Giles raised his head when the bell over the shop door rang and frowned concernedly when he saw
who it was. He glanced at the clock. "Dawn, isn't today your first day of fall classes?"
"Yeah, it is," the brunette girl replied, holding the shop door open. "Spike's going to drop me off,
but first you need to help him tie his tie."
"I have to what?"
"Tie his tie." Dawn looked impatiently out the open door. "He's never tied a normal one before,
and I'm a girl."
"That's what I thought you said," Giles said faintly, staring at the vampire who'd just entered. At
least, the Watcher thought it to be Spike.
The bleached blond was dressed in a single-breasted black suit, complete with white dress shirt and
unknotted tie hanging around his neck. His battered Docs were replaced by shined wingtips. His
hair was meticulously combed.
Giles looked into his teacup, wondering if he'd used his "special blend" by mistake.
Spike handed Dawn his refolded black sports umbrella and crossed to the Watcher. "Giles, will you
show me how to knot this bleedin' thing?" he said, flicking the ends of the black and red patterned
tie. "The munchkin has to be at the school in ten minutes, and I don't want her to be late."
"Um... ah... of- of course," Giles stammered, setting his teacup aside. He hesitantly reached for the
ends of Spike's tie. "If you don't mind my asking--"
"Why am I dressed up like a bloody toff?" Spike finished with a wry smile. "Got me a job, starts
today. Hence, monkey suit."
"I see." Giles slowly began to knot the tie, Spike watching his hands like a hawk.
"No, you don't." Spike lowered his voice. "Outside debt is gone, but so's Joyce's insurance money.
I had to get a soddin' job if I want to keep a roof over our heads."
Giles was stunned. He'd somewhat reluctantly accepted the fact that, for the time being, Spike was
a decent guardian for Dawn, although the Watcher thought it to be a short-term arrangement. The
vampire had helped Dawn to smile again despite her losses. Giles had thought that getting the
young girl into the summer school program, on top of keeping her safe and healthy throughout the
summer months, had been an amazing feat for Spike. But for Spike to have obtained actual
Giles had believed, and still did believe, that Spike was not a suitable guardian for Dawn. Willow
and Tara supported Spike, however, as did Anya. Xander was vehement in his disagreement that the
vampire care for Dawn. The two men could barely be in the same room together without verbal
warfare occurring. However, despite her age, the core group had decided, after Buffy had died, that
Dawn would be allowed to chose her guardian and, as long as she was receiving the proper care, her
decision would stand. She had chosen Spike.
"There you are." Giles straightened the knotted tie. "If you wish, I will teach you several variations
"Thanks, Rupert," Spike said sincerely.
Giles nodded in acquiescence.
"All right, niblet." Spike headed for the door, taking the umbrella from her. "Do I look
"You'll do," Dawn said with a grin. "Bye, Giles. See you after school."
"Goodbye. Enjoy your first day. Both of you," Giles added as an afterthought. He watched them
go, then stood there for a moment before picking up his teacup and heading for the back room.
If he ever needed his "special blend," it would be now.
Spike sat in the ergonomic desk chair in "his" cubicle at Wanmer & Surek and watched the
screensaver ball bounce on the computer screen. His umbrella was propped in the corner and his
black briefcase -- a "good luck, try not to kill anyone, chip or no" present from the witches -- was
sitting on the small desk area beside the computer. The steady hum of voices, phones trilling, and
the clicking of keyboard keys drifted over the top of the cubicle.
"I'm in hell," Spike whispered to the bouncing ball. But it was a hell he would put up with for
It was back in August when he'd learned that he'd have to gain employment in order to continue
caring for Dawn. He'd spent many sleepless days "soul-searching" over the decision. Could he
actually put up with humans on a continual basis?, he'd asked himself. Would he be able to work
under a boss? Was it worth the effort?
The last had been the easiest to answer. Dawn had come to mean as much to him as Drusilla had, in
a non-romantic capacity, and he would do everything in his power to meet her needs. Plus, he'd
made a promise and he'd planned to keep it. If that meant getting a job, a job he would get.
With Willow's help, Spike had pulled together a partially truthful resume (he did actually posses a
degree from Oxford and had years of bookkeeping experience) and had learned the various
bookkeeping software programs for the computer. He'd interviewed and gotten the first position he'd
applied for at Wanmer & Surek, located thirty miles away from Sunnydale, the closest available
opening for his chosen field. Then, he'd bought himself several suit 'coordinates,' suffered Dawn's
giggles about a vampire having a day job, and now here he was, a Junior Bookkeeper at a business
Sighing unhappily, Spike flipped open the locks on the briefcase and opened it. Inside was various
pens, pencils, and paper from the witches, a package of Nicorette gum, and his lunch: a thermos of
blood ("pretend it's tomato soup," Dawn had said, "or V8 juice.") and other snacks. There was also
a silver framed photograph, which he removed and studied a moment. He lovingly stroked his
thumb over the pictured girl's dark hair.
"Is that your daughter?" some asked from behind him.
Spike swivelled on his chair and looked at the jacket-less thirty-something man standing in the
'doorway' of his cubicle. The blond vampire glanced at the picture, set it on the desk beside the
computer, and smiled. "Yeah," he said, "that's my girl, Dawn."
"She's cute." The man held out his hand. "Mike Andrews."
Spike rose and shook the shorter redhead's hand. "William Landess."
"Good to meet you. Welcome to Wank & Suck," Mike said with a toothy grin. Spike laughed.
"Okay, then," Mike said with a clap of his hands. "I'm supposed to show you around and answer
any questions you might have. So shed your jacket and follow me to the most important area on this
floor -- the breakroom."
Spike returned the friendly grin, removed his suitcoat, and followed Mike. Maybe hell wouldn't be
so bad after all.