Thog was an interesting drunk, Markus decided. He’d been expecting – well, he’d been expecting more Thog to put it bluntly. Grouchiness, self-depreciation, and swearing, all in great excess. Instead what he witnessed was the opposite. A dopey, carefree smile and flushed cheeks. Warm eyes with something that could almost be described as having life in them compared to the cold, dead fish look they normally bore. He was chatty, even friendly, leaning against Ashe’s side as he rambled away from one topic to the next. Ashe seemed to be enjoying the show, deep-seated amusement showing in her face and body language even if she refrained from laughing out loud.
Markus thought the change in behaviour was the weirdest thing he’d ever come across in his travels, even weirder than the shoeboxes with cat tails. Okay, maybe that was a bit of exaggeration on his part. He watched over the top of his book as Thog lazily finished his drink and reached for the bottle, humming off key to himself. The Alarani took great care in refilling his drink and doing the same for Ashe, doing so without spilling a drop of alcohol. Ashe thanked him with an amused look and took the bottle from him, carefully setting it down out of his reach. Apparently she was cutting him off after this drink. A wise choice in the Tiefling’s mind, though Thog didn’t look like he minded at all, giving Ashe another smile.
Markus went back to his book, or he tried to, only to be drawn out of the pages filled with cryptic runes by Thog’s next words. He listened curiously, not looking up from the page for the moment.
“You know I used to do street stuff back home,” Thog was saying, leaning against Ashe’s shoulder since he seemed to be temporarily incapable of staying upright on his own.
Ashe, for her part, didn’t seem to mind the closeness, nor acting as a support for her drunk boss. “Street stuff?” she asked conversationally, nudging an empty glass away from Thog’s gesticulating fingers. They tapped on the bar top as he talked, swiping over the recently cleaned surface every so often and liable to knock over things in the way.
“Yeah, y’know…like acting. Shh, don’t – don’t tell Markus, he’ll think it’s stupid.” Thog whispered, or tried to. It came out at normal volume, just a bit raspy sounding. “I mean, most people back home thought it was stupid. Acting. Dancing. Poetry.” He sighed dramatically and reached for his drink. “It was great. All – all these secret shows. Poetry-” He mumbled something into the glass as he drank before setting it down, somehow avoiding choking. “-sn’t that great but I liked it. He had some really…nice ones.”
“I didn’t know you liked acting, Thog.” Ashe hid a grin behind her hand. Markus, luckily for him, was able to hide his behind the book in front of his face.
“Poetry, really liked that. It was…” He blinked at the far wall, trying to think of something. Maybe it was the name of the poet he liked, or just something he liked about poetry in general. “It was descriptive,” he decided, nodding firmly. “Spot on.”
“Spot on?” Ashe was biting her lip to stop herself from laughing, having to sling an arm around Thog when he leaned back too far on the stool. “Easy there Thog, don’t fall.”
“Won’t,” he promised, immediately dropping his head on her shoulder and sighing. “You like poetry?”
“I can’t say I’ve ever heard any I really liked.” She was actually hard pressed to recall any, especially any she’d heard from Alaran.
“There’s this…guy. He did a bunch, then died. Plays too. People die a lot in them. I think you’d like them.”
“I’m sure I would.” Ashe was grinning again, not bothering to try and hide it anymore since Thog’s eyes appeared to have drifted shut.
“Mm,” he said intelligently, before falling silent for a little while. Ashe eyed him after a few moments, wondering if she should try and get him into a horizontal position for sleeping, when he stirred and sat up straight, reaching for his drink. Thog swallowed a mouthful then turned back to Ashe, now leaning against the bar instead of her. It was easier to look at her, even if the room was doing odd things like tilting to one side. Almost unbidden, the words came to him from one of his long ago readings. He reached out, a little wobbly, giving Ashe a grin as he dropped his hand on top of one of hers on the counter.
Ashe just raised an eyebrow, looking like she was trying very hard not to laugh.
He grinned and cleared his throat before speaking, somehow managing to look serious despite the ruffled hair and drunken grin.
“When thou shalt be disposed to set me light,
And place my merit in the eye of scorn,
Upon thy side, against myself I'll fight,
And prove thee virtuous, though thou art forsworn.”
Uncomprehending, Ashe listened, still seeming as though she was just barely holding back laughter at her friend and employer’s strange behaviour. There was curiosity there now too, however. Markus meanwhile almost dropped his book on top of his dinner plate in shock. Thog simply continued on, blissfully unaware of anything but Ashe’s amused yet curious face. His grin became a small smile as he spoke, eyes never leaving Ashe’s.
“With mine own weakness being best acquainted,
Upon thy part I can set down a story
Of faults concealed, wherein I am attainted;
That thou in losing me shalt win much glory:
And I by this will be a gainer too;
For bending all my loving thoughts on thee,
The injuries that to myself I do,
Doing thee vantage, double-vantage me.”
Markus looked over at the pair at the bar as Thog neared the close of the sonnet, eyes wide with comprehension. Ashe, bless her, didn’t seem to understand a lick of it, nor of the meaning behind the archaic words. She was amused by her drunken friend, failing to understand what he was all but confessing as he held her hand.
“Such is my love, to thee I so belong,
That for thy right, myself will bear all wrong.”
Thog finished with a smile and a pat to the top of her hand, leaving it there before withdrawing it a moment later. Markus couldn’t help but notice the sudden tiredness he saw in his boss’ eyes as Thog reached for the drink again. It seemed to vanish as Ashe laughed and nudged his arm, leaving him spluttering and Ashe laughing at the mess he made.
“Gods Thog, you’re ridiculous when you’re drunk.”
Thog didn’t seem to mind that was all she’d gotten from his words, laughing along with her.
Markus could only think of the sincerity he’d seen in those drink-clouded eyes as Thog had recited the sonnet. He didn’t know what was worse; that Ashe didn’t know what Thog felt for her, or that Thog expected such a terrible ending for anything that might happen between them. He quietly closed his book and exited the bar, unable to remain while they continued being merry. Behind him, Ashe reached out and wiped a spot of alcohol off Thog’s nose, grinning the whole while. Thog shared the expression, eyes full of the deeper affection he felt for the warrior in front of him. Neither of them noticed him slipping out the door.