She sat on the patio at the Trattoria Antonio, watching the people walk by, fading into the twilight. She sipped on her red wine, slipping into her favourite daydream.
“Rough day, pet?” he asked, blue eyes watching her intently.
“Yeah, kinda. I think we’ve found most of the girls there are to find. Now the problem is keeping them from each other’s throats – not literally, of course. But some of the training facilities are pretty close quarters. It’s not like what’s left of the Council is rolling in it. And I miss my friends.”
“Course you do,” he nodded.
“Willow’s too busy to pick up the phone. She has those little astral projectiony visits sometimes, but they’re just freaky. And she doesn’t do that so often anymore. Xander’s pretty cut off where he is.”
“You worry about him.”
“Yeah, I do. What does he know from Africa? What if he went someplace dangerous and he didn’t know it? How could I help him when I’m so far away?”
“Don’t worry so. He’s, much as a hate to admit it, a pretty capable boy. He’ll be fine.” He tilted his head in that way she liked so much. “How’s Bit? Still doing well in school?”
“Dawn’s good. She’s doing amazing. She has this thing with languages, well you knew that, but she’s so good with numbers, too. Gifted. Maybe it’s a Key thing.”
“I think it’s a Summers’ thing. The women will surprise you. You’re a special lot.”
Buffy blushed. “You always thought so. Mom would be proud of her.”
“I’m sure she is. I’m sure she knows.”
She smiled. “You always know just what to say to make me feel better.”
“How about that git you’re dating? He treating you well? Because you know,” his face shifted, “He has me to answer to.”
“I can take care of myself, Spike. And no, it’s not going well. I’m fed up, to be honest. I told him it was over.”
Spike grinned. “Bout bloody time.”
“You would say that. Funny thing is, it doesn’t hurt. It should hurt, shouldn’t it? All his cheating? Shouldn’t my pride be hurt, at least?”
“Deep down, you know he’s not good enough for you. You need someone who loves you. Someone who appreciates you. Respects you. Someone who’d lay down his life for you.”
Buffy swirled the wine in her glass. “Someone like you. And I blew that, didn’t I?”
“Miss Summers. More vino?” Spike vanished as the waiter spoke to her.
“No thanks, Enrico,” she smiled, a sad, quiet smile. “I’d better be getting home. You can bring me my bill.”
She put the money on the table, like she did most every night, and got up to leave. As she turned, she slammed into a man’s chest. “Oh, I’m sorry, I didn’t see you there.”
Her heart stopped beating. A chill ran down her back. She’d finally gone mad. But as she looked up into blue eyes she’d dreamed of a million times, she knew the voice was really his. “How?”
“I’ve looked everywhere Dawn said you might be. I’m sorry. I should have called first, but…”
“You’re not dead.”
“No more than usual.”
She wrapped her arms around him and squeezed. He was real. Solid. Not a daydream.
“Am I crazy?”
He smiled even wider. “No more than usual.”
“You have to tell me everything.” She sat him down at her table, clutching his hand like it might disappear. “Enrico,” she called, “Please. More wine.”
Originally posted at http://seasonal-spuffy.livejournal.com/11814.html