My nose was deathly itchy and my limbs weren't moving fast enough. Obnoxious rap music played loudly in the room. The rain was a dull roar in the small dorm room, cramped with at least twenty people. The windows were open and posh liquor was most definitely not being guzzled. No, it was being chugged.
“Jules. Truth or dare?” A girl who’s name I had long forgotten asked a boy with feathery blue hair. He was long gone, pupils blown from earlier activities and clothes and hair strewn everywhere. He smiled lazily and I’ll never admit that through my drunken haze, I swooned.
“Dare.” He drawled.
“Finish the vodka. All at once.” She slurred. What a shitty dare. I pondered vaguely.
Without a moment’s hesitation, he reached for the bottle and practically inhaled it, no sign of regret or pain.
Everyone cheered loudly, much too loudly.
It wasn't my usual scene - sitting in a circle of twenty almost-strangers, playing Truth or Dare and alternating having a sip from a wine bottle in my left hand and a cigarette in my right. No, normally it was frat parties and house parties and much cheaper alcohol and girls and not being nearly drunk enough to handle it all.
Blue Hair laughed loudly and set the empty bottle down. His eyes matched his hair and his bright green shirt, covered in what looked like ketchup and carrot juice and unbuttoned almost entirely. His hair was a beautiful color. It was like the sky right after a storm and right before dusk. And I couldn't breathe. I didn't have nearly enough alcohol for this.
“Blaise, right?” He said, his words stumbling into each other. I almost jumped when I heard my name fall from his lips.
I didn’t respond for what felt like ages, and when words finally made it to my mouth, it seemed like it had already been far too long for any sane person to accept a response. So, I just nodded.
“Truth or dare, Blaise?”
If I picked dare, alcohol would definitely be consumed, and I was already too drunk. Or maybe not drunk enough. Granted, I wasn’t nearly as gone as everyone else, but I never needed alcohol to be the life of the party. Apparently when a hot boy with blue hair arrives, my personality disappears. And then alcohol is required.
“Who’s the fittest girl here?”
I flinched a little. I knew my answer, I knew what it had to be and I knew there wasn't any alternative. So what if I was a fraud? I was gay, it was known. I mean, it wasn't known to most people, but it was known. Okay, so, my best friend Louis was the only person here who knew. And he could barely see me at the moment. Hell, he probably couldn’t see the end of his own nose at the moment. He smiled lazily at me, obviously unaware of the current situation. So basically it was known. Just not in this scenario.
It was obvious who was materially attractive to me and who wasn’t, but I didn’t want to say anything misleading. Louis always said I got more girls than he did and it was really quite a waste. That was about as far into "talking about it" as we had ever gotten. On more than one occasion, I had said something that was meant to be entirely platonic, and it had somehow become twisted into Hey Blaise, I think our kids would be stunning, how about 8 o’clock?
I didn’t try to string girls along. It was a habit that I couldn’t break, no matter how hard I tried. The summer before Uni I had concluded that if someone asked, I would say I was gay.
It wasn’t my fault that no one had asked.
I inhaled and somewhere under my swimming thoughts, sense came to me and I began to fabricate an answer.
“Delia.” I grinned widely, and even though I was bending my own rules and I was living a lie and I was stringing another girl along, I grinned because I was still as good at hiding as I was two months ago. Everyone whooped and relief washed over me.
This was easy. This was normal. I could do this.
I woke up miserable, which was expected. I rolled over with great difficulty and squinted at the clock.
I sighed. We had only gotten home around 3:30 and Louis had deemed it necessary to play his expensive as fuck drum set before throwing up repeatedly until he fell asleep, cheek glued to the floor-tom.
I dragged myself out of my room to check on the bastard, still passed out, now on the floor by the pedal of the base drum. His light brown hair, still sun bleached from the summer spent at LBI, was matted and sticky. His clothes hung off of him and his white t-shirt was stained with things I had no interest in investigating.
I had met him through soccer years before Uni. I played center and he played goalie and we somehow became the best of friends from across the field. We both played for Club Team and Travel in New Jersey. It turned out we lived about 20 minutes away from each other and it was a match made in heaven. Louis was unbridled and wild and did nothing in moderation, while I was reasonable and as smart as a closeted teenage boy could be.
Coming out to Louis was entirely accidental. We were 16 and he had been bugging me about a double date for days and I couldn’t bring myself to agree. It was a momentary lapse in my resolve, but it changed everything.
Louis didn’t make it a big deal. He didn’t ask anymore questions. He didn’t push me. I went out with dozens of girls and he didn’t even blink. He didn’t pretend it hadn’t happened, though. I wish he had. He tried, he did. He took me to his sister’s house once. He introduced me to his sister and her wife and it could have been a coincidence - maybe it was. He made jokes and we laughed. But I couldn’t face it. Eventually he dropped it, but he was always there. The midnight breakdowns and random phone calls and crippling anxiety.
