I got well and thoroughly trashed that night. As I had the night before - as I would the next. Fuck it, you know?
Just fuck it.
It didn’t feel the same anymore. It wasn’t fun for me, to do the things I used to do. I don’t think it had been fun for a long time. I tried not to think about that very much, but I would find myself leaning against the bar wall, drink in hand, trying to remember the last time I’d had genuine, true fun. Laughing for laughter’s sake, smiling so hard your cheeks hurt and not cuz you’re high as fuck, not because the chemicals in your brain are off their rocker, but because you just had to smile. Because you wanted to smile. And I just. There wasn’t a single memory inside this damn, drunk brain of mine that had been something that I’d actually wanted to do.
I mean, shit. To want something. To want anything? Like, actually want, want in the way that you’d actually do something to get it? I thought I’d killed that part of me off years ago. Or maybe that it just died of disuse. I don’t know. I can’t remember. I didn’t want to.
I did all the things I used to. I even went back to speed for a bit, just to see if it made a difference. It didn’t make me throw up anymore, which was nice, but there was always something… missing. Some part of the things that I did that just wasn’t enough. There was something inside of me, some piece of my core that just wouldn’t be satisfied.
So I just kept...doing. Drugs were just something I did; they’d been ‘something I did’ for so long, just background noise. They meant nothing to me. I didn’t want them. I didn’t not want them.
I didn’t know of a single thing that I actually truly wanted. There were only holes inside of me, things that could be filled, and the ways in which I sleepwalked through life filling those holes as best I knew how.
Until he came in here, with those green eyes and that voice and kissed me, and he woke me up.
I tried to fuck him out of my system. I tried to drink him away, forget the memory of his touch and his lips and his words with drugs and alcohol but even when I was high as shit, even when I was so fucking fucked up, he was still there in my head. I couldn’t get rid of him. He was a part of me, stamped onto my soul in the way I’d broken for him again and again, the cracks he’d left behind when I’d fallen, fallen for him and he’d been too damn fucking high to catch me and I’d been to damn fucking stupid to try.
“I think I really fucked up this time,” I told the man sitting in scrubs before me. I’d caught him just off a shift; the hospital made him keep odd hours these days, so I was grateful for any time I could get. Grateful he still made time for me.
Charlie raised an eyebrow. “You got something to tell me, Ewan?”
I scowled at him. “I’m still sober, Charlie. I’m still clean.”
He nodded. Charlie was my mentor, my guide. One of my best friends. One of my best subs, before he got himself a long term partner. He still made time for me though, always, especially when I called him in the middle of the night and begged him to come down to talk to me in the place where we used to meet back when I was still fresh at this. In those days, he’d be talking me down from calling up my dealer, or going out and finding another. Helping me remember why it was that I got sober in the first place. I swear I was shaking nearly as much that day as I had back then. “Then how bad can it be?”
I looked down at my hands, wrapped around a cheap coffee mug. I was only two days out from a fight and really shouldn’t be drinking caffeine, but.
I couldn’t sleep, the dreams were so bad. I needed to talk about this. I didn’t have anywhere else to go.
“Ewan?” Charlie prompted.
“I think I really like someone,” I told him. “Like, bordering on love territory.”
There was a moment of silence. “Well, that’s great. Surprising, I have to say, but -”
“I think he’s an addict.”
“He’s a fucking what.”
It was one of those nights, one of the ones where I had gone to booze because that’s what I did, because that was how I existed and at least when I was drunk the things inside hurt a little less, maybe. Not that I knew what the things inside felt like. Not that I would ever let myself near them again.
At least that was the kind of night it was going to be. I was just getting my first drink from Chad.
“Fuck,” he said, laughing that fucking smile of his. “You look like shit.”
“Fuck off, Chad.” I the first sip of my drink and felt it settle in my stomach. Felt myself settle for this. I didn’t want anything else bad enough not to live like this; that’s what I was learning. This was nothing but my default. A reflex. Factory settings.
“Aww, come on.” He leaned on the bar and smirked at me. “How are you supposed to keep my customers coming back if you look like that?”
I didn’t even bother to glare at him as I walked away.
I couldn’t find anyone to take me home that night, just had three in the backroom, one even in the alley, even if it was cold, even if it was freezing. So what if the brick scraped my back, if it created an abrasion so bad it hurt to put my jacket back on? So what if the guy insisted on keeping his hand around my throat the entire time and I almost blacked out?
I felt nothing. I was nothing.
Chad didn’t offer to let me stay the night; I didn’t ask. I was tired of Chad’s games and it was Sunday - I was sore and bruised from the weekend. Chad would know that. Chad would have seen everything. He winked at me on my way out the door, my thin jacket pulled as tight as I could against the cold.
I didn’t feel it. I was already numb.
I was almost asleep in the backseat of my car when I heard a knock at my window. Fuck, I thought without much emotion. Hope that’s not the fucking cops.
It wasn’t. I guess I should have been surprised to see Cooper’s friend there, but surprise took emotion and emotion took effort and I just. I mean.
I made a motion for him to wait, then slipped around to open the door. He stood there, frowning. “Is this where you sleep?”
“In or out,” I told him. “You’re letting all the heat escape.”
He shook his head. “It’s too cold for this shit, man. Come on, our couch is free.”
I stared at him, trying to find the trick to this. In the end I decided it didn’t matter since I’d end up being the trick anyway and grabbed what I needed. If he noticed that I took my pill bottle with me he didn’t say anything.
It was strange, to walk up to the apartment. I’d never done it before. Walked down twice, never walked up. What’s that say about me? I sat on the couch as the friend moved around, getting things ready for me. Probably hiding all their fucking valuables. I know I would have been.
“Where’s.” I waved my hand, and he knew what I was asking.
“He’s out with a friend.” He handed me a blanket and a pillow. “I’ve got clothes you can change into, if you want.”
I shrugged. I didn’t care. This was fine. Still, there was something strange sitting in my stomach, something new. New felt interesting, bad interesting, sitting there against the alcohol. I wanted it out, so I went ahead and gave it a voice. “A friend?”
The small man looked at me for a moment before sighing. “I guess you could call him an ex. He’s more of a mentor, helped Coop get sober.”
Get sober, I thought, even as he’s out with his ex looped over and over again inside my chest, my lungs, settled in my stomach and made me feel like. I don’t know. I didn’t have a word for it.
“Goodnight, kid,” the man told me. “Grab whatever you need from the kitchen.”
“My name isn’t kid.” Even my retort had no bite.
He stood there looking at me for a second. “Yeah,” he finally said. “But you’re not gonna tell me your name, are you?” Then he turned off the light and went to bed.
I laid there in the darkness, wrapped up in a stranger’s blanket and listened until I could hear nothing. “Luka,” I told the silence. “My name is Luka.”
The refrigerator kicked on in response, and I turned over and tried to get sleep while the getting was good.