Disclaimer: Don't own anything from Buffy the Vampire Slayer of Angel.
Summary: It's a Casablanca inspired Buffy fic! Set in an alternate 2017. Things haven't been going well in the Buffyverse. Spike and Buffy shared a wonderful summer a couple years ago, but he vanished suddenly just before Buffy recieved an terrible injury at the hands of the Scourge (the demon Nazis from Angel's Hero). Now she's running a nightclub and trying to forget about him. But, of course, things aren't going to be so easy.
Word Count: 1409
Author's Note: t I'm a total fandom newb, and this is my first story for Seasonal Spuffy, hope I'm posting it right. Really it's more of a vignette, or the begining of a story. I wanted to write more but have had crazy life stuff going on including moving and a (relatively minor) surgery! Despite it now being as finished as it could be, I'm fairly happy with some of what's here, and I was determined to post something regardless. I do have more planned out though, and will try to continue it very soon. Please let me know what you think, any feedback (including constructive criticism) is much appreciated. Not beta'd, so I appologize for any mistakes.
Buffy sighed and leaned heavily onto the bar. Mr. Pointy was crowded tonight, a energetic crowd that was about a fifty percent split between humans and demons. Earlier in her life this would have horrified her, but at this point she knew enough to understand that most of these demons weren't any more dangerous than your average human, and that there were some humans among the patrons who had done enough evil for all the demons combined. Oh, some of the demons were murderous fiends, sure. In fact, Grevlar of the Unnecessary Violence was sitting on a plush leather bench making jovial small talk with a female Paycura demon and laughing heartily at his own anecdote, something to do with his many gruesome murders, Buffy was sure. The Paycura demon looked a little bored, but Buffy hoped that she was interested enough to take Grevlar home. She knew for a fact that female Paycura laid their eggs in the chest cavities of their mates. It was a nice thought. But demons like Grevlar were the least of her worries these days.
Grevlar had killed hundreds, if not thousands of innocents over the course of his long life, but he'd worked with an almost methodical slowness, playing by old rules. He couldn't equal the death toll that a single sharply dressed lawyer, such as the one sitting just down the bar from Buffy, was responsible for. Oh not directly, at least not entirely directly. You could kill so much more efficiently when you didn't have to personally end each life by hand. And so Wolfram and Hart put even legendary killers like Grevlar to shame. Them and The Scourge. And who could have foreseen that unholy marriage of evil? Buffy sighed and reminded herself that none of that was her business anymore. She wasn't The Slayer with a capital "The". She was just a slayer, no capital needed, and now she was barely even that. It wasn't her place in the world to worry about such things. It would have been hard to imagine five years ago that she'd find herself part owner of a bar, let alone a bar with such a, well, diverse clientele. She'd pretty much figured that the whole slaying thing was basically her gig for life. Kendra had said that slaying wasn't a job, it was what you were. And that had been true she supposed. She was still a slayer. But the actual work of slaying? Yes, it could be given up. Not easily, but it could be done. Besides, even if somehow she could go back to slaying, she thought, looking around the bar with dismay, where would she even start?
"Hey Goldilocks." A tired voice interpreted her musings. Buffy jumped a little in her chair, startled, but recognized the voice and the familiar nickname instantly.
"Hey Lorne." Buffy said, turning her chair. Lorne looked worn out. Of course he always looked tired lately. But today he looked especially so. Reddish circles under his eyes stood out garish against his bright green skin, which Buffy thought looked a little sallow.
Lorne leaned against the bar and spoke to the bartender in that way of his that always made it seem like he was taking you into his confidence, no matter how trivial what he was actually saying was.
"Sea-breeze. Make it double. And not too heavy on the juice this time. Ah, thanks Renaldo, you're a treasure." He sighed contentedly as the tall glass, which indeed had only enough juice to color it slightly, was passed to him, taking a deep pull through the neon pink straw.
"How are you tonight?" Buffy heard the concern in her voice. "You look a little tired."
"Oh, you know carrying on." He smiled a small, smile that looked a little forced, yet carried genuine warmth. "Couldn't be better really. And how's my little canary?"
"Me? Oh, great. Fantastic even. You know. Bar's busy. Lots of people and..." Buffy glanced at Lorne's green skin and horns "...um more people, that is people of the non-human variety, here."
"That's not what I was asking sweet-cheeks and you know it."
"Yeah, well, you know how the rest of it is. It's alright. As you say, carrying on. Oh! Are you singing tonight?" She asked, in a blatant change of subject. Lorne had been adamant that the bar was to have no vocal performances whatsoever. So there was plenty of canned music, as well as DJs and electronic artists, but no vocal artist and certainly no karaoke. None one sang except Lorne himself. Buffy loved to hear Lorne sing. It transformed him. He seemed more alive, more vibrant. Buffy was never sure if it was a part of his powers or just a talent, but he seemed to be able to beam the emotions of the song directly out into the audience. On weeknights they didn't have an act scheduled, he'd often do a whole set. The patrons loved him. But on an increasing number of nights he would simply sit in his table in the corner, silently drinking and looking out into the crowd with morose eyes. Often he and Buffy would drink together, hardly speaking, merely taking some kind of comfort in each other's presence.
"Sing?" He sounded distracted. "I can probably get a song or two out." He managed a wry smile. "We'll see how I feel after I finish this delightful concoction."
Buffy laughed, but felt guilty for laughing. Lorne joked about his drinking, but she was beginning to be truly concerned. But who was she to talk? She drank barely less than he did. Owning and spending a bunch of time in a club did that to you she supposed. Yes, that was definitely the only reason, she told herself firmly.
"Alright trooper, well, you stay here and man the fort, I'm gonna go schmooze with those guys over there."
When Lorne could bring himself to interact with anyone,he was great with the customers, Buffy couldn't deny that. While he had his silent, morose phases, he generally was friendly and personable with a gift for making everyone who stepped into the club feel wanted. Though Buffy thought that there were certain individuals she wished he wouldn't make feel quite so wanted. Of course she knew that it wouldn't do to anger the Scourge. But did they have to come here? At least no Scourge officers had chosen to patronize the club tonight, thank god.
An hour or two later, Buffy was nursing a drink (Her third or fourth? It couldn't possibly be her fifth.) and staring morosely out into the club. The Paycura demon had taken Grevlar home. And good for her, Buffy thought. And then she heard it.
"You must remember this..." The familiar words were magnified and jarringly pumped throughout the club by their excellent sound system. No. He knew. Why would Lorne do this? She rose abruptly, barely noticing her chair clatter to the floor. She could worry about it later. She strode purposefully to the dimly lit room to the left of the bar. Lorne was on stage, his eyes closed, an expression of wrapped concentration on his face.
"...is just a sigh. All the fundamental things..."
"Lorne!" Lorne stopped abruptly, guiltily. The background music continued as the sound guy scrambled desperately to kill it. "I thought I told you never to..."
The music abruptly stopped and Buffy's voice sounded painfully loud. "...sing that song." Her voice trailed off to barely above a whisper as all heads turned to her and she noticed Lorne's expression. His red eyes were open wide and he was arcing an eyebrow and jerking his head to the left side of the dance floor. She followed the motion of Lorne's gesture, and it lead her straight to... No. The figure in the dark corner of the floor was wearing a long black coat, yes. And his slick hair was probably pale blond, though now it was reflecting the purple glow of a jell tinted spotlight. And yes, something in his posture as he leaned against that post seemed terribly familiar. But she'd seen him so many times before and been wrong every time. It was hard to make out the face in this light. His eyes were on her, but everyone's eyes were on her right now. And then he smiled (and how dare he smile?) and Buffy knew. Spike had come.