Disclaimer: You've met all the characters before. You know they're not mine.

Author's note: This was enormous fun for me. I hope you like it, and would love it if you could feed back.

And can I apologise profusely to all hairdressers and anyone who has ever worked on a building site. This story is not intended to be taken too seriously!

A Hairdresser Always Knows

When the world lets you down, when the skies cave in around you, if you hang onto one thing and one thing only let it be this little pearl of wisdom: you can't fool a hairdresser.

They'll end up getting married. It's always the way.

I've seen it before, of course. And nine times out of ten it's nail scissors: as if by treating your hair to the hack job from hell you can somehow cut him out of your life. It's usually a him.

"What exactly would you like me to do?"

"Just make me ... different."

Bless her heart, what does she think I am? I'm a hairdresser. I can't make you rich, I can't make you successful, I can't make you taller, thinner or up your IQ and I can't change who you are. Anymore than I can take his smile out of your eyes, or his voice out of your head. Anymore than I can cool his touch that still burns on the back of your neck. Oh, I saw it, missy. I saw it blazed across your face when I brushed your hair back from your shoulders.

And anymore than I can take his pain out of your heart. I saw that too.

But you'll not find better highlights in all California. I can promise you that.

March 12th

I had a favourite client in today. The lovely Ms Jenkins, always a pleasure to work with because unlike most of my customers, she's not inclined to withhold information. And so obliging when I want to try something new. "Life is so short, Cleo, if you hang on to one hairstyle for too long you might not get through them all", that's what she says.

We went through the wedding hair today. It's not long to go now. She's brought her fiancé in a few times. Well, dragged him to be precise, kicking and screaming. One Xander Harris, nice boy, but can I just say, I have never had to so work so hard with the conditioner. Cheap products, improperly applied, that's his problem. But I think he'll scrub up all right on the day.

It turns out she's a friend of Ms Summers – you remember, the Nail Scissors who turned up last month? Ms Jenkins, it turns out, is trying to get her together with some friend of her fiancé's. All I can say is I hope he's not from that building site because that all dust? – doesn't do anything for the scalp.

May 10th

Well, what do you know? Ms Summers back in again, and really a very strange encounter. I don't usually do emergency appointments, but the poor girl was so wound up I made an exception…again. Next time she really is going to have to book in advance. Anyway, I don't know what had got into her but she was in a real hurry, and I got the feeling she felt kinda guilty about being there.

"I don't know what they'd all say if they knew I was here."

"Don't sweat, chick, nobody knows about this but you and me." You can count on me to be discreet.

"I can just see Xander. 'That's right, tart yourself up for your session with the Big Bad. You've done it before.' Since when has he been licensed to holier-than-thou the rest of us?"

"It's your life, sweetie. You do what you want."

"At least Giles isn't here. 'Buffy, is this really the time to be getting your hair styled?' And a quick rub of the glasses for effect."

I made a suitably sympathetic noise. We hairdressers have a wide repertoire.

"But this is like my fifteenth apocalypse and I don't want anyone thinking I'm slipping. I have to go out there looking my best."

Whatever, honey. Think I worked it out. You had a fight with him – and I'll bet it's the same him that inspired our amateur hairdresser moment – and you wanna show him you're in control. Show him you're better than him. Show him what he's missing.

"How about this? It's pretty cute – and we could put a little flower just here – "

"No, it's got to be down."

Well what's with her? It was just a suggestion.

"I can do down." A hairdresser never loses her cool.

"And bouncy."

"We'll get the curling tongs."

Thank God for curling tongs, that's all I can say.

July 12th

Ms Jenkins in again (she told me to call her Anya, poor lamb.) A very interesting afternoon. The wedding, apparently, didn't happen. I won't say I could see it coming. A hairdresser never says I told you so. That nice young girl was jilted, can you believe it! And she would have made such a beautiful bride. A beautiful blonde bride, can I add. One of my more successful colorings. Blonde is always a risk.

