Your Commonplace, Cliché-Ridden, Comedic Carrying-On
It really felt like my head was about to explode when Gabriel stormed into my room, but it's not so surprising, when you take a couple of things into account: one, that he literally stormed into my room, I mean heavy footsteps and all; two, that he was actually banging two frying pans together when he did it; and three, that I had the worst hangover I've ever had, which I guess isn't that impressive considering it was also the first.
"Rise and shine," Gabriel announced wickedly. Blearily I squinted at him through eyes that were both gritty and exhausted. My throat was scratchy and raw, my head ached, and my entire body felt sore. I grimaced and managed a hoarse hello before pressing my face into my pillows.
Gabriel slammed the frying pans together next to my ear; I howled in pain and shot away from him, which only made my head hurt all the more. "What. The. Fuck?" I snapped at him, pressing two fingers into my sinuses. If my distinct lack of cheery disposition startled him, he didn't show it.
"You reek of alcohol," he informed me. "And you're really lucky that Dad had to go into work even though it's Sunday and that Mom decided to visit Aunt Daisy for brunch today. I covered for you, by the way," he added smugly. "I said you just came back late last night. Did you know that you didn't get back until seven?"
"Seven is not late," I pointed out irritably, but even as I did, I realized that didn't make sense. Aaron had come to get me around seven, and we didn't even leave until like half an hour later, which meant…
"Seven in the morning," he emphasized cheerfully. "Mom wanted to come wake you up but I said you'd get grouchy. Which you are, did you notice?"
"Get out of here, you little squirt," I growled, trying fruitlessly to hit him, but he was too far away. He was still grinning, too, the little ass. I decided that as soon as stars stopped bursting in front of my eyes, I'd kill him. Or at least lock him in a closet.
"Nuh-uh. I covered for you, Sab, didn't you hear me? You owe me."
"I don't owe you," I moaned, reaching over to drag my pillow closer and pressing it over my head. "I'd have had to ask for your help first."
"That's not how it works. I covered for you," he said again. "And I can stop covering for you any time I want." I threw my pillow at him and missed colossally, which is even more of a shame because now I had no pillow. "What happened last night, anyway?"
I thought back. I remembered last night—I wasn't that drunk, at least—but the memories definitely weren't that pleasant.
It had really all gone downhill from the moment Rachel arrived. When she'd said she brought the party, she really wasn't kidding: there were some twenty or thirty kids behind her, and numerous cars parked on the street behind them all. And when I didn't move aside, she actually pushed me aside and strode in, dragging Barry with her, with everyone following. And I just kind of stopped and stared as everyone filed past me.
I had kind of expected the parties to be different when you were at the top—you know, when you were the most popular girl in school and dating the quarterback (okay, so the first one wasn't really true, but you get what I mean), but they weren't. There were still people dancing obscenely in the cleared-out space in Aaron's living room. Still people hanging out in the hot tub, some fully clothed. Still a lot of beer. The only difference was that I, apparently, was expected to drink it this time.
Which I guess was how I found myself hovering near Aaron's side, drinking beer like water because I had nothing better to do and I wanted to at least pretend I was having a good time.
Huh. Well, that explained the hangover.
A lot of the guys from the football team kept coming and going, and every time they did, there was always this long, wordless stare that was usually accompanied by a mouth hanging open when they saw me. It was kind of flattering at first (kind of) but after a certain point, I started to get uncomfortable and wished I had worn a longer skirt. Or, you know, pants.
After what felt like forever, Irish came and found me. I'd probably had about three beers by then, and considering I wasn't much of a drinker, it felt like a lot. He gazed at me with concern. "You know, you look like you need some fresh air," he said slowly. I blinked at him. "Come on. Let's go outside. Yo, Aaron," he called over his shoulder, taking my hand and leading me outside, "I'm gonna take her out for some air, okay?" I don't know what Aaron responded, but whatever it was, Irish took it for agreement and we stepped out onto the patio.
The air did feel good, I guess. It was nice to breathe fresh air after the sweat-filled, rather smoky living room. Seriously, you would have thought that if people were going to smoke, they could at least go outside. Although I guess then the fresh air wouldn't be so, you know, fresh.
