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Meet the Pratts by Verity Watson
Ch. 2: Millie's
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Three nights passed. Buffy started her job. That meant she’d managed to drive across L.A. during rush hour six times without killing herself or anyone else.

She’d been confined to the house during most of her non-work hours. Willow’s hectic school – sleep – bartend routine meant that they rarely crossed paths.

And so it was after midnight and she was lonely, waiting for her roommate outside of Caritas, hugging her arms around her chest as the night breeze picked up.

“She’ll be at least another hour, pet.”

And the blue eyes were there, without so much as a shiver when he approached. “Sorry?”

“Some spoiled Valley brat has the VIP room rented for a party. She’ll be uncorking champagne ‘til 3.”

“Oh.” Buffy thought about leaving Willow to put herself into a cab. After all, she had to be at her desk at the museum in less then eight hours.

“Diner’s around the corner.”

He took a drag of his cigarette and cocked his head.

Buffy didn’t follow immediately – she was too busy arguing with herself if he’d uttered an invitation or a simple declarative sentence.

Of course, she couldn’t stand in front of the club forever.

She heard her heels clicking on the sidewalk as she rushed to catch up to her companion. He was disappearing behind a door with the words Millie’s Diner stenciled on the front. It was dingy, the linoleum peeling and the waitresses sagging.

But he was greeted warmly and ushered into a cozy booth.

In a minute, Buffy had scampered through the door and into the seat opposite.


“Willow said you were dangerous.”

“She’s right.”

“She’s dated musicians. Don’t know what the big deal is.”

“Don’t think she was warning you about the music, love.”




In the next few weeks, it became a ritual. If Buffy was waiting for Willow, he’d almost always be there. The now familiar waitresses would pour them bottomless cups of coffee. He’d eat sometimes, sometimes not. He’d fiddle with things, edgy. Always drank decaf. “Don’t need caffeine.” He knew the whole staff at the diner – only one waitress, a pretty Jamaican girl named Kendra, didn’t seem totally charmed by him.

“She knows the real me,” he’d explained.

Buffy imagined they’d slept together.


“So you came to L.A. for adventure, then?”

“I don’t know, exactly. I just knew it was time to try something new.”

“So wot I said – adventure,” he grinned one of his Cheshire grins.

Buffy blushed and sipped her tea to avoid meeting his eyes.

“And the bloke?”

“What makes you say that?”

“Girl like you? There’s always an upstanding gent in the prom picture.”

“Yeah, well … Riley is upstanding.”

“And dull?”

“He’s not exactly a future rock star.”


“You waitin’ for the bleached wonder again, sweetheart?”

Buffy turned to the bouncer and smiled. “Um, yeah …”

“Be careful going off into the night with strangers.”

“I’ll be okay.”

He scowled, but she had the sense it wasn’t about her. It was as if he couldn’t make up his mind what to say next.

“Gunn, it’s okay. I know what I’m doing.”

“Yeah. Well, Willow wouldn’t like it if you got into any sticky situations.”


“Charlie giving you a hard time?”

“No. Just friendly advice. I think,” Buffy stifled a yawn.

“Long day in the salt mines?”

“Something like that. We have a big donor event on Friday and my boss is worked over every little detail.”

“So what makes you want to do this job anyhow?”

“Dunno. It pays the bills.”

“But it isn’t your life’s ambition to ask rich folk for generous donations?”

She took a sip of her decaf. “No.”


“And then what is?”

Buffy sighed. She hadn’t talked about this in a while. Not since high school – actually not since the divorce and then mom being sick and the gallery. “I was really into art, once. Back in high school. If it all works out, I’ll manage to save up enough money and put together enough of a portfolio to go back to college.”


“When mom died … I’d missed so much class with her being sick, and then I was pretty much running the gallery full-time. I probably only have three or four semesters left, depending.”

“And portfolio implies you’d like to graduate and then put your originals up on someone else’s gallery walls.”

“Ummm … yeah. That’s the general idea.”

“You any good?”


“Oh, that’s confidence inspiring. D’ya think Picasso boasted of his mediocrity?”

Buffy shrugged. “Easy for you to say.”

