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Sallie isn't nervous. There's no reason to be nervous - she has hosted plenty of dinners for plenty of people before. Maybe it's because this is the first one that she has run in a new kitchen in her new apartment in her new position as Barman. She compensates by cooking. A lot. If Charlie comments on it, she'll say that she's making it to put out for the Bound patrons for the holiday.

By the time Charlie knocks on the door, the table is set and Sallie has finally pieced together the stereo she borrowed from the Bar so there could be some music going on while they ate. Sallie flutters around and talks to Charlie while setting out the roast - even manages to tell a joke or two when they come to her. Conversation turns at one point to the music Sallie chose - piano-qin duets that she prefers - and eventually it occurs to her that maybe she should get her pie out of the oven where it had been staying warm.

Eventually, Sallie throws her napkin up on the table in defeat. "I can't eat another bit! Thank you for coming - I hope everything turned out well for you."

Sallie and Charlie talk a little bit about Malcolm and Inara coming to Shadow the next day for Christmas before Charlie stands to excuse himself, taking some of the food he probably guessed had been cooked just in case he wanted it back out to the bar on Sallie's behalf. Sallie opens the door and kisses him on the cheek lightly before he turns to leave.

Good day.
_________________

It doesn't feel like another planet. Or even another time. It could be a ranch house in the Mountain West, for all he knows. One that is just a little on the high tech side of things. He bets that Bruce Wayne has more gadgets than Sallie. So it feels oddly comfortable.

The evening is pleasant. More than pleasant. It's like being with family. Which would mean being with Professor Rodor and Renee and Richard. He never got to spend a proper Christmas with Renee, what with all that morphine in his dying body. He wonders what she'd make of this. He wonders if she's met Sallie yet.

He also wonders what might have been if he'd met Sallie when she really was young. There is something in her firm gentleness that reminds him of Myra. He thinks of Myra for a second, and when he smiles, Sallie catches it and he decides to tell her about his one great love. Charlie is very grateful that memories of Myra are not lost.

After dinner - after a meal where he's stuffed himself more than he has in about twelve years - Sallie and Charlie probe the pieces of his memory that are gone. He can't remember more than six members of the JLA, or the members of President Luthor's Cabinet. He knows all the presidents, the Ten Commandments, and the ingredients of every health shake he ever made. He doesn't recall many of the things Natalie Teeger told him about her life, but remembers training her and kissing her. The conclusion of the discussion? The gaps are random. Sallie suggests he talk with one of the Bar's doctors, and recommends an associate of her son's named Tam.

He's a bit disappointed that he didn't get to meet Malcolm and Inara, though he can't help comment about how much Malcolm looks like Bill Pardy. Sallie admits that her son seems to have a common face. Charlie makes plans to introduce himself to Malcolm, though he isn't sure Malcolm will like him. He's not sure why, though, and keeps that to himself.

At night's end, the food gone and the fireplace burning down, Charlie thanks his hostess, accepts her leftovers and her kiss, and offer a small bow. "Thanks for inviting a lost soul into your home." He doesn't quite know why he puts it that way, but after the past week of being lost in thought, it seems apt.

April 2010

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