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Stranger on the Town

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Stranger on the Town

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Joe shivered as the wind cut through him, making his legs ache. What he needed was a drink, and not just because of the weather. Why the hell they'd decided to have a Watcher convocation in Chicago at this time of year he'd never understand. He assumed it was due to the so called new blood; the oldsters, like him, always used to hold this particular meeting somewhere gentler on aching joints like California or Florida where he could recharge for a while before going back to the familiar cold and damp of Seacouver. He did not enjoy bitter cold, even when he'd been younger with both of his legs intact, and Chicago wasn't on his list of favourite places to visit at the best of times anyway.

A blast of warm air from an open door distracted him from his internal complaints and the young woman who exited grinned broadly at him as she pulled what looked like a hand-knitted tuque, with flaps, down over her ears. The scent that drifted out of the door after the warmth reminded him of childhood, comfort and home; all wood smoke and good food. He didn't bother to even glance at the name of the place; he just followed the warmth and the smell of home through the door into the dimness beyond.

As he negotiated the steps down into the bar Joe counted himself lucky that he wasn't an exceptionally tall man; the combination of low ceiling fans, odd placed tables, supporting columns and his cane would have been a real doozy if he was, as well as potentially embarrassing. He was still intent on making his way to the bar without mishap when a quiet, but perfectly audible voice broke his concentration;

"Of all the bars in all the towns in all the world, you walk into mine." Joe stumbled to a halt, swaying slightly on his cane, a wide smile spreading across his face.

"McAnally? Sean McAnally?"

"Uh-huh." Nothing more was said, but 2 glass bottles appeared on the bar.

"Well damn me to hell and back again." Joe limped quickly across the remaining floor space and settled himself into one of the 13 stools. "It's good to see you."

"Is it?" There was the hint of a smile hovering on McAnally's face. Joe grinned at him.

"Hell, yeah. No-one makes beer like you. Must be all those years of practice."

"Maybe." The smile widened and brightened into a mischievous grin as McAnally pushed the open bottle across the bar toward Joe. He reached out to take it; as always, it was served at room temperature, but Joe appreciated that on a bitter winter's day. The aroma was rich and malty and promised good things from the bottle; Joe's mouth watered in anticipation, it was a long time since he'd had a McAnally brew. He raised the bottle in toast to the immortal friend the Watchers had never discovered.

"Here's looking at you, kid."