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Reflections

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Kobra was in the Oasis. He had no idea what he was doing at the Oasis, or how the others had convinced him to be dragged along where there would be noise and lights and half-drunk people everywhere, but he was several drinks in by now and all of that had dulled into a pleasantly distant haze. 

On the stool next to Kobra, Newsagogo was ten minutes deep into a story about how her crew had retrieved their stolen generator from the Jacket Ripper gang. It was pretty hilarious, even if mostly not true. 

Purely out of habit, Kobra looked away from his own warped image in his empty glass to scan the room from behind his sunglasses. A few feet away Jet was tending bar – he’d picked up a few more shifts recently and had invited everyone along tonight for half-price drinks, which Kobra guessed was one of the perks of being sort of in charge. (The Oasis served a variety of things that might be classified as beverages if you were feeling generous, all of which tasted like shit. At least there were some different flavors of shit to choose from.) Party was standing on a table in the corner, drink in one hand and gesturing wildly with the other, preaching something to a captivated crowd gathered around. Kobra couldn’t see Ghoul anywhere. He was probably in the parking lot fighting somebody.

A flash of motion caught his eye. Cherri was waving from a table in the middle of the room.

Newsie’s story had started to drag on, so Kobra tried to stand up, and frowned a bit distastefully when he found he was stuck. Once he extracted himself from the three or four clingy admirers draped around him as politely as he could, though, he went over.

Cherri raised his glass slightly in greeting. “Having a shiny time?”

“Just sparkly,” Kobra grumbled, taking the empty seat next to him. His head was starting to hurt.

Cherri reached out and nudged Kobra’s sunglasses further up his nose. “You don’t have to stay.”

“Nah. Should keep an eye on Party.”

A cheer went up on the far side of the bar and Cherri nodded in the direction it was coming from. “Better start keeping an eye, then.”

Kobra looked. Oh, great. He’d forgotten it was karaoke night. Well, jukebox night, anyway – you just had to sing over it, which didn’t work too well, but whatever.

Party threw aside his empty glass and leapt onto the platform, striding lazily in his heeled combat boots to center stage and tossing his hair. A familiar opening beat started pounding – it was one of those classics Party loved, probably mostly because it grated on Kobra’s nerves. Punch Me Once More Baby or something.

Party could carry a tune in a bucket, nothing special. But with just a swing of the hips and a few flicks of his upstretched hands to get his onlookers moving, the room was already going wild. 

Kobra sighed. Party had that effect on people. For better or worse.

Cherri’s eyes widened as Party launched into the first verse with choreography to match. “Damn. How many has he had.”

“Too many.” Kobra caught Jet’s eye, jerked his head at Party and made a few quick gestures. Hey. Cut him off, okay? (Picking up some signing from Ghoul had its uses.)

Jet took one look, blanched, and nodded firmly. Yeah, he’s so done.

“Pony could learn a few things from him.” Cherri said. 

Kobra turned back to the stage. Yikes. “Mad Gear, even,” he said, a grin tugging at the corner of his mouth. "Like, who put fireants in his jeans?”

“Actually reminds me of the time Radiation Wrecker dropped a garter snake down Greek Fire’s collar at the Halloween bonfire.”

Kobra did grin then. “Oh shit, it does.”

The instrumental part of the song came up and, much to the crowd’s glee, Party slid into a frankly shocking routine involving the microphone stand that made Kobra groan and put a hand over his eyes.

“Not again. Somebody stop him,” he said, but made no move to get up and haul him offstage.

A slightly horrified Cherri wasn’t able to tear his eyes away for a moment. “That guy’s got moves he had no business knowing,” he agreed with a laugh, taking another sip.

Kobra dropped his hand to give him a cold, dead stare. “What the hell is that supposed to mean.”

“What?”

“You don’t get to talk about my brother like that, that’s what!”

“Kobra, your brother is currently trying to swing from the chandelier!”

Okay, he was, but that was beside the point. Kobra shook his head and glared at Cherri again. “So?”

“So, double standard much? You were shittalking him just as much as me a second ago.”

“Really. You’re gonna sit there and tell me I should be cool with that.”

“What is your problem!”

“What’s your problem?”

“K, c’mon. Can’t you take a joke?”

Kobra kicked his stool back and stood up. “We’re done here.”

He hadn’t said it particularly loud, but the song had just come to an end and everyone in proximity heard. 

A chorus of whoops and jeers went up from the other patrons as he made his exit.

 “Sorry ‘bout your girlfriend, Kobra!”

“It’s free real estate!”

 “Someone call that shit in to the news!”

“More for the rest of us, eh Cola?”

Cherri gave the room a quick gesture and the hoots quickly subsided. 

Just in time for an oblivious Party to plop down right next to him, still breathless from his performance and radiating the energy he’d absorbed from the crowd. 

He swiped Cherri’s half empty glass and downed the rest of it. "What'd I miss?"