Out of the Thousand

When the bells all ring and the horns all blow

And the couples we know are fondly kissing

Will I be with you or will I be among the missing?

My nose wrinkles as I sneer at Esau. "I refuse to go out anywhere with you on New Year's Eve," I tell him snidely. "Why would I subject myself to that kind of torture? I'm not a masochist."

"Come on, it won't be that bad. It'll just be a couple of friends hanging out at Kyle's," Esau wheedles at me, leaning over the back of the sofa to shove his face next to mine. "I thought you like Kyle."

"Him I like. You I don't."

Esau pulls back and puts a hand over his heart dramatically. "Ouch, Ian, ouch. That really hurts." He begins to pout and comes around to the side of the sofa to crumple over the arm, landing next to me with his head flopping onto my lap. "You don't really hate me, do you?" he whines as he stares up at me.

I take the chance while he's wide open to smush a hand over his face and shove him away. "Even if I didn't, you think this is helping your case right now?" I snarl. He grabs my wrist and tries to yank my hand away from his face, presumably so that he can whine some more.

He takes a gasp of breath when he finally frees himself from my hold on his face. "But who am I supposed to kiss at midnight if you don't go?" he wails the moment he can speak again. "Everybody else will be kissing someone. You're not going to let me be all alone, are you?"

"Fuck off. I wouldn't kiss you if you were the last frog prince left in the world to save humanity," I scowl at him.

Esau's pout becomes even more pathetic and desperate. I roll my eyes harder at him as I give him another shove to get him off my lap. "But Iiiiaaaaannnn—"

I get up and start stalking away from the sofa, but he suddenly latches onto my legs and makes me faceplant onto the floor instead. "Watch it, you idiot!" I yelp as I push myself up to my elbows and glare back at him. "You almost fucking broke my nose!"

"Sorry. I'll make it up to you. Just come with me," he persists. "I promise it'll be fun."

Grunting loudly, I thrash out my legs. "Get off me or I'll kick you in the face. We'll see if you get any more of your acting jobs then."

Esau finally seems to get the hint, because his grip loosens and he slowly pulls away from me with that dolefully dejected look on his face. "Fine, I get it," he mopes as he gets to his feet. He lets out a deep sigh and stands up, dusting himself off. "You have my number if you need me, I guess." He starts plodding to the front door, grabbing his keys along the way. When he's got one hand on the doorknob, he glances over his shoulder at me with that pathetic kicked-puppy-in-the-rain expression. I counter it with the best scowl I can muster in response, until he finally leaves.

Somehow this whole exchange has left me so exhausted, even though it's only lasted several minutes. I slump back onto the sofa and close my eyes for a bit to regain my energy. After a while, I finally open them again and reach over for the remote to turn the TV and Xbox on. I need to blow up some imaginary terrorists to let out my frustration before I actually blow a gasket for real.

Maybe it's much too early in the game

Oh, but I thought I'd ask you just the same

What are you doing New Year's, New Year's Eve?

Hours might have passed, or maybe just minutes. All I know is that I've been playing for a while, and I've actually got a pretty good streak going. Usually I suck at this game, but I'm on point tonight somehow. After a while, I put down the controller to give myself a break and get something to drink.

As I walk back to the living room with a freshly opened bottle of cream soda from the kitchen, I pause and stare out the window. There's a lot of noise coming from outside. Must be people partying and getting rowdy before midnight strikes. I look around to see what time it actually is. It can't be that late already, can it? There's no clock in here so I have to pick up my phone to check the time. I only notice now that I've gotten a few new texts, since the phone was on silent while I was playing the game. Frowning, I unlock the phone and tap on the notification. That's weird. Nobody ever texts me, not even Kyle.

When I finally manage to figure out how to open the text message, I instantly groan. They're all from Esau. Go figure. Exhaling loudly to brace myself, I open the earliest one of them.

Miss me yet?

