AN: Nikkilicious, the lady whom this fic was originally dedicated to, passed away as I was writing this chapter. I would like to take the time to state that this story, which she loved, will be finished in her memory. Rest in peace Nikki x
Chapter Five: Scoobies Get Spooked
It didn't take long for Spike to be officially accepted as one of the gang, and he had never felt more like he belonged in his life, despite Xander's silent dislike. Spike had been one of them for several weeks before he actually found out what they called themselves.
Giles entered the library to find Spike and company clearing away a game of Clue.
"Ah," he chuckled. "Keeping the little grey cells working, are you, Scoobies?"
"Well, you never know when something might come up," Buffy said. "Spike? You okay?"
"Scoobies?" he said in confusion.
She giggled. "Sorry, we never explained that. Couple of years ago, some students pulled this prank, pretending that there was a school ghost – and we worked out who was behind it. Now everyone calls us the Scooby Gang. You know, after Scooby-Doo. Er, you do have Scooby-Doo in England, right?"
Spike laughed. "'Course we do. It was my favourite cartoon when I was a kid."
After a few failed attempts, Spike had finally found a job waiting tables at a restaurant in town. He hated the uniform and the boss was nitpicky, but Giles had pointed out that a Saturday job there would be more useful to his career if he decided to become a chef than a job on a supermarket till would. At least the pay was better, Spike thought.
He waited until he'd saved enough, and bought Snow White a basket, collar, lead and what Giles described as 'a hundred other things', before finally taking her home. Although Giles had claimed to not be much of an animal person, Spike caught him petting Snow White and talking to her, and stored the information for future blackmail purposes.
"How's Snow settling in?" Oz asked him as the two of them watched Xander wind Cordelia up.
"She seems fine, really happy. Think she likes Giles a lot." Spike chuckled. "And sausages."
Oz smiled. "Do you mind if I still see her sometimes? I only have Oscar left. All the others are gone now."
"'Course. You can come over at the weekend if you want. I'm working all day tomorrow, but I'm free Sunday if you want to drop round."
"Sorry, I can't Sunday – it's Father's Day, so I have to hang around my place. Next weekend, maybe."
Spike barely registered anything after Father's Day. "What?"
"I said, Sunday's Father's Day -"
Spike jumped up. "Sorry, Oz, I'll see you later. I've got something to do."
Friday afternoons always dragged on for Buffy. She was counting down the minutes until the final bell rang, and looking forward to getting home and maybe having a long hot bath. Of course, she had to pick Dawn up from school first – her sister seemed to have settled in well at the junior high school – but that wouldn't take long.
When the final class ended, though, she was cornered by Spike on the way out of the building. "Buffy, could you help me please?"
"I didn't know it was Father's Day on Sunday, and I've spent this week's pay on dog food. – I won't have any more money till tomorrow after work, and it'll be too late to go shopping by the time my karate class is finished. Plus I have no idea what to get, and you're good at that kind of thing."
"You want me to buy your dad a present?"
"No. Giles. And I'll choose, I just need some advice as well as the funds for it. I'll pay you back, I swear."
"You want to get Giles a Father's Day present?" Buffy asked, wondering why Spike wasn't buying for his own father.
"Well," Spike mumbled, "he's the closest I've ever had. Please, Buffy?"
And so that's how Buffy found herself trawling the shopping centre with Spike, and Dawn in tow. She didn't like to talk about her father much in front of Dawn, considering how badly the two of them had bonded when she had been sent to live with him, but he was not as sore a subject as she had expected. Dawn didn't seem bothered by Father's Day at all.
"So," Buffy addressed Spike, "which one do you think Giles will like?"
She had phoned Joyce to let her know that she and Dawn would be home late, but that didn't mean she wanted to be hours. The torn look on Spike's face, however, indicated that they might well be.
"I don't know." Buffy felt a rush of sympathy for him as he admitted, "I've never done this before."
"Well, let's start with the basics. Does he have a sense of humour?" It was a rhetorical question – Buffy knew he did. "Do you think he would appreciate a funny card?"
Spike cast an eye over the Humour section, and shook his head. "Not any of those, they're all crude."
"Okay, so that rules out – hmm – one quarter of your options. What about the sentimental ones?"
"I'm not sure. Depends how sickly they are." Spike fingered them for a few minutes, before his eyes widened and he pulled one off the shelf, sending several envelopes to the floor in the process.
The card was almost plain, white with just a few blue swirls serving as its only decoration. The sentiment on the front read Anyone can be a father. It takes someone special to be a daddy. Inside the card, it simply said, Happy Father's Day.
