Sage and Dawn stood by the bar, both not saying a word, the polished counter being the only bridge between them. When someone had occupied the stool Louise left with their partner, Sage went to make their drinks before he turned towards the woman who was his brief accomplice.
Dawn was in a daze. She knew the stunning woman had insulted her with those words, but she couldn't bring herself to be indignant. Why would she? It wasn't like the man – Sage, she found with surprise delight – was her boyfriend. They were both pretending, but she was still surprised at how quick the man caught on to it and played along.
She only felt relieved that they both got out of that awkward mess with the gorgeous but arrogant woman.
But now, it seemed she was caught in another uncomfortable situation. This is what you get what helping out a stranger, Dawn. Now, deal with it.
"Wow." She let out a nervous laugh, while trying to meet his gaze. She cast them down the moment their eyes met.
Looking around her, Dawn set herself on a stool and tried to calm her nerves. I need a drink!
"Um, can I get something that's refreshing, please?"
Sage noticed the tremor in her voice and thought she was really nervous. He nodded and went to make her something that could distract her from it; sharp and refreshing, it was sure to make people forget what ever plagued them, if not momentarily.
She watched him fixed the cocktail before he pushed it towards her with a smile. "There you go."
Dawn muttered a thank you, took hold of the cool, copper mug and set it on her lips for a sip. Her eyes widened as the flavours set in; the lime and ginger blended really well, and she brought her gaze up to Sage, and breathed, "Wow that's very…invigorating. I like it." She continued to take a few more sips of that. "Thank you."
Sage grinned and nodded his head. "New at this?"
"This one? Yeah. I usually stick to beer and rum, but this is…" She mulled it briefly before finding the word. "Otherworldly. What is it?" Then, her smile turned sheepish when she said, "As you can probably tell, I'm so bad at this."
"Moscow Mule. You're not the only one." Sage shrugged at last in a helpless way, grabbing a glass that a patron had left and began his routine.
Dawn laughed, her nose scrunched cutely, something that Sage tried not to focus too much on.
She made a sound of understanding before saying, "And I don't buy that at all. But it worked, and I feel less like a fool now, so thanks again."
He kept his grin. He could tell the spirit had done its job; she was slowly unwinding. Usually, he would give patrons like her a less crisp one, and if they were novices, he'd make them something like an Old Fashioned, unless they asked otherwise. Sage was taking his bet on her, and something told him to go with a different route.
But what was this? Just moments ago, Louise tried to get him in a conversation and he wanted nothing to do with her. Yet, with this woman whose name he still didn't know – you don't need to, his mind told him pointedly – Sage didn't feel like his shoulders were tense.
Then, as brief as that conversation felt, the previous incident that took place started to creep in their conscious and the easy going vibe they had between each other slowly dimmed.
Thought that too soon, huh. Sage tried not to think of how bizarre this whole thing was and tried to say something.
Hey, thanks for the help back there. By the way, I don't know if you remember me, but I helped you in that awful situation a while back and now I don't know how to make a conversation without feeling like a pre-pubescent boy.
Yeah, and what an embarrassment that will be, Sage thought, stricken.
Sage cleared his throat. "This is sort of embarrassing for me, but I appreciate what you did back there. Thanks." He smiled, resisting the urge to scratch his neck. Get a hold of yourself, Sage. You're at work, for God's sake and if Carl and Thea saw you like this, there's no end to this.
Don't blush, don't blush, don't blush – seriously, how does he get to be so cute and handsome? And why does he looked kind of familiar? Like I've seen him in a dream or something. Dawn tried not to stare at him and chanced a glance around her busy surroundings, where people were just minding their own business. What is this? An attractive gentleman's bar?
Dawn drank her cocktail, and tried not to smile like a fool. "You're welcome. And thanks for playing along as well." At the need to justify her actions, she went on a ramble, "I, uh, I can assure you that this isn't something I do often."
The night had already seemed different than the others. What was alarming, was that he had actually spoken more to the patrons – well, a patron – instead of being an invisible worker behind the counter. With the exception of his boss and some co-workers, it was more than he did the past week.
It was odd and it made him feel a little unbalanced. He didn't feel like himself, but it wasn't entirely an unpleasant feeling.
Something in the air…and about her. Sage cast that thought away.
I'm just trying to make her feel at ease, he reminded himself.
"You mean, this is the first time you've prevented someone from possibly having the best night of his life?"
It was an attempt at a joke but he must have sucked at it, because she looked horrified at that prospect.
"Hey," He said quickly. "That was a joke. You really did save me back there." He nodded in earnest this time, showing her that he meant it.
Dawn was relieved. She took another sip of her cocktail, then said, "Okay. I…you know, okay this is going to sound crazy," She let out a little nervous laugh and rambled, "I know it sounds so cliché that I'm about to spill some tale to a bartender and I promise you I haven't done this before, because despite being an adult who's paying for half of her college fees and who had just found out she bombed one of her projects, plus, I just need a drink, but I – "
She came to sudden halt. She winced. The realisation that she had just told him things that wasn't necessary to what she was going to say made her want to face palm herself. Her face was molten hot with embarrassment and she almost didn't want to see him. Way to go, dimwit. Why don't you tell him your entire life's story too?