Reflexively, my face scrunches up into a scowl. I swipe to the next message but I know it's only going to be even more annoying.

What you doing?

What did that asshole think I was doing? Not exactly like there's a whole lot to do here by myself. I mean, maybe he thought I've been wanking or something. Maybe I should reply and say that. Depends what the next message is.

Beat that game yet?

Guess he's not a complete idiot. He must have figured I'd be playing games for the most part. I snort at this. So far, the stream of messages aren't actually all that bad yet. He could have been much worse by now. Let's see what else he's got to say.

Miss you.

Groan. Getting worse again. But still not completely unexpected.

Miss me?

For fuck's sakes. Just when I'm about to think he's not a complete idiot, he goes and proves me wrong. I almost throw the phone at the wall in irritation, but there are still several more unread messages that I force myself to go through.

Maybe you made the right choice. Too many people here tonight.

Well, what the hell did he expect? Kyle's place is fucking massive, and it's not like he'd ever be capable of throwing a small New Year's Eve party. I bet at least half the people there weren't even invited. Some of them probably just showed up and don't even know anybody there, but just heard there was some party at the Lansing place, so they just sauntered up and expected to blend in with the crowd or some shit.

wut u doin babe

He better not be drunk. If he comes back with even a whiff of booze and he hasn't taken a cab or something, I'll beat his ass to a fucking pulp. I can't stand people getting drunk, let alone anybody who would dare to drink and drive. That kind of shit is absolutely unforgiveable to me, and I'm damn sure he's aware of that fact, considering he knows my family history all too well.

Everybody's here with someone. Except me :(

I snort at that. He's delusional if he thinks he can guilt trip me. He knew what he was getting into, so if he really wanted to have somebody with him at that goddamned party, he could have just picked up any random chick off the streets to go with him. I'm sure any girl he found along the way would have been more than ecstatic to go to a New Year's Eve party with Esau fuckin' Reiner.

There are finally no more unread messages and I sigh sharply before I toss the phone onto the sofa. Taking a long swig of cream soda, I stride over to the window and peek out at the noisy throng below. It's not all that crowded yet, but I know that it'll be packed down there soon enough.

Wonder whose arms will hold you good and tight?

When it's exactly twelve o'clock that night

Welcoming in the New Year, New Year's Eve

I don't know why, but I keep imagining what Kyle's party must be like. I've been to his place plenty of times over the past few months, but I've only ever been there to study, not for a party. Wonder if he's found some random chick for Esau to stop him from moping. If not, I bet Esau's just sitting in a corner with those puppy-dog eyes and that pathetic pout on his lips as he sends me those fucking dumb texts.

Blinking, my eyes refocus until I'm gazing at my own reflection in the window instead of looking down at the overcrowded streets below the apartment. I stare into my own dimly-reflected eyes for a couple more seconds before realising what I'm doing, and quickly shake my head to turn away. Why the hell am I thinking about whether or not Esau is with someone right about now? He's at a party for a reason, and that reason is more than likely to get laid. If he doesn't, then I'll probably have to hear him whine about it all day tomorrow. God knows I don't want to have to deal with that bullshit first thing in the new year.

By the time I move away from the window, the sun's already set, and the city has been draped in twilight for the past few minutes. I deposit myself onto the sofa sideways, a loud puff of air exiting my lungs as I do. I haven't even done anything except play games (after warding off Esau and preventing him from dragging me to that party), and yet I'm completely drained as if I've run a mile or three. My eyes slide closed automatically, and my thoughts drift away to somewhere else.

Maybe I'm crazy to suppose

I'd ever be the one you chose

Out of the thousand invitations you received

What time is it now, anyway? Blindly, I grope around for my phone, which I know I dropped somewhere here earlier. My hands find it eventually, and I bring it up to my face so that I can quickly peek at the clock. It's almost 11pm. No new messages this time.

