A day short of a week had passed. Not much had honestly been done, except for Mike just lounging in his sun baked rock of a bed as he tried to "relax," and "take it easy," concepts that almost became foreign to him when he lived in Tao Village.
Say, speaking of living in Tao Village, was he really going to go back there? He knew that he obliged to Fresnel and Maple before he left... but, was it really a promise that he was bound to? What if Mike never returned to Tao Village? Sure, more than a handful of people... well, no, more like almost everyone would think poorly of him, but then again, it wasn't like he wasn't always being judged either way...? Agh, too complicated. Mike knew he had a lot of qualms he needed to figure out and decide upon, but the easiest thing to decide and act upon was to fill his stomach. It's dinner time, and he was hungry for another fresh egg.
That had been the schedule with him and his mother after their grand 'Welcome Home' dinner, never see each other the whole day until it was either breakfast, lunch, or dinner, and only then would they see each other and eat a short meal and go back to their respective rooms. Mike still didn't feel like being talkative, and that was bad. It created an unnecessary tension in the household... maybe one day, like tomorrow, he'd be a little more open with his mother... or maybe..? Wait, where is she? She was nowhere to be seen around the dinner table.
Mike wandered around the house, and looked through the other rooms, not in the guest room, nor her own Room, or Maple's... how about... um, maybe the outhouse outside? No, maybe he should just wait at the dinner table, a good idea. That is, if it didn't become obvious that she was in the cellar as she roared in disgust. What was going on in there? Mike ran down to the cellar to see his mother fervently spitting at the floor with an unmarked bottle in her hand.
"Tarnation! This is awful, ugh augh awfull!!!" Syrup was doing all her best to remove the foul taste from her mouth that she even began licking her furry arm as a sort of makeshift brush.
"Uhm... Mom? What's going on?" Mike walked down the stairs into the cellar with increased curiosity.
"Nnnn? Ohth, helloth thereth Mihkey-bhoy." Syrup's unusually colored tongue hanged out of of her mouth as she tried her best to talk. "Holdth onth, can yah handth meh someth wotter?" Syrup pointed toward the faucet that was situated off to the corner of the cellar, and Mike got the idea and poured some water into a bucket.
Syrup glugged down the water, swished it in her mouth, and then spit it back out into the bucket. "Ahhhhhhhh finally! That taste wer' more rancid than that mukshake ah had back then as a dare! Khaha... did I ever tell ya that one, Mikey-boy?"
That sounded like a terrible story to stomach right before dinner and Mike couldn't bear to hear it at the moment. "Maybe some other time mom... but uh, how about you tell me what the kheh you were doing here?"
"Oh... thissin'... well, when you an' Maple left me to live in Tao Village, I up an' got bored an' decided to try some hobbies or two..." Syrup held up the bottle she had in her hand. "This here's some of what I made but, well, as you can see, it skunked an' it's awful. Maybe I shoulda' looked at it before leapin' in."
Mike was handed the bottle and he looked at it's contents. It was as purple as his mother's fur, but there was a sickly tinge of brown and green and other unsavory colors as he looked at it closer. He knew that brews of many liquor were of many bright, dark, and flavorful colors that came from the berries as he saw them on Hops' shelves, but this looked absolutely awful.
"Yeah, don' drink that. It's awful and it's so coarse it's like molasses. It'll stick to yer tongue bleeeehhhhh..." Syrup took the bottle from Mike's hand and threw it in the bucket, shattering the glass flask. "Yeah, good thing that were jus' one o' many. I hope the others' I made oughta 'ferment' better than this one." Syrup pointed behind her toward a crate labelled 'BREW' full of large corked glass flasks. "Allright then, let's git' up an' double up on dinner tonight. But... hey Mikey-boy, how about we talk about you tonight?"
As Mike walked up the stairs, he couldn't bare to think about that, much less talk about it. "I don't know mom, maybe... I'm gonna go get the table all set up." Mike hurried up the stairs to prepare the dinner table."That's how it's gonna be, eh, Mikey-boy?"
Syrup was less than amused at that reaction, and impatience got the best of her as she grabbed a large jug from a crate labelled 'Gambitville Sundries.' "Tonight's gonna be a special night..."
"Oooooookay~!" Syrup carried the jug with her upstairs as she went to (barely) prepare dinner for the both of them.
Tonight's dinner was the same as it was, just double the helping of raw eggs, stale biscuits (from the town store), and beef jerky (also from the town store), but Mike didn't mind. As long as the eggs had their savory yolk, he didn't mind if they were raw or not. But regardless of dinner, no talking ever happened during the course of it, until...
"Urp... thanks mom, that was tasty! I guess it's time to hit the sack.. lat--!!" Mike tried to slink away from the chair but was stopped by his mother.