Irish peered straight into my face, cupping my cheeks lightly. I tried to bat his hands away—after all, I didn't need him to ruin my sexy waves—but he was still holding me, so it probably wasn't all that effective. "Are you okay?" he asked quietly. "You look a little—lost."
Well, it was a little tough to focus. "I'm fine," I said impatiently, batting his hands away. I was a little unsteady, maybe, but otherwise fine. "I'm just going to sit down. Okay? I'm going to sit down."
"Okay," he agreed, but I had already chosen a pool chair to plop onto. I couldn't really feel the cold, although logically I knew it was cold. Although my legs were a bit numb. And I felt sort of woozy. Overall condition: not good.
Irish squinted down at me. "Are you going to be sick?" he asked warily. "Because there are a lot of people in the hot tub, and it'd be really disgusting if you threw up in it."
Oh, gee, thanks. "I'm not going to be sick," I said loudly. A guy cheered at this and said, "Woo! Have another beer, then!" And then he thrust a cup into my hands. I was about to sip it again—actually, by this point, it didn't taste half as bad as it normally did—when Irish grabbed it and set it out of my reach, looking annoyed. Well, I was kind of annoyed he had taken it away from me.
"I really think you've had enough," he said firmly. I glowered up at him. He looked down at my legs, and his expression changed. "Um, are you cold?"
"Not really," I said, which was mostly true, but Irish must have thought I was, because he sat down next to me and pulled off his varsity jacket—I had never realized he played football, but he was one of Aaron's friends, and most of them played football, didn't they? He handed it to me and as I tugged it around me, he wrapped a loose arm around my shoulders. Like Ian would. It was nice.
I suddenly missed Ian and Heather. Ian was sometimes a no-show for parties, but never Heather. Heather always wanted to go to these things. Where was she?
…Well, there was that blond chick in the corner… no, not tall enough. Not Heather. "Sab?" I glanced over at Irish and smiled woozily. "Are you sure you're okay? Are you feeling any better?"
"Thanks for your jacket," I answered, hoping this would give him some kind of an answer, and it must have, because he nodded. "So, did you notice you're calling me Sab now? Which is kinda nice, because Ian and Heather call me Sab, and they're my best friends. Actually, everyone calls me Sab. Except Aaron."
"That might suggest," Irish said, quietly and carefully, "that he doesn't know you as well as you—as well as he thinks he does. You should tell him to call you Sab, if you prefer it."
"No, Sabrina's fine," I said, which was a lie because like I said, it made me think of the teenage witch. Although to be honest, Sab wasn't that great a name either. But it was mine. "I mean, it makes me sound kind of sophisticated, don't you think?" Or witchy. "Anyway, I sort of like that Aaron has a special nickname for me."
He gave me a weird look. "Except Sabrina's your real name. Sab is your nickname."
"Right, right. But you know what I mean." He was still giving me a weird look, which was a pretty clear indication that he didn't, so I brushed this off and pulled his jacket closer around me even though I really wasn't cold.
After a beat, he said, "Do you want me to stop calling you Sab?"
"No, I like it. It means we're friends. We're friends, right?"
I felt him smile more than I saw it, and his arm around my shoulders tightened. "Yeah, we are."
We sat like that in silence for a while. "It's not that cold," I finally said. "So I don't really need this." I started to shrug out of his jacket, but his arm kept it in place.
"You can't feel the cold because you're buzzed," he told me, and gave me another weird look, although it wasn't like the last one. "You don't drink much, do you?"
"Not really," I admitted.
"Then why did you tonight?"
"Dunno. Seemed like a good idea at a time." Was my buzz wearing off? I still couldn't feel the cold, but Irish's jacket was very warm. Kind of nice, actually. I snuggled into it and gave a hearty whiff. He smelled like that Tommy Hilfiger cologne that Ian had used for like a week, until Heather told him it made him smell too sexy and he couldn't wear it around her anymore. Yeah, he had changed cologne really fast after that. "Did you drink?"
"I don't drink."
He shrugged. "It's not my scene."
"But you're a football player! Aaron drinks! All the football players drink!"
