Authors Note: Hey, everyone. Wow, thanks for all the nice reviews for the last chapter, it made me so happy to see you guys are still enjoying the story. Btw, the new beta version is up for chapter six. Y'all can thank afterlife and kriken for the corrections – and there were many – for that chapter and this one. Thanks guys. Well, I you guys will enjoy this chapter too.

Chapter Seven

The sky was glowing orange; not just a small patch near where the sun was setting off on the unseen horizon, but the whole sky. It was an eerie sight because it made the sky look as if it were on fire. But, at the same time, it was a comfort. To her at least.

"Red sky at night, sailors delight," Dawn muttered to herself.

That was what her father use to say. She could remember when they had spent that summer up in Amityville. He would take her and Andrew out on the water – their mother and Tara couldn't go because they couldn't really swim – and he would tell them that rhyme when the sun went down. Then he would take them in after all day on the water.

Andrew was always burnt to a crisp, even though their mother had smeared a whole bottle of sun-block on his face and arms. Their father would laugh and blame their mother for passing on her 'pasty-face British genes' to the boy, so that it was her fault instead of his for keeping them out too long.

Then Tara would bug them about what they did on the water and make them promise that they would stay on the beach with her the next day. She would give them those puppy-dog eyes that Dawn had taught her so well, so they could do nothing but agree. Their parents would find it amusing how quickly the siblings always gave in to their little sister, but they themselves were just as bad. All the little blonde had to do was bat her eyelashes, and they were all putty in her hands.

That had been a good summer.

It was hard to believe that had just been last year; before the accident, before Travers and California and an uncle they had only heard mention of in passing. Life was so different now: different state, different coast, different people trying to play the parts of her parents.

Well, she didn't mind Spike too much. Of course, the fact that he didn't even seem to realize they were alive unless they were in trouble helped. He was too caught up in his own life to worry about them, and he did make it possible for them to stay together. So, he wasn't on her 'must make life hell' hit list.

Giles tried, but he was still gone by five every day, so he really didn't count too much either.

Nannies, however…

Once they found out that you didn't have a mother, they would do everything in their power to become your boss. Dawn had seen it enough times in her life with her friends. Their parents would get a divorce, and the next they knew, they had both a new step-mom and a new nanny to boss them around so they would stay out of step-mommy dearest and dad's hair.

Well, no nanny was going to come in and tell them what to do. She had made a promise that she would look after her siblings, and she didn't need any valley-girl coming in and screwing things up.

"Thanks again for doing this," Jonathon said, bringing Dawn back to the present. He slipped into the backseat of his parent's car and added, "Promise you'll take good care of her until we get back."

Andrew stood next to the car, clutching a large and heavy box in his arms. "Yeah, I will."

Andrew had met the young man at their new school. The two boys hit it off the instant that Andrew realized that Jonathon not only knew who Doctor Who was but could name off every incarnation of Star Trek to date with captain and crew. It was scary, really. Almost like they were the same boy, only Andrew was lanky, pale and had blond-hair and Jonathon was short, dark-haired and was a bit more grounded.

Dawn thought her brother was going to burst with sheer joy when he found out that Jonathon's dad was none other than Adam Livingston, the creator and producer of his current favorite TV show, "Space Cowboy". She was surprised that Mr. Livingston hadn't taken a restraining order out on him yet. If it had been her, she would have.

Jonathon smiled wearily as he looked from Andrew to Dawn and waved. "Well, bye guys."

The two siblings watched as the car disappeared down the street, then turned to head back up the driveway to the house.

"Now what?" Andrew asked, shifting the box in his arms to distribute the weight more evenly.

"Now, we wait until everyone is asleep."

"Then Operation Bye, Bye Buffy begins?"

Dawn just stopped herself from rolling her eyes at her brother. Why did he have to name all of their plans 'operation something'?

"Yup," the preteen said. "She'll be gone by morning."

As the brown-haired girl slipped into the house to make sure the coast was clear, Andrew looked down at the box in his arms and frowned.

"Or have a new pair of boots by morning," he muttered to himself.

Buffy yawned as she walked into the hallway from her room, pulling her bathrobe closer around herself. It had been a long day and all she wanted to do was sleep until, say, the next century, but she figured she better check on the children and make sure they were alright before turning in herself.

The kids and Giles had briefly joined the adults in the living room when the pizzas they ordered arrived. But then Dawn had gathered up her brother and sister, grabbed a couple of boxes and split upstairs. Buffy couldn't be sure, but the twelve-year-old was looking at her like she had something big planned. She would just have to be on the look out for whatever it was.

