August 3rd Fic-a-Day Ficathon entry

Also a response to MarcusRowland's "Xander NON-HALLOWEEN Holiday Challenge" (#581) from TtH. Thanks for the inspiration. Posted there, as well as own neither anything belonging to Buffy nor anything belonging to Highland. I'm just having some fun. Take it easy, and everyone will get put back where they belong.

Set post-"Chosen" on Buffy (one teeny, tiny spoiler); set anywhere in Highlander, as long as they're in Seacouver.


Xander handed the waitress her tray full of drinks and couldn't resist watching her well-shaped rear end sway away in time to the music. His boss, Joe, was rocking away on stage to a song the younger man had never heard, but he'd decided he liked it all the same.

"Gotta love music that makes a woman move like that," he murmured, absently wiping the bar in front of him.

"I'll second that."

Someone moved in front of him, blocking his view, and Xander refocused his eyes on the man settling himself on the bar stool.

"What can I get you?" Xander asked, trying to guess what the tall, angular man might want to drink. He'd gotten pretty good at it over the past few weeks as business increased through the holiday season, but try as he might, he had no idea what this guy would want.

Hazel eyes studied Xander for a few seconds, taking in the eye patch, the practiced way he kept his hands busy while waiting for an answer, and the way he held himself—as though he could take care of himself in a fight.

"Draught ale—the stout tonight, I think."

Xander sent a lopsided grin at the new customer as he went about pouring the requested ale. "Stout to keep off the chill, or to hold the Christmas blues at bay?"

A full smile split across the other man's face, even touching his eyes. "Gathering courage to see an old friend, actually, and not entirely sure of my welcome. Though stout does work for either of those occasions as well."

The accent was British, but not quite the same as the one with which Xander was familiar. "Isn't it weird how fighting with your friends isn't nearly as scary as making up with them after?" Xander inquired, setting the glass down on the bar. "Nothing quite like a little liquid courage for that."

The man nodded slightly, narrowing his eyes. "Well said." He took another close look at Xander, and then offered his hand. "Adam Pearson. I'm something of a regular, which means you're rather new here."

Xander grasped Adam's hand. "Xander Harris. Been here three weeks yesterday. You're not much of a regular if I haven't seen you yet."

Adam shrugged, reclaiming his hand. "I travel a lot."

"Back just in time for New Year's, then. Too bad you missed Christmas."

Adam shrugged again, looking toward the stage as Joe wrapped up his song and swung into another. The blues guitar player/bar owner nodded his head toward Adam, a small smirk on his face. Adam raised his glass in return. "Christmas isn't really my thing; never could stomach Christianity when it came 'round."

"Yeah, my best friend is Jewish," Xander agreed with a nod, refilling another patron's beer glass. "Or rather…she's Wiccan now, I guess. Much more into the Earth Mother Goddess than the 'waiting for my savior' thing."

Xander's remark was met with a wry chuckle. "I never could get in line with any of the world's religions, truth be told," Adam admitted. "I think there is something to the celebration of the end of one year and the beginning of another. Though perhaps I'm more of a fan because of the libations and all the kissing, which taken together tends to lead…elsewhere."

"I hear that," Xander laughed.

Adam was about to take a drink of his ale when his eyes widened slightly and his slouch straightened slightly. Xander tilted his head slightly and looked in the mirror behind him, trying to see what had caused the odd reaction. He didn't see anything out of the ordinary, other than a lovely redhead wrapping herself around a much shorter, much less drunk man. He turned back just as Adam turned toward the door expectantly.

The door to the bar opened quickly, and the most beautiful woman Xander had ever seen (his two best high school friends, former girlfriend, and former fiancé included) stepped inside. Directly behind her was a tall, pony-tailed man in a long leather duster. Both of them were staring directly at Adam, who swallowed visibly. He took a very long pull on his ale and set the glass back down.

"Here goes," he murmured, quirking a slight smile and an eyebrow at Xander. "Mind my drink for me, will you? I'll be back directly, as long as everybody keeps their…wits."

Xander watched Adam slouch away from the bar, and then he turned back to the pretty waitress and her now-empty drink tray.