Irish's eyebrows rose. "Obviously not," he pointed out, dryly. "Are you ready to go back inside?"
"Yeah." I nodded emphatically and stood up. "I should go find Aaron."
"Sab—" he began, but I was already moving toward the screen doors.
It was a lot darker in the living room than when I had left, and a lot more people were dancing now. I mean, a lot. I kind of figured Aaron and I should be dancing, too. I mean, he was the quarterback, and I was his girlfriend, and it was his party. Wasn't it like, some kind of rule that you should dance with your girlfriend at your party?
Pushing my way through the crowd—which was difficult, let me tell you—I emerged into the kitchen and looked around. There were a couple of people in there, all of them looking curiously at me, none of them were Aaron. I drooped a little at this, and one of the guys said, quite kindly, "You don't look so good. Here, have something to drink." He gave me a red cup.
I took a sip and promptly spat it back into the cup. That was definitely not beer. "This isn't beer!" I cried.
"Uh, no," he said, frowning. "It's vodka. Hey, aren't you Aaron's Girlfriend?"
"What? Oh. Yeah." I gave a despairing look into the cup. "This tastes awful. How am I supposed to drink this without dying?"
"Really fast," he said knowledgeably.
See, I might have been buzzed, but not that buzzed. I didn't drink it right away. Instead I frowned suspiciously at him. "Did you put something in this?" I demanded.
He gave me a befuddled look. "Yeah. Vodka. I just told you. Weren't you listening?"
"Dude," somebody next to him said, punching his shoulder, "she means something else."
"Oh. No." I must have still been staring at him suspiciously, because he said, "Give me a break. You're Aaron's Girlfriend. Nobody's going to put shit in your drink." He snorted unattractively. "If you're not going to drink it, give it back. No point letting good liquor go to waste." He reached for it, but I quickly stepped back.
"No. You gave it to me. It's mine." And then I squinted at him. "Do I know you?"
"Yeah," he said, looking aggrieved. "I'm Barry Jamison."
"Ah," I said, intelligently. "Barry-the-leech. Right." He sputtered this, and while he did, I pinched my nose shut as if this would somehow inhibit my taste buds and chugged the liquid in the red cup. And promptly gagged, but did not throw up. Thankfully.
"Good, right?" said the guy who had punched Barry Jamison earlier.
Probably a matter of opinion I guessed, and so I turned to Barry. "Where's your scum-sucking girlfriend Rachel?" I was surprised, and so was everybody else. I normally wasn't that vicious, after all. I really hoped she wasn't standing behind me, just like somebody always is when you're talking about them. I glanced over my shoulder and mentally breathed in relief. In the clear.
"Rachel's not my girlfriend," he said, as somebody else answered, "She came in here and dragged Aaron off. It looked like they were going to fight." He smirked. "Or have sex."
"What?" I said, in a very loud voice. All the guys flinched. "That scum-sucking—scum-sucker! I'm totally going to kick her ass!" I turned to go off, but someone grabbed my arm. A guy was giving me a worried look.
"That's a really bad idea," he assured me.
"Yeah," agreed Barry Jamison. "She'd totally kill you. I heard the last time she and Aaron broke up, she put his new girlfriend in the hospital."
I stared at him in horror. "Really?" Oh, my God. I was going to die. Oh, my god. Ohmigod, Omigod, OMG.
"That's a total lie," said the guy next to him, looking annoyed. "She was in a car accident."
"Yeah," said Barry wisely, "but how do you know Rachel wasn't driving the other car?'
Oh, my god. I was going to die.
The guy next to him rolled his eyes and looked at me. "Look, just stay here. Aaron'll come back any moment." He shifted over to give me space, and I slumped between him and Barry Jamison. Barry gave me another drink.
I don't know how long I waited there for Aaron to come back, but it was either a really long time or I just drank unnaturally fast. Either way, the room was really spinning, and by the time most of the guys had drifted off (aside from Barry Jamison, who had his arm wrapped around my waist in support), I was leaning against the counter because there was always the off-chance that I might just slide onto the floor without any support. I was also wailing into Barry Jamison's ear.
