It had been a week that Etienne and I had been ‘stuck’ in China watching over the scientists. Etienne was more in his zone than I was, surrounded by all this technical talk. I, on the other hand, was going stir crazy and was about to explode. I think after walking in on me pacing our room with Moti listing good mental health exercises for the fourth time, Etienne decided that I needed something to take my mind off of everything. So he found a lone bottle of liquor and some glasses, deciding we needed some shots.
I frowned, looking at the glasses as Moti chimed in. Teacher, alcohol has been shown to have multiple negative effects on your health such as kidney failure and dehydration.
“I’m sure he’ll be fine Moti.” Etienne laughed, “I’ll watch over him.”
Okay. I believe mister Etienne is trustworthy for taking care of teacher. Just not as much as me.
“Of course not Moti.” I smiled, trying not to laugh at the smug face flashing on my wrist. “I don’t know what I’d do without you.”
“Well,” Etienne grinned, “bottoms up then.”
It was a while later and a lot of drinks later. Etienne had stopped long before I had and now he was just listening to my drunken rambles. He was sitting on the floor, his elbow propped up on the low table with his chin resting on his palm. I was beside him, staring at the hazy glass half full in front of me. I couldn’t remember exactly what I had been talking about before, something to do with my family. Etienne seemed to love hearing about them and took the opportunity to ask me all about my family, but soon the talk reminded me of his father and I trailed off.
He noticed the souring look on my face. “What’s wrong? Are you gonna puke?”
“No.” It took me a moment but I felt the tears pricking the corner of my eyes. It wasn’t the first time I’d cried in front of someone, especially while I was drunk. “I can’t believe I let him die. I was right there. I should have done something.”
Etienne stiffened up next to me. It took him a good deal of time to talk before he simply stated, “it’s not your fault. Even if you hadn’t hired him, he would have been in the middle of it like all the other scientists around the world. The discovery was just too important and tempting for them, especially my father. If anything I should be the one feeling guilty.”
“No. No.” I started, raising my hand up as if to slam it on the table but forgetting it’s path partway through so it just seemed to hover in the air for a while. Catching my thoughts, I swirled around to face him, pointing so that the tip of my finger lightly pressed into the tip of his nose. “You tried to kill me.”
Etienne had a smirk on his face, amusement lighting his eyes. I felt annoyed he wasn’t taking my discovery seriously and told him so. “I never tried to kill you, I’m a pacifist remember mon chéri?”
I narrowed my eyes. “Don’t talk pretty to me, Etti! Your attempts at seduction won’t distract me. I’m a professional. You tried to kill me when I broke into your house.”
He let out a bark of laughter. “You admit breaking into my house then?”
I let my bottom lip stick out, staring up at my friend. My brows knit together. “I was doing my job. You tied me up after hitting my head with a hockey stick.”
“I- You broke into my house though? Right after my father was murdered, and your picture was published on the news!”
I threw myself onto him, knocking him over. I pinned down his arms as he stared wide eyed at me. “I don’t care. You never told me sorry.” I leaned closer to his face, trying to show him how serious I was and also to make his faces stop moving so much in my vision.
Something changed in his expression and he tried to hide a smirk. Since I was holding his arms he just beamed up at me. “Is this your revenge then?”
I narrowed my eyes. “Revenge?” I thought about it, then got up. Etienne was holding back laughter as I sat and debated if it was or not. I decided it wasn’t. “No. You want me to take revenge?”
He lifted a brow. “Depends. I won’t let you whack the back of my head.”
“Then you’ll let me tie you up?”
He let out a strange sound, his face turning red. “What? No…”
I crossed my arms. “Then I don’t know how I can feel better.”
He lifted up his arms in a sign of surrender, though his face was wary. “Just do or say whatever makes you feel better, but no violence. I’m a pacifist remember?”
I frowned. “What I want to do?” He nodded and I heard Moti chime in for the first time in a while.
Mister Etienne, I would like to recommend a different choice of words. Teacher can be unpredictable when drunk. Which is why I do not tend to approve of consumption unless someone trustworthy is near Teacher.
“Thanks Moti, but I think I can handle one intoxicated person.” I leaned in, throwing my arms around Etti’s neck. He laughed nervously, gripping my shoulders. “You sure you’re okay?”
“I’m gonna do what I want then.” He opened his mouth to protest but I brought him closer, burying my nose into the crook of his neck. I heard him hiss as he sucked in a breath.
“I think I’m regretting getting you drunk.”
I warned you Mister Etienne…
“Moti whose side are you on?” I whined, my lips tingling against the warmth of his skin. “Etti said he wanted to be punished.”
Moti seemed to almost sigh. Mister Etienne I didn’t know you had ulterior motive in this.
“I don’t!” He cried out, laughing. “Please learn to read the situation Moti.”
Then Teacher has ulterior motives?
“Revenge!” I cried out, curling closer into Etienne.
“Jeez. Are you really just going to pass out on me? At least make it to the bed.”
“No.” I whined, knitting my brows together. “I get to do what I want right now.”
“Yes, yes.” Etienne chuckled, picking me up with a slight huff of breath and carrying me over to my bed. I let him set me down on my feet before he ordered me to sit. I did as he said all while complaining until he came back with a glass of water. “Drink.”
I laughed, bringing the glass to my lips but not taking a drink. “I already did, remember?”
The corner of his mouth twitched and his eyes shone with amusement. “Yes, but now you have to drink this. Okay?”
I let out an overdramatic sigh and drank most of the water. Etienne watched me the whole time, just staring at me. I let out another sigh. “You keep staring at me.”
