Chapter Twelve:

Ray

Mimi had been gone for a while now.

He rubbed his eyes tiredly, focusing on the laptop screen in front of him again. There were so many numbers to take care of, so many things that needed his attention. Not only for the Bay, but for expenses concerning Jack and Paige's missions. Speaking of which, they had just finished their latest one.

He had gotten off the phone with Jack just a few minutes ago; unfortunately their car—a rental, so that would be interesting to explain—hadn't made it through. Thankfully, their mission was a success. He could accept the loss of the car just for that.

Jack had also said that they had barely made it out of there, and it was all thanks to Paige. She had shapeshifted four times to get them through that mission. Ray could almost feel the base of his wings ache at the thought of that. She must be in so much pain right now. He told Jack to keep him updated on Paige's health. It wouldn't be good if he lost either of them to another Cycle. Not when they were needed so much.

Jack and Paige weren't the only ones on his mind at the moment. After Mimi stormed out of the Bay yesterday, he'd been worrying about her nonstop. He knew she was smarter than doing something stupid, but as Mimi was really unpredictable, he only hoped that she was alright. He was still trying to figure out what had made her so upset. Was is that he had discouraged her research into Pelli's tomes? He didn't see that as any reason for her to storm off like that. It was, after all, pretty useless to keep digging through the same books with no results. She had been wasting months on it with no results; why couldn't she just stop?

Ray guessed that was just her nature—she couldn't let things go until they were finished. He wished he had that attribute, but sadly, he didn't. That was why he had Mimi, after all.

He glanced over to the whiskey he had poured himself a little earlier. Old habits died really hard. He knew that Paige had quit her drinking, but he just couldn't do the same. There were so many things that bothered him all the time; regrets, mostly. He didn't like to think too much on that, however.

Ray picked up the whiskey and took a swig from it. It gave him a nice fire down his throat, settling heavily in his stomach. Good feeling. It was the best feeling he ever got, anymore.

He took a deep breath and focused on the screen in front of him again. Watching his bank accounts was kind of tricky with all these expenses coming up, but with all the money saved up over many Cycles, it wasn't that bad.

He pulled up the internet tab he had been reading earlier about a series of earthquakes in Asia. He was doing his best to send charity relief to these disasters; after all, they were his fault.

A pang of regret and anger rose in him as he remembered the incident with Terrana. And Callum.

Ray shot the rest of the whiskey down quickly. Aitor, he couldn't even think about Callum without having to drink.

What a horrible leader he was, letting one of his men die. For him, no less. Every day that he woke up, he wished it had been him instead of Callum.

There was no way that he was ever going to get over what had happened, or any way that he would ever be able to fix it. Ray wondered if this was how it felt for normal leaders to lose their men. Usually when he lost someone, he was sad, but they'd be back. It might take ten or twenty years, but it was still them. But this time was different; Callum wasn't coming back at all.

Ray pressed his hand over his eyes to calm himself. He really needed to stop thinking about this. It wasn't doing him any good, after all.

And then there was Terrana. Ever since she had killed Callum, she had been wreaking havoc across the world. Just so Ray would know that it was his entire fault that all those people were dying. He'd been drinking a lot more since Callum's death.

There was a soft rapping on the front door of the restaurant which pulled Ray out of his downing thoughts. He looked up, setting the whiskey down on the table. He probably shouldn't be drinking so much right now.

The harpy got to his feet sluggishly, eventually making it over to the front door. He unlocked it—it was long since the Bay had closed—to see Mimi on the other side. She looked really quiet and disheartened, which was very unlike her.

"Hey." She said, barely looking him in the eye.

"Hi." Ray repeated, still surprised that she was there. He guessed he shouldn't be; after all, they were around each other almost all the time.

"Can I come in?" Mimi asked carefully.

"Uh…yeah. Yeah, sure." Ray said, stepping out of her way so that she could enter. He closed and locked the door behind her.

It was quiet between them for a moment, but the air was very tense. He wanted to say something to her—at least to get her in better spirits—but wasn't sure exactly what to say. After all, he wasn't even sure why she was upset.

"Ray, I—" Mimi started off strongly, but her words faded away. She knotted her hands together and stared at them.

He supposed this was as good of a time as any. "I'm sorry, Mimi," Ray said. "I know I upset you, and I really didn't mean to."

Mimi turned to stare at him, and he supposed she let out a belt of laughter at his expression. "You have no idea why I was upset, do you?"

"Not a clue."

She waved her hand dismissively, suddenly over the whole bit. "…Whatever. Water under the bridge now."

"…Sure?"

Mimi gave him a small smile. He had known her long enough to see that she was still upset, but being Mimi, she wasn't able to let him know that. She was much too strong. He admired that about her.

She glanced over at his laptop sitting at one of the booths. "Is that whiskey?" Mimi asked quickly, looking back at him. Her face was suddenly concerned, bordering on angry. "Are you drinking again, Ray?"

He shrugged. "Yeah. Whatever though. It's not a big deal—"

"Like hell it's not a big deal," Mimi muttered, clopping over to his table. Her tail swished angrily behind her. She picked up the drink and headed towards the bar. "That's what Paige said when she was drinking…and look where that ended her!"

"Mimi, you're overreacting." Ray said, walking briskly over to her to save his drink. "It's just one glass—"

"Which leads to another, and another, and another," Mimi interrupted, throwing the whiskey in the glass into the sink. "Dammit, Ray, you can't keep doing this!"

"How else am I supposed to get over everything?" Ray demanded. "It's the only thing that makes the pain go away!"

She stared at him, and he stared right back at her.

"You talk to me, Ray." Mimi growled. "Don't you dare touch another drink until you talk to me first."

Ray slammed his hands onto the bar in front of her, frustrated now. "Do not order me around, Mimi!"

At that, Mimi did something surprising. She reached over the bar and grabbed him by the collar of his jacket, pulling him towards her. She stared him dead in the eye, which sent a shudder through him.

"Dammit, Ray, I am not losing you to alcohol again." Mimi snarled. "Is that clear? I don't care how much you're hurting over your wife or Callum or Terrana, do not touch that stuff anymore."

Ray opened his mouth to protest, but the look in Mimi's face scared him too much. She wasn't kidding. Just at the thought that she so easily brought up the three people that he drank over meant so much.

He nodded in defeat. Mimi released his collar, letting him back to his own feet. She was a lot stronger than he remembered.

Silence befell them again, which was interrupted only by what sounded like a flimsy inhale from Mimi.

The harpy looked back at her to see that she was crying, but doing her best to hold it back.

"Mimi—"

"You are my best friend, Ray." Mimi said, forcing her voice to steady. "I don't know what I'd do without you. Not again. Don't do that to me ever again."

Ray watched helplessly as she rubbed the back of her hands across her eyes to stop tears from rolling down her cheeks. He was upsetting her so easily—this was why he didn't drink in front of her anymore.

He moved around the bar to take Mimi into a hug. She hugged him back tightly, linking her arms below his tan wings. Mimi dug her face into his shoulder and sobbed uncontrollably. He hadn't seen her cry this much in a long time—why was this bothering her so much?

Ray settled his chin on top of her hair, doing his best to reassure her. But it was rather hard to reassure someone who couldn't be assured at all.