I was at work the next night, the usual routine. Relic was in the corner, drawing idly. I liked when she came to work, it calmed me down, to know she was safe. I let her help here and there with things if I could. Just to remind her that I knew she was there. And that I cared. So she would never forget that I loved her, always. I was also more nervous when she was there, should an occasion come up, should a riot ensue…she’d be too close to the flame. I didn’t want to put her in danger, to risk her life. Life’s a game of risk. Of chance. I had to play the cards the way they were dealt. Being here made her happy, so I let her be.
Maven came in. I saw her from the doorway. I saw everyone that came in from the doorway. Every person that set foot into the bar was caught at the door. If they were trouble, I just had to nod a certain way to have them removed. We were running a safe haven, but only for our side. The enemy wasn’t allowed refuge here. The entrance to the underground was through here, so we always had a varied sort of crowd coming and going. But for the most part, it was good people. Decent, hard working, they just needed to unwind.
Maven came and sat down. We exchanged the usual nods. She seemed edgy, but I learned not to intervene. She was her mother’s child. Pandora worked at the bar a lot too, but she happened to be off tonight. I wished she were here; I debated calling her. But no, kids will be kids. I would let the dog lie. I didn’t want to get bit. She was having a bad day – I’d let her have it. I didn’t want to seem like the prying aunt or anything. I had no real claim to her. I tried to start a conversation but it just didn’t fly, so I went back to cleaning glasses.
Gin was helping people behind me. She was doing really well too. The door opened to allow Jack to creep in to see her. A lot of the travelers were still around. Saint and Damien came back for another few drinks before starting home. I went over to talk to them for a while, coming back behind the bar in time to see Set come in. I checked the time. It was getting late – they’d be closing up the shop. It was always open, in a matter of speaking. Payge and Set, supposedly, moved in upstairs, so if you were desperate for something, you could go knock on their door. But who would have that kind of nerve? If you’re going to wake up the owners at some ungodly hour, you better have one hell of a design.
Set came in, shaking off the change of atmosphere, settling down. I moved down the bar to him.
“So what can I do ye for, stranger?”
He smiled back at me. “You decide, I’m through with thinking for the night.”
“Now that’s a dangerous thing to say. I could come up with something wicked troublesome.”
He shrugged again. “What kind of trouble could you possibly get me into?”
And I shot him back a wicked sort of grin. “The worst kind, babe.” And I went off to get him a drink. I saw him look down the bar. I saw him lock eyes on Maven. I took the initiative to get back to him as he got up to move.
“Listen, Lucid came home a little shook up last night. Said the kids were up to no good. Do me a favor, be careful?”
And he laughed. “Harley, you can only imagine what I’ve seen. What can three children come up with that I’ve not already gone through? I mean, really, what are they to me?”
And he winked at me, moving down the bar quietly to talk to Maven. I watched him go, and all that I could hear in my head was this:
“You will be the death of me.”
Over and over. And I knew just by watching him that he’d set himself up for one hell of a downfall. I knew, and it was carved into stone when I saw him grab Maven and shove her out of the bar. I wanted to jump over, to stop them, to intervene. But I felt Gin’s hand on my shoulder. I felt my daughter’s eyes burning into my own. And I knew I couldn’t risk it. I couldn’t make the leap. I had been out of the game, out of the loop. I was replaced. I was old news. And I had to let the new generation take over. I had to…step…back.
Lucid came in a little while later. I threw my towel to Gin, crossing from behind the bar to hug him. He held me tight for a moment.
He shook his head. “No matter. All in due course.”
I nodded. “Staying awhile?”
He smiled at me, letting go. “Course.”
And he sat himself down next to Relic, eying her drawing carefully, trying not to be too obvious. She laughed, pretending not to notice, turning away from him.
“Oh, that’s how it is huh?”
He reached over and tickled her, making her giggle and laugh. I couldn’t help laughing too. With all the madness of my youth, this is where we were. I took the towel from where Gin left it and went back behind the bar. Lucid was still being a brat.
