Title: Dinner and a Movie
Author: Sandy S.
Rating: PG
Disclaimer: All belongs to Joss but he said we could play:o)
Summary: Post-Not Fade Away in Cleveland. It's Dawn's birthday, and all she wants is dinner and a movie. Just a bit of fluff. (And an appearance by Buffy and Spike.)
Dedication: For Dawneen…Happy birthday, dear! hugs Hope it was wonderful as you are:o)
And special thanks to Jan for reading over the fic for me:o)

Dinner and a Movie

I do wish we could chat longer, but I'm having an old friend for dinner.
-Hannibal Lector

"What? No, we don't have time! We're here on a mission, and then, we're going back to Rome tonight."

My sister is irritated with me. Then again, she's always irritated with me when we come back to the States. She remains absolutely, positively grumpy until we get back to Europe. But this trip, I'm determined to have a nice time. Yep. I'm not giving up 'til big sis cracks a smile.

"It's just dinner and a movie. And it's my birthday!" Okay, so that came out whinier than I wanted it to.

"Dawn, no!" The phone in our hotel room rings, and my sister snatches up the receiver, holding up a hand in my face. "Hello? Giles? Yeah, I'm here. I don't know what happened we lost the connection." She turns her back on me. "What about the hellmouth?"

I ignore her obvious attempts to thwart me. She may be a Slayer who kills demons and vampires, but she can't defeat a persistent little sister. It's my job to pester her into submission. "There's this new place. Faith told me about it. They show all the latest movies, and you can get pizza and giant hamburgers and all the usual movie snacks and margaritas!"

Buffy puts her hand over the phone receiver and raises both eyebrows at me. "No margaritas for you. You're only eighteen." She removes her hand. "Sorry, Giles. What now?"

"Hey! I'm turning nineteen!" I protest, plunking my hands on my hips and jutting out my lower lip. "And in some states. . . well, in the past. . . drinking age was eighteen!"

She responds by sticking her finger in her ear and continuing to talk with Giles. I plop down on the unmade bed and wonder why I even bother coming on these trips with Buffy. She always insists that I come with, and then, she's too busy to bother with me. I scowl to myself. Some things never change.

Then, I feel something against my foot. Looking down, I see Buffy's boot nudging my toe. I glance up at my big sis who's listening to Giles talk. She makes those little talk-y motions with her hand and rolls her eyes.

I give her a half-hearted smile. I'm still angry.

She covers the receiver again and whispers, "We'll go. Do we have to have reservations?"

Woot! "Really?" I say at regular volume, straightening my posture in excitement.

Nodding, she puts her finger to her lips to shush me.

I twist a little zipper over my grinning mouth. Hopping up, I let her return to her phone call. I practically dance into the sitting area of the hotel room, snag my backpack, and pat the front pouch. Got my cell. Opening the front door softly, I sneak out into the hallway. Giddy with joy, I give a little half jump and skip and whirl around.

Swallowing my excitement, I pull out my phone. I have a phone call to make, and it's not to make reservations.


"Why are you sitting way over there?"

I adjust the armrests on my seat in the second to last row in the theater, pulling the menu from the tiny table in front of me. I glance over at my sister. "'Cause we have to have lots of space if we're going to eat a meal." I pretend to study the menu carefully.

"But a whole extra seat over? You never do that." Buffy snags a menu of her own and imitates my actions.

"Well, we've never eaten dinner at the movie theater before. I wanna make sure I have enough space," I explain, scanning the food items. Ah, there it is!

Buffy impatiently taps the edge of her menu. "How long is the movie going to be? I have to meet up with Robin and Faith this evening to go over the final plan regarding keeping the hellmouth closed for the time being."

I roll my eyes. "Just two hours, Buffy. Promise you'll relax for two hours."

"Right." She sounds determined, and I start to feel sorry for my big sister. She never catches a break. "I'll do my best. What are you ordering?"

I poke my finger at the plastic-encased menu. "The blooming onion. . . and a diet Coke."

She gives me an incredulous look. "But you don't like onions. And that's not dinner."

Oh, ah, okay. Too obvious. "And a hamburger. Movies are tailor-made excuses for eating junk for dinner."

