Daniel spent a lot of time playing Dungeons and Dragons that summer.
Andopolis was off being the freak he would have been had Daniel never rescued him from jockdom in the first place. Ken spent ninety percent of his time making out with the hot tuba player, and Kim and Lindsay had fucked off to god knew where. Not even Sam knew. He’d show up to their games, his face drawn and tight. Daniel knew things were pretty much awful for Sam at home, and the kid had no idea how to handle it. Sometimes Daniel wanted to tell him that it would get easier to deal with, but he knew that was a lie. It never got easier.
Instead he bought a case of beer to their next game at the Schweibers’. Neal looked excited, Bill looked ill, and Sam looked pained, like he couldn’t understand why these always happened to him.
“Excellent,” Neal said with a huge grin on his face. Daniel knew it was unfair, but he spent a lot of time wanting to punch Schweiber in the face. The kid just tried so obnoxiously hard, it was exhausting.
Daniel just rolled his eyes and grinned at same. “Don’t pussy out of me, Weir. You’ve been walking around like a wounded puppy ever since Lindsay fucked off to wherever the hell she is. You need to get over it. Or at least get hammered.”
The other three guys looked uncomfortable, either at Daniel’s profanity or the mention of Lindsay, he wasn’t sure which. Ever since she and Kim had gone it was almost as if they’d died, or worse, never been there at all. Daniel wasn’t one for sharing his feelings, so he’d mostly been ignoring the fact that Kim skipped town without so much as a goodbye, but he could see the way it was eating at Sam. So much as he could gather the Weirs never talked about Lindsay after the truth broke, and she hadn’t called.
“I’m in,” Neal said.
“Shocker,” Daniel said, moving past them into the kitchen. The table was already set up for their game, and someone (Daniel guessed Neal’s mom) had laid out snacks and drinks for them. It made him want to punch Schweiber all the more for how easy the kid had it. He had it so good and he didn’t even know.
Daniel shook off the thought and put the beer down on the counter, ripping open the top of the case and pulling a bottle out. He snapped the top off with the opener on his key chain, and held it out to Sam.
He could read the hesitation in Sam’s eyes, and Daniel wondered if it was the first time anyone had offered the kid a beer.
After a moment he rolled his eyes and shook the bottle impatiently in Sam’s direction. Sam took it, hesitantly.
“Atta boy, Weir,” Daniel told him with a grin.
Neal and Bill were hovering, so Daniel took out three more bottles, handling them each their open before opening his own drink and taking a long sip. It was warm from his drive over, but still cold enough to be drinkable. Hell, Daniel still would have downed it, even if it were warm as piss.
“So, where did we leave off?” he asked, gesturing at the table. He could see some tension go out of Sam’s shoulders, like sure, Daniel brought beer, but that didn’t mean he was going to completely revert back to being a bully. They were still friends. They were still going to play.
After the first few times they go together to do this, the other guys had actually relaxed enough to play for real—though Daniel still glared at them whenever they tried to make fun of his character for being named Carlos. Carlos was a great name.
Daniel watched them now, Sam and Bill nursing their beers, Neal taking his cues from Daniel, drinking whenever he did. Daniel rolled his eyes and ignored it.
“Drink up,” he told Sam about a half hour later, when Daniel was ready for round number two. Sam got that pinched look on his face. The one he got whenever he thought Daniel was trying to get him in trouble. Daniel just laughed. “Chug it, Weir,” he commanded, and Sam reluctantly did.
“What about you, Haverchuck?” he asked, nodding in Bill’s direction.
Bill shook his head and mumbled something about the last time. Daniel shrugged and ignored it, getting refills for himself and Sam (and Neal when he looked over hopefully). The second beer was cold and refreshing. Sam and Neal were more relaxed now that they were on their second. Daniel laughed and called them lightweights.
The night wore on, and before he knew it Daniel had the warm, sleepy feeling in the pit of his stomach that meant he was pleasantly buzzed.
Neal was lying on the couch. Daniel was pretty sure he passed out like thirty minutes earlier, and he had no idea what happened to Bill.
“Hey,” Daniel said when Sam appeared at the kitchen door.
“So, how drunk are you?” Daniel asked.
Sam shrugged. “Not drunk at all,” but he was. He was so totally drunk and it was the best thing Daniel had seen in forever.
“Sure,” he said laughing.
Sam swayed in the door and eventually came to sit at the table. Daniel was pretty sure he had no more than three, but since Daniel was working on number five, it was hard to be sure.
Sam smiled stupidly at him. “Fun night,” he said with a grin.
And yeah. It was. Fuck his old friends and their new lives, Daniel thought. His new life wasn’t so terrible either.
“Want to draw on Neal’s face?” Sam asked after a quiet moment.
“Yeah,” he said. “I kind of do.”
Sam laughed and held up a marker, that—shit, a permanent marker, and Daniel just grinned. Who knew the little asshole had it in him.
“You are an evil bastard,” Daniel told him affectionately.
The next morning, Daniel woke up with a killer headache, but at least he didn’t have a dick on his face.
Neal cursed at them for ten solid minutes and promised they’d never be invited back to his out when his parents were away (which kind of sucked, but whatever, Daniel thought he’d get over it. Probably), while Sam and Bill just laughed.
Worth it, Daniel thought, walking home. Totally worth it.