"It is pleasure as much as torture to wait for a beautiful woman," I tell her.
It sounds corny and cliché and plain unlike me, but I have to do something to let her know I'm attracted to her. Attracted enough so she'll think she can use it against me.
"My associates are very pleased with the way you handled the situation. I don't mind telling you that we were prepared to fight for those premises. The grounds of the Academy are more than real estate to us. The place has sentimental value to all of us."
I take another sip before I go on.
"I visited the Isle of Skye some time ago. Before your lot took it over. I do hope you haven’t done anything to ruin the scenery."
I smiled at him, before sipping my martini. "Smart and charming, no wonder the gave you the job of rebuilding the council" I listened to him talk about his associates,and how pleased they were.
"Well, I do what I can." I smiled. "And as for my firm changing anything, since we took over, we wouldn't dream of it." After we odered the food, I glanced across the room,and noticed two pale looking gentlemen watching us.
I follow her gaze, and I sigh.
"The trouble with good food and good atmosphere is that it attracts all sorts of... people. I cannot assure you that we are safe here, but I think leaving after we spotted them would be as much of a risk as staying. And we'd miss on an excellent meal. If you are uncomfortable, we can leave, of course."
If she chooses to leave, that's it. I lost. She's been dealing with worse creatures than two curry loving vampires. She would just be availing her of the first pretext available. Unless she invites me over to her place. In your dreams, Mr. Giles!
"Yeah that can be annoying." Oh how sweet he's concerned about my well being, unlike someone else I know who had no problem leaving me bleeding in a damn sewer. I'm lucky I didn't end up as vamp chow.
I sipped my drink,then looked back across the room. After checking on the outdated morons standing there watching us, I looked back at Giles and smiled. "No it's fine we can stay, they won't try anything it's too crowded. And public,displays not their thing"
I had a few more sips of my martini,while we waited for the food to arrive.
"It might be just my personal taste, but I think it's the food more than the public what's stopping them. I can't believe I survived in California without Indian food. No place like London for Indian. Not even India."
I'm babbling. Hell, I'm desperate. I want her to lower her damn guard, and it feels unfair to wait for the alcohol to kick in. I'm too damn English for my own good. Fair play? This is not bloody rugby!
"Not to worry you, but do you have a stake in your purse? Holy water? I can see you're not wearing a cross..."
My voice trails off at this point, because I just caught myself staring at her chest. Not a thing a gentleman should do. I can hope it works in my favor, but I'm still embarrassed.
I smiled. "I doubt it's really the food that's keeping them here." And he's babbling,it's cute. Wes used to do that too,not quite as much,but still.
"And please I'm not worried, I deal with worse than them,on a daily basis." I smirked as I watched his gaze fall to my cleavage. The only necklace I have on is my tear drop diamond one.
I reached into my purse and pulled out a stake. "Here you go" I handed him the stake. I also had holy water, a small cross, mace and of course my gun, all stashed away in my purse.
"And please I'm not worried, I deal with worse than them,on a daily basis."
"Y-yes, I imagine you do," I reply. "I had to deal with them too, and I always found it useful to worry."
I reach toward the proffered stake not because I needed it, but because it gave me the opportunity to touch her. I put my palm over hers, closing it around the stake.
"Thank you, it's not necessary. I got used to be around women who can look after themselves in extreme situations, but I don’t know you well enough to know if you carry protection."
Why, for the first time in my life, I feel like grinning at the word "protection", thinking about condoms? It's the sort of connection Xander would make. He'd have a joke about it, too. It used to be my role to scowl as he said such things.
I know I kept my hand on hers too long, and yet I can't help regretting I have to let go.
I just nodded when he said he found it useful to worrry. Oh please you only worry, when the situation gets out of control. I noticed that he held my hand a few moments more than actually nedded.
I smirked and let go of his hand, as he made the remark about protection. I scoffed. "I can assure Mr. Giles, that I'm not the sort of woman you cross." I was telling him the truth. There were only about a handful of men that had tried to stab me in the back, or otherwise hurt me. And they were all dead now.
