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Yes, I Admit... I've Got a Drinking Problem (Drea)


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Opening the bottle again, Mehrin filled his cup for the fifth time in fifteen minutes. His hands fumbled a bit as he wedged the cork back in the neck; the brandy contained inside had cost him quite a bit, and it was worth every penny. It had not been a good day, and the report that he’d just finished reading was not making things any better. Taking a drink of the potent stuff, Mehrin tried to force his already-clouded mind to go back to where everything had started going wrong...





Mehrin rolled his eyes as he lifted his head to see who was addressing him. One of the workers hired by the Band to transport stone from the nearby quarries was standing in front of his desk. “Okay, sir, if you injured a horse somehow, the Band will compensate you for it, but I’m afraid that I’m not the one to whom you’d speak.â€


Mehrin’s eyes shifted back to the inventory report, but before he could start reading again, the man spoke up. “Sir, it has nothing to do with my horse. I am still relatively new, and I’m not sure quite what I’m doing. I was wondering where the Ogier wanted the blocks brought?â€


Taking a deep breath to keep from yelling at the man, Mehrin reminded himself that the man wasn’t a member of the Band and, thus, couldn’t be treated as such. He quickly plastered a cordial look on his face and returned his attention to the hauler. “Well, sir, your best bet is to talk to one of the Ogier, then. I haven’t gotten to their status report yet, so I’m not sure what sectors they’re working on.†The man nodded once, threw a rather sloppy salute, and walked out of the office. As soon as the door closed behind him, Mehrin’s head fell to the desk, his forehead making a hollow thump on the wood. Light, this isn’t a good sign.



Open anger was plastered on Mehrin’s face. First were the eighteen people who needed his own personal input on everything from what kinds of liquor to stock the inns with to the length of the fletching on the arrows. And then this guy. Once a week, he came in and complained about the same thing: the food. The man had been some sort of minor noble in Murandy or Gheldean or something like that; Mehrin didn’t care. “No. For the last time, getting rid of the cook will not make any bloody difference in the way the food is prepared. If you don’t like it, you can cook for yourself.â€


The man stood there as if he had been struck. Then came the typical spitting and sputtering before he finally drew himself up to his full height- about eye level with Mehrin’s neck- and said coldly, “I don’t cook for myself, you impudent peon!†And that was enough. Despite his demands to be called by his name, outright rudeness and insubordination were more than Mehrin was willing to let slide. Standing quickly, Mehrin dodged around the other side of the desk and seized a hold of the man by his chain mail collar and leather belt. Using him as he would a battering ram, Mehrin opened the door that led from his office to the lobby and then the one out to the street, where he tossed the man. “When you remember you’re no longer a noble, you will be allowed to stop digging latrines. Until then...†The grin on Mehrin’s face was decidedly unpleasant as he closed the doors again.



That’s it! I’ve had it! Opening the door to his office, Mehrin told the officer on duty, “Get me Raylin. Now.†Mehrin slammed the door to his office and stomped his way to the table where he kept his own special store for guests of honor, a local brandy made to his specifications. It was potent enough to knock out a horse. Pulling the cork out of the bottle, Mehrin filled one of the water glasses that was sitting on the table and emptied it, then filled another before bringing both the bottle and the glass back to his desk. For a moment, his eyes lingered on the source of his irritation: the weekly scouting report, not to be confused with the daily ones that gave him what information he needed about the immediate area. It was signed by a sergeant. Not the Banner Captain. A sergeant. Not Drea Raylin, the woman who was supposed to sign off on the reports. A sergeant. Blood and bloody ashes, woman! Is it so difficult to sign a piece of paper?!



That had been twenty minutes ago. The woman was not here where Mehrin could unleash his anger. She was somewhere else. So Mehrin did what he did best: he drank. He’d already given up on the glass and was now drinking straight out of the bottle. The world seemed to be doing goofy things, but that wasn’t important. He was going to make himself clear to the woman. She had to do her job.


Now he only had to determine which door was the actual door to his office...

