[ Sky – Master Post ]
Title: Room Between Me and the Ground
Characters: Severen, Arkady, Betty, Lir, Baron
Warnings: Drinking, legal drugs, expletives, mild violence
Notes: I mentioned something about Arkady getting wasted and groping Severen, and then I decided that it would be even funnier if it involved ephedrine and happened in public. This one’s the first of a likely few to feature the unnamed Irish pub, in Boston, with the bartender who writes Russian poetry. The pub and the bartender may both get names, if the actual bartender’s brother ever gets back to me… So, yeah. This is partly a gift, to a dear old friend.
There were few things in life that Severen hated quite like he hated coming back to Boston. It was the city he was born in, and he would neither forgive nor forget the way the city had treated him, when he was young. Older, now, he wondered how much of that had just been the fact that he was young, ugly, and poorly socialised — if it wouldn’t have been just the same, anywhere — but, it had all happened in Boston, and now, he had a grudge.
On the other hand, this particular bar had always been a decent place. He’d first started coming in with Sin, when they were in college, and it was just as dingy and Irish, now, as it had ever been. Well, almost as Irish. The bartender, now, could certainly pour a pint of Guinness, but he seemed to be entertaining Betty and Lir with translations of Russian love poetry, as he mixed another drink. The Russian parts were loud enough to be heard across the bar, but the translations were only provided to the people he was serving. Lir turned a brilliant shade of crimson, at one point, and Betty roared with laughter.
"This guy, Severen!" she shouted across the mostly-empty bar. "I want to take him with us! You were right about this place!"
"Of course I’m right about this place. I used to live four blocks from here," he called back, as Arkady started to list.
"Whoa, hey, Ebony." Baron stuck out a hand, checking Arkady back into a roughly vertical position.
"Sorry. Tired." Arkady yawned and grabbed the wrong glass, taking a huge swig of Baron’s second Long Island.
"Betty, get me another drink, while you’re up?" Baron yelled, pushing Arkady’s beer back in front of him. "Admiral Eyeliner, over here, just drank mine."
Arkady wheezed and gagged, before washing down the sharp taste of eighty-proof with a few swigs of beer. "Jesus, Baron, what do you drink, paint thinner?"
"My drink, not yours!" Baron complained. "What the fuck do you care?"
Severen sipped at the drink he’d been nursing for the last half hour and thanked the gods for taxi service. They’d hit town about two hours ago, and Baron and Betty had wanted to go for drinks before bed, as usual. Unfortunately, Arkady, who had been driving and was now approaching twenty-eight hours of uptime, had decided this was a fantastic idea. Severen wasn’t allowed to be alone, in Boston, and Lir didn’t want to be the odd man out, so here they were. And Arkady looked like he was going down, in a hurry.
"What day is it?" Baron asked. "I mean, I know we’re supposed to play on Thursday night, but I can’t remember if this is Wednesday or Thursday."
"It’s Wednesday. We hauled ass out of Baltimore, so we have a day off," Severen clarified, watching Betty cram a lime slice into Lir’s mouth.
"Good." Baron nodded and smacked four pills on the table, in front of Arkady. "You’re not allowed to pass out in the bar, unless you do it drunk."
"Fuck’s this?" Arkady asked, squinting at the white tablets.
"Two caffeine, two ephedrine. You’ll sleep before we have to be on stage, but you won’t do it here."
"This is why you don’t sleep, isn’t it?" Arkady studied the pills for another moment before he washed them down with more beer. "I swear to god, you must just have a pharmacy in your pocket, Baron."
"What can I say? It’s good to be me." Baron leaned back in the booth, as Betty and Lir came back, carrying drinks.
Glasses passed around the table, as they sorted out whose drink was in which glass. "And a real drink for Admiral Eyeliner, here," Betty announced, pushing a tar-black pint and a full shotglass across the table, to Arkady.
"Oh, shit. You’re not serious." Arkady finished the beer he’d been drinking.
"Serious as a head wound," she replied, with a giggle, grabbing her own two glasses.
"One of these days, Liz, you’re going to kill me."
"No, I won’t. I take better care of you than you do." She picked up a shot and held it over her own drink. "Come on, drink up."
With a sigh and a grimace, Arkady picked up the shot. "Go."
"Nastrovya!" Betty shouted, dropping the shot into her glass and slamming the pint.
