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Deflection

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"That's what you said made you do it."

 

 

Dust particles are dancing in the lines of sunlight streaming in between the hotel curtains when Lando wakes.

Shit, it's bright. And late, fuck. 

He drags himself out of bed, coughing because his throat feels too dry, and he heads for the open bathroom door. Inside, he pours himself a glass from the complimentary water pitcher and drinks deeply. Reluctantly, he admits to himself that he definitely had too much last night celebrating Carlos' podium. But hey, it was a special occasion! It's not every race that Mcclaren sees those kinds of results. 

He also internally recognizes that he was also probably drowning the anger over his own DNF. He really did think Austin would be different. Everything about last night is foggy, and he's not really fully awake yet.

Setting down the cup, he moves to strip and jump in the shower, but when he catches a look at himself in the mirror, he notices something odd. 

Why is my shirt backwards?

Scratch that, inside out too? What the fuck.

Suddenly he's awake and he knows the answer, even though he's trying desperately to convince himself he's mis-remembering something. He knows, though. He knows the truth.

Fuck, fuck, fuck. Where's my phone?

He sprints from the bathroom and finds his phone on the table by the door. It's dead.

Fuck my life. What the hell is wrong with me?

Frantically he plugs it in, only to see that it needs to charge a bit before it will let him reboot it. He punches the mattress in frustration. There's got to be something on there (he hopes) that will explain away what he thinks he remembers from last night. Yeah, surely Alex or George would have texted him or taken him home. He certainly wasn't in any condition to get up here by himself. 

But good god. What if his memories were correct?

I am so fucked. I will have to fucking fall into a black hole somewhere to escape this mess. 

He knows if he doesn't do something, he'll go crazy, so he strips and jumps into the shower, turning the water colder than usual. It's in the shower that he notices the red marks, like fingernail marks, on his chest and shoulders. He pulls the curtain aside and checks his back, where he finds more of the same. 

Shit. Shit. Someone fucking shoot me.

It's this that confirms everything for him. There will be no saving grace. Alex and George cannot save him. Nothing they can say will change the fact that he's crossed a line he never meant to cross.

Carlos probably fucking hates me now. And fuck, I'm going to have to explain this somehow. Fuck. What the fuck can I say?

He slaps the shower wall so hard his hand stings and turns so red that running it under the cool falling water does nothing to help. But Lando is far too distracted to care, because in spite of himself, there's a lot about last night that he doesn't regret nearly as much as he thinks he should. He can remember it all. No matter how much he lies to himself and insists it's foggy and distant, he can see it all in screaming, blinding color.

Strobe lights flashing, EDM playing so loud he can't hear his own thoughts. Dark shadows moving throughout the room, Nico puts a cocktail in his hand and he thanks him. He and Nico toast each other, commiserate over their mutual DNF results of the day. He must've already had a few, and Lando definitely has. More than a few, actually.

And then Carlos walks in, late because of the press mobs, and Lando's eyes are immediately on him, following him from the door as he makes his way around the cheering team members and drivers. He may not be able to hear his heart, but he doesn't need to, because it's rattling his chest plenty hard enough to be felt.

Carlos makes his way over, and he and Nico are trading insults and jokes and Lando is more silent than he's probably ever been in his life and he feels like an outsider. He knows he should walk away, stop hovering, stop staring at Carlos, for fuck's sake, but he's had far too much alcohol to hear the rational part of his brain, so he stays and stares off and on and Nico doesn't notice. But Carlos does. And he stares back.

And then Nico leaves, and Carlos heads for the empty couch in the far corner, glancing over his shoulder at Lando, and Lando takes it as an invite and follows, drink in hand, and they sit down and talk about the race, and Lando says all the congratulations he's been planning to say because he means them sincerely. He's touchy, throws an arm around Carlos, scrubs through his hair roughly. Carlos is flattered, he's touchy too, he has his hand on Lando's knee, and they laugh about some stupid joke, and then...

Fuck, fuck, fuck.  Lando slams the lid on the memory and slams his hand on the wall, giving himself another stinging shock of pain.

