Joyce looked up from the paper as Buffy came into the kitchen. "Oh, you're going out? I was hoping we could do some mom/daughter things today."
"You mean laundry and cleaning, don't you? You have that spring cleany look in your eyes," Buffy answered, giving her mother a suspicious look.
Joyce smiled ruefully. "As ever, you see right through me. I'll probably get more done without you underfoot anyway."
"And so my 16 year plan pays off," Buffy said triumphantly.
Joyce swatted her with the paper as she went to refill her coffee mug. "So, where are you going then?" she asked idly.
"Shopping. Boring, necessary shopping. Much less fun than vacuuming, dusting and whatever else it is you’ve got planned."
"Oh, I'll bet it is. 'Fess up."
Buffy froze, her hand on the doorknob, her back to Joyce. "Huh? I mean, excuse me?"
"There's a new lipstick shade that you just have to have for Monday, or no one will speak to you, right?"
Buffy inwardly sighed with relief and turned, a bright smile on her face.
"Half right. Cordelia is trying to convince everyone to wear ‘Cinnamon Sizzle’ but she's being fiendish to non-brunettes. Take her hench girl Harmony; from a distance all you can see is a pair of lips coming toward you. It's so not a blonde colour. Anyway, when I appear in ‘Razz On You’, a hot and fruity pink, well, I think the balance of fashion power will be in my corner."
"Sounds yummy. Get me some, why don't you? I could use a lift."
"Umm, love to, Mom, but I'd need an allowance advance to get two, so..."
Joyce sighed and walked to her purse, shaking her head. "I fell for that one. Here's ten dollars. And I want the change!"
"Love you, Mom!" carolled Buffy, landing a swift kiss on her mother's cheek and spinning out of the door before she had to lie anymore.
As she walked down the path she mentally added another item to her shopping list. Lipstick. Sheesh. Like she ever had money for it. She could resort to just, well, acquiring it but she hadn't done that since she found out she was the Slayer. Using her speed, dexterity and awareness of being watched to steal seemed tacky somehow.
She reached into her pocket. Luckily her father had sent her some guilt money to make up for being away on a weekend he was supposed to be coming to visit. It should be enough.
The first stop was the jewelry shop. She pushed open the door and walked in, gazing at all the sparkling diamonds on the beds of velvet, twinkling like the stars she knew so well from her nocturnal outings.
"Good morning, miss," said the elderly man behind the counter. "Come to collect your necklace?"
She smiled and nodded. The necklace was the silver cross that Angel had given her. It had been torn from her neck by a demon, not impressed by its ability to repel vampires. After using one of his own horns to impale him (it had broken off after she slammed him headfirst against the side of a crypt) she had prised it out of his dead fingers. The chain needed repairing before she could wear it again.
As soon as the necklace was handed over to her, she put it on, slipping it under her T-shirt. It was daylight of course, but still.
Smiling again as she felt its familiar coolness against her skin, she left the shop.
The man watched her go, frowning slightly. Buffy had done her best to clean the necklace before taking it to the shop, but as he had fixed the twisted links under a magnifying lens, he'd seen a strange green substance crusted on the metal. It had smelled dreadful, stuck to his fingers, and made him feel quite ill.
Buffy carried on walking, hesitating for a moment outside the shop where she got her medical supplies. Slayers heal fast but they still bleed and scar. She liked to keep in a stock of bandages and such. Deciding that she had enough on hand, she kept walking.
The next stop was on the edge of town; a lumber yard, the air filled with the smell of sawdust and fresh wood.
Buffy didn't go to the front desk; she went around the back. A middle-aged man looked up as he saw her. "Here for some more supplies?" he asked with a chuckle. "Love to see your project when it's finished. What is it you're building again?"
"I whittle. Animals and... things. Pretty abstract but they're very popular with some of my friends."
"I'm sure they are. So, what wood do you want to try this time? How did the cedar work out?"
"Not bad," said Buffy, walking with him to a large bin of off cuts.
She thought back to Tuesday. Yes, it had been one of the new cedar stakes that she'd used on the twin vampires. They'd been brothers, real hell raisers who got into fights deliberately and competed to see who could do the most damage. One Friday, they'd picked the wrong people to attack and got turned. Seemed they never learned; they'd planned to kill Buffy as soon as they heard about her.
Vampires less than a week old, thinking they could go up against the Slayer and survive. Fools.