She ignored the sneering voice in her mind and peeked a glance at him anyway. She was tremendously glad, however, that instead of the mocking face peering at her, he looked concerned and attentive. As though he could actually understand whatever she just spewed.
Dawn didn't know if that was worse, but strangely it gave her the courage to stay and not bolt out of there. I'd be lucky if we don't cross paths again. At least, I know which bar to avoid now.
Sage, on the other hand, was wracking his mind to get the girl before him to relax. He didn't know what got her so worked up, but he understood what she was feeling. He had gone through a nervous breakdown before and while seeing someone else in this situation could be painfully awkward and embarrassing for others, he didn't focus on that. Instead, he figured she needed another drink to calm herself.
"Cliché or not, I'm here to listen." He smiled reassuringly. Sage prepared to make another quick fix with low alcohol in it. He didn't want her to get too buzzed, even though that may have been her intention coming here. Preparing a few slices of peaches to puree, he added Prosecco and other fruits to give it colour. He then finished it by pouring the drink into a flute with a couple slices of peach on the rim for an extra touch. He stirred it before saying, "Here, why don't you have this."
Dawn looked up from her inner monologue, startled that he was giving her another drink. Confused and hesitant, she tried to refuse but he seemed to already see right through her.
"Don't worry, it's on the house tonight. You look like you need it, and it always help my nerves before I start my shift."
That brought out a small smile from her. "You mean you do this every time before work?"
"Just once a week, at least. You can't really get drunk from that but it does wonders. Go one, have a taste."
Dawn still looked hesitant but at his encouraging smile and the explanation he gave her on what the drink was, she relented. The colour of the liquid was pleasing to look at; light, pale blush and there was small frizzy bubbles set atop the liquid.
She tilted the flute slightly in a small circle before inhaling the aroma; it smelt good and she could feel herself feeling lighter already. Taking a sip, and then another, Dawn's lips curved gently as she smiled at him. "You're right, it taste wonderful. Thank you."
"Just glad to be of help."
They both chuckled at the irony of the situation. Here they are, just two strangers that crossed paths and helping each other out, even in the littlest way.
"I apologise for my rambling. Honestly, I think I was just nervous because I'm in this new place, and that situation earlier wasn't something that happened every day. I hope you don't take this the wrong way…but you kind of reminded me of a guy." When Sage arched a brow, she bit her lip before adding hastily, "Not in that creepy, ex-girlfriend kind of way, God no. I mean, last week, something… almost happened and he saved me. Came out of thin air."
Her voice took on a note of awe when she added, "He helped me. A stranger who could have just ignored my call of help actually did that. It still feels surreal to me now. I wanted to give my gratitude, I mean, now that I think about it, saying thanks for something big like that doesn't feel enough, like I should do something, you know?" Then, she shook her head with a small laugh. "It's crazy, I don't even know his name. And how am I supposed to thank him anyway?
As though she had just remembered his presence, Dawn immediately looked up and almost frown in confusion at him.
He looked stupefied, his mouth parted slightly and lips moving to work out the words stuck in his throat.
"Is something the matter?"
Sage snapped out of his stupor. He shook his head slightly and stared at her, his eyes roving her features. It feels like he's almost there but then she said something similar – no, he had the gut feeling that it was the same thing that happened to him the week before too – and he was left speechless.
Sage swallowed inaudibly but held her gaze.
"That's odd, because I know I helped a girl last week from getting mugged. And I thought she looks…like you too." The note ended in curious disbelief.
Dawn's eyes widened in surprise, her jaw almost hanging unattractively. "No way…" she breathed before adding, "What day and time was it?"
"Tuesday night, 11:35 p.m."
Dawn almost slid off her stool in a dazed surprise, making him reach out for her in reflex but he stopped when he saw she was fine. She cupped her mouth with her palms, eyes wide.
One would think she had just met her idol.
"Oh my God," she breathed before peering closely, scrutinising his features. Dawn had a brief but clear flashback on the image of the very same man standing before her; thick dark hair, and green eyes. But they looked more to sea-green now up close. "Oh God, it's you. The Good Samaritan."
"And it's you." Sage said, nodding slowly to himself. He was, quite frankly, shaken up by this revelation. What were the odds? First he felt like conversing with people, not because he had to and now, he just found out that the girl whom he helped the week before was indeed the same woman before him.
Not that he had been thinking about her, but she did cross his mind sometimes and to meet her again, was unreal.
It felt strange, and he thought to chalk it up to the odd atmosphere in the air.
But that didn't mean he wasn't relieved. The concern about a stranger he had been wondering once in a while dissipated when he saw that she was alright.
Dawn blinked her eyes and stuck a hand out to him over the counter, uncaring if people was giving her odd looks.
"Hi, I'm Dawn."
Sage glanced at her outstretched hand, catching the eyes of some of his co-workers. They were both curious and bemused. He looked at her and grasped it.
"Sage. I can't believe we meet again."ns 18.104.22.168da2