Buffy raised her eyebrows. "That for Giles?"
Spike slowly nodded. "It's perfect."
"Are you sure?"
"Have you ever actually called him 'Daddy'?" Buffy was joking, but Spike repeated, "Yeah."
"When?" she asked.
"It was one of my first words. I don' remember it, but Mum told me about it. Giles didn't move over here 'til I was about two; before that he used to live next door to us and babysat me while my parents worked. 'Course, I spent most of my time with him, and that's who I knew him as when I was little."
"Aw. That's kinda sweet. Though I can't imagine your actual dad being too happy at that."
"Mum and Giles never told him." Spike paused. "I never called him 'Daddy' in my life."
"Are you going to buy that for Giles then?" Dawn interrupted.
Spike nodded. "Just the present now."
"What about a book?" Buffy said, grinning.
"Very funny. I thought I'd save that for Christmas – get him something rare, or on an unusual subject. I don't know what to get him now."
"Well, it doesn't have to be something big," Dawn said. "It's Father's Day, not his birthday."
"What about a bottle of wine or something?" Buffy suggested. "He drinks, right?"
Spike nodded slowly. "Yeah. I think he'd like that."
"Right then, let's go and choose something."
"One problem," Dawn said.
"What's that?" Buffy and Spike said together.
"If Buffy's paying, she's not old enough to buy alcohol."
There was a pause. A thought struck Spike. Although Giles would still not let him get a driver's licence, he had let him get a "proof of age" identity card. It would be the first time he had used it, and his stomach squirmed at the thought.
If his passport had not been spotted as a fake, surely the cashier would not spot his card as one – but the feeling wouldn't go away.
He couldn't help but envision himself being escorted away by cops to be questioned about his identity and for a moment he thought he was going to throw up.
"Oops," Buffy said. "Didn't think of that."
"I can queue," Spike said, "I've got ID."
Buffy shook her head. "You're eighteen. You have to be twenty-one to buy alcohol over here. Didn't you know that?"
"Oh. No, I didn't."
"Maybe you could get someone else to buy it for you?" Dawn suggested.
"Like who?" Spike asked.
Buffy pulled out her mobile. "I could try calling Fred." At the blank looks, she explained. "Willow's cousin. She only lives down the road, and she's just turned twenty-one. If she's around she could help us."
Winifred Burkle turned out to have been on her way past the shop anyway and found them in the wine aisle. Like her cousin, she was quite pretty in a nerdy sort of way and incredibly friendly. Spike warmed to her immediately. It obviously showed, because Buffy gave him a funny look when he thanked her for purchasing the wine on his behalf.
She left after that, and he and the Summers' started walking home.
"I'll pay you back on Monday, Buffy, thanks a lot," Spike said.
Although by car Buffy and Dawn's house was nearer, they took a shorter route through the park and reached Giles' place first.
"His car's not here," Spike murmured. "He must still be working. Great, that means I can nip in and hide this before he sees it. You two want to come in for a drink or something?"
"Can we?" Dawn turned to Buffy with eagerness.
"Okay, but we can't stay too long; Mom's waiting – ew!"
"What's the matter?" Spike asked, key in the door.
Buffy sent him a glare as she tried to wipe the dog mess off her shoes on the grass. Dawn was giggling at her.
"Sorry," Spike grinned sheepishly. "Snow White's housetrained, but not garden-path-trained yet. Bad Snow!" he directed indoors.
Buffy heard a whine from inside. Snow White obviously knew she was in trouble.
"Ew," Buffy said again. "This is gross." Spike had gone inside to find a hiding-place for the bottle, but Dawn was still standing on the steps, waiting for her sister. "Remind me to never get a -" She broke off as a car turned into the drive.
"Spike!" Dawn called indoors. "Your godfather's back! Spike?"
He appeared in the doorway. "Sorry, Dawn, couldn't hear you in the kitchen. What did you – oh bugger." He quickly hid the bottle behind his back and attempted to look innocent.
"What are you three up to?" Giles asked, walking up to the front door.
"Nothing," Spike replied too quickly.
Giles frowned. "Spike, what are you hiding?"
He shook his head. "Nothing. Honest."
Buffy opened her mouth to say something to Giles to distract him, but Snow White, hearing Giles' voice, barked joyfully and pushed her way past Spike to greet him. Spike jumped, and the bottle slipped from his hands. Luckily it landed on the doormat without breaking, but rolled down the steps, coming to a halt in front of Giles.
Spike gulped. Buffy suddenly realised he looked chalk-white. "It's not how it looks -"
Giles pointed, his expression stony. "Inside, Spike." To Buffy, he said, "I think you two had better be off home."