“That right?” he pulled on his cigarette in that funny underhanded way of his. Buffy didn’t know anyone who smoked, much less anyone who made it look so sinfully good.

“Well, you’re gonna be this big rock star. Everyone says.”

“What says that’s my plan?”

“Who wouldn’t want that?”

Spike blinked and she had the sense that she’d said the wrong thing.

“So … ummmm … who’s Cathy McGowan?”

“Cathy McGowan.”

“In that song … the one you close with.”

“Been listening past the velvet rope, then?” he gave her a wolfish smile.

“Maybe. Is she an old girlfriend?”

“My, haven’t you gotten bold since we’ve started our little chats?”

Buffy blushed. A night didn’t go by that something left her at least a little bit embarrassed.

“She’s a television host, love. From a BBC show back in the 60s. Music tv, y’know?”

“The 1960s? I didn’t know they had videos back then.”

Spike’s eyes went wide for a split second, but he bit back his thought and stubbed out his cigarette. “Past time to toss you in a cab, pet.”


Buffy was back from the museum early and Willow had traded shifts to study for a chem exam. They’d lived under the same roof for nearly a month, and this was the first time they’d shared oolong tea in the apartment’s tiny kitchen.

“Hey, Buf. How’s life in the lofty part of L.A.?”

“Lofty? Can’t help you with that. Drafty, though, I know drafty. They don’t exactly put the staff offices in the main gallery.”

“I’ve heard that. But do you like it?”

Buffy thought for a minute. “Yeah. I mean, it is mostly data entering who gave how much money this month and figuring out if Mrs. Moneybags paid off her last pledge or not, but after having the whole gallery on my shoulders? Feels kind of good to know that I’m just responsible for this one part.”

“I get that,” Willow grimaced. “I know I haven’t been much of a roomie – or a friend – these past few weeks, and I feel awful about that.”

“No, don’t! You’re busy and I’m busy and … it’s just a busy-thon. It’ll be better over the summer, right?”

“Yeah. But Buffy … Gunn told me you’ve been meeting up with Spike.”

“We go to the diner. When I’m waiting, y’know, for you. And we talk.”

“You sure that’s a good idea?”

“What? He seems really down to earth.”

“Yeah. Why don’t you ask him when he was born?”

“I know that. In London. His birthday is … wait, he told me … um, May maybe? He’s a Taurus.”

“Ask him the year.”

“Is he older than me? I mean, who cares, I’m just over the Riley break-up, I’m not looking for …”

“Just ask.”


“How old are you?”

“Willow told you to ask, huh?”


“Smart bird, that one. Doesn’t want you getting hurt.”

“Yeah. So? Are you 38 and divorced with three kids?”

“Not exactly.”

“Well then? What’s the big deal?”

“Depends on how you count things.”


“How old do I look?”

“Hard to say, actually. Older than me. Younger than my dad.”


“No, I mean … I guess I’d figure 30 or 32. Maybe 28?”

“Depends on how you count, but either way, I’m well over 100.”

“But how can you be …”

Spike grabbed her wrist. “You know what I feel, right?”

For a fragile second Buffy thought he meant what he felt for her. And then she realized, “my pulse?”

“Yeah. Do the same,” he guided her hand to his wrist. “Now feel.”

“I don’t understand.”

“Gimme your bag.”


Spike had already reached her for knock-off Louis Vuitton. He rummaged for a compact, flipped it open and held it sideways. “See, there’s your pert little nose and bouncy blonde locks. And here’s … not a bloody thing.”

The space where his reflection should be was vacant.

“Okay, so that’s kind of a neat party trick, but …”

“Not a trick. Vampire.”


“Vampires are real.”

“And you’re one of them.”


“So you kill people?”

“As a matter of fact.”

“Are you going to kill me?”

“Haven’t decided yet.”

“I’ve gotta go.” As she retreated, she couldn’t help but hear something following her.


Author's Note: The song referenced is "Ready, Steady, Go" by Generation X - Billy Idol's first band. And Millie's is an homage to Mil-lee's Luv-In Diner in Philadephia, a favorite haunt from my brief time in the City of Brotherly Love. Wonder if it's still there ...
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