Fandoms: BtVS; Supernatural
Timeline: Post-Chosen for BtVS; Post-Born Under a Bad Sign for Supernatural
Disclaimer: I do not own BtVS or Supernatural. They belong to Whedon and Kripke.
Notes: Added as part of the Tales from the Barman round robin at TTH. This does not intersect with any other other chapters, just know that Xander owns a bar and various characters from other fandoms tend to stop by and usually leave something behind. The title and the wording in the manip come from the song The Dance by Garth Brooks.
Crossposted: Twisting the Hellmouth; Supernaturally Twisted; sn_crossovers
Artwork is part of the Supernaturally Twisted collection and the Artistic Collections series.
Xander looked up from cleaning the counter top as the door opened to reveal a tall, shaggy haired man walking inside. Years of watching those around him, told Xander many things about the new patron. The man was probably a few years younger than himself. The baggy, layered clothing either hid an overweight physique or a well honed one. Judging by the way the man took in every aspect of his surroundings, the second seemed more plausible. This man, despite the boy-next-door appearance, was a fighter, a hunter and not someone to be tangled with. It was his eyes that sealed the deal for Xander. The darkness, anger and hurt that swirled within them spoke volumes.
“What can I get yah?” Xander had worked at perfecting his bar-speak, but he could probably stand for some more practice.
Although the man seemed very attentive to his surroundings, he still appeared startled at the sound of Xander’s voice. “Uh…” the guy paused as if unsure he should be drinking anything before responding, “just a beer.”
Xander gave him a slight smile, “Sure thing.”
A few more minutes of silence passed at the bar and the guy starting nursing the beer while Xander tried to busy himself. However, the silence of the “in between lunch and dinner hours” was weighing on him. Xander noticed as he slipped something out of his wallet, unfolded it and rubbed his thumb over it as he continued drinking the beer.
Finally tired of the silence, and somewhat curious, Xander spit out the best opening he could think of, “So, you from around here?”
The guy looked up and Xander saw a deep burning inside his eyes, but what was burning, he couldn’t begin to guess. “Nah, just passing through.”
Xander wondered if that would be all the response he would get. Sometimes it was hard to get total strangers to open up, especially when they looked as troubled as this guy.
After another few minutes passed, Xander was startled when he finally spoke up with a reflective sounding voice. “It’s hard you know.”
Xander decided he could play the game, “What’s hard?’
“Losing someone,” the guy took another sip and tossed the item from his hand down on the counter. “When they’re there, you just take them for granted and then you turn around and they’re gone. Poof.”
Xander listened as he gave a manic sort of chuckle, “I didn’t even get to say goodbye, you know. It’s been almost a year and a half and except for a few pictures it’s like she never existed except in my mind.”
Xander looked down at the worn picture of the smiling blond girl. “She was pretty. What was her name?”
“Jess,” he paused looking down at the picture with a slight smile tugging on his lips. “That picture was taken just a few days before the… before she died. We were at a Halloween party actually. She went as a nurse.”
Xander gave the patron a smile, then came to a decision and reached into his own wallet to pull out a worn picture to hand to the guy. “That was Anya. That was taken at Halloween a few years before she died. Rabbits scared her.”
The guy looked down at the picture and smiled slightly, “How long ago did you lose her?”
“It’ll be four years in May, but it seems like yesterday.” Silence greeted them both as they stared at each others mementos of a not so distant past.
“I’m Xander by the way,” Xander finally had to break the silence before he had a breakdown. Breakdowns, he told himself, were bad.
“Sam,” the other man said as he reached out for a handshake, all too quick to welcome the distraction.
“Well Sam, I’m not really supposed to drink on the job, but…” he turned to pour enough beer for one swig in an empty mug, “here’s to Jess and Anya, may they never be forgotten.”
Sam clinked his mug with Xander’s as he added, “May they be at peace.”
Xander tucked his used mug with the remaining lunch dishes and then poured Sam another round. Sam meanwhile was studying the various objects and photos hanging on the wall behind the bar.
“Interesting wall. Where’d yah get all those things?” Sam asked, his eye lingering on the antique sword in particular.
“People that stopped by for drinks. Some stayed longer than others, but they all left a little something behind.”
“It’s a very diverse collection…” but Sam was cut off from commenting any further as the door open and shut with a bang that caused both of them to jump.
They turned to see who came in and both seemed to reach for something hidden from the others view; in Sam’s case, the gun at the small of his back and in Xander’s, the loaded crossbow under the counter. Upon seeing the relief in Sam’s eyes at the newcomer, Xander prepared to stand down. Hopefully this guy would stay in the non-threat category, although, he did seem vaguely familiar.
“Sammy! I’ve been lookin’ all over for your ass.” Xander watched Sam glare at the older man, brother perhaps, as he walked up to the bar, grabbed the near empty beer mug and swigged down the last of it. He looked up at Xander and said with a sincere smile, “Good stuff man.”
“Thanks,” Xander left the last half of ‘I think’ off and kept a smile on his face. Sam was still glaring at the new guy.
“Dean,” Sam’s tone was one of exasperation and well rehearsed, “I told you I would be here. It’s not like I’m planning on takin’ off anytime soon.”
Dean just gave Sam a pointed look as if to say, ‘It wouldn’t be the first time,’ before speaking up again. “Yeah, well I got a call from Bobby.”
Xander had busied himself wiping some glasses behind the counter, but he was still keeping his good eye on the two. It was amazing to see how quick Sam’s demeanor changed from the brooding, emotional man of just a moment ago to an alert and slightly nervous hunter. Xander wondered jokingly if he had an on/off switch somewhere.
Sam didn’t appear to have anything to say, so Dean continued, “He said some of our coworkers are looking for us. Said they just want to talk, but…” Dean trailed off as if Sam would understand the rest. Apparently, he did.
“Let me pay and we can get out of here,” he started to reach in his wallet for some cash.
Xander held up his hand, “Consider this one on the house. It was a drink to remember.”
Xander watched as the contemplative but slightly less broody smile graced Sam’s face while a suspicious, questioning look overtook Dean’s.
Sam stood to leave and then looked down at the picture of the girl in the bunny suit he was still holding then to the counter where the picture of Jess lay. He seemed torn for a moment.
“Dude,” Dean all but shouted from the door he had already reached, “you coming or not?”
“Yeah, just…” Sam turned to look at Xander. “Can you hang on to that for me?”
Sam’s face looked so unsure that Xander was hesitant to keep the obviously treasured photograph. “Only if you can hang on to mine for me. She would probably like to see new places.”
Sam glanced between both pictures again, “Jess wanted to settle down someplace.”
With that, he turned and followed Dean out the door. Xander picked up the picture of Jess and went in search of a proper frame to hang the picture on the wall.
Two days later when a group of three tough guys walked in asking about two brothers by the names of Dean and Sam Winchester, Xander told them after they bought a few beers that he had never met anyone by the name of Winchester. He took the number they gave him and promised to call if he heard anything of them. However, he lost the number a short time later.
A week after that, some FBI agents came in asking if he had seen either a Dean or Sam Winchester. He told them no but took a copy of the wanted poster, promising to hang it in the bar. However, some things just weren’t meant to be hung.