Cracking open her door, Buffy peered into Tara's room first, since it was directly across from hers. Her princess-style room was dark, except for a small light from the corner that was glowing thanks to a Cinderella nightlight. The little girl herself was snuggled up with a small stuff animal, the light seeming not to bother her. The poor child looked lost in the large, four-poster bed, but comfortable at least.

Buffy wasn't surprised to find that Dawn's door was locked.

'Probably in there plotting,' the nanny thought.

Andrew's door wasn't even shut. When Buffy looked in on him, she had to smile. He was lying flat across his bed, his face smushed against his pillow and his arm draped over the side of the bed, reaching into the pizza box that laid there. So much for him brushing his teeth before bed.

As she pulled the door closed, Buffy felt someone's eyes on her. She turned to look down the adjoining hallway and saw Spike standing there, leaning against what she assumed was his bedroom's door smirking.

"The troops present and accounted for?" he asked.

"Yes," she said, crossing her arms. "If you want to make sure that none of them have died in my care, you can check yourself."

"Not worried that you'd kill one of the kids, pet," he said.

Buffy returned the smirk. "Guess that would make you smarter than you look. Good thing, 'cause I really didn't think anyone could be that stupid."

His eyes narrowed. "Watch it, little girl. I'm still your boss, remember."

"And I'm still the only one willing to work for you." Buffy really wasn't sure if that were true or not, but, from the things that Willow and the others had said, she thought it had to be. His evil glare was answer enough for her.

But then, the glare turned back into a smirk as he said, "Well, who does that make the stupider one then, eh, love? Me? Or the one willing to do as I say?"

He eyed her up and down her body, much like he had done when they'd first met at the restaurant, as if wondering if she really was willing to do as he said. Though it disgusted her since she did hate this man, the blonde nanny had to repress the shudder she got from the look. Yeah, she might hate this man, but she wasn't blind, as much as she wished she were at this moment so she wouldn't have to see that look in his eyes.

"Shut up, Spike," she said, hurrying to her room and wondering if what he just did could be considered sexual harassment.

"That's Mr. Barrett," Buffy heard him call before adding, in a much softer tone, "cheeky bint."

Slipping into her room, the blonde nanny leaned against her now closed door.

What was that? Why had she gone all shudder-y when he'd looked at her like that? That just wasn't right. It was…eww, that's what it was. No other way to describe it. Nope. None.

"God, I need a boyfriend," Buffy said, taking off her robe and slipping into bed.

She was tired and wanted to sleep so she could forget for a few hours who she was now working for.

Well, at least one good thing about today was that she finally got to officially meet Willow's new friends.

They all seemed rather nice, even Anya -- though Buffy had no idea why she was going on and on about Spike and some stallion he apparently owned. Nor did she understand why Xander would get upset by the subject and continually change it to something else.

Oz hadn't said much – not that he would have had a chance between Anya and Xander – but Willow didn't seem to mind and they both were kind of caught up in their own little world.

And then there was Angel. She had never told Willow this, but she had always kind of had a crush on the drummer ever since she had seen him on "LiveWire" with Cameron Michaels.

That had been the day she'd been fired and been ready to destroy anything associated with Spike. But, then, the bleached-blond hadn't shown up for the interview, and instead they talked with the other band members. There was just something about Angel that seemed so mysterious and sweet…

Okay, so he had tried to order a beer at eleven o'clock that morning and had looked awful when she first met him, but she wasn't a morning person either. And who hadn't had a hangover and wanted a way to make it go away the next day?

Then, it could be that Angel was just her type: tall, dark, and handsome. That's how she liked them.

Not pale, bleached-blond and annoying.

Stupid Spike.

'No fraternizing with the help,' her groggy mind repeated, causing her to frown into her pillow.

Who did Spike think he was? Angel could 'fraternize' with her if he wanted. It was a free country the last time she'd checked.

Stupid bleached-blond. Thinks he can tell her what to do just because he's her boss.

Her mental grumbling eventually lulled her to sleep.

Dawn cracked her eyes open and glanced at her digital clock: 1:15 A.M. Perfect.

The preteen had heard her uncle and Buffy speaking in the hallway awhile ago before the hall light was turned off and the nanny's door closed. Giving it a good half-hour to be sure that the blonde woman was asleep, Dawn finally got out of bed and went to collect her brother.

She didn't bother to hide her smirk as she passed Buffy's door. It was time Nanny Bambi found out what watching the Griffin kids was all about.

Opening Andrew's door, Dawn found her little brother in the same position Buffy had. As she slipped towards him, she heard him mutter, "No, Pilot, we have to save Wolverine and D'Argo before Vader gets them."

'God, even in his dreams, he's a dork,' the brown-haired girl thought as she knelt next to him.

