She had to be doing this on purpose. She *had* to be. What kind of self-proclaimed "wise" wolf would be this reckless? Lawrence could only watch in horror as the barmaid set down another round of drinks, yet another flavor they hadn't yet sampled.
"Ah! It smells wonderful!"
They ought to smell nice, since this was no sub-par pub. It was his haunt in Pazzio for a reason. Lawrence always drank cheaply when he drank alone, but with friends he always splurged a little. Of course, Weiz loved taking advantage of that, but then Lawrence knew enough about Weiz to keep him in check. Holo, on the other hand..
"Jeez.. there's barely any room on the table and you ordered more?"
"Quiet, you cheapskate!"
Lawrence shuddered at their joint verbal attack; both of them were so in sync it was almost alarming. Had they planned that response while he'd been out back? Either way, he could only really sigh. It wasn't as though he could just ask the barmaid to water things down, not with Holo's keen senses.
With that, their new mugs of sweet-smelling beer went down in a flash. At least this round was just beer. Lawrence was scared of the consequences of her binging, though. Holo had been mixing drinks to the point where Lawrence was worried she might not survive the night.
He'd been watching her carefully, to make sure she didn't take in too much of the hard stuff at once. Was she even aware of how small that body of hers was? He shuddered to think about how things would have ended up if he hadn't kept ordering her expensive dishes to sample..
"Whoops! That one's mine!"
"Aww.. are you suuure?"
She just *had* to be playing around. He could just feel it. Sure, no one could be sober after drinking so much, not even the Wisewolf, but there was something in her grin that made him suspect this was her way of getting back at him for lying.
After all, he was keeping her from overdoing it. When she tried to mix her drinks a little too much, he'd always reach out and beat her to it. If she drank *this* much liquor, beer, and wine in one night, even in such a quality establishment, it would only end in tragedy. All merchants knew that.
"Haha! I love you (hic) guuuys!"
Weiz shouted out, just as carefree as always. Lawrence couldn't say he cared as much about Weiz's fate anymore; he was clearly conspiring with Holo to get even more drunk.
"Ah.. wait, you're right.. this one was yours!"
He passed the mug of hard liquor on to Weiz to pay him back for his transgressions. The idiot raised it up immediately in gratification, and downed it all at once in a grand gesture making him fall back to the ground. He sheepishly shot back up, then wavered a little and fell into his chair with a thud.
"Whew! Wow, you guys shure can drink!"
Clearly the one who most fancied himself a real drinker was the one who was going to be out first. But Weiz was right - Holo was more than a match for him. Lawrence could only count his blessings that he knew Holo's true form. Lawrence wondered if she was trying to make Weiz pass out on purpose.
"How shameful it must be for a man such as yourself to be outdone by the likes of me!"
Holo flashed Weiz a gigantic drunken grin, to which he flew into his usual response.
"Oh? That's it! Barmaid! More grog!!"
Weiz really was quite far gone. Lawrence almost regretted giving him that last mug. He lifted his own mug in penance, having just now taken it from Holo's wandering hand. She shot him a glare as he downed it in one go.
"And you! Stop taking my drinks!"
"Ahh.. oh, that one was yours? I knew it tasted funny.."
"Ha! Oh.. Lawrence.. you're sho bad at thissh!"
Weiz was beside himself in laughter, dismissively waving his hand at Lawrence. It felt a bit embarrassing to be called out by the likes of Weiz, but since it had diverted Holo's wrath Lawrence decided to play along.
"Hey, I've had more than you, wise guy!"
"Hehehe.. I meant at talking to the ladies, numbskull."
Weiz looked at him, then Holo, then went into one of his acts. As usual, it was eerily well-performed.. or it would have been if Weiz hadn't spilled some of his drink as he tried to match Lawrence's earlier action.
"Oh, this one was yours? So that's why it tasted so sweet.."
The look on Weiz's face was so treacly it could curdle cheese, but Lawrence couldn't call him out on how awful that line was - it wasn't as if his own was any better. In fact, given Holo's flustered reaction, he wondered if maybe he should have taken that approach himself.
