When the Night Makes You Numb, Part 1 - (Day 3, Evening)
A collab between @Xandrya and @Wanderingwolf
She sat by her lonesome self, the barstool to her left as empty as the barstool to her right. Idle hands cupped the tall glass of wine which had remained untouched for some time as thoughts of what could've been danced around in her head. Alana was still not over Cal, but that was her business and her business alone.
"Got a worry or two up in that noggin o' yours, don't ya?"
She looked up, the bartender was leaning on the edge of the counter with his back to her, but he'd turned his head to speak. He held a mug in one hand and a white dish towel in the other to remove some water stains.
"None of your concern if I do."
He shrugged off her response. "The safety and wellbeing of my customers kinda is my concern..." He fully turned to face her, slinging the rag over his shoulder as he set the mug down.
Pelorum ought to have been the vacation destination, even for working folk. There were all sorts of fun to get into, and if that weren’t your speed, the beach (what free beaches were left after the mega-resorts) offered some sun and the sound of gulls. All that in every corner of this town, and Cal still felt lower than la shi. Drunk would take his mind off his troubles, he conjured, and for once it weren’t the Doll or the job: it was his gorram heart.
The doors to this establishment proffered a tiki-themed, exotic island vibe, with bright and fruity drinks on display, but Strand found comfort in the line of amber bottles behind the bar. Since he and Alana had ended things, he’d felt more on edge, prone to anger, and less willing to stay sober, though that behavior hadn’t yet spilled out of his quarters. With Imani in tow, Cal made a b-line for the teak-looking bar and anchored an elbow while waiting for the keep to pay him mind.
Taking off his hat, he turned to his compatriot in an attempt to fill the silence, “You got any plans for leave this stop?” His tone was curious but offhanded. “Hard not to love a party town like this.” His face said he didn’t love it.
"No plans 'sides me enjoying ya company and leaving any trace of sobriety at the door."
That got a smirk from him, as he lifted his gaze to meet hers; there was a kindness, even a camaraderie behind those tough as steel eyes of hers.
Her statement was free of implications, though to Cal or another pair of listening ears such words could've easily been misconstrued. Any woman with half a brain could admit to his charming looks, but the fact that his personal life had taken a nosedive meant Imani would keep her distance from a man she'd otherwise pursue. In all earnest, she hoped he was okay.
"First round on me? We can't always abuse the rich," she smiled, waving over the bartender after briefly locking eyes.
“Hell, just the first?” Cal’s smile nearly reached his eyes. While his vivacious drinking partner conferred the particulars of their poison to the tender, he caught himself staring into his upturned hat. That nagging feeling gnawed at the back of his mind: regret. The rub of it, he reckoned: he was too blind to see it coming. Things with Alana had been hot and cool, sure, but never cold. Never, he surmised with a nod, was the wrong word.
The bartender poured Imani’s order in front of the pair, an amber swirling liquid Cal reckoned would dull the pain a mite after a few more. As he wrapped two fingers ‘round the rim, he lifted the glass, “To leavin’ sobriety at the door.” He held it aloft for Imani to clink her drink to his.
She toasted, and a moment later gulped down a mouthful. The strong, fruity taste burned as it traveled down her throat, her face contorting briefly from the aftertaste.
"This might just be the one drink I need for the night," Imani joked, setting the glass down in front of her. The bartender had been rather charitable with the serving portion, and Imani noted to give him extra coin for it.
Cal followed Imani’s lead, except he downed his drink and tapped the bar for another. He fully intended to embody his toast tonight. The China Doll was safely docked, they had a stretch of shore leave ahead of them, and Strand had no one to go home to tonight, even if the last made him a mite bitter.
Some lively music started playing. With her drink in hand once more, she started moving to the small dance floor which a few other patrons were currently occupying. "Join me!" she yelled over the music.
Strand shook his head but vacated his stool just the same, taking a little off the top of his new drink along the way. The dim lights accentuated the pulse of the music, some sort of electronic-Islander mix, with a choral arrangement to carry the melody. It wasn’t his usual cup of tea, but the alcohol was already making its way to his nerves, easing the senses in the warm embrace of a buzz brewing.
Imani, beautiful woman that she was, exuded both playfulness and spontaneity, which he found a mite alluring. His gaze took in the gentle curve of her cheek and the piercing set of those almost almond eyes. Perhaps against better judgment, the Captain joined her on the meager dance floor, bouncing to the beat, drink raised.