What Shall We Do With A Drunken Slayer?
Title: What Shall We Do With A Drunken Slayer?
Author: Only someone as demented as I could write this… Jacqui. email@example.com
Disclaimer: I don't think even Joss would want them after this, but they're his anyway, not mine.
Spoilers: The start of season four, sometime after Beer Bad.
Feedback: I'd like that. I really would
Comments: Joss has shown us time and time again that alcohol is bad, and yet, do you think Buffy listens? Of course not. <denotes thoughts>
Buffy's eyes glazed over as she listened to Willow's voice go over the psych essay question. She didn't know what it was, usually Willow's tutoring could keep even her interested, but not tonight. Maybe it was the fact that for two weeks she'd been pulled in several different directions and not one of them had led to fun. They'd all seemed to be connected to duty.
"Oh Will, I just can't do this now, k?"
"What?" Willow looked up, surprised, from the mountain of books she'd been skimming through. She took in Buffy's untouched books and the note pad in front of her that held less notes and more doodles than she strictly approved. "But Buff, we have to get this essay done. It's worth…"
"I know what it's worth. But my head won't concentrate. I need air, feel like a walk?" Buffy saw what was most definitely Willow's resolve face and sighed. "Well, I'm going. Don't wait up."
She grabbed her jacket and the obligatory stake before walking out the door. She looked down the dorm hallway and realized she had nowhere to go. Not really. And she'd be damned if she'd actually do something responsible like a sweep of the graveyards. That left one option.
Buffy breathed in the smoke of the place and tried not to cough. She was there to rebel, and rebels didn't cough, as far as she knew. Bad memories of cursed beer floated through her head <ok, so no alcohol, I can live with that>. She ordered a coke, glad that Xander had finished his brief stint as barman, and settled herself near the pool tables. If she was lucky, maybe she'd get a game later.
"Buffy? Buffy Summers?"
Anonymity was highly overrated anyway. She turned to face the deep voice that had called her. She was almost ashamed to realize she had no idea who this guy was.
"Um, yeah. That'd be me. Sorry, you are?" <oh, smooth Buff>
"Josh. Josh Winters. I'm in your lit lecture."
"Oh." <great, shop talk, and I haven't even read the damned book yet> "Hi."
"You here to drown your troubles?" He gestured towards her glass.
"No! It's just coke, strictly on a caffeine high tonight." She looked at his slightly amused face. "And it's possible you were joking."
"Could happen. Hey, me and some friends are about to have shot races. Want to join?"
"No ID." <what? you, Miss Summers, are an idiot>
"Don't worry. We've got it organized. Relax a little, you're always so uptight."
Buffy was not sure what came over her, but she agreed. Her previous attempts at alcohol notwithstanding. What were the chances of the same place selling two different batches of cursed alcohol to the same person? <on the hellmouth? … oh shut up Buffy and just enjoy yourself>
And enjoy herself she did.
Josh and his friends, Michelle and Vince, turned out to be great people, and Buffy found herself laughing as she hadn't in a long time. It felt good, and the buzz she was getting felt especially nice. No mention of demons, vampires, stakes or psych essays. Just plain, pure, fun. And much tequila.
Michelle stood up and dragged Vince to his feet, she stepped into him and wrapped her hands around the back of his neck. He let his hands wander to the back of her jeans and placed them in her back pockets where he pulled her to him. They kissed. Michelle broke off first and smiled up at him.
"Take me home, big guy."
Buffy realized what time it was and knew she'd have to go too, otherwise they'd all send out a search party to find her. She stood up, but as soon as she did, her head gave way and the room spun all around her. She stumbled. Michelle looked over and giggled.
"Hey Buffy, you need a guy to take you home too."
Buffy smiled to herself. A guy. Someone to take her home, tuck her in, stand by her, be there when she needed him. Someone who made no demands of her, except that she be herself. Someone she could talk to for hours on end and not run out of things to say. Someone who cared for her more than they cared for themselves. <hey! I already have one of those!> She smiled up at them with a goofy grin.
"I already have a guy… no, a man to take me home."
They looked at each other, before Josh ventured to ask.
"And where is he?"
Buffy felt as if she were explaining the simplest of things to the dullest of minds, she spoke slowly and purposefully.
"He's at home."
