“- so that’s how I learned that you don’t put metal in a microwave. Pipo was pretty mad after that one.”
The sky was clear today, so the two deadbeats had decided to go out and wander the city’s not too deadly neighbourhoods. Although they weren’t exactly deadbeats, cuz they both had jobs now and everything, but they were still pretty useless overall.
“I mean, the guys acts like an asshole whenever I fuck up, but he still hasn’t fired me, y’know? I think he actually likes having me around for some reason.” Vinz continued, sipping his cheap, watery coffee. “That’s nice.” Angelino replied dully.
The skeleton didn’t say anything for a few seconds, then turned around to search his friend’s face. He frowned.
“… also, your mom’s a hoe.”
“You’re not listening to me, are you.”
And now he got a reaction. The hybrid looked at him with that expression kids wear when they get caught cheating in class. “What? No way dude, I was!” he protested. His hotheaded roommate just rolled his eyes with a huff. “Yeah, sure, whatever.” He gazed up at his friend for a moment, taking in the dark circles around his large eyes. He held up his cup in front of him. “Want some bean juice? You look like you could use it.”
A pause. Lino blinked. “…Really? ‘Bean juice’?” he deadpanned.
“What? It is bean juice, technically.”
“Screw that. Coffee’s gross anyway.”
“ ‘betta, why are you staring at the fishes?“
Angelino stared at Ayame, then back to the water tank where about a dozen koi carps were swimming. Gliding so gracefully it almost looked like they were flying. So fucking majestic.
Back to the girl, then back to them. “… I have no idea. What was I supposed to do again?”
The waitress sighted, glancing worriedly at the delivery boy. “Four. Four deliveries near downtown DMC. Is everything okay? Do you need a break?”
The young man teared his eyes away from the water, confused. “No, I’m fine. Why would I need a break?”
“Because you’ve been tripping over your own feet all evening?”
“I’ll be more careful!”
“ ‘betta. You apologized to the door when you slammed into it earlier.”
Lino tilted his head to the side; so that was why it had hurt so much. Ayame crossed her arms in annoyance. “Look, I know you’re an adult and all, and I don’t want to patronize you, I’m not Pops. But you look like hell.”
“I’m serious. It’s okay to take a break if you’re not well, you know?”
The hybrid groaned, rubbing his temples. What a pain. “Look, it’s fine. I just got a lot on my plate right now, but I’m okay, honest. Can we move on? Still got grub to deliver, and bills to pay.”
The next evening, when Vinz came home from his shift at Pipo’s, he barely had the time to spot Lino’s short, dark form rushing out of their flat. “Lino, what the-”
-before disappearing down the stairs. Vinz blinked owlishly. That… was weird. Like, above their usual weirdness levels. He cautiously made his way inside, throwing his coat haphazardly on a chair. That’s when he got the whiff of a familiar, earthy scent. “…Coffee beans.” he thought blandly. Huh. He thought Lino hated coffee.
“Oh hell no he didn’t-”
He rushed into the kitchen; the coffeemaker was still on, dripping droplets of brown liquid every so often. A few empty mugs were lying on the table, some of them tipped over.
And the sugar box was out. Now empty.
“Fuck.” “This won’t end well.”
About three hours later, Vinz’s phone started vibrating in his pocket. Tearing his eyes away from the Sharknado 3 rerun, he took it out and squinted at the screen; okay, the screen was pretty cracked but he could still- Oh. Oooh, fuck me gently with a pitchfork. He was going to kill this stubborn fucker.
He picked up and spoke before Ayame could open her mouth. “Okay, how bad is it.”
Yeah, so he and the waitress had bonded over Wicca stuff and exchanged tips sometimes, sue him.
“How did you- nevermind. He ran around like a headless chicken on steroids for about two hours before he crashed into a stack of porcelain plates and passed out.”
Vinz froze, pupils shrunk to mere yellow pinpricks. He jumped off the couch, running to grab his keys. “Shit! Is he okay?”
“Yeah, the shards missed him. He’s really out of it though, so he’s on a mat in a back room right now. Think you can come and pick him up?”
Vinz took a deep breath, heading for the apartment door. “Okay, good. I’ll be right there.” Thank god he hadn’t been driving. He hung up, locking the door behind him. And ran.
Vinz carried him home more than he walked him. The streets weren’t so crowded now that the cold was settling in, so navigating through the city wasn’t the hell it usually was. Thank fuck for that.