Especially my drunken good for nothing bastard of a stepfather. Yeah he learned the hard way, that you don't get away with the crap he did to me, and expect to have no consequences. Doesn't matter now though, because 'good ol' Walter's been dead since I made junior Partner at the LA branch.
Funny thing, life, I ponder. Before moving to California, my attitude toward women was more courteous than current political correctness would require. Since living around the Slayer and her friends, I have no compunction about taking a step back and letting the woman do all the protecting. Something tells me that Ms. Morgan is a shark in court and has the morals of a predatory animal, but her field experience might be more limited than mine.
"Lilah, I would never dream of crossing you," I tell her. I sort of mean it. I'm willing to try to manipulate her, but I'd feel a lot better having some guarantee that she never finds out.
"Whatever I ask you about your work or your past is going to sound like snooping. So let's try something less controversial. What kind of movies do you like? Do you even go to the movies?" I ask in a tone of polite interest. "If you'd rather tell me about your day, I am a very good listener," I add smiling.
I looked at him amused, as I drank my wine. I smirked,as he informed me that he'd never dream of crossing me. I looked up at him from my meal,as he asked me about movies. Movies really? God I tried to think of the last time I actually saw one. It's been a long while.
I set my fork down and answered him. "I do like movies,mostly Film Niors, and the occasional romantic flick." I paused for a second,then answered his other question. It's been years since anyone has taken any interest in me,other than just sex.
I smiled. "And I don't get to see many movies due to my hectic work schedule. God I can't even remember the last time I've been to a movie. And trust me, you wouldn't want to hear about my day. I'd just bore you to death" I shrugged before picking up my glass of wine again.
I'm surprised she's not laughing at me. I'd like to say that her voice softens or the look in her eyes is less than icy, but I'd be lying to myself. Maybe she doesn't mind my asking, but she is not letting her guard down. She has to lure me in. I have to allow it. I'll try to put a part of me in a box, and keep it closed until I need to pull out of the fascination.
If she doesn’t lower her guard, I have to lower mine.
"I lost the good habit of going to the movies in California. I didn't..." I hesitate to say it, but, what the hell, "didn't have anyone to go with. I prefer Bogart and Bacall to blockbusters."
Except Jenny. I don't want to open that door. The last time I saw Jenny was when I found her, dead. Angelus had staged the house to heighten my expectation of a romantic night. I get a hold of myself. If I keep thinking about her and about that cursed night I'll break. I want to appear vulnerable, not fall to pieces. I collect my thoughts.
"As for boring me, the only way you could bore me to death would be if you used an electric drill. A day in a law firm has nothing on cataloging the Sunnydale High library when it comes to boredom, I can assure you."
I love the way the wine moistens her lips. My libido does that weird thing to me again. Makes me wonder if I'll ever get to taste her again. I was out of my mind to assault her in the parking lot like that. It felt so damn good. Taking her mouth, without her consent at first, only to feel her respond to me like that.
"I had hoped to resume the habit once I got back to London, but so far, I feel lucky when I get to eat something other than takeout. From what you said, you’re in a position to understand. We should make a resolution to get out more."
I smiled as I se my glass back down. "Well if nothing else I'm sure living in Sunnydale, must've been interesting." from what I'd read the hell mouth was not an easy place to live. granted I didn't really see a difference between the hellmouth and LA.
I simply laughed when he told me I wouldn't be boring him,if I talked about work. I didn't really feel like talking about work though. I listened as he talked about how his life was somewhat hectic. "Yeah that'd be nice. I didn't exactly have much of a social life back in LA,unless you count the functions the firm threw." And of course my seeing Wesley on an almost nightly or dail basis for six months,but he didn't need to know that.
"And I practically lived off of take out, when I lived in LA. Mostly because of work,and the fact that I can't cook. One of the many thing I blame on my mother." This was nice and relaxing,for the first time in years I don't feel like I have to stay completely closed off or guarded.
I must be one of the few people who have no complaints about their parents. Damn, even the Slayer had family issues. I try not to rub my happy childhood in people's faces. I suppose that truly golden time makes it easier for me to be the father figure everyone around me seems to need.
