The minute Scarlett wakes up, she knows something is wrong.
It’s Goldilocks syndrome – the bed is too big, the pillow under her head is too stiff, the blanket is too fluffy, nothing about the predicament she’s in is just right. It’s not a perfect world by any means, but she’s pretty sure that when they decided to go to Vegas, she at least made sure she was staying in a room that had a functioning A/C unit. It currently feels like they’re vacationing in Hell.
It also feels like someone’s removed her brain and filled the empty place in her skull with concrete, but that doesn’t come as a surprise. She vaguely remembers drinking everything that was pushed in front of her last night, which probably wasn’t the wisest decision on her part. It’s Vegas, though: logic is treated like children and encouraged to be left at home.
A groan ripples through her as she sits up, pushing her way through the duvet her limbs are uncomfortably tangled around. The room spins beneath her center of gravity and her head is throbbing so hard she can feel it in the back of her teeth.
The joys of waking up in Vegas.
Her body is doing that thing it does whenever something is off; it’s like the hairs on the back of her neck are standing up and she can’t smack them back down despite nothing seeming out of place. It’s the same nondescript hotel room that she’s been staying in since they got here with its ugly curtains that sweep the carpets and do nothing to filter the sunlight out of the room. There aren’t any glaring red flags waving frantically in her face but she cannot shake the feeling that something’s wrong.
Whatever, she thinks dully. It’s probably a planet in retrograde that she’s all too in tune with after the amount of straight moonshine she remembers Sebastian pouring down the back of her throat. A glass of water and brushing the alcohol off her teeth will make things feel better.
She can barely pull herself out of bed, the sheet still tangled around her waist and attempting to hold her prisoner. The energy to free herself is running dangerously low – she finds that it’s not tucked into the bed as tightly as she thought, so she lets it drag behind her like a wedding dress train on her way to the bathroom. She stumbles and sways the entire way there, one hand clinging to the closest piece of furniture in her reach and the other cradling her still-pounding forehead.
The only setting for the bathroom lights is the angels are coming and it makes rummaging for her toothbrush infinitely more complicated. Her eyes are squinted to keep as much of the brightness filtered out and her hand is blindly swatting around on the counter for the toothbrush holder. Except she can’t find it, eliciting an irritated whine in her throat. “Come…on,” she says in a cracked voice to no one but herself, as if it will make the toothbrush that is very clearly not there suddenly appear in her hand.
She finally gives up, both hands gripping on the edge of the sink as her frustration rolls over in the form of a wave of nausea. She’s hungover and sweating like a whore in church and it’s as though her mind is a tree and something’s tapping away at it like a woodpecker, saying look look look look but there’s nothing to fucking look at. Not to mention her throbbing headache is still just as horrible as it was when she woke up and has managed to somehow get worse, more rapid hits straight to the bone of her skull and even louder than previously.
It takes another full moment before she slowly realizes that it’s not her head. It’s the front door.
The sheet is knotted around her ankles and she nearly falls on the floor as a result, but she makes it to the door of the suite and slams the handle down a little too forcefully. She also forgets whether it’s a push or a pull.
Standing on the other side of the door is Lizzie. Scarlett hopes she looks nothing like Lizzie does, because with her blonde hair sticking up in a dozen different directions and eye glitter and mascara paying rent underneath her eyes and the extra large Stanford t-shirt inside out as it falls off her shoulders, Lizzie looks as though she’s just been hit by a bus. Deep down, she knows that’s just wishful thinking. Lizzie is staring at her, the expression slapped on her face screaming strung-out.
“Whatever it is, the answer’s no,” Scarlett whines as she props her entire body weight against the door. “I don’t care if the breakfast is complimentary. I’ll starve before I try walking down stairs.”
“ScarlettwhythefuckdidIwakeupinyourroom?” Lizzie asks in a panic, only stopping to breathe once she’s gotten the entire sentence out.
Lizzie repeats her sentence much slower this time. “Why. Did I. Wake up. In your room.”
Both of Scarlett’s eyebrows wrinkle, meeting in the middle of her forehead. “This is my room.”
Lizzie shakes her head. “No, this is my room.”
Scarlett’s too tired and too hungover to do backbends over something that sounds a lot like a riddle. “Liz,” she groans, covering her eyes with one hand and steadying herself against the door with the other. “You’re…you’re hungover.”
“Says the woman who did like, three body shots off of me last night.”
Scarlett’s eyes narrow. “If this was your room, then you’d have the key to get in.”
“I didn’t take my purse out last night because Jeremy had the key to our room! You think I could have kept up with my purse when I can barely keep track of my own head?” She makes a point. “For fuck’s sake, Scar, I woke up with only one shoe.”
Scarlett frowns, reaching forward to place her hand over Lizzie’s mouth in the name of shutting her up, because fuck , she’s being loud, and the steady pounding in Scarlett’s head might have stopped but the headache hasn’t gone away in the slightest. She doesn’t get to her main destination because Lizzie snatches her hand in transit, gripping onto it tightly and twisting it back. “Dude,” she says in a voice an octave above normal. “What the hell is this?”