A few good natured laughs and many, very loud, good byes and well wishes, and they were ready to leave. With a smug nod of her head, Buffy spun on her heels and began to walk out the door. It would have been an effective exit had she not missed the door altogether and hit the frame instead, stumbling backwards.
<how did that get there?>
Her dorm room wasn't that far away, but Buffy knew she wasn't going there. She would go to see Giles, tell him what she felt. That she'd finally realized that he was, indeed, her 'guy'. It all seemed like a rational idea.
Her plan was interrupted when she bumped into somebody walking the other way. Buffy tried apologizing profusely, annunciating each word carefully, but the person just stood still. Immovable. A hand tapped her on the shoulder.
She turned to face the familiar voice.
"Shpike! Hang on a sec. I have to shay shorry to this poor person here."
Buffy turned back.
"Uh… Pet? You're talkin' to a tree."
Buffy leaned in closer and saw that it was, indeed, a tree. Or someone in desperate need of moisturizer. She grinned sheepishly and turned back to the blonde vamp, her eyebrows raised and a giggle in her voice.
"Slayer, you're drunk."
"Now," Buffy laid a hand on his chest. "what makesh you say something like that?"
"Pet, you're talkin' to a tree, you're slurring your words and you 'aven't tried to kill me yet."
"Oooh! Point for the vamp, zero for the slayer." Suddenly the cheer left her voice. "I should kill you, right? Hang on. I think I have a shtake in my pursh somewhere. Shtay right there."
Buffy rifled clumsily through her things for the stake she knew was there. Spike watched her with amusement. She was darned cute when she was drunk. A thought struck him, she was also defenseless, he'd been able to walk right up to her and tap her on the shoulder. And if he wanted to, he could wipe the floor with her right now. Any fledgling fool vampire could kill her without breaking a sweat, not that vamps did much sweating.
"Jusht a minute. It'sh here… I think."
"Not tonight, ay luv? Besides," He leaned into her. "I'm a good vamp tonight."
The smile left her face completely, deep furrows appeared in her brow and a sad, childlike expression came over her.
"That'sh what you shay now. But even the good ones go bad… eventshully."
Spike watched her hand flutter, unconsciously, over the wounds on her neck <that bleedin' bloody punce. Someone oughtta take that big black jacket and shove it up his brooding…>
"Shpike? Am I sho bad?"
"No pet. Not you, never you."
She seemed to think about this for a moment before grinning again and running a hand through his hair.
Then she skipped away at full speed. Spike cursed and chased after her.
"You should talk." Then louder. "Slayer! I'm serious. You're in no bleedin' state to be out on your own. I should get you home."
"I'm a goin' home. Yup, that's where I'm a goin'. Home." Her head bopped up and down in crazy nods.
"Yeah. Um, I hate to disappoint you. But home is this way."
She swapped nodding for shaking side to side.
"Nah uh! Not that home. I'm going to Gileseseses. " She giggled again. "Eseseses."
"That's probably the best idea I've heard all night." He linked his arm in hers and tried to pull her along. "C'mon then luv."
Buffy let herself be propelled, she leant conspiratorially into him, forcing him to walk almost doubled over, and then she turned her face to his and began to whisper in time to her footsteps, which were beginning to speed up.
"Lions and tigers and bears. Oh My! Lions and tigers and bears! Oh My!"
Her voice was getting louder, and boisterous, and she was doing the little skip on the words 'oh my!' The main problem with this scenario was that she seemed to trip over her own feet every time she did it.
"Look, Slayer, settle down."
"Oh that'sh rich! That is. You, you Shpike are telling me, Buffy Shummers to settle down? I'll give you shettled!"
Before he knew it, Spike found himself flat on his back, being held down by her foot. Buffy grinned down at him and then looked up dramatically and beat her chest while roaring in an imitation of what he assumed to be Tarzan. Then she bent down quickly and hit him in the head.
"Tag, you're it!"
And off she ran again.
"Blast it Blondie! Get back 'ere!"
* * * *
Riley looked down at the stun gun he held in his hand and sighed. They hadn't found the escapee, he hadn't gotten anywhere with Buffy and there had been a distinct drop in the number of hostiles surrounding the campus. Not that that was a bad thing, the less there were, the better. Yet Professor Walsh seemed to be happier when there was more activity. It had been a quiet night so far. He looked up.
