The first thing she sees when she’s unfortunately awake at the crack of fuckin’ dawn - on a damn Saturday, no less - is Orla’s huge fuckin’ eyes four inches away from her own.
For a second, she’s just foggy, in a haze that doesn’t make much sense. Then the memories of last night hit her like a wall - fried food in puddles of grease, candy bars she’d nicked from the shop and hidden away in her blazer, and so much to drink - God, she’d had so much to drink - and her stomach does a slow, nauseating rollover inside her that’s a fuckin’ warning if she’s ever heard one before.
Michelle jumps up and pushes Orla off in the process - sorry, Orla, it’s better than the fuckin’ alternative - barely paying attention to how her lanky limbs sprawl out on the floor like a tipped-over beetle as she jumps over Clare whose sleeping head’s in her way and touches down just in time in Erin and Orla’s bathroom. She even manages to get both seats up before it really starts coming, and then it’s all a matter of letting it fuckin’ happen. She’s been through this often enough.
Except it isn’t, because she throws up two big streams and then dry heaves for five fuckin’ minutes with nothing to show for it other than a burst blood vessel in her eye and puke stinging her nose. She’s not brave enough to try to crawl back into her nest of blankets - Erin would never quit moaning if she spewed on her precious linens.
There’s a soft knocking on the door, and Michelle barely bothers lifting her head from its hardly-comfy resting place against the cool porcelain, her legs splayed awkwardly out to one side like some kind of limp animal. “‘S fucking fine, Erin,” she groans, through a mouthful of frizzy hair she didn’t have time to pull back. “Fuckin’ mat’s fuckin’ safe…”
“Not Erin,” the voice rasps from the other side of the almost-closed door. “Can I come in…?”
Orla. Of course it’s Orla, because when is it not Orla? Whenever there’s trouble to be had, Orla’s never started it, but she’s always the first one to stumble up to the scene of the crime and gape at it like a gangly-limbed goldfish.
It’s fuckin’ weird to hear her asking permission. She’s never bothered before. She’s always let Michelle sort herself out in peace. She opens her mouth to tell Orla to stick one of Clare’s energy drinks where the sun doesn’t shine so far up she can taste the fuckin’ aluminum in her mouth when her stomach churns again, and all that comes out is a weak groan; one that Orla apparently takes to mean walk right in, make yourself right the fuck at home.
The door creaks open and then clicks shut again, so at least there’s a little fuckin’ privacy. Orla hovers over her from a few feet away, her hood pulled halfway down over her eyes. She doesn’t say anything, and Michelle’s too scared to open her mouth to initiate any kind of fucking conversation, so they both sit there and listen to the faucet drip and she hangs over the bowl and lets the spit drip out of her mouth and tries to think about breathing real deep and ignore the sweaty, sticky dizziness that doesn’t help with the queasiness.
“You oughta take that off,” Orla says suddenly. Michelle lifts her head just enough to fix one eye on her with a “what the fuck are you talking about” glare, and she tugs on her own hoodie in explanation.
“Got a fever. Your face is all red. Take your shirt off.”
“And you don’t mind the idea of me fuckin’ shirtless right here?”
Orla just shrugs. “Nope.”
Of course she doesn’t. Orla doesn’t mind anything.
But she’s right, Michelle is hot, and some cool air would feel great on her fuckin’ tits, so she tugs the shirt off and tosses it to the side somewhere without looking to see where it lands and then lets herself flop unceremoniously back over the bowl, the cold porcelain clinging to her sticky, sweaty skin.
She does have a fever. She’s warm, and that’s not normal, but she doesn’t have a chance to think about it much more before her stomach does another slow, churning barrel roll. An awful, painful heave crushes her insides like a soda can and she opens her mouth and lets it come at fuckin’ last.
Her thick, frizzy hair - puke tangled in the strands because she still couldn’t be assed to try to hold it back - suddenly comes off her shoulders anyway, and when she instinctively lists to the side she finds Orla’s scrawny leg there as a support, her sticky, sweaty hair gathered up in Orla’s hands to protect it.
It takes both of Orla’s hands to hold it all, but her skinny, gangly legs stand surprisingly strong as Michelle lets herself lean almost entirely on them, a low whine coming from her mouth of its own accord as a cramp starts low and rolls upwards, squeezing her innards like a tube of toothpaste with only a dab left inside. With it comes more of the same foul taste surging up her throat and she jerks forward with the force of it, and then there’s a blissfully fuckin’ cold hand on her forehead, holding her head steady and keeping it out of the fuckin’ toilet.
