“Alright boys, ready to get trashed?” Steven grinned as he looked at his closest friends. They had just finished midterms and were going to use this party to finally relax.
“Totally,” Cib said in that bro voice that he used more often than not. Especially at frat parties, and this one would be no exception. James nodded, having literally just finished a calculus exam he was the one most looking forward to cutting loose.
“I’m not going to do too much,” Parker said, with a sigh. “Someone has to walk us home.”
This was true. They ended up sleeping on the stairs of a frat house at a back to school party and when they woke up they reeked of spilled alcohol and someone had drawn dicks on their faces.
“Sounds good. Parker is our designated walker,” Steven clapped his hands together. “Let’s do this.”
The minute the boys stepped into the room it was clear what kind of party this would be. The hallway was packed from wall to wall with bodies, all pushing trying to get to where they wanted to go. Some frat dude who had his hair in a ponytail and a smirk that rubbed Parker the wrong way showed them where to get drinks. Steven, James, and Cib all went straight to shots of the hard stuff. Parker was tempted to take a mudslide shot, because they’d be there for a few hours anyway, but he opted for just a beer instead. The music was playing almost obnoxiously loud, and he knew that if he was drunker he wouldn’t mind so much. Steven and James began to mingle, slowly getting lost into the crowd, while Cib carefully poured himself a second shot. Parker stood silently, tapping his foot to the beat, making sure Cib didn’t overdo it right away. He tapped the shot glass down on the table and gulped down the orange liquid.
“Hey I’m gonna see if I can find Andrew and Jeremy. Tell them not to worry about getting too messed up,” Parker said to Cib.
“What?” Cib shouted. It was clear the two shots he’d taken were already affecting him.
“I said I’m gonna find Andrew and Jeremy-”
“Can’t hear you dude! Tell me later!” And with that Cib disappeared after Steven and James into the massive crowd.
Parker shook his head and tried to intuit where his other friends would be. If Andrew wanted to smoke they’d probably be in the attic, although it seemed a little earlier to be getting high. But, he supposed, if Cib could start the night off with two shots it wouldn’t be too farfetched for Andrew to have started smoking a bowl. So he began his grand venture upstairs. If they weren’t upstairs he’d be hard pressed to find them, because climbing the stairs was no easy feat. They were nearly as packed as the hallway, with less movement. As he wiggled his way up Parker mulled over the fact that if the frat caught fire everyone on these stairs, himself included, would be toast. As his head popped over the bannister at the top of the stairs he heard someone calling his name.
“Parker! Over here!” His eyes shot over to where the voice came from. Sitting, slouched against the wall was Andrew. Parker carefully made his way towards him, not wanting to step on toes or knock over any drinks.
“Paaaarrrrkerrr,” the name rolled slowly off of Andrew’s tongue. “How long have you been here?”
“We just got here, actually,” Parker replied, showing Andrew his mostly full beer. He took into account Andrew’s red eyes and the smell that permeated the air. It explained the drawn out name.
“Jeremy finished his. Uh, midterm early so we’ve been here for like hours, man.” Andrew struggled to compute the time accurately. It seemed like they’d been here all day but it was only 8:30.
“Do you know where Jeremy is, actually? I had something to tell you both-”
“Hey Parker!” Jeremy called from the stairs. “Thought you’d never make it.” He too had a red solo cup in hand. Parker was relieved to see him.
“Jeremy, just the man I was looking for,” Parker said with a grin, giving Jeremy a welcome handshake. “Just so you and Andrew know I-”
“Hold that thought,” Jeremy said, putting a finger up to Parker’s lips. Parker blinked a little in surprise. “Andrew you gotta try this juice,” he said, offering his red solo cup. Andrew took it and nodded, thinking it was sagely, although but came across as little more than confused.
“Well anyway, as I was saying-” but he was interrupted once more. This time with the cup pressed to his lips. Jeremy was tilting it forward so he had no choice but to open his mouth and take a swig. The purple-brownish mixture tasted surprisingly good. Before thinking to ask what was in it Parker took a few more quick gulps. He shook his head to clear it as Jeremy took the cup away from his lips.
“Whoa Parker, take it easy!” Jeremy warned.
“Take it easy?” Parker asked, feeling his stomach tighten with anxiety.
“This stuff is super alcoholic. I was gonna nurse this for awhile,” Jeremy said with a sigh. “Guess I’ll brave the stairs to go get more.”
“Yeah thats a good idea,” Parker whispered. He was kicking himself for being so stupid. Why would Jeremy just be drinking nonalcoholic juice. Why couldn’t he have just asked. Everyone knew he was a lightweight, hence the beer nursing. His stomach felt queasy and he was wondering if it would be worth it to just purge the toxins right now or to ride it out.
“C’mere Parker,” Andrew said, interrupting Parker’s thoughts. “Sit down with me.” Parker slumped against the wall, feeling like trash. He wasn’t looking forward to letting Steven down. He needed to sober up. “You’re my best friend you know that?”
