“Are you sure you have coffee, Rupert?” Joyce called out as she searched through his cupboards.
“Should be right there over the stove,” he replied, his voice somewhat muffled from the back of the apartment.
So intent was she on her search that she didn’t hear the apartment door open.
“Giles? Hey, Giles, are you home?”
Joyce froze. Oh no. Maybe she was imagining it. She’d been more than a little paranoid about getting caught since she and Rupert started seeing each other. But Buffy was supposed to be at school so they should have been relatively safe getting together like this.
“Giles?” Buffy asked again. “Where are—oh!”
And Joyce knew she had been spotted. She also realized that she was only wearing Rupert’s white dress shirt.
“I-I’m sorry I didn’t mean to um...”
It wasn’t like she could run away. Taking a deep breath, Joyce turned and faced her daughter.
Buffy blinked once, twice. “Mom, what are you...” Her eyes went wide as she fully understood what she was seeing.
“Buffy, I can explain,” Joyce said calmly.
“Explain?” Buffy said, her voice strained. “I really don’t think you need to explain.”
“Buffy, please let me—”
“The coffee really isn’t that difficult to find,” Rupert said as he made he way out of the bathroom “I told you, it’s right over the—” He came to a complete stop when he saw Buffy. “Buffy, you’re supposed to be at university,” he stated the obvious.
Joyce saw the fury suffuse Buffy’s face as she turned on Rupert. Before Joyce could even react, Buffy closed the distance, backing Rupert against the wall. “Giles, you told me it was just that one time with the band candy!”
“It was,” he said calmly in the face of her anger.
“Was being the operative word,” she snarled.
Rupert didn’t look like he was going to fight her, so Joyce decided to step in. She rested her right hand firmly on Buffy’s upper arm. “Buffy, let him go,” she said sternly.
Mom voice still seemed to have some effect, because Buffy backed off, though with great reluctance. She stepped back and glowered at them. “How long?” she asked, her words clipped.
“Since shortly after your graduation,” Joyce confessed, looking at her without flinching.
Buffy’s mouth dropped open. “Three months? You’ve been...and...” She threw up her hands and shook her head. Then she walked over and sat heavily on the arm of the couch. “You should have told me.”
Rupert gave Joyce’s hand a comforting squeeze before walking closer to Buffy. He stopped and leaned against the table, watching her as he spoke. “We wanted to see where things went first, avoid this confrontation if it didn’t go anywhere.”
“This has been going on for three months?” she asked again.
Then Buffy looked at Joyce, eyebrow arching up. “And here I always thought you sucked at keeping secrets.”
Joyce smiled uncertainly. “I think I just needed the right reason.”
“Like your Slayer daughter going nuclear when she found out you were dating her Watcher?” Buffy offered, her tone creeping toward light.
“That may have played a small role.”
“Ex-watcher,” Rupert chimed in.
“If you weren’t ex before, you sure would be now,” Buffy snorted. “I doubt they’re down with this kind of thing.”
Silence descended for a few moments before Rupert inquired, “You must have come all the way from the university for a reason. Is something going on?”
Buffy considered for a moment, then shook her head. “Trampy vamp and a couple strange disappearances, nothing I probably can’t handle myself.”
“Are you certain?”
She looked at them both. “Yeah, I’m sure, but I’ll keep you posted.” Then she stood and walked to the door. Pausing, she glanced back at Joyce. “This isn’t over, Mom. Dinner Friday, you and me are going to have a very long talk.”
“Yes, Buffy,” Joyce replied.
Then they were alone.
Joyce drew up next to Rupert. “That went better than we expected.”
“It certainly could have gone much worse.”
“Probably,” she agreed as she wrapped her arms around his neck. “So do the children always just barge in here like that?”
“As if they owned the place? Yes.” He grinned, leaning forward to kiss her lightly. “Adults aren’t supposed to have personal lives, don’t you remember?”
“Maybe you need to start locking your front door. This is a dangerous town, you know.”
“I like the element of danger. And it wouldn’t be an issue if you weren’t walking around half dressed.”
“Good point.” Her fingers went to the buttons of the shirt, working the front open until she could shrug it off onto the floor. She then stood completely naked in front of him. “How about now?”
His eyes darkened. “Exactly how I like you.” He stood and lifted her into his arms, heading for the stairs.
“I never got my coffee,” she protested.
His lips whispered against her ear. “In a few minutes, coffee will be the furthest thing from your mind.”