Nick was drunk. Really seriously super drunk. He laughed to himself at the thought, stumbling out of the bar and onto the sidewalk feeling especially wobbly.
Andrew and Maddie had been busy—so what? Nick had gone out, ordered a drink, and then another drink, and then… another one? There had been a lot of drinks. He’d lost count. The bartender kept looking at him with an amused expression every time he’d ordered another one.
And now he was drunk. Drunk and wobbly and he felt too tired to walk back to his apartment.
“Oof,” he murmured as he leaned against a signpost. It was doing a very poor job of holding him up properly, so he would just have to sit for a second. It was April and there wasn’t any snow on the sidewalk anymore, but it was still chilly beneath his butt.
Nick pulled out his phone, groaning at the brightness when it hit his eyes. Somewhere in his brain, he knew that he could call Andrew or Maddie and they would probably come to help him, but no, he didn’t need them. They were busy with their other friends—their couple friends.
He shook his head and shoved his phone back into his pocket. He would get home on his own as soon as his legs stopped being so tired.
Nick laughed again at his tired legs, leaning back to look up at the dark sky above. There were some stars up there, or maybe they were just airplanes or something. Stars weren’t always visible in the city. His hands felt chilly on the cold sidewalk. It was quiet this late at night, but there were still people passing by every now and again.
He was wondering if the sun would come up soon and which direction was east—was it the east where the sun rose? —when he heard one of those people that had been passing by stop next to him.
“Hey, are you alright?”
Nick looked to his left. There was a guy there, a guy with tanned skin that stood out underneath the city lights, dressed in a sweater-vest and sporting these big, dark, square-framed glasses over his concerned green eyes. “Whoa, you have green eyes. That’s super cool. Mine are brown you know—like mud.”
Rather than looking annoyed, the guy smiled indulgently. Kind of like the way people smiled at small children. “I do have green eyes. Are you okay though?”
“Me? Uhhh, I think so. The sidewalk is kind of cold.”
“I can imagine. Did you have a lot to drink tonight?”
“I did!” Nick chuckled, turning towards this guy. “I went out drinking because my friends are always busy. They’re dating each other and I’m all alone, so I got drunk.”
The guy’s gaze softened with sympathy. Nick went on speaking, “No, no, don’t look sad! I’m just a little lonely sometimes, you know? It’s like, I’m all happy for my friends, but I don’t have anyone to give me hugs or anything and sometimes it makes my heart hurt. Right here.” He pointed to his chest haphazardly and probably not in the place his actual heart was.
The guy nodded understandingly. “Right there, huh?” he asked, touching that spot on Nick’s chest carefully, so lightly that he almost didn’t feel the slight pressure of his finger. “I know that feeling. I don’t have anyone to hug me either.”
Nick blinked at the guy. His brain felt sluggish. “Really? C’mere then.” Before the guy could say yes or no, Nick had leaned forward to glom onto him. He registered surprise somewhere in his mind when the man returned his hug with a firm squeeze of his own.
They both stumbled when the guy had to shift out of his crouch and put his knees to the sidewalk to support the both of them. He was still hugging him though, despite the fact that Nick knew that the guy’s knees must have been as cold as his butt.
“You hug good. Wait—well. You hug well,” Nick murmured. His chest felt warm, and not just because of all the vodka shots.
The guy hummed. Nick could feel the vibrations for a second in his own chest. “I’m not sure how much grammar matters when you’re drunk.” He ran his hand up and down Nick’s back, not protesting when the hug went on for longer than was socially acceptable.
Nick almost fell right onto his butt when he pulled back, laughing and nearly dragging the man down with him.
Despite the grip Nick had on his shirt, the man smiled at him in exasperation. “Alright, where do you live? I’ll help you get home.”
“Huh? No, no, no, I couldn’t do that. I can’t take advantage of a person I don’t know,” Nick protested. There was a pause where he swayed and placed his hands back on the pavement to keep his balance.
The guy shifted to return to his crouch. He adjusted his bag on his shoulder. “Well, my name’s Vincent. Now, you know me.”
“I’m Nick! My name’s actually Nickolas but I don’t like it when people call me that.”
“Okay, Nick-who-doesn’t-like-to-be-called-Nickolas,” Vincent said playfully. “Where do you live?”
“Uhh,” Nick mused, “Over that way.” He waved his hand vaguely in the proper direction, his mind fuzzy. “I can get there, but my legs are tired just now.”
Vincent had this amused expression on his face. “Do you have your address somewhere on you, Nick?”
He fumbled around for his phone again. When it stopped slipping out of his hands, he squinted at how bright it was. “My brother sent me his address so I sent him mine… my brother is younger than me and he’s already married! It’s not fair, Vincent.” Despite the rambling, he found the screenshot of his and his brother’s addresses, and handed his phone to the man.
Vincent read the phone and nodded. The shadows danced on his face. The light reflected off of his glasses. “Definitely not fair. I have a lot of sisters though—no brothers.” He clicked the screen off and slid the phone back into Nick’s pocket. “Let’s get going, Nick. I know where this is.”
His hands were sort of slender and kind of soft when he pulled Nick to his feet. Nick didn’t know what made him laugh, but he laughed anyway when Vincent pulled Nick’s arm around his shoulders to keep him steady. He could feel the man’s other hand around his waist. Vincent was shorter than him by a few solid inches, so it felt easy to hold onto him.
“Lean on me, Nick,” Vincent instructed, beginning to direct them down the sidewalk.
“Wow, you’re like strong,” Nick mumbled.
“And you’re like drunk,” the man responded.
Nick giggled at him. “I’m a tax gremlin too.”
Vincent turned them around the corner, tightening his hold when Nick began to sway. “Tax gremlin?”
