I woke up Saturday afternoon to a phone call. My head was pounding and I shoved away the empty beer cans littering, not only my body but the floor, couch, and coffee table as I groped for my missing phone. I didn’t manage to find it when whoever was calling got sent to voicemail and from the deep sigh, I already knew who it was.
“If you’re passed out drunk, I am taking you to AA for real this time,” Carson’s digitally distorted voice echoed from the floor. I got to my knees and peeked under the couch. There it was.
“Call me when you get this,” Carson ended the message just as I managed to grab my phone.
I quickly called him up and he was quick to answer as always.
“I’m not an alcoholic,” I said, cringing at how hoarse I sounded and cleared my throat as I got to my feet and headed to the kitchen for some cool water.
“That’s just what an alcoholic would say,” Carson replied. “The first step to recovery is acceptance. Now, say it with me, I am an alcoholic.”
I sighed exaggeratedly as I filled up a glass from the tap, “Carson is an alcoholic.”
“Very funny, goddamn comedian. Why waste your talents as a graphic designer when you could be in Vegas?”
“Because the last time I went to Vegas, some girl threw up on me and then tried to steal my wallet while her friend attempted to prostitute himself to me.”
“Whatever. Anyway, just reminding you to get your ass ready because we’re meeting at Deano’s at six. You have a little under four hours to clear up your hangover, brush your teeth, shower, change, and check up on Lesley to see if he’s going to meet us there or going with you.”
I rolled my eyes and drank deeply from my glass before replying, “Yes, mother. You gonna tell me to clean my room and take out the trash?”
“Someone’s gotta make sure you’re taking care of yourself. And actually, when was the last time you took out your trash?”
The sad part was, Carson was being serious, and I couldn’t remember if I had taken out the trash at all during the past month. Or the past two months.
“Last week,” I lied, and then rushed on before he could call me out on it, “and I gotta go get ready and shit so I’ll see you and Tim at Deano’s. Bye!”
I finished off my water and left the glass in the sink and my phone on the counter – yes, I almost put my phone in the sink too but I didn’t and that’s what matters – before heading off to my bathroom to do as Mother Carson said.
I was showered and dressed within the hour and irritated because I was out of painkillers. I grabbed my phone again and dialed up Lesley.
“Afternoon, Jack,” Lesley said once the line connected.
“Hey, Lesley, just wondering if you were going to meet us there or coming with me,” I said.
“I was hoping you’d let me go with you. I’ve got no idea where Deano’s is.”
“Alrighty, you can come on over now if you want. Oh, and on your way do you mind picking up a pack of painkillers for me?” I asked sweetly.
“You alright?” Lesley immediately turned concerned.
I eased his worries, “Yeah, yeah, fine. Had a bit too much to drink last night and am in the midst of a hangover without any painkillers.”
Lesley snorted, “Geez. Well, I’ll buy you some aspirins or ibuprofen on my way over. Text me your address and then make yourself some toast or eat cereal. And drink plenty of water.”
“You know,” I chuckled, “I distinctly remember having only one mother. Not three.”
“I’ll see you in a bit, Jack,” Lesley replied before cutting the call. I quickly texted Lesley my address. If he didn’t have any trouble, it would only take him around twenty or so minutes by walking. We lived pretty close to each other surprisingly enough.
I set about doing as Mother Lesley ordered. I slipped two slices of bread into my toaster and grabbed a bowl of cereal while I waited for the bread to toast. I was lying on my couch after eating and drinking plenty of water, my headache slightly more manageable, when my doorbell rang.
I opened the door and let Lesley inside, taking the pharmacy bag from him.
“Nice place,” he commented blandly.
I rolled my eyes as I went to the kitchen to grab another glass of water, “So it’s not rainbow painted like your place. To each his own, Les.”
“But you could use some color here. Everything’s so…white. Actually, it’s not even white, it’s off-white, and you’ve got the most boring furniture I’ve ever seen.”
I sighed as I downed two pills and left the box in a drawer before walking out and leaning against the wall that separated my kitchen from the rest of the room. “You know, a guest doesn’t usually bitch and moan about the host’s taste in wallpaper or furniture.”