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Drea could only hope she was getting somewhere with Maglin. He was a wreck, and she wondered if her presence meant anything to him. They were sitting on the trunk of a fallen over tree that cleared over a small stream. They dragged their feet in the cool water, letting the current carry them backwards from time to time. It was all quite calming until Mags opened his mouth. Oh he was still drunk, alright. Drea could count on both hands the number of passes he’d made on her -telling he how beautiful she was, and twice as many times he’d stop mid sentence and ask where they were. Seeing a man like this- let alone her best friend- made Drea’s stomach churn. To think that she was the cause of this, that without her, he was swallowed into the darkness of alcohol. How could any man put himself through that sort of embarrassment and torture over a woman? She’d lost loved ones too, but never drank herself to the grave over it. Is this what her home has become, instead of facing problems like real men, like real soldiers?


Maglin’s drunken rambling was interrupted by the sound of someone running up behind them. They were not far from the Citadel, just inside the wood actually, so anyone could know they were there. Anyone with trained eyes.


Drea turne dto see the man before he was completely in view. It was Lachlan. She smiled at the sight of her old advisor and guard. Their reunion had been a surprise for both parties, and he accepted his job back with many joyful tears. But there was no joy in his wrinkly, scarred face now.


“Drea†he panted. “It’s Commander Mehrin. He’s been asking for you all morning.â€


The documents! In the midst of distracting her drunken friend, she had completely forgotten about her assignment. She jumped to her feet, letting Maglin topple over into the knee deep water. Maglin sputtered a few shocked curses as Drea looked from one man to another, contemplating their importance.


“Take him for me?†She begged Lachlan.


“You don’t even have to ask.â€


She glanced at the parchment in her hands. “And bring this to Amon? I need to explain and I don’t have time.â€


“Just go. Quickly.†He urged, lifting Maglin out of the water and over his shoulder. Considering Lachlan’s older age and slender size, Drea was surprised he could hold Maglin without falling over. But there was no time for questions. She needed to fix things first.




Drea burst through the door of Mehrin’s office in a panic, a fit of excuses running through her mind. She was just about to start apologizing and telling him that the paperwork had been delivered when she noticed something strange. Mehrin lay hunched over on his desk, papers scattered everywhere. He must have fallen asleep. Drea approached him cautiously. She kicked the desk leg to see if he’d wake up. Nothing. Doing what she did best, Drea jumped to conclusions. Could someone have murdered the Commander? Considering what happened to her, she wouldn’t put it past possible. She peeked out of his office for anything suspicious. Everything seemed as normal as when she arrived. Going back in, Drea walked around the desk to observe his rather large body. There were no signs of blood or marks of struggle anywhere.


Drea looked around the room to see if anything seemed out of place, but shook her head. She didn’t know what it was supposed to look like, and it was so messy with paper, clothes and old food that she probably wouldn’t be able to tell anyway. On the desk was a near empty glass of a yellow-brown liquid and the crust of an old sandwich. Poison? Drea lifted the glass to her nose and took a whiff, immediately regretting doing so, and jerking the bottle away. Her cough echoed in the silent room. The now too familiar stench of alcohol choked down her throat. Out of the corner of her eye, the glimmer of candle light danced across an empty bottle of brandy laying on the floor underneath Mehrin’s open palm. Fury surged. Not another one! Light, was everyone getting drunk these days?


Drea picked up the bottle, her hand flew around and smashed the bottle on the desk. Glass shards and drops of brandy sprayed all over the room.

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The sound of shattering glass jerked Mehrin out of his alcohol-induced coma and gazed bleary-eyed around the room, his eyes falling on a newcomer. Anya? Slowly, the alcoholic haze over Mehrin's mind started to clear, and he saw that it was not the golden-haired woman who had died by his command, but a darker-haired woman who didn't seem all that pleased for some reason. Thinking better of it, Mehrin set about trying to remember who she was and why she was in his office. But first, more important business... "Have you seen a bottle laying around anywhere?" Mehrin slurred.


Judging by the seemingly angry expression on the woman's face, Mehrin assumed that he had said something wrong. For some odd reason, the name Raylin floated into his mind. Mehrin rubbed his head once- Light, it hurts already...- and set it back on the desk, resting on a document of some kind. "I didn't mean to make you angry... umm...[/i] Things slowly began to connect through the heavy veil of alcohol over Mehrin's mind. Drunkedly, his eyes shifted to the piece of paper under his hand, and then back to the woman whose name was suddenly quite clear.