Arkady was a little slower, but he got it all down, before resting his forehead on the table. "If I throw up, it’s going to be on you, Liz."
"Man up, sweetie pie. If I can drink it, so can you."
Baron cackled and Severen snorted.
"Ease up, Betty, he’s been awake since before the show, last night," Severen reminded her, lifting Arkady’s hair to see his face. "You still okay?"
"I feel funny." Arkady rolled his head to the side, to look up at Severen. "It’s kind of neat. It’s like having fur."
Baron’s head turned so fast, he half expected his neck to squeak. "Ebony? When’s the last time you ate?"
"I dunno. Why?" Arkady pushed himself back more or less upright.
"Beer. Empty stomach. Ephedrine." Baron stared at Arkady for a few more moments.
"Hartford. No… Uh, Newark. I stopped to grab some fries in Newark. You slept through it." Arkady rubbed his face, then blinked and did it again. "I feel … that’s … I feel like a velvet couch."
"Pretzels," Baron demanded, watching Arkady break down, giggling.
Lir got up without a word to get a bowl for the table.
Betty’s eyes narrowed, and she grabbed Baron’s tie, hauling him across the table. "You tell me, right now, if he’s going to be okay."
"Yes! Yes, he’ll be fine!" Baron’s eyes shot wide. "It’s just caffeine and ephedrine! He’ll be perfectly normal and unconscious in a few hours! I do this all the time, except I usually eat, first!"
By this point, Arkady was rubbing his cheek on Severen’s shoulder. "I’m great, Liz. He’s just trying to keep me up; you’re the one trying to get me drunk."
"I’m going to stop trying, now. I think you took the express directly to wasted." Betty let go of Baron’s tie and watched in fond amusement as Arkady continued to amuse himself with Severen’s shirt.
Lir returned with the pretzels and a look of absolute bafflement. "What the hell…?"
"Have you touched this shirt?" Arkady demanded. "It’s velvet. When we get home, I’m buying one. This is the best shirt I’ve ever touched."
Severen squeezed his eyes shut and finished his drink, before shoving the glass at Baron. "You’re buying me another one. This is your fault, and I need a drink."
"Singularity’s right. You do smell good," Arkady rambled, sniffing Severen’s neck.
"Betty smells better. She’s a girl. They’re like that." Severen pulled the pretzels closer to Arkady, sounding like he’d kick Arkady straight through Baron and out of the booth, if these shenanigans didn’t stop, immediately. "Aren’t you supposed to be eating? Stop sniffing me and eat some fucking pretzels."
"Dark and stormy?" Baron asked, picking up the glass as he slid out of the booth.
"Dark and stormy," Severen confirmed, as Arkady nuzzled his shoulder. "Extra dark."
Baron returned with Severen’s drink, and the whole table watched, round-eyed, as Arkady began to ramble about the distinctive flavour of salt, between pretzels, without ever using the word ‘salty’, the whole time, inching closer to Severen, who was already wedged quite firmly into the corner of the booth.
"Arkady, I will buy you a prostitute, if you’ll stop touching me." Severen poured half his drink down his throat. "You’re like my little brother, and this is just creepy."
"I don’t need hookers, I just need a shirt like yours." Arkady reached across the table. "Hey, Liz, you should pet me. I think I’m vibrating."
Lir watched Arkady closely for a moment, before responding. "I think he’s right. I think he is vibrating."
There was a moment of stillness, in which Betty took Arkady’s hand, before Lir spoke, again. "Yeah. Yeah, he is. I’m going to go call a cab. We’re going back to the hotel, before something happens."
With the other hand, Betty reached out and smacked Baron. "He’s my problem, not yours. No more pills, Baron."
"Ow! Shit! Fine!" Baron sipped his drink and looked sullen. "Sure, just jump all over my shit for trying to be helpful. He said he was tired. I had something for that. He took it with his own hand. He’s older than I am; he can be responsible for his own stupid decisions."
"My decision was not stupid. I love Boston." Arkady nodded and purred, resting his head on Severen’s shoulder.
Severen twitched and pulled Arkady off his shoulder, by the hair. "Say that one more time, so I can hear you."
"I love Boston. It’s fun."
"Betty, do something. He’s … still touching me," Severen complained.
