“And off air in five, four, three, two, one – okay, everybody – that’s a wrap.”
The director pulled off his headphones, and Giles stood up from his canvas ‘Directors’ chair, picking
up his running notes. Everybody went about their duties in the studio, moving the chair and desk, autocue, etc.
Giles was planning to go straight to his restaurant, then noticed Anyanka walking down the corridor towards
“Anya, darling, how are you?” he kissed her on both cheeks.
“Fine. I knew you’d be here today; I’ve just done a session for Glory and I thought I’d
drop by, say hi. So, how’s the world with you? Heard from Jenny?”
“She’s been in New York this last two weeks, she’s phoned me twice, and emailed
“So, things are looking up for you two then?”
Anya linked her arm though Giles’ as they continued down the corridor.
“That’s just it, I don’t know. It was all about work. Every time I try and, well, talk non-work
related stuff, she sort of glosses over it and goes straight back to business…”
“Want me to talk to her for you?”
Giles nearly shuddered at the thought. Anya was a good person, a very good person, but she wasn’t known
for her tact and diplomacy. She called a spade a shovel, and hit you right between the eyes with what she thought.
“NO! Sorry, um, no…I don’t think it would do any good…”
“Don’t know until I try!”
“Look, come and have lunch.”
“No, at the ‘Winds’.”
“Can’t. I’m doing a radio interview this afternoon. I’ve won an Indie Radio Award, but
shush, I’m not supposed to know.”
“Dinner then, tonight?”
“Great…about 9.30? – Give me chance to do stuff first.”
“Great, see you later then.Bye."
The lift doors slid silently open, and Spike, ever the gentleman held his arm out indicating Buffy to enter
first. She smiled and did so. Just as the doors were closing, his cell phone beeped to indicate he’d got a text message.
He glanced at the name and immediately deleted it.
Buffy watched the numbers above the doors, 2…3…4. The doors opened and she walked out into a wide
carpeted corridor, the walls lined with framed photographs of all the stars who'd ever signed with the company. There were
lots of doors to various rooms and potted plants dotted around.
“Just down to the right, very bottom of the cor...“
Spike was indicating where they had to go, when a door flew open and a loud high-pitched squeal had him closing
his eyes and wincing.
“BLONDIE BEAR! There you are! Don’t you EVER answer your messages?”
Buffy could have sworn she heard Spike mutter ‘oh shit’ under his breath.
A blonde girl, dressed in thigh length black boots, a very short, low cut, red ‘Santa’ dress trimmed
in white fur, with hat to match...complete with a white pompom on the end of it...walked towards them. She was covered in
glitter and fake snow, which fell onto the carpet as she walked.
Spike looked irritated beyond belief, and said quietly to Buffy, “Excuse me for a moment. I’m sorry
“It’s okay…I’ll..um…look at the photographs.”
She walked off to diplomatically be out of earshot. Spike smiled and nodded, his smile leaving his face when
he looked at the source of his annoyance.
“My widdle Spikey been ignoring his Harmony!” She ‘walked’ her fingers up his chest.
“Harmony, not now. Can’t you see I’m busy?” Spike removed her hand and dusted
the glitter off his shirt.
“But I’ve left you hundreds and hundreds of messages! And you don’t call!”
Buffy suddenly realized just who this was! Harmony! She tried not to appear star-struck, and stared at a photo.
“Look, what is it that you want, huh? Can’t Cordelia sort it out for you?” Spike asked, the
irritation clearly evident in his voice.
Harmony looked all sick- kicked puppy, and pouting. “But my little lamb…when can I see you?”
“I thought that you could take me to the Indie Radio Awards.”
“Did you now? Well, you thought wrong. It’s invitation to award winners only.”
“But I’m up for best female singer!”
“No, Anyanka’s won it.”
“WHAT! Oh!” Harmony’s face creased, and she said in a tearful voice, “I wanted to win
that!” She bobbed her knees once, as would a spoiled child.
“Well, I’m sorry Harmony, but that’s the way it is...oh, and you don’t know that, by
“That it’s Anyanka that’s won. Now look, I’m extremely busy, so PLEASE stop calling
and leaving messages for me, I haven’t the time. In fact I was thinking, I’m far too busy for you these days,
so I’ll get Xander Harris to take over as your manager. I’ll have Cordelia type up a contract straight away, but now
I must go.”
Spike turned away from the shocked blonde girl, and touched Buffy’s arm. “This way, love.”
“Oh…right.” Buffy quickly glanced at a very sad looking Harmony.
“But...Blondie Bear! What about US?!”
