"Have a nice day... come back soon!" The enthusiastic voice called toward the backs of two retreating customers. "I think I've gotten the hang of this," Anya said, smiling at Faith who leaned against the front counter, "Willow never ever has to come back. She can be the silent, 'your check is in the mail' manager and I can handle all the money and people." The temporary cashier beamed.
Her mouth twitching from the amusement, the brunette waitress shook her head, "I wouldn't count on Willow staying away much longer," she looked out the window as she headed toward the restroom.
A glimmer of light faded from Anya's face. "Rats!" She muttered and watched as two women entered the restaurant.
"Hey guys," Willow smiled at both girls. Tara waved and flashed a half-smile of greeting toward Faith before the waitress disappeared down the hall. The restaurant was nearly empty. A person sat here and there, but none looked up when the couple had entered. "How's business?" The redhead asked, grinning and hopeful.
"Bustling and very profitable," Anya said, coming from behind the counter and adding, "You should go away more often."
A small frown crinkled across the manager's face, "Gee, thanks. I missed you too, Anya." Tara rested her hand against her girlfriend's lower back. The gesture was one of comfort all though the blonde knew that Willow wasn't truly offended by the comment.
"Well, look who has decided to grace us with their presence, even if they did completely blow us off last night." Buffy pushed through the kitchen door, smiling.
"We didn't blow you off, we-," Willow shot a glance toward her girlfriend, "we wanted to have some time to ourselves."
"Wasn't that the point of your weekend getaway... you know, to 'get-a-way'," the cook asked and noticed a spot of red creep up Tara's neck and spread into her cheeks.
"Oh, I'm sure there was much getting," Anya chimed in, smirking. "So where'd you go. What did you do?" Her curious gaze alternated between the two.
"We went camping," Tara answered, her lips curling at the memories.
"Camping? Like with trees?" The temp grimaced, quickly losing interest.
"And bugs," Willow added with a satisfied grin. Her girlfriend stifled a laugh when the blonde stand-in nearly shuddered.
Faith returned, brushing pass to stand to the left of Buffy. "What's up?" She asked, noting Anya's unusual paleness.
"Bugs," Buffy explained with a single word. The brunette raised an eyebrow, but chose not to question further.
The door jingled, switching the groups' attention to the gang of women who streamed through the entrance. Each person wore a similar shirt with an identical team logo and from the buses being parked in the lot across the street; the girls guessed that it would be a long afternoon.
Anya rushed into her previous spot and plastered a huge smile on her face when the first customer approached the counter.
"Welcome back," Faith smirked and grabbed two aprons, handing one to each girl before following Buffy into the kitchen.
Willow knew that her mini vacation was officially over and gave her partner a brief kiss before she joined Anya behind the counter. Retrieving her pad from the apron pocket, Tara tied the string snuggly around her waist and began assisting the people further down the line.
Despite the moving heads and bodies of the afternoon crowd, Willow could see Tara from the opposite half of the room. The blonde looked sensational as she laughed with one of the members of the visiting soccer team. The player obviously admired the waitress and was enjoying her company, but Tara was unaware of the amount of attention she was getting.
"Your girlfriend?" A voice interrupted the redhead's daydream. Willow turned to see a woman smiling at her, her dark brown eyes full of friendliness. "Sorry," the stranger said, "I noticed the way you looked at her and I assumed. I'm sorry if I-." She trailed off, embarrassed.
"No, I mean, yes. No and yes," Willow managed to confuse herself as well as the woman. "No, you weren't wrong to assume and yes, she is my girlfriend." The words were uttered with pride. "So what can I get you?" She asked.
The woman, who the manager guessed was not a part of the team, ordered from the menu. "How long have you been together," she jumped back into her previous thought as she waited for her meal.
Willow hardly knew the woman, but something about her made her answer. "A few weeks," she glanced over to her right before returning her attention to the woman.
"Never waste a single moment," the woman said, unexpectedly. Her features saddened for a fraction of a second before relaxing. When her order was finished, she gave the manager a fleeting smile and left.
Bemused, Willow stared after her and then sought Tara in the corner. Clear blue looked back, intense and warm. The redhead felt a tingle of excitement settle in her stomach and she found herself blushing under the other woman's gaze.
"If you want to go ogle your girlfriend, I can handle the counter." Willow had forgotten about Anya's presence and snapped from her reverie. She knew the temp was only trying to be helpful, but declined.
Anya merely shrugged and reached for a magazine she had hidden in a slot beneath the register. No new customers had entered, but a few left, dropping tips and comments into the two small boxes at the end of the table. Until now, Willow had forgotten about the suggestion box and made a mental note to thumb through the slips of paper later.
"Hey you," the redhead blinked when cool breath swept over her cheek. "What were you thinking about?" Tara wrapped her arms around Willow's waist when the manager circled to face her.
Willow grinned, "Mm, my mind seems to be blank now."
