By the twelfth hand of Poker, Kim was very drunk, Greg had a nice buzz, and Angelos was four hundred dollars richer. Louisa had come to sit beside Angelos at some point, and was now slumped over facedown on the table. "Pissed silly," as the British boy had put it when she first collapsed after gulping half the contents of his cup. Annette was passed out on the couch and was snoring loud enough to let the neighbors' neighbors know that she was still alive.
Evelyn had moved into a beige leather chair set near the beige leather couch, her eyes closed but her ears open. The fair-sized television to her right had been turned off. It was now half past eleven o'clock at night, a clock set on the top shelf of a black-metal bookshelf would tell anyone that glance at it.
As interesting as that was, Evelyn was more intent to eavesdrop on Angelos and Greg's conversation.
"How in the Hell have you won every hand?" Exclaimed the black man loudly, angrily.
"Have I?" Said the white boy innocently, in a slurring, drunken, British-accented voice. "Hm… Well maybe next hand is your lucky hand. Want to shuffufle again?" Something seemed to strike the underage drunk just then. "Shuffufle!" He giggled cheerfully, like a toddler that had just discovered a new word. "I meant," he tittered, "Shamumble… No wait!" He cried suddenly, and then continued calmly, "Shuffle. There we go. Would you like to shumble again?"
A grumbling Greg had already begun to do all of the above.
He inhaled deeply, and the tip of the joint hanging from his podgy purplish lips went from ashy gray to red hot, and back to ashy gray once more as he exhaled. A thin, twisting and curling column of smoke emitted from the end of the rolled white paper, which hid the dried and crushed marijuana within it.
As he dealt five cards to himself and Angelos, the second player offered him his red cup. "Get it yourself," Greg snapped.
"No," Angelos snickered. "I'm asking if you want a shnip?"
Greg snatched it from him and chugged the remaining contents, not even removing the joint from his mouth but instead just maneuvering it to the corner of his corpulent lips. Inwardly, Angelos smiled. Outwardly, he leaned back in his chair and smirked, watching smugly as the drugged liquor slid past the larger man's Adam's apple…
Until he remembered the chair he had been seated in was only three legged, and tipped backwards.
"Slick." Laughed Greg huskily. Instantly Angelos shot up back into a seated position, except his seat was now on the floor, while he clutched the back of his head with both hands and scowled at the white linoleum kitchen floor.
He glanced out through the door-less doorframe leading into the living room, glimpsing Evelyn seated in the plush leather chair beside the couch. Since the chair was facing the kitchen, and his companion's head was tilted to the side as she feigned sleep, he was able to see the disapproving frown as it curved her pale pink lips. His smirk returned. If he was fooling the only completely sober person left in this apartment into thinking that he was pissed drunk, then his acting was a lot better than he had first given himself credit for.
"Well," he told no one in particular as he climbed back to his feet and up-righted his three-legged chair, then rubbed the sore spot on the back of his head and checked his fingers for blood. "I'm not the one who just chugged the drugged drink." He looked at Greg as he said this, and after a moment of patient silence, it apparently dawned on the black man what the British boy was talking about.
"Why you British… little…"
"Goodnight, you big American love-bug." Angelos replied coolly as Greg slumped forward in his own chair and his head hit the table, "Sweet dreams." Then he looked back to his female friend, whose eyes were now open and watching him wonderingly. "Come along, love. Gather your valuables and let's shove off." The slur was gone from his voice. As she stood and slowly made her way over to him, Angelos tossed over her neatly rolled wad of cash. She caught it deftly on impulse, and he nodded approvingly. "Nice catch. Have everything?"
"But you sounded…?" She began uncertainly, coming to a halt in the living room/kitchen's door-less doorframe.
"Drunk?" He finished for her. True, he had a slight buzz from earlier drinks, but that had been before Greg's arrival. It should have worn down to a full minimum by now. He was as good as sober, really. Evelyn nodded. "It's called acting, love. Your parents do it all the time."
Whoops, he thought with sudden clarity, his buzz rapidly vanishing.
Evelyn stared at him blankly. "What?"
Angelos returned her blank stare. "Nothing," came his automatic response.
Both stood frozen for a prolonged moment, watching one another's expressions warily, with neither expecting the other to make a move. Finally, Evelyn dropped her gaze to the side. "Oh… Well, I'm ready. Where are we going?"
Angelos knew he had just made a gigantic mistake that would cost him dearly. There goes all her trust in you, his conscience informed him. What are you so happy about, he snapped back thoughtfully. You're in love with her, too. "In a minute," he said, glancing at Greg's limp form and hoping she comprehended his meaning. Apparently she did, as a rustle of clothing told him she was moving towards the apartment's front door.
Forty seconds later, both teenagers stood silently in the elevator. Evelyn's hands were wringing once more, but Angelos knew what would happen if he tried taking them again. He also knew what was coming and what he would need to do…
"How long have you known?"
