Buffy set her purse next to her at the booth and pulled the menu out from behind the condiments. She did not know for sure if there was a Sally behind Sally's Diner, but she had never had a bad meal here.
"I'll be right with you, hon," Kim said from the other side of the restaurant where she was wiping down a table.
"No problem, Kim," Buffy said with a smile. She liked Kim even if she was a few years older than her. They had gotten together a couple of times to see a movie or whatever since they first met a while ago now. Why had she never introduced her to Colum then? Buffy shrugged as she perused the menu, trying to decide if she wanted something beside pie unsure of the answer to that question. She had brought him to Sally's once before and Kim had waited on them, but she had not introduced the two of them in any formal way.
She glanced around the diner. There were a few other customers there, but it was pretty slow. Kim said the restaurant did not get too much of a bar rush.
"How you doing tonight?"
"I'm fine, you?"
"Well, I'm working so I guess I'm better than you."
Buffy frowned at that. "Why do you say that?"
"Shouldn't you be home snuggling with that hunk of a man you got?"
"He went home."
"If that don't beat all. You didn't get into a fight, did you?"
"No," Buffy said, unsure what exactly had happened. He had left unhappy, that much was clear, but it was not an all out argument.
"Well, that's good then. You should bring him by again, he seems like a real nice guy."
"He is." In fact, unlike Angel, Riley and Spike she had yet to find a dark side to Colum. He did not get moody. He did not seem to have a confidence problem. He seemed to legitimately want to be a part of Buffy's life and meet her friends. What was more, Buffy did not have to worry he would turn on her or her friends and try to kill them. That was definitely a bonus.
"Obviously, you've got something besides chit chatting on your mind, hon."
"No, I'm fine, just couldn't sleep."
"Did you want something to eat or just coffee?"
"I was just going to get a piece of apple pie with ice cream, but I decided on a cheeseburger with fries. Then maybe I'll get the pie."
"You can get away with that."
"Eating like that this late. If I were to do it, it'd go straight to my hips," she said, gesturing to the only part of her that Buffy would say was flawed. "You get to be my age and you start filling out in places that aren't so great if you know what I mean. It used to go straight to my chest, but now it's finding other places to settle down in."
Buffy laughed lightly with a shake of her head. "You look great, Kim. Really, you do." Kim was average really in appearance and shape, but she was so nice and so happy all of the time that it made her seem prettier than she was. She had black hair and gray eyes and was only an inch or so taller than Buffy. Sure, she was a little heavier than Buffy, but she was by no means out of control.
"I'll put your order in, hon. It's going to be a minute, because I just put in about three orders right before you got here."
"That's fine, you know me, I'm never in a hurry." Buffy remembered impatient customers from her stint waiting tables, so she tried to be courteous.
"I know and I appreciate it. Did you bring something to read? I've got the latest People in back if you want it."
"That'd be great." Buffy sometimes brought a magazine with her when she came here, but tonight she had not really thought about it when she left.
"You bet," Kim said with a wink and sauntered off in the direction of the counter.
When Buffy had started coming to Sally's she used to sit at the counter, but she did not like having her back to the door so she had quickly taken to sitting in a booth in the back. It was left over paranoia from her life in Sunnydale, but she did not like giving anyone an advantage. The only way they could get to her sitting at this booth was through the window.
A few minutes later Kim returned to Buffy's table with an empty coffee cup and a pot full of coffee. At this time of night the waitresses were not supposed to provide pots of coffee, but Kim had begun making an exception for Buffy a while ago. She never drank a whole pot, but it was a nice gesture. "I'll be back in a bit with your burger," she said and set the most recent People on the table.
"No hurry," Buffy said as she took the magazine. It had a picture of Brad Pitt on the cover. What else was new?
"Oh, honey, you don't mind if I just drop your burger and run, do you?"
Buffy laughed, because the chances of Kim doing that were pretty slim. Kim's mouth was the reason the two had become friends. "Why do you have a lot of side work to do?"
"No, but I think the man of my dreams just walked in the door."
Kim was single, had never been married and was not dating anyone. Buffy could not understand it. The woman was clearly interested in men. She had made a point of mentioning Willow and Kennedy once or twice so that if she was interested in women she would know Buffy would not be bothered by that.
"And he's walking this way."
"Oh?" That got Buffy's attention as she glanced up and let out a surprised cry that came out sounding more like a wail. The entire restaurant turned to stare at her as she stared at what she was sure was a ghost.
"He is a fine one, isn't he?" Kim continued on, not realizing the reason for Buffy's reaction. The man was definitely a fine one. Buffy thought he was probably one of the finest men that had been created in over one hundred years.
His hair was a little longer, the roots brown leaving only the ends the platinum blonde that had been his trademark since she had known him. He was wearing a leather coat, but it looked different than the one he had worn before. The one that had belonged to Robin Wood's mother.
He cocked his head to his left as he approached her table. Had she even breathed since she first saw him? She had no idea. "Close your mouth, Pet, you look a little ridiculous with it hanging aghast like that."
"I," she stammered. "How? I mean. You." She turned to look at Kim, unable to miss the look of disappointment on the woman's face that Spike had not seemed to even notice her.
"I have some orders up," Kim said, seeming to take the hint that this was an uncomfortable enough situation as it was.
"Slayer," he said, his voice a husky whisper.
"You're dead." She was thrilled to see that he was not dead, but she did not understand it. He died, he burnt up and she saw him begin to turn to ashes.
"But how? When?"
"A while now, about a year and a half or so give or take. You mean the geek didn't tell you?"
"Andrew? Why would he tell me?"
"He saw me. Twice now. Once in LA when he was picking up the crazy slayer and once in Rome."
"You were in Rome?" He nodded, his eyes telling her he knew about The Immortal, too. "I didn't know. He never told me."
Spike shrugged. "I guess he had a bit of admiration for me, maybe figured if I wanted you to know I would have told you."
"You've been here for that long and are just now getting around to coming here?"
"Can I sit down, Luv?"
"What?" she asked, confused. "Oh, yeah, sure. I ordered a burger and some fries, you can have some if you want."
He smirked as he took a seat across the table from her. "Thanks, not particularly hungry."
"How did you find me?"
"Not too difficult, Pet."
"How long have you been here?" she asked, growing confused at his short answers.
"A little more than a week."
"It was you."
"What was me?"
"The past week, I've felt like I was being watched. And it was Slayer awareness."
"Probably was me then."
"Why have you been following me?"
"Just watching to see how your life was. I wondered if The Immortal had come with you."
"No," she responded quickly.
"I gathered that when I saw you with Preppie Boy."
"His name is Colum."
"Colum. I should have known, you and your Irishmen."
Kim returned to the table carrying Buffy's plate, so Buffy moved the magazine out of the way. Kim also set a second coffee cup on the table. "In case your friend wants some, hon."
"No problem. I'll be back in a bit to check on you, but I'm guessing you won't need much." She did not hide the fact that she was appraising Spike. Spike gave her a wink as he reached for the coffee pot.
"Thanks for the cup," he said charmingly.
"Sure thing," she said and walked away.
"Do you love him?"
Buffy poured some ketchup on her plate and thought over Spike's question. Did she love him? "No," she said simply. "I want to. He's a good guy."
"I'm sure he is."
"You asked the question."
"What are you doing here, Spike?" she asked. Why were they talking like this? Why were they bickering? The last time she saw him she told him she loved him and he was acting as if she had never made such a confession.
Story ©Susan Falk/APCKRFAN/PhantomRoses.com