All About Spike

Chapter: 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12

By Kimi

Sequel to Two Days; part of The Voicesverse

Chapter Seven

Daniel was running a search on the three names written at the murder sites when Xander popped his head in. The office was still an eye-boggling white color, the man noticed. According to Spike, that was something that needed to be remedied in all the offices that were being used, as well as the common areas. He agreed. The bright white reflecting from floor, ceiling and wall - even broken up with office furnishings - was irritating. It hurt his eyes. And the antiseptic feel made him think of an operating room.

The fledgling looked different. Since he was a vampire, it had to be the mileage. Xander wondered how much the boy knew about Spike's fight to keep him chip-free. Strangely, he had hated to see Daniel leave Sunnydale, although he'd felt like sending a bon voyage bottle of bourbon to Spike in celebration.

He had been slyly looking for Daniel all morning. Seeing him alone and seemingly lost in his computer monitor, he hesitated. Xander didn't like to be interrupted when he was working, and maybe this wasn't the time. Daniel drummed his fingers on the desk and glanced up.

"So. This is your space?" Xander said quickly. Didn't want him to think he was spying on him.

A slow grin spread across the fledgling's face, shifting his features from frustrated to pleasantly surprised. "Xander." He got up and walked around the desk. "If Clem was here, my morning would be complete."

Frowning, the man commented, "You haven't seen him yet?"

"I was... at the crypt last night," Daniel said with a veiled look on his face. "I knocked. Needed to ask him some things. He was out, I guess. If he's still living there."

"Oh, he is," Xander said with certainty. "Saw him early this morning. He was probably out playing kitten poker last night." Xander seemed sure of his information. "Big time major vice he's got. Oh, and he was bitching about this hole that showed up in the crypt door. Told him I'd fix it."

Daniel ran a hand through thick black hair. It was a little shorter than the last time Xander had seen him, but not a lot. Spike's, on the other hand, was cropped close. Was this some military look they were going after, cause, so not working. They still looked like vampires to him. The man ran a hand through his own hair, absently pushing it back away from his eyes, which he had to do a lot lately. It was as long as it was in high school. Okay, well, maybe he did need to get it cut a little, get it out of his face, before he lopped off a thumb or something.

The fledgling smiled, but the smile seemed to be forced. "Shepherd got you whipping this place into shape?"

"Yeah, he... Shepherd? No, Spike conned me into..."

"I meant Spike. Spike is Shepherd."

"What?" Xander snorted. "Spike's not a good enough name now that he's all soul-having guy?"

"Oh, he's still Spike," Daniel assured him. "With you, me, the slayer. The other vampires and the support crew call him 'Shepherd.' I don't even think they know any other name." He grinned. "Ask him sometime about it."

Xander rolled his eyes. "First William the Bloody, then Spike. Now it's Shepherd? Angel, Angelus? Jeez, what is it with vampires and names?"

The fledgling shrugged. "I'm still Daniel."

"Good!" Xander looked him over. "You look like you're wound pretty tight. What's up?"

Daniel frowned. "We found two more dead girls last night."

The man's face fell. "Oh. Hence, the Scooby meeting, I guess?"

"Scooby? Oh, right. The Scoobies. Yeah." Daniel looked puzzled. "So does that make me a 'Scooby,' because I'm invited?

"Nope." Xander grinned wickedly. "A vampire." At the fledgling's amused look, he continued mischievously. "And feel honored. It makes you one in a not-so-long line of the undead who partakes of Scooby rituals. Spike ordered snacks, I hope?"

Not allowing the man to change the subject, Daniel sat back on the desk and fixed him with a level look. "One of the girls had a railroad spike in her chest. She was hanging on Spike's crypt door."

Xander's jaw dropped as all pretense of avoiding a discussion oozed away. "But that's..." He looked down quickly, shutting his mouth with a snap.

"Where did Spike get his name?"

