Lincoln was handed a hell of a soju bomb as soon as he walked into the house. A soju bomb, he learned, consisted of beer and a shot of soju, which pretty much tasted like vodka. He didn’t have any problems chugging it down. It had been a very long day.
He recognized a lot of the people there, either students from his school or people who frequented the cafe. At least he wasn’t alone when his friends disappeared in the crowd. He just chatted with students he knew, people he talked to and hung out with occasionally. Lincoln wasn’t too happy about spending time with people he barely knew, on account of them never wanting to be close with him. The feeling soon dissipated with every drink he poured.
A while later, after mingling with at least thirty different people, Lincoln stumbled into the kitchen and grabbed an empty glass, tripping his way to the sink and filling it up with water. He raised the glass to his lips and saw Jupiter and Jackson through the bottom. Draining his glass and setting it down, he took a good look at them.
Both of them were flushed red and had matching scowls on their faces. Jupiter had lost his headpiece and one of the shoulder pieces, while Jackson was in a similar state with his ears missing and half his claws gone. They were arguing about something Lincoln couldn’t hear over the pounding of the music, so he stepped a little closer.
Neither of them noticed him, too busy yelling at each other, the volume of their tones increasing as they kept going.
“I just don’t understand why you’re mad!” Jackson said shrilly.
“You ditched me three times this week!” Jupiter yelled back, crossing his arms. He was shorter than Jackson, but he still managed to look just as intimidating.
“I cancelled on you once!” Jackson shouted exasperatedly. “It was one time, and excuse me for not being available for the other two!”
“You were with Yong-sun!” Jupiter exclaimed, throwing his hands up.
“I spend all of my time with you,” Jackson replied angrily, curling his hands into fists. “Why can’t you just let me be happy? Why are you fucking jealous of Yong-sun?”
“I’m not jealous!” Jupiter snapped. “I don’t care, do whatever you want!”
“Stop acting like a child!” Jackson fumed, stepping forward and shoving at Jupiter’s shoulders. Jupiter stumbled backwards against the counter, knocking bottles and cups to the floor.
“Guys, stop it,” Lincoln said worriedly. Watching them fight sobered him up pretty quickly. “Don’t do this.”
“I am not a child!” Jupiter said through gritted teeth. He was tensed up, like he was planning to hit Jackson or was expecting Jackson to hit him.
“You might as well be with the way you’re acting,” Jackson retorted. “Why can’t you just let me be with Yong-sun?”
“I don’t care,” Jupiter said, wiping at his eyes roughly. Lincoln hadn’t even noticed he was crying, and he knew Jackson hadn’t either. “Do whatever you want. Don’t go breaking his heart, Mr. Heartbreaker.”
He spat the nickname like fire, pushing past Lincoln on his way out of the kitchen. The door slammed, resonating through the whole house. Jackson crumpled like paper, face going pale. Lincoln stared after Jupiter for a moment before deciding not to go after him, instead walking over to Jackson.
“Hey,” Lincoln said softly. Jackson reeked of alcohol, though Lincoln couldn’t have been much better off. “Hey, what the hell happened?”
“God, I don’t know,” Jackson said finally. He was trembling badly, eyes wide and wet with unshed tears. “I don’t know. He was angry, and I was angry a-and I just…” He slid to the floor and buried his face in his hands. “I’m scared I’m gonna break Yong-sun’s heart.”
Lincoln kneeled next to him on the floor, ignoring the dull ache in his knees when they came in contact with the tile. “You’re fine. You’re not gonna break his heart, you like him.”
“What if I do it unintentionally?”
“Then he’ll forgive you,” Lincoln said gently. Knowingly. “He’ll forgive you. But you won’t know unless you try.”
“Right,” Jackson replied, taking a deep breath and exhaling shakily. He nodded twice, like he was trying to convince himself. “Right, I won’t know unless– unless I try. Okay, I can do this.”
He promptly burst into tears.
