Charlie's Pub 
It wasn’t uncommon for Gabby to drop by the nearest bar after finishing her shift at the fire station, provided she didn’t find a way to sneak in an extra shift. She was a workaholic through and through, but it seemed that tonight, even the two people most likely to stay late to find something to do at work were spending their extra time at the bar instead. She knew this because the other one of the two, the fire marshal, was seated by himself at a booth near the back of the establishment.

Gabby tilted her head as if considering what to do. She and Rowan had never exactly been two peas in a pod, but she didn’t hate him yet; considering her propensity for disliking people upon initial contact, that was actually fairly impressive. Besides, the bar was pretty full, and if she sat alone there was a higher likelihood that she was going to be spoken to by someone she didn’t want to speak to. There were a few folks wandering around the bar looking like predators, not to mention a group of people she’d known and disliked since high school.

Ordering her drink quickly, Gabby waited on it to arrive, then finally made her decision. Heading across the bar, she took the seat across from Rowan as if nothing were at all out of the ordinary, taking a drink from her Jack and Coke. As always, she had a strong tendency to simply make herself at home wherever she was, so she leaned back in her seat, nodding a greeting at him. <b>”So, do you actually do anything other than work and drink? Because I don’t, and I always see you in these two places. Do we need to have some kind of intervention?”</b> She asked him with a grin. <b>”I ordered cheese fries, by the way. They’ll be here soon.”</b>

He was definitely a grumpy bitch. When was he not? Even the idea of having “fuck off” practically written on his forehead made him smile. He wasn’t into socializing much these days and when he did, it was a rare insight as to who he once was. Drinking was the name of the game and he was always a winner.

So when he wasn’t at work, taking a piss or sleeping, he was at the bar. The run down place just down the street from his house ... though the block actually was pretty decent. The houses were remodeled, and had all the bells of and whistles, according to HGTV, for a new family. This was his type of peace, his type of —-

And someone took it upon themselves to ruin it. He couldn’t recall her name right now, but he seen her at work most days. She was a Were. A familiar once, but not familiar enough for him to know it right off the bat. God, he was a mess and he’d rather stay that way. "Can I help you?" he asked, putting his drink on the table, one arm was sprawled across the back of the booth, one leg kicked up on the torn leather while his free hand rested around his beer on the table. Comfortable and clearly unapproachable by humans.

He blinked at her. Was she serious? "No," he said gruffly in answer. "I prefer something with more meat in it... as should you," he said, looking her in non-sexual way. Cheese fries wouldn’t even put a dent in his hunger. And sharing would mean he would have to hold a conversation. He wasn’t up for that. "You should know by now that I’m not good company."

Gabby snorted, rolling her eyes. "Cheese fries aren't for nutrition, Ro. They're for snacking. Food is a fantastic hobby." She nudged the cheese fries toward him insistently, after taking one for herself of course, and considered his next statement.

Bad company. It didn't particularly matter to her, she was often drawn to grumpy, anti-social, or even downright horrible people. She didn't think he was a bad person, but the grumpy bit... Well, yes.

Still, Gabrielle Cleary had always been inclined to do precisely whatever the hell she wanted, and at the moment she wanted to drink with this person. "Do I seem like I'm looking for good company?" She asked with an impish grin. "Come on, it'll be fine. We'll sit here and interact a bit, you'll hate it the entire time, and you'll go home cursing my name. But eventually I'll grow on you like mold, until you're forced to admit that we're friends, and it'll be a wonderful grumpy friendship."

Her eyes were twinkling, the grin pulling up at the corner of her mouth indicating that she was at least partially joking.

Ro. No one called him Ro. Well... Maybe his mother. But that was not relevant to this conversation. Instead, he just stared at her. Perhaps he needed to revisit the effectiveness of his “fuck off” face. He had no energy for this. He didn’t even have the energy to agree the food was a good hobby. Especially for Weres.

