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Short story: “The Beer Thief”

After some late night ruminations while inebriated, a resulting exchange with a friend (the one who is responsible for one of the characters) and this story was born with my novel main character and a guest star. I suppose I should link to this story as well, as it is an introduction piece of sorts to the guest star.

***

Zouriel had assumed his days of surprise visitors were in the past by now. After he had made that new arrangement Cassandra, though she had not been happy about it, he had felt sure that a certain individual would forever be kept far away from his private sphere.

Alas, he had been sadly mistaken. Some trouble always finds its way back to you in time.

 

And so it was that during a very mild and warm spring day, the kind that not only gave you the assurance that winter was far into the past, but also gave you some early hints of the summer that was only a month or so in the future, that he came home to that unexpected visitor.

Zouriel was currently between missions, though he knew that would not last forever, so today he had looked forward to a solitary evening with a beer on the couch, maybe popping in a movie and forgetting about everything for a while. So it was with more than little annoyance when he found not only a visitor, but that this visitor had also discovered his stash of beer.

He tried to employ that bit of positive thinking that Cassandra had tried to knock into his head, but it was hard not to be a little angry when he found Gil sprawled out on the living room floor, empty beer bottles rattling around his slick, watery form.

“‘Erro” Gil offered, then tried unsuccessfully to bite his ankle in greeting and instead found himself with a mouthful of steel-tipped leather boot.

“Unf”, Gil said and instead tried to wrap his arms around Zouriel’s legs.

“What the hell are you doing here?” Zouriel demanded as he pried the watery man off him with surprising ease.

“Forest wus borin'” Gil supplied with a wave of a hand. “All dem bunnies and flowers and shit.”

His whole form seemed to undulate as he tried to gesture his displeasure with his entire body.

“Lil bro was all…Lookit this shit iz great, an’ I said bleh is not…Well not bleh but you know?”

Gil was managed to slowly raise his head off the ground and roll his eyes, though it resulted in a rather ungraceful flop onto his backside. He landed with a dull splat sound, spraying a fine mist of droplets in all directions. Zouriel made sure to be well out of the way of the trajectories of the microscopic Gil particles.

“Yer ceiling looks like shit”, Gil supplied after a few beat from his new position.

“Well now you look like a matching shitty stain on my floor”, Zouriel grumbled and took a threatening step forward, assuming Gil would wiggle away so he’d not get stepped on.

In his intoxicated state, Gil failed miserably.

“Oh god, that’s disgusting…” Zouriel said and nearly stumbled as he quickly pulled his feet out of Gil’s stomach region.

While Zouriel found a chair so he could wring bits of Gil out of his socks, Gil himself was resorting to one of his traditional reactions to most anything: Howling obscenities, and under the influence he was even more creative with his vocabulary than usual.

Zouriel found it necessary to respond with some foul language himself, his years in the army had taught him some rather colorful phrases perfect for such an occasion.

“…And you were the one who didn’t get out of the way!” he added as he threw himself on the old, but still comfortable couch. Though the beer was gone, at least he could try and relax, with a strong emphasis on try considering his current company.

Gil had rolled into a ball on the floor, rolling back and forth along as if he was trying to race with the empty beer bottles. Back and forth, back and forth he went, the wet sounds of his own movement joining in with the rattling of the bottles. At one point Gil managed to send one bottle rolling into the back wall hard enough that it almost broke, which seemed to delight him.

If the sound wasn’t annoying enough, combined with the movement Zouriel soon started to feel a little seasick.

“Can you just cut that out!” he snapped, wondering if he should try and call Cass to see if she might try and come over to extract his unwanted guest.

“Yer just jelly you can’t do this”, Gil responded, twisting himself into a knot that not even the most talented contortionist could manage, adding some more colorful language directed at Zouriel’s person.

“Maybe I can still get a buzz if I lick you”, Zouriel said threateningly as he reclined deeply into the couch cushions, causing them to squeak. He had to admit though, that the idea of touching any sensitive bit of his to Gil made his stomach churn slightly.

Gil just continued his rolling without any further comment, occasionally supplying some rude comment on Zouriel’s person, often of a kind that challenged not only his virility but his entire worth as a man. He always found his own insults so witty that he broke out in a giggle-fit of the truly drunk. It all finally came to a noisy stop when Gil picked up so much speed that he helplessly rolled himself through the door to the kitchen and disappearing into it with a loud crash.

Zouriel expected all hell to break lose and Gil rushing into the room crying bloody murder, but when he heard nothing he did felt curious enough to went to investigate.

He found that Gil had not only crashed into his kitchen table, but with such force that he had knocked the table and chairs over, piling it up against the wall, like a large wooden bird’s nest. And it was within this nest that he found Gil, sound asleep.

Feeling rather relieved by this turn of events Zouriel tried to salvage hours that remained to him and popped in one of his beloved sir David Attenborough DVDs, a Christmas present from Cass and managed to locate one lone beer that had been left behind by Gil’s binge. (He didn’t really want to imagine how the watery man had managed to ingest all those cases of beer.)

When he went to bed later, Gil was snoring away happily in his kitchen table nest. He looked so peaceful that there was a brief impulse to fetch a blanket to tuck him in, but Zouriel quickly pushed that thought aside.

***

The peace and quiet ended the next morning when Zouriel entered the kitchen and he found Gil trying to hide under the table, which he slowly and laboriously managed to turn right side up again and clawing at the ground as he made whimpering sounds.

“Had a little too much last night, did we?” Zouriel said as loudly and smugly as he could manage, eyebrow cocked.

Gil hissed at him like a surly barnyard cat and tried to shoot Zouriel his dirtiest look. It looked more comical than threatening, so Zouriel decided to ignore it and instead went about making his morning coffee. He leaned back against the counter as it brewed, watching Gil trying to move the table so not even a fraction of the harsh sunlight that streamed through the kitchen windows could reach him. It wasn’t working very well, chairs came toppling down on top of him and some curses, though not as loud as last night emerged from his huddled up form.

“Need help with that?” Zouriel offered and Gil seemed to freeze with an expression that betrayed a brief hope that Zouriel would do just that. It was almost sad enough for him to actually help the hung-over beer thief.

“Maybe if you pay me for those beers…” he said, trying to contain the slight grin on his face.

Gil responded with another mumble and what came out as a hiss, as he lamely shook one hand.

The best part came when the coffee was done and Zouriel poured himself a large cup. That look on Gil’s face was honestly all the payback he would ever need, but he still felt the need to really rub it in.

“I could get you some…But then, you did steal my beer…”

Zouriel took a very long sip and let out a very loud and exaggerated exclamation of pleasure, noting how extremely delicious this particular roast was. For a second he thought Gil was actually going to cry.

The water man did huddle up in a ball on the floor though, mumbling.

“What was that?” Zouriel crouched down, but kept the cup at a safe distance from any grasping water tentacles.

“Don’ have any damn money for beer you fskjgkk…” Gil croaked out hoarsely.

Zouriel frowned.

“Somehow I doubt you’d pay for beer, even if you had money…”

Gil looked thoughtful for a second and then managed a grin, though it looked more comical than that creepy effect he might have been going for.

“Well, if you think on your sins for a while, then maybe I’ll get you some coffee later”, Zouriel said and strode out of the kitchen.

The choked howls and curses, sounding more like a mewling kitten that were thrown at his retreating back made him forget the last of the inconvenience his house guest had caused him.

 

He did make the poor jerk some coffee later, even though he stepped in a puddle that was probably Gil’s vomit.

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