The simple question, delivered in such a flat tone, dropped into the room with the weight of a Wile E. Coyote anvil. Xander picked at his nails, before he slowly raised his eyes.

Letting out a long slow breath and still meeting Daniel's gaze, the man sat down. "I think you already have a pretty good idea," he said softly. He looked down at his hands again. "There's a... well, maybe... a myth about Spike and those things."

"Yeah?" Daniel's voice and face were neutral.

"Yeah. And that's all I know, and from what I could pick up, it was a long, long time ago. So I'm shutting up."

"I don't want you to shut up." Daniel's voice was still flat, expressionless.

"Well, I am. Zipping it now. You want the real deal, ask him. He'll tell you. Might not be pretty, but he'll tell you." Xander changed the subject abruptly. "The other girl?"

"Wooden stake in her chest. Shepherd found her on the slayer's porch. Words written on the wall, just like the Wiseman girl."

"Great," Xander said with a shaky breath. "Looks like our friendly neighborhood everyday serial killer theory just got bit in the ass."

"That's pretty much a given," Daniel agreed with an angry thrust of his chin.

The man looked down again. "I was really sorry to hear about your old girlfriend."

Daniel blinked. "You know about that?"

"Well," the man said carefully, "I was kinda there when you basically told Spike to screw himself."


Xander's mind began to race. "So, you think this guy's human?"

Daniel shrugged one shoulder as he walked around to sit at his desk. "Maybe. Sledgehammer would put that spike through the door at the crypt. Or demon. Or someone using majicks. At least that's what Shepherd said."

"He's right. Of course, you'll know when you get the fingerprint tests back, cause hey, most demons don't have fingerprints. I don't think. Or at least, they're not on file anywhere."

The fledgling stared at him. "What?" Xander's words were knocking, but they couldn't quite get in.

"Well, you know, fingerprints, fibers, tests. All the stuff the police do when they're working a homicide. You've seen CSI, right?"

Daniel was already reaching for the phone as Xander continued on. "The spike is metal, so it would hold fingerprints just fine, unless the killer is wearing gloves. Wooden stake? Not so much. Unless there was already blood on his fingers. Then, you'd get a print."

Putting the phone down, the vampire looked at Xander. "Forget the phone. Let's go see the techs."

"What? No CSI?"

"Not yet," Daniel said grimly. "We're fixing that right now!"


Buffy sat down on the edge of Spike's desk. "You look tired."

Never looking up from the screen to avoid her eyes, he answered. "Yeah. M'tired."

"You jerked in your sleep this morning. More than once," she blundered on.

"'Magine I did," he said noncommittally.

She got off the desk, and looked down at him with folded arms. "What? Are you mad at me?"

He pushed out a sigh and looked up at her. "Pet, I've got nothing here. Nothing. No ideas, no clues, except three stupid words referring to an ancient Greek myth. And a spike. And a stake. Could go after someone else tonight, and..."

"Oh," Buffy said nonchalantly, turning to walk toward the door. "I think the warm-up act is over. Pretty well figure it's my turn next."

Spike was out of his chair before Buffy's hand touched the doorknob. "Stop it!" he fired off. "S'nothin' to joke about! Nothing to..."

She looked up at him with wide eyes. "Spike, I'll be..."

His eyes darted around her face, looking for some kind of comprehension there. Finally, he grabbed her shoulders and kissed her. It was a claiming kiss, angry in its ferocity, possessive in its desperation. Her surprise was replaced by a deep burning in the pit of her stomach. She melted, then began to return heat with heat, and...

The door burst open. "Sweet sufferin'...! Gah! My eyes!" Xander screamed, throwing a hand up and over his face. "God, it's office hours!"

Spike recovered first, only pulling away from Buffy slightly. "Then, don't come through a closed door without knockin'," he said hotly. "And Christ, Harris, it's not like we're shaggin'!"

"Oh, God! My ears! My ears!" he yelled, covering his ears with both hands.

