Chapter 26: A Normal Date?

Challenge: partially to answer a forum request/challenge by DeepBlueJoy for a story with a 'person of color' as a main character – who doesn't die immediately.

Warning: cheesy pun at the end.

Thanks to my betas: zigpal, AshDawnSoulmates and AerynSpeedleCaine.

Disclaimer: BtVS and AtS characters belong to Joss Whedon / Mutant Enemy. I claim no rights to any copyrighted material. Please do not copy or take this story without my permission.

Magic Box

As soon as Buffy's training session was over and Wes left the back room, Robin let himself in so he could ask her out on a date. While he worked up his nerve, he started with an easier question, "How are you feeling?"

"Like I've been shot," she quipped with a smile. "Actually, it's not so bad now. Thank goodness for Slayer healing!" She caught a glimpse of the determined look in his eye and asked, "What's up?"

He cleared his throat, then dove in. "I was wondering if you'd like to have dinner with me tonight…maybe catch a movie afterwards?"

If he hadn't been nervous, he would have thought her scrunched up nose was adorable. Okay, so even though he was nervous, it still was adorable. "What…you mean like a date or something?"

"Not 'like a date', an actual date," Robin corrected, not wanted there to be any misunderstandings. He was rewarded with the sight of her blushing. At least he assumed it was a blush because her face wasn't red before he said that.

Then she bit her lower lip and ducked her head as she thought for a couple more seconds. "Sure, that sounds nice," Buffy finally answered when she lifted her head again. "I haven't been on a date in forever and you're a nice guy who's good looking and I have to remember that not all males are like…him."

It might not have been the gushing acceptance that Robin had hoped for, but it also wasn't a refusal. And to be fair, after what she went through in the last week, he wouldn't have blamed her if she had refused. He'd have to remind himself not to push her too hard while not treating her like she was made of glass either. It was a fine line he had to walk, but something told him she was worth the effort.

"I'll pick you up about seven, then?" he asked. When she nodded, he left to go make plans for their evening. As he passed Bernie in the store, the older man just smirked at the grin on his adoptive son's face.

That evening…

"So where are we going?" Buffy asked for the third time.

Robin rolled his eyes at her before turning his attention back on the road. "I told you, it's a surprise."

"How much longer is it?" she asked again, this time there was a definite gleam in her eyes that told him she was playing with him.

He just chuckled and said, "As long as it takes."

"You know I have a curfew, right?" she tried to say with a straight face, almost succeeding.

"Your friends told me you like seafood. They weren't kidding, were they?" Robin asked, hoping that they hadn't played a trick on him.

"Nope, seafood is of the good," she confirmed. "So where are we going?"

A few minutes later, they pulled up to the most unusual building Buffy had ever seen. It was round and looked like…well, she wasn't sure which planet, but she could swear it was a planet.

"Reservation for Wood," Robin informed the maître d' when they walked inside.

The man looked at the couple, then asked, "Would you like a heated booth or non-heated?"

Since it was already a slightly warm seventy-five in the room, Robin quickly replied, "Non-heated." To Buffy, he murmured, "What an odd choice."

She looked distracted, though.

It obviously was a themed restaurant based on a description of Venus – or as close to Venus as one could get on Earth without killing its patrons. It was some of the staff and a majority of the patrons that had Buffy on edge, however. She turned to glare at Robin. "Did you pick this place on purpose?"

"What do you mean?" he replied innocently before understanding set in, "Oh, you don't like the theme? I know it's out there – no pun intended – but this is really supposed to have great seafood."

Her glare just intensified. "Are you kidding?" She lowered her voice and hissed at him, "You mean you honestly don't know this is a demon restaurant?"

His look of shock was genuine. "Oh shit!" Robin immediately started looking around for danger. Yeah, it should have occurred to him earlier, but he had seen a similar place in New York and that one had been run by humans…right? Now he wasn't so sure about that.

"Buffy!" a voice interrupted their conversation. Thankfully, it was a friendly voice.

"Clem?" Buffy answered. "What's going on here?" she demanded of the new 'person'. Robin's mind immediately flashed to the first time he met a neutral demon when he saw Clem. He looked a lot like Jacques, in fact.

"This isn't a place that you have to worry yourself about, Buffy," Clem hurriedly assured her, glancing around at the other patrons nervously. He pulled her aside to explain, "There's a place in LA that serves both humans and demons, but requires peaceful interaction, so they have a spell that doesn't allow violence in the building. A few of us liked the idea so much that we wanted to do the same thing here. With the alien theme, we can even mingle with humans without them freaking out."

She took one look at his wrinkled face and saw the pleading red-tinged puppy stare he was giving her. "You promise me that nothing evil is going on here?" she asked.

"Aside from the normal restaurant pricing?" Clem tried to joke. He held up one of his hands/claws/whatever and vowed, "May I never eat another kitten if I'm lying."

"Okay," Buffy said, visibly relaxing her body for everyone to see. She wasn't under any delusion that the non-humans in the room hadn't heard at least some of their conversation. Most likely they also had a clue about who/what she was. The relieved faces on those patrons proved she was right.

"And hey, if you like the place, maybe I can ask for the official Slayer endorsement?" Clem asked hopefully. "The neutrals would like to know that they wouldn't get slayed coming here and the evils might think twice about attacking us for mingling with the humans if they thought it would anger you."

"I'll think about it," Buffy replied noncommittally. 'So much for a normal date,' she thought. 'Oh well, it's probably as normal as I can hope for.'

Once they got over the fact the people in costumes were really demons – at least most of them were – Robin and Buffy actually started to enjoy their date. The food was incredible and when the entertainment began, Buffy leaned over to whisper to Robin between giggles, "Here I hoped I wouldn't have to deal with a band of demons on our date tonight."

He shook his head at the awful pun she made about the musical group onstage. Band of demons!

A/N: Thanks to djhardim for the idea of a demon band.

Found the restaurant idea when I looked up unusual-themed restaurants. I changed it a little for the story. This is what the article had to say:

Life on Mars

Restaurant: Mars 2112, Times Square, New York City

Culinary Concept: Earthling eats. NASA predicted by 2112 we'd be making commercial flights to Mars. Why wait for the airfare wars when you can pay a visit right in New York's Times Square? Upon arrival, friendly Martians guide hungry earthlings into the hot, dry, red planet, where they can dine on the Martian Seafood Platter — exotic ocean shellfish, squid, shrimp, mussels with a spicy seafood sauce.

Next…A nice shock for everyone.