An Immodest Proposal
Maes goes drinking to make a bad day better, and ends up making it the best day ever.
Maes knew that, theoretically, people had bad days. He'd heard more than one person speak of them, and was almost certain they existed, but it was the same kind of certainty reserved for foreign countries like Drachma and Xing. He knew people who had visited them, but had never gone himself and had always had a vague sense of doubt as the whether or not they were really and truly there.
He didn't travel much, and he didn't have bad days. It was just the way of things. He listened to his friends when they were feeling down, and did his best to sympathize, but went to bed each night praying that he never sounded half as pathetic and helpless as Roy did when another one of his short-lived affairs went awry, and giving thanks that he had enough sense to be in a steady, loving, committed relationship.
When he kept that in mind – which he hadn't for very long – it only made the entire day even worse. He could cope with waking up late, discovering he had no clean uniforms, getting caught in a freak rainstorm, forgetting to grab all the spare change he'd been saving for lunch, slamming his finger in the desk drawer, and forgetting about the report he'd had due at 1500 hours. He'd had to rush it, and just barely managed to get it in on time. He was sure he would pay for his carelessness (because his writing had most certainly suffered) but he'd forgotten all about it – and this was what really rankled him - when he'd gotten into a terrible, horrible, hideous, drawn-out fight with Gracia.
It had been a stupid fight, and mostly his fault. He was more than ready to admit that. The bad day had gotten to him. He'd been snappy and short-tempered. Things had escalated, and quickly gotten out of hand, mostly from his own actions. He was ready, and more than willing to apologize and beg Gracia to take him back.
Not that she had broken up with him exactly. There hadn't been any finality in her words, no real conviction. She had been in tears, and certainly not herself. He'd said all kinds of things he shouldn't have.
"I'm an idiot," he muttered, staring glumly down into his snifter of whiskey.
"Here, here!" Roy seconded with much too much enthusiasm, knocking back his own (much more full) glass like a shot.
"A complete moron," Maes continued, completely unmoved by his friend's enthusiasm. "What the hell is wrong with me?!"
"If only we knew," Roy quipped, flagging down the waiter for a refill. "Maybe she though you were getting too serious?"
"How is that even a problem?!" Maes exclaimed. "I want to get married! To her! And she knows it too!"
Roy sighed, and murmured, "Yeah, too serious."
"We've been dating for more than a year," Maes interjected, ire rising in his voice. "It's pretty fucking serious already."
Roy just stared at him over his glass.
"It was, anyways," Maes went on, after downing the remaining contents of his own glass. "I screwed that up pretty fucking bad. Every fucking thing comes crashing down around my shoulders in one fucking day. How did this happen? When did God decide he hated me so fucking much?"
Roy chuckled, then clucked his tongue and intoned, "Easy on the swears there, Maes. Your mom would wash your mouth out with lye if she heard you."
Maes grimaced, then looked over at his friend in abashed apology. "I'm sorry to dump all of this on you," he said quietly. "You can't be enjoying this."
"Are you kidding?" Roy exclaimed, slapping a hand down on the table. "For once it's not my dysfunctional relationship providing the entertainment. This is like Yule in July!"
"That's nice, Roy," Maes said, scowling. "I never wonder why I'm friends with you."
"Shut up and drink up," Roy ordered, waving down the bartender yet again for another round of drinks. "Things'll look better after a few drinks."
Maes doubted that, but given that things looked pretty terrible now, he was willing to try just about anything.
A dozen drinks later, Maes forget exactly what it was he'd come to forget in the first place. This worried him just a bit, but all he could really think about was how the floor wouldn't stop moving, and how completely ecstatic he was that Roy was with him. This was what friends were for: they let you lean on them, and they leaned on you, and the two of you tottered drunkenly through life together – much as Maes and Roy were tottering drunkenly down the street, barely standing but for eachother. They stumbled into flower pots and signposts, tripped over eachother as often as they tripped over the occasional trash pile or stray dog, and made a horrible ruckus by singing every song they could remember in slurred, off-key voices. The noise was only slightly less terrible than nails on a chalkboard.
