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Warning: contains minor in an adult situation.
For J.


Starbuck tried to glare at the kid standing in front of her but it wasn't working. For one thing, this kid wasn't standing still or maybe she was the one moving.
"Neither here nor there..." she muttered. Louder, she said, "So you think you can drink me under the table?"
The kid with spiky red short hair nodded eagerly. "Uh-huh! Uh-huh! Ed can drink more than 'Buck!"
"STARbuck," she corrected with a snarl. "Or Kara. Whatever." She squinted at the kid's white shirt and black shorts. "Where's your shoes?"
"Shoes?" the kid echoed. "Why does Ed need shoes?"
Starbuck closed her eyes and wished once more that she had never taken this dare. One thing to voluntarily go into a room party at a con but for the life of a toaster, why did she have to run into the queen of weird kids? "Okay," she said. "We match shot for shot. Any questions?"
"Nope." The kid set a bottle that looked suspiciously like vodka on the table. She grinned, showing her every single tooth in her head. Starbuck resisted the urge to slap her. "Ready!"
They poured from their respected bottles into the shot glasses in front of them, drank them down in one gulp then slammed the empty glass down. "FUN!" crowed the kid. "AGAIN!"
Shots and shots were downed while the party continued around them. People in costumes milled about, drinking oddly colored punch from the coolers and talking in small groups. Music played in the background and a handful of people swayed to the beat. Starbuck swore she saw a girl dressed as a giant mouse carrying a life-size fork. Some guy in what she could only describe as a black and red wedding dress passed by the table sobbing like a teenage girl on her period, followed by a woman wearing a tux made of cling wrap. That was the point Starbuck started doubling the shots.
Ed, however, looked like she was having the time of her life. The kid's feet never touched the floor. She curled in the chair like a cat, even meowing to herself before leaping at some poor woman, causing her to spill her drink on the guy next to her. Which, Starbuck reasoned, was why Mr. Tight-Ass-in-the-Foofy-Dress got weepy. Out of all of Ed's antics, Starbuck's favorite was when Ed stood on the back of her chair on tiptoe and held herself up by one finger then slurped her shot. She knew she had crossed the line that separated "drunk" from "oh, LORD, are you dead?!" but the kid was still sober.
"Wha'th hell are you drinkin'?" Starbuck slurred at Ed, reaching for the kid's bottle. "You must have a steel liver!"
"Ed's drinking Evian!" the kid giggled. "Funny 'Buck! I told you I can drink more than 'Buck!"
"Evian?" Starbuck's eyes refused to focus. "I've been drinking tequila..."
"Silly! Ed's a kid! Ed can't drink that stuff!"
The bathroom door exploded and a large bird covered in vomit-green feathers flew out, shrieking. It left a trail of sparkling green gobs that burned through whatever it touched. Three men in gray coveralls and boots followed. "Get it outside!" yelled one. "There's people in here!" Another guy flung open the sliding door to the courtyard in time for the bird-thing to fly past him.
"You should know better than to touch things that don't belong to you! Especially when there's a protective pentagram around it!" the tall one growled at the shortest one in the group.
"How was I supposed to know it wasn't a baby eagle?" he shrugged.
The tall one rolled his eyes and the three of them ran outside after the bird.
Starbuck regarded her shot glass with suspicion. "I thought there wasn't a worm in it..." she muttered.
Ed laughed. "Pretty, pretty liiiiiights..."
Starbuck noticed that a dog was sitting behind the dj booth in the corner, tapping on a laptop with his paws. She pushed the bottle away. "I think I'm done."
"Ed wins!" Ed danced on the table. "Hear that, Ein? Ed won!"
The dog barked.
Starbuck reached for the bottle again.


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