Buffy’s first day on the job was far from perfect. Charlie had given her the three-to-nine shift, which worked out perfectly, allowing her to make money and be out in time for some after hours slaying. Her slayer strength and agility proved to be both a blessing and a curse though. She was able to carry more than the other waitresses, but when a particularly irritating customer got on her nerves she accidentally. crushed his drink, sending shards of glass flying in every direction.
Customer service was going to take some getting used to.
Overall, it had been a decent first night. Spike had shown up a little after sunset and, nursed three beers waiting for her to get off. She’d caught him watching her more than once, and each time she’d feel a little flush of excitement sneak up her neck.
“That your boyfriend?” Vicky, the other waitress on shift, had asked her while they were waiting behind the bar for their drink orders.
Buffy had blushed knowing full well that Spike could probably hear every word of their conversation. “No! No—definitely not my boyfriend.”
Vicky had just shrugged in response. “Do you know him? ‘Cuz he’s been staring at you ever since he came in.”
“Uh, yeah. He’s kinda my roommate.”
Vicky had given her a strange look; obviously in disbelief that Buffy lived with him and didn’t take full advantage of it, before taking her drinks and moving along to deliver them.
Of course it didn’t take Spike long before he brought it up during patrol.
“So I’m your roommate now, am I?” he teased her with a smirk.
Buffy cursed her damn cheeks for heating up whenever she was around him. “I knew you’d hear that,” she grumbled. “I thought it was better than ‘he’s my slaying buddy, who also happens to be a vampire’.”
Spike chuckled. “Yeah, spose so. Looked like you did good tonight. Any wankers stiff you on a tip?”
As Buffy began to tell him about a big tip she’d made, Spike was struck with the realization that they were having an honest to God conversation, talking about her day at work like they were friends or even a couple. How many times had he wished for this very thing, and he felt like an ungrateful sod now that it was actually happening. How much longer was he going to be able to keep her at a distance if things kept progressing as they had been?
Fortunately, he didn’t have much time to contemplate because Buffy had spotted some vampires heading their way and was off running. Spike followed, holding back from jumping into the fray. He watched her, amazed at how naturally it came to her. How fast she’d been able to bounce back and pick up as though nothing had ever happened.
And then he was back to thinking how gorgeous she looked in her element. How painful it was for him to be around her after what they’d done. How he couldn’t stay away if he tried.
Friday afternoon came quicker than anyone expected. Buffy had worked both Wednesday and Thursday and would be returning for a shift on Saturday. She was quickly getting the hang of the waitressing business and, found that she liked the job more than she thought she would.
Giles hadn’t been thrilled to hear where she’d found a job and, was even less thrilled that Spike was the one who had helped her acquire it. He thought her caseworker would find something wrong with her working in a nightclub, but Buffy considered herself lucky to have found something so quickly.
It was a few minutes before sundown when they heard the knock at the door. Dawn was at the dining room table, the picture of an innocent all-American teenager doing her homework with a healthy snack. Buffy was busy triple and quadruple checking that the house was immaculate, not a weapon or ounce of magic supplies in sight. Spike had just shrugged on his duster and, was about to shout his good-byes. All three froze staring at each other, waiting for someone to make the first move.
It was Spike who regained his composure first, gesturing with a nod for Buffy to answer the door. She took a deep breath, plastered a smile on her face, and opened the door. On the other side stood a woman in her mid-fifties, clipboard in hand.
“Ms. Summers? My name is Doris Kroger, and I’ve been assigned to your case.”
Buffy shook the older woman’s hand. “Please, come in. We weren’t expecting you for another half hour.”
Doris gave her a tight smile. “I try to get to all my appointments as early as possible.”
“Of course. How—punctual—of you.” She extended her arm, inviting Dawn to join them in the foyer. “This is my sister, Dawn,” she introduced, wrapping an arm around the taller girl. “She was just finishing up some homework—like she does every night before dinner.”
Doris looked down at her clipboard. “It says here you have someone else living in the home with you. A Willow Rosenberg? Is she here?”
"No.” Buffy shook her head. “She’s a student at the university and, spends a lot of time in class or at the library.”
"In the library on a Friday night?” Buffy couldn’t tell if Doris was impressed or didn’t believe her.
“Yep. That’s Willow. Smartest gal I know.”
After a few more questions about Buffy’s accident and how she was recovering, Doris’ attention turned to Spike, who had quietly escaped to the living room. He was sitting in one of the chairs, fingers tapping nervously on his knees. He looked like he was contemplating whether he could get away with leaving, now that the sun was low on the horizon or if that would arouse more suspicion. He wouldn’t get a chance to bolt though because Doris had zeroed in on him, alternating looking at her clipboard and Spike.
“Ms. Summers, I don’t have any record of another roommate living here.”
Buffy tried not to look as alarmed as she felt. She didn’t know whether to lie or tell the truth. This woman could pop in on them at any time it seemed, and with Spike living there, there was a good possibility of him being around when she did. Thinking on the spot was not one of her strong suits it seemed because the next thing she knew she was blurting out, “It’s sorta a recent development.”
Spike and Dawn looked equally surprised by her response. Dawn’s surprise quickly turned to a mixture of amusement and glee. Doris stared at her expectantly, waiting for her to elaborate.
“This is my boyfriend—“ Buffy stopped short, realizing there was no way she could tell Doris she was dating some guy named Spike.
“Buffy’s boyfriend, William,” Dawn supplied, coming to her rescue. “William Pratt.”
“Right—William. Af-after my accident, he moved in with us. To help out,” Buffy explained. She looked at Spike pointedly. “Will, honey, say hello to the nice lady from CPS.”
Spike did as she asked, refraining from shaking her hand so that she wouldn’t notice the lack of warmth. He was having a hard time wrapping his head around the charade he was now a party to. If Giles hadn’t staked him before, he was surely going to now.
Buffy invited Doris into the living room, and they all took a seat. Over the next half hour, the caseworker questioned them on the living arrangements, Buffy’s employment and other topics that she assured them were routine. After gathering all that information, Doris asked to be left alone to speak with Dawn privately.
The minute they were alone in the kitchen, Spike rounded on Buffy. “What the bloody hell was that?”
Buffy barely flinched. She had been mentally preparing herself for his backlash ever since the words tumbled out of her mouth. “I had to tell her something!”
“An’ that’s what you came up with?” Spike paced anxiously in front of her, keeping his voice down, so they weren’t overheard. “Bleedin’ hell, Slayer. I’m dead. Where the hell am I gonna get an ID card to show this bird?”
Buffy had the good sense to look sheepish. “I guess I hadn’t really thought it through. She put me on the spot, and I remembered Vicky thinking you were my boyfriend and, how she totally didn’t believe that you were just my roommate, so neither would this woman—“
“Breathe, Slayer,” Spike interrupted, wiping a hand across his face. “We’ll havta talk to your watcher and see what he can come up with.”
Buffy knew as well as he did that this wouldn’t go over well with any of her friends. They had a hard enough time with Spike staying in the house, and now he would be acting as her live-in boyfriend. Yeah, they were going to have a cow, and she really wasn’t in the mood to deal with that any time soon.