Chapter 18:

Dear Diary,

If Buffy's the bad cop, Saffron is totally the good one. She's the only one that knows what it's like to live with a slayer as an older sister. Well, she's our fun British cousin but she feels like a sister a lot of the time. She never talks about England and when I ask her to tell me about living there, she goes all distant and her eyes get watery.

I don't know if it's because she's the empathetic one, but she never makes me feel like I'm in the way. She listens and she isn't just waiting for me to finish so she can tell me off for stealing her clothes. Although she does tell me to stop doing that without asking. She can be way moody sometimes. She tells people what she thinks of them, she's like a rebel. She got fired from her last job and she didn't even care she just cussed him out and left!

She's so cool and she listens to bands that nobody's even heard of, but she doesn't brag about it like the guys at school do. And she smokes, but in a cool way like in the movies. She pretends that she doesn't smoke, but I have a sense of smell. She thinks that I haven't noticed that she sneaks out of the house all the time. I think it's to see a guy, but she hasn't told me. She usually tells me secrets when we have a sleepover night, so maybe-

Saffron had accidentally stumbled across Dawn's diary when she was cleaning up the clothes that the younger brunette had left all over the floor. She had started to read a page that had her name on it and she had smiled when she saw the things Dawn had written. She was fond of Dawn, despite her flaws, and closed the book without finishing the page to give her some privacy. She rolled her eyes when she realised that she hadn't been fooling Dawn about her smoking and laughed at the way with words Dawn had. Saffron descended the stairs with a pile of hers and Dawn's washing to put on while they were out. She was planning to go with Giles and Buffy to the magic shop.

Saffron walked into the kitchen just as Joyce told Buffy she needed her to take Dawn to get school supplies. Buffy was complaining and Dawn joined in too. She sighed when she heard the two squabbling again, she decided she'd offer to take Dawn to the mall, as long as Giles gave them a lift. Joyce smiled warmly at her and gave Buffy a look that said why can't you be like Saffron. This made Saff cringe slightly, but Buffy didn't seem too bothered considering she had got her way. There was a knock, Riley was at the door and Buffy greeted him enthusiastically. Saffron put her hands over Dawn's eyes in mock horror at the short kiss they shared in the doorway as Dawn swatted her hands away. Giles knocked on the door soon after and seemed deflated when he noticed that Dawn was coming along. Saffron had loudly explained that she was taking Dawn to the mall, hinting to Giles that he wouldn't have to put up with her at the magic box. Giles was relieved and Saffron could feel it as he smiled at her.

They were all sat in Giles' red sports car, on the way to the magic box. Saffron had recalled that she needed to buy something and promised Dawn she'd be quick. When she had seen Giles' new car, she had been equal parts impressed and amused.

"Midlife crisis" She had whispered loudly between pretending to cough and Giles had given her an unamused look. She was hoping that he'd let her learn to drive in it, but she knew there was absolutely no way he'd risk the new car. Saffron snorted when Buffy called the car a two-door tramp and pulled Dawn back to sit next to her instead of messing with the radio and annoying everyone. It was better for her mind when everyone wasn't annoyed with Dawn, and she hated feeling Dawn feel so left out all of the time. They spotted Willow and Tara and Saffron waved at her friends from the back of the car and Giles parked up next to where they stood on the sidewalk. Everyone seemed to be going to the magic box and Saffron climbed out of the car awkwardly as the girls greeted everyone.

"Why do we have to go in, Saff?" Dawn whined as they walked behind Willow and Buffy who were chatting.

"I told you, I need something. I'm the older one, remember? We do what I want and then I buy you ice cream because I feel guilty for telling you what to do" Saffron added and Dawn smiled at her cousin, already thinking about what flavours she wanted. Saffron heard Willow getting worked up that Buffy had to drop drama class and she tried to remind Will that she was taking the class still but Willow was too wrapped up in telling Buffy that drama class mattered more than Giles.

When they arrived at the front of the shop it was dark and seemed to be closed. They opened the door and were shocked to realise that the whole store had been trashed. They called for the owner and looked around the store to see if he was in there. Saffron nonchalantly slipped a few clear crystals into her pocket when nobody was looking. Mr Bogarty wasn't going to miss them in this mess, she thought to herself. Dawn was watching her with wide eyes and she winked at her younger cousin and put her finger to her lips to tell her not to say anything to the others. She nodded, seemingly excited that Saffron trusted her.

xoxoxo

Willow had tripped over the owners body and Saffron had started to feel slightly guilty for taking the crystals, but didn't have time to replace them because she followed Buffy and Dawn out where Buffy was telling Dawn to stay outside. She tried to convince Buffy to let her stay as Saff wanted to stay in the shop and help the others but she knew that someone should keep an eye on Dawn.

