Dustin really can't blame anyone but himself at this point.
Well, him and the fact that the sheer tininess of their rooms were enough to drive a person insane with longing, combined with the fact that Mark and Eduardo were living in some strange cycle of depraved domestic bliss combined with sexual frustration – if that's even enough to describe Eduardo practically manhandling Mark away from his computer every night to physically force food into him before Mark can thank him by shoving a hand down Wardo's Hugo Boss dress slacks. Because when two other people have to live with as well as put up with that idea of love or serious codependence or sex slavery or whatever Mark and Wardo were calling it today, it's bound to create a pretty unbreakable friendship.
It's not like he and Chris weren't friends before this all started. They were pretty friendly – casual friends who just happened know each other from studying together in their Intro to Data Science class freshman year. Afterwards, it just kinda fell into sync – Mark had this mysterious friend who was a finance major he had wanted to live with. The only thing was that Mark's 'friend's' old roommate needed a place to stay, so Mark dragged Dustin along, saying that living in a suite wouldn't be that horrible and Eduardo's old roommate couldn't be that bad.
He really couldn't have been more wrong. Because if Eduardo's roommate was that bad, they wouldn't be in this situation. Instead, Wardo's roommate had to be Chris.
Thus comes about Dustin's current problem…
He really hadn't meant for it all to come out like that – the way it did. They had just been sitting there on the couch – and when he says they, he means Chris and himself, because Mark was obviously glued to his computer at the kitchen table, which could only mean that he was sitting on Eduardo's lap. Clearly, because that is the only way for two ordinary college students to sit.
Chris's curled up on one end of the couch, an oversized Harvard sweatshirt dropping down over his knees and his wrists and every other possible body part as he tucked his toes beneath Dustin's legs, yelling furiously as the two of them played Halo, getting excited and his hands and hair flying every which way
As the screen lights up pronouncing Dustin as the victor, he throws his console up in the air in delight, squeeing giddily and grinning from ear to ear before sticking a tongue out at Chris. "You owe me ten bucks now, Hughes!" he crows happily. He can hear Eduardo murmuring to Mark about how cute, to which he considers flipping them both off. After Chris scrambles across the couch, shoving him playfully though, he really can't contest with that. Because they're making it pretty easy.
"Your mom owes me ten bucks, Moskovitz…" Chris plays back, bumping his shoulder against Dustin's, who grabs onto his wrist as he smirks down at Chris. They're both laughing and Chris is smiling so hard his face feels like it's being pulled apart at the seams. Although, it's really not really that big of a surprise considering that this is what usually happens with Dustin. Because this how he always feels around Dustin. The stranger thing, though, is that he hadn't really realized that until today.
In the end, Chris just settles for ignoring the thought crossing his mind and laying against Dustin, their shoulders and elbows touching softly and his head pressed just so against Dustin's chest. He's still freezing and Dustin has this thing where he practically radiates heat. Feeling Dustin's heart beating right under his cheek, the smile quickly fades from Chris's face, a strange tight feeling coming through in his chest.
"Seriously? A 'your mom' joke? You're losing your edge, Christopher…" Dustin tsks, raking a hand through Chris's hair playfully, and Chris can't breathe. Because all he can think about right now – well, all he can think about every waking moment over every single day – is why isn't it always like this? Or more importantly. Why can't he just get the fuck over himself and this weird crush/fascination he has with his roommate? It's not normal to enjoy stuff like this the way he does (unless you're Eduardo or Mark, of course).
"Could you two be anymore transparent?" Mark mutters flatly, still staring at the lines of code on the screen. "Can you two please just fuck and get it over with, or do we need to lock you in your room with nothing but condoms? Because this whole oblivious pining love, 'let's just pretend we don't want to fuck each other senseless', hearts in my eyes shit is getting on my nerves…"
Chris snaps his head up, because he can't help but wonder if Mark's suddenly gained mind-reading abilities. It wouldn't actually surprise him if he was like a super evil-genius with all these crazy powers and a ginormous brain secretly hidden under that jewfro of his… Maybe that's why Eduardo puts up with all of his weird habits – because Mark was mind-controlling him. Chris shuddered at the thought. Eduardo pinches Mark's side, letting his fingers linger on the strip of pale skin of his side, slowly snaking it's way under Mark's thin t-shirt. But when Chris looks up at his face, he can see the tight smile pulling at his face, understanding that as Wardo language for 'let's change the subject'.
