“Never have I ever been skydiving.”
“No way Liza. Really?”
“The next time we go on a trip you are totally coming with us and we’re totally going to jump out of a plane together!”
“I don’t really know…”
“Come on Liza. It’ll be fun!”
“All right, all right, but I get the impression every single one of you has been skydiving and none of you guys have taken a shot yet. So come on, drink up.”
The pretty brunette crossed her arms and grinned triumphantly as everyone in the group minus herself threw back another shot of whatever their drink of choice was.
They were all starting to get just drunk enough that they were laughing and yelling out curses practically every time someone proposed their question… statement… Whatever the hell it was called when you had your turn in ‘Never Have I Ever.’
It was a dumb fucking game anyway, Keith reflected as he threw his shot back. He had a pretty high tolerance for alcohol, and he hadn’t done nearly as much dumb shit as the three Brody brothers or Ollie, so he wasn’t half as drunk as he would have liked.
The others were getting pretty rowdy though. He supposed they were lucky that the Brodys had a pretty big backyard. If they had been in Keith’s condo then they would have definitely gotten a couple of noise complaints by now.
He couldn’t remember who had suggested that they start playing ‘Never Have I Ever’ like they were all back in college, but he was pretty sure he hated them for it.
Keith wondered if he should start counting down the number of turns they had left before someone said something embarrassing about sex or their soulbrand.
“Never have I ever,” Daisy began enthusiastically, smiling at the rest of the group, “had sex with someone who wasn’t my soulmate.”
Well, there it was. Both at once. That had been even quicker than Keith had thought. Daisy sent a knowing smile Grant’s way and several other members of the group let out loud objections.
“What counts as sex?” Keith asked, knowing that he might have to take a shot depending on how Daisy wanted to define this.
“Okay, okay,” Daisy said, flopping against Grant and trying unsuccessfully to stop giggling. She was a lot drunker than Keith, probably the drunkest out of them all. Between bursts of uncontrollable giggling Daisy made a circle with one of her hands and thrust the index finger of her other hand in, giggling as she did. “That. That is what… what counts as sex.”
“That kind of doesn’t clear it up,” Keith pointed out.
“I think what Keith wants to ask,” Vincent called out from where he sat on the other side of the circle, just behind Oliver, his arms wrapped loosely around his soulmate’s shoulders, “is do blowjobs count?!”
“Yes! Thank you Vincent,” Keith replied, only somewhat sarcastically.
“You’re welcome,” Vincent replied, chuckling as he did.
Oliver leaned back and muttered something to his soulmate that none of the others could hear, but which caused Vincent to start laughing even harder.
“I don’t know if blow jobs count!” Daisy said, probably way too loudly considering what she was saying. “Just drink if you feel like it.”
Keith felt like it. He really wasn’t drunk enough for this shit. Daisy was the same age as him, and yet she was acting like she was younger than Riley, and the youngest Brody brother was still a few months south of being legally allowed to drink with them. Not that it had stopped him before.
Speaking of which… Keith glanced beside him to find that the younger man was staring over at him again, giving Keith those god damn puppy eyes like Keith was supposed to give a shit.
Riley had immediately placed himself right beside Keith as soon as they had started playing, and now that the younger man was a few drinks in he was slowly starting to shuffle closer and closer to Keith. What with the staring and everything else Keith was amazed that no-one else had said anything about it yet.
“Oh my god baby. You are so drunk,” Grant said to his soulmate. He had probably been trying to whisper, but he was drunk enough and loud enough that every single one of them heard it as well.
“I am!” Daisy yelled, laughing again. “But… but baby… It’s your turn…”
She began poking Grant on the arm.
“All right, all right,” Grant said, gently pushing Daisy back from what must have been a merciless assault on his arm if the grimace on his face was any indication.
“Let’s see… uh… Never have I ever jacked off while thinking about something that doesn’t look human, and that includes sexy robots and blue skinned space babes guys.”
“You’re so mean Grant,” Daisy whined. “Soooo mean! You knew I would have to drink to that. You knew!”
Grant chuckled as his soulmate downed another shot of vodka.
“That question was bullshit,” Keith complained. “There are some seriously hot alien women in things and you can’t tell me you’ve never thought of one like that.”
“I can promise you I haven’t,” Grant chuckled.
Keith swore beneath his breath and grabbed his bottle. As he threw back another shot he realized Riley was watching him again. The younger man blushed, looked down at the shot glass in his hand for a moment and threw it back, obviously embarrassed at having to take a shot for this one. Keith didn’t know what he was so worked up about. Grant and Vincent were the only ones that hadn’t needed to take a shot that time.
