|Taeja Kim ☠ Jörmungandr (jormungandr) wrote in paxletalelogs,|
@ 2010-10-02 10:04:00
|Entry tags:||jormungandr, urdr|
Who: Alexandria & Adam.
What: Two Norse deities walk into a
bar sacred grove...
Where: Fifth & Deluxe floors.
When: October 2nd, 11 a.m.
Warnings: Alcohol, and lots of it.
Notes: Completed log.
Though he was approaching the situation with some degree of pragmatism, it would have been a gross overstatement to say that Adam had adjusted to his new surroundings. There was after all no real way to become acclimated to one's television being plugged into solid limestone, or to the sensation of waking up to find one's comfortably modern bed surrounded by chiseled hieroglyphics and scandalously suggestive symbols of fertility. The finely grained sand filling the corners of his apartment was perhaps the most annoying of the overnight renovations. Now, a half-hour after waking, he had taken to shuffling around his apartment in his trainers, already tired of sweeping and re-sweeping the stone floor that never seemed totally clean. For a time the chore had kept his mind from racing, trying to put some semblance of reason to the utterly surreal turn his floor, at least, appeared to have undergone. But eventually curiosity and the sheer insanity of it all crept back into his thoughts, and Adam began to consider venturing out into the rest of the building, to see for certain whether this was another hallucination or something potentially more dire.
Alexandria had spent the night at her parents' house - she'd been over for dinner, and her sisters were in from out of town. Ty'd had an away game, so he hadn't been there, but as was common for the Nash girls, whenever they were all in town together, they opted for a sleepover, exchanging secrets and stories and laughs late into the night. Alexandria had allowed herself the luxury of sleeping in a little, and after a nice brunch, she drove back to Pax to get some work done.
Until she walked into the lobby.
Had she been a bit more preoccupied, she might have missed it. But as it was, she looked around the lobby, blinking. Her steps became more rapid as her surroundings began to sink in, and she pressed the button on the elevator impatiently, her muscles tensing. Even though she looked at the elevator with suspicion when its doors opened, she took the chance anyway - and cursed when she reached her floor. There was sandstone everywhere, and bright, warm sunlight; hieroglyphs, incense... her throat tightened, and she didn't bother going to her apartment first. Instead, she ran straight to where Adam's apartment still hopefully was.
"Adam?" she called from the hall, knocking a little too urgently.
There was no voice Adam would have been more pleased to hear than hers. He moved to the door with deliberate slowness, willing himself to be calm. He wondered what new troubles might come from simply opening the door; would the hallucination continue, or was it restricted to his home? He drew a deep breath, exhaling on a sigh, and swung the door wide.
The hallway was a continuation of what he had seen within his little sanctuary, almost identical save the addition of his friend standing there, clearly perplexed. "Morning," he said, a weak smirk curving his lips. "Come in." He tipped his head to indicate his changed rooms beyond the threshold. His eyes flickered over his furniture, bizarre and out of place in this new environment. He hoped she would mention this change - that she would see it at all - and spare him the suddenly urgent and distressing thought that perhaps he had a brain tumor, after all.
Alexandria shuddered a breath as she entered his apartment, shaking her head, her nails digging into her palm as she adjusted her messenger bag, packed from the night before. As she looked around his apartment, she shook her head, a slightly hysterical laugh bubbling up in her throat.
"Shit," she said, almost under her breath. Turning to Adam, she took in his expression, his furtive look around the room, and breathed a small gust of relief.
"So - OK, sandstone?" she asked hopefully. If he wasn't seeing it, she'd probably tell him what she was seeing anyway, but for now, she'd prefer to err on the side of seeming sane.
He peered back into the hallway before closing the door, shaking his head in wholehearted confusion. The floor's changed appearance was real, or at least too thorough an illusion to deny. He locked the door behind him, sucking in another lengthy breath before trusting himself to speak. "And limestone," he said. "And hieroglyphics. You should see my bedroom." He rolled his eyes. "If this is a prank, our building's management has a better budget than I thought." His eyes drifted to the floor, to the sizable pile of sand he had swept and left in the kitchen. "Very thorough staff, too. I got home from work around six this morning. I was on the phone... I don't know how I missed this, but I guess I was tired, or distracted, or thought I was just hallucinating..."
Shaking her head, Alexandria dropped her bag - on a table, which looked the same as it had before. Then, almost blindly, she walked further into his living room, thinking to sit down - but thought better of it. "I don't -" She shook her head. "What the hell?" She nearly laughed, an edge to the sound that she suppressed almost completely. She dragged a hand through her hair, as she looked around the space, then back at him. "What - what is this, Adam?" she asked. "You can't hallucinate. We've been over this. Are we losing our minds at the same time? I don't -" she moved closer to him, and was suddenly struck again with a strange familiarity - like the last time, when they saw those other reflections, but different - deeper. To the bone.
"Is it just this floor? What about the rest of the building? Are other people seeing this?"
