Buffy entered the Bronze a little after sunset. The place was a small run-down old shack with a bunch of people standing around, sipping drinks and talking quietly. The place was more like a tomb than anything, people mourning the passing of a better world. She tried not to think about Sunnydale before the cataclysm, the memories themselves were enough to drive her crazy. She walked over to the bar, her high heeled boots thumping on the floor. She sat down and smiled at the bartender. Owen walked over. "What can I get you....?" He asked. He then tilted his head a bit.
"Buffy? Buffy Summers?" Buffy smiled.
"Yeah," She said, showing her pearly whites "Hello,Owen. Still reading Dickenson?" He nodded.
"I have the largest collection of poetry in town." He said with pride
"Most of poetry here in Sunnydale was confiscated by Harvests' men. I hid some of it under the floorboards here in the bronze after I inherited it." He said, smiling.
"How did you inherit it?" She asked.
"I made friends with the owner and helped him keep the place open after the cataclysm. He died and left it to me, and I kept it open." He looked down "Do you remember our date?" He asked. She smiled.
"Yep." She said, nodding and laughing "You helped save me."
"And then you saved me." he said, laughing. "God we were so young...and I was so immature." She laughed.
"You certainly were. Young that is." She said, smiling sheepishly. He nodded. "What brings you back to Sunnyhell?" He asked, pouring her a beer. "You drink beer?"
"No, I don't drink. Maybe you could just give me a water?" She asked.
"The beer is better for you. Water isn't so clean anymore." he said, frowning. She nodded.
"Fine. Beer it is." She drank from it, her face turning sour. "God I hate this shit." He nodded.
"Me,too. It's homemade. Can't buy alcohol anymore, 'cept at Vampire bars." Owen said, grimicing as he drank from his glass "I reiterate, what brings you home?"
"A promise." She said, looking off into the distance. She watched as a man with a shaved head walk in and sit down at the front of the bar. He pulled a guitar from his case and began to play and old song. Buffy couldn't place it at first, but then realised it was an old Pearl Jam song. Her lips parted in a big smile as she realised the identity of the guiatr playing man. She stood up, thanked Owen, and then walked off to the front of the bar. The man finished and recieved some applause from those sober enough to operate thier hands. He looked up at her and smiled.
"Well, you going to hug me, slayer or am I going to sit here and wait for hell to go back underground?" He asked.
"Oz!" She cried, running forward and embracing her old friend. "God, I've missed you."
"Likewise." He said, stepping back. "You haven't changed a bit." He said, looking her up and down.
"No, but you certainly have!" She exclaimed. "What's with the Mr.Clean look?" He smiled and shrugged.
"I was in tibet for a while. Vampires apparently can't take the pressure at the top of the tibetan mountains. The monks are all there, waiting around. I stayed there and studyed for a while, learned some fighting techniques while I was there. Unfortunetly, music is my calling, not fighting. I adopted thier ways. I don't fight anymore." He grinned. "I know, a dissapointment, but I never was much of a fighter. Except when I grow lots of hair." He sat down "That's a plus, I've learned to control my...animal self. The monks called in my spirit animal. I learned to control my mind and can now make the werewolf follow a basic plan. If I don't want people hurt, he won't hurt them. But he still fights like a demon."
"Wow, that's quite a story." Buffy said, pulling a chair up.
"Yes, it is." Oz agreed, nodding. He then tilted his head. "What have you been up to in the last five years?"
"I wandered." Buffy replied "Killed Vampires, broke into strongholds for a while, killed people inside."
"I heard about the brutal vampire killing and the exploding Harvest factories, buissnesses and the rest." Oz said, nodding.
"Wasn't me." Buffy said, sipping her beer with another grimace.
"Spike." Buffy said "He became incredibly violent in the last five years. He won't be here, I imagine. He never liked being with us anyway. I think he blames me for Drucilla leaving him and following Harvest."
"Spike became quite the legend." Oz said "I assume the he was the Phantom Prowler I heard about, then? I was positive that it was you..."
"That was Spike. I found out from some insiders, prisoners that Spike set free. His identity was only shared with people who knew him. I...sort of became popualr amongst the refugees,too. I managed to defend a whole town from Vampire raiders. Killed fifty of them, so the stories say."
"How many were thier really?"
"Ten." Buffy, said, grinning. "Interesting how the grapevine works. After that rumor made it around, vampires would actually beg me not to kill them."
"Really?' Oz laughed.
"Yeah. I traveled with a vampire or two who swore to actually serve me with thier lives in exchange for me not killing them. I set them free oon after. Used thier help for a while, and then they outlived thier usefullness and it just became a hinderence and it was really pathetic."
"It's been quite a five years for both of us. Any word from the others?"
"No." Buffy said, frowning "I tried tracking them down to find out who was coming. You?"
"None." Oz said, "Heard something from Will, but that was just a few words on a postcard. Something about South America and an underground refuge camp full of witches from around the globe. They were called The sisters of the old world or something." Owen walked over.
"Buffy, there's a gentleman at the bar who wants to see you." He said, pointing. Buffy turned and saw the tall man in a trenchcoat. He turned and smiled.
"Angel..." She whispered, a smile forming on her lips.
........................................................................ Next chapter