly as ridiculous. Besides, in a stupid way it makes a sort of sense. Giles, what about you? Is it possible? Do you want to?"
"If Jenny thinks it'll make her happy..."
"That and a promise you're going to make a fresh start."
Giles nodded solemnly.
"A clean slate? Even Angel?"
"If that is what you wish," Giles agreed, albeit with obvious reluctance.
"Cool. So get to it. Get Mr Dark Cloud back," she told Buffy before turning to Giles. "And you can see whether your witch and I need to be in the same place. Ooh, and in case I forget to tell you later, when you see Willow tell her she did a great job teaching the class and tell Xander that I told him he'd want to know about computers one day. Now, he just needs to find some sites that have words as well as pictures."
"No advice for Willow on the 'power trip' thing?" Buffy asked.
"Nothing she'd be willing to listen to, not now, not from me... She's too... Let's just say that if the physical changes aren't enough to get her to stop what she's doing, no one is going to get through to her just yet."
Buffy had an uneasy feeling that Jenny wasn't referring to the things that Willow had done that they already knew about. "Are we talking specifics here? Or just in general?" she asked as Giles took Spike's proffered cell phone to call Tara.
"Let's just say that Willow has decided that she can't maintain her GPA by conventional study methods."
"And she couldn't take a few B's like everybody else?"
"Nope, and if she's taking an exam with, say, eighty other people, then that's eighty people that she's screwing over..."
"That curse is so going to kick her butt. Come to that, if I were taking any of the same exams, I would kick her butt. That's so unfair to people who have to work really hard just to try to keep up with her huge brain, never mind magical cheating."
"And she knows it... but she still can't bear even the idea of what she perceives as academic failure. Maybe by the time your reinforcements arrive she'll be ready to listen, and if anyone can pull her out of it, you picked the right guy, but you can't help her until she's ready to be helped. Now, phone Angel. We don't have all day."
"Very funny, Cinderella," Spike retorted.
"Tara needs some things from The Magic Box but she seems confident that she can do it," Giles informed them. "And I suspect that I could use some of the things from there, too, so I suggested we pick her up on our way."
Buffy looked over at Spike. "If you're up for the 'blanket dash' we might as well get Angel to meet us there."
Spike shrugged and switched off the oven and pulled out a casserole dish before he headed for the other room to look for his oversized hooded top. "Looks like you better drop off dinner at your place when you pick up Tinkerbell an' you can heat it up later." His voice echoed from the bedroom. "That's if you don't run true to form and order pizza an' feed my cookin' to the mutt."
A huge smile graced Buffy's face for a second at the thought of junk food, before it was overtaken by a guilty expression. "As if!" she snorted, pretending that the idea would never have occurred to her as she dialled Angel's cell number.
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