I narrowed my eyes. “Yes. You want some too?” I jerked the glass to draw attention to it. He flinched as water spilled onto the bed.
“Ah, wait, wait! You don’t want to get the bed wet!”
I stared at him and frowned. “I can’t sleep on my bed if I get it wet can I?”
He looked relieved, already reaching for the cup. “No, I wouldn’t want you to. So just give that here-”
As he was talking I looked him directly in the eyes and poured the rest of the water directly behind me on the middle of the bed. His mouth dropped open before his expression darkened though not necessarily in anger. “Oh. So it’s like that is it?”
I tried to swallow down the growing lump building in my throat. “I guess so.”
Without saying anything Etienne grabbed my waist and threw me over his shoulder. I let out a squeal and clung on for dear life, the room spinning slightly from my intoxication. “I’m sorry Etti. I’m so sorry. I won’t do it. I’m good. I forgive you. I don’t need revenge.”
He dropped me onto his bed, my body bouncing on impact slightly before I settled into his blankets that were identical to mine. “Oh that won’t do, Mon nounours.” I closed my eyes as he crawled on top of me. I pressed my body up when I felt his hot breath against my neck. “Just remember in the morning that you asked for this.” I bit my lip, opening my eyes to see my friend looking down at me with a smug expression.
I woke up with a horrible headache, feeling the pain in my whole skull. The groan that came out of my throat even hurt my head. I tried to get up, already asking Moti what time it was, but I couldn’t move. I tried again before opening my eyes against my better judgement. There in my face, what I thought had been the wall, was the chest of my friend. His arms wrapped around my shoulders tightly. I wiggled to try and slide out somehow, regretting it when I realized he had wrapped his legs around one of mine. Moti finally chimed up. I was able to navigate my wrist within eyesight. First thing I saw was a crying face.
Teacher! I warned you two this was not a good idea. Are you alright? You didn’t drink nearly enough water. You’re probably dehydrated! My readings show you are in pain right now and your heart rate has elevated significantly!
I tried to laugh but the hangover stopped me instantly. “I’m just hungover Moti, it happens when you drink too much.” I felt Etienne shift. I sighed, happy to be able to move again. Instead he took me with him, pressing me underneath his sleeping weight. “Ugh, Etienne! Jeez you’re heavy!” I sighed, smiling to myself despite it all. My heart was indeed racing now that I was more awake.
Suddenly there was a light knock on the door. Before I could protest, one of the scientists poked their head in. We stared at each other for a full minute in silence before he shut the door with one soft spoken, “my bad.”
My face burned as I started beating against Etienne’s chest. “Wake up, wake up damn it Etienne!”
It’s okay teacher. He granted you more time to sleep. I recommend you do so. You haven’t been sleeping well these past few weeks.
“No Moti.” I sighed, trying to calm down. “I need to talk to Etienne now.” Memories up until when I got on the bed with Etienne returned.
With a groan, Etienne opened one eye to look at me. “What’s up? Feel better now?” He pushed himself onto his elbows slowly, still waking up.
I bit my lip. “Hey did I… do anything weird?” He raised a brow and I felt my face heat up. “You know what I mean.”
He smirked. “Did you? I don’t know.” I narrowed my eyes. He chuckled. “I never knew you’d go to such lengths to sleep with me. I have to admit I’m flattered.”
I froze up. “Sleep with?” My heart was in my throat and I didn’t know if I felt more panic that I might have had sex with him or that I didn’t remember any of it if it had to happen anyways.
“Yes, you simply refused to sleep in your own bed. I had the hardest time not outright laughing at you.”
My mouth hung open before I tested my voice. “So we didn’t… I mean we never… we just… cuddled right?”
He pushed himself to his side. “Well, I don’t know about that.”
He winked at me. “That’s all I did but I probably have multiple marks on my neck from the ‘weird things’ that you did.” Sure enough I saw the tell-tell bruised skin from my kiss marks. I groaned before Etienne laughed. “Feel free to ask again if you need a drinking buddy.”
“I’m never drinking again.” I groaned, feeling shame pouring over my whole being.
“Well even if you aren’t drunk, my bed is always open for you.”
I looked up in shock. “What?”
“Best sleep I’ve had in awhile. Once you let me go to sleep. Oh look, it’s time for lunch. Someone might be looking for us by now. Let’s go eat, okay?” And with that he went out the door, leaving me open mouthed in shock.
Does this mean Mister Etienne also likes you?
“Also?” I gasped, staring at the small face on the screen. “I don’t know Moti. Let’s drop it and go get food, okay?”
I don’t eat Teacher. Moti chirped happily. Will you describe the food to me again?
I sighed in relief. “I alway do Moti.”
I know and I love you for it Teacher!
Chuckling, I changed before heading out the door. “I love you too, Moti.” Does Etienne like you too? I felt a slight blush creep on my face. “Moti I almost hope you’re as perceptive as you appear.”
Moti looked annoyed. I’ve very perceptive Teacher. There’s nothing wrong with my current processes that would hinder my judgement. I am fully up to date as well.
I shook my head, “of course Moti.” I took a deep breath. “Well here’s for forgetting that happened.”
I don’t forget anything Teacher!
I sighed, “thanks Moti.” Still, I couldn’t help the smile that slid onto my face when I saw Etienne sitting with two plates of food near the entrance so I would see him. I also noted how relieved I was to see a similar grin on his face. I could deal with hungry and nervous, but not regretful and awkward. I was more than happy to sit next to my friend as he teased me over our brunch about my earlier behavior as long as it meant this didn’t put a barrier between us. In fact, Etienne seemed more relaxed than normal. It was a comfortable morning indeed.