Lincoln stared, horrified, before he finally unfroze and patted Jackson’s back awkwardly as he sobbed. The younger was spewing nonsense through his tears, rocking back and forth.
“I fucked up, I fucked up so bad,” Jackson repeated over and over. “I shouldn’t have pushed him, shouldn’t have yelled.”
“It’s okay,” Lincoln said soothingly. “Hey, you both did things you didn’t mean. You were blinded by anger. Just apologize, and he’ll apologize too. You’re both gonna be okay.”
“Okay,” Jackson mumbled breathlessly. “Okay. Lincoln, Link, I think I’m gonna be sick.”
“Shit,” Lincoln cursed. He was entirely too drunk for this. Snatching a bottle of water from the counter, he yanked Jackson to his feet and led him out of the kitchen, bumping straight into Oliver.
Oliver winced, hand flying up to press on his ribs. Lincoln frowned; he hadn’t meant to hurt him. He didn’t think he even bumped into Oliver that hard. “Shit, Link. Is Jackson okay?”
Lincoln forget about Oliver’s ribs, glancing at Jackson who had his eyes closed. Sweat was forming in beads on his forehead and his skin was still pale. “Fuck, I dunno. Where’s the bathroom?”
“Upstairs, two doors on the right,” Oliver said, pointing. Lincoln thanked him and dragged Jackson up the stairs, shoving him into the bathroom and shutting the door to give him some privacy.
“Jesus,” Lincoln sighed, leaning against the door. His arms ached from lugging Jackson up the stairs. Lincoln winced when he heard Jackson vomit, stepping away from the door and bumping into someone else.
“Sorry,” The other guy muttered, in a voice that was all too familiar.
“Jupiter,” Lincoln said, reaching out to stop the younger in his tracks.
“Link,” Jupiter said back, turning around to face him. Even in the shit lighting, Lincoln could see his puffy eyes and tear tracks drying on his face. “Sorry for pushing you in the kitchen.” Immediately, Lincoln regretted his decision of not going after Jupiter, who looked miserable, exhausted, and alone.
“It’s alright, I understand.”
“Thank god you’re here, I just needed–” Jupiter shut his mouth so harshly Lincoln could hear his teeth click when Jackson called for him. The ugliest sneer came across his face and he was no longer the Jupiter that Lincoln knew. “You’ve gotta be shitting me right now.”
“Don’t,” Jupiter sighed, cutting him off. His face was carefully blank now, eyes devoid of emotion. “It’s whatever, I get it. Thanks for helping him, I’m gonna go look for Xavier.”
And with that, he disappeared. Lincoln watched him go and stepped into the bathroom. Jackson was sitting on the floor, eyes closed and head tilted back. Thanks for helping him. Even when angry, Jupiter still cared for Jackson.
“Hey,” Jackson said, opening his eyes.
“C’mon,” Lincoln said. “Let’s get you home.”
“Thanks for helping me.”
Lincoln heaved a sigh of relief when he finally got Jackson in his bed. The poor guy had passed out on the (very awkward) ride home. Lincoln couldn’t find Xavier, who was DD for the night. He assumed that he had driven Jupiter home. Luckily, he bumped into Adalric who was more than happy to get away from the crowd of girls surrounding him. Lincoln wasn’t really into accepting rides from near-strangers, but with Jackson’s intoxicated state he didn’t have much of a choice. Adalric proved to be more than helpful, driving them to Lincoln’s and carrying Jackson up the stairs.
“No problem,” Adalric said easily, flashing a bright, toothpaste-commericial grin. Lincoln briefly wondered if he would get cut by touching Adalric’s jaw, but quickly shook his head to clear his thoughts.
“Do you want to stay for some tea?” Lincoln offered. Adalric accepted happily, so he went into the kitchen. While waiting for the water to boil, he lined a wastebasket with a plastic bag and returned to his room, placing it beside his bed in case Jackson had to throw up. The boy was deep in sleep, mouth open and drooling on Lincoln’s pillows. Lincoln sighed and made a mental note to wash his pillowcases and sheets as he walked back into the kitchen.