So he let her talk, mindlessly reaching out to snatch a cheesy fry from her basket and putting it in his mouth. Mmm. That was actually good. Maybe he shouldn’t be such an ass. He had known Gabby for some type but he never spoke to her beyond work-related issues. She knew him when he wasn’t such a workaholic and wanted to be home to Carmilla every night. Now... he didn’t care where he was.

"Mmm. You know me so well it seems,”" he said dryly. "Tell me. Do I wear boxers or briefs and do I shower every night? I can’t seem to remember." Sarcasm at its finest, albeit dry, but at least he wasn’t directly telling her to fuck off. It seemed that he was stuck with her until at least her basket was emptied. Speaking of... he snatched another fry from it.

Gabby grinned, getting more comfortable in her seat. As far as she was concerned, his sarcastic questions meant that he had resigned himself to her company. She didn't mind the sarcasm, nor did she mind the grumpiness. On a good day, seventy percent of what she said had an edge of sarcasm to it. It was a good way to communicate with people.

"You wear boxers, and you shower at night when there's been a fire. Get the smell of smoke off of you. Otherwise, you shower in the morning, to help wake you up." She was entirely bullshitting her answers, which of course he would know, but she leaned forward anyway with a raised eyebrow. "Okay, please tell me I got at least one of those things right."

She didn't want to push too much, but frankly she had been somewhat worried about him. While she didn't remember him ever being the "standing in the middle of the party, talking to anybody and everybody" type, he had also become withdrawn over the past few months. They weren't best friends by any means, but she still couldn't help the little tug that told her to make sure he was okay.

Impressive. Not that he was going to tell her. But she might have gotten more than one, maybe all of them right. He assumed it was because they had the same profession and because most firefighters showered in one room. But with a woman amongst them, they now had two separate bathing chambers. Not that it would have mattered to Rowan, Weres were so used to being around naked people that he wouldn’t have batted an eye at her.

"Maybe one or two," he admitted after a while. She didn’t care that he snatched food off of her plate so he kept doing it. His attitude clearly written on his face and body language, but she didn’t care. She simply continued to poke the bear. Or leopard. Whatever. And she didn’t care. At least he could admire her for that. "Don’t you have some boyfriend or something to hang out with? Girlfriend? Lover?" he questioned brows creasing together.

"Pack?" He couldn’t place that scent for the life of him but it was familiar to him. He knew she wasn’t a wolf, but she would understand the reference. He had a pard, not that she needed to know that. But he’d rather push company away at the moment than accept that she was here to stay.

"No boyfriend, no girlfriend, no lover, no pack," Gabby answered easily. "When it comes to romance, apparently I do better on my own. I guess I'm a bit much to handle, what with the refusal to be a stay at home baby machine. So far, my luck has been people who want to settle down and think my job is too dangerous, and what if I got pregnant, would I quit then?" She scoffed, rolling her eyes. "Oh, right, and then there was the guy who was convinced I was cheating on him with the entire fire station, that one was great." Working in a male-dominated career had its problems in the work place, certainly, but nobody had ever warned her how it would affect her relationships. Not that she particularly cared, she was apparently too independent for a successful relationship anyway.

She shook her head, pushing the bitterly amused look from her face, and ate a fry. "What about you? Any love life to speak of? You seem like the 'married to your work' type. And by seem like, I mean I know that you are, because I work with you." She chuckled, drumming her fingers on the table, and lowered her voice so the people around them couldn't hear. "And just for the record, because I'm sure you're trying to figure it out, I'm a fox."

A woman of a lot of words. He blinked at her. Not thinking that he was going to get a hefty response in return. A small smile was given. Just the barest of smiles and in a moment it was gone. "So that means I’m stuck with you then. Lucky me," he said dryly, a ghost of a smile given, but nothing more.

Then she hit him. Like a ton of bricks. He sat back, stalling by taking a sip of his drink, his eyes flashing pale green. A low rumble sounded deep in his chest, the sound more animal than human. Oh.. he had one. Once. And that was probably all he was ever going to get. She had been his world. His queen. His mate. Even his leopard had claimed her as his own. Now she was gone. ‘

"No," he said, the sound of his voice enough to let any sensible person know that he didn’t want to delve deeper into that conversation. Work was all he had. Work, the bar and sleep. He satisfied what his Were needed, but not until his desires were screaming at him and control of scarce. Fuck. He was so pitiful. He couldn’t even smile at her own expense.

