None of them drank much; there was enough danger in their line of work without adding a hangover to the mix. But against their better judgment, a desire for normalcy could sometimes send one of them to a bar to drown their sorrows with the people who didn't have the weight of the world on their shoulders.
He hadn't really expected to find her here, though. She'd tried drinking herself drunk before and hadn't much cared for it. She spent most of the time complaining at the bitterness of the whiskey and bemoaning how much she had to drink before her demon blood stopped burning off the buzz. Sitting at the bar of a smoky, out-of-the-way pub, propped against a wall and blearily stirring a Bloody Mary with a celery stick was not where he thought she'd be tonight.
"What are you doing here, Raven?" he asked tiredly.
She barely looked up at him. "Eat this. I don't like celery." She dangled the dripping vegetable in front of his nose.
"Um—why does anyone have to eat it? Just leave it in the glass."
"It's food. Its purpose is consumption."
He stared at her a moment before rolling his eyes and grabbing the celery, dropping it back in its glass. "Come on. Let's go."
She stood up obediently but didn't budge when he tugged on her arm. "First eat the celery." At his exasperated look she added, "It's green and crunchy and stringy and vegetable-y. You'll love it."
He closed his eyes, inhaling deeply. "Rae—"
"If you don't eat it I will shove it up your nose."
He didn't bother arguing with her further. It didn't work when she was sober and it wouldn't work now, no matter how odd her drunken requests might be.
He retrieved the celery stick and munched on it loudly, his face arranged in the most sarcastic expression he could muster. "Mmm, delicious. I can still taste the Tabasco. Okay? Now let's go."
She nodded contentedly and let him take her by the hand and pull her outside. When she nearly tripped over the curb he put an arm around her waist as he led her across the street to an old-fashioned park bench.
"Sit down before you fall down," he told her, groaning when she shook her head. "I am not going to argue with you about this, Raven. Just sit down."
His eyes followed her as she wandered a few yards over to flop down in front of a huge old oak tree. He sighed. "Whatever," he said under his breath. He sat next to her, leaned his back against the tree trunk and closed his eyes again.
"Gar," she said.
He didn't open his eyes and she didn't say anything.
"Gar," she said again.
She was quiet for a moment before murmuring, "Nothing." They lapsed once more into silence.
The combination of the chirping crickets, passing cars, drunken laughter from the pub and the quiet rhythm of her breathing lulled him to a state of almost-sleep that he had been sorely missing the past few nights. He was disrupted when she crawled across him to sit between his legs, her back against his chest. She reached for his arms and pulled them around her, playing absentmindedly with his hands.
His mouth opened to say something, to voice a question— but closed when he realized his brain had given up on trying to find anything to say. He stayed as still as he would if he was trying to approach a skittish deer, breathing slowly as she laced her fingers with his.
"You do like celery, right?"
He started at the sudden shattering of the nighttime quiet. "I—what?"
"You like celery? I wouldn't have made you eat it if I knew you didn't like it." She craned her neck to look him in the eyes.
"Um, it's okay, I guess." When she didn't turn away from his gaze, he added, "Sure, it's great with peanut butter. Mm-mm, celery."
She snorted but turned away and rested her head under his chin again. He inhaled the smell of her hair and the hint of something flowery from her shampoo. He had always liked her scent. It was something pure, plain, and unassuming, like rain. He was so used to it surrounding him that it overpowered the aura of cigarette smoke and alcohol that was sticking to her skin.
"You smell good," he whispered into her hair.
"Thanks," she said, the alcohol preventing her blush or awkwardness. He smiled.
"Hey," she said slowly, as if thinking.
"I've never climbed a tree before." She began to stand up but he tugged her back down.
"That's a shame, because you're sure as hell not going to start right now." She opened her mouth indignantly and he continued, "You can't even walk without stumbling. Why would I let you up a tree?"
"Squirrels go up trees."