Lizzie bends her hand back and that feeling of everything being wrong returns, braiding her stomach into a knot. Sitting on her ring finger is what appears to be a high school ring much too large for her, onyx stone in the middle and the gold varnish worn on the sides. Lizzie then bends down every finger on her hand except for the pointer and thumb so it makes the shape of an ‘L’ and signals that it’s that finger.
“Where the fuck did I get this?” Scarlett asks, trying not to panic even though the alarm bells are ringing and that stupid woodpecker in her brain seems to have officially poked a hole in the surface to let everything flood in.
Lizzie slides it off her finger. She squints as she holds the ring up, trying to get a good look at something that’ll give her a positive ID. When she looks back at Scarlett, her face is beginning to turn a splotchy shade of red. “Modesto High.”
“I didn’t go to Modesto High,” Scarlett squeaks out.
“Yeah, but Jeremy did.” Lizzie comes to a complete standstill, a moment passing over her and leaving her looking as though she’s about to pass out right where she stands. It’s in these moments of panic where Scarlett really wishes Lizzie would verbalize her train of thought so she’s not left feeling like she’s in a car dangling off the edge of a cliff. “Scar, did you marry my brother last night?”
As if on fucking cue, somewhere in the back of her mind Scarlett hears an organ begin to smash down on its keys to the tune of Haddaway’s What is Love . That little itch that’s been telling her something was wrong from the moment she woke up turns her stomach inside out and she barely makes it into the bathroom in time.
♕ ♔ ♕
If Jeremy Renner has one superpower, it is that no matter how much he drinks (no matter what he drinks), he always remembers exactly what went down when he wakes up the next morning.
This time is no different.
He wakes up in a hotel room at the Mandalay Bay in Vegas. He thinks it’s his own room, the one he paid for when they got here yesterday afternoon, but he wouldn’t be able to tell you for sure. Anthony is sprawled out on the couch under the window, eyes closed and toothbrush still in his mouth. Sebastian is on the floor with every pillow from the second bed piled around him. He has no idea where Chris or the girls are.
The girls… It takes a moment but he starts to remember.
He rummages around on the floor for his pants, pulls them up towards him and starts looking through the pockets. Sure enough, his class ring from high school is missing, just like he thought it would be, and there is a receipt that he uncrumples and smoothes out, trying to focus on it even though the light is blinding him and sending sparks of pain shooting through his head.
The Wedding Chapel at Mandalay Bay Las Vegas, it reads, telling him that he spent four hundred and ninety-five dollars on the Charming Wedding Package. He glosses over the price, figures he will deal with that later. There is another piece of paper in the pocket of his jeans, and he pulls it out, unfolding it. This one he doesn’t have to squint to read: in big fancy script right at the top are the words “Marriage Certificate,” his name next to Scarlett’s underneath.
“Mackie,” he says, softly at first but getting louder when Anthony doesn’t budge. “Mackie. Mackie! Mackie!”
Anthony rolls over, groaning and pulling the toothbrush out of his mouth, throwing it down onto the coffee table. “What,” he says, throwing an arm over his eyes. “The fuck do you want?”
“Did Scarlett and I get married last night?”
At that, Anthony sits up and looks him. “What? No. Are you crazy?”
Jeremy brandishes the marriage certificate at him, Anthony’s name scrawled below Jeremy’s. Sebastian’s signature is beside it, clear as day. “Then what the hell is this?”
Anthony takes it, throwing a pillow at Sebastian who jerks awake instantly. He has always been the lightest sleeper amongst the six of them, most likely to wake up when there is a thunderstorm or Anthony is playing his music too loudly or someone sneaks into his apartment in the middle of the night to steal cheesecake from his fridge. (Jeremy has never done that. Or he’ll never admit to it at least.) “What?” Sebastian snaps. He sees the marriage certificate in Anthony’s hand, and he just shrugs. “Oh. Yeah. That.”
“Oh, yeah, that?” Jeremy jumps up, trying to ignore the fact that the room is spinning and his head is pounding and he has about a gallon of tequila sloshing around in his stomach. He grabs sweatpants out of his suitcase, throwing them on and slamming the door behind him, leaving Tweedledumb and Tweedledumbass behind to think about what they let him do.
As he walks down the hallway towards what he thinks is Lizzie’s room, everything comes back to him, hitting him in waves as he seemingly relives it all with every step.
They get to Las Vegas around five thirty the night before, dropping all their stuff off in their rooms before immediately going down to the hotel bar. It’s from there that things start to get a little bit hazy.
They start with beer before switching to tequila shots and Jagerbombs. This directly violates Jeremy’s tried and tested rule of “Liquor before beer, you’re in the clear. Beer before liquor, you’ll get sicker.” (Or, as Scarlett always says, “Liquor before beer, you’re in the clear. Beer before liquor, you’ll be fine, don’t be a little bitch.”)