“Okay,” Vincent began. “I think I’ve got one. Never have I…”
“Wait man. Wait,” Ollie interrupted his soulmate before Vincent could finish speaking. "I want to know what the fuck these guys were thinking about when they were jacking off.”
Half of the group let out a collective groan.
“What?” Ollie said.
“I do not want to know,” Jason moaned. “Please no…”
“That is not part of the game,” Daisy said, coming to the rescue of the rest of the group. Drunk or not Keith could have kissed her at that moment. Admittedly some of his answers were pretty tame, but if the group started digging too deep… Better that Daisy had come to their rescue. Yes. Definitely better.
“Aw… come on,” Oliver said. “I’ll totally tell you guys what I was thinking about.”
“And moving on,” Vincent said, smothering Oliver’s mouth with his hand. “Never have I ever thought erotically about a cartoon character.”
Vincent let Oliver go, and then everyone in the group, including Oliver and Vincent himself, took a shot.
“Jessica Rabbit?” Vincent asked them.
“Jessica Rabbit,” Keith and Grant agreed at the same time.
“I dunno man,” Ollie contributed. “She’s like all weird looking. You ever watch anime guys? That shit is fucking amazing when you’re high and there’s chicks in it with boobs like woah.”
Riley had screwed up his face at both suggestions, but didn’t appear willing to share with the rest of the group on this one. Keith wondered what characters Riley had been checking out. Maybe guys. Maybe. It was probably one of the reasons he wasn’t saying anything.
“For me it’s like half the princes from Disney movies,” Daisy announced, even though no-one had asked her.
“Really?” Grant said, screwing up his face.
“Aw honey. You’re my prince now,” Daisy said, snuggling into Grant’s chest. “You know that.”
“Damn it babe. You’re killing me,” Grant exclaimed, throwing his arms up at the woman now in his lap. “You are sooooooo drunk!”
Daisy and Grant both began laughing, and then the group waited for Oliver to take his turn.
“Never have I ever…” Ollie paused for a moment and smiled at them all, but especially at Jason, before continuing. “Wondered whether my soulmate is a dude or a chick.”
“Oh that is bullshit!” Jason cried out. “That was supposed to be a secret you backstabbing son of a bitch.”
Ollie, Vincent and Grant immediately started laughing as Jason’s face went bright red.
“That is the last time I ever tell you anything,” Jason said, just before he lifted his bottle and took the required shot.
Keith wondered if he was the only one that noticed that Liza definitely wasn’t laughing. The announcement that Jason had a gender neutral name on his arm had made her even quieter and more still than before. Maybe he shouldn’t be surprised. ‘Liza’ was definitely not a gender neutral name.
It was a shame really. Keith could imagine Liza and Jason being a pretty cute couple.
Keith felt eyes on him and realized Riley was glaring at him. Riley looked pointedly at the empty shot glass Keith was holding. He hadn’t refilled it, and hadn’t taken a shot in response to the last statement.
Keith glared back at Riley and placed the empty shot glass defiantly on the ground between them.
Riley’s glare intensified, and then he looked away from Keith. The younger man slowly shifted so that his legs were tucked up under his chin and his arms were wrapped around his legs. He looked miserable.
Keith kind of felt like a bastard, and for a moment he was tempted to take a shot anyway. Not because he would be acknowledging the ‘chick or dude’ thing, but just because he once again felt like he really wasn’t drunk enough. He resisted it though. He wasn’t going to let Riley feel like he had won just because Keith was feeling a little bit guilty.
“Wait a second,” Grant spoke up from the other side of their little circle. “Ollie, you know what name Jason’s got on his wrist? Even I don’t know that!”
“Nah man,” Ollie murmured. “He just started ranting about it to me once when we were both high.”
“Yeah,” Jason slurred. “In fucking confidence Ollie. You weren’t supposed to go and tell everyone.”
“Come on Jason!” Daisy called out. “Forgive Ollie already and continue the game. It’s your turn and I haven’t taken a shot for at least a minute!”
“Oh shit. I guess it is.”
Jason glanced over at Ollie, who looked far too comfortable where he was leaning against Vincent, and smiled.
“Revenge is sweet Ollie,” Jason said, before turning to the rest of the group. “Never have I ever asked someone out on a date because they had the right name to be my soulmate, only to find out that they had a girl’s name on their wrist.”