They had a rudimentary plan; flank her and confuse her, so she didn't know who to go for first. Like no one had ever tried that before. She had almost been yawning as she staked, pulled out, tossed the stake to her other hand and repeated the thrust. Simple.
And she got to keep the stake too, which was a plus. So often it got stuck on a rib and vanished with the vampire.
She began to look through the bin, picking out useful looking pieces of hardwood, free of knots or warping. When she had half a dozen, she walked into the shop and dropped some money in the charity box on the counter. The wood was free but she didn't like to just take it. The owner gave her a friendly nod as he put the wood in a bag.
"That girl must be either very good at what she does or very bad," he thought. "She's got through enough wood to build a twenty foot bass boat." He drifted off into fishing dreams and forgot her.
Buffy had never seen how garlic was much use on patrol so she walked right on by the supermarket and headed for the church. Again, holy water wasn't something she could lug around in bulk but, just for tradition's sake, she liked to take some just in case.
She recalled the vampire who had grabbed her stake and bitten it in half, grinning at her as he did so. She'd wiped the smile off his face - literally - when she retaliated by smashing a bottle of the blessed water against his cheek. As he fell back, screaming and clawing at the bubbling ruins of his face, she'd taken out her back up stake and put him out of his misery.
She breathed in the scent of incense and cool stone. Religion had never played a large part in her life but the feeling of peace that she got from just walking into the church was one she looked forward to.
At least for short amounts of time. She found that after sitting in the chill stillness for more than ten minutes, her thoughts turned to Holy Wars, persecution and all the truly gruesome deaths of the saints.
Shaking off her morbid thoughts, she went in search of Father Gilroy.
As he blessed the prosaic plastic container of tap water, the priest said an inward prayer for the young woman before him. Being a priest in Sunnydale was a unique experience. He hadn't come here unprepared of course and he knew that Miss Summers was fighting the good fight, even as he was. He recalled the training sessions he'd received in secret, the books he'd been given to read. Most frightening of all had been the statistics on the number of funerals his predecessor had performed in just a few short months.
Father Gilroy shuddered inwardly as he made the sign of the cross over the bottle. God forgive him, but if he ever had to face a demon, as this slim, pretty young girl did every night, well, he hoped that his faith would sustain him but he had a feeling that as he prayed, his legs would be taking the rest of him away as fast as they could.
Which wouldn't be all that fast, so he'd die. Resolving once again to at least die facing his demon squarely, he emerged from his reverie to see the girl looking at him questioningly.
"Are you okay, Father?" she asked. "Because you seem, a little, I don't know, spacey? Maybe you need some fresh air."
"Maybe I've just been in this town too long," he said, making an effort and smiling.
Her puzzled look deepened. "Didn't you get transferred here just six months ago?" she asked. "After Father Jameson -"
She let her sentence die away. Rather as Father Jameson had, as he walked around the church graveyard one night, concerned about teenage vandals defacing the gravestones.
"Excuse me," he said abruptly, unable to bear looking at her, imagining her body torn and brutalised, as it surely would be one night.
Buffy looked after him, her face troubled. She had a feeling that the next time she came here, there would be a new priest. This one had lost his nerve.
If that were all he lost, he'd be one of the lucky ones. She was their prime target but after the Slayer, vampires dearly loved to take out a priest.
Buffy's last stop was the mall. Clothes. And the unwanted lipstick, of course. The rest of the shopping had only taken a few dollars out of her purse, though whittling the stakes would use up several hours of her precious time. This was where the real money went.
Slayers were tough and self repairing - clothes weren't. Buffy didn't have the sewing skills needed to mend clothes ripped from her body in fights, or the chance to secretly wash out demon ooze and ichor. She wore leather, weather permitting, because it gave her some protection and stood up to a pummeling, but in the summer she got through a lot of clothes.
Buffy had a mother who noticed stuff. Not important stuff like Buffy sneaking out to slay each night, no, not that. But if Buffy's wardrobe gained new clothes rapidly and lost fairly new clothes just as fast, Joyce would notice. And comment.
Which was why, when Buffy shopped for tops in particular, she bought three of everything. It let an item apparently last a normal life in her closet if she had two spares, usually stored at Willow's.
She got odd looks from the shop assistants of course when she paid for them, but odd looks? She could deal.
They were nothing compared to the look Joyce gave her as she shrieked, ”Don't drink that!" later on that day.
Darn. She'd meant to put the holy water in her chest, not the fridge...
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