How Much About Last Night Do You Remember?

by D. Sidhe


     From: "D. Sidhe" <dsidhe@attbi.com>
     Date: Friday, November 15, 2002 10:11 AM

     How Much About Last Night Do You Remember?
     By D. Sidhe dsidhe@attbi.com
     Category: pre-slash, sequel to "The Back Burner".
     Pairing: Frohike/Langly
     Rating: PG for a little language and generally bad role
     models. 
     Disclaimers: This product is offered as is. No warranty is
     stated or implied. The manufacturer takes no responsibility
     for damage done by this product. None of the participants
     are the property of the manufacturer, and no transfer of
     ownership is implied or stated in this contract. No refunds
     or replacements.
     Archive: Archive your little heart out. Just don't leave my
     name on it, okay?
     Spoilers: None.
     Author's Note: This incredibly lackluster outing is the
     product of medication misuse (This is what happens when you,
     as John Lovitz once said, mix Day-Quil and Ny-Quil.) and
     Call Me Betty's adamant refusal to come to my aid. Betty has
     refused to help basically because I put his name on the last
     one. So I'm retaliating by spreading the following rumor:
     The Rather Fetching Betty Slashes 'Growing Pains'. Hah. I'm
     prepared to pretend this is deliberate badfic. I'm also
     prepared to offer some half-dozen other unfinished stories
     in a sort of As-Is Slash Garage Sale, including the sequel
     to this one, which I hope will actually involve sex. It
     might help to have read the first part of this, or it might
     not, but in any event it's probably not necessary. It's not
     like there's a plot or anything. Although the first one
     definitely is funnier, so if you haven't read it, feel free
     to email me and I'll send it to you. And, oh yes, the title
     is another song title, this time by The Young Fresh Fellows,
     who I like to think wouldn't be too upset at me borrowing
     it. 
     Summary: The day after yesterday, and that's all I'm sayin'.

Ringo Langly awoke by degrees. Even with his eyes closed, the ambient light was painfully bright. He thought about it for a little while, and decided he was in bed at home. On the heels of that, the realization that he was mightily hung-over, which accounted for the pain in his head and the taste in his mouth.

Last night wasn't coming back to him, and he had a worried feeling it should be.

He opened his eyes carefully and concluded he was alone. That answered one question, at least, though he wasn't sure if he was happy about it or not. He made the traditional Hangover Oath to never, ever get drunk again. It wasn't a promise he hadn't made himself before, but that was part of the tradition too, he supposed.

His alarm clock said one-something. He thought. Maybe that was a four. He heaved himself out of bed, groaning and swearing, and staggered into the bathroom. He didn't bother to turn on the lights or look in the mirror. If there was, as it felt like, somebody sitting on his head hitting him with a large hammer, he figured he didn't want to know. And if there wasn't, it just meant he was an idiot who'd gotten way too drunk.

He wasted a few seconds wondering if a shower would make himself feel better or worse, and abruptly decided to just go back to bed. If he could get back to sleep, he knew he'd feel better when he woke up. At the very least, he thought ruefully, he couldn't feel any worse.

He splashed a little water carefully on his face, drank a lot more, and made it back to his room. Somebody, he realized, had left an open bottle of aspirin and a closed bottle of Gatorade on his bed stand next to his glasses. Mel, most likely, since John had been out all evening. He gulped them down gratefully, deciding it was probably a good sign. If he'd said--or God forbid done--anything too stupid, Mel would have been more likely to turn on his alarm and crank up the volume. It'd happened before. The man was an accomplished sadist, when he wanted to be. It just made Langly even more grateful he'd apparently wanted to be nice this morning. Langly had a feeling that it was undeserved, a dread that something had happened last night that he was going to regret as soon as he remembered it.

He burrowed back under the covers and whimpered softly until he fell asleep.


In the kitchen, Byers raised an eyebrow, lunch forgotten for the moment. "He's going back to bed?"

Frohike shrugged mildly. "He got a little drunk last night."

Byers glanced at the recycling bin. "More than a little."

Frohike shrugged again. "It wasn't too bad."

"Did he tell you what's going on?"

Frohike breathed in carefully, wondering if he was somehow the last to know. "Whaddya mean."

Byers' turn to shrug. "Come on, Mel. It's obvious something's upsetting him."

"Oh." Frohike nodded. "Crisis of purpose. Wondering if he's doing any good here, if he should be somewhere else."

Byers put his cup down silently. "He's thinking about leaving?"

Frohike shook his head. "Relax, would you, Byers? He doesn't think he has anywhere to go. He's not gonna leave."

Byers relaxed. "Thank heavens. I mean, I can't imagine doing this without him. Without either of you, really." He thought about it. "What can I do to help him sort it out?"

Frohike smiled for a split second, and then stifled it. "Don't worry about it. I'll take care of it."