“Oh fuck,” Oliver and Vincent said at the same time. The group chuckled, Oliver and Vincent playfully battered at each other as they sorted out their shot glasses, and Jason grinned triumphantly.
“What, you too Vince?” Grant asked.
“Yeah,” the mechanic replied. “I felt pretty stupid later.”
“You know,” Daisy began slowly, “I might have to take a shot too. I didn’t ask him out but I totally flirted with him.”
“Half a shot!” Grant demanded, and the others joined in the call. “Half a shot.”
“Fine!” Daisy called as she poured a drink that was probably closer to a full shot than a half. “Half a shot!”
She downed it, smiling as she did, and Keith froze as he realized it was Riley’s turn. If he continued the vindictive tone that his friend and brother had started then Keith was probably in trouble.
“Never have I ever…” Riley began, coming to a complete stop while he thought of a question. Keith could practically see the wheels turning inside of his head.
“Never have I ever driven while drunk!” Riley exclaimed.
Several members of the group groaned.
“That’s because you don’t have a car!” Jason shouted. Jason, Grant and Keith took the required shot anyway, while Ollie wondered aloud whether being high counted.
As the rest of the group shouted out various version of yes and no, Keith contemplated what he was going to say. He could pick something entirely with the purpose of making others take a shot, or he could take the opportunity to learn something more embarrassing about the rest of the group.
As he thought he felt a weight settle against his arm, and he looked over to discover that Riley had managed to shuffle so close to Keith that he was leaning on the other man. He contemplated nudging Riley or saying something so that the younger man would move, but then again, maybe there wasn’t really any harm in him staying there. Everyone else was getting pretty cozy, and were probably too drunk to even really notice what Riley was doing.
Keith sighed and glanced back up to discover that Daisy had climbed into Grant’s lap, and even as he watched the two of them were putting their hands on certain body parts that probably shouldn’t be touched when other people were around.
“Oh god!” Keith exclaimed loudly. “Never have I ever gotten way too affectionate with my soulmate when my friends are right there and can see everything we’re doing!”
Riley jumped back up at Keith’s words, moving so that not only was he not leaning on the other man anymore, but so that there at least a foot of space between them again.
Daisy squirmed her way off Grant’s lap.
“Aw… you ruined it!” she exclaimed, throwing her hands up in the air. “You are no fun Keith. No fun!”
Despite Daisy’s objections she and Grant both took the required shots. On the other side of the circle Oliver and Vincent looked at one another. Vincent shrugged and then the both of them took shots as well, which, now that Keith thought about it, was totally deserved. The two of them tended to get a little bit touchy feely when they had consumed certain substances.
Keith glanced over at Riley, wondering what had caused the younger man to move away. Not that he was worried. Of course he wasn’t. He discovered that Riley was unsurprisingly staring at Keith again. He looked nervous, and Keith realized that the younger man was holding a shot glass full of hard liquor halfway to his mouth.
There was no way that Riley thought he had meant… Oh shit. Maybe he did.
“Riley, what the fuck are you doing?” Keith said, snatching the shot glass from Riley’s hand. “You don’t need to take a shot for that one.”
“Yeah…” Jason said, his words slurred. “Riley, you haven’t found your soulmate yet, so you can’t have been affectionate in… with… what Keith said before.”
Keith looked over at Riley. Riley was already looking at him, as though waiting for Keith to contradict what Jason had just said. Keith didn’t say anything though, and Riley’s shoulders slumped. Keith passed the shot glass back to Riley, and the younger man’s hand shook as he placed it back on the ground between them.
Keith almost wanted to scream at the kid, but it would be cruel when Riley was so clearly trashed. Did Riley really think that Keith would consider leaning against him as too much affection? Well… maybe he did, but where the hell did Riley get off thinking that? Keith wasn’t going to suggest that Riley crawl in his lap like Daisy and Grant, but he could be affectionate. He could be so fucking affectionate, and if Riley had been female then Keith would have shown him… her… fuck, this was too complicated to think about… Keith would have wrapped his arm around Riley-the-girl’s shoulders and shown her just how affectionate he could be.
He shuffled a few inches towards Riley, removing the space the younger man had put between them. He glared at Riley, daring him to say anything about it, but Riley was smart enough to stay silent.
After a couple of minutes, when Keith had to take his next drink he threw back what was probably the equivalent of two or three shots in one go and then slammed the bottle down on the ground beside him.
