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Reality bites hard

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Honestly, what the shit? Can't you just die already?

Kavinsky's phone has been buzzing non-stop for the past half hour and he's still not in the mood – or the physical state, let's be real – to pick it up. His eyes are fucking burning and every single one of Proko's movements is jostling his stomach. No amount of elbowing gets him to stop.

So Kavinsky kicks him off the bed. He's been warned.

"Go have a nice long heave," Kavinsky croaks. God, his mouth tastes like crap. "You'll feel better." He probably should be following his own advice, but as long as he's not moving, the room is not either. He's fine.

Buzz-buzz.

God damn it.

Bolting upright is definitely a mistake, but fuck that, peeling himself off the mattress slowly would have been equally painful. His brain feels like it was marinating in a gallon of booze along with his eyeballs. Nausea is soaking the rest of his body.

This is the point in his life where Kavinsky should vow never to touch alcohol again, but he never liked denying himself, so he grabs the half-empty bottle of beer from his nightstand and inspects it. There are no cigarette butts swimming inside, nor does he smell anything suspicious. It could be laced with anything, but he distinctly remembers taking this one from the fridge and opening it once Skov and the rest had moved their asses out of his basement. It had been fine then. Jiang, being the fucking chink with zero tolerance that he is, is the usual culprit when it comes to mixing crap into their drinks. He can't pass up the opportunity to get everyone fucked up faster than him; a sort of revenge for having been the butt end of too many jokes because he can't hold his liquor for shit.

And Proko, yeah, Proko had already crashed by the time Kavinsky came in with the bottle. Still, even if something had been mixed into it, Kavinsky wouldn't have been able to tell. This shit tastes like piss. Disgusting.

Kavinsky needs a line to wake up. There's an eightball in his top drawer, under the condoms and the lube. It's a miracle it's still there. His little plastic bags have a habit of disappearing. He would not have expected used condoms to be an effective enough deterrent against him mom's sticky fingers – she's never been above rifling through his trash when she really needed a fix – but apparently it works.

His phone buzzes again.

He has notifications on all his social media platforms and then some. These fuckers are probably all sucking up to him and wishing him a happy new year, hoping he'd remember the next time he sold them some blow. Yeah, right. Like that'd work. Nice try, though.

While navigating to their group chat, he scrolls past more people congratulating him than sending him new year wishes. Is that a thing these days, congratulating people for surviving the past year? Because it was so shitty it's a feat to have made it to the next? Like a level up? Whatever.

Their group chat has exploded since this morning. 100+ new messages. Fucking spammers, the lot of them. Why is he friends with a bunch of guys who chat like old ladies at a hen party?

One of the messages is a video with the caption lol look at these fags.

The answer is immediate: r u sharing gay porn again?

just watch it man. dudes went full homo

The quality is terrible: tinny music shreds the speakers, the visuals are dark and shaky, and whoever's filming can't stop snickering. Kavinsky feels like he's on a roller coaster with all those lights streaking across the screen, until finally the video settles on some people milling around a car and zooms in. The fireworks popping and sizzling in the background illuminate their faces enough to see that two of them are snogging, tongues flicking, hands grabbing hair, coatts, the works. Someone shouts at them and it's only when they break apart for a moment that Kavinsky notices it's him and Proko, making out like they mean it. Entertainer that he is, he spares a glance for the camera before flipping off the guy holding it and getting back to business.

He vaguely remembers the lead up to it. Skov and Swan had been accompanied by their girlfriends, both of them looking forward to their New Year's kisses, Kavinsky had joked that his would be Proko. And since he's no chicken who goes back on his word, he'd delivered. Amped up to eleven for effect.

u can c that's fake, the conversation continues. they just do it for the attn

who cares, it's still funny

how abt this 1 then?

There's another one of him back inside, blissed out on weed with Proko curled up against him. In the video, Kavinsky is playing with the boy's ears and hair, and murmuring something the camera doesn't catch. If he remembers correctly, he was poking fun at how fucking wasted Proko had been, but without that context, it looks more intimate, like whispering sweet nothings or someshit. Especially when Kavinsky goes on to pat Proko's cheek and kiss his forehead. Proko noses his jaw, and Kavinsky kisses him again, full on the lips. He'd have kissed anyone then; isn't that what you do in that state?

someone edit those vidz 2gether
& w/ someone i mean u jiang

fuck you
do it urself

he's already doing himself dw
his gf won't put out u kno

who cares?

he does

w/e man btt
still no answer from the gays

theyre probably still at it

And so on and so forth until they finally concern themselves with other topics.

So that happened.

When Proko returns from the bathroom, he is making a good impression one of those zombies from The Walking Dead. Only less sprightly. Kavinsky shoves his phone against Proko's chest as he heads to where he came from for a puke and a piss.

"Watch this, it'll cheer you up," he says.

The video start with its crappy sound that's more like metal plates grating against each other than what's supposed to be music, but then his own vomiting is drowning out all of that. At least that should help with the nausea. He takes a quick shower, hoping that'll refresh him, like a browser page, to load the latest content.

