Disclaimers: Not mine, drat it, neither Joe nor Oz, nor, come to that, the soprano. Property of Rysher: Panzer/Davis, or Mutant Enemy, or Diane Duane (there's a quick homage to one of her very minor characters). No money made, no profit occurs, no infringement intended. Written for Crossovers100, prompt #49: club. Other prompts from Devo: sanguine, comb, malice.
Rated: G. I know, I keep writing gen lately. ::dubious:: Maybe I'll get over it.
The original plan had included a Celtic rock group playing gigs for a week, and if the crowds came back the way he thought they would, Joe was going to talk to them about a return engagement. That plan had been scuppered by an unexpected delivery: the lead guitarist's pregnancy had turned out to be twins, and premature. With only two days' notice, Joe's best contingency plan had been to alternate open mike nights any night he couldn't get an extra bartender and to play himself when he could.
So far on a Wednesday night, the open mike had yielded an incredibly pale British boy good enough with a doumbek to make American girls try to belly dance in public, two college girls who were better with karaoke than a cappella, and a woman in her seventies (at least) who had a soprano that hit gorgeously high notes and a truly amazing repertoire of not-quite-obscene filk songs that set everyone clapping along. Joe was seriously considering asking her out for a date, on educational grounds -- his.
Then the kid who'd been carded by both his waitresses took the stage. He'd spent half his time sipping his beer and eating a corned beef on rye so carefully that Amy brought him more fries on the house, and the other half painting his nails arterial red with a nail polish called 'Sanguine.' (Joe'd laughed himself half-sick when Jacqi asked what it meant.)
Joe wasn't laughing now. No one in the bar was making a sound because they'd have had to miss a note and Jesus god, but this guy was good. A bent note here was loneliness, a single plucked string there was the joy of being alone, sliding chord progressions were pain and pleasure and shifted one to the other to show even the emotional idiots what the correlation really was....
And he finished that one, pocketed the slide, and dropped straight into a Django Reinhardt piece that had people clapping and laughing and trying to forget he'd made them look at their souls, like it or not. He finished up with a piece of Debussy, of all the damn things, gentle and wistful and somehow ironic underneath it all.
Joe handed him an empty glass when he came off the stage and smiled a little when the not-a-kid just raised an eyebrow three shades lighter than his improbable burgundy and black hair (which desperately needed a comb, or better hair gel, after the stage lighting). "Name your poison."
"Whisky," the guy said, low and controlled. "Single malt. Laophraig if you have it."
"Sure." Joe poured him a double, studied his eyes, shrugged and raised the bottle to make it a triple.
"That's plenty, thanks. Have to take bodyweight into account." The guy's voice was low and level; amusement ran under his calm the way ripples danced over water. "You're Joe?"
Joe chuckled. "Afraid so. And you are?"
He sipped, slow enough that Joe didn't worry about his drinking habits, no matter how much pain was in that music. "Oz. No wizard jokes, thanks."
Joe grinned at him, pleased to find a fellow musician who felt like such good company, and faintly worried beneath that. Oz wasn't quite... he was human, no question there. You couldn’t play blues like that and not be human. But he wasn't entirely human, and that made Joe a little nervous. "Hey, I run a bar that offers food. You're name's safe with me."
Oz grinned at him, relaxed in an old t-shirt, faded flannel shirt, and beat-up jeans. He kept one hand on his guitar the way an immortal kept one hand on his sword, and Joe found that reassuring. He was definitely a musician, and he didn't have a blade anywhere; years of practice with Methos had taught Joe how to spot concealed blades better than any Watcher training course in Geneva ever had.
"Hey, it was a good sandwich. And you don't sell gasoline."
Joe's laughter burst out in a rumbling chuckle that only drew grins from the waitresses. "Man, you're too young to know about that...." Oz just grinned at him without any malice in it, and Joe grinned back. "No Burma Shave jokes, my heart can't take the shock." He eyed Oz and made a snap decision, unworried about whether it was a mistake. Only way to find out was to go there. "You moving on, or in town for a while?"
"Just traveling. Seeing the world, learning a few things." Oz took another sip, his other hand cradling the neck of his guitar without quite letting the strings sound. His eyes held more curiosity than his voice as he asked, "Not a regularly scheduled open night, huh?"
"Not even," Joe agreed, curious about the tattoo on the back of Oz's wrist: two crescents facing outward on either side of a full circle, all done in thin black lines. Huh. Moon cult? Been to Crete? Just liked it? He set the speculation aside concentrate on important things: his bar, and good music. "My band had to cancel on short notice. Care to take a couple nights this week? Two one-hour sets with a half-hour break between, a hundred bucks a night."
Oz sipped the whisky, four slow swallows, before looking up and around. His gaze traveled across the bottles behind the bar, the stacks of glasses, the waitresses coming and going and mostly smiling as they did. His head cocked to hear the laughter from a booth full of students in the back and the quieter, more content murmur of conversation from an older couple near the door. He consulted some inner thought or calendar as Joe watched, but it was, apparently, a formality.
Still watching the crowd, eyes lit with a smile that wasn't quite escaping to his mouth, Oz nodded to Joe. "Tomorrow good?"
Joe just nodded, a grin lighting his face and his eyes as he considered a night or three of listening to a new musician whose music so clearly had things to say. There'd be time to trade songs and silences and secrets over the next few days. Oz had some of all three, Joe was sure.
"Tomorrow's just fine."
~ ~ ~ finis ~ ~ ~
Comments, Commentary, & Miscellanea:
Clair de Lune is a lovely Debussy piece, but the title translates to moonlight. It strikes me as something Oz would adapt for the challenge of it... and the challenge of it.
"Eat at Joe's
"Get gas here"
is a notorious sign seen here and there at dual-purpose establishments that took a while to realize the sign might be dual-meaning too....
Burma Shave, of course, are the old advertising signs along the road. Four signs, each with one line of a (frequently ironic) poem, and the final sign said, "Burma Shave." Yes, it's from the early-mid 20th century; no, Oz probably isn't old enough to have seen one.
No, canonically Oz doesn't have that tattoo. But he went to Tibet to learn to control his lycanthropy. I put the tattoo there so he'd have a tangible reminder every day of what he's trying to control, and how that control can wax and wane.