I dropped the veil as I walked and Ant was sitting in the sand. “Hey Nox!”
I turned to look at my fallen friend, “You might want to hide the rest of the whiskey.”
I sighed with a nod as Ant collapsed back into the sand and laid like he was about to make a snow angel. He didn’t care, but it was an open invitation for the kids to pile on. All of them except the older ones anyway which included Quinn.
I left the pile of kids with Ant and headed inside. Alex was where I had left him – mostly. He was sitting on the bar stool nursing a whiskey over ice. The bottle was half empty and he was pouring another glass.
“You feel better?” He asked. His letters were a little slurred but other than that he sounded fine even if it there was still anger and jealousy in his voice.
“I’m no longer in the middle of a panic attack.” I said flatly.
“It’s always about you.” He growled.
I walked around slowly to the other side of the kitchen bar and pulled the whiskey bottle away from Alex. “That’s mine.”
“I’m not stopping you from drinking, but I’m on this side of the bar, and you are on that side.”
“Do you have any idea how fucking much I want to hate you right now?”
“Probably a lot since you are drinking all the whiskey and it’s not even noon.”
“So now I can’t drink?”
“I didn’t say that.” I sighed and pushed the bottle back to him, which he grabbed and topped off his glass again, even though it wasn’t empty.
“But that’s what you meant.”
“You know I didn’t. So stop making my words into what you want to hear. You can hear my thoughts. I’m not hiding anything from you.”
“You didn’t tell me your ex abused you.”
“I told you what I thought I knew.”
“So what, you forgot how much you feared him.”
I shook my head, “I was never afraid of Dan when I was with him. Remember, I wanted people to abuse me. Thought I deserved it. It wasn’t until you came back into my life I knew better. Dan knows how to manipulate me. Fuck, Alex, everyone knows how to manipulate me.”
“Even me.” He growled then tossed back the rest of his whiskey and poured another.
“I like that you know how to manipulate me Alex. It’s safe. I never thought I’d feel safe with anyone. I want to give you everything. But you hate me for it.”
“I could never hate you Nox.” He said putting the bottle and the glass down. “I hate myself.” He blinked at the confession, like he realized he said it out loud and hadn’t meant too.
“I love you for the both of us.”
“I don’t know why.”
I shrugged, “I just do. I can’t explain it Alex, but you are my home. I’d give up everything for you, if you asked.”
Alex laughed, “And you’d die of boredom.”
I turned my back on Alex and started making lunch, sandwiches would do for today. We had plenty of supplies for it all, plus all the left overs from the party the night before. I made a sandwich and pushed it in front of Alex , “You need to eat.”
He didn’t hesitate. I poured him another glass of whiskey and then put the bottle away. I felt his eyes on me when I stretched up to put the bottle on the top shelf. I hadn’t done it on purpose but I heard the wave of lust pass through Alex’s mind.
Alex was busy eating the sandwich and his eyes looked less glassy. He swayed less and the Chevalier bond was regulating the alcohol and the food was helping that much more. “I think this is the last time you’ll be getting drunk. So you should treasure the feeling.”
“You and Ant are bound together, it will take far more alcohol than you or Ant can drink to get you drunk. And with Ryan in the mix you’d all have to drink a ten gallon keg of 100 proof alcohol in order to feel tipsy again.”
“Fuck me!” Alex growled.
“You’ll have to find some other coping mechanism to dull the pain.”
“I hate you.” Alex growled and downed the whiskey glass sitting next to him. He got up and started walking to the door. He swayed at first, and then with each step he walked straighter and straighter until he reached the door and growled, “Fuck!”
“That’s why I went to nepenthe when I was younger.” I said as I finished pulling out the rest of the fixing for sandwiches, “Tell everyone that lunch is ready.”
Alex just growled in response.
I heard Alex sit on the lounge chair outside and then call out “Lunch is ready.”
I moved out of the way and stood in the doorway while everyone else readied their own lunch. Ant was sitting in the stand staring at Alex. “Sorry man. But it had to happen sooner or later, just wish it wasn’t in the middle of the spar.”
Ryan laughed, “It just made it more fun.” He clapped me on the shoulder as he passed me to go inside. It was just the three of us.
Ant slowly got up and walked inside, “I am sorry.” He said, he put his hand on Alex’s shoulder and squeezed and frowned at me. Ant wasn’t happy with me either. Leaving me and Alex alone, as he closed the door behind him.
We were alone in a strained silence. “So what do you want me to do?” I asked to break it.
“I don’t want you to do anything, Nox.”
“You’re mad at me. Ant’s mad at me. So tell me, what do I do to make you happy? To fix what’s wrong.”
“You can’t fix everything!” Alex scoffed.
“I can fix my behavior.”
Alex rolled his eyes, “You can’t. You’ve been going to therapy for the same shit for most of your life. If yoau wanted to fix it you would have.”
I nodded, “If that’s what you want.” I wove fire and earth into the form of the balance rune and steeled myself as I pressed it into the skin of my forearm. The stench of burning hair and flesh permeated my nose. I bit back the pain of the brand. It would heal over but I’d just keep doing it till the scar manifested itself.
I felt nothing once the magic took hold. Even the pain was a dull ache.
Alex was on his feet, “What the fuck are you doing!”
“What’s it look like.” I said and pushed Alex away from me as I continued to place the brand until it formed a scar. Alex pounded on the wall of air in front of me but I couldn’t hear him past the veil. I was tired of this fight. Tired of him hating me for who I was. So this would fix it.