"Shit, man," Proko whines when Kavinsky re-enters the bedroom, towel slung over his naked shoulders. Proko has slipped under the covers again, like some delicate princess who has been prescribed bed rest. Kavinsky really should have been more discerning when he dreamt him, but what can he say, except that Proko hadn't dealt well with hangovers before. "I can barely remember that. How drunk was I?"

"Very." Kavinsky walks over to his wardrobe. He needs something clean to wear and stat. He pulls out whatever's on top and throws it on. "You were fucking giggling all the time and clinging to me. Wouldn't let me go. That's how drunk you were."

"Fuck," Proko rubs a hand over his face, either to avoid looking at Kavinsky or hoping to erase himself from existence. "You gotta tell them we're not gay. You're pretty much untouchable, but me? They'll never let me live this down."

"Dude, you're lying in my bed." Kavinsky spreads his hands. "You sleep here almost every night. It doesn't get much gayer than that."

Proko shoots him a look that probably carries less meaning than he intends it to, given his pained expression. Is that supposed to be a reprimand? There's no way to be sure.

"Jesus, man, chill. They know it was a joke."

*

Proko is still not looking any better by the time Kavinsky gets into his car. They'd agreed on food – or Proko had agreed and Kavinsky had jumped at the chance of doing something that doesn't involve listening to him groan. He needed something with more substance than booze or the rabbit food Kavinsky's mom buys, or so he said. They could have called for takeout but Kavinsky has never been good at sitting on his ass waiting around for something to arrive.

Food is the last thing on his mind, and he'd just as readily drive around Henrietta for a little while, but when he sees Gansey's orange atrocity parked outside Nino's, he pulls up. It's a call to attention and there are certain impulses Kavinsky can't resist, nor does he want to. One of them is jerking Lynch's chain – and you can be sure Lynch is wherever Dick-Three is. Doesn't matter if he's bitten. Half the fun is seeing what's going to happen next.

Gansey's little girlfriend is there, too. As he walks up to the hostess stand, he prepares his best smile, the one that says, I know you want me. Another waitress passes him and smiles back. Damn, son. Pushing his sunglasses down, Kavinsky checks out her ass. Yeah, he could definitely ask for her number.

"Hey, baby girl," he says as Gansey's girlfriend turns and stops in her tracks.

Her face does a complicated twist all the way from horror over annoyance to grudging acceptance. "Table for one?" she asks, once it's settled.

He steers her toward Gansey's table and as they approach, he feigns surprise. "Dick, my boy. I didn't see you there. Taking your dog for a walk, huh."

To his surprise, Gansey stands up, as if he wants to physically prevent him from getting too close to Lynch. Overprotective much? But instead of pushing him in the opposite direction, he gives him a firm handshake and a stupidly polite smile, the kind that makes Kavinsky want to ruffle his feathers just to see it slip.

"Congratulations on coming out," Gansey says in a very earnest voice. Lynch's head whips up.

Talk about out of context. Kavinsky hoots with laughter. Sure, man, why not? Two can play that game. "Is that a thing you do? Congratulate people on coming out?"

"It takes a lot of bravery and that should be acknowledged." Hell, Dickieboy actually means it, doesn't he? Probably needs to advertise how liberal he is. "I didn't think you'd manage it so soon."

"Yeah, whatever," he says and clasps Dick's shoulder because that fucker still won't let go. "When can I expect you two to come out? I'll send a card. Maybe some flowers."

"What?" Lynch finally decides to butt into the conversation. He sounds offended, like he's had it with Kavinsky insinuating he's in a relationship with Dick-Three. But that's not it: "No fucking way. Kavinsky's not gay."

Wow, that thought must have shocked that tiny brain of his. The look on his face is beyond priceless, jaw dropped, eyes bulging, as if he had never heard anything so appalling in his life. Who knows? Maybe he hasn't. Anyway, this definitely beats anything Kavinsky could have come up with.

"Try to keep up, Lynch."

"Haven't you seen the video?" Gansey asks, turning back to Lynch and finally releasing Kavinsky's hand. Fuck, was that some kind of gay ritual any newcomers had to undergo? Or like a polygraph test? You didn't sweat when I was touching you, ergo you can't be gay. Kavinsky has no idea how that works, but the thought amuses him nonetheless.

"What video?" Lynch shoots back, suspicious now.

Gansey takes out his phone and after a moment of swiping around, Careless Whisper starts playing. Wait, he doesn't know that one either. Oh, those fuckwits. They must have taken the videos and edited them together after all.

Lynch alternates between gawking at the screen in horror and gawking at him as though he's sprouted a new head or two. And is that color rising to his cheeks? He must be angry that Kavinsky is stealing the show from him. Guess your coming-out-party needs to wait. "What the shit?"

Kavinsky merely shrugs. "Guess I'm gay now."

He slips his sunglasses onto his nose again, attempting to keep a straight face. Hah, straight. Good one. Kavinsky fights the urge to slip in next to Lynch and fuck with him some more, just to see what's going to happen. Maybe some other day. It might ruin the moment. Let him digest that revelation first.