"Ah, yes, Miss Raylin. Why am I reading your scouting report with a sergeant's signature on it?" Consciously keeping his voice quiet to avoid causing himself any more pain than was nessecary, Mehrin continued, his rage combating the alcohol, a poor combination at best. "When you came back, I gave you the rank of Banner Captain in honor of your previous service to the Band and because I remembered how well things ran under your command. If I was wrong, and you can't handle the responsiblity, just tell me now. A sergeant is in no position to be filing these reports."


The gravity of his words was somewhat lost with the drunken slur, but Mehrin thought that he'd gotten his point across. Her face seemed to be red enough for embarassment. "Have you anything to say in your defense?"

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Drea kept her teeth clenched for a few moments after Mehrin stopped blabbering. New life, new choices. New life, new choices. Could the man actually believe it was her fault he was a drunken lout? She let the pressure off her jaw and put it onto her lip. She knew what she wanted to say, she just needed to control her anger and figure out how to say it.


"That's what this is about? Some bloody report? Listen, Commander, I don't care what paper work you have on your desk, what troublesome recruits you have coming here, or who steps on your bloody toe. You have a responcibility to this Band. A responcibility to each and every life out there, and getting drunk because of some bloody report is unacceptable!" She breathed. "As for that report, the only reason I had Kaplan do it is because you have me running around with erands you could send a stable hand to do and teaching officers who aren't even scouts! When I'm not running an errand, I'm sitting in this dump for hours waiting for you to give me one. I've been back over a week and have done nothing related to the scouts except move in their barracks the first night!"


Breathe, Drea. Breathe. That a girl. It'll sink in how he wants it to.

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Mehrin opened his mouth to refute Drea's excuses as just that, but stopped himself before anything came out. She's right, you know, a part of him whispered. I know she is, just shut up, Mehrin whispered right back. So he'd been working her too hard to do her own job. That made sense. However... "You have no idea what you're talking about," Mehrin said, a sharp edge of anger cutting into his words through the slurring. How dare she? She didn't know him.


"You have no idea why I'm drunk," Mehrin muttered angrily. "You don't know how this job, the irritations and the thousand-and-one details of running a fortress work. You don't know what its like for everyone to come to you with their problems." Part of him was telling Mehrin to just shut up and stop making a fool of himself, but his temper had gotten ahold of him, aided by the alcohol. He wasn't about to stop.


"You don't know what its like to live on the road for seven years, to have everyplace that you called home torn away. Did you know that I have a death warrant on my head in Lugard? Did you know that a Tairen lord will never walk again because I destroyed his leg?" Mehrin was unaware of his voice rising, unaware of what he was saying. Unaware of the tears forming. "You don't know what its like not knowing if someone is going to gut you in your sleep on some quiet stretch of road. You don't know what its like to be suddenly thrust into command of a platoon, then a whole division. You don't know what its like to be scarred by Myrdraal steel. You don't know what its like to order the woman you love to... to..."


A ragged sob escaped Mehrin's throat, and was quickly supressed as a horrifying realization set in. Light, what have I done? Things he had said... He hadn't even told Anya about some of it. His head felt as if it weighted a hundred pounds. Resting it in his hands, Mehrin finished quietly, "You just don't understand."

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Drea stared at him again letting every word he said humor her enough to let her eyebrows raise and a smirk to spread across her lips. She tried to hide the smirk, but Mehrin was so amusing, she knew it would be impossible. Light, why did he have to be so wool headed?


“Wow,†She stared at him again then started pacing back and forth from the door to the wall, passing him on the way, refusing to make eye contact. She was silent; merely ground her teeth together, jaw jutted out and hands behind her back. She felt like he was the one getting punished. Drea suddenly stopped walking and stood right in front of Mehrin. She leaned over and put her hands on the desk, her head down by Mehrin’s. You’re right.†He looked at her and she straightened. “You’re absolutely right. I don’t know what it’s like to run 14,000 people. I don’t know what it’s like to hear everyone and their brother complain about things from the uniforms, food, job placement and even the material the tents are made out of. I’ve never had men complain about the weather- which we both know that I am perfectly capable of changing. I’ve never been responsible for lives that I’ve ordered to do things that shouldn’t have been done. I’ve never made a mistake.†Sarcasm dripped from her mouth like the alcohol on Mehrin’s breath. She watched his reaction, giving as much emotion as she was getting: none.


