A/N: Well, you guys don't seem to like the addition of Dru too much. I just ask you to bear with me for a few chapters. I think you will like the ultimate resolution of this conflict. Hope that you enjoy this chapter!
Buffy and William walked through town, her arm securely linked with his. They had no particular destination in mind, and it was all for the better in Buffy's mind. She loved ambling through the town with him, stopping occasionally at some store, and then continuing onwards. She hated doing such a thing with Dawn or her parents, but she found it quite nice with him. He made most things tolerable, though.
"Are you going to Dru's party this weekend?" William asked.
"I don't know. I haven't spoken to my family about it yet."
He smirked. "You might want to do that soon, pet. It is already Thursday."
"We just had Liam's wedding last weekend," Buffy said slowly. "My parents may want a quiet weekend."
"Well, then I will pick you up. You can accompany my family and I."
"I may want a quiet weekend," she tried. The idea of an entire party centered around Drusilla Duchamp was not an afternoon that she looked forward to, even with William.
"She would love for you to be there."
"Why? She hardly knows me?"
"She knows that you're important to me," William said, and she felt herself softening. "That is reason enough for her to want you to be there. I'm a wilting flower without you, dear."
She snorted. "A wilting flower?"
"Yes. All droopy and unpleasant. You'd be doing the entire party a service by accompanying me."
She sighed. "Fine, I will speak to my family."
He kissed her cheek, and she thought to herself that she was much too easily swayed.
The party was an elegant gathering with all those fussy appetizers that no one actually enjoys eating. Buffy typically had no trouble holding conversations in a group, but she found herself oddly unsettled. There was something about Drusilla that still seemed off. It was the callous way that she interacted with William. There were overt touches and flirty winks. William told her that they were nothing but old friends, but she still found herself questioning.
She would keep the questioning to herself now, though. She was still smarting a bit from their last conversation about Drusilla. While his laughter soothed the slight mortification she felt as revealing her insecurity, it also made her hesitant to ever bring up the brunette in further discussion.
A waiter passed and offered her some sort of savory puff. She shook her head slightly, having been punished with her previous trial with the food by being forced to eat some sort of snail dish. William took one, though, and happily popped it into his mouth.
"My favorite," he said with a full mouth.
"I insisted they make it," Drusilla said with an indulgent grin. "Figured it would be an easy way to shut you up if you started talking too much."
Buffy thought to herself that there was an even more effective way to silence William. She wished they could be off in some dark corner, aware of only each other in the crowded room. She was accustomed to being the person his eyes were drawn to in a room, but she found herself sharing his attentions.
"I'm going to the bathroom," Buffy announced somewhat unnecessarily. William smirked, giving her cheek a peck.
"Alright, pet. We'll be here."
Yes. We. Him and Drusilla. She covered her distaste with a quick nod and stole away toward the bathroom. She had no actual need for the powder room, but she found him and that woman's familiarity stifling. Dawn stood at the side of the room, staring out into the crowd. She grabbed onto Buffy's arm and asked, "Who is that with William?"
"The woman the party is for, Dawn. Drusilla Duchamp."
"I don't like her name," Dawn said with a disdainful sniff. "Or her face."
Buffy laughed. "Both her name and face are just fine."
"Why is she talking to William so much? There are lots of other available men here. She should be talking with them!"
"They're friends," Buffy explained. "Friends from childhood, actually. I suppose they have some catching up to do."
Dawn was silent for a moment, but then she cast her gaze up toward her sister, expression pinched.
"Why aren't you with them? You and William aren't quarelling, are you?"
Dawn looked positively stricken at the very thought of Buffy and William at odds. She was nearly as invested in the relationship as her sister.
"No, Dawnie, we are not fighting," Buffy told her with a placating pat on the shoulder. "I was simply heading to the bathroom."
"Oh. Well, you're walking in the wrong direction." Dawn pointed across the room. "It's over there."
"Right. I knew that," Buffy said, covering remarkably poorly. Dawn raised an eyebrow and she huffed, "Oh, mind your own business."
She set off toward the bathroom, turning into a hallway. She saw a staircase leading upstairs, and she halted for a moment. There was no one else in the hallway besides a few maids scurrying toward the kitchen. No one was there to see her, and before she could overthink it, she scampered up the stairs, holding up her skirt to keep from tripping. She wanted to know more about Drusilla, and she decided that there was no better place to start than her sleeping quarters.
She peeked into one of the rooms, but discerned that it was not Drusilla's. She moved to the next, but the doorway revealed a bathroom. She opened the next door, and her stomach did a little flip. This room, gilded and elegant, air heavy with a jasmine perfume, was undoubtedly Drusilla's. She looked over her shoulder briefly before walking inside.
The room was tidy. The bed was against one wall, a deep red satin comforter pulled neatly over the mattress. Against the other wall was a dresser with a wide mirror. On a silver platter there were a variety of small pots. She pulled the top off of one and found rouge. The one beside it held some white powder.
Buffy looked in the mirror, thinking to herself that she looked like a girl playing in a woman's room. Nothing in the bedroom was girly. Everything was elegance and grace, and she stuck out as plainly as a frilly doll. She left quickly, feeling silly for wandering in there in the first place. She made it down the stairs, unnoticed, but found herself less lucky as she re-entered the room.
She recognized the voice, and frowned to herself before turning toward Marcus. She dipped her head in greeting and said, "Hello Mr. Leshock."
"How are you this evening?"
"Fine," she said airily, hoping to get out of this conversation as quickly as possible. "It is a delightful gathering."
"You are remarkably calm, Ms. Summers," Marcus said with a wolfish grin. "I'm impressed."
"And why shouldn't I be calm?" she asked lightly. There was an edge to his voice, and she wondered what dreadful piece of news he had dredged up now. Another bet gone sour? Another poker game to settle? She knew William hadn't been playing, but she wouldn't put it past Marcus to think up some ridiculous debt.
"Your beau's first rough and tumble back in town," Marcus mused with a misplaced relish. "I'd think that would ruffle at least a few feathers."
"What are you talking about?"
"You don't know? Drusilla and him."
"There is nothing between them," Buffy said stoutly. "He told me so."
"Never said there was anything between them," Marcus said. She went to give some retort, but then what he had said before hit her.
Rough and tumble. Oh.
"Catch my meaning, then?" Marcus said.
She cast a glance back at William, who was whispering something in Drusilla's ear. She laughed heartily, hitting his arm.
"You never forget your first love," Marcus said, leaning in toward her. "But you never forget your first act of love."
"Excuse me," Buffy said, quickly walking away. She moved through the crowd, her eyes set on William and the group surrounding him, Drusilla sitting calmly at his side. She thought to herself that if she had her way, she wouldn't look so damn calm. Buffy stopped behind William and laid a hand on his shoulder, leaning in.
"Mind if I steal you away for a moment?" she asked softly, not wanting the others to know that anything was amiss.
He laid his hand over hers and bid them a quick farewell before standing and following Buffy from the group. He touched her waist and murmured, "Want me to yourself for a bit, pet?"
"Yes," she said curtly. "That is precisely what I want."
He caught the undercurrent to her voice and asked, "Wait. What's going on?"
She found a quieter corner and turned toward him, eyes burning with anger.
"How about you tell me?"
A/N: Cliffhanger! Don't hate me! The next update should be quick - one or two days.