From Buffy vs. Dracula:
JOYCE: I'm not like this. I don't invite strange men over for coffee, it's just ... Oh, when you girls are older you'll understand. It's hard to date. Sometimes you just ... feel like giving up on men altogether.
TITLE: Quieting the Peanut Gallery
DISCLAIMER: Not mine, which is a shame because usually we're nicer to them than Joss was.
LENGTH: 800 words
SETTING: Rome, post-Chosen
SUMMARY: Sometimes, you have to do whatever it takes to stop the whispers of the past...
The year of the perpetual Slayer Slumber Party should have made Buffy immune to the constant whispering. And the giggles. And the shushing followed by the long silences that ended with someone’s bark of laughter inevitably to be followed by more whispering. Hell, just being around Dawn and Andrew so much since leaving Sunnydale should have been enough.
But even Buffy had a breaking point.
“What?” she demanded, twisting in her café chair to face the tableful of mini-Slayers sitting behind her. “What is so funny?”
She could only put names on a few of the faces, which was probably a good thing because then it was equal opportunity irritation for all of them. With an extra dollop for Andrew, of course. He was trying to appear all inconspicuous in the middle of the girls, eyes flickering everywhere but in her direction as he sipped at his diet coke, his mouth pursing tightly around the straw. Buffy felt like decking him, just on the principle of it.
The rest of the Slayers exchanged glances before a dark-eyed girl that reminded Buffy way too much of Faith back in the day spoke up.
“You have an admirer,” she said in heavily accented English. She nodded toward another café across the plaza, prompting Buffy to swivel and see who she was referring to. An array of giggles erupted as soon as her back was turned to the girls. “You should invite him over for a drink, no?”
There was no mistaking which guy they were referring to. Dark hair, lean features, long legs sprawled elegantly below his table. Typical Italian, Buffy thought, even when he caught her eye and nodded his head in greeting.
She whipped around to scowl at the Slayers. “A world of no,” Buffy said.
“Why not? He is quite the catch.”
More giggles followed the last statement. She wondered if she and Willow had ever sounded so ridiculous.
“Because this is supposed to be about us getting to know each other,” Buffy argued. “The point of me coming to Rome early, remember?”
“So you cannot get to know him as well? Why?”
She was going to have to find out what this girl’s name was so she’d know who to give the hardest time as soon as training started. “Because…” She searched for the right words. Andwhy was she having to explain herself? “I'm not like this. I don't invite strange men over for coffee, it's just…” Buffy sighed. Seeing the sea of young, innocent faces made her wonder why she had ever agreed with Giles about this mentoring program in the first place. “When you girls are older, you'll understand. It's hard to date. Sometimes you just ... feel like giving up on men altogether.”
“Because the vampires are so much more appealing?”
It was like someone had pushed the mute button on everybody and everything else in the plaza. The other girls fell silent, staring at the dark-eyed Slayer with terrified admiration, while Andrew suddenly decided that bending over and tying his shoe was the most important thing in the world. Only the girl who’d spoken met Buffy’s flashing eyes.
“I wouldn’t be listening to fairy tales told by soon-to-be-hurt-and-bleeding little twerps if I were you,” Buffy warned in a low voice.
“But such a fairy tale,” the girl gushed. “Not one, but two vampires in love with the Slayer, putting aside their differences to be the men she—ow!”
She scowled at Andrew who was straightening in his seat, his eyes all shifty like they got when he’d been telling his tall tales. If Giles was going to insist Andrew help in Rome, Buffy was going to start investing in gags.
“Now, now, maybe we shouldn’t push Buffy,” he was saying. “After all, a Slayer of her advancing years—“
“Finish that sentence and your tongue will end up in a place a lot less nice than your mouth, Andrew.”
All eyes turned to hers, driving her to her feet. She needed to stop the talking about her romantic history before it got out of hand; the mini-Slayers would never respect her if all they had were Andrew’s romantic fantasies to base their opinion on. It had been different in Sunnydale. Then there was Spike to put the fear of Buffy in the girls.
But Spike was gone. And maybe it was time for her to stop acting like he was going to show up on her doorstep any minute.
Grabbing her purse, Buffy glanced back to see if the stranger was still there before taking a deep breath and heading in his direction. The whispering started again as soon as she took the first step, but all she caught was Andrew’s voice.
“Watch and learn, girls. Not even the Immortal can resist the charms of Buffy Summers, Slayer Extraordinaire.”