Hey all!

Just a short story/character sketch for an Aasimar/Tiefling pair KA and I came up with a while ago. :) Figured I may as well post it so I can stop forgetting it exists.

Rose Zemlya

Relativity

The problem with being relatively certain of anything was that you weren't really sure of anything. For example, she was relatively certain she was drunk (the simile "as fuck" sprang to mind, further confirming her suspicions that she was not, in fact, sober), but what, in the grand scheme of things, was that relative certainty worth, exactly? She was relatively certain it wasn't her fault, as she didn't drink, and had refused – as flatly as ever, she might add – to partake in the usual post-adventure festivities insofar as they had involved mind-altering substances; and yet here she was, flat on her back on the soft, cool grass outside the inn, staring up at the vast, expansive sky, fascinated by the sensation that the earth was spinning beneath her, and the sky spinning above her, and she was stuck and unmoving somewhere in between. It could hardly be called a sober sensation. Logically, then, she was relatively certain her drink had been spiked, and intuitively, she was relatively certain she knew exactly who had spiked it, but relatively certain was not certain enough, and matters of temperament, tendencies, and issues of blood were not enough, in her book, to condemn a man to whatever fate a half-drunken knight errant might see fit to bestow upon him based on the mere assumption of guilt.

Never mind that she was relatively certain that come sunrise, when the alcohol – or whatever it had been – had left her system and the world stopped spinning and she could think clearly again, there would be nothing relative about her certainty as to the course of the night's events. If he was lucky, she would forget her suspicions and be unable to remember precisely what happened, and how she had wound up outside in the grass (truth be told it had only been a few minutes and the memory was already growing fuzzy in her mind). If he was not he would be facing a holy terror whenever the inevitable headache wore off, and she meant that in a very literal way.

Somewhere behind her, in the vague direction of the inn, she heard a door open and close and briefly wished that she had the strength to move herself somewhere that was not where she was, and as such not be found in what was, she had to admit, an embarrassing moment in a life relatively free of embarrassments.

She attempted to lift her head as footsteps drew near to her, but this made the world and the sky tilt in an alarming fashion, and quickly decided that maybe being embarrassed was better than having the world spontaneously decide to dump you off it entirely. A familiar, infuriating, entirely-too-attractive-to-be-comfortable grin interposed itself between her and the sky. She briefly thought to herself that as dark as he was – skin, eyes, and talons-that-pretended-to-be-fingernails – his teeth could fill in for the stars.

That wasn't a very sober thought, either, so she put it out of her head.

"Hi," he said, sounding exceedingly pleased with himself.

"Hello," she said. "If I find out that you are the one who spiked my drink, may God have mercy on your soul because I certainly won't." Or at least, that was what the part of her that existed in the non-drunkenness of tomorrow wanted to say, and likely would say as soon as it was back in control. What she actually said, however, was more along the lines of: "Hi. I think I'm drunk."

"I can see that," said the stars-that-pretended-to-be-teeth. His long horns blended in with the sky and made them hard to pick out, but she knew they were there. Anyone that could grin like that had to have horns.

"I say I think I'm drunk," she continued, "because I can't be entirely certain, as I've never been drunk before, though it does feel an awful lot like people describe it to be." He looked her up and down – an amusing gesture from her angle – then gave her a mock sympathetic look.

"You're drunk," he confirmed. "Sober people don't generally lie in the grass outside an inn looking bemused and overly-happy and annoyed all at the same time."

"All right then," she said, glad to have that, at least, clarified. "You wouldn't happen to know how I got drunk, would you?"

"I would imagine you had a drink," he said, flashing those stars at her as though he thought he was charming. She wished, briefly, that she wasn't quite as charmed as she was. "That's generally how people get drunk, you know. Drinking."

"I don't drink," she said.

"Oh of course not," he said. "That's why you're out here, half-conscious and smelling like alcohol."

"I don't smell like alcohol."

"Just a little," he said. "It's on your breath. Which is normally very minty-fresh, like the rest of you."

"It is unfair," she tried to tell him, "to attempt to engage me in a battle of the wits when I am having a hard enough time resisting the urge to slur. I would appreciate it if you would remove your face from the sky, as I was having a grand time watching it spin." What she managed was more like: "You smell like brimstone… a little. Just a little. Just sometimes, when you're … when you're being particularly awful."

"I'm impressed," he responded, pulling his face from the sky and making her dizzy. "Not many drunks could pull off the word particularly."

"I'm drunk, not a drunk," she said as he dropped into a seated position beside her. She turned her face to him and was amused to notice that he seemed to spin as well. "I don't … I don't get drunk." He rested his elbow on his knee and his cheek in the palm of his hand and quirked an eyebrow at her.

"Well, for a first timer you've certainly done a fantastic job of it," he noted.

"Why aren't you drunk?" She demanded suddenly, arbitrarily offended that she was reduced to slurring at the tiefling while he continued to use precise, crisp sentences and words. It was supposed to be the other way around. It was always the other way around. He flashed her his stars again.

