Breakfast of the Champions
I moved around in bed and regretted it immediately. This insanely intense stabbing pain hit me in the head and I groaned, quietly, because groaning loudly would probably make it hurt even more.
“Good, you’re finally awake.” Vince’s voice reached my ears.
I risked peeking with only one eye open. The curtains in the room were closed, but it was still too bright for me and I winced in pain, rubbing my temples.
“Ugh. Why does my head hurts so much?” I groaned hoarsely.
“Could be because of the gallons of vodka you drank last night, my dear Sherlock.” he mused, full of sarcasm.
Oh, I see. My wicked archenemy had struck again.
Damn you evil vodka, I hate you so much right now.
I risked peeking with both eyes open. Vincent was sitting comfortably in an armchair a few feet away from me. “I remember the vodka now.” I mumbled, trying to sit on the bed.
The pain doubled as soon as I changed position from horizontal to vertical. Not a good move on my part. Could somebody please shoot me in the head and end my misery here?
“Speaking of things you remember... uh... how much do you remember of last night, Taylor?” Vincent asked hesitantly.
“Oh, God, what did I do?” I grunted, alarmed. “By the look on your face, I must have really screwed up big time last night.”
“No, you didn’t... screw... hm… what exactly do you remember, Holmes?” he asked again, seeming uncomfortable with something.
I shrugged and winced. God! My head. The pain… Ugh!
“I don’t know.” I murmured tiredly. “I remember the party and, you know, I was upset...”
“Because of Matt.” he added.
“Because he...?” he tried to fish for information.
I glared at him. “If I didn’t tell you after ‘gallons’ of vodka, I’m pretty sure I won’t be telling you now, Vincent.”
He sighed in defeat. “Fine.” he grumbled, annoyed. “What else do you remember?”
“I remember... asshole David manhandling me outside. Then you came to the rescue. That was really cool by the way... did I ever thank you for that?”
“Yeah, yeah, it’s all right.” He waved a hand, dismissing my gratitude. “What else?” he asked somewhat eagerly.
“Well, I didn’t want to go home, or stay at the party, so you took me somewhere...” I said and looked around for the first time. “Where are we, by the way?”
“I brought you to my place.” He explained, looking intently at me.
“Really, this is your home? You don’t ever bring anyone to your home!” I exclaimed and winced again at the sound of my own voice.
“You don’t remember getting here?” he asked cautiously as he stood up and walked to the nightstand by my side to grab something.
“Nope,” I said, popping the ‘p’. “I don’t remember squat after David. Not a damn thing.”
“Here. For your hangover.” He handed me some pills and a glass of water.
“Oh, whew! Thanks!” I gobbled the pills down and drank the water, while giving him a thankful look. “Tell me, how bad was it?” I asked, handing him back the glass of water.
He froze and blinked a couple of times, his green eyes darkening ever so slightly. “W-what?” he stammered, a hint of panic in his voice.
“Last night? Did I mess up badly? Did I wake your parents and embarrass myself? Did I break something? Oh, God, was it expensive? I’ll pay you back... okay, that’s a lie, I probably can’t pay you back. Anything in here must cost like a frigging fortune! Please tell me it wasn’t too expensive?” I wailed in despair. “Why did you bring a drunken teenager to a house full of fragile expensive things?”
“Relax, Taylor! You didn’t break anything. Stop hyper ventilating!” he chided.
“Oh, thank God.” I sighed in relief and slumped back on the bed rest. “So... what did I do to make you so edgy?”
“I’m not edgy.” He snapped in, to be quite honest, a very edgy way. “You were wasted, so I drove you to my home. Then I tried to cheer you up, because you were very upset, so I brought you to see my game room downstairs.” He eyed me, looking for a sign of recognition in my face.
I gasped and he tensed a little. “Are you telling me that this is your bedroom?” I looked eagerly around, trying to catch every detail of it. “Huh, is that all? There’s nothing in here. Are you sure this is really your room?”
“Yes, Taylor, this is my room. But after we left the game room…” He paused and waited for me to say something, but I didn’t know what to say, so I just blinked clueless back at him and after a moment of hesitation, he continued speaking. “So, like I said, after the game room, you refused to stay alone in the guest room. You threw quite a fit, so I had to bring you here, to my room, to make you shut the hell up.”
“Oh. That sounds like something I’d do…” I mumbled, scratching my head in embarrassment. “But I don’t remember anything. Sorry.”
He gave me a weird look. “Anyway, about the game room…”
“You’ve got a game room? That’s so cool! Can I see it?” I asked, bouncing excitedly on the bed. “Ugh. I shouldn’t have done that.” I whimpered in regret as my raging headache and queasy stomach reminded me of how stupid was for me to bounce at the moment.