"I hate my life," I moaned. "Where's Aaron? He left me. He's probably off having sex with your scum-sucking girlfriend."
"She's not my girlfriend," Barry replied, but he squeezed my hip sympathetically.
"Sab? What are you doing?"
I glanced up and after what felt like ages, said, "Irish! Dwyer!" as if they were two different people, but I was almost seeing double, so that wasn't so strange. "Aaron left me to go have sex with his scum-sucking ex-girlfriend."
"I doubt that. Go hit on somebody else, Barry." Grumbling, Barry left my side and I had to clutch the counter more firmly. I took another swig of my drink, but before I could really get it, Irish gently but firmly took it away and set it aside—out of my reach, again.
"He wasn't hitting on me," I sniffed pathetically. "He was being nice."
"Trust me, he was hitting on you. Which isn't surprising."
"He never hit on me before," I sniffed again.
"That's because you were never dressed like this before. Come on." Gently he reached out and twined his arm around his neck, half-carrying me out of the kitchen.
"Are you saying I'm dressed like a whore?" My voice was beginning to come out slightly slurred.
"No, it's just not you. Come on, Sab. I can't carry you all the way. I need you to move your feet." I shuffled them a little awkwardly in the direction he was pulling me in. "That's better. Come on. We're almost to my car."
"I can't drive with drunk people," I remembered. "And I came with Aaron."
"I'm not drunk, and trust me, your boyfriend's probably in no condition to be driving you down the driveway, much less your house."
I made a very woebegone noise near Irish's ear, which caused him to flinch. "Because he's probably off having sex with his scum—"
"Because he's probably drunk," Irish interrupted. "We're at my car. Lean against it for a sec, but try not to throw up, okay? If you're going to, do it in the bushes, not on my car."
"I won't," I promised miserably, but I wasn't too sure of that. I blearily watched Irish open the passenger side and help me in. "Where are we going?"
He looked down at me and frowned. "I can't really take you to your house like this," he observed. I knew how he felt. I probably looked a mess. Felt like it, too. For a while the alcohol had seemed to be helping, and it was something to do while waiting for Aaron, but now I just felt a little sick and very… messy. My hair was probably a disaster, and for some reason, this really bothered me.
"God, I bet my hair's a mess," I moaned. "Heather told me the spray would keep the sexy waves, but I bet it's all gone flat now, huh?"
"Kind of, yeah," he admitted with a slight smile. "It looked nice earlier, if it makes you feel any better."
I sniffed up at him. "Sexy?"
"Very," he agreed in a serious voice, although his eyes were twinkling slightly, like green traffic lights. Or maybe that was just my vision shot to hell. One of the two. "Can I take you to Heather's house?"
"I dunno where she is," I blubbered, upset. "What if she's not at her house? What if she's off with Ian, laughing because I was so stupid to think I could look like a porn star? What if—"
"Okay, not Heather's house," he interrupted hastily.
"You should just leave me in a park somewhere," I said morosely. "Or on my front lawn, that happens in the all the movies."
"I'm not going to leave you in a park or on your front lawn," he said firmly, although he still sounded and looked too amused. "What kind of movies have you been watching anyway?"
I looked at him, and his green eyes were making me feel a little green myself. "I think I might be sick," I mumbled, and quickly bent over, out of the car. I heard Irish move quickly away, but I didn't throw up; I just stayed in that position, my head aching and my stomach rolling, feeling awful and unhappy. After what felt like forever, but (again) probably not that long, Irish helped me sit up.
"Come on," he said gently. "Let's go."
"We'll think of something. Come on," he encouraged, and got into the driver's seat. "If you're going to be sick, tell me and I'll pull over."
We started off, and he drove really slowly so I wouldn't feel any worse than I did. I let my head rest against the cool glass for a while, and when the silence started to get to me, I said, "You're really nice, Irish."
"You really have to stop calling me that," he said, but I could hear the smile in his voice.
"Yeah, right," I said, starting to feel a little sleepy. "I bet you secretly love it that I have a special nickname for you."
He snorted, but it didn't sound all that believable.
"You're really nice," I said again. "And you have nice eyes and nice freckles."
