Spring found Xander heading back to California. Not for a Watchers' Council job, though he was starting to think he'd had about enough of the corn-and-farmhouse trail for a while. This was simpler: he needed to renew his driver's license every year, and it was easiest to keep it in the same state. Driver's license meant eye test, and eye test meant doing that annual checkup thing too, and it all ended up with him in L.A., an empty night on his hands and not sure
what to do with it.
He could check in with Angel's people at the hotel, but that felt too much like, well, checking in. Something was making him restless and twitchy tonight, though Xander wasn't sure how much of that was just the eye stuff that always
made him restless and twitchy.
None of the things people do on a night in Los Angeles really appealed to him, or maybe he just couldn't settle on one for long enough to come up with an address for the cabbie, until he flipped through his wallet looking for tickets or cards and finally found a folded-up slip of paper with Wesley Wyndam-Pryce's handwriting on it.
So here he was in front of a back-street club he'd never seen before, getting out of a taxi. It wasn't that
kind of club, he knew at least. That, he could find in L.A. on his own, thanks, and had told Wesley as much with a roll of his eyes, months ago. Wes had rolled as good as he got, and just said that if Xander ever found himself without a direction, the club was a good place to start looking for one.
Probably he meant that a little more philosophically than Xander was treating it at the moment, but it was something to do, right?
Plus staring at the sign before he decided it had to be a coincidence and walked in took up a good five minutes all on its own.
Too bad it took five minutes because he just missed Mordar the Bentback butchering Rob Thomas.
The host of course didn't seem to mind as he came out from behind the bar.
"Hey there handsome. Love the eyepatch. Very Nick from Brave and the Bold," Lorne said in greeting. "What can I get for you this fine evening?"
That really didn't help with the staring. Though the fact that it was a bar and alcohol was being offered might. In theory.
"Rolling Rock and a dimension-check?" Xander was almost past surprise at meeting other versions of people he knew, but this wasn't exactly a face he'd expected to find duplicated in his own world.
Lorne signalled to the bartender who served up a bottle of beer for Xander and a sea breeze for his boss.
"Well unless some major mojo has been working around here, it's still the land of Aretha Franklin and Billie Holiday, which suits me just fine," he said, taking a sip of his drink. "Why do you ask, Buttercup? Fall through a portal lately? Because if you're coming from a place called Pylea I can tell you that the music here is much better and the booze is less likely to kill you."
"Not....lately, no." Xander took a slow drink from the bottle. "And not Pylea. Is that where you're from?" He'd never spent enough time at Caritas in Fandom to talk to Lorne about more than unexpected lapdances and the price of a drink.
"Born and dread," Lorne replied cheerfully as he drained his glass. "Then one day after years of humiliation and mental anguish a portal opened up right in front of me and I hopped on over to the spot you're in right now. So tell me cutie, what brings you to my little establishment?"
"Good question." Xander set the bottle on the bar and rubbed at the band of his eye-patch where it crossed his left temple. "Friend gave me the address a year or so ago, but I never really thought of showing up til tonight. Got time on my hands, I guess."
"No offense woobie, but no one usually comes in here just because they have the time," Lorne replied skeptically. "Your friend tell you a little what we do here?"
Xander shook his head. "Not so much, but the funny thing is I already knew. I just didn't know the place he was sending me to was yours."
Lorne blinked at the young man before him. "You knew about us already but you didn't know where we were? Color me confused, cutie. You up for a number just so I can get a little clarity or are you just here for the atmosphere?"
"I always thought confused was a slightly darker shade of green." Xander wiped his mouth with the back of his hand. "Sure, what the hell. I'm a lot less drunk than the last time I sang in Caritas, but there's a lot less people I know here too, so I guess it evens out. You got something in mind?"
This once again earned Xander a look of "BUH?" as Lorne had never seen nor heard this kid in his nightclub before. Not that he would remember everyone, but the eyepatch tended to be a thing people remember.
"Just sing me the first song that strikes your fancy, kid," Lorne said, leaning back against the bar. "Even your music choice plays into the whole reading thing."
Ohhhkay, hitting a karaoke bar after almost a year of driving through the airwaves of the plains and midwest? Probably wasn't going to reflect too well on his musical taste.
"Uh. Right." There was no way he was actually getting near the stage, though. One beer not nearly enough booze for that. One beer wasn't even enough booze to stand up while he sang.
"One hand reaches out
And pulls a lost soul from harm
While a thousand more go unspoken for
And they say what good have you done
By saving just this one?
It's like whispering a prayer
In the fury of a storm.
And I hear them saying you'll never change things
And no matter what you do it's still the same thing,
But it's not the world that I am changing -
I do this so this world will know
That it will not change me ..."
Lorne sat back at the bar and did the listening thing he did. A lot of interesting people had entered his club and sang for him. Easily in the hundreds.
The kid with the eyepatch easily cracked the top ten without breaking a sweat.
When Xander was done there was another Rolling Rock waiting for him and another demon had taken the stage singing "My Heart Will Go On."
He gave Xander a sad smile. "This one is on the house, Patchy. And not just because you've sung the first country song in here for a month. You've got quite the story hanging about you. Dragged into a world of darkness while all the time trying to hold yourself and your friends together when everything seems to be falling apart."
Lorne took a sip of his drink and shrugged. "Or that could be just Garth talking. Not to turn into a fabulously dressed green fortune cookie kiddo but from what I'm hearing? The path you've been walking has been taking its toll and you're beginning to wonder how much longer you have to keep walking in the direction you're going."
Lorne paused again and sighed. Possibly just for dramatic effect. "I can't tell you exactly how much longer that path is but I can tell you that if you stick to it long enough? One of these paths will take you to the place you've been looking for when you least expect it."
Well, it was a little long to actually fit in a fortune cookie. Unless you printed really small.
"...Erm. Thanks?" Xander took a drink of his new beer and tried -- probably not real successfully -- not to look like he was wondering if this dimension's Lorne had powers. The other one had been able to tell if Angel was really Angel, he knew that much, but...
"What's the matter, puddin'?" Lorne said with a small smirk. "Don't believe me? Well, I could talk about a couple of different things that no one else would know. I believe there was a situation with Teeny Little Super Guy Underoos? How about this thing you have for frogs and bookshelves? Or we could start talking about that eye of yours..."
Xander cut him off with a quick, "How 'bout we don't." It wasn't angry, just firm, or as firm as he could manage while simultaneously rewinding to see if he could make some sense of the reading now that he knew it was for real.
"So... keep on doing what I'm already doing? As advice from the Great Beyond goes, kind of a waste of your time there. I mean I could've done that without you having to listen to me sing."
"True," Lorne said, swishing his drink around. "But you wouldn't have walked through that door if you didn't need to hear it from someone else. Sometimes that's all we need to know: If we're doing the right thing."
He gave Xander a toothy grin. "And of course the other thing. Was it worth it? That one you'll have to answer for yourself."
Was what worth it? How was he supposed to answer that when he didn't even know what the question meant, yet? Though Xander supposed that was kind of the point. Or maybe it was just really good beer.
"I'll let you know," he replied with a small smile, lifting his glass to take a drink.
__[OOC: Preplayed with the faaaaaabulous karaoke_lizard. Not open for IC interaction, what with being a dimension and half a year away, but OOC commenty quite welcome.]