Spike and Buffy traded glances. Spike raised an eyebrow. "Would you please do something with him, pet? A kennel, p'rhaps?"

She looked at Xander sternly. "Okay, enough. Adults here, all right?" Glancing at Daniel, she grinned. "Hi."

The fledgling smiled, embarrassment clouding its brightness slightly. The slayer was having 'death threats' and... Those two were beyond him sometimes.

"So. What, then?" Spike clipped each word into precise tones. He looked at them disapprovingly. "I expect you have a good reason for slammin' in like the slayer always does?"

Buffy shoved an elbow in his ribs. He winced slightly, but continued staring at man and vampire. "What?"

Xander and Daniel looked at each other. Daniel nodded. Xander grinned. "Well, seems there are fingerprints on the railroad spike."

Buffy looked at Spike. Spike tried to take in what the man was saying. "Fingerprints?" he echoed.

"That's so normal," Buffy pointed out.


"Maybe so, but bingo! We got fingerprints," Xander said, hooking his thumbs into his pockets. "Two sets as a matter of fact. Now one set, the best set, belongs to a 'Randall S. Giles'- seems he works for the government as a sub-contractor." Xander grinned mockingly.

Spike rolled his eyes. "I reckon Daniel told you that's me?"

"Yep. I knew it was familiar. Of course, I knew the more familiar 'Randy.' Although, 'Desperate for A Shag" came immediately to mind."

Sheepishly, Spike looked down. "Name was just a joke at the time. Didn't know I was getting stuck with the paper to go with it."

"Now normally, I'd be givin' you 'Xander Suspicious Look #3' right now, but hey, you weren't here when the murders started." Xander looked Spike up and down with a superior look on his face. "And way to go contaminating evidence, 'Randy!'

"Just get on with it, whelp," the vampire growled. "You got more?"

"The other set wasn't as good," Daniel answered, "but it was clear enough for a match. Trouble is, the match is classified."

Buffy looked at Spike in exasperation. "Classified?" She looked back at Daniel. "By who?"

"The army," he stated. "And I can't get into the data base. Don't have the clearance." He looked at Spike.

"Don't look at me," he said testily. He glanced at Xander briefly. "I'm just a sub-contractor." He looked back at Daniel. "Need authority from higher up to pull this off."

The fledgling smiled. "Paxton?"

Spike nodded. "Paxton."


Buffy sat across from Spike in a chair on the other side of the desk. Oh, sure she was only getting one side of the conversation, but it was the side she cared about.

This was the second phone call. The first one had consisted of a request for information. It had been short and sweet.

This one had all the makings of a turf war. Spike was stretched as tight - well, almost as tight - as she'd ever seen him. Paxton had called back. Obviously, the information he had turned up had caused some ripples. Somewhere.

Spike had been business-like and respectful, something that Buffy had come to expect from him since her trip to Vail. And it wasn't that Spike was subservient, either. God knew that wasn't it. He had his rocks back, and although he wasn't shoving them in anyone's face, Buffy was well aware that he could.

A hint of steel crept into the vampire's voice. Buffy sat a little straighter. She knew that tone. And it didn't bode well for the general. Might be rocks in face yet.

"Yes, they were fresh!" he said impatiently. "Told you that." He shoved out a frustrated breath. "Am I steppin' on some bloody government cover-up?" he said suspiciously. "I mean, besides the one I'm already neck-deep in?"

Buffy almost cringed. He had sounded exasperated. Now, he had swung over into 'brassed off' land. Not good. Although there'd been plenty of warning.

The real problem was, pissed off looked so good on him. Always had. She shifted slightly in her seat.

"I can walk out of here right now, and you can ship the whole lot back to Vail. Let Ralston deal with it - and the press junkets that come pouring in. He ought to bollix it up good and proper. I need clearance - and I'm talking 'skeletons in the closet' clearance." He listened, frowning intently. "*All* available resources," he clarified.