Without so much as a backwards glance, Spike called out, “Harmony, there IS no 'us'. There never was.”
and turned the corner out of sight.
Harmony trudged her way back to studio 1 to start the video for her Christmas song, ‘Santa’s Sleigh’.
“I’m sorry about that, Buffy. Harmony gets…delusional. She’s only young. I had to take
her to a corporate party once. I was so busy ‘net-working’ I ignored her most of the evening, and in the end I
had to get somebody else to take her home, and she STILL reckons it was a ‘date'! I’ve had to be cruel to be kind
– um...here we are.’’ Spike opened a door and allowed Buffy to go in first.
Buffy looked around the spacious office. It had a dark grey carpet, two big black leather sofas and a huge mahogany
desk with leather swivel chair. The walls were a pale minty green, cool and relaxing. By the door was a water-cooler, and
a unit with coffee maker and cups.
“Coffee? Take a seat.”
“Um, love some, thanks.”
“How do you take it?”
“Cream, no sugar, thanks,” Buffy said, perching on one of the sofas. She briefly wondered why Spike
had explained about Harmony to HER.
“There you go.”
Buffy accepted the coffee from Spike, and there was a knock at the door.
Cordelia Chase came in, carrying papers. She smiled and said ‘hello’ to Buffy, before handing Spike
“Cordelia, this is Buffy, winner of the...“
“I know! Search for a Star – I voted for you!” Cordelia smiled at Buffy
Buffy blushed and said, “Oh, thanks-thank you!”
“What? You mean you were watching a RIVAL show?” Spike asked, grinning.
“Why, who was on..oh, the ‘Acid Queen’. I ALWAYS give Glory Benson a wide berth, she’s
Spike grinned again and initialed several sheets of paper. “Oh, and I’ve just had ‘the encounter’
with Harmony, and given her the good news that I’m no longer her manager. Have you done that contract as I asked?”
“On your desk.”
“Thanks, love, you’re a star. Remind me to ask Sweet to give you a raise!” Spike grinned and
winked at the dark haired beauty.
“That’ll be the day. Bye then, see you later," she said, smiling at Buffy.
Buffy said, "Bye."
“Here you go...this is the standard contract, three album deal, the usual percentage royalties cut, plus
we give an extra deal on merchandising, which you won’t find with any other company. Well...not as generous, anyway.”
Spike handed Buffy several sheets of paper to peruse at her leisure.
“Sorry, merchandising?” Buffy quizzed.
“Tee shirts, dolls, video’s, posters, calendars...that sort of thing.”
“Oh, right. Stupid me!”
Buffy felt embarrassed at her idiocy, and her cheeks flamed.
Spike poured himself some coffee, and came and sat by her. Buffy could smell his cologne, and she felt all tingly
having him in such close proximity to her. She bet he could hear her heart thumping!
“Um, can I ask another dumb question?”
“Another? You haven’t asked one yet!” He smiled and sipped his coffee. “Ask away,
“That girl, Harmony? I mean...Christmas? It’s only mid-August, so why would she be doing Christmas
“Well, to be truthful, if we were talking about you, say you decide to sign with us...which I hope you
do, by the way...we’re even pushing it a bit fine as regards time. You need to get established, get your pretty face
into the magazines, newspapers and on TV. You need airplay, then we’d put out an album for the Christmas market. But
songs have to be written, rehearsed, recorded...doesn’t happen overnight.”
Buffy nodded slowly. It made sense.
“Harmony," Spike continued, "is a well-established singer, having been around for a couple of years now,
but she’s doing a tour. She’ll be half way through a European tour come early October, which is about the time
we’d normally start operations for the Christmas market."
Spike leaned forward and put his empty cup on the low coffee table in front of them. His knee brushed hers,
and he made no move to shift it.
He sat back, and smiled. “So, tell me about yourself.”
Buffy smiled and put her empty cup next to his on the table. “Well, what can I say…a fortnight ago
I was a school counselor, then I won a talent show at our local night spot, then I was on TV!”
“So, what does your boyfriend think of all this?” This was Spike’s not-so-subtle way of finding
out if this delightful little lady was taken. He hoped not, as he hadn't seen any evidence last night at the show, but then
the song was about her missing her soldier boyfriend, so he could be away.
“Boyfriend? – No, I..um..I haven’t got one.”
“No – oh, you do surprise me, beauty like you. I thought they’d be queuing up around the block
Buffy blushed and looked at her hands folded in her lap.
“Now I’ve embarrassed you. I’m sorry.”
“No…well, it’s ok.”
The telephone on the desk began to ring.
“Excuse me, this must be important.”
While Spike went to deal with his call, Buffy picked up the contract and began to read.
