Spike looked up at the blue door and stopped to pet the cat, a chubby calico that purred up a storm in response to his tentative touches. He had to figure Buffy wasn't going to be as accommodating. They hadn't seen each other since he'd gone up in a ball of flame for her – that sighting in Rome didn't count thank you very much. If she'd been interested, she'd have called a lot sooner.
The interior was just as cheerful as the exterior, with tables full of couples although more women than men which seemed a bit off for a dinner crowd. He didn't see Buffy anywhere. A woman seated at a small table near the door, who'd been chatting away with a couple, glanced over and then rose when Spike walked through the door. She had on a long, flowing skirt, paisley, below an ordinary-enough looking blouse. It took her a moment to realize she was the hostess. “Uh, table for two. Think there's a reservation. Probably under the name of Summers.”
She fiddled with a computer. “Of course. She's not here yet but I can seat you right away.”
Spike gestured toward the left. “Perhaps I can browse the bookstore while I'm waiting.”
“I'll let her know where you've gotten to when she arrives.”
The bookstore was a quirky little place with stairs leading to rooms going off in odd angles. Spike wandered toward the magazines. Sinister Wisdom, huh? Let's see what the little humans thought was sinister. The cover read “Living as a Lesbian”. What the … ? Spike glanced around at the books: something about transsexual women, Our Bodies, Ourselves, Mary Daly, Wide Sargasso Sea. Well, if Buffy thought a feminist bookstore was going to throw him she had another thing coming. He'd faced down a dragon. Hell, he'd faced down Angelus. A bunch of women weren't about to throw him off his game.
He'd settled down in a surprisingly comfy chair and was about twenty pages into The Handmaid's Tale by the time Buffy arrived. He put the book down but made a note to come back for it when Buffy wasn't smirking over him. Her expression grew serious as they were seated. Yep, end of the world. Couldn't they even get through a quiet dinner without an apocalypse? Of course if it weren't for the apocalypse she wouldn't have called him so guess not.
“So,” she said with a strained smile. “You're not dead.”
He just stared back.
“I mean, you're dead, obviously, but undead and not dust in the wind dead.”
“Haven't been dust for a while, pet.”
“And just how long have you been back?”
Spike took it all in, the tightening around her mouth, the tension in her shoulders, the tone of her question. “You didn't know I was back.”
Buffy's knuckles turned white. “Carful, luv. You're about to break that fork.”
She dropped the silverware to the table. “Of course I didn't know. For me to have know you'd have to have come and told me.”
“Did,” he said. “Was in Rome. Andrew said you were seeing someone. Saw him in fact. Besides Andrew knew from when he picked up that mad Slayer in L.A.” He was going to kill Andrew.
“Andrew knew?” Her question had a choked off quality, as if she'd been about to say more. “Oh, he is so dead.”
“Can't argue with you there. So I take it you're here for more than an apocalypse?”
“More than?” She stared at him for a moment and then her gaze softened. “Yeah, no ending of the world imminent. Although I did think I'd be kicking your ass.”
Spike gave her a suggestive leer. “Can handle a little pounding, if that's what you're up for.”
“Shut up, Spike. You're a pig.” But her voice sounded pleased so he let it slide.
A waitress stepped over just in time to hear that pig comment. Great, now she'd probably spit in his food. Spike skimmed over the menu until Buffy had finished ordering. “I'll have this escargot here, under the soups,” he said.
“That's escarole,” the waitress replied.
The waitress took the menu, closed it, and handed it back, cover up so he could read the name: Bloodroot Vegetarian Restaurant. “Bloody hell woman. You brought me to a vegetarian cafe?”
Buffy grinned back at him. “Fine,” Spike said, gesturing toward Buffy. “Just give me whatever she ordered.” He should have known Buffy wasn't going to go any easier on him than ever.