"It's just a corpse, Buff" Saffron shrugged but she noticed that Dawn felt scared so she went after her and stood with her outside. Buffy nodded at her, silently thanking her before closing the door on them both. Dawn peaked through the window at what was going on and Saffron let her, she didn't understand why Buffy wouldn't let the poor girl do anything. Saffron had seen her own parents corpses at Dawn's age, it had been horrible but she had lived through it. Plus, in Sunnydale you could barely move for corpses. Dawn was bound to see one sooner or later. A man suddenly grabbed Dawn from where she was stood and started babbling at her and Saffron rushed after them to where he had backed Dawn against a van.

"I see you. Curds and whey" He finished as Saffron grabbed the man and hauled him away from Dawn, staring him down. She realised he wasn't mentally together, but she decided it didn't give him an excuse to terrorise her cousin.

"Fuck off, you bloody idiot! She's 14, go and scare someone else" She glared at the man until he was out of view and then looked back wide-eyed at Dawn as she realised she had sworn in front of her, "If you don't tell I'll buy you an extra scoop of ice cream" she promised and Dawn nodded enthusiastically. Saffron made her feel more grown up than Buffy did, and she idolised her cousin.

"Is that guy dead in there?" She asked Saffron slowly. Saffron could feel the nerves Dawn was feeling about the idea of a death so close to her. They walked to the end of the road as Saffron considered how to respond.

"Yeah" Saff replied simply, not knowing what else could be said. No point sugar coating it, she told herself. She put her hand on Dawn's arm to try and calm her a little while they sat and waited for the others.

Tara came outside after a while and smiled at the two girls, she squinted because of the sun shining on her face. Saffron was pleased to see her, she wanted to go back into the shop but she didn't want to disappoint Dawn and leave her.

"Hey, T. You coming to join the cool kids outside?" Saffron said from her spot where she was sat next to Dawn on the pavement.

"Yeah, I don't really like that fresh corpse smell" She scrunched her nose up as she stood looking at them both, going a bit red because she remembered Dawn shouldn't really hear about that stuff.

"By the looks of him, you were in luck, he didn't seem too fresh. You mind if I go back in to check on the others?" Saff asked, wanting to go back in and be of some use. She wanted to help out the best she could. Tara nodded and Saffron noted she felt left out of the group and told herself to ask her about it later on. When she returned into the shop, Giles was looking around the store and reading the profit margins. Saffron enthusiastically encouraged him to take the place if he thought it was a good investment and he continued to look around in deep thought. She helped them look through what had been taken and they realised they were books on the slayer. She stayed for a while longer and then decided she should get on with her shopping.

"I'd better go take Dawn of the dead to the mall" She said to the others and realised she shouldn't have said that, "Uh, sorry, just Dawn" She made the sign of the cross awkwardly in respect of the dead owner that was still on the floor and hurried out of the shop to collect Dawn.

xoxoxo

Saffron was wearing a form-fitting black dress she had bought recently in a sale, she almost hadn't bought it but Willow had convinced her she needed to. It was perfect. It had spaghetti straps and she was wearing her usual boots with it. She had big, twisted silver hoops in her ears and had taken care on her makeup. The other women had complimented her when she had come upstairs from her room and she gave them a dramatic twirl and started to pose as if she was modelling the outfit for a magazine. She had dressed up because Spike had promised he was taking her out somewhere. They hadn't been on a proper date before and she had been excited to see where he was taking her.

"Buffy, Saff already took responsibility of Dawn and took her to get her school supplies, despite her being brought to a murder scene beforehand" Joyce raised her eyes and looked between the two older girls with an obvious disapproval.

"Total accident needed to drop by the store" Saffron put her hands up in surrender.

"Yeah, it just came upon us"

"I have a pre-show reception in half an hour. Who's gonna watch Dawn?" Joyce asked, looking at Buffy to take some responsibility for her sister.

"I don't need anyone to watch me!" Dawn shouted from the other room.

"Yes, you do!" The three women chorused at the same time. Saffron rolled her eyes, she really wanted to go out with Spike. But she couldn't explain where she was going to the others.