He flinched at the softly spoken inquiry. She might as well have screamed it at him. Maybe it would be less painful for them both in the long run that way?
"It wasn't hard to figure out," he murmured, falling back against the elevator's green steel wall and exhaling heavily. "You got tense and emotionless every time someone mentioned the Kruegers. You're too courteous to be a true runaway, or poor. So I've known since the moment I saw you…" He waited for something to happen. A kick somewhere, a slap, or lightning bolts sent down by a vengeful God… anything!
Anything except what she said next.
"Guess this'll be something to tell your friends, huh? Got to lead the littlest Krueger around like a trained puppy for the weekend. Wow," she exclaimed coldly, tonelessly. "And here I thought you were this great, albeit slightly psychotic guy. It's hard to meet one as terrific as you these days, you know? Such a fantastic liar, too…"
Each bitter syllable carved into him deeply as he avoided looking at her.
"I know it was selfish," Angelos whispered desperately, closing his eyes tight. "You just looked so lonely and lost. And I was lonely. I didn't lie, not to you. Never to you." He looked up suddenly, wanting and needing her to understand. "I thought-…"
The tears surprised him.
Silver rivulets trailed down her smooth, tan cheeks, and pooled in her eyes. The sapphire eyes that watched him now were not guarded, not piercing with a distrustful glare, or fiery with the rage Angelos had been expecting.
"You're such an ass." She told him quietly, turning her face away and using the long-sleeves' hems of her royal blue shirt to wipe away the silver trails.
Acting on impulse, Angelos moved close to his companion and gently took her hands in his, not applying any force so that if she pulled away she would be able to. Then he lifted his right hand and brushed his thumb under her eye and across her cheek, and swept a stray strand of her white hair behind her ear and let it rest there, almost cupping her face. Time seemed to stop just then, as she slowly raised her chin until sapphire eyes met emeralds. Those eyes were forgiving, trusting, and perhaps a bit timid.
Those eyes were Evelyn's.
Angelos smirked. "I thought we could keep each other company." He finished in a soothing coo, before lowering his lips to brush against her left cheek, delicately kissing away the remaining tears as her eyes fluttered shut. When he had finished, Angelos moved his lips to hers, and paused a hairline above them.
She might become frightened again, he pondered privately.
Grumble… Click. Ding!
Throwing caution to the draft that wafted through the elevator's nooks and crannies, Angelos closed the space between their lips, his eyes also shutting. It's now or never, he had decided.
"Ah, young love." Said a deep, raspy voice just as their lips touched.
Angelos froze… and then remembered the position he was in and pulled away in order to turn partially to observe the homeless person that had spoken. A small smile crept to his thin maroon lips as he momentarily studied the balding man dressed in an oversized light brown, ripped and sullied trench-coat, then torn gray pants and a black or very dark green button-up collar-shirt. Whether the shirt was short or long-sleeved, Angelos didn't know. The old man's beard was mostly gray, and what hair he had was grown to his shoulders and a quickly graying brown. Then his eyes were a vibrant aquamarine, probably his most attractive feature. He was lean from undernourishment, and had to be at least sixty-years-old.
"How true," Angelos mumbled in agreement.
The homeless man held up a bottle, which was wrapped in a brown paper bag, and grinned a mostly toothless grin. "A drink for the happy couple?"
Evelyn blushed furiously as Angelos led her off the elevator using her left hand he still held, and to the nearest exit. "No, no. You go ahead, sir. Thank you, nonetheless." He replied just before opening the door for his companion and waiting for her to walk out, which she did immediately.
Once outside, with the cool spring's late night breeze billowing about them, Angelos took her hand again and headed up the sidewalk. Or it could have been 'down the sidewalk.' She didn't really know where they were in downtown anymore.
Finally, Evelyn recovered her voice. "Where are we going?" She asked skeptically, still a bit unsure about what had just happened. Had that really even happened? Or was it all willful thinking and a powerful imagination? Maybe she had fallen asleep back in that chair up in the Madison's apartment and this was all a dream? Or perhaps she was still asleep on that diseased sheet-less mattress back at Javier's and…
Then she miscalculated her footing, tripped and fell, and skinned her knees beneath the dark fabric of her pants. Well, she thought in humiliation, the pain sure singles out the thought of this all being one long lucid dream sequence.
"Are you all right?" Angelos asked, crouching in front of her and gazing deeply, devotedly into her eyes. Evelyn blushed scarlet, and wondered if he could tell even though it was quite dark. Judging by the way his concerned expression melted into a smirk, he could, and was pleased by the slight coloring. She scowled back at him, forcing the blush to go away.
"Jerk." She muttered, getting back to her feet with little help from Angelos as he snickered.
"I'll take that as a 'I'm fine'?"
My Demon's back, he thought with his smirk broadening to a smile.