TITLE: Peaches and Pork Chops
SUMMARY: Angel and Xander go to a diner.
SPOILERS: Through Buffy season 7
ARCHIVE: More than likely okay, but please ask first
DISCLAIMER: I don't own any of these characters, though I really wish I did. Unfortunately, for me, they all belong to Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy, and Fox.
NOTES: Written for hold_that_thought's Fanfic Junk Drawer Challenge. Requested by little_bit. Thanks to hold_that_thought for the beta.
"Okay, this is nothing." Xander's eyes danced furtively around the dark LA street, scanning for the reputed dangers of the big city. "Spent an entire life on the Hellmouth. What's a little crime?" The sound of footsteps echoed behind him. "Man, I knew I should have stayed with Willow."
Something brushed his shoulder and he screamed, flailed his arms and tried to run, but managed only to trip over his own feet.
"It's okay. Just me. You alright, man?"
"Angel! Boy am I glad to see you. If only I had a dollar for every time I thought I'd never say that…. What's up?"
Angel smiled and pulled Xander up. "I'm, uh, actually looking for Buffy. You seen her?"
"Not since this morning. She said she had to do some soul searching. I figured that was just Buffy code for finding you."
"Well if she's looking for me, she's looking in the wrong place." Angel looked distressed. "Xander, what happened?"
"She didn't tell you?"
"I got a sketch. Hellmouth closed, Sunnydale gone. Basic framework, no details."
"Oh boy." A crash from a nearby alley made Xander jump. "You think we can take this conversation away from the scary street?"
"I know a place."
"Peach and Pork Cops?" Xander stared at the flickering neon sign hanging in the dingy window of a nearly empty diner.
"Peaches and Pork Chops. It's a nice little place. Quiet. And the food is good."
Xander's eyebrow arched. "Food assessments from you? I don't know if I should be relieved or scared."
"I'm buying." Angel started toward the door.
"And I'm eating," Xander followed with a smile.
"More coffee boys?" A fifty-something waitress wearing too much blue eye shadow made her way to their booth.
"I'd love some more, uh, Doris. And please tell the chef that these are the best pork chops I've ever had," Xander mumbled through a mouthful of food.
"Chef? Hah! What kind of joint do you think this is?" Doris winked. "I'll let Andy know you like 'em."
Xander waited for Doris to leave before continuing. "Buffy hasn't exactly been clear on the details for us either, but that's basically what we think happened, and by we I mean Giles."
"So let me get this straight. Buffy and the Potentials go into the Hellmouth. Willow manages to transfer some kind of power from that really cool axe thingy that turns them all into Slayers. And then Spike used the medallion I gave Buffy to destroy the Hellmouth, killing himself in the process?" Angel paused. "And all I got was 'Hellmouth closed, Sunnydale gone.'"
Xander shoveled another forkful into his mouth. "Well, Buffy—"
"Xander, finish your food before your sentence. I've seen enough half chewed pork chop to last me a lifetime. How would you like it if I were spitting out blood while I talked?"
"Hey," Xander pointed his finger at Angel and swallowed his food. "If this is some kind of gross out tactic to make me lose my appetite, it's not going to work. I spent enough time around Spike and Anya that nothing can faze me. I don't care how much blood you pour into your cereal or how much moldy cheese you put on your ice cream, I can take it."
"I'm not trying to gross you out. I just really would rather not have to watch your digestive system in action. Who put cheese on their ice cream?" Angel asked with a look bordering between confusion and disgust.
"Ahn," Xander said with a rueful smile. "She is…was. She was something else." He dropped his fork, looked down onto his plate and slowly pushed it away. "I, uh, I guess I just lost my appetite," he said with a sad smile.
"I'm sorry," Angel said awkwardly. "I didn't really know her, but she seemed…nice."
"She was the best. You know, I thought losing an eye was bad, but losing Anya was…well I can't really think of anything that isn't either really trite or really too much information."
"And believe me, I thank you for censoring yourself."
They sat in semi-awkward silence, broken only by Doris.
"What's the matter boys? You look like someone died. Coffee?"
"No thanks," Angel waved her away. "Look, Xander, I know this isn't exactly fun to talk about, what with…but, Buffy. She and Spike, they...."
"Yeah, I think."
"Yeah. Faith said Buffy wouldn't leave him when the rest of the girls started running."
Xander focused on his coffee, engrossed in the swirls his spoon caused as it broke up the film that had settled on top.
"Xander. Is Buffy—"
"I don't know. Probably. Maybe. I really…she hasn't talked to me about it. Which is understandable, since I've never really been very 'rah rah' when it comes to her undead boyfriends, no offense."
Xander slowly took the spoon out of his cup, watching the brownish liquid slide off the spotty metal.
"She's still trying to figure out what to do right now. Her whole world just kind of changed on her. Give her some time. And I can't believe I'm actually saying this, but I know her. And whatever happens you'll be a part of that. I'm sure she'll come around soon."
"I just," Angel rubbed his eyes and leaned his head back against the red vinyl. "I'm worried about her. She seems so distant and out of it sometimes. And then sometimes she seems so alive and so happy. And I don't really know what to make of it."
"Trust me, you're not alone there. Sometimes I'm not even sure Buffy understands what Buffy's feeling. But she's the Buffster. She always comes out on top. That's why she's my hero. Granted, I have some issue with her love life—again no offense."
Angel just stared.
"Buffy'll be okay," Xander shrugged.
Xander stared at his reflection in the window. The flickering of the neon sign caught his eye, and he let out a sigh.
"You know," Xander smiled, "this is one of the most bizarre evenings ever."
"What do you mean?"
"If someone had told me five years ago that one day I'd be sitting in a ratty little diner having dinner with you, I would have called them a liar and hit them. And then possibly run away, depending on how big they were. Instead, strangely enough, I'm enjoying myself."
Angel raised his coffee cup in the air, letting Doris know he was ready for more.
"I told you this was a nice place."