B t V S / A t S
G O I N G N A T I V E
It had been going so well too, Giles thought.
Buffy was rightly proud of her sparkling new London apartment. It was sizable for the reasonable rent she was paying and the tasteful décor was as spotless as the modern funky furniture it matched. Buffy breezed in and out of each room as she showed him round with the assurance of a young woman finally finding her place in the world; although there was little of the Slayer in sight - and maybe because of that. At a glance, she could have been like any one of the other young, single professionals in the smart block, enjoying the freedom of their fashionable lives before the responsibility of marriages and family life finally caught up with them sometime in their bright futures.
She looked happy though and for that he was glad.
"A drink?" she asked as the brief tour finished in a light airy living room.
Lulled by the sophistication on show, Giles agreed. "Why that would be lovely, Buffy."
Buffy beamed as he settled to a comfortable leather chair. "I've even got tea for when my favourite British guys come around. I'm going native!"
Before he could answer and perhaps ask for something else, she disappeared into the kitchen.
Expecting her to return with some lukewarm colonial concoction, Giles was pleasantly surprised when she came back with a boiling kettle, but less so when she poured the water directly into a waiting mug. He suppressed his disappointment at the lack of a teapot and hoped she didn't catch the fleeting frown he made as he spied the tag dangling despondently over the lip of the mug like a tampon string.
Teabag. Not even Twinings at the very least, just some supermarket own brand. Generic, not even so much as an Earl Grey or an Assam.
Buffy handed the mug over, her proud smile hanging on his reaction. She'd left the spoon in too.
Removing the offending object and setting it aside on her tray with a short sigh, he let the teabag brew, putting off the inevitable for as long as he possibly could.
"Creamer?" she asked, performing some strange alchemy in her own mug that he would rather not think about. "Sugar? I know you don't like Sweet 'n' Low."
Horrified, Giles declined. Had he taught her nothing? "Yes. Thank you. I'm glad you remembered something. I think it'll be fine just as it is."
He gave her a small reassuring smile and jiggled the teabag on the end of the string with as much vigour as was polite. The water darkened, and he wondered idly whether it had been wise to boost the flavour from the bag or not.
Buffy seemed unconcerned. She sipped at her own mug happily; not at all bothered that she hadn't even removed the bag from her drink. That was going a bit too far. Giles fished the used bag out of the streaming liquid and panicked for a moment when he found there was nowhere to put it, not even a saucer. Brown water dribbled back into the mug, never hinting it was ever going to stop long enough to prevent it dripping onto the white carpet if he moved.
"Oh, just put that on the tray." Buffy offered.
He followed the instruction without comment. So much for sophistication.
Unable avoid it any longer and supposing that he should just lie back and think of Fortnum and Mason, Giles tasted his drink. It was tea, but not as he knew it. He swallowed it quickly. Just the rest of the awful cup to go.
Hmm, he thought as he tried to ignore the taste to get the rest down, it was obvious he was going to have to teach her the native customs.
Or start drinking coffee.
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