Drusilla woke with a bad taste in her mouth, a thumping headache, and feeling quite sore ‘down below’.
Disorientated, she sat up suddenly and looked around the unfamiliar surroundings. Her head swam. She put her
hand down to lever herself up off the bed when her fingers closed around something hard and round, which suddenly buzzed.
She jumped and looked down and saw it was a vibrator, a foot away from it was a soft dildo. She let go of the
vibrator and it stopped buzzing. On the nightstand, propped up against the clock-radio, was a folded piece of paper with her
name on it.
‘Dear Dru – Gone to work, make yourself at home, be back around three this afternoon. What a night!
See you later, love Cec XX'
She was trying to think, but her brain was like cotton wool and she needed the toilet. Getting out
of bed, she kicked an empty wine bottle. There was also an empty Scotch bottle by the waste-paper basket. She felt sick and
shaky, and just about made it to the bathroom in time to throw up in the sink.
Rinsing her mouth, she raised her head and stared into the mirror. She looked very pale, with dark circles under
An urgent thought came to her. ‘Medication’.
She needed her purse. Where the hell had she put it?
“Sorry about that pet, but you don’t put off the ‘big boss’!”
Spike came over and stood in front of her. Buffy smiled and said she understood, still holding the contract.
“If you get that looked at, and could get back to us ASAP, I’d be very grateful.”
“I don’t need it looked at. I trust you.”
Spike smiled at her. “Oh, um, oh...well, that’s great! Then, if you want, we can sign now
and I can show you what’s in store for you.”
“Okay, we’ll need two witnesses. Cordy can be one, um…”
Spike opened his office door, and called to one of the ‘messengers’, a group of two-dozen people
who roamed the offices wearing hands-free head sets, who ran messages, called taxi’s, ordered flowers, fetched sandwiches
and did all manner of useful things.
“You’ll do...I need you to witness a contract signing.”
The girl came into the office, followed by Cordelia.
“Um, sorry, could you give us a moment please, I’ll call you.” The two nodded and waited by
“Buffy," Spike said, "I just want to let you know what you’re letting yourself in for.”
She could see he was being open and honest with her, and she frown/smiled and said, “I’m sorry,
“Before you sign...I must tell you this. For the next few months, your feet won’t touch the ground.
You’ll be tired, you’ll be sick to death of singing your song dozens of times a week, of answering the same questions
over and over. Each time you’ll have to make it seem like you’ve never been asked that question before. You’ll
wake up in hotel rooms, not even being able to remember what state or city you’re in. Do you think you can cope?”
“I – I don’t know..I think so, I’d like to hope so.”
“I’ll help you in any way I can.”
“So...still want to go through with it?"
“Is it ALL bad?” Buffy asked, a little worried.
Spike smiled. “No. Once you’re established, you get to travel, see places you’ve only ever
dreamed of, meet famous people, and then there’s the money of course..”
“Gimme that pen!” Buffy joked, and they both giggled.
Spike called Cordelia and the messenger in to witness the signatures, giving a copy of the contract to Cordelia
to put on file, and the other copy to Buffy herself.
She handed Spike his pen back. “Right, so...what happens now?”
“Now, little lady, your feet don’t touch the ground!”
“Excuse me sir,
I’m sorry to trouble you.”
The young waitress looked
a little sheepish, but Giles put his wine glass down and smiled at the girl.
“Yes Molly, what
can I do for you?” There was a crashing sound and a tinkle of glasses, then a roar of laughter went up. Giles
threw down his napkin, and said to Anya, “Excuse me a minute?”
and his crowd, sir. They’re being a bit rowdy, we’ve already had one complaint from other diners.” Molly
Giles said he’d
sort it, went over to their table and, in true professional manner, he sorted things.
The rowdy crowd finished
their drinks and left.
“Molly, who was
it complaining? Are they still here?”
“Couple in the
Giles went over to them.
“I’m very sorry that you’ve had your meal interrupted, and I’d like to offer you either a bottle of
champagne or a meal for two, with our compliments, by way of recompense.”
The couple thanked him
and said they’d have the meal for two, and Giles said he’d give them some tickets.
“Molly, give those
two free meal tickets, and charge Rack’s bill another $100.”
The waitress nodded.
When Giles got back
to the table, Anya had her wrap on and was ready to leave.
“Sorry, but I’ve
got an early start in the morning. I’m going to ‘Daddy’s’ Swiss hide-away for a few days.”
“Lucky old you…come
on, I’ll walk you to the door.”
As they neared the front
of the restaurant, they could see two police cars arrive, sirens blaring, blue lights flashing.
