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The Roommate

Chapter Text

“I think we need to discuss the state of the apartment.” Horatio cleared his throat and glanced around the apartment. The two bedroom afforded them far more space than any dorm would have, but sharing with a stranger who didn’t share Horatio’s policies on cleanliness was making it feel more cramped than a supply closet. Horatio’s room was organized and comfortable. Everything made sense. He lived in a way where everything had a place. Back at home, keeping things clean was his job. Mom was too busy with work and his younger siblings were just too little to do it. Horatio took pride in keeping things tidy then, and preferred to live that way now. His roommate though, obviously did not share these ideals.In their first week of living together, his roommate had managed to cover 70% of the apartment in unpacked shit, laundry, paper and empty food packages, without providing a single thing to make their apartment a home. Did this man even own a laundry basket of his own? Did he not see that the microwave needed a cleaning after so many cups of ramen had overflowed inside of it?

Horatio had tried to discreetly ask him to clean up, but his roommate couldn’t seem to take a hint. The only way to go was with direct language. Perhaps now wasn’t the best time, because Ham..Hamil? Ham-something, was packing a bag and attempting to rush off, but Sunday was their last chance to get the place into shape. Ham-something rushed through their apartment, stopping in the living room to search in between the couch cushions.

“What is there to discuss?” He paused to push his charger into the messenger bag that was already overflowing.  “Just text me later, I have to go.”

“No.” Horatio snapped, which caused Ham-something to look up at him with surprised doe eyes, there might have even been a little fear mixed in as well. He didn’t mean to scare him or ruin their relationship, he just couldn’t deal with the unclean apartment. Ham-something was going to have to start keeping things clean and contribute if they were ever to have a nice home and a successful relationship. .But he hadn’t meant to come on so strong.  There was a beat of silence before Horatio took a deep breath and continued with an apologetic attitude. “Look, Ham…”

“Hamlet.”

      Ah, Ham let. That made more sense than Ham-something. .

“Hamlet. I get that you’re a… you’re okay with the laundry and the trash. But I’m not, seriously, it bothers me to come home to this. And I’d really rather talk about it now and get it done with. Tackle the mess head on.”

“Yeah uhm, I’ll move my stuff later. Sorry it’s in the living room.”

And the entire shared living space.  Horatio amended to himself, then took a careful look at Hamlet. He had replied quickly, taking a step back. He looked red and uncomfortable. Horatio hadn’t meant to upset him, especially not so fast. His reaction to confrontation was less than ideal. Again, Horatio tried to fix his misstep, while holding on to his message.

“Well, I just need it to stay at least a little clean is all. I can help, maybe when you get back from wherever we can unpack. I’m an excellent organizer and I don’t mind, really.”

Rather than the reassurance he’d hoped to deliver, he felt Hamlet’s mood shift from slightly anxious to sour.

     “I’m not organized.”

          “I’ll help.” Please let me help. “ We can go shopping later, if you want. You know, unpack everything and then get some bins an-”

       Hamlet cut him off abruptly. “I’m not a child, I don’t need your help. I’ll clean if it’s that important to you.”

He added a pencil to the overfilled bag and exited with an air of petulant finality.

    It did not look like the apartment would be clean by monday. In fact, it looked like one of them was going to have to move.



Chapter Text

To: Hamlet

Hamlet, it’s your roommate, Horatio. I think that we were not able to come to an agreement on the subject of the way our dorm should be organized because I came on a little strong. I’m open to your ideas about how we should do things. I don’t want to just force you to live my way, I’m just looking for a compromise. I think we can work together to find a way to make the apartment liveable  for both of us.

 

It’s too formal. Horatio deletes the draft of the text and starts over, trying to sound more relaxed despite the fact that his head is going a mile a minute. What if this guy doesn’t forgive him? Both of their names are on the lease, so there isn’t a one hundred percent chance Horatio is getting kicked out, but he couldn’t afford the place on his own, not with school. The best possible solution is to mend fences.

To: Hamlet

Hey Hamlet, it’s Horatio. Your roommate. I’m sorry I upset you earlier.

