This was written in response to the Less Than Three’s EIC’s Challenge prompt: “Lay the blame on me”. 1.5k words.
Alfred didn’t know it, but this was one of those pivotal days, a day that set one’s life path in a distinct direction. A cause of effects. A day to remember. But it started out innocuous enough.
He was staring out the kitchen window, watching a seagull stand stone still on a utility pole—a seagull! What were seagulls doing in Denver?
“What?” Alfred turned his head slowly, leaned his upper body to the side so he could see into the hall. Charles was standing in front of the washer-dryer combo holding in front of him a pink shirt with some sort of logo. Yikes.
“This is Mike’s favorite shirt!”
“I’m not sure what you want me to do about it.” Alfred straightened up and looked out the window again. The seagull was gone. Which actually made things look a whole lot more normal out. Seagulls in Denver. Made no sense. What part of sea did the bird not understand?
Charles stalked into the kitchen proper and flapped the shirt in the air. “This is your fault.”
“Unless you were washing my clothes, I doubt that.” And he wasn’t—washing Alfred’s clothes, that is. Charles often came over to laundry. His apartment didn’t have laundry, and Charles often came over to watch football. It was a convenient arrangement. Charles got to do his laundry. And Alfred got to watch Charles do laundry. Someday he would figure out how to tempt Charles into a furious fuck and then a relationship. But until then, he had an excellent view of Charles’ rear end as he stood at the washer-dryer combo. Well, when he wasn’t staring at sea gulls.
Charles stalked back into the hall and dove into the dryer. A moment later, he emerged, and had in his hand—
“What do you call these, huh?”
Alfred snorted. “Your lucky red boxer shorts with ninja hello kitty on them?”
Charles looked at the boxers. “Shit.” He walked over, threw the boxers down onto the table, and fell into the chair opposite of Alfred. “I’m so screwed. I’m supposed to give Mike back his shirt tonight. It’s his favorite shirt. From when his high school football team won the state championships.” Charles leaned his head back and closed his eyes. “And I made it pink.” Then Charles yanked up the boxers, eyes still closed. “With my lucky boxers, no less! Pink.”
“Just tell him it was a mistake,” Alfred said. Shirts get turned pink every day. Sure it was unfortunate that it had sentimental value.
“This is killing my plans.”
“Dude, Mike is like famous for his—I’ve been trying to hook up with him for weeks. And finally have the perfect opportunity tonight. Give him back his shirt. Watch some Football. Drink way too much Tequila.” Charles nodded. “Oh yeah.”
Hook up? Watch football? But they watched football together. But it wasn’t like Alfred was Charles’ exclusive football watching partner. And the fact that he was even thinking of this. Jealous over football, for fuck’s sake. He watched football all the time with other people. But still.
“So you’re worried,” Alfred said evenly, “that because you turned his shirt pink, he won’t, what, fuck you?”
“Worried? There is no worry. I know. Of all the… pink.”
Alfred studied Charles for a moment. Sometimes Alfred hated how he’d set this up. He identified Charles as a person of interest. So what did he do? Became his best friend. Not best fucking friend. No, just best friend, because there was no fucking. No fucking at all. Alfred was a moron. Hey can I suck your dick, would have been a much better offer than, Hey, you can use my washer if you want. Sure it got them to hang out regularly. But there was no dick. And now he was going to keep being the perfect friend.
“Just tell him I did it,” Alfred said. “He can’t hold it against you then.”
“I don’t know,” Charles hedged. “That just doesn’t seem—”
“Who cares? Tell him it was me, and make sure he doesn’t come kick my ass with his former football self.”
Charles looked at Alfred. “Oookay. You think it’ll work?”
Alfred shrugged. He didn’t really want it to work. He wanted Charles to stay and watch the Buffs game with him. He had a bottle of tequila. Hell, he had limes. And salt.
Charles took a deep, cleansing breath. “Okay. I have to give the shirt back… or do I?”
“Not giving it back is an option.” So was not going.
Charles got up, leaving the boxers, and went to extract his clothes from the dryer. He brought the laundry basket back and started folding clothes, piling them in neat little stacks on the table. “What are you doing tonight?”
