Chapter 3: First Impressions

Buffy saw Harmony put a finger to something behind and Buffy turned around to see Angel standing there, "Because I'd be out of an assistant and she really isn't all that bad. She does at least try although I wouldn't trust her. Buffy….to what do I owe this surprise?" Angel glanced around as though nervous as Buffy replied, "You requested help." Angel grinned giving Buffy a big hug, "Ahh so you sent me slayer help. Where are they? Do they need a place to stay?" Buffy shook her head as she ended the hug, "No you don't understand. You asked for help so I came to see what was actually going on here. I wanted to know what was going on so I could make the decision." Angel sighed with his disappointment obvious, "You have only a few days. I have to talk to the gang tomorrow with a little help from something I have that will make it possible for our latest adventure." He leaned down talking to her in hush tones as he placed his hand on her back, "Not a word. This place is watched."

After pretending to have leant down to kiss her cheek, "Let's go into my office so we can catch up. It's been forever since I've seen you, how's Dawn? Is school treating her ok? Does she like Rome and all?" Buffy sighed as she entered his office and looked around. It was dark as expected. The room held two plush leather couches, a few chairs here and there with small round tables. She could see a conference room with many chairs set up in the room next to him. His desk was large and wooden and really stood out against the black wall of weapons which lined the wall. There were curtains pulled across a wall to her left and across what she guessed were the windows. Angel motioned to a red chair in the center of the room in front of his desk and he sat behind her desk, "So really how are things?" Buffy hesitated but then decided a little information couldn't hurt. She just wouldn't mention England at all, "Dawn's doing well in school. She's looking into colleges and can't make up her mind. She has been studying languages and is great at it. She had started her training with Spike before he…" Her voice broke as tears came to her eyes. She blinked them away and turned looking at the curtain, "Anyway she's doing well. Want to hear about the others as well?"

Angel nodded as he leaned back in his chair and she continued, "Willow is doing ok. She's learned how to control her powers and is spending her life finding the new slayers. She loves it and enjoys meeting new people and helping them. I think it helps her to feel better to assist other slayers after killing someone. She's with another slayer. You know she's gay right? Well she's with another slayer and they are on rocky ground. I think they are staying together so they don't have to be alone…" She trailed off not liking how Angel was staring at her but shivered and glanced down at his desk as she continued, "Xander is doing great. In fact they gave him a new eye so he could lose the patch. He was excited. Amazing what technology and money can really do for a person. He's dating someone new, another slayer. They seem happy enough. Did you hear Anya died? I don't know if you ever knew her so maybe it doesn't matter if she's dead. Giles is running a new Watcher's Council, but he's calling them Assistants now. They train, and help the slayers to find places for them to use their skills. Some are bodyguards, some are security guards, some handle police jobs, as well as other professions. It keeps people busy at least."

Angel smiled as Buffy caught his eye. She felt awkward, "So how are you doing?" Angel stood up to sit on the edge of his desk, "Well I run Wolfram and Hart as you know and yea I know it's evil but we are working from the inside out to make it better. My team and I are doing pretty well here minus a few kinks. We can go out later once night falls if you want. I can take you out to eat or something or we can just go sit and talk. Did you want to stay here with me? I'm sure I could find a place for you to stay…"

Buffy cut him off with a wave of her hand, "I'm ok. I'm staying at a hotel in town and have a car and stuff so I'm all set." Angel nodded with understanding although his face still shined with disappointment, "Well I have some work to do but if you want and if you tell me where, I'll swing by with a car later on tonight and we can go out to eat. Is that ok with you? I'll send you out right now with a limo and he'll take you wherever you'd like to go. There are some shopping places around that I can give you my credit card for. I'm not sure whom you'd like to go shopping with. I would have offered Fred but…" He trailed off as he cleared his throat, "Well anyway perhaps Julianne can go with you. She's human and works in the lab where Fred used to work. She seems young like your age. Is that ok with you? Would you like to go shopping?"