"I can have that effect," looking very smug, Tara moved forward and rested her forehead against her partner's.
Mock retching could be heard nearby, but the couple ignored the sound effects coming from behind the latest gossip magazine.
"Let me cook for you," the blonde whispered against Willow's mouth, her lips merely an inch away, "Not tonight, but soon."
Parting her lips, Willow wet the dry surface, "This Saturday." She whimpered low, the sound vibrating in her throat, when her girlfriend released her hold and stepped back.
"It's a date," Tara smiled, broadly, and returned to work.
Willow blinked, rolling her eyes when the gagging noise started again. She looked at the magazine blocking Anya's face and thumped the cover, smiling when an audible "ouch" came from the other side.
Rubbing her nose, the fill-in employee scowled. "I swear if you two get any sappier, you'll be on the menu," she snorted, "Tara-tapioca and Willow-berry."
The manager stared at the blonde who continued to laugh and grunt at her lame attempt at joking. She chose to leave Anya chuckling on her stool and escaped into the kitchen.
"No making-out near the stove," she yelled, startling the two individuals who were no where near the stove or each other. "Just a warning," Willow shrugged.
Faith looked as if she was seconds from a heart attack and Buffy resembled someone trying her best not to strangle her best friend. Once her breathing returned, the brunette continued restocking the closet while Buffy...
"Um... what exactly are you doing again?" Willow eyed the counter, suspiciously.
"What?" Buffy asked, trying her best to reshape the mold of dough. "I saw it on that food channel."
"We pre-order, Buffy," the redhead pointed toward the supply closet and shot Faith a questioning look. The waitress shrugged, also clueless.
The cook added more flour and continued forming the soon to be bread that strangely resembled a headless duck. "I know, but I wanted to see how it would turn out. And who knows, maybe the customers will like it better."
"You want to serve... that?" The manager watched her friend pound the dough into a lopsided ball.
"Yeah. Why not?" Buffy finished the mold and set it on a baking sheet beside the rest.
"No reason," Willow formed a smile and silently grabbed a stack of napkins before disappearing in the main area.
"This is a ball, isn't it?" Buffy turned her attention toward Faith, "You'd eat it, wouldn't you?" The brunette eyeballed the oddly shaped lump of dough, opening and closing her mouth several times. She decided to stick with the silent approach and simply nodded.
"Great," the cook beamed, "you can be my taste-tester. The first batch is almost done."
The lighting hid some of the greenness on Faith's face, "Can't wait." The blonde hummed merrily and dropped another chunk of dough onto the cooking pan.
"I'm hungry," Anya's voice came through the door before her body followed. "House rules. That means employees eat free," she rubbed her stomach and leaned over Buffy's shoulder. "What the hell is that?"
"Bread," Buffy glanced back, "And you're not a full employee."
"I will be," the hungry blonde smiled, "Willow offered me a job." She ignored the horrified looks of the two women and headed toward the refrigerator. "Pretty soon I'll be running the joint and you will be working for me," she said each word while pulling items from the refrigerator.
Buffy and Faith watched, dumbfounded, as Anya made herself a sandwich.
"So be nice to me," the sandwich maker went on, "And I'll remember you when it's time to hand out raises." She left the products on the table and said "thanks" through a mouthful of bread as she left.
Eyes unfocused, Faith blinked repeatedly, "I hear Bermuda's nice this time of year."
Buffy continued looking at the spot where Anya had just been, "Yeah."
Willow glanced up from the book she'd been writing in and arched an eyebrow when she saw Tara heading down the hall toward the bathroom. "Watch the counter," she mumbled to Anya who grunted to show she understood.
The redhead strolled down the hall, her fingers walking the walls until she stopped outside the restroom door. She heard the faucet turn off through the wood and stepped back into the darkened corner beside the bathroom.
The door creaked open and Tara moved through the opening.
"Finally alone," Willow saw the blonde's shoulder's tense before quickly relaxing. The manager's tongue squeezed between her teeth when she smiled, "Did I scare you?"
Tara spun around, blushing and rolling her eyes. She whispered "no" even though they both knew she was lying. "What are you doing hiding in the dark?"
Willow giggled, "I was waiting for you." She moved from the corner, advancing. The blonde waited until her partner was closer before taking Willow's hands within her own.
"Did you want something?" Tara's eyes twinkled.
"Maybe," Willow gently pulled the blonde into her body. She pressed her mouth against firm, soft lips and pushed round fingertips into the slope of Tara's back. The couple shared several more lingering kisses before parting.
The door jingled, followed by various voices with a single likeness.
The two women hurried to the front of the restaurant where Anya stood, poised to attack. A swarm of small bodies trotted around the counter, laughing and chasing one another. Their chaperon looked two stones from death as she held onto two boys by their hands.
"It's great to be back," Willow said, sighing. A smile graced her lips while she moved into the mass of children.
"Absolutely," Tara smiled as well and joined the redhead.