"I'll be on Dawn patrol" She said quickly, before she changed her mind and the other two smiled, "But you owe me big, Buff" she whispered so Dawn couldn't hear her. She planned to find a way of telling Spike she couldn't come. She felt like she hadn't seen him in ages. "Hey Dawn! Why don't I call Xander and we can have a game night?" Dawn rushed in and her face lit up, she really liked Xander and Saff shook her head and smiled as Dawn rushed off to change her outfit. She had a feeling Dawn might have a little crush. The other women left for the evening and Saffron rang to order pizzas before quickly ringing Xander's phone to try and convince him to join them.

"Hey Xand, can you come over?"

"I'm kind of... An! I'm on the phone" Xander was distracted by something on the other end and Saffron rolled her eyes.

"Jesus, you better not be shagging while you're talking to me" Saffron warned him.

"No, but my girl's a tryer" He laughed but Saff wasn't amused, she needed people her own age to hang out with. Her head was still spinning from all the teenage gossip she had listened to during her trip to the mall.

"Just shut up, Xand. Bring Anya, just please come over I've already promised Dawn you're coming" There was a pause, "There's pizza in it for you" She tried to convince him with the promise of cheesy goodness.

"I guess I can't disappoint the Dawnster" Xander decided and said he'd be over soon. Saffron could hear Anya complaining in the background. Saffron went upstairs to change out of the dress and put on shorts and a plain black t-shirt. Xander and Anya eventually arrived, and they set up a game of monopoly, followed by Life.

Anya had just realised that she was winning when they were interrupted by a rock flying through the window and a familiar voice shouted for Buffy to come out and face her. Saffron got up and followed Xander to the door, the others close behind them.

"Hey Harm" Saff waved, they had stayed out of each other's way in high school, they both knew better than to challenge the other, "Try not to shout too loud, some of us were enjoying a quiet, slaying-free night in" She crossed her arms and watched Xander and Harmony trade insults. Dawn messed up and invited Harmony in to face them and everyone shouted at her to shut up. Saffron ran to stand in front of Dawn to make sure Harmony wouldn't get to her and then when she saw Harmony attacking Xander shouted for Anya to take Dawn. She grabbed an umbrella from the rack and whacked Harmony on the head. She eventually left and Saff cleared up the mess in the hall with Xander and Anya. When Buffy returned, Saff went upstairs to remind Dawn of the house rules.

She knocked softly on Dawn's bedroom door and let herself in. Dawn had been writing in her diary and had quickly hidden it under her pillow when Saff walked in. Saffron pretended not to see it and sat on the edge of her bed.

"Don't tell Buffy, she'll freak" Dawn said quickly. She knew she was worried and felt guilty for letting Harmony in.

"Dawn, we'll have to explain to her that Harmony can get in" Saffron explained.

"Can't you say it was you? She's always nicer to you" Dawn pleaded, she could feel Dawn's worry but she knew she couldn't protect her like that. For one, Buffy would know and get mad at her. There was nothing worse than being in the Slayer's bad books.

"Dawn, she knows I'd never invite Harmony of all people into my house. Sometimes it's important to be brave and face the consequences" She patted Dawn on the shoulder. "Do you want me to paint your nails a fun colour? I've got orange crush" Dawn agreed and she tried to cheer her up.

xoxoxo

Saffron found herself running after Buffy through the cemetery. Whatever happened to Saturday nights? She was on Buffy's tail as she weaved her way through the stones to a crypt that was all too familiar to her. They were both worried about Dawn but she knew that Buffy was going to take it out on him. She couldn't let it happen again. They burst into the crypt and ran into the middle of the room. Spike was sorting the aerial on his tv and turned to see his girl and… her cousin. He rolled his eyes, this wasn't going to be a fun time. Saffron looked worried as her eyes darted between her cousin and Spike. Spike looked at the slayer just in time for her to meet his face with her fist.

"Harmony's lair. Where is it" she asked between blows.

"Buff, stop it! Let him speak" She tried to grab Buffy's hand but she was no match for the slayer strength and Buffy just shrugged her off and went to punch spike again.

"Haven't seen her in months" Spike lied and Saffron's head whipped around to stare at him. She squinted, wondering why he would lie. Buffy noticed this and smirked, glad Saffron had joined her.

"Looks like you're lying, Spikey" Buffy mocked him with the name Harmony used to call him. Saffron winced as Buffy took another blow at him. Saffron frowned, why had he been protecting Harmony? She stood, frowning whilst Buffy threatened Spike again. She hit him on the nose and Saffron couldn't help but jump in front of Spike and Buffy almost clipped her with her fist.

"What are you doing?" Buffy looked confused and she frowned.

