The women fussed over the food in the crates. They laid out plates, napkins and cups to the low table.
I learned, by second-hand gossip from the others lounging on the chairs, on how Trix had got off from being arrested. It was by a technicality that saw charges dropped due to a prosecutorial misconduct. Trix's countless reports on his mapglass's misbehavior that sent him map-jumping to coordinates one or two points out of step (when his map-jump had him falling through the ceiling of a medical unit to mess up a patient's meal), glitches reported on a piece of equipment called a core bridge and a mapglass replacement request—collecting dust on some pen pusher's desk; all of these weren't filed as evidence by the preliminary hearing date. So, the Defense had a solid case for the Judge to drop the charges. The Wisteria Garden Squad Captain was let off scot-free.
"Let's party!" Trix had loudly declared with a mug of ale sloshing about his raised hand.
"Did you forget we're here for a meeting?" Lita reminded her captain whilst she nibbled on some sweet cakes laid out on the table.
"Here Famine. Some ale for your welcome as well." Saku poured some dark, frothy, liquid (from one of the barrels) into a mug and handed it to me.
I sniffed and stared at the dark liquid, detecting a pungent sickly-sweet aroma that was different from the sharp and burning sweetness the monk's moonshine gave off.
"Thank you." I gingerly sipped on ale out of politeness.
"Yah gonna drink dat?" War asked with a harsh tone to his voice.
He wasn't keen on the idea of me drinking?
"Well, Saku was kind enough to pour it for me." I looked at the mug's frothing contents, not sure what sort of behavior this type of drink would bring out of me and in front of the people I held good relations.
"Sheesh, welcome or not, Famisto ain't good with the drink like meh and meh other brothers." War directed his grumble to Saku who glared back at him in response.
"Boasting, are we? Why not drink for both of your shares or do you not have the stomach strength that you claim you have." Saku challenged War with a cocky grin.
I sighed with an expectation of the trouble to come, but was grateful for my big brother's intervention.
"Okay, yah on." War accepted Saku's drinking challenge.
He yanked the mug out of my hands and downed it in one go. This sent the knights roaring with hearty cheers.
"Oh no, no, no, yuh 'ave to drink more than a taste. Beh laws of Sol, yah already of cusumable age." Trix hiccuped as he handed me a smaller cup of ale, and plate of cheese and cured meats. "Nib on dese then yah won't get sick."
I chuckled. "You really are a bad bent, getting tipsy easily."
My light chuckles turned to tension when Trix wrapped a drunken arm around my waist and whispered sweet nothings into my ear.
"Yanno. I wanda pet yah sexy self when I first saw yah. Give yah a bit of nookie. Yah given off dem sleep wiv meh vibes." His slurred voice was soothing.
I felt relaxed in his arms. The scent of vanilla and citrus overwhelmed my senses. I was yearning for his waiting kiss and cringing with the creeps I felt running through my spine at the same time.
Small Cap appeared to my shoulder, so he was between our oncoming kiss. His unexpected presence sent Trix squealing backwards with fright, and drunkenly tumbling off the lounge we had shared.
"Sheesh." Leinard groaned at the sorry sight of his captain laughing on the ground.
He pulled me away from the trouble, and into the empty seat between Lita and Ryoko on another lounge.
I sighed with relief. That was a close one.
The women were the soberest from the others whose drunkenness was escalating into a rowdy and competitive crowd. So much so, I was able to clear my head and reclaim my senses.
"Men! This is what happens when you cut them loose to drink." Ryoko growled at the uncouth sight of the men getting into a drunken sing-song.
War was in the thick of his drinking game with Saku, who was lagging behind one of his empties. I guess secretly drinking moonshine for years had ensured our tolerance was high to alcohol poisoning.
"Colonel. How can we have a meeting when the men are like this?" Lita groaned.
"Well, it's not so much that I wanted to hold a formal meeting." Leinard sighed.
He gestured for me to follow him.
"Still, I do want to have a proper talk with yourself and War at least."
I called out to War to interrupt his drinking game with Saku, which he had already won by the looks of the angel-face's snoozing.
"Are you sober for a talk War?" Leinard asked War who soberly nodded his head.
We both followed him through a door at the other end of the sitting area, down a hallway that opened into another decent sized sitting area, where a number of large mirrors were positioned around the walls between wrought iron sconces and candle holders burning a bright light in the room.
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