Fuck plot bunnies. Seriously. This thing up and jumped me Monty Python-style. (There's a killer bunny in that movie, right? Or one of them… is there more than one movie? I've never watched it [or them], as you can tell.) Anywho, editing shall commence later, seeing as how I wrote all this tonight and just finished it. (Yeah, my muse attacked me THAT badly.)
He had three goals for the evening: get drunk, get laid, and forget. All three would have been firsts for him. In hindsight, he doesn't know why he thought he could pull all of them off. Hell, he didn't even manage the first one properly.
Because now he's stuck in some house at some college party just off-campus from MIT, eight months after graduating from the damn place, and five weeks and two days after - after -
Fuck, the scar on his side hasn't even healed. He doesn't even fucking remember how the other car - he doesn't understand the physics of how the jagged piece of metal from the door wound up stabbing him in the side on impact, and -
He didn't have Christmas this year. He hasn't seen Obie, he hasn't wanted to, since that Saturday, the day of…. He hasn't even set foot back into the penthouse. He's been staying at the Plaza Hotel since the hospital discharged him. He had one of the butlers pack a suitcase of his things and bring it to him. He's not sure if there are still presents under the tree, or if the housekeepers have put everything back into storage and had the tree - it would probably be bone dry by now, anyway - thrown away.
He hasn't been to the workshop at SI headquarters. He hasn't so much as picked up a screwdriver or blueprint since it all happened.
And he hates every minute of it. He hates feeling like his head is going to implode no matter where he goes or what he tries to do. He hates that there's been more than a few times where he's known that the only way he'll ever make it stop is to blow his brains out before they can collapse in on him, hates that too many of those times he can't think of a good reason not to, certainly no reason better than the fact that he has no idea how to get his hands on a gun. He hates that the best solution his genius brain could come up with was to make his driver take him all the way to Boston on a Saturday night, thinking that a buzz and losing his fucking virginity might make him feel better. Hates that he thought that genius brain would ever let go of the truth, under any circumstances short of death. Hates that getting drunk hasn't helped at all and that he's made a fool out of himself, even if half the people at the party don't recognize him. Hates that the brain that lets him figure out fucking anything can't tell him how to get the blonde in the tight sweater or the brunette with the legs or any of the other girls here to go into one of the back rooms with him, can't tell him what to do even if he could. He hates that he's failed. He hates that he's stuck inside his own head with all of this shit that he can't get rid of and can't let out because he just can't.
So when he slips down the hallway toward one of the back bedrooms, he prays that no one sees. Prays that everything will just go away soon. That it'll all stop.
He goes into one of the rooms and leaves the light off. Sits in a corner between a bed and a desk, with the edge of some textbook on the floor pressing into his leg, but not painfully enough for him to do anything about it. He fights the temptation to scratch the healing skin along his side, because it already got infected two weeks ago and the antibiotics the doctor gave him made him nauseous and he can't take that again.
And he doesn't bother to think about how he's going to get out of here, or care about the fact that he can't sit in the dark here forever.
Minutes or hours later, he stares wide-eyed at the door as it squeaks open, still too drunk or confused to be particularly worried about who's coming in or why. Probably a couple of people, drunk and stumbling in here for the one-night-stand he couldn't manage and will probably never be able to figure out. When a girl walks in, alone, face lit by the streetlamp outside, he feels some wash of fear and anticipation, thinking that she followed him in here because she wants to have sex with him. But then she finds a lamp and turns it on and startles when she sees him, and when he sees the over-sized t-shirt and jeans and heels that probably aren't hers, because she can barely walk in them, and sees that she looks as out-of-place as he feels, his drunken brain slowly figures out that she came in here to escape, just like he did.
She stammers a little, and her face flushes pink, and tries to tell him that she's sorry and she'll leave, but when she gets her hand on the doorknob again, she slows, and glances between him and the door several times.
She doesn't want to go back out there. She's visiting a cousin or sister or some relative out here in Boston, she says, and she'd asked to come to this party - and as she speaks and he doesn't respond she moves toward him - but the party had turned out to be a bad idea and now she just wants to get away - and when she sinks down beside him he thinks he might get a chance at the sex after all. He looks at her in the dim yellow light of the lamp, knees up to her chest and her head turned down, and he realizes that, yeah, she's kind of young, maybe two years younger than him - sixteen or so. And she sure as hell doesn't belong here anymore than he does.
