Title: In From the Rain
Author: Jinni (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Disclaimer: All things BtVS belong to Joss Whedon, et al. All things SPN belong to Eric Kripke, et al.
Notes: For , Team: Roadhouse, Week #1: Weather
Notes2: A side story in the ‘Bitch Verse.
His plane had been delayed, the rental car agency had taken forever
to locate his reservation, and by the time Xander made it to the little country town in the middle of Godforsaken nowhere, it was dark and much too late to go knocking on the door of the newbie slayer that Willow had sent him to talk to. With Willow off with Dean and Sam, Buffy in Europe with Dawn and Giles, and Faith needed to watch over the Hellmouth, it was pretty much his duty to go try to assimilate more girls into their fold. Xander frowned. That sounded kind of dirty. Okay, so there’d be no assimilating anyone into any kind of fold. No folding at all. Uh uh.
With a sigh, Xander checked into the first motel he found (well, second
- the first had looked like the kind of place where he’d catch something if he just walked through the door), and set out in search of food.
Like most little backwater ‘burbs, though, this one seemed to shut down once the sun set. The only diner that he could find had already closed for the evening and there weren’t even any establishments of the drive-thru variety that he could grace. It was pouring down rain and the thought of driving however many miles it would take to get to the next town large enough to buy a Big Mac in made Xander’s head hurt
. He was just about to give up, say to hell with eating until the next morning, and go to bed, when he saw the flickering neon sign of what had to be the one and only bar in town.
Well, if he was lucky he could get some peanuts or pretzels, have a couple of beers, and just try to forget about the misery of a storm that was raging outside. Seriously? It was just his luck that the one weekend he had time to fly down here and do this was also the weekend that the town got hit by a flood. Or, you know, a couple inches of rain. It felt
like a flood, and that was what mattered.
The rain soaked through his shirt and slicked down his hair in the less than thirty seconds it took for him to jog from the car into the bar, and Xander wondered if it was possible to get anymore miserable than what he was already feeling. Looking around the bar, it was clear to see that either this town didn’t do the whole night life thing or, maybe, no one was out because of the rain. He couldn’t say that he blamed them for that one. Willow was so
gonna owe him for this. She could have taken a break from her merry little road trip with her boyfriends to come talk to this girl. But, nooooo, she was too busy.
Xander didn’t even want to think about what exactly she was busy doing. Hard enough to wrap his mind around the fact that his bestest bud once again enjoyed driving stick, harder still to think about her with two
boyfriends at the same time. Who, oh yeah, happened to be brothers
. He had to hand it to her, when Willow switched teams, she did it in style
There was no one in the bar save for a drunk in the corner and the girl behind the counter. She barely looked old enough to be working in a place like this, but as he approached the counter he could see something in the way that she watched him – wary-like – that made her seem a little older. She was a survivor of something
. Probably not the kind of stuff that he was used to dealing with, but a survivor nonetheless.
“Whatever you have on tap,” he told her with a half-smile, flipping open his wallet to show her his ID. She barely glanced at it, nodding to herself as she reached for a clean glass. Did he look that old? Or did the eye patch just give that illusion?
There was a little menu on the counter, and Xander assumed that meant there was a cook somewhere in the back. Either that or the bartender also doubled as a grease-slinger in between serving drinks.
The beer was cold and he sipped at it, fighting back the grimace that naturally came to his lips. It wasn’t that he didn’t like
… okay, actually that was it exactly. He didn’t like beer. But he liked hard liquor even worse and he wasn’t going to be a complete pansy and order a soda in a bar
. Not when there was a pretty female bartender behind the counter.
Her hair was pulled back in a ponytail, face clean of all that makeup that so many girls these days were wearing. The uniform of the bar consisted of a tight baby doll t-shirt and a pair of jeans and, damn, he really was hanging out with the slayers too much if he could tell that it was a baby doll
t-shirt. Xander rolled his eye, silently toasted his decaying masculinity, and took another sip of the beer as he reached for the menu. Cold sandwiches and French fries or onion rings. Hot wings. Not much to choose from, but he wasn’t going to be picky.
