Buffy stared intensely at her plate, unable to look up and face the awkwardness that surrounded the dinner table and seemed to drain all the healthy air from the room.
“So…” Giles’ voice echoed off the walls, breaking the uncomfortable silence that engulfed all four of them. “I hear homecoming dance is tomorrow night…”
When Spike didn’t answer, Buffy found herself being pressured to do so in his place so she mumbled meekly:
“You two must be really excited, no?” The older man continued enquiring as he nervously adjusted his glasses for the millionth time that night.
“Not really. Homecoming dance usually sucks, *big time*.” It was out of her mouth before she could help it.
She winced at the sound of her own voice. She hadn’t meant for it to sound so… arrogant and blasé.
“Oh… I-I see.” He stuttered, returning his attention to the plate in front of him.
The unbearable silence returned and Buffy, still feeling guilty over her retort quickly tried to make up by adding:
“But afterwards we’re going to Cordelia’s. She organises a party every year… to compensate for the lousy dance.” For the first time that evening, the petite blonde looked up in Giles’ direction.
“Is Spike taking you to that party too?” The question seemed only natural, but Buffy’s brain was stuck on the small word at the very end of it – *too*.
Truth was they hadn’t actually talked about the homecoming dance. It had been a hectic week and between Spike running off to God-knows-where and all the fighting, they hadn’t had anytime to discuss the subject. Were they going to the dance together? Were they going as a couple or as part of the ‘piss off Dru and Angel’ plan? She didn’t really know, but apparently, Spike’s father did. ‘Great! My mom’s *boyfriend* knows more about my private dilemmas than I do.’ She protested inwardly.
“I don’t know.” She answered. “We haven’t really had time to talk about that.” She spoke looking directly at Giles, trying hard to ignore the image she picked up from the corner of her eyes.
Spike sat next to her and had pretty much kept to himself and his plate for the entire night, but at her response he had suddenly looked up and was now apparently staring at her.
“Buffy…” Mrs. Summers stepped in as the motherly concern kicked in. “I don’t know if I want you going to these parties alone. I know how these things are… they’re all wild a-and dangerous…”
“Willow and Xander will be there to protect me from the wildness and the… hum… dangerousness.” Buffy frowned at the last word. Was that an actual word?
“Even so… I-I don’t-”
“Don’t worry, Mrs. Summers, I’ll keep an eye on her.” Spike finally spoke, causing all three pair of eyes to turn their attention on him.
“Well… I-I guess that’s settled then.” Giles said with a content grin as he finished his dinner and set his fork and knife sideways on his plate before turning to Joyce. “Dinner was wonderful, hon-“ He stopped himself as he heard the two teens let out a simultaneous groan. “-Joyce.” He corrected himself.
“Thank you.” She replied in a low voice as her cheeks quickly gained a bright red colour. Turning to Spike as she began to stand, she asked: “Spike, could you please help me clear the table?”
Buffy’s eyes went wide. She was going to leave her alone in the room with Mr. Giles? Oh, no she wouldn’t!
“I’ll do it!” the blonde girl immediately pushed her chair back and prepared to stand when she felt Joyce’s strong hand lightly push her downwards.
“Spike can help me, can’t you?” She insisted, throwing a soft smile in the young teen’s direction.
“Hum… Sure.” Spike replied awkwardly standing up and gathering the remaining dishes.
Buffy felt her heart race in her chest at the prospect of being left alone with… *it*… who happened to be Spike’s father. ‘Oh, God! The horrible silence!’ She thought as she watched her mother and Spike leave the room.
“So…” Giles started in a meek attempt to make small talk. “H-how’s school?”
“It’s ok.” She answered, her eyes glued to the striped towel.
“Good. A-And your friend… hum… what’s her name… Willow?”
“She’s ok too.”
‘God, kill me know and end my suffering.’
In the meantime, in the kitchen…
“How are things going in school?”
“’s ok.” Spike mumbled his response as he handed the older woman the dirty dishes he had collected from the table.
“Are you sure…? What about….?” Joyce pointed at his broken lip.
“Fell.” He answered dryly.
“Some fall. To bruise your right cheekbone and split the right side of your mouth without leaving so much as a scratch on your nose.” She wondered out loud. There was no threat or doubt in her voice, it sounded as a simple statement, without any reprehension.
“You know how things are…” Spike replied, leaning on the counter.
“I guess I do. Could you take the ice-cream from the freezer please?”
He nodded and did as she had asked him.
Joyce took a spoon into her hand and scooped an equal amount of ice-cream into four different cups, when she was finished she handed the container back to him and he placed it in the freezer. Taking two cups into her hands and signalling him to take the other two she stopped for a second before she went into the living room.
“I hope you don’t have anymore of those nasty falls.”
