Roz Kaveney (rozk) wrote,
Roz Kaveney
rozk

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And another instalment of the fiction

As promised, this time stuff actually happens. Next time, there might be sex. I am going to be at a conference over the weekend, so no promises of that next time being especially soon. We shall see.



**********

The next thing I have to do is ring home, to the Rome apartment, because I am obviously not going to be back for supper.

On the cell, of course, the special magic cell, because I may never have had an office job, but I know you don't make personal international calls.

Not on your first day.

My lovers need to be told that they will have to water the plants.

And give them their daily mice.

Luckily they are both still up, sitting by the phone like loyal girlfriends. They are too good to me, they really are.

I thank Celeste for the e-mails.

She is all 'my girlfriend works at Mode, yay.'

Even Kennedy thinks it's a big deal.

' I know people who would kill to work there, ' she says.

And she really really does - that was a tough school she went to.

Those rich girls can be mean.

'And I have a cousin, now' I say, 'and a third share of a spiffy apartment.'

'Well, ' says Celeste, 'when I come to New York for the LA Benefit...'

This is something that people keep talking about, but which is taking forever actually to happen.

'You could come before that, ' I say.

Because any time this decade is probably before that.

She lists thirteen gigs I didn't even know about, including Beijing and Tokyo.

'Sometime soon, ' she says. 'When I'm not working.'

I speak to Kennedy some more.

'You could come, ' I say.

She sounds doubtful.

'Mother is in New York, ' she says.

'You don't have to tell her you 're here.' I say.

'She has ways, ' Kennedy says. 'And the very moment she found out that I was in New York with you, it would be dinner twice a week with the best silver and selected guests. That she could show us off to.'

'How bad could it be? ' I say.

'Sweetie, ' Kennedy says. 'I was a status symbol for her when I was just a potential, then I got to be a Slayer, now I am a Slayer and dating the Key. Everytime she thinks of that, she nearly dies with pleasure. It is not a pretty sight.'

Then she adds, ' And now you're the Key and you work at Mode. That takes it to a whole new level.'

I go, ' But I am stuck here without either of you for six months.'

I have needs.

'Well, ' Kennedy says, 'Rock Star Rules apply.'

'Damn right they do, ' says Celeste.

'What are Rock Star Rules? ' I say.

' Certainly not when in the same city, ' says Kennedy.

'Probably not when in the same time zone' says Celeste.

'Probably yes, when in different countries' says Kennedy

'Just about for sure, when on different continents', says Celeste. 'I'm going to Tokyo, sweetie, and much as I love you both, there are lots of cute girls and boys in Tokyo.'

'She never has to pay for sushi, ' Kennedy says.

'I never have to pay for sushi anywhere, ' Celeste says. ' Sushi chefs are part of my demographic.'

I am so lucky; I have a girlfriend with a demographic.

' So enjoy, ' Kennedy says.

'Lots of cute girls in New York City, ' Celeste says.

'To keep you warm, ' Kennedy says.

'You have needs, ' says Celeste, ' same as we do.'

'Well, ' I say, ' the only woman who has shown any interest so far is cold as ice.'

'Really? ' says Kennedy.

'Dead evil lawyer, ' I say.

'Ewww, ' Celeste says.

She really is not used to some aspects of Slayer life yet; she needs to get over some of the squick.

' This isn't just any dead evil lawyer, is it, ' Kennedy says.

'No, ' I say, 'it's the Queen of Hell herself. '

'You're not going to, are you? ' Celeste says.

'God no, ' I say. 'Only Buffy is allowed to date the undead. And besides, Faith's leftovers; I don't think so.'

'We really have to date outside the whole Good and Evil thing world, ' Kennedy says. 'It gets too much like, I don't know, Six Degrees of Xander or something.'

That image is just so disturbing.

'And the only other cute girl is my cousin, ' I say. 'Oh, and this girl she is so obviously dating. Only no-one is supposed to know.'

And I hang up quickly, because I see Amanda coming.

It is so embarrassing to be caught gossiping.

By the person you are gossiping about.

'Hey Dawn, ' she says. ,' Daniel wants to take a crowd of us to this new bar he heard about.'

Well, he is one of my bosses, I think, so I really should do what he wants.

And it turns out that Alexis pushes him everywhere; it's so cute.

I won't say I wish I had a sister who would do that, because I am sure Buffy would, if I broke something serious again, but I don't think she would have this slightly Hollywood expression all the time, like she was Ingrid Bergman seeking redemption for something.