She almost sighed aloud. Knew she should be listening, and thinking, and planning, but gee!

"Look," he said finally. "Dunno who's breathin' down your neck, General, but there's a cold-blooded killer breathin' down mine. Fifteen more minutes without information and I go back to my cozy little crypt with a phone and a list of numbers."

After a moment, Spike nodded in satisfaction. "All right. Set it up. I'll be here." He hung up, muscle in his jaw jumping in anger. "Christ, I hate democracies! Bureaucrats, red tape, wimpin' out. Give me a healthy dictatorship anytime! One guy you can go to and get anythin' you need. Like Argentina in the..."

Buffy rolled her eyes. He sure could destroy a mood.

"What?!" he said in exasperation.


Spike stared at the screen over Daniel's shoulder. His mouth was a tight, thin line. He glanced over at Buffy and Xander, perched on chairs across the desk.

"We're in," Daniel reported, more for the slayer and Scooby's benefits, than Spike's.

Their eyes landed on the first bit of information that came up. "Gabriel," Spike said in satisfaction. After a beat, he frowned. "No last name," he said, surprised.

"Recruited by the Army for special assignment on thirteen April 2003," Daniel commented. His eyes traveled down. "Oh."

"Deceased tenth May 2003," Spike supplied. He looked up. "But..."

Daniel tapped the screen, anger making the angles of his face harsh. "There. That explains it."

Eyes widening, Spike stood up and exploded. "Bloody, bloody, bloody hell!" Anger flew from his blue eyes like sparks from a cigarette lighter. "This is..."

"Gabriel, no last name, special assignment to the Initiative Project on seventeenth April 2003," Daniel explained to the pair across the desk.

"He's a vampire! The pillocks lost a vampire in all the fallout and didn't tell a sodding soul!" Spike railed. "Didn't tell me! Just swept it under a rug like he was already dust! The piss-ant isn't chipped, on the loose, and..."

Xander spread his hands. "Hold on, Spikey. How would he know about Buffy? Or *you* for that matter? You're not exactly common knowledge."

The slayer's voice interrupted him.

"Maybe Drusilla decided to travel with a friend." Her eyes abandoned her hands and went to Spike's.

Xander's head swung around. He stared at Buffy for a moment, who was looking at Spike. "Okay, well, that's a nice little theory, but..."

"I was already gone by the time he came here," Daniel said thoughtfully.

Spike's eyes were on Buffy, as the wheels continued to turn in his head. "DeLuca was here," he said softly. "He's more observant than the others by half."

"So we talk to DeLuca." Buffy shrugged. "And Spike's right. If he saw him, he'll remember him. He notices everything."

"Right," Xander said dryly. "I've seen the drawings."

Daniel looked up at Spike. "There's surveillance equipment here. Maybe the raw footage from the cameras is still here, too. You know, packed up somewhere."

"Yeah." Spike rubbed his chin. "Get a tech to nose around, pay special attention to any footage with a dark-haired female vamp." He laughed coldly. "From what I've seen, she was the only female. If she's with somebody, another vampire, more than just for turning, I want to see the bastard."

As Daniel got up, Spike's voice stopped him. "Get DeLuca in here - wait, make that the conference room. I'll talk to him alone."

"And scare him to death? Again? I don't think so," Buffy said derisively. "I'm sitting in on that," she said stubbornly. "He likes me."

"Right," Xander repeated. "I've seen the drawings."

"Another thing," Spike said decisively. "We need more information. Need to know about this pillock *before* he was turned."

Daniel looked at Spike. "I didn't see anything else. Do we really need it? I mean, he's a vampire now, and..."

"Daniel," Spike said patiently, "not every vampire who was ever turned was a good little soldier boy, a sick artist, or even a lovesick poet. Some were cheating, drunken, carousing, maiden-ravaging, lying sociopaths who..." His voice was rising.