Lesley sent me a disarming grin and shrugged.
“Want anything to drink?” I asked, shaking my head at him.
“I’m good,” he replied, flopping down on my couch. “What time’re we meeting your friends again?”
“In about three hours. We should leave in two and a half or so,” I replied, plopping down next to him and grabbing the remote to turn on the TV. Disney Channel was the last channel I was on so some show with that girl from The Suite Life on Deck, I believe, was on the screen with an alligator? What on earth were kids watching nowadays?
“Pass the remote,” Lesley said before leaning over me to grab at the object. He got it from my hands – I was too surprised and not prepared okay? – and opened up the channel listings menu, scrolling through.
“What are you looking for?” I asked.
“Sweet! You have it,” he grinned, ignoring me completely. I looked to the screen and frowned as I saw him select Animax. The screen changed and a boy with pink hair was…eating fire and there was a blue cat with wings?
“I give up,” I decided, sinking back into the couch.
Lesley spared me a brief glance before focusing back on the cartoon. “On what?”
“Understanding television and cartoons. Was the shit I watched when I was younger as weird as the stuff now is? I mean, at least Nick has SpongeBob.”
“Anime, not cartoons. This is an anime,” Lesley corrected with his selective hearing.
I just went with it and Lesley gave me a brief explanation of the show. It sounded interesting eventually and there was this guy that had ice powers who was a serial stripper. For drawings, the characters were pretty hot though. If the orange haired guy, ice guy, or even the pink haired guy were real people, I’d be interested. The blond chick’s boobs though were borderline ridiculous but Lesley explained the whole fan service concept. And the fact that the blond chick and pink haired dude were his OTP – One True Pairing, a term in the fandom world I would have likely been ignorant of to my death had I never met Lesley. He had several in the show. He ‘shipped’ the red haired BAMF with some dude called Jellal who wasn’t in the episodes we watched, this bookworm blue haired girl and a black haired guy with a ton of piercings, and the orange haired guy I’d bang if he was real with a pink haired chick with ram horns.
I learned a lot by the time we decided to leave.
“You been to Deano’s before?” Lesley asked as I locked up my apartment.
“No, Carson went there for a meeting with our boss and a client. Said it was nice and not overly fancy so the coffee date he wanted turned into a late lunch.”
The walk to Deano’s took longer than I thought it would because Lesley got distracted. Multiple times.
“Lesley,” I shook my head in amusement. “And I thought I was the kid.”
“But, Jack,” he whined. “She was gorgeous.”
“You said that about every single one you laid eyes on,” I drawled, opening the door to Deano’s and letting Lesley enter first.
Lesley had made us stop in front of practically every music store we passed, fawning over guitars. He was borderline crude about his descriptions of what he’d do with each instrument but in a corny, obsessive lover sort of way. I made sure to make fun of him for it.
Lesley pouted and turned his head away from me, sulking dramatically. It was cute. A green mohawked man with an abundance of piercing pouting with his arms crossed over a tight, tattered sleeveless shirt.
I clapped his shoulder and leaned up to peck his cheek after pinching it, “C’mon, Carson’s grimacing at us.”
We made our way to the table for four that Carson was sat at.
“Yo,” I greeted. “I’m assuming Tim’s not here yet because your face is the picture of disappointment.”
Carson rolled his eyes, “Shut up.”
I grinned and looked to Lesley, pretending to whisper, “He was so hoping that Tim would arrive before us so they’d get time alone.”
Lesley chuckled and Carson crumpled a tissue and threw it at me. I grabbed it from where it had landed on the floor after hitting my shoulder and threw it back at him. He threw it at me again. I did the same. We repeated this, getting progressively more aggressive until Lesley snatched the tissue and tucked it into his pocket.
“Children, behave,” he chided. “Neither of you are getting this back. And don’t touch the rest of the tissues or you both get a time out.”
“He started it!” I complained.
“You were asking for it,” Carson grumped.
Lesley laughed, “You two are adorable. Anyway, I’m Lesley and you must be Carson.”
