#1541

[ My arch nemesis and I provided each other with some writing prompts. This is the second one she gave me. The limitations are it must be silly and canon to the story in which both our characters appear. Her prompt is below:

Mage and Alice meet at neutral ground, in a bar that serves magical folk. What happens? Do they drink together? Do they shoot daggers from their eyes from across tables? Play pool/darts? Sing karaoke? Make bets about who can flirt up more people? Play drinking games to see who can drink who under the table? ]

Mage employed one of two personae when drinking off-ship. Either she played the role of cloaked and hooded stranger sitting at a table in the farthest shadow, watching the other patrons in steely silence, or she went full-on Captain of the Jolly Roger, singing bawdy sea shanties and tricking people into entering dagger throwing contests against her. Tonight she had chosen the former in preference of some peace and quiet, and so she sat at a lone table far from the fire, hood pulled up to shadow her emerald stare.

“D’you need anything else, Captain?” The one harried waitress on shift paused at the table’s edge, a well-meant yet infinitely weary smile on her plump lips. Mage eyed the girl for a moment, wondering idly how a human girl had wound up serving in a place like this, then shook her head. As the girl walked away Mage’s gaze wandered with disinterest over the crowd, the usual motley collection of fae folk and dusty travelers which collected at roadside taverns such as this.

“Hey, baby, why don’t you give me a kiss for good luck?”

“Please, stop!”

Mage turned her attention to a nearby table, where a group of hunters sat playing cards for dented coins. One of the greasier and more inebriated of their ilk had a meaty hand clasped around the waitress’ wrist and was yanking her roughly into his arms, despite her best efforts to pull away. A growl rumbled in Mage’s throat and she leaped to her feet, a slim dagger already gripped in her hand.

“Back the fuck off, you pathetic piece of–”

“Unhand the girl–”

The two speakers froze as their words overlapped. Mage, fingernails digging into the drunkard’s right shoulder, glared over his head at the woman who gripped his left arm. “You,” she growled in disgust. “You!” Alice spat in distaste. The man between them let go of the waitress, distracted by this new spectacle, and leered up at the women. “Ooh, cat fight!” he chuckled drunkenly. “Gonna tear each others clothes off?”

“Oh, shut up,” They spoke in unison again as Mage’s fist found the man’s solar plexus and Alice’s his already misshapen nose. He crumpled to the floor without another word, wheezing and leaking blood but making no move to retaliate. His friends jumped to his defense – until they took a closer look at the assailants and realized Mage alone wore more weaponry than all of them together. They then beat a hasty retreat, leaving their companion where he had fallen.

Alice eyed Mage over the motionless body. “That was… surprisingly altruistic of you,” she admitted. Mage sneered back. “Yeah, well, if you tell anyone, I’ll use your skin to patch holes in my sails.”

“Of course you will,” Alice rolled her eyes, then glanced around the tavern. “So where are your boys?” Mage crossed her arms and shrugged. “Probably fucking in a bathroom somewhere. Or killing each other. Where’s your gang of Sailor Scout wannabes?” Alice grimaced at the comment, though a corner of her mouth stubbornly quirked up in amusement. “Probably… not doing either of those things.”

An awkward silence fell over the two sworn enemies. They rarely met on neutral ground, let alone in a time when neither was actively plotting against the other. So if they weren’t going to battle to the death while trading vicious insults and digging up painful old memories, what else was there to do? Be… civil?

Finally, Mage sighed and nodded toward the bar. “Pretty pathetic, both of us drinking alone in a tavern.” She smirked. “Come on, loser, I’ll buy the first round.” Alice hesitated, considering how easy it would be for Mage to slip something into her drink, then followed the elf over to the bar. After all, a free drink was a free drink. Maybe Mage’s altruism would last the evening. At any rate, she’d keep a watchful eye over her glass.

Mage waved over the barkeep, then gestured to Alice. “Something… bright and sparkly for her, and something that feels like hellfire for me,” she ordered, tossing a few coins on the counter. Alice debated switching the coins, convincing replicas yet still obviously fake, for real ones, but decided to take Mage’s gesture of goodwill at face value. She could always leave a generous real tip at the end of the night. When their drinks arrived the two women sat silently sipping them for a time, both unwilling to admit to the other, or to herself, that this was not as incredibly terrible as she would have imagined the moment to be.

As she drank, Alice let her eyes wander over the tavern. Her gaze fell on the brute from earlier, still laying motionless where he had fallen in a suspiciously wide pool of blood, and she frowned. “You did punch that guy, right?” she asked. “You didn’t…” Mage grinned and clapped her temporary ally on the shoulder. “Have another drink, Alice dear. We’ve got the whole night ahead of us.”

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