TTR/TDF (unofficial): Lovers' Rock
by Mags L Halliday
This ties, sort of, to Paul Gadzikowski's "Nobody Knows The Troubles I've
Seen" and is a sequel to DBKilling's "A TDF Christmas".
! Major SPOILER for Buffy season 5.! I mean, *really* big.
Dawn. Even the geographically confused land that both This Time Round and
its gradually expanding service industry town were sited on knew there were
seasonal rules. It was the shortest day. Or the longest night. Depending
upon how you looked at it. That's one of those 'is the glass half-full or
half-empty?' questions that any regular of the Round would answer with
'doesn't matter get another drink in'.
Either way, dawn was comparatively late. For a brief few minutes it was
crystallised. The rumpled snowfields above the pub had smoothed in the
night, the fine top powder refracting the lowly angled sun into almost
blinding glitter. The sky was the palest blue. In accordance with narrative
rules, the world looked like a virgin - shiny and new. A robin briefly
considered singing but then the yellow-grey snowclouds formed and the sun
was hidden. Going against narrative rules no-one was around to see the
wonders of nature and relate them to their own mental or emotional state.
Adric was still clearing up the mess from the
Midwinter/Christmas/Hanukkah/any-excuse party. He worked around the
slumbering dead-weights of Benny, Jason and Christine's bodies in a booth.
The three had got drunk. Again. Christine had made Jason cry and Benny had
got over-emphatic. Francois had made them kiss and make up, citing both the
spirit of the season and his large cudgel as reasons to do so.
It seemed odd, somehow, to be doing routine stuff. Odd and good. His life
was far, far too complicated these days. His non-canon life massively
overshadowed his canon-world. Although, thinking about it, that was probably
a good thing. He'd been given so many after-shaves, deodorants, mouth-washes
and body-gels this year after his last official adventure that he was
starting to suspect the fans were trying to tell him something. Anyway, the
routine of the Round, such as it was, was comforting. Everyone, even his own
subconscious, seemed to be intent of making his life more difficult. He
paused in sweeping the floor, his eyes drawn in the direction of the hill
behind the pub where, just last night, he'd well he'd almost
"Morning, lover boy." A husky voice addressed him from behind. He clutched
the broom-handle. Oh no
The owner of the voice coughed. Not in a pleasant way. In a
'clearing-all-of-last-night's-gunk-out-of-the-lungs' way. In a rough, 'I'
ve-been-drinking-and-smoking-Bensons-all-night' way. Adric relaxed and spoke
without looking around.
"Normal breakfast, Fitz?"
He propped the broom out the way. There'd been that cross-over night last
week where not only the broom but two pool cues were broken due to some
blonde girl's obsessive behaviour. She'd apologised after trying to stake
the Klingon through the heart, claiming an automatic response to unusually
crinkled foreheads. The Proprietor had told the staff to keep all long
wooden objects behind the bar in future.
Fitz was settling on his favourite barstool. The one at the end that he and
Chris (either version) habitually used.
Adric wasn't a great chef. It was one of the reasons he'd agreed to the
post-party shift: he'd assumed no-one would come in for hours. Fortunately,
Harry had not shared such an assumption and Fitz's fry-up was waiting on a
plate to be zapped by the gamma excitation oven. As he watched the
heart-attack on china spin round, Adric returned to pondering his position.
If, a year ago, he had been told that he would have double female trouble he
would have laughed. Well, he'd have felt the victim of an unamusing joke but
would have pretended to laugh so Wes or Ryuoko didn't wind him up further.
Last night had felt so wrong. No, it had felt right. No, it had felt wrong
and right and impossible and natural and utterly alarming and
He carried the plate back into the bar and put in front of Fitz. Fitz
groaned, setting off a few muted grunts from the sleeping forms in the
booth. Then the dishevelled man started cautiously tucking into the various
fried meats. After the initial intrepidation, he settled into a steady
shovelling motion. A tomato got pushed to one side. He slowed eventually,
needing a swig of the black coffee Adric had quickly made him.
"No problem." Unlike my life, the Alzarian thought. He was still perturbed.