“Oh god, what
now? – Stay here An, I’ll go see what the trouble is.” Giles went outside. Two minutes later, he came back.
“Seems Rack punched a paparazzi – started a brawl!”
“Good for him!
I’ll go out the back way then, if you don’t mind. I don’t want to be associated with that. I’ll phone
Jenny for you...just casually, I know, I promised – I’ll be subtle.”
Giles nodded and
kissed Anya, and she left.
“And this is one
of the recording suites. We have a dozen here, and another ten in our studios in Burbank.”
“When will I be
doing my song?” Buffy asked as they left the room and carried on down the corridor.
any luck. You’ll begin rehearsals after lunch. Excited?” Spike asked.
you’ll be fine. In fact…want to know a bit of juicy info?”
Spike had a gleam in
his eye that made Buffy’s stomach flip-flop, and she nodded.
“Well, ABC Studios,
where you did the show has been totally inundated with phone calls wanting to know where and when they can get your single…oh,
thank you.” Spike took a piece of paper handed to him by a messenger, read it.
“And – listen
to this, we have Darla Delaney from ‘Teen’ magazine here right now. She’s keen to do an interview with you.”
Buffy had a deer-caught-in-the-headlights look.
“Yes, with you!
Look, don’t worry. Tell you what, want me to be there with you? We could do it all informally – over lunch
if you like.”
Buffy felt very grateful.
Spike reached for her
hand and gave it a gentle squeeze. “Just be yourself, act natural, and you’ll be fine, okay?” He gave
her hand another little squeeze. Buffy nodded, smiled and squeezed right back…
“Well, Daddy wants
to know, any news?” Lorne asked.
“Is he there,
can I speak to him?” Cordelia asked.
he’s got the doctor with him at the moment. Drops for his dry eyes, you know they won't close properly!”
Cordelia shuddered “Don’t!
He gives me the creeps enough!”
remember who pays the wages!” Lorne gently admonished her.
“I know. Anyway,
relax. Good news, signed, sealed delivered. She’s ours!”
“Thank you blossom,
speak later.” Lorne put the phone down and went to prepare his lord and master’s smoothie, to give him along with
the good news that Buffy had signed to Aphrodite.
you don’t have to whisper. The booths are sound-proofed. They can only hear you down there if you hold down this button
and speak into the microphone.” Spike explained to Buffy. The booth was tiny, so Buffy had to stand very close to Spike.
Down in the studio,
Harmony was gyrating in front of a ‘bluescreen’, singing her song. Above her, behind the screen and standing
on stepladders were two guys gently shaking fake snow down on her.
"Santa’s on his
Sitting on his sleigh…
Children all around
Waiting for Christmas
The bouncy pop tune
had more than a passing resemblance to ‘Jingle Bells’, complete with tinkling sleigh-bells and a soundtrack of
children laughing and playing.
Suddenly, for real in
the studio, ten children ran on set, dressed in fleeces, with scarves, hats and gloves and began to play 'snowballs.' . Then
they knelt around in front of Harmony and joined in with the chorus, heads swaying from side to side, bright smiles on their
One of the guys shaking
the snow down suddenly sneezed, sending down the complete boxful of ‘snow’, knocking Harmony’s hat askew,
and putting her off singing.
The recording engineer
immediately leaned forward, and irritably pressed the button.
“Cut! Cut! For
god's sake…am I surrounded by fucking idiots?”
“Hey! No swearing
in front of the children!” Harmony glared towards the blacked-out booth and put her hands over the nearest child’s
The engineer looked
at Spike. “Two hours…two hours, that’s all, and I’m already sick to fucking death of that song!”
Spike grinned, and nodded.
“Come on, let’s
go up to the café on the sixth floor and meet Darla, eh?”
Buffy nodded and followed
him out. “Um... Spike, I need the...er...rest room?”
“Oh right, come
on then. Just down this corridor, on the left, door marked ‘private’ through there.”
Buffy pushed opened
the door he'd indicated and then saw two more doors. She went into the ladies. It was clean and bright. She went
into the first cubicle and closed the door, and was just about to undo her jeans when she heard a distinctly male
Shocked, Buffy held
Buffy’s eyes bugged
and she silently bent down and looked under the side of the cubicle. She could see a pair of scruffy boots, with pants sagged
around them, standing by the toilet, and a girl’s knees and feet!
Buffy stood up. What
was she going to do? They’d hear her if she used the toilet…they obviously were too engrossed in what they were
doing to have heard her come in, but…
“Fuck, mind the
teeth girl! Oh yes, just like that…harder…oh fuck yes!”