Spike couldn’t help but smile as he replied:
“What about the other boy… the little one with colourful hair… hum? Osborne?”
“Oz?” Buffy questioned nervously tapping her spoon on the table.
“Y-yes! That’s the one.”
“He’s ok, too. He’s in a band.”
“Oh!” Giles replied.
Buffy practically pooled off her seat in relief when she saw her mother and Spike walk into the living room.
‘Thank, God! I was running out of friends to talk about.’
“Oh, chocolate cookie.” Giles piped up, clearly relieved also. “If you guys want, there is more in the kitchen.” Joyce explained as she took her seat next to Giles.
All four dug into their respective icecreams, trying to ignore the God-awful silence that spread all around them. Eventually, Joyce attempted to put them out of their misery:
The teen snapped her head to look up at her mom:
“This party at Cordelia’s… What time is it?”
“Probably around eleven. We’ll try to leave the dance a bit early.” Buffy answered with a faltering tone as she gave her mother a pleading look. ‘Please. Don’t embarrass me in front of them… Please!’ She begged her telepathically.
“I-It’s a little late isn’t it? What time are you planning on coming home?” Mrs. Summers tried to hide the worry from her voice.
“I-I don’t know. Hum… four-ish?” Buffy tried, her eyebrows coming together for a desperate frown.
“Four in the morning?!” The older woman’s practically squeaked in amazement.
“Well, I-I could come… hum… I-I”
“I’ll look after her. Plus I’ll be driving her home and I promise I won’t drink.” Spike interrupted Buffy’s incoherent mumbling to everyone’s surprise.
There was a long moment of silence as the two teens waited for Joyce’s response:
“I don’t know…”
“It is homecoming and it’s their senior year…” It was Giles’ turn to step in.
Mrs. Summers looked at him for a few second and then sat up straight.
“Ok, then! But I want you in your room by four, young lady!” Joyce reassured her.
“Oh, thank you, thank you!” Buffy exclaimed as she came around the table to give her mother a bear hug before sitting back down.
She dared to look at Spike for a split second and she felt her stomach flip-flop when she realised he was staring back at her. Thank you.She mouthed before blushing furiously and burying her gaze back in the bowl in front of her.
“Who wants coffee?” Mrs. Summers asked standing from the table.
This time Buffy was faster than she could have expected and the teen was already on her feet with the four cups in her hands and heading for the kitchen before her mother could say anything.
“Mr. Giles is *it*?!” Willow squealed into the receiver, causing Buffy to grimace and pulled the phone away from her ear for a second.
“For the 1000th time, Willow – Yes!”
“I just can’t believe it! Mr. Giles and your mom doing-“
“Willow, if you have any wish for me to actually retain some sort of emotional stability in the future, please refrain from finishing that thought.” Buffy grumbled.
“Oh! Sorry!” Willow piped up. “It’s just-“
“Sick? Repulsive? Hideous? Hum…? Apocalyptic?” She offered.
“Come on Buffy. It’s not apocalyptic. Repulsive and sick – yes, but not apocalyptic.” Willow countered.
“Oh, and guess what? He wants me to call him Giles. I mean, he’s Spike’s father and I’m supposed to call him Giles? He goes to PTA meetings, for Christ sake.”
“I’m sorry, Buffy.” Willow sympathised.
“Not as much as I am.”
“It is kinda weird, huh?”
“Kinda? If my mom and *Giles* are together then that makes Spike and I what? Potential siblings! That’s what! Which means… Oh, God! I had sex with my potential stepbrother! I’m going straight to hell!” Buffy sighed.
“Well… if you put it that way…” Willow was forced to agree.
“I’m falling for my stepbrother…” Buffy pitied herself when suddenly her eyes went wide as realisation hit her.
“What?!” An equally astonished Willow asked.
“Nothing!” Buffy quickly replied.
“No… You said-“
“I didn’t say anything!” Buffy insisted frowning dangerously, but soon relaxed her facial muscles when she realised that Willow wasn’t able to actually see her threatening glare.
“Oh, come on Buffy! We both know you have wild ‘ravage me now’ feelings for him…”
“Willow!” Buffy exclaimed outraged.
“What? It’s true!”
“W-Well even if this was true… We’re talking about my potential stepbrother here. This is excommunication material we’re talking about.”
“Oh, so what? You never were very religious, anyway.” Willow mumbled and then added in a peppy tone: “So, when are you two gonna go back to the wild-monkey-love phase?”
“Sorry…” Willow spoke, guilt pouring into her voice. “I’ve been Oz deprived for too long – band practice and all. Plus, I’ve been spending too much time with Xander.”
“I can tell.” Buffy replied rolling her eyes.
“I’m sorry…” Willow pouted.
“You’re forgiven.” Buffy couldn’t help but smile.