I was duly sympathetic, of course.

"Well, Anya, I hope he – "

"Don't." She sounded tired.

"I'm sorry, honey, but he deserves – "

"Really, don't. I know what he deserves. But I wouldn't wish it on him. Besides, I did something too."

"Well, good for you." It wasn't my place to ask what she did. That would be unprofessional.

"I slept with this other guy."

"You did?" What, she volunteered the information! Nothing unprofessional about that.

"Yeah, and to make it worse, it turns out he was sleeping with Buffy." Of course, the curling tongs. It all makes sense now.

"The Summers girl? Not the guy you were trying to set her up with – "

"No, this one was her choice."

"So how did she take it?"

"Oh, Buffy-style. Kicked a little demon ass, saved the world a bit."

I went for one of my 'do continue' noises. A hairdresser always knows what to do when the conversation is getting out of hand.

"Not as much as Xander did, though. He was like, Big Hero Man."

"Xander? Your ex?"

And I saw it, written on her face, clearer than the day. She loves him. They'll work it out.

August 27th

A new name on the books today – Dawn Summers. Now she is a sweetie. Beautiful hair. And much chattier than her sister. She was in for a tidy-up before starting school next week. Yes, Sunnydale High School is back in business. And let's hope the new principal has hair, because the last one would always insist on the discount for premature hair loss – I mean, 'premature'? As if. He had it coming.

The little Summers wanted to know if I did men's hair too. Apparently a friend of hers needs some work done. I told her to send him my way.

September 3rd

Buffy Summers was in this afternoon. I couldn't believe how quickly her hair had grown. She said something about an over-active immune system. Accelerated restoration, or something. She was in for "something smart," because she's starting a new job on Monday, at the high school. Well, I for one am glad because that burger smell? – didn't do much for the general salon ambience. We tried death-by-deep-condition but still it lingered.

Not always the easiest one to get talking, that girl. I tried. "So we have a new high school now. Can you believe what happened to the last one? I mean, what kind of person burns down a school?"

She didn't reply to that. And I was kinda hoping we might get round to Mr Slept-With-Anya, but no joy. Maybe next time.

September 15th

Well, of all the strange days. I was just about ready to pack up when I notice this guy loitering outside the shop. Now, some hairdressers might have just told him where to go, but I like to think I know my potential clientele a little better than that. Men. It's not an easy thing for them, a salon full of women with water dripping over their bosoms and hair products in pink bottles. And the idea that they might actually care about their hair? – scandalous. But I wasn't Sunnydale Hairdresser of the Year 1994 runner up for nothing. I took the opportunity of seeing Mrs Bell out of the door personally. And then I launched my appeal.

"Why don't you come along in?"

"Thanks." He looked a bit nervous, but when he walked inside, into the light, I saw that he was no ordinary man. His hair had definite intention to it. Blond, a little bit wavy, with roots. Such roots. Oh, I do like a man with style.

"Come and sit down, we'll talk about what you want done." I motioned him over to the styling area.

He didn't move.

"Em…sorry, love, it's em…the mirrors." He was English, I noticed.

"The mirrors?"

"Yeah, I…em…I like a surprise, you know. I'm not your 'let's-watch-while-you-do-my-hair' kind of a bloke."

Transparently untrue. Don't forget, this is no ordinary human being you're trying to kid. This is the hairdresser. And, can I remind you, the consummate professional.

"That's fine, we'll just move the chair over here for you. There. That better? Now what can I do for you?"

"It's the roots. I'm told I have roots. Thing is, it's been a while."

"Since you last bleached it? I can see that."

"Can you sort it out?"

"Of course."

There comes a time in every hairdresser's career when she goes against her better judgement to keep a man who knows exactly how to wear a leather coat happy. I liked those roots. But he said they had to go, and go they did. It wasn't the end of the world. They'd grow back…oh, and that would mean he'd have to come back in for a touch up. The hair, I mean.

