“You know, stars are funny.”
“Why are you still here?”
“Boredom. Shut up. I’m having a drunken rambling session; don’t interrupt me.”
“Yeah, don’t interrupt him.”
“Whose side are you on?”
“The interesting person’s.”
“Not in front of the children.”
“Anyway.” Terse, expectant pause here. “As I was saying. Stars are funny. They burn brightly in the sky, all night and all day. Millions and millions of miles away… sometimes they move…”
“That’s a satellite, I think.”
“What was I saying?”
Stifled snicker. “You were talking about the stars Arana glued to the ceiling.”
“Oh.” Pause. “Hey… Goldie Locks. Do you know what I mean? They’re moving!”
Arana burst out laughing in the dark room, but kept it quiet enough that Medic didn’t come in and yell again. It was Saturday. They were drinking. Shinji had somehow managed to join in, and it was funny knowing a light-weight…
“Definitely,” the chemist deadpanned as he lay side by side with his counterpart, who was shaking his head. “Especially the ones way by the door. I swear, there’s one dancing a jig.”
“What?” Shinji sat up and squinted. “I don’t see it.”
Arana was gasping in between helpless laughter. Drai snorted and dragged the idiot back down to the floor, where they’d sprawled out so Shinji could tell them all about stars. Arana was tucked into Drai’s side, burying her face in his side and laughing. Shinji was drunkenly wondering what was so funny.
“Oh look, that star’s shaped like a truck!” Drai chirped.
“Is not. It’s a daisy.”
Her laughter got even harder.
Christoph felt movement at his side, and watched amused as Svorak brought a hand up to cover his eye. “How can you tell the difference between a truck and a daisy?” the merc demanded. “You’re not even looking at the right one!”
Feeling a flood of affection for the one-eyed thug, the blond hummed. “The truck star is by the window, the daisy star is by the outlet. Funny though, I would have assumed that the wasabi star would have been the favourite.”
“Eh, I’m kinda fond of that one that looks like a naked chick,” Shinji said.
“Breathe, Arana, before you pass out,” Drai advised, grinning.
Svorak barked out a laugh. “No, the wasabi star looks more like a peanut. The favourite is definitely the star over by the corner that looks like Mona Lisa.”
Lifting his head, the blond actually look where the black guy was pointing. Hearing a snort, Christoph thunked his head back onto the carpet. “You’re delusional,” he announced. “That’s Shiva. Clearly East Indian, not European trash.”
“Oy, don’t knock us European people. Knock the French, not Europe in general,” Arana ordered, tone scolding.
“I am European,” the chemist retorted, “and I’ll call it as I drunkenly see fit.”
She shifted up onto her elbow and glared at him. “You’re lucky you’re drunk, otherwise I would take serious offense to that, young man!”
Stretched out on the floor, Svorak smirked. “Goldie… I think you’re drunker than you realize. Your response doesn’t make sense.”
His partner blinked, ran the dialogue through his head again and frowned. “It kind of makes sense…”
“Weak, Blondie. Weak.”
“Bite me.” A split second later, Christoph yelped.
Arana chuckled and flopped back down against Drai. She hummed thoughtfully. “You know. I actually rather fancy the Mona Lisa… Father had a copy hung up in the manor when I was growing up. Mother hated it. Said it made the place look old-fashioned.” She grinned.
Humming, Svorak pulled his lover in close and nuzzled behind the chemist’s ear. “My mother had fancy dishes. The ones with pink roses and gold edges. It was always a big deal when one broke,” he said softly.
The blond chuckled, and snuggled back. “Dad had dead things all over the house. Mostly heads. Sometimes whole corpses. They were preserved of course. But the house felt like a dead zoo most of the time.”
“I grew up with my sister,” Drai mused. “Just her and me, living it out. She would get gifts sometimes, from suitors. And she’d hang them up on the walls. I used to take sadistic delight in torching them.”
Arana snorted. “Of course you did. Somehow, I think you were the child that bullied everyone else.”
“Hey… how’d you guess?” She swatted his arm.
Shinji snorted. “Okaasan had books. Dozens and dozens of books, in different languages. She’d collect ‘em, and kept ‘em in a glass and wood bookcase. When I was really little, before I could even read kanji, I’d sneak downstairs in the early morning and stare at all the colorful pictures, and imagined I could read the different languages.” He smirked. “Those were the days.”
Arana smiled slightly. That sounded so nice.
“I lived with my uncle and aunt,” Medic said from the doorway. “Tessa loved to knit, Uncle Rick liked to carve.” He picked his way through the prone bodies to sit down next to Svorak. “Hand me some of the whiskey. It’s cold tonight.”
The bottle was passed over.
“Lucy used to play instruments,” Arana said softly, but her voice was still almost loud in the companionable silence of the room. “Any kind of instrument. From violins, to piano, to the flute. She was obsessed with them, with music. Father didn’t like that she was learning such things, because that sort of thing was what the poor and the Gypsies did…
“Once, when I was ten, and she seven, she got this beautiful Gitar from our uncle, who lived in the country. She was in love with it at first sight. For days, she would sneak down to the orchard and try to teach herself to play it. Father followed her once, and smashed it in a fury, screaming about how his daughter wouldn’t become a Player, because it was a cursed life.”
She shook her head. “I was devastated when I found out, because it was always so hard to watch little doll-like Lucy cry… I plead with mother to give me her grandfather’s violin, to give to Lucy… The way Lucy’s face lit up…” She smiled, and rested her head on Drai’s shoulder. “It was wonderful, doing that for her…”
There was a few minutes of silence, then, “You played softball when you were a kid right?”
Christoph nodded as his lover’s question. “Was good too. Dropped it for college though.”
“Went through eight years of the finest medical education,” the doctor groused, “and one mistake later, here I am.”
“Hey!” Svorak twisted around and playfully punched Medic in the thigh. “We appreciate you!”
“Well, it’s true,” Drai pointed out. “We do! You’re the most amazing doctor ever!”
Arana smirked. “Certainly a lot more useful than most people I know.” She cut a look at her partner, who didn’t notice.
Smiling, Christoph peered over Svorak’s shoulders. “If you weren’t around, we’d have to settle for Scalpel,” he told the doc who scowled.
“The kid’s good,” Medic insisted. “Hasn’t left any tools inside anyone like some idiots I’ve heard about.”
The entwined mercs at his feet shuddered. Ugghh… Not a happy thought.
Arana made a face. “Note to self; don’t let anyone but Medic near me.”
Drai laughed, and sat up slightly. “Hey, looky there. Chatterbox has passed the fuck out,” he said, eying the slumbering Jap.
A small light cylindrical object sailed through the air and tumbled into the Arab’s lap.
Drai looked down… and grinned. “Mmm. New age art, anyone?” He said, getting up and stepping over Arana, then Shinji, before crouching on the Jap’s other side.
Medic grunted and passed out more gifts. Christoph blinked at the red sharpie he held in his hand as Svorak grinned over a green one. Aran got a blue. The doctor smiled, crossed his arms behind his head and sat back to watch the creativity flow.