He barely registered that she said she was a fox. He struggled to get a hold of his beast, yanking on the leash in that metaphysical place where his Were had his hackles raised and a snarl ready to be sounded. "I met someone like you once. He was slippery. Clever bastard. I didn’t care for him much," he admitted. Just to get his mind off of giving into the beast. He wouldn’t group them all the same, but the beast was as much a part of someone as the human was when you were a Were. Gabby never seemed the sneaky type though.

"You really should consider yourself honored to be stuck with me. I'm fantastic company. Or at least, I'm fantastic company if you enjoy closet alcoholism and trouble." She winked, tilting her head at him at his short answer about his love life. Instinctively, she wanted to push... Gabby was an endlessly curious woman, and she didn't like knowing that there was something she didn't know. However, his tone told her that talking about it would likely be more painful for him than it would be satisfying for her, so she let it go for the time being. Mostly. For now.

"Sounds like ya've had some trouble in that department. Hope it gets better," She said simply, glancing down to her empty drink with a frown. "Well, that's disappointing. Let me buy you a drink, since I'm getting a refill anyway? And as for the other one you met... Yeah, my kind tend to have a bit of a sneaky side. Some of us use it for good. Me, I'm about as subtle as a sack of bricks to the face. It's my brothers ya gotta watch out for."

Even if she had asked more questions. He would have shot her down. At least, that’s what he thought he would do. He was relieved when she didn’t pester him about it. So all he offered her was a single, non-committed shrug. He liked to drink. That didn’t mean he was an alcoholic.

He could feel the leopard slowly back off until his eyes were hazel again. He couldn’t say that he agreed with her or not. If it got better then that would mean he might have to open up to someone else... and he didn’t think he’d ever be ready for that again. Not in a million years. As it were, Weres required close contact and sex to get through their emotions. Not to mention food and physical agression. It was just who they were. It didn’t mean he had to accept it.

"I got it. After all, if I’m going to enjoy your company I might as well not make you buy me anything," he grumbled as he caught the attention of his waitress who pratically skipped over. Rowan was always tipped well and he was a regular, she was happy to service him. "Can I get a triple steak burger, medium rare and another beer.... and whatever the lady wants," he said, waiving a hand toward Gabby. The waitress frowned at her before forcing a smile. She had been trying to get in his pants for weeks to no avail. He got a kick out of that look and couldn’t help but sit back and smile.

He waited until she was gone before he continued. "So what’s your story? Why are you here of all placed? I would have stayed in Ireland." Of course he would have. That would have been a new start. Besides, it was easy to identify her accent when his own parents had the same one. It was a wonder he hadn’t picked it up. Instead he was stuck with good ‘ol Southern charm.

Gabby noticed the look and couldn't help but play with the woman a bit - partially because it seemed that Rowan wasn't interested in the waitress, and partially because she was (as usual) in a very mildly, playfully antagonistic mood. "I'll have a double Jack 'n Coke, and a double burger medium rare. Thanks, that's so sweet of you, I'll be sure to find a way to pay you back," she smiled at Rowan, at least managing to hold in her laugh until the waitress went away. "Right, sorry. Anyway, the moving thing. That's... Well, there's definitely a story there."

Her eyes narrowed as she studied him, head tilted. It wasn't something she typically shared with people, although honestly there was no reason for her to hide the fact from other Weres. Even if one of them might be inclined to find a reason to use it against her, she honestly didn't think he would give enough shits to do so. "So, when I was younger, my father found out that my twin and I weren't his kids, because my mom had an affair. He was already kind of a dick, y'know the type. Anyway, became more of a dick, an' as you can probably guess I didn't keep my mouth shut enough, so he and I bumped heads a lot. Eventually he got all bitter and shit, and decided to take care of his problem by selling me out to a Hunter of some kind. Been bouncing around keeping that one off my tail for awhile, decided to settle down here and deal with him if he followed."