"Andrew," she said softly, nudging his shoulder. When that didn't work, Dawn said a little more forcefully, "Andrew."

Startled, the boy's eyes shot open. "The Klingons are attacking!!"

"Shhh," his sister hissed, slapping her hand over his mouth. "You want to wake everyone up?"

"Dawn?" Andrew said, blinking to bring her into focus.

"Yeah."

Sitting up in his bed, the reddish-blond boy looked over to the corner, then back at his sister. "Time for Operation Buffy Go Bye-Bye?"

Rolling her eyes, Dawn headed for the corner and said, "I told you no more stupid code names. Now come and get this thing, cause I'm so not touching it."

Andrew fell out of bed and did as his sister asked. "Neutralize the Nanny?"

"No."

"Buffy-gate?"

"No."

"Agent Oh-God-I-Quit."

"Andrew!"

Bunching up her pillow underneath her head, Buffy sighed. There was something wrong.

Did she forget something at the apartment? No, they had made sure the place was empty before she turned in her key. Mr. Gordo was sitting on top of the dresser. Most of her clothes were put away in her new closet, and the rest were with Willow. Pictures of her and her mom were safely tucked away.

So, it couldn't be anything to do with her stuff.

Maybe the kids?

Dawn had been in her room when she went to bed and both Andrew and Tara had been asleep. So, no, that wasn't it.

But what could it be?

The bed shifted with the weight of another person and she smiled.

Oh, that's right. He wasn't there yet.

"I've been waiting for you," she said, feeling him move closer to her, but not touching her yet.

He chuckled behind her, then leaned down and barely brushed his lips against the bare skin of her shoulder. Her smile continued to grow as she felt him reach below the covers and start to skim his hand across the small of her back, his finger nails tickling the area.

"Stop," she giggled. But he continued upward, the small grazes tickling her as he traced her spine.

Then Buffy felt something hard slide against her back, eliciting a small gasp from her.

"Mmm," she chuckled. "I take it you missed me?"

But, whatever it was, continued to slide against the same spot, like it was moving. And the tickling had stopped, but now there was a sound. Almost like a hissing.

Buffy cracked open her eyes, finding that whatever was touching her in her dream, was still touching her. Still too much asleep to be alarmed by this, the nanny carefully rolled over onto her back.

Pulling the covers off, Buffy drew in a sharp breath, then began to scream.

Spike nearly fell out of bed as the terrified screech echoed through the home and tore him out of his favorite dream: his own adventures with the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders – the only bloody good thing about American 'football.'

"What the…" he muttered to himself, getting out of bed and pulling on his jeans to go investigate.

Stepping out of his room, he looked down the hall and saw Andrew timidly staring down the adjoining hallway.

"What the bloody hell is going on?" the singer asked, jogging to his nephew.

"Um…"

Turning his attention to what the boy was looking at, Spike saw both Tara and Dawn peeking out of their rooms and looking at Buffy's still closed door. Tara appeared rather frightened by the nanny's scream, but Dawn had a smug grin on her face.

Oh, God, what had she done now?

Lord, he hoped he didn't get sued for this.

"What did you three do this time?" he asked the children harshly. Before even giving them the chance to answer, he began to bang on the door. "Ms. Summers?"

When no answer came, Spike reached down and turned the knob.

"Bloody hell!" he exclaimed, his arms sweeping out to push the kids back behind him.

Buffy was pushed against the wall, her eyes wide as she stared at the very large snake curled up in the middle of her bed. Its head was facing her, its tongue peeking out every few seconds as it slowly inched towards the edge of the bed.

"Stay back," Spike said, moving himself and the kids back even further into the hall. Hell, the thing was big enough to eat his youngest niece, and he needed to protect them.

The children were wiggling behind him, trying to see around their uncle and into the room. Dawn stood on her tiptoes, peering over his shoulder and smiling at the sight of the blonde nanny and the python. Andrew managed to look around his arm, while Tara peeked around his hip.

Blindly reaching for something to defend herself with, Buffy grabbed a silver jewelry box that was on top of her dresser and raised it over her head to strike.

"No!" Andrew cried, pushing past his uncle and running into the room. "Don't hurt her."

Buffy blinked, then looked over at Spike while still holding the jewelry box.

Buffy sighed as she leaned back against the stairwell, watching as Spike played at being a parent and the kids played at being intimidated. The three sat on the living room couch, oldest to youngest, listening to their uncle's rant, while still in their pajamas. Spike himself hadn't bothered to thrown on a shirt, but no one but Buffy seemed to notice.