"Some of us can hold our liquor," he said quaintly. "You need to practice." She frowned at him, furrowing her eyebrows.

"No," she said. "I don't drink."

"You're so wonderfully repetitive when you drink," he noted.

"But I don't," she said helplessly, frustrated. His eyes glittered with mean, held in laughter, and she frowned unhappily at him. She closed her eyes to shut out his face, and his too-crooked smile. "It's unfair," she said softly.

"What is?" He asked.

"That you get to be bad and I have to be good. That you get to play mean tricks and I have to forgive you for them anyway. That I am only ever relatively certain about anything that has anything to do with you, and you seem to want it that way."

"I haven't the faintest notion what you're talking about," he said. "I suspect it is because you are letting the alcohol speak for you." She ignored him.

"You never … you never say what you mean," she complained, opening her eyes to peer at him. "Always it's … it's… yes, and you mean no. Or it's maybe, and you mean never. Or else it's exactly what you said, because everyone's starting to figure out your pattern. Why do you always … make me guess? Why can't you just … why can't I just…." She sighed bitterly, completely unable to put words to her complaints. Talking was hard, and she was relatively certain she was saying things she was going to regret the next morning, or else was on the verge of saying things she was going to regret the next morning. "You won't even let me hate you," she murmured, "like I suppose I technically should."

"You need to go to bed," he said, his voice sounding closer now, as he bent over her to grab her other arm and pull her into a seated position. "Also, do you want to hate me?" She winced as the world tilted violently and clung to his arms to keep herself from falling off.

"No," she said, forcing her eyes open as he let her cling while she waited for the world to right itself. She was briefly fascinated that he was as steady as he was when the world was shifting under them. "I don't want to hate you. I would be … I would be very alone if I hated you, I think. I'd have to go back to being the only person stuck unmoving between a spinning sky and a spinning world and I don't want that." She attempted to move her legs of her own volition and get to her feet, but found she couldn't really remember where her legs were anymore. "I just … I just want to be certain, I guess. If I hated you at least I would be certain."

"Certain of what?" He asked, shifting her position and pulling her closer to him, presumably to make it easier to help her to her feet. She wished she could let him go and get to her feet by herself, but the unfounded fear of falling off the face of the earth had not left her yet, nor had her legs returned to her awareness.

"Certain of … of you," she answered. "Or us. Or me, I don't know." She let herself go limp against him, presumably because she was tired of fighting to remain upright. She was certain that was at least part of it – relatively, anyway. "I suppose you think this is funny," she murmured into his chest. "I suppose you must just be loving this. Little miss perfect can't even hold herself upright. Little miss celestial drunk as … as fuck."

"What I think is funny," he said, his voice entirely too close to her ear, "is you saying the word 'fuck.'"

"Well I don't think it's funny," she said. "I'm very unhappy right now."

"I can fix that you know," he said, soft and low, somewhere in her neck now. And there it was. Exactly what she was relatively certain she'd been afraid of from the start. The proposition. It hung between them, expanding to fill the spaces she hated so much between people, and she hated him for saying it, and she hated him for highlighting that space, and she could feel herself forgiving him for it, even as she was trying to convince herself she hated him for it. She stirred in his arms, which, at some point, had surrounded her without her noticing, and attempted to pull back to refuse him in what she hoped would be a crisp, clipped manner, but would likely involve too much slurring and nonsense, but before she could she realized he was already kissing her, or maybe raping her, the line was a thin one at this point. Especially given the faint whiff of brimstone that may have been nothing more than her imagination.

And once again, she was confronted with the problem of being relatively certain. She was relatively certain that she hadn't asked for this and that this, like the drunkenness, wasn't her fault, and yet she was relatively certain that on some level, she wanted it. She was relatively certain that as awful, and ham-fisted as stealing a kiss when she was completely inebriated was, he probably only did so because he actually wanted it – actually wanted her – and as per usual, had no concept of the right way of going about things. By the same token, she was relatively certain that she was drunk, and he was at the least tipsy, and that didn't bode well for anything. She was relatively certain he wouldn't do anything too serious with her, as he enjoyed the game and would not value a victory like this one, and yet she was relatively certain that he had not been expecting to enjoy himself as much as he was, nor had he been expecting her to enjoy herself as much as she suddenly realized she was.

Then the inn door opened again and threw yellow light over the lawn and someone called out for both of them. He pulled away with a dark growl, to glare at the source of the intrusion, and she took the opportunity to pull away from him with hitched breath, swaying unsteadily under her own power. He looked back at her with an unhappy frown, then muttered something under his breath and got to his feet without her, moving back towards the inn. He said something to the interloper, then both of them went inside, the door closed, and the yellow light disappeared. She made a small noise she had never made before and fell back onto the grass.

She knew then, in that instant, that all she could ever, really be sure of, was that the sky spun one way, the earth spun the other, and she was stuck forever between the two, unmoving, uneasy, and uncertain.