Gathered back in a clumsy ponytail, her hair slips from Orla’s hand, and then she puts her other fuckin’ freezing hand on Michelle’s back, patting it awkwardly. “You’ll be all right,” Orla rasps, her voice losing just a little of its dreamy quality. “Done soon.”
Then she knows she’s got a fever, because she’s getting fucking emotional over Orla. She takes the reprieve as it comes and finds herself slowly turning her face into Orla’s knee, a few stinging tears - of exertion, she insists firmly, her eyes are just watering from being so fuckin’ sick - soaking into the cotton fabric of her baggy sweatpants.
There’s more, though. She can feel it burning at the back of her throat, lingering back, and every ten seconds or so her body shudders with another faint gag, trying to bring up something that doesn’t fuckin’ wanna come up.
“I think you ate something bad,” Orla says quietly, running her short nails soothingly down Michelle’s bare back. “You should come back to bed. Sleep.”
Michelle barely manages to shake her head, and even that sends the room spinning like a fuckin’ carousel. “Well, I’m not fuckin’ finished, am I? And Erin’ll never stop fuckin’ whining if there’s a mess-”
Orla doesn’t say anything, just nudges Michelle off her knee and back over the toilet. The smell alone’s nearly enough to set her off again. “Then finish,” she said, as if it was fuckin’ simple as a matter of thinking about it.
“‘S not that fuckin’ easy, Or.”
Orla shrugs, slowly dropping down to sit on the floor next to her. Her big round owl eyes are screaming that she’s up to no fuckin’ good. “Well, you started drinking early yesterday. And then you had the peach rings and the gummies, and one of Clare’s energy drinks, and then you drank some more-” Michelle gives an empty retch at just the words, and then there’s a light pressure on her stomach that doesn’t do anything to help. “And then we went to Fionnula’s place and then she kicked us out after three bags and then we ordered a pizza and you had about half of that-” Orla’s hand starts to move in slow, tentative circles over her stomach, which makes it roll over and squeeze hard enough to make her fuckin’ whimper. “And then you drank some more-”
Orla’s voice goes on and on, unsympathetic and unstoppable, every word bringing the nausea to a new fuckin’ peak, and the more she talks, the harder she presses in on Michelle’s stomach until she’s practically kneading. She wants to block it all out but she’s too sick to cover her ears or slap Orla’s hand away so she’s fuckin’ stuck, kneeling over the toilet and dry heaving between quiet, muffled sobs. She feels so bad she’s letting herself turn into a snotty, teary mess, and worse yet it’s with an audience, and worse yet than that the audience is Orla.
Another cramp rips through her like she’s been fucking run through and this time she’s not getting faked out. She lurches forward, and Orla’s free hand holds her head steady again as a huge wave shoots up her throat and into the bowl, and she barely manages to suck in a breath before more comes up to join it. Orla’s hand doesn’t leave her stomach but she lets up on the pressure, her voice switching from a droning recitation to something more soothing.
When it stops this time, she’s really, truly empty. Orla flushes it away for her and sprays some kind of air freshener to get rid of the worst of the smell. She lets her hair down and cleans up the worst of it and comes back with one of her soft fuckin’ hoodies for Michelle to wear so her bare fuckin’ tits aren’t out. When it’s all decently cleaned up and the worst of the redness around Michelle’s eyes has faded into something that could be more believable as just a side effect of the hangover - and God bless that little weirdo Orla for waiting - she lets her tug her to her feet and lead her back into the bedroom.
Clare’s still passed out; she could sleep through a third World War without so much as a fuckin’ toss or turn. Erin’s awake, though, huddled up under her blankets with wide fuckin’ eyes as she watches Michelle lean on Orla for support. Her knees still feel like Jell-O and the last thing she wants is to pitch forward and hit the fuckin’ floor.
Orla pushes her onto her own bed, kicking a bin over from the corner just in case. Michelle’s too tired to argue on either count. Her eyelids are already heavy, threatening to pull her back into sleep, and maybe being fuckin’ exhausted is why she’s as soft and sappy as she is. “Hey, Or…?” she murmurs, curling up under the blankets.