The fifty-second short story in the Evolved Energy Series.
Three raps on the door were all it took to grab Eacal’s attention. Every paused boom reverberated in the empty rooms. He knew who was at his door. He’d know that knock anywhere but he didn’t know why they were at his house at nearly midnight.
He pulled back the solid wooden door and a shock of black hair fell into his chest, limbs sprawling in all directions. Raw alcohol flashed into his nose. If Eacal was anyone else, he would have stumbled. As it was, he held the other man up like a brick wall.
“You’re drunk.” Eacal laughed.
The other man struggled onto his feet, pouting up at the brunette that had caught him. “You dropped me!”
Eacal raised an eyebrow. “If anyone dropped you, it was the door.”
“Hicc,” Eacal cast his eyes carefully over his lawyer. “You’re really drunk. What’s wrong?”
Hiccup slalomed against the walls in his effort to reach the living room. He knew the route like the back of his hand but tonight the number of hands in front of his eyes had tripled. Eacal’s iron grip clamped like a vice on his left hip, steering him onto a plush sofa near the fire. Unceremoniously, Hiccup flumped into the cushions.
“Don’t get all fiery with me. It’s hot!” Hiccup snorted at his own joke.
Eacal’s eyes widened in utter disbelief. It would seem drunk was an understatement for the condition his friend was currently in. There weren’t enough Earl Grey teabags in his cupboard to sober up a mess this bad, so Eacal mentally prepared for an overnight guest. His younger self would have rushed to the kitchen for a bottle of something and moaned about having to catch up: his middle-aged self grumbled about not being in bed before eleven in the evening. With his son at a sleepover, and his wife on a “girl’s trip”, he could have taken the opportunity to go wild. Instead, he had watched reruns of a sitcom on the same sofa Hiccup was slowly falling asleep on.
“Do you want a glass of water?”
Hiccup’s eyes pried themselves open. “Yeah. Water is good. It’s blue like your eyes. You have really blue eyes. Did you know that?”
“I’m familiar with my eyes, Hicc.” Eacal swallowed.
He could hear his best friend’s rambling from the kitchen – even over the sound of the running water. His own mouth began to feel drier than his Mother’s attempts at chocolate cake, and so he poured an extra glass. Dealing with a drunk Hiccup was not unprecedented. In their youth they had seen each other drunk so many times that they normally didn’t give it too much thought. Tonight was different.
“One glass of water.” Eacal smiled as he placed the tumbler on the coffee table.
Hiccup’s vibrant green eyes never left Eacal’s face. “Why’re you always so nice?”
“I’m not,” Eacal smirked. “You just happen to be on my list of people I like.”
Eacal paused for a moment. “My wife’s not all that likeable at the moment.”
“You still married her,” Hiccup snorted. “When you could have married me.”
Silence rang through the living room. Eacal felt as though he were swimming in uncharted waters, but he couldn’t seem to pull himself to safety. They were on the verge of opening up Pandora’s box after spending over a decade locking the contents safely away from view.
“You’re very drunk, Hicc.”
“I’ll see you in the morning.” Eacal scratched at the back of his neck and left his best friend in peace.
(All characters, setting, plot etc. belongs to me – Erin Robinson)