The bar was quiet, only a few scattered die-hards enjoying their hair of the dog or a morning hangover remedy. I marvelled a bit at this -- I'd never been in here at this hour before, and the difference from the businesslike hum of daytime and the pounding rush of the nightlife was striking. Covering a yawn, I picked my way around staff wiping down tables and mopping spilt alcohol from the floor, heading for a seat at the bar.
The big Civire bartender cracked a grin. 'Didn't I just see you in here, Shae?'
I shook my head. 'Aah, couldn't sleep. Can I have a cup of spiced tea, please, Karlos?'
'No coffee?' He tsked and disappeared into the back, emerging a minute later with a full tea service on a tray. I laughed and accused him of overkill; he shook his head. 'You drink this stuff like water.'
The bastard leaned on the bar and waited til I'd prepared a cup of sweetened tea and was taking the first sip before asking, 'So what's keeping the Gallente Outlaw Supervixen awake?'
Scowling, I wiped a drop of tea from the tip of my nose. 'Not you, too. I'mma kill Cael for that one.'
'The reported nosebleeds did skyrocket after your application went up on the Veto forums. How're you settling in?' He cupped his chin in one hand as his green eyes examined me from beneath lowered lids. I smiled.
'Good, actually. Much better than I thought, given recent experiences.'
'Uh huh? So what's keeping you up when you have a boyfriend to go curl up with?'
I arched an eyebrow at him teasingly. 'Not jealous are you?' He gave a mysterious smile in response and I shook my head. 'A lot of things on my mind, I guess.'
He wasn't going to let it lie. Bartenders.... I shot him a narrow look, then sighed and cupped my tea between my hands. 'I guess maybe I just doubt myself too much, these days. Been in a bad place mentally, and I've rarely got out. Now I guess I'm worried I'll have forgot how to do it.'
The massive Caldari snorted, like a volcano giving a warning rumble. Pulling a face I grumbled, 'You keep your dirty thoughts to yourself. I look at the ships I have in my hangar and I wonder if I'll be able to use them as well as I did before, or if it'll be academy days and massive losses all over again. I'm wary of flying anything more expensive than a cruiser because I just KNOW it won't be returning at the end of the night.'
'If you don't undock expecting to lose those hulls, girl, you're doing it wrong.'
I nodded reluctantly. 'I know, I know. If it's not on fire, I'm not flying it right.'
He reached over and tapped my forehead lightly with the tip of one finger. 'You know how to use them. Just go do it. The scariest thing you have to fear out there is yourself... not the other guy. The other guy's a pussy little thing in comparison.'
Blinking, I stared up at him. He frowned a little. 'What?'
I shook my head. 'You know... I knew that. But thanks for reminding me. Did Sonja manage to get your shirt off last night?'
Karlos laughed heartily. 'No, but they got Ethan topless. I'm surprised you missed that part.'
Giggling, I sipped my tea. 'Cael and I were talking over at the table,' I explained, jerking my head towards the massive host's table. 'I hope someone got a video. That's more than enough hot Gallente to go around.'
He shrugged and reached behind the bar to obtain a drink for a bedraggled-looking patron who appeared a couple seats down from me. 'Topless Verone is a common sight, I'm surprised you've not seen him pull that more often.'
'But Topless Karlos is an endangered species, huh?'
He smirked at me. 'so are you going to go back to bed once you're done with that?'
'Hm?' I blinked at him over the rim of the glass teacup. 'Nah, still too much on my mind. Gonna hit up the simulator and see about finishing the refit on my Lachesis.'
The bartender shook his head at me. 'Suit yourself, honey. Just don't start making mistakes because you're too tired to focus.'
I waved him off to take care of the other guests. It was nice to know others cared, and he'd given me some more to think about.