Strange Places

 

 

A frolox demon held the stage.  Giles studied the creature in distaste, noting several vulnerable points, before finally giving it up for lost.  "I'll need to see the list again, please," he said to the helpfully attentive waitress.

She was a bird-like creature, skin a glittering imitation of feathers.  Giles knew for a fact that only the glitter was painted on.  "Sure," she chirped.  "Not gonna do Behind Blue Eyes anymore?"

"Not the way our current singer is mangling it, no, thank you."

The girl shrugged, making a fluttering sound, and left him to the list.  After last year's semi-debacle at the café, Giles had started coming down to LA when he wanted to spend time with other adults.  The lack of anyone remotely knowing who he was, or why he could be there, was rather freeing.  Not that he really wanted to hide his love of music; he just didn't want to be responsible for ‘traumatizing' his children anymore.  Once had most certainly been enough.

He didn't bring his guitar down anymore.  He still loved to play it, but finding the kinds of clubs that would allow him to required a local's touch.  He wasn't a local and wasn't interested in spending the time scoping out various locations to make sure they were appropriate.  He wasn't down here often enough for that to be worthwhile.  Instead, he'd taken the advice of an old friend, and found the advice to be very, very good.

"This one," he said when the waitress returned with his scotch on the rocks.

"Oh, that's a pretty one.  You're fifth in line, right after that gent."  Pointing to a small, lizard-like creature that walked on all four limbs and drank its margarita from a bowl, the waitress smiled and sashayed away, list tucked under her arm.

Giles smiled as she departed.  He hadn't thought he would enjoy spending time in a bar like this.  The music ranged from wonderful to ear-clangingly horrible, and the clientele was nearly as varied.  But the dusky red lighting was soothing, the chairs comfortable, and the alcohol was good quality and reasonably priced.  More importantly, Giles hoped that he might be able to get some information during this trip.  Since his problems centered around Sunnydale, most of the beings here were more interested in talking.  They, after all, didn't live in Sunnydale.

He'd already made a few discreet inquiries to the owner of the bar.  A demon himself, he'd shown himself to be without sides on most matters.  Hopefully, a few demons with information would be sent Giles' way before it was his turn.

"Ahem."

Giles gestured to the chair next to him without looking away from the stage.  He'd known, of course.  A bar like this, in the middle of LA?  Of course he'd know.  He'd just hoped.

"Business or pleasure?"

Giles smiled.  "Come now," he couldn't help but say, "surely that's elementary."

His companion smiled back, sipping something from a mug.  "I saw your name on the list.  Getting a reading done?"

"Oh, no."  Finishing his scotch, Giles finally turned to study the man next to him.  "Are you going to sing?"

Wesley smiled.  It was a different kind of smile than Giles remembered; one that was self-depreciating without being obsequious.  A pleasant change.  "Not all of us can be part-time musicians."

Oh, drat, that had gotten out, hadn't it?  Giles rolled his eyes, a habit he'd picked up much to his dismay, and held up his drink to request another.  "Travers is still telling that tale, is he?"

"Actually, he pulled me aside the day I was to leave for America, told me about various bits of your past.  Nothing terribly invasive, I suspect, but he was trying to make you look bad."

Giles snorted.  He had a trip to England upcoming, though he was doing his best to avoid it, and dreaded the thought of seeing Travers again.  Well, all of them, really.  But Travers most of all.  "And did it?"

Shrugging, Wesley offered the most genuinely sincere expression Giles had ever seen on him before.  "You'd just been fired, after doing the inconceivable: caring for your Slayer.  I don't think my opinion of you could get much worse."

Accepting the new glass, Giles lifted it.  "Cheers for that, then."

A demon of unspecified origin was crooning an old Elvis tune, trying to imitate the hip-jerking movements that had made him the darling of backward towns everywhere.  Giles longed for the time when he'd been blind.  It made certain things easier to bear.

"Anything in particular bringing you here?" Wesley asked.  It wasn't precisely a ‘is there trouble back at the ranch' but more of a professional courtesy.  Strange, that he should be granted such by Wesley, whom he'd barely tolerated and still regarded with some suspicion.  Not a great deal, though.  There was a sense of good British restraint about him.  And a tiredness that came only with maturity.

"Information wouldn't go amiss, but no.  And you?"

"Oh, the usual difficulties.  But no, as useful as having an anagogic Host is, I find Caritas to be, well ... "

"Comfortable."

"Yes.  Exactly."  Elvis' song finished, the lime-green Host making appropriately enthusiastic noises.  "I suppose you'll want to be alone?"

Again, Giles didn't bother looking over to his side.  He just smiled, and settled more comfortably in his chair.  "And have you miss me singing?  Wouldn't dream of it."

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