"Baron, get up." Betty pointed with one hand and unbuttoned her collar with the other. "Lir, don’t sit down."
"Is she…?" Baron muttered to Lir.
"She is," Lir confirmed, and they watched, in amused silence.
"Evan, sweetie? Why don’t you leave Severen in peace?" Betty held out her hand and smiled warmly at Arkady. "Come here, dearest. I can do better than that shirt."
Arkady grinned drunkenly and tried to get out of the booth. Instead, Lir caught him, as he dropped, without so much as a wobble.
"He’s okay," Baron insisted. "He just can’t move that fast, right now. Give him a sec. I’ve been there."
Dizzily patting Lir on the arm, Arkady worked his way back to standing unsupported. "I’m cool. It’s fine."
"Cab’s gonna be about twenty minutes," Lir mentioned, as Arkady sat down next to Betty. "I’ve gotten to watch this dickhead —" he elbowed Baron "— sleep it off enough times. Arkady’s gonna be fine."
"Fine? Fuck you, man. I’m fantastic," Arkady laughed.
"He’s going to be like that for a few hours." Baron grimaced and pulled out his wallet. "I’m going to go handle the tab. And, yes, I’m also going to stay up with him, until he’s sane. And, no, I’m not going to give him any more pills. Did I cover all the important stuff?"
"I swear to god, Baron, if we do a show without a drummer, tomorrow, the show in Bangor is going to be without a bassist, because I’m going to beat you black." Betty shook her head.
Lir sat down next to Severen. "Chill out, Betty. In a couple of hours, he’s going to crash. He’ll sleep ten or twelve hours, and then he’ll be back up demanding his coffee and fries, way before we’re due on stage. You’ve seen him do a show after way worse than this."
Severen snorted. "You’ve seen me do a show with fresh bandages and no painkillers. In fact, I think that was the last time we were here."
Lir shook his head. "And we’ve all seen Baron do shows he shouldn’t have even been standing up for. I have no idea how he can hold that much alcohol."
"I’m not missing the damn show. Shut up, already. Jesus." Arkady lifted his head from the table, where Betty had been scratching behind his ears. "I’m fucking drunk and everything feels awesome. Awe. Some. I have a boner that will never go away, at this rate. Stop worrying about my health and get me something fuzzy to play with, before I completely lose my mind."
Severen blinked. "Excuse me, I need to go wash my ears out with a flamethrower. Information hazard, Arkady. No talking until we get back to the hotel."
Lir just snorted and put his leg up, under the table. "I’m wearing the fuzzy boots. If you jerk off on them, I’ll kill you."
Arkady put his head back down and let Betty scritch his ears, while he fondled the cuff of Lir’s boot with both hands. "I love you guys. I really do."
"I promise, I’ll take him off your hands as soon as we hit the hotel." Baron returned from paying the bartender, who eyed them with a level of amusement generally reserved for college students taking their first drinks. "Betty, you okay rooming with Lir, tonight?"
"Oh, sure, ask her," Lir teased.
"I don’t really want to leave him like this…" Betty gestured at Arkady with her chin.
"Oh, fuck off. I’m fine. Fan-fucking-tastic," Arkady insisted. "Go enjoy Lir, for a while. I’m going to go enjoy the carpet. And possibly my leather pants."
"And some truly smashing ladies, of course," Baron threw in, with a smile.
Lir rolled his eyes. "I have no idea how he does it. We can be in hick-ass nowhere, Iowa, and he’s got some giggly farmgirl leaving footprints on the bathroom mirror."
"Like Sin," Severen said, with a derisive snort. "The only difference is that Baron gets the easy ones."
Baron’s eyebrow shot toward the ceiling. "Oh, oh is that a challenge? You’re on. … He’s on. I want terms set before the next tour."
"Take it up with him, once we’re back home. I’m sure he’ll be game, but I don’t know what he’s going to want to wager. Sin’s got an odd sense of humour." Severen smiled, thinly.
"Cab." Lir pointed toward the window, just before they heard the honk. "Gimmie back my foot, Arkady."
With a sigh, Arkady let go of the fuzzy boot, and let Baron help him to his feet. As the five of them made their way toward the door, Betty turned back and waved to the bartender.
"Goodnight!" she called out. "If we come back tomorrow, will you read me some more of those poems?"
"If you leave the fools at home, I’ll even write you one!"