Spike bent over and picked up the dropped knife and wiped it off on his thigh. Then he looked up. "Granddad," he said dryly. "How's tricks?"
"I wouldn't know, William," Angel said. "I was never into that kind of thing."
Spike rolled his eyes so hard that it felt like he had pulled a muscle. Then it occurred to him that there was a reason Angel hadn't shoved his way into the flat yet, coat flapping just so: He hadn't been invited. Buffy would certainly do so in the name of maturity, I'm-over-him and general things like that, but the fact that Angel himself had not yet been by the place in all the time she'd been here was unintentionally illustrative.
So was the way he turned his back on her after he dumped her, Spike thought. It was possible to forgive Angel for some of the shit he did---he wasn't the best brick in the load by any means, but bricks couldn't aspire to much----but what he'd done or avoided doing for Buffy made him wish, just for a few seconds, for some of the tasteful wooden implements Joyce had had in her kitchen. A nice teak spatula would do just fine. A wooden spoon would be even better---so undignified when sticking out of the chest. Then there was the ever-popular wooden pencil. Angel didn't deserve a stake. He deserved death with mundane, common things that would provoke more comment than the pile of dust they in which they would be found.
"I'd ask why you didn't invite me in," Angel said dryly, "except I know it's because you can't." He leaned against the wall.
Only someone in the household could so, though it was murky how one became a member of a household---blood relative? Marriage? Whatever was the definition, he wasn't about to test it and get humiliated in front of The Hulk. "Shame you didn't come see Buffy earlier, then, isn't it? I mean, when you had the chance." Spike leaned in the doorway likewise. In a battle of attitudes, never let it be said that he was an also-ran. "Was there some reason you wanted to avoid----er, I mean, talk to her about?"
"Nothing that somebody who's not family should hear," Angel said calmly. "I usually don't want to confide in babysitters."
"It must be difficult talking about something you don't know anything about, huh?" Spike drawled maliciously. "I have to give you a hand for trying---well, except for Buffy's family, that is. Nice touch. Then again, Dawn didn't care much for you, though, did she?"
"Apparently she does now," Angel said. There was an ominous tone in his voice that perked Spike right up.
"Dawn likes blackmail, too," Spike said thoughtfully. "She'd be frightening as a vampire."
"Only you would think that, Spike."
"No, only I would have balls enough to think it and say it, Grandpa," Spike said. "Tempting as it is to lean here and exchange insults all morning, is there any particular reason you decided to come over poke a stick through the human's cage?" Just good enough, he thought, to keep Angel guessing: the dig at Angel's continued vampish existence by pointing out his own upgrade, the petty bonus point for calling an end to the festivities, and the implied takeover of the flat, even if he was squatting. From the look on Angel's face, he'd recognized an imminent defeat in the battle of wits.
"I've picked up one or two things Buffy should hear," Angel said finally. "Maybe Giles."
That last piqued Spike's interest: didn't have the Watcher on speed dial, did he? Burning bridges or just letting them rot? The latter was definitely his style. "I'll tell her."
"Want a pencil?" Angel asked. "Every good secretary should have one."
Spike grabbed the door to shut it, denying Angel the satisfaction of pissing him off---visibly. "A wooden pencil? Just what I'd love to give you." He shut the door and leaned his forehead against it.
God, what he needed was to get out of the bloody flat and into something. Something violent, something he shouldn't want to do, something that would break chairs and lamps and heads. Just once, that was all he asked. Once a week, he amended, just like an old fart's sex life. That would do him just fine.
Stupid humans. He tossed the knife in the sink and then flopped down on the couch. No key to the flat: once he left, he'd be stuck. He couldn't wander about with the Keystone Kops after him, but staying put was going to kill him. Death by day time telly, he thought. Here lies Spike, AKA William the Bloody, killed by a Jerry Springer-induced stroke when his brain imploded. Nice thing about being a vamp; no blood pressure to worry about.
The flat was full of various girlie rags, magazines which he wouldn't light his cigarettes with, but there were few books he hadn't either read or would deign to tolerate. So trash it was. He flicked on the TV with a flick of his wrist, turned it up, and settled into reading Cosmo's Sex Tips. This is all Angel's fault, he thought. He didn't know how, exactly, but it was.
Buffy studiously avoided the department where she'd seen Myrtle and cruised up to Juniors. Why not combine business with pleasure?
But she wandered disconsolately amongst the racks for fifteen minutes while her disquiet notched up. It wasn't just the fashion, although the Seventies hadn't looked good the first time around; there was something else going on. Usually this department was staffed with girls who were encouraged to wear the wardrobe and advertise, yet suddenly, the staff appeared to have experienced a turnover. The girls like herself had disappeared; suddenly the staff was older and more….well, more made up. They looked like a group of grandmas who had given their granddaughters the day off and taken over the registers.
Edith, she read off someone's name tag. Amelia. Emily. Nice names, all of them. And rather old-fashioned, too. She wandered further and further afield, encountering both more horrifying fashions and more scary geriatric makeup. It was so nice that the store was hiring older cashiers and workers, really. How bad could that be? Is there such a thing as Take Your Grandpa To Work Day? She felt more guilty than intrigued now.
So many of them, she thought. All at once.
Myrtle's words prickled at the back of her neck and seemed to impell her downstairs, but once there, she paused in consternation. It was the reverse of upstairs; here there were lots of slender young girls, working amongst the men's wear and womens' sections. She looked around cautiously. The makeup alone should have stuck out, but she didn't see any clown like slashes of rouge or eyeshadow. Maybe she got dusted, Buffy thought, oddly disappointed. Maybe she got fired for makeup abuse.
She noticed a spot on her blouse suddenly when she passed by the make up counter and grimaced. While she was wiping at it with a Kleenex and checking her progress in the mirror, she froze suddenly. Behind her was a young girl putting things away behind the cash register. Nimbly, her hair swinging in a bright red curtain, she bent and dipped, reached and twisted. She was moving so fast it took Buffy a while to catch sight of the plastic tag on her chest. On her name tag in fancy script, it said, eltryM.