A Rogue Demon Hunter and a Guitar Player Walk into a Bar…
A burst of discordant laughter and shouted obscenities grated on Wesley’s ear. He cast a jaundiced eye toward the group near the dart board. Shield’s Pub wasn’t the kind of place that welcomed drunken yuppies for happy hour. Its clientele was more the type to appreciate the silent camaraderie that sprung up among isolated drinkers—people who wanted to be alone, but didn’t want to drink alone. The scrum over there clearly didn’t have the brains to pick up on that.
“Kids today, no respect,” the man sitting one stool down from Wesley snorted. Wesley turned, ready to glare, but the rueful humor in the other man’s face made him check his first instinct.
“They’ve obviously never been here before, that’s for certain,” Wesley assayed, taking a sip of his whiskey.
“Damn right. A man should be able to remember a friend in peace.” The man’s golden hair spiked up from his scalp as if he had decided an electrical socket was the perfect styling aid. He reached for a cigarette from the pack sitting in front of him with fingers covered in band aids. His mouth twitched to the side as he inhaled.
“You have a missing friend?” Wesley asked, mind straying back to Angel’s disappearance.
“Not missing. Dead.” The final syllable was said with finality before he slammed back a shot glass full of amber liquid. There were several empties resting on the bar in front of him.
“Oh, I’m sorry,” Wesley said, propriety rising up with a whisper that sounded like his mother.
“It was a while back.” The man shook his head. “Fucking dink.” The man’s hands gestured the bartender over to pour another shot of Crown Royal. He looked at it for a long moment, as if he were bracing himself. “He shot himself in the head, at the end of our tour.”
“Tour?” Wesley felt a simultaneous urge to flee and learn more. He’d have braced himself too before relating that news.
“Yeah, we were in a band together, reunion thing.” The man played with an empty glass, rolling it in those long fingers. “He conned me back, lied to me,” pause to drink the full shot and wipe his mouth, “and then kills himself because I,” his voice broke but it only took an instant for the man to continue, “go for success?”
“Did you make it? Success, I mean?” The man’s clothes were nothing out of the ordinary; he wore no flashy, expensive jewelry, just two silver rings, one on each forefinger, and a cheap chain bracelet around one wrist.
“Yeah, I guess so.” The man stubbed out his cigarette and pulled out another. His lighter clicked and rasped and he stared at the flame for a minute before closing it. “Today was his birthday. He would have been forty.”
“I’m sorry for your loss.” The formal words felt empty compared to his appreciation for this man’s remembrance, but Wesley didn’t know how to offer more personal sympathy.
“Here’s to Joe Mulgrew,” another glass was raised and drunk, then placed on the bar with resolve. The man threw a hundred dollar bill down and nodded at Wesley before he walked to the exit.
Wesley hoped he wouldn’t be sitting in a bar in a year, five years, ten years from now, drinking to Angel’s memory on the day he disappeared.
Wesley finished his drink in silence.
Notes: Beta and most helpful suggestions by serialkarma. shrift, when I first discovered HCL, I read your archive from A to Z and loved having the stories there for that taking. Thank you for everything you do for fandom. I hope you enjoyed this *hugs*