War Story

Author: Doyle

Pairing: Buffy/Wesley

Rating: PG-13

Summary: A slayer and an ex-watcher meet up in a bar.

Disclaimer: all belongs to Joss


So a vampire slayer walks into a bar. Stop me if you've heard this one.

This was last summer; August fifteenth. I remember the date cause Julie - that's my wife, pretty gal, here's her picture - she was off visiting her mom in that World Without Shrimp place. Wanted me to go with, but my assistant back then was a lazy schmuck of a Chirago demon who I fired that week. Caught him with his tentacle in the cash register, and no time to interview somebody new, so I had to stay behind and tend the bar myself. Truth be told, I was glad, and you ever met my missus's mother, you'd understand.

So, there was just me working that night. Business had been pretty good; big non-human population that summer, more than usual, don't ask me why. Then about midnight, this girl walked through that very door. Cute little human, blonde and tiny, looking bold as you please as she strode up to the bar and sat herself down. Ordered a beer. She were anybody else I'd'a either asked for ID or advised her to run like hell, but I poured her a Heineken and said, "don't want any trouble, Slayer."

Well, she looked kind of taken aback by that, asked if we'd ever met before. "Nope," I said, "but my cousin runs a place over in Sunnydale. He's mentioned you a time or two." Mentioned her, yeah. He also circulated this flyer with her picture and vital stats to every demon bar in California, but I didn't think she'd take kindly to that info.

She smiled, then, and the girl had a helluva pretty smile. "You're Willy's cousin?" she asked.

"To my lasting regret," I said, and I was starting to feel kinda warm towards this kid. Hell, she never asked to be the Slayer, did she? She even apologized for scaring off the customers, 'cause they were scurrying for the exit like roaches.

Like I said, sweet kid.

"Nah," I said, "Saturday nights're always slow." And I poured her another beer, no charge.

Rule one of being a decent bartender: listening to the customers. Vampire, demon, human, they all got problems, and all they need's a friendly ear to bend. This girl, super-powered and all, was no different. I figured she'd had her heart broken. She put Patsy Cline on the jukebox, and that's always a sign that some guy had hurt her bad.

"I'm supposed to show my sister the world," she told me as she worked her way through her third drink, "and I can barely show her the beach. She's staying with my dad, and she still thinks he's this great, amazing guy, and I can't watch the Dad-and-Dawnie show anymore because I know none of it's real and..." She stopped talking, then, because one of my regulars sat down at the bar, and the girl kind of did a double-take.

"Usual, Harry," he said (you'll forgive me if I don't attempt his accent, but he was English, and I imagine he still is), and I poured a double whiskey and relieved him of his money.

Mr. Pryce'd been a customer for a couple of months. Human, but tough enough to handle himself. Didn't talk much, drunk plenty, always paid his bar tab. A saint. Always looked kind of stonefaced, till that night when he looked round and saw Buffy, and then he looked poleaxed.

"Wesley?" she said, like she couldn't believe what she was seeing. "God, what happened to your throat?"

He cleared said throat, and fingered the ugly-ass scar there and said it was a long story. Universal code for not wanting to talk about it. Me, I reckon some jealous husband came at him with a switchblade.

Rule two of being a decent bartender is knowing when to back off, especially when you can feel the history and the sexual tension between a couple like these two had. I went to clean the other end of the bar, but I kept one ear listening to what they were saying. Seemed to be nothing important; talk about how was he and how was she and how was everybody else they'd ever met, and he asked what'd been going down in her life, and she said nothing much, Sunnydale was as boring as always. And the pair of them laughed fit to burst, like they'd been needing to do it for a long time.

When that girl laughed, really laughed, she was the prettiest thing I'd ever seen. Mr. Pryce, too, he looked ten years younger.

Rule three of being a decent bartender is keeping your mouth shut. It was clear as G'rashni blood that there was something big not being said. Maybe a lot of somethings. So many elephants in the room, there was barely room for the three of us. Buffy mentioned an angel or something, and then changed the subject because the silence got too uncomfortable. I kept quiet and served the drinks.

Right before closing, they paid for the last round of drinks and left together.

I locked everything up tight, walked outside, and there the two of them were, not ten feet from the door. Pryce with his back to the wall and his arms round the Slayer, the pair of them kissing each other like it was life or death. They didn't see me - way too wrapped in each other for that, even if their eyes'd been open. I stood and watched 'em for a second. Cute couple.

Then I went home and called Julie and told her I was shutting the bar for a week to come out and join her. When I got back, things were as normal. Pryce still came by most nights, staring into his whiskey and keeping to himself, but I never did see Buffy again.


No, that's it.

Hey, you wanted a story about the Slayer, kid. What'd you expect, ass-whuppin' and quips? Yeah, I get that, but listen: the two people who sat at my bar were lost as I've ever seen. And the two people clinging on to each other in that alley were... I don't know. Found. Even if it was just for a coupla minutes, they found each other. Testament to the power of love, etcetera.

Sorry. I know you wanted a war story. I'm a sucker for romance, is all.

Buy you another drink?


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