She walked into a bar ...

by Adrian Tullberg.

Buffy looked at her watch, slowly strumming her fingers in the methodical manner that only the truely pissed off could achieve.

If getting stood up was the outcome, she was never, ever letting Willow set her up on an Internet-arranged date again.

The Slayer got up. A quick trip to the little girl's room, then she was gone.

Of course, given how this evening was going, it was pretty much predestined that she'd walk straight into someone spilling their drink all over their suit.

"Oh! Oh God ... sorry ... sorry ..." Buffy frantically grabbed a napkin from an unoccupied table and started blotting down the spill.

The guy stood still, arms outstretched. "Don't worry about it. It's only club soda."

Buffy looked up at the guy's face. Old - craggy looking. Italian? Deep set eyes. Black slicked back hair.

She gave an apologetic smile. "This just isn't my night."

"Someone stood you up?"

"How did ..."

He gestured to one of her better dresses. "You're all dressed up, but you're not going anywhere."

"Yeah." Buffy pushed back a stray hair. "Can I buy you a drink to replace the one you're wearing? That is, if someone's not ..."

"Someone I was supposed to meet didn't show either."

Buffy and the guy moved towards the bar. Old - roughly around Giles' age. But after you've dated a centuries old vampire, age didn't matter too much.

Something about his face was pretty familiar. Had she seen him before?

She held out her hand. "Buffy Summers."

The guy took it, with a formal shake. "Frank Castle."