I reached out drowsily, my fingers clumsily searching for the alarm clock as it blared across the room. Letting out a sigh of contentment as I finally found it, I slammed my hand down on the annoying device until the ringing cut out.
Cracking my eyes open, I winced as a beam of sunlight washed across my vision, sending out a string of painful waves through my skull.
"I hate hangovers." Turning over to avoid the light as I pulled myself up, I licked my chops uncomfortably. The drinks last night had been worse than usual.
Rubbing my head as I managed to get to my feet, I stumbled over to the bathroom, looking into the mirror as I washed my hands.
A mess of dusty brown fur stared back at me, a pair of half-alert ears drooping above my head, and hungover canine eyes glared back at me. Opening my mouth to check my teeth, I sighed with relief.
"No missing teeth, no black eye, no bar fight this time. That's a good sign." Cracking my neck, I leaned down towards the sink and splashed myself with cold water.
Adjusting the collar of my badly torn shirt, I let out an irritable sigh.
"This was my favorite shirt." Stumbling back into my bedroom, I slipped off my dirty garments from yesterday and searched for a fresh change of clothes.
Hearing a fist rapping against my door, I twitched with every impact, my head still reeling from last night.
"Yeah, yeah, I'm coming." Grabbing a withered gray bathrobe and slipping it on, I checked the chain lock on my side before turning the knob and cracking the door open.
"Morning, sunshine." Standing out in the hallway was a familiar face, a wolf staring at me with a sly smile on his face as he clutched a small box in his hands.
"…Fuck off, Connor." I groaned, letting my head press against the door as he kept it open with his foot.
"Hey, now, is that any way to greet your best friend? Especially the best friend who was kind enough to bring coffee and a couple fresh chunks of sausage from Drenn's for the cranky fox hermit?" At the mention of food, my eyes lit up and my tail swayed slightly faster.
"Don't shit me, Frekk." My grip on the chain lock tight as I looked him hard in the eyes, he returned my harsh expression with a wide grin.
"I would never. C'mon, Lucky, open up." With him holding the box up, I caught a whiff of coffee and some sort of meat. After a brief pause, I unlocked the door and let him in.
As always, Connor was well-dressed and clean-cut (as much as a wolf like him could be, anyway), and even as he dropped the box on my table, he retained that smooth and cheerful expression on his face.
"Long night? You look more ragged than ever." He commented, looking at me out of the corner of his eyes as I managed to take a seat at one of the chairs.
"Yeah. Drenn's watering the liquor down again, and he keeps doing it with some kind of soap." Eagerly accepting the small cup of brown liquid, I downed a sip. Already, I could feel my energy returning.
"Oh, yeah, that. He said Paladins were hammering down on things here a couple days ago, threatened to take the bar away if he didn't tell them about someone they were looking for. Lot of folks drinking more since patrols got upped." Connor shrugged, taking a sip out of his drink.
"Paladins never come down this way." I looked at him in disbelief, and he held up his hands.
"Sounds like they're out for blood, way I've been hearing it. Word on the street is that someone arrived here recently, someone they've been after for a long time." Clicking his tongue, the wolfman paused briefly as he reached into the box, doling out portions of cooked sausage. "I've never seen so many of them out on patrol, and apparently they even brought in some big shot from the Core to help track him down."
"Hmph. Just what we need, more assholes stomping around on us." My fur bristled at the thought, and I snapped up a piece of sausage.
"Yeah, no shit. The firm's even been closed till all of this is over. Margo said it's not worth the heat right now." Connor pulled out his ID card, letting it fall on the table with a scoff.
"The heat? It's not like you guys do anything illegal."
"Maybe not, but you know them. They might be part of the Order, but they're still humans…and to them, we're scum of the earth, doesn't matter if we're on the right side of the law or not. Any sort of mess and they'll nail us all to a wall."
Finishing my coffee, I planted my chin on the table, giving out a defeated sigh.
"Probably means I'll be getting laid off soon. I was lucky that Rebecca even took me." My ears flicked back and forth as I heard the crashing of glass in an adjacent apartment, followed by the brief yelling of another tenant. "Hard enough to keep this hole of a place as it is, and I'll be broke soon."
Connor stared at me for a moment, and reached out to clutch my shoulder.
"Lucky, you know I can help if you're struggling with money."
"I can't take money, not even from you." I shook my head vigorously. "I can't pay it back."
"I'm not asking you to. You're my friend, not a client."
"If you don't want to take money, you could always crash at my place for a while." The moment he uttered the words, I felt my fur rising up in embarrassment, and I cringed as my ears folded backwards.
"N-Not like that!" Noticing the change in my posture, he realized what I'd assumed. "I just meant like until you found a solid job again and got your footing back."
"T-That's what I know you meant! Just shut up, okay?!" I covered my eyes, and he finally let out a loud chuckle.
"Either way, Lucky, it's almost one in the afternoon, and hangover or no hangover, you still have to get to the job that you have for the moment, and I've got errands to run uptown. You can have the rest of the sausage, just make sure you drink plenty of water, okay?" Checking the silver timepiece in his vest pocket, Connor stood up from his seat and went for the door.
"…Hey, Connor?" Sucking in my breath, I called out for him as he turned the knob.
"…Thanks for the food. I appreciate it." I mumbled quietly, and he gave me a wide smile.
"Anytime, Lucky. Anytime."