Title: Gift Certificates
Summary: FFA #763
Author's Note: Dedicated to my sister, who did indeed spend last Christmas all by herself in Cincinnati.
Chloe Sullivan listened to the news report with a sour expression, finally turning the radio off in disgust and going back to the window to stare at the falling snow. In Kansas, this wouldn't even merit school closings, but she was in Cincinnati and the entire city was shut down. And if there was anything more pathetic than being stuck by herself in Cincinnati for Christmas, it was the pure and simple fact that she hadn't planned on going anywhere else before the snow hit. Chloe felt a fervent need to become very drunk, very quickly.
The roads had all been closed, of course, because people in Cincinnati couldn't drive in snow with any degree of skill, so that limited her options to walking distance. The bar down the street had banned her from entering after that incident with the peanuts and the drunken frat boy, and the one two blocks down was incredibly disgusting. There was a shopping plaza half a mile down the road, though, and Chloe had gotten a gift card in the exchange at work for a restaurant that served alcohol.
Half an hour later, the young woman had redefined the term 'pathetic' in her mind. Being one of four people in a bar on Christmas Eve pretty much topped the list. Especially since two of those people were employees, and the other person was apparently asleep. Chloe shrugged her coat off and plopped down on a barstool. At least she wouldn't have any problems getting the bartender's attention.
The smell of coffee permeated Chloe's small apartment, and she slowly and reluctantly crawled out from the cocoon of blankets and stumbled into the kitchen. She had taken approximately three sips of the hot beverage before she realized that coffee implied someone to push the buttons on the coffeemaker. Setting down the cup hastily, she reached behind the refrigerator and grabbed the baseball bat, preparing to wield it against her caffeinated intruder.
"In here." Chloe strangled a yelp as she charged into the living room with her chosen weapon to face . . .the bartender from last night. He was sitting on the couch, coffee cup steaming beside him and a book in his hand. "How's your hangover?"
"Pretty bad, actually. Who are you?"
"Oz. You said I could crash here."
"I did?" Chloe rubbed her forehead, trying to think past the headache. She had gone to the bar last night. Started out with an Irish coffee, quickly moved into vodka. Chloe groaned as more of last night's events trickled into her memory. "Did I really jump on the bar and dance?"
"And I really asked the cop to do a striptease?"
"He laughed it off."
"And I really told you my entire wretched life story?"
Oz shrugged. "Wasn't too dismal. You should hear mine."
"And after all that, you brought me home."
"You let me stay the night. It was a fair trade."
"We didn't sleep together, did we?"
"Only in the sense that we were both asleep in the same place."
"I am never drinking again."