TITLE: The Second Chance (1/1)
CROSSOVER: Angel the Series/The Nightside book series. A Tales from the Barman Untold Story.
TIMELINE: Angel the Series: Post Not Fade Away/Nightside books: probably around Paths Not Taken. Tales from the Barman-verse: post chapter 69.
SPOILERS: Not Fade Away
DISCLAIMER: I don’t own Fred or Wesley, Xander, Razor Eddie, or the Nightside. Their respective copyright holders own them. Abraham Francis is an original character created by me. In your face, Fatty Arbuckle!
DEDICATION: To my late Great Aunt Josephine, who would have loved it that her grandnephew had stories archived on a site such as Twisting the Hellmouth
AUTHOR’S NOTE: This story is a plot idea that has sat in my head for a while. I wanted to tell a Fred/Wesley story that ended on a happy note. Chapter 69 Not All Bars are Created Equal by Lachesis from the Tales from the Barman series (created by Methos) inspired the idea for this fic. Abe Francis is an original character of mine. He acts as a bodyguard and sidekick to Fred and Wesley. Picture William Forsythe or Brian Thompson as Abe and you’ll get the idea of how he looks.
This is my first fic in several months (family business) and I think it’s my longest fic yet. Please be gentle. ;)
“I told you I’d find the place,” a twangy female voice said from the broom closet.
Xander didn’t look up. He had gotten used to people entering Nights through ways other than the front door.
“Taylor was right,” a clipped British voice commented. “It does remind one of Strangefellows. Except it’s brighter. And cleaner.”
Xander stiffened. Now that voice was very familiar.
He looked towards the broom closet. Standing in front of the door were a couple, arm in arm. The slender, pretty woman had long brown hair and a friendly smile. She was dressed casually, with several grease stains and two guns strapped at her waist. The man was taller, with dark hair, glasses, and a rather smug expression. Xander’s trained eye notice several weapons hidden on his person.
“Wesley?” Xander stammered.
“Hello, Xander,” Wesley answered. “I see you have done well for yourself.”
“And you must be Fred. You look like…” Xander started to say.
She walked right over to him, grabbed his hand and began to shake it rapidly.
“Hi, Xander. My name is Winifred Burkle, but you can call me Fred, although I think we have met before, but you can never tell with demons and apocalypses and possessions and all but…”
Xander pinched the bridge of his nose. He was really uncomfortable with duplicates of friends and associates living and not so living showing up. “Sorry to interrupt, but are you from a parallel earth? Time Travel? Evil twins? Alchemical doppelgangers?”
“No, no, Xander. We are both from this world,” Wesley answered.
“But you died, Wes. And you, Fred, Illyria—you know.”
Fred smiled. “Do you have time for a story?”
“I remember dying,” Wesley began, Fred holding his hand as they sat at the bar.
“Seeing the woman I loved for one last time, even though I knew it was Illyria’s lie for my benefit. I saw my life flashing before my eyes, every failure and victory, every decision I made and every chance I let slip through my fingers. Then it ended and darkness enveloped me. How much time passed after that I still have no idea.
“The next thing I remember is waking up in a strange old temple, placed comfortably on a worn stone altar. The icons and hieroglyphics I could make out were unfamiliar to me. I was alone, but unharmed, the wounds I had incurred with Vail now healed. The contents of my pockets were strewn across the floor behind the altar. I gathered the items I could find under the torchlight of the temple, than walked to the door leading out to wherever the temple stood. Bracing myself against the wall as I regained my balance, I stumbled out into the new place I now resided.
“It was night. I was nowhere near home. I was on a street of temple after temple, ancient gods existing next to pop culture icons. And in that moment I knew were I was. A place spoken in the whispers of old madmen and scrawled in the corners of hastily written occult tomes. I was in the Nightside, a place twixt heaven and hell where it was always after midnight. A place of lost beings and impossible occurrences.”
Xander poured another round for the three of them.
“I walked along what I know now as the Street of the Gods. Some gods I recognized, other I did not. I was disorientated, looking for anything to hold on to.
“The scent of perfume enveloped my senses as I continued to walk. As I whirled around, I saw a woman, with long brown hair that walked like Fred. She was walking with a dark haired man dressed all in black. For a moment I stopped, a shock going through my body. New energy filled me. I had to know—was it Fred?
“I pushed through the crowd of people as fast as I could, not for one second taking my eyes off of that woman. If I blinked, you see, she would disappear, leaving me alone in this god-forsaken place. Hoping beyond hope, I believed it was her. My quick walk turned into a run.
“I don’t know how far or long I ran after her, but I came to the point were I could run no more. Summoning the rest of my strength, I said a prayer and screamed out one word, as loud as I could.
“The woman stopped and grabbed the arm of the man next to her. Holding on to her companion, she turned around and looked right at me. Against all hope and possibility, she had heard me. Our eyes met.
“It was Fred. My Winifred.
“I heard her scream my name as she began to fight the crowd to reach me. The man with her ran before her moving people out of the way so Fred could get through. When she reached me I collapsed to the ground, exhausted beyond all reason. Fred hugged me and whispered words of comfort as I cried. She was real. And with me.”