“It’s jujube tea,” Lincoln said as he placed the teacups on the table a few minutes later. “It’s Yong-sun’s, but I don’t think he’ll care if we drink it.”
“Thank you,” Adalric said quietly with another bright smile. Lincoln just shrugged and sat down, curled around his own cup of tea. “So what happened to your ride? Not that I minded driving you.”
“Xavier probably went to drop off Jupiter,” Lincoln answered. He hoped that Xavier was coming back for the others, or they at least had rides. The only one not drinking besides Xavier was Tsuyoshi, who was walking home.
“Oh, Jupiter. He was crying earlier,” Adalric said. “I felt really bad, but I was worried that people would bother him after I talked to him. My fans do that.”
“I totally forgot you were famous,” Lincoln admitted, trying to change the subject. The guilt in his stomach still raged like a beast, gnawing at his insides. He felt terrible for not doing anything more for Jupiter. “You just don’t act like it.”
“It’s still relatively new,” Adalric grinned. “And I don’t want to let it get to my head, to be honest. That’s why I have Dex, he keeps me grounded.”
“Oh, was he at the party?” Lincoln asked curiously, blowing on his tea. He had enough incidents where he had forgotten his drink was hot and taken a sip. “I didn’t see him, will he be okay by himself?”
“He’ll be fine,” Adalric said with a smile. “He’s not alone, he joined Hajime. I feel kind of bad, since Hajime doesn’t speak Arabic. Dex can only speak very basic English.”
“I can only speak very, very basic Arabic,” Lincoln said sadly. He wished he was smarter, he could learn multiple languages and be able to talk to everyone in their mother tongue instead of them speaking English. “I learned some from my friend. I can say hello and thank you, but that’s about it. What languages can you speak?”
“German, English, Arabic and French,” Adalric listed in a practiced manner. Lincoln wondered how many times he had to answer this question during interviews. “I’m working on Spanish and Mandarin.”
“Jesus Christ!” Lincoln exclaimed. Adalric giggled like a little kid, bring his hand up to cover his mouth. He was wearing a Rolex watch that looked like it cost more than Lincoln’s tuition. The rich and the poor. He couldn’t help but smile all the same.
“Oh god, is that the time?” Adalric said, leaping to his feet. “Dex probably hates me. I better go get him or he’ll be pissed.” He shuddered dramatically. “Last time he was mad, he trained the dog to shit on my shoes whenever I left them out.”
“Sounds brutal,” Lincoln laughed, standing up as well. He took Adalric’s cup and set it down to wash later before walking him to the door. “Thanks again for helping me with Jackson.”
“It was no problem. Besides, you’re the one who doesn’t have a bed for the night,” Adalric teased with another blinding smile. “Thanks for tea, have a goodnight.”
He disappeared down the hallway, and just before Lincoln shuts the door, he hears Adalric say “hey, Yong-sun!” and opened it wider. Sure enough, the Korean boy was making his way down the hall. He was wearing the cape still, but he was shirtless beneath it. Also both boots were undone, making Lincoln wonder how he didn’t trip over the laces.
“Have a good time?” Lincoln asked, stepping aside to let him in. Yong-sun was walking straight enough that he probably wasn’t too drunk. The younger blinked at him before mumbling something in Korean and sitting on the floor to tug off his boots. Lincoln chuckled a little before bending to help him.
“Jackson’s in my room, so I’m bunking with you tonight,” Lincoln told him. Yong-sun nodded obediently, getting up and putting his boots on the side before walking into the kitchen. Lincoln heard the tap run and assumed Yong-sun was getting water.
“’M not completely sober,” Yong-sun muttered when he came back. “Sober is the word, right?”
“Yeah, that’s right,” Lincoln replied. “And you don’t really seem drunk.”
Yong-sun hiccuped. “Walked home. Now I’m not drunk. ’S terrible.”
