A Few Holes in His Memory
Summary: Ever wonder where timid, generally straight-laced Henry got all the body mod? One morning, Henry wakes up with a few holes in his memory. Among other places.
Author's Note: This fic was inspired by a conversation with Shelma32 over at Livejournal. A gorgeous icon she created made me remember a review of the ep "The Five" that said that, despite all the plot twists and turns, the biggest surprise of all was the number of piercings IT!Henry had. I remarked that there was no way he got them sober and some back-and-forth resulted in this :) Enjoy!
A Few Holes in His Memory
Henry's first conscious awareness was that the inside of his mouth tasted as though he had cleaned a urinal with his tongue. Retching, he hauled himself out of bed and promptly hit the floor.
Fighting the urge to puke, he took a moment to get his bearings. Nasty taste in his mouth, stomach trying to escape by crawling up his esophagus, legs that didn't want to work, spinning room, slightly hollow feeling, excruciating headache, and generally just a lot of pain in every inch of his body…
He cautiously opened one eye. Which felt about like being hit in the forehead with a sledgehammer. Bellowing in protest, he squeezed his eyes tightly shut again, digging his palms into his orbits and struggling to breathe.
He was in his bedroom, at least, which was something. For a second it had occurred to him that he might open his eyes to find himself in some kind of secret lab dedicated to vivisecting abnormals. But he was in the Sanctuary, which meant he was safe. Pretty freaking sick, but still safe.
Not opening his eyes, he dragged himself into the bathroom in a seal-crawl, finding the toilet by feel and gratefully emptying his roiling stomach into it. The taste of stale alcohol provided the final piece of the puzzle. He remembered that yesterday had been his twenty-first 'birthday'. Not that they knew his age for sure, but they'd arbitrarily decided on a date for his forged citizenship papers years ago and, when it seemed likely he must be at least 21, they'd decided to celebrate.
You're hung over, Foss. Brilliant…
It wasn't like last night was the first time he'd drank alcohol or anything. Magnus had a fairly European attitude towards drinking in your late teens and early twenties. As long as you moderated yourself, she was cool with it. But who moderated himself on the Big Day?
Note to self: if you ever binge drink again, I am killing your ass…
He rested his forehead against the rim of the toilet, recoiling with a hiss as the cold porcelain only made his headache worse. He did stay leaning over it for a few more minutes, though, not really trusting himself upright yet.
He needed to get into the shower. With luck, lots and lots of extremely hot water coming out of high-pressure jets would take the edge off this full-body ache. This felt worse than contracting malaria during that abnormal hunt in the Belgian Congo had.
Only difference was that Magnus wasn't going to tolerate him spending the next several days on his back while he recovered from this. She had a pretty firm stance on self-induced misery. The odds were good that, the minute she realized how hung over he was, she was going to start shouting at the top of her lungs to deter him from ever getting that drunk again.
Okay, shower first. No, scratch that. Shower in a minute.
He closed the bathroom door so the room would be pitch-black, then cautiously opened his eyes. Agonizing but not unbearable. He found the Excedrin by feel, popping four into his mouth and grinding them between his molars. Tasted like shit, but the pills would start working faster this way.
He still had Zofran left over from his bout with the stomach flu last year, so he took a double-dose of that, then poured himself a glass of water, sipping cautiously at it. You grew up with Magnus for a foster-parent and you learned a thing or two whether you tried to pay attention or not. Dehydration was a huge part of his problem right now.
He stopped at one glass because even those eight ounces were sitting pretty uneasy. He could try for more after the Zofran kicked in.
Okay, now he could have that shower.
He turned the water up hot enough to kick on the safety-valve, then dialed the pressure from the jets up to a setting that felt like getting a Deep Tissue Massage, then stepped into the stall. The first blast of hot water across his back was agonizing but, after a few moments, the relative absence of pain there was pure heaven. He sighed gratefully and just stood there for a few minutes, getting pounded.
Once his back started to feel better or, at least, not horrible, he turned around to give the rest of his body the same treatment.
The yelp that came out of his mouth was canine enough that he would have been mortified to utter it in public. In private, too, for that matter, but he was too alarmed for embarrassment right now. He spun around, taking the water across his back again rather than let any more of it hit his front.
He was in pain and it was like nothing he had ever experienced before. Unlike the pain from the hangover, which was deep and throbbing, this was sharp and immediate and superficial and in places that really weren't a lot of fun to think about being damaged.
