BAD OL’ PUTTY-TAT
DISCLAIMER: I don’t own BTVS or Wonderfalls and make no profit from this.
AUTHOR’S NOTE: Xander and Faith make yet another stop on their ‘magical mystery tour.’ As usual, if you have any comments or preferences, please don’t be shy. RandR.
The bar was better quality than some he’d been in. The barkeep was friendly, and the waitress was easy on the eyes. It didn’t really help his situation, but it didn’t hurt. He looked around. Speaking of ‘easy on the eyes…’
Faith was at the bar, waiting for the news. It was his turn to check, but by the looks of her, she had already guessed.
There was no point in putting off the bad news. “Faith?”
“We’re still not home.”
“Guessed as much.”
Xander took the stool to her right and ordered a beer. It had become habit, keeping his ‘blind side’ to her so he could keep his remaining eye on their surroundings. Faith was touched at the trust it showed, knowing that there had been a time when he would have hesitated to be alone in the same room with her. Neither of them commented on it. “Close, but no cigar. No Council, no Slayers, no demons. It’s what most people back home think the world is.” After a brief pause, he added, “I wouldn’t mind living here.”
“I’d get bored,” Faith replied. “So would you.”
Faith shrugged and turned back to her drink. “I’m sick of this,” she muttered. “I wanna go home.” She’d lost count of the different worlds they had passed through. Some of their ‘jobs’ had been little more than clean up, for which she’d been grateful. She suppressed a shuddered at the memory of the two-story house stomping down the street chasing those kids.
“So do I, but it doesn’t look like this is gonna be our last stop.” Further conversation was curtailed by the arrival of a thin, rather pretty, and very irritated brunette.
“Stupid lion,” she muttered taking the stool next to him. “Can’t believe I had to do that!”
Xander’s head perked up at the words. Lion?
He watched her out of the corner of his eye.
“Beer me,” she told the scruffy looking bartender, who smiled and started to turn away. Then he stopped and stared at her chest. She gave him a look.
“Is that blood?” he asked quickly, apparently fearful of having his gaze misinterpreted.
“Yeah, but don’t worry. It’s not mine, and I didn’t hurt anybody. This time,” she added in an undertone. “Stupid lion.”
“Do I wanna know?”
The young woman gave the bartender a long-suffering sigh. “Read about it in the paper tomorrow. I’ll probably get,” she shuddered with a revulsion that Xander didn’t think was entirely feigned, “a citizen’s commendation out of this.”
“Least you didn’t get arrested,” the bartender consoled, placing the beer in front of her. “You didn’t, did you?”
“No. Stupid lion.”
“Bad ol’ putty-tat,” Faith agreed, nodding sagely. Xander wondered how many beers she’d already had. The woman with lion trouble glanced over at them.
Xander opened his mouth to interrupt, but Faith leaned past him and Xander got a whiff of her breath. Drunk Slayer. Very bad. “You ain’t the only one with lion problems. We was s’posed to be home by now, but that big housecat ‘s got us jumpin’ all o’er.”
“You too? I thought I was the only one he bugged.”
Faith shook her head, and Xander repressed a sigh, not wanting to make a potentially bad situation worse by aggravating his traveling companion. He glanced pleadingly at the bartender, but the man eyed the two women, one drunk, and one working hard toward that state, and shook his head. He clearly didn’t want to get involved.
“Cryptic bastard. Never comes out and says what he means. He just sets things in motion and watches us struggle.”
“That’s him, alright,” the other woman nodded. “How’d you meet him, though?”
“Just met him the once,” Faith admitted. “He popped up, gave us bad directions, and vanished.”
“Really?” Her tone was curious rather than incredulous, and for some reason, she glanced at her purse.
Xander sighed. “We think he comes and goes as he pleases. All we know is that every time we try to get home we wind up somewhere even weirder.”
“If this place is weird,” the bartender put in, “your standards can’t be that high.”
“This seems to be the exception,” Xander admitted. “No one has even tried to kill us yet.” The brunette and the bartender traded worried looks.
“I wanna go home,” Faith declared, her voice coming dangerously close to a whine. Her drinking buddy gave her a sympathetic look and started to speak. Then, she broke off and looked at a spot on the wall. Glared at it actually. Xander followed her glare and found himself looking at a stuffed fish.
“I live in a soup can,” she protested, apparently addressing the fish. “How-?… Oh, all right.”
She turned to Xander and Faith. “Well, the lion might not like you, but the fish seems to be on your side. Guess I’ll help you get home.”