Buffy nodded and suddenly the door to the office swung open to reveal a green demon with two little horns on his head that was singing away. He stopped singing and glanced at Angel smiling, "Angel cakes, I got this new gig I need to run by you when oh, I'm sorry. I interrupted. I'm Lorne, are you Buffy Summers the famous slayer?" Buffy smiled and nodded, "I am. Nice to meet you Lorne." Angel turned towards Lorne, "She was just thinking she might like to go shopping." Lorne grinned, "Oh can I take her? I'd love to take her shopping. She seems to have such good taste and I bet I could have her hair done wonderfully. We could make it into a spa day. There's a wonderful spa downstairs and a shopping place just outside if you want me to show it to you." Lorne shoved the file into Angel's hand as Buffy smiled. He seemed nice enough and a little gay so she wasn't too worried he would jump her plus she could easily handle herself and shopping did sound fun. She nodded in agreement and Lorne grinned snatching the credit card Angel had produced, "Oh sweet cheeks, this will be so much fun. Just wait until you see the mud baths they give people. I've had a few myself and they are divine. You are a little pale but I'm sure we will get some color in you soon enough. You look hungry? Didn't you have breakfast? We will hook you up with the big grub around before we do the spa thing." He turned towards Angel giving him a slight wave as he turned back to Buffy pushing her through the door, "Oh creampuff, you are so going to love this place. We all do!"

*}-'--, --'--, --'--, -{*

Buffy laid on a table covered in some kind of seaweed wrap. She felt like a sardine squished into something small and tiny so that she couldn't move. She had already gotten her hair washed, cut and curled. She had looked and agreed with Lorne when he said she was more beautiful and tasty than she was before she arrived. The care the vampires took with her hair was scary but she knew it was because Angel had insisted that she be treated well. She had then been taken to have a pedicure and manicure. This was something Buffy hadn't done in years. After Joyce died, money had been tight. She was scraping to support herself, Dawn and her friends so to spend money on such unnecessary luxuries weren't an option. The last year, while she could easily afford it thanks to Giles' income, but by then she had stopped caring. Now she was sporting the color of passion pink on both her toes and fingers. They had buffed out the calluses on her feet to make them all shiny and smooth and they felt so soft. So soft in fact, she didn't even recognize her own feet, which scared her a little. She glanced at the clock feeling her nose start to inch. She knew with this wrap covering her, there was no way she could itch her nose so instead she figured she could wait out the last 10 minutes by thinking. Her whole day so far had been spent with one thought after another.

She wished she had brought Dawn with her. Dawn would have loved this place. Who wouldn't? She could totally understand the draw to this place. It's a law firm yet so much more. She could never work here though. She knew it from the moment they entered the spa area. It was superficial. It was great for a day of pampering but to spend your life with demons and vampires, working along side of them and for them in order to keep the income coming in. All this so you would have a place to stay? Well she couldn't see herself doing that. She was put on this world to slay vampires and demons not to help house them. But the thought made her angry. Angel sold his soul away for this place. He was so busy admiring the beauty, the excitement and the fact he would have everything, to even notice that he was working for an evil law firm. How did he live with himself? She sighed as she tried to wiggle her toes feeling restless. After this she was to soak in the hot water for 20 minutes then she would be handed some juice and then Lorne would meet up with her again to go shopping. The shopping part she was excited about mostly because she hadn't shopped in a long time. The clothes she had, she had bought when she had hit England but she shopped practically, not with the soul purpose of spending money. She didn't have much money at that point, and just bought enough outfits to keep her going through a week. They had been nothing fancy.

The only thing she had spent a little money on was a leather duster like Spike's. Her friends and even Dawn had frowned at it but she just had to have it. She didn't wear it too often and instead slept with it. She had left Sunnydale with nothing that reminded her of him, only a slight scar on her hand from that day when their hands had caught fire. She had wanted something of his so badly that she had returned back to Sunnydale only to find a huge crater of nothing. She had been hoping to find something of his, anything but instead it was all gone. She had cried bitterly that day and Dawn and Giles had to physically remove her. She had packed the duster to bring to L.A. with her. Every night she would climb into bed and pull the duster over her pretending it was really Spike's. It had helped a little bit but not enough to actually calm her. Every night as she dreamed, she would dream of him. They would be fighting, talking, holding each other, claiming each other or making love. Every night she would go to sleep knowing she would see him again and it had comforted her. At first she was napping and sleeping every minute of the day only waking when someone woke her. And since they were worried about her that was often but then she gradually was able to function knowing that at the end of the day, she could pull that duster over her and close her eyes dreaming of him. It would make even the hardest of days worth while knowing she could see Spike again. She sighed as she noticed the demon ladies returning. They removed the wrap and she walked over and sank into the hot tub.