Music pounded, making the walls slightly vibrate from the intensity of the bass. A lone female jackal groaned in irritation as she rubbed her brow to fight off a forming headache. This jackal sat at the end of the bar at a newly opened establishment called the Jackal Squad Club. It was open to all Mobians of course, but it was meant to help jackals feel welcome in the city that surprisingly didn’t have many jackal friendly locations.
To describe briefly, jackals are one of the few species that don’t generally live among the rest of society, but after a major war fifty years ago that jackals helped battle in and win, times have been changing and jackals are more welcomed into the cities and lives of others, but just because the change has been accepted on paper, doesn’t mean it’s been the same in the hearts of the citizens.
Regardless, the jackal who sat at the bar was one of the owners and one of the jackals that helped open the bar. Her along with her four closest friends started up the Jackal Squad Club, and it’s been a huge success over the last several months not just among jackals but many other Mobians as well.
She wouldn’t claim to be ‘social’ by any means, but her friends were, and they enjoyed the atmosphere and space they were able to work in, and give to the public together. Thinking of her friends and their happiness brought a subtle grin to her lips.
“Ey! There’s a smile on the mistress!”
Blue and yellow eyes looked at the bartender standing behind the counter; one of her closest friends and also another owner of the bar. She wore a green headband around her forehead as she smiled warmly at her.
“I was wondering if you’d hold any other expression besides a scowl.”
“Oh, shut up Bea.”
Beatrice was her full name, but she liked to go by Bea for short. There was also her older brother, Kaden, and then their female friends Kei and George. Kaden was pretty serious despite being the only male in the group, but he was very protective of his younger sister. Kei was a bit of an airhead and wore a red handkerchief around her neck for some odd reason, and though always flirted with Kaden, struck out every time. George was the genius in a red hat and was constantly off in her own world while thinking of new inventions to build. The five of them called themselves the jackal squad and started the bar together.
Tonight, it was only Bea and Zero at the club. Zero didn’t mind, as it too much to handle all of them at once sometimes. She was always enjoyed spending time with Bea since they were good friends, though she’d never tell the other that. But somehow, she was sure Bea knew this already, and it didn’t bother either of them that Zero never admitted to how much she valued her friends.
“Huh?” a fruity pink mixed drink was placed in front of Zero as she had been staring off into space. Knowing what it was, a smile tugged at the corners of her lips. “Thanks Bea.”
“Heck yeah! I always know your fav drink. Now swallow up and let loose for once girl.”
“You know I can’t do that. I need to make sure everything runs smoothly.”
“Seriously?” Bea only rolled her eyes at her, “That’s why we have bouncers and junk. You know, if you’d find just one guy to mingle with, you never know, you might actually like him.”
“I’m not interested in finding men.”
“Okay, let me rephrase that. Find at least one person to socialize with. It can be a girl too. Or, like, it doesn’t have to romantic or nothing.”
“Stop talking Bea.”
Sipping her drink, her gaze settled on the dance floor as bodies waved to and fro. Honestly, she wouldn’t mind meeting somebody, not necessarily romantic, but maybe a new friend. Some socializing with new fresh faces wasn’t a bad thing, but she wasn’t as openly good at that sort of thing like her friends were. She was better at just sitting at the bar and observing the scene in front of her. Talking with people was difficult, especially if they were drunk idiots…
The night grew on and the place became more packed. There was only one seat left at the bar and it was right next to Zero. Not many Mobians actually say next to her unless they were either desperate for a drink or attention. There’s been a lot of guys she’s had to deck over the years with her heels and/or her fists because they thought having sex with a jackal would be exciting. Ugh, morons.
It seemed fate held strange things in store for her though as the lone and empty seat beside her was suddenly taken. Shock was felt, but she kept it under wraps as she studied the Mobian who sat beside her. It was a crimson female wolf. This was probably the first time a female sat beside her that was outside of her friend group. She wore a black frilly dress that screamed cute but fun at the same time. She wore matching flat shoes and had glasses on that complimented her facial structure and golden eyes.
Ordering a glass of water, she laid her head down on the bar counter, and Zero immediately put together that she must be drunk. However, that idea was quickly thwarted when Bea came back with the glass of water the customer ordered, and she politely thanked the bartender for the liquid before guzzling it down, and Zero instantly saw a bead of sweat that formed along her brow. With the water now inhaled, she gave a sigh of relief as she then leaned back in her seat, not seemingly going anywhere or bothered by a thing.
Puzzled, the jackal couldn’t wrap her head around this chick that just sat next to her, and briefly wondered if she saw too many of the same things over the years; not just at the club they opened but with drinking at bars in general, since the Jackal Squad has not been open for years.
As if sensing a stare on her, yellow irises turned to now glance over at the jackal seated beside her. Zero wore a navy blue dress with a bit of a shimmering hue along with black heels and had her hair tied back in a nice bun. It was as if the wolf stared at her for the first time, and Zero briefly wondered if she hadn’t even seen her there. Whatever was on the stranger’s mind, it was unknown as she gave a sheepish grin.