Even in his inebriated state, it did not escape Maes that Roy kept asking him for directions to Gracia's apartment building. What did escape him was the fact that Roy was following his directions, and it wasn't until they were both standing below her second-story window, clinging to the ivy trellis, that he realized precisely where they were. He used all the swear words he could think of when he figured it out.
Laughing, Roy hushed him as loudly as humanly possible without actually shouting – Maes got a face-full of spit for it – and then dropped a hand onto Maes' shoulder, smiling and leaning in conspiratorially.
"All right," he began in a stage whisper that any passers by would have easily heard. "Here's what we're gonna do…"
Gracia had gone to bed early after eating every single shortbread cookie in her pantry. She'd bought them for Maes to snack on when he visited: she thought getting rid of them in such a fashion was more than ample revenge on her part - and that was about as sadistic as she could bring herself to be. All her anger had burned out quickly once he'd gone – slamming the door behind himself in a very un-Maes fashion – and after spending an hour crying over the cookies, and another half hour sitting on the tile floor of her bathroom while the shower ran, she'd quickly decided that the only possible peace she might find would come from trying to go to sleep.
The bed, she had quickly discovered, was too big and too cold without Maes in it, but after several hours of tossing and turning she'd managed to fall into a light, fitful sleep. She had strange dreams about talking flowers dancing with giant silver spoons, and moons so big and full you could reach right up into the sky and touch them. Glowing algae made knotted patterns in rivers of clear, dark water, and rough, red-stoned caves opened up to mountaintops where golden stars hung from a velvety backdrop by gleaming silver chains. Someone was belting, "…answer me, oh my looove!" while elephants marched down a beach of coral-colored sand. Two someones belting.
And when the elephants disappeared and the sands dissipated, the voices were still there; wafting in from below her window, still open a few inches to provide the circulation that kept the room cool in the warmer months.
Falling out of bed, Gracia grabbed at her robe – thrown over her vanity stool, shoved away in the only free corner of her room – and tripped her way to the window, where she pulled back the worn linen curtain to gaze down the at scene unfolding on the side lawn of her apartment building.
There were two men, in half their uniforms. Both had lost their coats; Roy's was hanging off of one arm as if he'd started to take it off and never finished, while Maes' was laying on the grass a few feet away, next to what looked like a pair of white socks and an undershirt (though both men were still in their white button-ups). They had their arms slung around eachother, and were swaying (off-beat) along to their own wailing.
Maes noticed her standing in the window and stopped singing just in time for Roy to yell out the line, "that love was here to staaaaay!" with absolutely nothing resembling any type of musical finesse.
Gracia realized three things very quickly. The first was that Maes and Roy were so far gone they'd come back around the loop and were dangerously close to being sober. The second was that they were both on her lawn making a terrible racket that was sure to wake the neighbors and more than likely to be the thing that got her kicked out of her building. The third was that she was still mad at Maes.
She threw open the window, intending to tell him just what he could do with his song, but was interrupted immediately by Maes calling her name in the loudest voice he could possibly muster, as if she were fifty yards away instead of five.
"Shut up!" she hissed down at him.
Maes did no such thing. Instead he threw his arm out, catching Roy in the chest, silencing him effectively, and broke out into song.
"Don't pull your love out on me, baby! If you do then I think that maybe Iiiiii'll just lay me down, cry for a hundred yeeeeaaaars!"
"Shut up!" she shouted over him. "Shut up, Maes!"
"Don't pull your love out on me honey! Take my heart, my soul, my money!"
"MAES!" Gracia screamed.
"But don't leave me here drooowning in my teeeaa- ow! Why did you throw that?!"
Gracia brandished her second aerial assault weapon – a glass bottle of setting lotion – and yelled down, "What the hell do you think you're doing? Do you know what time it is?!"
"Half past two!" Roy yelled back helpfully, fumbling with his pocket watch.
"Get out of here!" Gracia shouted. "You're going to get me evicted!"
"Gracia!" Maes protested loudly, stumbling away from Roy to stand on his own, clutching the ivy trellis for support. "I'm sorry!"