She shrugged, seeming far more blasé about the situation than she really was. "So in other words, family drama. It'll work itself out one way or another. What about you, why didn't you stay in the South?"

He didn't mind Gabby teasing the waitress. In fact, it was actually entertaining since he had no interest in humans any more. Carmilla really screwed him up, but he was partially to blame. Still, he couldn't help the half smile that he didn't even try to hide as the waitress huffed and finally walked away. "Was that fun?" he asked, nodding toward the retreating waitress.

He sipped his beer as she spoke, wondering what kind of person would send a hunter after the child who practically raised her. He wasn't the type to want kinds, but he didn't think he would be that much of an ass if they weren't his. Well maybe. He was pretty hot-headed. "That's pretty shitty. I'd think you're more than qualified to handle the problem if he followed you, am I right?" Rowan could always do some research if she wasn't. He had a lot of anger issues that he needed an outlet for anyway.

His first instinct was to shrug off her question, to deflect and ask her one, but then he paused. "I was originally born in Dublin and my family shortly migrated to the States when I was two. I already had a cousin here and when I was old enough I moved in with him. But when he was away on a work trip, he was killed but there was no trail, and no evidence. Knowing what I know about vamps now. I suspect it was one of them."

He paused to take another drink after that. Gathering his thoughts. "I needed a fresh start. So I packed up and moved here to try and make something of my life. I was young and stupid. Not I'm just old and fucked up," he grumbled, not wanting to elaborate. He wasn't old, but he sure as hell felt like it. It'd been what.... ten years already since he was first changed?

"It was fun," Gabby confirmed with a laugh, shrugging. She enjoyed stirring the pot a little, and although that was just one tiny way to do it that ultimately didn't actually affect anything, it was still entertaining. It didn't hurt that he actually was very cute, but she pushed that to the back of her mind and leaned back in her seat, brushing the hair out of her face.

At his question, Gabby paused. "Eh, I'm sure I'll figure it out. I've mostly managed to keep him off my tail, but I'm not exactly a simpering princess, so I'm actually looking forward to a fight. Been too long since I had a good one. Besides, I've been here quite some time now, and he hasn't done shit."

She fell silent as he began telling his story, tilting her head a bit. She'd expected him to tell her to fuck off and leave, rather than telling her something personal about himself. He didn't, however, and she considered that a personal victory. From Dublin as well, then? That was interesting. It didn't sound like they'd ever lived there at the same time, but it was a small world.

"Sounds like a bit of a bumpy road," she said when he was finished, nodding. "Shit sucks. That's why we've got alcohol."

Laughing to herself, Gabby shook her head. He was old and fucked up (although frankly, he didn't look all that old) and she was young and fucked up. "So you do live here in Crestview?"

He couldn’t help but look Gabby over. She was small, probably scrappy. He already knew she was strong, but he couldn’t see her as the type to really want a fight. She’s just so... bubbly, he thought as he finished off his beer. Still, he wouldn’t object to see her have it out with someone. He was a guy, after all and a Were at that. His river started running dry a month ago. "Well let me me know if he shows up," he said with a slight tilt of his head. "I’d love a front row seat."

It was a small world but he didn’t want to think too much about it. If he did then he’d hope that same day he’d see Carmilla again. But why? What would he say to her? He figured everything that needed to be said was voiced and that if there was something still there they’d still be together. See? He was already spiraling out of control.

He cleared his throat and shifted in his seat, realizing that he spaced out while she was speaking. Alcohol. Yes. They did have it. And plenty of it, though it was hardly the good stuff. He might just move back to Dublin just for the beer. He offered her a half-assed apologetic smile. "Yep, just down the street. Nothing too exciting. You?"

That was when the waitress showed back up carrying their beers. Too bad the food wasn’t just as quick. She stood there for a moment, lingering as if she were waiting for an “atta girl.” He looked up briefly, "Thanks darlin’ can you just add it to my tab?" she nearly purred at that, causing his own leopard to lift his head up and watch her curiously. Yeah.. too long. Rowan shoved him away, hoping his burger would come soon.