I bury my face into the cushions as a groan of exhaustion escapes me. Usually I'd be going to sleep way later than this, but for some reason, it seems like a good time to actually get to bed at a normal time. But my bed is all the way over there, and the sofa is just so comfortable now, and Esau isn't even here to nag at me for sleeping out here, because he's probably out fucking around with at least two different chicks right about now…

Maybe I should have gone with Esau. It would have been cool to see Kyle at least, and I bet there are tons of hot chicks there. Even if most of Kyle's friends are likely older than me, I'm sure I would have been able to play the pity card to get some attention from some busty brunette. But then again, Esau would also be there and he'd probably sabotage my attempts at picking up any girl, so that would have been out of the question.

Come to think of it, for all I know, he might even be at another party after hitting up Kyle's. That's usually how this shit goes, isn't it? You go to one party, then another, then another, and then you pick out which one is the best and go back to that to finally ring in the new year. Or at least, that's what I've seen on TV shows and shit. But who knows what it's really like? I haven't actually been to a New Year's Eve party before.

Oh, but in case I stand one little chance

Here comes the jackpot question in advance

What are you doing New Year's, New Year's Eve?

"Ian? Ian!"

A hand on my shoulder roughly shakes me awake. I must have fallen asleep without even realizing it. Letting out a small grunt, I crack open one eye to look up at whatever asshole has decided to disturb my slumber. Of course, who else could it have been? I growl lowly in my chest and clench my eye shut again. "Whaddya want?" I mutter at Esau. Why can't he just let me sleep in peace?

"Did you get my text?" Esau asks. His voice almost sounds urgent for some reason, like there's something going on right now that I'm supposed to know about. He's leaning over the arm of the sofa so that his head is hovering just above mine.

"Which one? You sent me a shit-ton," I grumble. "What d'you want now?" It's probably well past midnight, if he's back home already, so I don't know why he's bothered waking me up right now. "If you're going to tell me to go sleep in my room, don't bother because I don't give a shit."

Esau chuckles softly. "I wasn't going to say that yet, but you really shouldn't sleep out here. You'll ruin your pretty neck," he says in a low tone. "Anyway, you really didn't get my message? When did you fall asleep?"

"Fuck if I know. What does it matter? Just tell me what you want so I can ignore it and go back to sleep."

My eyes are closed, so I can only feel Esau leaning in toward my face. The scent of aftershave mingled with his natural musk wafts to my nostrils, but not in a way that's too strong or overpowering. "Ten," he whispers.

Again, I crack one bleary eye open just enough to glare at him with it. "What?" I demand. "What the fuck does that mean?" Ten of what? Is he actually drunk or something?

He doesn't answer my question, but instead that cheeky smile of his spreads across his lips. "Seven."

"Seriously, what the fuck?"

"Five."

"Don't fuck with me. I'll tear you a fucking new—"

"One."

Before I can say anything else, his lips are on mine. Both my eyes snap wide open now in shock, and I stare almost cross-eyed at him as he presses against me a little harder. A series of dull, booming noises drift to my ears, and I realise it's the sound of fireworks filtering in from outside. That must mean it's midnight, which means….

Pulling back abruptly, I raise a hand to shove him away. I want to curse him out, but for some reason, there are no words on the edge of my tingling tongue. I just blink at him dumbly, completely and utterly speechless.

After a moment, that typical idiotic grin spreads across Esau's face, lit up in bursts by the light of fireworks refracting through the window. His lips still just barely an inch or two away from mine, he whispers, "Happy new year, Ian."

Oh, what are you doing New Year's, New Year's Eve?


A/N:

Fluffy side-story/songfic/AU-ish that I was inspired to write about the main characters from Karma. :) This might actually have happened in the real storyline, but who knows, maybe not at the same time. Either way, I was a bit inspired by the song last year because it really seemed to encapsulate the relationship between these two.

In case you haven't already, please do read the main story of Karma for more Ian and Esau. If not, still thanks for reading this one and hope you enjoyed. 3