Kristen - Quality Time
Kristen and Riz don’t spend a lot of time together. Of the Bad Kids, they don’t tend to have a lot in common. Riz is usually crazy busy with his Criminal Justice and Rogue courses at the Adventuring University, jumping between the two and hoping no one notices that he’s mostly running on black coffee and whatever sweets he can coerce out of the vending machines, and Kristen dived right into organizing and running the Church of Doubt, Tracker at her side and question-mark earrings hanging from her lobes.
But, on the rare morning when they’re both at the Bad Kid House on the edge of campus, when they’re bleary-eyed and yawning as they stand by the too-expensive coffee machine Fabian bought Riz when they moved in together, Riz always realizes how much he actually likes Kristen.
When the machine finally gurgles and fills their cups, they both silently move to the porch, where the sun is making its way over the horizon. It’s beautiful, as it always is on these spring mornings, and the coffee is strong and bold and smooth. For just a second, Riz closes his eyes and lets the steam fog up his glasses, relaxing his shoulders.
Minutes pass in silence and sips of coffee, until Riz’s watch beeps and, sighing, he downs the rest of it. Kristen does the same, cracking her neck, and following him back into the kitchen. They place their cups into the sink and she grabs a muffin from the plate on the counter. So does he, eager to have something in his stomach before he gets back to cracking his current case.
“Have a good day, Riz,” she says to him. “Take it easy.”
“You, too, Kristen,” he responds, smiling at her before heading into his room.
She smiles back.
Fig - Acts of Service
Riz isn’t used to people doing things for him. Other than his mom, of course.
And Fig isn’t the sort to spend a lot of her time sitting around. She’s an actual, bonafide rockstar, and a Bard/Barbarian/Warlock. She’s busy and she likes being busy. But, when finals come up and they all spend their nights with all their textbooks sitting around them in the living room, Fig is the first to jump up, grabbing the coffee pot to fill up their mugs, well into the night.
And, when Riz outlasts all of his friends, furiously scribbling red lines between clues and pieces of evidence and doing his best to ignore Kristen’s snoring and the weight of Fabian’s head on his shoulder, Fig continues to fill his cup, eyes red from exhaustion as well as her infernal bloodline.
“Thank you,” he whispers to her, uncapping a new highlighter.
Her own studying probably finished hours ago, but she nods, eyes drooping even as she writes lyrics into the new notebook Gilear sent her in the mail. She smiles at him, eyeliner smeared, and says, “Of course, Riz. Let me know when you need a refill. I have another pot going, now.”
From his spot on the couch, he reads the lyrics:
Cups of coffee at midnight/A hundred nightmares/A thousand frights/But none as strong as what we’ve brewed between us...
Gorgug - Words of Affirmation
The money from Kalvaxis doesn’t last forever, but it does pay for years and years of Riz’s private office. Between classes, between exams and interrogations and the strange, mini-adventures they find themselves involved in on the weekends, Riz will spend a lot of time in the office alone. He will spend a lot of time drinking old, cold coffee from styrofoam cups, especially when there’s a mystery he just can’t figure out.
On days like that, which aren’t too uncommon, unfortunately, Gorgug will stop by. He will come from the nice coffee shop across the street, two coffees in hand, usually with espresso mixed in, and a bag of pastries with some fruit in them.
Taking one for himself, Gorgug will always pass the bag to Riz. “Hey, man, scurvy’s not a joke. Fabian’s always worrying that you’re not getting proper vitamins, and, like, I know these aren’t the healthiest, but there’s gotta be some in here.”
Riz will barely look away from the wall of clues with red string between them to thank him, nervously chewing on his nails. He has to figure this out. He has to. Everyone is relying on him to do it! It’s important, so important, always important--
“Riz,” Gorgug will say, frowning at him as he places a heavy hand on his shoulder and hands him the cup of coffee with the other. “I know your work is very important. We all do. We appreciate how hard you work for us. Like, you are so smart and you’re so good at figuring these things out. You’re gonna get it, man. You always do. We trust you. You can do this.”
And Riz will look away from the clues, first down to the coffee and pastries in his hands, and then up at Gorgug. His throat will be dry and his eyes will get a little teary. “I--” he swallows. “Thanks, Gorgug. That means a lot.”
“You’ve got this,” the Half-Orc will say, grinning at him. “We trust you.”
Riz will grin back at him, taking a bite of the strawberry pastries and washing it back with the coffee. It’ll be strong--really fucking strong--but it’ll be hot and flavorful and it’ll wake up his brain and, within the hour, Riz will put the clues together and they’ll both rush off to inform the rest of the Bad Kids, Gorgug’s words bouncing around Riz’s brain and giving him the confidence to figure out the rest of the puzzle.
Adaine - Physical Touch
Riz and Adaine have very different relationships with family. Besides the obvious differences in their parents--with hers being the actual worst and his being the best--they had completely different ideas about siblings.
Adaine’s relationship with her sister was getting better, but there would always be a layer of tension, a layer created after years and years of bullying and complacency with the way their parents treated her and betrayal.
And Riz? Well, unfortunately, he was an only child. As a kid, he always dreamed of having a little sibling, someone to drag on adventures and teach all the cool things he learned about solving cases, but, obviously, it was best left to dreams.
But, since high school, when the rest of the Bad Kids were busy or just at their own houses, when Adaine was staying over at the Gukgak residence, they would curl up with each other, mugs of coffee in their hands and a big bowl of popcorn balanced between their thighs, and just read together.