"Yeah, they're super cute. How would I look with freckles?" I turned my head and looked at him. He was watching the road ahead, but as he pulled up to a stoplight, he glanced at me from the corner of his eyes.
"Super cute," he said teasingly, and I made a face at him. It must have looked stupid, though, because he laughed, and then the light changed, and he kept driving.
Eventually we reached a cute little white house that I was in no mood to appreciate. I traipsed up to the front door, but he grabbed my hand and dragged me around to the side of the house and pushed a window on the first floor open. "Listen," he said urgently, "if I let you in the front door, my folks'll see you and that's no good. And I don't need my sister to see you, either. So I'm going to help you crawl through the window, and then I'll be with you in a sec. But you can't make any sound, okay? Because if I get caught with a girl in my room…"
I really just wanted to lie down. "Okay," I mumbled, and clambered through the window with a lot of help. I fell with a thud, and heard a television suddenly go on mute, and somebody ask, "What was that?" I crawled as quickly as I could (so like a snail, really) to the side of the bed. The door to the room opened, and I heard some footsteps, but I was on the far side of the bed, so no one saw me. I even held my breath, and only let it out when the door closed. The television resumed.
Moments later I heard another door open somewhere in the house, and Irish shouting, "Mom, Dad! I'm home and I'm going to bed, okay?" Within ten seconds he was closing and locking the door securely. I lay on the floor where I was, and then heard a flurry of footsteps and Irish cursing.
"Shit! Sab, are you okay? Wake up!"
"I'm awake," I mumbled. "But I didn't want to move 'cause it'd make too much noise."
"Thank God," he said, breathing in relief. "I thought you'd passed out."
"Mm-mm." He helped me to my feet, and then into a bed—his bed, I realized suddenly. "Are you going to sleep with me?" I asked sleepily. Irish shook his head jerkily no, and then knelt by the side of the bed. He was fumbling with my feet, so I tried to see what he was doing, but then he moved back into my vision again.
"I can't get your shoes off, so we'll just leave them on," he whispered. "Get under the covers, come on." Together we managed to shove me under his comforter, but my eyes were drooping sleepily, and I was almost gone. "I'll wake you up in the morning and drive you home," he whispered, and that was the last thing I remembered from the night.
Logically I realized that he must have woken me up early and driven me home and somehow managed to get me into my house and my room and my bed, which was really miraculous because I had no idea how he'd managed it. And now Gabriel was sitting on my bed, holding two frying pans, staring at me, waiting for an answer. I could distantly see the boots Heather had lent me in the corner, but a twitch of my legs told me I was still in my clothes from last night. Fortunately, all Gabriel could see was the beginning of my super-tiny tank top, so as far as he knew, I was in my pajamas, albeit slightly skimpy ones for early November. Now I just had to find a way to get rid of him before I crawled out of bed. Although based on the frying pans, he probably knew I was hung-over.
Which brought up several interesting questions: how did he know that? And should eighth-graders know about underage drinking and hangovers? Did I know about those things at thirteen?
I really couldn't remember.
"Sab?" he asked, impatiently. "What happened last night?" he asked, again.
I gazed as innocently at him as I could. "I was at Heather's."
"Nice try. She came by 'round nine this morning to see what was up with you." He smirked. "And I caught some guy trying to sneak you into the house."
That must have been Irish, or at least, I hoped it was. "Er, yeah. We were at Heather's, and he, uh, dropped me off." Gabriel gave me a look that suggested I only had one more try. "All right!" I snapped irritably. "I owe you one. Now go away!" Still smirking, he obliged, but he did slam the door shut rather harder than necessary. I sank back into bed and wriggled out of my skirt, shoving it indelicately out from beneath the covers with one foot. Then I turned and pressed my face into the side of the pillow.
Now that I remembered last night, I was starting to wish I didn't.
Author's Note: Apologies for the tremendously long wait. Theoretically I know precisely where I want this story to go; I even have some more scenes mapped out in my head. It's just taking me a little while to put them into actual form. Anyway, I hope the super-sized chapter makes up for it. And as always, please leave reviews telling me what you think, even if it's a really short comment: it always is nice to know that people are reading. Thanks!