"But the onion? I'm not buying anything you won't eat at all."

"I will. Part of my Dawn-tries-everything-at-least-once-resolution."

My sister snorts. "When did you come up with that line of. . . ?"

Time to take the attention off of ole Dawnie. I pick up the pencil to fill out the order form. "What are you getting?"

"A salad."

"What? No. You are not getting a salad on my birthday!" Buffy's too thin already.

"You're getting an onion."

"Not the same thing." I start writing down my own order. "What do you really want?"

"Actually, I'm getting a burger and some of those jalapeno sticks."

"Oh. Good." I scribble down our order as the lights dim, adding one extra item with special instruction before slipping it onto Buffy's tray. Our waitress immediately descends and takes away our ticket.

The previews begin, and the food arrives more quickly than I expect. Buffy makes certain that I get the stupid onion thing in front of me, and I wrinkle my nose, knowing she can't see me in the dark. I push the offensive plate to the corner of my tiny table and focus on my burger.

"Hey!" Buffy sounds annoyed. "Did you order a beer?"

Crap. They didn't read the directions very well, did they? "Uhhh. The movie's starting. Can we fight about this later?" I whisper.

"You bet we will."

The score from the movie plays even before the actual film does, and I settle back in my seat with my burger plate in my lap, the scent of grease, meat, and mustard making my taste buds tingle. Halfway through the opening credits, I feel a hand on my back. Practically jumping out of my skin, I glare over my left shoulder only to be greeted by a familiar smile. . . one I haven't seen in ages.

"Nice to see you, too, Nibblet," Spike whispers, grazing his fingers over the hair that has fallen across my eyes. "Happy birthday."

I grin in return, keeping my voice low, "Thanks. Saved you a seat and ordered you food."

"I see that."

"She even ordered you a beer." Buffy twists in her seat, holding out the bottle to him.

Spike and I stare at her.

"You knew," I say accusingly. "It was supposed to be a surprise."

Buffy regards me coolly. "Nothing my little sister does surprises me. I know you, remember? I pay the bills. Think I didn't know you weren't talking with Spike the last month and a half?"

"Oh," I say, feeling deflated.

She shrugs in the low light from the movie screen. "'Sides, Andrew can't keep his mouth shut."

"OH!" That little. . . he said he only told me about Spike being alive!

Spike circles the end of the row and plunks down between us. "Enough of that. I've been invited to share dinner and a movie with two of my favorite women, and I intend to enjoy myself." He glances behind us at the half-full row of other moviegoers before snagging his basket of fried onion. "Plus, we're disturbing the others back behind us. There'll be time to talk after the movie."

"Spike," Buffy murmurs, touching his bare arm. "I'm so happy to see you."

"Are you?" he asks so softly that I almost can't hear him. "What about. . ."

"The Immortal?"

"Well, yeah."

"He's evil."

"Way evil," I interject before taking a sip of my diet Coke.

"Since when has that stopped either of you?" Spike jokes, but I see the relief on his face.

Buffy and I punch Spike in the arm at the same time.

"Ow," he whispers in amusement.

"Shhhhh!" someone hisses back at us.

"Right. The movie." Spike slouches down in his seat, focusing on the screen.

We watch the movie for several minutes.

Then, I hear Buffy ask, "And you?"

Spike inclines his head toward her. "What, pet?"

"Is there. . . I mean. . ."

He chuckles and gathers her hand into his. "There's no one else, Buffy."

"Good." Buffy leans her head on his shoulder and turns her hand to mold into his.

I smirk to myself and imitate Buffy's action, resting my head against Spike as I happily munch on my burger, not minding that his arm muscles twitch every now and then as he finishes his meal.

Halfway through the movie, I lean forward to put my empty plate on the tray and catch a glimpse of the couple next to me. Spike winks at me, and I return his gesture.

Then, I look at my sister.

Her eyes are closed, and she's asleep, having pushed the arm rest between her and Spike aside so that she can curl up closer to him.

Best part: she's smiling.

Mission accomplished.

Sighing contentedly, I settle back into my seat to enjoy the rest of the movie, and Spike puts his arm around me.

This has got to be the best birthday ever.

The end.

Hope you enjoyed:o)