'It's so nice they get along now, ' Amanda says.'When Alexis first came back from the dead, they fought all the time. It was pretty exciting, but you had to keep track of who was winning, which got exhausting.'

And I notice that Christina is tagging along as part of the group, but when we get in the elevator she manages to be in the opposite corner to Amanda. And they look well away from each other.

They are so obvious.

The Claire girl has managed to be part of all this too, and Amanda's friend Marc, who has touched up his eye-liner since I first saw him.

And talking of obvious, Daniel has cooked up this whole outing just so that he can go on macking on my sister, because he really isn't talking to anyone else, even the random models he seems to have scooped up on his way through the building. He is chattering away to her about nothing at all that makes any particular sense, only charmingly, and she has that slightly rabbit in the headlights thing going on in her eyes that she gets when some pretty bad boy shows an interest.

Alexis just looks over his head most of the time while he is doing this, only sometimes she looks down at the top of his head and there is something in her smile that is quite heart-breaking.

Obviously there is a lot of history here that I don't know.

After all, a few hours ago, all these people were strangers.

In the lobby, though, we meet someone who is sort of someone we know, or maybe he isn't.

This guy who looks exactly like Riley's friend charges up.

'Danny boy, ' he says.

'Becks, ' Daniel says.

Which is odd, but not very, because after all Graham is some sort of spook and these people change their names all the time.

And if there is going to be an Apocalypse at the Meade building, it's nice to know that the authorities are onto it.

Buffy catches my eye.

'Your tax dollars at work' I mouth back at her.

Only maybe we are wrong, because Claire walks up to him and says, 'I love your work. How did you get that shot in Rwanda, the really grainy one with the bodies just so in the foreground.'

And he looks at her like a serious person and says something fast and complicated about apertures and platinum paper that clearly no-one except them understands.

So maybe he is this Becks, and a photographer, and it is just coincidence that he looks exactly like Graham.

I don't entirely believe in coincidences.

Anyway, it is clear that he only looks at Claire as a serious person because she is a photographer; he dances round the rest of us air-kissing and trying to cop a feel. Except he clearly knows who my sister is, because he knows to keep his hands to himself,

When he gets to me, he opens his mouth and I say ' Just...Don't.'

It has been a long few hours.

And clearly he has some sense of self-preservation because he shuts his mouth again so quickly you can almost hear his lips chafe.

He pats my behind though, and I decide to let him.

I am not unreasonable.

He keeps his hands to himself round Alexis as well as Buffy, I notice. Clearly his mancrush on Daniel means that Daniel's sister is out of bounds, because that's the other thing that he has in common with Graham.

Straight boys in love, always awesome to watch.

There is a fleet of cars waiting for us outside - this is clearly how these people get around all the time and I am not complaining, because luxury is a thing to which I could get very happily used.

They are big black long cars with blue leather seats that feel like slightly chewy clouds; it has been such a long day that I have hardly sat down before I am conscious of being prodded awake by Alexis in whose lap I have apparently been resting my head.

It's a very comfortable lap - most people that comfortable are fat, but she is just large.

I start to think about how that would work in bed, and these are interesting thoughts.

Bad Dawn, she's your boss.

Which makes it a good thing that I haven't drooled on her dress.

'We're here,' she says.

We get out of the cards and gather on the pavement and somehow there seem to be a lot more of us than there were when we got into the cars.

We have definitely moved from a posse up to an entourage.

Apparently Celeste used to have an entourage, but then she realized how many of them she had slept with and decided it was like living with a box of chocolates strapped to you.

You can never eat just one.

The bar is a fake English pub that has absolutely no idea of what an English pub is actually like these days. I mean, for one thing, I am not going to be able to drink in here because so embarrassing to get carded, whereas in an English pub I could have been drinking for years already.

If I drank

If I drank where my sister could see me.

It has leaded glass windows and ivory beer handles but you just know that the beer is going to be cold, and that the accents of the staff will be straight out of Mary Poppins. It has one of those big central chandeliers that no pub in England has unless it is a gay bar in a television soap.

Christina catches my eye and shrugs the shrug of those of us who know how things are supposed to be.

Daniel catches this and says, ' Someone told me the beer was good here.'

If you don't have a fancy for the little boy voice, he could get wearing.

But we're here now and imagine organizing another fleet of cars to go somewhere equally dreadful.

A bunch of us go and find tables, horrid cast iron things whose marble tops look like they were stolen from cemeteries, while Becks looks helpless for a second and then grabs Marc by the arm and drags him off to the bar.

They look sweet together, but I know it's just a carrying the drinks thing.