"Nuh uh, you ain't goin' nowhere tonight. It's time we did a talk, heart to heart, my way!" Syrup sat Mike back down as she slammed a large corked ceramic jug into the middle of the table with two glass cups. "Wer' drinkin' tonight, an' I plenty know that if you get to drinkin' then yer lips will be looser than a Loudred's!"
"Kheh... what?! N-no way mom, I know you love drinking a whole lot, but I don't think it's fit for me, not right now either, I'm not even in the mood!" Mike tried to get up from his chair, but was interrupted as his mother laid her claw on his shoulder forcibly.
"Now Mikey-boy... I think ya've been easin' yerself a lil' too much lately, so you should lissen' to your mother's advice, 'specially now, more then ever!" Syrup put on an assuring, if somewhat intimidating, look at Mike. The latter definitely worked as Mike didn't even want to look at her face directly. But as he could open his mouth to speak, his mother preemptively stopped him. "Now now... you remember what happens if ya don't listen to yer mother... I'm sure ya don't want the Spittoon Treatment again, now do ya?!"
Mike reeled back and abandoned all hope for escaping drinking times with his mother. Nothing was worse than the spittoon treatment, and he didn't want to relive it. Belligerent children who talked back to their mother or behaved poorly often had their punishments, such as their mouth washed with soap... that is, if they had normal mothers. Syrup was different, she knew the best punishment would be the one that would not only make her children think not only twice, but at least ten times before committing what she would consider a misdeed after they suffered from it. The spittoon treatment was a vile punishment indeed, as she would spit into a glass laced with her potent purplish poison, and have the guilty forced to drink it. It wasn't the fact that it was gross, but it was more so that the poison would wrack their innards, guaranteeing them to be out of commission for a few days. "N-no... I'll drink with you, if you put it like that..."
"Khaha!! Well now..." Syrup grabbed the large ceramic jug and uncorked it. "Pick yer fav'rite glass and bring it here!"
Mike simply grabbed one of the two similar glasses and brought it closer to Syrup as she poured an opaque, indigo liquid into it. "Oh... figures it'd be Cornnbon Whiskey, it's her favorite..."
He brought the cup to him only to stare at it, wishing it to be anything else to make this occasion... 'special', even if he didn't want it.
"Well... git goin'!! That drink ain't gonna git in yer belly all by itself!" Syrup nudged Mike in the shoulder to incite a reaction from him.
"Y-yeah... I will..." Mike didn't really drink much... as he was fairly new at it. The last (and first time) he drank was back in Tao Village during its Guild Appreciation Day, but that was only very light drinking. It was only to feel the fizz and such, as Chill and others were drinking in spirit of the party. "Well, might as well do it, anything beats mom's spit."
Mike swiveled the colorful drink into his maw to down it as fast as possible.
It was... sweet, but mostly dry. He would've appreciated those flavors... if only they weren't being masked by a terrible burn alcohol usually inflicts. Mike almost gagged, but managed the down the entire glass in one gulp.
"Khaha!! Good, good!! Felt great eh? Put a little ha-- er... scales, on yer... scales, right? Well here, it's time for a second glass!"
Mike panted from the shock of the taste as he gave the glass to her to pour more of the same excruciating brew for him to swallow. "Ugh, MORE?! I don't wanna do this anymore..."
He pulled the filled glass back to him and gulped it down once again. Still the same burn, but it felt... less intense than before, but he didn't pay it any mind as he started feeling... strange. His arms and legs felt lighter, and so did his head... was this what being drunk was like? It felt surreal... but, a bit nice at the same time.
"Whoah there... I think yer almost there mikey-boy, but ah think another glass or two oughta do the trick!" Syrup continued pouring Mike more glasses of the cornnbon whiskey and then she began drinking it herself straight from the jug (without the use of a glass).
Mike downed his third and fourth glass with ease, no longer troubled with the sting of alcohol, and continued to feel distant and calm.
"Woah... that's... different." Syrup was surprised by the flame on Mike's tail. As his mother, she noticed the many emotions Mike had as he grew up, and the way the fire on his tail responded to such emotions. This, however, was new to her, as the flame itself looked... calm.
"How ya doin' there, Mikey-boy?"
"I... I'mmmmmm feelin' pretty good!" Mike was drunk, alright. "Man... this feels... so weird but amazing. No wonder you drink a lot!"
"Mmhmm..." Syrup put her lips to the jar's mouth to guzzle more of the cornnbon whiskey. "So... Mikey-boy, how's about tellin' me why ya came back? No no... wait, how about... how was Tao Village like? Start there." Syrup's crude plan revealed itself.
Part 7 of "Reprieve" by