Fred had started to cry, so Xander handed he a napkin. She quickly dried her eyes. Wesley smiled at her gently, a look he had never witnessed on the former Watcher.
“But how,” Xander asked, “Did you get in the temple, Wes? And how did Fred get to this Nightside place before you?”
“Well Xander,” Fred said, “We still can’t find the temple Wesley woke up in. I asked some of the gods I’ve gotten to know, but none of them know. For all we know, the temple could have crumbled right after Wesley left the building, and no one would have ever known.”
Fred reached for her glass and chugged down the rest of her drink.
“As for me, I remember having this…thing growing in me, crowding out my thoughts and my desires. I was losing control of my body and mind. Do you know what that is like, Xander?”
Xander nodded. “Oh yeah. I’m very familiar with possession, ghostly and otherwise.”
“The last thing I saw was Wesley,” Fred continued. “By this time, I was babbling because nothing made sense. Noise was roaring in my ears, I couldn’t make out anything he was saying. Then I couldn’t breathe, and pain was shooting through my body. I felt every cell of my being ripped apart in opposite directions. I think I screamed as this thing named Illyria consumed my soul.
“After the pain, surprisingly, was silence and stillness. The next thing I remember is waking up in the offices of Night Times, the newspaper of the Nightside. I remember basic things. My name, my family, physics, but everything else was fragmented and unsure. Luckily for me I had fallen into the capable hands of Julien Advent, the Victorian Adventurer. He was investigating the scene of a strange triple homicide when he said I fell through a slip in time and landed literally at his feet. He had first hand experience with temporal vortices. That’s how Julien got to the Nightside.”
Fred leaned into to Xander and giggled conspiratorially. “I had quite the crush on him the first several months. I guess I have a thing for tall, handsome, dark haired men who save me from peril.”
Wesley snorted. Fred stuck out her tongue at him.
“Julien took me under his wing and helped me get on his feet in this strange new place. He let me work at The Night Times, helping with editing and writing the ‘Science with Fred’ column. I got to meet interesting people like Suzie Shooter and Argus—he can change shape but he’s kind of a jerk. After a couple months Julien heard about a repair shop who’s owner had been phased out of existence when he tried to kill his own grandfather. He bought it without telling me and hired me to run it for him.
“That’s how Winifred Burkle’s Science Emporium was opened for business. I repaired weird science items and researched strange book theories and such. It kept me busy and to tell you the truth I always wanted to run an Emporium. It sounds so much cooler than a shop or a store or a market, don’t you think?
“It was about a year later, as I saw it, when I was on the Street of the Gods. I had just dropped off a package for Razor Eddie. He’s a rather nice god for somebody that uses a straight razor as a focus for his abilities. Anyway, I was walking back to my place with Razor Eddie kindly offering to walk me home even though he was already at his home. I thought it was defeating the purpose of me stopping by him, but I thought it was sweet.
“When Wesley screamed my name I heard it as if he was standing next to me. I grabbed Eddie’s arm and he asked me what was wrong. Deep down inside something stirred in my fragmented memories. That voice filled me with warmth and hope, but I didn’t know why. I turned around to see who had called me.
“When our eyes met, my memories rushed back to me as if a damn was breaking in my mind. College, Pylea, The Hyperion, Angel, Cordy, Lorne, Charles, and Wesley, my Wesley. We were separated too soon, Xander. I screamed his name and began to race through the crowds of people. Thankfully, Eddie jumped in front of me and got people to move out of the way better than I could. Straight Razors have a tendency to do that.
“When I reached him we just stared at each other for a moment. Then I grabbed him as hard as I could as he began to cry with relief.”
“Razor Eddie helped Fred get me back to her apartment,” Wesley continued as Fred took a couple of breaths. “After I rested, we spent several days… alone. Getting ourselves reacquainted.”
Fred began to blush and giggle.
“Then Fred introduced me to the friends she had made. They are a strange bunch, even considering the company I have kept over the years. But they look out for Fred, and they have grown on me.”
“John said that a one-eyed man named Xander had a bar in the States,” Fred said. “We did some investigating and found out it was you. So I used a transdimensional portal generator and here we are!”
Xander took this all in. As of this point he had one important question.
“You heard about that last night in Los Angeles, haven’t you?”
The smiles that faded from Fred and Wesley’s faces answered his question for him. Xander put three shot glasses on the bar and poured some drinks for the fallen.
Several Hours Later
Polishing the bar, Xander let the pair tell about their business and adventures. He told Wesley and Fred about his Wall of Memories. The more interesting thing Xander learned was that he, Wesley, and Fred shared some mutual acquaintances. They were laughing about an embarrassing incident involving Aphrodite and an avatar of Thor when another person popped through the broom closet. The man was tall, stocky, and had short hair. He looked human but the wards told Xander he was some sort of created being rather than a normal man.
“Sorry to interrupt Miss Fred, Mr. Wesley,” the new visitor said to the pair at the bar.