"Oh man, not again." Forrest turned around and glared at him. "Yes, Buffy is the center of the universe, Buffy is the reason we exist. Buffy IS the man. All hail Buffy."
"Buffy is playing tag with a familiar looking blonde."
Forrest looked across to where Riley had pointed. Running across the grass was Riley's obsession, Buffy Summers, and behind her was the vamp that had escaped the other night. Every now and again she turned around and was heard to be yelling something that sounded suspiciously like 'you can't get me, nyah, nyah, nyah, nyah, nyah!'. They were headed straight for Riley and Forrest.
"She is the strangest girl."
* * * *
Giles placed the newly steeped pot of tea on the little table next to his chair, it sat next to his glasses, his book and his cup. He wrapped the robe around his waist and sat down. It was going to be a quiet night. There had been a lot of quiet nights lately, ever since Buffy had found him with Olivia.
That thought made him grimace. What a mistake that had been. Olivia had been a close friend, long ago she'd been more than that. When she'd come to visit, Giles had seen an opportunity and had seized it, no matter how wrong it was. He'd only meant to make Buffy jealous, show her that he was more than just an old man, a retired and out of work watcher. He'd wanted to show her that he was still attractive to some women.
What was the saying? Be careful what you wish for, you just might get it. Well, he'd certainly gotten the message through to Buffy, clean and clear. A little too clearly for his liking. The way she'd looked at him, as if he'd just kicked her, made him want to run after her. But Olivia had been there and she'd held him back. He felt like a cad for using her like that, but she had used him often enough.
Now Buffy hardly ever came over at night, after patrols, she usually came during the day, with one or more of the gang. Rarely did she come alone anymore, and gone were the easy, familiar ways with which she'd talked to him, been with him.
Giles sighed and poured the cup. Sometimes he wished that his quiet nights weren't so quiet.
* * * *
Riley did not know what to do when the woman who had been plaguing his thought ran up to him. With his knowledge of the creature who chased her, he would have guessed she was being attacked. Except for the fact that she wasn't afraid, and seemed to be teasing the hostile more than anything. She grabbed him by the waist and turned him so that he stood between her and the vamp.
"Riley, stay very, very still, and maybe he won't see us."
She was drunk, that much was obvious. He turned to face Forrest who was aiming his stun gun squarely at Spike. Buffy left her hand on his waist, it trailed as he turned, it felt warm.
"Yeah pet, that'll work." The Hostile spoke, he kept his eyes on Forest, watching every movement. "Would you like to call off the guards here, mate?"
Riley didn't get a chance to answer. Buffy had lulled him into a false sense of security and before he knew it, she had gotten hold of his stun gun. Her eyes lit up and she stepped back, a smile forming on her lips as she held it.
"Cool." A small hum sounded as she placed her finger on the trigger. "I like this!"
Riley moved to take it from her, but she spun out of his reach. Forrest's body slumped to the ground like a sack of potatoes. Buffy's eyes lit up at what she'd just done.
"Hey cool! I gotta get me one of these!" Crouching on the ground in the classic television police posture, Buffy held the stun gun out ahead of her, she looked left then right. "Cover me guys, I'm going in!"
Before they knew what had happened, Buffy had run off and Riley and Spike were left looking at each other, very confused. Forrest lay, twitching, on the ground between them. Spike made to follow her, Riley swooped down and retrieved Forrest's gun, pointing it squarely at him.
"Where do you think you're going?"
"I'm going to make sure the Slayer gets home. Now, you can try to stop me, or you can look after your friend here. With all the things roaming the streets… aaargggh."
Spike hit the ground.
"Shit." Riley looked from left to right, knowing he couldn't leave them here, but also that he couldn't let a drunken Buffy free on the campus with a taser. That's when he spotted a familiar face. "Hey! You! Uh… Zachary!"
Xander looked up, he'd been concentrating quite hard on not stepping on any cracks. There had been nothing to do that night, so he'd been on his way to check on the girls. He saw Riley waving frantically at him.
"The name's Xander, and aren't you a little old to be playing G.I. Joe?"
* * * *
Riley didn't need to look very hard to find her. All he did was stand still and listen. The shrieks weren't loud, but loud enough to be heard over the laughter and cheering. He ran to a growing crowd of people.
"Tell me I suck, will ya?"