"I don't know," he said. "I haven't been out. I didn't see the hall until I opened the door for you." He had no more explanations than she, and was no closer to understanding what was going on around them. It was deeply unsettling in a way he could not rightly put to words. But he was pleased to see her draw nearer; it felt comfortable somehow, right, grounding him in the midst of all this strangeness. He nearly reached out to touch her, stilling his hand not a moment too soon. A thought crossed his mind; his brow furrowed. "What about the ground floor?"
Alexandria shook her head, starting to pace. "It's like here. Hieroglyphs and limestone." She moved closer to him, pulling a hand through her dark hair. Her head nodded seemingly without reason as she considered the situation, crossed each possibility off the list in her head, then looked at him, moving closer, before she slid her arm through his. "Well," she said, "I really have nothing. I have no idea. But here - it doesn't - do you want to go see the rest of the building?" she asked. "See what else is going on?"
Adam nodded. His mind had very nearly been made up to do so already; having her along was all the more encouraging. His arm tightened at his side, giving her hand a small squeeze. "Let's take the stairs, though," he said. "The elevator is sketchy on good days, and I don't feel like testing it right now."
He took a moment to fetch his keys, but he had long been fully dressed and ready to venture out. They slipped out into the hall more quietly than was likely necessary. Something in the environment lent itself to silence; Adam found himself walking quite softly, engrossed in the symbols and images lining the walls. "Where do we start?" He gave a quiet laugh, shuffling slowly toward the stairwell.
Alexandria half-smiled at him, tucking herself against his side. "Agreed," she said. "I'm probably lucky I even made it up here in the elevator, but I kind of panicked when I saw the lobby," she said. She did wonder what might be going on in the tower, and she wouldn't mind the climb right now. Generally, Alexandria didn't bother with much exercise, but something was making her want to stretch her legs, to move and - well, it was more the urge to find something; a specific something, though she didn't know what it was yet. Something was telling her to go upward. "Maybe we should start at the top, then work our way down?" she suggested.
The idea seemed as good as any, and certainly better than his own apparent plan to polish the silver on the sinking ship, sweeping his sand-covered room over and over again until work called him away. He held the stairwell door open for her, blinking owlishly upon seeing the stairwell's utterly mundane, unchanged appearance. Lacking any useful comment on this oddity, Adam simply led them up the stairs, curious to see what if anything the other floors had to offer. By the penthouse level's landing it was all he could do to keep from taking the stairs two at a time. A nervous energy fluttered low in his stomach, his growing anxiousness strangely positive overall. The door to the tower apartments swung wide beneath his hand, a development he had not expected, though what lay behind it was still more surprising.
"So what is this supposed to be?" He bent down beside one wall, peering curiously at a brazier of burning incense surrounded by soft, still vibrant flower petals.
As Alexandria stepped into the tower apartment, her own eyes wide as she took in her surroundings. "Holy..." She shook her head, her brow furrowing at the new decor. She hadn't ordered anything like this, but then this went above and beyond "a few homey touches." Pierce had left - he hadn't said to where, but he'd left specific instructions, and a means of contacting him in case of an emergency. She guessed maybe Elaine had gone with him - but this was -
It was the colors that struck her. Red and white, blues and golds, and then the music - it was beautiful and bold and distinctly African. She would have wondered if there were new residents except for the fact that the whole building seemed out of whack.
"Do you hear that?" she said, referring to the low drumbeats that seemed to follow them as they stepped in further.
Adam nodded, but for the moment he remained too engrossed in his observations to give any thorough response. He walked further down the path before them, pausing here and there as something caught his eye. Before one small gathering of items he stopped altogether, his mouth falling open as he leaned down to lift a dark glass bottle from the floor. "A 1945 Bordeaux," he said, laughing. His thumb passed over the label, feeling the crispness of the aged paper. "What the fuck." Alexandria peered over his shoulder, taking a look herself.
Briefly he considered taking the item. Though it could hardly get him any more intoxicated than any lesser vintage might, the mere thought of its rich flavor and full body was enough to set him salivating. And even barring that, there was the consideration of its monetary worth. But as with their own floor, something in the air demanded more respect than such theft would show. Adam bent back down, returning the bottle to its place.
"I guess that's a good thing?" she asked, looking down at the bottle, then shaking her head. He nodded in answer, but said nothing, his eyes still on the items lining the walls. There were candies, too, and fruits; a plate of honey, a bit of cake. These aren't for you, she thought out of nowhere, in a voice at once strange and familiar. She almost started, then she looped her arm through Adam's.
"Let's go," she urged. It was beautiful here; clear and bold and a little too real. But at the same time, it felt as foreign as the lobby had, as their floor had. Though she wasn't normally one to rely purely on instinct, in this case, there didn't seem to be much else to go on.
Just a peek onto the penthouse floor revealed another Egyptology exhibit, and to this, Alexandria shook her her head. They'd already seen that, but they were getting closer. On the next floor, the eleventh floor - that was home.
The wood was beautifully, wonderfully familiar. She almost didn't notice the smell at first for having to edge around the enormous tree in the center of the floor. She looked back at Adam with eyes lit from within. "Look at this," she said, splaying her fingers on the huge trunk as she picked her way around it.