"It may sound paradoxical, seeing how you come from the New World, but you can try to make a new start here. Turn a new page. I'm not suggesting anything drastic. Find a hobby. I know a tabula rasa spell, but I do not advice anyone to use it. You would not believe what that spell did to us."
It would make for a funny story if so many of those involved hadn't been killed in the meantime. Anya, Tara, Spike. Although I'm not sure that I could count Spike among the dead.
"Would you like to hear the story?"
I raised an eybrow at his use of the word 'new world' in reference to the states. I just barely managed to surpress a laugh at it. And when he mentioned staring fresh I automatically thought about everything I'd left behind in LA. "That may not be so bad. I don't really have much time for any hobbies I'm afraid."
His mentintioning starting over reminded me I have to call Glen Groves, and check on my mother. granted it's not always something I enjoy doing,but she's the only family I have left. Even if half the time she can't remember who I am.
I was broken out of my thoughts,by him asking me if I wanted to hear the story about the spell gone wrong. I smiled. "Sure I've got some time"
I try to think fast if there's anything in the story that can be used against us. I decide that there isn't, so I don't cut anything out.
"The story is set in the Magic Box. I assume you know I owned a magic shop in Sunnydale. Anyway, a couple of years ago, I was there with Buffy and all our friends. I'll assume you know them, too. Please interrupt me when I talk about someone you don't know. So, we were, Buffy, her sister, Dawn, her two best friends, Xander and Willow and their significant others, Anya and Tara..." my voice trails off when I mention them.
I try to cover this up by taking a sip of wine, wondering what she though about when she admitted that it might not be bad to leave her American past behind. It felt like something more than regretting her position in the L.A. branch of her firm.
"And, for some reason I never really understood, Spike was there, too."
For the first time in the few times I thought about the freak vampire, I smile fondly. My would be son.
"Everything was normal. We were all tense, which was normal for Sunnydale, and all of a sudden, we all woke up, not knowing who we were or where we were. So, we started making assumptions about whom and where we were. We only got right an astonishingly small number of things: that we were in a magic shop, that Anya and I owned it, and that Buffy and Dawn were sisters. The upshot of our introspection was that I didn’t believe in magic, but co-owned a magic shop with Anya, the woman I was engaged with, much to the disapproval of my grown up son, Randy, who was actually Spike, wearing a suit ripped off a dead man, in an attempt to get away from some bad people. Those guys came knocking on the door shouting at us to deliver Spike. We had no idea what they were talking about, so we decided to throw them some stakes, thinking that they wanted spikes."
I sat listening intently as he began to tell me the story. As he started to list of names of the slayer and her friends I stopped him. "Don't worry I know all about them,the firm has files on all of you. So I know all about your owning a magic shop and such."
It was very amusing, if not a bit confusing. I guess it was one of those things where you really had to be there. "Sounds like you had one hell of a day." I smirked. "After hearing this,it almost makes me wish I had something equally as humorous about working for Wolfram and Hart. Sadly I don't have anything that even comes close to that."
I had stories sure,but nothing that would interest him. The majority of them all revolved around my childhood,and how exactly I ended up joining Wolfram and Hart. Mostly they were all too tragic sounding. And would only get me smpathy and possibly pity,and I'd had enough of that to last a life time.
I can't say I pity her admission that she has no funny stories. She chose the side long ago.
"Then I'll keep the story about the time when the whole town started singing for another time," I tell her over the wine glass. "Some of them are dead now. Anya and Tara... I moved back to London so I can forget some of the people I loved and lost there. Ever since I met you here, I've been thinking about them a lot more. Doesn't make me a very cheery date."
I look over the vampires' table. They're gone.
"Do you think it's a good thing?" I ask, pointing with my chin toward the empty table.
I smiled as he mentioned another story about his little band of misfits. "Sounds like your work back in Sunnydale was never boring." I said before refilling my wine glass.
I looked at him as he said a few of them were dead now. "Yeah that's something I've had more than enough experience with. More than I'd have liked actually.." I sighed and drank some of the wine.
