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Dominic had his back against the wall outside of the warehouse, his boots crossed at the ankles as he leaned there nonchalantly. He brought the bottle to his lips and took a drink of the cold beer, watching as the small black waves of the river lapped about. In the distance and across the water was the city with the sporadic lights of the tall buildings making up the skyline for miles. It would make for a serene spot for someone to spend some time with their thoughts if not for the loud music coming from inside the warehouse. The bass was thumping so furiously, he could feel the vibrations on his back and under his feet as he stood outside on the pier.
There were at least a couple hundred people out here tonight. Evermore had set up a warehouse and bonfire party to raise money for some such thing he wasn't particularly interested in, but it definitely brought the crowds in. Currently the DJ was playing lots of EDM to keep the people dancing until the next live band came out on stage to play. A few street vendors were lined up along the docks for the occasion and when he turned his head, Dom could see they were beginning to set up for the bonfire further towards the end of the row.
Normally this wouldn't be his scene unless he was working the event for extra cash as a bouncer which he hadn't really done in a long time, but he was there because the Ailwards wanted to make sure that huge gatherings like this wouldn't be a prime target for the person responsible for the weird events going on around the city. He personally wanted to be here tonight because one, it was a perfect setting for something off to happen, and two, he'd like a little revenge for what had personally happened to him after being possessed by one of those things from the void.
It was normal though, at least for now. People were enjoying themselves inside and outside, dancing and walking along the piers. The Guard continued to remain vigilant though, being the proverbial fly on the wall and watching for anything that might appear out of the ordinary. It didn't hurt he got to drink a bit either.
The person in front of her was saying something, with a little lip reading Clara was pretty sure the young guy was looking for a bathroom. "Just follow the neon arrows on the floor," Clara shouted at him, trying to be heard over the loud music, the man nodded shouted a Thank you and was on his way, following his yellow brick road to the bathroom, it had been a genius idea to light the path to the bathroom, she had needed it just a moment ago and she much appreciated whomever had thought about it. Clara stuck her ear plug in a little more, the only reason she had to come into the warehouse was because she had to use the bathroom, otherwise she would have just stayed outside, the music hadn't been as loud.
Weaving herself between the dancing crowds she repeated to herself the reasons why she came to tonight, for the town to rebuild the historical city hall building which had been slowly falling apart for the last sixty years. So she'd offered to set up a table full of baked goods; pastries and alcohol were some of people's favorite things. Over the years though she knew that this wasn't her kind of crowd , the dancing she enjoyed but the flashing lights and music loud enough where you couldn't hear yourself think just wasn't for her. With that thought she pushed forward finding the exit.
The heavy metal railing made a squealing sound when she pushed, another sign of the warehouse that she was escaping from, a warm evening breeze hit her, stepping out into the fresh air, water shining in the moonlight, even though she was right outside the building it felt a whole lot quieter already, her chest moved with the big gulp of air she took in, Clara knew she'd feel calmer when she was back at her booth. These places aren't meant to calm you though, she reminded herself, they were made for fun, excitement and a bit of danger, (a lot if you accepted drinks from strangers) maybe if she hadn't had such a busy day she'd go back in a try this kind of "fun" but for now Clara was sticking with the brownies.
She took each step carefully, enjoying the flow of the water and the world away it seemed to be from the warehouse, she could almost taste the salt, the walkway was lined with sporadically placed lamp posts and if she were just a human she'd be frightened. Obviously Clara was too enchanted with the mild evening to place the drak silhouette leaning against one of the walls of the warehouse.
Dominic leaned his head against the warehouse and closed his eyes, taking in a deep breath and trying to keep himself together. The world seemed to be collapsing around him lately and that was not even concerning the serious problem that had Evermore on edge, at least in terms of the supernatural community. He breathed in the salty air of the water and made himself keep focus on what was important in the here and now. Finding any information or clues needed to take precedent over his personal bullshit. Such was the way of Guard life.
One of the heavy doors opening next to him made his eyes open again and he saw a blonde come from inside. Alone, she seemed to need to escape the happenings of the party inside. He brought the beer to his lips and looked away from her, further down the dock to keep to his assignment on why he was out there in the first place. It wasn't until a light breeze passed over that a familiar scent hit him. Lowering the bottle, his head tilted slightly as he tried to get a better look at the woman in front of him. It was hard to see her face in the dim lighting which made him push off from the wall.
His boots moved him slowly over the wooden planks to get closer to her. His brow furrowed as he tried to remember. Shit, his memory was so bad at times. Another breeze and the scent hit him again. Someone from a long time ago, but he knew for sure it was one he recognized. Perhaps a fling from long ago. Maybe it wasn't such a brilliant idea to see who it was then, but now he was too invested on knowing. It probably wasn't the best plan to practically be sneaking up on a woman in the mostly dark and by herself either.