At some point unbeknownst to him Adam had begun to quirk a smile. Soft though it was, he felt it to his very core: the rare pleasure of being somewhere one completely and utterly belonged, with someone who clearly felt and understood the same. He pressed a hand to the tree bark, feeling its rough, living warmth beneath his skin. He chuckled quietly, peering across to Alexandria as they wound around the tree. "I feel like I've been here before," he admitted. He felt no shame in the comment, ludicrous though it was. Alexandria nodded, looking at him with bright eyes. "Me, too," she replied.
His brow furrowed as they reached the tree's opposite side. He studied the keg resting there, broad and deep and seemingly old beyond reckoning. Two heavy mugs of hammered metal sat atop the keg, battered but clean. Adam reached for one, curious at its heavy weight in his hand. "Drink me," he said, smirking cheerfully. He tipped the mug beneath the tap and poured himself a generous measure of what soon revealed itself to be genuine, actual mead. "Care to try some with me, or should I play guinea pig?"
Alexandria quirked a little smile of her own. "Some guinea pig you'll be," she quipped. "Considering you're immune to everything." With that, she reached out for the other mug, blinking at its heft, but somehow not truly surprised by it. Somehow, she could tell that Adam felt as she did - they seemed to emanate it, this feeling of contentment, and final sense of being just where they should have been. Bizarre that it was happening on a floor of their building where they didn't even live; stranger still that it was when the building seemed to have been taken over by living trees. She knew she should have been questioning it more, somehow. After all, the trees were live, there was no question of that. She could almost feel the life in them. But it didn't matter - for once in her life, Alexandria decided to save the questions for later and have a drink. The sense of deep if unspeakable understanding made other questions seem to just go around the point. And the point was this - this was their place. Everything was right here.
When Adam was done filling his mug, she moved to do the same with hers. Once hers was filled he raised his glass, clinking it hard against hers in an impromptu, wordless toast; he laughed aloud as a small measure splashed free, thoroughly wetting his wrist before splashing to the ground. Ignoring the minor spill, Adam put the mug to his lips, drinking deeply. Remarkably the mead tasted even better than it smelled. It went down so smooth as to be dangerous - or so anyone other than he would have thought. For his part, Adam merely registered the perfection of the thing, clearly some microbrew carted up for this strange home improvement. In a few minutes' time he had finished the better part of his mug, and was already going back for more.
"They really spared no expense," he said, letting go the tap. As he straightened up his foot caught an upturned root; he staggered on that single step, righting himself with some conscious effort. After finding a bit of even, solid ground once more, he returned his focus to the mead at hand, sipping between brief bouts of speech. "Are you sure your boss had nothing to do with this? I don't know that it's his style, I guess, but I don't know many other people with enough money to pull it off."
Alexandria shook her head as she took a long sip of the brew herself - pleasantly surprised by its taste. "Wow, this is good," she murmured, licking a bit of foam from her lip. "I'm pretty sure Pierce wasn't involved - usually something like this would go through me. Plus, he and Elaine have left the building permanently, I'm pretty sure - he wasn't clear on the details, but I think they're going to be incommunicado for a while." She took another long sip, watching Adam. If he were anyone else so close to her, she'd probably give a teasing warning about slowing down, but Adam was in the strange position of being able to drink strictly for taste, since she'd never seen alcohol affect him in all the time they'd known each other. Even so, his stumble made her grin. "Watch out, Adam; maybe somebody's finally found a way to get you drunk." With that, she laughed and nearly finished the contents of her mug, only to put it under the tap again. She'd drink this one slower, she resolved; trying to keep up with Adam was a fool's game.
Finding a comfortable seat on a low hanging bough of the tree close enough to Adam, she put her hand on the bark once more. It was so familiar - so right. "I know it smells kind of funky but -" she laughed. "I love it here."
"Me too." He tipped up his mug, taking a far longer draught than was probably advisable. He studied the ground as he drank, his foot kicking out to brush fallen evergreen needles from an Adam-sized spot of soil pleasantly close to both Alex and the keg. Onto this clean patch he folded himself, sitting cross-legged at his friend's feet. "Maybe it's my job," he said, looking up to her, his smiling lips slick with alcohol, "but the smell isn't all that bad. Hardly noticeable."
Alexandria nodded. "I'm getting more used to it all the time," she said, taking another long sip of her mead.
Adam settled back against the tree's thick trunk, shrugging his shoulders against the bark as comfortably as if it were his own couch. "I wonder why we didn't get this," he said. His arm stretched out, mug and clasping hand indicating the entirety of the forest surrounding them. "I'd take this over sand in my boxers any day of the week." Another upward tilt of the mug poured half the fresh-poured mead down his throat. His black eyes peered at her over the rim of the thick metal cup, his growing smirk hidden by its bulk. "Pass me yours when you want a refill," he offered helpfully. He laughed, thoroughly enjoying the heady sensation his next long pull elicited. "At this rate I think I might find the bottom of it, and I'd hate for you to go without."