I didn't mean I had expierence with it because of my line of work. No my expierence with death started much earlier. I still think about it some nights,when I've been too wired from work to try and get any sleep.
Those few times I do allow myself to think about the night I lost my father,it feels like yesterday to me. Even though it's been years now since then. I looked back at him. "Trust me as far as dates go I've had much worse."
I took a quick glance behind him at the table, to find the vamps gone. "Might be" I shrugged.
We have one thing in common, then, I note privately when she says she had more experience than she'd like with death. She seems to have meant more than her work, but I don't feel very charitable now and I assume she's had more experience since she started working for Wolfram and Hart.
The bit about this being a date just slipped me. I'm not surprised that she picked up on it. I'm apprehensive that she agreed to the term. I'm double guessing myself again. If she means it, if she does see this as nothing more than a social occasion, then I'm a cad for taking advantage of her loneliness. If she does it to trap me, I should be glad, meaning my plan's working. I don't know which I'd prefer, and that scares me a little. It would make things easier if she did like me. Or would it?
I have no idea how long I've been silent. I hope I didn't make her uncomfortable. I feel uncomfortable enough for the both of us.
I try not to babble much for the rest of the evening. It feels a bit like I reversed direction. Like I'm trying to make her not like me. I keep the conversation on mundane matters. I don’t aim to bore her, but I'm beginning to worry that if I get her into my life, I'd be out of my depth. She's not a magical being I can blast into nothingness if she's hostile. She has the intelligence and the connections to trap me beyond my ability to escape.
We leave the restaurant in companionable silence. I catch a glance of us in one of the full length mirrors of the lobby. We make a fairly suitable couple. It's somewhat of a surprise because every time I look at her I feel old and ugly compared to perfect beauty, and her youth. I don't look as bad as I feel.
I sense the vampires a little too late. That is, when they're both in front of us. Something in their stance leads me to believe that they're very young. We might still get away. I nod at them, taking a half step in front of Lilah, my stake already in hand.
"Are you sure about this?" I ask them, not quite willing to play the hero.
Their response is to attack me. I don't have Slayer instincts. I get hit severely before I manage to dust one of them. I'm trying to pick myself off the floor when the second vampire lunges for Lilah. I grab his foot before he reaches her.
The rest of the night went by in almost a blur. Normally everything we talked about, would've bored the hell out me. Tonight though I didn't mind it at all,in fact I think I actually enjoyed myself more than I have in years.
Rupert Giles is by far the least uninteresting man I've had the pleasure, of meeting in a long time. Which considering some of the people I know, is saying something. After we finished dinner, i followed him out to the parking lot.
The silence isn't botheringme,like it usually would. Which is a nice welcomed change. I noticed he looked in one of the lobby mirrors at our reflections as we walked by. I'm about to comment on it as we finally get to the parking lot. I didn't get the chance to though.
Because next thing I know those two vampires from before are standing in front of us. You know I'm really begining to hate, not being able to go out and have one decent social outing,without it being inturupted by demons.
I watched Giles as he stepped in front of me a bit. I moved so that i was standing next to him instead. What is it about these watcher types,or men for that matter thinking they need to play hero?
I listened to him ask them if they were sure they wanted to do. The taller slightly smarter looking one, looked me over and smiled. He then turned back to Giles. 'Oh yeah we're sure.' They both lunged at Giles.
I quickly tried to move out of the way, as I watched giles get hit pretty bad a few times,before he finally managed to stake one. I winced a little as he hit the floor.
The second one was grining stupidly as he started to come after me. He only made it about a mere few inches,before falling at my feet. I looked down at him,then at giles who was still on the ground,holding the vamp back. I took out my small vile of holy water out of my purse,and dumped it on the vamp's face.
"You know I'm getting really tired of your kind ruining my perfectly good night. Why can't you go find someone else to bother. You know some poor innocent who doesn't have a fucking clue what you are?" The vamp was clutching at his face and whimpering in pain.
I took the stake from where it had fallen on the ground. I picked it up and staked the bastard,before looking at Giles. "Damn vampires.." I muttered,as I waited for him to get up off the floor. "So what now?"