Dom moved around to face the woman then and his mouth parted in surprise before smiling. "Clara? Holy shit, I haven't seen you in forever. How are you?" He moved in to gently embrace her for a moment before pulling away and leaning on the railing opposite her with his back to the water. She still looked good. Their original meeting wasn't at all what the end result became, but he did feel bad for not keeping in touch.
The water crashed along the rocks below, somewhere there would be a dock and come the light of day Clara might even want to visit it, water had always seemed to call to her even before she knew she had an ability to use the gifts it offered. Maybe she had known when she was a child, that a calling always seemed to be stronger as a child, playing by the lake where her father had always fished had shown her that; even now she could still feel its humming, the darkness and mystery that a body of water could hold.
A sense of being watched filled her, but it didn't feel threatening to her, just curiosity. Maybe that's why she didn't look up right away, she just followed the enchantment and awe that the water-inspired in her, but it was the voice, the steps in her ear that heard a body approaching, those sounds that made her look up, to the man she had known so long ago.
"Dom? Is that you?" Evermore wasn't a small city so she could hardly believe her eyes, that on a random night at event she wasn't likely to be at in most any circumstances, was here and seeing a face she hadn't seen in what felt like a lifetime.
His arms wrapped around her in a warm embrace, a stratled hug between two old friends.
He pulled away and stepped aside, his eyes took her in, as did hers, he looked rather the same, tall and stong, except the eyes, he seemed tired, as if the weight of the world rested on his shoulders, and his shoulders alone. "I can't believe it's been so long, I'm good, I'm really good, how are you? You must tell me all about what's happened to you," She could barely believe she was standing in front of him.
His smile faded a bit when she asked how he was doing and he looked down to his boots for a moment before lifting his head again. "I'm alright. Can't complain. Same shit, different day." Lie. Lie. Lie. It's all he ever did when someone asked him how he was doing. Most people didn't really give a shit how someone else was doing. It was just the polite thing to ask when bumping into a person and everyone tended to answer with the same generic reply in so many words as if answering what color the sky was. Clara was different though. At least she was from when he knew her so many years ago. She seemed like a genuinely sincere person which was rare in the world. Or maybe he just was so used to being jaded and cynical that people weren't as bad as that. Definitely not.
Dominic didn't mind either way. He was happy to see her. See that she appeared to be okay and doing well. The last time he'd seen her, which was the first time they'd ever met, was under a whirlwind of insane circumstances. Clara had been hit with a ton of truth about her past and family that she'd never known before. He hoped it meant she was living a more fulfilled life now and all the trouble that happened then was over now.
"I've been working at the garage still and picking up shifts at the clubs around Evermore when available. I tend to stay out in Therian woods and away from the city as it's still not really my scene. I heard they were doing the fundraiser here and thought I'd come out tonight, but here I am, outside anyway," he scoffed, lifting his beer to take a sip and looking further down the docks. "I'm thinking the bonfire might be more my scene. I deal with the loud music and crowds at work too much. What about you? What brought you here tonight? How's your family?"
Being a librarian had taught Clara to read people really well, she couldn't tell if she'd learned it from all the people who came by her desk or all the times she'd had her nose buried in a book but Clara could immediately tell with the shift of his eyes that he wasn't okay. "I'm alright is the equivalent of a girl saying I'm fine," she said teasingly, hoping he understood it came from a place of understanding. "How are you really doing?" she asked again.
Clara took in the man she had known so long ago, he'd helped her in a way she hadn't been able to help herself, since that day she didn't think she'd have figured out what had happened with her family if it hadn't been for this man's help. She owed him a lot, and even if she didn't she'd still want to help him as best as she could. She remembered how they met at that bar and even then he didn't look happy. She wondered if she'd ever see get to see him happy.
"That sounds like you," she replied to his comment on the city not really being his scene. Clara nodded listening to him. "I'm sure the bonfire will have all you're looking for, it should be a lot of fun," she cringed at her lie. "Okay, maybe not so much the loud music, how can anyone think when it's that loud." she palmed her face. "Gosh, I sound like such an old lady,"
"I figured I come to support the cause, I have a stand full of baked goods and booze down there," she pointed in the general direction behind herself. "See, I'm outside too, nothing wrong with it,"
"Really good, my cousin's gotten so big, I love him so much, I get to babysit all the time, and my Aunt and I go out once a week for all sorts of things, we usually take Jordan with us. Last week we went to the zoo, it's been wonderful to have people in my life, mind you I've made more friends over the year, and I actually have a boyfriend," Clara shook her head. Tonight it seemed she mainly had her foot in her mouth. "I'm sorry that kind of sounded... terrible like I'm surprised I have one. Please save me, how about you? Are you settling down? Not that you have to answer that, there's nothing wrong with still being a bachelor, or not wanting to talk about it." she blabbered. "You know what, I'm gonna stop talking now before I say anything more stupid,"
The corners of Dom's lips turned up slowly as she rambled. There were still things about her that clearly hadn't changed, but damn, did a lot change for her too. Knowing that meeting her family, despite the crazy circumstances of how it'd gone down was working out, made him genuinely happy for Clara. She had been a bit lost and quiet when they'd met. Now there was some confidence about her. Evermore seemed to be working out well and she was getting roots planted with reasons to stay. "That's really great, Clara," he replied with an authentic smile that worked its way into a chuckle from her babbling that he didn't mind.
