August 1, 2016 by Lyn
St. Patrick’s Day, Year 4 of the Addergoole School.
“Another drink?” Ivette was wearing just over the legal minimum, all of it emerald-green, and had topped it with a green sequined top hat; she looked like the cover girl for Fuck Bunnies of Ireland, and she was holding a tall bottle of expensive Irish whiskey. “Or maybe an appetizer?”
Conrad smirked, and held out his glass for a refill. “How’d you end up playing waitress?” It was safer if he just ignored her other suggestion. He wasn’t sure he’d make it out alive if he didn’t.
She pouted, an expression obviously calculated – as much so as the flash of pink nipple shown when she bent to fill up his glass. Purposeful or not, the combined effect played havoc with his resolve. “I lost a bet,” she sulked, “so here I am, having to wait hand and foot on everyone all night.”
“Ah, well, thanks for the drink.” He sipped it slowly and tried to avoid looking at her perfect navel, or, for that matter, her perfect anything. “I think Taro could use another one, too.”
“He could use a lot more than that,” Phelen snickered into his drink. Vlad, on the far side of him, punched the shadow-creep in the arm. “What? It’s not like his spine hasn’t been surgically removed.”
Conrad glanced pointedly at the collared girl curled up around Phelen’s feet. “I didn’t think you had a problem with that.”
Phelen ran his hand through the girl’s hair; she nuzzled to the touch, a slightly goofy smile crossing her lips. “Wren likes where she is, don’t you, birdie?”
She nodded cheerfully, and nibbled at Phelen’s hand until he passed her his beer. Conrad watched her ass wiggle and tried not to vomit expensive Irish whiskey all over her tiny green outfit.
“And,” Phelen added, hammering the last nail into that conversation’s coffin, “Taro’s not happy. He should be a man and deal with the situation.”
“Annnnd… here comes Mabina and ‘Lisha with the food.” Conrad stood abruptly, though he was careful not to kick Wren. “You kids have fun now.”
“I’ll, ah, see if ‘Lisha needs help.” Vlad followed, nearly stepping on Conrad’s tail, turning puce at Phelen’s snicker as they fled. “Arrogant bastard,” he muttered softly. “No-one should treat a woman like that.”
“I’m inclined to agree with you. No-one should treat anyone like that.” Even if she did seem like she was enjoying herself. “Hey, ‘Bina, can we give you a hand?”
She smiled widely. “Just like you boys to show up when there’s food to be had, isn’t it, and not when it was being cooked? Here, you can carry this over to the table.”
“You kicked us out of the kitchen,” Vlad protested, even as he took a basket of rolls from ‘Lisha. She smiled winsomely at him – apparently domesticity agreed with her.
“Yeah,” Conrad added helpfully, “it’s not our fault you decided to go all kitchen-goddess on us and kick the menfolk out.”
“You-” she swatted him with a wooden spoon for emphasis – “make messes. Even my darling Cassidy is a mess behind the stove. And I did not have time for messes.
“Then you can’t really scold us for not helping,” he pointed out. This time, he successfully dodged the spoon-whack.
“I can do whatever I please,” she told him, mock-seriously, “especially today.”
“Yes ma’am,” he grinned. “Can I get you a drink, ma’am?”
“Just seltzer for me, today.”
“Seltzer, right.” He turned towards the bar, then turned back towards her suddenly as it sank in. “’Bina…?” She was beaming, her cheeks flushed and her face stretched with the smile. She nodded briefly at his raised eyebrow.
“Oh, ‘Bina, that’s great!” His stopped his impulsive hug mid-squeeze, and settled for patting her back. “When?”
Level-headed non-nonsense Mabina barely managed to meet his eyes. “Valentine’s Day,” she murmured.
“Ah,” he grinned. When Vlad and ‘Lisha, Megan and Taro had been suitably occupied and he, low-maintenance and not totally dense, had been playing poker with Melchior’s crew. “Congratulations.”
“Thank you. Now get some food or get out of my way.”
“Yes ma’am.” He dodged her spoon again, and, food in one hand and drink in the other, went in search of Taro.