“You have seen it already,” he replied, still looking intently at me.
What was up with that? What was he trying to find out by staring that hard at me?
“But I don’t remember!” I whined. “Can I see it again? What’s in it? What did we do there? Played games, obviously.” I reasoned to myself. “What games do you have there? Which ones did we play?”
“You... really... don’t remember anything?” he asked for the hundredth time.
“No, Vincent. I told you, I don’t remember shit!” I snapped, annoyed at his same insistent question.
“You were quite drunk last night, you know,” he said slowly.
“Geez, it must have been quite a show I gave you, eh?” I mumbled, embarrassed. “Sorry about that, man, but hey, look at the bright side, now you have plenty of blackmail on me!” I joked weakly. “Did I throw up on you? That would explain the weird taste I have in my mouth.”
I smacked my lips loudly and made a face, as I pictured all the barfing I did last night.
He turned away so I wouldn’t see his face. “Yeah… that would explain…” he trailed off, clearly very uncomfortable with the topic.
Why he was acting so strangely, I had no idea.
I glanced down and only then realized I was shirtless. Then I peeked under the covers and saw that I was also pant-less. I was glad I still had my boxers on.
“Uh, one question here. Why am I naked?” I asked, raising an inquiring eyebrow.
“I took advantage of you yesterday. You were so wasted and vulnerable, so I decided to have my way with you, since you were so willing,” he said monotonously.
“Oh. Ha. Ha. You’re hilarious, Vincent.” I mocked, not amused. “Now, seriously.”
He sighed loudly and stuck his hands in his jeans pockets. “I don’t know, Taylor. You had all your clothes on when I left you sleeping in here last night.”
“I must have taken them off in my sleep. I sleep walk and do some weird stuff sometimes in my sleep.” I reasoned as I looked for my clothes, which turned out to be all neatly folded under the sheets by the foot of the bed.
“The bathroom is over there,” he said, pointing to a door. “I’ve been waiting for you to wake up for a while, it’s nearly midday. Go get ready, then we’ll get something to eat. And hurry up, I’m hungry.” He ordered that last part in that bossy tone he loved to use so much.
“Yes, sir, right away, sir.” I grumbled, shuffling to the bathroom.
I got dressed, splashed some cold water in my face, rinsed my mouth and tried to pat my hair until it looked decent, before I walked out of the bathroom. My headache was almost gone by then.
Vincent was waiting for me next to the window, looking pensively at the view outside.
“I’m ready!” I said and he turned to face me, blinking out of his deep thoughts.
“Let’s go,” he said, turning round and walking out of the room.
We walked in silence through vast well lit corridors, filled with amazing paintings on the walls, big crystal chandeliers looming over our heads and huge, soft expensive carpets spread on the marble floors. The mansion was impressive and had a threatening aura lingering in the air, just like its owner.
I lost count of how many turns we had to take to get to the kitchen, but when we arrived there, Vincent’s expression softened as he greeted an old man sitting next to the window, reading a newspaper.
“Hey, old man, sleeping beauty here finally woke up. You can feed us now.” He informed the man who stood from his seat with a cooking apron already tied to his waist. He had brown eyes, a clean shaved face and the beginning of a bald spot forming at the top of his gray, short, cut hair.
“Master Vincent, would you prefer breakfast or lunch, since it’s nearly midday?” the old man asked with a heavy British accent.
Vincent turned to me and I realized he was waiting for me to decide – which was a first, because he always ordered for me without ever asking my opinion.
“I don’t think my stomach is prepared for lunch just yet, so, a light breakfast for me would be great. Please and thank you.” I asked politely. “Oh, and coffee, I need coffee, please, lots of coffee. With some more coffee in it, if you can.”
“Light breakfast it is then, old man. Same for me.” Vincent instructed.
“And coffee, don’t forget the coffee.” I pointed out so they wouldn’t forget.
“Yes, and coffee too, Alfred,” Vince said and added as a cheeky remark. “In case you didn’t hear all the twenty times he mentioned it.”
“Alfred?” I asked, choking in surprise “You have an Alfred?”
Vincent sat at the other side of the table and gave me an annoyed roll of eyes, as if this wasn’t the first time he was hearing this.
“Yes, Taylor, his name is Alfred,” he said sourly.
“Oh, my God, shut up! Are you serious?” I gasped in delight.
“What’s the matter with my name?” Alfred asked, giving us a curious look.
“He has this silly notion that I’m some sort of real life Batman, since I’m rich and live in a mansion. Batman’s butler is called Alfred.” He explained to his puzzled butler.
“Oh. I see. I’m your Alfred.” He smiled at Vincent.