Gabby chuckled, shaking her head. "Poor lass has it pretty bad for ya," she noted, raising an eyebrow. "Think you might give her a roll in the hay eventually?"

While she definitely understood and often felt the need for the physical release, she'd never been quite as comfortable with sexuality as many other weres she knew. Part of it likely had to do with growing up in a somewhat strict family with the "I'll kill you if you touch my sister" types, causing her to all but give up on dating and the like until she was on her own, and another part of it was a simple discomfort with herself, although she wouldn't admit to that verbally.

"I don't live too far away," she answered, nodding. "Couple blocks. I've been looking at smaller places, though. Big old house I have is a bit much for just me."

Rowan nearly snorted his beer out of his nose at Gabby’s comment. "God no. If I was going to I’d probably think I’d have done it. It’s proabably the suspenders, " he said, his thumb hitching one one of the said suspenders. He work them just for the job. They kept his heavy, fire-retardant jeans from falling off. A lot of fire fighters wore them, he was nothing special.

He shook his head, a small smile one his lips to reiterate his point. Plus she was a human. She was too fragile and she probably suspected he was a Were and excited her. He couldn’t mess around with humans. Not when he got attached to the last one. He couldn’t tel Gabby that though. She’d probably ask him questions that he didn’t want to answer and that’s probably cause a scene. "You’re more than welcome to..." the comment was made quietly, but his eyes sparkled with mischief as he took a sip of beer.

" don’t think you’ll find something much smaller in this area. If you want to stay, your probably better off moving in with me and sharing the bill than finding an apartment and having drive through rush hour traffic." Oh God. Did he really just say that. He stilled, blinking away his suprise at what he said. Did he really just offer her.... what? "Temporarily. I don’t often like sharing," he said quickly. As if that would somehow drown out the fact that he offered up one of the other two rooms in his Craftman-style house.

"Well, can't really blame her for liking the suspenders, they're pretty cute," Gabby chuckled, shrugging. She had several sets herself, but she tended to change in the locker room before going anywhere, so they often stayed in her locker.

At his offer, Gabby froze, raising an eyebrow. It was very unexpected, and immediately set off frightened alarm bells in the part of her brain that was terrified of any kind of commitment, especially with the opposite sex. However, she forced herself to relax quickly, running through the logic in her head. It wasn't like he was asking her to marry him, it was just a roommate option.

"Well, lucky for you I'm not oblivious to social cues, and I could see that immediate look of regret and terror," she told him with a soft snort of amusement. "If you actually want a roommate, I might consider that, but frankly, I'm a terrible roommate. I don't sleep a lot, I keep the fridge stocked with more booze than food, I don't cook, and some mild PTSD stuff makes things interesting. So think about it, and get back to me later."

She laughed lightly again, shaking her head to shake away some of her surprise. He'd appeared to be about as shocked as she had by the offer, and for some reason that reassured her a bit. He was an interesting person... Closed off, sure, but interesting. Besides, she could understand the closed off thing. Although she often appeared to be perfectly bright and open, she had mastered the art of giving people just enough information to prevent them from questioning further. As far as she was concerned, sharing her favorite color was "personal information" with most people. She didn't mind him, oddly enough.

His eye brows rose in question. No wonder she liked working with a bunch of men then. Perhaps that’s why she put in the long hours. Free, harmless eye candy. He shook his head, the small smile on his face brief and could barely be considered to have existed at all.

That didn’t stop him from feeling sheer panic at offering her a place to stay. No. Nothing would prevent that from happening. In fact, the last woman he had in that place was the one who wrecked his life. Any time he needed sex he went to an alley, a back seat of a car or as a last resort to the woman’s place. No where near his belongings. No where near where he housed all of his pain and suffering. Never again.