Frankly, he couldn't agree more.
"What are you talking about?" Chris laughs, loudly and over the top. He untangles himself from Dustin, which immediately leaves him shivering, missing the all too familiar heat that comes with being right next to Dustin all the time. He waits for Dustin to say something in response to Mark's comment, waits for him to join him and take the stance that's necessary – that they're not interested in one another.
"Okay. Let's do it."
Everyone laughs after that, because automatically, everyone figures hey, that's just Dustin being Dustin. Slowly, though, the laughter dies out and everyone waits for Dustin to pipe up with some witty rebuttal. Chris braces himself, trying to think of what it could possibly be and how much it's fucking going to hurt, because he's going to lose something he's never even gotten the chance to have. However, Dustin doesn't say anything, and with every passing second, the tension grows.
When it finally sinks in that it might not have been a joke, it leaves the room silent, all eyes on Dustin, who was quickly turning redder than his hair, slumping lower onto the couch as he crossed his arms over his chest. Mark is smirking, almost nodding in approval before turning back to his computer. Eduardo looks shocked before he dissolves into laughter, burying his face into the crook of Mark's neck.
Chris doesn't even know what's happening. At first, he just feels a bit out of the loop, like something happened right in front of him and apparently he wasn't even invited to the party. But slowly, the surprised quickly boils over into anger. He doesn't know what the fuck is happening or when this all cam to be. Because he really can't believe what just happened.
"Is this some kind of joke?" he says simply, glaring at Dustin, who he can tell is starting to panic. His eyes are wide as he bites down onto his lower lip, taking it between his teeth. Mark and Eduardo are looking back and forth between the two of them, concern mixed with only a bit of awkwardness on their faces.
"Why would you think that?" Dustin asks, his voice so honest that it actually makes Chris want to believe it.
"You certainly haven't shown any sort of interest in me. Or, you know. Men in general. And now completely out of the blue, you're just telling everyone in the room that you want us to fuck? Okay, sounds great. I'm totally up for it…" he snorts, placing his head into his hands. This isn't happening. This can't be happening. This isn't supposed to happen like this.
Dustin's cheeks are still pink, and he's shrugging, and it takes all of Chris to turn away from him, because if not, he's almost positive his brain may stop functioning completely. "I didn't mean for it to come out like that, or even under these circumstances, but why not? You're the person I'm closest to, the person I have the most in common with, honestly, you're sometimes the only person I like around here…"
Mark exclaims the necessary shout of resentment to the last part of what Dustin says, but Eduardo shushes him, flapping a hand in the general direction of his face. Chris sighs, finally looking up at him. "You're straight. That's kind of a big deal when it comes to this…"
"Straight, gay, who cares? I like you a lot, and I figured we're both single…"
It's strange, the way Chris is processing Dustin's words. Because with every few words that comes out of his mouth, his emotions change from being completely and utterly angry with him to wanting to curl up next to him and never leave his side. But all this time, he'd never thought that this was all that Dustin would see. See in him. See in them.
"A pity fuck?" he laughs darkly, getting to his feet. "God, Dustin. You know just the right words to get to a guy's heart. 'Let's fuck because we're both single. You're lonely and pathetic, and the fact that I kinda like you isn't that much of a dealbreaker either!'" By the time he's pulling on his sneakers, his hands are shaking so badly he almost drops his sneaker back onto the floor. His head is spinning so fast, he can't even understand what he's doing.
"Chris, wait…" Eduardo's on his feet, standing in front of him, his hands up in some sort of attempt to stop Chris from whatever he's planning. Right now, he doesn't even know what he's planning. The only thing he does now that it involves is getting as far as possible away from this room.
