"Is that everything?" Spike sat down on the stool at the island counter as Dawn joined him in the
Summers kitchen, a safety box in her hands.
"Should be," the brunette girl replied, putting the box on the counter. She took the stool beside
Spike and looked at the papers and envelopes spread in front of them. "Are all these bills?"
"Don't know yet, niblet," Spike said. He precisely angled the pad of legal paper before him and
pulled the newly sharpened pencil from behind his ear. "We have to open them and find out."
"Okay. Where should we start?"
"Three piles is what we want: one for payments due, one for bills already paid, and one for pertinent
information regarding bank accounts, IRAs, estate stuff, and assets like that," he said, reaching for
"'Pertinent information,'" Dawn teased. "Big words."
"Ha-ha." Spike shot her a look. "Just get to work. We have a lot to go through and I'd prefer we
finish before they shut off the cable or the electricity."
Together, they went through the stacks of mail and other papers until they'd made three distinct
piles. Then, Spike started through the 'bills to be paid' pile, writing the company, the due date, and
the amount due of each on the pad of legal paper. His printing was neat and concise, the columns
lining up perfectly straight.
Dawn watched over his shoulder for awhile before commenting, "Since when do you know how to
do all this stuff? I didn't think vampires did things like pay the bills."
"Let you in on a little secret, sweettart," Spike said, not looking up from his work. "Once upon a
time, when the Big Bad was still a human, I had a real job as a bookkeeper."
"A bookkeeper?" Dawn questioned. "What's that? Some kind of librarian?"
Spike rolled his eyes. "Don't they teach you anything at that school of yours?"
"Don't go anymore, remember?" she said right back.
"Sassy little chit." Spike smiled at her and went back to work. "A bookkeeper, my dear gel, is the
person who keeps the records and totals of money made at a particular business. I worked for a
pillock who sold..."
"What?" Dawn prompted when the vampire trailed off.
Spike shot her a quirky grin. "Mr. Weatherby sold books."
Dawn burst into giggles and Spike joined her almost immediately. "That's so funny," the brunette
laughed, clutching her sides and practically falling off the stool. "I can't wait to tell the others."
"Uh... no," Spike said in all seriousness. "I want your promise not to say a word."
"But why?" Dawn frowned at him.
"Because I don't want the Watcher writing it in his bloody diary," Spike replied. When Dawn
didn't lose the frown, he turned on his stool to face her. "Look, the more people know about my
past, be it from my human or my
vampire life, the more they have to use against me."
"You were an accountant, Spike, not a spy," Dawn said.
"It was bookkeeper, and that's not the soddin' point." Spike took a breath and let it out quickly.
"Listen, luv, I just like to keep my private life private, understand? I'd like my secrets to stay that
"But you're sharing them with me," Dawn pointed out.
The smile returned and he tapped her on the nose with the pencil. "That I am."
Spike faced the island counter again and picked up another separated bill from the pile. Dawn
beamed at him until he growled, "Knock it off, brat."
"Sorry," Dawn said cheerily. She folded her arms on the counter and used them as a pillow while
she continued to watch Spike work. "Will we have enough money to pay all those?" she asked
around a yawn.
"You let me worry about that," Spike told her.
A little while later, Spike put the pencil down and rubbed his eyes. Before him, a long list of utilities
and other itemized bills glared up at him from the legal pad. He glanced at Dawn and found her
sleeping peacefully at his side. With a tender smile and a sigh, he stood, walked over to where his
duster hanged on the coathook, dug deep into the inner pocket, and pulled out a hard black case.
After pouring himself a glass of cold blood, he returned to the counter, slipped the reading glasses
out of the case and onto his nose, and reached for the asset pile.