Spike motioned for her to follow and they headed down one of the corridors spurring off the main lobby. They passed what looked to Buffy to be mostly utility and storage areas stopping in front of a door marked 'Staff Quarters'. He pulled an ID card wrapped in a lanyard out of his back pocket.
"Wow, a name tag and a badge." She said.
"Yeah, not sure if it still works," he swiped it once through the mechanism, it did not. He wiped the magnetic strip on the leg of his jeans and tried it again, this time it worked. The door clicked and Spike cracked it open, then shut it and tried it again to make sure it would continue to work then handed the badge to her. "I usually just key it in. Use the badge if you want to leave staff quarters or the Mission tonight, the outside doors lock in about an hour."
Buffy looked at the badge as she took it. "Good picture," she said, it never ceased to amaze her that for creatures that didn't have a reflection, vampires were very photogenic.
There was a very brightly lit common area just inside the door that unexpectedly narrowed into a darker corridor, beyond that it appeared to be lit only with emergency lights, or possibly candles, Buffy could not tell which.
"Come on, then, it's easy to find, last one on the right, only one without a crucifix, or other…thingy, above the door."
She noticed as they walked down the corridor that the décor changed abruptly once past the common area, moving from postmodern to post monastery. The doors to the rooms were very close together and each seemed to have some kind of religious symbol or emblem above the mantle, apparently the Mission was highly multi-denominational. What she had thought were candles earlier turned out to be those flickery electric candelabra type things masking industrial style emergency lights beneath, the effect was very convincing.
These are cells, she realized,like…monk's cells.
"Don't get spooked, Pet," Spike said, as if sensing her thoughts, "…it doesn't… no, actually it does look this dreary in the daylight."
They stopped at the last door at the end of the corridor; it too had a nametag: 'Spike'.
"The doors don't lock, but the neighbors do respect privacy and sorry Love, the room's a mess." He opened the door and got the lights. "Bit of a cramped coffin, but its home."
It was just as narrow as she had imagined, but longer with higher ceilings and not at all as plain as she was expecting. The brick walls were painted a lush mossy green and most of the furniture had that look of old polished wood except where functionality dictated something more modern; not much floor space but lots of shelves and drawers.
Spike quickly dumped the ashtray and opened the window by the bed for a
little more airflow, then got out of her way.
"There's…really nothing in the fridge… blood and beer… you're welcome to
the beer," he said checking the refrigerator at the foot of the bed.
"Any water," she asked.
"I got that." He handed her a cold bottle. "You, uh, need to call the Niblet?"
"Yeah," she smiled at his use of Dawn's old nickname, she hadn't heard it in years and didn't realize how much she'd missed it, "…probably should"
He handed her the phone. "I'll, uh, go get some food…stock the fridge." He left the door ajar.
Buffy looked around the room for a moment noting the three transom windows high up along the outer wall; they had been painted over to keep out the light and the one by the bed had a low awning outside for the same purpose. They were all open; the high ones just a little, to let the air in. She could faintly hear street sounds in the distance.
She saw the paintings, also high up, above the shelves and wardrobe that flanked the door. Two were groupings, one of her, Joyce and Dawn; the other, of Dru, Angel and Darla, the likenesses were very good. The third, in the center above the door, was a portrait of a woman she did not recognize. Wow, she thought, that must be his mom. It was still hard for her to imagine that vampires had mothers even though she knew that they had too, once. She looks like the woman in the pictures…only older.
The bed was unmade and tussled. It smelled good, like Spike, only…coconut-tier. She snuffled a little as she flipped open the phone and entered the number.
She continued looking around the room as the phone began to ring. There was a stack of magazines on the shelf across from the bed. She riffled through them, strangely comforted by the small stash of porn in the center of the stack, mild stuff she noted.
She thought the call was going to go to voicemail when it finally connected.
"Dawn, it’s me…no, I'm okay…I'm sorry…I know, I know, I should have
called sooner…I'm in Reseda, I think…yeah, I found him…I'm sitting on his
bed…no!…he's not here now…out getting me some food, then he has to go to
work…yeah…I don't know, exactly...here, it’s some kind of a Mission, like a
shelter, maybe…a few hours ago…no, mostly we just fought…no, just with
words…huh, everything…so hot I can't stand it…his hair's different…still blonde, but…it’s in dreds…I don't know, yeah…very…hope so…how is everybody…she's there? Is she okay… yeah…no word on school yet…no, no I don't know when I'll get there, I'm not leaving here yet…I know…I will…yeah…I'll call…I don't know, in a few days… love you too…bye."
She lay part way down on the bed. The pillow smelled so good.
"Hey, Pet, room service," Spike only peaked in the door a little warily.
"Spike, it's your room, you don't have to knock," she said sitting up on the bed.
He came in carrying a tray. "Uh, food," he announced, "…in hot, well lukewarm…we've got roast beef, mashed potatoes, gravy…and something green, supposed to be that way though, and in cold…sandwich, also roast beef…sorry," he apologized, "…it's a bit late for variety… also various condiments, a prepackaged salad…," he checked the container, "…ranch…uh, some fruit and some cheese, the plastic wrapped kind, not the chunk, sorry," he added again. "…and, we have …more water, milk, assorted juice, and …Tab."
"Wow, hard to find," she said, impressed with the selection.
"No trouble, Love. What's your poison?"
"Uh, warm and milk, please."
Spike brought them over and set them on the shelf across from where she sat then went back to the fridge and unpacked the rest.
"Oh," he added, "…and assorted snacky stuff, chips, Cheetos."
"Well stocked," she commented already opening and arranging the containers.
"Is that warm enough, got a microwave, can heat it up?"
"Bon appetite …uh, you want coffee? I can go get some," he offered.
"No, not this late. Thanks, and thanks," she handed him the phone.
"Chargers, uh," he gestured past her elbow, "…if you would." Buffy found it and plugged the phone in.
"I gotta get some stuff and get out there; Duncan will be falling out of the chair asleep." He opened a drawer and rummaged through it pulling out a pager. He checked it and put it in a back pocket.
"It's good," Buffy said after the first bite of roast beef.
"Yeah, kitchen here is not bad; you should taste it when it's not day old." He opened another drawer and swapped out his pack of cigarettes for a fresh one then he opened the laptop on the counter and opened a file. He pulled the netbook off the shelf above it and quickly keyed a few things into it. The laptop beeped and the netbook beeped and with some satisfaction, he closed them both and set the netbook on the end of the shelf by the door. He was
"Buffy, so it won't be a surprise when you find out," he began as he turned to the door, "…the monks that run this place, they're from the Order of Dagon."
"The ones that…" she started to ask.
"…made Dawn," he finished, "…yes. It's okay…they're okay, and Duncan has had some… experiences with our old friend preacher man."
"Caleb," she said with some alarm.
"Yeah. He was at Gilroy when Andrew and I went up there."
"Alright,” she said, "…anything else?"
"Cellar dwellers in the basement, no big."
"I'll be out at the main desk if you…" he trailed off, "… finish dinner and get some rest." He grabbed the netbook and started out the door.
"Spike, about the Immortal…"she began.
He stopped, hand on the door handle, and turned around.
"…building didn't fall down," she finished softly.
He chuckled quietly, almost to himself, shaking his head and said, "…get
some sleep, I'll see you in the morning."