Great. That was so helpful. He aggressively washes his hair, fingernails scraping his scalp, and jumps out of the shower. Turning off the water, he grabs the towel and wraps himself in it quickly before darting out of the bathroom and over to his phone, dripping a pathway on the carpet. The phone will turn on now, and he has messages, and he taps to check them with shaking hands.

Fucking hell. There are texts from George and Alex. Missed calls from both of them too. He is so dead.

George is not comforting. 

What happened between you and Carlos? I turn around and you're fucking snogging like children. Dude, I'm so confused.

Lando sighs. Well, guess I'll just have to take it on the chin. It's too late to do anything else now. He doesn't text back. He'll think of what to say later.

Alex is much less shocked apparently. 

Hey man, you okay? You were pretty drunk and then you disappeared. I was gonna look for you but George said you made it back to the hotel.

Lando exhaled heavily. George must've brought him back then. Thank you, whatever deity still gives a shit.

He texts George first. Thanks for bringing me back to the hotel. He wants to explain more, but he can't decide what to say, so he leaves it like that. 

To Alex he texts: Yeah, I'm okay. Just drank wayyyyy too much lol. Carlos must look pretty girly to my drunk brain.

He hopes Alex doesn't ask him anything else about it. He guesses George will ask for sure.

Still dripping, he falls back on the bed and scrolls desperately through instagram, but somehow it appears there aren't any horrifying pictures of the event. Everyone else must've been too drunk as well. He sighs another relieved sigh. His phone startles him when it vibrates in his hands. Alex texted back.

Yeah, okay. Whatever you say dude. ;)

Fuck you Alex. Lando is terrified, not even sure what to do. He decides to deal with Alex later. At least Alex won't blab to everyone, and he doesn't think George will either, but he thinks he'd better make sure. George replies while he's still thinking of what to say, and his words just make everything worse.

I didn't take you back. Last I saw, you were with Carlos, walking out the door arm in arm and singing some weird ass song.

And that's where Lando feels his breath honest to god halt for a good five seconds. Because, while he remembers all the stuff at the nightclub, at least, he thinks he does, he definitely does not remember leaving with Carlos. He doesn't remember leaving at all, in fact. FuckingkillmenowIamsuchafuckingmoron.

Panicking, he runs through the night again.

Talking to Nico, Carlos shows up, they're playing around, being silly, lounging on the corner couch. So far so fine.

Suddenly leaning over and kissing Carlos, knocking over the cocktail in his hand, laughing some more. So far, not so fine, but still minimal damage.

Carlos pulling him back in, tickling his ribs, and then...kissing him some more, and then completely devolving into a makeout session. So far, SO NOT FINE. Lando wants to melt into nothingness and slide down the shower drain. He is going to kill me.

George comes by and they stop making out suddenly, but his eyes are as big as tires so he's definitely seen anyway, and then Carlos...

And then Carlos pulled on his arm and got him to stand up and Lando threw his arm around Carlos' shoulder and Carlos threw his arm over Lando's shoulder, and they staggered out the door. Lando remembered that now. And they staggered next door, and they stumbled into the elevator, and Carlos somehow got him back to his room. 

Okay, but what about the shirt? Why was it inside out this morning?

Lando honestly doesn't have the answer to that, and that is very disconcerting. God, he was such an idiot. He knew better than to drink that much, especially with all the weird thoughts he's been having about Carlos lately and the very weird feelings last night definitely confirmed. 

For just a second, his thoughts linger too long over kissing Carlos, over having him so close. His mind runs circles around the euphoric feeling of his lips on his teammate's, the enticing way Carlos' black eyelashes rested when his eyes were closed, and his eyes were closed while they kissed. Lando figures his probably should've been as well, but he wants to look at him, he wanted to prove to himself that it wasn't another weird dream, that he was actually kissing Carlos himself.

Well, you definitely were kissing Carlos. Fucking good job. Bitterly, Lando tosses his phone aside and is walking towards the bathroom when he hears the knock.

It's late. Housekeeping, probably. 

"I'm still here," he yells. "Come back later!"

"Lando?"

It's fucking Carlos. Shit. Shit. Shit. SHIT.

Lando has no idea what words are. His mind is shockingly blank and completely useless. 

"Lando, it's me, Carlos."

No shit, who else has that accent? 

"Uhhh, yeah....?" Lando finds his voice.