Scared to really deal with some of it, he started small and safe, lifting one hand to his stomach. He hissed as his fingertips made contact with the metal stud in his belly-button.
"Crap," he sighed, turning off the water and leaving the shower stall.
Suddenly the sore muscles and the splitting headache were the least of his problems. He switched on the light and his groan had very little to do with the sensation akin to having an ice-pick jammed into his left orbit. He looked down at himself, confirmed the reality in the mirror and shook his head.
"That's… not good, man," he whispered.
He walked back to his bed, gingerly, and sat down, wondering what kind of underwear would be least unpleasant and trying to piece together the events of last night.
There'd been a Sanctuary-wide party which he remembered pretty clearly, then a smaller 'family' party: just him, the Munchkin, Magnus, and the Big Guy. Magnus and the Big Guy had eventually retired for the night, leaving him with Ash. He remembered video-games and, although he'd forced her to stick to soda-pop even after Magnus left, his own drinking had picked up.
Too much, obviously, because he was finding some fragments of memory strongly suggesting he'd been plastered enough to agree to play Truth or Dare with the little snot.
"I'm going to kill her," he announced, jumping to his feet, pulling on a shirt and the loosest pants he could find, and going to find Ashley.
The teenager was in the library, bent over a textbook with apparent concentration, but she immediately looked up at his entry.
"Hey, Henry!" she greeted him, smiling. Then she frowned. "Dude, you look like shit."
"Binge-drinking does that to a guy, Munchkin."
She rolled her eyes. "I've told you not to call me that. You don't stop, I'll smack you down."
"You know, for once, I'm not inclined to let you beat me to a pulp."
She frowned. "Stop looking pissed. I haven't been messing around on your computer anymore."
Henry stared. She meant it. She didn't know why he was upset.
"You wouldn't know anything about this, would you?" he sighed, pulling up his shirt so she could see the belly-button stud.
Ashley's eyes widened. "Jesus, Henry, I didn't think you'd actually do it!" she gasped. "How much more did you have to drink after I turned in?"
"Too much," he answered, pulling his shirt the rest of the way up.
"Oh, my God! Doesn't it hurt?" she whispered, staring at him.
He didn't tell her he had one that hurt worse. Some things your kid sister did not need to know. "You ever get that drunk yourself, kiddo, and I'll kick your ass."
She stared at him with saucer eyes. "I ever get that drunk, you have my permission to..."
"It might be a little easier on both of you if Henry simply took away the bottle before Ashley had a chance to reach that level of inebriation," a gentle voice intruded.
Henry jumped a foot, spinning to face her and unconsciously taking a step backwards. Which left him sprawled on the table Ashley's coursework was on with a head that abruptly hurt worse than before. He slowly pulled himself into a sitting position, eyeing her warily.
The disappointment in her expression left him squirming and feeling like a complete jerk, but there was at least no ire in her manner.
"Let's see, Henry," she directed gently.
Drawing a deep breath, he steeled himself and pulled up his shirt. Magnus eyed the three piercings for a moment before gesturing for him to let the shirt back down.
"Well, it could definitely be worse. They seem to have been done to a reasonably professional standard, but, of course, you'll need to keep them clean until they heal."
He nodded hesitantly. "You're not mad?"
"Well, I can't say it's the most prudent thing you've ever done, but I've never objected to bodily modification as long as it isn't taken to ridiculous extremes. Come with me and I'll show you how to take care of them."
"Ashley, I want those quadratic equations by lunchtime and I need that book-report today as well."
"Report's already on your desk. Guerilla tactics in the Caucuses after the fall of the Russian Empire."
"I'll look forward to reading it, dear. Come, Henry."
He followed, waiting for the inevitable dressing-down. At least Magnus hadn't delivered the lecture in front of Ashley. She remained silent until they reached the infirmary, then gestured for Henry to sit on the exam table.
"Do you remember where you got the piercings?" she asked, assembling supplies on a tray.
"No clue. Sorry."
"Then we can't assume it was a Health Department certified site, so we're going to have to start monitoring you for possible hepatitis."
"I'm pretty sure I wouldn't have gone into a place that was dirty," he offered.
"Looks can be deceptive in that regard," she answered mildly. "It just makes sense to be safe." She washed her hands, snapped on a pair of gloves, and turned to face him again. "Any other piercings I need to know about, Henry?"
He colored. He would have preferred a lecture to what he suspected was coming. And, yup, there it was! The patented Helen Magnus ability to go from nurturing to mortifying in a heartbeat.
"I'll need to examine it for signs of nerve-damage and infection."