The Same Circles
He wasn’t Jesse McNally. Buffy spent five whole minutes staring at him from the dock, heart twisting in her chest. He seemed comfortable enough waiting, feet propped up on a bundle of rope as he sipped at a mug of coffee.
She knew for a fact that he wasn’t Jesse McNally because she knew Jesse was dead. She also knew because Oz had told her, in his roundabout way. At least, he’d made a point to tell them not to send Willow as their emissary. Now she understood exactly how bad this all could have gone because Willow still didn’t talk about Jesse; would probably never be over his death.
“Permission to come aboard,” she finally said hoarsely.
“Permission granted,” he said with an expansive wave of his arms, a wink and a smile.
Buffy resisted the urge to shake her head even as she scrambled onto the ship. Shameless flirting must have come with the face.
“We wanted to thank you,” she said once she stood beside him on deck.
“Anything for a friend of a friend,” he said and his eyes were calculating. “For the right price, of course.”
“Of course,” she said, nodding absently.
She was just caught by how very different Duke Crocker was from Jesse McNally. Jesse had been, well, a sixteen-year-old boy. He’d been funny, sort of like Duke, but he hadn’t been in any way calculating. It was just…disturbing.
She cleared her throat, trying to focus. “So Dawn said there was…an incident when she got to town?”
“Yeah, well, welcome to Haven. It’s a party,” he said sarcastically, waggling his hands a bit. “Weird stuff’s pretty normal here but we’ve got a handle on it.” Buffy would wait for Xander’s assessment before she bothered agreeing or disagreeing with that statement. “Speaking of little miss librarian, does she have a boyfriend?” Her face must have looked horrified because he held up his hands placatingly. “Just a question.”
“She’s my little sister,” she said, answering the unspoken question instead of the one he asked. “And you’re a little too…”
She floundered, trying to figure out how to say ‘criminally inclined’ without insulting him.
He gave her a slow, lascivious grin as he said, “It’s okay. You can say it. I’m a bad, bad
! Her brain yelped as she flushed and Buffy shifted, uncomfortable. “I was going to say old,” she blurted, moving backwards. “I suppose I’ll, um, leave you now.”
He saluted her, the smart ass, and she disembarked.
When she got back to the car, she leaned her head against the steering wheel and took a deep breath. They said that people had a twin somewhere in the world. And Duke Crocker was definitely not Jesse.