With a little grin, Alexandria leaned down and stroked his hair. "You're such a sweetheart," she said lightly but sincerely. Her legs dangled next to him, her feet barely brushing the ground as she took another long sip of her mead. "As for why we didn't get this -" she shook her head, looking around. "I really don't know - I feel like this suits us better," she gave a little grin. "A spooky forest, lots of mead, the woods - it's perfect." She shifted on the branch, toeing a root next to Adam. "I like this better than all that sand and sun." She laughed. "I feel like I'll get a sunburn just sitting on my couch!" She slid down from the branch, finally, brushing clean a little spot next to Adam and settling down next to him.
He slipped his arm through the crook of hers, pulling her nearer as he nursed his dwindling drink; she smiled and tipped her head to rest it on his shoulder. For a time he was content to simply sit, to feel her next to him and taste that heavenly sweetness on his lips. Such thoughts began to blend together, smudging at the edges, until it was unclear where one ended and another began. A clearly pensive look crossed his features as he tried to pick apart this strange and tangled thread; he sipped at the last of his mead as he did, a rather counterproductive measure given the circumstances. That done, he drew a deep breath, exhaling on a contented sigh.
"One sec," he said. He disentangled himself from her with little real difficulty. Upon leaning unsteadily toward the keg, however, he discovered a slight discrepancy in his usually keen sense of equilibrium. Frowning, he reached for the tap, missing it in his first awkward pawing. "Fuck," he muttered, the darkness of his tone betrayed by an immediate laugh. "Careful over here. I think the ground's a bit uneven. Or something."
Alexandria watched him curiously, her brow furrowing with confusion as she took a sip of her own mead. In all the years they'd known each other, she'd never seen Adam have this kind of trouble; in fact, he was acting very like -
"Are you drunk?" she asked, a slow grin spreading over her face. She leaned toward him, setting her mug carefully down on the ground, its broad base making it quite stable. Tipping his face toward hers with one hand, she looked into his eyes and shook her head, giving a little grin. "Adam Vejas," she said, turning his face one way, then the other. "I think you might actually be drunk!"
The mug nearly slipped from his grasp as she turned him about, inspecting him far more thoroughly than he felt was necessary. He chuckled at her accusation, shaking his head. "There's no way." He lifted his chin from her hand, turning his weak and waning focus back to the task at hand. By some miracle he managed to refill the heavy mug, drawing it back to him with a greedy sort of pleasure. Again he settled close beside her, his small shift against the tree trunk serving to quite thoroughly wedge himself between her slender frame and an upraised root. "What would this have to be to get me drunk," he pondered, his tone taking a turn for the melodramatic.
With a little laugh, she settled right back, taking another long sip of her own mead. She looped her arm through his and clinked their mugs together. "Stranger things have happened," she said, taking a sip from hers, which was still half-full. For a little while longer, she was content to sit next to him, peas in a pod, sipping on her mead. "I don't know what this stuff could be," she giggled. "It's strong, but it doesn't seem to be affecting me any differently than your average microbrew," she informed him. She turned her head then, gently butting her forehead against his shoulder. Then her eyes lit up. "I have an idea," she said, nudging his leg with her own. "We should give you a sobriety test!"
"And how do you plan to do that?" he asked, nudging her with one sharp elbow. She squeaked, and pushed at the offending limb. "And what if I don't want to co-operate? I'm comfortable right here." He nuzzled deeper into his little nest, hardly minding the cool dirt working into the denim of his jeans. If anything, it made him appreciate her close warmth and softness, and encouraged him to seek out the smoother lines of her skin. "Just like this," he added, belatedly. Smiling, he sipped at his drink, equally pleased and surprised to feel the warm fog of inebriation slowly deepening. He would not be able to deny the truth for much longer, that much was clear; instead he chose to enjoy it, filing away what details he could, remembering at least this sensation while it lasted.
It was hard to remember a time when Adam Vejas had been more adorable. Which was saying something, because Adam Vejas, Alexandria observed, had always been pretty cute. Physical affection wasn't a strange thing for them, but this level of snuggling was fairly out of the ordinary. Though that made sense, too, because drinking always seemed to lower people's inhibitions, and one of the great American inhibitions was often demonstrative displays of warmth and good feeling. At least sincere ones. With that thought, she took another sip of her mead.
"I know how to administer several sobriety tests, thankyouverymuch," she said, raising her mug loftily, as though she knew more about it than what she'd seen on television or in the video they'd shown in high school to warn people against drunk driving. "If you don't want to cooperate, that's your call. But it's pretty damning, considering the circumstances," she nodded, then grinned, then nestled in with him, taking another sip of her drink.
"Then I guess I am damned." His arm snaked around her shoulders, pale knuckles scraping against the bark of the tree. With every sip of mead the scent of the forest seemed to come through more strongly: ash trees, and fir, and thick, damp soil. It would be easy to convince oneself one was not in a building at all; even the elevator and stairwell now seemed more out of place than the tree itself, stranger than the golden chain winking in the light. If this, then, was intoxication, Adam was deeply sorry for all he'd missed out on before. "Maybe I am a little drunk," he allowed. This revelation in no way stopped his steady nursing of his drink, nor even loosened his grip on it. "I can trust you not to take advantage of me, right?" He laughed, his boyish smile disappearing once more behind the mug. "Should I have a chaperon with me, Alexandria?"
