Title: Words Unspoken

Author: Jedi Buttercup

Rating: PG-13/T

Disclaimer: The words are mine; the worlds are not.

Summary: "Ah-ree! You should have told me your little friend would come by today," Thomas said, in that hideously thick accent he affected in order to be taken seriously as a stylist. 1200 words.

Spoilers: Post-series fusion-AU for Buffy; post "White Night" for Dresden

Notes: For the August Ficathon. So, it turns out I'm not quite finished with this universe...


"Ah-ree, what a lovely surprise you have sent me today! Naughty, naughty; I will have words with you later."

My half-brother's voice was coy and very, very French on the message he'd left with the answering service, not at all what I'd been expecting when I'd stopped by the office to go through my mail for checks and meet with the one client I hadn't been able to get clear of that weekend. Buffy had assured me she'd find some shopping to do while I was busy, but her visits were still rare enough- even after I'd managed to source a route through the Ways from a little park by the Council House in Cleveland- that I wanted to spend as much of her time here actually with her as possible.

Neither of us exactly held nine to five jobs, so you might not think it would be much of a problem to arrange our schedules to coincide. But when one party in the relationship is a wizard and the other is a Slayer- especially this wizard, and this Slayer, each with their own count of apocalypses averted and buildings demolished- finding a little peace and quiet together could be something of a challenge. I'd seen her covered in blood and bruises before I'd ever seen her naked, and we'd burned down our first ornamental fixture together more than a year before we'd finally burned up the sheets. We both had our own supernatural wars to fight, and in this business, the bad guys don't take vacations.

Thomas knew all that, though; and I'd specifically told him that I'd be home as much of that weekend as possible to spend time with Buffy. I couldn't figure out why he would have called the office; how would he have known when to reach me? The only possible person who could have told him was...

I swallowed and cut off the next message half-way through, hanging it up to dial the number of Thomas' expensive boutique, the Coiffure Cup. My girlfriend the Vampire Slayer still didn't know that the White Court vampire I'd taken along on the Arctis Tor mission was also my brother, and she'd been asking about him just the night before. She'd wondered how I could hang out with a guy who had to rape other people's souls to thrive- and given her own history with White Court vamps who were supposed to have gone straight and later fell off the wagon to rather disastrous effect, I understood her caution. So I might have mentioned that he'd found another arrangement that allowed him to feed without harming anyone... and I might have also forgotten to warn Thomas about it.

In my defense, though, I'd never expected her to actually find which boutique he worked at and corner him there. Yes, I can be a little thick sometimes. Vampire. Slayer. And she'd probably heard one of my police contacts joke by now about the incident with the walking carpet, the chic apartment, the suspicious building security, and a certain amount of carefully calculated flouncing. To someone who didn't know about our shared mother or Thomas' current lack of standing among the Raith family leadership, that might sound a whole lot like evidence of a White Court con to get their hooks in the local Warden.

"Ah, this is Harry. Is Toe-Moss there?" I greeted the girl who answered as cheerfully as I could, hoping against hope that they were both still in one piece.

She giggled; yep, it was definitely one of the assistants who believed that Thomas and I were an item. Normally, I'd wince at the sound, but at the time I was just happy to infer nothing had gone obviously wrong in the twenty minutes since he'd called. "Just a moment! He's with a client, but he's about to put her under the dryer."

"I'll wait," I promised her, knotting my fingers idly in the phone cord.

I couldn't imagine what they would have said to one another. They'd kept their distance from each other on our trip through Winter, both of them instinctively wary of the other's supernatural heritage. Had she threatened him on my behalf? Had he returned the favor? Or had she just been looking for someone special to do her hair, and picked Thomas' place because she knew he was my friend?

That last would have been the easier answer. But nothing's ever exactly been easy in my world.

My thoughts were starting to chase each other by the time Thomas picked up, and I sagged in relief at the sound of his voice.

"Ah-ree! You should have told me your little friend would come by today," he said, in that hideously thick accent he affected in order to be taken seriously as a stylist.

He sounded a lot... more cheerful than even my most optimistic projections would account for. "I know I said the secret would be safe with me, but you know what she is," I told him, guiltily. "I didn't want her stalking you to try to save me from you, or something, and she'd just have found the boutique in the end, anyway. I meant to tell you I'd told her, I really did, but..."

"I have no doubt you had much more enticing things on your mind," he replied dryly- but he still didn't sound anywhere near as upset as I would have expected.

"Uh, yeah. Seriously, though, what happened? She didn't attack you or anything, did she? Is she still there?"

"In reverse order- yes, and no, and she made a hair appointment, of course," Thomas chuckled at me. "She asked to be treated exactly as I would any other client," he added, heavy on the subtext.

Hells Bells. That meant- that meant she'd wanted him to feed on her the way he did every pampered woman who passed through his chair, taking little sips of life energy with every shampoo, style, and weave. I choked, not sure which of them I was angrier at- her, for offering herself to an incubus to test him, or him for daring to touch her that way. "You what?" I sputtered.

His grin was audible in his voice as he replied, almost enough to wipe out the put-on accent. "Ah, but it was such a shame; I developed an allergic reaction to something in her hair and had to pass her to one of my assistants. Rob-air is looking out for her; she will be nearly as beautiful as she would have been in my care when you see her next, I assure you."

"You... what?" I repeated myself as my brain froze up at the implications.

He snorted. "For a private investigator, you sometimes have trouble seeing the nose on your face," he chided me, in a lowered voice. "Congratulations." Then he spoke up again, presumably to add fuel to the gossip fire among his fans. "I must return to my clients; bon soir, Ah-ree."

I swallowed thickly as he hung up.

He hadn't been able to feed from her. She'd burned him. Which meant...

Maybe it was time to trust her with a few more of my secrets.

-x-