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Reminiscing

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You hadn't given him much thought, not really. After seeing the solid mass of him, the nervous energy that came off of him in waves even though he sat perfectly still, you'd dismissed him from conscious thought. Still, you found yourself glancing towards him every once in a while, wondering why he was there if he wasn't drinking. An elbow caught you in the side, spilling your drink over your fingers, the front of your shirt, and you let out a surprised yelp even as you turned to glare at the culprit.

"Sorry, lost my balance." He didn't look sorry, the thin lips curling into a smile, his body leaning towards yours as he offered a handful of napkins.

"It's fine," taking the napkins, you hoped he wasn't going to offer to buy you another one. "It's not a problem, really."

"It is though. That was really clumsy of me, let me buy you a drink to replace that one."

Cursing mentally, you shook you head, fighting the nervous smile you had felt trying to curl your lips. He'd only take it as encouragement and you really just wanted him to leave you alone.

"Here, what were you drinking?" He waved at the bartender to try and get his attention, the smell of stale sweat and cheap deodorant filling your nose as you tried not to gag. "It's on me, okay?"

"Don't think she wants another drink, mate. Leave the poor bird alone."

The low voice slid over your skin leaving goosebumps in its wake, the vibration of it making the hairs on the back of your neck stand at attention. Turning to look over your shoulder, you were surprised to see him standing there, a broad grin on his face that didn't match the cold look in his eyes. It didn't seem like the other man was smart enough to back down at first, but after looking the broader man over a second time he shrugged and moved away.

"Thank you," you paused, waiting for his name.

"Nothin' to it. Dirty cunt, he reeked didn' he?"

You couldn't help laughing, setting your drink down to clean your fingers, side eyeing him as you did. All you could think for a moment was how clean shaven he was, the only hair on his upper lip and above his eyes. There weren't many people who could pull a look off like that, the strongman look, but he did.

"What's your name?"

"Charlie."

He thrust his hand out to grab yours, crushing the damp napkins in your hand as he gave it a vigorous shake. When he didn't let go right away, you looked up at him curiously, half suspicious that he was looking down your shirt. But he was still staring at your face, the smile still beaming brightly though his brow was wrinkled slightly.

"What?"

"Your hands are really small, ain't they? Soft too."

"Yeah, I suppose." you laughed pulling your hand lose to let the napkins fall to the bar top.

"No, really." Reaching out he grabbed your hand and held it up to press it against his splayed one, curling his fingers over the tops of yours. "Look at it, you're tiny..."

You couldn't help thinking that it was going to lead to a really bad pick up line, though your mind drew a blank at what it could be. The tendons in his wrist shifted as he continued to curl and uncurl his fingers over yours as though the act was too fascinating to stop. You could smell the man before you saw him, your stomach twisting unpleasantly.

"You just wanted me out of the way, is that it?"

Sighing, you turned to tell him to leave, just go away, only to see him and four other men all leering at Charlie. They were spoiling for a fight, the way they not so nonchalantly taunted silently and you couldn't help but feel annoyed.

"I'd rather his company than yours, alright? Go back to playing pool or whatever it is you do."

"Got a mouth on you," he muttered, not shifting his gaze in the slightest. "Wonder if you know how to use it."

Before you even had the chance to get properly offended, you were shoved off your seat and Charlie's arm was flying past your face as you fall. A loud yelp pierced your ear as the punch connected, muttered cursing, and the sound of the other men all leaping at the chance to throw a punch of their own. Someone grabbed you from the floor, tugging you out of the way as the six of them started swinging.

Twisting out of the person's grip, you tried to tug one of the men out of the fight, getting an elbow to the sternum for your trouble before trying again even as you coughed. Five on one wasn't a fair fight, and Charlie was going to get hurt all because you hadn't shot the man down as quick as you should have. Grabbing a bottle from the bar, you slammed it down on one of their heads, jarred when it didn't shatter and sent vibrations off your arm. Didn't bottles always break in the movies?

As he fell you turned your attentions to another victim, moving to swing the bottle down again only to have him notice and back hand you hard enough that your vision went spotty.

"You fuckin' cunt, you don't smack a bird!" The roar was loud enough that you would swear your teeth rattled, watching as the man went flying into the spectators to crash into a table.

Groggily sitting up, you watched as he literally threw himself at the last three men, taking the lot of them to the ground with a flurry of fists and surprisingly teeth. Taking advantage of the hands that reached out to help, you stood and waded through the dropped men to tentatively reach out for Charlie.

"Are you alright?" he asked, standing straight, his shoulders shifting.

You almost laughed, he took more hits than he blocked, his face bloody as he caught your chin to turn your face towards the light to look at where you'd been slapped.

"I'm fine, Charlie. Jesus, you're bleeding... A lot."

"Can't hardly feel it." Letting go he leaned over the counter and pulled a bottle out of the cooler and pressed it to your cheek. "Poor little bird, those rotten cunts. Who hits a pretty little bird like you, eh?"

"I think you should go." You whispered, eyeing the bartender who was angrily shouting into the phone, on the phone with the cops more than likely. "I'd feel terrible if you went to jail over me."

"Pff, I don't mind. You sure you're alright? Your face looks all swollen."

"Charlie." Sighing you took the bottle and gave him a light shove that didn't do anything at all, almost like shoving at a brick wall. "Go on, get out of here before the cops show up, okay?"

"It's just jail."

You groaned, grabbing his forearm and working your way through the crowd towards the door. It wasn't hard, not really, most of them moved out of the way, the others patting him on the back and congratulating him on a job well done. When he balked, you almost fell backwards, stumbling to keep your balance.

"You didn't pay for that beer, pet."

"What?"

"That bottle you're holding to your cheek, didn't pay for it."

"Oh for fuck's sake..." Putting the bottle down, you tugged him out of the bar and turned towards your house. You'd never been happier about it being only a couple blocks away.

"You didn't want the beer?" Confused, he turned his head back to the bar, causing resistance before keeping pace with you again.

"No I didn't want the-" you trailed off when he stopped suddenly, the tendons in his shifting at the sound of men yelling after you. "Don't, it's not worth it. Really."

"It's just a couple of cunts, I'll just take care of them quickish."

It wasn't quick, the cops showed up in time to watch Charlie through one of the drunks into a parked car and setting off the alarm. You were all set to jump in and defend him, to try and keep him out of jail, when one of the officers rolled his eyes and tugged Charlie off the unconscious man. After shoving the five men into the back of the car, they laughed and joked with Charlie before leaving.

"You alright? Your mouth's hangin' open."

"I thought- Well I mean, you-"

"Should get some ice on that cheek, it looks terrible." Turning, he moved to go back into the bar, looking over his shoulder at you with a confused smile.

"I just live down the way, I can-"

"I'm right upstairs. Owner lets me sleep up there for keepin' the peace here." His hand held the door open as he waited for you to decide.

Feeling foolish, you grinned, walking past him back into the bar before following him upstairs.

"You sit, right there. Be back with that ice."