"Spike!" Buffy interrupted. "Let it go, okay?"

Xander leaned toward Daniel with a whispered aside. "'Shepherd' has issues."

Spike's angry eyes landed on the man. "Issues? Bloody right, I do. You've met Dru, as I recall. Angelus did that. And if this bastard was half the scoundrel when he was turned, we're bent! But good!"

Xander leaned back in the chair, still held by Spike's sharp eyes. He nodded in comprehension.

"Right, then," Spike muttered, somewhat placated.

A frown knit a crease in Buffy's brow. "Whoops." She looked at Spike. "A world of whoops."

All eyes fixed on her.

She laughed uncomfortably. "Um, last night, before...?" Spike nodded. "After patrol, I kind of..." She shifted in her chair, face reddening in embarrassment. "Okay, here's the thing. I smelled cigarette smoke outside my window."

Spike tilted his head, puzzled. "But I..."

"Well, I know that now," she said quickly. "But I *thought* it was you, and I," she coughed into her hand, "toldyoutocomeinside." She looked up. "Then, I was pissed, cause you just..."

Xander leaned closer. "What did you say?"

But Spike already had it. "You did *what*? You did say my name, right?" he prodded in a hopeful voice, but suspecting the answer was far different.

"Um, not really. No."

Spike's eyes flew heavenward as his hands stiffened at his sides. "Christ!" He looked at Buffy, eyes flashing angrily. "You issued an open invitation to any vampire who could hear you? Are you bleeding off your nut?!"

Buffy stood up, back stiff, a fist clenched on either hip. "*You* were the one who was standing in my yard night before last having a pity party! Why *wouldn't* it be you?"

Moving around the desk, Spike leaned in and brought his hands up to clap them once, sharply, in her face. "'Death wish.' Remember that?" He smirked in satisfaction, as her eyes went wide. "I warned you years ago and you just looked at me with that high and mighty look you get!"

"I was *not* high and mighty," she answered virtuously. "You were obnoxious!"

"And evil!" His voice dripped with sarcasm. "Don't forget evil!"

Buffy's head bobbed up and down. "Okay, evil, too! *Way* evil!"

"I don't know why you aren't dead, Summers!" he said disgustedly.

"Been there," she said snarkily. "Twice! And guess what? They don't yell at you there!"

Daniel's eyes traveled from face to face, fascinated. As Spike's eyes grew bluer and colder, Buffy's face turned redder and redder. Their voices rose geometrically, until the fledgling's ears hurt.

Clearing his throat, Xander tried to catch Daniel's eye. After the second 'ahem', the young vampire glanced at him. The man jerked his head toward the door, and slid toward it. Daniel opened it carefully.

Once in the corridor, Xander breathed a sigh of relief. "Whew! Believe me, it's not safe in there," he informed the fledgling, as he closed the door with a soft click. "They're working up to a doozy of a brawl. If we're lucky, they'll just yell. I don't think they hit anymore. Otherwise, I'll be patching drywall for days."

The two voices continued to rise. "And boy," he continued, "did the Buffster ever screw up!" At Daniel's questioning look, he qualified his last pronouncement. "Of course, I'm sure it's all Spike's fault," he said loyally. "Just like she said."

Daniel looked troubled. "So now what? The house isn't safe. And Dawn..."

"Dawnie can stay with me. She did last night. So not a problem."

"Still. She's the slayer's sister, Xander. What if she's a target, too?"

The man started down the hall, Daniel following. "Okay, new plan. You put her up here."

Daniel hesitated briefly, then continued walking, staring at his feet. "We could, I guess..." he said slowly.

"Buffy, too. And I'll get Jonathan to find a good disinvite spell. Willow had a great one." He smiled in remembrance. "We'll call her if we have to. Get hers. Either way, it'll be fine."

Daniel stopped. "Wait. What do I do about DeLuca?" He tilted his head back toward the office. "They..."

