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"Charlie Has a Near Death Experience"

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“Dennis, we have a problem.”

“Ugh what could possibly be wrong just get him and go we’re gonna be late and I am not going to miss the first fifteen minutes again Mac!” Dennis’s rather disgruntled voice sounded over the static of the phone while Mac stood in the living room of Charlie’s apartment, a frown on his face as he folded his arms in thought.

“Yeah but like that’s the problem, Charlie’s out like a light dude.”

There was a strangled huffing noise. “I’m not missing this movie because Charlie can’t skip out on doing inhalants for a few hours, let’s go he missed the boat!” the car revved and Mac raised an eyebrow, stooping down to get his face next to the man who was passed out on the futon.

“I don’t think he’s breathing Dennis.” Mac was now a little alarmed, poking Charlie’s cheek repeatedly and watching his head flop with the force exerted. “Definitely not breathing, should I call 911?”

Dennis’s empathy was lacking, Mac knew and accepted this about his friend but the level of frustration he was feeling at missing this movie was getting a little out of hand in comparison to the fact that Charlie was not breathing at all and he was beginning to panic a bit. “Just… he doesn’t have health insurance what are they going to do? Just leave him there he’ll wake up maybe he’s just breathing really quiet or something if you’re not down in this car in ten seconds I’m leaving without you Mac.” As if to prove a point the engine could be heard revving again and Mac rubbed his eyes.

“Just fucking go man I don’t care I’ll call 911 or whatever and make sure he doesn’t die.”

“Later loser.” Came the cackle and from the open window the sound of tires squealing made Mac clench his fists because Dennis was his blood brother but he was a real asshole. Turning his attention to Charlie who still was not breathing he began slapping him a little harder, jostling him and yelling his name.

The not breathing thing didn’t bother him as much as it would other people, there were lots of times in his life he could remember Charlie not breathing, that one time when he had taken six ecstasy pills for example just because he thought they were pez candies instead of drugs. He had passed out, stopped breathing for like ten minutes and then thrown up before complaining about his head and drinking a beer, Charlie had more near-death experiences then everyone he knew combined. What bothered him was that he was turning a rather curious purple color and in all the times he had seen Charlie pass out from doing too many drugs that had never happened and so now Mac was fumbling with his phone and pressing buttons to try and get help while yelling louder and now propping him up to shake him furiously, watching his head flop and the paper bag clutched tight in his hand like it was his lifeline to earth.

“911 state your emergency.”

“My friend just huffed a shitload of paint and I think he’s dead!” he yelled into the phone between smacking Charlie in the face. “DUDE WAKE UP!”

The woman sounded way too calm, right off the bat Mac didn’t like that. “Sir what’s your location?”

“His apartment, are you listening to anything I’m saying because I feel like it’s just going in one-,”

“Sir-,”

“No goddammnit can you just stop interrupting me? He’s not breathing and it’s really freaking me out here.” Mac snapped, setting the phone down on speaker to put more effort into beating his friend to get him to wake up. “CHARLIE FOR FUCK’S SAKES.”

The 911 lady was still talking and he really didn’t have time for this, getting frustrated he tuned out her incessant talking and just let Charlie’s body flop down onto the futon, thinking he still had a few minutes left until Charlie passed his death record so if he could get him to wake up before then he’d be in good shape. “Sir we need your location to send help.” The phone complained.

“Shut up.” Mac said, pressing the end button and punching Charlie in the stomach in one swift motion.

All at once his eyes opened and bulged, his color flushing from purple to red as he opened his mouth and inhaled glorious air and then slithering out of Mac’s arms onto the floor where he threw up in his inhalant bag, coughing. “Ah duuuuuuude,” he groaned, curled up in a ball. “What the fuck was that for man?!” he demanded, looking up at Mac who was visibly relieved.

“You weren’t breathing Charlie.” He said, extending his hands in a ‘what was I supposed to do?’ gesture. “Was I just supposed to leave you here?”