Buffy pointed the gun at a figure desperately climbing up a tree. At different points, Buffy would point the taser and let loose a stream of electricity into the trunk. Luckily, they didn't make contact with the man Riley barely recognized as a lecturer.
"Kick me out of your class, will ya?"
"Buffy?" He stepped forward. "Give me the gun, okay?"
She hopped from one foot to the other, chewing on her lip as if deep in thought, she pouted at Riley, then turned back to the tutor up the tree and gave him one last blast.
"I didn't want to watch your stupid movies and commercials, anyway!"
Buffy poked out her tongue, then turned to Riley with a casual air, the gun hanging from her fingertips. Her eyes were wide and innocent, her face deliberately blank, as she tossed him the gun and walked on by without a second glance.
* * * *
Xander adjusted an arm and then stood back to admire his handy work. He smiled to himself. This was some of his best stuff, even if he did say so himself, it was a pity no one would be here to see it. Spike's arm was draped around Forrest's shoulder as they sat on a bench. The two leaned into each other like lovers. His watch told him, according to Riley the Soldier Boy, that it would be a few more hours before they'd wake up. He adjusted Forrest's head so it lay nestled into Spike's neck, then went to get Willow. She'd get a kick out of this.
* * * *
"Pandas!" Buffy giggled as she walked ahead, she gave a little skip and then jumped around in a circle. "Pretty, pretty pandas!"
"Buffy…" Riley tried again to quiet her down.
"What?" She glared at him. "Pandas have to eat lunch, too, you know."
He had nothing to say to that. They kept on walking. Riley wondered if Buffy, given her state and the fact that they'd circled this block twice already, actually knew where she was headed.
"Riley?" Her voice was calm again, a little too sweet. He was immediately on alert.
"Can I have the gun back?"
"Then, can I get one of my very own?"
"I want one."
"You can't have one."
"You're no fun."
* * * *
The first thing Spike became aware of, was the pounding in his head. Which was strange, considering he couldn't remember drinking anything. The second thing that Spike became aware of, was the same thing that had woken him. He was hungry. And there was the sweet aroma of fresh blood pumping away right under his nose.
Hang on a minute.
He opened his eyes and saw Forrest clinging to him.
"Aw, bloody hell!"
Seconds after throwing the body from him, he noticed that it wasn't moving. Well, that was more like it. Sunnydale sure was picking up the pace a bit, delivering his meals and all. He vamped out and lunged for the kill.
Spike nearly hit the ground when the blinding pain crippled him. One thought and one thought only filled his head. The slayer. That bloody slayer did this to him. He no longer cared how cute she was when she was drunk, he wanted a taste.
All he had to do was remember where her bloody watcher lived.
* * * *
"What?" His voice had lost most of the patience it had first contained.
"You're not supposed to do that."
Buffy pointed to his feet.
"Step on the cracks. Don't you like your mother?"
"I…" He stopped himself in time. Riley really liked this woman and he didn't want to say something he'd regret. "Let's just find this place and get on with it, okay?"
"Oh." Buffy stopped walking. "That's it over there."
"That's it?" He was ready to explode. "That apartment block just there? We've passed it three times already!"
"I know that, but you seemed to like walking so much." Buffy smiled at him. The affect of which would have been greater had she not fallen into a drunken, giggling heap. "Riley?"
"What?" He hissed between his lips.
"Your nostrils blow in and out when you're angry!"
* * * *
"This better be good, Xander." Willow called back over her shoulder.
"You remember that time Spike held us captive and almost killed us?" Xander called ahead as he bent over his feet, tying up his shoelace.
"Like I could forget."
"You remember telling me that Riley and his friends gave you the wiggins?"
"Then keep walking. You'll appreciate this, I swear it."
Willow came to the bench, she looked down at Forrest's body lying prone and tried to figure out what Xander was on about. She felt him walk up behind her.
* * * *
Giles yawned. He looked at his empty cup, the book he'd deserted a long time ago, and decided that it was time to retire. There was a limit to the amount of hours he spent sitting in his chair, waiting for Buffy to decide to regale him with a post slayage visit or, he corrected himself, wishing for.
He'd just loaded his arms with tea cups and tea pots and books to be put away, when the doorbell rang. For a moment, just a moment, his heart gave a little skip, then he let himself fall back to reality. It would have to be something incredibly bad for Buffy to visit him lately, or just not Buffy at all.