The entire group was growing tense now. Keith’s words had not been enough to stop Grant and Daisy from creeping into each other’s arms again, and Vincent kept making eyes at Ollie, who appeared to be too stoned or drunk to really take notice. Liza was being so quiet that Keith had almost forgotten she was there, and Riley wasn’t much better, his eyes threatening to close more and more with each second, and with each additional drink.
Jason had been sullen the entire night, for reasons beyond Keith’s understanding, and it appeared to be growing worse the drunker he got, until it was his turn again and the entire game came crashing to a halt.
Jason paused for a long time, considering what he would say very carefully, and then, with a flourish of his empty shot glass he announced, “I’ve got it.Never have I ever met someone with the right name to be my soulmate.”
The group fell silent.
“Ha. I bet I got every single one of you with that,” Jason said. His voice was slurred, and he looked like he was too drunk to realise how fucking sad that sounded to the rest of the group, or how the mood in the Brody’s backyard had suddenly plummeted.
“I’m not drunk enough for this shit,” Jason exclaimed, before looking at the amount of tequila left in the bottle he had been taking shots from and throwing the last of it back like it wasn’t the equivalent of about four drinks.
“Way to bring the mood down J,” Ollie muttered, before taking a shot.
Keith glanced over at Riley, who was already throwing back another shot. Riley wiped his mouth and then frowned when he saw Keith watching him. The younger man tried to shuffle over to Keith, but any co-ordination he may have had left had been stolen by the last few shots, and he ended up collapsing against Keith’s side instead.
Keith reached out to steady the younger man and glanced around at the rest of the group as though they would somehow disapprove of his helping Riley. Riley frowned at him and snatched the empty shot glass from the ground between them.
“Drink,” he said as he waved the shot glass in front of Keith’s face. “You need to take a drink for this one and you haven’t yet.”
“All right Riley,” Keith said, taking the shot glass back. He filled the glass with the last of his bourbon and threw it back quickly.
He was actually beginning to feel a little drunk. Not drunk enough that he didn’t notice the smile Riley sent his way once he had finished drinking, and definitely not drunk enough that no part of him objected to the way Riley then threw his arms around Keith and began snuggling into his side, but drunk nonetheless.
“I love you Keith,” Riley murmured.
Keith glanced around at the others, but they were all too busy talking amongst themselves to notice. Ollie and Vincent had lit up, and were busy trying to convince Jason to join in. Daisy, Grant and Liza had gone off on their own tangent. Keith thought he heard Grant say something about being sorry that his little brother had totally ruined their game.
Riley nuzzled into Keith’s arm and Keith felt his entire body tense up.
“Riley,” he murmured, realizing that the other man’s eyes had closed. He hoped that Riley hadn’t already fallen asleep. “Riley, it’s supposed to be your turn now.”
“I don’t care,” Riley murmured. “Don’t wanna move. Never have… never have I ever been as comfy as I am right now. Can’t make me move.”
“Riley, come on man,” Keith said, gently nudging Riley and trying to get him to move with no success. “God, you’re not as noisy, but I get the feeling you’re even drunker than Daisy is. Come on…”
The rest of the group was starting to realize that it was supposed to be Riley’s turn and had slowly started to turn their attention to Riley and Keith.
“Aww…” Daisy exclaimed as she caught sight of them.
“Yeah, sorry guys,” Keith said, trying to gently detach Riley from his side with as little success as the previous times, “but I don’t think Riley is going to be saying anything coherent for a while.”
“God, I’m sorry,” Grant said, although Keith wasn’t sure what Grant thought he had to be sorry for. “I had no idea he’d had that much to drink.”
“He doesn’t have as much experience with alcohol as the rest of us, remember?” Keith said. “I think he’s completely out of it. Look, I’ll take him up to his room. You guys can deal with the hangover tomorrow.”
“Thanks Keith,” Grant said, as Keith got to his feet, half dragging and half lifting Riley to his feet beside him.
“It’s no problem,” Keith replied. Oh, if only Grant knew. If he did then Keith was pretty sure he’d be demanding that Keith carry Riley inside like a good fucking soulmate and tuck him in bed with a drink of warm fucking cocoa.
Keith sighed as he realized Riley’s ability to walk was almost completely shot. Luckily the kid was pretty small compared to him, so he swept Riley up in his arms and ended up carrying him inside the house and up the stairs.
It took him a moment to remember where Riley’s room was, but eventually they made it there with minimal injuries and only one death threat from Riley. Keith made Riley stand up on his own for just long enough to turn on the light, and then he guided Riley to his bed, where the younger man promptly collapsed face first onto the pillow.
