Disclaimer: Joss owns 'em. Like, tell me something new.
Author's Note: Yeah, yeah, I know. I couldn't just leave it there, now could I? Sorry about the update being a little late, but the first time I wrote this, it was really bad. Now I got it down to readable. Thanks for your patience. And I knew I couldn't post the other chapter without posting this one… so….
What are we gonna do now?
Six months later
Annie Somerset only had 10 minutes to go on her shift.
Man, she was so glad of that. This was the third double this week she'd had to pull… all because of that jerk, Jan. She was so hoping that Pops would finally fire her ass… but he was such a softie. He'd buy her excuses, and let her get away with it. Grrrr. And so here I am, doing another double. Ah well, I do kinda owe him… big time. When my folks got killed 10 years ago in that car accident, he did take me in. I mean, to his family. My folks and his family been friends forever, ya know? So, he kinda got me through high school. Saw I was taken care of. So… I owe him. But man, my feet are killing me. Well, home and soak… and pray that Jan shows her dumb butt up tomorrow. Sigh.
Annie was just about to go in back, to leave, when she stopped dead in her tracks, and did a double take. She saw a dark haired girl sitting in one of Helen's tables. She… seemed so familiar, somehow. Like she knew her. She looked again…Nawwww, no one I know…but she was intrigued. She was wearing a jeans jacket , dark jeans and boots. Looked like she had rings on every finger, too. But it was the expression she had. Kinda a smirk… but not mean, ya know? Just like she owned the world, or something. Ya, right, that's why she's eating here. And she kept opening the menu, then closing it, and looking around. Hmmm.. something about her….
" Hey, Helen, I got this one"
"Thanks, Annie. I crushed here" Helen called back, showing a tired smile.
Annie went over to where the woman was sitting, and smiled.
" Hi, I'm Annie. What can I get ya?"
Then this girl looks up at her, and gives her this wicked smile. Ya know? And it's like … I don't know… like I've known her somewhere. And she's got these really deep dark eyes…which are looking at her… and they have this mischievous gleam to them… c'mon, Annie, it's just a customer…
"Heya, Annie." She says, then looks at the menu again.
Darlin', it aint gonna change. You musta looked at that thing 5 times now.
The woman's smile gets a little strained, and she finally makes up her mind.
"Ummm… Guess I'll have some coffee… and an order of toast"
Annie does a quick assess of the girl, and figures it out. The boots are a little scruffed up, the clothes are clean, but kinda fraying at the edges…and she doesn't look like she's been eating too well, lately.
She thinks for a second, but has a good feeling about her.
"Kinda between jobs, girlfriend?" Annie asks, solicitously.
The girl blushes a little, and gets an embarrassed grin.
"Yeah… been kinda rough finding work." She says. " But somethin'll turn up soon."
" Gotta name?" Annie asks, a bit businesslike.
" Frankie" The girl replies, wondering what's going on.
" Got a last name, Frankie?" Annie asks. She smiles to put the girl at ease.
"Yeah…Demorra. Why?" She's getting a bit suspicious now.
"Ever do any waitressing? " Annie asks. Face is all business now
"Yeah, like who hasn't?" Frankie asks. Ok, what's the deal here?
" Great, stay here. I'll be right back" Annie says, walking off to the back.
"Hey…about my order?" Frankie yells out, but Annie doesn't turn around.
Frankie sits there for a second, contemplating whether she should just get her ass up and get outta here. That waitress was weird. But… something about her … made Frankie feel ok. Don't know what . But she didn't feel… threatened or anything. Hardly…actually, the little blonde was kinda cute… but that wasn't it, either. It was like…this is stupid…like I know here from somewhere. That can't be… never seen her before. But I got Déjà vu big time here. This is nuts. I've never been in Sarasota before. But what's the deal with the 20 questions, anyway? I mean, what, you gotta give fingerprints to eat here? Speaking of which…why did she just take off? This is crazy. Maybe I should just motor on outta here.
Annie goes in back. She catches up to Pops as he is leaving
the office in back.
"Hey, Pops" She says. She's gotta do this right, or it aint gonna happen.
"Hey, Annie. What can I do for you?"