“ ‘ffffuck happened?”
The hothead sighted. He was doing that a lot lately.
When he had come bursting into Hinode’s, Angelino had been puking his guts out for over ten minutes and Aya looked ready to strangle someone. The owner’s daughter just shoved Lino into his face before saying something like “please don’t let this idiot die from stupidity” before basically kicking them out.
Damn. Aya was a sweet gal, but when she cared, she cared hard and she wouldn’t take no shit from anyone. Look like she was done with Lino’s tomfoolery. Thank god I’m not the only one that cares about this moron now.
“You’re a dumbass.” he deadpanned, ignoring the passerby’s stares. They were almost home. “That’s what happened. The fuck were you thinking?”
The hybrid seemed to think about his answer. “Seemed” being the keyword here. “… sounded like good idea…”
“Of course it did. You always think you have genius ideas, but dude, face it, they suck. You’re a flaming trash pile of bad decisions.”
Lino snorted at that, before sobering up and looking down at the ground. “…m’sorry.”
Vinz slowed down. He turned towards his roommate and searched his face, curious. “For what? Don’t worry about the mess in the kitchen, we’ll clean that up later.”
“M’sorry… for being so fucked up.”
They stopped. The hothead stayed silent, attentive. A floodgate had been open and words kept falling out of the half-alien’s mouth. “I’m a fucking mess, I know, I hate it but I can’t stop it. They keep coming back every fucking night and it’s driving me insane. I don’t deserve this shit, I don’t want it, every time I close my eyes it’s like I’m there again, and, and, and-”
“Wow, hey, slow down.” Vinz gently cut him off. “It’s fine, you don’t have to tell me about it. You really don’t.”
Lino just stared at him. His eyes were blown wide with panic, shame, complete and utter exhaustion. Vinz couldn’t bear seeing that look on this face, and he wanted it gone.
“I don’t care what you say or think. You’re my best friend, and you’re not broken.” He squeezed the hybrid’s shoulder. “We’re all damaged, hell, who in this fucked up city isn’t? But we, you, are not broken. And whatever shit you’re dealing with, you don’t have to go through it alone, y’hear me?”
He lets go. Takes a deep breath. Meet Lino’s gaze and holds it. “I’m here. Okay? You’re here, and I’m here too. Together, always. Remember that?”
Angelino looks at him, expression unreadable. After a few seconds, a weak smile lights up his inky, strained, sleep-deprived face. “… yeah, I guess.”
“Good.” Vinz stated, resuming his walk at a brisk pace, his old friend’s arm draped over his shoulders.
It’s dark. Vinz is slowly dozing off, curled up in the faded loveseat, when he hears a familiar gasp. But he doesn’t move, he doesn’t make a sound; he waits.
A few seconds of haggard breathing, finally slowing down to a manageable rate. Silence.
Then the sound of shuffling, the unsure pit-pats of naked feet on the wooden floor, coming closer. A gentle touch on his shoulder. “Vinz. You awake?”
He opens his eye sockets, fully aware, and looks at a sheepish, tired-looking Angelino. He’s scratching the scar on his hip, something he was doing a lot lately. “Yeah man. What’s up?” Vinz patiently replies.
“… I wanna watch TV for a bit. That okay?”
The skeleton shrugs casually, but his inner self is screaming victory. “Sure.”
“-but then the actor died in the middle of the shooting, so they replaced him with his masseuse for the rest of the flick. Problem was, the guy looked nothing like him, so they had him cover his face with the cape everytime he was onscreen, but even with that it’s so obvious it’s ridiculous!” Vinz explained enthusiastically, laughing at the hilarious special effects of the movie.
Angelino pursed his lips. “I don’t get it. If it’s so bad, why do people enjoy watching this?”
Vinz mulled over it for a minute. “…I’m not sure, but I think it’s cuz the people who made it tried so hard to make it good, but it still ended up shit, and it’s so fucking funny to see all the actors take everything so seriously. Y’know?”
The hybrid shrugged, sinking deeper into the loveseat next to the hothead. “Not really, but whatever.”
Vinz fondly elbows him and draws his attention back to Plan 9 from Outer Space. He swore, Ed Wood had to be a misunderstood genius.
Only a few minutes later, he felt something fall onto his shoulder. He didn’t need to turn around to know Lino was out cold, his slow breathing was proof enough.
Vinz smiled, closed his eye sockets and soon joined his friend into sweet oblivion.