If you spend long enough convincing yourself that you’re someone you’re not, you really start to believe it. Regardless of how Louis reacted, I couldn’t bear the fact that I was gay and it wasn’t normal. So I drowned in it. And every Friday night was a different girl and more drinks and more weed and the same fuck.
And then there was the accidental coming out to my parents. That was a memory I didn’t care to recover. A week. That’s all that I had left before I left for Uni. And I suppose that moment solidified my future. The look on their faces, that was it. I convinced myself it was - I - was unnatural. The promise I made, to fuck knows who, was most likely another drunken mistake. A train ride from Somerville to Rochester can make any promise seem reasonable. Reality isn’t like that, though.
Louis came to Uni with me. We had both made it into Rochester University and childhood dreams had been fulfilled. It was a shock considering the acceptance rate was a grand 30%. Our families had always said we were meant to be. We were attached at the hip.
Fast forward, the fucker was now passed out on the floor, drool hanging out of his mouth and I can’t help but think this was to be expected. We were both the life of the party, but if nothing else, I partied responsibly. Louis just drinks until there's nothing but shapes and colors in his head and figures I’ll take care of him. He isn’t wrong.
I roll my eyes and walk to the kitchen, filling up a mug with water and a few ice cubes. I walk back into the living room and a smile plays on my lips. This will always be my favorite part. I dump the water on his face, and he wakes up with a start. I snicker and he sputters, as if we haven’t done this exact thing a few dozen times.
He flails some more before yelling, “Fuck you man!”
“Fuck you too babe, now get up before I kick the drums on top of you.” I smile.
“There was ice in that! Ice fucking hurts! And it’s fucking cold!”
“Ayyy, guess you did end up in the right college! Guess Peters taught you something other than how to fuck, eh?”
“Piss off. I wish I fucked her” He groans.
“She was out of your league anyway.”
The doorbell rings.
“I’ll be back, my love.” I wink and spin around.
Our apartment is obnoxiously big and entirely paid for by Louis’ parents. I became a bit of a pity case after the scene with my own family, and apparently everyone felt obligated to help me out. Both Louis’ parents are accountants and money falls out of their pockets when they walk around. They insisted it was no trouble. I always felt bad, but the fact that I had to pay for everything but the apartment made me feel better.
I pass the gaudy paintings and trudge through the hallway. I open the door - which is never locked, because it’s horrible to have to let a girl in or out yourself, and Louis had deemed the lock “abnormally complicated for any regular person”. Which translated to “Blaise is the only person who understands our fancy rich people lock.”
To be honest, the first sign should have been that no one that comes to our apartment ever uses the doorbell. But my still-somewhat-hungover brain didn’t think of the fact until it was too late. Regardless, there was a familiar face at the door and I was far too disoriented for this.
Bright blue. Everywhere. And he was gorgeous. I racked my brain for his name. He was at the party. His name had to be somewhere in my head. He was gorgeous.
Blue Hair cleared his throat. My eyes flitted to the weather outside. It was very typical October weather for New York State. Cloudy, windy, and a cool 55 degrees. He had on a dark blue Rochester crew-neck and baggy jeans and I couldn’t comprehend how I hadn’t noticed him before because we went to the same. Fucking. College. And he had bright. Blue. Hair.
“Are you Louis or Blaise?" He asked, his voice strong. "Sorry, I'm usually good with names but last night was a blur.” He adds with a small smirk-smile-thing that seems entirely too fake.
“Uh- Louis, yeah. You are…”
“Jules Garnier. Nice to meet you.” His voice is deep and smooth and just as slow as it was last night. He sounds like he’s from the city and from the south all at once.
“You too. Uh...Can I help you?” I asked, because I was fucking hungover and I cannot handle interaction with hot men that show up at my door at 1 in the afternoon.
“Shit, sorry, yeah. I think either you or your roommate left a watch at my place? Nicole gave me your address. It looked expensive so I figured I’d drop by or something.” And he should have some sort of awkward expression or be nervous or something. Not to mention the fact that he should be, just as, if not more hungover than me. But there’s nothing. Just his easy drawl and racy smile that isn’t even there and his deep blue eyes that never end.
“Oh. It’s probably Louis’." I said.
He’s probably freezing. My mind mutters somewhere in a dark pit of emotion and empathy that should stay locked up for all of eternity.
“You’re probably freezing, do you wanna come in?” My mouth says and I think I’m going to punch myself because who the fuck invites a random guy from a random party into your best friends apartment filled to the brim with things worth more than my entire life while hungover and said best friend is most likely still at the foot of his drum set covered in fuck knows what bacteria and what looks distinctly like vomit.
“Yeah, sure.” He breathes and it’s probably very bad that stomach is twisting in scary knots. But it’s fine. It’s fine.