"There we go. I'll just restyle it for you – "

"No mousse. No bloody mousse!" Clearly one to avoid. "And no poofy spikes, either."

"Fine, fine, I'll leave it as it is. Are you ready for that surprise then?" I went over to get a mirror for him.

"Em…you know what? I'll wait till I get home. I don't do surprises in public."

And he left. And, boy, he has a way of leaving a building. She's a lucky girl. And you can take it from me, there is a girl. What, you think the roots thing was a self-indulgent whim? Not a chance.

But I did get that appointment for the re-color.

October 31st

Buffy Summers in again. Hallowe'en's always a busy one, of course. Everyone wanting something that will go with their costume. The only time all year I get a free rein in the hair color department. I love it. But Ms Summers, it seems, had something else in mind.

"This is my one night off the whole year, do you know that?"

"Doing anything special?"

"No…I em…I'm seeing an old friend. Nothing much. Just a drink or two, for old time's sake."

A hairdresser can read between the lines.

"Let me guess, down and bouncy?"

She looked kinda thrown.

"The hair, I mean."

November 1st

I had an unexpected visit from my mystery roots man this evening, who, by the way, is called Spike. I did get that much out of him. Kind of a strange name for someone with a chronic aversion to mousse, I have to say. I wonder how he came by it?

Anyway, Spike was in to cancel his appointment next week. Figure me mortified.

"I em…I decided to stick with the roots. A lady said they looked OK."

You see, I told you there was a girl.

November 28th

Buffy Summers – again. Would you believe it, she has booked an appointment now on two separate occasions this year. And they say a leopard can't change its spots. We talked tonight's Thanksgiving dinner.

"I have a few people coming round. It's like, reunion Thanksgiving. To mark the time I did not poison my friends three years ago."

"And is Mr Hallowe'en gonna be there? You know, from last time."

"Yeah, em…he'll be there. Just for – "

"Old times' sake?"

I think I have the Summers chick sussed.

November 30th

There is a God. Spike returned this evening. What is it with the evening appointments? The roots were starting to take over, so we had to do something about it.

"I don't want to lose them completely. D'you think you could make it look like it did at – "

"Hallowe'en?" Call it a lucky guess.

Do you spot the link there? Maybe you don't, but I did. I'm a trained hairdresser. It's my job.

"Did you enjoy Thanksgiving, Spike?"

"Wasn't bad."

"Go anywhere special?"

He shrugged. "Just to – "

"An old friend's?" Roll with the lucky guesses. "Nice dinner? What did you have?"

"Me? Gravy."

"Just gravy?"

"Yeah, I have em…diet issues."

Well he has are a fine pair of shoulders for a man that lives on gravy, that's all I can say.

January 8th

Spike back in for more color work.

"Not that I'm fussed. It's only hair."

To him, maybe.

Anyway, he started to open up a quite a bit tonight. They usually do, round about the third or fourth time. We got onto talking about his "friend". And the first rule of hairdressing? Never question "the friend's" identity. Said "friend" has something of a romantic dilemma. The usual stuff. He loves a girl, he treated her badly in the past, he's tried to make it up to her, do I think he still has a chance?

By the time I'd finished his hair? - I'd say Spike's "friend" had more than a chance.

January 22nd

Buffy Summers this morning, and, surprise surprise, another "friend." Ms Summer's "friend" has been seeing a guy, there's a bit of a history, she's a bit on the apprehensive side.

"So he's hurt you…your friend, I mean…in the past?"

"No. Yes. Well, kind of a mutual hurting."

"Could it happen again?"

"I don't know. He…he's changed."

"They all say that, sugar."

"I know, but this is like, a physical change."

It must be the roots. They worked for me too.

February 10th

Now here's an interesting bit of gossip. Anya Jenkins, the girl that got jilted by the Harris boy? Don't quote me on this, but I could almost guarantee it's all back on. She comes in today to tell me that her "friend" is getting married…and she's come in on behalf of this "friend" to try out some possible hairstyles. Now, no girl in the world does her pre-wedding pampering by proxy. And three guesses what she'd brought with her to read – yes, the ubiquitous bride magazine. Kind of a giveaway, wouldn't you say?