Alexandria's laugh couldn't conceal the blush his words brought to her face, though she did her best to distract him from it by smacking his chest lightly. "You wish," she said, giving him a pinch. Their surroundings made her feel increasingly comfortable, and she leaned away from him for a moment to refill her mug. As she did so, she asked, "So how do you like it?" she grinned. The truth was, she was quite tickled for him and by him in his drunkenness. While Alexandria wasn't one to abuse substances, she did enjoy occasional (voluntary) intoxication, and had always thought it was something Adam might enjoy. As it turned out, he was enjoying it even more than she'd imagined. The thought made her grin. "Must be kind of strange after being sober all your life," she said.
"Yeah," he said. "I've seen this plenty of times, but it's different from this end of it." He chuckled, shrugging, the gesture shifting him further against her. "Something like this would've been useful when I broke my arm. Maybe I can save some in case I get hurt again." A faint hint of pink still tinged her pale cheeks, and Adam could not resist calling some sort of attention to it. His smile was broad and unguarded when he lowered his mug again. His arm moved from behind her, one warm fingertip brushing softly high along her cheekbone. "What's this?" he asked. He bit his lip against his widening grin. "Pretty sure I'm the one who should be embarrassed. That's normally how being drunk works, right?"
At that, she laughed again, and the flush to her cheeks deepened, swatting his hand away even as she burrowed closer to him to escape it. "You've got it all wrong, she said, tucking her face against his shoulder so he couldn't see her blush. "You don't get embarrassed to the next day. There's usually not too much embarrassment while you're actually drunk," she explained into his shirt. He had no answer for this save more laughter, nodding his vague understanding of this new principle.
It was difficult keeping her hiding place, because she wanted another drink of mead. And so, as a means of distraction, she pinched his side with one hand while she tipped her mug to her lips with the other. He twitched away from her hand, grinning at the tickle it gave him. "We probably should save some, though," she said when she lowered her mug. "I mean, this is the only thing that's ever done anything for you, right?" she asked.
He nodded vigorously. "The weirdest thing," he not so astutely observed. "I really wonder what's in it." He tipped the mug to one side, peering down into its contents. No revelations proved forthcoming, however, and so after a moment's further inspection he poured another considerable measure past his lips. His tongue flicked happily to the corner of his mouth, swiping at a missed drop of mead. "No idea who I'd ask, though."
In spite of the inherent oddity of the situation - and the potential danger neither of them had considered it might pose - Adam liked the idea of hiding some of the beer away. There was always the off chance it might go stale over time, but given the bizarre properties it had already displayed, Adam was not especially worried. In fact, very little worried him at the moment: not the flush on his dearest friend's cheeks, not the ease with which they fell into such familiar, careless touches, not the comfort they both seemed to feel in such an impossibly surreal setting. Still, curiosity got the better of him, and after a bit of hazy thought he managed a question of his own. "Any weirdness on your end," he asked, "or am I the only lucky one?"
Her head resting on his shoulder, Alexandria was carefully experimenting with the mechanics of trying to take a sip of her mead while having to move as little as possible from her comfortable, reclined position. At his question, she turned to look at him with wide eyes, her mug just at her lips. It took a moment to register what he was asking. A swallow later, she was laughing at herself.
"I don't know about weirdness," she said, "But I definitely am getting drunk. And much faster than I normally would, I think."
It was strange; she'd never missed Adam drinking before. Her wildest days, she imagined, were behind her, and had happened a continent away. But even when they'd seen each other then, she'd always been able to spend time with him comfortably. Even so, this was different. Now they were both drunk. And that could be an entirely different kind of fun. Suddenly, she smiled again, squeezing his arm with her own.
"I'm so excited for you! We should play a drinking game or something." Her grin turned a little wicked.
Adam scarcely hesitated. "Okay," he said, chuckling at the sight of her impish smile. His eyes flicked over to the keg beside them, wondering if he should refill his mug now or wait until he heard the specifics of her proposed game. After some consideration he opted for remaining as he was, even going so far as to snuggle more deeply alongside her as he availed himself of more mead. His lips still pressed to the mug, he dutifully and belatedly asked, "Got something in mind?" His dark brow arched even higher, a teasing glint lighting his black eyes. "If it involves stripping at all, we should probably go back to our floor."
That earned him a WHAP to the chest, and her cheeks, despite having just been fading, were back to pink again. Pressing her cheek to his shoulder, hiding her face from him again, she laughed. "So now we know you get all pervy when you're drunk," she told him, then took another drink of her mead. Adam laughed, but made no effort to deny it. Raising her mug, she leaned over him, grinning. "I think," she said slowly, "we should play 'I Never.'" It was the kind of game that was just better to play when you were drunk, and this seemed like a great opportunity. "It'll be fun. That or 'Truth or Dare,'" she laughed, warming to the idea even further. "What do you think?"
"I think that sounds perfect. Either, I mean." He smirked down into his glass. He considered another long sip - perhaps as an excuse to top his drink off again - but ultimately erred on the side of caution, suspecting either game would provide ample opportunity for such. He flicked a dark gaze to the apartment doors nearest them, for one brief moment of self-consciousness wondering just how much chance their game ran of disrupting the hall's residents. In short order he realized he didn't particularly care. His sudden grin curved wickedly at the rim of his mug. "And I think you should start, since you brought it up."