Dominic let out a light groan, smiling towards her. "I'm single. Not really looking for anything serious at the moment. I got out of something serious a while ago and not really ready for that again." Saying the words aloud was like a jagged and rusty dagger cutting through his chest and down to his gut. He could already feel the immediate reaction his body took from speaking on it and though it wouldn't be visible to Clara, the grip on the bottle he held was close to shattering. Dom quickly put the beer to his lips and drank down the emotions that started to wash over him before he was going to need a lot more than a beer to quiet the noise within.
"Tell me more about this stand of yours, old lady," he teased from her previous statement and to move the subject away from him. "I wanna see what you're selling and ya know, give to the cause." His free arm waved about in dramatic sarcasm to show how he couldn't really be bothered with it. "It seems every time I'm around you, I get to enjoy a few good drinks. Why stop the tradition now?" His arm came around her slender shoulders as he began to lead the way down the pier. "Who's this boyfriend of yours? Did you tell him if he ever dares to hurt you, there's a very big and scary friend of yours who will kick his ass?"
Breakups were inevitably hard, even when the relationship wasn't that serious, saying goodbye always hurt a little, unless of course the significant other had been the worse thing about the relationship. Clara figured it wasn't the second thing, but she wouldn't push it, Dom needed his space, she pieced together that he might be the drink by yourself type, perfectly fine until maybe he had to break something. Whatever it was it didn't take a scientist to figure out he didn't feel comfortable to talk about it. "Understandable, it might just be time for a long motorcycle ride along the coast, the wind will whip your heartbreak so far away they'll see it in Georgi," she teased.
"It was the booze wasn't it? That's why you're drawn to it, it's perfect, then I can get you to try my homemade vodka, I was going to bring the moonshine but it didn't seem like that kind of party," she replied taking a turn towards the little booth down the lane, it would be a couple minutes before they got there but she figured this would be the perfect time to chat. "Traditions are meant to be kept. And his name is Ray, he's a firefighter, he's really kind and warm, a little shy, super cute, I know guys don't like to be called that but he is, and I've never had to warn him about my big scary friend because he was my friend and student before we became a couple and by then I trusted him with my life," she replied. "But thank you for the offer, it's nice to know this short girl has a good connection if I ever need help."
"And before you get all wide eyed on me, I do have a license to sell booze, I'm a librarian, I read more then I probably should and over the summer I took up a few new thing, distilling hard liquor was one of them, I'm still waiting on my first batch of wine to be finished, it's raspberry wine, real fruity," and so the rambling would continue, she obviously couldn't wait to tell him everything that had happened in her life since the last time they say each other. "What about you, taken anything new up"
"Long motorcycle rides are definitely a go-to. I'd ride the coast for hours if I could. Take a bag and just go. Unfortunately, work kinda keeps me busy, so not much time to really get away like I could use," he said, glancing out over the docks to the dark waters as if a chance at freedom and escape would be there. His eyes lingered there longingly for a moment before turning back ahead to the path before them. Was a leave of absence possible with the ailwards? Not that is mattered. He couldn't go away now. Not when there was so much chaos happening in the shadows that most everyone knew nothing about, likely including Clara. Reasons like her were a purpose to continue trying to stop whatever coming tide was upon them.
He chuckled, a smirk lighting Dom's face up at her mention of alcohol drawing him in. "You know me too well, woman. I'll be happy to be your test subject on whatever you make at any time. No hesitation. If I can't use the bike to escape, I'll gladly use some of that homemade goodness. Given the age group that's bumping about in there," he continued nodding his head in the direction of where the rave was of young people he'd stepped away from a few minutes ago. "I'd say the moonshine staying at home was a good idea."
Bringing the beer to his lips, he finished off the rest of it before chucking the glass into a nearby trash can while listening to her about the newest beau in her life. "Ray the firefighter. Sounds like a good guy and when he's not, you let ol' Dom know," he said, wrapping his arm tighter around her shoulder to pull her in for a short squeeze as they continued onward.
"I won't lie, I am a bit surprised you're making booze," he laughed with a shake of his head. "I wouldn't peg you as such. Shit, I'd peg me as such. I don't know why I never really have. I'm going to have to get some pointers from you. Maybe that can be my new hobby." His eyes moved over the piers as more people began to gather, reminding himself to not lose focus on the real reason he was out there tonight. "What do you have at your booth now?"
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