Buffy had done it again. She's managed to lock Giles out from the bathroom for the third time since his decision to stay. The Watcher expected sharing a bathroom would be difficult for him, having lived alone for quite some time, but she seemed determined to deny him the built-in convenience of using his own door. Of course her door was always left assessable to her. He decided a discussion of the arrangements was in order.
Giles threw open his bedroom door and blindly steered himself out into the hall, struggling with his stubborn necktie. Though he'd grown to appreciate Buffy's fashion sense, her latest acquisition just wouldn't cooperate with him, failing to lie passively along his chest. It didn't help matters that his hand wasn't quite bouncing back to full capacity as quickly as he'd hoped for. With a final attempt, he managed to triumph over the obstinate tie and moved toward the unlocked and open hall door of the bathroom.
"Xander… you ready yet?" Willow called out from downstairs and Giles glanced across the hall to see if there was any sign of life from the young man.
"Coming… gimme a minute." Xander's voice sounded back and Giles shook his head at the chaotically choreographed dance that seemed to occur every morning in the house. They were practically stepping over each other's toes to get organized and out the door on time. Besides the occasional company in the kitchen for a cup of tea or coffee, he'd found it wise to simply avoid the group most mornings.
Giles turned back toward the bathroom and stopped dead in his tracks just as Dawn rushed past him, weaving around him and nearly knocking him over as she commandeered the bathroom a mere second before he attempted to enter it.
"And a good morning to you too," he mumbled edgily as the door slammed closed in his face. He decided to try his hand at the opposing bathroom and found himself flanked by a like-minded and groggy Xander. That left only one more chance at relief, the first floor bathroom.
He shuffled through the cramped hallways, blockaded by a diversity of bedroom furnishings. Willow and Buffy were competing again in their strange redecorating obsessions, neither one ever being fully satisfied with the overall layout and feel of their rooms. Every week prompted a revisited experiment in Feng Shui. Giles wished they'd just pick a layout and stick with it. He was getting tired of cracking his shins on various pieces of furniture.
Another quick glance at his watch encouraged him to quicken his pace and he curved around a bend only to be stopped just short of the stairs by a wall of boxes completely jamming the hall. He backtracked to come around from the other side only to find his path blocked off again by what looked to be a mound of pillows and stuffed toy animals mixed in with a duffel bag of weapons and a midsize step ladder. Panic was beginning to set in; at this rate he would be late for his job interview.
"I'll be down in a moment… just have to get some things put away," Buffy hollered from some concealed location behind her stack of furnishings.
Giles' next move was a detour out the back deck door and down the servant's stairs. With panic causing him to hurry, he tripped on some unseen object and just managed to catch himself before taking a header down the last few steps. Thanking the powers that be for small miracles, he looked back to see what triggered his rapid decent and noticed some abandoned tools perilously perched on the unintended path.
"Yet another brilliant choice for a storeroom. Why bother tucking them neatly away when he can always find them by following his victim's cries for help?"
He moved on, trying the back door to the dining room all to find that Dawn had actually locked it up after she sneaked back in. A shadow caught his notice. It was Buffy marching through the dining room and Giles tried to get her attention with a knock and wave. She smiled, offering a 'good morning' and continued on her busy way, not even recognizing Giles' need to be let in.
The Watcher dug impatiently into his pockets, searching for his keys, and remembered his set was at the local locksmith to get a copy made. He decided to go around to the front. But as he made his way around the side of the house, Buffy's pride and joy, her newly installed sprinkler system, activated, drenching him from head to toe. He made it to the front door just as the gang rushed out to head off to their various daily activities.
"Hey, Giles. Be careful of the sprinkler hose out back. I didn't hook it up right so it's kinda booby… trap… ish... oh…" Buffy finally noticed the dripping wet Watcher standing beside her, fuming quietly.
"I'd say you bagged yourself one four point Booby, Buff," Xander snickered as he speedily walked by to claim his usual position as chauffeur. Buffy sipped her coffee, struggling to repress her mounting giggles.
"I'm failing to see the humor…"
"Nice scrubs," Dawn interrupted Giles with a snort and slipped between the irate Watcher and giggling Slayer. "Not many guys can pull off the 'Versace swim team' look but you got it goin' on, Giles." She skipped down the walkway and slipped into the back seat of the SUV.
Giles held back his instinct to offer a snide retort and settled for a harsh glare.
He gritted his teeth, taking a deep, soothing breath to calm his nerves. "B-Buffy, I..."
"Sorry, can't talk now. But I'm only workin' a half day 'cause of the holiday tomorrow so we'll conversationalize later..." Buffy started down the walkway as Giles tried to get a word in. She paused for a second and looked back. "Oh… we're critically tardy for the holiday grocery shopping, so tonight you better set your 'skies unlimited' plastic on stun. It'll be you, me and the bag boys of aisle seven." She took another gulp of coffee.
He ignored the suggestion and motioned with his hand to try and get her attention. "Buffy, I must insist..."
"Will, burning' daylight out here!" Buffy interrupted with a shout then continued down the walkway.
Another wasted breath and he tried again. "Could you please just wait for a moment...?"
"Mornin' Giles." The perky redhead skipped on past him and toward the car. "Beautiful day."
"Wha... huh?" Giles muttered in frustration. "No... w-well, yes... I mean..."
"Good luck today. Knock 'em dead! But in the not so literal Hellmouthy sense!" She gave him a friendly wave as she slipped into the back seat.
Giles stepped quickly after them, feet sloshing on the dry cement as he tried to prevent their exit. "My appointment... I need..."
"Later, Watcher-mine." Buffy took her usual position in the front passenger seat and Giles watched in a flustered stupor as the gang drove off leaving him stuck in mid-sentence.
"But... but the car... my interview...?" He stopped his hopeless protest and returned to the closed door. "That is it... we need another bloody vehicle!" He was getting all too familiar with the local taxi service. The last remaining shred of his patience evaporated as he tried the knob and discovered it locked. "Bloody hell!"
In an unguarded moment, Giles pounded his fist into the door. He swore he was invisible at times. After taking a second to recollect his temper, the discouraged Watcher disappeared around the corner of the back side of the house, not noticing the observer watching the whole drama unfold from across the street.
"Mmmmm… such a lovely aroma," the darkly clad, elderly gentleman spoke aloud, taking in some undetectable scent. "They are almost ready; won't be long now."
A couple neighborhood dogs slowly approached him from behind.
"Can you smell that, my friends? Dinner is served." The mutts began to growl as they hesitantly advanced on him. The man offered a kindly smile and knelt down to rummage through the contents of his small suitcase.
"I can share the wealth…" He revealed a blood soaked and paper bound lump, unwrapped it and displayed its contents to the dogs, whose ears immediately perked up in response to the offering. He tossed a gore sodden bone to the ground and licked his blood soaked fingers clean, cocking his head with a pleased smile toward Scobie Manor. With a sly wink, he moved along on his way.
"I'll be visiting you later, my friends."