The two shook hands over the table as Carson nodded, “Yeah. Nice to meet you although I have to say, your getup sure is something. You remind me of Jack when we first met.”
Lesley glanced at me with an amused quirk to his lips, “Really? I wanna hear this story.”
I rolled my eyes, “It’s nothing horribly incriminating so stop looking at me like that.”
“Jack was an ‘emo-punk’ kid in high school. Neon colored mohawk, studded and slashed clothes, jeans so tight I’m surprised his balls are still functional, pretty much everything except for piercings and tattoos.”
Lesley laughed, “Wow. Wish I could’ve seen. You guys’ve known each other since high school then?”
“No,” I replied. “We met in college. Got assigned as roommates and our high school façades took a little while to fade. Carson was a ‘bad boy’ in high school and he took longer than me to shed that look.”
Lesley raised a brow at that and cocked his head to the side as he observed Carson. “I can sorta see it. Leather jackets, smoking, motorcycle, troublemaker?” he mused.
“I didn’t smoke nor was I a trouble maker. It was more of a look. People dug bad boys back then.”
I rested my elbow on the table and cupped the side of my face, smirking, “And now do they dig sexually aggressive secretaries? And by ‘they’ I mean cute little bunny-puppy-men that lead you around by your balls.”
Carson glared at me then looked to Lesley, “Can I please throw something at him?”
“You throw something at me I’ll throw it back,” I warned.
“You can throw handfuls of air at each other,” Lesley stated, and by his tone I could tell he thought we would leave it at that.
Carson and I didn’t even hesitate to motion throwing invisible objects at each other.
Lesley’s laughter was the soundtrack to our air ball fight. Yes, Carson and I were grown ass men in our late twenties and not a pair of five year olds.
“I feel like I’m interrupting something.”
The three of us looked up to see Tim looking adorably confused. His brow was furrowed but his lips were curved upwards.
“Hey, Tim. How’ve you been?” I waved, gesturing for him to take a seat. Carson, ever the gentleman, got out of his seat to pull out Tim’s. Tim thanked him with a blush and Carson pecked his cheek, deepening the blush. They were sickeningly sweet and not even officially together yet.
Lesley had a brow raised and shot me a look to which I shook my head and rolled my eyes.
“Hey, Jack, I’m doing good. How are you? Especially after what happened on Monday.”
I smiled to ease his worry, “I’m fine. Carson’s already filled you in, I’m guessing, and we’re both fit as fiddles. Anyway, introductions. Tim, this is Lesley. Lesley, Tim.”
They made their quick introductions and Tim immediately asked about Lesley’s art and music. Lesley was happy to talk about his passions while Carson watched Tim and I observed the three of them. Tim was firing question after question, his eagerness immensely adorable. Carson’s expression was steadily growing darker the more Tim leaned in and focused on Lesley’s words.
I waited, biting back a grin, for Carson to snap in his silly little jealous fit.
“You into music and art?” Lesley eventually got a question in instead of answers.
“Oh, no not really,” Tim replied. “I’ve got no artistic talent like that.”
“Then why so eager?” Carson asked, throwing a possessive arm around Tim’s small shoulders. He glared at Lesley over the bunny-puppy-human’s head.
Lesley inched closer to me and I bit down on my tongue to prevent the laughter that was bubbling up inside me.
Tim flushed, “Sorry, one of my authors started a new story that centers on various types of artists. I get caught up in backstories and technical details sometimes so…”
Lesley grinned, “No need to apologize for being passionate about your work. And I love talking about music and art. Come down to the studio sometime, I’ll show you around and be the judge of if you have no artistic talent as you so claim.”
Carson was just about to explode. He turned his glare to me as if this was somehow my fault. So maybe it was a bit for introducing Lesley to them, but it’s not like Lesley was planning on stealing Tim. Carson was just being stupidly possessive.
“How about we order? I’m starved,” I announced. Everyone agreed and we soon ordered with our drinks coming by not too long later.
Conversation turned lighter and Carson’s scowl was reduced to a mild threatening glance in Lesley’s direction.