Wesley sighed, while Fred just smiled and pointed at the man. “Xander, this is Abraham Francis, our right hand man, or right-hand golem, as it were. Abe, this is Xander Harris, an old friend of Wesley’s from Sunnydale. He owns the bar.”
Abe nodded towards Xander, who returned the nod.
“Now what’s this all about?” Wesley asked.
“Dead Boy’s Car is here for an inspection. You know Miss Fred is one of the few people who the Car will let work on him.”
Xander wondered out loud. “Deadboy.”
“Dead Boy’s not a vampire, silly,” Fred said. “He’s a revenant, his body held together by a pact with something bad. He is a sweet but vulgar person. Dead Boy is very hard to kill and he has the most wicked sense of…”
Wesley interrupted Fred by kissing her. He broke away from her with a smirk on his face.
“It was the only way to stop her or she would have went on and on about Dead Boy.”
Fred smacked him in the arm. “You’re terrible,” she giggled.
Xander raised his eyebrow to Abe, still standing in the doorway. The tall man shrugged.
“They do this all the time, Mr. Harris,” Abe said in response.
“Abe, tell the Car I’ll be with him in ten minutes,” Fred said.
“You got it, Miss Fred. Nice to meet you, Mr. Harris.”
The golem waved and walked through the broom closet door.
Xander walked out from behind the bar. “So I guess you guys will be leaving, too.”
He walked over to Fred and offered her his hand. She swatted it away and grabbed Xander into a hug. Then she kissed his cheek.
“Goodbye Xander,” Fred laughed. “You have a very nice bar.”
She walked over and kissed Wesley. “I’ll give you some time to say goodbye, Wesley. Make sure to turn off the portal when you come back.”
“I won’t be long, my dear.”
Fred walked through the broom closet and disappeared.
Wesley rummaged through his pockets. He put some money on the table. Then he pulled out a business card and handed it to Xander.
“Something for your wall. Our business card. Tell our story to the others, when you think the time is right.”
Xander looked at the card. It said: Twin Hearts Occult Library and Science Emporium
You Can Trust Our Facts!
Winifred Burkle and Wesley Wyndham-Pryce, Proprietors
Call for Appointments
“Fred insisted on changing the name of the store when I arrived in the Nightside.”
The bartender had to know. “Why didn’t you come back sooner? Tell everyone what happened? Let them know you’re alive?”
The old Wesley came back for a moment. Pain flitted across his eyes.
“Neither Fred nor I know how any of this came to pass, Xander. We don’t know if we can leave the Nightside for any length of time. For all we know this is a dream or purgatory. Hell, you could just be a figment of my fevered imagination. All I know is that I have a second chance for a life with the woman I love, and I’m not going to question why.
“Give my respects to everyone. Tell Faith I am proud of her. We will see you again, in time.”
With that Wesley turned and walked through the broom closet, and all was quiet at Nights.
“They were here.”
That was all Illyria said when she walked into Nights. She strode to the bar, and then stopped suddenly. The Old One gazed around her as if she were looking for something in the air. Then she found it.
“They were here,” she repeated, gazing at Xander.
“Who was here?”
Illyria tilted her head towards him. “Wesley. And the Shell. In this place.”
Xander put down the glass he was cleaning.
“Yes. It was them. They heard about this bar from that guy Taylor guy who popped in her a couple of months ago. They came from a place called the Nightside, which I’m sure several regulars from here have heard off.
“But you already know that, don’t you?”
Illyria didn’t respond.
“Because I think this is all your doing. I think you found some way to save Wesley, or at least back to life. Fred? I don’t know how you pulled that one off but…”
“I was a God King!” Illyria interrupted. “I ruled worlds! It is within my rights to grant boons to those in service to me.”
“Or people you were in love with,” Xander said quietly.
Again, Illyria didn’t answer.
“I think that when you brought Wesley to the Nightside to recuperate, you left something with him. A link to something that transcended death. Somehow when you took over Fred’s body, part of her manifested somewhere else. Maybe it was a way for the universe to balance out your return. I don’t know. This part was incomplete. The rest of what made Fred Fred was within you. Whispering to you, making you a better being. So when the time came, you left Wesley with one last gift, one that wasn’t a lie for his benefit.
“You gave Fred back to Wesley. You made her whole again.”
Impassively, Illyria looked at Xander. For a moment, he though he saw a great sadness in her eyes. Maybe a tear threatened to slide down her cheek. Then she blinked, and the moment was gone.
“His destiny and hers were both manipulated by forces beyond their ken. I merely put their fates in their own hands. I shall speak no more of this.”
Illyria turned away from Xander and walked to the dartboard. She grabbed a handful of darts and began to hit bull’s eye after bull’s eye, one after the other.
Faith sauntered up to the bar, a smirk on her face.
“I finally beat Blue at pool, X,” Faith said with glee.
“Good for you,” Xander answered.
“Blue seemed distracted tonight. Didn’t have the heart to rub it in.”
This seemed to Xander to be as good a time as any. “I ran into some old friends of ours today.”
“You better have a seat. And a drink.”