More sarcasm. “You know, Mehrin, you must be a really really bad Commander. I’ve never had these problems, and yet you’ve only been on the job how long?†She put a hand on her hip and cocked her head to the side. “Maybe something should be done about that. If I’m such a perfect leader, and you’ve made all these mistakes-.â€


“You want the job? Take it.†He spat.


Drea’s fist came down and slammed onto the desk. “That’s not the point, Mehrin! The point is, there are 14,000 people out there that you are in charge of. 13,000 are all either runaways or were abandoned as children. 4,000 of those have probably killed someone before they arrived, if not more than one person. And don’t you dare sit there and tell me that you’re the only one in this band to love someone and then lose them. I’ve lost more than I think you’re aware, Commander, and I suggest you drag yourself out of this drunken state and realize it. You are not alone and you are not the only one who is suffering. So don’t sit there and pout, telling me that I don't understand."

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All Mehrin could do was stare at the woman whom he had called in to chastise and wonder how their positions had been reversed. His mouth worked noiselessly, his brain ran through all the possible reactions. "That's insubordination, Captain." "You will have respect for this rank." "You're speaking without permission." "Get. Out."


Again, Mehrin opened his mouth, the words fully formed in his mind. "Do you even realize who I am?" Before he could ask the question, though, a quiet, yet firm voice answered. Do you? You may be thinking 'Commander' or any other load of titles, but do you really know who you are? You're a bloody drunk. Mehrin's mouth closed with a click, the anger draining from his eyes and face, pulling with it any supposed clarity of mind. He slowly became aware of a few simple matters. Like the queasiness in his belly and the foggy nature of his thoughts. "Excuse me," Mehrin slurred as he stood and walked out of the office without a second glance at a surprised-looking Drea.


The officer on duty looked oddly at Mehrin as he staggered through the lobby, ignoring the various questions and greetings that flew towards him as he walked out the main door and into the street. Around the corner of the building Mehrin staggered, one hand on the wall as he went, his eyes locked on the rain barrel near the rear corner. "If I'm going to argue this, I'm going to do it with a clear head," he mumbled, resting his hands on the rim of the barrel and staring at his reflection. "You bloody fool," Mehrin said to the face staring up from the water before plunging his head into the barrel.



His steps steadier, Mehrin walked back into his office, his hair darkened by the water still in it, his face dripping, his shirt soaked. There was quite a bit of laughter as he had entered the lobby again, yet he paid it no mind. He gave Drea a small, embarassed smile as he sat down again. "Now, we were busy discussing how much of an idiot I am, if I recall correctly?" Leaning forward on the desk, Mehrin ignored the water dripping on the reports in front of him, blurring the ink. "I keep forgetting what rank you held, and I apologize for that."


His voice hardened again. "However, it isn't the same. They may have seen what I have seen and felt what I have felt, yet they don't have this on top of it all," Mehrin said, waving his hand to encompass the office. "I can understand where you're coming from, but surely you can see why I need that." Mehrin pointed across the room to a bookshelf. Or, more specifically, to the bottle on the top shelf. "If I don't relieve the pressure somehow, I'm afraid that I'll snap."

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Drea ran her hands over her face and let out an exacerbated groan. She plopped into a chair in front of Mehrin and let out a long deep sigh. The wheels turning in her head as she just looked at him. Was there any way to convince him he was better off without the drink? He was the Commander and therefore had a responsibility toward every single one of those soldiers. What sort of example is he setting? If he could be drunk while on duty- which was all the time- then what was stopping everyone else? They could be the Band of the Bloody Drunk Hand!