The rest of the group, with the occasional exception of Kristin, didn’t care much for investigation or knowledge acquisition, but this was one of Riz’s favorite ways of spending a Friday night. Adaine wasn’t as jittery as Riz, ever, but her nails felt nice against his scalp as he read and flipped the pages while she used Detect Thoughts on him.
This week it was The History of Pirating in Spyre: The Pirate’s Way of Life
“Are we gonna talk about why you picked this volume this week?” she asks quietly, not stopping her head scratches. He knows the question is genuine, coming from Adaine. If it was Fig or Kristen or even Fabian, it could be read as rhetorical. But not with Adaine. She would give him space if he needed it. “Or do you need more time?”
He thinks about the question, letting the soft pads of her fingertips and the warmth of the coffee in his hands relax him. Does he need more time to solve his own mystery, to collect enough clues about himself? Or is he just avoiding the answer?
Sighing, he nods. “More time, I think.”
Her touch is gentle and soothing. Friendly. Comforting.
Like the sister he’s always wanted.
She kisses the top of his head. “Whatever you need, Riz. Just let me know.”
Fabian - Gift Giving
“The Ball, you haven’t answered my calls! I was afraid something had happened to you!” Fabian calls, bursting into Riz’s apartment, carrying a designer drink carrier with three cups of coffee from Fantasy Starbucks. His own cup is bright green, and, without even having to think about it much, Riz knows it’s a frozen matcha latte with oat milk and two pumps of chai and whip cream with a caramel drizzle. One of the drinks Fabian created to torture Gilear but accidentally ended up loving. The other two are for Riz. Both black coffees with an extra shot of espresso. “Thank god I’ve arrived! Are you drinking coffee from the police station? It’s Sunday! You haven’t been in the precinct since Friday! Oh, god, The Ball! Here, take this immediately!”
“Uh, hi, Fabian,” Riz says, blinking at him as the Half-Elf makes himself comfortable on his couch. He sprawls, as he always does, and immediately takes all the drinks out of the carrier. Riz looks down at his crystal, frowning when the dead battery symbol shows up. “Sorry, my crystal is dead.”
“Simply unacceptable, The Ball!” Fabian sighs, oh-so-put-upon. “We’re adventures! We need to be able to get into contact with each other at any moment! What if I had needed your skills and techniques in investigation to solve a grand, time-sensitive mystery? You would have missed it! You absolutely must charge your crystal.”
Riz winces. Fabian’s right. Especially after everything that happened sophomore year of high school, Fabian was always a bit panicked when one of them didn’t answer immediately. There was one instance, in particular, when Gorgug didn’t answer for a few hours because he’d dropped his crystal in the toilet, and Fabian had been sick with worry.
“Sorry, Fabian,” he says, sighing and joining Fabian on the couch. He slumps into it, rubbing his eyes with the heels of his hands. “I’m exhausted. I’ve got this crazy new case that I’m working for the Silesian-Fallinel task force with Adaine and I just can’t figure out how they’re getting the cursed weapons passed our wards on the borders--”
Fabian frowns, leaning in closer to look at Riz’s face. “Have you been sleeping at all?”
Riz shrugs. “Only when I pass out from exhaustion.”
“The Ball,” Fabian admonishes. “You can’t keep this up forever. I think, instead of the coffee, a nap may be in order.”
And, honestly, if it was anyone else asking, Riz would protest. This was his job. Lives were at risk. People were counting on him. The usual excuses. But Fabian isn’t just anyone. He’s his best friend and, despite all his posturing, Riz knows that he’s actually worried about it.
“A nap does sound nice,” Riz admits, yawning. “Sorry for not charging my crystal.”
“It’s no matter,” Fabian says, reaching into his bag to pull out some kind of expensive-looking device. Riz squints at it from beneath heavy eyelids, but Fabian explains. “It’s a new crystal, The Ball. It has a backup battery, which means, even if it dies, it still maintains enough energy for you to take calls to an emergency contact. I, of course, already entered my own information into--”
“Fabian,” Riz protests, cheeks turning dark green. “You can’t just buy me a new crystal--”
“But I already did, The Ball!” Fabian interrupts, rolling his eyes as he stands up from the couch, offering him a hand. Riz looks at it skeptically. “I’ll charge it while we nap. Come on, now. There’s no point in hurting our necks, napping on the couch when we can nap in your bed.”
Riz blushes even harder, stammering, “Fabian--I have work--You brought coffee--”
Fabian pulls him toward the bedroom. “Work and the coffee will be there in the morning. Or, even better, I can buy us new drinks! Maybe get you to drink something with actual flavor, rather than that sludge!”
Fabian is, whether the other Bad Kids would believe it or not, always gentle with Riz, and he’s even more so now that Riz is so tired that he can hardly keep his eyes open. Fabian herds him to the bedroom, hands callused but a comfort as they take off Riz’s glasses and watch and gets them both in bed, before covering them with the comforter.
“Thank you for my new crystal,” Riz whispers, locking their fingers together.
“You’re very welcome, The Ball.”
Mostly asleep and with Fabian curled around him, arm heavy around his waist and breath on his neck, Riz manages to repeat, “Coffee in the morning?”
Fabian’s voice is soft as he answers, “Yeah, Riz, coffee in the morning.”