"Chris, I never-" Dustin starts weakly, his face falling so hard it's practically on the floor. Mark's sitting next to him now, his laptop next to him. Chris rolls his eyes, because only Dustin, stupid fucking Dustin, can get Mark to stop working. He pushes Eduardo out of the way easily, heading for the door. He really doesn't know where he's going, but all he knows is that he can't stay here, because every second that he stays Dustin will think that it's okay. It's okay for him to think that Chris is just a quick fuck and that it's okay to just play around with him.
Just as he steps out of the door, he turns back to Dustin, who's still sitting on the couch, his head buried behind his palms. "I wish I never, either," he snaps angrily, slamming the door behind him.
It's not as satisfying as he had hoped it would be.
Dustin's desperate to fall asleep, his skin itching to fall asleep with a tight haziness, but he's already aware of the fact that he won't be able to sleep until he knows that Chris is back in there room, his even breathing matching Dustin's as they both fell asleep. All he wants is to pull the blanket over his head and fall asleep, forgetting about everything that just kind of exploded this afternoon. Because he really can't help it that he's horrible with words, or can't translate his thoughts into coherent sentences. And he can't help it that whenever Chris is within one foot of him, his brain-to-mouth filter inexplicably fails because he can't think of anything else but the fact that that's Chris and he's Dustin and they're touching.
It's not fair, because he didn't want this to happen. He'd never planned on his happening. Guys aren't supposed to feel this way about their best friends. Especially their friends who are guys.
He rolls over on his bed with a groan, lying on his stomach as he continues to flip through the required reading for his class on Monday mindlessly. He's gotten through about twenty pages without actually understanding what he's read, so when he lifts his head up from the book to look over at Chris's empty bed for what has to be the twelfth time tonight, it's nothing out of the blue. Chris bed is filled with piles of clothes, as today was their laundry day, and they hadn't gotten the chance to go through everything before Dustin had shot everything to hell.
Through the wall, he's once again reminded that Eduardo and Mark are having a much better night than he is. And he's not even bitter about it. Not even a little bit. Nope.
Of course they'd both sided with him – or, at least, told him that he really hadn't done anything wrong except being kind of an idiot who can't function like a real human being. But even so, that doesn't make him feel any better. Because he doesn't want their approval. By getting theirs mean that they think Chris is wrong in what he did, and he knows that's not really fair either.
Besides, all he wants right now is for everything to go back to normal. The way it had been. When he and Chris tiptoe around each other's desires and have a friendship that's too close to be friendship but no one ever calls them out on it and do laundry together and make each other breakfast and leave post-its for one another…
He tries to close his eyes again, tries to fall asleep once more, but it doesn't come. It never does when he wants it to.
When he opens his eyes again, he can't help but notice the noise that actually is not coming from Mark and Eduardo's room, but that's coming from right outside his door. In a way, he already understands what's going on, because he's been here before. Under different circumstances of course, but it's still the same.
Swinging the door open, he's not surprised to find Chris slumped against the wall right outside their door, an empty bottle of tequila loosely wrapped in his fingers. Dustin just stands there for a moment staring at him, because even though the two of them have had their shares of getting tipsy, he's pretty sure he's never seen Chris like this. The other boy is practically boneless against the wall, his chin buried in his shoulder as he looks down at the floor, clearly focusing on absolutely nothing. His cheeks are flushed, his hair sticking straight up on the back of his head.
Dustin sighs, leaning down to pull Chris's arm over his shoulders. Chris comes up easily, laughing as his body collapses against Dustin's, and it takes every bit of strength in Dustin to not fall into whatever this is. Because even though tonight was a FML moment to say the least, this isn't real. Slowly and silently, he pulls Chris into the room, supporting almost all of his weight as it seems that drunk Chris has no control over his own legs. He moves to drop Chris into his own bed, but he remembers that it'd be impossible to try and clean it off while still holding Chris up. So he settles on his own, sitting Chris down gently.
