Something that occurred on New Year's Eve.
|New Year’s Eve is the most fun when you are wasted, his friends told him.
The most fun, my ass; when your plans were ruined, and you ended up having to babysit a drunk woman, then no, thank you very much, grumbled Commander Johnson of the U.S. Navy, all while glancing at his companion. He hadn’t even gotten remotely tipsy, yet she was already starting to get intoxicated.
In contrast to how she usually carried herself with dignity, at that moment, Prince of Wales did not look princely at all. Her once pristine, neatly done hair now has become tousled, and she looked out of it as she rambled about things he did not want or need to hear, especially that bit about cucumbers and the itch she cannot quite scratch.
For all her constant complaining of having to suffer Prinz Eugen’s drunken antics, Wales turned out to be just as bad as her friend—a classic case of the pot calling the kettle black, if you will.
With that in mind, Johnson vowed never to take her to go drinking again, no matter how lonely he is and no matter how much she begged.
“Hey, are you listening? A lady’s talking, and you…you are ignoring her? No wonder you got stood up.”
Wales’ rebuke brought Johnson’s full attention back to her; despite its slurred delivery, he heard her loud and clear.
Johnson coughed before answering, all while ignoring the twitching on his forehead. She just had to remind him of that, didn’t she? But he was a reasonably patient man and could afford to keep himself from getting mad over that. And besides, she was drunk. Most people would become fools when they were drunk, no matter how much they’d deny it.
“Oh no, you are simply too charming to ignore, madame,” he said, surprised the words did not come out as sarcastic as he intended. Either way, they proved to be pleasing for Wales because she broke into a smile—a rather big one, which she would certainly never show without the influence of alcohol.
“Hmph. Bloody Americans…” she muttered as she rocked her nearly empty glass back and forth. Her smile didn’t seem like it would be gone anytime soon; in fact, she looked as though she was about to laugh.
“Look, Wales, don’t you think you have been drinking enough whiskey? How about some…less intoxicating alternative?” Seeing that she’s in a good mood, Johnson figured he would attempt to steer the conversation back into something less embarrassing for them. And for that, he would first have to keep her from getting even drunker.
“Nonsense. For a Brit, New Year’s Eve is all about getting legless,” Wales promptly shot down the suggestion and slammed her glass on the table as if to punctuate her point. Johnson wasn’t entirely surprised, as her stubborn streak was known to everyone in the base, including him.
“Okay, you are already dangerously close to it,” he countered, but Wales was unwilling to give up her drinking privilege that easily.
“Are you insinuating that I, Prince of Wales, cannot hold my liquor well, Mr. Johnson? That I am weak?” She hissed; Johnson could see her half-lidded ruby eyes narrowing even more.
“I’m not saying you are weak,” he replied, trying his best to sound appeasing instead of frustrated, “but you are…ah damn it, I’m just concerned, okay?”
The smile that was gone before returned to Wales’ face along with a deep rosy blush, which neither can’t tell if it was induced by alcohol or something else.
“Your concern is unfounded. Waiter, another bottle! And make it Macallan!” she called out.
“What a way to welcome the new year,” Johnson griped as he planted his face into the table. He had little doubt that the place would not have anything beyond Macallan 12 Years Old, but even that one bottle would cost him more than he was willing to spend.
“Don’t act like a killjoy. It’s on me.”
Looking up, Johnson saw Wales beaming at him, and he wondered if somehow, she had read his mind. Before he could think of an answer, an eager-looking waiter returned to their table with a bottle, which, as he had guessed, was indeed a Macallan 12 Years Old. He cannot help but scoff a bit at that—of course, they would always be quick when it comes to serving something expensive.
Wales herself wasted no time in pouring herself a glass, but instead of drinking it, she offered it to a surprised Johnson, who noticed the glass was his, taken without him knowing.
“Drink up, old chap, and be merry.”
It was supposed to be easy; just a friend offering a drink. All that he must do was to take it, and that’s it.
Yet, somehow, he feels like he’s taking advantage of her.
But damn it, she looked so sincere.
As Johnson hesitated, Wales decided to be more aggressive, to the point she nearly shoved the glass against his chest. He soon realized he had only one choice, and that is to receive it.
Satisfied, Wales poured another shot to her own glass. Seeing Johnson hadn't downed his, she raised it.
Johnson saw Wales still looked just as sincere as she spoke. His glass soon met hers in a quiet toast.
For someone not entirely sober, Wales had enough sense to appreciate a good quality drink, choosing to sniff gently before sipping the liquid. She looked peaceful—at least until she let out the moan that sent Johnson shivering and forgetting he was supposed to do the same.
With a trembling hand, he decided to down his glass in a single gulp to distract himself. It didn’t go unnoticed.
“Well, impatient, aren’t we? Guess you need the drink more than you’d dare to admit…”
She was smirking, and Johnson can already guess what she’s about to say next. Still, he hoped she wouldn’t.
Don’t say it. Please don’t say it.
“So…what happened? Who is she, anyway?”
“…Nobody important,” he finally replied after a long silence, sounding way more bitter than he’d like. Truth be told, he normally wouldn’t dare to call a daughter of his CO “nobody important,” but he felt like being spiteful.
Hearing that, Wales looked like she’s holding back a cuss; she placed her glass back on the table and turned to Johnson instead.
“If I kiss you, maybe you would feel better.”
The place, with all its noise and the chatter around them, suddenly went silent that very moment the remark left her mouth, as though time itself had stopped. It was too surreal.
“Wales… don’t tell me you have completely lost it,” Johnson met the query with an incredulous stare—she stared back with an expression he didn’t quite expect.
It was one of melancholy.
Johnson looked away, finding the sight too painful to look at. He would apologize for the ungentlemanly act later; now, he needed to clear his mind first.
His effort was for nothing because as soon as Wales reached forward, touching his cheek and turning his head to face her, the myriad of emotions came back crashing all at once.
She said nothing as she brought her face closer.
Johnson wasn’t sure if he, too, was already drunk without realizing it because he didn’t resist. He didn’t push her away, even with the fact nearly half the bar was catcalling and whistling at the sight.
Despite circumstances, the moment when their lips met was surprisingly chaste; it came and went like fleeting snow, not lingering—though he could still feel the taste of the Macallan, mixed with the cheap bourbon they had sipped earlier.
Hell, he didn’t even regret it.
And looking at Wales right now—flushing with lively red and occasionally bursting into short laughs—he was sure she didn’t regret it either.
She was right. He felt better already.