This is a little background on Kari and Rooster, who have been starring prominently in this month's Junicorn pieces, which are available on Tumblr as I write them. It's been a lot of fun so far.
"I really don't think this is a good idea," she murmured, eyeing the growing stock of empty bottles accumulating at his elbow. Kari wasn't the sort to tell someone else how to live their life, but Rooster was supposed to be her guide, and if he wasn't at least sober, then this could turn out rather less well than it might.
"Well honey, that's why I'm th' one drinking, and you're not." Rooster gave her a crooked grin, his eyes a little unfocused even as they drifted across her face.
His breath wafted across the table toward her, too, and that was a less than pleasant odor, all told. She had never enjoyed alcohol very much, with the possible exception of a drink with her parents on New Year's, but this seemed incredibly excessive. He'd already gotten through 5 bottles of the stuff, and he was well on his way through the sixth.
"Well... don't make yourself ill, alright? I need you in one piece and capable of moving around in the morning. With a sigh she got to her feet and turned toward the door, only to feel a tug on her sleeve, bringing her to a halt.
"Are you... worried about me?" he seemed moved almost to tears. But then, he might have also just been bleary-eyed from the drink.
"Of course I am. My safety will be in your hands tomorrow. But... I also think you're worth more than this, Rooster. You're exasperating and not always the brightest crayon in the box, but you're a good man. You should take care of yourself."
For a moment, neither of them moved. Then, slowly, his fingers dropped away from her sleeve. He looked down at the bottle in his hand and sighed. "I guess... I'll stop after this one. It doesn't seem like fun anymore."
Kari couldn't help but feel a little relieved. "Thank you. I'll see you in the morning, Rooster."
He watched her go, running his thumb across the cold, damp glass. It wasn't the sort of thing he usually questioned. But this girl... this woman, actually. She was definitely a woman. And she was the sort of woman that was definitely out of his league. He oughtn't have even listened to her, really. The drink was about the only way he got through anything these days.
He finished the last swallow of his beer and got up with a sigh, tossing a few bills down onto the table. It was probably enough. He would settle up in the morning if it wasn't. The room seemed to weave very slightly around him, his stomach was churning around the peanuts and beer. He really should have eaten more. A couple deep breaths was enough to steady him, and he made it to the door without tripping over anything. An employee caught him in the lobby as he moved toward the stairs and offered to help him to his room, but he grunted and waved them off. He didn't need Kariana's advice, and he didn't need some stranger's help either.
None of them really understood. They were the sort of people that never needed to drink. It didn't make them better than him or anything, but it did mean they didn't understand why he needed the drink. He did need it. Kari just didn't get it.
But would he want her to?
Rooster was standing in front of the door to his room, the key in his hand, staring blankly at the wood. No... no, he didn't want her to understand. That would mean she'd need it. And she was better than that. But tomorrow she would need him to be alert and ready to get her away from lions if necessary. He might as well get some shut-eye.