Buffy Summers tucked her golden blonde hair nervously behind her ear as she sat down at her desk. It was her first day at Parker Kincaid Publishing. Having majored in English at college, and worked here on her vacations it had seemed only natural to accept a job here as an assistant editor. Now though, she had her doubts. Maybe she should have worked in a library. She grimaced at the thought. It wasn't that she didn't know the work, she excelled at it in fact. No, Buffy just wasn't sure she should have taken such a demanding job, straight out of college.
After all, she had her Slayer duties to think of. That was demanding enough, and she had no choice about that one. When would she sleep, for Heaven's sake?
Her phone rang, "Good morning. Parker Kincaid publishing, Buffy Summers speaking."
"'Morning Buffy." The sunny voice of Meg Peterson, her immediate boss assailed her. "Busy?"
"Ew! Do you have to be so cheerful? It's 8am."
"It's a lovely day, though. Are you busy?"
"Not yet. Why? What have you got for me?"
"Can you come down to my office?"
"On my way." Buffy hung up the phone and hurried off to Meg's office. She knocked on the door.
Buffy pushed the door open and smiled. "Morning Meg. How are you today?"
"Wonderful, Buffy. Have you met Nicolette Kincaid yet?"
The Slayer noticed the diminutive brunette standing on the other side of the room.
"Good morning Ms Kincaid." She extended her hand.
"Good morning Buffy." The other woman shook her hand warmly; "It's Mrs, not Ms. But I'd like you to call me Nikki."
"I'm sorry, Nikki."
"No need to be. There's no harm done."
"Buffy," Meg reclaimed her attention. "I called you in here because Nikki has a book she'd like you to work on. This is, of course, in addition to the rest of your work. Think you can handle it?"
"Of course. What's it about?"
"Can you start now, Buffy?" Nikki queried.
"Yes, I can. I don't have anything to do yet."
"That's what you think." Meg smiled, pointing to a pile of manuscripts on her desk.
Buffy grinned, "How'd I know you were going to say that?" she thought for a minute, "How's this for an idea? I'll go and take a look at Nikki's book now, and if I don't get to these by quitting time I'll take them with me."
"It sounds like I hired an enthusiastic worker." Nikki laughed. "Let's get to it."
"Phew. You said you had a book for me all right. This is weird. Is it poetry?"
"Kind of." Nikki replied. "I found it on an archaeological dig in Ireland a few months back. I think it's in some sort of code. Parts of it are also in ancient Gaelic."
"Oh yeah. The bits I can't understand." Buffy grinned.
Nikki chuckled, "It's a good thing I know some Gaelic then, isn't it?"
"What, you specialise in dead languages?" Buffy shot back.
"Not at all. Gaelic isn't dead. It's very much alive. Especially in the South-West corner. I own a little cottage there, and my father owns a pub in Dublin."
"Really? Cool. My high-school sweetheart was from Ireland originally."
"Where exactly was he from? I might know him."
"Oh, I don't think so. He came to the States quite a few years ago."
"Oh, okay. It's lunch-time now, why don't you take an-da-shalla here with you and have a read of it on your break?"
"Thanks Nikki. That'd be great. I'm meeting my friend Willow for lunch and she may be able to help out with it. She's quite good at cracking codes. She calls it a hobby, but a hobby doesn't usually make you a millionaire, does it?"
"Who says? My husband and I have made quite a bit of money from my hobby."
"Do you guys have a partner, or did you keep your maiden-name when you got married?"
Nikki laughed, "Neither. Why?"
"Oh, um, it's just that, uh, the company name is Parker Kincaid Publishing. I would have thought it would be Kincaid Kincaid, or something. D'oh. I've been friends with Wil for too long; I've got the rambling bug. I'm shutting up now."
"We formed the company before we got married and, even though I changed my name, we figured that we'd keep the same name. Easier for our clients that way. So, how long have you and this Willow been friends for?"
Buffy smiled wistfully, "Since Sophomore year at high school. We were even dorm-mates in college."
"Sounds like you two are pretty close, huh?"
"Yeah, we are."
"I better not keep you any longer than. I'll see you back here at..." Nikki looked at her watch, "...About 2:15. Sound okay to you?"
"Sounds fair to me. Have a nice lunch, Nikki." Buffy began to clear up.
"You too, Buffy. Actually, Buffy, um, there was something I wanted to ask you…"
"You went to school at Sunnydale High, right?"
The Slayer nodded.
"Did you know the librarian, Rupert Giles, at all?"
Buffy looked up, puzzled. "Yeah, I did. Why?"
Nikki smiled. "Do you speak to him anymore?"
"Once again, yeah. Occasionally. Why?'
"Could you tell him that Larry Parker's oldest daughter said to say "Hi"?"
"You know Giles?"
"He and my father went through school together in England. They drifted apart when Rupert, Giles as you call him, became friends with Ethan Rayne. My mother, Cera, was Rupert's cousin. She got them talking again, and Rupert became my god-father. But I haven't seen him since I was a teenager. I'd love to see him again if you could arrange it…" Nikki left the thought hanging.
"I'll see. I can't promise anything 'cause Giles has been pretty funny about meeting new people lately. Especially females. He was seeing the computer teacher at SHS when she was murdered. It shook him up a lot."
"I know. He wrote my mother about it. Jenny Calendar, wasn't it?"
They sat in silence for a few minutes; each wrapped up in their own memories of Rupert Giles, before a knock at the door interrupted their thoughts.
"Are you breaking for lunch today, Nik?" the newcomer questioned.
"Yup. Right now in fact. Marcus, this is Buffy Summers. Buffy, my husband and partner, Marcus Kincaid."
Buffy stood awkwardly and tried to shake his hand whilst juggling her briefcase. "Pleased to meet you Mr Kincaid."
"Marcus. How's your first day been, Buffy?"
"Fine, but it's not…"
"Not really your first day. You've been working your breaks here for awhile. I know. But it is your first day working permanent full-time, right?"
"Yeah. How did you know?"
"My wife may deal with the day to day running of the business, but I do the hiring and firing. Not to mention the contracts. Nikki's been looking for a protege for awhile, and if you're work so far has been any indication I think she's picked well."
"Well, thank you." Buffy blushed.
"No thanks required. I was speaking cold, hard fact. You're a natural."
"I hope I live up to your expectations."
"Make it 3pm, Buffy." Nikki interjected.
Buffy glanced at her watch, "But that's over an hour."
"Sure. You've worked well over your break time. Enjoy it." With that parting comment the Kincaid's left the room, leaving Buffy to herself.
The blonde pulled her cellphone out of her pocket as she headed for the main doors. She pressed a speed-dial code as she hit the sidewalk.
"Rosenberg Codes. We make 'em so they can't break 'em."
"Hey Wil. It's me."
"Buffy, I thought you were dead. What took you so long to call? I thought we had a lunch date."
"I just got my break. I've been working with the boss. I want you to take a look at something. 'Kay?"
"Sure thing, Buff. Where do you wanna meet?"
"How 'bout that new place on Zen Avenue? Angelic."
Silence. "You gonna get mopey on me?"
"No. Call it therapy."
"I can be there in five minutes."
"Make it ten. Bye."