"Go away, Maes!" she countered quickly before any sympathy could creep in. "I'm still mad at you!"
"I'm sorry!" he shouted again, obviously distressed. "Please! I… I love you!"
Her resolve wavered for just a moment, but then she remembered what an ass he'd been that afternoon, and she threw the bottle of setting lotion at him.
"Go away!" she repeated. "I'm not speaking to you!"
"Gracia, please!" he pleaded. "I'm sorry! I'll say it as many times as you want!"
"I don't want an apology Maes!" she yelled, fumbling around on her dresser for something else suitable to throw. "I want you to go away!"
A long, ominous silence followed during which the two parties involved assessed what they were willing to let go of and what they wanted to keep. The third party – Roy – sat down heavily in the grass and watched the second hand of his watch clicking away in the light of the electric street lamp.
Finally, Maes blurted, "Marry me!"
Roy fell over in surprise, and Gracia knocked her small perfume collection off her vanity.
Another unsettling silence came and went, broken by Roy's shout of, "He said, will you marry him!" as though she hadn't heard perfectly the first time.
This time, Gracia's resolve almost shattered. An indistinct emotion settled deep in her chest – something between hysteria and distress – and before she could think any more about it – about him, and his proposal, and how happy they would be – she stepped away from the window. She couldn't bring herself to slam it closed like she knew she should have.
Maes was only a little discouraged by Gracia's sudden disappearance. He quickly decided that the best course of action would be to get her in sight again, and since the doorman had already refused them entry to the building once, that left only the window and the ivy trellis climbing up beside it.
"What are you doing?" Roy asked blithely when Maes felt around for a handhold in the ivy, and settled the toe of his boot on one of the trellis rungs.
"Not taking no for an answer!" Maes muttered, and began to climb.
Things went well until about halfway up, when his already inhibited coordination left him completely. His right foot and hand slipped at the same time, and he fell a good two feet before he managed to latch on again, and fell another foot before he finally stopped, breaking 3 rungs in the lattice work.
Gracia heard the tiny ruckus, and curiosity and concern won out over anger and doubt. She rushed back to the window just in time to see Maes' valiant effort to reclaim the ground he'd lost.
"What are you doing?" she demanded again, her voice high with fear.
"Coming – to get you!" Maes responded slowly, grunting with the effort of hauling himself up the wall.
"Get down from there!" Gracia yelled, her knuckles white as her hands gripped her windowsill. "You're going to break you neck!"
"Will you marry me?" he asked again, still climbing inexorably upward. His right hand burned something fierce, and his palm felt sticky.
She made a face, but answered immediately, "Will you get down if I say yes?"
Maes paused in his efforts, both to rest and to give some thought to her answer. He looked up at her, looked down at the ground – Roy waved – and then muttered, "I'm already more than halfway up."
"Yes!" Gracia shouted down, completely missing Maes' comment. "Yes! I'll marry you! Get down before you kill yourself!" She was drumming her closed fists on the windowsill in agitation. "Please, Maes!"
"Oh ho!" Roy spoke up from the lawn. "Look who's begging now!"
"Shove it, Roy!" Maes shouted, beginning to climb again despite Gracia's loud protests. She finally exclaimed that she was calling the Fire Brigade, and dashed away from the window to get the phone.
Then Roy shouted, "You shove it, Hughes! Eat this!" and promptly set the ivy trellis on fire.
A week later, Maes joined Roy in his apartment for a nice, quiet drink between friends. It helped that Roy wasn't brandishing his newly acquired cast every time Maes made eye contact.
"I can't believe you broke my arm," Roy groused when he'd knocked back his first shot.
"I can't believe you set the latticework on fire," Maes countered, grimacing around his own drink.
Roy poured himself another glass, and replied caustically, "I can't believe you jumped."
Then Maes laughed and said, "I can't believe I had the good luck to land on you!"
Roy groaned for the thousandth time that week, and muttered, "I can't believe you're getting a wife out of this!"
Maes just kept lauging.
AN - Okay. Um. Wow. Yeah. Omigod. What the hell was I thinking when I wrote this? Was it worth the time? Am I totally crazy?