It breaks something inside of him, because that's probably the most connection he's had with another human being in over five weeks.
And that's bittersweet and it hurts and he wants more, wants some kind of connection, whatever he can get from her. But he feels like shit because he's drunk - he is never drinking another drop of alcohol for as long as he lives, the very thought of it now makes him nauseous - and he's suddenly more shy and scared than he can remember ever being, and he wants to say something to her, so badly, just a few words so this night won't be a complete failure, but he's too scared, and anyway, he doesn't know how.
But she's talking. Even though he says nothing back, she's talking. Nervous mutterings to fill up the air in the room and keep things from being awkward so he doesn't ask her to leave, even though the truth is that he would beg her to stay. And she turns to him, smiles apologetically, and her expression becomes a searching one for a moment, and suddenly her eyes are wide and her cheeks are red again, and she's asking if he's - ? But she doesn't finish the question, probably because she already knows she's right. Already knows who she happens to be sharing a sanctuary with.
She seems too shy to say anything for a while, but then she decides that the silence is worse than saying something weird, or that he won't mind if she continues, or something else that doesn't really matter because she starts talking again. And he's glad, because her voice is kind of soothing.
He doesn't understand why he's so grateful for her company, why he wants her to just keep talking and talking until the world ends. He doesn't understand what it is about her, if it's just the fact that she's here, or if it's something about her, if he wouldn't feel the same way with anyone else. He doesn't understand how or why her simple, passing mention of her parents - half a sentence, that's all it was - breaks whatever wall he couldn't even crack on his own, why he suddenly feels hot tears streaming down his face and crippling sorrow flooding his hazy mind.
He can't see her through the tears - just shuts his eyes and doesn't even try - but he senses her tense up beside him, and the sudden shame he feels only worsens when he hears her stand and rush to the door. He doesn't have the strength to beg her to stay, is too ashamed when she runs to do it anyway.
But instead of hearing the door open and shut, he barely makes out the sound of a deadbolt sliding into place over his sobs, and then returning footsteps. And then, with no warning, she's on the floor beside him, pulling him against her chest and holding him there tightly. And even as it stuns him and he struggles for comprehension, his arms circle her, and he clings to her desperately, because she's the only thing in the world that can possibly keep him from shattering into irreparable little pieces right now. And when she tries to whisper soothing words into his ear, he can tell that she's scared and confused and doesn't really know what to do, but her strong arms and the hands stroking along his back reassure him that she's not going anywhere.
He truly doesn't know how much of this is because he somehow feels safe in the presence of this stranger, and how much of it is just because the flood gates are open and there's no hope of shutting them until the river runs dry. But really, it doesn't matter either way, because he stays there, weeping in her arms for God only knows how long, everything finally draining out of him - the sorrow of his loss, the feeling of emptiness it has left in him, the fear of what's to come and what he'll do and where he'll go from here and above all else, the fear of whether or not he'll even be able to survive this.
And she doesn't leave. Through it all, through a tear-soaked shirt and the discomfort of the whole situation, and the bruises his fingers are probably leaving where they dig into her back, she stays with him. She holds him as they sit huddled on the floor, whispering softly and rubbing circles in his back, and eventually guides him up to the twin bed, where he curls into her side and she rubs soothing fingers through his hair.
Eventually, though, his tears do subside, and the lingering alcohol in his blood mixes with the sudden exhaustion. He quickly falls asleep with his head on her shoulder, grateful to whoever or whatever saw to it that she would be here tonight. His hazy, tired mind cannot imagine what might have happened had she not been here, had she not stayed and taken him into her arms, and thankfully, he falls into unconsciousness before he can try to guess.
The girl is gone, and he's alone on the bed when he wakes up. He doesn't remember much, and the massive, throbbing pain in his head obscures most of what he does. Hangovers, he's been told, can do that. All he can really comprehend as he leaves is that he feels just the tiniest bit better. That, and he feels more than a little bit of regret, because he can't remember the girl's face. All he sees when he tries to bring it up is short red hair, and freckles dusted over pale skin.