"There is one thing you've been right about, Mehrin, and that's the position I've held. Thus, I no longer have authority over most people, especially yourself. And for that I apologize." She starred at him, unsure of what to say next. Her smirk returned


"You want this?" Drea stood and walked to the book shelf he pointed to earlier. The bottle was on the very top, too far for Drea to reach, but she tried anyway, knowing full well of the stretch of her body. Finally reaching it, she took the bottle down and held it at the neck. Drea turned slowly, swinging the bottle back and forth from her wrist. "Or do you want relief?" She started walking slowly toward him, never taking her eyes off him. She saw the lust in his eyes, the lust for the drink, and the smirk on her lips grew. She reached the desk and set the bottle down firmly, watching Mehrin jump at the bang. Ignoring any nervousness he showed- she swallowed hers hard- Drea aproached his chair, standing closer than she would otherwise, her hands at her side and her head tilted down to look at him. She lifted a knee and set it between Mehrin's leg and the arm of the chair. Pushing the chair to lean against the wall so the front legs were in the air, she lifted her other knee and placed it between Mehrin's other leg and the chair's padded arm.


With her hands on either side of Mehrin's head, she leaned down closely to whisper in his left ear "You know there are things besides drinking that will give you relief." She leaned back, pulling the chair legs back to the floor and stood. Her arm reached back then quickly swung forward, palm making contact with Mehrin's cheek. Perhaps that would wake him up. "You just need to find it." She turned around, knocking the bottle off the desk and hearing it shatter as she opened the door to leave.


The guard outside the door jumped at the sound of the bottle breaking. Drea chuckled at the perplexed face of the recruit as she fastened the last button of her shirt, the button that had been left open since she put it on that morning. She barked her order just loud enough so Mehrin could hear. "Make sure he gets only water from now on. Here and in his room. If I so much as find any alcohol in his posession I will hold you personally responsible for attempted murder of your Commander." She stormed out of the office building. She had more important things to worry about than a man who didn't want to listen to her anyway. However, if he didn't change his attitude, she wouldn't be with this band much longer anyway.

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His left cheek still burning, Mehrin stared at the door that Drea had slammed on her way out. Her order came through the solid wood, but Mehrin couldn't even think clearly enough to register what had been said. Or, at least, for the following ten seconds. Mehrin was on his feet as soon as he could find them again. Pacing the room, he thought about what Drea had said. "There are things besides drinking that will give you relief. You just need to find them."


When Anya had been alive, Mehrin had not had this problem. Those few weeks that she'd been there when all of this had started, the pressure had not been so bad. A simple word, a kiss when he needed it, more... He had never crawled into the bottle to hide from it until after Emond's Field, when she could no longer help him. The bottle took the place of Anya in my life. The best thing I ever had was replaced by mere alcohol! If she was here, she'd stab me. "Anya," Mehrin muttered, "its probably a good thing that you and Drea Raylin never met."


The soldier that Drea had ordered earlier walked in to find Mehrin striding towards the heavy glass bottle that he kept the wine in for special guests. "Commander, I'm sorry, but I can't let you have that. Banner Captain Raylin's orders."


Mehrin looked at the man for a moment before saying, "Yeah, well this is Mehrin Deathwatch, a slightly inebriated and very irritable man, telling you that if you take one step closer, I'll toss you out in the street the same way I tossed that whining noble earlier." That gave the man a reason to pause. Mehrin seized ahold of the bottle and turned towards the door, nearly running over the confused guard, who turned to follow with a confused look on his face.


With his glistening hair and soaked shirt, Mehrin looked quite the sight as he stepped out into the street. His eyes scanned the crowd before locking onto a woman striding off into the distance. Cupping his hands around his mouth, Mehrin shouted at the figure, "Drea! You win!" Not even looking to see if he'd been heard, Mehrin turned his attention to the stone wall on the other side of the street. The crowd seemed to part as they saw his arm draw back. With as much strength as he could muster, Mehrin hurled the bottle at the wall. The heavy glass didn't stand a chance. Without a backward glance, Mehrin turned and walked back into his office and sat down behind his desk.


The guard, now completely and utterly confused, took a moment to follow Mehrin in and ask what was going on, but Mehrin wasn't paying attention. His eyes were fixed on where the bottle had been. He sighed heavily and muttered, "Oh, Light, what have I done?"

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Making her way through the crowd wasn't near as hard as she thought it would be. Perhaps the scowl on her face parted the sea of people for her.


"Drea, you won!" Mehrin shouted from his office building. It definately took him longer to come out than she expected.


Drea smiled from ear to ear and put an extra little hop to her step. She won. Of course I won, Mehrin, dear. I'll always win. She made a quick mental note to check up on that guard in the morning, and set off on her way to finish the reports sitting on her desk.

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