Have a Nice Day
Two days later I sat in the break room at Wonderfalls, contemplating a brand new smushed-face lion. Stupid tourists. “I thing I’ll call you ‘Number Thirteen.’ And that’s NOT lucky.” Annoying lion said nothing. Through the open door I heard a half-recognized voice from the front counter.
“Excuse me, I’m looking for Jaye Tyler.”
Mouth-breather answered, “She’s on break. She should be done in...7 minutes, if this is work related. If it’s personal, that’s all the time she’s got.”
I hurried out of the break room without looking like I was hurrying. It’s an art. “Fine, I’ll stand here at the cash register and work while I talk to Xander and still punch out normal time. Okay?”
“Fine.” Mouth-breather flounced off and Xander blinked at the exchange but said nothing.
“I’m sorry you had to meet Mouth-breather.”
“Why do you call him that?” A little bit of smile tugged at the corner of Xander’s mouth.
“Because when I used to call him Fargo, like the old horror flick, he thought it was a compliment.”
Smushed-face lion #9 looked up from the counter and said, “open a letter.” I glared at it.
Xander looked over the counter at me, then the wax lion. “Is it talking right now,” he asked.
“Shhh! I’m thinking.”
Right then, a female customer who’d been rummaging through our merchandise none-too-neatly since 15 minutes before I went on break elbowed Xander aside. “Excuse me, can I get some help?”
Smushed-faced lion #9 insisted, “Open a letter!”
“Mmm-hmm,” I stalled. I got the letter opener from the pencil barrel. The opener had Satsuma designs and was silver-plated—we sell them for $29.95. The annoying customer reached across the counter to grab my wrist and I accidentally bumped her with the dull, silvered blade. Whoa! Her skin changed color for a split second and her eyes glowed bright red.
“Why you little-”
“Unh-uh,” I interrupted the not-human customer. “My best friend’s a Slayer, and this guy here is a Watcher and bounty hunter who will take you down right now, unless you leave quietly.” The not-a-person’s face alternated between rage and fear. I could tell she was deciding whether or not to start a fight. I put one hand under the counter, on the Taser that I keep since the take-over robbery last year.
“Here,” I said. “Please have a complimentary ‘Maid of the Mist’ fridge magnet. Have a nice day!”
“Arrrgh,” the not-a-customer growled, then stomped out of the store. But she did take the magnet. Bitch.
Xander stared at me with an expression that I’ve seen far too often in the last year. “Jaye, that was amazing!” He stage whispered, “You spotted the Lesser Asura in human form, then talked her into leaving without starting a battle in the middle of civilians.”
“Please stop. I already got employee of the month award this year.”
“You’re not too comfortable with praise, are you?”
“I would say something about your astonishing perception, but I think Vi might kick my ass. Of course then Mahandra would jump in to defend me and Eric could just add Jello and sell tickets.”
Xander was quiet for a little too long. “You’re really good at deflecting attention from yourself,” he said when his eye wasn’t glazed over in lust anymore.
“Yeah? And you’ve got a little bit of drool right here,” I pointed to the mirror-image spot at the corner of my mouth, ‘cause nobody likes strangers poking fingers and wiping their face.
Xander tried to look nonchalant as he wiped the drool. “Seriously, Jaye, I feel a lot better about your guys’ situation. Vi’s given Mahandra a thumbs up and some recommendations for different skills to round out her training. And Andrew and I have both been bouncing ideas off your brother-”
“And I know you’ve been giving something called the ‘donut-guy lecture’ to my boyfriend, ‘cause he sent me a text. So...you guys are heading out soon?”
“Tomorrow,” agreed Xander, “So you’ll have three fewer pains in your rear.”
“Naw, you guys are fine-”
“-so long as we’re leaving,” Xander finished.
“We, uh, wanted to treat you guys to dinner, to show our appreciation for stopping the demon under the Falls.”
“Why don’t we all meet at The Barrel after seven? Mahandra’s off and Eric can take an hour or two if the second bartender is there.”
Xander frowned. “Isn’t that, like, a bus driver’s holiday for those guys?”
“Yeah, but with the combination of her appetite and their employee discounts, life is good. Plus they have SoBe Shooters for the big girls. And Andrew,” I added while looking out at the 2.5 customers wandering through the store.
So we met up with Council team at The Barrel for the obligatory send-off. In short order we all were sprawled around the table in the private room, nicely mellow and properly fed. Across from me Vi and Mahandra discussed battle tactics. Andrew spun some long-winded answer to one of my brother’s questions, while Xander corrected him every other sentence. I looked from the empty seat next to me towards the door.
On cue, Eric returned with two pitchers of Maple Wheat Ale and a solitary Zima. Benefits of dating a bartender? No waiting for drinks even if he’s off the clock. “Last one in the place, Andrew,” Eric said as he set down the Zima. “You know it’s discontinued, right?”
“I know. I’ll have the Tokyo branch send some by Floo.”
Eric rolled his eyes discretely and refilled everyone’s beer before he slid into the seat next to me. “So what WAS the deal with the demon and the Maiden of the Mist,” he asked.
Andrew tented his fingers. “Well, much like the Sarlacc in Star Wars Episode 6, the demon would slowly absorb the trapped maiden’s essence over the course of a century, while keeping her alive and tormented the entire time. This concept was explored in the book “Tales from Jabba’s Palace—”
The red-haired slayer cut him off. “That’s enough, Andrew.”
Xander grimaced an apology at the group. “She said enough, Andrew.”
“Hmph.” Andrew took a swig of his Zima and pouted.
Historical note: the Lelawala and He-No are the subject of one the legends of the Niagara Falls region. Wonderfalls started off naming identifying the Seneca as the local group, but later switched to the fictitious “Satsuma” (probably to minimize hassles over stereotypes presented in the later episode “Totem Mole”). Actual helpful historical information is here http://www.senecaindians.com/