Caroline and the Big Hangover
Richard awoke to pain radiating across his forehead, shooting straight to the back of his skull. He groaned slightly, rolling over onto his back in bed. He squinted his eyes shut tight, the light of a new day just adding to the pain. What the hell was going on? As he opened one eye and stared up at the ceiling, he was met with another question. Where the hell was he?
Sure, a ceiling didn't give much away about his location, but he definitely knew he wasn't in his own apartment. This ceiling was... well, it was still white. Free of blood stains, water damage, and cracks. A name immediately popped into his head. Caroline.
Her party lastnight. He hadn't wanted to go... but, like usual, she batted her eyelashes and stared up at him with those doe eyes of hers, and he was a goner. So he'd shown up. Several people were there... many of which, he didn't know. Annie, Del, and Charlie were the only ones he knew personally.
He remembered he hadn't planned on drinking. Caroline hadn't planned on drinking. But as Annie became increasingly inebriated, she'd begun to shove drinks into their hands to keep them occupied while she flirted with every male in the room. He remembered that though it was Caroline's party, and her friends were constantly buzzing around her, it was Richard she stuck close to for much of the evening. He remembered laughing with her... about what, he couldn't recall. He remembered how she'd clung to him when introducing him to people he didn't know, hanging on his arm as if she was showing off a trophy boyfriend.
He remembered how affectionate she had been as she had drink after drink. He remembered actually going along with her affections as he too had drink after drink... how he stopped fighting her. He'd never been closer to her.
As he reached under the covers and found he wasn't wearing any clothes, he decided he probably had gotten a lot closer to her after the party. But what led up to it?
The last thing he remembered was that he, Annie, Caroline, and Del were the last ones there. Everyone else had gone home. Caroline was trying desperately to push them all out the door, insisting that she needed her beauty rest. Del had offered to escort Annie home, though she lived only eight feet away. Richard even remembered leaving with them. But at what point had he gone back in? Everything after he left Caroline's apartment was a complete blur.
He groaned again, his headache becoming more intense as he rubbed his hands over his face. As he did so, he felt a warm body stirring beside him, her skin soft. He prayed whatever was about to happen next wouldn't ruin his and Caroline's friendship.
He closed his eyes as he rolled over, anticipating the look of confusion he was about to see on Caroline's face. When he opened his eyes, he screamed, and tumbled out of bed, the one in bed beside him shrieking at the top of her lungs.
"Annie?!" Richard gasped, staring wide-eyed at his nemesis... the mouthy brunette he despised.
Annie slapped a hand over her eyes as she rose up on her knees, clutching the sheet to her collarbone. "Richie..." she murmured. "What in the holy hell are you doing in my bed?"
"I was just about to ask you the same thing." He glanced more closely at his surroundings. "This is your apartment, huh?"
"Yes, yes it is. What the hell happened lastnight?" she breathed, still trying to calm her racing heart.
"Well, judging by the fact that neither one of us is wearing clothes, and that we were in bed together, I'd say the world has ended. Hell has frozen over, and pigs have begun to fly."
"Ugh, God..." she moaned, her voice taking on a tone of disgust. "Ugh, I can't believe I slept with you!"
"You and me both," he replied. "I mean, out of all the men in Manhattan, am I really the only one you had left to sleep with?"
"Seriously, what the hell happened lastnight? I mean, I know we all got pretty trashed, but what happened that would make me actually want to sleep with you?!"
Just then, the door to Annie's apartment swung open and Caroline barged in. "Annie, what the hell is all the yelling ab--oh, my God!"
The three of them just stared wide-eyed at each other, Richard trying desperately to wrap himself in the sheet. "Caroline..." Richard murmured. He was feeling incredibly guilty, and wasn't exactly sure as to why. He and Caroline weren't an item, so it wasn't as if he cheated on her.
"Oh God..." Caroline moved to cover her eyes, already having seen too much of Richard. "Ummm... I'm sorry, I must have stepped into an alternate universe, so if you'll excuse me, I'm just gonna find the portal to reality."
"Caroline, wait!" Annie called, but as the door slammed behind Caroline's retreating figure, it was too late. She made a face. "Oops."
"Oh God, she's gonna get the wrong idea now..." Richard murmured, putting his head in his hands as he shook it back and forth. "This is really not good."
Annie furrowed her eyebrows slightly at this. "Why, because your methods of seduction were starting to work on her and you guys were... 'right there'?" she quipped, making air quotes. "Please, Richie. Who cares if she gets the wrong idea? It's not like you've been doing anything about your feelings anyway."
"What feelings? I don't have feelings for Caroline."
"Must I start quoting that damn letter again?"
"Annie, I told you..." he hissed through clenched teeth. "I wrote that letter when I was really drunk, and it didn't mean anything." He gestured to her. "I mean, I slept with you when I was drunk, for Christ sakes! That should give you some indication of how 'out-of-it' I get when I have too much Chianti!"
Annie folded her arms across her chest, holding the sheet securely against her body as she did so. "Uh-huh..." she murmured in a patronizing tone. "Come on Richie, you know I can see through that bullshit you're layin' on me." She shrugged. "Besides, the way I see it, you could actually use this little apocalyptic occurrence to your advantage."
He eyed her warily while he reached under the bed for his boxers, pulling them on under the sheet before standing up. "What do you mean?"
Annie tucked the sheet around herself like a towel, securing it under her arms before sitting back down on the bed. "Well..." She paused thoughtfully for a moment. "Caroline knows we slept together..."
"She seemed a bit upset about that. So, what I was thinking is... maybe we could just pretend like we slept together for a reason."
"Like what?" Richard groaned.
"Like maybe, we could start acting like we really like each other... and even start acting like we're dating, or that we wanna start dating."
"And how will this do me any good?"
"Because Caroline will go nuts," Annie reasoned. "She's already kinda started liking you..."
"She has not," he denied.
"Richie, just... trust me on this, will ya?" she insisted. "If we start acting like we're crazy about each other, she'll go crazy with jealousy, and then before you know it..." she snapped her fingers, "she's yours!"
Richard shook his head. "Annie, that'll never work. She'll figure out that's what we're trying to do, she's very smart."
Shaking her head adamantly, she replied, "But not where her heart is concerned. She doesn't think things through completely, she doesn't use reason..." She sighed when she got a blank stare from Richard in return. "Do you not remember the whole train wreck with Joe?"
"How could I not? It wasn't that long ago."
"Well okay then... trust me, where Caroline's heart is concerned, she thinks that she's thinking everything through, but she's not." She paused, studying him. "So are you in?"
He stared at Annie for a long moment, running over the possibilities in his head. Finally, he sighed, nodding. "Yes, I'm in." He eyed her warily for a moment, contemplating what was on her mind, then asked, "So what are we gonna do?"
AUTHOR'S NOTES: I've been sitting on this one for a good couple of years and finally decided to start posting it, even though it's unfinished. I've developed a renewed interest in the Annie-Richard dynamic, so I'm excited to see where the muse wants this one to go. Hope you enjoyed this first chapter!