“Yeah Andy I know,” Parker said. He could feel the alcohol start to affect him, which was good because it would help with his anxiety but was bad because he couldn’t lose control tonight. “You’re my friend too.” He absentmindedly took a sip of beer. It tasted pretty bad after the other thing, but there was no way he could drink any more of that.Of course, his friends had never been great about respecting his wishes or boundaries or any part of his life actually. He remembered this as Cib came barreling across the room, Jeremy and James in tow.
“Whassssup duderino? Drinkin that good juice- the juice sleuth of the hour- night brah?” Cib slurred. Jeremy gave Parker an apologetic glance.
“I had a little bit but i think I’m done,” Parker said nervously. He didn’t want Cib to turn his not drinking into something he could change.
“Parker. Parker we brought something for you and your eyes only, a secret gift for you my friend-” Cib continued to ramble but he became inaudible as the sentence progressed.
“We know what you said earlier but Cib wanted to bring you the last of the mudslide shit that you like,” James mumbled, holding out another red cup. It had more than your typical shot in it.
“Also Parker, I’m so sorry, I would never have offered you my drink if I knew what the plan was,” Jeremy apologized. “If it makes you feel better, I’ve probably had less to drink than you at this point, so I’ll walk everyone home.”
The words made Parker feel warm inside. Or the alcohol did. It was most likely both. Parker shrugged and grabbed the cup out of james hand. If Jeremy was offering he sure as hell wasn’t gonna give up an opportunity to get fucked up. He downed the chocolatey drink quickly, crushing the cup and handing it back to james.
“What the hell am I supposed to do with this?” James asked, slightly annoyed.
“Not my problem anymore,” Parker said with a chuckle. James frowned and walked away.
“Parker you, me tonsil hockey-table tennis- foosball later am i right?!” Cib said, clapping a hand on Parker’s shoulder. Parker tried to stammer out an answer before shrugging. “Alright cool, foosball ya later!” Cib and Jeremy trailed after James. Parker stood up, wobbling slightly, to stop them and ask to get the cup back. Unfortunately, when he stood up he realized how drunk he already was.
“Parker you mind if I light up while you’re up here?” Andrew asked. Parker didn’t mind. He shook his head no and sat back down, resting his head on his friend’s shoulder. He felt Andrew’s arms move and heard the lighter click. Andrew’s chest move as he breathed in and Parker drew in the smoke he exhaled deeply. The smell was comforting to him. It was a very Andrew smell and Parker was used to it. They were roommates after all. (they were roommates) Andrew laughed at him a little.
“You sure you don’t just want a hit? I’ve got plenty,” Andrew offered.
“No, no I shouldn’t,” Parker said. He didn’t want to smoke, per se, he just liked the smell of it,and Andrew’s arm made such a comfortable pillow.
“Suit yourself,” Andrew shrugged. Parker downed the rest of his beer, just to be done with it. Over the course of an hour his friends rotated in and out of the room. Steven asking if either of them had seen his hat. Cib, wearing Steven’s hat, asking if anyone had seen Steven. James trying to find a girl he’d met to give her his number. Steve again, checking up on Parker. He seemed worried. Parker winked at him. Jeremy, but only once, saying he was taking James home. Something about getting in a fight over a girl. Every time someone passed through they gave him sips of their drinks. All the while he sat soaking in the smell permeating the air around him.
“Andrew I love you so much,” Parker said into his arm.
“I love you too, man.”
“No you don’t get it. How much I love you. It’s actually unfathomamable,” Parker continued.
“I think I know, Parker,” Andrew smiled down at him.
“Hm. I can’t be around some kind of LIAr who thinks he knows more than he could ever know, I’m going to the bathroom.” Parker slurred, standing up. His vision was a little blurry.
“Do you want me to come with you?” Andrew was clearly worried. He hadn’t been paying too much attention to what Parker had been drinking but evidently it had been a lot.
“No no sssilly boy, I can do this on my own,” Parker insisted, heading towards the stairs. “Remember you me, I, Parker Coppins, am capable as hell.”
This is the last thing he remembered saying before the night was completely blacked out.
He woke up in his house, although not in his room. His friends were all wrapped in blankets in the living room, Cib was snoring softly. His head was pounding and he struggled to stand up. He carefully made his way to the kitchen, gingerly stepping over haphazard limbs. He didn’t even notice Jeremy standing at the counter until he turned away from the cabinet with something to ease the headache.
“Jeremy! Fuck you scared me,” He yelled, making his head hurt worse. He winced. Jeremy just chuckled and took a sip of coffee.
“You sure overdid it last night,” Jeremy said, although not judgmentally.
“I didn’t mean to, Steve kept offering me his drinks and James is really persuasive and now I’m here. With a hangover like you wouldn’t believe,” Parker groaned.
“”I wouldn’t worry about it too much. At least we didn’t have to carry you home.
Cib on the other hand…” As Jeremy said this Parker could see a blurry image of Cib being held up by Jeremy and Steven, the world around them pitch black.