It's then that the silence becomes a little too quiet for his taste, and he realizes that Chris is watching him with his soft, bleary eyes. He knows that the best thing at this point would be to leave and just let Chris sleep and let him wake up with his hangover before trying to talk to him and salvage what he can of their friendship – which is a job in all of it's own.
"You're an asshole," Chris mutters thickly, yanking his sweatshirt off angrily. The words all bunch together, but it's enough. Dustin gets the hint.
Chris doesn't say anything else after that, because he's currently tangled in the sleeves of his sweatshirt. Sighing, Dustin leans forward and helps him out of it. The entire time, he still knows that Chris is watching him, can feel his breath burying itself into the crook of his neck. So if he lingers for just a second longer once the sweatshirt is lying on the bed, that's why.
"You're an asshole," Chris says again, like Dustin hadn't heard it the first time. It doesn't sting any less this time. The weird part is that they throw that around all the time to one another, but this time, it actually means something. "You're a fucking asshole, and I hope you know that."
Chris is glaring at him by now, his blue eyes like icicles. Dustin has to turn away, because he can't look at the pain that just below the alcohol haze in his eyes. If he keeps looking into them, it's just another reminder that he caused all of that. Instead, he gently pushes Chris back against the pillows, lifting his dead weight of legs up onto the bed. He stands there awkwardly, unaware of how much time has actually passed by the time he hears Chris's breathing even out.
And here he thought the worst part was going to be telling the truth. Or that Chris could just say 'no'. Never had he factored into the equation that he could completely lose Chris in the process…
The first thing Chris notices as he wakes up is the headache piercing behind his skull, his eyes feeling like they're about to pop out of his head. As he turns over, groaning despite the fact that his tongue seems to be cemented to the roof of his mouth, the invisible ice pick digging into face twists unbearably. It's way too early for him to be up as he takes notice of the blinding sunlight streaming through the window. By the time he usually wakes up, the room is dark again with the sun overhead.
Yet, when he finally opens his eyes, squinting harshly against the brightness in the room, he notices the alarm clock sitting on top his dresser is angrily blinking 12:07.
Okay, so it's not as early as he thought it was. And he's having a bit of some sensitivity to the light… And concluding from the blinding headache and fact that he can't even open his eyes for more than seven seconds at a time without wincing, it's safe to say that he might, just might be a little hung over. When he buries his face a little deeper into the pillow, he can't help but notice that there's something off.
The feel of the pillowcase imprinting against his skin, the smell radiating off of it mixing in on his skin, the fact that his dresser isn't in the places that he left it in but is now across the room… it's all wrong.
When he opens his eyes again, slowly beginning to swallow down that rotating dizziness in his head, it finally hits him that this isn't his bed. His bed is across the room, still covered in the piles of unfolded clean laundry that he and Dustin had dumped on it yesterday afternoon. Underneath him where he's laying, though, is Dustin's bed. His empty bed.
The more he thinks about it, the more he processes it, he should've known it all along. Because the way the pillowcase smells - a mix of Dustin cologne and laundry detergent - has become so present to Chris he usually doesn't think twice about it, oftentimes wondering if his own clothes smell more like Dustin than Dustin himself does. And the too familiar feel of the fabric under his cheek, it's one hundred percent Dustin – he knows that because this isn't the first time he's fallen asleep here. Usually, Dustin's on the other side of him, kicking him and telling him to stop being such a blanket hog, but he's never been in it alone…
And slowly, like faded film clips coming back together, the events of last night start to pull themselves together. Even before Chris finds the glass of water and bottle of ibuprofen on the nightstand beside him, already knowing who left it there, the thick weight falls onto Chris's chest, guilt starting to choke him. With a heavy feeling settling into his head, Chris reluctantly sits up despite the nausea that was beginning to overwhelm him. Flashbacks of what happened before – Dustin's random confession, his own hard emotions and outburst, and finally everything spinning out of control at the bar – are becoming clearer as Chris starts to wade his way out of that thick haze. But even so, with the quick clearing of the memories, he can't remember coming back to the apartment.
Or how he ended up in Dustin's bed without Dustin.