"Oh I should, should I?" she said, giving him a sharp little poke with a long, slender finger. With that, she snatched away his mug, then rose from his side, giving him a grin. "First, we need to prepare." Moving to the keg with as little trouble as she could manage, she refilled both their heavy mugs, then returned to his side, handing him his. As she settled in, she looked thoughtful. "I pick 'Truth or Dare' - so does that mean I ask first, or you do?" She nudged his leg with her knee, caring less and less about the state of her own jeans as she took another sip of mead.
"I have no idea," he laughed. His smile wavered just above the rim of his mug; somehow he kept himself from diving straight into it, instead waiting for the game to begin. He thought on their options, his eyes turning upward, toward the canopy that wasn't. A leaf drifted down to them from what should have been the hall's ceiling. Adam watched its earthward passage with more intent interest than it likely deserved. "Truth or dare, Alexandria," he said, a singsong lilt coloring that last syllable. His eyes flicked back to her, naked curiosity shining in his eyes. As yet he had not the first missive or question in mind; he hoped, somewhere in his ale-addled mind, that when the time came, pure enthusiasm would carry him through. "Choose wisely," he added, affecting his most serious and Indiana Jones inspired tones.
With a little laugh, she shook her head. There was a child-like silliness and wonder in him now that she found utterly endearing. Impulsively, she reached out and squeezed his hand. It felt, often enough, like there was very little, if anything, that Adam Vejas didn't know about her, and that left her wondering if she should test his knowledge, or see just what he might come up with for a dare. Given his present state, though, starting off with a dare could be dangerous, so for now, she went with the safe option. After taking another swig of mead for courage, she said, "All right, then, Adam." Another long draught. "Truth."
"Coward." His attempt at severity failed utterly, ruined by an unabashedly broad grin. "Truth, hm." His black-painted nails clicked against the walls of his mug, sounding out an incoherent rhythm as he thought. A vague, contemplative sound escaped him, beginning as a hum and drifting off into something else. "All right," he said at last. He straightened up against the tree's gnarled roots, trying for something akin to a serious, appropriately judgmental pose. "What's the worst lie you've ever told?" He thought for a moment, then added, "Or the biggest one. Either way."
Alexandria laughed at him, taking another long sip of her drink then shaking her head. This one would take some thought - most of the time, Alexandria didn't bother to lie. It was less a matter of a moral issue than it was just common sense. She wasn't very good at lying, and in general, falsehoods were difficult to keep track of. It was too easy to slip up. She leaned against him as she sipped and thought, despite his "serious" pose. Finally, she said, "I guess... I'm not sure. You know I don't lie much." She took another sip of her mead, then laughed sheepishly. "Does faking orgasms count?"
Inebriation certainly served to exaggerate Adam's expression, but the amused shock that registered on his face was entirely real. "Yes," he said, coughing on a poorly swallowed gulp of mead. "Yeah, Alex, that counts." He shook his head, the motion nuzzling his cheek close against hers. "That isn't just a terrible lie. It's a lie that doesn't even help you. You really don't understand lying, do you." His arm slipped around her once more, tightening as he gave her a brief squeeze. "I'd teach you, but I think this is more fun, and definitely more useful to me."
"Teach me - what?" she asked, momentarily confused, her cheeks flaming red at the suggestion she'd initially interpreted - that he'd teach her how to actually have an orgasm. Between his close proximity - so much of their skin was touching each other, she suddenly noticed! - and that "proposal," she took a long drink of her own mead. He felt the brief flare of heat in her skin, and bit his lip against an outright laugh once its meaning struck him. As she drank, Alex managed to parse out his real meaning. She shook her own head, then, laughing sheepishly.
"I don't think it's that bad a lie. And it does help," she insisted, her cheeks still quite pink. "Sometimes, you don't really want to be having sex anymore, or for your partner's ego to be damaged, or, you know..." she shrugged. The sentence might have ended in some way like, 'some people just can't or don't have orgasms,' but that seemed like a bit too much to say, even now.
"Ego," Adam said, exhaling on a derisive little snort. "I'd have thought you of all people could understand the value of honest feedback." He leaned away from her, looking over the color still risen to her skin. His smile turned positively impish as he slipped his hand beneath her chin, lifting her blushing face up to him. Some marginally sober part of him knew he should be kinder to her, or at least take less advantage of how easy she was to fluster at the moment. But the larger part of him - the uninhibited, now quite drunk part of him - found he rather liked seeing that blush bloom on her fair skin, and enjoyed being the cause of it more than was reasonable or fair. "How's anyone supposed to get better if they get a pat on the back for just trying? Trust me, Alex, I speak from experience."
Alexandria squirmed a little, then, her face only turning redder from his close scrutiny. She pushed his hand away and scooted a little away from him under the pretense of wanting to be in a better position to take a long draught of her mead. There were few subjects that could make her so obviously and unexpectedly self-conscious. Alexandria was hardly the most experienced person in the world sexually, and she generally managed to avoid the topic deftly. She shrugged as she drank. When she brought the mug down, she licked her lip, then said, "How did we get onto this?" she wrinkled her nose. "It's no big deal. It's your turn now, right?"
