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Campfires and Company

Written for the drabble theme "Drink".

Title: Campfires and Company
Series: Tales of the Abyss
Length: 700 words
Genre: Friendship
Characters: Natalia, Guy
Summary: Sometimes it's enough to know you're not alone.



She could pretend it was because she was a delicate, genteel creature unaccustomed to sleeping on the hard ground, but that wasn’t why she was awake.

So much was going on, so much chasing and catching up and running again, and she should have been exhausted like everyone else, able to sleep on a bed of nails. Still, her eyes were wide open, and her mind refused to calm itself, instead racing with all manner of impossible scenarios.

When she sat up, she saw a figure sitting by their campfire, idly poking a branch into the flames and watching the orange sparks scatter. Insomnia had claimed another victim after all. Wrapping a cloak around herself, she went to join him.

Guy looked up as Natalia settled herself on a large rock next to him. “Can’t sleep?” he asked, his quiet tone extending to her alone.

She shook her head. “Too much to think about, I suppose.”

“Yeah.” Something silver glinted in his hand, and he raised it to his lips. At her curious glance, he said, “A little gift from the bar owner in Chesedonia. Don’t tell Jade I have this.”

“I won’t.” She knew if she did, the flask would be empty the next time Guy reached for it.

“Want some?”

“Please.” He set the container on the ground between them. It was an old habit to prevent his fingers brushing hers in the transaction. A small smile ghosted across her face, somewhat amused that he still wouldn’t touch her but had no issue with drinking from the same bottle.

“It’s strong,” he warned.

How strong it was Natalia didn’t understand until the liquid was scorching its way down her throat. Even her tongue and lips tingled from the whiskey’s sting. She brought her sleeve to her mouth to muffle her coughing.

“Good, huh?” he joked.

“Very.” Despite the initial pain, the alcohol quickly warmed her stomach, with the warmth spreading outward, through her arms, down her legs, across her cheeks. She took one more sip, ready for the burn this time, then placed the flask between them again.

He likewise took a long sip before replacing the cap and returning the flask to his pocket.

Natalia pulled her cloak closer around herself, needing something to do with her hands now. Guy had taken his branch in hand again to prod the fire; she found another and did the same. The pop and crackle of the flames would ordinarily distract her, but tonight, she found them yet another taunting reminder.

Flame… and ash.

“He’s okay.” She looked up sharply, and Guy nodded toward one of the sleeping forms. “I’m sure Luke would tell us if he wasn’t.”

Even in the flickering firelight, her thoughts must have been clear on her face. “Yes, you’re right,” she replied, and she wanted to believe it. It should have been reassuring, but it wasn’t enough. She was still going to wonder. Wonder where he was, how he was feeling, if he was staring up at the inky black sky and thinking about her, thinking about what they would do when this was all behind them. “Guy?”

“Yeah?”

His name had slipped out. She hadn’t meant to say anything. “Do you often stay up like this?”

“Not really,” he answered. “I don’t know. I guess… a lot to think about, like you said.”

It would be prying to ask, so she didn’t. He knew what she was thinking, but his inner workings were still quite the mystery to her, his past something she only knew fragments about. Even so, couldn’t she come up with something comforting to say, as he had for her?

“Thanks.” She was beginning to think he truly was a mind reader, if he had discerned her intentions. “For the company,” he clarified. “It’s nice.”

If that was what she could offer, perhaps it would do for now. Worries would never disappear, fears would always prickle with cold fingers, but having someone else there made them bearable. She could do that for him, he for her, all of them for each other. “Yes,” she replied, folding her arms inside her cloak and looking up at the waning moon. “Yes, it is.”


Comments

( 9 comments — Leave a comment )
projectfri
Nov. 3rd, 2009 03:08 pm (UTC)
i love this. i love this line: *It was an old habit to prevent his fingers brushing hers in the transaction* I love that their friendship here is made up of old habits and exchanges of comfort.
mellowcandle
Nov. 3rd, 2009 04:41 pm (UTC)
Aw, thank you. I kind of like that little detail, too, if I'm allowed to say so. One thing I like about their relationship is that they've known each other so long, but it's only during this storyline that they actually start learning about each other and treating each other as peers.
cal_reflector
Nov. 3rd, 2009 06:22 pm (UTC)
The imagery in this piece was nice. I think a little bit more audio detail would have been nice, in addition to the pop and crack of the fire, in order to feel the open space and chill around them.

Would you consider writing conflict between these two, or negative emotions, for a change? Irrational fear, dishonesty, cowardice, confrontation, selfishness, envy, possessiveness, spite, etc. May add a spark and serve as a catalyst to their developing relationship.
projectfri
Nov. 3rd, 2009 07:18 pm (UTC)
i second that
mellowcandle
Nov. 3rd, 2009 09:39 pm (UTC)
Which part, more atmosphere or more conflict? Or both?
mellowcandle
Nov. 3rd, 2009 08:11 pm (UTC)
Possibly. I'd need the right inspiration for such a thing. I'm still very new to these two and working their dynamic out. It's easier to start with nice things and get to messier things once you find your groove.
cal_reflector
Nov. 3rd, 2009 08:17 pm (UTC)
For instance: A way to introduce Anise into the picture may be her bottled up feeling of loneliness after the story ends; as the rest of the party pairs off, the happiness of those around her may make her feel abandoned. She does have a violent side to her, and that may be brought to surface if Guy touches her off in the wrong way.

Just a thought.
mellowcandle
Nov. 3rd, 2009 08:25 pm (UTC)
True. She'll have Florian and the Order to keep her occupied, but as she gets older... sure, that could happen.

She does have a violent side to her

Haha, understatement!
cal_reflector
Nov. 3rd, 2009 08:37 pm (UTC)
Especially if Natalia and Guy were slowly but surely happening, and Anise, ever the observant one, has irrationally (or rationally?) perceived Guy as her best/only shot at a Happy Ending like the others.
( 9 comments — Leave a comment )