And not to say that he's a rebellious or rowdy drunk, but the dread sinking into his veins isn't a really good feeling. Practically growling with some questionable emotion (anger? frustration? regret?) he grabs the bottle of ibuprofen, shaking three out into his open palm. Only, just as the pills are starting to fall out of the bottle, he catches sight of what's on his palm, and the entire bottle of Tylenol spills onto the floor.
Suddenly more clear-headed than ever, Chris sits straight up, staring at his palm. He doesn't remember writing that, and he can't think of anyone that he would've been drinking with that would've written that. Although, considering the fact that he can't even remember who he was with last night, he's pretty sure that this is his way of telling himself that he already knows who scribbled that all over his palm.
It doesn't look like Dustin's handwriting, and it even more doesn't sound like some he'd say, but as Chris subconsciously feels the corners of his lips tugging upward, he knows Even if his head doesn't want to believe it, his heart's already sold.
Somewhere deep in his chest, the tugging pressure that's been there since yesterday loosens. It's hard to put a finger on why, but as he keeps replaying the events of last night over in his head, trying each time to remove himself from his position – the words make sense. He smiles softly, wondering what must've been running through Dustin's head as he thought that the best way of getting his attention was to write secret messages all over his hands. As he bends down to scoop up the loose pills, he notices that his left hand is covered in scrawled out writing as well.
if you knew just how I felt, you could kill me with just one look
This time, Chris doesn't smile, because his brain really can't seem to function. This time, his heart practically explodes in his chest. Because this is real. This is happening. And this was what he'd never expected.
Chris's schoolboy crush, unrequited love for Dustin is no longer that.
And as time seems to stop around him, zeroing on both palms as he stares helplessly at them, Chris finally sees that he might've already lost something he never even had.
Even with his performance last night, Wardo and Mark went pretty easy on him. Though it probably helped that when he opened the door to his and Dustin's room, the two of them were dozing on the couch with the TV turned down low, Mark's head resting on Eduardo's chest as Wardo absently ran a hand through his curls.
"Morning, princess," Eduardo teased without moving his head.
Chris simply grunted in response, grabbed the carton of OJ out of the fridge and pouring himself a glass. It was becoming pretty clear that Dustin was here either – unless he was secretly laying underneath Eduardo, which would just be weird.
"He's not here," Mark mutters, barely loud enough to be heard as drops his head further down onto Eduardo's chest.
Dropping the glass into the sink, Chris realizes what he has to do. It sucks, of course, but through all of his hung over haziness, he's become fully aware of the fact that by allowing this tension between Dustin and himself to grow, it'll not only ruin what they could have but what they already have. Chris isn't ready for that – he can't let that happen.
Sighing, he grabs his sneakers from outside of his bedroom, which is where Dustin must've left them last night. As he grabs them, he stops for a moment, the thought of Dustin taking his shoes off and his jacket off making his heart falter. As he shrugs on the sweatshirt jacket from last night, he looks to Eduardo, who's watching him expectantly, a curious mix of concern and apprehension on his face.
"Did he say where he's going?" he asks softly, just able to be heard over the hushed voices of the television and the extremely uncommon slowly even breathing of Mark. The already pronounced resignation that he can hear in his voice startles him.
"That lesbian chick that's in his Lit class. Rina something. Said he was going to try to sleep at her place…"
Chris nods shakily, not saying anything as he starts to head for the door. Only once he's wrapped his fingers around the doorknob does he stop, turning back to Wardo, who he knows is still watching. Almost like he's making sure that Chris makes it all the way out the door and is prepared to stop him if he doesn't.
"Am I too late?"
He can see Wardo swallow, frowning as he draws his brows together. A moment passes between them in which neither of them is saying anything, but it's clear that they're both thinking the same thing. Eventually, this clicks with Eduardo, and a weak smile breaks out on his face.
"Would it stop you if you knew you were?"
He's out the door before he can even answer the question.
"What the fuck are you doing here?"
Chris has never met Rina, and it's starting to become clear why. As she stares him down in her cropped t-shirt and boxers, a threatening look on her face, he can only wonder what in the world Dustin's been telling her about him.