“Batman’s Alfred is English too!” I added excitedly. “He’s loyal, protective, caring, and he takes care of Batman like no one else can. He’s like the best father figure ever!”
Alfred raised both eyebrows and glanced quickly at Vincent. “I see. In that case, thank you for the comparison, Master Taylor.” He took a quick bow and turned to Vincent. “The boy is highly perceptive, isn’t he?”
Vincent scoffed at the old man. “No, he’s not. He doesn’t know, Alfred, I didn’t tell him anything.”
“Hence the perceptive term used.” Alfred quipped.
“Doesn’t know what? Tell me what?” I butted in. “Oh, my God, you are really a real life Batman? Did I discover your secret?” I exclaimed excitedly.
“See what I mean? He’s not very sharp.” Vincent grumbled to Alfred. “Yes, Taylor, that’s exactly what I meant.” He rolled his eyes at me one more time. “Can we please be quiet and have some breakfast in peace here?”
Alfred and I exchanged glances and he made a subtle face, indicating Vincent was in a cranky mood and it was best not to antagonize him. “Of course, Master Vincent, coming right up,” he said, getting his frying pans and cutlery out.
Soon the smell of frying bacon and eggs were filling the kitchen, making my mouth water. He handed us both first our coffee cups, which smelled like heaven. I took a sip and my eyes rolled out of their sockets in joy.
“Oh, dear God, this is the best freaking coffee I have ever had!” I complimented and proceeded to take another sip. “Seriously, Alfred, this is incredible!”
“Why, thank you Master Taylor, but it’s the Italian coffee machine who should be taking your praises, I may have to confess.” He chuckled, setting a plate of bacon and eggs in front of Vincent and me.
“Can I marry this machine? We would be so happy together!” I moaned as I took another gulp. Yum, this coffee was so heavenly.
Alfred gave me a weird look as I kept moaning shamelessly in pleasure at my steamy cup.
“Pay no attention, he’s a caffeine addict, Alfred. He’s just having his fix.” Vincent explained.
“Oh, I see. You have a weird one this time, Master Vincent.” he muttered mostly to himself.
“This time?” I questioned. What did he mean by that?
Vincent was quick to shoot Alfred a warning glare. “It’s nothing. Eat your breakfast, Holmes.” He ordered sharply.
I noticed he always called me by my last name when he was angry or uncomfortable with something, but it seemed that now he was mostly flustered because Alfred had slipped some information that he wasn’t supposed to.
“Master Vincent is acting like a cranky toddler today, Alfred,” I said with a grave face. “Should we put him into the naughty corner until he starts behaving a little better?”
“I’m behaving perfectly fine. It’s you two who can’t stop mucking about.” Vincent muttered under his breath while Alfred and I stifled a laugh.
“I like your new friend, Master Vincent. A good sense of humor is hard to come by these days. Is he the one who’s been taking all of your time lately?” Alfred asked, after he finished serving us breakfast.
“We’re working on a project together, Alfred. There’s nothing more to it,” Vincent said.
“It must be a very difficult task, to take so much of your time.” Alfred mused. “You normally finish all your school projects in a couple days. This must be a tricky one.”
“Yes, it’s a bit tricky, but you don’t need to worry, I’ll get it done. You know I always do.” Vincent assured him.
“Yes, yes. You always do.” Alfred murmured in a pensive mood. “I’m just glad you found a friend in your new school. A couple months ago you were complaining about your educational predicament, were you not?”
“I don’t have a problem with the school. The school is just fine. The idiots crowding the school are the problem. All of them, just a bunch of morons...” he grumbled, poking sharply at his plate.
“Geez, you are really cranky today. I thought it might be because you were hungry, but maybe you just need to get laid or something, dude!” I scoffed at him, feeling offended that he’d think all my friends were morons.
He turned a deep shade of purple but didn’t snap back. Guess I shut him up. Good. There’s no reason for him to behave like that! I was the one with the hangover here. Why was he so grumpy anyway?
Alfred was watching our conversation with interest now. Vincent noticed it and switched to his business-like tone of voice. “All right, I guess we’re done with breakfast. I will take you back to your home now, Holmes.” He stood up and motioned to the door.
“Oh. Okay, right.” I scattered off my seat. “It was really nice meeting you, Alfred. Thanks for all the food, and the excellent coffee.”
Alfred smiled kindly, his eyes warm and honest as he looked at me. “It was my pleasure, Master Taylor. I hope you return more often.” he told me and turned to Vincent. “Oh, by the way, sir, I forgot to tell you earlier, but your father called last night from Italy, while you were away.”
Vincent halted by the door and grunted loudly. “What did he want?” he asked, passing a hand over his face. He looked very displeased by the news.
“He wanted to check on you, see what you’ve been doing lately.”
“What did you tell him?”