"Just give him a chance to get his thoughts collected, you're jumbling his brain with all the…" She mimed the punches that Buffy had been throwing, giving Spike some time to recover. Buffy looked at Saffron suspiciously but shrugged and watched as her cousin moved out of the way slowly. Buffy waited, her arms crossed over her chest while she waited for Spike to start talking. Spike looked between the two women and decided to just tell the truth. Spike told her exactly what she needed to know and Buffy looked over at Saffron who nodded once to show he was being honest. Buffy went to punch him again in the nose before storming off.

"He was telling the truth!" She shouted at her.

"I know" Buffy called as she rushed out of the crypt. Saff stared after her, ready to follow but she turned to spike quickly before she went.

"Spike? Why did you lie?" She moved to help him up, but she was still annoyed he had seen Harmony and lied about it.

"Why was I stood up?" He asked, the hurt obvious in his voice.

"I asked first" She hissed.

"Saw her with her rag-tag band of idiots and wanted to give the girl a shot didn't I?"

"A shot at what? Killing my cousin?" She spat, that had been the wrong response.

"Can't fight nature, honeysuckle. Vampires will always want the slayer's head. You should have seen them, love. They've got no chance" He laughed at the group he had seen with Harmony earlier that night.

"Oh, so you're spending time with her now? When was this?" She questioned, squinting at him with suspicion.

"When I was walking through the town at a sodding loose end cos someone stood me up"

"I had to look after Dawn. You don't have a phone, Spike. How was I supposed to tell you? Smoke signals on a buggering hill?" She raised her voice, exasperated at how the conversation was going.

"You could have left bitesize for a few minutes" He pointed out. Saffron's frustration was then directed completely at herself. It reminded her that Dawn had gone and she felt responsible.

"Clearly I couldn't! I can't even look after her when she's in the bloody house with me" She sobbed, her worry for Dawn had caught up to her. Spike went to comfort her but she wiped her tears and started to head towards the door, "I need to go. You don't mind if I help slay your old squeeze, right?" Spike shrugged, he had never seen Harmony as much more than a good shag. Saffron watched his expression closely and went back to give him a quick kiss on the lips and then turned and ran to where Spike had said Dawn was.

She had arrived just as Buffy had slayed the last vampire and noticed Harmony had already left. She hadn't been serious about slaying her, she didn't really see Harmony as much of a threat. Saffron helped Buffy unchain Dawn and listened to her lecture them both. Dawn for leaving the house and Saff for letting her go. Saffron had pointed out Buffy had also been in the house when she had gone. After that, she mostly lectured Dawn. The girls all agreed to keep the truth from Joyce and walked home in mostly silence.

xoxoxo

Saffron was wearing a white blouse and a black pencil skirt. She had borrowed the blouse from Joyce and the skirt she had found in the back of a chest of drawers. Her jewellery, including her nose stud, had all been removed except a single necklace and some stud earrings. She had shined her black combat boots for the occasion and her leg was bouncing as she sat at the table opposite the aging man. She was nervous and she was doing everything to stop herself from biting the skin around her nails, it wouldn't make a great impression to possibly start bleeding in front of a potential employer. Her handwritten CV was on the table in front of them and the man was scanning it closely.

"And why do you feel you have the correct skills for the job?"

"I have a lot of experience in retail and I have a winning smile for any customers" She smiled widely, to prove that her smile was, in fact, winning. "I, um, really need this" She continued, as she ducked her head slightly.

"It, uh, says here you were sacked from your previous job?"

"Well, that was a classic misunderstanding. The cops will back me up, just ring them" She pointed at the man to emphasise her point. The man took the glasses off his nose and started to clean them with a slight shake of his head. "Come on, G. You know you can trust me"

"Saffron, it was never in question that you would work here" He smiled warmly at her as Saffron beamed and punched the air in excitement. She went to hug him and he awkwardly patted her.

"G, we're English, not robots" She informed him at his attempt at hugging her and he just smiled and cleaned his glasses again, "When do I start?" she asked, looking around the room, it was still in disarray.

"When we, ah, manage to take care of the shop" He said looking around at the mess. She nodded and started to pick things up and put them into boxes to demonstrate her enthusiasm for her new job. Buffy walked over then and rolled her eyes at the way Saffron had dressed to ask Giles for a job, she was always so dramatic. She then asked if Giles was sure he could handle running the store. Saffron went to sit with Dawn who was writing in a book and she smiled at her cousin. Buffy and Giles went into the back and Saffron kept an eye on Dawn to make sure she didn't break anything.