Byers was wearing what Frohike thought of as his Story Face--the expression that said he knew there was something going on beneath the surface of this, and he was starting to see the shape of it. It was one of those things that made him an excellent journalist, and an occasional pain in the ass as a roommate.

Frohike's own reflexes kicked in, and he deftly turned the conversation to his editorial.


Langly felt marginally better when he woke up again. Or at least, he was pretty sure he was going to live. After a careful twenty minute shower, he was almost willing to be convinced that was a good thing. He still didn't remember much about last night, and it still worried him. He was sitting, half dressed, on his bed, trying to think about it, when there was a knock at his door.

"You ever comin' out of there?"

"Not until the floor stops moving."

Mel laughed. "Dinner's almost ready. You think you can eat?"

"Mel?"

"Yeah?"

"Are you trying to get even with me for last night?"

Mel paused. "Why?"

Langly was silent for a moment, too. "I don't think I ever want to eat again."

Mel laughed. "I'll cancel the cooking classes, then."

"Cooking classes?"

"Go back to sleep, Ringo."

"No. . . I'm up. I guess." He opened the door to find Mel still standing there, eyes bright with amusement. "What cooking classes?"

More laughter. "You said you needed a hobby, last night."

Langly was standing there in just his jeans, and for really the first time, Mel found himself in a position to appreciate the view. It was possible, though, more than possible, actually, that the kid had changed his mind, or forgotten all about last night, or had just been blowing off a drunk. Mel kind of hoped not, but there wasn't really anything he could do about it, except wait and see.

"How's your side?"

"Huh?"

Mel had a brief flashback to the night before. "Don't start that again. How's your side?"

Langly shrugged, looking down. "Hurts like a bastard. What'd I do?"

"Near as I can figure, you spilled boiling water on yourself. Let me get a look at it," Mel switched on the light and pulled him over. "I guess you'll live. You should put something on it, though."

"Mel?"

"Yeah?" Frohike waited.

"Maybe you shouldn't cancel the cooking classes just yet."

He snorted. "Byers'll love that. Go put some ointment on that, and come have dinner, okay? It's chicken and rice. You can't afford to miss meals, kid."

"Right, Dad."

Mel smiled faintly and headed back down the hall.

Byers stood there, eyebrows raised. "Cooking lessons?"

Mel laughed. "Last night."

"You know he hasn't got health insurance, right? And we haven't got enough insurance on this place for him to do much more cooking."

Mel pushed him back to the kitchen. "I'm not worried. You have any idea how much asbestos is in this place?"

"How badly is he hurt?"

"He'll be okay. Don't worry about it, Byers. What are you doin' eavesdropping anyhow?"

"Eavesdropping?"

"Yeah," Mel grinned. "Skulking around hallways, listening in."

Byers chuckled. "How else am I supposed to know when he's planning to cook again."

"It wasn't that bad."

"I notice you got rid of my plate before I got home."

Mel laughed. "Just throwing myself on the bomb."

"'It wasn't that bad'," Byers teased.

"It wasn't. But I know you."

Byers gave it some consideration. "If he'd stop. . . improvising, it would probably be okay." He regarded Mel for a moment. "Maybe you should take him under your wing."

"Like how."

Something in his tone, maybe, because Byers stopped with fork in midair, and grinned suddenly, wickedly. "Teach him to cook."

"Oh." Mel shrugged. "I guess I could do that."

"What did you think I meant?" The blue eyes sparkled at him.

He decided it'd be best to pretend he didn't notice. "I thought you were worried about our insurance."

"I'm sure he'd be in excellent hands with you." And Byers headed downstairs with his plate, still chuckling, leaving Frohike staring after him in complete surprise.

Frohike thought about going after him and demanding an explanation, but then Langly wandered in, still looking a little like something the cat dragged in. Langly threw himself into a chair and stared absently at a cupboard.

Mel dished up some of the chicken for him, and hid a grin as he asked, "Want a beer with that?"

Langly groaned. "I hate you."

Mel laughed. "Sure, sure. Water, then."

"Please," he said with feeling.

"You already promise God you weren't gonna do that again?"

Langly almost laughed. "I went with the secular vow to the universe."

"I think Byers would rather have you drink than cook."

He was quiet for a couple of moments, and Frohike glanced back to see him eating steadily.

"Slow down. You're gonna choke."

"Byers'd probably prefer that, too," he mumbled sourly.

"Settle down, kiddo."

Langly sighed. "Don't call me that, okay? I hate it. You know I hate it."

Mel shrugged an apology. "You mentioned it again last night, yeah. Sorry."

Langly was silent a while longer. "Hard habit to break, huh, Melvin?"

Mel glared at him. "I don't have to feed you, you know."

Langly grinned. "No, I guess not. You could make me cook."

Mel snorted. "I need a better threat."

"Yep. Is there any more of this?" He held out his empty plate.

"No, but I have some lima beans."

Langly made a gagging noise.

"O-kay. I think I found my threat." Mel laughed and took his plate.

"You didn't make lima beans. I could tell. They smell totally gross."

