“They’re here!” Dawn ran down the stairs, almost tripping on the last step.
“Slow down, child” Joyce chided her, “They can’t fly – they will need to get off the car first!”
“Can’t wait to tell my classmates that the king of England is staying at my house!”
“Dawn,” Joyce said in a strict voice, “We talked about this. Buffy and William want some time on their own after those horrible past few weeks, and they wouldn’t enjoy their holiday if the press knew about their staying in Sunnydale. You can’t go on bragging about the British monarchy’s best guarded secret around your high school!”
Dawn made a sad little face. Joyce opened the door.
“Mom!” Buffy burst through the door and embraced her mother, then her sister. “Dawn! It’s so good to be home! Seven hours in a military jet, that’s enough to last me for the three weeks till we have to go back!”
“Three weeks?” Dawn looked disappointed. “Can’t you stay longer?”
“Spike has to work,” Buffy explained.
“He’s the King, others are supposed to do the work for him!” Dawn protested.
“You must be Dawn,” Spike said and to Dawn’s surprise she observed he was carrying his own suitcase and Buffy’s.
Dawn stared at him.
“Your Majesty,” Joyce said and curtseyed awkwardly.
“Spike,” he corrected her immediately.
“Can I call you Spike, too?” Dawn asked curiously.
“Of course, you’re my future sister-in-law, after all,” he told her.
Dawn’s eyes widened. “Cool.”
Buffy extended her hand so Dawn and their mother could get a good look at her precious engagement ring.
Spike cleared his voice. “Buffy, where do these go?” He shrugged with the heavy baggage still in his hands. “Arms falling off here.”
“Sorry,” Buffy said, “Upstairs, to my room. I’ll show you.” She walked up the stairs, followed by Spike and her hyper excited sister.
“I’ve made some lunch,” Joyce called after them, “let me just close the door, and then…” She made to close the door, when someone else appeared at her doorstep. “Hello, Joyce.”
Joyce was staring at the man in his incredibly old-fashioned tweed suit. “Rupert.”
“Sorry I have not called,” Sir Rupert apologized. “I was not sure if you wanted to see me.”
Joyce was totally taken aback. “It’s been a really long time,” she finally said.
“I know.” He cleared his voice. “I wanted to talk to you about Buffy’s future. I presume you have noticed the ring.”
“And I suppose you were aware of a slight problem to that. Since Buffy does not belong to British nobility, King William is technically considered to be marrying beneath his station.”
Joyce took in a sharp breath. “Yeah. Seems Spike has more guts than someone else I know.”
Sir Rupert cast his eyes down in shame, for she was right. “I deserve that kind of treatment. Joyce. I’ve made a terrible mistake I cannot dream you would allow me to rectify, after all this time. I know we can’t turn back the clock twenty years, but… I was thinking… I mean, we are not getting any younger, none of us… and in theory, if Buffy were a child of mine by legitimate marriage, she would be entitled to the rank of a Lady. So I was thinking, maybe just for Buffy’s well-being, we could… talk.”
Joyce stared at him. “After twenty years, you just show up here and… Wait, you are not proposing to me, are you?”
Sir Rupert shrugged with a minor grin on his face. “Not technically, no.”
Joyce stepped away from the door, with a grin on her face which gave him a little hope. “Come on in. Let’s talk.”