She and Dawn looked at each other as Giles pushed the door to behind him. "What was that all about?" Dawn said.
"Shush," Buffy said. "They can probably still hear us. Dawn, you got a tissue?"
Dawn handed one over and Buffy sat down on the step to clean her shoe. She could still, just about hear the voices inside.
"… misled me," Giles was saying. "Spike, it's only natural to slip on occasion. I'm not going to condemn you for it – But please, don't lie to me."
"I think Spike's in trouble," Dawn whispered.
"Shush," Buffy said again.
"I didn't slip." Spike sounded angry as well now. "Giles, how can you say that?"
"For your information, the wine was for you. I bought it for Father's Day. I know you like rosé."
There was a long, awkward pause. Finally, Giles said, "Oh." It was barely audible.
"I bought it with only you in mind, and it hurts that the first thing you thought when you saw it was that you couldn't trust me." Spike's voice cracked.
"I – Spike, I – I'm sorry -"
"Think we'd better go," Buffy whispered to Dawn. They had intruded too much, and she felt incredibly guilty. They left for home, and neither spoke about what they had overheard.
London, Seven Years Earlier
"I'm sorry, Di," William murmured, kissing his dog on the nose. "But I've got to go to school."
"Mum'll look after you while I'm gone, I promise." She watched him balefully as he left the room, and he sat in silence through the entire car journey.
"Don't look so worried, sweetheart," Anne Pratt said to her son as she dropped him off, just after the bell had rung.
"Why can't I stay at home? Term ends tomorrow anyway. Please, Mum.""
"Aphrodite will be fine," Anne said gently. "The vet said she just needs some peace and quiet. And you need your education, so go to class, young man." William got out of the car reluctantly. "Love you."
"Love you too, Mum."
William continued to be anxious throughout the day, and it worsened acutely when his mother was late to pick him up. It wasn't like her. Anne finally appeared when all the other students had left, and she didn't look happy.
"Mum? What's wrong? Why are you so late?" A cold hand clutched at William's heart. "Is Di okay?"
"I'm so sorry, darling," Anne whispered.
It didn't take long to get the truth out of her. Anne had left the house for a mere half an hour, leaving Di alone with her husband, who was on his day off work. When Di started barking uncontrollably, he shut her in the car.
It was the first time William had ever flown at his father in anger, and Quentin Pratt was taken aback as his son landed punches in his face, screaming, "You murderer! You bastard!"
Quentin struck William hard across the face in response and his son fell to the floor, sobbing.
"Stop it! Stop it!" Anne shrieked. "Quentin, you owe William an apology and you are going to give it to him now!"
"Don't you talk to me like that!" Quentin yelled.
"Don't bother, Mum," William spat. "He won't mean it."
That evening, Anne came into her son's bedroom to find him cutting up photographs with a pair of scissors. "William! Don't do that!" She darted forwards and removed the remaining photos. They were all of Aphrodite.
"Why not?" William's voice was rarely that bitter.
"You'll regret it later, darling," Anne said. "Why don't you let me look after them for a while."
William's face crumpled, tears starting to fall. "Sh-she was my best friend," he said, choking on the words.
Anne tried to put her arms around him, but he pushed her away. "Why did you leave her with him? He never liked her."
"I had to pick up some cleaner, and there was a long queue at the shop. I thought I would only be gone five minutes, ten tops. And besides, I never expected your father to do something this stupid."
"Dad murdered her."
"It was an accident, William."
"You're always saying how smart he is, Mum. He should know better than to leave a dog in a car in the middle of June! Mum,why don't you leave him?"
"William," Anne reprimanded, her gentle tone gone. "He's your father."
"Then he should bloody act like it sometimes."
Sunnydale, Present Day
"Bloody hell," Spike exclaimed as he nearly fell over a "Cleaning in Progress" sign for the third time. "How long does it take to mop a floor?"
"I heard Flutie talking to the staff," Buffy said. "Apparently the janitor hasn't been in for days. They're getting worried about him."
"Well he'd better get over his sickness or whatever soon, 'cause there's a mess in the canteen that makes me want to be sick when I see it," Xander grumbled.
"Actually, Xander, I think he's missing rather than sick. I didn't hear Flutie say for certain, but did anyone notice the police poking around?"
Everyone shook their heads and she rolled her eyes. "Figures. Anyway, it looks like no-one knows where he is."
"Surely he must know where he is," Oz piped up.
"Not necessarily," Xander said. "He could have got really drunk and wandered naked into L.A. with no ID or money and have no recollection of how he got there."