“So is Spike taking you to the dance?” Willow’s anxious tone was back.
“Yes. He’s picking me up at eight tomorrow.”
“Willow…” Buffy warned.
“Not a word from me. I’m on good girl mode now, the nasty talking doppelganger is no more.” Willow assured her.
“I hope so.” Buffy giggled.
She nervously brushed her hair, sitting in front of the dresser, looking at herself in the mirror. As she rested her brush on the wooden surface her hands were free to roam over her long blonde threads.
“Up.” She mumbled to herself pulling her hair, twisting it on top of her head and exposing her neck in the process. “Down.” She continued, dropping the golden mass. “Up… Down… Up…”
“Buffy?” Her mother’s voice came from the corridor as she heard approaching footsteps followed by a light knock on the door.
There was a small squeaking sound that came from the door as it slowly opened.
“Oh! You look amazing.” Mrs. Summers breathed as she saw her daughter stand up and turn on her heels.
The sleeveless black gown settled tightly around her chest and waist only to spread slightly when it reached her hips. Her tanned shoulders and collarbone seemed fragile and exposed as she slowly moved to get her grey scarf and twirled it around her slender neck.
“But you have to do something about your hair.” Mrs. Summers commented as she came into the room and her hands fell over Buffy’s blonde strands. “You should keep it up.”
“You think?” She wondered as she looked herself in the mirror.
“Definitely! Show’s off your beautiful neck.”
Buffy frowned when she heard the faltering in her mother’s voice.
“Oh, mom! You’re not gonna cry again, are you?” Buffy begged.
“I can’t help it. You just look so… grown up. My little girl, all grown up.” Joyce spoke, bringing both hands to cover her mouth and nose as she watched her daughter diligently working on her hair. “Everyone’s going to gawk at you all night. Spike’s gonna have a fit of jealousy. Well… maybe not jealousy since he…”
“Mom, I have to tell you something-“
Buffy was cut off by the sound of the doorbell.
“Oh! That’s Spike! I’ll go and get the door.”
And before Buffy could say anything, the older woman was out the door and down the stairs.
“She’ll be down any minute now.” Joyce reassured him for the third time that evening.
Half an hour had passed since he had arrived and there was still no sign of Buffy. Sighing audibly, he reached for the cup of warm chocolate and took a sip. He almost choked to death when his eyes looked up and found *her*, standing near the doorframe that lead to the kitchen.
“How do I look?” She asked blushing under his stare.
When he finally managed to get his coughing fit under control, he stood up and said in a low voice:
“You look wonderful.”
“Thank you. You don’t look so bad yourself.” She replied taking in his tuxedo-clad figure. ‘God, he looks yummy.’ She shook her head trying to push back the R rated images that instantly flooded her mind. ‘Bad Buffy!’ she scolded herself.
“Oh, honey you look amazing!”
“You’ve said that already, mom. Oh, mom please don’t… mom… D-don’t cry come on.” She begged coming to rest her hand over her mother’s back.
“I can’t help it.”
“I’m sorry. You kids go and have a good time. I’ll be fine.”
“You sure?” Buffy questioned.
“I’m sure. Have fun, honey.” Mrs. Summers nodded and ran her hand over her daughter’s cheek before she watched her walk out of the kitchen. “Be home by four!” Buffy heard her mother shout as she closed the door behind her.
“Sorry about that. My mom’s kinda sensitive about all this growing up I seem to be doing.” Buffy said awkwardly, her eyes glued to the pavement as they walked towards Spike’s car.
“Don’t worry. My da’s pretty much the same. Uh, but in a more manly fashion obviously. He was all: ‘Son, come here.’ and quickly followed that with the unavoidable embarrassing hug scene.” He explained, opening the car door for her.
When he took his place in the driver’s seat he froze for a second, remaining in silence for a while.
“Uh… I know I shouldn’t talk, since I don’t have a driver’s licence and all but… I think it would work better if you put the key in that little slot there.” Buffy joked, but felt the air being sucked out of the small vehicle when he turned to face her and his eyes roamed over her body.
“You do look amazing tonight.” He said in a low voice, before putting the key in the ignition and heading off to the old high school.
The guitar sound echoed off the wall of the old gymnasium as they entered the teen packed room. Unconsciously, Buffy’s grip on Spike’s arm tightened as they made their way through the crowd and all eyes seemed to fall on the blonde duo.
“You should’ve been expecting this. Nobody’s gonna be able to take their eyes off you for one second tonight.” She heard Spike whisper in her ear and her knees turned into Jell-O.
Thankfully, an extremely peppy and energized Willow came to her aid.
“Buffy!! You look great!” She screamed over the loud music in the background.
“You look great too.” Buffy replied. Seeing the familiar redhead standing next to her best friend she added: “Oz!”