Jules steps inside and I shut the door behind us. I lead him down the hallway and into the living room, which, for visualization purposes, is decorated in a mixture of priceless antiques, cheap liquor, clothes, condoms, and uncountable amounts of empty energy drink cans.
“Motherfucker, I’ve never needed an Advil more, God, I hate being-”
Louis looks up in misery and his eyes go wide when they land on Jules, combat boots and thick silver chains and all. He looks at me, then back to Jules, then back at me and lays his head back down on the ground. “Too fucking early, man.”
“Right, get up Lou, you’ll be fine in a bit.” I sigh, bending down to haul him off the floor. He slouches on me and I roll my eyes. “We’ll be right back - er, make yourself at home.” I say to Jules but it sounds more like a question. A ghost of a real smile graces his face and I spin around as fast as I can with Louis latched to my front side.
10 minutes later, we’ve both washed our faces, brushed our teeth, and put on new clothes, set on double Advil's.
Jules is a sight on the dark green couch, surrounded by dark red pillows and an a plethora of dirty laundry.
He was so painfully beautiful in a way that made you breathless and filled your lungs all at once and I want to yell at myself for thinking it but I just can’t. I can’t and nothing frustrates me more.
He glances up from his phone when we walk in, his back straightening. He smiles and I think I might float away. It doesn’t seem real. It seems fabricated, the kind of grin rich people use when they’re mingling with other rich people they don’t particularly like. But it’s so believable. I think the eyes sell it. The deep, blue, swirling color and how they never end and eye contact physically hurts.
“Thanks for dropping the watch off, man. I didn’t even realize it was gone until just now.”
“Anytime. Sorry for showing up without warning, by the way.”
“Don’t worry about it, we probably wouldn’t have cleaned up if you did.” Louis grins. He’s just as charismatic as me. It would seem Jules takes my ability to socialize away. Jules smiles again, the same expensive plastic smile.
I find my voice and let out an incredulous noise. “I would have cleaned up you shit! You would have sat there and eaten pie all day! Speak for yourself.”
“Right, of course you would have. You got a roommate - Jules, was it?” Louis says. It’s blatantly obvious that he knows his name. But it’s all part of the Louis charm.
“Nope. Just me.”
“I can’t imagine. I don’t know what I’d do without this fucker rearranging the furniture at 4 AM with Green Day playing in the background.” Louis nods in my direction.
Jules looks uninterested but vaguely surprised. It was like none of his emotions were real. They were all just fabricated, playing on a screen somewhere in the depths of his brain. “Green Day?” He looks at me. Looks through me?
“My favorite band.” I answer, willing my voice to stay strong.
“You like rock?” He asks, curiosity evident in his voice now.
“Mostly old stuff, but there’s some new guys that sound really good. IV DANTE and stuff, you know?”
“Yeah he’s pretty good. I'm kind of into like Crumb and FUR and stuff. But I do love rock every so often.” And suddenly Jules’ eyes get less bottomless and he looks more real and I don’t know if I can do this today, still hungover and panicking because I have too much homework that I’ve not yet started doing.
“Right, so you said you found my watch?” Louis asked.
Then things got a bit awkward. I looked at Louis and Louis looked at Jules and Jules shuffled around in his bag and the silence was deafening.
“Here you go.” He handed Louis a silver Movado watch with a green face plated in gold and my head spun because I would never get over how rich Louis was. He didn’t act like it. And when he did, it was only in the good ways. He donated to whatever foundation inspired him and he helped out anyone who needed it. He was a good person.
“Thanks man. Give us a ring if you’ve got any other parties. Last night was fun.” Louis grinned. Jules nodded. And smiled. And turned. And he was gone. And then he was never there. He had never set foot inside the apartment and his endless blue eyes were just the bottomless pit of emotion in my mind that was off limits in another form.
“Nice guy, eh?” Louis nodded. “God I’m so fucking hungover.” He added after a moment.
And then the Blue Haired boy was not nearly as easy to forget because he was here and it shouldn’t have mattered. It shouldn’t have mattered.
When I was 9, I went through a rock collecting phase. Our backyard had a gravelled area that wasn’t really gravel - just expensive, small, rocks. And I would spend every evening looking for “unique” rocks. The problem with that, was in my naive mind, every rock was unique. So at the end of every day I’d have half a ZipLoc of expensive gravel that I’d try and sneak inside and my mom would make me put back eventually. Soon enough, I had convinced her to let me keep three rocks a day so I could at least admire a few. But I would always end up with dozens of rocks and then feel bad for “discriminating” against certain rocks and I’d end up dumping them all out myself.
Most people would have forgotten the rocks they collected eight fucking years ago, but by the time I left for college, I knew almost every rock on the road by heart. Late nights spent researching the difference between sandstone and clay and just regular old gravel, it all made for good time-pass. Of course, I had unintentionally doomed myself to being able to subconsciously name any rock from anywhere in a matter of seconds. Forgetting had never been my strongest attribute.
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