"Ummm… about Jan. You really gotta do something about her. This is the third double I've pulled this week. My feet are gonna fall off I do anymore"
"C'mon, Annie. Give her a break. Anyway, even if I fire her, who's gonna replace her? I don't have 'em lining up here to replace her, ya know" Pops says. Maybe a little annoyed.
"Well… about that. I think I got someone for ya" Annie says, brightly.
"Oh, yeah? Who?" Pop asks.
" The girl over there…at table six" Annie points her out.
Pop goes over and takes a look. He comes back, his face showing a little annoyance.
"Ah, Annie, not another one of your strays" Pops says.
"She's not a stray, Pops. Her names Frankie Demorra, she's had experience. She's ok. C'mon, have I ever led you wrong on this before?"
Roberto "Pops" Vera had to admit, when it came to assessing potential waitresses, Annie had a knack. She had convinced him to hire Helen, who was a jewel. And Crystal, who did the night shift. She wasn't the brightest bulb on the Christmas tree, but she did her job well, and the customers loved her. So, she did pretty well. Certainly better than his pick… Jan. He sighed.
" Well, I don't know, Annie…" Pops began, but Annie interrupted him.
"Please…please Pops?" She asked. Then she pulled out the secret weapon… the Eyes.
Damn, why does she do that? Pops thought. She knows she can get away with murder with me when she does that. He sighs. She had always been able to twist him around her finger when she wanted to. 10 years ago, when Hank and Joyce Somerset had been killed in that car accident, he had taken her in. Heck, he had to. He and his wife were her god parents. But she had always had a knack of finding his weak spot. Whenever she wanted anything, she just turned on the eyes, and he was a goner. His wife gave him hell sometimes about it… but she wasn't immune either. He had to laugh. She had been like a daughter to them both… the daughter they'd never had. When she graduated, with honors, mind you, from High School. He had been so proud. Even when she had married that loser. He and his wife had been dead set against it. Said no way they were gonna come to the wedding. So, what? She does the eye thing, and he's giving her away. Fortunately, she woke up to whatta jerk he was, and divorced his ass. But still… whenever she wanted something, badly, she got out the eyes, and he always gave in.
" I don't get it, Annie. This is some stranger. I mean, why's it so important?" Pops asked
" Pops… ever meets someone, and feel you known them like forever?" Annie asked
He had to smile. Yeah. Her father. They had met back 30 years ago. They were both still in High School. Pops had just come here from Cuba, and first person he met was Hank Somerset. But it was like they had been friends forever. So, he knew the feeling.
" Oh, ya. I know that one, Annie" He smiled at her.
"Well… it's like that with her. I mean, I just met her, but I got this feeling I've known her before." Annie shrugs. " Anyway, how could she be worse than Jan?" Annie said, smiling. Pops grimaced a little at that.
" Ok… ok… I'll hire her. Are you sure she even wants to work here?"
"Dunno. Didn't suss her out on it yet. But she looks like she could use one. And I'm pretty sure she'll be happy to make some money. Doesn't look like she's been eating too well. By the way, could you fix up one of your special Chicken and Rice dishes? Kinda like to feed her. Don't want her collapsing on her first day. Don't get that look, I'll pay for it." She grins. She knows she's won.
Pop has an exasperated look on his face, but secretly he's proud of Annie. One of the best things about her is her heart. She's always looking out for the underdog. He shakes his head as he head for the kitchen to make the Arroz con Pollo. She's always picking up strays. Usually works out ok for her. Ok, in the man department, she's kinda still batting zero. But when she assesses other women, she's batting a thousand. So, I guess it evens out huh? Someday I gotta get her off her butt and onto college. Been pushing her for years, but she hangs around here, being a waitress. She's too smart for the job. Oughta make her take some business courses. Maybe then I could retire, and leave this to her. I know she's got the brains for it…if she'd only put her butt in gear.
Annie walks back to the dining area, just as Frankie is getting up to leave.
"Hey…Frankie? Where you goin'? Annie asks, not pleased at her leaving. " Sit your butt back down"
Frankie gives her a look, like she's crazy, but then sits down.
"So?" Annie asks
"So?" Frankie replies, confused now
" So, ya wanna job?" Annie asks, smiling.