He cleared his throat and shifted in his seat, completely missing the quickening of her heart beat and the panic in her own eyes. He didn’t even try to hide his own as she so blatantly pointed it out. Instead, he frowned and took a sip of his beer. Happy that the waitress was finally coming back with their food. "I like beer and I’m hardly there. It’s more of a place to sleep than a home anymore. I’m just too selfish to put it up for sale. I re-modeled most of the rooms," he admitted. As he brought his burger closer to him, not even looking at the brunette waitress.

"Besides I snore, I’m restless and I’m grumpy beyong measure. Or so I was told,[q] he said with a small wave of his hand before picking his burger up in two hands. [q]It probably wouldn’t work out anyway." he took a bite, his inner beast purring with the more-raw-than-cooked meat.

Gabby just let him speak, silent although the amused smile on her face only grew. When he was done she laughed again, tapping the table. "Rowan. Relax. Unclench. I'm not about to move in with you and start woman-ing everything up and demanding you spend time with me or something. I like my personal space as much as you do. Seems like we're both probably better off alone. Other people suck."

She bit into her burger, pleased with the taste. She enjoyed cheese fries and mac n cheese, but there really wasn't anything quite as satisfying as meat. She chewed and swallowed before speaking again, glancing around the bar. "Also, I'm pretty sure that on a normal day, I can one hundred percent outgrump you. Honestly, I'm kind of a dick."

Relax? Relax?! Didn’t he look relaxed? He frowned at her, not particularly happy about being told what to do. Especially from someone he considered his employee.

Buuuut, what she did say helped his relax. It was easy for him to tense up these days. The beast was always close to the surface, itching to come out and play. Most times he let him. He was drive to some remote location and change, hunt, and sleep it off. It worked most of the time.

Instead of responded, he took a bite of his burger. This place was great for Weres, awful for humans who might have some sort of heart condition. Or any condition, since people still seemed to smoke whatever they wanted in there. Albeit in the back corner, but still.

She continued to speak after a bite and he rose a single brow, his burger half way up to his mouth. "I doubt it. Just ask some of the guys at work. And they don’t even know the half of it," he said, and took a massive bite. Really, he should probably try and be more polite since there was a woman around. But what did he care? It wasn’t like he was trying to get in bed with her.

"No need to compare our junk though. I wouldn’t want to embarrass you. Rotations should be up in a couple days and you can spend you’re time off looking for a new place. I hear there might be some nice studio apartments near the Food Rally area. Though you might need to move to the city, "he shut up with a bite, followed by a drink of his beer. He honestly didn’t know what he was talking about.

"Not quite lookin' to compare, mostly attempting to subtly say that I don't really give a flying fuck if you're grumpy," Gabby laughed, shaking her head. She took another drink, glancing around the bar again. She wasn't typically a very chatty person... But truth be told, she'd been a bit lonely in recent months. It was complicated, really, her emotions on the matter. She wanted a friend, but at the same time she didn't. Perhaps that was why she'd come to him specifically. Not only had he been available when the urge struck, he was also not emotionally available, so they didn't exactly have to worry about getting attached to each other.

She drummed her fingers against the table, staring at her glass. She could have another one, perhaps several more. That was what she did with most of her evenings, after all. Unfortunately, the urge to get into trouble had struck hard tonight; the young woman was craving trouble, some kind of adrenaline rush.

"Finish your burger. We can go run around after," she murmured, shaking her head to clear her thoughts. "See if we can't find something a bit more interesting to do than sit on our asses."

He took a bite of his burger to keep himself from saying anything else that was completely idiotic. It was actually pretty easy given the fact that Gabby could talk for hours if he stayed silent long enough. Still, his leopard happily purred in the background as his stomach was slowly starting to fill. He took another bite, his hazel eyes occasionally looking up at the red-head. He was shocked they never hung out before. Then again, Rowan tended to keep to himself sincerely Milla walked out of his life. It was easier that way.

Eyebrows rose with her command. She really didn’t care that he was stronger than her or her boss. It was admirable.... but it still took him by surprise. "Is that so?" he said before taking another bite, sounding overly bored. He honestly had nothing better to do and he had a feeling Gabby knew that.

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