"Oh dear me.. then I have ruined your pint of bitter.."
"Oh, not at all! In fact, we could make a fortune selling the mugs kissed by your lovely lips!"
Holo was playing right along, but Lawrence wasn't letting himself get worked up about it. He couldn't let their games bother him every time, and besides, he could see her tail eagerly flicking her makeshift skirt in anticipation of another jealous reaction from him.
"Hey.. you're right! Let's go talk to the barkeeper right away about this!"
Lawrence could put on an act too, after all.. it just had to be about business. He smiled when he saw the reaction from both of his tormentors, as if he'd taken the wind out of their sails.
"Aw jeez.. way to kill the mood, Lawrence!"
Weiz feigned his usual annoyance, but didn't put up much of a fight. He just waved Lawrence off again and walked away, clearly having other business to take care of. Lawrence sighed and took another sip from Holo's mug, but before he could turn to see her reaction, he felt a sharp pain on the top of his foot.
"Serves you right."
His hand was rubbing the back of his head sheepishly as he turned to face her. By then she'd already turned her face away with a pout, her arms folded across her chest.
"What? Are you that upset I didn't play along?"
"Then what is it?"
"Just when will you finally let me drink?"
Lawrence was flabbergasted. He could smell the liquor on her breath, and see the flush on her face.. did she not even realize she was already drunk?
"What are you talking about?"
"This! This 'grog' right here! You have only let me drink the weak stuff all night! I cannot get drunk off of this!"
She practically shoved her mug into his face, obviously upset he was drinking her hard liquor. He didn't really know how to respond. This was far too amusing to him, doubly so when he was hardly sober.
"Do not laugh! I am serious!"
"This? This is what you're upset about? You realize what grog is, don't you?"
She stared him right in the face, with her pout on full display. She looked like she was ready to scratch his eyes out.
"Jeez.. you know, I gave up on keeping you from mixing your drinks a while back."
He swore he could hear the gears in her mind start working as her cap twitched. He guessed she hadn't expected him to tell her the honest truth. He might as well keep going now, while he had her attention.
"I mean, I took your cup by accident just now. You can tell I'm not lying, right?"
She narrowed her eyes. Her reactions sure were charming when he caught her off-guard. Maybe letting her get drunk wasn't so bad after all.
"You see, grog's made of beer *and* liquor. And the better the pub, the stronger the liquor. Though.. I can't say I blame you for not being able to tell anymore."
He looked around at their table, which was still littered with all sorts of fragrant drinks and foods. Even her nose would have trouble telling whether there was strong liquor in her drink this far into their night.
She spun away to study her mug more closely. He looked away politely, but he could tell she had given up on sniffing the grog, and had moved on to lapping it up. It was hard to resist sneaking a peek to see the doubtful look on her face.
"But~ you don't have to take my word for it. I wasn't the one who ordered grog, so why don't we make it interesting in the next round?"
Just then, Lawrence felt a sharp pain on his back and his nose collided with the mug he had just raised to his mouth. He was soon in the throes of a coughing fit, with Weiz laughing at the sight of him spilling his drink all over himself.
"That's the spirit, Lawrence! The night is young! What say we really take things to the next level?!"
Lawrence was still rubbing his sore throat when he looked over at Holo, who was cautiously sipping her grog with a look like it was beneath her to drink it. With her eyes closed, her pout seemed downright aristocratic. And yet, anyone who fell for her princess-like look would soon regret it.
"Oh ho? Do you two really think you have what it takes to best me? Very well!"
Oh no.. had they collaborated that far ahead? Weiz must have been listening in, waiting for Lawrence to slip up!
"Barmaid! Three rounds of your finest!"
Lawrence opened his mouth to voice his protest, but all that came out of his mouth was further coughing. Weiz had gotten him good. They'd played him like a drunken fiddle! He looked up sheepishly at Holo, and saw a malicious smirk form on her face as she slowly opened her eyes. It was going to be a long night..