Alfred looked back out the window. “Oh, watching the Buffs game, I guess.”
Alfred was cold, but too lazy to get up and raise the thermostat. It was eight pm—kind of late for a Buffs game. The indoor-outdoor thermometer said it was sixty-eight inside, and thirty-nine outside. He was sulking. Definitely sulking. He stared at the bottle of vodka. He had every intention of opening it. Really. But that required effort to lean down, pick up the bottle and a glass, open, and pour.
And the Cougars just scored. “Fuck,” he said to the empty apartment. That was it. The game was effectively over. Three minutes left in the fourth quarter, and they were down by twenty-four. Just fucking great. His game buddy abandons him. His team loses. What else could go wrong? His mom showing up for an unannounced visit?
And then there was a knock on the door. It couldn’t be… could it? He talked to Mom yesterday, she seemed firmly at home in Tallahassee. He got up, a little weirded out. It’s like thinking of a visitor conjured a visitor—hopefully not Mom. Not that there was anything wrong with Mom. He loved Mom.
He leaned up to the peephole and looked out. He stepped back and opened the door. “Charles?”
“Hey.” Charles smiled. “Game still on?”
“Game being a relative term. It’s a fucking massacre.” Alfred turned and walked back to the couch. “There’s about two minutes left.” Alfred fell back into his Alfred-sized depression in the center.
Charles looked pointedly at the full and unopened bottle of SKYY. “Yeaaaaah.” He bent down, picked it and the unused glass up, and took them to the kitchen.
“So what happened with Mike?”
“He called you an inept housewife.”
Alfred looked at Charles, brows scrunched together. “Wow. My pride. I’m so wounded,” he deadpanned.
“It sounded a lot worse when he said it.”
Alfred smirked. “So you what? Blew him to see his mammoth cock and left? I find that hard to believe.”
“Nah. I just left.”
“Moron. I thought this was your perfect opportunity?”
Charles sat down so close to Alfred that their legs pressed tightly together. He leaned back and stared up at the ceiling. It was a cute habit. And it exposed the long line of of his neck and prominent Adam’s apple.
Alfred really wished he’d had some of that vodka. Then maybe he’d lean forward and lick that long neck. That would make Alfred’s wishes clear very quickly. And Charles? He wouldn’t turn down sex twice in a night.
But Alfred was completely sober.
“I was looking forward to tequila shots.” Charles sighed, like it was a terrible loss. “You have the stuff.” Charles leaned his head towards Alfred and opened and eye, looking straight at him.
“Sure do.” Alfred glanced at the tv. The game was over, and sometime in the final two minutes the Cougars had scored again. Because winning by more than twenty points wasn’t good enough, they had to win by thirty.
Charles’ mouth turned down into an unimpressed frown. “You need to grow a pair, Al.” Charles got up again and went back to the kitchen.
Alfred did not need to grow a pair. He just… didn’t know how to move forward. “I have a pair!” Alfred planted his face in his hand. Excellent grade-school retort.
The fridge door open and shut, a knife was pulled off the knife magnet with a twang, and five minutes later, Charles returned with a plate of lime wedges, salt, two shot glasses, and tequila.
The disappointed sportscaster droned on in the background. Alfred turned the tv off. He was relieved when Charles poured the shots. Even more when he picked up the salt. And surprised when Charles moved towards him with the shaker.
Alfred yawned and scratched his stomach as he stared into the fridge. He grabbed the cranapple juice instead of the orange juice. After drinking a glass, he started a pot of coffee.
“Alfred,” Charles called from the bedroom. “Where are my lucky boxers?”
Alfred filled his glass with water and took another drink. “You mean my lucky boxers?” He turned, and Charles stood in the doorway, smirking. He sauntered forward, hooked his finger in Alfred’s lucky ninja hello kitty boxers, pulled it back, and let go. Snap. “Not nice.”
Charles just laughed and bit Alfred’s shoulder. Charles gave it a firm lick then stood back. “Yeah, well that’s fine. I’ve got a new lucky shirt now anyway.”