"Where in the hell did you three come up with Kaa there?!" the bleached singer demanded, pointing to the aquarium that now housed the python. On top of the tank's lid sat a heavy rock, two paperweights from the study, and the Webster's New Universal Unabridged Dictionary just so they could be sure that the snake couldn't escape. Nevertheless, Spike was positive that it had some help in its last attempt at freedom.

Andrew at least had the decency to look ashamed at what had happened, while Tara just kept her head down.

Dawn, on the other hand…

"It's just a little snake," she said, settling back against the couch. She was sure to give Buffy an innocent smirk before she continued on. "What's the big?"

"Dawn," Spike practically growled at the girl.

Rolling her eyes up to the ceiling, the preteen sighed and said, "Her name is Roxie, alright. Andrew's watching her for Jonathon."

"Who the hell is Jonathon?" Spike asked.

"His friend. Lives down the street." At the blank look, Dawn added, "The producer's kid. Kind of looks like a hobbit."

"Oh…right," Spike said, though he still had no idea who she was talking about.

"How long is she staying?" the blonde nanny asked, seemingly reminding the family that she was there.

Andrew gave her a surprised and somewhat impressed smile that she was still willing to let the animal stay in the house after what happened. Dawn, however, narrowed her eyes, more than a little mad that Buffy wasn't packing her things to leave from the incident.

And Spike-

"Oh, no. That bloody thing isn't stayin' here!" he yelled. "The only snakes allowed in this house are the belt-shaped kind!"

"But Jonathon and his parents are already gone," Andrew said.

"I don't give a f-."

"Spike," Buffy said, cutting him off before he got the curse out. Her employer gave her a sharp look that she ignored as she calmly said, "I'm sure that they won't be gone that long."

"They'll be back on Sunday," Andrew filled in quickly.

With a nod to the boy, the blonde woman continued, "And he's already promised he'd watch her. He should keep that promise."

Looking up at the ceiling as if praying for strength, Spike said, "Fine. But keep that thing locked up tight. I don't want it gettin' out and makin' a meal of your lil' sister."

Tara paled somewhat at the thought and scooted away from the tank, while Buffy fought the urge to slap Spike upside the head. The poor kid was probably going to have nightmares now from the suggestion.

Andrew smiled brightly, mostly because now he wouldn't lose a friend because of his sister's stupid plan.

Dawn just continued to glare, trying to work out a new plan of attack to get rid of the blonde bimbo. Looks like she was going to be tougher than she originally thought.

"Right then," Spike said. "Dawn, help your brother get that thing back up into his room and go to bed."

"Whatever," the brunette child said, but got up and helped Andrew pick up the aquarium. Once lifted and ready to go, she looked back over at her little sister who was still sitting on the couch. "Come on, Tara."

The tiny blonde child was warily eyeing the snake and Buffy could almost see her uncle's words running through her head.

"I'll take her up," the nanny said.

Dawn sent her one last 'I will destroy you' sneer, then started up the stairs with Andrew.

'What have I gotten myself into?' Buffy wondered to herself before turning her attention to the small child on the couch. She knelt to the little girl's level and asked, "You ready for bed?"

Tara nodded and wrapped her arms around Buffy's neck, allowing her to pick her up. The nanny was glad that she didn't weigh that much.

Spike was watching her and had a rather impressed smirk on his face. "You're still here."

"Disappointed?" the blonde woman asked, shifting the child who clung to her and was quickly falling asleep.

He snorted a laugh, but didn't answer. Instead, he said, "The other nannies would have been headin' for the hills after that."

Shrugging, Buffy started up the stairs and said, "I worked at DoubleMeat Palace though high school. It'll take a lot more than some snake to scare me."

"Careful, pet. Dawn might take that as a challenge," he warned, turning off the living room lights and heading up after her.

"I'm sure she will," she muttered, continuing her trek upstairs with the now sleeping child in her arms.

With a sigh, Buffy decided that she should start locking her door from now on. Though, in a distant part of her mind, something whispered that maybe she ought to forget to if it meant she got to see Spike with his shirt off again. She blissfully ignored said distant part.

Once they reached the top of the stairs, Buffy turned towards the end of the hallway that led to her and the children's rooms, while Spike turned and headed in the other direction.

However, before he disappeared into his room, he turned towards her, smiled and said, "Goodnight, Ms. Summers."

Buffy couldn't tell whether he was trying to be cute or condescending. So, she answered with the same tone, "Goodnight, Mr. Barrett."

She heard him chuckle, then heard his door close.

God, it had been a long day. And to think, this was just her first day on the job.

Putting Tara to bed, Buffy muttered to herself, "Oh, yeah, this is a lot better than working at the Moonlight Lounge."