parts 66 and 67 - the end.
Fred Kwan smiled as he knocked on the door, calling, “Are you ready to come out? I thought you might like to go back to that karaoke club.”
The door opened, revealing his girlfriend, clad in this close fitting purple gown. “Ready. Maybe we should try to have a bit less to drink this time?”
“No alcohol for you; got it.” He held out his arm, and smiled. “You look beautiful tonight.”
“I wanted tonight to be special,” she murmured, her cheeks turning a distinctly lavender shade.
“Every night with you is special,” Fred kissed her hand, and they left the apartment, hoping to once again find that fascinating karaoke club with the strangest gathering of people and creatures since he’d watched Star Wars.
To his delight, they did find Caritas again, sliding inside with a feeling of relief. There was just something oddly relaxing about the club, despite the strangeness of some of the customers, beings that would have looked quite dangerous elsewhere, despite the truly horrible rendition of Blue Suede Shoes being mangled by what looked like a humanoid stegosaurus. Settling at a small table, they ordered sodas and settled in for an enjoyable evening.
After a while, they relaxed over their drinks, despite the complete lack of alcohol. It was enough that they were together, somewhere that felt safe and welcoming, no matter who or what they were. Slowly, Laliari started to smile, and then she scribbled something on a paper, weaving her way between the people to give the slip to the gray figure operating the karaoke machines. Smiling, she slipped back in her seat, whispering, “I hope that we can sing our song soon, I think we can do better than some of them.”
After a few moments debate, Fred decided not to mention the fact that a drunken cow might sound better than the current effort, a large creature that seemed to have about three times the skin needed, and presumably male from the deep bass voice. This did seem like a nice club, and there would be nothing gained by insulting the efforts of others. It took a lot of courage to get up in front of people and sing.
After a few more performers, including a trio of drunken tattooed, and pierced guys that might or might not have been human but were certainly tone-deaf, a sultry woman with impossible curves and a pair of bat-wings who put Marylin Monroe to shame, and a bony woman who’s doubled voice sent chills down his spine, the gray figure waved at them, gesturing towards the stage. It was their turn to sing.
Fred could feel the corners of his mouth tilting upwards as they turned to face the gathered creatures. He was absolutely certain that most – if not all – of them were not human. Not that it mattered too much to him, but it might explain some of the singing, though there was no reason for humans to have an exclusive on tone-deafness. Laliari grinned at the audience, and the pair of them started to sing. It was an old song, one that had been done by several artists that he knew about, and probably more that he didn’t. As he and Laliari crooned how ‘Nothing Compares To You’ into the darkness, he knew that they wouldn’t be the third version of the song to reach the top twenty lists.
That didn’t matter to him. He was here, with Laliari, and life was good. Nothing else mattered.
End part 66.
Alex Dane opened the door to the Hyperion Hotel, letting himself into the lobby. Tonight, he intended to take Willow out to dinner, in an effort to push their chaotic adventure to the back of his mind. While he couldn’t forget his encounters with the Thermians, he’d certainly like the experiences to fade until he could go about his life normally. As normally as he could, at least.
Willow was sitting at a table, with a stack of books, gesturing enthusiastically as she spoke to Cordelia. Cordelia turned, and gave a small, sad smile at the sight of him.
“Your date’s here, Willow. At least someone can find someone who isn’t frightened away by the insanity of our lives,” Cordelia grumbled, before sweeping up the staircase.
“She’s still angry about Jason, isn’t she?” Alex murmured, certain that his colleague was the source of Cordelia’s annoyance. He understood her anger, and actually sympathized with her, but there wasn’t anything that he could do to fix the situation. Jason had been an ass, and rather cowardly, and nobody else could change that.
“Yeah,” Willow agreed. “We’ve been telling her that if he gave up that easy, she can do better, but… Between that and chocolate, she’s doing a little better. It takes time.”
“Are you ready for dinner?” Alex asked, smiling at her. Willow had obviously been preparing, as evidenced by her shimmering blue gown, but apparently the books had distracted her. “The books will wait.”
Willow stood up, hands brushing over her dress in an effort to chase away any wrinkles in the fabric. “Dinner sounds wonderful. I’d particularly hope to be out when Angel and Wesley get back.”
“Dare I ask?” Alex smirked, considering the way it sounded when she phrased it like that.
Willow turned pink, and ducked her head in a futile effort to hide her blushing. “They aren’t out like that! They were meeting Gwen… and somehow that didn’t make things sound any less kinky. Starting over, someone’s been spying on Gwen’s niece, she asked Wesley to figure out why, and they’re off to give the explanation and make certain that Gwen’s sister believes them, hence Angel needing to go.”
“Is Angel going to make sure they don’t get hurt, or is Angel going for vital information?” Alex asked, leading Willow across the lobby.
“He’s going because he’s a vampire, and they figured a little show should go with the tell part. All part of the more complicated version of why Sunnydale was a miserable place to live, and why Gwen’s niece might be doomed to the same sort of interesting life that we have,” Willow gestured as she explained, apparently oblivious to the fact that her explanation didn’t really explain much to him.
Alex decided to ignore that whole confusing situation as long as possible. Along with the possible outcomes of the Thermians knowing about vampires, and apparently still monitoring Earth’s television broadcasts. He really didn’t want to know what sort of explanation for why a person was spying on a child would require a vampire. “You look wonderful this evening. Do you think we can manage an evening out without anything drastic happening?”
“I hope so. There’s been enough excitement lately,” Willow smiled, standing on her toes to give him a kiss.
Alex just smiled, thinking that a little excitement just between the two of them would be far more welcome than some crisis involving aliens, vampires, or demonic fans. For now, they had a dinner to eat, but after that, well, the idea of taking her off for a nice, long talk curled up in front of his fireplace held considerable appeal. And if they happened to do more than chat in front of the fireplace… Well, that idea was quite appealing.
“Maybe we can make our own excitement?” Alex murmured.
Willow’s smile reminded him of the Mona Lisa as she softly agreed, “I think that sounds good. Then maybe you can only worry about acting, and I can be an author for the Thermians and a computer consultant for Angel, and maybe life will be good.”
As they settled into his car, Alex hoped that they could make that vision of the future happen. Part of him was certain that they’d have to settle for a reality that was slightly less idyllic, but he could hope.
End part 67.
End Guest Starring.