“Can you stop terrorizing her? She’s a big girl now, too big for your antics.”
“Aw, come on. It’s my paternal right.”
“Don’t make me send you to your room.”
He smiled, leaning across the bar to get up in my face. “Oh yeah? What gives you that kind of power?”
“I’m your wife,” I replied smugly.
“Eh, I don’t know about that.”
And I pretended to get offended, to walk away from him, when he reached out to me and I kissed him. I could feel Relic watching. I could hear the pencil scratch as she tried to sketch the outlines in before we moved. I could hear her disappointed sigh when she didn’t get everything there in time. Lucid looked over at her, patting her on that head.
“We’ll sit like that for hours when we get home and you can draw all you want, how’s that grab you?”
And she laughed, turning away again, pretending that she was watching someone else. She didn’t want to seem too obvious. She didn’t want us to know that she was caught. Lucid settled himself back down and stuck around for the next few hours.
It was getting late and Relic was falling asleep when I poked him.
“Go on, take her home, I’ll finish up here.”
He looked around – the place was mostly empty. Saint and Damien were still hanging out. Gin and Jack were both gone, as well as any other demons. Set hadn’t come back. Lucid glanced over to where Relic was curled up on top of her sketchbook, her arm and hands covered with dust from the pencil. He nodded, leaning over for another kiss, which I returned.
“Now, get out of here you beast.”
“Yes, master,” he sighed, lumbering over to pick up Relic. He took her carefully, making sure to take the sketchbook with her. “We’ll see you in awhile?”
I checked the time. “A while not too far from the present.”
“Good. Should I wait up?”
“Don’t strain yourself too much.”
“Later, kid,” he said, winking slyly. He thought he was so damn cool.
And he was gone, cradling Relic in his arms. I sighed and went back to wiping off tables. I got to the one where Saint and Damien were at, looking at the two of them.
“So, am I locking you fellas up in here or are you planning of depriving me of your presence at some point?”
Saint laughed. “Well, when you put it that way.”
“Come on boys, you have to get on the road, I have to get home. I have a family waiting.”
“Been staying out of trouble?” Saint questioned.
“Anything out of the ordinary lately?”
“Saint, there’s nothing ordinary about this neighborhood, you know that. Since Syn died, everything’s been screwed up.”
We all put our heads down, thinking for a moment. I dropped into an empty seat next to them. We were just looking around, idly.
“She’s gotten big,” Saint said absentmindedly.
“Relic? Yeah. I thought you’d never met her before now?”
He smiled a wicked little grin. “All because you think it doesn’t mean it’s accurate.”
I shrugged. “Yeah, yours has grown up a bit too.”
Damien shifted in his chair. “She’s not ours.”
I looked back and forth at the two of them. Slowly from Saint to Damien. I coughed into a sort of laugh. “Well, obviously, unless you two know something I don’t.”
Damien didn’t laugh – he just locked eyes with me. I couldn’t break away, and I couldn’t help it.
“What’s she up to, Damien? What kind of trouble is your little girl brewing?”
And he smiled. He smiled such an eerily unsettling smile that I could feel my skin crawl. “Trouble? When is my little darling ever brewing anything troublesome? You know she’s a perfect little angel, hence the name.”
“Did anyone ever tell you that you’re completely full of shit?”
He smiled wider. “According to you. I dare you to prove it.”
I shrugged and let it pass. “Why are you guys still here, really?”
I was looking to Saint for an answer, but I got it from Damien. “Security.”
“If you say so boys. You’re welcome to stay until the minute I lock the door. After that, sweet dreams.” And I got up, excusing myself kindly, and continued wiping down tables.
The eccentricity wrapped up in a few short days versus lifetimes…it’s just unbelievable. I went back to cleaning, they went back to drinking. And the world went back to not making sense. But that’s how everyday typically ends.
With lack of sense.
Reason and logic are overrated anyway.