"Right." He nodded enthusiastically though he knew full well she would have her revenge, and likely soon. If nothing else, he was curious as to what form, exactly, this vengeance would take; he was certain it was a price well worth paying after having seen her bright flush. He settled his hands back benignly around his mug, ignoring the slight pang caused by the loss of her touch. He thought a moment, taking a short, measured sip of mead, weighing his options as he peered at her with drowsy, black-limned eyes. "I'll take the easy out, too, then. Truth."
That earned him a little smirk and a shake of her head. She took a long sip of her beer, buying time as she considered her options. Taking a long look at him, she hummed as she tapped long, slender fingers along the surface of her own mug. As she looked at him, she got an image of him as the snake - but somehow, it was just as much him as he was now. Her fingers felt as though they might wrap all the way around her mug, but when she shook her head again, the feeling dissipated. Finally, licking a bit of foam from her lip, she leaned forward toward him and said, "All right," with a nod. "OK. So... how many girls have you been with? Really."
His brow rose, his features showing earnest surprise - though not disappointment, exactly - by this particular turn. He watched too closely that pass of her tongue, suddenly more thrown by the question than he would have thought possible. "I thought you didn't like this topic," he said, shifting against the rough bark of an upturned root. His lips thinned, the gesture making all the more clear his tongue's idle toying with his labret. He told himself he feared no judgment, and more, that he was likely to find none in her. He answered on a slight, unnecessary sigh. "Nine."
Alexandria gave a little laugh, her cheeks pinkening a bit. "I don't like the topic of my sexual performance," she allowed. "But how many sex partners you've had is a different thing altogether." He pursed his lips at this little hypocrisy, bemusedly shaking his head. Giving him a little grin, she tucked her legs under her as she took another sip of her mead. He had her beat three times over, at least. Part of her wondered what he'd think of that; then immediately, she wondered why it mattered. Even so, she nodded, absorbing the information. "When did you first have sex?" she asked.
Fogged as it was his mind only belatedly registered the technicality of this being a second question, and therefore unearned; when the thought did come to him, Adam resolved to play that card when it would most benefit him, rather than call her out and ruin a potentially useful opportunity later. "Summer before senior year. She didn't go to school with us," he said, smirking down at his mead. "Made things much easier on me, since it meant she hadn't heard God knows what about me before we even met." His thumb fussed with one thick silver ring, turning it on his finger. He looked back to her, a shadow of a smile crossing his lips. "So truth or dare," he asked, "or did you have another follow-up question?"
Alexandria laughed, though her cheeks were still pink, then grinned as she said, "I was curious. We weren't hanging out as much back then. I was still hiding behind books and afraid to talk very much." She laughed again, then, taking a sip of her mead, realizing that the description didn't sound that different than her today - though now her quiet was due to preference rather than fear. She considered the possibility of a follow-up question, and realized she really sort of wanted one, but that wasn't the name of the game. "Anyway," she said, getting back into the right mindset - slowly, and with mead. "I guess, against my better judgment, I'll do a dare this time."
He was surprised by how easily the answer came, and by the sheer force and sincerity of it. "Kiss me," he said. With fuzzy, meandering thoughts he reassured himself it was the conversation stirring him, the alcohol playing on his natural inclination toward proximity and touch; the explanation did not fully satisfy him even now, but he forged ahead before such concerns could give him pause. He raised one finger, warding off any caveats or loopholes before they could slip free. "On the lips, and an actual kiss, not some silly little peck."
A short, truncated sound rather like a laugh mixed with a shocked yelp escaped her mouth when her jaw dropped and she quickly snapped it back shut. Her eyes, though, were still open wide, and she held her mug hovering just an inch or two from her lips. It took a moment to register what he was saying - to believe it. In all the years they'd known each other, they'd never even really flirted. They'd been close, of course; hugging and cuddling, sure. Kissing on cheeks. Sharing seats meant for one or squished up in the backs of cars. But this - this was different. This was -
"A kiss? Really?" Her brain fuzzed, her lips slightly parted, she didn't know what else to say.
"Really." He scooted closer to her over the soft ground, loamy earth and fallen leaves rustling quietly with the motion. "We've talked about your faked orgasms and my sexual history; I don't see how a little kiss should be any trouble." Brow and lips curved upward as one, his smirk plainly amused at her expense. "You don't think I'd be bad at it, do you?"
That comment prompted her pulling a face at him, scrunching her nose and curling her lip. Of all the things Adam could be bad at, kissing was the last one that Alexandria would guess. Her blush still burned her cheeks, though, and she couldn't stand it. It wasn't as though she'd never talked about sex before; she was a scholar in the social sciences. Obviously the topic came up, and she'd even written articles on it. But this was quite different. This was personal, this was him and her and them, and it was awkward and uncomfortable. And somehow, underneath all that, strangely exciting.
