Timing is Everything: part 2
On Deaf Ears

"W-Willow? Have you seen Buffy?" Giles stepped eagerly into the dorm room. Willow closed the door behind him and motioned wildly to Tara, just out of his sight. Tara jumped up and straightened her skirt and blouse.

"Giles? Uh...no. No Buffy, I mean...we haven't seen her lately." Willow 's face was flushed and her breathing was erratic.

"I'm sorry to intrude...but...I..." he noticed the candles and smelled incense. "Oh, my word! I didn't mean to...so sorry," he rushed toward the door, "I beg your pardon..."

"No...it's ok, really! We were just, um..." Willow's eyes begged for help from Tara.

"Practicing a s-spell?" Tara shrugged.

"Yep. Just some innocent spell casting." Willow smiled nervously. "Uh, Buffy should be patrolling, right? Northern cemetery?"

Giles avoided eye contact and nodded. "Correct but I didn't find her there," he began to open the door, "I'll just try there again."

"Giles, really...it's ok. What's going on?" Willow closed the door again as Tara offered him a chair.

"Well..." he tentatively stepped toward the chair, waiting for further acceptance of his presence.

"Please sit." Tara nodded, motioning toward the seat.

"Thank you but it will be but a moment," he removed his glasses and began to clean them.

"So Buffy was a no show?" Willow asked as she claimed the empty chair.

"I'd thought that until I noticed she's already been at my flat. I believe she may be suffering under a misapprehension," he replaced his glasses and looked at Willow guardedly.

"Did you guys argue again? What happened?"

"Willow, that's none of our business..." Tara interrupted.

"Oh...no. That's quite all-right Tara," he smiled appreciatively. "No arguments Willow, just a misunderstanding that I'm afraid may give Buffy the wrong impression of my...well, um...status. That is to say...it's a complicated situation. I just need to speak her."

"I see. Well, actually I don't but lets not dwell on it, ok? Have you tried the Bronze?" Willow suggested.

"Yes, there and the coffee shop."

"You could try the Robinson Memorial Cemetery. Buffy mentioned it to Dawn when they were fighting about...something, I don't remember what." Tara suddenly felt uncomfortable, as if she'd interfered in Scooby affairs.

"Oh, right. I'll try there then. Thank you, " he opened the door and stepped out with Willow following.

"Giles, remember to use your pager. Let us know if you find her." Willow urged.

"Yes, I suppose I must at least try this gadget before considering it a total loss." He pulled out a small pager and examined it.

"You could try Xander's," Willow began to close the door.

"Yes but I suppose they might be practicing their innocent spell casting as well." He grinned and glanced at Willow out of the corner of his eye. Willow's cheeks immediately blushed and she quickly closed the door.

(The ruins of Sunnydale High...)

'What is it with my choice in men?' Buffy thought as she wandered through the shell of the once proud Scooby haven, the library. She came upon a shattered teacup and smiled as she gathered its remains.

"Why didn't I see this from the beginning?" she asked the darkness.

"See what, luv?" a familiar voice interrupted the moment.

"None of your business, Spike!" she said and carefully returned the shattered teacup to its final resting place.

Spike walked out of the shadows and lit a cigarette. He examined the cup with an inquisitively raised an eyebrow. "Pining for the good ol' days are we?"

"What part of 'none of your business' did you not understand?" Buffy walked over to skeleton of Giles' office. She sat on the ashen ground and lowered her head into her hands.

"Slayers feelin' a bit down, eh luv." He wandered over and sat beside her. "Talkin' to the past? Your words 'ill fall on deaf ears luv. You care to talk, I'll lend an ear."

Buffy glanced over at him. He was perched expectantly on the remains of Giles desk. She couldn't help but smile at his urgings. Perhaps just talking it out would help. But Spike?

"Fine. Where's lil' bit. She'll spill the beans on what's got your knickers in a bunch." He jumped up and began to stomp away.

"That's where you get your information? My little sister? No wonder...you're...clueless." Buffy's attention focused on some burnt pages by the desk. She carefully picked them up and recognized them as notes in one of Giles journals.

"Don't underestimate the kid. She's a bright one. Dawn's just as quick as...OK, whatcha got there." Spike stepped back over to Buffy.

"I think it's just some of Giles journal," her fingers feathered across the handwritten print. "Its probably all about disappointment and regrets."

Spike cocked his head to the side and looked at Buffy's saddened expression. 'Bloody hell, she's pining all right. But not for the good 'ol days.' He thought. A wicked smirk formed on his lips, "That waste of a tree 's probably full of the old sod's bleedin' feelings for ya. Probably reads like a romance novel." He flicked the spent cigarette to the ground.

"Romance novel...what?" Buffy stared aghast.

"Oh yeah. He used to talk my bloody ears off when he'd get pissed on that rat poison he drinks. Longest days of my unlife livin' with that bloke." Spike tried to walk away but Buffy grabbed his arm.

"He'd talk about me?" she swung him around to face her.

"Only when he was drunk. Denied everything once he sobered up." Spike tried to keep a straight face. He felt his expression slip so he turned to walk away, giving himself a chance to recover.

"Spike, you gotta tell me. What did he say?" she directed him back once again.

"What do you care Slayer?" he jerked his arm free and suddenly found himself protective of his unlikely ex-roommate, "He's always been invisible to you. Just taken for granted." Spike realized his strange outburst must have sounded ridiculous. He rolled his eyes and tried to leave.

"Does he love me?" she whispered the question.

Spike turned and saw her expression of hope, 'Lucky bastard,' he thought. "With all his heart." He smiled.

Buffy's heart skipped a beat. This was too much to take in.
"Why didn't he tell me?"

"He did...in his own way. Everyday. Deaf ears, luv! Deaf ears," Spike disappeared into the darkness.