Title; Tea and Sympathy
From; The-Caitiff (playing in Methos, JKR, Whedon, and Heinlein's sandbox)
Notes; This is a multi-crossover with BtVS, and The Cat Who Walks Through Walls (ok, I'm only actually stealing the cat for comedic relief but whatever Heilein still gets credit). I am indebted to Methos who wrote a wonderful setting over on TwistingTheHellmouth that he called "Tales from the Barman". He started with a basic premise "Xander opens a bar that caters to anyone, no questions asked" and then opened it to the fans. Within a month it broke 200,000 words from over a hundred authors because it was the perfect way to open a crossover or just have fun. This is just for fun and to get the creative juices going again after a two week writers block.
In Cleveland, Ohio, Xander Harris was hoping a quiet night as he flipped the sign to "open". It wasn't unusual, most Monday nights were slow, and he usually took the time to do inventory and balance his books. Suddenly every magic sensor Willow had installed for him when he opened the bar began shrieking bloody murder and a voice echoed quietly.
"I need somewhere to have a drink and a helpful bartender," the voice commanded. It was repeated twice more.
The building flashed white for an instant then the magic sensors quieted down. Xander heard the bells above his door tinkle and looked over to see who his latest unusual customer was going to be. In walked a young man who looked fifteen, if that, and was dressed in long black robes, a white shirt, and wore a red and gold tie. He marched up to the bar and took a seat on one of the stools.
"Hi, I'm Xander Harris, welcome to Nights. What can I get you this evening?"
Harry loosened his robes and relaxed a bit. "Harry Potter, I'll have a firewhiskey. You may as well leave the bottle because it's been a long day." He frowned and reconsidered, "A long life actually, not that it matters."
"I'm going to need some ID, you know the drinking age is 21 over here right?"
Harry muttered to himself while digging through his pockets. "An American? I could have swore I asked for a helpful bartender." Giving up on finding anything resembling a government ID that stated his age, Harry just looked at the ceiling.
There was another flash of white and a rectangular piece of plastic hit the bar between the two men, the picture was making a rather rude face as Xander examined it. Apparently Harry Potter had been born exactly twenty one years ago to the day and lived in Scotland. "It would have been a lot more believable if I didn't watch you magic it out of thin air. Nice work though, looks very real."
"I should have known better anyway. Stupid castle would never let me get away with drinking. Just get me a cup of tea or something, two sugars and a bit of milk if you don't mind."
"Ah, now that I can get you," Xander pulled out the stash of tea he kept for Giles and brewed a pot. Returning a few minutes later to Harry's end of the bar he poured himself a coke and sat down across from him. "So what brings an English kid like you out on a night like this?"
"Well I was hoping to get royally pissed and then whinge about prophecies, evil wizards, and sadistic government employees who want me dead. Unfortunately this ruddy blasted Room won't cooperate!" Harry shook his fist at the ceiling warningly.
"Sounds like a story or three," Xander observed. He waved loosely at his trophy wall, "I happen to collect stories so if you still feel like unloading a bit, feel free."
"Well I suppose it can't hurt really, since we're in the Room and all." He sampled the tea and looked impressed. "For a yank, you make a decent cuppa. Alright here's my story. Many years back, before I was born, a drunken fraud somehow managed to make a genuine prophecy. This prophecy told about the only child in the world who would be able to stop the evil wizard of the time. The problem was, two people heard it. One of them was a spy for the Dark Lord Voldemort, the evil wizard, and the other was Albus Dumbledore, a slightly insane schoolteacher with delusions of grandeur."
"Dumbledore, that name seems familiar somehow…" Xander waved it aside and gestured for Harry to continue.
"Dumbledore sounds familiar but you've never heard of Harry Potter? I think you just found a loyal customer. Anyway back to the story, the prophecy had some pretty specific ways to identify this chosen one and it turns out to be me. Naturally Voldemort doesn't want to wait around and let me become a threat to his power so he decides to kill me as soon as possible." Harry felt tiny pinpricks in his leg and looked down to see a small orange cat climbing his leg. He helped it up into his lap where it immediately settled down.
"That's Pixel, she comes and goes," Xander explained. "So now this Big Bad is chasing you and wants you dead eh? Sounds tough."
"Yes and no, we're not to that part of the story yet. See he decided to kill me when I was less than two years old. Killed my whole family then dropped dead at my feet. Then about a year and a half ago one of his nutjob followers kidnapped me and stole my blood for a ritual to bring him back to life. The government of course denied everything because it could cause a panic. They decided it would be better if I just disappeared one day, or maybe if my soul were to accidentally get sucked out."
"Ah, that sounds like a government to me. I've had a few bad experiences with ours over here too. As soon as something weird starts going on, people start disappearing and denials start flowing." Xander poured another cup of tea, seeing that the first was done. "So where does this Dumbledore character fit in? You wouldn't have mentioned him if he wasn't involved somewhere."
"Well he's the official good guy. Realistically he runs a small private school for witches and wizards, and holds a seat in the magical equivalent of our Parliament, but he holds a lot more power than just that. He's got connections and knows people all over Europe, some of them at the very top of their governments. Everybody is looking to him to save them from Voldemort but the only thing he has done is running the Order of the Phoenix. They are nothing more than a group of gossips hoping to win the war by listening for news about what the other side has already done."