“Yeah,” Parker said, nodding. He grimaced as he swallowed some pain relief pills with a glass of water and padded back to the living room. He rarely got blackout drunk and he despised this part. The waiting. To see if anyone remembered something stupid or out of line that he had done or said. He saw Steven roll over and hoped he would wake up. He didn’t want to bother Jeremy more than they all undoubtedly had that night. Unfortunately for him Steven continued to snooze. His head continued to pound and he had another flash of memory. This one more vivid and focused. Someone’s hand on his back, the press of soft lips against his. But the memory was brief, and fleeting.He couldn’t tell who it was. He put his head in his hands. What are the odds it was a random party goer and not one of the five people he came to the party with. There were only a handful of people he was afraid of it being. Sami Jo, for one. Cib had made it clear he didn’t like when they hung out. And he supposed that they made a cute couple. Cib and Sami Jo. Were it not for fear of angering Cib he wouldn’t mind kissing her. She was beautiful and he couldn’t help but feel a twinge of jealousy when he knew she was hanging out with Cib, studying for exams and whatever else went on behind closed doors. He desperately tried to remember something, anything at all about the kiss. His thoughts were interrupted by Cib waking up, looking around blearly and walking to the bathroom.
There was only one other person awake right now and he supposed that he couldn’t put off questioning Jeremy forever. Everyone else was still dead to the world. He made his way back to the kitchen where Jeremy was still sipping his coffee and reading the newspaper.
“Jeremy?” Parker started.
“Hm?” Jeremy responded, without looking up from the paper.
“I kind of blacked out last night, is there anything you remember happening in particular that I should uh. Know about today?”
“Not that I can remember. You totally killed Cib in that round of foosball, which was pretty impressive,” Jeremy shrugged. “Nothing else really, but I did go a few hours without seeing you. After I got back from dropping James off here I had a hard time finding anyone really. It wasn’t until the end of the party that you all came stumbling to me.”
“Hm. Okay. Thanks anyway. And thank you so much for walking everyone home. I really dropped the ball this time, it won’t happen again,” Parker promised. Cib walked in the kitchen, and began rummaging around in their cabinets.
“Don’t mention it,”Jeremy said to Parker. He turned to Cib, “Want me to just make you breakfast? There are plenty of eggs to go around.”
“Yeah, that would be great,” Cib mumbled, closing the cabinet empty handed. He glanced at Parker and gave him a look. Parker wasn’t sure what it meant but Cib looked upset with him.
Before he could ask Cib about it Steven walked into the room yawning.
“Breakfast?” He asked. He didn’t seem hungover at all and Parker cursed him silently.
“I made eggs,” Jeremy said, dumping a pan of scrambled eggs onto a large platter. “Breakfast is served.
Everyone grabbed a paper plate and scooped up a helping. They stood around the kitchen, regaling their separate events of the night. Parker noticed that Cib kept shooting him dirty looks as Steven told a story about beer pong.The story was interrupted by another flashback. Slender fingers on his leg. Purple nail polish that he recognized. Sami Jo had shown him the bottle when she bought it. No wonder Cib kept staring at him. He tried to signal Andrew for help but he couldn’t get his attention. He finished his eggs and washed his plate in the sink.
“I’m gonna go clean up the blankets in the living room,” Parker said, desperate to get out of the room and out from under Cib’s judging gaze.
Everyone just nodded and continued eating and talking. Everyone except Cib who set his plate down and stalked out of the room after him. Parker, unaware of this began folding blankets and humming a song he’d heard at the party the night before.
“Boo,” Cib whispered in his ear. Parker’s heart began to race. Cib wouldn’t hurt him over a girl would he? He didn’t mean for anything to happen.
“Cib, I’m sorry. I regret everything. It was a drunken mistake and I honestly wish it had never happened. I love you but I never meant to hurt you like this,” Parker babbled. Cib’s face fell.
“Aren’t you going to yell at me?” Parker asked, still wincing slightly.
“Nah, dude,” Cib sighed. “I just thought- forget it.”
Parker frowned. This wasn’t how things were supposed to go. He expected Cib to yell at least. This just made him feel like garbage.
“Sami Jo is all yours I really didn’t mean-”
“What? What does she have to do with this?”
“Isn’t she your girlfriend?”
“After what happened between you and me last night you think she’s my girlfriend? I would never hurt her like that,” Cib voice cracked.
The fog was finally cleared from his brain. The lips, the painted fingernails. It was never Sami Jo. It had been Cib the entire time. And maybe the jealousy had been Cib too. It wasn’t that far fetched.
“I’ve never been more wrong,” Parker broke into laughter. He couldn’t catch his breath.
“What’s so funny? I really like you Parker but this is-”
Parker calmed his breathing and explained himself. “All morning I thought you were mad at me for kissing Sami Jo. I just remembered the color of the nail polish and assumed. Could we possibly try this again?”
“Yeah,” Cib face broke out into a grin. “I think that can be arranged.” He put his arms around Parker and whispered “Boo” into his ear again. Parker leaned his head back and kissed him. The feeling of Cib’s lips against his was unmistakable, and undoubtedly more enjoyable now that he was sober. They backed onto the couch, faces still locked together. When they finally pulled away Parker laid across Cib’s lap, holding Cib’s hand against his chest.
As Parker’s eyes fluttered shut he heard Steven across the room whisper, “Gross. Somebody owes me 20 bucks.”