CW: Alcohol, very bad relationship advice, character death
The freezing rain hammered down all around me as I slunk through the back alleys, my collar turned up to keep the worst of it from getting into my coat. A proper soaker, just like the weatherworker'd promised. Might be enough to give me a few hours of respite before the past caught up with me.
Word was, the mob'd finally put a hit out on me. Leastways, that's what ol' One-Eyed John had said. Y'could never be quite sure with One-Eyed John, of course, but I knew in my bones that it was true. I'd been a thorn in their side for way too long, and it was past time for them to collect on their dues. Before dawn, this whole damn city'd be on my tail, rain or no rain.
I found the place I was looking for, an ornate wooden door down a short flight of steps. A soft orange glow came through the rippled glass panes. Me and Felicity, we'd come here every week before the Fall, swapping stories about her team's fights and my family's adventures. 'Course, that was all in the past now. Water under the bridge. Ha.
The barkeep was sorting through her till over in the corner, but she looked up as I entered, her face impassive. Silently, she slid a crystal tumbler towards me and filled it from a small bottle on the shelf behind her. Nicholson's, the best single malt y'could ever hope to find this side of the Inner Sea. I pulled out a handful of chits, but she waved them away. So. Guess word'd spread fast, that I was a dead woman walking.
I'd expected to find the place deserted, this late at night and with the storm raging all around. Yet there was one other in the room, a Treecko perched on the stool to my left, slumped over the bar. He was young, prob'ly younger even than Felicity and I'd been when we first met, but he'd clearly been in a few scraps. A coupla nasty scars ran down his right-hand side - the mark of wolf claws, I had no doubt. I'd seen his type before. Some poor sod, spurned by his cutthroat heartthrob, who'd come to drown his sorrows in the city's finest.
He glanced in my direction, eyes sparkling with unshed tears, like a puppy who'd been kicked for the first time by the very same boots that'd always fed and watered him. Yeah, he'd got it bad.
"Listen, kid," I croaked, making sure to stumble over my words as if the whisky were loosening my tongue, "I ain't never bin a trainer, but I sure know how to get a girl. That lass, whoever she is, you jus- you need to get over to her and strut your stuff, give it a bit of swagger. And if she don't seem to be paying that no mind, well, you, you gotta pick yourself up and try again. But after that, whatever y'do, don't be comin' on too strong. Just chill out a bit, chill out and let her come to you. She'll be eatin' outta the palm of your hand by sundown tomorrow, I guarantee it."
He blinked slowly, didn't give any sign he'd heard me. But I fancied I could see a glimmer of recognition in those big yellow eyes. What's that old bit of doggerel Gammer Fairfax used to say? Y'ain't truly gone from this world till the ripples y'leave behind die away? Well, I figured it'd cause a good few ripples letting loverboy loose at onea the mob's very own. Sure, the poor sap'd never get another date behaving like that, but he seemed like a bright kid. He'd figure it out soon enough. No lasting harm done.
I could hear the rain starting to die down outside, the spell coming to an end. I downed the last of my glass and placed it gently on the lacquered surface of the counter, then turned to the door. Time to face the music.
The streets outside were quiet and cool, a soft breeze playing across my face, and there was that greenish smell you always get after the rain's come and gone. Everything seemed perfectly still, like time itself had stopped in its tracks just to give me another few minutes on this earth.
A single shot rang out in the dark, and then another. It was funny, it didn't hurt at first. I just felt my life's blood pouring out of me, washing down to mingle with the water all around. I sank to the ground, lungs burning as I tried to take one final breath. And then I knew no more.
Swagger ~ Swagger / Chill ~ Chill