He wasn't in the fucking mood for this.
Marshall headed up the stairs of Murphy's, still smelling of smoke and cinders. He had reports to file, training. Not to mention he needed a fucking nap. The guys only got together once a year, though, and Kerry never fucking failed to call and invite him. "Come on down," he said. "Even if you can't make the game. See the guys from the team. Have a beer."
Why it had to come on the day after the worst nights of fires he'd had in his career, he didn't know.
A cheer went up as he came in, the guys all lifting their beers in a toast to him.
He nodded, rubbing one hand over the back of his neck. "Boys."
One beer and he'd go home.
Someone nudged him from behind and a beer appeared in front of him.
"Hey, Marshall. We didn't think you were going to make it this year."
"I didn't, either." He grinned, tried not to sigh. "I just need one, and I'm off."
David Banders smiled at him, the expression just the same as it had been back in college, and patted his back. "You look like you could use about ten and then maybe another ten."
"No shit on that, man. No shit on that."
"Come on, let's go sit by the bar, it's quieter."
He nodded, clapped Dave on the shoulder. "Sounds like a plan." Dave was a good guy, always had been, from what he could remember.
They headed for the bar, sitting on the corner stools. "Potato skins and wings?"
He nodded. He wasn't hungry yet, but he could sit and nod. Shit, Dave would eat it all by himself. Dave placed the order and pulled back half a beer before turning back to him. "So. Bad night, huh?"
"Yeah." He rubbed his neck again. "Fatalities. It was harsh."
Four kids. Four fucking kids. He... Yeah.
"Oh, man. I'm sorry."
"Yeah." He sucked down half his brew, letting it hit him, right in the gut.
"You definitely need another beer." Dave got the bartender's attention and ordered them more beer.
"I don't know, man..." Still, it felt good going down.
Dave put a hand on his shoulder, rubbed. "Tell you what, this is my first -- it'll be my last, and I'll be your designated driver."
"Yeah? You sure?" He wrapped his hands around the mug.
"Positive. Unless you want another way to release the tension." One of Dave's eyebrows went up and back down. The fucker was an incorrigible flirt; it could be charming or irritating as fuck, depending on the mood.
"You want me to beat you up in the back room?" He winked, playing back. It wasn't Dave's fault he was bitchy.
Dave grinned. "Or you could let me beat you up. That's more my style, anyway."