“I said you seem to be engaged with your new school activities, like he wanted you to,” Alfred said.
Vincent smiled wide, a wicked glint shinning in his green eyes. “Perfect. Thanks, old man.” He saluted Alfred and walked out with me following at his heels.
“So...” I began, trying to fish for more information. “Are you and your dad having problems?”
“That’s the understatement of the year.” he mumbled under his breath.
“I take that as a ‘yes’ then,” I said. “Did he really put you in my school to teach you a lesson?”
That question made him halt and turn to me. “Where did you hear that?”
“I-I don’t know... around?” I stammered.
“Around where, exactly?” he asked, narrowing his eyes at me.
“Around school. I’ve heard people talking.”
“And what else did you hear people talking about?”
“Well, some people said you were only studying there because your dad wanted you to learn to be more humble, interact with normal, non-billionaire people and be less of a self-conceited, spoiled, brat.”
“A brat, you say?” he inquired with an amused smirk.
“Not that I think that, of course.” I added in an attempt to save myself. “I mean, I don’t... well, not anymore anyway. Is that why you were enrolled or not?”
“Oh, yes, yes. That’s why. Father sure wants to teach me some humility all right, but you know us, spoiled, rich, brat kids... We never learn.” He smirked evilly.
Vince grabbed a key from a huge rack hanging by the wall with dozens of different keys guarded on it. Were all those keys from cars that belonged to him?
“So, are you ready to leave?” he asked, giving a twirl with the keychain in his finger.
“Oh. We’re leaving already?” I asked, deflated.
He gave me a curious look. “Yes. I have some business to tend to and unless you’ve changed your mind about telling me what happened up in that room with Mathew, there’s not much else for you and me to do here. I can’t work on our plan until I know all the facts. So, are you telling me what happened or what?”
“You’re like a dog with a bone.” I hunched my shoulders down, upset. “Fine, you want to know so badly, this is what happened: There isn’t a plan to work on anymore, Vince. It’s over. This game is over. I screwed everything up, all right?”
“You’re joking, right?” he asked, seeming surprised.
“No, I’m not!” I said, fighting back tears. “Matt and I are done. I blew it, okay? There’s no going back after what I did last night. I destroyed any chances I may have with him. I don’t think we can even be friends anymore now. I’m serious. It’s over.”
“What did you do, Taylor? What happened?”
“He knows how I feel about him. I told him.”
He watched me intently, breath held as he waited for me to continue.
“He rejected me, Vincent.”
“So? That doesn’t mean anything!” he protested, not accepting defeat.
“No! You pulled the trigger too soon. It doesn’t mean he doesn’t like you. You can’t give up now, it’s too soon to end the game!”
“Vince, I’m done with this.” I told him. “This is hurting me more than anything. Please. I can’t…” A tear dared to slip down my cheek. “I can’t do this anymore.”
He watched me in silence before shaking his head in disappointment. “You are so close, Holmes. If only you could see.”
“Vince, I have to accept Matt’s choice. He said ‘no’. It’s over.”
“But it’s not over!” He huffed out, frustration oozing out of him. “You know what? You’re making a decision in the heat of the moment, Holmes. The fight was recent, you’re upset… why don’t you sleep on it, and decide later what you really want to do? Let’s not rush into anything now. I’ll get you home and you think it through, all right?”
“Wait! Just because we’re not working on any plan now, it doesn’t mean we can’t hang out anymore, does it?” I blurted out before he could walk away. “I mean, we’re friends now, aren’t we?”
He stopped and analyzed me for a second. “Yeah, sure...” he agreed.
“So, can I stay with you today?” I asked, hopeful.
I really didn’t want to go home and sulk alone in my room, staring at the ceiling all day long, thinking about Matt and my breaking heart.
“I really do have some problems I need to work on today, Taylor,” he said. “I’m not making this up just so I can get you out of my hair. I’ll be working in the library all day today.” He tried to explain when he saw the disappointment in my face.
“I’ll be quiet! You won’t even know I’m there. You can lend me some books and I’ll stay there reading, and when you’re done with your work we can watch a movie or something.” I suggested, thinking that maybe we could make this our weekend hangout.
“I’ll be quiet as a mouse, I promise!”
“You’re never quiet, Holmes.” he pointed out.
“I can be quiet.” I scoffed indignantly. “I just never want to, but it’s possible for me to be quiet.”
He eyed me warily for a moment before nodding. “All right. You can stay, but if you can’t stay quiet, I’ll be taking you pretty little ass straight back home, do you understand?” he warned me.
“Yes, sir!” I saluted and then let out a tiny snicker. “You think I have a pretty little ass?”
“I’m already regretting this...” Vince muttered to himself as he walked to the mansion’s library.