 

A shorter text is the way to go, he decides. This way it will open up a conversation between the two of them.

He sends the message at 2:13, about two hours after their brief altercation.

After 15 minutes of nearly agonizing wait, Horatio’s phone signaled several times in rapid succession that someone had sent him a message.

 

From: Hamlet

its fine

From: Hamlet

i overreacted

From: Hamlet

I am not a clean person. i can try though.

From: Hamlet

i would appreciate your help.

The last text came later, around 2:30, like it was an afterthought. Horatio briefly considers this weird pacing and the way that his roommate types his messages before he begins penning his own reply.

To: Hamlet

I would not mind at all. Have you seen the Mari Kondo show, Tidying Up?

Hamlet replies almost immediately.

From: Hamlet

No but I am fond of her memes.

Horatio chuckles softly to himself. They are good memes.

To: Hamlet

The memes are good, but the show is even better. Anyway, I use her method of decluttering if you want to look into it. It’s called Konmari.

Hamlet does not reply after that and Horatio scans his message over and over to find out where he has offended but he cannot. He sulks in his bed for however long it is before someone knocks on the door to the apartment.

He rises, dreading talking to whoever was at the door.

He trudges through his new home (that very well might be taken away soon) to receive the caller. When he opens the door, it is not a misguided pizza man or a solicitor, instead it is Hamlet. Hamlet wrapped in a throw blanket with messy hair and a grumpy face.

“Are you okay?”

“I am fine. ” He replies in a tone that suggests that he is the furthest thing from fine as he storms past Horatio and into the kitchen.

“Okay.” Horatio replies, following with an attitude of uncertainty. What is he supposed to say? Apparently nothing, because Hamlet gets right back to talking.

“I have been… removed from my previous engagement and I am now ready to clean.” He digs underneath their sink, although Horatio isn’t sure what he’s looking for. They don’t have any supplies. “Where are the garbage bags?” He is obviously upset about being taken away from whatever it is he was doing.

“Well… I only brought so many and we’ve run out.”
“Then we need to go to the store.” Hamlet replies, like he expects something.

“Yeah, I guess we do.”

“Let’s do that then.”

“Are you sure you want to? Maybe you should take a minute.” Angry shopping does not seem like a good idea. Horatio isn’t sure that he wants to drive with this angry person.

“No.”

          “Okay then.” He lets out a long exhale and the two of them wait in a mutual silence for at least a minute before making eye contact again. “Well, what are we waiting for?”

“I don’t drive.” Hamlet replies, his pale face coloring with a different shade of red than the anger that had been there before.

“Alrighty then.” Horatio goes to grab his keys from his bedroom. “What happened with your plans?” He asks as he moves back into Hamlet’s view. Hamlet looks away from him.

“I don’t want to talk about it.”



Chapter Text

     The car ride begins quietly, because neither of them really have anything to say. Hamlet finds something to bring up after the first few minutes, though. The silence is insufferable to him, even if he doesn’t want to be asked questions, he needs to fill the white noise. 


       "So…” He begins, apparently he opened his mouth without deciding exactly what he wanted to say. He just knew that he wanted to say something. 

 

   “Hm?” Horatio hums in a way that he hopes encourages thought. 

 

    “Uh, You must go to Wittenberg,” His flatmate spits out. 

 

   “I do,” Horatio replies as he turns on his blinker. He probably should’ve gotten over earlier, he’s being a bit of an asshole attempting to force his way in so late, but it is what it is. 

 

   “Well, what are you studying?” Hamlet taps his fingers against the plastic interior of Horatio’s car. 

 

      Horatio dreads answering that question. “I’m an English major,”  He dreads the reply. ‘What can you even do with a degree in English?’ Everyone always says. ‘You’re wasting your brains’ those who knew him to be intelligent told him. Sometimes he wonders what his mother would say about him getting such a useless degree. But that doesn’t matter,  because she’s gone, and there are plenty of things you can do with a B.A in English. “And you?” Perhaps a question in return will rescue him from having to hear Hamlet’s opinions on his decisions. 