"All right," she said finally, taking another long swig of mead, then setting her mug down on a flat patch of grass between two roots. "Let's do this, then." With that, she moved toward him, shifting closer to him as well. When their sides were nearly flush to each other, she leaned forward and pressed her lips softly, tentatively to his.
She tasted of mead, honey-sweet and warm, and something nebulous and indistinct, besides; Adam leaned closer, unaware that he had put his mug aside, careless of the motions his hands made of their own accord. The column of her throat was soft beneath his palm, heated to the touch of his slim, cool fingers. With that small touch he guided her closer, feeling the faint curve of her breast against his chest. He felt more aware of the shape of her than ever before, more conscious now of every thoughtless gesture and wordless touch passed between them through the years. His tongue flicked out, tracing the swell of her lower lip, further muffling the quiet sigh that broke against her mouth.
It would have surprised her, how simple, how easy this was, if she'd thought about it. As it was, though, everything happened quite naturally; when he invited her closer with his touch, she accepted without thought of hesitation. She slipped her arms around him, their limbs fitting perfectly as she leaned into him, parting her lips to his, her own tongue tentatively teasing out at his. The taste of him was perfect - under the honey on his tongue was him, distinct and unique and just right. A hum of contentment escaped her as her fingers traced patterns on his back.
He smiled against her lips, his mouth parting wider to her. The dare was fulfilled and then some, and there was no reason to continue now, save their own curiosity and the obvious rightness of it all. Hazily Adam wondered why this had been so long in coming; some distant, passingly sober part of him remembered Tyler, overprotective and belligerent and latently prohibitive, but that unwanted mental intrusion was hastily put away. Instead he focused on the soft pads of her fingers, drawing idly on cloth and skin beneath; on her tongue, slipping gingerly across his own; on the scent of her, faint and inviting. His free hand rested at her hip, curling now against that narrow ridge of bone, holding her close as he deepened the kiss.
The softest sound of enjoyment came from her then as she followed his lead. One hand shifted to his neck, stroking the skin there, as the other continued drawing those nonsense patterns on his back. Thoughts of why or why not, for once, didn't enter the picture; Alexandria gave herself over to the moment, kissing him, enjoying the feel of his body against hers. She shifted to better face him, their bodies as close to flush now as they could be sitting as they were. Every time she thought of how strange this was, every time she began to wonder what it meant, she pushed the thought away, determined to enjoy this drunken little moment to its fullest.
He very nearly pulled her into his lap, then. Pressed as close to him as she was it was a tantalizing option: a simple tightening of his hands, a twitch of his hips, and she would be curled up in his lap as she had been so many times before. But things were different now, and far less platonic - or perhaps only less willfully oblivious - at least for this fleeting moment, and there was no knowing what might come of giving in to such temptation. Adam's internal monologue on this score, though slow and largely ineloquent, eventually reached its inevitable conclusion, and he began to pull away. He could not resist, though, drawing her lip between his teeth, sucking lightly at it swell as he withdrew. His smile was soft when he looked to her, his hands unmoving, a light impish but sated dancing in his black eyes. "Now," he said. "Was that so bad?"
It took her a moment to realize he'd spoken; she was trying to catch her breath, looking down at his slightly swollen mouth, her hand still on his neck, her thumb stroking his throat, her other hand at his back. They were still so close. When what he'd said registered, she blinked twice, looked up at him, then blushed hard, smiling, if a little dazedly. "No," she said, the hand at his back sliding over his shoulder to his chest, her long, slender fingers tapping lightly through the fabric of his shirt. "I don't think I ever said it would be bad," she noted in her own defense. In fact, she only wanted to kiss him again, at this point. But without his lips on hers, her mind was unfettered as it rapidly spun reasons why that would be a terrible idea, the most obvious of which was that it was just a dare, just a game, nothing more. Still, she didn't move far - only reached over to where her mead was to take another sip.
Adam was sorry to have provoked her to even that small motion; he chided himself for having teased her at all. His hand had fallen from her hip, but only just, and now it raised to brush idly over her again. He inched closer to her, his leg pressing flush to hers. He gave no thought to his abandoned mead, its heady effect still weighing on him quite intensely. At the moment he was consumed with only one thought, strong enough to cast aside all his typical doubt and deliberation. He reached for the familiar arguments that had led him to break the kiss not a minute before; they seemed to carry little weight now, at best adding a scintillating rebelliousness to his small, continued movements toward her. "Well," he said, drawing out the word. "If it wasn't bad, maybe we should keep going. Unless you have a much more interesting truth or dare for me instead."
Though she tried to hold back a little smile at his words, in the end, she couldn't quite do it. Her reservations, her logic, her unacknowledged concerns melted away as he moved closer to her again, as his hand moved back to her hip. His words and his tone made her want to laugh, and the mead made her want to kiss him again. So there was the choice - continue the game or continue the kiss. Continuing the game would be easy enough, but not really. How could they keep playing without things escalating even further? Kissing, though - that could also lead to escalating. Though it didn't have to. Her hand went back to his chest - a pause, maybe, though she stroked the fabric with her thumb. It was just a kiss, after all. Harmless. Sweet. Fun. She decided not to worry about words anymore. Instead, honey-drunk, she leaned forward and kissed him again.