"HUH?" Frankie can't believe her ears.
" You know… you work, you get paid. Job. Want one?" Annie is grinning big time now
"Oh, yeah…for sure…where?" She asks. She's totally confused now.
"Where do you think? Here. We gotta flake on the day shift. I been covering for her the last three days, and my feet are beginning to kill me. So, we need someone. How about it?"
" I dunno…" She starts. This is getting way to weird for her.
" C'mon, what, job offers fallin' at your feet?" Annie asks, mocking her a little. Frankie blushes
" 'K. Look, I'll be straight with you. The work is hard, the pay aint great, but you'll get by. And the meals are free. The tips are ok, and the customers are usually nice. So, whatta ya say?" Annie says, getting a little annoyed now. What? She's got something better lined up?
"Yeah… ok…sure…sounds great" Frankie can't believe her luck. She was down to her last twenty…wasn't sure where or when she was gonna get a job.
" Good. You start tomorrow. We got the uniforms in back. After you've eaten, go back and try em out 'til you find one that fits. Don't be late. You start at 8 am tomorrow. Got it?" Annie says, acting all boss like. But she's glad Frankie took the job. She really is getting to like her…why, she hasn't a clue. But she does.
"Eat? I didn't order anything" Frankie pipes up.
"Oh, I got Pops to make you his special Chicken and Rice. By the way, do you like hot?"
" Oh, yeah, I like hot" Frankie smirks. Annie finds herself blushing. What's that about? Score one for Frankie.
"Good" She covers. " Cause his Chicken and Rice'll melt your eyebrows" She laughs.
" Ummm.. I really can't afford that…" Frankie begins
" Forget it. It's covered. You can pay me back" Annie smiles. She turns to go.
"Hey… Annie?" Frankie calls out. Annie turns back. " Thanks" Frankie smiles at her. Annie feels her heart beat a little fast. Ok…now what's the deal with that?
"Forget it. Just don't be a flake, ok?" Annie starts to go again.
Frankie really doesn't want her to leave. " uhhh… Annie?"
Annie turns back again "Yeah?"
"Uhhh… look. When do you get off shift?" Frankie asks.
" Oh…about 20 minutes ago" Annie smiles.
Damn, Frankie thinks. She's pulled a double, probably tired as hell…and still is taking time to help me out here. Well, I really, really want to get to know this blonde girl better. A lot better.
" Look…uhhh" She hesitates, cause this is gonna sound stupid… or strange… or something. " Ok…hey, I owe you a job. How about you let me take you out for a drink… or something. I still gotta few bucks, and I'm working now, so I… kinda lame, huh? Look, how 'bout we get a drink or something. Ok? To celebrate?" Frankie is all flustered. Damn. I'm never like this!
Annie thinks for a second. I don't know this girl. But, something about her feels right. Ah, what the hell.
"Sure. Why not? But hey, don't think this'll get you off the hook for dinner. I'm taking it outta your first check" She grins.
" Better. I'll buy you dinner somewhere. You choose" Frankie offers.
Annie is kinda flustered now. What the hell is that? But then she shrugs. No big. Hey, I could use a night out, ya know?
Anyway, it'll just be a meal with a friend… right? No pressure or anything. Not like a date.
Just a meal with a friend.
Two regular women having a meal.
It would seem the Powers that Be have a sense of humor. A wicked sense of humor.
And maybe, just maybe… A heart
or is it?
I guess I didn't make it obvious enough what was going on here. Or maybe, it just really sucks. But here is what I had in mind when writing this epilogue. What was the one thing Buffy desired for most of her life as a slayer? A normal life. A life not worrying about having to save the world, fight the vamps, etc. Now, knowing Buffy, and Faith, how could they do that if they knew who they were? Every time some world crisis came up, they would be in it again. So, the powers that be decided to grant Buffy's wish, for having saved the world 8 times. That is, they made her normal. They bent time and events, and inserted her. They knew also that for Buffy to be totally happy, Faith had to be a part of her life. So, they put her in it too. That is what I was trying to do here… make it so they never , ever, had to save the world again. They could have what they wanted. A nice, ordinary life together. I think they deserve it. Don't you?