Mel handed the full plate back. "You're a true gourmand, Langly. You need some more water?"

"Caffeine," he begged. Mel laughed some more and found him a Jolt. "I got really fucked up last night, huh," he said carefully, watching Mel's face.

"You could say that," the older man said with a bland expression. "It's okay. You're entitled to, once in a while." His lips twitched. "I think the next one is my turn, though."

Langly laughed a little. "What about Byers?"

"Can you even imagine Byers drunk?"

Langly snickered. "Couldn't hurt."

Mel joined him. "Yeah, well, we don't need to see that. I think I've got my hands full with you."

An odd look crossed Langly's face, and he almost said something, but stopped himself and buried himself in his dinner again. Mel was almost positive he knew what the kid was thinking about, but he wasn't sure what the look meant: if it was encouraging or not.

The more he thought about it, the more he hoped Langly hadn't just been blowing off a drunk. Damn, the kid could kiss. He speculated for a moment on what other uses Langly's talents could be put to, not noticing the faint smile that crept across his face.

Langly noticed, though, and wondered about it. "What's up?"

"Hmm?" Mel refocused.

Langly shrugged. "You just looked pretty pleased with yourself."

Mel stood up, grinning. "And why not? Life is pretty good sometimes."

Langly grimaced. "I'll take your word for it."

"Back to that?"

"Back to what?"

"You seemed pretty discontent with things last night."

"Oh." Langly was startled a little. Mel wasn't sure what the kid had expected him to say, but it apparently wasn't that. "Nah. I just feel like shit. Hangovers suck."

"You don't have to tell me," Mel said, as he picked up Langly's empty glass and refilled it. "You're just dehydrated still."

"I guess. Thanks, Fro. You're being nice, and I appreciate it."

"It's okay. You're pretty quiet when you're drunk, and pretty easy when you're hungover."

Langly gave him an odd look again. Mel was getting the whole sample catalogue of Unusual and Uninterpretable Looks this week. He snickered to himself. "As long as you don't try to do dishes, anyhow."

There was another good one, disbelief tinged with god-knew-what. "I tried to do dishes?"

"Not with any success."

Langly blinked, and Mel grinned at him. "Still hungry?"

"Uh, yeah. A little." Langly was regarding him intently now. "Listen, Mel, did. anything happen last night?" The last words came out in a rush as Mel handed his plate back.

Mel knew what he was getting at, but not really what answer would make him happiest. He'd thought about it all day, and decided to play it safe. There was too much to lose if he took the initiative and Langly had thought better of last night. Langly'd say or do something sooner or later if he was still interested.

"Like what," he said casually, wrapping and putting away leftovers. Not that there were many. How the kid managed to stay so thin.

"I dunno," Langly waffled. "I guess I got pretty drunk. I don't really remember it. Did I do anything really stupid?"

"Well," Mel almost grinned. "You did make dinner, but I think you were sober at the time. I'm pretty sure, anyhow."

He turned around and watched Langly try to think of something else to say. Finally: "I mean, like. Did I, you know, do anything really stupid?"

Mel shook his head and tried to look puzzled. "You burned yourself pretty bad, and you broke some dishes and cut your hand on something, but you'll live. Byers thinks I ought to take you under my wing," he couldn't resist adding.

"What the hell does that mean?" It was kind of gratifying: Langly's reaction was awfully similar to his own, when Byers had said it.

"Teach you to cook," he explained, but not too quickly. "Without maiming yourself, if possible." He couldn't tell if Langly was relieved or disappointed.

It wouldn't have occurred to him that Langly wasn't sure either.

"So what do you want to teach me?"

"Pardon?" The words echoed Mel's thoughts (but probably not his intentions) way too closely for comfort, and he took a moment to catch up.

"You know. Teach me to cook. How'd you wanna start?"

Mel gave it some thought. "Okay. Well, what do you already know how to make?"

"If I can make it, you've eaten it. Or," he smiled a little archly, "stared at it and tried to come up with an excuse to leave early."

Mel grinned. "That's Byers, remember?"

Langly glanced at the table. "I don't remember very much," he laughed, but it seemed forced.

He let it go. "You said you'd made cookies, right?"

"Did I?"

"You said you did. With your mom."

Langly thought hard. "Fro, I was maybe eight. I don't remember the recipe or anything."

He laughed. "I wasn't expecting you to. But we could probably start there. Baking's pretty easy, as long as you don't overreach yourself." He gave Langly an ironic look. "And you probably won't spill boiling water on yourself, either."

"I think I burned my hand the time I made cookies."

Mel grinned. "I'll teach you how to use the oven mitts first, how about."

"Cool. When do you wanna do this?"

Mel thought about it. "How about Monday?"

"Why wait?"

"We're gonna have to set you up health insurance first. The way you cook."

Langly threw a napkin at him.

end

Harpy dsidhe@attbi.com Handmaiden of the Goddess of Irony
 

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