Charlie rubbed his face, sitting up on the carpet and looking rather upset that he had puked in his bag, tossing it aside for the time being while he directed his attention to Mac. “I would’ve woken up eventually I don’t know I mean that was kinda cold, to punch me while I was dead what the fuck is wrong with you dude.” His friend scolded. “That’s rude, you can’t just go punching dead people Mac.”

Mac at this point was rather irritated that he had skipped out on a movie for this shit. “You’re outta your goddamn mind Charlie.” He said, sinking down to the carpet to sit next to him. “Dennis left me here to make sure you were gonna wake up and now I have to wait until next weekend for a ride to the theater we were gonna go see that robot movie.”

Charlie sobered up at the mention of robots, looking a little guilty that he had prevented his friend from going. “Ah bro I’m sorry, that was not cool of me.” He said honestly. “Dude it was a totally awesome movie too I saw it last week-,”

“You’re not helping Charlie.” Mac snarled, his shoulders sagging. It was quiet in the apartment for a few minutes as he looked at Charlie who seemed more or less alright and he collected a fistful of his shirt, dragging him over to embrace him. “Just stop huffing so much fucking glue.” He muttered into his shoulder.

Charlie relaxed against him, comfortable with the proximity and Mac felt him nod. They separated, keeping the closeness as their faces pulled back for an awkward split second and continued looking at each other, Mac watching his friend’s adam’s apple bob in his throat as he made a move to sit back but his hand on his arm prevented him from doing that. “Mac…” his voice got a little uneasy, his cheeks turning pink.

Snapping out of it he let him go, watching him plop back in place as Mac scrambled to his feet, shrugging it off and stretching. “Who cares lets head down to Paddy’s to see what Frank’s up to I bet he still has some of those fireworks.”

At the mention of pyrotechnics Charlie’s eyes lit up and he sprang to his feet, nodding eagerly as he plucked his jacket off the bed, pulling it on and began animatedly talking about last time they had lit fireworks and shot them off, the near death experience all but forgotten as they carried on, opening the door to head out after pocketing the keys Mac halted once more in the doorway, staring at Charlie with a furrowed brow. Noticing that he wasn’t following him anymore the other man stopped, looking over his shoulder as his sentence died off mid-word and he gave him a look. “What are you-,” and before any of them could really process it Mac had grabbed his wrist and yanked him in where he kissed him.

Charlie had to get over the initial shock at first, it was kinda weird but was he really one to talk when he slept with a dude in the same bed? Mac’s mouth was warm and tasted like beer and stale cigarettes which was also pretty awesome, also Mac was like his best friend and he seemed to really like it which made it easier for him to enjoy. His hands fluttered nervously before setting against his shoulders and after a few beats of contact Mac completely let him go, nudging him back so there was healthy distance between the two. They stared at each other for a full minute after that, the only noise was the tweaking crackhead that usually sat in the hall.

“That was a totally straight ‘I’m glad you’re not dead’ kiss.” Mac explained. “It’s a thing, you know what I’m talking about.”

Charlie swallowed thickly, nodding. “Pft, do I know what you’re talking about… of course. Straight thing, not gay.”

“Totally not gay.” Mac agreed, jamming his hands into his pockets and rolling back on his heels.

Charlie broke the silence after he counted to ten. “But I mean it could be gay and I wouldn’t have cared but it wasn’t gay so whatever let’s go to Paddy’s.”

At the mention of said gayness Mac perked up, a weird combination of hope and disgruntlement that Charlie wasn’t familiar with playing out on his features but then it was gone and he was shutting the door behind him, motioning for him to lead the way out to the street for them to begin heading over to the bar. “It wasn’t gay,” he confirmed. “But if it was gay- which it wasn’t- I wouldn’t have cared either.” He muttered.

“But not gay, for the record.” Charlie reaffirmed. The two friends nodded as they stepped out into the frigid Philly air and began walking towards the pub, their elbows bumping comfortably.