"Wait a while. Just give 'em some time. As much as I hate to say it, and my stomach is doing a sick somersault as I do, they always work it out. Volatile as hell sometimes, and I really don't understand, but they get over it. I think it's the slayer/master vampire thing they've got going," he said sagely. Xander started walking again. "But one thing for sure. Do *not* go in there without knocking. Know what? Forget knocking. Call first. They fight loud, but they make up even louder."

Daniel filed away the advice. "Will you take Dawn home to pick up some things? It's still daylight," he said apologetically. "And I should stay here, anyway."

"Sure," the man said reassuringly. "As soon as she gets here with Jonathan, we'll go. Be back long before dusk."

Daniel picked up his pace. "Need to make sure Lowell House is tied up tight. I'll have them run tests on the new security system."

Xander nodded. "Good. I'll go find Dawn a room upstairs. Close to Spike's, but not *too* close." At Daniel's puzzled look, Xander looked down. "Never mind," he mumbled. "It's a soundproofing thing."


The door to Spike's office was open when Daniel was finally called back down. He was taken aback by the change in them. Xander was right.

"So Eurydice died," the slayer said pertly from her station behind the desk with Spike.

"Yeah. Snake bite." Spike grinned up at her, which seemed strange until Daniel realized she was sitting on his leg. "Ow, love," he said shifting her slightly. "That pinches."

"Oooh, big bad vampire," she teased.

"Well, it did," he retorted. Tapping the screen to get her attention, he continued. "Now. Orpheus, her husband, went down into the Underworld, past Cerberus, the three-headed dog who watches at the Gates of Hell, and brought about her release - all with the power of his song. Lyre, pretty words - Hell wept on his throne."

"Well, I think you're putting a little too much stock in your singing abilities if you think this story relates to us. Ow!" She slapped his hand. "You pinched me!"

"Yes, I did. You pinched me first."

"Yes, but *that* was an accident."

"Not buying it, pet."

Daniel's eyes darted around the room, looking for holes in the wall. What he saw instead was a pile of papers on the floor. Above it was a worktable that looked like it had been swept clean.

Suspiciously, he took a closer look at the pair. Buffy's cheeks were flushed and her eyes were sparkling. Spike had a languid, lazy look that he hadn't seen in weeks - or at least, since the last day of Buffy's visit to Vail.

He cleared his throat. Obviously, they weren't going to notice him on their own.

"Daniel!" Buffy said merrily. She stood up. "I'm a myth!"

"They've been saying that for years, love," Spike said quietly. She glanced down at him and smiled. "'Chosen One' thing and all."

"Yeah, but this is all 'classic'. As in books you can actually find in just *any* library."

"You know, Slayer, a little more gravity would be nice here," the vampire reminded her, slightly disturbed. "This bastard..."

"Spike, this *Gabriel* is a vampire. And you know what I do to vampires." With a smile, she drew her hand back, as if she held an imaginary stake and swung it forward. She looked at Daniel with a wicked glint in her eye. "Present company excepted, of course."

"Take it a little more seriously, pet. S'all I'm asking," Spike said carefully, a hint of worry in his voice.

"You know what I don't get?" Daniel asked quietly. "Spilling blood like that. It's not... natural. Not for *us*."

Spike looked relieved that the fledgling recognized the oddness of it, even if the slayer didn't seem to notice.

Buffy nodded. "You're right." She looked at Spike. "And what's he feeding on, anyway? Not them, that's for sure." She shuddered at the memory of the blood on her front porch and the blood-darkened crime scene pictures.

"S'more like a sacrifice," he said tautly.

"Maybe Dru's sick again," she said helpfully. She clarified the statement with a grimace. "Or sick-er."

"Nah," he answered offhandedly. "Went through all kinds of spells and such after Prague. Human blood offerings didn't enter into a single one, just...."

Daniel watched as they both looked uncomfortable. It only lasted a moment.

"Techs got anythin'?"