"To sell you some Girl Scout cookies," he offers sarcastically, rolling his eyes. When she doesn't even flinch, maybe even lowering her gaze to stare him down more, he leans against the door frame, sighing. "You know why I'm here," he says softly, dropping his head.
Rina doesn't look impressed. In fact, if he had to bet on it, he's pretty sure that at any moment, she's going to slam the door on him, no matter if he's moved from the door or not.
"Hey, who's at the-"
The voice comes from behind Rina, but stops before it approaches the door. It doesn't need to though, because Chris has heard enough. He looks past Rina, craning his neck a little bit more to see Dustin standing there, panicking and looking a little bit scared.
"Hey," Chris breathes, a smile coming across his face for what feels like the first time in forever. Dustin doesn't smile back, that's the first thing Chris notices. But when he finally does respond with a "hi", the tension in his shoulders seems to subside bit by bit. The two of them stand there, Rina standing in between them as the awkward silence weighs down even heavier than Chris could've imagined. This is the longest he and Dustin have ever been in a room without speaking to one another, and it's probably only been about three minutes.
Dustin eventually breaks it, clearing his throat. "Rina, could you. Uh. Give us a minute alone, if you don't mind?" Her eyes don't leave Chris. Not even as she snorts inelegantly in disgust as she grabs a towel from off the rack behind her and throws it over her neck, heading towards the girls' bathroom.
"You don't deserve him anymore," she mutters, just loud enough for her and Chris to be the ones to hear it. Ignoring it, Chris walks inside the room and closes the door behind him when Dustin motions for him to.
"So, what-" Dustin starts, but stops short as Chris holds up both of his palms, almost like he was caught in a stick-up. The fact that he's grinning like a fool as he does it, though, gives the gesture a completely different sentiment.
"Dustin." Chris takes a step towards him, the hands almost taking on a symbol of peace now. Dustin freezes, looking back and forth from each hand, the unblemished writing on both of them, before turning away with a jump and busying himself with doing nothing. "I know. I know everything. I get it."
"Great," Dustin says a little too quickly, a little too harshly. Because he knows that if he falls apart again, it's all over. Now, it's not about what he wants. It's only about self-preservation. "It's great that it's out in the open. Now we can put it behind us…"
He feels the brush of air beside him, feels the sudden warmth come up from behind him. But as the hands are on his shoulder, spinning him around as they fist themselves into the torn neckline of his - Chris's - t-shirt, all he feels is stunned, because Chris is looking at him with imploring, pleading eyes. And for a moment Dustin has to remind himself that it's impossible for eye colors to change, because every time he looks into Chris's, he's almost positive they're a different shade of blue.
"I don't want to put it behind us," Chris whispers breathlessly, tipping his head forward just enough so that their foreheads meet. It's nowhere near to the most contact that they've ever had, but it's probably the most intimate, and just for a second, Dustin closes his eyes. He just needs this. Wants this.
Before he can actually say anything in response, Chris's mouth is on his. At first, it's nothing but lips against lips. But when it finally becomes clear with Dustin exactly what's happen, it's like all he knows is Chris's mouth - warm and wet and everywhere and everything all at once.
"There's only one thing I want right now, and it's not to put this behind us… Because – because things change, remember?" Chris's voice is soft again as he pulls back, almost rasping at this point yet so heavy with something that Dustin can't quite finger, but completely understand.
When he grabs the hood of Chris's sweatshirt jacket between his fingers, pulling him closer than ever – needing him closer than ever – it feels like second nature to him. Pressing his fingers softly against the nape of the blonde's neck, running them through the stray strands, he realizes fully that it never occurred to him that this would feel so right.
"Hey Chris?" he mumbles, smiling against Chris's lips. Chris hums in agreement, and Dustin feels against his own lips that Chris is now smiling as well.
"You still owe me ten bucks."
There's a beat of silence before he's laughing, and then Chris as well, both of them practically collapsing on top of one another in laughter.
Yeah, everything is definitely all right.