“I could do your taxes for you,” Nick confirmed, nodding. His head bobbed up and down too many times, and suddenly the world felt like it was wobbly too.
“Whoa, whoa, I can’t hold you up all by myself!” Vincent protested, tightening his grip again for a second as Nick more or less hung onto him to stop himself from falling. “Seriously, Nick, I’m not actually that strong!”
Nick stumbled and tried to get his feet back under him. “Sorry, sorry!” he laughed. “I’m really drunk and my legs are tired.”
“I know, but we’re almost there,” the man reassured him. When they passed another streetlight, the light made Vincent’s pitch-black hair shine with blue sparkles. Or maybe Nick was a little more drunk than he initially thought.
He leaned on Vincent all the way up his stairs and into his building, and chuckled at the ticklish feeling when Vincent put his hand in his pocket to get his keys out.
The apartment was still dark and lifeless. The Chinese food was still abandoned on the table in the kitchen. Nick shuffled past it and to the couch in the living room, falling into it with a “oof” when the cushions bounced beneath him. He felt kind of cold when Vincent removed his arms.
Nick watched Vincent pad over to the kitchen and grab a glass from the drying rack. In a moment, he had it filled with water.
“Drink this, okay, Nick? It’ll help,” he instructed, taking a seat on the coffee table.
Nick gulped it down so quickly that he didn’t notice that he’d sloshed water all over his neck. “Oops,” he murmured, trying and failing to wipe it off himself when his arms felt like they were out of focus.
Vincent was smiling at him like he was a cute animal that hadn’t learned how to walk yet. He walked to the kitchen to grab a towel, and spent another second rooting around for something else.
Nick was still trying to dry himself off when Vincent tossed the towel to him and placed a bottle down on the table. “Advil. Take two when you wake up, okay?”
Now dry, Nick nodded. “Two. Two Advil.” He chuckled. “I’ll be hungover. Really hungover.”
Vincent’s smile was sympathetic. “Maybe I should get you a bowl too in case you don’t make it to the bathroom,” he murmured, eyeing him curiously.
In the second that he left to open cabinets in search of a bowl, Nick felt his heart hurt. He couldn’t even understand why until Vincent was back and setting said mixing bowl down by the side of the couch.
“I’m twenty-seven,” Nick murmured, frowning now. “And I’m drunk and lonely and sad. It’s really pathetic.”
Vincent shifted on the coffee table. “Twenty-seven isn’t exactly old. I’m thirty.”
“Yeah, but your hair sparkles and you’re all strong and your eyes are like shining? Even though it’s dark right now. I’m just… me,” he lamented. “I’m just some guy who does taxes and gets drunk because I was feeling sorry for myself. I haven’t dated anyone in two years and… and it hurts.”
His heart felt like lead in his chest. It was surprising that his ribs continued to support it. Wait, the ribs were around his lungs, right? Oh, whatever—his heart was in there somewhere.
“I just… I want someone to hug and kiss and be close to,” Nick murmured, feeling distinctly sorry for himself. He put a hand to his chest, wishing that he could laugh again to chase away this pathetic, sorry feeling. He was suddenly regretting being so drunk that this feeling found a way back to his chest.
Vincent’s eyes really did appear as if they were shining as they considered him. Maybe it was the glasses. He didn’t speak for a few solid moments. “Do you have a problem kissing a man, Nick?” he asked softly.
Nick blinked slowly at him, staring at the way the shadows and streetlights blossomed along the features of his face. They made his nose look longer than it really was, and when they hit his glasses, his eyes disappeared behind the glare for a second. “I’ve only kissed girls before,” he murmured, “but it’s like the same thing, right? Unless you have a beard or a mustache. I guess that girls can have beards too though. But I’ve never kissed a girl with a beard….”
He found himself caught in Vincent’s gaze as his rambling faded out. Nick suddenly couldn’t take his eyes off of the man sitting across from him. His brain felt fuzzy and there was that lonely feeling in his chest and before he could think about what he was saying, he asked, “Would you kiss me?”
Vincent shifted without averting his eyes. Then, after a moment of thought, he stood and leaned down. They were so close now. “One kiss, okay? And then you have to go to sleep,” he murmured in this hypnotic voice.
Nick could feel his breath on his face. His heart was suddenly beating quickly in anticipation, practically leaping out of his chest as Vincent moved closer ever so slowly, as if he was giving Nick a chance to push him away. He didn’t want to push him away.
He could feel Vincent’s hand touch his jaw gently to steady him. He could see the sparkling green of his eyes as the man moved closer and closer and…
Nick shut his eyes.
Vincent’s lips were soft and warm on his own. Nick felt his breath catch in his chest as Vincent kissed him, angling their noses and pressing them together with just the right amount of pleasurable pressure. The man’s thick glasses pressed gently into his own nose.
It might have been the alcohol, but Nick felt his heart jump in time with the sparks beneath his lips. Those sparks seemed to travel all the way to his fingertips. He wanted to be closer. He wanted to grab Vincent by his green argyle sweater-vest and chase the feeling of his soft lips.
But then it was over and Vincent was pulling back. When Nick opened his eyes, he saw the man smiling at him softly. His hands gently pushed Nick onto the couch and placed a pillow beneath his head.
“Stay on your side or your stomach, okay, Nick? I don’t want you choking when I leave you here,” Vincent said. His voice sounded warm. His green eyes were crinkling to match the smile on his face.
Nick laid down without protest. He didn’t feel that pang in his chest anymore, and that kiss had completely chased that lonely feeling away.
“Take two Advil in the morning. Don’t forget,” Vincent said softly, and Nick wanted to pull him down and kiss him again.
But his legs were tired and his eyes were shutting. He felt Vincent drape a blanket over him before his eyes refused to stay open.
By the time the door shut, Nick had already fallen asleep.