Said rock was sitting off in a corner with Megan and a couple of her friends, staring adoringly at his Keeper-slash-girlfriend while she and her friends talked endlessly about clothing and the latest pop band they were crushing over. Conrad almost gave up the mission – he was allergic to fashion conversation, and Taro wasn’t real pleasant in situations like this – but Taro was his friend and crew.
“Hey, Petyr.” He flopped down in a not-really-a-spot between Taro and Amanada as if he didn’t realize there wasn’t a spot there. “Whiskey?”
“I don’t want you getting drunk, Taro. You’re no fun when you’re drunk.”
“Just one glass isn’t going to hurt anything.”
“No, Tar-tar.” She wrinkled her nose at him, and he sighed, defeated.
“Thanks anyway, Con.” He eyed the plate of food on Conrad’s lap wistfully. “Mabina’s cooking?”
“Yeah, she and ‘Lisha went all out today.” He stabbed his fork into a potato and talked around a mouthful of food because he knew it would annoy Megan. “Delicious. Of course.”
“Maybe I should…”
“Tarieboo,” Megan interrupted, “if you move, I’ll be cold.”
He sank back into his seat. “Maybe not.”
He couldn’t do anything to help, so he ignored the exchange. “How are your classes with Akatil going?” he asked through another mouthful of potato.
“Pretty cool. We’re working on this thing…” he shrugged.
“What’s it like, working with… Akatil?” The little tinkerer was reclusive, and rarely seen except when the students broke something. It seemed an odd pairing, but Taro didn’t seem to mind.
“It’s cool,” he shrugs. “There’s some wacky stuff down there in the under-basement that no-one else gets to see. And Yixox doesn’t mind that I’m…” he trailed off with a vague gesture that Conrad took to mean dumb as a rock. “What’s Luke like as a Mentor?”
“Hard. But fun.” The Mara had a rock-solid sense of honor, unlike most of everyone here, but bringing that up in front of Megan would just mean more grief. “We’ve been getting into some pretty intense unarmed combat training lately.”
“Sounds like fun.”
“It’s great. You should come by sometime, give it a try.”
“Ye…” he fell silent as, beside him, Megan tensed and rose to her feet as if on puppet strings. “Meg?” he asked softly.
“Leave me alone, Taro.” Her voice was a flat, a dreamy monotone that made Conrad’s hair stand on end. He glanced across the room, following her line of sight, although he already knew what he’d see.
Shadrach loomed, a head taller than the gathered students, his girlfriend Eris blessedly nowhere in sight. After watching Phelen with Wren, Conrad wasn’t sure he could handle watching Eris’s dead eyes following Shad around. Bad enough that Megan was making a beeline for him.
Taro was almost certainly unaware of the noise he was making, a soft trapped-animal keening groan forced out through clenched teeth. Megan’s friends, however, were watching him with hungry eyes.
He reached out for Ivette as she passed, grabbing the tails of her uselessly tiny apron. “Hey, barmaid,” he teased, “can you get my friend here a Guinness?”
She frowned at him, but her heart wasn’t in it; she was having too much fun with the waitress gig. “Do I look like a servant to you?”
“As a matter of fact, yes. I thought that was the point?”
She pouted cutely, and Conrad sternly focused on Taro’s misery rather than her adorably kissable lips. “Well, when you put it that way…”
“Don’t bother,” Taro grumbled. “You heard Megan. She doesn’t want me getting drunk.”
“Bah, no-one gets drunk on a Guinness or two. ‘Vette?”
The succubus-in-training looked over the two of them with pursed lips. “It will annoy Megan?”
Taro swallowed another sound of frustration. Conrad caught the girl’s eye and said, winking, “Nope. Not at all.”
“Darn. I’ll be right back with that Guinness.” She sashayed off, taking full advantage of the wee tiny skirt.
Megan’s friends would be a problem, if they thought Taro was trying to get around her. They stuck together, like a sick sorority or a band of harpies. He settled back into his seat, smiling around at them, pouring on all of his fae-enhanced charm. “So, ladies, are you having fun at this lovely party? Can I get you something to drink? Something to eat?”
The things he did for his friends…