Buffy shrugs and struts along after them - for someone who doesn't drink herself, she does enjoy the whole ritual of being in a bar far too much.

When she's in London, she does the whole thing of its being her turn to buy drinks even when she only drinks a diet tonic.

No-one expects her to, but it's just one of the things she does.

She stands around behind Becks and Marc with her arms around their waists like they were her oldest chums rather than two people she just met - she really does the whole pub thing well, far better than this pub does it.

And there is a reason for that, just as there is a reason why it has the thick leaded glass.

Because when the barman looks down between Becks and Marc and sees Buffy standing there like this was her home from home. he says 'Bloody 'ell, 'oo let 'er in?'

Only it isn't because he does a decent Cockney accent, it's because he is busy vamping out and his teeth get in the way like they sometimes do with young vamps.

Suddenly, a whole bunch of the staff and quite a few of the patrons are looking at Buffy and not in a friendly way.

'H'its a slayer' says a waiter in one of those stripey aprons.

And you have to be impressed by the way he stays in character even when upset.

The large, the very large, woman who carves the roasts at the food bar goes 'It's the Slayer, you idiots. The real one.'

Buffy turns round and looks out into the room.

'Do we have to do this now? ' she says.

A whole bunch of waiters and patrons vamp out and move towards her.

'It's been a long day, ' she says. 'And I am having a quiet drink with new friends, a couple of them way cute guys...' - Daniel perks up, and you have to respect someone who can react like this in conditions of mortal terror - ' and I could come back tomorrow night. If you really want. [

Then she picks up a tray from the bar and flicks it like a frisbee taking off three heads at a go because vampires will do silly things like standing close together.

The tray bounces off a wall and takes out the big central chandelier - we should never have let my sister watch Xena because she always overdoes these moments.

'Just kidding, ' she says, and pulls a stake from somewhere inside jeans you would swear had no room for them. She backflips over the bar and knocks the barman flying, staking him before he can recover and then jumps back onto the bar.

Marc is just standing there in shock and Amanda and Christina dash over and grab him and drag him back to the table.

A couple of vampires try to grab Amanda by the neck and Christina tears the marble slab off one of the tables and breaks it over their heads. She hits them so hard that their heads come off and they crumble into dust - I've never seen even Buffy do that before.

Amanda lets out a little scream.

I only vaguely notice this at the time, because I have my own job to do.

Becks has pulled out a little camera from a place as obscure as Buffy and her stake, and is snapping away like a mad thing; Claire hits a vamp who gets too close to us over the head with her portfolio and then climbs on the table and starts shooting away with one of those cameras that look like a lethal weapon.

She also lets off a flash every time she shoots which makes up for the way Buffy took out most of the lights.

They are concentrating on Buffy, both of them clearly thinking of the 'The Slayer Hits the Big Apple' feature they both of them manage to sell next day, so I decide not to do anything terribly exhibitionist.

I don't do the whole big dramatic pointing thing because that gets you noticed.

I just nod meaningfully in the direction of groups of vampires that Buffy can't reach with her little arms and little doors in the air open and either suck them in with a gloop noise that bodes nothing good, or that belch through just enough hot magma to send vamps up in flames without damaging the decor or the few ordinary patrons.

I've been practising.

Willow says it's all about control and she learned the hard way.

And suddenly the bar is much emptier and the people we are with are looking at Buffy and me in a shell-shocked sort of way.

And we are both looking at Christina who is still standing with two halves of a marble slab in her hands, and Amanda hanging off her with her arms round her neck looking at her in shock, wonder and lust.

'Is there anything you'd like to tell us? ' Buffy says.

'Have you noticed any changes in the last couple of years? ', I say.

Christina looks embarrassed and then she says, 'Well....When I moved to New York a couple of years ago, I did notice the hangovers were not as bad. But that's because the beer is weaker, isn't it? '

Buffy shakes her head.

'We need to have a little chat, ' she says in her recruiting sergeant voice. 'Those were vampires. You slayed them. Do the math.'

Becks has got behind the bar and pulled a magnum of champagne from the ice bucket, and of course he is one of those guys who makes opening champagne an opportunity for saying look, I do premature ejaculation and I feel so cool.

But it's the thought that counts, bless him.

And we slayed all the vampires, so there's no-one left to card me.

********

And in other news, I met Sarah Waters - Tipping the Velvet - at a party this evening only to be told by her that we met years ago at a party. I realize with embarassment that the reason I don't remember is that at that party I was flirting with someone and clearly not paying attention.

Lust, it messes you up every time.
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