Mari was never the type for drinks: she genuinely enjoyed a sober life, if only for the fact that being Vixen was risky enough without having to worry about her liver failing. Tonight, though, was a little different. Tonight she had snuck off to a seedy, unknown part of town for a few drinks. The alcohol burned all the way down into her stomach and made her shiver a bit. Warm belly, cold shivers. She never understood the mechanics of getting wasted.
"Another one?" The tall, fat bartender asked in that growling voice of his. She spared him a half-hearted smile and pushed her shot glass forward with a perfectly manicured finger. He had been giving her hostile stares for most of the night, probably because she didn't belong there with all the lowlife men around. She was a supermodel, for one thing, and her gorgeous cream-colored suit cost more than any money they had in their pockets: stolen or otherwise. Maybe the big man just knew something she didn't.
The bartender refilled her glass without qualms and wandered back to his station to clean more glasses. Mari tossed back the shot and winced again. This would be her third. Was it working? Could she still remember what happened?
"Mari, I can't do this with you right now." John's voice was hot with impatience, his pale green eyes darting back to the still form of Shayera Hol on the stretcher being wheeled down from the Javelin. The mission had been simple but there had been an ambush on their way back. The ship had been hit hard and Shayera had jumped out to fend them off. She was hit twice with some sort of laser and wasn't breathing.
"I'm not asking you to do anything, John. I just want to know why you didn't tell me the truth. Why didn't you tell me you were going on this mission with her?" She was trying to be reasonable but the more she thought about it, the angrier it made her.
"What would you have said? I didn't have time for one of your arguments." John snapped, following beside the Watchtower paramedics as they started down the hallway towards the Medical Bay.
"'One of my arguments'? What is that supposed to mean?" Mari shot back, finally losing her temper.
"Mari, just stop it. I don't want to have this conversation again." He warned, punching in a code to access the elevator. Mari suddenly went very still as she watched him. Suddenly, she felt rather mature and collected about everything. She had been fooling herself. The way he looked at her, the way he was reacting right now, was like giant neon lights to her.
"Neither do I. Goodbye, John."
The elevator doors closed and she couldn't tell if his face even had any regret in it when he heard her words.
Mari opened her mouth to answer but a man behind her spoke instead.
"Make that two."
She didn't have to turn around to know who it was. She knew that thick but lovable accent and who it belonged to. A tall, dark-haired man sat next to her on a stool dressed in casual wear: brown leather jacket, black shirt, blue jeans, and dark brown cowboy boots. Few people knew the identity of Vigilante but she was one of those lucky few.
"Do you have me bugged or were you just bored?" Mari asked casually. Vigilante, known as Greg Saunders while out of costume, merely grinned and tossed back the shot when the bartender handed it to him.
"Now what exactly would give you that idea?"
She shook her head. "Nothing in particular. You stationed in this area?"
Greg cocked an eyebrow upward. "Do I look like I am?"
"Hey, I'm giving you room to make up an excuse to prove you're not stalking me. I'd cooperate if I were you, cowboy." She answered mildly, narrowing her russet eyes at him. He shrugged.
"I don't believe in drinking alone. It's sad. Even rich, fabulous supermodels should have at least one drinking buddy."
"Well, I appreciate the thought but I don't need one." She drank the liquor and this time, some of the tension in her shoulders relaxed. That was because of the alcohol, right? Right.
"I don't believe you so unless you personally escort me out of here, I'm not going anywhere," Greg told her cheerfully, causing her to groan in the back of her throat. The bartender cast an eye between the two of them.
"Is he bothering you?"
Mari glanced at him and then sighed. "Not really. He's just trying to be a gentleman, as annoying as it is."
The bartender grunted and lumbered away. Greg let out a rush of breath. "Thanks, I don't think I could have taken him."
Mari rolled her eyes. "You've fought worse things than that guy. Remember the Dark Heart?"
Greg shuddered. "Ugh. Thanks for reminding me, darlin'. I hated that thing. Had to buy myself a new motorcycle because of it."
"Better a new motorcycle than a new face." She pointed out. He grinned, rubbing his chiseled chin with appreciation.
"I've grown quite accustomed to this one, now that you mention it." There it was again: that weird feeling at the corners of her mouth. Dare she say it? A smile?
"Please tell me you didn't come all the way down here to be cute and make me laugh, cowboy. I'd have to hurt you." She told him with a straight face, though it was hard because she still wanted to smile at his antics.