When he answered the door, Giles blinked, there were many things he'd been through, people he'd come in contact with in the past few years and there was no way he could remember each and every one of them, but he was damned sure he'd never seen this boy before in his life.
"May I help you?"
"Uh, my name is Riley, Riley Finn. Do you know Buffy, by any chance? Please say you do." Riley grimaced internally. This was the third door he'd knocked on and the previous two occupants had all but called the police. If this guy didn't know Buffy, he was just going to take her back to the dorms.
"Yes. Why?" Giles reached to the side and dumped the items in his hands onto the nearby table. All of a sudden he took in this boy's appearance, the camouflage outfit and his nervousness. "What's wrong with Buffy?"
He must have come across harsher than he meant to, because Riley stepped backwards and gulped audibly. Giles watched as the boy steeled himself, tried to say something and then gave up, awkwardly gesturing to the right. He leaned his head out of the door and looked.
"Buffy!" His voice was surprised and a little bit tainted with shock and disapproval.
"Giles!" Her voice was high and giddy. "My Giles!"
Both Giles and Riley watched as Buffy walked down the stairs on her hands. She righted herself and bounced on her toes. When she looked at Giles, her face was red and flushed, but utterly proud of herself. She seemed completely ignorant of the threatening look that Giles was giving Riley at that very moment.
"Buffy, please come inside."
"Anything you say, Giles." She strode past him, dipping into a little curtsy as she got to the doorway and giving him a wink. He followed awkwardly.
"I'm not sure exactly what's going on, Buffy, but…"
"Giles?" Buffy purred as she walked towards him and placed one hand on his chest, leaning in to him intimately. "Take me."
"Excuse me?" He nearly choked.
Buffy looked over Giles' shoulder to see Spike, Willow, Xander and Riley staring at them. It seemed for a moment that she was confused at to what they were doing there, but then she stepped back and did an awkward little hand jive.
"Take me to a funky town." The little laugh she gave after that was anything but convincing.
"Buffy, sit down." He guided her to the sofa, gently pushing her down by the shoulders, almost surprised when she complied, then turned to the group in the doorway. "Does one of you want to explain what's going on here?"
They all talked at once.
"It's not my fault! The Slayer was talkin' to a tree! Then she did something to my head, I don't know what, but I'm gonna kill 'er for it! Now invite me in."
"She stole my gun! I got it back, but she made me walk this block three times before coming here. I didn't want to leave her like this, so I had to stay, but I swear…"
"G.I. Joe shot Spike and Forrest and left me in charge! I went to get Willow, 'cause I thought she'd laugh, but when we got back, Bleach Boy, here, had gone already. Apparently Soldier Boy can't tell time."
"Listen, Whelp, I'm still hungry…"
"Don't look at me," Willow shrugged. "I'm innocent."
Giles held up his hand and glared.
"One at a time, if you don't mind."
"Stop!" Giles glared again. "Spike, you have once chance, and once chance only, to leave un-staked. Riley, was it? Thank you for bringing her here, but I'll handle it now. Willow and Xander, please breathe and tell me what the hell is happening!"
Willow looked helplessly at the empty spaces left by Riley and Spike. Xander shrugged at Giles. Giles gave a frustrated little moan.
"They're the only ones who knew, weren't they?"
They looked at each other, confused and helpless for a moment. In the distance, Riley's voice could be heard, shouting a protest of 'Hey!', almost instantly he was answered by a shriek of pain that sounded suspiciously like Spike, followed by 'I'm gonna kill 'er, I'm gonna bloody kill 'er.'
Three pairs of eyes turned to the sofa, three pairs of eyes widened when they realized it was empty. Giles spun around, searching the apartment, looking for her. Willow and Xander pushed their way in the door and also began to look.
Neither Willow, nor Xander, noticed when exactly Giles had stopped still, but they both noticed his little choked expression of confusion. They turned to him. Xander began to simultaneously laugh at the absurdity of it and stifle his mind's train of thought. Willow, however, let her eyes grow wide as saucers as her mouth opened and closed.
Giles stood there with a bra on top of his head, that had seemingly floated down from above. He blinked. After a few seconds, he reached up to remove it.
"I'm up he-ere!" Her voice traveled down lightly, in a playful, sing song tone. "You want me, come up and get me!"