Buffy grinned –
this was rock and roll!
She had to bite the
back of her hand to stop from giggling…then she thought, damn it! She was bursting to go, so she flushed the loo first.
She flushed again, and
she could hear the man obviously climaxing…
“Yeah, oh fuck,
don’t stop babe, harder, yeah, yeah, yeah, YES, ugh, ugh, ugh, ugh, ooooohhhhh, ooohh! Oh babe!”
Buffy, biting her bottom
lip, opened the door and went over to the sinks, looking at the end cubicle in the mirror. To her shock and amazement, the
door opened, and out came a girl with long blonde hair, and a guy whom she recognised as Rack, lead singer of the heavy
metal band, Noiz.
The girl didn’t
even acknowledge Buffy’s presence, and walked straight past her, but Rack looked in the mirror at her and winked, grinned
and said, “All right, darlin’?” then followed the girl out.
Buffy dried her hands
and also left.
Spike was on his cell
phone when she came out, so she hung back to give him some privacy.
He saw her and beckoned
“Here she is,
you tell her. Buffy, it’s Cordelia.”
Buffy took the phone
off Spike. “Hello?”
just had a very special request. Nothing like this has ever happened before! Apparently the combined American Forces Radio
have been swamped with requests for your song! Seems like it’s struck a chord with families away from their loved ones!”
an advance order for half a million copies!”
Buffy was open-mouthed
Spike took his phone.
“It’s okay, Cordy, I think she’s a little dumb-struck…Yes, okay...will do, bye! Well babe, that’s
brilliant news, isn’t it? You’ve already guaranteed yourself at least a gold disc, and you haven’t even
recorded the song yet! Come on, this way, I think you’d better come and sit down!”
Buffy followed Spike
to the lifts, and they went down to meet Darla Delaney.
“When will you
be back in LA then?” Anya asked Jenny.
“Friday, all being
well, I’ll be back for the Radio Awards. Will you be there?”
“Yes and no. I’ve
done my acceptance speech and thank you to camera, but I’ll be in Switzerland until Sunday.”
“Yes. Best female
singer. But don’t....you know, let it out, not yet.”
but thanks for the info. Means I can get copy done in advance … anymore?”
“For a price!”
“Hold on, you
don’t know what the price is yet!”
“Go on a date
“How many other
Ruperts do you know?”
I’m not sure he likes me.”
“Not sure? Well,
I am! I’m not kidding you, I had dinner with him the other night, and all he talked about was you!”
“You had dinner
friends…he was good to me when I broke up with Sven. He’s been crazy about you for ages. Tell you what....you
can stay at my place while I’m away. I’ll leave the keys with him for you to collect....take it from there.”
“Are you sure?”
the gossip in New York, New York, huh?"
“You were going
to tell me other winners…”
“So, what inspired
you to write the song?” Darla asked, as she de-constructed her grilled chicken wrap.
Buffy sipped her water,
and played with the spoon that came with her low-fat yoghurt.
“I was dating
a solider at the time, and he’d been away on manoeuvres for a few months…did a lot of time sitting in my room,
writing letters, keeping a diary, generally just waiting to hear from him.”
“It was a friend
that put you up for the show, is that right?”
We’ve been friends since junior high, when we moved to Sunnydale! I could have killed her at first. I never believed
I would win………”
Every so often, Buffy
glanced at Spike, and he’d nod or smile in encouragement.
They chatted for a good
hour, Darla asking the standard, what’s your favourite color/band/food/pastime, etc., then she left, promising to send
a copy of the interview for Buffy to look at.
Suddenly the quiet café
was filled with loud and raucous laughter. It was Rack and his band, clattering around with trays and generally acting up.
Spike asked her, “Do
you know who that is?”
Buffy grinned, and told
him of her experience earlier.
Spike smiled and shook
his head. “Guy’s an animal! Does it anywhere, doesn’t care if anyone can see. A couple of months ago, Cordelia
was waiting for the lift, and when the doors opened, there for all the world to see was Rack’s bare arse bobbing back
and forth, his girl screaming with her legs wrapped around his waist. To Cordy’s credit, she didn’t turn a hair...she
just got in and pressed the button for the ground floor! So pet, are you sure you’ve had enough lunch?”
Buffy put her hand on
her stomach. “Yes thanks. I’ve got butterflies the size of elephants!”
be fine. So...rehearsals, okay? The guy who’ll be recording you is a nice bloke. Looks like a school-kid, but he’s
actually in his late twenties. Billy Fordham, everyone knows him as ‘Ford’. Shall we go?”
Buffy nodded and stood
up, and they made their way to the recording suites.