The rest of the group stared at him.
"What? Stranger things have happened."
"To the janitor? Please, the last party he went to was in a mop closet," said a passing Cordelia.
"How is Princess Sunshine this morning?" Buffy asked Cordelia with a grin.
"Princess Sunshine yourself, Buffy." Cordelia glared at her. "I am not in a mood to tolerate your socially suicidal company – new guy excluded."
"Er, thanks," Spike mumbled.
"Oh, what's the matter with Cordy?" Buffy faked sympathy. "Broke a nail this morning?"
"Actually, there's the game this afternoon." Cordelia snapped her locker door shut so violently that the group all jumped. "And Principal Flutie gave me detention because I may have sort of told him that he has some serious style issues and suggested he lose a few pounds. How unfair is that? I was only telling the truth."
"Sadly, Cordy, honesty is not as highly valued in today's society as it should be," Buffy said, humouring her. "So, you'll miss the game?"
"Yeah. Harmony will be taking my place."
"I guess that's only if she can find her way to the gym," Willow chuckled.
"Hey!" Cordelia scowled at Willow. "That's my friend you're talking about." She paused. "But yeah, she is useless, isn't she? Did you know she used to think Swahili was a kind of giraffe?"
"Thought you said she was your friend?" Spike frowned at Cordelia. "Obviously that concept doesn' mean a lot to you."
Cordelia looked rather stunned as the others left her. After they had rounded the library, Spike said, "Is Harmony really that thick?"
"Well," Willow said, "she did once ask me what kind of food I put in my microprocessor."
"Point taken. Still, it's not nice for her friends to talk about her like that."
"That's Cordy for you," Buffy said. "Hope she has a really thrilling detention while we're at the game later."
Cordelia scribbled the last line of her essay and sighed in relief. She had finished. There was nobody to hand it to, though, as everyone was at the game, so she left it on Flutie's desk.
As she started to leave his office, she paused. She was not a particularly curious person by nature, but it wasn't every day a member of the school staff went missing. Cordelia glanced furtively around her before beginning to carefully rifle through the papers on the Principal's desk.
It was all reports and letters, so she tried the drawers, but they were locked. Giving up, she made sure things were back where they had been and started to leave the office, but nearly jumped out of her skin as she heard someone shriek.
"What the hell?"
Cordelia exited the office, looking around for the source of the noise. She didn't have to wonder long, as someone came charging down the corridor, screaming. The two collided and tumbled to the floor.
"Get off me!" Cordelia snapped, roughly pushing the other person off her. "What's wrong with you?"
It was Jonathon, and although he was no longer screaming, he was shaking like mad.
"A-a-a g-g-g -" he stammered, and Cordelia slapped his face.
"Snap out of it! What's happened?"
"A-a-g-ghost," he managed to get out, pointing a trembling hand in the direction he had come from.
Cordelia rolled her eyes. "A ghost? Oh, please."
"I-I s-saw it!"
By the next morning, the whole story had travelled all around the school. The basic upshot was that Jonathon had been washing his hands in the Men's when he saw a shadowy figure in the mirror a couple of feet behind him, and when he turned there was nothing there. But when he looked back at the mirror, it was still part of the reflection and right behind him. At this point, he ran out, screaming. Many people had added to the tale, saying that Jonathon had fought the ghost, or that it had gone through him or tried to suffocate him, or that it was the figure of someone he knew; but the Scoobies had heard it straight from Jonathon and Cordelia.
"I know you're good at that kind of thing," Jonathon said to them. "W-what was it I saw?"
The Scoobies looked at each other.
"Jonathon," Buffy said, "you know we've only ever solved one thing."
"And it wasn't a real ghost," Xander added. "So if you actually saw a real one, we're not exactly the experts."
"You could try calling Ghostbusters," Oz said. As they all looked around at him, he said, "Sorry, was that insensitive?"
"I thought it was funny," Cordelia said.
"Cordy, you think the name Raymond is funny," Buffy said. "Remember, the only guy who ever dumped you? I wonder why. You couldn't spend two seconds with the poor guy without giggling."
"Stop digressing, Buffy. This is serious. Jonathon saw an actual ghost!" Cordelia folded her arms and glared.
"I thought we hadn't actually established that it was a real ghost," Spike said. "For all we know Jonathon just ate something off and had a funny five minutes – no offence, mate," he added.
Jonathon just glared at him.
"I think maybe we should check the bathroom," Willow said. "You know, just in case."
"Well, you can't," Jonathon said. "You're a girl. And I'm not going in there ever again."
"I'll go," Spike volunteered.