 

   “Drama,” Hamlet replies quickly, “Well. I’m minoring in drama, I’m actually majoring in Business Management.” 

 

     “Oh.” What’s Horatio supposed to say to that? Might as well poke the bear. “You don’t seem too happy about being in business.” 

 

             "Would you?” Hamlet snaps, then continues like he didn’t just snark at someone just trying to make conversation. “I don’t want to study business, but it’s what my dad wants…” If Horatio’s eyes weren’t perfectly focused on the road, he’d see the nervous habits that were beginning to show as Hamlet spoke. “Apparently to run a business you need to know shit, who knew?” Hamlet’s fingers rubbed circles in to the fabric of his blanket, occasionally picking at the fluff. Horatio didn’t have to look at his roommate to feel his mood sour. Hamlet was such a strong force, he exuded so much energy that you could tell what was going on in his head just by sitting next to him. “I don’t even really want to…” Horatio spares him a glance, because the path to the walmart is straight and the roads aren’t particularly busy at the moment, and Hamlet seems to realize that he’s oversharing. That Horatio is actually paying attention to him at the moment and he’s not just dumping his words into the void. “Nevermind.” 

 

     Silence fills the car again. 

 

  “So uhm… Do we need anything other than garbage bags?” 

 

    “We could use some other cleaning stuff, you need a laundry bin.” 

       “I do not need a laundry bin.”  Here, Horatio had thought that whatever had upset Hamlet might’ve subdued him a little, but his argumentative nature did not disappear. It was simply joined with discomfort and sadness, which resulted in what Horatio would later, fondly, refer to as Ultimate Brat Mode. 

 

    "You can’t just leave your laundry on the floor.” 

 

      “That’s how I organize it.” 

 

     Horatio was not going to play this game. “You’re going to get yourself a laundry basket or I’m going to kick you out of my car and you can walk home.” 

 

“Goddamn, it’s just a basket.” 


      “Exactly, it’s nothing worth being grumpy over, and you promised you’d try.” 

 

    Instead of facing the fact that yes, he did promise he’d try, Hamlet choses to continue down the path of grumpiness for just a little longer. 


     “I’m not grumpy!” 

 

     “You are most certainly a little grumpy.” A distant voice in Horatio’s head tells him he’s approaching a boundary, that he’d better be careful before he set Hamlet off, but he couldn’t bring himself to listen. The teasing feels natural, like a part of a long established dynamic that they’d somehow slipped into. 

 

    Hamlet huffs and crosses his arms back. “I have had a very trying day!” 

 

   “Oh yeah?” Horatio giggles a little, watching Hamlet pout as they pull into a parking space. “Well, you know what they say. ‘You gotta put your past behind you’. Or something. It means get ungrumpy and come shop to improve my quality of life.” 

 

      Hamlet takes a moment to think before deciding with a smile that this guy isn’t that awful (and if he decides to dig himself further into his hole, he might have to move in with Ros and Guil). Going and buying a laundry basket is definitely the preferred option. As he gets out of the car he murmurs,  just loud enough for Horatio to hear, “You’re very high maintenance.” 

 

            Horatio plays like he’s taken some great offense. He gasps and swoons like a victorian lady being told that she has titillating ankles, and then comes back with a hit at Hamlet. “That’s rich coming from you!” 

 

       “What’s that supposed to mean?!” 

 

       “I’ve known you for about a week and I have never met a more needy man in my life.” Horatio walks on through the dark parking lot, not looking back for Hamlet. He knows for sure he’ll follow. 

 

           “What?! What do I need?!” Hamlet sounds thoroughly disgusted as he stands in his place near the car, making his ham performance so loud that the other patrons send him dirty looks. 

 

         “First of all, you need my guidance to teach you how to live like a human being. I swear you were raised in a jungle.” 


     “Actually, I was raised in a penthouse.” Hamlet seems very proud of this reply as he runs to catch up to Horatio, who is about to advance through the sliding glass door. 

 

          “Oh, so you have money?” 

 

         “Mhm.” He smirked. 

 

       “Good.” Horatio pats  his companion on the shoulder, “You can pay for our cleaning supplies, then.”