Buffy stood before Pershing Daisies nursery, newspaper in one hand, résumé in the other. She took a deep breath, squared her shoulders, and marched forward with a determined step. A few feet from the front door, she stopped, panic-stricken. Her head filled itself with every negative thing anyone had ever said about her professional abilities. What if they were all true?
What if Robin and Willow and Spike and everyone she'd worked with at Doublemeat Palace were right? What if she really was stupid, disorganized and generally incompetent? What if all the encouragement she'd gotten from the gang lately was empty words?
Her shoulders slumped. Her brow furrowed with worry. She sighed.
"Who am I kidding? Slaying's all I'm really good at," she muttered under her breath. "And that's not exactly going to make me rich."
Looking down at her feet, she turned to go. Almost immediately, she collided with something solid.
"Oof!" the something solid exclaimed as it went down.
On second look, the something solid turned out to be a good-looking young man with dark hair and blue eyes.
"Oh! Oh, I'm so sorry," Buffy said as she helped him up, dropping her résumé and newspaper. "I didn't see you there. Are you okay?"
"Yeah," he assured her with a small laugh. "I think I'll live." He grabbed Buffy's hand to stop her dusting him off. "Wait a minute, don't I know you? You've been here before, haven't you?"
"Um, yeah. A couple times."
He thought for a minute, then let go of her hand, snapped his fingers and smiled broadly.
"You're the Sunnydale girl from the commune, aren't you? Lessa said you worked with her in cabbages and beets. Um... Betty?"
"Buffy. Summers. And not out at the commune anymore. We've settled in town. Not the whole commune. Just us Sunnydale refugees."
When she held out her hand, he took it in a firm handshake.
"Hello, Buffy. I'm Brad Connelly."
"Hi, Brad. It's nice to meet you."
"So are you looking for some plants to pretty up the garden? A birdbath? A couple gnomes?"
"A job," she blurted out. "I... sorta need a job."
Brad looked her over quickly.
"Have you ever worked a cash register before?"
"Yeah." She fumbled on the ground for her résumé. "I worked sometimes at my friend Giles' store, and then there was my fabulous career in fast food..."
Brad stopped her.
"Okay. That's good. And if Deborah let you work in the gardens at the commune, you must have had some ability with plants. They don't let just anyone mess with their beets."
"I still don't know much about it, but I found out I sorta like plants. It's nice to help things live."
Brad smiled again.
"Well, Buffy, maybe you can help make our plants live for a while. Come on," he said, gesturing for her to follow him inside. "I'll introduce you to Lyle and Daisy."
"Lyle and Daisy?" she asked, walking after him.
"Well, it'd probably be a good idea for you to meet your new bosses."
She stopped dead in her tracks.
"Bosses? Really? You mean I got the job?"
"Not until Lyle says you've got it. But I think I could sway Daisy, and when Daisy is swayed, Lyle usually is, too."
"And you're sure you can sway Daisy?"
He turned and grinned widely at her.
"Just remember, her dogs are called Primrose and Poppy, and if you're nice to them, she'll be nice to you. Come on. Let's go talk to them."
"The dogs or the bosses?"
"I think you're going to fit right in, Buffy. I like you."
She blushed and smiled. He blinked slightly, then seemed to gather himself together. He led her into the shop.