He had nearly had wanted to
He glanced sidelong at the 1960s not-quite-Lothario still causing arterial
panic at the end of the bar. He was experienced. Well, more experienced than
Adric. Fitz didn't seem to spend that much time insulting him either. Too
busy running around and arguing with either Compassion or Anji. Or both.
Anji had been upset last night. All she'd got given was socks or chocolates
as no one had known what to get her for a present. Adric, surrounded by a
stockpile of Sure for Men, had felt sorry for her. As had Fitz. Fitz's
expression of that empathy had resulted in a slap from Anji. Which had in
turn provoked a second slap from Compassion. Yes, in terms of getting hit by
women towards whom he felt er nothing (honest), Fitz was definitely
experienced. Although, to date, with less terminal results.
The older man looked up, getting his fringe to fall in what was supposed to
be an attractive fashion over his eyes until remembering it would be wasted
on Adric. "Yeah?"
"If just supposing " he found it impossible to work out how to frame his
questions without sounding like a dork. And although Fitz had never wasted
time abusing him, Adric had no desire to give him any ammunition. Fitz
cocked an eyebrow at him.
"Go on? This breakfast was good and greasy, how I like it. I owe you one. Is
it a-" Fitz coughed pointedly, "delicate matter?"
"Well " Adric still couldn't frame the words. Even trying to form the idea
in his head was uncomfortable. Fitz saw the twitching and smiled.
"Tell you what. I think I know the place you need to go to."
Fitz grabbed a paper napkin and hastily scribbled directions down. He folded
it up, then leant over the bar and slipped it into Adric's top pocket.
Behind him there was a series of muttered curses as the booth's occupants
woke up. Fitz winked.
"They meet tonight. After dark. About 7pm, I understand."
It had to be a joke. Fitz's first trick on everyone's favourite target.
Adric had decided to follow the directions and found himself in front of the
old scout hut, near the crèche. He had watched for about ten minutes from
across the road, during which time lone figures had hurried up to the hut
and slipped inside with haunted glances. The snow was floating down,
drifting on air currents. On a warmer night, or in a world where the weather
didn't have any dramatic input, it would have been that most English weather
condition light drizzle. As has been noted before, however, the
micro-climate around the Round liked to take an active part in the
narrative. It was just cold and damp enough to make the drizzle into snow
and the light from the scout hut into a warm invitation.
Adric knew it had to be a trick. Had to be. Still, he was becoming inured to
them now. He should just get it over with. It was expected of him.
He hurried across the street, slipping slightly on the ungritted road. He
went through the outer doors. No trap so far. He pushed open the inner door.
Still no tricks. A circle of wobbly stacking chairs had been created. One
chair had a table in front of it, although the papers on it had been
haphazardly covered with a damp blanket.
Behind it there was a young, stocky guy with short dark hair. He looked like
the guy in Tommy Hifleger adverts who was always at the back looking like he
hadn't got the all-American girl. Two seats from him was a far more familiar
figure. Fitz glanced up as the door closed with a thump, grinned and gave
Adric a cheery thumbs-up. Beyond Fitz, on the other side of clean-cut guy,
another man was sprawled, picking at something under his nails. His nails
were painted with black varnish, clearly chipped. Adric took in the peroxide
bleached hair, and the curled lip that suggested an utter lack of confidence
was being hidden. Next to him, a very muscled man with shoulder-length black
hair had his arms crossed. His black leathers creaked as he adjusted his
position slightly and his lips jutted out from his neat goatee beard as he
pouted. The woman sat beyond him was fiddling with the three-lobed black
flower in her dark hair and glancing about nervously. She spotted Adric and
smiled. Suddenly, the circle seemed a little less threatening to Adric. He
quietly took up the chair one from the woman, watching her hand as it
smoothed her long blue dress's skirt.
The person behind the table stood.
"Right. I call this meeting to order. For anyone new, I'm Pacey and I
founded this self-help group." He glanced about before continuing. "The
first step to recovery is acknowledgement of the problem."
What? What problem? Personal hygiene? Being a loser? Oh no, not *that*.
There was no way Adric was ready for that. He looked about nervously, but
no-one seemed to be expecting him to do anything.
The blonde man stood, with a fair amount of grumbling and swearing under his
breath. He put a hand to his chest, over his heart, coughed and then looked
round the circle. "My name is Spike and I'm in love with someone who hates