Two minds went blank in the living room. Willow grinned and grabbed Xander's arm, pulling him out of the apartment. It took a lot of work.
"We're just gonna leave you alone, now, Giles. Call me in the morning, ok?"
He barely had the sense of mind to nod, let alone register the closing of the front door behind them. Once more, his eyes traveled to the loft. Sighing, he began to take the stairs one by one, slowly, reluctantly.
"Gi-yules!" Came the voice, which would be accompanied, he could imagine, by a pout. "Don't make me wait."
He seriously did not know whether or not he should go up there. Obviously the girl was drunk and didn't know what she was doing. His mind couldn't help but throw up countless images of her screwing up her nose and emitting an all too convincing 'ew' whenever the subject of himself being a man had come up.
The room was empty. Bloody hell, he was going to have to put a bell around her neck. It did not take long for the sound of retching to alert him to her whereabouts. Not without a small amount of indulgent amusement, Giles stood inside the door to the bathroom, leaning against the frame, his arms crossed over his chest.
"I. Am. Going. To. Die."
Buffy groaned as she leaned over the toilet seat.
"I daresay, this isn't life threatening," He couldn't keep the smile out of his voice, though he did try hard. "But you will feel it in the morning."
"Don't. You. Laugh. At me. You. Bastard." She turned her head slightly and glared at him. He suppressed a smile.
"It's not my fault you got drunk, talked to a tree, stole Riley's gun, made him walk around the block and somehow traumatized Spike, now, is it?"
He was going to go on with his gentle teasing, but saw her face pale and her shoulders tense. This time, when Buffy heaved, Giles was kneeling next to her, holding her hair back and wiping the sweat from her brow. It surprised him to notice she was crying.
"Buffy? It's not that bad, honestly. You're just drunk. Many kids go through this…"
"Yeah, got that, thanks." She breathed deeply, trying not to think about the taste and feel of the inside of her mouth. It was not pretty. She felt better, though, as if she'd just gotten rid of a poison that was making her sick. "It's just… I wanted… I mean, I came here… oh, forget it."
He reached around to the sink and soaked a cloth in cold water, turning back and placing it on her forehead. She leaned into it, suddenly realizing how warm she was, appreciating the coolness. The action was lost on neither of them, so similar to one several months before. They blinked.
"Buffy? What were you going to say?"
"Nothing." She fervently hoped he would forget it, but knew that he wouldn't.
"You come to my house at this hour of night, drunk as a skunk, I think you at least owe me the truth."
She took a breath. Hey, why not? Her reputation couldn't be any more ruined than it already was, could it?
"Well, when I was at the bar, these guys I was drinking with…"
"You were drinking with boys? In a bar?"
"Guys as in people, Giles, relax." It gave her a small sense of satisfaction that that had been the point he'd picked up on. "Anyway, two of them were a couple, and then when they got up to leave, she said it was time for him to take her home and that I needed a man to take me home. Then it occurred to me, I had one."
She slapped his chest lightly, still a little tipsy, and giggled.
"Pay attention, silly, it's you."
She giggled again.
"You're my guy! You're so sweet, you never judge me, you're always there for me, you listen to me, you let me be stupid and whiny and bitchy when I need to be, you let me take things out on you and never say anything, even when you don't deserve it, not that you ever do, you laugh at my jokes, even the stupid ones."
Her face suddenly fell.
"And you've never, ever, left me."
She hiccuped and slumped slightly, blinked once, then twice, shaking her head as if to clear it and tried to pull herself up, holding on to the seat as hard as she could.
"I need… I'm so tired… can I sleep on the sofa?"
"Certainly not!" He protested, then realized how that must have sounded when she gave him a stunned look. "I mean, uh, not the sofa. You take the bed."
In spite of her protests and rather clumsy attempts to refuse, Giles managed to help her to her feet and back into the bedroom. He settled her under the covers and returned to the bathroom to get a glass of water, he watched her sip it sleepily.
"So, Guy, what do you think?" She tried not to flinch as she waited for his response.
"In the morning," He said softly, "we're going to talk. Not now. In the morning, when you're awake, clear headed and alert, and can clearly understand the ramifications of what you're saying."
"Ugh." She handed him back the glass and scrunched deeper into the covers. "Fire bad, tree pretty. 'Night Giles."
He chuckled to himself as he softly closed the door behind him.