Surprised at finally being addressed, it took Daniel a moment to answer. "Well, we found the archive. Digging through it now, but it could take a while."


"He's available. Thought you might want to wait on an image of this 'Gabriel,' though."

Spike nodded. "Rush up the techs then. Don't have a lot of time here."

Daniel turned to go and stopped. He turned his head and looked at Spike. "Xander and I were talking. We think Dawn should stay here - until the house is safe again."

Buffy winced slightly. Spike looked thoughtful. "Yeah," he agreed. "He could go after the Bit. Do it."

"Already working on it. Xander is finding a room upstairs for her, and I've got them overhauling security."

"Need wards on Lowell House," Spike mused. "God, I miss Red!"

Buffy looked grim. "Jonathan will have to do."


"You're late," Jonathan said nervously, as Dawn got in the car.

The girl tossed her long, dark hair over her shoulder as she struggled with the heavy bookbag. "Hey, you carry six tons around with you and see how quick *you* move around by the end of the day!"

Jonathan grinned. "That I don't miss. Lots of homework?"

"Enough." She groaned. Exaggerated it. Shifted to whine mode. "You gonna stick around and help?"

"We're headed to the old Initiative base."

Dawn slid her eyes over to Jonathan and eyed him suspiciously. "What happened?"

Drumming his fingers on the steering wheel, he kept his eyes straight ahead. "I don't know that anything did. Xander said..." His voice trailed off, as if unsure of what the man had said.

"What? Oh, not supposed to tell me? Something else I'm not supposed to know?" she said sulkily.

"Scooby meeting. I guess we'll know then."

"*You* already know something."

"Just that I'm supposed to find a disinvite spell."

Dawn fixed him with a glare. "For...?"

"I don't know," he answered in exasperation. "All I know is that we're supposed to be at the Base."

"What else?"

Jonathan sighed. "One of Spike's teams came in yesterday and patrolled last night. Something bad happened."

"Spill it."

"They found more girls. Words on the walls in blood, Xander said. More to come when we get there, so..."

Frowning, Dawn chewed her bottom lip. "I didn't hear anything at school about it."

"Me, either. I mean, I've had local radio up on my computer all day and nada."

"Maybe you misunderstood." Dawn's eyes narrowed as she looked at Jonathan appraisingly. "I mean, how did Xander sound? Cause that's a good indication of the badness of this."

Frustrated, he shot Dawn a look and returned his attention to the road. "Well, he sounded like Xander. I wasn't trying to decipher his emotional state. I just live with him. I don't *sleep* with him!"

Dawn sank back against the seat, thwarted. In the lull before her next attack, she thought of something important. "Hold it!"

Jonathan almost ran off the road.

"I've got to go home!"

"Nooo..." he said patiently. "We've got to go to the Base."

"I have to go home for a minute."


Dawn sat back and sighed. "Jonathan, I soooo have to go," she wheedled. "I've... got a problem. Need to... change clothes," she said, hoping her tone and the implication of her words would save her from telling an out and out lie.

"You look fine," Jonathan assured her.

Getting ready to play the trump card, since he was so incredibly uninformed on the whole 'girl must change clothes' thing, she carefully schooled her face and voice to one of delicate embarrassment. Because it worked so well in the office at school, she did not doubt its success in this case.

"It's girl stuff." At the lack of response, she aced it. "Girl *problems*." The girl was almost gritting her teeth. "Need. To. Change. Clothes." Was he ever going to get it?

He slid a look at her. "What... Oh. Oh!" Jonathan's face turned beet red. He immediately turned the car toward Revello Drive, making a u-turn in the street and almost hitting a parked vehicle doing it.

Inwardly, Dawn smiled in triumph. She absolutely could not see Daniel for the first time in months looking like a school kid. Silently, she began making mental wardrobe choices. Cause this shirt and jeans?

Not. Gonna. Happen.

Continued in Chapter Eight

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