A single glass.
Two ice cubes, each just barely more than an inch on each side so by the time they are served, they’ll have melted down to the correct dimensions. Wait a moment for them to settle on the bottom. Fill the glass with whiskey, and, if you’re daring, a splash of something else. Snakebite, maybe. Or vodka. Perhaps even a bit of crystal if you don’t have anywhere to be in the next week. Then finish it up with half a squeeze of lime and serve.
When Davin stepped into the hotel ballroom that evening, he immediately picked out the telltale glow coming from the hand of someone prepared to have one of those nights. Or even longer, most likely. All the crystals glowed. It was something to do with laws and making sure it was easier to track down someone who was Touched so no one got hurt. Most crystal junkies had the signs permanently; luminescent lips and a hazy look in their eye.
This one was different. She hesitated in the way a first-timer did; staring at the hunk of glowy rock like she was torn between tossing it away and taking the plunge. No babysitter either. That was a bad idea at the top of a waterfall of other bad ideas. No one should ever take crystal the first time alone.
Few did and those few rarely survived the experience.
He had already decided to walk over there and invite himself to her table when she looked up and met his gaze. That look from that woman rang a familiar note. Most of it was the fear painting its way across her face, but her eyes held that same hot bubbling anger she wasn’t quick enough to tuck away as he approached. But this time she wasn’t bothering with hiding it.
His original idea sank and died as soon as he realized who she was, but it wasn’t like he could just retreat. That was running away, and Davin never ran away.
“Hey,” he offered smoothly, coming to a halt by her table. “Are you really going to fuck up your life like that?”
“What do you want, shitface?” the woman bit off the words in a growl. Her hand tightened on the crystal but lowered from hovering over her drink to resting on the table instead. “Haven’t you done enough?”
Davin concealed his cringe with a smirk. “Hardly, but I figured to offer you a friendly, ah, warning.” He gestured to her hand.
She snorted. “Friendly? What would you know of it?”
“What would I-“ the smile disappeared as he cut himself off and sat down next to her. “Jay, something happened, right?”
Her expression grew guarded, though Jay didn’t reply. She didn’t have to.
“Something bad,” Davin continued with his voice lowering. “Really, really bad. Like, settling in the pit of your stomach and makes you feel like you want to vomit kind of bad, right?” He didn’t even wait for her to reply this time. “But when you try to think about it, and you just know from the bottom of your soul that this real bad awful thing happened, but you can’t really remember it. It’s all hazy. Like you blocked it out. And all that’s left is this feeling…”
“It was my fault,” she said finally, her voice small.
“It is always our fault,” he said softly. “That’s how the creatures find us.”
Jay drew in a single halting breath, uncurling her fist to look at the innocently glowing crystal. “I just wanted to be away from me for a bit.”
“I’m sorry,” was all he could say. “I don’t think it’s worth it, but if you do, I won’t stop you.”
She grimaced. “That doesn’t make it easier.”
“Are you sure?”
“Not really, no.”
He straightened, glancing away to clear his throat. “Where did you get that one anyway? Didn’t think this was that type of party.”
Jay’s voice touched on hostile again. “What’ll you do? Turn me in like-“
“No,” he interrupted. “No! I don’t- I don’t do that anymore. I swear. I’m just curious.”
“It was part of her stash. What you didn’t confiscate.”
She stared at Davin in silence a few moments more before shaking her head. “Aren’t you going to ask how much is left? Or… or where it is?”
“I said I don’t do that anymore. You don’t have to worry about it.”
“Unbelievable,” she muttered. “After all this time, just… zip? Gone and clean?”
“You weren’t sorry when you were hunting me down for anything you could get on her.“
“I am. I swear; it’s different now.”
Jay nodded slowly, staring at him before she sighed. “I won’t take it. It was dumb. Anyway. There are probably people that need it more than me or something.” She let go of the crystal and reached for her glass instead to knock it back. The ice had all melted by then, and the woman grimaced at the watery drink. “Blech. Don’t know what I was expecting.”
“Is it your first of the night?”
She laughed at that, a short and bitter bark that surprised them both. Jay quickly covered her mouth. “No, not at all.”
“Ah, a pity.”
“What? Why?” Jay’s eyes narrowed on him.
Davin shrugged. “I was going to suggest getting out of here and finding an alternative to crystal that’s less depressing than drinking alone, but if you’re drunk…”
“Like hell I’d go anywhere with you even when sober.”
He ground his teeth together, irritation hardening his voice as he leaned closer. “I didn’t kill her, Jay.”
“Ah,” she breathed out, canting her empty glass to him as if in a toast. “There he is. I was wondering when he’d show up.”
Davin sat up straight again, his lips twitching down. “I’m not the same person.”
“You’re doing fuck-all to prove it.”
He made some sort of noise, a scoff or a huff before crossing his arms. “So what do I need to do, then? To prove it’s different.”
“Fuck off, really.” She delivered that with a polite thin smile. “You never did know when to do that.”
“Fine,” he rolled his eyes and stood with the screech of his chair as it skittered back. “Consider me fucked.”
Davin stalked away from the table, knowing she would watch him as he left. Of course, since he had gone without a coat, as soon as he stepped out of the hotel, the rains decided to make their dramatic arrival. In a matter of minutes, everything he could see was soaked. Including every inch of him.
“Fuck,” the man muttered, and he steeled himself for the long and miserable walk back to his flat.
It wasn’t so bad after he was soaked to the bone. That’s just how rain was. When you were too cold to feel anything at all, it was like not being cold at all. At least, that’s what Davin tried to tell himself. The shivering that wracked his frame said otherwise, as did the constant chatter of his teeth drilling into his skull.
But for all his misery, the walk home wasn’t that long. That had been the point of this evening’s party crash, after all. A quick drink, find someone to flirt with, head back home. Except, without the drink and the flirt, going back had all of zero appeal.
“Fuck,” he said again, which drew a scandalized look from a passerby.
Five minutes, one bad encounter, and he didn’t have the guts to stay any longer.
Oh, he had definitely changed.