“Hey!” The teen greeted the newly arrived couple.
“When are you guys going on?” Spike asked.
“In about fifteen. I was just waiting for you guys to come. Didn’t want to leave Willow alone.” He explained, pulling his date for a small kiss on the lips before he turned to leave. “See ya.”
“Good luck!” Buffy shouted after him receiving a small nod from the guitar player as he disappeared into the crowd.
“God! I’m sooo excited! This is even worse that at the Bronze! Ah!!!” Willow screamed clapping hysterically.
“I’m gonna get something to drink. You ladies want anything?” Spike asked.
“Punch.” The two answered in unison as the bleached teen turned to attend to their requests.
“And where’s the soon to be Homecoming Queen?” Buffy questioned.
“You know Cordy, she’s probably waiting for the last minute to make her grand entrance.
“Yeah, I bet.”
“Oh! Speak of the she-devil!” Willow piped up pointing at the red-clad brunette that had just walked into the room, causing all heads to turn and gaze at her.
“She’s just loving this!” Buffy smiled contemplating the spectacle.
“Xander doesn’t seem too comfortable though.” Willow joked.
“Here you go.” Spike’s voice came from behind them, as he handed them their drinks.
“Thanks.” Buffy mouthed as the music grew to a crescendo.
“The whelp’s here. Thank God! Some testosterone company.” Spike sighed in relief as he watched the couple move towards them.
His eyes drifted back to the girl next to him to find her pouting. Leaning in, he whispered in her ear:
“She doesn’t hold a candle to you, luv.” He reassured her.
Ok, that was it! Standing up straight was definitely becoming an issue as she felt his warm breath on her neck.
“Hey, guys!” Cordy greeted unenthusiastically.
“Hey!” They greeted back.
“I hate this.” Xander grumbled pulling at his collar.
“Same here.” Spike said, joining in the tuxedo bashing.
“Oh, it’s just for a couple of hours. We’ll be out of here as soon as I get that damn crown.” Cordelia exhaled sharply, her eyes scanning the crowd. “I can’t believe I’m going to have to dance with that football meathead.”
“Hey! It’s tradition. Homecoming king and queen have to dance at least once.” Willow stated the unfortunately obvious.
Cordelia growled something unintelligible before Jonathan’s squeaky voice came booming from the speakers.
All eyes fell on him.
“Poor guy, he’s gonna end up dehydrated if he keeps sweating like that.” Xander noted as a high-pitched sound came from the speakers, causing everyone to cringe.
“Feedback! Careful of the feedback!” They heard Jonathan scold Andrew who nervously worked the board. Eventually, the screeching stopped and the short teen was able to stammer:
“Hum… W-welcome to the Homecoming dance, everyone!”
A mixture of ‘yay’s and ‘boo’s were heard before he could continue:
“Now, please welcome the amazing band… ‘Dingoes Ate my Baby!’”
Loud cheering boomed across the room as the first cords were heard. Soon, the stage was completely lit, showing all members of the groups, Oz included.
“He looks sooo cool! I have a cool boyfriend! Ahhh!” Willow screamed.
“Oh, no it’s starting all over again.” Cordy grumbled between clenched teeth, before Xander wormed his hands around her waist and dragged her to the dance floor.
“Wanna dance, pet?” Buffy heard Spike ask her.
He frowned when he saw her shake her head, but then realised why, when she pointed at the lonely redhead jumping up and down next to them. Spike nodded, sliding his arms around her and pulling her back against his as they listened to the music.
Three or four songs went by before Cordy and Xander joined the trio sitting around a table. Well, Willow wasn’t exactly sitting, since she was constantly squirming in her seat, occasionally standing up and clapping her hands.
“God! I’m beat. And I thought I hated the tux… It’s nothing compared to the way I feel about these stupid shoes right now. Ouch!” Xander grumbled taking his seat next to Spike as Buffy had abandoned her chair in favour of the Brit’s lap.
“What are you doing?” Cordelia asked outraged as she watched her boyfriend lean over and stick his finger into his shoe.
“Taking them off?” Xander offered.
“Oh, no you’re not!” She shook her head, her eyes wide and her eyebrows raised high on her forehead.
“Oh, come on!”
“No!” She insisted, crossing her arms over her chest.
“Damn it.” Xander cursed under his breath as his eyes turned to the couple sitting next to him. “You guys gonna dance?”
“You guys gonna keep Red company?”
“I don’t think I could move right now even if I wanted.”
Both Spike and Buffy smiled at that, before the bleached teen looked up at blonde sitting on his lap and tilted his head toward the dance floor. In a flash, she was up and was leading him to the middle of the crowd.
“Ah! The joy of sitting down!” Xander breathed using Spike and Buffy’s chair to prop up his legs.
“Xander!” Cordy yelled with a disgusted face.