“Hi. Um, was this seat taken by someone?”
Huh? Did she think Zero was staring at her because of that?
“No, seat’s been open all night.”
“Oh good! I was worried I stole someone’s spot.”
Stunned, Zero only sat silently as she sipped her drink, enjoying the flavor and feeling the alcohol begin to relax her, but only a little bit.
“Um, what kind of drink is that?”
“Hm?” Zero looked to the side to see the wolf still sitting beside her as she curiously looked at the glass in her hand. “It’s called Passionate Affair.”
“Wow, it’s pretty. I don’t know much about alcohol since I only turned twenty-one a month ago, but it’s interesting. There’s so many different kinds!”
“What? Were you a goody-two shoes and not drink until your twenty-first birthday or something?”
“Eh?” the red canine scratched her cheek, “Well, I wouldn’t say that, but I never went out and partied or anything. My parents are big wine fans and they’d let me have some on New Year’s at midnight for the toast of the new year. That’s about it.”
“I see,” Zero smirked, “Let me guess, you didn’t go crazy on your twenty-first birthday or anything, did ya?”
“Nope. I had class the next day so I just had a glass of wine with my parents that evening and that’s all I’ve had since turning twenty-one.”
“Heh, yeah,” she blushed, a bit embarrassed, but not seeming too bothered by it either. Then, the wolf held out a hand to the jackal. “I’m Gadget by the way.”
They gave a short handshake.
“It’s nice to meet you,” Gadget beamed.
Still unsure of how to interpret this ‘Gadget’s’ motives, she decided to carry on the conversation for now, as she was a skeptic, and kindness was usually met with one party wanting something from the other.
“Why did you come here tonight if you don’t really drink?”
Averting her gaze, Gadget admitted, “Honestly, my friends wanted me to get drunk. We were out on the dance floor dancing together like crazy, and I caught onto their plans, so I panicked and ran when they weren’t looking. I came up here because I figured this was one of the last places they’d come looking for me since the chances of me being at the bar are slim.”
So that’s it huh? Somehow, Zero felt a bit disappointed, but she shouldn’t. No one came up to her directly unless they wanted in her pants, or dress. In this case, Gadget hadn’t even meant to meet her.
“Gotcha. That makes sense.”
“What do you think of drinking?”
“Huh?” Zero hadn’t expected that question at all, or for the other to keep chatting with her.
“It kind of freaks me out. I mean, what if I lose control of myself and say things I’d never say, or do things I’d never do?”
So, Gadget was afraid of alcohol.
“Well, a lot of alcohol can have those side effects, yes, but if had in moderation, you should be fine. After all, you had wine at New Years and you were never drunk, yes?”
“That holds true for other drinks as well. Take for example this mix drink I have here,” Zero notioned to the glass in her fingers for reference, “If you were to have several of these, you would get drunk. But, one or two should not be a problem. It might make you feel relaxed and a bit loose if you’re a lightweight, but you won’t be drunk from one drink.”
“Hm…” Gadget hummed in thought as innocent curiosity showed, “Do you know much about the drinks here?”
Chuckling, Zero felt a warm hue in her chest as she started to like this girl. Not anything weird, but it was nice being able to have civilized chats with someone outside of her normal friend circle and that the one she spoke with wasn’t trying to get anything out of her, but just showed honest wonder. It reminded her of when she was younger.
“Nothing,” Zero coughed as she answered, “And yes, I know about quite a few of the drinks here.”
“Really? I was thinking of maybe taking what you told me and try something. Just one. I have been wanting a mixed drink for awhile. They always look so pretty.”
“Just a sec,” Zero requested as she spoke to the bartender, “Ey Bea! Could I have a drink menu over here?”
“Huh? Since when do you want a drink menu?”
“Just shut up and bring one over!”
A red ear twitched in question, “Are you two friends?”
“Hm?” looking back at the wolf who stared in wonder, she realized Gadget probably didn’t know if she’s never been one to drink, and therefore most likely hasn’t been here before. “Yeah, we’re friends. We actually both opened up this club along with a few other friends of ours.”
Amber spheres sparkled as they stared in awe at Zero, “You guys opened this place!? You have your own business?! That’s so cool!”
“Ah, it’s nothing to get too excited about or anything…”
“What are you talking about? It’s so impressive! Think of all the time and money you all would have had to give for this place. Opening and running a business of any kind is no joke. I really respect you doing that.”
The praise felt unnecessary, but somehow, it made Zero’s cheeks flare up as she was unused to compliments like that, and seeing the serious look on Gadget’s muzzle, she could tell she wasn’t teasing in the slightest.
Just as that took place, Bea came up and dropped off a menu, but caught note of Zero’s expression and stealthily glanced between the two females. Though not quite sure what was happening, it was nice to see a different emotion on Zero’s face than her usual scowl, so Bea could only secretly smirk, before pulling herself together and speaking to the two that obviously hadn’t noticed her yet.