March 4th

All suspicions confirmed. Today a very unlikely pair turned up at the salon – Spike and (are you ready for this?) Xander Harris. The fiancé. But it all makes sense. Mr Harris needs to get his look right for his big day and he's brought along a man of taste to help him decide.

I thought for a moment that I was gonna have to try out the styles on Spike, the Harris boy looks so nervous. But Spike had the matter in hand.

"We'll have to try them out on you. There is no way I am going to trust your judgment on this, brick boy."

"Why me? I didn't even want to be here. I only came because Anya said I had to."

You see, it's just the same as last time. I hope it works out for them.

March 30th

The wedding is definitely happening. Xander Harris back again this evening – and he brings with him this guy he introduces as "the other usher." So I'm guessing Spike is Usher Number One. And trying not to indulge too much in the tux fantasy here. I have to say Usher Number Two wouldn't do a tux any harm either. And he and Spike definitely have a few things in common.

It started with the hanging round the doorway thing. What is it, all of Sunnydale's menfolk have turned gentlemen and wait to be asked in now? And then there were the mirrors. I could have almost predicted it.

"I try not to look in the mirror. Like to keep my ego in check."

"That's fine. We can do your hair over here, in the reception area. I always do Spike's that way."

"Spike has his hair done here?"

"Yeah, do you know him?"

He nods. "Yeah, we go back a bit. We met at…em…(he lowers his voice)…Mirror Phobics Anonymous"

Of course, it all makes sense now.

Well, this one (Angel, I discovered his name is) is a bit fidgety about me touching his hair.

"Mind, mind…don't squash the quiff…really, I can do it myself."

And I could swear when I went over to get the blowdrier I heard him mutter to the Harris kid "For goodness sake, I've had two hundred years of practice at doing my own hair. Do I have to be here?"

Men, they're all the same.

And I thought I heard Xander reply "Yeah, that's two hundred years doing your own hair without looking in a mirror, remember."

But maybe I misheard. I'm only a hairdresser.

April 6th

Dawn Summers was in today to make an appointment for a few weeks' time. She's going to be a bridesmaid. I imagine Buffy is as well – she was going to be last time - unless they've decided she's too old. Not cute enough, you see. It limits how imaginative you can be with the hair accessories.

April 15th

I'm beginning to worry that my salon is getting a reputation as the hairdresser's for freaks. This guy turned up today who…well…he had some kind of skin condition. Which is fine, but I'm a hairdresser, and this guy? - he didn't have any hair.

"I'm going to be Best Man, you see. I wondered it you could do something with my ears. Maybe a bow?"

I had to take a long drink after that one.

April 17th

I had a charming new customer in this afternoon. His name was Rupert Giles, and he'd flown over from England especially for the wedding. And very accommodating when it came to styling his hair. We aimed for the David Beckham look – that part-bleached hedgehog thing he has? Apparently it's very popular in England at the moment.

April 20th

Buffy Summers in today, and it turns out it's not Anya who's getting married after all. It's Buffy. Not that I'd rule out the Anya-Xander re-run happening in the near future. Buffy seemed to think so too.

"Yeah, ever since we announced our engagement Anya's been all 'let-me-try-on-your-dress-for-you' and 'can-I-choose-the-cake?' Although in the end we let Dawn make the cake, which is a bit concerning."

The wedding's in two weeks' time, and can you believe it? I got an invite. But I do count myself a good friend of both bride and groom. Of course, now I see why Spike brought Xander along with him to try out the hairstyles. It was the mirror phobia. And you know what I say? For a man that doesn't ever check out his own reflection he is going to make one very handsome groom.

I knew they'd end up getting married. It's always the way.

You see, you can't fool a hairdresser.