He almost laughed at her inebriated logic. "You're not a squirrel, Rae. You are half-demon, though."
She sulked in his embrace. "Rather be a squirrel," she muttered.
He did laugh at that. "Maybe in your next life, if you're good."
She strained against his arms and he sighed again, dropping them to his sides as she crawled away. He watched her as she ran her hands through the grass they were sitting on, then followed her gaze up to the stars. He absently noted that there was a full moon before he realized that Raven was floating up past him.
"What the—Raven! Get down!"
She perched on a thick branch at least fifteen feet above him. "What's it like being a squirrel, Gar? You've been one, right?"
"Don't make me come get you, Raven, I'll—what are you doing?" His breath caught in his throat. "Ra—"
She was standing on the tree limb with her eyes closed and arms outstretched, slowly leaning backwards into nothingness. "Raven—"
Before he could so much as shout another warning she was falling, her face expressionless and her clothes whipping around her. He stopped breathing.
A few inches above him she caught herself, slowing her fall enough so that when he caught her he was able to remain standing.
She opened her eyes when she felt herself in his arms. He was staring desperately at her face, his eyes wide and his mouth slack.
"Raven—you—I—what the hell!"
"I can fly, Gar. Remember? I can catch myself." When he continued to sputter incoherently she explained, "I like falling."
Words failed him. He stood in silence, mouth still hanging open. Neither he nor she had moved, and she was still reclining in his arms.
"You are crazy," he said finally.
She smiled at him, something he didn't get to see as often as he'd like. Her eyes crinkled at the corners and her lips curved subtly upwards. "You are crazy. You're the one who caught me."
He thought about kissing her, then. It wasn't as if she'd have died from a fall from fifteen feet, and it wasn't as if she didn't go into far worse situations on a regular basis. It was just the hopelessly basic feeling that she could have been hurt and he didn't want that to happen. But as she stirred in his arms, asking without words that he put her down, he complied.
"Don't do that again," he said simply.
"Maybe," she replied evasively, smirking when he frowned at the fact that she wasn't taking him seriously.
"I'm not always going to be there to catch you, you know. I mean, sure, you can fly, but what if—"
"Gar." She stood on tip-toes so she could be at eye level with him. "Why the hell would I throw myself off anything if you weren't there to catch me?"
He absorbed her statement, and then he smiled. She returned it before poking him firmly in the chest. "I'm tired. You're tired. This has been a tough week. You think hanging out at skeevy bars and drinking will make it any better? We should both be in bed, what's wrong with you?"
She continued berating him as he took her hand and guided her back towards the Tower, not trusting her to fly or teleport anyone at the moment. He half-listened as she made a show of scolding his decision-making, thinking more about the fact that she hadn't pulled her hand from his.
When Raven went down to breakfast the next morning with a headache, she found a green squirrel sitting by her plate next to a vase full of celery.
Author's Note: This just happened, I don't know how! But overall I liked it enough to post it, hoping someone would enjoy it too. Big thanks to K and M! ily
If you have time, a review would rock my universe. Please especially let me know:
a) What you liked (be specific! "That was cute" is nice and I appreciate it, but it doesn't really tell me what parts you thought were cute or enjoyed.)
b) What you didn't like
c) Any incorrect mechanics
d) Any problems with tenses (I have a hard time with those guys)
e) Characterization (I emphasized a few times that Rae was acting different because she was a little drunk. I wanted to make her bolder and take her a bit out of her usual monotone but still keep her believable. Did I manage it? And I think there's a lot more to Gar than we see, and to me this is him, but did you believe it?)
f) The style (I don't know, it came out kind of detached, choppy and weird. Maybe my writing style is just detached, choppy and weird. Does it work okay here? Could really use some advice on this.)
g) The ending (I thought about cutting it off after Rae's last line about Gar catching her but it felt too sudden, so I added stuff. Too much, not enough, ramble-y?)
Thanks for reading and reviewing! I adore your face.