"Now you're making me feel right at home, evil wizards, prophecies, and a group of nosey old British men who sit around watching everything but not doing anything to change it. Any minute now I'm going to decide that your ID looks really good and break out the whiskey just to hear some more detail."
"On second thought I probably shouldn't. The way things have been going lately, I'll either be a crying drunk or a violent one and I don't want to wreck your bar. I could always fix it in a flash but I'd feel guilty. Ever since the Ministry was forced to admit he was back a few months ago, Voldemort and his group have been killing a lot of people. The dementors, evil things that will force you to remember your worst memories and try to steal your soul, joined him last winter. The Vampires joined him last week, and we've heard rumors that the werewolves are considering his offers."
From his lap, pixel made a "Blert" noise and demanded to be pet some more. Harry thought this was a rather odd noise for a cat but pet it anyway.
When he looked back up, he noticed Xander was looking at him penetratingly with his one eye. "The Vampires joined the evil wizard you say? How many of them?"
"I don't know, they don't like to tell me much on account of my age but I heard that it was all the British ones and a few from the Continent. I don't know about numbers though."
Xander was quiet for a few moments and Harry could tell the way his eye jiggled back and forth that he was thinking hard about something. "It sounds like you've probably got two to three hundred vampires then. I wouldn't go out at night, even with a friend. They usually hunt in groups of two to five so be sure to have some holy water and a good cross if you absolutely have to go out. Actually it doesn't have to be a cross; it can be any religious symbol as long as you believe in it. I like wooden crosses because if worse comes to worst, you can break it apart for two stakes."
"Harry Potter walked into your bar and your eyes didn't immediately jump to my forehead. I called Albus Dumbledore insane and you just smiled. I've said Voldemort several times and it's just a name to you. There's not even a flicker of recognition. But the moment I mention vampires, now I've got your attention?" Harry was more than a little confused.
"My friend Willow, that redhead on the wall over there, does all the voodoo bits. I just stick to what I know." He shrugged. "Let me give you some advice about this prophecy though. If there are two things I know for sure about the supernatural world one is that most things die if you take their head off, and the other is that even prophecies aren't written in stone. I've sort of got a reputation for breaking them actually. So tell me about yours and we'll see where the loopholes are."
"Well the first bit just identifies me, even mentions me being marked," Harry brushed aside his bangs to display his scar. "The second bit says I have a power Voldemort doesn't know, and the last bit says one of us will kill the other."
"I wouldn't worry about the second part. Just because he doesn't know about it doesn't mean it is the secret to his demise. It doesn't say you know about it either, or that it will be useful. For all we know your superpower is the ability to get blood out of carpet." Xander smiled for a moment, "Though if you do develop that power you will always have a job over here waiting for you if you are interested. Now what exactly does the last bit say?"
"And either must die at the hands of the other, for neither can live while the other survives." Harry recited dutifully.
Xander nodded and suddenly a shot of whiskey appeared on the bar in front of Harry. "Can't send a fighting man off without a final drink, no matter his age" He explained. "Well that is a doozey of a prophecy but it is still pretty vague. For instance "the other" might refer to a third party."
Harry coughed lightly as the whiskey burned. He'd been expecting firewhiskey, but this was some sour American version that almost tasted rancid. The black label on the bottle taunted him, old number seven indeed. It tasted old… "What do you mean third party, Voldemort and I are the only two mentioned?"
"Lets assume you and Voldemort are in the middle of some epic battle and I happen to stumble onto the scene. I see two wizards fighting and a lot of dead bodies. What do the two of you see?"
"He sees another victim, and I see another innocent to protect. Why?"
"Well that's it right there. You both see "an other." Nobody special worth identifying, just an extra person who is in the right place at the right time. Now maybe I saw the two of you first and got a weapon ready. Either one of you could die at the hands of this "other." Do you see what I mean?" Xander sketched a few stick figures on a bar napkin. The one without a scar on his head wound up getting a face full of shotgun. "Most often prophecies only make sense after they are over and done with. Until then, don't let them worry you too much."
"Wow, I really never thought about it before. Thanks for the advice. I just might have something for your wall." Harry reached into his robe searching for the journal he'd taken to writing in over the summer. Once he found it he pulled out a picture he'd stuck inside. It was a photo Colin Creevy had taken just after the First Task at the Triwizard Tournament of him and Hermione. Thinking his wish to the Room of Requirement, he grabbed the quill that appeared and scribbled an autograph on the card. "There you go, if you get any wizards or witches in here I'm sure they'll be excited to see that one."
"Thanks, you're welcome to come back any time. If one of the girls is out front, just tell them the word Sunnydale and they'll get you whatever you want without questions. You are not the first person to wind up with a destiny they didn't want and they understand." All the magic alarms began shrieking again and he turned from the trophy wall just in time to see Harry step through his door and literally disappear. There was a cloth sack on his bar with a note. Opening the bag he found it to be full of nearly a hundred gold coins roughly the size and thickness of a nickel.
Looking at the note he found "Thanks for the tea and sympathy, Harry Potter."
"It's only six o'clock but already I can tell it's going to be a weird night." Xander thought to himself. "I better call Buffy, she will want to know about this vampire problem. Who knows, the kid might catch a break after all."
It wasn't until much later that he realized he hadn't seen Pixel after Harry left.