“Here’s that drink menu Zero.”
“If I may make a suggestion though,” Bea cut-in as she leaned next to Gadget, confusion visible on the wolf’s features, and not noticing the subtle frown Zero threw at them. Mentually snickering, Bea continued, “The Passionate Affair is an excellent drink and one of our best sellers.”
“Oh, that’s what Zero has.”
“Heh, right you are m’lady. It has a peach schnapps, strawberry, a hint of raspberry, and a wave of pink lemonade and vodka. It’s really good if you’re looking for a fruity drink. If you’d prefer something else, we have various categories listed in the menu that can you can look through. I’m sure Zero can help you with those.”
Zero very clearly seeing the wicked smirk on Bea’s lips, she felt half tempted to throw the damn drink at her, but didn’t want to waste the alcohol.
“You can go now Bea. I’m sure there are customers that need your assistance.”
“Ah! So cruel to toss me away like that!” Bea half exasperated, causing Gadget to giggle.
“I’ll try the Passionate Affair.” Gadget interrupted them, “It looks good and sounds absolutely delicious.”
“One Passionate Affair coming up m’lady!”
And Bea set off to work. Chuckling Gadget replied, “She’s so full of energy.”
“Indeed she is. I hope she didn’t bother you.”
“Not at all. I have friends like her that have more energy than is probably healthy.”
“Heh, it happens to us all it seems,” Zero laughed. “Are you sure you didn’t want to look over the menu before ordering?”
“Well, I was curious about your drink since I saw it, and I figured if I saw something else that sounded interesting, I could always come back another day and try it.”
Come back? Zero watched as Gadget smiled warmly at her, and the jackal couldn’t help the slight pink that formed on her muzzle. The younger wolf was cute in a way. Innocence, kindness, those were a few traits that were clear as day on her. Zero genuinely like Gadget, and hoped to meet up with her again sometime. Maybe they could be...friends.
The drink arrived and Gadget took a sip as Zero suggested. Amber eyes seemed to glow as she raved about how amazing the taste was. This was Gadget’s first ever mixed drink, and she was not about to waste the drink or the experience. As she worked through the glass, Zero and Gadget chatted more as time when on. They talked about each other and Gadget began to open up quickly as the alcohol was beginning to make her relax.
Apparently, Zero was twenty-eight years old and the oldest of her group of friends. She described that being with the others felt like babysitting children at times, which made Gadget chortle happily as she confessed to being one of the youngest in her group. There were a few of her friends younger than her, but not many.
Gadget also told of how she was currently a junior in college and worked towards earning an engineering degree, and planning to go for her master’s degree once she finished her undergraduate studies. Zero never went to college, but finished high school before working as a waitress for a few years and upgrading to bartender once hitting the age of twenty-one. They both talked about their friends and lives as minutes turned to hours, and before anyone knew it, midnight struck the clock.
“There you are!”
Zero and Gadget turned to the voice to see a pink male cat and a green female bird approach them. The feline exasperated, “We’ve been looking for you all night Gadget!”
The jade Mobian snickered, “He was about to have a heart attack I think.”
“Shut up Bri!”
“No need to get defensive Kyle.” Bri chuckled, “I told you she’d be fine. She even made a friend.”
“Oh!” Kyle just now noticed the obviously glaring jackal sitting next to Gadget.
Zero asked, “Gadget, who are they?”
“These are my two siblings. We were all adopted.”
“Ah, I see,” Zero visibly relaxed, much to Kyle’s notice as his curiosity was peaked.
“Anyway,” the green female bird by the name of Bri spoke, “We should probably head out soon. The others left already. It seems you succeeded in avoiding to drink.”
“Uh, well…” Gadget scratched a cheek.
“Let’s get the car ready!” Kyle shouted loudly as he gripped Bri by her upper arms, “Gadget, meet us outside in five minutes. Five minutes!”
And off they went.
“You have some, uh, interesting siblings.”
Gadget agreed, “Yeah, but I wouldn’t trade them for the world.”
“Heh, I feel the same way about my friends,” Zero smiled sweetly. Looking a bit more seriously at the wolf, Gadget tilted her head in question before feeling a finger lightly brush her cheek.
“Be careful on your way home. Come back sometime. I’d love to talk with you more.”
Zero suggested while giving a small wink. Gadget wasn’t completely sure if there was more to that statement or not, but she felt happy that she made a new friend and nodded enthusiastically.
Digging into her small purse, Gadget pulled out the bills to pay for her drink plus a tip before bidding adieu to Zero and off she went. It wouldn’t be until the next morning that she’d find a slip of paper in an outer pocket of her purse with a phone number scribbled on it along with Zero’s name and a winking smiley face.The find was a surprise but not unwanted as she felt thankful for the other’s company and the new friendship that had formed between them.