“You walked home?! Why didn’t you get a ride with Xavier?!” Lincoln scolded, ushering the younger to his bedroom. Yong-sun explained that he was forgotten, and mentioned something about getting attacked by Darth Vader. It was Halloween, so Lincoln wasn’t sure how true that story was. He helped Yong-sun untie his cape and managed to get him to stay upright long enough to pull a sweater over his bare frame. Yong-sun flopped onto the bed, spreading his limbs out like a starfish.
“Move over,” Lincoln grunted, feeling a wave of exhaustion slam into him. Yong-sun obliged, wiggling enough that Lincoln could climb in. Yong-sun’s bed was smaller, and his feet hung over the edge. Still, it was warm, and he was too tired to care much about anything. “Sorry we didn’t come get you, I was a little...occupied.”
“It’s okay, Xavier owes me four bobas now,”
“Right,” Lincoln said slowly. “What’s boba?”
“Bubble tea,” Yong-sun replied happily. He curled up on his side, reaching out to poke Lincoln in the face multiple times. “Go to sleep, you look stressed.”
“Yeah, your boyfriend over there can’t hold his liquor,” Lincoln grumbled. “How did that happen anyway?”
“He made cake and asked me on a date,” Yong-sun smiled, looking like the cat who got the cream. “I love sugar. And SUGA. He’s so beautiful.”
“That’s cute,” Lincoln said. “I’m happy you found someone. I’m gonna be single for life.”
“Maybe,” Yong-sun said, burying his face into the pillow. “I don’t think so. Someone likes you.”
“Who?” Lincoln asked. Yong-sun answered with a tiny snore. He sighed and rolled over, bringing his knees up to his stomach. Closing his eyes, he let sleep overtake him.
When he opened his eyes, it was still dark. Lincoln blinked and brought a hand up to rub the sleep out of his eyes, except his arm wouldn’t move. I must be dreaming, Lincoln thought wildly. But he could tell that he was awake, knew when he was asleep. Lincoln was still in his room, Yong-sun sleeping soundly next him. He was still on his side, light from the street filtering in through the window. He could make out the shapes of Yong-sun’s dresser, even his bag lying half-open on the floor. But he couldn’t move, couldn’t turn his head. He couldn’t talk, he discovered, when he tried to wake up Yong-sun.
Panic fluttering in his chest, Lincoln could only watch as a large shadow by the door shifted and formed the shape of a man. Eyes wide, there was nothing he could do but watch as the figure grew closer. There was movement, then a glint of silver that couldn’t be anything but a knife. I’m gonna die, holy shit I’m gonna die. I can’t even wake Yong-sun, or call 911. Fuck I’m so screwed.
The image of the man dissipated and he could move again. The feeling of fear stayed and he realized he had his mouth open in a silent scream the whole time. His chest heaved with ragged breathing and Lincoln turned to face Yong-sun, who was propped up on one elbow, staring at him worriedly.
“Why are you crying?” Yong-sun asked. Lincoln touched his cheeks, fingers coming away wet. He hadn’t even noticed. “Are you okay?”
“Just a bad dream,” Lincoln said, trying to sound reassuring. But it didn’t feel like a dream, he couldn’t control it and he couldn’t wake up. Everything felt so real. “I’m okay.”
“You look scared,” Yong-sun said through a yawn. “What happened?”
“I’m cool, it was just a dream,” Lincoln replied. “Go back to sleep.” It doesn’t take long for Yong-sun to turn over and curl up, his breathing deep and slow. Lincoln slipped out of bed and pulled the covers up to Yong-sun’s chin, tiptoeing out of the room and into the living room. His laptop, notebooks and textbooks were still on the coffee table where he left them; Adalric’s mug balanced precariously on the edge. Lincoln adjusted it before scanning his surroundings, taking a deep breath. There was no one in the apartment, he was just imagining things.
He flipped on the light, sat on the couch, and studied until dawn.