"Can I come in? I just want to talk for a minute."

NO. NO, you cannot!  "Yeah, just a sec." 

There's silence behind the door as Lando throws off the towel and ransacks his bag, throwing on a t-shirt and athletic shorts. He runs his fingers through his still damp curls and steels himself as he turns the doorknob.

Carlos is in the hallway, looking distinctly not hungover and wearing an awkward smile. Lando can smell his cologne.

"Hey, Chili, what's up?" Lando is surprised at how casual he is somehow managing to sound right now.

"Uh, hey. Um. Yeah. Just...wanted to check on you, you were pretty drunk last night." Carlos is certainly not casual. He seems nervous. Lando's heartbeat rages. 

"I'm okay," he says, still casual, still cool. "Hungover a bit, you know, but all good. How about you?"

"Good, good," Carlos says, playing with the buttons on his shirt absently. "Um, about last night-"

"I'm so sorry, Chili, I was so drunk, I just totally lost my mind," Lando interrupts, words flooding out hastily. Carlos looks a little surprised, and he looks into Lando's eyes very seriously. But Lando continues, unable to stop. "I don't know why I...kissed you, I think I thought it would be funny? It was just way out of line, I tend to try too hard to be funny the drunker I am and clearly that was far too drunk so I'm sorry, and I hope you don't hate me."

Carlos looks a little taken aback at that. He shakes his head. "No, of course not. I could not hate you. I know you were drunk."

"Yeah, I was just drunk, seriously, that's all there is to it. Don't worry, I don't, like, have a crush on you or anything. I'm not gay."

Carlos' expression cracks a tentative smile that does not seem very convincing, but then he attempts a joke. "You looked pretty gay taking your shirt off when we got to your room last night." His eyebrows are raised. For a second his eyes are just slightly mischievous. Lando is sure he's mistaken about that after a second look. 

Forcing a laugh, Lando mentally puts the pieces together. Must've taken the shirt off when I got up here. Thank you oh great whatever-is-out-there that I didn't do that in the club. "Yeah, I was super wasted," he says out loud, putting on what he hopes is an abashed grin. "I probably thought you were some hot girl from the nightclub. I literally remember nothing after Nico left and we sat down and started drinking." Liar.

"Oh," says Carlos, hand still tugging awkwardly at his shirt. He looks handsome. 

"Yeah, so...sorry if I ruined your night," Lando finishes lamely. He forces himself to meet the brown eyes in front of him.

Carlos seems to see into his soul, if I have one anymore, jesus christ, and then he looks down. "You're sure? That's all there is to it?" His tone is neutral, guarded.

"I solemnly swear," Lando says, putting his hand over his heart and trying his best to look like he's clowning around again. Fucking liar, his brain screams. 

Carlos nods, just once. "Okay," he says lightly, putting his hands into his pockets. "I just came to check on you. I'll see you on the plane in a couple hours, okay?"

"Yeah, yeah, I still gotta pack and everything. I'm still hungover and moving slowly after whatever the fuck last night was, so..." Lando rambles and then trails off, biting his tongue to stop the words.

"Okay, well, good luck. See you later," Carlos says awkwardly, turning away. 

Lando shuts the door with a click and leans against it, gasping for breath. I am so dead. How am I going to face him after this? What have I done?

And to his surprise, tears spring up and force themselves out. He wipes them away furiously. I blew everything. It will never be the same.

One other thought runs through, and oddly, invites more tears. I'll never get to kiss him again.

He pushes that thought away and falls onto the bed, burying his face in his arm. He doesn't cry any more, but his chest hurts.

 

***************************

 

On the stairway between Lando's floor and his own, Carlos sinks down on a step and puts his head on his knees and wonders where he went wrong. He closes his eyes and thinks of Lando's voice, of Lando's lips, of the way it felt to run his hands over Lando's chest and down his back, of the way Lando laughed as he stripped off his shirt and invited Carlos to touch him.

No tears come, but there's something trying to choke him and crush him at the same time. 

He should've known it wouldn't go well, and now Lando would start acting awkward around him, and he had thought that they actually had something.

But it wasn't the real Lando. He swallows hard and gets to his feet, forcing himself to acknowledge the truth.

The alcohol made him do it and I fell for it.