After an hour in the bar and another couple of hours at the restaurant and then another hour back at the bar, they head over to Light, the club inside Mandalay Bay. It is where they always come when they are in Las Vegas, nothing new to any of them, and they fork over the money to get inside. Like always, it is sensory overload. There are lights bouncing around everywhere and a giant video wall and girls dancing up on poles and music blaring so loud that Jeremy can feel it in his bones.
They sit down at (or stumble into, in Jeremy’s case) a booth, and Scarlett plops down on his lap, light as a feather and warm as the sun. Her arms are slung around his neck, and she tilts her head back so that her hair brushes his arms where he has wound them around her waist.
“Hi, handsome,” she says, her eyes glittering under the club lights. “What can I get you? Drink? Joint? Lap dance?”
“Well, that depends.” He tightens his arms around her. “If I choose lap dance, are you going to be the one giving it to me?”
She laughs, pushing away from him and standing up. “Only in your wildest dreams, Renner.”
She grabs Lizzie and disappears into the pit of the club, returning fifteen minutes later with a drink in each hand. The last thing he probably needs right now is another Crown and Coke, but he takes it when she hands it to him, pulling her back down into his lap. A couple of drinks later and they are making out, just like they always do when they drink together.
Jeremy has known Scarlett since their freshman year of college. She was the only one in their two hundred person biology class who had any idea what the hell was going on, a fact that became clear to Jeremy when he was assigned to be her lab partner. They got the shitty lab section, Friday evenings at five o’clock, and after the first lab was over, she turned to him and told him that it would be a shame to just go back to the dorms on the first Friday night of college. They ended up getting drinks with their fake IDs and making out in the bathroom of Antonio’s.
It has never been more than that, just a little public display of affection between friends. Jeremy knows that for most people it would be weird, but they aren’t most people; they are Jeremy and Scarlett, and this is just par for the course.
Lizzie, Jeremy’s half-sister, hates it when they do this. She is sitting across from them in the booth, trying to distract herself by playing quarters with the boys, but finally she slams her fist down on the table. “Jer!” He ignores her, shifting to pull Scarlett even closer to him as he fists a hand in her hair, pulling gently. She makes a noise into his mouth, and they have done this so many times that Jeremy knows exactly what she likes.
He also knows that the Mandalay Bay Hotel has oxygen pumped in to keep people awake longer so that they will spend more money, and that’s what kissing Scarlett feels like, heady and alive and like he has too much oxygen in his brain. She bites his bottom lip, grinding her hips against his and pissing Lizzie off even more. “Jeremy!” she practically yells at him.
He pulls back from Scarlett, looking across the table at Lizzie. “What?” he snaps.
“Can you two please get a room?” She grabs a quarter from Chris, bouncing it on the table and into a glass.
Jeremy smirks at her. “Don’t worry, Liz. We will.” He slides his hand up under Scarlett’s skirt, higher than he normally would, just to piss off Lizzie.
“Jeremy!” she screeches, and he laughs.
“C’mon, Renner,” Scarlett says, her words syrupy and sweet in his ear. “I’m a lady. You know I’m waiting till I get married.”
“Perfect,” he says, his own words jumbling together in his brain. “Let’s go get married then.”
Things get a little hazy after that, but he knows that they stumble out of the club; he is supporting her or she is supporting him or they are holding each other up, he isn’t sure. Anthony and Sebastian tag along, and they end up in the little wedding chapel just off the lobby of the hotel, where Jeremy forks over almost five hundred dollars for a few fake flowers, an officiant, and a real legal marriage certificate. Scarlett comes down the aisle to What Is Love by Haddaway, winking at him and holding back a giggle. They hold hands. They promise to be there for each other as long as they both shall live. He gives her his high school class ring. They kiss, Jeremy dipping Scarlett backwards just to be a show off. They show their IDs, sign the marriage certificate next to Anthony and Sebastian, and just like that they are husband and wife.
“So,” Jeremy says, catching Scarlett around the waist as they practically trip over each other on their way back to the elevators. Anthony and Sebastian have disappeared, probably on their way to put in time at the blackjack tables. “Does this mean we can go up to your room now?”
Scarlett tips her head back, laughing. “Who would I be to deny my husband sex on our wedding night?”
He picks her up once they get in the elevator, pushing her against the wall of mirrors and trailing his lips down her neck. She knots her fingers in his hair, laughing as he practically falls out of the elevator once it gets to the fortieth floor, and he carries her through the door of her hotel room, falling onto her bed with her. Nothing happens because they both pass out almost instantly, and at some point Jeremy must get up and drag himself back to his own room because that’s where he wakes up.
He rubs a hand over the back of his neck as he shuffles down the hallway and knocks on Scarlett’s door. She opens it, wide-eyed, her makeup smudged and his class ring in her hand. “Scar?” he asks, his voice rough from alcohol and lack of sleep and the weight of what happened last night. “What the fuck have we done?”