“What’s your natural hair color?” Tim asked Lesley.
I blinked, then turned to the man in question, “Yeah, actually. What is it? I can’t imagine you with normal hair.”
Lesley chuckled, “I’ve had ‘odd’ colored hair for years. I think the last time it was my natural color was back in middle school or something. But I’m naturally a brunet. A little lighter than you, Tim, if I remember correctly.”
Carson directed a smirk at me, “Always the brunets, huh, Jack.”
I rolled my eyes, “Oh shut up. I didn’t even know I had a thing for brunets until like two weeks ago.”
“Have all your relationships really been with brunets?” Tim asked curiously.
I shrugged, “Now that I think about it, yeah. A majority of my flings have been some sort of brunet. I never noticed really and it seems I have some innate ability to hone in on them.”
“You could be some lame superhero,” Lesley commented. “Your power is to locate natural brunets.”
Carson laughed at that, “Please draw yourself as a lame superhero, Jack.”
I rolled my eyes, “If I were a superhero, I’d be a badass with a kickass power.”
Carson scoffed, “Yeah, like what?”
I pursed my lips in thought, trying to think of the best superpower I could possibly think of to get rid of Carson’s stupid smug grin.
“Well, if your skill in bed could come to use…” Lesley trailed with a teasing grin.
Tim’s face turned red and his eyes widened.
“That’d make him a superwhore rather than a superhero,” Carson drawled.
I pointed an accusing finger at my best friend, “Hey, don’t you go taking out your sexual frustration on me just because I can get some whenever I want but you’re a relationship seeker.”
“There is nothing wrong with being a relationship seeker, you commitment-phobe,” Carson threw back.
I rolled my eyes, “You know what? You and Lesley can call me whatever the fuck you want. I am not a commitment-phobe and my opinion is all that matters on what I am. So both of you can go fuck yourselves.”
They all laughed and by then our starters had arrived. Tim was a vegetarian, interestingly enough so Carson had ordered some eggplant thing that I wasn’t going to go anywhere near.
When most of our starters were cleared, Carson sent me a look and I stuck my tongue out at him discretely before ‘accidentally’ spilling my water over my shirt.
“Ah, fuck,” I groaned, getting out of my seat.
“Nice going, klutz,” Carson drawled, although grinning thankfully.
“You alright, Jack?” Tim asked, worriedly.
He was about to get up but that would defeat the purpose of me embarrassing myself so I grabbed onto Lesley’s arm and tugged him up as I flashed a grin, “Yeah, fine. Les’ll help me out. Be right back.”
Lesley let me drag him to the men’s washroom and when the door shut behind us and I dropped Lesley’s wrist to remove my shirt.
“Why do I get the feeling you’ve done this a bunch of times before?” Lesley inquired as I went to the dryer and held my shirt under it.
“Probably because I have. I have perfected the act to get some alone time during group dates and such. This time it’s to give Tim and Car some alone time.”
Lesley came up behind me and wrapped his arms around my waist, “Aww, and here I was thinking that you were horny for me.”
I laughed and turned around in Lesley’s arms to find him trying to maintain a dejected pout but it was clear he was barely holding back laughter with the way his lips were trembling in effort to not curl upwards.
Deciding to play along, I set my shirt on the counter and clasped my hands around the back of Lesley’s neck, “Are you suggesting public bathroom sex?”
Lesley shrugged, “Blowjob was what I had in mind, but I mean sex is great too.”
It was really hard to keep a straight face.
“Why not both?” I replied, unable to keep the act up at the last word and a bit of laughter slipped past my lips.
We were both quickly overcome with laughter, neither of our bodies able to hold us up so we ended up leaning against the bathroom wall, my back against the cold surface with Lesley’s forehead on my shoulder and our arms loosely draped around the each other.
We were in the midst of catching our breaths when the bathroom door opened.
“Oh, uh, sor—Jack?”
I looked over Lesley’s shoulder and all giddiness immediately left me when I saw Dan standing at the door with a pale face.
“Oh shit,” I muttered, realizing how this looked.