“Uh, miss, can I --?”
His phone rang and Xander sighed, fishing it out of his pocket. The display said ‘Willow’.
“Hey, Willow oh pal of mine,” he greeted without waiting for her to speak. “Can I just say how much I love you for sending me on this trip to the back end of nowhere during fricking monsoon season
The bartender snorted, covering it with a cough. He gave her a lopsided grin and listened as Willow started to ramble about the job she’d just finished up with Sam and Dean. Something big and bad and –
“You got hurt?!?” he yelped, too loud, drawing another look from the bartender, who raised her eyebrows with curious concern. He mouthed ‘sorry’ at her and tried to listen to the breathless explanation Willow was trying to offer him, only half-listening as one question nagged at the front of his mind.
“Will… okay, okay… where the hell were Sam and Dean while you were getting slashed or whatever… no, I don’t care that you only had to have two stitches. They’re supposed to be taking care of my Willow-friend.”
The bartender wasn’t even trying to act like she wasn’t listening in on the conversation now. The rag that she’d been using to wipe down the bar top was forgotten in her hand, and Xander could feel her eyes on the side of his head. When he turned, she was looking at him with something sort of like shock.
“Oh? Dean got hurt, too?” Xander asked, waiting for confirmation. “Well, okay, that makes it better. No, I’m not happy he got hurt. You know that.” He rolled his eye. “I just… you’re out there with them and you’re… you know… doing that thing that we do,” he chose his words carefully, not wanting to clue the bartender in on how weird exactly his life was, “and we worry about you… yeah, well, they better
be protecting you. I’ll send Faith to kick their asses… uh huh…uh huh… Okay. I’ll call you tomorrow.”
Xander shut off the phone, glaring at it. Really, it didn’t sound like there was anything that Sam or Dean could have done to keep Willow any safer than what she’d been. And, yeah, he knew that they would protect her to their last breath. It was just… she wasn’t supposed to be out there, on her own, doing this stuff. It made him worry. He looked down at the menu, lost in thought, and barely noticed when the bartender came up directly in front of him, leaning her elbows on the bar.
“I’m going to just assume that you know the Winchesters,” she said without preamble. “Since I don’t know any other ‘Sam and Dean’ matched set, and since it sounded like a hunting accident.”
Okay. Not only was she straight forward, which was sort of hot when she leaned over the bar and murmured like that, but she knew Willow’s boys?
Not to mention the whoa
on not having to play dumb about the hunting.
“That’d be them,” Xander gave her a genuine smile. “My friend Willow dating…them.”
And she must have heard him wrong, because the next question out of her mouth was, “Which one?”
“Both,” Xander answered automatically.
One eyebrow arched upwards. “Really?”
“Yeah,” Xander nodded. “And if we could not
talk about that, thanks. I’m still trying to wrap my head around the whole ‘Willow has two boyfriends’ thing.”
There was a sad little smile on her face that Xander couldn’t place until she spoke again.
“Dean got hurt? Is he okay?”
Ah, how well he knew the longing of someone carrying a torch that had long since burned out. He gave her what he hoped was a sympathetic-but-not-mocking smile. “Yeah, he’ll be fine. Took a hit to the head, but if you know Dean then you know that his head is hard enough to take a kicking and keep on ticking.”
She laughed and shook her head. “Good to hear. Momma would be upset if she heard those boys had gotten into trouble. I’m Jo, by the way.”
Wait…wait. Okay, that name sounded familiar. “I think they mentioned you once or twice. Your mom has a bar for hunters, right?”
Jo nodded, going back to wiping down the bar. “Sure does.” She cocked her head at the menu he’d been looking at. “You want anything off of that?”
He did. More than that, he wanted to keep her talking, find out some dirt on Dean that he could use as ammo in their ongoing war.
Thank god for such a small world.