"Anatomy of a Hangover"

By Donny's Boy

Disclaimer: I own neither the characters nor the plot of Rugrats and/or All Grown Up, and I am making no money from this story. I mean no harm.

Warnings: Mature language, alcohol use, discussion of alcoholism, discussion and depictions of sexual situations.

Chapter 1

On Sunday morning I wake up alone. My hand gropes along his side of the bed, but there's nothing there but cold empty sheets. While this is uncustomary, it is not surprising. I have been waiting for this morning for a long time, actually. If I am surprised by anything, it's that this is the first time that I've woken up alone.

Funny that I didn't even hear him sneak away, though. Then again, I do usually sleep like the dead. Hmm.

I roll over onto my side and stare at my bedroom window. The blinds are drawn, but long white shafts of light filter through. It must be sunny outside today. As it's early May, the temperature is probably quite nice too. I couldn't care less.

Sighing, I pull the covers up around my shoulders and shut my eyes. I think about last night, Saturday night. I'd been out at a party for a good portion of the evening. Susie had come along, and we were both young and fabulous and single. I danced a little, drank a little, laughed a little. A reasonably cute guy gave me his number. Susie almost punched me when she caught me throwing it away. At the time I slurred out that she was jealous, but I think that she was just worried about me. She thinks I need to start dating again. Besides, jealousy almost certainly couldn't have been what was at play, because good old Susie found a cute guy too, who followed us home like a lost puppy.

As soon as we got home, Susie disappeared behind closed doors with Puppy Guy, and I whipped out my cell phone. I called the guy who worries Susie and, as soon as he said "hello," I asked if he could come over, knowing he could and he would. While waiting for him to come over, I popped into the bathroom to freshen up my make-up and hair. I hated myself a little for caring, but I did. Then when he arrived, I poured us both a glass of wine before we headed to my own bedroom.

Friends with benefits. That's all we are—all we were, I should say. From the beginning, we both knew it wasn't anything permanent or serious. So why do I feel like shit? I blame the hangover.

---

Opening my eyes, I stare at my gray, cracked ceiling. It's symbolic, somehow. Symbolic of what, I'm not sure. Almost involuntarily my mind drifts back to the first time I slept with him. Ground zero, as it were. It had been an accident, really, that had happened after the wedding—Tommy and Lillian's wedding. I was a bride's maid; he was the best man. How trite. There was so much excess emotion, so much fatty food, so much free booze. I still remember how I'd just broken up with my most recent ex and thoroughly hated Tommy and Lil's guts for being so happy and in love.

I'd fought the temptation to drown my sorrows, though, and stuck to only a single glass of champagne. Not out of such misguided sense of familial duty, but because my mother threatened to disown me if I made a scene on Tommy's "big day." Ugh. The best man, however, had felt no such compunction—by the end of the reception, he was good and sloshy.

Earlier, after saying the obligatory "mazel tov" to the disgustingly happy couple, I'd retreated to a corner, looking bored, occasionally making nice with the stray relative who wandered over to chitchat. Then he stumbled over. While true that we were older—I no longer the cheerleader, he no longer the geek, but both of us actual complex human beings—that didn't mean I wanted to talk to him. Quite the contrary. But being drunk made him bold. With a grin as wide as Texas, he asked me to dance.

I said no. His grin didn't even waver. He told me he'd already danced with Susie and Kimi and Lil, with Didi and Betty, with his mother and my mother, and even one slow-dance with Phil. I was the only one left, he explained, ever so cheerfully. When I told him I wanted to stay left, he only laughed.

"Angie, it's a wedding! Be happy for once!"

I almost punched him, right then and there, and would have been entirely justified doing so. But before I had the chance, he suddenly grabbed my hands and leaned backwards, pulling me to my feet. As I saw my mother glancing nervously in my direction, I allowed him to lead me out to the dance floor. He ended up being a much better dancer than I would have thought he'd be, given his state of intoxication.

And that was how I got stuck taking him back to his hotel room. You'd think Kimi would have stepped up to do it, but you'd be wrong. She and Phil had been making eyes at each other all night. While of course I myself would gladly choose a guy over family, I had to admit to being surprised that Kimi had—because no way did she think her precious big brother was in safe hands. Still, my conscience got the better of me, and I let the fledgling lush lean on my shoulder as I led him to his room.

Once inside, he immediately collapsed onto his bed. I turned to leave. I was halfway out the door when he quietly called out my name, asking me to stay for a little bit.

I still don't know why I turned back. I guess I was just lonely and hurting. And he was there, and he was as warm and familiar and broken-in as my old Cynthia dolls.

I stepped into his bathroom, grabbed one of the complimentary plastic cups, and filled it with water. Taking it over to the bed, I sat down and ordered him to sit up. After a few false starts, he managed to prop himself upright.

"Drink this," I said and shoved the cup into his hands.

He gulped it down then clumsily wiped his mouth with the back of his hand, knocking off his glasses in the process. Startled, he glanced up at me, as though I'd had anything to do with his own ineptitude. I noticed for the first time that he had green eyes.

He wiped his hand across his face again. "It's really hot in here," he told me, glancing down at the beads of sweat on his forearm.

"No, it isn't. You're just drunk."

"I'm not that drunk," he slurred, grinning at me. Then he began fumbling with the buttons on his dress shirt. For a second I recoiled at his presumptuousness before realizing that he was just trying to cool down.

Thoroughly annoyed, I watched him continue fumbling for a few moments before I finally pushed away his hands and began unbuttoning his shirt for him. Once unbuttoned, he tried shrugging it off. Again he failed miserably, so I helped him take it off too. My arms brushed against his chest, and I paused. He definitely seemed better built than I ever would have given him credit for.

I should have left the second that thought passed through my mind. But instead, I grabbed the bottom of his undershirt and pulled it up over his head. As I threw it on the floor, I saw that I'd been right—though indisputably wiry, he had solid lean muscles in his chest, his arms, his abs. To top it all off, his entire torso glistened with alcoholic perspiration.

Without stopping to think, I ran my fingers lightly along his stomach, and he closed his eyes and shuddered. Feeling him shudder at my touch sent a sudden, unexpected desire coursing through me.

I probably should have left. But I stayed.

It might have only been that and it might have ended up being completely forgotten, except for the next morning. Silently watching as he woke up and groaned in misery at his hangover, I lay as far from him as possible on the bed. Finally he rolled over and looked at me, and I waited for it. The regret. The realization. The accusations.

But he only smiled. Through what surely must have been one hell of a hangover, especially given that he looked like death warmed over, he actually smiled at me. "Want some coffee?" he offered, his voice little more than a scratchy croak. "Because I could sure use some."

"Sure," I said. And I stayed.

---

That was almost two years ago, now.

As I lie in bed, I frown as I suddenly smell … coffee. Yes. That's definitely the smell of fresh coffee percolating. Well, thank goodness for small miracles. I can't remember having set the coffee pot's timer, but then again, I probably wouldn't remember. Domestic chores, I must say, hadn't been high on my priority list last night.

Or perhaps Susie had woken up early and started the coffee. She might have woken up early to start the coffee before heading out to church. Despite my slight depression, I smile. Now, I'm not one to judge—well, not about sex, at least—but I have to admit, it does amuse me to think that Susie might be getting ready for church services less than twenty-four hours after our night of debauchery. Perhaps I'll share my amusement with my beloved apartment-mate. After she comes back from church, that is.

If she is planning on going to church, though, she'll probably swing by my room and ask if I want to come with. I find myself desperately hoping she doesn't. First of all, I'm pissed off at myself. Second, I'm hung over. And third, I'm just not ready to face my sins … not today, maybe not ever.