Title: There's Got To Be a Morning After

Author: FraidyCat

Disclaimer: It's theirs.

Mea Culpa: So. You may have noticed I live in a dark place, at the moment. I'll shoot for a little hope, somewhere.

When he focused his bleary eyes, he realized that he was in Don's apartment. Apparently, he was lying on the couch. It was also somewhat obvious that his head had exploded; or, more accurately, was currently exploding. The room was dim. The curtains were drawn and there were no lights. Still, he squinted his eyes against the pain and the light that managed to breach the curtains. There was a particularly annoying bright slit of sunshine near the wall, and as his eyes were drawn to it against his will, Charlie noted an interesting duo on the low coffee table in front of the couch. His forehead wrinkled in confusion.

There was a small paper plate, upon which sat a pickle. The last he knew, both he and Don hated pickles of any description. Was his father here somewhere?

Even odder, next to the plate was a juice glass filled nearly to the brim with something that looked disturbingly familiar. Charlie swallowed thickly and tried not to remember the hideous bladder infection that had claimed him last winter. Dear God, did he have another one? And even if he did, why was he peeing in juice glasses? Oh. Oh, it was somewhat cloudy and the viscosity did not look good, and there was that light green tint...The bile rose in his throat and he squeezed his eyes shut quickly.

He continued to swallow convulsively, nearly losing the battle of wills with the contents of his stomach. "If you barf on my carpet again, I am so going to kick your scrawny ass."

Startled at the sudden sound of Don's voice, his eyes flew open again and searched frantically until they found his brother in the black leather chair that faced the couch. "Mmpff?"

Don leaned forward a little, dangling a neon-orange sports drink between his knees. "Can you sit up? You need to eat this pickle, throw back the pickle juice -- just pretend it's another shot -- then chase it all with Gatorade and aspirin."

Charlie blinked at him, wondering if the planet had been invaded by body snatchers. "Whmpf?"

Don smiled, his teeth white and glaring, drilling a hole into Charlie's head. "I know it sounds crazy, but David turned me onto it last year. I swear you'll feel better before the shower's over. Oh, yeah -- after you drink this stuff, you need to take a really weird shower. Keep changing the water from hot to cold."

Charlie closed his eyes again to make the apparition disappear, and managed an entire word. "Way."

He felt Don tugging at his arm. "Yes, Charlie. Don't tell me 'no way'." The voice paused. "Or no, if you're telling me to go away. Whatever. You just don't show up completely blitzed at my apartment at three in the morning, throw up on my bare feet and my living room floor, pass out on my couch, and get away with it." The tugging strenghtened and the voice took on a pleading tone. "Come on, I had to go next door to Old Lady Stenson and beg for this pickle."

Charlie felt himself being hauled upright. He kept his eyes closed tightly and opened his mouth to protest when something repulsive and sour was shoved unceremoniously in the opening. Sputtering, eyes watering and opening wide in terror, he tried to spit it out. Don had decided to actually kill him, though, and had a hand clamped over his mouth. Charlie thrashed madly against Don's other hand and gagged, finally swallowing huge chunks of pickle that he was sure would reappear in moments. He sagged and coughed, and Don finally let go -- but just long enough to pick up the offensive juice glass. "Dude," he ordered softly, thrusting the glass toward Charlie. "Just hold your nose or something and shoot it down. Dave picked this up on a trip to Poland, of all places. I swear by it."

Charlie wanted to shake his head, but knew it would fall off it he did. Instead, he clawed at Don and pulled himself up using his brother's shirt for leverage. If he didn't still have pickle chunks stuck in his throat, he would never, ever, consider this. Swaying in place, he grabbed the glass and tipped liquid death into his mouth.

He didn't quite empty the glass.

One long swallow later, he gasped and flung the glass as far away as he could -- which was only a few inches, since he had the strength of a week-old kitten, at the moment. Lurching, he staggered toward the bathroom.






It was not going to be pretty.

Don called after him, his voice slightly dismayed. "Take a shower while you're in there! Remember, hot and cold -- I'll leave the Gatorade outside the..." A slamming door informed Don that Charlie had heard all he was going to, and he sighed. "Damn pickle juice and barf stains all over the freakin' place," he muttered. "I'll have to go out and rent a steam cleaner."

He heard the shower start and glanced toward the bathroom, smiling. Hadn't heard any puking, first -- that was good, right? Then he sighed and trudged toward the kitchen for a wet towel. Poor Charlie, he mused. His best friend joins a monestary and his girlfriend dumps him on the same day. Thoughtfully, he stopped outside the bathroom door and set the sports drink on the carpet. He heard Charlie yelp, and realized he must have just switched to cold. Good boy, he nodded, straightening up. Good for Charlie -- for trusting Don even when nothing made any sense. Good for Charlie -- for coming here, where he knew his big brother would always look out for him. Good for Charlie -- for knowing there would be a morning after, and understanding where he would be safe.