Title: An Interlude at the Oxford
Crossover: Ian Rankin’s Inspector Rebus novels
Spoilers: Buffy mid Season 5ish. The Hanging Garden
Disclaimer: Buffy is the property of Joss Whedon and Mutant Enemy, Rebus belongs to Ian Rankin and Orion while the Oxford Bar
is run by a couple of guys called Gates and Curt (who have been fictionalised as coroners in Rankin’s novels).
Summary: Two people commiserate over a bottle of Ardbeg. 20 minutes with Joyce.
Detective Inspector John Rebus noticed her as soon as he walked into the bar. Women, particularly beautiful women, drinking alone were a rare sight at the Oxford. He took a seat next to her and signalled to the bar tender. “Another for the lady and I’ll have a dram of Ardbeg.”
Curt, the bar tender, frowned. He hadn’t seen Rebus for awhile and he knew that the DI only drank Islay whisky when something was wrong. The news of Jack Morton’s death hadn’t reached him yet and he didn’t ask, it wasn’t the Edinburgh way, instead he simply refilled Joyce’s glass from the same bottle and went back watching the football.
“Thanks,” said Joyce wearily, the scotch adding to the fatigue caused by travel and life in general.
“American?” asked Rebus after a short pause.
Joyce nodded. “Joyce Summers,” she replied putting out her hand. “Art dealer, first time in Edinburgh.”
“John Rebus,” responded Rebus taking the offered hand. He noticed that she pronounced the name of his city correctly instead of the Head-in-Burrow that most Americans went with.
They sat in silence for awhile longer. Rebus felt drawn to the woman but his life was screwed up and complicated enough already without adding another woman to the mix. “So,” began Joyce after another drink, “what do you do?”
“Polis,” replied John, his accent thickening. He’d managed to not only catch up but overtake his companion in the number of drams downed.
“Must be hard,” commented Joyce.
Rebus fought hard to push down the demons that surfaced at her words. They were always with him: his time in the SAS, Ireland, a wrecked marriage, a crippled daughter and, now, a dead friend. Was it any wonder he’d falled off the wagon?
“Some days more than others,” replied Rebus as neutrally as he could. “How’s the art business?” he felt the need to return the favour and ask about her work.
“It’s great,” said Joyce, trying to sound like she meant it.
“If it’s so great,” probed Rebus, “why are you drinking alone? Or at all?”
Joyce turned her gaze on the DI and he saw a depth of sorrow there to match his own. “Do you have any children John Rebus?” she asked. He simply nodded. “Do you know how to keep them safe?” Silent tears slipped from Joyce’s eyes.
“No,” whispered John. “No I don’t.” Not knowing what else to say, he ordered them both another Ardbeg.