"Of course not. There's a Boot Barn around the way where I get my favorite boots fixed fer your information." Greg answered with a playful sneer. Mari giggled before she could stop herself.
"A Boot Barn? That's a stereotype if I ever heard one."
"They are based on fact, darlin'." Further playful banter—known in the normal world as flirting—was interrupted by a large, meaty hand clapping itself on Greg's shoulder. He had known for about two and half minutes that the natives were getting restless. The hand belonged to a large, beefy black man with a bald head and goatee with three equally large men behind him.
"Take a hike, pal. Me and the fellas have been waiting to talk to this one." He jerked his head at Mari. Greg swiveled around on his stool with his arms wide and a disarming smile.
"Now, now, no need for violence. I'm a nice guy. I would gladly let you have a go at this little lady here but I am obligated as her designated driver not to let her go home with big, fat ugly men."
Mari closed her eyes for a second and hid a smile. The black guy was not amused by this. He grabbed two handfuls of Greg's shirt and brought him in close, growling.
"Either you leave or I make you."
"I'll take that second option, then. Darlin'?"
Mari grinned at him. "I thought you'd never ask."
Half an hour and one bar fight later, Mari and Greg were strolling down the street towards her townhouse giggling like teenagers.
"Did you see the look on that guy's face when I hit him with the bottle opener? I swear, he looked like that painting of The Scream," Mari said in between trying to catch her breath. Greg chuckled.
"No worse than when I made that guy cry by hitting him in the crotch with that neon Budlight sign."
"You're right, that was pretty good!" They both collapsed into laughter, leaning against each other for stability. The few people left on the street gave them funny looks but kept walking. Mari took a deep breath and tried to calm herself down but she had a lovely buzz going after the adrenaline rush from the fight. She couldn't even remember why she had been so upset before. Vigilante had that kind of effect on people.
They continued down the sidewalk arm-in-arm, slowly quieting their laughter to matching smiles. After a moment, Greg cleared his throat and spoke in a calmer voice.
"So I take it you're having trouble with the mister?"
Mari's smile faded into a very guarded look. "Not anymore, I'm not. Besides, you know me well enough that I don't want to talk about it."
"True, but I'd rather you tell me than try to pickle your liver." He pointed out in a mild voice. She glanced at him and he had an honest, open look on his face. She sighed.
"It's Shayera. I think I've been fooling myself thinking that he'd choose me over her in the long run. He doesn't want to admit it, but he loves her. Same goes for her. I'd rather bow out gracefully now then drag it out for another year or so."
"And you know this?"
"Of course I do. I saw the way he looked at her on that stretcher. He was heartbroken. The last time I saw him that upset was when we watched Old Yeller together." Mari explained bitterly. Greg nodded.
"That is quite the downer. Ow!" He rubbed the spot where she smacked him on the arm.
"I won't tell you anymore if you don't take it seriously." She grumbled, blushing a bit. Mari never really had a best friend, per se. She had friends and John, but no one to listen to all her thoughts and worries. Without the alcohol helping, she'd certainly never be telling a handsome, charming cowboy like him about her personal life.
"So what are you gonna do?" Greg asked gently. Mari set her shoulders.
"I'm gonna pack my stuff up and move on."
Greg smiled. "Atta girl. Wouldja look at that, we're here."
Mari blinked as she noticed they were indeed at the front steps of her home. She'd thought the walk would have taken longer or was it because she hadn't been thinking about it?
"I think that's my cue to skidaddle. You get yourself some sleep, y'hear?" He said, tipping an imaginary hat at her. Mari rolled her eyes.
"Y'know, for a cowboy, you're such a wimp."
"Pardon? Whoa!" He could only yelp in surprise as she yanked him forward by the collar of his shirt and kissed him. It was an unexpected but ridiculously pleasant kiss. Greg's legs felt a little shaky when she let him go and spared him a sly grin as she slinked up the steps to her door. She opened it and walked through the doorway, calling over her shoulder.
Greg stared after her for a second before launching himself inside.
"Damn right I am."
A/N: Okay, I actually have three reasons for why I 'ship them: (1) I watched "Hunter's Moon" too many times and I love the chemistry between them. (2) Gina Torres (Vixen) and Nathan Fillion (Vigilante) worked on the show "Firefly" together and also have great chemistry and (3) They are just fun as hell to write. This story also takes place a couple years from JLU episode "Ancient History" and it's just part of my theory for how John and Shayera eventually hook up.
Thanks for reading and don't forget to review! I need to know I'm not alone in my weird crack pairing. :D