Keith contemplated leaving Riley there exactly as he was, but then his conscience decided to kick in, and he sat down near the end of the bed and began removing Riley’s shoes.
Riley mumbled something into the pillow, but he was drunk enough, and the pillow caught enough of the sound that Keith had absolutely no chance in hell of guessing what Riley was trying to say.
He managed to completely remove Riley’s shoes and socks without any problem at all. Feeling pretty good about his progress so far he grabbed Riley’s hat, aiming to place it on the bedside table, but Riley still had some coherency and energy left, and he snatched the hat back before Keith could take it away, and held it to his chest, not willing to give it up without a fight.
“Riley, come on,” Keith snapped as he tried to pry the hat from Riley’s hands. “You can’t sleep with your fucking hat on.”
“Don’t wanna go to sleep.”
“Well, too bad. You’re drunk, and I’ve managed to get you into bed at least, so you’re going to sleep.”
Riley froze. Keith had no idea why he’d frozen, but it gave him an opportunity to snatch Riley’s hat back, which he did, throwing the offending piece of clothing to the other side of the room, far out of Riley’s reach.
Riley didn’t even react. He just lay there and looked up at Keith. Keith leaned forward, worried that there might be something wrong with the younger man.
“We’re on my bed,” Riley told him.
“Yes,” Keith said, not sure why that was suddenly important.
“You’re on my bed,” Riley said, his cheeks flushing, and Keith had a feeling it had very little to do with the alcohol flowing through his system.
“Yes, because it’s time for you to sleep,” Keith said, trying to pull back from Riley before the younger man got any ideas.
Even if he had been ready to jump into bed with Riley he wasn’t so much of a dick that he would do it while Riley was this drunk. The poor kid probably wouldn’t even remember this conversation in the morning.
Riley wanted nothing to do with logic or Keith’s morals though, and grabbed at Keith’s arm, pulling him back down before he could make it two steps from the bed.
“Don’t go,” Riley mumbled.
Keith was about to object, but then he looked over at Riley, who was clutching Keith’s hand to his chest with even more desperation than he had the hat. His eyes were mostly closed, and he looked as drunk as Keith knew he was, but he also looked so desperate, not for sex, but just for whatever warmth Keith’s presence was bringing him.
Keith sighed, and resigned himself to staying there for just the few minutes it would take Riley to fall asleep. At this rate it wouldn’t be long.
“Okay,” Keith told Riley. He shuffled around so that he was mostly facing the younger man, and took a second to brush some stray hairs away from Riley’s bloodshot eyes.
They were silent for a long time, and Keith was beginning to think Riley had fallen asleep when he suddenly began to speak.
“Why did you lie?” Riley mumbled. “Down there. Before. I’ve got a girl’s name, but you didn’t take a shot.”
Keith hesitated for a moment, but then he gave Riley’s hand a squeeze.
“I didn’t lie,” he said.
“Never have I ever wondered whether my soulmate was… what the fuck was it? Oh yeah… A dude or a chick,” Keith explained. “That’s true. Before I met you I knew my soulmate was a woman, but I guess what I knew was wrong. You came as a surprise to say the least.”
“Oh…” Riley muttered. “Oh, I guess that’s okay.”
“So, no wondering what gender you were,” Keith continued. “Just being really fucking surprised.”
“Hmm… Okay… I forgive you then.”
Riley’s eyes closed again. Keith waited a few more minutes, until Riley’s breathing was steady and even and he looked completely relaxed. He then let go of Riley’s hand and stood up. He hesitated for a moment at the younger man’s bedside, and then leaned down and pressed a gentle kiss to Riley’s forehead.
Riley didn’t stir, which was good. Keith left the room, only pausing for long enough to turn off the light and close the door gently behind him.
He headed downstairs, prepared to continue drinking with the rest of the group, and was disappointed to find that they were all starting to wrap up and say goodbye. They slowly went their separate ways, by taxi or by foot, or in Keith’s case, by car, even though he was pretty sure he was over the limit.
Only when he was half way home did Keith realize the significance of what had happened in Riley’s room. They had never talked about it before; never actually confirmed what he had already known but had been happy to deny up until that moment.
Oh well. Riley had been so drunk that he probably wouldn’t remember it anyway, so what the fuck did it matter?
Keith slowly eased to a stop at a set of traffic lights, and took the chance to light up a cigarette. He inhaled deeply and leaned back in his chair as he waited for the light to flick back from red to green.
“Never have I ever,” he thought out loud. “What a fucking joke.”